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The Case of the Ancient Mummy (Half) Brothers

Genetic analysis has found that the ancient mummies known as the Two Brothers are actually half-brothers, Science News reports.

Researchers from the University of Manchester extracted DNA from the teeth of two mummies, Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht, who lived during the 12th Dynasty in Middle Egypt, about 1985 BCE to 1773 BCE as they report in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. The mummies were excavated from the same tomb in 1907 and were thought to be brothers based on an inscription on the tomb that indicated they had they same mother. But, Science News notes that suspicions arose about how related the mummies were because of differences in their skeletal morphologies.

To answer that question, Manchester team sequenced the sample following hybridization capture of the mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA. Their results then showed that the two mummies had the same mother, but different fathers.

This suggested to the researchers that "[p]ower may have been transferred down the female line rather than simply by a son inheriting [high rank] from his father," co-author Campbell Price from Manchester tells Science News.