Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There is a nice post on Dr Hawass' blog with a picture.  The false door was from the 18th Dynasty tomb (TT61) of User, Vizier to Hatshepsut and reused in a Roman structure at Karnak.  Personally I find it interesting that Hatshepsut was as far in the past for the Romans as the Romans are for us which sets things into a sort of perspective.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

With thanks for Keith Payne for spotting an interchange in comments on the Archaeology Magazine blog, there are some titbits from Mark Rose:

Thanks. I have read Kate’s initial post with great interest. Am also in touch with Carsten Pusch about this–hope to have an interview before long in which he responds to various questions that have come up, including Kate’s.
 Mark also confirms that he has spoken with Zahi Hawass and the prince in the side room of KV35 has also undergone DNA testing and results should be published soon.  Hooray!  Dylan Bickerstaffe told me he thought that the mummy was back in the side room of KV35 when they visited the Valley of the Kings a couple of weeks ago and had special permission to visit KV35.

PS Keith Payne's latest two posts are an article on Tutankhamun's walking difficulties with a sidebar on Freiberg-Kohler’s Disease and Mummy Gallery of the mummies in the DNA study.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I forgot to mention some titbits from Dylan Bickerstaffe who recently led a tour to Egypt and a visit to the Valley of the Kings (including a special opening of KV35) for Ancient World Tours.

The group walked over the hills from the valley to Deir el-Bahri. Dylan says that they hills are cluttered as workers are digging cable trenches to power lights to illuminate the western cliffs, and are also building walls (of unknown function).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 26, 2010

Writing on a subject dear to my heart, Dylan Bickerstaffe rounds up the saga of the Tutankhamun DNA testing.  It's great to see an established author tackling this subject.  I strongly recommend his article, and not just because he kindly references me: as Dylan suggests, we have also swap several emails on the subject.

If you had trouble following the logic of my own article, then Dylan takes a less scientific and more accessible approach which I commend to you. I particularly like his observation that the KV21 mummies could be wet nurses drawn from the royal family and therefore genetically similar to them so that with limited testing they may appear to be mothers although in fact they may only have been aunts and cousins.

Dylan also observes that there is a history of assuming the forensic data has proven a relationship without considering the context of the data by scoffing at the claims that the identification of Hatshepsut with a mummy found in tomb KV60 in the Valley of the Kings has been proven.  It is evidence; not proof.  That is a distinction lawyers appreciate.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 26, 2010

Jane Akshar reports on the latest Mummification Museum lecture.  I'm sure it was a fantastic lecture but Jane found it hard to take notes so I wouldn't recommend her article unless you are deparately interested in this tomb.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 26, 2010

Although I call this blog "News from the Valley of the Kings" I think the tombs in the cliffs above Hatshepsut's temple are at least as important - with the enticing possibility that there may still be an opened tomb here.  In his latest post, Zahi Hawass reports on his recent exploration of the tomb

One has to laugh though.  He relates that this tomb might be more important that Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  It's certainly arguable that KV62 isn't the most important tomb, but Dr Hawass relates how the Deir el-Bahri cache was found by an Egyptian peasant.  It's a nice story for Egyptian television that the most important tomb was found by an Egyptian not by the foreigner, Carter.

Of course, his article neglects to mention that the Rassul family were notorious for tomb robbing.

What is much more interesting is that Dr Hawass reveals the focus of the next royal mummy project.  It isn't filling in the obvious gaps in the DNA of Tutankhamun's family but locating the family of Ramses II.  He says:

Now we are working to extract DNA and perform CT scans on this mummy as well as Seti I, Ramses II, and Ramses III, in order to find answers about these mummies. We are also examining Unknown Man E, to possibly identify him and his relationship with Ramses III. We hope that this investigation will reveal the secrets of the family of Ramses II.
That worries me. We have seen from the Tutankhamun Family project that with an inbred royal family relationships can be wrongly assessed and the collateral branches of the family, especially the women, are necessary to try to eliminate some of the alternatives.  I wonder how much we will be able to tell with just 5 mummies, all male? We'll see - no doubt on Discovery Channel.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 26, 2010

Andie has links to more articles critical of the "restoration" of the Avenue Sphinxes in Luxor which seems to come with a very high price in terms of the other cultural mouments which are being sacrificed.  On top of this, residents are protesting the creation of a new port in Luxor which would displace 10,000 people.  Those who follow such things will recognise a familiar pattern from the complaints against heavy-handed and insenstive re-development in Cairo.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 26, 2010

I know posting has been somewhat tardy this week, I've been dealing the the twin (but unrelated) distraction of officious officialdom and hieroglyphs. Sorry. I will do a complete round up this evening. 

The hieroglyphs are more interesting than officialdom.  Andie and I have been thinking about displaying hieroglypghs on the new magazine site.  A big part of that needs to be converting MdC to images - it's how WikiPedia does it I believe.   Sadly it will be a WordPress solution so I won't be able to adopt it here as well.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 20, 2010

This isn't the most recent statues but is a video of the large Amenhotep III head whose discovery was reported 3 weeks ago.  There area few views that weren't in the photo I saw.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 19, 2010

The book we are all waiting for is one by Dr Schaden on the discoveries in tomb KV63.  For now, the next best thing is a lecture by Dr Schaden and Jane Akshar was lucky enough to attend one in Luxor and has written it up for us.

He doesn't miss the opportunity to remind people that KV63 is the only tomb found in the Valley of the Kings since Tutankhamun and, when found, many Egyptologists were claiming that there was nothing left to be found.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 19, 2010

Two more statues from the temple of Amenhotep III have been found.  I've looked, but I cannot find any pictures.  There seem to be just two major versions of the story in criculation, one from the AFP newsfeed and the other from the Reuters feed.  The linked article seems to combine both to a degree and is the best I can find, but it's still not a lot.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 15, 2010

Otto Schaden has updated his dig diary, his last update this season.  I'd suggest you read it in full on his site.

(Thanks Andie for spotting this.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 14, 2010

[Fans of Bones may get the references]

The identification of the Elder Lady as Queen Tiye and the Younger Lady as the probable mother of Tutankhamun has focused attention on the boy who lay between them in the side room of KV35.  Tim has written a really great article about about this mummy and also about the mummy which is widely believed to be King Sethnakht but whom Tim wonders if it is Prince Webensenu.  It's hard to interpret KV35 as it contains the consolidation of many tombs in the Valley of the Kings many of which had probably been robbed. 

Tim wonders whether the boy from the side room  could be the Pharaoh Smenkhare.  (He uses the spelling Smenkhara, others use Smenkhkare.  We can't even agree on the spelling of this king's name!)  I doubt it because I beleieve KV55 is Smenkhare but anybody who disagrees with my logic and believes KV55 to be Akhenaten may find Tim's arguments interesting.

Tim argues that KV35 was probably robbed before being used as a cache.   I doubt this.  Amenhotep was found in his own sarcophagus.  We should also perhaps consider what made the priests choose KV35 above other tombs?  They must have believed that the mummies placed in there stood a chance of escaping further plunderers.  Surely they would have chosen a largely intact tomb - unless of course all known tombs had been plundered by then.

Anyway, it's a great article so I'd encourage you to read it yourself and make your own mind up.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 14, 2010

Long term readers will know that in 2008 Dr Hawass announced he had found two new tombs in the Valley of the Kings which were dubbed KV64 and KV65.  It seems that annoucement was somewhat - well actually entirely - inaccurate and he has now written that no tombs have been found

I think many of us still worry that the radar anomoly reported by Nicholas Reeves may lie outside the area investigated.  Hopefully exploration will continue because we know there are tombs which have not been found including Isisnofret which is the one which excites me.  (I'm also very interested in the tombs of the Priest Kings of the late 21st Dynasty.  When the mummies of earlier generations were removed to the two [known] mummy caches they probably acquired a wealth of funerary goods for their own use and knew to hide their own tomb well.  There is possibly one spectacular find to be made.)

In his report, Dr Hawass remains optimistic that a tomb may be found in the Western Valley of the Kings (which he calls the Valley of the Monkeys).  

While Hawass drives me crazy at times, I do hope his efforts are rewarded with a major find.  As an Egyptologist, he does deserve one.  Maybe KV17 or a chamber in the Great Pyramid will be his Tutankhamun-moment as KV62 was for Carter, but if he persists I still believe there is at least one tomb remaining in the Theban Hills which could surpass Carter's discovery. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 13, 2010

If you are interested, Heritage Key now have a virtual Valley of the Kings experience.  Not my cup of tea but some readers might be interested.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 13, 2010

I try to reply to everybody who contacts me but my apologies because I have lost one recent email so I can't name check you or reply personally.  Sorry.

The feedback was that the DNA article was hard to follow because the table was too small and could do with colour coding.  That's valuable feedback, thank you.  A large part of the problem is that with two sidebars there is only about 50% of the usable space left for writing on News from the Valley of the Kings.  That's fairly typical.

One of the reasons the new Egyptological magazine site has been taking Andie and I so long to develop is that we have been finding alternative ways of doing things so that we can have pages without sidebars leaving space for wider content with bigger pictues and tables.  Once that's available, I'll do as you suggest and re-write the article with much bigger tables so that it easier to follow.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the end there was just one solution for this genetic data fitting into the family tree and this showed us this must really be Akhenaten and could not be any other.
That's what Albert Zink of the Insitiute of Muumies and a member of the Tutankhamun Family DNA Project team has to say in this report by Paul Schemm for Associated Press.  The article also goes on to reveal that since Akhenaten has now been firmly indentified, a new Akhenaten Museum is planned for Minya province in the hope of increasing the number of tourists who visit. The museum will house other mummies as Hawass reveals:
The museum in Minya will house the mummies of Akhenaten, his mother Queen Tiye and his ill-fated sister-consort and "tell the story about Akhenaten,"
With Hawass stating strongly in the media that the KV55 mummy is Akhenaten - and needing the mummy as the centrepiece of this new musuem, and with another member of the team (above) stating that the DNA data supports only one solution, it will be very difficult now for the team to admit any alternatives.  I have shown in earlier posts that the published DNA strongly suggests this mummy cannot be Akhenaten and proven that alternative interpretations are absolutely possible.  I lack the academic credentials to be taken seriously.  I can only hope that a doctor or professor will take up the baton and publish to show that the KV55 mummy has probably been misidentified by the Hawass team. Unless of course, there is something in the unpublished data which materially changes things, but I find it hard to envisage anything that could.

Over the years I have seen people claim to have witnessed discoveries which were publicly denied.  The latest was Andrew Collins with the Tomb of Birds on the Giza Plateau.  My experience with the Tutankhamun family DNA data is making me rather more open to believing what people have said.  Andrew Collins backed his claim with the publication of photos and video.  If the new law is used to suppress publication of such material discovering the truth is going to become very difficult. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two fantastic posts from Jane Akshar on the work of Andrzej Ćwiek, head of the Polish Mission, at Deir el Bahri. In one Jane reports on a lecture at the Muumification Museum and in the other she describes a private guided tour of a visit to the temples.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 08, 2010

With thanks to Paul Rymer who contacted Discovery to ask, the Tut documentary will repeat on Discovery Knowledge on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th March at 9pm.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Brooklyn team have finished for the season in the Mut Temple.  It's been a fantastic season, the team have done great work as usual and their dig diary has been fantastic.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 07, 2010

Heritage Key report that the end of the tunnel in tomb KV35 KV17 in the Valley of the Kings has been reached and drop hints that a chamber may be discovered.  It's confusing but it sounds as though they have found an opening and a stairway.  The report is very sketchy but I can't find anything better.

(Those interested in the Great Pyramid will be interested that Hawass is now also a convert to what many people have been saying for 20 years - that there is a chamber undiscovered in the Great Pyramid.)

[Thanks to Len Solt and Chris for spotting my error.  I had KV17 correctly in the tags but have KV35 in the text.  That's now corrected.]

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 07, 2010

I promised to come back with a round of answers on the main questions from the
DNA Shows that KV55 Mummy Probably Not Akhenaten post.  As before, click here or on the title to read the full article.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 06, 2010

Since Yuya has been in the news, here's an (old) photo showing the sheer size of his outer coffin.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Andie has found an article with an old black and white photo of the Avenue of Sphinxes.  It's heartbreaking that they lasted thousands of years in near perfect condition but were built over in the last century.  (The photo is probably out of copyright but I cannot find a dated version to be sure so I have linked the article rather than embedded the photo.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Comments suggest that a few people have found it hard to follow my reasoning on the genetics in my previous article DNA Shows that KV55 Mummy Probably Not Akhenaten. I'm sorry. I was at full-stretch myself with the genetics and I let my explanation slide a little. I want everybody to understand the reasoning so here's a 30 second version for you.

  1. Thuya had two "genes" which were rare.  Only 1 in 100 people have each of them.  Only 1 in 10,000 people have both of them.  Tiye didn't inherit these genes but they re-appear in the foetuses.  How?  Do we go for the 1 in 10,000 option of blind chance, or do we think that the foetuses inherited the rare genes from Thuya by a line of descent other than Thuya -> Tiye -> KV55 -> Tutankhamun? 
  2. There are two even rarer genes (only 1 in 1,000 people have each of them) which make a similar jump: one jumps from Amenhotep III to the foetuses; the other jumps from either Yuya or Amenhotep III to the foetuses.  Neither gene passes Amenhotep III -> KV55 -> Tutankhamun.  It would be a 1 in a million chance that the foetuses didn't inherit these genes from Amenhotep III (or Yuya).  Again how?

How might this be explained?  History suggests that the first case is explained by Nefertiti (her father is thought by many to have been Ay, son of Yuya and Thuya) and the second by Akhenaten ... if the mummy in KV55 is not Akhenaten of course.  And playing Sudoko with the genetic data suggests it's impossible for KV55 to be the father of  both Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun - the genetics of their children (the foetuses) is impossible to reconcile.  (Of course, the foetuses might not be Ankhesenamun's - another queen anybody?)

Finally, I play Sudoko with the full family tree to show that it is possible to have KV55 as another prince (Smenkhare?) and add Akhenaten and Nefertiti in as parents of the mother of the foetuses.  This also allows me to predict what future genetic tests (such as mitochondrial DNA) should show - a good, scientific theory should make testable predictions.  I also show that all of KV21A, KV21B and Y35YL could be (not were, just could be), daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

That's a bit of a simplification and omits the caveats and assumptions, but it's my argument in a nutshell. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, March 02, 2010


The paper Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family
by Hawass al. (Journal of American Medicine, 2010 - JAMA. 2010;303(7):638-647), states that the mummy in KV55 is “probably” Akhenaten – hereafter “the JAMA paper”.  The media has accepted the attribution as affirmed fact, although the attribution has attracted considerable comment and debate with a number of writers questioning the forensic data.  I believe, however, that the correct focus of dissent to the attribution should be the STR analysis which shows that the KV55 mummy is highly unlikely to be Akhenaten and that an alternative family tree is a better fit to the genetic findings of the Hawass study.

(As this article is longer than normal, if you are reading this abstract on the front page of the blog then please click here or on the article title to display the full article below this point.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 01, 2010

I had a German press report of this, but there's now an English report with a picture.

The giant, granite head comes from excavations of Amenhotep III's mortuary temple on Luxor's West Bank. The rest of the statue has already been recovered and will be reconstructed.


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