Monday, November 22, 2010

The End of the Minoan Civilization

If you ignore the distracting suggestions that Crete could be Atlantis, this is a very interesting documentary, setting forth very strong evidence that it was tsunamis created by the devastating eruption of the Thera volcano that ended the Minoan civilization. Scientists have estimated, by the evidence, that a tsunami 20 meters high crashed into the island at 10-20 mph and was, in fact, just one of a series of great waves generated by the blast. You can watch the entire program on your computer.
Meanwhile, I'm still of the opinion that some of the peoples of the Aegean had time to flee between the initial eruption and the cataclysmic one and were refugees in Egypt near the time of Ahmose I and that is why his mother was called "the mistress of the Hau-nebu", the foreigners who came from the islands of the sea.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Plight of the Samaritans

The Samaritans are a small and ancient sect, half of them living near Nablus, Jordan, and the other in Holon, Israel. They are growing now in number but, around the time of WW I, there were less than 200 souls existing among them. The Samaritans broke with the Jews many centuries ago when the tribes split into separate kingdoms, that of Israel/Samaria [north] and that of Judah [south] but. like the Jews, they continue to revere the Torah.
Because the Samaritan people rejected the idea of marrying anyone outside their own group for a very long time, when their number began to dwindle precariously all this inbreeding began to take a terrible toll. Although I have studied the Samaritan culture for many years and knew there were some problems, I never realized how many severely handicapped persons were living within the culture until I saw a fascinating documentary, "New Samaritans", ten minutes of which can be seen on You Tube here:
High Priest Shalom Cohen [above] was part of the documentary and dies during it. This was about seven years ago and a relative is now the High Priest or Cohen Gadol of the Samaritans, their undisputed leader. Shalom Cohen was a very remarkable man who looked like someone who had just stepped out of the Old Testament. He was fluent in several languages and a member of the Palestinian Parliament. According to the documentary, it was up to him to decide whether Samaritan men could marry foreign women and his answer was apparently "yes". However, quite a few years ago, once the state of Israel was established, there were so many more Samaritan males than females that it was deemed justifiable for the men to marry Jewish women as long as the wives were amenable to living according to Samaritan ways. But there were not very many modern Israeli girls who were willing to accept the terms which included living in seclusion during menstruation. Now, it appears, some Samaritan men are beginning to marry Ukrainian women who are much farther removed from their culture than Israeli women ever could be and this worries some of the Samaritans considerably. Even watching ten minutes of the documentary will make one aware of the dilemma these people face.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The DNA of Moses?

This gets complicated as everything to do with DNA seems to be. Not that long ago scientists decided to see if men with the surname of Cohen [or its variants] really did have a common ancestor. It turns out, in many cases, that
they did. However, their exact same Y-DNA was also borne by males who had other surnames. Why this is can be explained by the fact that Jews did not have last names until fairly recently in the history of the world and had to purchase them or acquired one by some means or another. Therefore, one can conclude that many Jewish men knew they were cohanim, descended from the priestly caste, and took the name Cohen, accordingly, but other of their co-religionists had lost track of their ancestry or simply preferred another surname. Also, in more modern times, some Jews changed their last names to ones which were not so obviously Jewish.
Moreover, not all men with the surname of Cohen belong to the same DNA haplogroup and those, also, share Y-DNA with other Jewish males with different last names. If one man is of a different haplogroup than another, there is a good chance they are not related or that, even if they once had a common ancestor, the Y-DNA of their lines became altered at some point. There are several means by which this can happen, one of which is that a man who has no son adopts one, perhaps a child of his wife from a previous marriage or one of her relatives. If that man had a brother who had natural sons, there are now two collateral branches of the same family with the capability of propagating themselves into the future, but the scions of each having a different Y-DNA.
Statistically, however, it has been determined that the most likely haplogroup for a cohen who is really a descendant of Aaron the Priest is J1[with a refinement of J1c3, also called J-P58], this haplogroup definitely having its roots in the Middle East. Since Moses was the younger brother of Aaron and the Bible does not say they had different fathers, the following is his predicted 12 marker DNA, matching that of the modern J1 Cohens who were tested by Family Tree DNA:
/12/23/14/10/13/15/11/16/12/13/11/30/ with additional markers seeming to be:

"And Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years." Exodus 6:20

Thutmose IV Only Reigned About A Decade

Below is my painting of Sennefer and his wife, Hatshepsut, the remains of a dyad in the Paris Louvre. My conclusion is that this sculpture was begun in the reign of Amenhotep II and finished in that of Thutmose IV.

Just how much the face of Thutmose differed from that of his sire, Amenhotep, is clearly illustrated in the pair statue. How charming this couple is--and how somehow very modern! In the New Kingdom, it was quite usual for the nobility to be portrayed with the face of the current sovereign, men and women alike. That is why so many husbands and wives in Egyptian art seem to have the same face. But not Sennefer and Hatshepsut.

Arthur Weigall saw the lower parts of five statues in a certain cenotaph at Gebel Silsileh, which he describes in his "A Guide To the Antiquities of Egypt":

"(West Bank) A roofless tomb is now reached, in which the lower parts of five statues can be seen. These and the scenes on the walls show that a certain Sennefer was buried here with his wife, Hatshepsut, these names dating them to the 18th Dynasty. Sennefer was a libation priest of Amen attached to the palace at Thebes, and seems to have been the son of the "Royal Son, Governor of the lands of the South", Usersatet and of Anun his wife. The Lady Hatshepsut was the daughter of the chief nurse of the king, named Hemttaui, and her husband Seninefer, a priest.[More recent Egyptologists have interpreted these relationships differently.] Other relatives were a High Priest of Horuar and Sebek of Ombo, a High Priest of Nekheb (at El Kab), a Priest of Khnum, and others whose names and titles are now lost. On the north wall Sennefer and his wife are seen seated before a table of offerings, while before them a male harper plays upon a large harp and two nude women, one playing a stringed instrument, dance for the amusement of these dead persons, etc., etc...."

Sennefer, then , was a very grand person, indeed, the son of a Viceroy of Kush. The countenance of Sennefer first struck me by its beauty and by the fact that it looks enough like the face of the mummy of King Thutmose IV to be his twin! Whether the priest was an actual relative of Menkheperure cannot be known for certain but the cenotaph definitely indicates that it was begun in the time of Amenhotep II. In fact, the Lady Hatshepsut has features that match those of that pharaoh's mummy. So, what may have happened is that the sculptor began the group with the figure of the wife during one reign and finished Sennefer's image in the next. Such is the twist of fate that give Hatshepsut the more rugged face of Amenhotep and her husband the beauty of Thutmose IV. In my view, this much-damaged work of art is a powerful argument that the king was already a grown man upon the death of his father (at least in oriental terms) and was, indeed, thirteen years old at minimum. Since we have numerous tomb paintings from the time of Thutmose IV, we can easily recognize the full lips that sit so closely beneath the blunt , slightly aquiline nose of Sennefer--as we have seen these features drawn many times before, almost in caricature. Yet Sennefer's portrait shows us, for the first time, how attractive they were in actuality. The features certainly do not suggest those of a lad of thirteen. Since Thutmose IV is thought to have reign about nine years and his mummy seems to be one of a man of around thirty, a twenty-year-old is more likely portrayed. The name of Sennefer's wife is also significant. While Queen Hatshepsut reigned, there were probably a number of Egyptian girls called after her, including a young wife of Thutmose III. Therefore, the spouse of Sennefer had to be born previous to the proscription of the name of Hatshepsut, which began sometime at the end of the reign of Menkheperre T III. This indicates that the dyad was begun when Hatshepsut, Sennefer's lady, was more than forty years old, around the time of the death of Amenhotep II. The cenotaph may be seen here