"King Tut" Unwrapped Premieres Sunday on Discovery

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

February 16th, 2010

via press release:

FOR THE FIRST TIME, KING TUT’S DNA IS MAPPED, HIS FAMILY IDENTIFIED, AND HIS SHORT LIFE INVESTIGATED

A Discovery Channel Two-Night World Premiere Special Event,
KING TUT UNWRAPPED, Airs Sunday, February 21, at 8 PM (ET/PT) and
Monday, February 22, at 8 PM (ET/PT) on Discovery Channel in the U.S.

(Silver Spring, Md.) –- World-renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass leads an unprecedented forensic investigation into the life and times of King Tut that reveals for the first time the identity of Tut’s parents and grandparents, his cause of death and new details of his reign in a two-night world premiere special event, KING TUT UNWRAPPED, airing Sunday, February 21, at 8 PM (ET/PT) and Monday, February 22, at 8 PM (ET/PT).

Papers published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) detail the painstaking medical and archeological research conducted by an international team of field experts.  Part One of KING TUT UNWRAPPED follows the delicate, first- ever DNA extraction from Tut’s mummy setting into motion a series of cross-reference studies to determine the Boy King’s family.  Part Two uses never-before-examined evidence from Tut’s mummy to conclude what caused his death and how that information sheds new light on his reign as a military, religious and political leader.

“Discovery is honored once again to work with Dr. Zahi Hawass.  The life and death of King Tut continues to hold a special power and mystery for people all over the world.  Dr. Hawass’ trailblazing leadership has successfully fused traditional, methodical archeology with cutting-edge, advanced forensics.  This is a new chapter in Egyptology firmly establishing Cairo as a center for innovation and scholarship,” said Clark Bunting, president and general manager, Discovery Channel and Science Channel.

The road to understanding the Tut family tree begins with filling out his parents’ branches.  Based on historical records and previous digs, Dr. Hawass determines Tut’s father could one of three great Egyptian pharaohs: the successful and popular second king of the 18th Dynasty Amenhotep III; the radical and controversial Akhenaton, who moved Egypt into the age of monotheism or the little-known Smenkhare who reigned just prior to Tut’s rule.  To effectively solve this mystery, the team will need test Tut’s DNA against the mummies of these three candidates.

When Howard Carter discovered the riches of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, who could have predicted that almost a century later the ancient chamber would be the site for the cutting edge of Egyptology?  KING TUT UNWRAPPED details the edge-of-your-seat process as researchers hold their breath and oh so gingerly but successfully extract DNA for the first time from Tut’s mummy.

Specimens now abound for testing, but the expert team assembled at Discovery Channel’s DNA lab at the Cairo Museum faces challenge upon challenge in connecting the forensic dots.  In order to test the ancient DNA, Assistant Professor Dr. Carsten M. Pusch of the University of Tübingen’s Institute of Anthropology and Human Genetics in Tubingen, Germany and Professor Albert Zink of the EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, work with Dr. Yehia Zakaria Gad of the Department of Medical Molecular Genetics at Cairo’s National Research Center to perform, for the first time, microsatellite-based DNA-fingerprinting on familial Egyptian mummies.

There is triumph in the lab but that is only the start of the Tut family odyssey.  With successful DNA sequencing of Tut’s father, Hawass is able to pursue leads that will eventually point to Tut’s mother and grandparents.  KING TUT UNWRAPPED is a juggernaut of science, history, national pride and professional drive.  From the pristine interiors and precision work of the DNA lab to dusty, unpredictable dig sites in the field, Dr. Hawass leads an intense, deeply personal journey for the truth.
KING TUT UNWRAPPED will air worldwide in the following regions and times:

Latin America                February 28 - March 1

United Kingdom        March 3-4

Germany:                March 7 (TBD)

EMEA:                        May

Asia                        April – July (varies per territory)
SEA:                 April 18, April 25
China:                 May 3, May 10
ANZ:                 June 6
Japan:                June 14, June 21
Taiwan:         Early July

 
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