What did Pharaohs look like? Lab recreates mummies’ faces using DNA

DM

What did ancient Egyptians look like? A lab recreated the faces of three mummies thanks to samples of their DNA. According to the study, which predicted the three men’s appearance at around age 25, they had light brown skin and dark eyes and hair. Parabon NanoLabs, a northern Virginia-based DNA technology company, used research by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany, whose scholars managed to extract genetic materials from 151 Egyptian mummies dating between 2,400 and 1,600 years ago. The study — published in the journal Nature in 2017 — was considered an important breakthrough because the hot middle eastern climate tends to destroy any DNA remains. The mummies came from a site known as Abusir el-Meleq, which stood by the Nile River in the Middle of Egypt. Established in 2008, Parabon has become famous for its contribution to several cold cases thanks to its ability to compare DNA samples collected from suspects by police forces with genetic profiles contained in ancestry databases. Their work has often been praised as decisive in ensuring criminals to justice — at times after decades — but has also aroused heated controversy over privacy issues.

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