CAIRO - The DNA tests that revealed how the famed boy-king Tutankhamen is most likely to have died has solved another of ancient Egypt's enduring mysteries - the fate of controversial Pharaoh Akhenaten's mummy.
The discovery could help fill out the picture of a fascinating era more than 3,300 years ago when Akhenaten embarked on history's first attempt at monotheism.
During his 17-year rule, Akhenaten sought to overturn more than a millennium of Egyptian religion and art to establish the worship of a single sun god. In the end, his bold experiment failed and he was eventually succeeded by his son, the young Tutankhamen, who restored the old religion.
No one ever knew what became of the heretic pharaoh, whose tomb in the capital he built at Amarna was unfinished and whose name was struck from the official list of kings.
Two years of DNA testing and CAT scans on 16 royal mummies by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, however, gave the firmest evidence to date that an unidentified mummy, known as KV55, after the number of the tomb where it was found in 1907 in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, is Akhenaten's.
The testing, whose results were announced last month, established that KV55 was the father of King Tut and the son of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, a lineage that matches Akhenaten's, according to inscriptions.
KV55 had long been assumed to be too young to be Akhenaten, who was estimated to be in his 40s at his death, but the testing also established the mummy's correct age, matching the estimates for Akhenaten.
"In the end there was just one solution for this genetic data fitting into the family tree and this showed us this must really be Akhenaten and could not be any other," said Albert Zink, director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy in Bolzano, Italy, who worked on the project.