According to DNA analysis described in the latest issue of National Geographic, Tutankhamun’s parents were most likely brother and sister, which may have contributed to his early death.
In my view, however, Tutankhamun’s health was compromised from the moment he was conceived. His mother and father were full brother and sister. Pharaonic Egypt was not the only society in history to institutionalize royal incest, which can have political advantages. But there can be a dangerous consequence. Married siblings are more likely to pass on twin copies of harmful genes, leaving their children vulnerable to a variety of genetic defects. Tut ankhamun’s malformed foot may have been one such flaw. We suspect he also had a partially cleft palate, another congenital defect. Perhaps he struggled against others until a severe bout of malaria or a leg broken in an accident added one strain too many to a body that could no longer carry the load.
It’s likely that Tut’s wife was his half-sister as well.
Warning: this is probably the most depressing thing you’ll read all day (or even all week):
An Austrian engineer has confessed to fathering seven children by raping his own daughter and keeping them captive in the cellar, Austrian police said today.
Eric Gill was a respected British artist and typographer — Gill Sans is his most famous typeface — but according to his diaries, he also regularly engaged in sexual relations with his sisters, his daughters, and the family dog.
For some of Gill’s fans, even looking at his work became impossible. Most problematically, he was a Catholic convert who created some of the most popular devotional art of his era, such as the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral, where worshippers pray at each panel depicting the suffering of Jesus.
These details of Gill’s private life were revealed in a 1989 book by Fiona MacCarthy…here’s a NY Times review of the book soon after it was published.
“Fisher Island millionaire Bruce McMahan loved his daughter so much, he married her.” See also genetic sexual attraction.