Saturday, December 3, 2011

More On Substitution Portraits

The Theban tomb of Sennedjem was found intact and contained the man, his wife, and some of their relatives.  Their coffins were beautifully decorated, even though the mummies of Sennedjem and spouse, Iyneferti, were discovered to be switched.  Nevertheless, that Sennedjem's outer coffin was made in the long reign of Ramesses II is rather obvious from the coffin's face--not that of Sennedjem but that of the sovereign.  Just like the face of the actual mummy of Ramesses the Great, the right eye is somewhat smaller than the left. 

However, the most realistic portrait of Ramesses II I have ever seen is below:

The detail is not very good in this scanned image but a haughtier portrait is difficult to imagine.  Note that the right eye is, once again, smaller than the left and there is the big, puffy chin under the smallish mouth of what is supposed to be a portrait of the scribe, May.  I cannot recall where the statue resides.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Granville's Mummy Died of TB

This news is 2 years old but still interesting.  Here is a report on Granville's Mummy, one that was unwrapped in the 19th Century:

and here is a contemporary report from a witness to the unwrapping, from a bit in the London Magazine:

Granville found a tumor in the remains and figured the woman, Irtyersenu, had died of cancer, but the tumor was actually benign.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From Nurses to Queens

In the winter of 2005 I published a piece in Britain's Ancient Egypt Magazine called "The Head-dress of Lady Rai".  The point of the article was that the indentations on the forehead of a female mummy from the Deir el Bahari cache, named Rai, seemed to conform to the joins on a golden headdress of another [lost?] mummy, Satdjehuty, as depicted on her mask in the British Museum.   The joins, as visible in a larger image, have been traced over in red by me to demonstrate just how they line up with the bottom of the head-dress.  Here are the relevant images:

I no longer have a copy of my own article but, if I recall correctly,  there were nurses of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari named Satdjehuty and Rai, the latter's coffin being in the Deir el Bahari cache but containing the corpse of Queen Inhapi.  Rai's head-dress seems to have gone slightly askew but that of Inhapi slipped down so much onto her face that it crushed her nose and left a pattern of its rishi-feathers on her face. More about the mummy of "Rai", shown here, can be found on Max Miller's website at:

I also remember that, even while writing my piece for the magazine, I wondered how anyone knew the BM mask belonged to Satdjehuty as the visible inscription did not evidence such a name.  Now I know the answer.   The burial of Satdjehuty was discovered around 1820, according to Wiki, but how that is known eludes me.  The lady, being a king's daughter, king's sister, and king's wife, seems to have been a consort of Seqenenre Tao II.  Her nickname was "Satibu".   Her mummy mask went to the British Museum but the remains of her wooden sarcophagus was acquired by Munich, where it was exhibited in 1999.  That Satdjehuty was a queen is known from the Munich artifact.  In 2005 I could find nothing indicating that the Satdjehuty of the BM mask was a queen and opinions fluctuated between "lady of the court" and "princess".  Even now the BM website does not recognize this Satdjehuty as a queen.

But Wikipaedia indicates she is and I will try to investigate the matter further, although I think Wiki is correct.  While the mask does not have a uraeus, the Munich sarcophagus head-dress, much the same, clearly once did:

I wrote in my article that what appeared to be golden head-dresses of ladies of the court were very queenly in appearance and now, of course, I know why.  The Satdjehuty [which seems to have been a common name of the era] of the BM mask was no nurse or lady of the court--but a queen.  A bandage, probably also in the BM, indicating a Satdjehuty as "a praised one of Ahmose-Nefertari" likely belonged to different lady and has been erroneously connected to the owner of the mask.  The grandmother of Senenmut, great servant of Hatshepsut, was called Satdjehuty, too.  Satdjehuty, the queen and sister-wife of Tao II, is also mentioned on the mummy-shroud of her daughter, Ahmes, who was buried in QV47 and is now in the Turin museum. [Dodson] The other wives of Tao II were Ahhotep and Inhapi.  

Therefore, the mummy, supposedly named "Rai", can also not be a mere nurse but is surely a queen, as well.  Now there is nothing known to be worn by ladies of the court that can have left the impression on the brow of the mummy--just the weighty golden crown of a king's wife.  If you read about this mummy on Max Miller's site, you will have noticed that an inscription on a bandage was thought to say "Rai", but the other inscriptions were left vague in what Professor Eliott Smith had to say about these female remains in his book, "The Royal Mummies".  A curious photo of one of the bandages along with some hair can be seen below, souvenirs of Smith in a frame.  Scroll down and you will come to it here:

Yes, indeed, a coffin of a nurse of Ahmose-Nefertari, belonging to "Rai", was certainly found in the cache but that the mummy, supposed to have been Rai, herself, all these years can be that lady is now very doubtful.  An investigation into the matter should be conducted by the Cairo Egyptian Museum and the DNA of  "Rai" could be compared with the mummies of other queens of the period. There is the coffin of a man named Paherypedjet, too, in which "Rai" was found, but what happened to him?  His mummy does not appear to have been discovered among those in the cache.  The BM mask was purchased in 1880 at Morten & Sons from the sale of the collection of  Samuel Hull, of whom I know nothing.   The mask is no more than 13 inches high.  It does not make so very much sense that, if the nurse of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari, Rai, was going to be included by the reburial commission with the defunct royals of Egypt, that her coffin would be taken from her and used for Inhapi.  Why not, then, just leave Rai in her own coffin and place Inhapi in that of Paherypedjet?  It seems to me that the nurse was never deemed of sufficient rank to be included in the cache but lost her coffin to one royal lady and possibly even some of her bandages for the re-wrapping of another young queen.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Face of Tutankhamun

I have written it here and elsewhere that the best way to know how a king of Egypt really looked is to see his face as substituted for those of his servants and nobles.  The above is supposed to be the head of a statue of Paramessu, a northern vizier of Tutankhamun who eventually became pharaoh as Ramesses I.  Even though this stone face is less than perfectly intact, it is easy to see that it actually belongs to the boy-king Paramessu served.  In these "substitution portraits", which were a very common way to show ones loyalty to the ruler in the New Kingdom, the artists did not bother to flatter the pharaoh nearly as much as they did in his own official images.  Therefore, the above rendering of the young Tutankhamun is about as faithful a portrait as would have been made of him in antiquity and it compares very well to the face of his mummy.  Notable are the almond eyes with their heavy lids and the thick lips that close with difficulty over the large, protruding front teeth.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sven Geruschkat--A Modern Master

Have jusr been introduced to the work of Sven Geruschkat, a veritable Holbein among digital artists.
Just look at his marvelous reconstruction of the head of Nefertiti.  It looks like a photograph of the queen.  Of this guy I totally approve!  When you get to his page click on "CGINew" and you will see it.  Then click on the thumbnail.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Neferura, Heir Apparent

This is thanks to Stuart Tyler and his Hatshepsut Project  at

Perhaps because the fragment rests in a rather obscure Scottish museum, I had never viewed an image of it and was so surprised and appalled that I asked Stuart if there was any possibility it might be a fake. You can see my conversation with him, as well. But he convinced me it was not and I then realized that, at the time of the building of Hatshepsut's mortuary complex, [ca. Year 7] Thutmose III was supposed to be out of the picture entirely.  He really had lost his throne to Hatshepsut's ambitions.
They were not joint rulers at all or Neferura, Hatshepsut's daughter, would have been displayed as a mere princess and not with the diadem and sidelock of an heir apparent--yet another female pharaoh waiting in the wings.    During my conversation with Stuart at his site, you can view the URLs to some images of Ramesside Era princes wearing a nearly identical diadem and sidelock.
[click on image for larger view]
There is nothing in existence depicting Thutmose, himself, as a prince. It is scarcely any wonder, then, in light of the above image, that William Petty, in a couple of articles, has pointed out that there are no unambiguous inscriptions of Thutmose III between his Year  5 and Year 13.   Where was he and what was he up to?  But, sometime after Year 13, Hatshepsut changed her mind and Thutmose began to appear with her on monuments albeit in a secondary position.  Then,  in her Year 21, Hatshepsut, herself, becomes absent from the record.  Under the circumstances, I have to agree with Petty that Thutmose found it convenient to continue the last regnal date of the woman-king.  He may have been the rightful sovereign, but it now seems to me he had been deposed, not merely eclipsed, and was not expected to ever resume his kingship  during a certain period.

William Petty's paper in the journal, Ostracon, "Redating the Reign of Hatshepsut" can be found here:

There he gives an account of the items dated to the years of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut, finding a gap of seven for the former.

Addition of October 30:  There is however, the problem of Thutmose III being depicted at the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.  According to Alberto Siliotti, construction of the temple of Hatshepsut took fifteen years, between years 7 and 22.  Here is where I hit a limestone wall because I have no way of knowing if the depictions of Thutmose are contemporary or retrospective.  For example, he is present in a scene commemorating the famous expedition to Punt in Year 9--but in which year was the scene executed?  Probably not until at very least Year 10 and by then a co-regency may have been restored.  Since I am not familiar with the stages of Djeser Djeseru, I can say no more until I have done more research on the temple.

Monday, October 10, 2011

From Memphis to Gaza--the Road to Conquest

Related to the post, below, is a check of the annals of Thutmose III and his trek with his army from Memphis to Gaza.  Unfortunately, the day in the fourth month of winter that the king set out from his northern capital is not known, but he passed the fortress of Djaru [Sile] , the gateway to Canaan in Year 22, the fourth month of winter Day 25.  It took the pharaoh nine days to reach Gaza from Djaru.

Above:  Thutmose III in middle age by M. Luban

That this is the truth is, ironically, corroborated by a Jewish traveler, Meshullam ben Menachem of Volterra, who made the same trip in 1481 CE.  Thutmose III possibly made his journey in 1482 BCE.  Meshullam, an Italian jeweler, merely wanted to see the Holy Land via Egypt, as he also wished to learn about the  Jews in that country and their number.  The traveler wrote that it was 298 miles from Cairo to Gaza and that was about the distance from ancient Memphis to Gaza, as well.   Meshullam left Cairo on the 4th of July, a time of much greater heat than the departure of Thutmose in the spring.  But Meshullam was not walking and rode donkeys and camels.  He waited  at a place called "Alhanika, that is Rephidim", two miles from Cairo, for a caravan, and left with it at dawn on July 12, reaching Bilbeis in the eastern Delta on the same day.  Meshullam figured that Bilbeis was Goshen.   The caravan left Bilbeis on the 13th of July and  arrived at a small place known as Hatara and from there "entered the desert".   Leaving Hatara, Meshullam and company got as far as Salahia on July 14 where they had to pay a tax [one of many] to the guardian of the roads and riders.  This Salahia is suspiciously Sile, which also once monitored the main way out of Egypt.  [Note of Oct. 11:  An old Encyclopedia Britannica of 1910 confirms this, stating that "Salihia" is just south of Lake Menzala and was the start of a caravan route from Egypt.] There Meshullam remained until the 15 of July and after that continued on to Rivayrar, a spot that meant "wells", according to the traveler.  On the 16th of July Meshullam advanced to Kastaia, " a fine city with many palm trees" and his caravan decided to rest there until Sunday the 18th. 

That same day Meshullam found Bir-Debur "a place of brackish water".  On the 19th El-Arish was reached.  Meshullam sensibly deduced this must be the Succoth of the Torah on account of its name meaning "reed hut".  On the 21st of the month the caravan was at Gaza.   Meshullam's journey from near Cairo to Gaza took nine days but, again, he was not on the march.  The forces of Thutmose III required nine days to reach Gaza from Sile on foot  and they made very good time as it required Meshullam seven days by camel to traverse the same distance.   It is reasonable to think that Thutmose and his men halted and rested at the same places that Meshullam did, although they probably did not have the leisure to sojourn two days at the spot with all the palm trees.   It only required two days for Meshullam of Volterra to get from Cairo to where the desert began and, at most, the pharaoh's army needed four on foot--unless they by some chance had some business to conduct at Avaris in the eastern Delta.  Were it not for that lacuna where it stated the day of departure from Memphis, we might have a pretty good idea if there were any protracted stops along the way to Djaru.  If the army went straight through, it probably left Menphis on the 21st Day of the fourth month of winter.  See my post about "Lemonade" for a description of the winged creatures that bit Meshullam and the men en route. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Biblical Exodus 101

There are a few simple facts to remember about the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt that is described in the second book of the Torah. They are these:

  1. The first plague must have taken place at the very start of the inundation, as only then did the Nile take on a reddish-brown hue, the rains of Ethiopia having washed its red earth downstream into Egypt.
  2. The next nine plagues occur throughout the coming months into  the winter season. The winter crops have been ripening and the Bible, when the wrath of God supposedly brings down hail to destroy the crops, gives a telling clue that it is only sometime in late January or early February because only certain of the crops were ripening and the others had not yet matured.
  3. The legend had it, according to the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, that the exodus took place in the Egyptian month of Pharmouti, the month of threshing, ideally corresponding to April/May. After that month the harvest is done. Pharmouti must also correspond to the Hebrew month of Nisan [by retroactive reckoning] and this only happens during limited periods in Egyptian history. In some years, the 15th of Nisan, the day of the departure, will fall within other months in the Egyptian civil calendar. For example, in 1359 BCE, a year in the reign of Amenhotep III, the 15th of Nisan would fall on Julian 21st of April—but this would amount to 27 Pakhons by the civil calendar.
  4. Nearly all of the ancient historians were convinced that an exodus occurred during the sway of the 18th Dynasty, yet not all agreed as to the reigning pharaoh. But, giving another example, April 3, 1482 BCE, probably a year in the reign of Thutmose III, amounts to 8 Pharmouti and 15 Nisan 2279. I do not know the year in which the Biblical exodus was supposed to have occurred. Perhaps no one did by the time the Book of Exodus was written. However, it is obvious, even from the way the plagues are described, that it had to be in what we call the spring season. Therefore, the Jewish calendar was devised as a lunar-solar one, so that the month of Nisan would always fall in the spring. However, since the Egyptian civil calendar was a lunar one without leap years, this was not the fate of the month of Pharmouti, which could fall within any of the three naturally-occuring seasons of Egypt but was in what we view as the spring only at limited times.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Unexplained

In June, while doing some research, I took some photos of a church that is going on 200 years old with a disposable camera.  I am not much for taking pictures so don't have a better camera any longer.  This is the view, above.  This is the largest the photo will show up on this blog, but the images are clickable for a better look.   Here is an enlargement of something odd I saw by the left railing of the double doors:

Is it a ghostly figure hovering above the top step?   Who knows?  There was no one there when I snapped the shot.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Brief Synopsis of My Books

Some may have wondered what my books are about and haven't taken the time to go to the booksellers' sites to find out.  So I thought I'd render a brief synopsis of each one here in the order that I wrote them:

The Samaritan Treasure [1990]  Short fiction collection nominated for a Minnesota Book Award.  The stories narrate the Jewish experience throughout time from ancient Israel to Regency England and the American Midwest.

The Exodus Chronicles  [2005]  In this work of nonfiction I have assembled all that was said in antiquity about the exodus of the Jews from Egypt by the ancient historians and have also included some interesting tidbits from Medieval and modern writers.  I included my own commentaries about dates and other things relative to Egypt and primary texts from this land.  Basically, this book is an "Everything you ever wanted to know about the exodus"--or was there actually more than one?

The Pharaoh's Barber [2008]  Set in the court of Thutmose III, this tale of mystery and murder is experienced through the eyes of the king's own barber, a young Canaanite captive named Levi.  Who hated the pharaoh's beautiful new wife, Satiah, enough to kill her?  More than one individual has a motive, including the members of Thutmose's own family, beginning with his first wife, Neferura, the proud and iron-willed daughter of Hatshepsut.

The Priest [2008]  Father Raphael Arnheim is a man with an unusual past, who ultimately describes himself as "the worst priest in all of Christendom".   This erotic novel shows what can happen to a man before he realizes that love is "the one true and holy thing in the universe".

Jane Austen's Thimble [2009]  A novella whose setting is London.  Andrea Beller, a young American woman, has given up on life but a diverse cast of characters and a thimble she found at Chawton, the home of her favorite novelist, help Andrea to find her way back to happiness and solve the puzzle of her identity.

Lucien Galtier-Pioneer Priest [2010]  Biography of the first priest to come to the Minnesota Territory and who built the first church.  Born in France, youthful Father Galtier struggles to survive physically and spiritually in the rough frontier towns on the Mississippi river.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

More On Royal DNA

Some say "yes", some say "no" but when it comes to testing the royal mummies of Egypt, the green light still flashes "Go, go, go"!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baking Old Bones

This is old news but I missed it.  It's a method for facilitating the extraction of DNA from skeletal remains.  Interesting.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Who You Are

Many people, when talk of ancestry arises, say "I am Heinz 57 Variety", chiefly due to the melting pot called America.   But, in reality, it is simpler than that--and at the same time more complex.  Studying the world of DNA has changed my view of ancestry entirely.  We inherit two sets of genes, one from each of our parents.  These genes determine our appearance, intelligence, and other traits and we can certainly favor one parent over the other in regard to all that.  We also inherit our blood type from one or the other of our parents.   These genes or alleles are very useful when it comes to determining our recent relatives, if that is in doubt but, in a most basic sense, we are never "Heinz 57 Variety".   That's because our "ancestral" DNA never varies, even though, living in a melting pot society, the various ethnic types that contributed to who we are certainly influenced other things about us.

If you are a male, you have inherited what is called y-DNA from your father in a chain that goes back indefinitely.   This DNA can be broken down into a haplogroup and the haplogroup into sub-clades so that one can pretty well narrow down what part of the world your distant male ancestor came from.  Studying the various surnames of men who have been tested by companies such as Family Tree DNA in various haplogroups and their subclades, it is quite amazing to see how these last names which seem to belong to various ethnicities--belong to persons who are related, regardless.  That's right.  Your last name can be Bailey but you can still have the same common ancestor as a man called Goldberg.   There were times when certain areas of the globe, including the Middle East and Europe, were devastated by catastrophic diseases.  On account of them many male lines died out and it was basically a case of the survival of the fittest.  In other words, at these dreadful periods in history the progenitors, men who were able to perpetuate their y-DNA into the future, became relatively few.  Minorities, like the Jews, were hit especially hard and that is why so many Jewish men with dozens of different last names [last names can be acquired by various means and are something relatively recent in the history of Mankind] have a common ancestor.  Of course, persons who lived in distant lands like the Far East or were isolated by great bodies of water, such as the Americas or even Scandinavia usually do not fit into this picture because foreigners normally did not go there in antiquity.  Some places were simply too far, too cold, beyond great mountains, or their men had reputations of being too fierce.  But, sometimes, for certains reasons, men went far from their own lands--like the crusaders did to battle over Jerusalem.

Of course, if you are a male, you also inherited your mothers mitochondrial DNA--but you cannot pass that on to your children.  You just pass your y-DNA on to your sons.  Mitochondrial or mtDNA also has haplogroups and it is not at all rare for a man's mtDNA to come from a different part of the world than his y-DNA did.  One of the reasons is that wandering men married or at least procreated with local women.  Mitochondrial DNA is passed on from mother to daughter in an unbroken chain going back many thousands of years.  If you are a female, the haplogroup your mtDNA belongs to is your unchanging ethnicity.  This has nothing to do with religion, citizenship--or any group of which you might consider yourself a part.  It is who you are in the most basic sense.  You do not inherit y-DNA from your father if you are a female, just some of his genes.  Being a woman, if you want to know where your remote paternal ancestors come from, your father or a brother, an uncle or a male cousin, need to be tested.  Your own DNA is of no use for determining this.

The science of microbiology or DNA testing has shown that people have many more relatives everywhere than they ever imagined--and that people are more alike than they ever considered.  DNA is immune to prejudice and national chauvanism.  It does not lie.  You may have believed your great-great-grandfather came from Ireland--and that may be so--but his own ancestors might have lived in Spain.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Foreign Wives of Thutmose III

While almost nothing of the vast treasure that must have been buried with the great warrior pharaoh, Thutmose III, survives except some items left on his mummy, three of his concubines fared much better.  Their names are obviously foreign, probably West-Semitic, and are usually written as Menhet, Menwi, and Merti.  They ended up in my mystery novel, "The Pharaoh's Barber" and I made them sisters, although their true relationship is unknown.  I also gave them the formal Semitic names of Marta, Menukhah and Manahet and the last two do seem to correspond to the nicknames given them in antiquity.  These foreign girls were buried in a rock cut tomb in what is known as the Wady Gabbanat el-Qurud, discovered in 1916 by Herbert Winlock.  The tomb had already been robbed but some of the looted artifacts were recovered and the collection is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.  Above is a diadem bearing the gazelle heads commonly worn by secondary wives or concubines instead of uraei.  Only such golden objects and those made of stone survived as damp had gotten into the tomb and disintegrated the wood and, most unfortunately, the mummies.  Winlock thought the women had probably all died at the same time, possibly of a pestilence, and that is their fate in my book.  Before that, however, Marta, a very clever and beautiful girl, does a great service to her lord, Menkheperre Thutmose.  Here is an excerpt, describing the girls' first meeting with the great man, as viewed by the pharaoh's young barber:

"The Canaanite wives wore their colorful, embroidered dresses they had brought from home but they also had some beautiful golden things upon their heads and all kinds of jewelry on their necks, wrists and ankles.  Each one had a little ring in her nostril.  Their eyes were painted like the Egyptian wives, but not so much, and they were lacking reddened lips and cheeks.  But their own blood in  their cheeks gave them the blush of roses.   Instead of sandals, the sisters wore on their feet small shoes of yellow leather.  Levi was glad to see that the scorned sisters confronted the pharaoh, whom they did not know at all, bravely, and held their thin, arched noses proudly before them."

By the way, the person doing the observing was not born in Egypt but in Asia.  Probably, he had never seen the kind of flower we westerners call a rose, but he had surely seen rock roses, which look like this:

Although my book is not really geared toward young adults, it begins where my favorite teenage novel, "Mara, daughter of the Nile", by E. J. McGraw, left off.  I am as convinced as McGraw that Hatshepsut was not a nice lady.  Ultimately, these wives must have come to mean something to the king because they were given a sumptuous burial, including the wonderful jewelry that can be seen today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Who Is This Mummy?

I suggested, some years ago on my now defunct website [some of it still exists at] the possibility, that the mummy "Thutmose I" may be a son of Amenhotep I-- Prince Sipair. At least that is what Scott Woodward, the first microbiologist to do a genetic study of the royal mummies seemed to think, that they were father and son, although his findings were never published. The erstwhile "Thutmose I" does not have his arms positioned across his chest like a pharaoh, but his now missing hands were once placed over his genitals in a pose that has been seen in royal princes. Yet, even in remote antiquity, there was some confusion as to whether Sipair was a prince or an actual king. In the tomb of Inherkhauy, Sipair is included in the famous tableau called "The Lords of the West". There he sits at the end of the first row without a cartouche, but holding royal insignia, the crook and the flail, regardless. A ceremonial beard is tied on his chin, although he sports only the princely sidelock.

Sipair was reburied by Butehamun, a scribe in charge of dismantling the Theban necropolis, whose sovereign instructed him to strip the "ancestors" of their wealth for his own profit at the end of the 20th Dynasty. On Butehamun's coffin, in the Turin Museum, Prince Sipair is there among the royals depicted that Butehamun "restored" and he is shown as an adult, as he is on other artifacts. The pAbbot, however, refers to the burial of a "king" Ahmose-Sipair [his full name in a cartouche] but supplies no prenomen for him. His tomb, wherever it was, was reported in the papyus as being "sound" i. e. "unplundered" in the reign of Ramesses IX. The other royals depicted on Butehamun's coffin are Amenhotep I, Queen Ah-hotep, Queen Ahmose-Nefertari, Queen Sitamun and Queen Meryetamun--all of their mummies "supposedly" discovered in the Deir el Bahari cache. So we may suppose that Prince Sipair was there with the other members of his family. Queen Ah-hotep was a relative of Amenhotep I, (possibly even his chief wife) Ahmose-Nefertari was his mother, and Sitamun and Meryetamun apparently sister-wives of the pharaoh. There is one such Meryetamun, her tomb [a reburial] discovered beneath a part of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, who bears quite a resemblance to the now nameless male mummy, including their very thick, brush-like eyelashes and prominent over-bites.
As we now know, Amenhotep I did not seem to have had a surviving son and was succeeded by Thutmose I, whose father is an unknown. It may have been that Prince Ahmose-Sipair was the heir-apparent at one time, even assumed some kingly duties for some reason, but met an untimely death.

Recent scanning of the corpse has revealed that he met a violent end, perhaps even in battle, as what seems to be an arrow-head is still imbedded in his chest. The mummy was discovered in a coffin of the actual Thutmose I but which was altered for Pinudjem I. Why that was still poses many questions. On the other hand, as the latest DNA report for the person in question has not yet been released, the mummy could possibly be one of the sons of Thutmose I, as the features correspond closely to those of other persons within the Thutmosid dynasty.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Help For Bald Mummies?

Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secret

means that hair and eye color can now be predicted from DNA.

"Prof. Manfred Kayser, Chair of the Department of Forensic Molecular Biology at Erasmus MC, who led the study, said, "That we are now making it possible to predict different hair colors from DNA represents a major breakthrough because, so far, only red hair color, which is rare, could be estimated from DNA. For our research we made use of the DNA and hair color information of hundreds of Europeans and investigated genes previously known to influence the differences in hair color. We identified 13 'DNA markers' from 11 genes that are informative to predict a person's hair color."

This would work with non-European populations, as well. As for King Tut and family, they carry a European haplogroup, anyway, it is thought, so their characteristics could be predicted under the above guidelines.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

EEF--Time To Take Off That Tight Garter

Many years ago, ladies [and longer before that even men] used to wear blood-stopping garters to hold up their stockings. There were other contraptions, too, that were constricting, like corsets that scarcely allowed one to take in air. Such things went the way of the Dodo but there are still influences in life who make it unnecessarily difficult to breathe freely. Sometimes it's because they're so damned dry you can't stop sneezing from the dust. For well over a decade now, I have been a member of the Egyptologist's Electronic Forum, hereafter the EEF. If nothing else, it was a respite from the flame wars so hard to escape elsewhere in the virtual world. It was full of smart people instead of trolling idiots. But now I feel it has stagnated in its own mainstream Egyptology pool [seldom a lively discussion about anything], resembling more a bulletin board ["reference wanted" or "wanted, Dr. Pishwasser's email address"] than any actual forum for the exchange of ideas or viewpoints. Egyptologists tend to hold their cards pretty tightly to their chests, anyway. They would rather put their views and ideas in journals before somebody else can steal them. Added to that, it appears to me that the EEF maintains an attitude of conservative self-importance that, in my opinion, is rather comical when one considers the lack of conservative self-importance attached to Egyptology elsewhere these days, with both extremes attempting to exert control in their own fashion.

It's been my opinion, for a long time, that the modus operandi of the individual running the EEF makes it seem like one false move on the part of any poster could bring down the fatal scorn of the Egyptologists of the planet--as if that discipline didn't have its share of strange squirrels but consists only of well-adjusted brilliants who never serve up a lame theory or squabble among themselves. And, actually, many Egyptologists are never heard from on the EEF, although I don't know if they are on the membership roster. Few people now recall exactly how the EEF got started. I do! At one time, in the later '90's, the only Internet discussion forum exclusively devoted to ancient Egypt was run by me. It was called the Osirislist and had a substantial membership, some of it extremely knowledgeable, and even a grad student or two. Maybe even a couple of Egyptologists. I'm not sure anymore. It was my goal just to forward the posts and engage in no strict moderation, but a certain clique of hostile people kept on re-subscribing under false monikers as soon as they were booted off the list for being rude or otherwise causing trouble. Other ultra-conservative types objected to my telling these people off on-list or making it plain what I thought of them. Oh, well, I could perhaps have handled things better--but it was a prototype and quite civil compared to the Usenet groups. At least it wasn't dull but I, personally, could have done without the disruptions. Most of the members were nice folks.

Meanwhile, the current moderator of the EEF, Aayko Eyma, who was an Osirislist subscriber, wrote to me privately that he thought I should make him a co-moderator. I liked the man and admired his keen intellect but declined because I didn't know how that was going to work under the system the posts were being forwarded to the membership [shifts?] Then Eyma made it plain to me that, if there wasn't another moderator, certain parties were going to break away and begin a different forum. My response was "I am not stopping them". Thus was born the EEF, a totally different operation from the free and [mostly] unchecked exchange of ideas that took place on the Osirislist. Since I was experiencing severe health problems at this period [it's never been too good this past decade] I asked the membership for a volunteer to take over the Osirislist completely and at some point it died away. But, perhaps not suprisingly, when the EEF began to function I noticed that persons who had aided in setting it up and were on its "Advisory Board" were some of my worst defamers in the unruly Usenet groups. It started, at least, to become clear who some of the "certain parties" were who wished another moderator and who were only too happy to come to the assistance of Eyma even though they really did not have the expertise to participate on the EEF as posters. Some of them had been banned from the Osirislist, which evidently frustrated them no end. I think it was because one of its founders was a grad student at Yale University that the EEF became associated with it and has a Yale email address. But the charter of the forum makes it clear that "the postings and moderation of this list are not Yale-sponsored" and that the forum is owned and operated by Aayko Eyma.
What I do know is that the EEF has a very large membership, over a thousand subscribers. In the main, I have had nothing against it, despite how it began, and enjoyed participating, myself, but there were certainly times when I though it was over-moderated, hyper-controlled. When I received an email, over the years, from Aayko Eyma, always entitled "Your Moderated Message", I usually heeded his suggestions, sometimes even welcomed them, and rarely protested. My guess, however, was that members who had PhD after their names never received this "moderated message" email--but I can't swear to it. Moreover, long ago, Eyma gave the order that a certain party and I were never to reply to each others posts because we were involved in a lengthy dispute. This seemed a wise decision to me and I seldom found myself interested in replying, anyway. But I noticed, from time to time, that the other party managed to get around the edict by replying to another member who had responded to me, lending the impression that I was not worthy of a direct response, myself. The other subscribers were not aware of the moderator's rule. This tactic did not seem to trouble Mr. Eyma--and I still said nothing. After all, it had seemed to me that Aayko was a far superior moderator, a lot more sensible, knowledgeable and equitable, to any other I had encountered on other Internet fora--and most of them were really terrible. One could not mention them and Aayko in the same breath. And that's why, until recently, I gave up trying to discuss anything about Near eastern topics with anyone save on the EEF.

However, I have now been forced to re-evaluate the positive aspect of the EEF in my life versus the negative influence of having to "keep mum" too many times. Why should I? I may not have a degree relative to Egyptology but I have been studying and researching for decades. I have educated myself extensively in those areas that interest me. I have been able to hold my own on that EEF just fine for how many years now? If Aayko Eyma, himself, has a degree, I would have no idea in what field. I have never seen it mentioned. In the past couple of days I received a "Your Moderated Message" email from Eyma, saying he planned to take a URL out of my post to which I was directing the membership for references and images "in case another subscriber [whom I leave nameless] wishes to post the information first". In the past, people have sometimes posted the exact same information in response to a query, as they would be bound to do. What would happen if each one waited for someone else to supply the info? Nothing at all. That "excision" really made no sense to me whatsoever--and this time I protested. Not that it did any good--no more than it would ever have done. I think I will take my protest one step farther, though, because when it comes right down to it, the EEF and I can live without one another just fine. Enough is enough. Time to say goodbye.