Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 21, 2010

 Reading what has been written in press reports, it's tempting to conclude that the DNA testing of Tutankhamun's family has resolved everything.  I don't think that's the case.  I want to spend some time on looking at the family tree and chronology because I think it turns up some questions.  It also highlights why some margin of error may need to be read into some of the results.

For instance if we take what is being said then we would have:

  • Akhenaten reigned for 17 years (I've used his ascension as origin)
  • His daughter Ankhesenamun (KV21A) was born in year 4 and was aged 21 - 25 at death
  • His son Tutankhamun was born in year 12, ascended the throne at 9 and died aged 19.


As can be seen, that would give us two interesting things.  There would be an inter-regnal gap between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun suggesting that there must have been another Pharaoh, possibly two.  That's even if we discount co-regencies.  But, if there was an intervening Pharaoh, why should be believe that the mummy in KV55 is Akhenaten rather than this other Pharaoh (Smenkhare?)?  Indeed, since we now know that the KV55 mummy was the brother of Tutankhamun's mother, this would seem to conflict with the prevailing belief that Kiya was a foreign princess. 

Secondly, Ankhesenamun would predecease Tutankhamun when we know she survived him and married his successor, Ay. I suspect that either the mummy from KV21 in the Valley of the Kings is not Ankhesenamun or the estimated age at death is wrong - and "her" mummy is in really quite poor condition to that is possible.  I need to re-read various things, but I think it's also possible that Tutankhamun could have been born before Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign.

However, there is some evidence for two reigns between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, one of 3+ years and one of perhaps only a year (although both could have been longer - the evidence is very thin).  If Tutankhamun was born 3 years earlier so that he ascended the throne on the death of Akhenaten, then the estimated age of death of the KV21 mummy would fit what we know of Ankhesenamun.  However, we would then probably be faced with co-regencies.

Yes, I know working in complete years is crude, but it's enough I think to illustrate the points I was wanting to make.  The test results have advanced our knowledge, but they have not answered all of the key questions.

13 comments:

Jim said...

Ha, and that entry just saved me quite a lot of time, as it did for me the chronological analysis I was just about to sit down and work out - great :) I could 'feel' that something was wrong with the chronology put forward in the report, and I think you've just managed to identify it.

Derek said...

Hi Kate,

Very interesting calculating but... follow below:

1339 - first year of Akhenaten
1335 - born of Ankhesenpaaten (year 5)
1323 - death od Akhenaten (year 17)
1324-1321 reign of Semenkhkare or:

(1323-1322) reign of Meritamun
(1322-1321) reign of Semenkhkare

1321 - first year of Tutankhamun
1311 - death of Tutankhamun, first year of Ai II
1310 - death of Ankhesenamun

1335-1310=25 (age of Ankhesenamun)

KV21A=Ankhesenamun ? I don't know, but... it's possible. CT scan Akhenaten's mummy esimate it 45-50 years in moment of death. Tolerancy of 15 years! So.. everything is possible.

Derek said...

(.. I've seen mistake, so now amendment ;) sorry ..)


Hi Kate,

Very interesting calculating but... follow below:

1339 - first year of Akhenaten
1335 - born of Ankhesenpaaten (year 5)
1323 - death of Akhenaten (year 17)
1324-1321 reign of Semenkhkare, or:

(1323-1322) reign of Meritamun
(1322-1321) reign of Semenkhkare

1321 - first year of Tutankhamun
1311 - death of Tutankhamun, first year of Ai II
1310 - death of Ankhesenamun

1335-1310=25 (age of Ankhesenamun)

KV21A=Ankhesenamun ? I don't know, but... it's possible. CT scan Akhenaten's mummy esimate it 45-55 years in moment of death. Tolerancy of 10 years! So.. everything is possible.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Derek it can work like that but you have Tutankhamun born around Year 10 of Akhenaten's reign. That's possible but if you watch the videos Zahi is suggesting he was born in Year 12 when Kiya disappears (ie that she died in childbirth).

Derek said...

And how can he know? He isn't a specialist of amarna time. He's specialis of mass media.
We can talk about some event in the year of the reign only when it is recorded by the ancient Egyptians. If Zahi shows whether the source?
Two years? What is two years?
Akhenaten has begun reign by Helck in 1340 and by Vandersleyen in 1397. 57 years difference!
Zahi seys Akhenaten died in 45 or 55 age. And you talk about 2 years... ;)

Kate said...

Derek, of course you may be right about Tutankhamun's birth year. I'm merely attempting to show that if one takes everything that is being said, then, on my understanding, it leads to conclusions which contradict archaeological evidence.

Again I want to look at the chronology of Akhenaten's reign and see whether that's compatible with a mummy whose age was assessed at 40 in the Discovery videos.

I'm worried that the test results are being used to support one narrative which fits most facts without considering alternative possibilities.
Kate

Derek said...

I know Kate. I know... ;)

You know, maybe we (you and me) are too precise. Look - Zahi in video seys - 40. But on HIS website is 45-55. Is he know about he telling?

But.. why don't you sleep? ;)

Anonymous said...

Well said, Derek that Hawass is specialist of the media, and here it is that he tries to impose his pet theories like KV55=Akhenaten and Kiya as Tut`s mother on the public. Herefore he clings
to "facts"like Tut`s birth in year 12 and Kiya dying in chilbirth in the same year. His stating that the KV55 mummy may be Akhenaten usually gets lost in the press where it is Akhenaten, And Hawass does not care.
Tomost of us rather than turning Kiya into a royal princess it is far more likely that Akhenaten or Semenkhkare (whomever you want to see in KV55) was first married to one of his full sisters, which would have been common practice, who gave birth to Tut and at some point probably died.Her husband then married Nefertiti/Meritaten respectively upon becoming king.
Besides I find it regrettable how in the media a picture of Tut as a generally weak and sick boy who could virtually do nothing is being created. Of course we know since the discovery of his tomb that he wasn`t exactly Superman, but how many of the ancient males and their modern counterparts could be described as such?
The scientists say that the signs of use on his walking sticks support the view of him being frail. I do not deny that for some time for as long as he suffered from Koehler`s disease he needed support when walking. But what about the clubfoot which has escaped the attention of somany examiners including Hawass himself with his detailed 2005 scan or the scoliosis which then was ruled out as not being pathological? I think they cannot have been that bad. After all,most of us if examined that thoroughly would display pathological features which he/she may never have known of. Nobody`s perfect.
It has been shown that Tut has been infected at least twice with Malaria. So could a very weakperson have survived even one attack of this kind of Malaria? I thinknot.
Not only walking sticks show signs of use. There is wear or traces of use on chariots,bows and arrows, the folding bed, hunting and chariot riding equipment. How does this evidence go together?
For me it`s clear. Tut had good times in his life when he could be physically active and other bad times when he was ailed by disease. And one of the bad times may have taken his life.

Derek said...

What said Hawass don't interest me particularly. Since the creation of a variety of hypotheses have different personalities. I can build a few hypotheses too. I've been interested in results of research. If the sentinel KV55 mummy is I want to know a few things with it, such as age at death. And I do not like that in one place Hawass says 40 and in the second 45-55. I want to hear (read) from people who know at what they do. I want to know the number with the given tolerance. And if for example it appears that it is 40-50 for me means that 39 or 52 is absolutely not an option because it goes beyond tolerance. So the test should look like. When, for example, in the future, get some more modern methods, which will specify the age, let it be such a smaller range of 42-48, but located iside the previously given. Do not like it was before. In 2005, given that the 19-23 and 45-55 the next test they say. In addition, the man responsible for this whole mess says 40 and, in another place 45-55. For me it is not serious.

Sorry for my English. ;)

Kate Phizackerley said...

Derek
You speak a lot of sense. I don't think quoting age ranges is correct, and the KV55 mummy is a really good example of that. There is clearly evidence for an age in the 20s and in the 40s - watching the video shows that. That is reinforced by the previous studies. The correct report is probably something like this:

[20-25] - 40%
[30-45] - 40%
[45-50] - 10%
[50-55] - 10%

That is in terms of confidence intervals. It conveys the information much better. I have made the numbers up, of course, although it wouldn't surprise me if they were not reasonably close.

I think it illustrates a problem in Egyptology. The soft science stuff has been stressed at the expense of hard sciences of genetics and statistics. I think it's dangerous for somebody without a hard science degree (like maths, physics, biology) to lead any project which involves forensics or genetics.

Kate

rymerster said...

Fascinating - but I don't yet have a problem with the ages of the mummies presented in the findings. I have read KV21A and KV21B are aged between 21 and 40 - either they lived long after Tut (into the reign of Horemheb) or the traditionally agreed dates fit.

We don't know for certain when Akhensenamun was born - except that she had 3 younger sisters and all were born before Year 12. So her age at the end of Tut's reign could be anything between 22 (if there were no independent reign for Neferneferuaten or Smenkhkare) or older if there were no co-regencies. We also don't know when she died - and the estimates of the age of KV21A seem to go up to 40 - so she was either way older than we thought or more likely lived well into the reign of Horemheb.

As usual with the Amarna period, we are no closer to unravelling what on earth went on after Year 12 of Akhenaten (besides Tiye expiring in Year 14). I hope that the ages at death of AIII and Tiye can give us an indication of whether or not there was a coregency between AIII and Akhenaten. If she's young, there must have been one.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Derek,
I suggest you read these two links:
http://www.hallofmaat.com/read.php?6,528850,529190#msg-529190 and http://www.hallofmaat.com/read.php?6,528850,529206#msg-529206 which may help you to understand the age of the mummy in KV55.

Derek said...

Thank you, Kate, I'm going to read..

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