Thursday, December 27, 2012

18th Dynasty Population Affiliations

I am beginning to think that's why only 8 DNA markers came out of Egypt--because it is too hard to get any popaffiliation without 9!  The program used here gives you slightly different stats each time you submit the person's STRs, but the difference is never significant.  The per centages are not admixture proportions but just probabilities. Here's the predicted PA of Yuya. 

As people have long suspected, Yuya has a good chance of being of foreign extraction and may have even registed a higher Asiatic ratio had I not been forced to give him the high modern Egyptian 12/14 numbers at D8S1179 by default--just to get the necessary 9th locus for the program.  I don't know what to think when the "probability" for Eurasian is about as great as sub-Saharan!  I used the Egyptian numbers because I did not know what other population to take them from. They come from the DNA of 140 unrelated people of Cairo, a northern city with a mixed population. This may screw up the results, but to what degree I do not know. In fact, I added the same locus to all the STRs of the royals, but had to give it in different combinations of 14 and 12.  Next is Thuya and, again, according to this program, scholars seem to have been correct.  She seems not to have been foreign but an African type.  You have to click on the images to read them.  The incredible thing is that, at D7S820, Thuya has an allele that doesn't show up again in the family until the larger foetus from the tomb of Tutankhamun.  It is 13 and doesn't show up much in Egypt, being the lowest one at that locus.  Where does it do best?  By far the best in Bari, Italy, that ancient Greek settlement, the same place a rare allele of the mother of Ramesses III [at a different locus] does best.  What gives?

Next is their daughter, Queen Tiye.  

Her husband, Amenhotep III, seems overwhelmingly sub-Saharan:

Up next is the KV55 Individual, the son of the king and queen, who is predicted as possibly Asiatic!

His sister, the Younger Lady, on the other hand does not have so much Asiatic probability.

Yet when I assigned Tutankhamun a double 14 at D8S1179[highest Egyptian number at that locus], his sub-Saharan probability  ratio became lessened.
Do I know how accurate all this can be by adding a default marker and only having 9?  No!  As you can see, 34 values are preferred for each person and I was only able to provide 18, two of them being guesses.  That is not enough, but the 18 can give a glimpse into the truth.  The program is not biased toward sub-Saharan, as is evidenced by the assignments of Yuya, the patriarch of the clan.  But it's hard to know what is really going on here.  Just an experiment using what data there is.



More 20th Dynasty DNA

Here is what came out when I put the DNA of Ramesses III and his son into a popaffiliator program.  It requires 9 loci and I had only 8 to work with.  Therefore in the case of Ramesses III, I added D3S1358, putting in the highest number for the modern Egyptian population, 15, for the father and the arbitrary high Greek one of 16 for the mother.  I did this because, at D7S820, the mother of Ramesses III has 15, which is not even on the chart for modern Egyptians.  Here is the result:

You'll have to click on the image to read it.  Next comes "Unknown Man E".  For his 9th locus, I added a different one, D851179.  For his father, I put the highest number at that marker in the Egyptian population, which is 14.  For the mother, I put in an only slightly lower one of 12.  I added nothing foreign, that I know of, to the DNA of "Unknown Man E", yet his "Eurasian" quotient rises from that of Ramesses III.  Caveat, I do not know how accurate this popaffiliator is.

It can be found here, if anyone wants to enter his own DNA to test it out.

Monday, December 24, 2012

20th Dynasty Mothers

I have been looking at the autosomal DNA of Ramesses III and "Unknown Man E".  I got it from Zink's paper.

Tentatively, my guess is that the mother of Ramesses III had Greek blood.  At the locus D7S820, she has the rare  /15/, an allele which makes the best  showing in Bari, Italy, [Barion] an ancient Greek settlement of Magna Græcia.  The name of the mother of Ramesses III is Tiye Merenese, but that doesn't necessarily mean she came from the Egyptian populace. Greek ancestry could account for the light blond hair of  "Unknown Man E".   At CSF1PO, you can see that both men have 7/10.  At that marker the 7 is very rare and many populations are lacking it completely.  It seems to be an African number, but not a North African one.  Very likely it is the common allele that make the two men father and son.  The 10 is extremely common at the locus.  It doesn't mean the mother and the grandmother were related. 10 does well in most populations and is absent from only a few, such as indigenous Mexico, although in Spain it shows quite well.  10  has a large showing in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and even among American Jewry.  I think that the mother of "Unknown Man E" can have come from a Middle Eastern population, even the Egyptian.  We'll soon see what others have to say.  You can click on the graph to enlarge.  I haven't had the chance to analyze most of the other loci yet.

Did Setnakht, the father of Ramesses III, have anything to do with Greeks?  In 2003, I wrote a paper equating the "Proteios" of the Greek writers with the pharaoh Setnakht.  This idea gained some acceptance and the paper can be read here:

Proteios, king of Egypt, was said to have entertained Helen of Troy at his court.  This theme became a drama by Euripides called "Helen".  The son of  Proteios fell in love with the Spartan beauty, but she, of course, left Egypt.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Out of Egypt?

Watch this fascinating video about a haplogroup very commonly found in Egypt, E1b1b1.  It includes Albert Einstein and some surprising others.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Nefertiti--Queen and Goddess

The religion of Akhenaten was new.  It rejected the old gods of the land but centered around the Aten, the disc of the sun.  All other manifestations of the sun were included in the theology, of course, and that is why Heliopolis, the city of the sun in the north, became the second center of the worship of the solar deity next to Akhetaten, the pharaoh Akhenaten's capital.  In order to preserve his own divine status in the scheme of things, Akhenaten represented himself as a true "son of the sun" in the guise of Shu, a light-deity who sprang from Ra and formed a kind of "holy trinity" with the sun, including the twin of Shu, Tefnut, goddess of moisture.  Nefertiti, the wife of Akhenaten, was the living incarnation of Tefnut and, truly, she was the only goddess of the new belief system, being one with Ra.  The unification of Shu and Tefnut with the sun-god preserved the monotheism of Akhenaten. 

In the tomb of Ay near the royal city, Nefertiti is called "goddess".  Ay's wife, Tey, had nursed this divine child, implying that Nefertiti had been a goddess since birth.  Remnants of the sarcophagus of Akhenaten from the royal tomb indicate that it was none other than Nefertiti who assumed the role of the protective goddess of its four corners.  No other goddess existed, but the iconography evidently remained appealing.  But the idea of Akhenaten and Nefertiti being children of the sun did not come from nothing.  It had begun in the previous generation, when Amenhotep III began to style himself “ the shining disk of the sun of Egypt”.  In other words, a sun-king. 

Here is a page that gives information about Nefertiti being attested in Year 16 of Akhenaten:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Work With the Royal Mummies

This is the old [but "resurrected"] website on which I made my points for the identification of Amenhotep III with the mummy.  Some doubted the mummy was really that of this pharaoh, but DNA has vindicated the identity--and my work:

Here is a wonderful page about the Amarna masks:
If  you click on the individual thumbnails, you will get to the full views.  Then look at the comments under them and you will see which ones I have tried to identify.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Did the Pharaohs Practice Fratricide?

I would really like to see the autosomal DNA of King Thutmose IV so that a question could perhaps be answered once and for all: Did the pharaohs of Egypt kill their brothers like the sultans of Turkey did for a time once they had produced their first male heir? This was done in order to avoid possible civil war and intrigues. It was a cruel practice but there are indications it may have been followed in ancient Egypt. No man is ever styled “king's brother”, although “king's sister” is attested. King Ramesses II constructed a huge tomb, KV5, evidently meant for his children. Did he do this because so many had already predeceased him [and he had very many children]—or in anticipation of a dreaded day? Egyptian texts are silent on the subject. On the other hand, a son of the one-time heir of Ramesses the Great, Khaemwaset, did live to have an illustrious career. But he was the nephew and not the brother of Merneptah, the king's son who managed to succeed his father. Perhaps a nephew's claim to the throne was thought negligible by the the polygamous pharaohs, who anticipated having numerous offspring of their own.

Since the autosomal results for Tutankhamun and some of his family members were released, it has been noticed that Yuya, an ancestor of the young king, shared significant alleles with Tutankhamun's grandfather, Amenhotep III. However, without seeing the DNA of the father of the latter, we cannot know if Yuya was related to Amenhotep III on his father's side or his mother's. If Yuya shared alleles with Thutmose IV, he may have been his brother [or even his paternal uncle, depending upon the age of Yuya] which would mean it was possible for the brothers of kings to survive and even become important men. If they were not styled “king's brother”, it may have been for some other reason having merely to do with protocol.
This is something that requires more investigation, but first we need to isolate the y-DNA of the pharaohs of the dynasties and create a database with which the y-DNA of other male mummies could be compared. If this DNA could be discovered in the general population, then that would prove that royal fratricide was not a common practice in the Egypt of the pharaohs. On a positive note, KV5 apparently never saw the burials for which it was constructed. But, if any other Egyptian monarch may be suspected of having numerous children—and sons—it would be Amenhotep III. And, yet, according to a royal lady of the post-Amarna period in a letter to the King of the Hittites, there was no one left for her to marry but a servant. If the writer was Ankhesenamun and she was telling the truth, then perhaps even her elder sister, Meritaten, had to marry a “servant” there at Akhetaten, who became the short-lived King Smenkhkare by virtue of this union, and Ankhesenamun did not want to do the same. On the other hand, it is rumored that DNA close to that of Tutankhamun has been discovered in a modern Druse population. If true, that would not have come via Tutankhamun, who evidently was the end of his line, but some predecessor.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Book--Manetho Demystified

People who still like to hold actual books in their hands [like me] will be glad to know that "Manetho Demystified" is now in paperback in an augmented version. Here's  the book description:

Every serious student of ancient Egyptian history and chronology will come across the writings of Manetho of Sebennytos sooner or later. This is the most comprehensive and easiest to digest explanation and analysis currently in print of what is behind Manetho's history of his native land and the so-called epitomes made from his “Aegyptiaca” at a later date. After reading this little book, you are guaranteed to become an expert on Manetho!
I believe this is so because this is an actual tutorial--even though those who have already studied "Manetho" in detail can learn much from the book, as well. There are aspects of what is found in Manetho not discussed in other popular works. For example, Manetho seems to have known when certain rulers of the 18th Dynasty died and when others succeeded.  Also, I make the case that much of what is now considered "genuine Manetho" was actually derived from another Egyptian writer.  In Part Three, called "Serious about Sirius", I explain, among other things, how astronomical software has been able to narrow down the day Sirius should have been sighted in the latitude of Thebes  during the time of the 18th Dynasty.  According to this and my own calculations, there is now a much better way to understand why Hatshepsut celebrated a Heb-sed in her Year 15 with implications for the accession dates for the entire 18th Dynasty.

"Manetho Demystified" is for sale at sites everywhere and is priced according to foreign exchange rates.  Click on the book's cover, above, to go to Amazon US.  The volume is very slim, 86 pages, but so is the cost.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Treasure of Queen Ah-Hotep

If you haven't had a look at the items from the burial of Queen Ah-Hotep, mother of Ahmose I, here's an old photograph.  Click on image for larger view.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Interesting Stele from the Turin Museum

Have a look if you haven't visited the museum and viewed these pieces.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Son of Amenhotep I?

At left is a pectoral with the cartouches of King Amenhotep I, discovered on the mummy of a little boy named Amenemhat.  Here is a nice photo of the ornament on the unwrapped mummy.  It is made of painted wood.

In the following pages, you can follow the account of Ambrose Lansing as he describes the discovery of the prince:

It is not necessary to have JSTOR access to read them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Prince Ahmose Sipair

As an addendum to another archived post here, "Who Is This Mummy", I saw something in an old book by Georges Legrain that makes it quite certain that Amenhotep I really did have a son called Ahmose-Sipair, who did not live to succeed him.  This is evidenced from the stela of someone called Padu from Gournah which says "the Good God, Djeserkare, son of Re, Amenhotep", which is followed by "king's son, Ahmose-Sipair".  In the same book there is another stela of someone named Kenres, who is adoring Ahmose "Dd=f  sApAir", which means "Ahmose called Sipair".  This indicates that the given name of the prince was Ahmose but he was also known as Sipair for some reason.

In the tableau in the tomb of Inherkhau the prince is seated at the end of the first row of 18th Dynasty kings and their queens.  While there is another prince in the second row [whose entire name does not survive but ends in "ms"], Sipair actually holds a crook and flail like a pharaoh while the other merely holds a flower.  This time he is styled "Osiris Sipair", the sole individual to be called "Osiris", although all the royal persons in the tableau known as "The Lords of the West" are dead.   The 20th Dynasty Papyrus Abbot, when mentioning his tomb, also refers to Sipair as "king".  Prince 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,  Sipair is there among the royals that Butehamun "restored" and he is shown as an adult, as he is on other artifacts.  The other royals depicted on Butehamun's coffin are Amenhotep I, Queen Ah-hotep, Queen Ahmose-Nefertari, Queen Sitamun and Queen Meryetamun. 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.

Obviously, there is something unusual about this Ahmose-Sipair.  Does he hold the crook and flail because he was already a co-regent with his father at the time he died--even though he is depicted wearing only a princely side-lock?   Another mystery of ancient Egypt.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hatshepsut and Avaris

In her inscription at the Middle Egyptian shrine called the Speos Artemidos in Greek, Hatshepsut had something to say about people living at the Delta city of Avaris. Her assertions have been the source of some controversy, both linguistic and historical. Right from the outset of the section where she refers to the Hyksos, Sir Alan Gardiner chose to begin the phrase with the word “Dr”, which he translated as meaning “since” in this case. [Egyptian Grammar, page 131, where he supplies the entire phrase: “Dr wn aAmw m-qAb-n TA-mHw Hwt-wart”, rendering it “since the Asiatics were in Avaris of Lower Egypt”.] After that comes “SmAw m-qAb=sn”. Because the determinative of the plural noun “SmAw” is a man holding a stick with a bundle on his shoulder, it is clear that “wanderers” are meant, they being "in the midst of" the “aAmw”.

The Aamu have been attested and depicted since the 12th Dynasty, notably in the famous tomb of the official Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan in Middle Egypt, where they are shown bringing him eye paint.   [The Speos Artemidos is only 2 kms south of this tomb.] They are dressed in what might easily be described as “coats of many colors” and have features not normally assigned to Egyptians in the art. Their leader has the Semitic name of Abisha [ibSA]. He is given the title of "HqA XAst" or "Ruler of a foreign land".  Much later in Egyptian history Kamose, a Theban prince, characterizes the Aamu as being his enemy at Avaris, on whom he planned to make war. 

Whether the aAmw were a certain people, a clan, or just any nomadic group from Asia is uncertain. What is more certain is that the grapheme /A/ still had the value of an agent that created a syllabic sound “ar” or “ra” in the time of the 12th Dynasty and that what Egyptologists write as an unpronounceable “Aamu” should really be transcribed “Aramu”. The first glyph, /a/, represented perhaps an “ayin”--or however the Egyptians vocalized it. It may be that, since the “Aramu” represented a folk, they continued to be known by their 12th Dynasty vocalization indefinitely. Even some ordinary Egyptian words retained the “old pronunciation” of /A/ even unto the Late Period as attested by Coptic. When the father of Moses was said to have been “a wandering Aramean” in the Hebrew Bible, it probably did not mean that he was a vagabond from Syria [Aram] as the family of the prophet was said to have lived in Egypt since the time of Joseph. More than likely, Amram was part of the Aramu of Northern Egypt, who could also be found elsewhere in the land depending upon the political climate.

By the era of Hatshepsut, the Aramu had been coming in and going out of Egypt for a long time..  The successor of Kamose, another Theban named Ahmose, supposedly drove them out of the country to a place called Sharuhen—not very far at all. After a protracted siege of Sharuhen, obviously a fortification, the fate of the Hyksos there remains uncertain as Ahmose was said to have turned his attention to the Nubian rebels. Thutmose III mentions Sharuhen in the text describing his initial Asiatic campaign in his first year of sole rule but, unfortunately, the writing was damaged and it is unclear what Sharuhen had to do with anything.
Next comes “Hr sxn irytw”, a declaration which I take to mean that the ones of Avaris were “continually” in the habit of doing damage to the established, whether that be in the form of something constructed like a temple or shrine or the rituals performed therein. Or perhaps they had been even more destructive than that. After that in the Speos Artemidos text comes what Gardiner rendered as “they ruled without Ra and he acted not by divine command down to my august self.” Nobody could scrupulously claim that the 15th Dynasty Hyksos kings had ruled without Ra. Whatever their actual religious preferences, their prenomina were replete with references to the sun-god. Regardless, a fragment of a story recounting old battles between the North and the South, claimed that Apophis, the Hyksos ruler, had “no other god but Sutekh”. Whether true or false, it seems rather clear that Sutekh/Baal was the chief deity of the eastern Delta—as witnessed by the Ramessid-era “Stela of the 400 Years”, depicting him in his Canaanite incarnation.
As Hans Goedicke rightly points out in his book about the Speos Artemidos inscription, “nfryt r” is the manner of saying “down to” in Middle Egyptian—and not “nfryt xr” as the text has it. This probably amounts to a scribal error because the next sign following “xr” in the inscription is “Hm” and scribes were accustomed to writing phrases like “xr Hm n nsw bity” or “under the majesty of the one of the Insibia”.
Goedicke also asks the question, “...why should Hatshepsut some 70 years after the establishing of the Theban hegemony in Egypt be concerned with them?” [the Hyksos]   Indeed why?  Since the mention of the Asiatics and Hatshepsut's expulsion of “the abomination of the gods”, erasing their very footprints, comes at the end of the inscription, perhaps it was all meant to lead up to this act, viewed as quite a coup by the woman-king.  But is she really taking credit for something occurring in the eastern Delta, whether or not the one really responsible may have been her father, her husband, or even her junior partner, Thutmose III, whose name is on some of the pillars of the portico?  The narrative of the ethnic cleansing is executed in fancy punning language but the inscription does not bear a helpful date. Regardless, Hatshepsut appears to be declaring herself to be a pharaoh who is not burdened with or threatened by any "godless rulers" in the city of Avaris at the time of the creation of the shrine.
The term “m-qAb=sn” when employed in reference to the “SmAw” vis a vis the “aAmw” appears to mean a more familiar alien people having “in their midst” some others who had wandered in at some unspecified time. Were they by chance some Minoans displaced by the Theran disaster, remnants of whose frescoes could be seen at Avaris even in modern times?   It is umpossible to say now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Pharaoh's Barber--Try it, you might like it!

I've only written one novel about ancient Egypt and it's called “The Pharaoh”s Barber”, a murder mystery set in the court of Thutmose III. I don't think too many people are aware of it much less know what it's all about. One thing is certain—this book is different. Because I, myself, dislike the stilted, Biblical language used in most novels with ancient themes—the main reason the characters seem so lifeless—you won't find anything like that in my story. I use contemporary English [within reason, of course] and, yes, people in antiquity really did swear. They had words for all the same expressions we use when we want to make an emphatic point.   

This novel is not so much about king Thutmose III [although he is a main character] but about his servants, slaves to be precise, and his wives, Egyptian and foreign. There are the Canaanites—Levi, who becomes the pharaoh's barber, and Caleb, a very handsome captive of war, who was a great hero in his own land. The three Canaanite girls are the pharaoh's wives. Another slave is Tabubu, a young woman from the lands to the south of Egypt, handmaiden to the king's favorite wife, the beautiful Satiah. Other prominent characters are Neferura, the Great Royal Wife, and her son, Mehy, the heir to the throne. Here are a few quotes from the book:
Levi, upon first encountering the King of Egypt: “The young Canaanite was lying, face down, in a very large tent on a kind of carpet of the tapestries made in his homeland. Very close to his nose were the feet of the Egyptian pharaoh, propped up on an ornate footstool. The feet were encased in sandals of embellished leather. Never in his life had the youth seen such splendid shoes or such clean toes on a man.”

Levi's master, Si-Bast, explaining why a younger man needs to take his place as Royal Barber, “ He’ll mind if he gets nicked every other day, as surely as Hathor loves cows. My hand isn’t so steady any longer and my eyes aren’t what they were, either. I’m an old man and no longer fit to shave the face and head of the Lord of the Two Lands. What if I cut him and the wound becomes infected? Then he may die—and who will be the one to blame?” and “Don’t be a fool. Whoever heard of a barber who didn’t talk while he worked? Such a thing has never happened since the time of the ancient gods.”

Neferura's assessment of her lord and master: “My husband is a monster,” said the queen in the same soft tone that had never varied. “Beware of him.

The pharaoh, attempting to put his new barber at ease, offers him some wine: “Don’t get drunk,” the ruler cautioned, grinning. “Oh, by bloody red Seth—what if you do? It’s your first day and it calls for a bit of a celebration. Here’s to your good health, Levi!

Thutmose III on his marital situation: “Levi, I can’t divorce my wife, even though there has been no peace and harmony between us since Horus the Ancient was but a chick in the egg. She’s my father’s only daughter and must remain the queen, though I don’t go near her. I’ve found me a new wife, a real little beauty. When I was a small boy, I had a nurse who was good to me by the name of Ipu. My own mother was kept away from me, so Ipu was all I had. I hadn’t seen her for quite some time, but recently I paid her and her husband a visit. To my great delight, one of her younger daughters had grown up to look like a goddess. Satiah is her name, a true child of the moon, as her name implies, with a face as fair as the Milky Way, and no more than sixteen...”

Caleb's opinion of the King of Egypt: “That bastard pharaoh of yours—he’s going to get his someday. Six years in a row he’s come through our land—takes our wheat and wine and whatever else he can get hold of to feed his army—and hauls back to Egypt anything worth taking. What does he leave us to eat? Well, we highlanders didn’t give in as easily as you people from the south. We gave him a few good battles. Take my word on that!”

The king's son, Mehy, takes a shine to the Canaanites: “When I’m can be my barber. I’m sick of just old people around me. Holy cats, am I glad you two showed up! But what about you, Caleb? You’d never fight for me, I suppose. But, you see, I only mean to defend myself. Nothing more.”

“I’ll fight for you,” said Caleb to the heir of Egypt’s throne, giving the boy’s sidelock a little tug. “Count on me.” And somehow Levi didn’t doubt that he meant it truly.

Satiah's opinion of Caleb: “Tabubu, can you believe it? It was the same man we saw from the window! All that hair was showing right through his wet shirt. I thought I’d just fall down and die right there! Isn’t he simply too splendid? Like a veritable god!”

“Yes, my lady,” Tabubu replied. “I see him. He some wet white man, alright, but not fearing nothing it looks like.”

Tabubu's opinion of the ruler: “The pharaoh was really quite handsome for a white man and looked as strong as an ox with muscular legs and a chest as big as that of a cock pigeon. Certainly, he was on the old side and running a little to fat and yet exuded more energy and virility than many younger men. More than anything else about him, the girl liked the way he spoke to the others, his servants and sailors, in a good-humored, hearty fashion—well, when he actually was in a good humor, which was most of the time. Of course, the king had no occasion to address the girl, who didn’t usually wait upon him, and didn’t appear to want to now, either.”

Tabubu's fears for Satiah: “The maidservant simply couldn’t fathom her mistress. Tabubu had been taught at an early age that one didn’t snap at the offering hand, lest it become a fist. And someday that fist would come down on Satiah with the savagery of a man who had been tested to his limit. The slave, although not knowing the pharaoh at all, instinctively knew more about him than did her mistress, for she had grown up with a man just like him—her own father. Tabubu could never have explained how she realized these men were alike, it was just something communicated to her in some mysterious fashion. If Satiah continued down the path she was treading, something worse was going to happen to her than just being sent home, but even Tabubu couldn’t be sure in what way that would occur.”

Mehy's plans for the future: “My idea is to make friends with all the rulers of the foreign lands, not fight with them. First, I’ll send them some gold as a gesture of good will and then I’ll ask them all to give me a daughter or sister—whatever they’ve got handy. I’ll become the relative of the entire world and nobody will bother me.” and “When I’m king, anybody who doesn’t want to live in my land can go—someplace else. I give the two of you my solemn oath right now this minute.”

The pharaoh's opinion of his young barber: “Listen, all you here who can understand my speech,” said the king. “Until I met this man, I wrongly imagined that no one had been subjected to a more dismal upbringing than myself. Amun-eywy is not a son of my body, but he is a child of my heart. For I know him well. You did no wrong, Levi. It was too much to ask of a son—all that which was asked of you.

Tabubu at the court of inquest: “I go back. Nebamun waiting for me. He ask me where is my lady and I say ‘She with pharaoh.’ Nebamun grab my hair and say, ‘You lying, you black bitch! I hide near the door of pharaoh and never see Satiah go there. You better tell me where she go or I flay you hide!’ I say to Nebamun, ‘You Egyptian son of pig, beat me if you want! Then I tell my lady you make me follow her. Then you not head of this place no more!”
“Did Nebamun beat you then?”
“You see my hide flay?” Tabubu asked the Chief Interrogator, archly.

Thutmose to Neferura: “I regret that I’ve caused you to hate me. I began wrong and nothing has been right since. I’m on the chosen path now and it seems I have no choice but to keep following it. I wanted vengeance, but now the whole world seeks revenge against me and if I stop, it will get it.”

The King of Egypt has come to appreciate the good qualities of Tabubu:
“Tabubu not tired in the night,” the servant answered, approaching. “I not sleeping so good since my lady die.”
“I haven’t slept well for years. Well, sit down, then. In a chair. Let’s have a drink.”
“Too much drinking strong potions in this Egypt land,” observed Tabubu, remaining where she was at the pharaoh’s feet. “In my home we drink milk—very good for people.”
“Milk!” The king shook his head, chuckling.
“What so funny, pharaoh? A little warm milk and you go to sleep.”
“Perhaps another time, Tabubu. I don’t keep any milk here.”
“We can get a cow,” said the girl, hopefully. “Tabubu knows how to take care of cows.”
“I’ll order one for you to milk,” the pharaoh said, smiling indulgently. “Anything else?”
“A little pair of shoes, maybe? But not Egypt ones. Shoes like those foreign land girls got what can keep feet warm."
“Very well. What else?”
“Um…a wig? Long hair very nice!”
“Yes, why not? Should I get some paper and make a list?” The ruler winked at Tabubu and was rewarded with a show of her beautiful teeth.
“You much amusing, king. But you not looking so good. No shaving, no sleeping, no eating—just sitting in the night making a bad face and watching the wall, I think. Good thing nobody making a statue from you now. People say, ‘What pharaoh of Egypt is this? We not know this man!’ Hah! You want look at that wall? Tabubu show you something there. Wait!”
The girl positioned a lamp on a table and, using her hands and arms in an astonishingly clever fashion, caused the shadows of the various beasts and birds of her native land to cavort before the smiling king.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Model Adzes and More

Here is an interesting page that shows photos of some inscribed model adzes found in the foundation deposit of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahari.  I've never seen these before.  Worth a look.

When you get to the page click on the arrows for more photos pertaining to Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.  They are really marvelous.  The left arrow leads to some statues of the queen and the right one to objects throughout the rest of pharaonic history.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Best and Worst of Winifred Brunton

As an artist Winifred Brunton was a fine technician and was capable of some excellent portraiture--not necessarily of ancient Egyptians.  She did a very good job with headdresses, costume and jewelry, but could not quite bring herself to imagine all the Egyptian royals as looking oriental.  In fact, some of them appear decidedly British.  Regardless, Brunton's portraits are interesting to behold:

The best painting is of Seti I.  Since this king's mummified face is so remarkably preserved one could work well with it except that, again, Brunton imagined him more as an English gentleman with refined features instead of the eastern despot that he probably was.  Seti's lips are too thin but at least his eyes are not exactly European.  While this is a wonderful little painting of a pharaoh in his finery, I think perhaps the actual Seti I would have wished to have been that handsome with such lean cheeks!  I believe the king was handsome, but in a different way.  Compare my view with Brunton's below.  Oddly, when it came to portraying Queen Nefertiti, Winifred executed a woman who does not even remind one of the Egyptian beauty and, were it not for her unique crown, one could not recognize who she was supposed to be.  In fact, unlike the famous Berlin bust, which is an icon of haunting loveliness of a rare type, Brunton's Nefertiti, ironically, is merely pleasant and even demure.  She is singularly lacking in beauty and even appears toothless!  What the ancient sculptor captured, Winifred could not even approximate.   And, for some unknown reason, she made Nefertiti's husband, Akhenaten, look like a girl.  Are the portraits of Winifred Brunton failures?  In my opinion, it is about half yes and half no.  You decide for yourself.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Message of the Restoration Stela

When a boy of around nine became king of Egypt in his own right, whoever was the power behind the throne decided to erect a stela in the Great Hypostyle Hall in front of the Third Pylon of the Temple of Amun at Karnak.  This bit of propaganda was to let the prophets, priests, and whoever else could read the writing on the slab know that, if the harvest failed or the land did not otherwise prosper, it was not the fault of the present administration.  Because it had disassociated itself with any recent reigns that might have gone before.  Nobody was mentioned by name but all the rulers who had not been true devotees of the god, Amun, were denounced in two curt phrases.  "Their hearts were weak in their bodies.  They destroyed what had been built." 

True, the new king, Nebkheperure Tutankhamun, was the son of one of them, had to be--but, on the Restoration Stela, he has no father save Amun although, of course, Son of the Sun was part of the titulary formula.   Much of the text deals with the displeasure of the gods at the havoc the previous, anonymous, pharaohs had wrought.  No wonder, as their temples had become abandoned, their halls footpaths.  No offerings were made and so, the deities had turned their backs on Egypt and nothing good came of anything.  I do not think it is just an accident that the stela is dated Year 1, 4th month of the season of Akhet [Khoiak] Day 19.  In 1331 BCE, a reasonable date for the "restoration of the old order", this amounted to the 7th of November.   By this time the Nile flood had receded and it was the time of sowing.  Since the stela mentioned some things Tutankhamun had already fashioned for the gods, new and better statues, shrines, new servitors for their temples, they should now be propitiated.  He had spared no expense.  If the height of the flood hadn't quite been up to expectation, if the harvest should be less than abundant--well, this king was not to blame.  He had done all he could to curry favor with the old gods--or at least that was what the Thebans were given to know.  The ruler was not to be seen. He was in the Northland, at Memphis, living in the palace of his illustrious forebear, Thutmose I.  No harm in mentioning the name of that king.  It might lend the impression that Tutankhamun had it in mind to emulate that great conqueror, whose heart had certainly not been weak in his body.   The stela admits the sovereign is young but he is a paragon in every way.  He is knowledgeable like Ra, ingenious like Ptah, and as perceptive as Thoth.  Never mind that he is only nine years old and the victim of incest in some ways best not to mention.  He is working in the best interests of the nation and the rest is up to the gods, themselves.  Evidently, a successor of Tutankhamun, Horemheb, found the Restoration Stela expressed his opinion of all those rulers who had come before *him*, Tutankhamun included.  And so he usurped that slab as soon as he was able. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mississippi River Pioneers

Some of you may not be aware that I am also an historian of the early settlements on the Upper Mississippi.  Today I have started a new blog called Mississippi River Pioneers.  If you are interested in American history of the Midwest, mostly of the 19th Century, go to this link:

The view in the photo is of the area near Prairie du Chien, where the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers converge. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Little Nefertiti Logic

Last night, sleepless from too much sleep due to having been in bed for a couple of days on account of a nasty virus, I was struck by a jolt of logic.  In 1999, as many of you know, I published an online paper with the title, "Do We Have the Mummy of Nefertiti?"   If you haven't already read it, you can find it here:

Ever since Dr. Hawass et al published the JAMA paper on the DNA of the family of Tutankhamun, there has been, among the online Egyptolophiles, the knee-jerk reaction that, because she has now been confirmed as a daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, the mummy the "Younger Lady from KV35" cannot possibly be Queen Nefertiti.  But the fact remains I first got the idea that KV35YL could be Akhenaten's wife because of physical resemblances of the remains to her portraits.  There are quite a few, and I point them all out in my paper.  I do admit to having had doubts that the KV35YL can have been a daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye because their [at the time purported but now confirmed] mummies are excessively short in stature and the KV35YL is taller. At 5' 2", the YL is taller than her father and certainly taller than the 4' 9" Queen Tiye. 

But here's the thing.  No matter what arguments people line up against the KV55 individual and the KV35YL being Akhenaten and Nefertiti, it seems an undisputed fact that Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye had a daughter who looked like Nefertiti, possessed the physical attributes evidenced by that lady's portraits [when she was allowed to look like herself and not like a strange version of Akhenaten].  Put differently, Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye were capable of engendering a Nefertiti or someone who resembled her greatly--down to the extraordinarily long, swanlike neck.  Logic and DNA dictate it must be so.  After I had proposed that the KV35YL might be Nefertiti, another woman, Susan James, took a good look at the Elder Lady and concluded that *she* looked like Nefertiti and advocated this identification.  There is no hope for Ms. James' theory now, evidently, but perhaps James' perception of a resemblance was not far off the mark.  For more, please do a search on the blog post "Tutankhamun's Family Tree--the Possibilities" here.

Granddaughter, Danya, making obeisance to the royals