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.


Aegyptus

 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!)

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