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  1. Sarah Rogers, ITV News

How ground-breaking research in Manchester has solved a riddle from ancient Egypt

Ground-breaking DNA technology has been used to solve a decades old mystery about two Egyptian mummies held by a Manchester Musueum.

They've been known as The Two Brothers since they were found in 1907, but debate has raged as to whether they were related at all.

Now scientists have established they were in fact half-brothers

Our reporter Sarah Rogers went to the Manchester University Museum to investigate:

Ancient DNA solves mystery of Manchester's 'Two Brothers'

Same Mummy different Daddy. Scientists solve ancient mystery of The Two Brothers

Scientists have revealed that the famous ‘Two Brothers’ mummies of the Manchester Museum have different fathers so are, in fact, half-brothers.

They used ‘next generation’ DNA sequencing to make the discovery.

The Two Brothers are the Museum’s oldest mummies and some of 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 1800 BC.

Since their discovery in 1907 there's been doubt whether the two were actually related at all. So, in 2015, ‘ancient DNA’ was extracted from their teeth to solve the mystery.

But how did the mystery start? The pair’s joint burial site, The Tomb of The Two Brothers, was discovered at Deir Rifeh, a village 250 miles south of Cairo. 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.

When the complete contents of the tomb were shipped to Manchester in 1908 and the mummies of both men were unwrapped 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.

The latest study however, which is being published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, is the first to successfully use the typing of both mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA in Egyptian mummies.

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.

– Dr Konstantina Drosou, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Manchester who conducted the DNA sequencing

The University of Manchester, and Manchester Museum in particular, has a long history of research on ancient Egyptian human remains. Our reconstructions will always be speculative to some extent but to be able to link these two men in this way is an exciting first.

– Dr Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum

University of Manchester staff balloted over strike action

The university says the proposal represents about 1% of the university's workforce. Credit: PA Images

Lecturers at the University of Manchester will be balloted over strike action in a dispute over jobs. The University and College Union says up to 140 staff face redundancy by September next year. The university says the proposal represents about 1% of the university's workforce. It wants to reduce the number of staff with voluntary redundancies.


WATCH: Scientists turn sea water into drinking water

It's the new discovery made right here in the North West - which could help solve the world's shortage of clean drinking water. Scientists working with the material graphene think it could be used to effectively sieve the salt out of sea water and make it drinkable.

They say that could mean millions of people across the globe given access to a regular supply of clean water - combating drought, disease and famine.

  • Watch Ashley Derricott's report:

Play brings Alan Turing's story back to Manchester

A new production of the Tony-nominated play Breaking the Code is shining a light on the life of Alan Turing, the genius mathematician who developed some of the world's first computers when he worked at the University of Manchester.

In this revival of Hugh Whitemore's play, Turing is played by the BAFTA award winning actor Daniel Rigby.

The Manchester born actor leads a cast of eight in the Royal Exchange theatre's new production.

  • Featuring footage from 'The Imitation Game', courtesy of Studio Canal
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