Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Manetho Demystified

This is a work currently popular among people who are passionate about ancient Egypt.  Treat yourself or a friend to this eye-opening little book this holiday season.  It's for sale at the website for your country.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Were Akhenaten and Nefertiti Cousins?

I'll try to keep this one short because most of the followers of my blog can't read French and that is the language of scholar, Marc Gabolde, in his paper  « L’ADN de la famille royale amarnienne et les sources √©gyptiennes », ENIM 6, 2013, p. 177-203--although it can be accessed in a PDF file online.
Gabolde's reasoning is that since Amenhotep III and Yuya seem to be related, according to their shared DNA, Yuya is probably the uncle of the king.  Since Amenhotep III married his cousin, Tiye, it also follows that his heir, Akhenaten, also married a cousin, Nefertiti.  Gabolde believes that the KV35YoungerLady and the KV55 individual are Nefertiti and Akhenaten.  Agreed.  The rest is all reasonable and the DNA evidence, as put forth in the 2010 JAMA paper upholds some of it.
My counter-argument is that, if Nefertiti was a cousin of Akhenaten--that would be possible but extrememly unlikely from the DNA picture and the identifications of the mummified and skeletal remains. The YoungerLady [assumed to be Nefertiti] has only the alleles of AIII and Tiye at the 8 markers given--and so does the KV55 individual. It can be seen also, which alleles Tiye inherited from her parents, Yuya and Thuya, but there are many numbers that she did not inherit. A sibling inherits about half the DNA from the same parents,[ which is the case with the YoungerLady and KV55.] Therefore, a brother or a sister of Tiye [whichever was the parent of the YL, [according to the theory of Gabolde] would have had to contribute some other numbers that are not seen in the DNA of the YL as it stands. The same applies to any sibling of Amenhotep III, but we don't know the entire DNA profiles of his parents. Here are the numbers that Queen Tiye did NOT inherit from her parents at the 8 loci:

9 and 19
6 and 13
19 and 27
28 and 34
13 and 10
8 and 12
7 and 9
24 and 25

A sibling of hers should have had many of them and would have passed them on.  But there is not a single different number in the the DNA of the YL or the KV55 individual from those of AIII and Tiye.

Cousins?  No, I don't think so..

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"The Death of Hatshepsut"

I have uploaded a paper to called "The Death of Hatshepsut".  You can access it here:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thutmose III--a sickly youth?

Indeed, that Thutmose III may not have been well in his youth could be construed as a reason for Hatshepsut taking over the kingship. The name of a Chief Prophet of Amun during the reign of Thutmose, Menkheperreseneb, hints that perhaps there was a problem. In order to have been in his exalted office by at least Year 33 of the reign, this meant that the high priest must have been nearly as old as the king, himself. Since there were four prophets, it makes sense that the senior one would not have been a mere youth. The fact that he was given a name that meant “Menkheperre is healthy” [t would have been more unusual if that was really the situation at the time than if the opposite were true. Because such a name could be seen as a kind of wish, even a magical spell in favor of health being restored to the young king every time someone spoke the name of Menkheperreseneb. If the pharaoh had really been sound of body, then the name would have been the opposite of a charm but construed as something to tempt the evil eye and actually place the king in danger. A parallel is found in Jewish life of centuries past. A boy could be named “Alter” [meaning “the old one” in Yiddish] in the hope that he would not succumb to any illness in his childhood or youth. On the other hand, if someone said the baby looked healthy [though few would do so!] or even handsome, his mother would spit three times in order to ward off evil. The ideas of eastern peoples about certain things are essentially the same.

1 In fact, Menkheperreseneb outlived the sovereign and seems to have seen the reign of Amenhotep II.

2 The verb “to be” was usually omitted from names.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thothmes, the Egyptian Michelangelo

He is called this sometimes because he is thought to be responsible for some of the wonderful paintings in the Theban tombs of the 18th Dynasty.  Bubasteion I.19 is the tomb of Thothmes, himself.  Alain Zivie describes it in his book, "The Lost Tombs of Saqqara", the necropolis of the northern city of Memphis.  Zivie believes the artist [chief of painters being his title]  painted his own tomb and that makes sense.  I don't know everything Zivie thinks about Thothmes because I have only been able to read one of his papers on the subject, the one dealing with the man's palette, which he is shown holding in Bubasteion I.19 and which bears the cartouche of Amenhotep III..

I therefore wonder if Zivie gave any thought, in his other book on the tomb,  as to whether  this was the same Thothmes who eventually sculpted the bust of Queen Nerfertiti, above.  [This was discovered in what is thought to have been the workshop of a Thothmes at el Amarna.] Why wouldn't it be possible?  After all, Michelangelo was both a great painter and sculptor. If Thothmes had actually lived at Akhetaten full-time, the master would have surely been afforded the honor of a tomb by the king, but none has been found among those of the important men of the royal city.  In fact, Thothmes never even changed his name, although his patron deity, Thoth, was outlawed by Akhenaten along with the other old gods of Egypt. It would seem that one official of the pharaoh who did have a tomb at Akhetaten, Tutu, probably did once also have a name that incorporated that of Thoth--but changed his. 

Thothmes had apparently already resided at Memphis in the time of Akhenaten's father, Amenhotep III because, in Bubasteion I.19,  the painting of his wife bears the snub-nosed face of the latter of the kind seen in his late portraits.  There is also the evidence of the palette. Therefore, the tomb must have been begun toward the end of the reign of Amenhotep III.  However, the face of Thothmes, himself, appears to have been painted in the image of Akhenaten, with his long nose, as was the custom.  This is rather extraordinary and one does not know what to conclude.  Was it a recognition of a co-regent who was gaining power--or did Thothmes, himself, really look like that?  Did he, for once, paint his own visage instead of that of the ruler?   At any rate, the tomb of Thothmes did see changes, in the texts, that reflect the religious reformation.  No matter where Thothmes ended up living or working, it seems he did not veer from his intent to be interred in the double sarcophagus he had commissioned for himself and his wife and which is also depicted in Bubasteion I.19.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No More Anonymous Comments

Some blogs are written by anonymous persons--but not mine.  I stand behind everything I wrote here.  This blogger welcomes comments and discussions--whether you agree with me or not--but you are going to have to submit them under some kind of ID.  If you comment as "Anonymous", your submission will be deleted.  There is no reason to want to be anonymous here--unless one just wants to cause trouble.  You can comment here safely.  Nobody will attack you because I wouldn't allow it. I might give you a response, but it will be a reasonable one.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Neferhotep and the Harvest

I love striking a blow for the Sothic dating system and its enemies—take that! Or this. Before I get to the next indicator that it is correct, I suppose I should outline my 18th Dynasty chronology for the record, starting with Thutmose I. This is not arbitrary and I've obviously put a lot of thought into it.

Thutmose I=begins reign 1520 BCE for 16 years

Thutmose II=begins reign 1504 BCE for 3 years

Thutmose III= begins reign 1501 BCE for nearly 54 years by the official record but gains 3 due to the false count initiated by Hatshepsut during their co-regency.  But even if I'm wrong there, it doesn't much matter for the purposes of this post.

Amenhotep II =begins reign in 1450 for 26 years.  I do not believe in a co-regency for him and Thutmose III.

Thutmose IV=begins reign in 1424 for 9 years

Amenhotep III=begins reign in 1415 for 38 years

Akhenaten= begins sole reign in 1377 after a 3-year co-regency with Amenhotep III. He rules for 14 more years.

Smenkhkare=begins reign in 1363 for 1 year

Neferneferuaten=begins reign in 1362 for 3 years

Tutankhamun=begins reign in 1359 for 10 years

Ay=begins reign in 1349 for 4 years

Horemheb=begins reign in 1345 for 14 years

Obviously, due to unknown factors, the above cannot be a precise chronology but I'll explain why it's probably close. TT50 belonged to a man named Neferhotep, whose title was God's Father of Amun. There was an inscription in the tomb dated to Year 3 of King Horemheb.  An interesting thing about TT50 is that it contained a list of feast days, according to a fragment discussed in a paper by Lise Manniche here:

The fragment supposedly states that the “feast of Termuthis” or Renenutet, goddess of the harvest, took place on Day 1 of the 1st month of Shomu in the time of Horemheb. Of course, later in Egyptian history, the month named after the goddess, called Pharmouti, was the 4th month of Peret, one month earlier. In fact, in the Alexandrian or Coptic Calendar, a reformation of the old Civil Calendar, Pharmouti [or Barmouda] was definitely supposed to fall in the time of harvest. The next month Pakhons [or Bashans] was said by the Egyptians to be the time when the threshing was done. According to my high chronology, Year 22 of Thutmose III was 1482. This pharaoh could not take his army east until after the harvest was completed, as the citizen soldiers were not free until then. Indeed, Thutmose and his force reached Tjaru in order to march into Canaan on Julian  April 20th, [25 Pharmuti, 4th month of Winter]. The king obviously did not want to miss the Canaanite wheat harvest, which lagged slightly behind that of Egypt, so he could reap that, as well. [At left, two women from Deir-el Medina worship Renenutet]

However, in the time of Horemheb, 1345 BCE, it was very appropriate to celebrate the feast of Renenutet in the 1st month of Shomu as, in his reign, that was the month the harvest was in full swing!  In fact, in 1345, April 15 amounted to 25 Pakhonson which day in that month the time of reaping and threshing would have been long over in the reign of Thutmose III. Therefore, the feast of Renenutet seems to have been a moveable oneand appropriately moved to the 9th month of the Civil Calendar in the time of Horemheb. That this was the Civil Calendar is further indicated by the same list, in which New Year's Eve falls on Day 30, 4th month of Shomu. At this period, the astronomical new year, which arrived with the heliacal rising of the star, Sothis, was edging very close to the new year of the Civil Calendar and a new Sothic cycle was soon to begin.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

18th Dynasty Tombs Discovered at Aswan

The rumor is that six tombs of the time of Amenhotep III have been discovered at Aswan, but the locals won't let Egyptologists near them. We'll have to see how that story unfolds but I have already been able to ascertain that the names of the old gods have [because they were written in ink] been smeared out in many instances, even in people's names.  The image at right is that of a man whose name could either be Paser or Pawer.  He is described as "a soldier in the regiment of Nebmaare [Amenhotep III].  He seems to be wearing a wig that is supposed to look like grey hair,  I don't know from which tomb this image comes, but one tomb belongs to the mayor of Elephantine, User, and his wife, Tuyu.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The First Heb-sed of Thutmose III

Early in the Egyptology game, James Breasted, in his paper on the obelisks of Thutmose III, stated that a Year 30 heb sed or jubilee could be inferred on the basis of the mention of one in Year 33 of that king. Indeed, three "Hb" glyphs are seen, but three was a number of plurality, just like the three strokes under the sign for "millions".  However, considerably later Donald Redford wrote, “But the 30th anniversary of Thutmose's accession would have found him in Asia on his 6th Campaign!”   Still, we have no way of knowing if Thutmose actually was present at all of his foreign campaigns, even if he said he was. After all, he did have generals like his famous one, Dehuty, mentioned in the story called “The Taking of Joppa”. 
The London obelisk of the king states it was erected [with a companion one, now in New York City] on the occasion of the pharaoh having celebrated his third [according to Breasted, although Budge claimed to have seen the number 4, instead] jubilee. Even though a year date for the erection of these obelisks is not visible, it has been taken for granted that Thutmose III celebrated heb seds in years 30-33 from that text. And yet the only actual mention of a jubilee during those three years comes from the inscription of Sennefer at el-Bershe, now lost but included in Sethe's Urkunden IV, below:

It said, “Year 33, fourth month of the season of Shomu, day 12, the beginning of  millions of jubilees, very many, [inscribed?] by Thoth, himself, in his writing upon the noble Ished-tree, etc.” Since Menkheperre's accession date had been in the first month of Shomu, it means that the celebration took place three more months after the one in which the year count had changed to “33”. In my book, “Manetho Demystified”, I take the position that, after his 4th year on the throne [although there is still the isolated reference to Year 5] Thutmose III lost his own year count because Hatshepsut usurped the kingship in his Year 4 and called it her Year 7. This is because, in order to make herself the legitimate ruler after the death of her father,Thutmose I, she appropriated the 3 years of her late husband, Thutmose II, and the 4 of the boy whose guardian Hatshepsut was supposed to be. This may be a controversial stance, but it makes sense in the light of the queen's legitimizing texts. At any rate, a grown-up Thutmose, even as sole king, was forced to adopt the false count promoted by his aunt. It was too late to revert to the old one, even though the pharaoh had gained 3 years that never existed within his own time as king or coregent. The bureaucracy, with all its dated documents, demanded the false count continue until the end of his life, but there was nothing to prevent Thutmose III from celebrating his 30-year heb sed in Year 33—the year that he had REALLY been on the throne for three decades. And, if there had already been three other sed-fests, why would the el-Bershe inscription state that the many wished-for jubilees began in Year 33?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Manetho's Reasoning

In my latest book, "Manetho Demystified", I offer the theory that Hatshepsut started out her reign with a fictional Year 7 [to find out why this was a contrived number, you'll have to read the book].  I also made note of the fact that the combined regnal years of  "Amessis" [the female pharaoh]. "Mephres" and "Misphramuthosis" add up to about 54 years [the total reign of  Thutmose III from a primary source].  This is particularly true in an unccorrupted fragment [51] of Theophilius' copy of Manetho's 18th Dynasty, where he assigns  "Misphrammuthosis" only 20 years and 10 months instead of the 25 years and 10 months given by Josephus.

Regardless it would seem that Manetho, the Egyptian historian of the Hellenistic Era, truly did believe that a queen, obviously Hatshepsut,  reigned before Thutmose III.  He has her ruling for 21 years and 9 months because he knew that the 9th month of the Civil Calendar  [called "Pakhons" in the time of Manetho] was the month in which Menkheperre came to the throne.  But he  has the next king, "Mephres", ending his reign in the 9th month, as well.  It seems quite probable that "Mephres" [elsewhere called "Misaphris"] and "Misphramuthosis" both represent Thutmose III but, because the latter had more than one prenomen at various times, perhaps Manetho did not realize they were one and the same.  He may have even intended that "Amessis" and "Mephres" were co-regents, who ended their joint reign in the very same month of the year.  In this, the Egyptian would not have been entirely wrong, of course.  It just occurred to me that the difference between the 21 years of "Amessis" and the 12 of "Mephres" is 9 years.  That could mean that the royal duo were co-regents beginning with Year 9  in the estimation of Manetho [but not mine].  My guess is this comes from Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir el Bahari where Thutmose III is depicted as the junior partner of the woman-king at the time of her Punt expedition in her Year 9.  Actually, the young man was shown many times in the temple, but perhaps the date "Year 9" was seen as the year of his advent as co-ruler. Thutmose III appears in the Punt expedition reliefs only once but they were surely deemed as interesting to people in the era of the Ptolemies as they are today.  From such records  men like Manetho attempted to reconstruct the history of their land.  They did not dig into the ground for their information but worked with what was visible.

But it was doubtless confusing.  Here was a pharaoh,  famous from the monuments of his triumphant sole reign, not to mention a legend of folklore--at one time teamed with another.  Not comprehending that the king had an independent reign prior to the usurpation of Hatshepsut, Manetho seemingly concluded that, in the 9th month following the demise of the female-pharaoh, he assumed his full birthright.  Yet he erroneously [but understandably]  considered nearly 13 years of  "Mephres"  accounted for within the years of "Amessis" and failed to give "Misphramuthosis" a long enough period of sole rule after the woman-king had vacated the throne.   I cannot say, at this moment, how likely Manetho would have been able to connect the name of Maatkare to the female pharaoh, even if he toured the Deir el Bahari complex or could find an intact cartouche.  Perhaps someone else has an opinion regarding this. At any rate, he didn't know the names of Hatshepsut.  His "Amessis", more probably "Amensis" or Hmt nsw, must have come from some tale.  Champollion expressed his own bewilderment at the temple:
If I felt somewhat surprised at seeing here, as elsewhere throughout the temple, the renowned Moeris [Thutmose III], adorned with all the insignia of royalty, giving place to this Amenenthe [Hatshepsut], for whose name we may search the royal lists in vain, still more astonished was I to find upon reading the inscriptions that wherever they referred to this bearded king in the usual dress of the Pharaohs, nouns and verbs were in the feminine, as though a queen were in question. I found the same peculiarity everywhere...


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Mystery of Akhenaten

Why does it seem like the reign of the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaten, just falls apart after his Year 12 when he is supposed to have ruled for 17?   The tombs of the nobles stop being decorated and, oddly, in one of the later ones, that of Meryre II, a new king suddenly appears.  His name is Smenkhkare and he and his queen, Meritaten, are depicted right around the corner from the triumphant depiction of the Great Durbar of Year 12, where Akhenaten celebrates in style before envoys from foreign lands.  Beyond the unfinished scene of Smenkhkare, there is nothing more in the tomb of Meryre, either.  What happened?  I have a scenario that, while seemingly strange, can provide a solution to the mystery.  Here it is:
Akhenaten became co-regent with Amenhotep III at the time of the latter's heb sed in his Year 34. In Akhenaten's own Year 3 [although he is still called Amenhotep], he celebrates a mirror heb sed with his father, who currently observes the jubilee of Year 37. Amenhotep III dies sometime in his Year 38, the fourth year of Akhenaten. In fact, he [as Amenhotep] is attested in his Year 4 at the Wadi Hammamat. There, two short graffiti of the high Priest of Amun, May,[perhaps Ptahmose] mention him being sent for bxn stone for a statue. So the cult of Amun is still alive in Year 4 of Amenhotep IV but, in Year 5, he changes his name to the familiar one and moves to a new capital Akhetaten, now Tell el Amarna.
11 years pass there and the 12th has begun. The children of Akhenaten and Nefertiti are growing up and some have become young ladies. Nefertiti is still by the  side of her husband. But Akhenaten, unconventional as ever, does something unusual in his Year 17. He proclaims a great celebration of Year 12, the total of years that he, as king of Egypt, has devoted himself completely to the Aten and has lived in this center of the worship of the god.  And so that is the date we see in the tomb of Meryre II-- Year 12, II prt, day 8—that is, 12th Year, 5 months and 8 days.   It is really not the current date, but the day of the durbar of the celebrating of Year 12 at Akhetaten.  It is only a date for a single event. Like this one:  "Year 400, the fourth month of the season of Shomu, the fourth day of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Seth-Great-of-valor, son of Re whom he loves, Nubti, beloved by Re-Hor-akhty, may he live for ever."

Tellingly, Nefertiti is referred to, in the durbar scene, as Hmt nsw aAt, which is a title she does not adopt until late in her time, although it does not replace Hmt nsw wrt.
 In reality, it is Year 17 of the reign and  within the following months, everything falls apart.  Perhaps people begin to die there at Akhetaten from a sickness.  The Princess Meketaten also dies.  There may even have been a revolt against the king.  Perhaps a number of the citizens of Akhetaten leave, especially the ones with the means to do so.  Akhenaten, himself, dies or is deposed.  At any rate, a new king arises in that Year 17 of Akhenaten. Recently, an attestation of Nefertiti as the queen of Akhenaten in his Year 16  [while many believed she died earlier] has been announced.  That makes sense in light of this scenario.  Nefertiti was not only there in Year 16, but  in Year 17, too! 

Why were there winejar dockets with Year 17 partly erased and with a Year 1 surcharged?  That was probably because the wine had been placed into the jars in late summer when it ripened, in the 1st month of the first season, Akhet. That the vintage was marked "17" so early in the calendric year indicates, also, that Akhenaten had risen to the kingship coevil with his father's jubilee.  Amenhotep III seems to have inaugurated his first heb sed in the 10th month of the year, likely the month of his own accession.  And that could explain why the anniversary clock of Akhenaten had already turned by I Akhet [August at the time]--because he had become king in II Shomu.  For those who can't credit any of this or even a co-regency, Manetho has "Amenophis" reigning for 30 years and 10 months.  That may be short of the mark for Amenhotep III, but II Shomu still seems to be involved.

Scholars have been looking for orderly and sensible answers to the puzzles of the Amarna Era and they can't be blamed.  If Smenkhkare, the mystery king, suddenly seems to appear after the durbar, it is easier to assume he was made co-regent then.  On the other hand, Akhenaten was probably still quite a young man in his real Year 12 and it would seem odd that he had given up having a son of his own, already, by one of his wives.  A long gap in the decoration of the tomb of Meryre II is also not easily explained, if Smenkhkare succeeded in Year 17.  So, sometimes, oddities also must be entertained.  Because even kings do not always behave in a predictable fashion.