The ancient Egyptian ruler Akhenaten wasn't the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead.
So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures.
The pharaoh's feminine mystique was the result of a genetic mutation that caused his body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes.
Akhenaten's head was misshapen because of a condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age, he added.
"[He had] an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters," Braverman said.
"But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique."
Pharaoh's Medical Mystery
Braverman, who sizes up the health of individuals based on portraits, teaches a class at Yale's medical school that uses paintings from the university's Center for British Art to teach observation skills to first-year students.
For his study of Akhenaten, he used statues and carvings.
Akhenaten (ah-keh-NAH-ten), best known for introducing a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt, reigned in the mid-1300s B.C.
He was married to Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, may have been his son or half brother.
(See related photos: "Who Was King Tut's Father?" [July 10, 2007].)