Kamil Zachert has published some new photos of the Polish team's work and visit to the Theban Hills in November 2010. The Herhor website has also been updated since I last looked - and the design is more modern - but there is no text to accompany the new photos. However, I believe the story is this. An overhang has been a worry for the Temple of Hatshepsut beneath and I think that in September 2010 that overhang has been removed to prejent disaster. Personally I think the Temple of Hatshepsut should have been regarded as one of the Seven Wonders - it is an absolutely peerless piece of design - so this is really important work.
Jane Akshar covered this before the national press which have now picked up on the story. There are now some good pictures in circulation. I recommend:
The ceiling really is a beautiful one. For the very committed, there is also a short video below of restoration work within the tomb but it doesn't show any decoration - just a man with a drill.
Two very different articles for you:
1) Paul Rymer told me that National Geographic has an article in their September issue. There's nothing terribly new for regular readers of News from the Valley of the Kings but it is produced to the usual Nat Geographic lush production standards and is really very nice.
2) Rather more detailed, for my international readers, there is a very comprehensive article by Antonio Crasto, co-authored with P. Pietrapiana and G. Suadoni. It is titled "Conferme dal DNA della famiglia de Akhenaton" (Confirmation of the DNA of Akhenaten's Family). I'm afraid my Italian isn't good enough to offer a full summary but the article considers the permutations of elleles for the children of KV55 and KV35YL. This is a promising area of research. I looked at myself and I believe the chance that Tutankhamun is the son of KV35YL and a brother of KV55 is about 3% - 4%. That doesn't mean that we are 96% sure that KV55 and KV35YL are Tut's parents because I didn't look for instance at combinations like KV55 and another sister - or cousins for that matter. We don't know the composition of the royal family well enough to assess the probability precisely.
Antonio's article then looks at the possible lineage from Thuya to Akhenaten or Neferitit and onwards to KV21A and the foetuses. (Interestingly, this DNA trail keeps coming back to Thuya and not Yuya - I suspect that Yuya was part of the historic royal family and maybe Thuya was a foreigner?)
Sadly my Italian isn't good enough to follow the logic, but the article then goes on to propose - I think ... the language is a real struggle for me - that KV35EL is Nefertiti (not Tiye) and that KV35YL is actually Akhenaten. That's a radical suggestion. Setting the issue of gender aside for one moment, we know that KV35YL could be a child of Amenhotep III - KV35YL is an unknown princess in the Hawass theory. Indeed, with the addition of a Queen-Consort (Kiya), the Crasto theory does seem to fit the micro-satellite data as well as my own theory and better than the Hawass theory. However, I am not convinced it fits historical facts as the new Crasto theory requires KV21A (putatively Akhesenamun) to be the daughter of Akhenaten and the Queen Consort not of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Indeed, Crasto and colleagues suggest that Nefertiti was the Queen of Amenhotep III and the mother of Akehnaten and Smenkhare (KV55).
For me this is unsatisfactory in a number of regards but I will leave it to those whose Italian is good enough to read the detailed reasoning to comment further. However, the article does raise one clear point. There is no indication in the JAMA that the gender of the supposedly-female mummies, notably KV35YL (in this case), was determined genetically by testing for the absence of SRY (the male gene on the Y-chromosome). If this was not done, then it is a clear experimental lacuna. Upon inspection, the main JAMA paper doesn't mention how the gender was determined for the mummies which weren't tested for SRY. Presumably it was by pelvic examination or some similar forensic method? Given the feminised appearance of Akhenaten in some reliefs and statues, this does seem to be a possible oversight. (The absence of SRY isn't a definitive test for femaleness either - for example 1 in 20,000 women have something called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and have a Y chromosome with an SRY gene - but we can say that a woman who possesses SRY is highly unlikely to have been fertile.)
Personally I don't think the KV35YL is Akhenaten any more than the KV55 mummy is, but it is a theory which opens up new lines of questioning and demonstrates that there is still some way to go before the family tree printed in magazine like National Geographic can really be said to have been proven.
While there is little new news, here is something from the past - videos of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project excavations in the Valley of the Kings in the early Noughties.
This one (Video 0 - Intro) is he first and somewhat dull with fairly low production standards:
Video 3 - Hoping has a commentary by Nicholas Reeves in which he explains what ARTP hoped could be found. He poses the question: where are Meketaten and the other princesses buried?
Video 7 - Found is a great video. This is a must watch. Nicholas Revees covers some of the key finds.
Video 8 - Ahead looks at what could be found in future. I won't spoil the surprise but is this where the missing tomb of the Amarnan royal women is located? Could there by two undiscovered tombs? As we know, the ARTP lost their concession and Hawass dug a slightly different area.
I have skipped several. If you want to see the others, search Google.
PS Why cannot we have videos of this quality from the Hawass digs?
While I am adding videos, here is one of the CAT scan on K35EL and KV35YL. Obviously we now know that neither is Nefertiti but it is still worth watching for good shots of the mummies.
I have some pages on Squidoo about King Tutankhamun and Tutankhamun's tomb and his treasures. Both are constany works in progress and I while was .looking at videos to feature, I found one to share here.
What I like about this video is that it shows the passageway and gives a good idea of the scale of the tomn whereas most videos just show the modern glass coffin and the wall behind. I noticed little things like the fact that the ceiling is bare. The cameraman pans so you can also see how the scenes in the tomb relate to one another. If you haven't visited the tomb, I really recommend watching this short video.
It's not an Upper Egypt story, nor even Dynastic Egypt, but I've not seen it elsewhere so I thought I'd share it.
Apparently a 1200 year old Psalter, tne "Faddan More Psalter" was found in an Irish bog about 4 years ago. Testing has now shown that the lining of the leather cover is made from Egyptian papyrus. It's not yet known whether the leather is also Egyptian.
It's easy to think of international trade being an entirely modern affair but trade links date back to antiquity. In fact faience beads and necklaces have also been found in Britain, and especially in Ireland. As http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba70/feat3.shtml explains, this probably wasn't through direct trade of beads but by propagation of the knowledge of manufacturing techniques. That's even more interesting. A bag of beads can be passed from trader to trader. Since there are so many practical steps involved in manufacturing techniques, inevitably a skilled transition needs to move to pass the knowledge on. Again that would probably happen in stages with an individual glassmaker perhaps moving only to the next town. If, say, every 5 years an apprentice moved 50 miles to avoid existing competition, knowledge could spread 1,000 miles in only a century. So while we cannot rule out long distance travel, we mustn't rule out a gradual dispersal of manufacturing knowledge.
Returning the the papyrus, it's not been carbon-dated yet - immersion in a peat bog could be the reason for that. It's therefore not known how old the papyrus is.
Jane Akshar has posted several reports from Mummification Museum lectures including TT11 and TT12, the immense TT34 and the possibility of a tomb belonging to Amenhotep I in the cliffs above Deir el-Bahri.
I've deliberatley not posted about the tomb at Deir el-Bahri because it didn't seem to be in the public domain. I'm not certain whether it's one tomb or two. Since Jane has covered it, I'll post something more detailed in the next few days. Fortunately the cliffs are hard to access and are well-guarded so a tomb should be fairly secure. My personal interest list (highest first) is:
- Cliff tomb(s?) at Deir el-Bahri - Amenhotep I or 21st Dynasty tomb/cache?
- Tomb(s) in the Western Valkey of the Kings. Foundation deposits have been found indicating the presence of a tomb. Could this be the missing Amarna era tomb?
- The tombs Dr Hawass announced in the Valley of the Kings (KV64), then de-announced.
- The various known tombs in the which have never been fully explored and the possibility of unknown chambers.
- Amenhotep I's tomb.
- Ramses VIII
- Akhenaten, Nefertiti and other members of the Amarnan royal family?
- Queen Isisnofret
Thierry Benderitter of Osirisnet is asking for photographs of the Theban Tombs to help reconstruct them virtually and give an idea of their originally form before modern robbers stripped reliefs. Jane Akshar has the details.
(Since Egypt has now stopped tourists taking photos, there will be no new ones. We must hope that Egypt's seurity for antiquities is good ... Um ... Ah ... Anybody spot a flaw in the new law?)
I'm a big fan of Reeves' book, the Complete Tutankhamun, in which he first talks about the composition of the funerary masks and speculates that one was originally made for Smenkhare. As a starting point, I suggest reading his 1997 article The Tombs of Tutankhamun and his Predecessor based on a lecture delivered at the Bloomsbury Summer School, The Valley of the Kings Revisited, University College London, 17 May 1997. He says:
"A second and more sobering implication of my hypothesis is that a second Amarna cache, containing the weeded burials of Kiya, Meketaten and Nefertiti-Smenkhkare - the remaining, unaccounted for occupants of the Amarna royal tomb - still lies undiscovered in the Valley of the Kings. For, as with the principal occupant of the Tomb 55 cache, the burials of at least one, and perhaps two, of these individuals seem to have provided a range of materials for Tutankhamun’s reuse and must, themselves, have been subsequently re-interred somewhere."
He has now updated that theory and the evidence is very convincing that parts of Tutankhamun's golden mask was made for a female Pharaoh by the name of Ankhkheprure Nefernefruaten whom he equates to Nefertiti. I'm not convinced that equation should be made. Names were in short supply within the Amarna royal household, which is why we have Neferneferuaten-Tasherit and Ankhesenpaaten Tasherit. The history of the period between Akhenaten's death and start of Tutankhamun's reign is ... well, decidedly uncertain. At least one and probably two pharaohs occupied the throne during that time - possibly as co-regents. (I've never understood why there is no suggestion for a co-regent for the start of Tutankhamun's reign.) If the KV55 mummy is Akhenaten then the tombs of these pharaoh(s) and of Nefertiti are unknown. Reeves also suggests that the mummy of Meketaten should form part of the group transferred from Amarna and I remain of the view that the KV55 mummy is actually Smenkhare. Anyway - read his articles. It is well worth it.
(PS if you like food, then Sherry's main web site is Jefferson's Table. Her latest recipe is Mr. Jefferson's Ice Cream Sundae with Brandied Peaches and Praline Crumbles.)
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
This article is one of the occasional but fairly lengthy articles on Egyptologica by Francisco J. Martín Valentín y Teresa Bedman. It briefly mentions this tomb which I have covered in earlier posts, but mostly the article is material about Akhenaten aka Amenhotep IV. The original article is in Spanish and Google's translation is execrable so I have linked the original Spanish.
It's well known that I do not believe that the mummy from KV55 is Akhenaten based on DNA evidence, but there is another reason why I doubt it. Where is Meketaten?
Meketaten was the second daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. She died very young (possibly as young as 12 or 13), probably in childbirth, and was buried in the Royal Tomb at Akhetaten (Amarna). We know that from tomb reliefs. It is also accepted that Akhenaten was buried in the Royal Tomb as well. (It is unclear where Nefertiti was buried, or indeed when. If she died before Akehenaten then she was probably laid to rest in the Royal Tomb.) If the mummy of Akhenaten was transferred from Amarna to the Valley of the Kings then presumably the mummy of Meketaten would have been transferred as well. So why isn't she in KV55 with her father?
The answer to that must be that Tutankhamun separated the two mummies and placed Meketaten in a different tomb. That seems unlikely. Why would he cut two tombs when one had been sufficient in Amarna? The argument is probably that Akhenaten as a heretic and therefore had to be buried separately. I really don't buy that argument though. According to the Hawass theory, Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's father. A young king;s grip on the throne has always been somewhat insecure. If he had inherited through his father Akhenaten would his advisers really have wanted to denounce Akhenaten as a heretic who had to be buried separately?
I just cannot believe based on the circumstances of the time that the KV55 burial fits the political dynamic. I believe that Akhenaten should be buried as part of a small family group.