Ancient DNA results end 'daddy' mystery of Egyptian mummies in Manchester

The Two Brothers are Manchester Museum’s oldest mummies and among the best-known human remains in its Egyptology collection. (Provided: University of Manchester)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Ancient DNA results end 'daddy' mystery of Egyptian mummies in Manchester

MANCHESTER: Using “next generation” DNA sequencing scientists from the University of Manchester have found that the famous “Two Brothers” mummies of the Manchester Museum actually had different fathers so are, in fact, half-brothers, according to a release from the university.
The Two Brothers are the Museum’s oldest mummies and among the best-known human remains in its Egyptology collection. They are the mummies of two elite men — Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh – dating to around 1800BC.
However, since their discovery in 1907 there has been debate among Egyptologists whether they were related at all. Therefore, back in 2015, “ancient DNA” was extracted from the teeth of the pair to solve the mystery.
But how did the mystery start? According to the release from Manchester University, the pair’s joint burial site, later dubbed The Tomb of The Two Brothers, was discovered at Deir Rifeh, a village 250 miles south of Cairo. They were found by Egyptian workmen directed by early 20th century Egyptologists, Flinders Petrie and Ernest Mackay. Hieroglyphic inscriptions on the coffins indicated that both men were the sons of an unnamed local governor and had mothers with the same name, Khnum-aa. It was then the men became known as the Two Brothers.
The release goes on: “When the complete contents of the tomb were shipped to Manchester in 1908 and the mummies of both men were unwrapped by the UK’s first professional female Egyptologist, Dr. Margaret Murray. Her team concluded that the skeletal morphologies were quite different, suggesting an absence of family relationship. Based on contemporary inscriptional evidence, it was proposed that one of the Brothers was adopted.”
Analysis showed that both Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht belonged to mitochondrial haplotype M1a1, suggesting a maternal relationship. The Y chromosome sequences were less complete but showed variations between the two mummies, indicating that Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht had different fathers, and were thus very likely to have been half-brothers.
Dr. Konstantina Drosou of the university’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences who conducted the DNA sequencing, said: “It was a long and exhausting journey to the results but we are finally here. I am very grateful we were able to add a small but very important piece to the big history puzzle and I am sure the brothers would be very proud of us. These moments are what make us believe in ancient DNA.”


“Kissing sailor” in iconic NY picture dies age 95

In this Aug. 14, 1945 file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, a sailor and a woman kiss in New York's Times Square, as people celebrate the end of World War II. (AP)
Updated 33 sec ago
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“Kissing sailor” in iconic NY picture dies age 95

  • Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman in the picture, died in 2016 at age 92

WASHINGTON: The sailor pictured kissing a woman in Times Square as people celebrated the end of World War II has died at age 95, his daughter told the Providence Journal.
George Mendonsa had a seizure Sunday after falling at an assisted living facility in Middleton, Rhode Island, his daughter Sharon Molleur said.
In the famous image, one of four taken by Alfred Eisenstadt for Life magazine, Mendonsa is seen ecstatically bending over and kissing a woman in a white nurse’s uniform.
The picture was published by Life as “V-J Day in Times Square.”
Mendonsa, who served in the Pacific during World War II, was on home leave when the picture was taken.
He had long claimed to be the sailor in the picture, but it wasn’t confirmed until recently with the use of facial recognition technology.
Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman in the picture, died in 2016 at age 92.
Eisenstadt did not get the names of the kissing strangers.
He later described watching the sailor running along the street, and grabbing any girl in sight.
“I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me,” he wrote in “Eisenstadt on Eisenstadt.”
“Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. If she had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture.”
Mendonsa, who served in the Pacific during World War II, was on home leave when the picture was taken.