Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've not yet waded through the full JAMA paper, let alone the genetics papers I need to read so that I can fully understand the detail, but I am still at the stage where what I am reading is increasing my concern.  For instance the JAMA paper indicates that all of the tested mummies had either allele 26 or allele 27 at the D2S1338 locus. The paper Population Data on the STR Loci D2S1338 and D19S433 (Bruce Budowle et al, 2001) reports distributions for this locus.  If you refer to Table  1 you'll notice that characteristic 27 was not observed in the African American, Caucasian, Hispanic or Filipino populations sampled and was rare in the Chamorro population.  Characteristic 26 was the second rarest.

Yet in the JAMA paper every one of the tested mummies has one of these characteristics:

Mummy                          D2S1338
Thuya (LV46)                   19,26
Yuya  (KV46)                   22,27
KV35EL                         22,26
Amenhotep III (KV35)           16,27
KV55                           16,26
KV35YL                         16,26
Tutankhamun (KV62)             16,26
KV21A                          N/K,26
KV21B                          17,26
Foetus 1 (KV62)                16,N/K
Foetus 2 (KV62)                N/K,26

The DNA sampling is incomplete where N/K is shown.

Now it would seem at least possible from this, perhaps even probable, that the allele distribution of the royal family has narrowed so much that all members possess either allele 26 or 27.  Even the other distribution of the other characteristic is narrow.  It is my contention that it is reasonable to use the normal general population distribution probabilities (unless it is subsequently shown that the genetic variance of the entire nobility is narrowed) when showing consanguinity, but when considering particular relationships within the population such as father son etc, then probabilties based on the allele distribution of this poulation should be used.  I'm intending to dump the whole table into Excel and see what I can manage in terms of probabilities.

It's also interesting that, with the exception of the KV21A mummy, foetus one must have at least one parent other than those on this list - ie the source of the 17 variant.  (It could be mummy KV21A because one allele for her is unknown.)  That's just based on one allele, of course.  (Impossibilties can be established by one allele - if we ignore the chance of genetic mutation.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Perhaps because my masters is in maths and stats, one aspect of the JAMA paper worries me which is escaping mention elsewhere.

The probabilities of the relationships given in the paper as a result of the DNA testing are based, I believe, on the incidence of alleles in a typical [modern] population.  The study has shown considerable consanguinity within the royal family which reinforces earlier studies like that by Scott Woodward.  Full-sibling marriages seem to have been common.  This would have caused genetic narrowing within the population (ie the royal family) - the probable cause of some of the birth defects identified in the study.

Genetic narrowing of the population obviously affects the allele distributon and reduces the confidence with which a particular relationship can be determined.  For instance, take a case of genetic narrowing so extreme that no variation remained.  In that case it would be impossible to determine whether two indviduals were uncle and nephew or father and son, for example - or even brothers - because all individuals would be genetically indentical and DNA tests would not be able to distinguish between them.

Clearly that is more extreme that the cirumstances of the 18th Dynasty Royal Family but genetic narrowing will have reduced the standard probabilities to some degree.  So far I've only read the highlights but I don't believe an adjustment was made.  In fact, I do not believe sufficient data was collected to assess the degree of genetic narrowing in mathemtatical terms and to rebuild population distribution functions.  The paper quotes probabilties to several decimal places.  Unless I have totally misunderstood genetic testing (which is possible), the accuracy quoted seems entirely spurious in this case.  The broad thrust of the probablities may stand, but the statistician in me is very uncomfortable with the particular probabilities (confidence levels) which were apparently quoted.

It also suggests that a control group of highly consanguineous indviduals should have been used.  It may be impossible to find a group which is as highly inbred as Tutankhamun's family, but there are a number of isolate populations which could have been used as a control reference.

(There may be a note on this buried somewhere in the fine detail of the report, but nobody else seems to be discussing it.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'd like to say a big thank you to my readers.  I have been reading through the comments on some of the recent posts and the standard of debate is very high and adds considerably to my own modest efforts.  (If anybody is only reading the newsfeed, I really would encourage you to stop by every now and again and see what people have been saying in the comments - or subscribe to the comments feed as some of you have done.)  I'm also delighted how polite everybody is and how disagreement and debate is handled with grace and decorum.  That makes this a very friendly place, I hope, for people who are just starting to venture thier opinions in public, knowing that everybody is very gentle.

To those who have been commenting, thank you.  Do please keep it up!  Recently more and more people have also been sending me information.  Again a big thank you. 

From that start I have tried to make this a community and to draw on the principles of crowdsourcing.   It's the cumulative effect of all your efforts and contributions which have helped to make News from the Valley of the Kings successful, and I really appreciate it.

Thank you everybody

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I have a photo but in the current climate I am not sure I dare post it.  I've agonised over it for 10 days now.  I think it was legal to take it - just not to publish it.  So thanks to Stewart.

But like court reporting, there's nothing stopping me from describing it.  The photo was taken in the Western Valley of the Kings in early January. 

There is a a square excavation about 12' x 12' dug up against the cliffs at the side of the path just beside the pile of rubble from last year's excavation.  There was a short wooden ladder down, but the pit was only about 3' deep.  It had all the look of an excavation that was focused on a specific target rather than clearing large areas of ground as we saw last year.  I speculate it is digging a radar anomaly.

The first interesting thing is that stretching alongside the put down the side of the cliff is one of those concrete finds "trays" we have seen before and which are usally only put in when finds are expected from an excavation.  Unfortunately that obscures the face of the excavation in shot which is really frustrating.  What makes it really interesting is that sat in the finds tray are what look for all the world to be about 20 mud bricks. It's possible they are say there to shore up the excavation but at only 3' deep it shouldn't need it.

Stewart said that there was another excavation in the Western Valley they they were very unhappy about him going anywhere near.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm not going to post these because the sequence includes some illicit photos inside tombs but Ronan Crowley has a number of shots from 10th February of the Valley of the Kings.  Exterior shots of the Valley are from a distance so nothing obvious in them, although somebody may wish to try blowing them up to see whether there is anything in the fine detail.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The team excavating at Malqata have some new posts on thier blog including a rare find of a piece of glass.  It continues to be a very high standard of reporting.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

There's a program called Mummy Autopsy on Quest TV in the UK at 9pm on Wednesday.
(Thanks to Pete Missingham)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, February 22, 2010

This was a concept I was toying with last night while I was writing up the Discovery videos, but I shied away from it until I'd read the paper.  However, Katherine Griffis-Greenberg, whom I respect has written about it over at the Hall of Ma'at.  What if the attribution of the mummy in WV22 is wrong and instead of it being Amenhotep III, it is Akhenaten?  The identification of the WV22 mummy is almost as problematic as that of KV55.  Essentially these fit the facts:

  • WV22 = Akhenaten
  • KV55 = Smenkhare
If your follow the link I've given, Katherine has shown a family tree for this alternative.  I don't think anybody is suggesting that this alternative attribution is fact, merely that it seems to fit the facts and therefore it shouldn't be discarded.

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 21, 2010

Discovery have a series of videos about the recent findings.  Advert stuffed they won't play for me on FireFox but I did manage to get them to play on Google Chrome.  (If having to watch crappy adverts is the future of Egyptology given the new Egyptian laws designed to maximise income from artefacts, then I may find myself a new hobby.  These adverts are really very tacky and intrusive.  They are up to 30 seconds long before you reach a 2 minute informative segment.  Sorry.  Just run them through in a background window while you do something constructive in another window.  I do promise to boycott frugalista and Hunt's tomatoes in protest.  I have a monthly bandwidth limit - which I know is common in some countries - and these adverts have eaten a significant portion of it.  Not happy.)

If you persist though, there is some information in the videos which hasn't come out in the previous articles:

  • 15 DNA samples were taken from Tutankhamun's femur.  There are good scenes of his Valley of the Kings tomb as a bonus 
  • Tutankhamun's age at death repeated as being 19. 
  • In Pharaoh Forensics the scientists examine the unwapped mummy from KV55.  You can see them display the bones which allow them to give an age assessment.  The skull suggests an age in the 20s, but the spine and femur lead them to assess the age as about 40.  (That's an earlier age than I have seen reported in some written articles.)
  • The parental relationship between KV55 and Tutankhamun is based on 10 sequences which they state would be sufficient to prove paternity in modern court cases. 
  • In Royal Sister-Wife, the video identifies Ankhesenamun as Tutankhamun's sister.  I'm not aware that the DNA has shown this (it's something I'll be looking for when I find time to read the paper itself as this is important confirmatory evidence) but they are suggesting this, I think, on the basis that they have "called" Ankhenaten as Tutankhamun's father.  This should, in fact, make Ankhesenamun Tutankhamun's half-sister.
  • Mitochondrial DNA wasn't enough to prove more than a familial relationship between the Younger Lady and Tutankhamun.  Maternity was proved by matching 8 DNA sequences.  That is less than the paternity shown for KV55 but I would guess the mDNA evidence adds to the probabilty and may bring it up to legally accepted levels of significance.
  • Zahi believes that KV63 in the Valley of the Kings was intended for Kiya and that she is Tutankhamun's mother.   He links the fact that she disappeared in Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign with the birth of Tutankhamun in the same year.
  •  In King Tut Unwrapped, there are very nice shots of the golden throne in the Egyptian Museum.  It is photographed outside the glass and the Tutankhaten cartouche is highlighted.
  • Killer Malaria is the weakest segment for me and seems to add relatively little to written published material. 

My Personal Thoughts on Paternity / Maternity 
    As I understand the videos, they have shown that the mummies from KV55 (Akhenaten?) and KV62 (Tutankhamun) are paternally related.  If I understand this correctly, it could be grandfather and grandson, or Tutankhamun could be the father of the KV55 mummy.  I believe it's only contextual archaeological analysis which has led to KV55 being identified as "the father" of Tutankhamun rather than "paternally related".  It's small point but I think in understanding these test results we must be careful to separate what they prove from what is being deduced by incorporating other archaeological evidence.  (The combination of the paternal relationship between KV55 and Tutankhmun, the maternal relationship between the Younger Lady and Tutankhamun and the sibling relationship between KV55 and the Younger Lady may be sufficient to prove patnernight and maternity in the order claimed.  My knowledge of genetic teasting is imperfect; however, I think on the basis of the DNA testing alone, it would also be possible for KV55 and the Younger Lady to be Tutankhamun's children.  That's impossible in the archaeological record of course.  It's also why the link back to Yuya and Thuya who, like Tutankhamun, were found in a secure archaeological context is vital.

    I know I will be criticised by some and my remarks discarded because I am only an amateur Egyptologist, but fortunately I am as equally qualified when it comes to genetics as most Egypologists :-)

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Jane Akshar has a good write up of the Muumification Museum lecture about the work on the tomb of Djehuty at Dra Abu Naga.  I see no point duplicating any of Jane's work, so please visit her blog to read it.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, February 19, 2010

    I'm trying to bring my collection of Squidoo lenses up to date for this week's developments. While I am doing that I'll probably come up with some interesting videos. Here is one I found while repairing my Tutankhamun lens in which Dr Hawass talks of Tutankhamun's club foot.  (Essentially the theme of the short news piece is that Tutankhamun was a very sickly youth.)  The anchor has a very strange accent. I'd rate it about 3 out of 10 on the interest scale, but it holdss one's attention for the 2 minutes running time.

    (I'd avoid my Squidoo lenses for several days.  Making sure I run all the new information through them is a non-trivial task.)

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, February 19, 2010

    This article by pling makes interesting reading.  Pling looks at the methodology used to assess the genetic genealogy.  She has read the full paper and also states clearly what has been scientifically proven and what hasn't.  (Again, it's worth stressing that that the identification of Akhenaten from tomb KV55 has not been proven by this latest study.  If progress can be made on the identification of the lineage of the Younger lady, we may be able to make a firm identification because we know KV35YL was the sister of the mummy from KV55.)

    There are a couple of things which "puzzle" me.  The mummies from KV21 in the Valley of the Kings are largely unknown, although including the mummies fromKV35 was an obvious move.  Only 11 New Kingdom mummies from the time of Tutankhamun were tested.  I am intrigued what prompted the SCA to select this particular group of 11 mummies and not any others.  So far as I am aware, there was no prior speculation that the mummy "KV21A" mummy could be Ankhesenamun.   I wonder if the ongoing investigations of Valley of the Kings tombs has revealed unpublished clues to the occupants some of the lesser known tombs.  (The indentification of Aknhesenamun still has not been proven by the way.)  Remember Dr Hawass said 6 months ago:

    "The fetuses will help us determine whether [King Tut's wife and daughter of Nefertiti] Ankhesenamun was a half sister or a full sister," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.  "If the fetus DNA matches King Tut's DNA and Ankhesenamun['s DNA], then they shared the same mother." 
    Although in 2008 Dr Hawass also said of the two foetuses from KV62, ""I personally feel they are not the sons of Tutankhamun".

    Sadly the study has failed to answer these questions which brings me to the second thing that puzzles me: no mention is being made of the earlier DNA sampling of key New Kingdom mummies.  As I reported in September 2009, Prof Scott Woodward harvested DNA from 27 New Kingdom mummies, 7 successfully.  He also successfully recovered mitochondrial DNA from the elder KV62 foetus, although the sequencing has never been published.  There are also reports that he successfully extracted DNA from Yuya, the father of Queen Tiye.  Nothing I have read suggests that any attempt has been made to integrate these earlier DNA sequences.  Undoubtedly methodologies have moved on since the 1990s, but nonetheless I worry whether the politics of "an all Egyptian investigation" may have come before maximising the scientific value of the DNA which has been gathered from New Kingdom mummies.   That is particularly true of the foetuses from KV62 because, as I have reported previously, they have allegedly not been well kept and have deteriorated over the past decade making DNA extraction more difficult.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    I'll pop another post on News from the Valley of the Kings tomorrow following the press confernce but for now I'll just recap the findings as they are being reported in advance of the press conference.  Refer to my earlier posts for links to articles in support of these.

    • The mummy in KV55 was Tutankhamun's father best on partial Y-chromosome matching.
    • There are reports that the KV55 mummy was the son of Amenhotep III (Amenophis III) but I've yet to see this backed by facts.  That will have to wait for tomorrow.
    • There is speculative identification of the KV55 mummy as Akhenaten.  That seems likely but I suspect it's an over-simplification for the press as I'm not yet aware of evidence which proves the identification.
    • The Younger Lady from the Valley of the Kings tomb KV35 is identified as Tutankhamun's mother.  So far I have not seen the genetic basis on which this has been determined.  (I am not doubting the conclusion, just saying the method isn't in the reports I have read.)
    • The Younger Lady was related to the mummy in KV55.  Reports are suggesting a brother-sister relationship.
    • If the KV55 mummy was Akhenaten, the conclusion is that the Younger Lady was probably not Nefertiti as they are not believed to have been brother and sister.  However, if the mummy in KV55 was Smenkhare instead of Akhenaten, then the Younger Lady could have been Nefertiti or one of her daughters like Meritaten.
    • It is confirmed that the foetuses in KV62 were no carried to term and were Tutankhamun's children.
    • Since (presumably), Ankhesenamun was the mother of these foetuses, their DNA should include mitochondrial DNA frim Nefertiti, their grandmother.  It will therefore be interesting to read what has been found in the the DNA from these foetuses as it could speak further to the identity of the Younger Lady.
    • Tutankhamun's grandmother has been identified ... Queen Tiye?
    • In total the lineage of 5 generations has been shown.  The 5th generation is not mentioned but is presumably Amenhotep III's father.
    • Tutankhamun had a cleft palate and club foot.  
    • There are no signs of Marfans Syndrome nor feminising genetic disorders in either Tutankhamun's mummy or the KV55 mummy.  Similarly there is no evidence of significant cranial elongation.
    • Tutankhamun was suffering from a serious form of malaria - malarial DNA was found in his mummy.  (Note: I wish to read whether malaria can infect a corpse post mortem as so far I have not seen this possibility discounted.)
    There are still a few gaps when the list is presented like that and I am really hoping the full study will be published but we do know a great deal more than we did before this study.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    This is a TV 90 second slot on the findings about Tutankhamun and the suggestion that his death was caused by malaria. Rather poor - only here because it's a first mover!

    It's doubtful that malaria was the cause of death. Having read more it's more likely that it left his body weakened so that he passed 24 hours after breaking his leg.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    The Journal of the Amercian Medical Association is reporting that the Younger Lady whose mummy was found in the Valley of the Kings tomb KV35 has been identified as the mother of Tutankhamun by DNA testing of 11 mummies from Egypt's New Kingdom.  The article confirms that the mummy from tomb KV55 was Tutankhamun's father, which significanly increases the chances that the KV55 mummy is that of Akhenaten.

    There are no indications craniosynostoses or Marfans.

    Addendum: for a background on the mummy of the Younger Lady please refer to this press release from 2007

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Physorg have a report of the DNA study results set to be revealed in a press conference on Wednesday.  The two headlines are as follows:

    "Many scholars have hypothesized that Tutankhamun's death was attributable to an accident, such as a fall from his chariot or a kick by a horse or other animal; septicemia or fat embolism secondary to a femur fracture; murder by a blow to the back of the head; or poisoning," the study said.

    But genetic testing found evidence that Tutankhamun had been infected with plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes an often deadly form of malaria.
    And on parentage:
    Using partial Y-chromosome information, the researchers determined that Akhenaten, the controversial pharaoh who ruled from around 1351-1334 BC and tried to radically transform religion in ancient Egypt, was Tut's father, and that Tutankhamun's mother was Akhenaten's sister.
    Presumably the "Akhenaten" referred to here is the mummy found in KV55, the most debated tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  For that we will have to wait for the press report. The study also confirmed that Tutankhamun had a club foot and walked with a cane like his father.  That's something that was aleady strongly suspected but I'm guessing it's now proven fact.  He was also the father of the two foetuses found with him in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

    The press conference tomorrow will be very interesting but I thought people would welcome the scoop since it's in circulation with a big thank you to Michael Stephens for spotting the Physorg article and giving me the heads up.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    With photos hard to come by, first-hand reports are important so a thank you to Maria Nystrom Agback for her report of her visit to the Valley of the Kings on 7th and 7th February 2010.

    On the 8th, excavators from the University of Basel were at work digging on both sides of the walkway towards KV34 (on the left side between KV 26 and KV 59, on the right side opposite KV 59), documenting and assemling pottery.

    At the entrance of KV63, I was told I had just missed professor Schaden as I watched the birds gathering around the seeds he puts out for them. I could see no activity behind the sign announcing Dr. Hawass examinations, but two wooden crates gave me the impression work is being carried out there.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    If anybody is an expert on the new Egyptian law relating to the copyrighting of the images of antiquities,  I'd be interested in hearing their views on its application but my present thinking is that this blog is exempt on two grounds a) it is non-commercial, and b) it is educational.  It's a good job as otherwise I'd be having to delete all photographs on old posts because I believe the new law is retrospective in application ie it applies to old images as well as new ones.

    So far I can find no legal commentary on the law but those I have read which were drafted before it passed seem to suggest that courts in the UK and USA probably wouldn't uphold the new Egyptian copyright law anyway as it goes beyond the Berne Convention.  I've added the Berne Convention to my reading list.  If that's the case, than I'd expect quite a few sites about Egypt to ban access from Egyptian IP addresses so that Egyptian courts have no nexus. If that happens it'll be very unfortunate that Egyptians are blocked from reading about thier herirtage but it shows the potential unintended consquences of bad laws - and in terms of international intellectual property rights this is a bad law.    It's certainly a topic I'll follow to see what the lawyers make of it.

    Hopefully the SCA will set up a clearance system so that quality sites (like this one and the new magazine site Andie and I are working on) can get a blanket exemption.  At present the law is an unwanted stress for anybody who is writing about Ancient Egypt.

    And if anybody is usure why I think it is a bad law then consider this.  Since ownership of the Nefertiti bust is contested, the new law would extend to images of the bust even though it is housed outside Europe.  That means a newspaper reporting on the question of ownership which showed a photo of the bust would need the permission of the SCA.

    (As a moan, one thing I hate about blogging is that potentially it is affected by every country's laws, not just Britain's.  So although I am not American I still need to consider the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Equally of course anybody writing from America needs to understand European law.)

    PS My present assessment is that the online magazine which Andie and I are planning is also exempt.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 14, 2010

    There's an update on Well spotted Jane.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, February 13, 2010

    I am now informed that there are at least 4 excavations in the Valley of the Kings and Theban Hills.  As well as the resported excavation in the Western Valley of the Kings they are also digging again in the Eastern Valley.  Some of the excavations seems to be quite small as though they are digging on radar anomolies. This year, so far, there don't seem to be large scale clearances like last winter.  There is also a team working within KV26.

    Some of the guards are reportedly now toting AK47s (or something similar).  Has anybody else noticed that and is it new?

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, February 13, 2010

    I've been working solidly on the site for the new magazine for the past week and I'm a bit behind with news here, so this is a roundup of several articles.

    Avenue of the Sphinxes and the Luxor Temple Mosque

    Jane Akshar has more on these.  She also has an update on the excavations in the Temple of Luxor with such photos as in these days we are allowed.  We now have less photos of excavations than a century ago in the day of Howard Carter.  Such is progress apparently.

    Brooklyn Museum at the Temple of Mut

    The team are back at the Karnak temple of Mut.  You can read about it on their blog.  In terms of reporting, they are once again setting the standards.  It's excavations like the Cliff Mission, The Brooklyn Museum and the new Malqata dig (see below) which are showing that high standards of scholarship in the 21st Century means maintaining a great dig diary online both as a way of sharing culture with the people (culture belongs to all of us, not to the Egyptologists) and as a permanent record of progress day by day.

    End of the rant.  This year as well as work in the area around the Taharqa Gate they have also decided to reassemble a 26th Dynasty Healing Chapel.   Do take a look because the photographs are wonderful and the labels help readers to make sense of a very complex site.  There are also photos of 13 coins which they have found and dated to the reigns of Ptolemy IX Soter II.  (No, for once that isn't  typo ;) According to the blog he reigned twice which is something I didn't know.)


    Michael C. Carlos Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art have a new site about Malqata.  Thanks again to Jane.  Malaqata is the old New Kingdom royal palace on the Theban West Bank.  It's partially a dig diary and partly a history of Malqata which is a site which has been poorly documented online historically so this is a very welcome addition.  The team describe their plans for the season.  At present they are re-excavating the Temple of Amun.


    As many of you know, I maintain a newsfeed on the sidebar which hopefully keeps up with most of the posting about Luxor and the Valley of the Kings without too many false positives.  I've added the new Malqata site and added some filtering to try to remove some of the false matches.  Hopefully it will still work - it's seriously overloaded.  I've included the link above if you want to risk it in your newsreader.  (It does NOT include the feed from this site as it is intended as a utility for me.)

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, February 12, 2010

    There has been a lot written about this but the best is probably Al-Ahram Weekly.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 07, 2010

    With many thanks again to Kamil Zachert here is another Cliff Mission video shot by Mr. Dariusz Dudziak in November 2009.  This one is 10 minutes long and captivating.

    A reminder that there is now a Cliff Mission FaceBook page.  There is some commentary in the video but it is in Polish.  If you really wish to follow what is going on, perhaps the best bet is to remind yourself of Kamil's photostream which has English titles for the photos which essentially give you some key points of reference.

    Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    AR has just left this comment (many thanks) on the latest photo of excavations in the Valley of the Kings which I posted last week:

    I was visiting [the Valley of the Kings] on Friday the 22th and saw them [the excavations] as described by RP and Dennis. This picture was on the other side to KV40, but the archaologists were digging close to KV40 and KV59 as well. There were also people emerging from KV31. An english speaking guide told us, that they found a good preserved sacrophagus in KV31. As we were leaving Kings Valley, Hawass appeared. I suppose they were opening the sacrophagus.
     Note: the Theban Mapping Project records tomb KV31 as 18th Dynasty and completely full of debris.  They wonder whether a sarcophagus in the British Museum came from this tomb, but it is also possible it was never properly explored.

    If anybody can corroborate this, or add further details, that would be appreciated.

    (There are a few links to other articles I'll round up in the next few days including an annoucement that Dr Hawass has called a press conference for 17th February to report on the DNA tests of Tutankhamun's mummy, but the above report from AR is probably the biggest reported news at present.)


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