Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Whole Lotta Sickness Goin' On

This Time Traveler is spending a lot of time in the 19th Century these days. Yes, writing another book. With the Swine Flu and the seasonal one breathing down our necks this winter of 2009/2010 and vaccine shortages [I couldn't get mine yesterday--all out] a source of irritation, stop and consider that Americans have been sicker in the past. While we now tend to think that cholera is something that happens in Asia, outbreaks of this disease, caused by Salmonella Typhi, occurred repeatedly in the America of the 1800s. You got cholera, you didn't have much chance as it deprived your body of all fluids within the first 36 hours. And it spread fast! In addition to the nasty cholera, there was typhoid fever [then called "bilious fever"], not as deadly as cholera but also exhibiting some of the same foul symptoms. Then there was Yellow Fever in the swampy southern states, an acute viral infection caused by the bite of mosquitoes called Aedes Aegypti. If you ever saw the classic film, "Jezebel", with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, you got an education in Yellow Fever. The post WW I enfluenza contagion was a horror, often killing whole families. Then there was all that polio following WW II...well, you get the picture and I'll stop. Life on this planet is just plain hostile to the human species and medicine wages a seemingly endless war on microbes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This King Needs DNA Testing

Some time ago Zahi Hawass indicated an interest in the mummy, the putative Seti II, and said he might be tested for compatibility with the Thutmosid Dynasty, which he appears to resemble
far more than any of the Ramessides. Was the DNA testing ever done? If so, what were the results? That the so-called Seti II looked like none of what ought to be his mummified forebears has been remarked upon ever since he was unwrapped at the start of the last century. To the left is what I got when I did a reconstruction of the face in profile. Looks like Akhenaten, doesn't he, right down to the bump on the back of his neck [due to a very odd skeletal configuration very evident in the remains] shown in some of the pharaoh's portraits. Moreover, from a frontal view, the mummy also has the identical longish neck shape of the "unbeautiful" likenesses, tapering upward in an unusual way from a set of narrow shoulders. However, the pelvis of "Seti II" is quite wide--just as one would expect that of Akhenaten to be. The bite [as in dental terminology] of the Ramessides is characteristically straight, so how did Seti II end up with the Thutmosid overbite, not to mention that long, underslung jaw that nobody had as noticeably as the heretic king? I think there must have been a mistake in labeling on the part of the ancient reburial commission. In the lineup of the coffins in KV35, the first one in the back row was Thutmose IV, the next Amenhotep III and next to them--Seti II! But it is really Akhenaten who ought to be next in that line. Many people have assumed his mummy must have been destroyed due to a rebellion against his religious policies--but who knows? And the fact that the mummy was wrapped in a shirt supposedly belonging to King Merneptah [shirt no longer to be found in the Cairo Museum] is not necessarily fatal to this mummy belonging to the Tutmosids. These corpses were rewrapped to varying degrees after the 19th Dynasty died out.