Does This Head Belong to France's Henry IV?

Scientists disagree on whether it's a royal skull

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 31, 2013 4:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Forensic researchers have a royal dispute on their hands: They can't agree on whether a mummified head belongs to France's Henry IV, explains the Los Angeles Times. The question seemed settled in 2010 when a team of researchers used facial-reconstruction techniques to conclude that it was indeed "Good King Henry," who was assassinated in 1610. But now a second team of scientists says it isn't so because DNA tests don't match Henry's living relatives.

They wrote this week to the British Medical Journal urging a retraction of the earlier study, and, in fact, two members of the 2010 team agree that their conclusions were faulty. Not so, says the lead researcher from 2010. He explained to in an earlier story that it's useless to make conclusions based on DNA results in part because the French royals were such philanderers. "It is hopeless to try to match a family tree and a series of genetic links (over) such a long period," he said. Until things get settled, the mummified head is resting in a bank vault in Paris. (In other mummified news, click to read about a big find in Peru's capital.)

This photo shows what may or may not be the head of Henry IV.   (AP Photo/Galaxie Presse)
This undated photo provided by Galaxie Presse shows what is believed to be the head of Henry IV, next to his portrait on an engraving.   (AP Photo/Galaxie Presse)
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