We now knew we had the body of Tut's father—but we still did not know for certain who he was. Our chief suspects were Akhenaten and Smenkhkare. The KV55 tomb contained a cache of material thought to have been brought by Tutankhamun to Thebes from Amarna, where Akhenaten (and perhaps Smenkhkare) had been buried. Though the coffin's cartouches—oval rings containing the pharaoh's names—had been chiseled off, the coffin bore epithets associated only with Akhenaten himself. But not all the evidence pointed to Akhenaten. Most forensic analyses had concluded that the body inside was that of a man no older than 25—too young to be Akhenaten, who seems to have sired two daughters before beginning his 17-year reign. Most scholars thus suspected the mummy was instead the shadowy pharaoh Smenkhkare.
Now a new witness could be called on to help resolve this mystery. The so-called Elder Lady (KV35EL) mummy is lovely even in death, with long reddish hair falling across her shoulders. A strand of this hair had previously been matched morphologically to a lock of hair buried within a nest of miniature coffins in Tutankhamun's tomb, inscribed with the name of Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III—and mother of Akhenaten. By comparing the DNA of the Elder Lady with that from the mummies of Tiye's known parents, Yuya and Tuyu, we confirmed that the Elder Lady was indeed Tiye. Now she could testify whether the KV55 mummy was indeed her son.
Much to our delight, the comparison of their DNA proved the relationship. New CT scans of the KV55 mummy also revealed an age-related degeneration in the spine and osteoarthritis in the knees and legs. It appeared that he had died closer to the age of 40 than 25, as originally thought. With the age discrepancy thus resolved, we could conclude that the KV55 mummy, the son of Amenhotep III and Tiye and the father of Tutankhamun, is almost certainly Akhenaten. (Since we know so little about Smenkhkare, he cannot be completely ruled out.)
Our renewed CT scanning of the mummies also put to rest the notion that the family suffered from some congenital disease, such as Marfan syndrome, that might explain the elongated faces and feminized appearance seen in the art from the Amarna period. No such pathologies were found. Akhenaten's androgynous depiction in the art would seem instead to be a stylistic reflection of his identification with the god Aten, who was both male and female and thus the source of all life.