Friday, May 15, 2015


My latest book!  Don't miss it because I devote an entire chapter to the DNA of the royal mummies and make it easy to understand with a brief tutorial.  I also explain the rare alleles of the autosomal DNA in the extended family of Tutankhamun and where they can be found outside of Egypt. It's quite fascinating, really, and more than a little mysterious.  I think it's important that persons with an interest in Egyptology begin to get a better handle on how all that works because it's a new facet of the field and isn't going to go away. At least I hope not! There are so many things in “My Quest For Nefertiti” that aren't discussed in any other book about the Amarna Era. You may never view the royal family at the end of the 18th Dynasty in the same way again.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Where Is the DNA of Thutmose IV?

Recently, I wrote an email to the Secretary-general of the SCA in Egypt, asking for publication of the autosomal DNA of the pharaoh Thutmose IV, as I feel our understanding of the 18th Dynasty can go no farther without this information.  Ever since Zahi Hawass et al published the DNA testing results of Tutankhamun and his family members in JAMA, people have found it odd that Thutmose IV was not included in the study.  His mummy is fairly securely identified and, besides, the face resembles his own portraits from antiquity and also bears some resemblance to the head of the mummy of his father, Amenhotep II.

Amenhotep III was tested and so was the mummy formerly called "the Elder Lady", long thought by some, including myself, to be Queen Tiye.  This was confirmed, as her DNA showed her to have been the daughter of Yuya and Thuya, also included in the study.  Moreover, it looks quite likely that Yuya was a relative of Amenhotep III, a rather surprising and not insignificant development.  We do not, evidently, have the mummy of Mutemwia, the mother of Amenhotep III, but there is Thutmose IV for sure.  Had this last been tested, it would have been possible to know if Yuya was related to Nebmaare Amenhotep on the paternal or maternal side.  Persons are speculating that Yuya was a brother to Mutemwia, but I do not concur, as one can see in my paper, "The Name of Thuya", which can be read here:

It is up to the Egyptians to explain why Thutmose IV was left out of the DNA study or publication when it would seem his inclusion might have answered some questions that arose out of the study, itself.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

King Tut's Chariot Mishap

This documentary, "Building Pharaoh's Chariot"

has convinced me that the injuries on the mummy of Tutankhamun are consistent with falling out of a moving chariot while shooting arrows.  The making of an Egyptian chariot, re-discovering a lost art, is fascinating, too--but one must watch the show to the end to see what may have happened to the young king.  The injuries to his body are on the left side.  The archer did not shoot the arrows straight ahead over the heads of  the horses but from the side of  the car.  He chose his target or targets by having the driver charge past them.  In a battle charge, the driver would maneuver the team in a circular pattern so that the archer would only expose himself to the enemy for a short time until the driver circled back.   Watching how it's done in the video is far more edifying than any explanation from me.

Meanwhile, the bowman uses the open left side of the front panel  and its railing in order to gain purchase with one of his legs.   However, if  the right-handed shooter is somehow ejected from the car at a good  rate of speed, he will almost certainly land on his exposed left side.  Watch the film and  see if you agree.

Mind Boggling DNA and the Egyptologists

I just finished reading Aidan Dodson's latest work, "Amarna Sunrise", which he intended to be a prequel to his "Amarna Sunset".   Let me make it clear that Dodson is very well versed in the genealogy of the royal families of ancient Egypt as gleaned from archaeological sources and every aspect of the New Kingdom.   His new book will probably be viewed by many [including me] as a handy reference work for the beginning of the end of the 18th Dynasty.  Largely, it reflects the thinking of the conservative mainstream when it comes to Amarna history, much of which remains speculation, however.   But "Amarna Sunrise" seems to give little credit to any of the more recent theories--such as mine that the mummy, the Younger Lady, can be Nefertiti--or that of Zahi Hawass, who sees the KV55 individual as being her husband, King Akhenaten.  Aidan Dodson prefers these to be Smenkhkare, a "full brother" of Akhenaten, and an unknown woman.  As evidenced by a chart on page 169 of the book, Dodson does not acknowledge this mysterious couple to have been the parents of Tutankhamun, even though DNA testing done in Egypt says that they are.  That honor he assigns to Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  In this he follows French Egyptologist Marc Gabolde--almost.   Gabolde believes these two mummies are Nefertiti and Akhenaten, the parents of Tut.  But the French scholar wrote a paper in which he tried to show the royal couple were cousins instead of full brother and sister.  Dodson, despite what he thinks about the testing project, still seems to take the DNA of Tutankhamun indicating he was a son of a brother and a sister seriously--but goes with Gabolde in trying to make the parents cousins, instead.
While safely swimming in that mainstream for the greater balance of “Amarna Sunrise”, Dodson makes the mistake, at the finale, of diving into the murky waters of a subject with which he evidently has not the strongest acquaintance—the interpretation of DNA testing.   He appears to indicate he would rather trust what the archaeological evidence *seems* to say than the DNA. For example, if Nefertiti is never styled "king's daughter" that proves to him she cannot have been one, never mind that, during the reign of Akhenaten and for the remainder of the 18th Dynasty , no queen uses this title--even though it is quite certain some of them, like Meritaten and Ankhesenamun were, indeed, the daughters of a king.
In fact, Dodson is the second Egyptologist to cling stubbornly to this dogma of late and follows the hopeful [but rather tortured] DNA  reasoning of his precursor, Gabolde.  The fact that Dodson has taken to heart the naysaying of those who claim the DNA test results on the royal mummies are flawed [because it is ancient DNA that is involved] is one thing, although Dodson went beyond that when he wrote "A third concern is that...the results were published giving  only the 'preferred' interpretation of the raw data."  [page 163] But to aver that the DNA picture, as it stands, could support Ay's wife and Nefertiti's mother being a sister of Amenhotep III [with Nefertiti being the mother of Tutankhamun] on page 167 suggests it is Dodson's understanding of just what's likely when it comes to the alleles of our autosomal DNA is what is flawed. He claims that the DNA story of Tutankhamun could also be achieved by “three generations of first cousin marriages”--but doesn't explain how it's possible. The oldest generation tested was Yuya and Thuya, who were not first cousins.   Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, of the next generation, may have been cousins, but they still do not have very much DNA in common at eight markers. The generation that follows, consisting of the KV55 individual and the Younger Lady, manifests only the alleles that could have been donated to them by Amenhotep III and the Elder Lady [Queen Tiye]. We receive one allele at each microsatellite or locus from each of our parents--that is, one combination of two out of four possible combinations.   So why suppose that Ay [as a brother of Queen Tiye] and Nefertiti's mother [the unknown princess] had not one number different from Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye at the eight loci to donate to their offspring--and therefore would make  Nefertiti look exactly like a full sister of her royal husband,  Akhenaten,  [within the autosomal DNA of Tutankhamun] even though they were only cousins--albeit double ones?  Somebody should tell these Egyptologists that siblings have only about 50% of the same numbers at the loci and that cousins have even less and that two cousins whose parents were all siblings would still probably have at least ONE different number at eight loci that would distinguish them from two full siblings--and probably more.  Children would test out the same as  full siblings if twins reproduced with another set of identical twins, or if both twins reproduced with the same person.  [If Amenhotep III reproduced with both Queen Tiye and her identical twin sister--a lady of which we have never heard--which would still make any children the offspring of a king .]
There is no way that Ay and Tiye can have been identical twins and likewise Amenhotep III and a phantom sister.  At very most, these can only have been fraternal twins, who still share only about 50% of their DNA like any other non-twin siblings.

The eight DNA markers of Tutankhamun and his family can be viewed on this handy page:

Monday, June 23, 2014

DNA of the 12 Tribes

I don't completely get what the people who have this "Etz Yoseph" page think they can accomplish.  Evidently, they believe the 12 Tribes of Israel can be identified via DNA--and perhaps each tribe will have its own y-haplogroup.  I placed a comment on the page, saying that if one believes in these 12 tribes and that the founders were all sons of Jacob, the yDNA  of all should belong to the same haplogroup.  A father passes on his yDNA to all his sons and this continues as long as the male generations exist. I also wrote that, to account for the varying haplogroups of the Jews, one needs to recall that even the Torah states that a "mixed multitude" left Egypt under the leadership of Moses. 
Exodus 12:38..."Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock."
 With the giving of the Law of Moses is when the Jewish religion really began, but a religion has no DNA.  Converts, such as the Khazars, have to be taken into account, as well.  Otherwise, for a very long time, he who professes to be a Jew is considered a Jew as long as he has a Jewish mother--so the yDNA [male lineage] is not essential to the question "Who is a Jew" let alone can indicate to which original tribe ones ancestors belonged.  In the days of persecutions and pogroms, a Jewish woman can have found herself impregnated by a non-Jewish rapist.  The comments on that site are moderated and mine was not published.  As it was reasonably worded, I don't know why--unless my words went contra some agenda.

As far as I can tell, the Messianic Jews [people who believe Jesus is the Messiah]
 who run that website are urging Jews to undergo DNA testing in order to find some lost tribe.  That's what I gather, but if I am wrong they can come here and correct me.   However, if that is what they are advocating--that the yDNA of Jewish males can be separated into "tribes"--then I think that is not possible now--nor will it ever be.   While some over the many years have referred to Jews as belonging to a "race", the Jews, themselves,  claim to be a "people".  They know they are not descended of one stock alone as, for one thing, the descendants of Jacob lived in Egypt for 400 years, they would have mixed their blood with Egyptians, both males and females.   There was nothing at all to prevent it. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Model In the Tomb of Nefertari?

Taking another look at some images from the tomb of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II, I noticed something unusual.  In fact, the paintings of the face of the royal lady seemed innovative to me long ago as they evidence an attempt to create an  effect that would not be seen again in Egypt for centuries.  That would be in the Classic Era when  actual full-face portraits of the deceased were painted for their funerary trappings.  By then, Egyptian artists had learned to paint with highlights and shadows in order to make a face appear more than merely one-dimensional.

Even though the portraits in the tomb of Nefertari continued to follow the usual canon of representing the human face and form, something new was added--an attempt to use shadows for the reasons already stated.  Some time ago I watched a Masterpiece Theater version of Dickens' tale "Bleak House" with actress Gillian Anderson as Lady Deadlock.  Because the story was written in the 19th Century, some scenes were shot with minimal lighting in order to convey how dark rooms appeared then with only candles or such primitive illumination as was possible in those times.  This view of Gillian Anderson reminded me of Queen Nefertari as she appears in profile in her tomb.

The profile is of a very similar type, but more important is the shadow on the cheek of the actress, which is very like that which the tomb's master artist painted on the cheek of Nefertari. as you can see below.   What is interesting is that the effect in both the cases of the photograph and the wall painting are the result of muted illumination that cast those shadows on the profile.  Would the Egyptian artist have recollected how that appeared from his own experience in the likewise dimly-lit chambers of his time--or did he have an actual model posing for him right there in the tomb, saved from darkness only by some oil lamps?  We don't normally think of the Egyptians using models for their tomb paintings as, mostly, the human faces are not executed in a "painterly" manner but just painted "flat", with only one color.  But that is not true of the face of Queen Nefertari.  If the artist used a model, it surely would not have been the queen, herself, but a woman who resembled her.  Perhaps the artist knew such a woman and this was his inspiration for asking her to pose.  And then he decided to paint her face as he saw it--shadows and all.  Note:  These are not my images.  I am using them for educational purposes only.