Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chasing Mummies is the new series from Dr Zahi Hawass which premiers on the History Channel in the US on July 14th.  There is a promo video from YouTube below.

This is an unbelievable video.  I suspected that it was a spoof but the same video is on the History Channel site.  I think this is the series for which people were invited to send it audition videos.   Gosh you'd have to be desperate for behind the scenes access to make it worthwhile.  I guess it's partly in the style of programmes like Hell's Kitchen but in all honesty it's just a bit too believable to make comfortable viewing.

Zahi's biography on the History Channel site is somewhat surprising as well.  It advertises other programmes we might like including "Ancient Aliens" .  The blurb for this says "if ancient aliens visited Earth, who were they, and where did they come from? Find out on Ancient Aliens on" If you browse around the site there are some nice photos of mummies (see under Great Mummy Discoveries) and an episode guide.  Usually I'd feel deprived that we weren't getting it in the UK at the same time (later for those of us like me who don't have cable) but in this case I really can genuinely say I am happy to miss this series.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's a genuine subject of conjecture! It's explained in this blog article at New Scientist:

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, June 25, 2010

Andie has presented a paper on the eradication of the village of Qurna by Caroline Simpson,
Coordinator of what was the Qurna History Project.  Caroline describes the destruction of Qurna by the Egyptian authorities, led by the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, and the Vice Minister of Culture Zahi Hawass as "cultural genocide".  Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, June 25, 2010

No not a video nasty! Vincent Brown has found a History Channel video on the death of Tutankhamun from a broken leg.. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, June 25, 2010

I have tended on News from the Valley of the Kings to concentrate on the issues surrounding the family tree of Tutankhamun because they might help a greater understanding of the entire period.  Others are more interested in the death of Tutankhamun and it turns out the even the cause of death covered in such detail in the Hawass JAMA paper is challenged by some.  There are a series of letters on the JAMA site but they require membership.  If there is interest, I'll try to get access to them for myself and write them up in more detail.

If anybody would like to know more, then Andie has some extracts on her site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, June 21, 2010

Not much to report - summer is always quiet - but there has been some fanastic discussion in the comments on the previous post about the DNA of the foetuses and whether Tutankhamun had a second wife.  Still on the Valley of the Kings theme, Tim has been excited by the summer edition of KMT and has written about the golden foils from tomb KV55 and whether they might refer to Smenkhare.

The biggest story though is from the Delta.  Vincent Brown circulated this story by Twitter about a city which has been detected by satelite radar beneath the ground.  It is believed to be Avaris.  The page has links to several other versions of the story and an image.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 10, 2010

(Videos don't fit well into the available width so you may prefer to watch on YouTube.)

There is cut scene commentary (like on the old silent movies) but that doesn't detract from this great video about the creation of 3D replica of Tutankhamun's mummy for the exhibition in New York - his real body is of course still in his Valley of the Kings' tomb.

I am not a fan of replicas but this looks significantly better than most and is probably worthwhile, although whether it is ethical to copy somebody's body for public display is a separate issue.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tracings from TT65, Nebamun, Overseer of the Granary but later isurped by Imiseba, Head of the temple-scribes of the estate of Amun are now online on the Griffith Institute site.  I also don't recall posting about the previous set of tracings they posted for:

 The Insitiute is now offering tours to Egytpological societies and need donations so if you find the tracings valuable for resarch, please consider making a small donation.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I promised to post the DNA from the TV Documentary and compare it with the DNA in the JAMA paper.  This is the comparison of two mummies from tomb KV62 in the Valley of the Kings: King Tutankhamun himself and the larger of the two foetuses.

The locci aren't named in the documentary but they seem to be the same as those in the published paper so I have shown the locii as a caption to each table.  If anybody would like to check I have correctly transcribed the results from the documentary, then that would be appreciated.

Rather than one hugely confusing table, I have shown each locus separately.  

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun1012 9(10)12
Larger Foetus10- 9(10)-

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun1015 10(11)15+
Larger Foetus615 614

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun1626 1727+
Larger Foetus-26 18(19)26

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun2934 2933
Larger Foetus2935 2530

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun813 913
Larger Foetus813 813

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun1919 1820
Larger Foetus1020 1020

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun612 612
Larger Foetus-12 11(12)12(13)

MummyJAMA 1JAMA 2 TV 1TV 2
Tutankhamun2323 2323
Larger Foetus-23 2623

There are many reasons why the published paper may differ.  It's possible some experiments were repeated and of course the paper will have combined the results from the second lab; however, it remains my unwavering view that the discrepancies should have been raised openly in the published paper.

There are some people who don't believe that real results were shown in the documentary: I do.  I think the evidence is very strong that the results shown were contemporaneous results from the lab.  I am not sure, however, why they were so convinced that Tutankhamun had been proven to be the father of the larger foetus at that stage because paternity is much less certain than in the published paper.  Indeed there seems to be a major issue with D21S11 for which neither of Tutankhamun's alleles is inherited.

Do I still believe that Tutankhamun is the father of this foetus?  Probably; however, unexplained discrepancies hardly fill one with confidence and this comparison has certainly caused me to question whether the DNA results are as definitive as the JAMA paper seems to suggest.

On another note, re-watching the documentary it seems important that the foetus and the mummy they believe to be Ankhesenamun had Marfans but they don't seem to think the KV55 mummy did. That suggests to me again that KV55 was probably not Ankhesenamun's father, Akhenaten - with the usual assumptions that the mummy might not be Ankhesenamun and might not be the mother of the foetuses.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I have found a set of old stereo photos of Egypt.  There is not much commentary other than they are said to be 19th century.  There are pictures of the pyramids but there are also pictures of places like Luxor Temple, Deir el-Bahri and the Valley of the Kings.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Readers are encouraged to add links to news stories or blog posts that add extra information to a story - or to link to a breaking story.  A few people have done it recently and I encourage it.

I am starting to have a problem with spam comments.  I delete them as soon as I can but you might read a comment before I get chance to review it.  If somebody you haven't seen leave comments before starts leaving links to general articles in comments which don't add much to the discussion then my advice is not to follow them.  I'll take a look and if I don't recommend the link I'll delete it as soon as I get chance.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Regular reader of News from the Valley of the Kings, Stuart Tyler, has launched a new blog dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut.

Best of luck Stuart.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 08, 2010

 Hawass has used his column in Al-Ahram weekly for a diatribe against foreigners, particularly Britons. I think this is because he had to get a visa for his most recent trip to Britain and didn't feel he'd been given a VIP treatment.

One argument he makes is a reasonable one. that a country should treat visitors as it's own citizens are treated when they visit overseas.  There's just one tiny, incy little flaw.  When Egyptians visit London they can see the Rosetta Stone free of charge: when Britons visit Cairo not only do they have to pay to visit the Egyptian Museum, they have to pay more than Egyptians.

Such comparisons are very usually over-simplistic and invalid.  This seems to be one of those cases.  It may play well with an Egyptian audience although given how much Egypt relies on tourists this is a very surprising statement:

We cannot continue to treat foreigners with love and generosity if they in return treat us insincerely and do not care, from now on: one to one.
 And this is what he has said of Britain - although whether it is all Britons or just Brtish officials it is not clear:
I know that Ahmed Abul-Geit, minister of foreign affairs, has ordered that all foreigners are to be treated the same. They have to pay the same amount that we pay and they have to know that this is a decision of the country. I myself do not want to visit their countries at all. I do not even want to deal with them.
Hawass has repeated the attack on his blog, although it seems the Spanish are still in favour .. oh and the ambassadors of the "United States, Japan, France, Columbia, Mexico, and many other ambassadors from Latin America".

(Thanks to Stewart Herring.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jane Akshar has posted  message from Otto Schaden about his plans for work in the Valley of the Kings next year - when they hope to resume some work in KV10.  It's worth reading the post below which summaries what is available to visit at present.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dr Kent Weeks has circulated a note about plans for remembering Susan Weeks

Dear Friends,

Susan Weeks, who died last December 12th, will be remembered as an outstanding artist, ceramist and student of Egyptian folk arts and crafts. Her many contributions are among the most respected in these fields.

To honor Susan’s memory and work, her family, friends and colleagues have established the Susan Howe Weeks Memorial Fund at the American University in Cairo. The fund will be used to further work in areas of Susan’s particular interests:

· to establish in AUC’s Rare Books and Special Collections Library an archive of Susan’s extensive collections of notes, journals, manuscripts, and drawings in the fields of ancient Egyptian art, Egyptian and Bedouin folk arts and crafts, ethnoarchaeology, ancient and modern ceramic studies, natural history, and techniques of scientific illustration, and to fund acquisition of works in these fields for the AUC Library;

· to support seminars and short courses in these subjects at AUC, and to support annual lectures by recognized authorities from around the world. All will be freely available to students and scholars of all nationalities.

We believe that this program will serve as a fitting tribute to this very talented lady, and will recognize her long-term commitment to Egypt and to the education of future generations who will continue to study and document its culture.

We hope that you will consider joining us and make a contribution to Susan’s Memorial Fund. All contributions are welcome, and all are US tax deductible. They may be sent to: The Susan Howe Weeks Memorial Fund

American University in Cairo
420 Fifth Avenue (3rd floor)
New York, NY 10018.

Checks should be made payable to “The American University in Cairo,” and marked “For Susan Weeks Memorial.” You may also contribute by Visa or MasterCard: simply send your card number and expiration date and the amount to be charged. (Please ask if you wish to contribute in sterling, euros or Egyptian pounds.)

Thank you for remembering Susan and for helping to ensure that the example she set will continue to inspire and inform.


Kent R. Weeks
Catharine Roehrig
Salima Ikram

Theban Mapping Project Metropolitan Museum of Art American University in Cairo

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Marianne Luban has bought the Discovery video about the DNA testing of King Tut and family and, with some pausing and reversing of the film, has managed to copied down what Carsten Pusch handed to Hawass to look at comparing the DNA of Tutankhamun and the larger foetus.

This is what Marianne sent me:


I've not seen this segment of the documenary yet so I've not copied this down myself and cannot vouch for the accuracy.  I'll try to do it after the show this week.  (Saturday's repeat of the second part also started earlier than expected so I also missed a lot of it but I did record the comparison between the Elder and Younger Ladies so I'll work on that at some point.

What is clear is that the DNA table in the documentary does include some data which was dropped from the JAMA paper.  This may be because some data is not considered reliable; however as a general point I believe that papers should include all data in an appendix and give reasons why it has been excluded.  It also looks as if some of the data might have been "sharpened" before publication (possibly by comparing the results from the second lab).

My thanks to Marianne.  As copying from screen can be hard, if anybody else manages to copy DNA down then I'd appreciate an email so that I can verify my own jottings.


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