Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 27, 2010

150 ostraca have been found at the Ptolemaic / Roman period temple.  The link has everything I've managed to find. So far there are no pictures.

Sent from my Windows Phone

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 26, 2010

In case anybody has friends or relatives in Egypt, I thought I'd post this up. The coach as taking tourists from Aswan to Abu Simbel.  I've no more news.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 26, 2010

Both from a social care perspective, and wishing a well-motivated workforce caring for the monuments, Dr Hawass' announcement of improved medical coverage for SCA staff seems like good news.  (My only hesitation is the the devil can be in the detail and medical plans are only valuable if they pay out.  There also are far fewer women in the SCA than we'd expect in an equal society - I just hope the medical plan covers pregnancy and infant care.)

Sent from my Windows Phone

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 23, 2010

I promised a broader spread of news while Andie is away and found this rather gentle account of the realities of living on a houseboat on the Nile.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 23, 2010

This is a story for the techno-geeks.  A team of scientists have been analysing Egyptian mining slag from 3,000 years ago (in what today is Israel).  They have revealed very fast fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field and that it reached more than twice the expected strength.  It's believed it was a localised effect.

I don't believe the Egyptians would have been aware of the effects.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tracings made by Norman de Garis Davies in Theban tombs TT 76, TT 85, TT 95, TT 108, TT 161, TT 176, TT 179, TT 200, TT 222, TT 249 and TT 260 have been made avilable online by the Griffiths Institute who continue to lead the way in publication of Egyptian sites.  It seems to me that they have the right model.  Free access for casual use and academic study (including "amateur" Egyptologists), but charge for those wishing to publish the material. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 23, 2010

The transcipts of Howard Carter's journals have been online for a few weeks.  In the past few days, scans of the journals themselves are now online as well on the Griffiths Institute site.  (Follow the second link then browse to the journals.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Griffiths Institute has discounted books of unprovenanced statues and OsirisNet has announced on Jane's blog an update and pictures from tomb TT52 which you can find here.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas present from Richard Sellicks with photos of the recently reopened KV8 on Jane's blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not Egypt but I'm interested in the knowledge of geometry in the ancient world - definitely relevant to pyramid building.  (This isn't becoming maths blog - just chance there have been two recent articles.)

Sent from my Windows Phone

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zahi Hawass is going to be lecturing at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, England on 4th February.  Tickets via the link above: more details on the Dr Hawass blog.

He promises to speak about Tutankhamun. We can guess that is his death from malaria theory and maybe a bit of DNA.  As genetics is quite complex, I doubt the DNA stuff will be detailed. 

He is also down to speak about the hunt for the tomb of Nefertiti.  If that's more than marketing hyperbole, that could be interesting.  I do think Nefertiti's tomb remains to be found; I am intrigued though why Hawass is confident she wasn't buried with Akhenaten.  I still believe they will be found together in the same tomb.

Finally he promises an update on the Valley of the Kings.  If that's last winter's excavations it will be interesting, but it could be very, very much more if he speaks about work in the Western Valley of the Kings. It is also believed a sarcophagus was removed last winter from one of the previously uncleared tombs.  That has never been officially confirmed, nor has there been any rumours on the identity of the individual.  As I broke on this blog a few weeks ago, there is an excavation team back at work in the Valley of the Kings.  Of course, we all hope for a definitive update on tomb KV64.

If you live in or near Manchester this seems like a must see event.

(Edited now I am on the laptop to tidy the title and add a link to the article on the Hawass site)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 20, 2010

While Andie is away, I'll post up any general stuff I come across.  Here is a video about how Egyptians handled multiplication and division. 

The methods I was taught in school was the hardest. I now know several easier ways - but this is one of the easiest of all!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas everyone.

I'll be around throughout so I'll post up any breaking stories.  I probably won't get on a laptop too often, so coverage is likely to be pithy - Smartphones are wonderful (though I hate this new Windows Phone - I should have bought an IPhone) .

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 18, 2010

Canopic Jar of Kiya (?)

The canopic jars in KV55 are important as they were orginally dedicated to Kiya and form part of the evidence that at least some funerary goods were relocated back from Amarna to the Valley of the Kings. This photo by Doris Pemler of the one in the Met is one of the finest shots I have ever seen. For anybody looking for photos for websites, it is also available under a Creative Commons licence - details if you follow the link through to Flickr. Of course we don't know whose organs are in the jars ... If you are interested in how the canopic jars from KV55 have been attributed, this paper by Cyril Aldred is worth reading.  In it he discussed how hair style has been used to identify the likely personages represented in various Amarnan objects.  (PS the identification with Kiya is disputed with some people suggesting they show Meritaten.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 17, 2010

This is something that came up recently on EEF with somebody linking to material I hadn't seen before which suggests that Maia, Tutankhamun's wet nurse, was in fact Meritaten.  I haven't read the paper but personally I am sceptical.  It is pretty clear that Meritaten was a Queen and probably married to both Akhenaten and Smenkhare / Smenkhkare. There is no mention of this title in Maia's tomb which seems to reduce the changes that she was Meritaten. The video below gives an introduction to Maia's tomb.

You might also me interested in this article on Tia the wet nurse of Ankhesenpaaten (Ankhesenamun).

(Thanks to Andie Byrnes and Raymon Betz).

PS I've created a Squidoo lens about Tia.  It's very brief and has nothing that isn't in this article so I don't recommend it!  It does offer me a steady bookmark though which is why I created it.   I'll add a longer one about Maia in the next few days.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 17, 2010

The latest finds are in very poor condition, but add to the tally of statues found at Amenhotep III's Mortuary Temple.  You can read about them on Dr Hawass site or on Fox News..

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 13, 2010

Old back and white photos and videos seem to be a furm favourite with many readers so here is one I hadn't seen before - a 1920s video of Nefertari's Tomb in the Valley of the Queens.  It is a "silent" movie with cut card captions rather than any commentary.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 11, 2010

Francesco Tiradritti has a dig diary for their 2010 winter season at the tomb of Harwa.  There is no newsfeed so you will need to click through the calendar to read each day in turn.  I have linked to a translation into English from the original Italian.

Harwa's tomb is in Assasif area and known as TT37.  It is a 25th Dynasty tomb built on the processional way of Mentuhotep with an entrance from the south.  Although little known, it is very large for a private tomb with four underground levels and reaches depths of 25m.  The best sites explaining the tomb I have found are here and here. Jane Akshar also covered a Mummification Museum lecture in 2009 which has more details.  The video below is from 2009 as well - but it is in Italian

Harwa's mummy is in the Field Museum in Chicago. There is an (English!) video about it, although the video has a lot of general shots of places like Karnak but persist and you will get shots of the mummy and his cedar coffin later.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 10, 2010

I haven't done much on this site because it was a bit slower than I liked.  I am in the process of migrating it to the same servers used for Egyptological Online which Andie and I are developing together.  They are *much* faster.  The downside is that the site is down during the move.  It should be back online after the weekend unless I hit a sang (and at present I fear I may have done)!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 10, 2010

Andie has written up this fantastic review if the Psusennes documentary for anyone who missed it.  It tells the story almost as fully as the documentary itself.  21st Dynasty Egypt is fascinating.  The wealth of Psusennes I who ruled only Lower Egypt suggests how wealthy Karnak must have been at the time.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 09, 2010

Really interesting looking documentary on Five about Psusennes I.  Sorry for the short notice!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 07, 2010

More wonderful photos from Richard Sellicks, this time of tomb KV11 in the Valley of the Kings.  You can find them on Jane's blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Thanks to Andie at Egyptology News for finding this article - and a new feed for my newsreader.  This season they are going to be excavating 'Cemetry C', a post-New Kingdom cemetry.  This though is just a heads up - work won't start for another 5 weeks.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 06, 2010

So I know this isn't Egypt but such an early date for mining even on another continent is important as it suggests 'civilisation' got going earlier than is often supposed.  I'd like to see some confirmation though.  If I understand it correctly it is also not being associated with metal working.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 02, 2010

For those who like photos. this set by David Rae is worth a look.  He has some very clear images.  (Sorry no excavations or anything like that.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 02, 2010

I recently posted about apparently new excavations in the Valley of the Kings and people have been discussing in comments the likely location.  Richard Sellicks has contacted me with an image from his collection which shows some of the landmarks in the excavation photo.  Richards images proves this is the Valley of the Kings.  (I have self-hosted this so click through to the maximum resolution.)

Many thanks to Richard.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 02, 2010

I'd missed it but fortunately Len Solt has spotted a large article by Dr Otto Schaden on the KV63 site.  It desrives thw sorts of tasks the team plan for the next couple of seasons in both KV63 and KV10.  Both are contingent on managing to raise funds - far from easy in the current evironment.

Otto should be back in the Valley of the Kings early in the New Year and promises a further update in late Decmember.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I don't often promote books for authors but Tonic sent me the link and I thought I'd mention it because it won't make American or British listings because it is written in French. Sorry but I have no more details.

I expect to log on tomorrow and catch up on some other posts.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, November 26, 2010

Jane has more photos from Richard Sellicks of Hatshepsut's cliff tomb and KV38 and KV39.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm wondering if new excavations have begun in the Valley of the Kings for winter 2010.  This photo claims to show excavations in the valley.  It was taken on October 11th 2010 and is labelled "Luxor, Egypt - Valley Of The Kings - Excavators" but I don't recognise the location.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 22, 2010

I need to catch up on some items in my newsreader, but for now here is a site about restoration work at Karnak Temple in Luxor.  My thanks for John Bright for the heads up.  The site is in French, but there is also an English version.  (Centre Franco-Egyptien d'Etude des Temples de Karnak translates as the "Franco-Egyptian Centre for the Study of the Temples of Karnak".)

The latest article is a report on work in the Temple of Ptah.  Again the report is in English, but photo labels are in French.  I really recommend the article.  For those unfamiliar with the period of the Temple, this quote may help you put it into context:

Despite the low number of scattered blocks identified, the first campaign has clarified the origin of several of them, especially from the south side of the temple, which is also the most damaged. Two blocks (2516 + 2625) from the inner southern wall of the court feature an offering of Maat to [Ptah, Hathor and Harsomtous]. One block (2606) with the protocol of Ptolemy IV, located east of the temple, was put back to its original location on the top of the north wall of the court. Besides Ptolemy III and Ptolemy IV being well attested among the scattered blocks, one can note the following kings: Tuthmose III (2626); Hatshepsut (2580, 2584 and 2589), Horemheb (2575), Rameses III (a reused block in gate D and scattered blocks); Nitocris (2639); Nectanebo II (2635). Hatshepsut, Nitocris and Nectanebo II are not documented in the temple.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 22, 2010

Given the recent situation with comments, I've revised the copyright terms for the site to specify that the newsfeed is offered on a Creative Commons Attribution No Commercial Licence version 3.0.  In short you are welcome to reproduce articles providing the copyright notice included in the newsfeed is shown as part of the reproduction (attribution) and provided there are no adverts on your page.  

You may not show adverts alongside any reproduced articles under any circumstances or otherwise use an article or the newsfeed for commercial purposes.

(Read the full text.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You may already know of these resources but I haven't seen them linked in any of the discussions I have read over the past couple of years, so you may find them useful.

There is a Wiki project (which is my favourite) and a web site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One of the perennial questions is , "What's going on?"  Well as a partial answer, the new SCA website has a list of the current foreign missions operating in Egypt.  There are certainly some in the Luxor area I hadn't come aross like the Italian mission to the Tomb of Sheshonq (TT27).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I know many people read the blog in a newsreader but please don't overlook the discussion which you don't get in the newsfeed.  For instance, so far we have had 40 comments on the DNA of Moses, many of which are long and detailed.  I've learned quite a bit about the Exodus.   Even the thread about the forensic examination of KV55 has 14 comments.

Not every article attracts that many comments, but most do have some comments.  Some of the readers leaving comments know more than I and I encourage you to stop by the blog itself every now and again to see what is being said in the discussions.  You can see the latest comments in the far right sidebar and from there click through to any discussion that interests you.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dr Hasass has posted a close up of the latest statue which is much clearer.

Sent from my Windows Phone

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 15, 2010

A new route lined with sphinxes has been found in Luxor.  The previously known Sphinx Avenue runs roughly parallel to the Nile; this one runs towards the Nile.  Perhaps most importantly, it leads the the Temple of Mut which could add to what we know about that temple.   Inscriptions for Nectanebo (30th Dynasty) have been found, so this is a very late monument.

(Sorry to be brief,  must dash.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, November 11, 2010

It has been announced that 19 items from Tutankhamun's tomb, which are presently in the collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum, are to be returned to Egypt.  The returned to Egypt.  The story has been covered extensively with a good coverage on Zahi's blog including pictures of the main objects.  Thomas Hoving is usually creditted with identifying that these objects had come from KV62.

What has not been picked up in the press reports is the implication for the entry and clearance of KV62.  There have been suspicions for many years that Carnarvon was involved in the illicit removal of items from KV62.  Official acknowledgement that these items came from the time, will make it much harder to deny those suspicions.  They centre on two separate allegations:

1) Did Carter enter the tomb before it's official opening and then re-seal it?
2) Did Carter set aside items while cataloguing the tomb?

We may never know.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marriane Luban has an article on her blog which she has called "The DNA of Moses" in which she describes a project testing the DNA of modern day Cohens.  There is more here and even a dedicated Wikipedia article.

While this seems off-topic for News from the Valley of the Kings, as more studies into the DNA of royal and priestly mummies are done studies like this might help identify the time of Exodus which could help with our overall understanding of chronology.  It is also why I believe the DNA of tested mummies should be fully published as, in many ways, links between ourselves and our ancestors is what makes real for history for many.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, November 09, 2010

This dates to June but somehow I missed posting the link, sorry.  I was Googling for R Paul's photos of KV55 when it was opened in 1907 just now and came across it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, November 05, 2010

An album of photos from 1943, including Karnka and Luxor temples and some from the Valley of the Kings.  They are all black and white.  I've looked through and cannot spot anything that isn't available in colour, although the picture of Luxor Temple from the Nile is rather nice.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, November 05, 2010

I promised to get back with links on this find.  The SCA press release has the details and the best version of the photo can be found here.  Between them these sites has everything on the Hawass blog and have a better version of the photo.  (Getting back to the days of SCA press releases is great! Long may it continue.  I'll check the copyright and may start repeating them here - press releases are usually something that can be used for reporting!)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, November 05, 2010

Another statue of Amenhotep III has been found at the Colossi of Memnon site.  Details on Dr Hawass site.  I'll try to find more photos later.

(On mobile so will hyperlink later.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On the first anniverasary, there is an up to date photo of the exterior of this tomb on the latest post on Egyptologia.  (There have been some other articles since I last linked so if you want everything, then visit the front page.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, November 02, 2010

John Samsen emailed me with a theory about KV62 and the end of the Amarna period and asked my thoughts.  With John's permission, I have turned it into a guest article so that other people can offer their views as well.  This is what John presented:

In 1977, I viewed the gold death mask of Tut at the exhibit in Chicago, and was surprised to see that red veins had been painted on the whites of the eys. There is also an alabaster bust of Tut that has red veins on the eyes. I immediately had the idea that persons in charge of the funeral had wanted to show that Tut was a "flesh-and blood" human being, which is in keeping with the naturalist philosophy of Akenaten and his family. There are also items among the treasures that show Tut and his wife in Amarna style art, with the Aten. When I visited Karnak in 1985, I realized that among the Tut treasures are a number of items that are very similar to bas relief sculptures on the wall at Karnak where Thutmose III shows the many gifts he gave to the Amon temples.  The chests with slanted tops, and in particular, the large gold cabinet with cobras on top in which Tut's sarcophagus was placed. (the solar disk was added to the heads of the cobras). It suggests to me that Akenaten removed the treasures from the Amun temples at Karnak and put them in the temple at Amarna. And, as Tut was raised at Amarna, he and others of the family and court of Akenaten, perhaps including Ay and Horemheb,  may have continued to believe in the religion of the Aten. The radical purge of the Amun religion may have brought Egypt to the brink of civil war, or at least, a coup, and Horenheb may have decided to restore the Amun cult and end the experiment with the Aten, to save the nation. The huge number of Amarna items stuffed into Tut's tomb may have been an attempt by Horemheb abd the family to keep the Amarna style furniture and other treasures from falling into the hands of the Amun priests or others who may have been trying to overthrow the government, as the eighteenth dynasty was ending. They may have even hidden Tut's tomb, hoping to get back the treasures at a later time when egypt stabilized. Tut's funeral ocurred around one hundred years after Thutmose III built the Amun temples.

This is how John summarises his theory:

The young Tutankhamen has died. Horemheb will now ascend the throne, as Ay does not have the political power to oppose him, especially as Horemheb has the army behind him, and has been gaining favor with the Amun Priests. Ay and Tut have been convinced that The Amun religion be restored to prevent a collapse of stability in Egypt, and have been overseeing a transition. Tut's family and Ay give Tut a conventional burial, but leave clues to Tut's faith in Akenaten's religion that reverences life and living creatures. Rather than just Horus eyes, red veins are painted on the whites of the eyes on the gold death mask, and on an alabaster bust of the young king. This is to show he was a flesh-and -blood human being.

King Tut's family and his Amarna based court fear that Under Horemheb, there will be a purge of those involved in the Amarna religion, and want to safeguard the treasures of the palace and the Amarna temple. Some of these treasures had been given to the Amun temple at Karnak by Thutmose III around one hundred years before, and had been taken to Amarna by Akenaten. Others had been created in the new Amarna artistic style, many having images of the Aten. Not wanting the treasures to be destroyed or confiscated by the Amun priests, the family decided to re open the tomb of Tut and pack into it all the furniture and other items from Tut's palace and the Amarna temple, for safekeeping. Then the tomb was hidden. Many of the Amarna believers fled to colonies in Nubia (Sudan) and continued the custom of wrapping the heads of babies to enlongate the skull, as had been done in Akenaten's family, and to Tut. This custom persisted in Africa until the 20th. century BCE.

The pictures of the Tut treasures I emailed you are on the Nat. Geographic site. The alabaster bust shows the "caruncles" or patches of red veins on the eyes.
Pictures of the gold death mask do not show these clearly, but I saw them up close.

Link to alabaster bust
The drawing of the Karnak treasures

I haven't seen much written about process by which tombs were stocked; however, the private tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV46) of Yuya and Thuya was also well-stocked so my guess is that, apart from funerary items, a noble's royal appartment was packed into his tomb and that Tutankhamun's tomb wasn't partiularly unusual - it's why we would love another New Kingdom  royal tomb to be found intact as a comparison.  However, I do like the idea of a cache.  History suggests that when a religion is suppressed, believers do try to save certain especial treasures for posterity.  It seems highly likely that happened at the end of the Amarna period.  In general I am not persuaded that KV62 is such a cache, but maybe some of the personal items from his ancestors were added to the tomb to keep those safe - ie the theory may have a partial application even if one decides the tomb as a whole wasn't a cache.

Rather than reply to John directly, I thought his theory was interesting enough to share at large.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 01, 2010

Had a touch of cold but will update tomorrow.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, October 28, 2010

I checked the KV-63 site and didn't spot the upgrade but fortunately eagle-eyed Dennis did!  Some lectures have been announced, both in California:

2010 Lectures
November 7 at 2:30 P.M.
Dr. Otto Schaden
Update on KV 63: The Newest Tomb in the Valley of the KingsHosted by The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter

November 6 at 1:30 P.M.
Dr. Otto Schaden
Update on KV 63: The Newest Tomb in the Valley of the KingsHosted by The American Research Center in Egypt, Orange County Chapter(Southern California)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Nefertiti bust has been in the blogs again with Andie Byrnes reporting that 1.2 million people viewed it last year.  So we know what Nefertiti looked like.

Or do we?  I mentioned the papers written in memorial to Bill Murnane some time ago, but I am still working through them.  I recommend the paper by Earl L Ertman on the Images of Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti in the Style of the Previous Reign [Amenhotep III].  Relatively few images of Nefertiti have been identified from the reign of Amenhotep III (or perhaps more precisely, few images showing pre-Amarnan styling), but Ertman still charts changes in the representation of Nefertiti.  The changes in the representation of Akhenaten are well known, but less has been written on the changes in the representation of Queen Nefertiti.  Comparing the images in the paper with the famous bust, there are clear differences for example in the shape of the eyes.  While it is tempting to assume that the bust is a photographic representation of Nefertiti, there are grounds for feeling that Amarna era images are more stylised that faithful portraits.

The portrayal of royalty is often not accurate.  Even portaits of HM Queen Elizabeth are remarkably varied and, in candour, some do not especially look like her Majesty.  In Medieval England portraits of English queens often depicted them with blonde hair because that we the popular feminine ideal, even though they are now known to have had dark hair (for instance some Spanish princesses).

There is no doubt that the bust is a wonderful piece of art, but it may still be an idealised representation.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another minor report on Egyptologia.  It is looking as though we may get a dig diary.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 24, 2010

As we know, Horemheb was burried in tomb KV57 in the Valley of the Kings but before he became Pharaoh, he built a tomb at Saqqara which is less well publicised.  Jane Akhar has posted up some photos.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just a reminder that Stuart Tyler is still working on his Hatshepsut blog.  I particularly like the photo of a statute he has found although sadly he doesn't give any details about the statue or where it was found.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, October 14, 2010

I've just ploughed through a pile of news reports about Egypt and found nothing of interest.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, October 11, 2010

There is a new Amarna book out written by Sue Moseley called "Amarna the Missing Evidence".  I've not read it.  It sounded interesting until I read reviews on Amazon, such as:

This book says "missing evidence", and evidence certainly is missing. The sources/bibliography list is rather short, and some of the sources rather old. Especially, Ms Moseley omits any reference to the 2005 CT/MRI scan of King Tut (which was in "National Geographic"), or the discovery of KV63.

I would like to see a book by someone who has dispassionately gone over all the fragmented information about Akhenaten/Nefertiti/Amarna and arrived at conclusions. This book isn't that.
Those reviews have put me off.  My guess is that this is a book which might suit somebody who knows nothing about Amarna but wouldn't suit me so I won't be buying a copy, but if anybody has read it and thinks I should buy it then I would welcome somebody posting up a comment.

I'm beginning to think that I need to write the book I want myself!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, October 08, 2010

Blain Hunt posted a comment to say he found the Scota video hard to view. My apologies.

I chose that medium when I found the video because I didn't wish to overplay the story. If you are finding the video hard, Wikipedia ( is a bit dry but gives the bare bones. If you'd like to know more than that then the Kingdom of the Ark by Lorraine Evans is an accessible book. I don't agree with all of her conclusions but she looks at things like the Ferriby Boats when discussing the feasibility of sea travel from Egypt to Ireland which is interesting reading of itself. I picked up my copy on Amazon for a penny plus P&P.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, October 08, 2010

While news is slack, I thought I would present a myth - as a myth not fact - which will be familar to some readers and new to others.  In this myth an Egyptian princess called Scota left her homeland and travelled to Ireland.  Scota is often identified as Meritaten as this video reveals.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, October 08, 2010

I have been meaining to review this book for ages.  Somebody was asking me about Ankhesenamun earlier in the week and I recommended this book for anybody seriously interested in the Amarna Queens and Princesses.  I didn't have a review I could offer so I have put that right and published one.  For now it is on Squidoo but I may add one on the new site when it is ready.

The Royal Women of Amarna is nearly 15 years old but it is still a fantastic book.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, October 02, 2010

Since there is a PD handout picture, I thought I would pop it up here.

Obviously, this only shows one side. (See the earlier post.)  There is also a great photo which clearly shows that there are further parts of this statue in the ground, or parts of other statues.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, October 02, 2010

A new statue of Amenhotep III has been found at Kom El-Hittan, best known as the site of the Colossi of Memnon.  There is a picture on the Dr Hawass site.  It doesn't say, but it looks as though the statue has been carved in granite.  One side is very badly damaged but the righthand figure looks to be particularly fine.  Work is continuing to find the rest of the statue.

While a lot of focus has been lavished on the Valley of the Kings, the exacavation of Amenhotep's Mortuary temple has been a brilliant excavation.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kamil Zachert has published some new photos of the Polish team's work and visit to the Theban Hills in November 2010.  The Herhor website has also been updated since I last looked - and the design is more modern - but there is no text to accompany the new photos.  However, I believe the story is this.  An overhang has been a worry for the Temple of Hatshepsut beneath and I think that in September 2010 that overhang has been removed to prejent disaster.  Personally I think the Temple of Hatshepsut should have been regarded as one of the Seven Wonders - it is an absolutely peerless piece of design - so this is really important work.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, September 17, 2010

Jane Akshar covered this before the national press which have now picked up on the story.  There are now some good pictures in circulation.  I recommend:

 Dr Hawass's site has different photos to the other two sites.

The ceiling really is a beautiful one.  For the very committed, there is also a short video below of restoration work within the tomb but it doesn't show any decoration - just a man with a drill.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two very different articles for you:

1) Paul Rymer told me that National Geographic has an article in their September issue. There's nothing terribly new for regular readers of News from the Valley of the Kings but it is produced to the usual Nat Geographic lush production standards and is really very nice.

2) Rather more detailed, for my international readers, there is a very comprehensive article by Antonio Crasto, co-authored with P. Pietrapiana and G. Suadoni.  It is titled "Conferme dal DNA della famiglia de Akhenaton" (Confirmation of the DNA of Akhenaten's Family).  I'm afraid my Italian isn't good enough to offer a full summary but the article considers the permutations of elleles for the children of  KV55 and KV35YL.  This is a promising area of research.  I looked at myself and I believe the chance that Tutankhamun is the son of KV35YL and a brother of KV55 is about 3% - 4%.  That doesn't mean that we are 96% sure that KV55 and KV35YL are Tut's parents because I didn't look for instance at combinations like KV55 and another sister - or cousins for that matter.  We don't know the composition of the royal family well enough to assess the probability precisely. 

Antonio's article then looks at the possible lineage from Thuya to Akhenaten or Neferitit and onwards to KV21A and the foetuses.  (Interestingly, this DNA trail keeps coming back to Thuya and not Yuya - I suspect that Yuya was part of the historic royal family and maybe Thuya was a foreigner?)

Sadly my Italian isn't good enough to follow the logic, but the article then goes on to propose - I think ... the language is a real struggle for me - that KV35EL is Nefertiti (not Tiye) and that KV35YL is actually Akhenaten.  That's a radical suggestion.  Setting the issue of gender aside for one moment, we know that KV35YL could be a child of Amenhotep III - KV35YL is an unknown princess in the Hawass theory.  Indeed, with the addition of a Queen-Consort (Kiya), the Crasto theory does seem to fit the micro-satellite data as well as my own theory and better than the Hawass theory.  However, I am not convinced it fits historical facts as the new Crasto theory requires KV21A (putatively Akhesenamun) to be the daughter of  Akhenaten and the Queen Consort not of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  Indeed, Crasto and colleagues suggest that Nefertiti was the Queen of Amenhotep III and the mother of Akehnaten and Smenkhare (KV55). 

For me this is unsatisfactory in a number of regards but I will leave it to those whose Italian is good enough to read the detailed reasoning to comment further.  However, the article does raise one clear point.  There is no indication in the JAMA that the gender of the supposedly-female mummies, notably KV35YL (in this case), was determined genetically by testing for the absence of SRY (the male gene on the Y-chromosome).  If this was not done, then it is a clear experimental lacuna.  Upon inspection, the main JAMA paper doesn't mention how the gender was determined for the mummies which weren't tested for SRY.  Presumably it was by pelvic examination or some similar forensic method?  Given the feminised appearance of Akhenaten in some reliefs and statues, this does seem to be a possible oversight.  (The absence of SRY isn't a definitive test for femaleness either - for example 1 in 20,000 women have something called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and have a Y chromosome with an SRY gene - but we can say that a woman who possesses SRY is highly unlikely to have been fertile.)   

Personally I don't think the KV35YL is Akhenaten any more than the KV55 mummy is, but it is a theory which opens up new lines of questioning and demonstrates that there is still some way to go before the family tree printed in magazine like National Geographic can really be said to have been proven.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

While there is little new news, here is something from the past - videos of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project excavations in the Valley of the Kings in the early Noughties.

This one (Video 0 - Intro) is he first and somewhat dull with fairly low production standards:

Video 3 - Hoping has a commentary by Nicholas Reeves in which he explains what ARTP hoped could be found. He poses the question: where are Meketaten and the other princesses buried?

Video 7 - Found is a great video. This is a must watch. Nicholas Revees covers some of the key finds.

Video 8 - Ahead looks at what could be found in future. I won't spoil the surprise but is this where the missing tomb of the Amarnan royal women is located? Could there by two undiscovered tombs? As we know, the ARTP lost their concession and Hawass dug a slightly different area.

I have skipped several. If you want to see the others, search Google.

PS Why cannot we have videos of this quality from the Hawass digs?

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

While I am adding videos, here is one of the CAT scan on K35EL and KV35YL. Obviously we now know that neither is Nefertiti but it is still worth watching for good shots of the mummies.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I have some pages on Squidoo about King Tutankhamun and Tutankhamun's tomb and his treasures.  Both are constany works in progress and I while was .looking at videos to feature, I found one to share here. 

What I like about this video is that it shows the passageway and gives a good idea of the scale of the tomn whereas most videos just show the modern glass coffin and the wall behind.  I noticed little things like the fact that the ceiling is bare.  The cameraman pans so you can also see how the scenes in the tomb relate to one another.  If you haven't visited the tomb, I really recommend watching this short video.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's not an Upper Egypt story, nor even Dynastic Egypt, but I've not seen it elsewhere so I thought I'd share it.

Apparently a 1200 year old Psalter, tne "Faddan More Psalter" was found in an Irish bog about 4 years ago. Testing has now shown that the lining of the leather cover is made from Egyptian papyrus. It's not yet known whether the leather is also Egyptian.

It's easy to think of international trade being an entirely modern affair but trade links date back to antiquity. In fact faience beads and necklaces have also been found in Britain, and especially in Ireland. As explains, this probably wasn't through direct trade of beads but by propagation of the knowledge of manufacturing techniques. That's even more interesting. A bag of beads can be passed from trader to trader. Since there are so many practical steps involved in manufacturing techniques, inevitably a skilled transition needs to move to pass the knowledge on. Again that would probably happen in stages with an individual glassmaker perhaps moving only to the next town. If, say, every 5 years an apprentice moved 50 miles to avoid existing competition, knowledge could spread 1,000 miles in only a century. So while we cannot rule out long distance travel, we mustn't rule out a gradual dispersal of manufacturing knowledge.

Returning the the papyrus, it's not been carbon-dated yet - immersion in a peat bog could be the reason for that. It's therefore not known how old the papyrus is.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Jane Akshar has posted several reports from Mummification Museum lectures including TT11 and TT12, the immense TT34  and the possibility of a tomb belonging to Amenhotep I in the cliffs above Deir el-Bahri.

I've deliberatley not posted about the tomb at Deir el-Bahri because it didn't seem to be in the public domain. I'm not certain whether it's one tomb or two. Since Jane has covered it, I'll post something more detailed in the next few days.  Fortunately the cliffs are hard to access and are well-guarded so a tomb should be fairly secure. My personal interest list (highest first) is:

  1. Cliff tomb(s?) at Deir el-Bahri - Amenhotep I or 21st Dynasty tomb/cache? 
  2. Tomb(s) in the Western Valkey of the Kings.  Foundation deposits have been found indicating the presence of a tomb.  Could this be the missing Amarna era tomb? 
  3. The tombs Dr Hawass announced in the Valley of the Kings (KV64), then de-announced.
  4. The various known tombs in the which have never been fully explored and the possibility of unknown chambers.
It's perhaps an opportune moment to also list some of the royal tombs which are still unknown and are likely (or are known) to be in the Luxor area:
  • Amenhotep I's tomb. 
  • Ramses VIII
  • Akhenaten, Nefertiti and other members of the Amarnan royal family?
  • Queen Isisnofret

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, September 04, 2010

Thierry Benderitter of Osirisnet is asking for photographs of the Theban Tombs to help reconstruct them virtually and give an idea of their originally form before modern robbers stripped reliefs. Jane Akshar has the details.

(Since Egypt has now stopped tourists taking photos, there will be no new ones. We must hope that Egypt's seurity for antiquities is good ... Um ... Ah ... Anybody spot a flaw in the new law?)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, September 04, 2010

Sherry Stockwell sent me this article, titled The Mystery Woman Behind the Pharoah which has recently appeared on Nicholas Reeves' web site in which he updates his theories about the history of Tutankhamun's golden mask.   I think it may also have appeared in the [London] Times as well.

I'm a big fan of Reeves' book, the Complete Tutankhamun, in which he first talks about the composition of the funerary masks and speculates that one was originally made for Smenkhare.  As a starting point, I suggest reading his 1997 article The Tombs of Tutankhamun and his Predecessor based on a lecture delivered at the Bloomsbury Summer School, The Valley of the Kings Revisited, University College London, 17 May 1997.  He says:
"A second and more sobering implication of my hypothesis is that a second Amarna cache, containing the weeded burials of Kiya, Meketaten and Nefertiti-Smenkhkare - the remaining, unaccounted for occupants of the Amarna royal tomb - still lies undiscovered in the Valley of the Kings. For, as with the principal occupant of the Tomb 55 cache, the burials of at least one, and perhaps two, of these individuals seem to have provided a range of materials for Tutankhamun’s reuse and must, themselves, have been subsequently re-interred somewhere."

He has now updated that theory and the evidence is very convincing that parts of Tutankhamun's golden mask was made for a female Pharaoh by the name of Ankhkheprure Nefernefruaten whom he equates to Nefertiti.  I'm not convinced that equation should be made.  Names were in short supply within the Amarna royal household, which is why we have Neferneferuaten-Tasherit and Ankhesenpaaten Tasherit.  The history of the period between Akhenaten's death and start of Tutankhamun's reign is ... well, decidedly uncertain.  At least one and probably two pharaohs occupied the throne during that time - possibly as co-regents.  (I've never understood why there is no suggestion for a co-regent for the start of Tutankhamun's reign.)  If the KV55 mummy is Akhenaten then the tombs of these pharaoh(s) and of Nefertiti are unknown.  Reeves also suggests that the mummy of Meketaten should form part of the group transferred from Amarna and I remain of the view that the KV55 mummy is actually Smenkhare.  Anyway - read his articles.  It is well worth it.

(PS if you like food, then Sherry's main web site is Jefferson's Table.  Her latest recipe is Mr. Jefferson's Ice Cream Sundae with Brandied Peaches and Praline Crumbles.)

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, September 04, 2010

This article is one of the occasional but fairly lengthy articles on Egyptologica by Francisco J. Martín Valentín y Teresa Bedman. It briefly mentions this tomb which I have covered in earlier posts, but mostly the article is material about Akhenaten aka Amenhotep IV. The original article is in Spanish and Google's translation is execrable so I have linked the original Spanish.  

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, September 03, 2010

It's well known that I do not believe that the mummy from KV55 is Akhenaten based on DNA evidence, but there is another reason why I doubt it.  Where is Meketaten?

Meketaten was the second daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.  She died very young (possibly as young as 12 or 13), probably in childbirth, and was buried in the Royal Tomb at Akhetaten (Amarna).  We know that from tomb reliefs.  It is also accepted that Akhenaten was buried in the Royal Tomb as well.  (It is unclear where Nefertiti was buried, or indeed when.  If she died before Akehenaten then she was probably laid to rest in the Royal Tomb.)  If the mummy of Akhenaten was transferred from Amarna to the Valley of the Kings then presumably the mummy of Meketaten would have been transferred as well.  So why isn't she in KV55 with her father? 

The answer to that must be that Tutankhamun separated the two mummies and placed Meketaten in a different tomb.  That seems unlikely.  Why would he cut two tombs when one had been sufficient in Amarna?  The argument is probably that Akhenaten as a heretic and therefore had to be buried separately.  I really don't buy that argument though.  According to the Hawass theory, Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's father.  A young king;s grip on the throne has always been somewhat insecure.  If he had inherited through his father Akhenaten would his advisers really have wanted to denounce Akhenaten as a heretic who had to be buried separately?

I just cannot believe based on the circumstances of the time that the KV55 burial fits the political dynamic.  I believe that Akhenaten should be buried as part of a small family group.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 27, 2010

If you ignore the mis-labelling of the KV55 mummy as Akhenaten (at best the attribution is scientifically dubious), this chart of the Tutankhamun lineage is really very nicely done.  It reproduces the alleles so that you can see them in the context of a family tree and uses colour coding so that one can easily see the pattern of inheritance.  Thanks to Andie for posting it up.

One aspect of the layout can be confusing so take care.  Rather than present the two alleles from a single locus above one another, they are shown side by side.  So for each mummy the table reads as four pairs of alleles on the top row, and four on the bottom row.

Things to notice are 35 as the top right allele in the entries for Tuyu (Thuya), KV21A and Foetus.  It has not been coloured in the chart because the Hawass family tree doesn't explain how the KV21A lady inherited this allele which, remember, is extremely rare in the general population.  If she is Ankhesenamun and didn't inherit it from Akhenaten (KV55 doesn't have this allele) she must have inherited it from Neferiti.

Next remember that children must inherit one of each pair of alleles from their parents (neglecting the tiny chance of a genetic mutation).  So in the second pair on the top line, Foerus 2 has 6,15 and Foetus 1 has 10,13.  Print out the chart and work backwards with these.  As you can see, if KV21A is their mother, then she must have had 6,13 in this second pair.  Now if she was Ankhesenamun, her parents were Akhenaten and Nefertiti so she mut have inherited either the 6 or the 13 from Akhenaten but the KV55 mummy has a 15,15 at this location so he cannot have been the father of KV21A if she was the mother of Tutankhamun's children.  That's the discepancy I pointed out in my previous critique.

Ultimately how serious a problem you feel this to be depends on whether you believe the KV21A mummy is Ankhesenamun or not.  As I explained in that previous article, with a few minor assumptions, we must choose between KV21A being Ankhesenamun, duaghter of Akhenaten and KV55 being Akhenaten.  Personally I think the DNA evidence (such as the inheritance of the 35 allele I mention above via Nefertiti and probably AY) is persuasive that the KV21A mummy is Ankhesenamun Akhenaten; I also remain sceptical of the forensic data that suggests the KV55 is Akehenaten.  You must make up your own mind, but try using the National Geograhic chart to fill in the gaps working up from the foetuses, and I hope you will soon see the problem.

[Typo corrected with thanks to  Witlessd. ]

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 27, 2010

There have been a few articles about the discovery of Umm Mawagir but this article in the Yale Almumni Magazine which Vincent Brown found is the best.  Most tales of the discoveries of lost cities are fantasy stories or are over-hyped.  This is an honest-to-goodness discovery of a real lost city near the dessert oasis of Kharga to the West of Luxor.

The dessert city blossomed from1650 to 1550 BCE, just before the dawn of the New Kingdom.  Because the site is dessert and away from modern cities, preservation should be very good.  So far less than ½% of he city area has been excavated but that has revealed buried mud-brick walls which still stand 3 feet high.  So far there is no report of an associated cemetery but inevitably a city that size must include burials and probably a temple.  Hopefully there will be new texts and inscriptions which reveal more about period which is much less well-known than the New Kingdom which followed.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jane Akshar was lucky enough to visit this temple which is normally closed to visitors and has a report and photos on her blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm developing an advanced WordPress Plugin called Glypheer to display hieroglyphs as I mentioned in an earlier post.  Completing it is going to take some time so, as a bonus for those who are waiting, I have developed a simpler plugin which I have called WP-Hiero.

I'm working on a site to host the plugins and I'll write a proper user guide but for now there is a rough first page on my new site.  I'll add content to the site over the next couple of months.  (This isn't the site I am working on with Andie but it's useful to have a site which uses things like the same theme so that I can test them out on something similar.)

I wrote the core of WP-Hiero in a morning and added cadrat groups and text direction after lunch so you'll gather it's not terribly advanced but it can manage simple Manuel de Codage parsing like D40-D54-r-k-r-Dd-d-w-niwt  The biggest known deficiency is that it cannot display cartouches.  Glypheer can display cartouches.  I may add cartouches to WP-Hiero but it's not easy to do so I am undecided at present.  I also don't pretend layout is perfect - this is a plugin whose target is "good enough for casual use"

It's very new so there may be problems but I've reached the stage at which the only way to find out is to put it out there.  It's convinced me though that I really ought to learn to read simple hieroglyphics.

The plugin uses the NewGardiner font by Mark-Jan Nederhof.  The font is only licensed for domestic, personal and academic use.  If you want to use the plugin for commercial purposes, you'll need permission from Mark-Jan.  I suspect I haven't encoded every glyph so if you find something missing, I'll add it to the next version.


 I'd love to extend the plugin to use the Aegyptus font and make the full set of glyphs available.  It should be possible but I have hit a snag.  I need to do what Mark-Jan has done with NewGardiner and rebase the entire Aegyptus font and convert it into a TTF.  I've tried to do it but I'm having problems with Font Forge.  If anybody is able to convert Aegytus for me then I'd be very grateful because I am stuck - please contact me if you can help.

Once I can get Aegyptus working, I'm intending a third plugin which concentrates on getting precise spacing for things like ligatures. 

Three Hieroglyphic Plugins?

I know, it seems strange, but there is a reason.  I started Glypheer using images for the glyphs.  That has some advantages but images are problematic when it comes to overlaying images.  Ultimately the only way to get a precise layout is to use a font.  I initially thought that was impossible but WP-Hiero proves it can be done. It is also tiny.  I like Glypheer for things like the colored glyphs though.  I can also easily add any other sets of glyph images I can find.  WP-Hiero and Glypheer also use totally different algorithms.  They have taught me the limitations of both recursion (WP_Hiero) and iteration (Glypheer).

Between them though I have everything I need to write the parser and plugin I really want to create.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, August 15, 2010

I seem to recall mentioning this before but if I didn't and you are interested, Andie has the details.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, August 14, 2010

Topography of Thebes, and a General View of Egypt by Sir John Gardner Wilkinson is available free on Google books.  If you want to read it all, there is a link to a PDF.  It's fairly easy to find the material on the Valley of the Kings but remember that  "Biban el Malook" is the Arabic name for the wadi that is the Valley of the Kings - although it is usually transliterated differently these days. 

There is coverage of much more of the Theban West Bank, although Sir John opines that "one or two days frequently suffice to look over the whole of Thebes."  There is also some general material about Egypt that I wouldn't particularly recommend.  

The book was published in 1867 and includes details of Sir John's visit in 1827 so this is a book which will be appreciate by those readers who are interested in the history of the discoveries of the Valley of the Kings rather than those looking for contemporary information.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jane Akshar has a great post reporting that the Tomb of Irynefer, TT290, at Deir-el-Bahri Deir el Medina is currently open for visitors.  Jane has gathered what is known about the tomb in her article so I'll say no more here.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 13, 2010

I think from this photo taken on 30th July that there is probably still some archaeological work ongoing in the Valley of the Kings.  I suspect it is clearance of existing known tombs rather than fresh excavation.  

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 13, 2010

In my previous post I said I couldn't find the photo on the South Asasif site.  Andie Bynres helped me out - it's on this page.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The South Asasif Conservation Project has rediscovered an astronomical ceiling.  Jane Akshar broke the news on her blog - she has some photos too.  Jane says there are more photos on the South Asasif site but I cannot find them.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You can tell I'm in WordPress development mode this week ... Here is another new development, this time Andie and I have teamed up with Vincent Brown of Talking Pyramids.

I used to have a page like this at PageFlakes but it died so we have created a new Ancient Egypt blog portal in WordPress.  It's an alternative for those who don't use a newsreader - it gathers the extracts from the most recent posts on your blogs and displays them on a single page.  Simple.  The top row is Andie's Egyptology News. Our themed blogs are on the second row.

If there is interest I need to update the site to the latest version of WordPress and tweak a few things, so the purpose of this article is to gather feedback on the level of interest.  We would also like to know how the site should be developed.  For instance:

  1. Which other blogs should be show?  We can't guarantee to show every blog you would like as we need the permission from the blog owner.  That's one reason why we only show a short snippet.  The idea is that people can find interesting articles to read on the originating site.
  2. Since there are overlaps between blogs, we think we should only show one blog for each area of interest.  For instance Vincent has the world's best pyramids blog with a pretty comprehensive coverage so there is no reason to include any other pyramid blog.  Andie has the best general Egyptology news blog. (EEF is great but not a blog.)  Do you agree?
  3. We have opted for a single page.  We could have other pages - for instance a page of other general blogs about Ancient Egypt, or a hieroglyphs page.  Is there a wish for this?
  4. Do you have other thoughts or ideas?
Of course, nobody might find this useful at all in which case we will quietly abandon it!

(As an aside, you'll notice this links back to Egyptological - Andie and my new magazine site which I have mentioned before and which is still under development.  However, just as Andie and I are working with Vincent on the Portal, we would be happy to work with other people on other ideas for affiliated sites.  If it is a good idea we can offer hosting on Egyptological and help with the development.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 06, 2010

Andie Bynres and I didn't like the design for our magazine site so I have embarked upon a complete rebuild of the site.  The big advantage is that I now know much more about WordPress than I did before - such as how to create plugins.  I've therefore just moved the functionality for displaying hieroglyphs into a plugin.  If you are interested in what the plugin can do so far, there is a very early draft of a user guide. (Warning, that's a link into the new site and while I am working on it, it might not work reliably.  It's very much a building site.)  Please pay no attention to the format as that will be rebuilt next week.  At the moment it is stripped down to something very raw.

The idea of a plugin is that it can be added to any WordPress site and I will release it as open source code when it is finished.  It is still in alpha development and I expect it will be several months before the plugin is ready for public release via the WordPress repository.   It is also a very big plugin with a couple of thousand files and will probably be 20Mb or more when it is finished.

There are obvious flaws still.  For example, cartouches don't align perfectly and I would like to do more with ligatures.  At present, it is also limited to the Gardiner set of glyphs but I am fairly certain I can extend it to allow the full set of glyphs in the Aegyptus font without needing the user to have the font installed.  Progress will depend how much spare time I have.

It amuses Andie that I have developed this without being able to read hieroglyphs, which means the formatting might be totally wrong for some combinations.  It is chicken and egg though.  Andie is promising to write some tutorials for our new site which will teach me hieroglyphs, but we need the plugin to present those tutorials.  Expect an iterative process!

(January 2011: version 1.1 of WP-Hiero is now available.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Paul has posted up some pictures of a rarely seen mummy (screen grabs from Chasing Mummies) from the Valley of the Kings - the one that Hawass is hoping to show is Tuthmosis I.  Great pictures.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My thanks to Len Solt for pointing out an update on the KV-63 site that I had missed.

Since my return from Egypt earlier this year, I have sent in a short report on “KV63: 2010 Season” which is now available in KMT 21 (No. 2, Summer 2010) 45-49.  A more detailed report was just recently submitted to the editor of the Annales du service des Antiquites de l’Egypte.  In addition to the aforementioned reports, a short summary has been sent to editor, Imad Adly of Orientalia for their customary compilation of reports on work in Egypt and the Sudan.  Roxanne Wilson prepared the CD and materials for the ASAE paper and for Orientalia.  
There is more on Otto's diary page.

(PS I have a couple of photo links that people have sent me on other topics that I will check out.  Thanks for sending them.  I haven't forgotten them!)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Paul Rymer:

Got pretty excited yesterday on a visit to the Louvre, saw a piece probably from the workshop of Tuthmose I'd never seen before and lightbulbs started going as to who it might represent!

Have a look at the photos I've just uploaded to Flickr at:

They are of the head of a man in Room 25 of The Louvre, maybe a recent addition. Its of very high quality, and the resemblance to Nefertiti in particular is strong; but it also reminds me of Tiye, Akhenaten and even Tutankhamun. 

If this were Ay, and if as has been often proposed, Ay is the brother of Tiye and the father of Nefertiti, the resemblance to the royal house makes sense. Who else could this be? The portrait is not Akhenaten (wrong jaw shape for a start), it's too old and too different to any of the known or assumed portraits of Smenkhkare or Tutankhamun. Amenhotep III? No, this man is very different. 

The only other portrait that looks somewhat like this is the depiction of Ay in the tomb of Tutankhamun - it has the same jawline (notably different than Tut's), a similar nose and distance between the nose, lips and chin. 

I'm surprised this piece isn't more widely known.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jane Akshar has been fortunate enough to visit the excavation site of these late period tombs in South Asasif (that's on the Theban West Bank fairly near to the Valley of the Kings) and has provided a report on her blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 23, 2010

Those who follow the comments will know that Dennis offered to send me some old photos. I know that's not everybody's interest so I didn't want a very long post here with them so I've set them up on a Squidoo page (lens). You can find them here

Thanks to Dennis.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm shamelessly indulging a personal love of black and white photos, but maybe other people love it too.  (I miss black and white film more than colour film.)  It's a great photo taken by Ted Forbes in 2008.  It's copyright so you'll have to follow the link to Flickr.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 16, 2010

I've just connected with Antonio Crasto on Facebook and I'd like to suggest his site to anybody who hasn't seen it.  There are some pictures for everybody and some articles that look very interesting.  Sadly they are in Italian but if you can read Italian they look to be well worth the effort covering subjects like Marfans Syndrome, and Egyptian Calendars.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 16, 2010


This article seems to answer some questions:

  • There is no direct evidence that it was addressed to Akhenaten, just that it is contemporaneous with the letters found at Amarna and of the standard of royal correspondence.  It is probably part of the local copy of letters sent to Akhenaten.
  • The dating seems to be on stylistic grounds
  • I have wondered why it couldn't be a letter to the king of another country and I am still not entirely convinced that Akhenaten was the recipient.  He clearly may have been but it seems to be supposition rather than fact.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 15, 2010

A tiny clay fragment has been found in Jerusalem. It's believed to be from a letter to Akhenaten. Discovery have the story and a picture.

(It's Discovery so they describe Akhenaten as the father of Tutankhamun, although of course we know better!)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adrienne Giacon has found this interesting paper looking at the Y-DNA of modern Egyptians.

This article shows that many are V
A haplogroup found amongst the Berbers.

(I'm on mobile today so I can't reply in comments, sorry.)


I said haplogroups "blur". What I mean is that mutations accumulate. R1b isn't a precise set of alleles, it's a probability density function. A man and his cousins could have different alleles but share the same haplogroup.

I also totally agree this is entirely separate to race. If an article suggests it is the same as race that's when my hackles rise.


Interestingly there are 3 separate threads of research each showing different aspects of migration: Y-DNA, mtDNA and language. It'll be the synthesis of all of those which will really be interesting. For instance I'm wondering whether there are similarities between ancient chadric languages and/or Berber and/or Ancient Egyptian.

PS sorry for the typos in yesterday's post. I'll tidy some of those up tomorrow as well

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, July 12, 2010

Fireworks over Lake Maggiore
I'll answer the question immediately. In my opinion there is no proof that Tutankhamun was European and on balance personally I think the genetic evidence points against it. However, it is a subject which is coming up repeatedly as it's under discussion on the Web at present, so I thought I should offer my own views. I am particularly indebted to Mike Heiser for sending me the link to an article on Eu Times which discusses the theory and to Marianne Luban who posted the link to a forum discussion on the topic.  I suggest you read the EU Times article for a background before you read the rest of my article.  (Caveat: Web of Trust rates the EU Times site as unsafe so make sure your virus protection is fully up to date and tread cautiously. Some readers report that their anti-virus is reporting an active threat so I have removed the link.)

So far as I am aware, the originator of the hypothesis that the latest genetic analysis revealed Tutankhamun to be European was Robert Tarin.  Marianne's link includes his original article.

Commenting today here on News from the Valley of the Kings, Stephanie said:

In my opinion it is very interesting to explore the ethnical background of the royal family. There`s a remote chance that it could even help to sort out some unanswered questions such as if some queens were likely of foreign origin.

But I think it is currently very unsafe to do so. There is no officially published work on this issue, and trying to establish haplotype groups from screenshots is unsecure.

We don`t know for sure if the data shown really belongs to the person we think it does, if the data can be read correctly and, very important, if this is the data which has been finally worked out and reviewed.

Just think of the discrepancies between Tut`s and the foetus`s data as it was displayed on the screen and as it was published in the JAMA paper.

I think that's wise caution, but nonetheless questions deserve answers and dismissing them without discussion isn't appropriate.  That's the mistake I made over the weekend and was rightly pulled up for doing so by Marianne.  In essence then the argument seems to me to be threefold, and I propose to examine it in those stages:
  1. the latest genetic tests showed that Tutankhamun had a haplogroup of R1b;
  2. his ancestry had a haplogroup of R1b; and
  3. therefore his ancestry was European.
Tutankhamun's Haplogroup

Like me, Robert Tarin spotted that the Discovery TV shows displayed raw genetic data.  Robert copied this down and, in summary, identified the following results for the Y-DNA analysis:
456 (13-18) = 15
389i (9-16) = 13
390 (17-28) = 24
389ii (24-34) = 30
458 (14-20) = 16
19 (10-19) = 8/14 (dual peak)
385a (7-25) = 11
385b (7-25) = 14 (? not clear in video)
393 (8-17) = 13
391 (6-14) = 11
439 (8-15) = 10
635 (19-26) = 23
392 (6-18) = 13
YGATAH4 (8-13) = 11 (10 FtDNA nomenclature)
437 (13-18) = 9/14 (dual peak)
438 (8-13) = 12
448 (16-24) = 19
I have not independently checked those from a DVD recording of the show.  Readers are welcome to do so if they wish.  As Suzanne pointed out, some believe that the results shown where standard results and not an analysis of Tutankhamun's own DNA.  We cannot discount that possibility but personally I believe that actual results were shown in the documentary.  Robert then suggests that this shows that Tutankhamun's haplogroup was R1b to a probability of about 96%.  I've not seen how that probability was calculated.  Again, I've not checked that analysis.  If I thought it mattered, I would do so, but as we will see it's the logic of the conclusion I disagree with.

What is a Haplogroup?

The basic building blocks in genetics are genes (unless one goes down to the molecular level).  Genes are equivalent to words in a language.  In that analogy then an allele which we discussed while considering the identification of the KV55 mummy is a variation of that word.  So for instance if there was a Forename locus then there might be alleles for Andrew and Robert.  Both would be Forename genes, just slightly different.

If genes and alleles are words, then a haplogroup is a sentence - a collection of words which are associated together in some way.  A haplogroup comprises a number of alleles (genes).  In our analogy a "name" haplogroup might be Eric James Higginbotham.  That would probably suggest to use that the individual was English.  In contrast a name haplogroup of Jean Marie Leclerc would suggest a Frenchman.  That's the basic reasoning behind Robert Tarin's argument: the R1b haplogroup he believes suggests that Tutankhamun was European.

So if Tutankhamun's Haplogroup was R1b, so were his ancestors?

Not necessarily.  That's were I believe Robert's argument starts to break down, although it is not my most serious objection.

We are dealing here with the simple haplogroups associated with alleles only on the male Y chromosome.  (If you want a refresher on Y-chromosomes, I have written elsewhere about the human male 46-XY karyotype, although you shouldn't need it.)  The Y chromosome is passed from father to son: [fertile] women do not have a Y chromosome.  Therefore a son's Y chromosome (and his haplogroup) will be the same as his father.  Only it isn't quite that simple.  The Y chromosome is rather puny in size and somewhat fragile ie it is relatively prone to genetic mutation.  Over many generations these differences build up so that a man's haplogroup might not identical to his great-great-great-grandfather.  Some writers refer to a blurring.  (That is, after several generations a haplogroup istelf contains a degree of diversity as mutations accumulate.)

Haplogroups are essentially the genetic heritage left by patriarchs from Antiquity - in the case of R1b probably less than 18,500 years ago.

Think of a patriarch's genetic material as like the centre of the explosion of a firework.  As it is passed down the generations it mutates slightly in some individuals and the genetic heritage spreads out like the bloom of a firework.  (You see that intro picture really wasn't a gratuitous firework photo!)   In fireworks blooms can overlap.  In the photograph, can you be sure that the pixels in the overlapping area might be from the right hand firework?  Couldn't they also have come from the left hand firework?

Similarly the genetic heritage of patriarchs will eventually overlap.  Observing the haplogroup of an individual tells us about the individual's haplogroup but it doesn't directly reveal the haplogroup of their ancestors.  If somebody speaks perfect English, that doesn't mean their parents also spoke perfect English: they might have spoken Spanish or Hindi.  It's dangerous to extrapolate from one individual.

Even if Tutankhamun's haplogroup is R1b that doesn't mean his paternal ancestors were R1b as well.  They might have been a different haplogroup but have diverged from it by genetic mutation.  At the least, the analysis would need to show that Tutankhamun couldn't be any other haplogroup, or at least that it would be statistically unlikely.  Showing that R1b is possible is not the same as showing that other haplogroups are not possible.

Figure 1

Does a haplgroup of R1b make Tutankhamun European?

This though is the crux.  Even if you believe that Tutankhamun and his ancestors had a haplogroup of R1b would that make him European.  In short, not necessarilly and, I believe once other factors are taken into account, almost certainly not.

Figure 1, (taken from Wikimedia Commons  under GDFL), illustrates the distribution of the R1b genetic haplogroup in modern Europe.  It's tempting to look at this and conclude that if Tutankhamun's DNA was R1b he was probably of Western European ancestry, probably from Britain, France, Iberia or Scandinavia.   Tempting, but I believe mistaken.  I've reproduced below a table from the Wikipedia entry on the R1b haplogroup (which is worth studying) for some sub-branches of the R1b haplgroup which are found today mainly in Sub-Saharn Africa.

Region Population Country Language N Total% R1b1a (R-V88) R1b1b2 (R-M269) R1b1a* (R-V88*) R1b1a4 (R-V69)
N Africa Composite Morocco AA 338 0.0% 0.3% 0.6% 0.3% 0.0%
N Africa Mozabite Berbers Algeria AA/Berber 67 3.0% 3.0% 0.0% 3.0% 0.0%
N Africa Northern Egyptians Egypt AA/Semitic 49 6.1% 4.1% 2.0% 4.1% 0.0%
N Africa Berbers from Siwa Egypt AA/Berber 93 28.0% 26.9% 1.1% 23.7% 3.2%
N Africa Baharia Egypt AA/Semitic 41 7.3% 4.9% 2.4% 0.0% 4.9%
N Africa Gurna Oasis Egypt AA/Semitic 34 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
N Africa Southern Egyptians Egypt AA/Semitic 69 5.8% 5.8% 0.0% 2.9% 2.9%
C Africa Songhai Niger NS/Songhai 10 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
C Africa Fulbe Niger NC/Atlantic 7 14.3% 14.3% 0.0% 14.3% 0.0%
C Africa Tuareg Niger AA/Berber 22 4.5% 4.5% 0.0% 4.5% 0.0%
C Africa Ngambai Chad NS/Sudanic 11 9.1% 9.1% 0.0% 9.1% 0.0%
C Africa Hausa Nigeria (North) AA/Chadic 10 20.0% 20.0% 0.0% 20.0% 0.0%
C Africa Fulbe Nigeria (North) NC/Atlantic 32 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
C Africa Yorubad Nigeria (South) NC/Defoid 21 4.8% 4.8% 0.0% 4.8% 0.0%
C Africa Ouldeme Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 22 95.5% 95.5% 0.0% 95.5% 0.0%
C Africa Mada Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 17 82.4% 82.4% 0.0% 76.5% 5.9%
C Africa Mafa Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 8 87.5% 87.5% 0.0% 25.0% 62.5%
C Africa Guiziga Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 9 77.8% 77.8% 0.0% 22.2% 55.6%
C Africa Daba Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 19 42.1% 42.1% 0.0% 36 5.3%
C Africa Guidar Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 9 66.7% 66.7% 0.0% 22.2% 44.4%
C Africa Massa Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 7 28.6% 28.6% 0.0% 14.3% 14.3%
C Africa Other Chadic Cameroon (Nth) AA/Chadic 4 75.0% 75.0% 0.0% 25.0% 50.0%
C Africa Shuwa Arabs Cameroon (Nth) AA/Semitic 5 40.0% 40.0% 0.0% 40.0% 0.0%
C Africa Kanuri Cameroon (Nth) NS/Saharan 7 14.3% 14.3% 0.0% 14.3% 0.0%
C Africa Foulbe Cameroon (Nth) NC/Atlantic 18 11.1% 11.1% 0.0% 5.6% 5.6%
C Africa Moundang Cameroon (Nth) NC/Adamawa 21 66.7% 66.7% 0.0% 14.3% 52.4%
C Africa Fali Cameroon (Nth) NC/Adamawa 48 20.8% 20.8% 0.0% 10.4% 10.4%
C Africa Tali Cameroon (Nth) NC/Adamawa 22 9.1% 9.1% 0.0% 4.5% 4.5%
C Africa Mboum Cameroon (Nth) NC/Adamawa 9 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
C Africa Composite Cameroon (Sth) NC/Bantu 90 0.0% 1.1% 0.0% 1.1% 0.0%
C Africa Biaka Pygmies CAR NC/Bantu 33 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
W Africa Composite 123 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
E Africa Composite 442 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
S Africa Composite 105 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
TOTAL 1822

As can be seen, this branch of R1b is very strongly represented in the Chadric population of Western Sub-Saharan Africa with more than 95% of Cameroonian Ouldemes having an R1b? haplogroup.  What is even more striking is that 28% of male the Berbers from Siwa in Egypt still have an R1b? haplogroup.

There is another concentration of R1b in central Eurasia.

Rather than look to Europe for an explanation, I think it is significantly more likely to look to the Sahara.  At the end of the Ice Age we know it was a fertile savannah.  If you talk with Andie Byrnes or read her blog on the Western Desserts, you'll learn that ancient petroglyphs are present all across the Libyan dessert as well as the Egyptian. We believe that the Sahara was well populated.  As dessertification took place, the population would migrate in search of water.  Inevitably many must have followed the great rivers like the Niger into Southwestern Subharan Africa.  Other might have migrated eastwards into Egypt and settled around Egypt's western oases - notably Siwa - and perhaps into the Nile Valley itself.  Such an explanation could, I believe, easily account for a haplogroup of R1b in the New Kingdom royal male line and seems entirely more plausible, in the context of social anthropology, than reaching to Europe for an explanation.

Of course it is possible to separate the different branches of R1b but I am not aware that the Y-DNA analysis of Tutankhamun and the other 18th Dynasty royal male mummies was extensive enough to support such analysis.

One thing though does seem to be clear: most modern Egyptians are probably not paternally descended from the Amarna Royal family.  That might have political implications.  It is far harder to claim moral ownership of Nefertiti's bust if most modern Egyptians are themselves genetic incomers rather than direct descendents - at least down the male line.

The Maternal Line

We return again to mitochondrial DNA which is passed down the maternal line.  In contrast to Y-DNA this is more strongly resilient to mutation and therefore would give a much better picture of racial ancestry.  I'd really love to see the results.  In Ancient times, while men might have migrated as part of hunting parties or armies, women were much less likely to die away from their place of birth.  We should therefore expect quite different results if/when mtDNA is published.

14/7/2010 - Certain typos corrected


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