Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, February 11, 2011

I haven't watched this as I don't have the bandwidth to do so, but Stephanie has found this video on the DNA analysis of Tutankhamun's family.  It's 50 minutes long - I will watch it next week in the pub on their WiFi.  Here is what Stephanie says:

It is not new but I have just spotted it. Although there are no definitive results shown it is still interesting because Woodward talks about the general conclusions regarding inbreeding and genetic disease and Joyce Filer examines KV55 (and talks much about the teeth).
A massive thank you to Stephanie for this. I am really interested as Scott Woodward did the first DNA study of the royal mummies before the Hawass study.

106 comments:

Stephanie said...

Don`t know if you have watched it already, Kate. I have watched it twice and it really gives a tantalizing glimpse into the first (apparently quite successful) attempt to test DNA.

A weak point of this docu is that it is not made clear which mummies were tested.
Certainly Tutmose III, Tutmose I and the fetuses, but later on the list which shows the results many more names appear like AmenhotepIII, Merenptah and the mummy of Siptah is also shown.

I am a bit surprised by the way the DNA samples were obtained.They simply took tissue samples from places which seemed to be untouched but they did not drill into the bones. But then we do not know if these scenes are just recreations.

Overall the researchers seem quite confident that they have managed to get a general view over the 18th dynasty.
I so wish they had published their work!

Marianne Luban said...

The video is blocked in the States on copyright grounds.

John B. said...

Not accessible from where I am in France either! Does Joyce Filer say anything different from her article in Egyptian Archaeology? If this is a film of her examination of "KV55", then it must have been made about 2001-2002.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Stephanie, I got to 33mins today when itt hung. I will have another try later in the week. At that, I had not reached any results. However, I did think their tissue sampling was far less intrusive and damaging than the more recent Hawass project.

I looked for publication several months ago but I couldn't find anything and what there had been had been deleted. However, it does prove that Hawass was not the first to do the analysis. What I really would like is to see the two sets of analysis combined, preferably the raw data from both.

Stephanie said...

Seems I have been very lucky that I could watch it without problems.
Regarding Joyce Fyler what is shown is a quick examination first of the pelvis which she says is clearly male, then the state of the long bones in which the lines of fusion have not yet faded away and the teeth. She says the third molar must have erupted quite shortly before death and there is no wear at all visible.
She concludes from the bones that KV55 was 20-25 but from the teeth she suggests the early part of this range.
I guess this is basically what she says in her report too.

Kate, the way they collected the samples certainly is less intrusive but maybe more prone to contamination or changes due to the embalming process.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Stephanie, I assume you have read this article by Charles Pope. Sadly it tantalises more than really delivering but it has a few details in it.
Kate

John Bright said...

Now you have described the contents, this is an old video by the sound of it as the scene you have described with Joyce Filer is familiar. If I recall correctly, when they obtained the DNA samples, a certain Museum Director had forbidden them to be "intrusive". Since this was made, things have changed! Also, again if I recalll correctly, the samples were obtained because the pharaohs were about to be transferred to new cases that had pure Nitrogen atmospheres to prevent any further deterioration in the Cairo environment.
Joyce Filer's examination was more thorough, albeit with little instrumentation, than that shown in the video of the CT scan. In the latter they seemed to examine the skull only and based their findings on that alone. Her exam. also showed that the skeleton was basically complete as prior to this there had been rumours that much was missing. Her age findings, based on the whole skeleton, did seem to rule out Akhnaten. The CT scan with its 20 year slot for the age is much less precise. On the matter of the skull, its similarities to those of Amenhotep III, Yuya and Tutankhamen have been pointed out before from purely visual or X-ray exams. Needless to say, bone of this was mentioned in the recently shown documentary. One final comment on the recent programme is on the text of the prayer on the KV55 coffin. Cyril Aldred points out that this is addressed to Akhnaten, not for him. John Romer makes the point that it seems to be an amalgam of three parts: lower body, mid-section and head. The tv programmes always present a minimum of information. I suppose they think the public are incapable of digesting how seemingly complicated the "KV55 Affair" is!

Stephanie said...

@Kate
No, I have not read this article before, so thank you for the link.
One thing struck me as unusual at least, the suggestion that Tut was the son of Tiye and Akhenaten. The author states that there is considerable textual evidence for this theory which I am unaware of. I know this suggestion was made very early by some scholar at a time when almost everything was assigned to Akhenaten. The link given in the article does not work, does anyone know of this so-called evidence?

@John
Yes, you have definitely seen this docu, so there is no need to worry if you can`t watch the video.
One interesting point is the assessment of Amenhotep III`s mummy by Jim Harris. He states that rather than KV55 he (AIII) was an odd-looking chap with a long chin and a head too large for his body.
But this isn`t new stuff either, his work of mapping the royals is several years old and can be found on the net.

John Bright said...

Re. Tiye and Akhnaten as Tutankhamen's parents, is this not the theory of Immanuel Velikovski proposed in his book Oedipus and Akhnaten? It would appear to be totally invalid if KV35 YL is Tutankhamen's mother, unless she is Tiye!
Stephanie: this is the video I have seen. I distinctly remember the description of Amenhotep III and thinking at the time that it sounded like a description of Akhnaten. I think they also discovered the feet of Tuthmosis III and worked out he was taller than the 5 feet 4 inches usually quoted.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I am sure I have read a theory that proposed that the Aten was in fact a deified Amenhotep III. The apotheosis having taken place during the (first) Grand Jubilee that was staged by Amenhotep Son of Hapu. Amenhotep IV having officiated in the ceremony, became the living spirit of this new deity (which might explain his appearance). Thus any reference he made to the Aten being his father was indeed literal. I heard this idea some years ago in a seminar on the topic. If it has appeared in print, I have not seen it. It's an interesting idea though.

Anonymous said...

Tiye and Akhenaten John? Has this seriously been postulated?

John Bright said...

Anon: it was proposed but whether you take it seriously is up to you.
Personally speaking? No. (However I am reminded of a comment that Einstein made to the effect that someone's theory was crazy..... but not crazy enough!)

Marianne Luban said...

Looking at the National Geographic diagram here:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/09/tut-dna/tut-family-tree

Has anyone considered that the YL need not have been married to the KV55 individual but to someone who matches on even more loci when it comes to being the father of Tutankhamun but whose mummy we don't have or hasn't yet been included in the "family photo"? If the YL is the sister of one brother, she will be the sister of another, too. If that person found in the KV55 coffin is not Akhenaten, then who is there left to consider but Akhenaten?

John Bright said...

As it has done ever since its discovery, Tomb KV55 hides it secrets. If "KV55" is not Akhnaten, who could it be asks Marianne.
"Smenkhkare", Prince Tuthmosis, Zannanza (the Hittite prince) have been suggested in the past. I suppose he could be an unknown whom the Ancient Egyptians all too successfully erased from the records. If he is Akhnaten and was as young as 20-25 at death, who fathered the two children shown from his earliest years as king? Maspero made the suggestion that in the apparently hasty move from Amarna, bodies were mixed up. Perhaps the burial party thought they were moving Akhnaten. There were no stains on the remains of Akhnaten's canopic chest according to Pendlebury which he took to mean it had never been used so therefore Akhnaten was not buried at Amarna. Others claim he was (on the basis of shabti and other finds). So, whose body is it? I think the Ancient Egyptians took great pains to disguise this. What still leaves me surprised is that if it is Akhnaten's body, they did not throw it into the desert for the jackals to destroy.

Marianne Luban said...

As to Velikovsky--I don't consider myself a follower of his but there is no question he was a brilliant man. What I question is his knowledge of ancient Egypt--that is what was not enough, IMO. "Crazy" isn't involved, but people with a gift for thinking outside the box are often labeled that way. Akhenaten has generated many theories for some time and even Freud was not exempt from having them about this king.

I think Velikovsky's idea about Oedipus vis a vis Akhenaten is not so wild, albeit unprovable. There are so many parallels with this story of Oedipus and the Amarna era. The part that is most interesting to me--and I don't recall if Velikovsky ever addressed it in the following context--is the idea of Oedipus being banished from his kingdom and his place being taken by his two sons who were supposed to rule jointly. What happened was that one brother sort of edged out the other one and then the injure brother complained to Oedipus in exile. But Oedipus curses both brothers for having usurped his prerogative and the brothers kill each other. Then their uncle becomes king and gives one brother [the unselfish one] a spectacular burial and leaves the other out to be consumed by vultures. But one of Oedipus's daughters takes pity on her brother and buries him, thus incurring the wrath of her uncle. He dooms her to be entombed alive for defying his order. However, the new king's son is in love with the daughter of Oedipus and wanted to marry her, so he follows her to her death. Meanwhile, the people of Thebes believe the pestilence that is raging is being caused by the behavior of the royal family. They break into the tomb of the princess and find her hung by her scarf--but the king's son is still alive. At first the young man threatens to kill his father but then falls on his own sword. His mother, the present queen, plunges a knife into her heart in her grief and the king, realizing the folly of his own pride, abandons himself to the Fates.

Now it might seem ridiculous to believe that two brothers could become kings at the same time in ancient Egypt, but the whole Amarna interlude seems strange. If Tutankhamun was Akhenaten's son and already alive when Meritaten and Smenkhkare [although he couldn't have been Tut's brother] took over, then that were a few heirs too many. Somebody was an illegal king and it wouldn't have been little Tut. Did Akhenaten's uncle become king? Probably! Who got a splendid burial? And who ended up in a coffin that may not even have been his?

Kate Phizackerley said...

There is the possibility of course that KV55 is somebody whose name we do not know. A short-lived, unpopular king could have been expunged from the king lists. I am not saying that is what happened, but we should I think at least consider that we may not have a full picture of the male line.

Marianne Luban said...

I don't think there is a need to consider anybody other than Smenkhkare and Akhenaten. What I was saying was--even if that person from KV55 IS Smenkhkare, he could have been the father of Tut but there might have been someone else who matched with more loci. Tut and the KV55 individual are not an ideal match for being father and son, as has been pointed out here before. In other words, Akhenaten cannot be excluded from being the father of Tut--whether he can be tested or not. With so many close relationships, there are problems of certainty. Ideally, we ought to have BOTH Akhenaten and Smenkhkare to see who makes a better match with Tut--but we only have this anonymous guy from KV55.

Stephanie said...

Leaving the intruiging story of Oedipus aside to have a better view on the happenings at Akhetaten, I would like to know if and what archeological or textual evidence exists to make someone propose a marriage between Akhenaten and his mother.

Is it the depictions of Akhenaten taking his mother by the hand on her shrine found in KV55 and in the Maru-Aten? These express the affection and veneration of a son for his mother, nothing else.

Or is it her title of Great King`s wife which she still displays at Akhetaten?

If so, only a twisted mind can assume a marriage on these grounds.
Clearly the dowager queen retained her title which referred to her marriage to AmenhotepIII after the latter`s death and besides the position of GRW was held by Nefertiti.

I can think of nothing else, but maybe someone else can.

Marianne Luban said...

It is the existence of the Princess Baketaten, depicted with Queen Tiye and styled only "king's daughter" and not "king's sister". Since Baketaten seems a little girl, perhaps even younger than the older daughters of Akhenaten, that was what aroused suspicion. Somebody else thought of an alternative theory--that the child was, indeed, the daughter of Akhenaten but her mother [not Nefertiti] had died and Tiye had taken her under her wing.

Ron Lankshear said...

Like Marianne I much enjoyed Velikovsky on Oedipus - the points Marianne makes fascinating.

There is the NatGeo interactive and then this similar one at Jama
http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/303/7/638/suppl/DC2

Also on Jama is a doubt about the analysis (but I've not seen the detail) http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/303/24/2471.1.extract

But the contention seems to be that Tut's parents are KV55 and KV35YL.
And grandparents KV35 (proving him to be? AIII) ) and KV35EL (proving her to be? Tiye)

Would the match to KV55 pass a paternity test? Is there really doubt about the fatherhood?

I really think that needs clarification before the question of who is KV55 - as Kate said 2 named possibles and perhaps an unknown.

And ditto for KV35YL although I think the motherhood is accepted

John Bright said...

For this hypothetical union between Tiye and Akhnaten, I believe one of the pieces of "evidence" was the existence of a sarcophagus for Tiye in the Royal Tomb at Amarna. I don't see how this proves anything myself, but as Marianne pointed out, this period has spawned many ideas..... and will continue to do so. It might have been thought that DNA testing would have cleared up some of the problems instead of which, it seems to have created even more. The Egyptians did a very good job in concealing this person's identity. Some time ago, I floated an idea that perhaps there were twins involved at this time. My original thought was that Amenhotep IV and Akhnaten were twin brothers. While this might be unlikely, Kate's suggestion of a double reign has echoes of this

Stephanie said...

Marianne, I don`t understand why Tut and KV55 shouldn`t be an ideal match as father and son. If this was explained before I`m afraid I missed something.

What I see is that the 8 markers with wich we are presented are a match in every locus and furthermore the Younger Lady`s genes fit in perectly as well.
This is the current status quo. Should it ever be possible to test further markers they could all be a match or not.
This father-son-suggestion is of course very much supported by the strong physical and especially cranio-facial resemblance between the two.
I think the current discussion should focus on the question of who is KV55 rather than if KV55 really is the father.

Regarding Baketaten it is IMO a common misconception to think that "king`s ...) in inscriptions refers in any case to the king who is depicted nearby.
The titles king`s daughter, king`s wife etc. primarily only mean princess, queen and want to identify the individual as belonging to the immediate royal family.
When they wanted to make the parentage clear they would call a princess "daughter of the GRW X" or "daughter of king Y".
In such inscriptions the queens are far more often mentioned by name than the kings. This is probably due to the kings usually having more than one wife, so that every contemporary would know which king was meant even without seeing his name. As to the mothers there was more confusion so it was safer to mention their names.

Shortly I believe that the king relating to Baketaten and Tiye is Amenhotep III even if Akhenaten appears in the depictions.
Baketaten`s age is hard to judge, she could be around Meritaen`s or Maketaten`s age or older or younger.

Anyway, the possibility of a co-regency cannot be ruled out yet and could even be likely judging by Tiy`s apparent age.

Charles Green said...

What needs to be done with the KV55 find is for some one to begin from scratch examining the physical evidence from the tomb. Included in this, naturally, would be the skeleton. Whoever undertook this would have to ignore all the findings, speculations and theories that have taken place to date.

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, I don't think Tut and KV55 match all the way even on the basic 8 markers used in paternity tests.

Marianne Luban said...

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. It is an abstract from a paper, "Case study: paternity testing--when 21 loci are not enough". The URL was far too long for me to post it here, but you can find it if you want to try.

"Abstract
A seemingly routine paternity case which involved the testing of a mother, child and man led to inconclusive results as an exclusion involving only a single repeat was found at one of the 14 loci tested. This led to the testing of further loci. Only the single exclusion was found after profiling a total of 21 loci, with the addition of a further single locus providing a second exclusion. Even with both mutation events incorporated into the calculation a paternity index (PI) of 4957 was calculated, still a significant figure. However, when a second likelihood ratio was calculated assessing the likelihood of the results if the biological father of the child was the tested man or the tested man's brother, then the results were not significant, only 0.15. This analysis led to the profiling of the tested man's brother who matched at all 19 loci that were profiled and was concluded to be the biological father."

There you are.

John Bright said...

Marianne and Stephanie, if I understsand you both correctly, all the DNA findings re. Tutankhamen and "KV55" are open to questionning and the statement that "KV55" is Tutankhamen's father can be said to be non-definitive? If so, there has been no advance beyond what had been discovered from visual examination and the blood test done in the Seventies.

Marianne Luban said...

@John, I think that's right. It's down to two men, Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, probably brothers. Amenhotep III can be eliminated. Tutankhamun, by the textual evidence, has to be a king's son.

Stephanie said...

If we apply the example given by Marianne on our situation then KV55 would be Tut`s uncle and another unknown mummy his father.
Though this cannot be dismissed completely, I think that this is unlikely.

The reason is that the relationship between Tut and KV55 has long since been established to be a first- degree-relationship, so they are thought to be either father and son or full brothers. If they were uncle and nephew they would not be first-degree relatives and their striking resemblance would be harder to explain.

Besides, I do not understand why we should jump into the realm of speculation over a currently unknown mummy which has yet to be found when there are seemingly correct and matching test results for a mummy we have.

Marianne, if you insist that KV55 is not a perfect match for Tut on the 8 tested markers then you can surely say which of the markers in the published DNA-chart does not match?

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, at CSF1PO KV55 has 9/12 and Tutankhamun has 6/12. The allele 6 originates with Amenhotep III in this group of mummies. 16 y-chromosomal STRs were tested. See the JAMA paper.
STRs are Short Tandem Reapeats and have to do with our immediate family members.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I need to check, but I don't think that allele is particularly rare so there is a good chance that other members of the royal family shared it.

Stephanie said...

I don`t see a problem at all in this marker because Tut can have inherited the 12 from KV55 and the 6 from the YL.

She in her turn inherited her 6 either from AIII if she is his daughter or from one of her (unknown) parents if she is his granddaughter.

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, 12 is mitochondrial so Tut would have had to inherit that from his mother. 6 is nuclear DNA, it seems to me, and must come from the father. Take a look at the chart on the National Geographic page I gave earlier in the thread. You will see that the YL got 6 from Amenhotep III and 12 from the EL or Queen Tiye. But she can only pass on 12. I am certainly no expert in DNA, but that is my take on it.

Ron Lankshear said...

Try The chart at
King Tutankhamun's Family, — JAMA

Click Kinship Analysis and then click the allele

6 is from AIII via YL

12 is from Thuya Tiye via YL and KV55

Is there any doubt that KV55 is the father?

Marianne Luban said...

@Ron, look at the chart starting with Yuya and Thuya and notice how, at each of the markers, Tiye inherited one "number" from each parent. Then tell me again how Tut can have inherited 6 from the YL when he clearly inherited 12 from her.

Ron Lankshear said...

I presume the report producers would say because YL and 55 are sister and brother.
Yuya has 9-12 as does Tiye and Tuyu is 7-12

But don't ask me to explain DNA - I am just trying to understand if there is acceptance of KV55 and YL as Tut's parents or what is the dispute.

Whereas who they are is another issue.

Stephanie said...

Marianne, you must not mix up mtDNA with nuclear DNA.
There can never be both types in one chart and the chart that has been published contains ONLY nuclear (autosome) DNA alleles.
The alleles in one marker can be inherited randomly from either parent, there is no rule for which one has to come from which parent.
So Tut can pretty well have inherited the 6 from YL.

In fact no mtDNA test results have been published so far, we are still waiting for that.

John Bright said...

Supposing Amenhotep III and Tiye are the parents of KV55, KV35YL and Tutankhamen?

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, go to the National Geographic site and press on the blue button that says "Thuya" above the various charts of the mummies. What comes up is the mtDNA inherited from her and passed on through the females. You will note that Yuya and Amenhotep III don't then have any blue numbers highlighted on their sequences because they do not have Thuya's mtDNA. Without mtDNA, there would be no way to tell who was the mother of Tutankhamun--or the mother of anybody. Who says there was no mtDNA collected? You cannot sequence anybody's DNA without getting both their nuclear and mtDNA. Ideally, that is, unless something is too degraded.

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, you are right, come to think of it. Only the nuclear DNA of the individuals is there. But, as they say, nDNA is not an exact replication of the DNA of the individual’s parents, but rather a mixing of their nuclear DNA. As a result, some individual’s chromosomes will be similar to that of their parents. Regardless, certain alleles have been transmitted in this group of mummies from certain persons or at least began with them. However, at this point I must say that I no longer understand the definitive value of this test.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I'm planning another article to try to make it easier to understand the conclusions which should be drawn

Charles Green said...

If we call Yuya and Thuya first generation on Tiye's side, there is no testing on this chart for Tuthmosis IV who would be first generation on Amenhotep's side. Why is this lacking?

Patrick said...

For that matter, why KV21 A & B and not Amenhotep II, Tuthmose I,III & IV, and the boy from KV35? In the case of Thutmose IV, it would be nice to know his age at death more precisely, as this affects all later chronology, and if he really was Amenhotep II's son and not a usurper (improbable, but who knows?).
As we say, if a job's worth doing,it's worth doing properly!

Stephanie said...

Kate, do you intend to write an article on the subject of the most recent DNA testing or on Woodward`s testings?
Whichever it is, I am looking forward to reading another of your clarifying and well understandable articles!

Kate Phizackerley said...

Roger has asked me to post the following comment on his behalf:

"Most of the argument about KV55 identity seems to be about DNA profiles (or whatever they are called).

But to me: - a drop dead item (or whatever it is my kids say) is the age of the KV55 mummy.

Let me declare my bias - I would really like KV55 to be Akenhaten.

But I have seen a old, but very convincing, video of a female European expert looking at the bones and jaw and concluding they are of a 20 to 25 year old.

The JAMA summary does not appear to address this.

So why not concentrate on age - if KV55 is too young to be Akenhaten - all the DNA stuff is irrelevant."

Kate Phizackerley said...

Stephanie, I intend to write a new article about the JAMA DNA tests for the magazine Andie and I are launching.

John B said...

The video Roger refers to sounds like the Joyce Filer examination. Certainly the age range quoted is what she proposed. With regard to the DNA profiles, simple mapping leads to the conclusion that KV55 and make them? It would certainly seem to rule out Nefertiti as she is never recorded as King's Daughter of his loins...

Marianne Luban said...

I don't think Nefertiti is ruled out. What if the father of Tutankhamun really is Akhenaten? As I said earlier in this thread, without his mummy, he can't be ruled out on the basis of the few markers we are allowed to view. If he was a brother of Smenkhkare, then the YL would be a sister to both. We cannot say Nefertiti was not a king's daughter because that is not mentioned once she married Akhenaten. Ankhesenamun was a king's daughter for certain and yet she is never called that once she becomes the wife of Tutankhamun. Besides, how could Akhenaten and Nefertiti tout themselves as Shu and Tefnut, earlier in their reign, if they were not brother and sister? Shu and Tefnut, in the mythos of Ra, are a pair of twins who sprang from the god and formed a kind of "holy trinity" with him.

John B. said...

Nefertiti?
To Naphkuria (Akhnaten) king of Egypt my son in law..... thus speaks Tushratta king of Mitanni your father in law.... May you be well as also your houses, Tiy your mother, Tadu-Heba my daughter your wife, your other wives your sons etc.
Amarna Letter EA28
Is this Nefertiti?

John B. said...

Nefertiti?
To Naphkuria (Akhnaten) king of Egypt my son in law..... thus speaks Tushratta king of Mitanni your father in law.... May you be well as also your houses, Tiy your mother, Tadu-Heba my daughter your wife, your other wives your sons etc.
Amarna Letter EA28
Is this Nefertiti?

Roger said...

John B - You are correct - it was Joyce M Filer that I was remembering – I apologise for being so sloppy. She was in the video Stephanie highlighted and Kate later commented "Scott Woodward did the first DNA study of the royal mummies before the Hawass study". Her (Filer’s) view is summarised most positively at

http://www.archaeology.org/0203/abstracts/mummy.html

I have not found any study of the age of KV55 since Filer’s. Are there others?

If not – then all we have is the Hawass study. I think I have now reviewed the full article and the eAppendix, all it says is “ The mummy in KV55 was previously thought to be in his 20s when he died. Our new computed tomography investigation revealed he lived to be much older”. (Table 1 notes). Is there any background to this. If not, this is a great weakness.

Now I speak not as an archaeologist, or a DNA expert, as in these areas I am a utter novice. But I am good at being a negotiator or advocate. If you wish to bring an argument down, you only need one area to be wrong to discredit it. At the moment the DNA argument seems like throwing stones at a brick wall (new metaphor?).

But if two, three, four experts can be encouraged to speak on age at death, and ferment a demand for a multi expert analysis of bones, might this not be more productive than lots and lots and lots of debate on very complex DNA. Doubtless Joyce Filer would be one. I note in the letters to the JAMA Editor Brenda J. Baker, PhD writes:

“Based on computed tomography (CT), the study of King Tutankhamun's family by Dr Hawass and colleagues purported an age of 35 to 45 years for the KV55 male (Table 1), older than previously thought. Prior studies that refute this claim were dismissed and no substantiation for a much older age range was given in the text or online content.”

Two up, two needed?

Roger

Marianne Luban said...

Or Kiya?

Kate Phizackerley said...

Roger, I am sceptical whether age can resolve the debate. Akhenated reigned for 17 years but we don't know how old he was when he became king. It seems as though Meritaten was born shortly before or shortly after he became king but that still means he might only have been 30 or so when he died. That's within the margin of error for a dating of 25 +/- 5 years.

From what I understand, the analysis of age at date of death is somewhat imprecise for a number of reasons and the KV55 bones are far from simple to age.

My preferred resolution would be finding the mummy of the other king (i.e. Akhenaten if this is Smenkhare - or vice versa if others are correct). We can dream :-) Until then, I think DNA offers the best hope of determining the identity of the KV55 burial.

roger said...

Hi Kate – I never thought that I might have the temerity to ague with you. But I’m on the case now, to use another of my kids' phrases.

I’m sceptical that all your correspondents can achieve anything debating DNA amongst yourselves. Joyce Filer is supposedly an expert and I found the video very persuasive – no hint of imprecision or lack of simplicity.

I’m surprised that she has not spoken out, and am searching for an email contact. I have mailed Brenda J. Baker, PhD, who wrote a letter to the JAMA Editor on the subject of age of death to see if she has more.

I guess it is fair to say that the debate on your site about the whole subject of the identity of the various people in the research. I’m only interested in “is KV55 Akenhaten”. If KV55 is early twenties then he is not. As to dreams, I’ve had a few, but then again I’m older than you (poetry now!). I’ll add, finding Nefertiti intact with inscriptions to prove she was the various co-regents that are named around. And how about, Barry Kemp finds that personally at Amarna!

Good fun this, isn’t it!

Marianne Luban said...

Kate, I have some ideas. If not the entire mummy, some part of Akhenaten may still remain. And this can have been among the wrappings of the YL. It's not a first. Among the pieced-together body of Ramesses VI was found the right hand of a woman and the forearm of another man, which, unless memory fails, turned out to be a missing arm of the putative Seti II.

The YL has no attached right arm, but evidently two arms were found with her, one of them having a clenched hand. I am not certain at all but some time ago, when the Egyptians did a "quick test" for gender and erroneously pronounced the YL a male, they may have tested the bone of one of those arms [since bone was involved in the report]instead of taking a sample from the body of the YL. I say, both arms should be tested again. If one of those turns out to be from a man and has similar DNA to the rest of the males in the family, then that would be very interesting, indeed. Once again, I think Seti II and Siptah should be tested as they resemble the royals of the middle 18th Dynasty very much. Since this "Siptah" has a club foot, there is even more suspicion about him now--other than that his cranium matches that of Tutankhamun very much.

Stephanie said...

I have read that scientists are confident that some time they will be able to "read" the exact age at death from DNA, but until then the tested DNA might give a slight indication that KV55 is more likely a brother of Akhenaten than Akhenaten himself.
I am talking of the marker which makes it impossible for KV55 to be the maternal grandfather of both fetuses IF they really are Tut`s and Ankhesenamun`s children.

I don`t think it is likely that the Younger Lady`s DNA was extracted from one of the detached arms as this would have been very unsafe. If they did a proper job they must have extracted the sample from the main body, but the rumours of the male DNA really are puzzling.

I did not know that there is confusion about the identity of Siptah`s mummy.
The "clubfoot" is now more often said to be the result of cerebral palsy, so this would not point to the 18th dynasty royals. Wasn`t he properly labeeled when he was found?

Marianne Luban said...

@Stephanie, I don't know what you mean by "unsafe". This gender test was done years ago and I believe at that time the policy was for nothing invasive to be done to the royal mummies, themselves. Prof. Woodward, for example, was not allowed to bore into the bone to get his samples for his DNA work. The report for the "quick test" for gender used to be online [I don't know if it still is] and the sample mentioned "bone". That I recall for certain. And how does one get "male" from the main body if bone [an uncontaminated marrow part] was taken from the main body?
Obviously "a proper job" was not done. How can it have been--when the mummy is that of a female?

Marianne Luban said...

As for Siptah, his particulars are here, but not all correct. The name of his mother is wrong.

http://members.tripod.com/anubis4_2000/mummypages2/19A.htm#Siptah

Polio? Cerebral palsy? No one can know for sure but DNA testing might find out something. The Ramessids had a distinctive look and Seti II and Siptah don't share it. I say no stone should be left unturned if we are to know if these mummies were correctly labeled. The difference between Neferkheperure and Userkheperure can amount to no more than a single hieratic sign.

Charles Green said...

Kiya. Who is she? Lots of suggestions but no answers. Did she exist even? She certainly would not be described as THE wife of Akhnaten, just one of his others. And so much for Nefertiti being his unique one. Apart from any other link, is Nefertiti as a name a clue: the beautiful one has come. Come from where?

John B said...

I was sceptical of the KV55+KV35YL=Tutankhamen linkage but I downloaded a table and did a simple mapping. Unfortunately for the doubters, it works better than AmIII+Tiye=Tutankhamen,
AmIII+KV35YL=Tutankhamen or even KV55+Tiye=Tutankhamen. It does not provide an identity beyond saying that two children of Amenhotep III and Tiye had an incestual relationship.
Tushratta seems to suggest that his sister is rather more than a minor wife. A marriage of this sort would bring a major alliance between Mitanni and Egypt. It would cement further an established peace deal, rather like Ramesses II did later, though the Hittite wife did not become a major queen.

Marianne Luban said...

@John, if you were the ruler of Mitanni, who would you ask after if not your own sister? To you, she is the most important wife of Akhenaten, whether or not that is really the case in Egypt. The king mentions "other wives" and even "sons". Does he even know if Akhenaten has sons? To me, that part is really interesting. I don't think the meaning of the name "Nefertiti" should be given too much significance. Maybe she came no further than from out of the womb of her mother.

As for Kiya--of course she existed. Her name is attested.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Marianne, I agree that a full database of the DNA of the royal (and noble) mummies (and detached parts) would be valuable. I suspect it might thrown up some surprises as you suggest. I also think it would be respectful to try to put names to mummies now we are able to do so.

@Roger, feel free to argue your viewpoint. If you are in the UK then Joyce Filer does do some study days on things like Forensic Aspects of Ancient Egypt. She did one on the DNA of Tutankhamun's family as well.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Charles, certainly Kiya existed.

It's also hard to work out who was the most important queen of any king. Often there is a chief wife who has the largest political profile, but there often seems to be a favourie wife as well, who could be different. There seems to be some suggestion that Kiya might have been Akhenaten's favourite, rather than Nefertiti.

roger said...

Kate - re
"If you are in the UK then Joyce Filer does do some study days on things like Forensic Aspects of Ancient Egypt."

I've found these - if I cannot find any other way to get her views I'll book on one.

I did pose the question - have there been any other studies to assess 'age of death' of KV55 since the one done by Jocye Filer - I would appreciate any confirmation, yes or no, from your knowledable correspondents.

Ron Lankshear said...

Reading around the web on the Mitanni letter EA28 the writers seemed mostly to be saying that Kiya and Nefertiti were both Egyptian born. The letter talks about a diplomatic breakdown "let my messengers and I'll let yours go" An appeal is suggested to the Queen Mother. It doesn't sound like TeduHeba was in favour with Akhenaten - so presumably she was stuck away somewhere. I did read Kiya fell out of favour so perhaps but it seemed more likely she was of Egypt herself.

John Bright said...

Donald Redford has proposed that "Kiya" is not a real name but a nick-name. It is suggested that Kiya is an Egyptian rendering of "Gila" from Gila-khepa. Gardiner at one time was in favour of the Tadu-Khepa = Nefertiti identity but then doubted it, mainly because of the Ay connection. The ideas have been bouncing back and forth for some years now. I believe Kiya never attained the eminence of Nefertiti simply on the basis of Nefertiti's titles/epithets and the dominance she achieved in the reliefs at Karnak where, according to Redford, her portrayals outnumber those of Akhnaten on the basis of what has survived. The views on Kiya's "disappearance" also propose in some scenarios that she simply died. I think that would remove her from the scene quite effectively.
On the subject of removals of people's names, in his book on Akhnaten, Redford has a photo of a block from a building of Tutankhamen. His name was removed to be replaced by that of Ay, whose name was removed in turn to be partially replaced by Horemheb's before the structure was dismantled. This period certainly kept the sculptors at work on name recarving as people died and were replaced.
As to the KV55 body's age at death, Smith at first proposed a youngish age but added riders to increase this to nearly 30. Derry later repaired some breakages to the skull and also went for a youngish age. One of the recent video airings gave an age range for death of 22 to 40 years. With this mummy, it seems, there is some disagreement to put it mildly, especially as different bones seem to be saying different things. I don't recall anyone suggesting there might be parts of more than one body here unlike the coffin which John Romer among others has suggested comes from three different ones!

John Bright said...

Re. a recent comment about is it worth discussing DNA findings on this BLOG. Leaving discussions to experts leads to convergent narrow thinking because so often they have been through the same schooling. Years ago a young (10 yrs old) pupil of mine completely threw an astronomy professor who was talking to the class about The Big Bang Theory. Samantha's question was so simple but it provoked the response "We have never thought of that.". So, if a 10 year old can cause a professor to rethink, why should discussion be confined?

John Bright said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kate Phizackerley said...

John, I love you for that comment!

I keep telling people there is no such thing as a stupid question. The way to learn is to ask ... and just occasionally as you say some of those simple questions turn out to have far from simple answers.

I also agree about convergence. One of my principal objections to the JAMA analysis is that the team involved Egyptologists and geneticists but now statisticians and that's the area in which I think the report is weakest.

Ken said...

While some are skeptical about the KV55+KV35YL=Tutankhamen lineage, I think more of us accept this lineage, but not the assumptions as to the identities of the KV55 and KV35YL mummies. Not to mention that if KV35YL is possibly the mother and a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, doesn't that also mean that (please correct me if I'm wrong) any of the other daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti could be his mother based on the DNA? There also has been little talk of the older assumption that KV35YL is a sister of Akhenaten (Beketaten).

On Marianne's observation that EA28 may point to Akhenaten having a son... This could be Tutankhamun whether or not he was truely his son, or was simply touted as a son, being the logical heir to the throne.

Stephanie said...

I believe that the opening parts of the Amarna letters are somewhat standardized to please and maybe even to flatter the Egyptian monarchs. They always consist of the same palette (family members, chariots, wives, sons, courtiers etc.). I do not think that Akhenaten`s "sons" are to be taken literally. Sons are mentioned to complete the list and where there are wives there can be sons anyway. The Egyptian king would probably not get cross if in reality he had no sons.
If the sender wanted to refer to a real son he should have bothered to mention his name as he did with other important family members.
Besides, if we take his word for granted we must assume that Akhenaten had at least two sons, one of which died before Tut. Who could this be?

I have been reading a bit about the Younger Lady who turns out to be almost as mysterious as KV55.
Elliot Smith describes her as a young female of about 25 years of age but regrets that he could not be more precise because he had no opportunity to examine the epiphysal plates (hope I got this right).
There was some confusion about the gender already as he criticizes a previous examiner (name escapes me now) for taking this body as that of a male when it is to him clearly female.

I remember Fletcher`s TV-show in which she sought to demonstrate that the YL could be Nefertiti and in which the age was determined to be as young as 16 on the base of the teeth and unerupted third molar(s) but after examining the rest of the body the age was said to be 30-35.
Like the age the gender was first male, then female.

The age range given by Hawass is quite
large with 25-40 if I remember correctly.
But at least it seems to be clear now that she is really a she!

roger said...

Hi Kate,

The subject of KV55 age at death continues to be my big interest.

Further to my earlier post, Dr Brenda Baker has responded. My interpretation of her candid response is that she is disappointed that her letter published by JAMA and other reviews ( see KMT - Dennis Forbes) and expressions of support have not killed any belief that KV55 is Akenhaten.

She tells me that it is correct that, prior to the recent CT scanning of Hawass et al, the last person with
expertise in human osteology and paleopathology to examine the KV55 skeleton was Joyce Filer.

As before, I would love to hear from Joyce Filer, and am trying to make contact.

You guys seem to be revelling in the detail of DNA analysis – if you like to put me in a subsection about ‘KV55 – age at death’ – I will keep you briefed without diverting you from your intellectual debates.


Regards,

Roger

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Roger, I don't think you are the only person interested in the age at death indicated by the bones, but it is hard to add to the published material. For me both the bones and DNA point to this *not* being Akhenaten.

John Bright said...

@Roger: I hope you will not mind if I turn your question round and ask it as, "How old would we expect Akhnaten to be at his death?" There are some pointers to an answer. For example, Karnak reliefs dated to year 2 of Amenhotep IV show a daughter officiating in temple duties alongside Nefertiti. Assuming this is not a fanciful portrayal, we can assume that the daughter was born before Year 2, probably before Akhnaten became king (or co-regent perhaps). Assuming he fathered the girl as soon as biologically possible, say 14, this could give him an age in Year 2 of as little as 18 years. If he indeed was king for 17 years, then on this scenario we would expect him to be 33 at death. I would not think it feasible to subtract much from this age (still assuming a reign length of 17 years) while it would be possible to add to it (How much is another matter). However, there are people who have proposed he was king for only 12 years. If this is the case, we would expect a minimum age of 28 at death. At best these are estimates and I feel sure other people will have different interpretations they favour.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@John, assuming a 17 year reign, for me his lowest possible age at death is around 30. He could have been older of course, so the likely range seems to be 35 +/- 5 years.

Marianne Luban said...

The "wayback machine" saved an old article of mine, written years ago, called "Queen Tiye and the Co-regency", which discusses what the archaeological record indicates about a possible co-regency between Akhenaten and Amenhotep III. The age-at-death of the mummy called the "Elder Lady" was an important consideration, even though at this time DNA had not confirmed her identity. For anyone interested in the possibility of a co-regency, the article is here:

http://www.oocities.org/scribelist/queentiye.htm

It looks to me like there can very well have been a co-regency of up to nine years. However, in addition to lacking DNA confirmation at the time the piece was written, there was the additional problem of nobody having been able to look at the EL for a long time as she, the YL and the boy were walled up for years in a side-chamber of KV35. Therefore, one had no choice but to trust Prof. Elliot Smith when he wrote in his "Royal Mummies" that the EL had no gray hair. It has been only in the past year or so that I have seen the mummy, the EL, with a strong light shining on her, showing that her hair was hennaed [dark hair dyed with henna shows up quite red in a bright light] and therefore, any gray hairs she might have had would have been difficult to detect with the henna. Leave it to men not to notice that a woman's hair had been dyed. Still, had the EL's hair been predominantly gray or even white, the henna would have been much more obvious. So, I think, rather than to simply say "no gray hair", we have to amend that to probably "little gray hair". Not that it matters so much. There are people who have lived to fifty without any gray hair. I am one of them. Regardless, the age-at death of the EL, now known to be Queen Tiye, has significance for the length of reign of her son, Akhenaten.

Marianne Luban said...

I should have written "sole reign" of her son, Akhenaten.

John Bright said...

I have managed to pass 60 without grey hair (mind you, there is not much to turn grey: I feel jealous of KV35OL).
I agree with Kate's estimates (35+/-5) based on the data of a reign of 17 years and no co-regency. There are of course, other approaches including factoring in both long (up to 12 years) and short (3 years) co-regencies.
A further way is to consider when Akhnaten might have been born. Given the short reign of Tuthmosis IV, it is usually assumed that Amenhotep was very young when he became king, possibly as young as Tutankhamen. It has also been assumed by some that Tiye was equally young if not younger. In this scenario there is, yet again, a biological limitation: how young could Tiye have borne her first child? Assuming 13 or 14, which might be year 5 of Amenhotep's reign, and further assuming this first child was not Akhnaten but one of the daughters such as Sitamen, then it might be possible to place Akhnaten as the next child, in year 7, for argument's sake. On this basis, at the death of Amenhotep III, Akhnaten would be 31 and, assuming for the moment no co-regency, this would give an age at death for Akhnaten of 48. I add this as a way of showing a maximum possible age for Akhnaten at death. Before it is ponted out we do not know in which year Akhnaten was born, I realise that but the point of the exercise has been to see, firstly how young he might be and also how old. This gives a possible age range for Akhnaten at death of 30 to 48 (mid point of 39). Needless to say, if a co-regency took place (I am not arguing for or against here), then these ages need to be altered.

Kate Phizackerley said...

We are tending to go history => age at death => identification. The reverse is true though. If identification and age at death were secure then we might be in a better place to determine any co-regencies.

Charlotte said...

I would think it more logical in an age where people died young to have the chief queen be a few years older than the Pharoah. By this I mean that if Amenhotep III was nine or so when he ascended, then Tiye would be 11 or 13. That way she would be in a healthier position to bear children as soon as he was able.

Stephanie said...

I have been wrecking my brain at this rather late hour to figure out how the death ages of Tiye and Akhenaten influence the questions of a co-regency.
While I can clearly see that Tiye`s relatively low age of 50 would slightly favour the co-regency theory given the length of her husband`s reign and her proposed time of death around year 14 I think that Akhenaten`s age has practically no impact on the co-regency question (and vice-versa).
This is because of the great span of time in which he could have been born and because his death does not occur in year X of king Y`s reign but simply marks the beginning of the following reign. If there was a co-regency at the time of Akhenaten`s death then we have no double-dating that could help us out.

In practice this would mean that if we assume that Akhenaten was about 16 at his accession (which seems to me reasonable as at this age sons were elected to be co-rulers and he could already have fathered Meritaten) he could have started a sole reign after his father`s death just as well as a co-regency in AIII`s year 35, 30 or even earlier.
The only fixed points are that he must have been born after Prince Tutmosis and probably Sitamun and that he must have been old enough to sire children around his accession.
Hope this post did not get too confusing.

Marianne Luban said...

I know for certain that 12 was considered a very good age for a bride in even much more recent Egyptian history--and the history of the world, as well. I could cite numerous examples. My guess is that Tiye was married to Amenhotep III as soon as possible and, all things considered, 12 would be the most likely age. Since Tiye was not the sister of AIII, I can't agree that she would have been chosen for him due to being older. Matches were made for their other advantages. Take the mother of King Richard III of England. I believe she was married to his father at age nine because she was an heiress. We don't know the reasons Tiye was chosen for A III but it is indicated that the union took place by his Year 2. That A III, himself cannot have been very old is mandated by the young age of his father, Thutmose IV, at death--usually given as around 30. Akhenaten had an older brother for certain and his name was Thutmose. He died young, of course, and may be the boy found with the EL and the YL.

Outside of the other indications given in my paper, I find it unlikely that Tiye can have been as old as 60 when she died. Fifty has to be tops and even the Spitalfields experiment did not cause that much error in the ages of death in older individuals. I guess I would be inclined to think that it would be something of Tiye really did reach fifty. So one thing is sure. If Tiye died at age 50 in Year 14 of Akhenaten and he lived three more years, the man had to be under 40 years old, himself.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Stephanie, many cases we know roughly when in a reign a child was born, although admittedly not some key figures like Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Putting a timeline together may reveal that things don't fit unless reigns overlap.

For instance, it is believed that Ankhesenpaaten was born in year 4 of Akhenaten's reign putting her about 13 at his death. Suppose we knew her mummy was KV21A and had an age of death of 25. With 9 years of Tutankhamun's reign that would leave only 3 possible years between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, less if she lived for some time after the death of Tutankhamun. I'm not saying that was the timetable but if that was what evidence showed it would suggest a co-regency at the end of his reign or between the two interving rulers.

I don't think we have quite enough information yet but a detailed chronology of the Amarna period might help solve some of the mysteries.

John B said...

Stephanie has a point re. the effect of a co-regency on Akhnaten's age since the accepted reign length of 17 years does not change. So if Akhnaten was, say 16 or 30 when he began counting his regnal years, they will still be added to his accession age. What a possible co-regency does affect is the likelihood of Amenhotep III being Tutankhamen's father...... which the DNA tests have discounted.
Regarding Tiye's age when she married Amenhotep, the assumption has been she was younger. Given the possibility that Ankhsenamen was older than Tutankhamen, perhaps this should not be totally ruled out in Tiye's case, though speaking personally, I have some doubts. This question of ages at accession does tend to highlight that Tutankhamen was not the only "boy king" of Dynasty 18. It was his misfortune not to live longer than previous ones.
With a chronology of this period, as for any other ancient civilization, there are bound to be gaps that might never be filled or dates that have to be expressed as +/- x number of years, so they can never be exact.
Lastly, hair dye or not:- Does the process of mummification alter hair colour? I have read that it was claimed Ramesses II had ginger hair but then someone else said this was because of the mummification process.

Stephanie said...

John, I am not sure if you mean that DNA-testing has only disounted the possibility of AIII to be Tut`s father or the possibility of a co-regency between him and his son.
Had AIII been proven to be Tut`s father it would have been compulsory to assume a co-regency with only the length being open to debate.As he is not his father the question of a co-regency is as unanswered as it was before but the existence of a co-regency has not been disproved.
I assume you see it this way but was not sure.

Marianne Luban said...

Stephanie and John--even though a co-regency does not change the 17 regnal years of Akhenaten, a co-regency would certainly affect his age at death and the same goes for his mother, Queen Tiye.

Let's say a person was convicted of committing two different crimes for which he was given ten years each. If he had to serve them back to back, he would be twenty years older when he got out of prison. However, if he was able to serve them concurrently, he would only be ten years older upon his release. So "concurrently" also applies to a co-regency because two regnal years are running at the same time, even though their numbers may be different. Therefore, if Akhenaten's Year 1 corresponded to Year 30 of Amenhotep III and the latter ruled eight more years, Akhenaten would certainly be eight years younger when his Year 1 began than if he waited to start Year 1 after the death of his father. It also means that Akhenaten is eight years younger in his final attested year, which is 17. Everybody is born in a certain year and ages from that year. But we don't know the year in which Akhenaten was born. We can only estimate his age at death going by several factors, the biggest one being his last attested regnal year. But it makes a difference if he begins to reign at age 15 or at age 23. Add 17 to the first and you get 32. Add 17 to the second and you get 40. Look at it this way--no matter when Akhenaten was born, the longer his father lives, the older he gets [both of them get, actually] and the older he will be when he becomes king in his turn.
But Akhenaten certainly starts his reign at a younger age if he can do it before his father dies. Time served concurrently--with someone else. If you can find a flaw in this reason, please explain.

roger said...

Kate, John – I can add nothing of worth to your thoughts on “how old would Akhenaten have had to be”, save that the JAMA article authors record (Table 1) the age of KV55 as 35 to 45 and thus must believe that this is an acceptable age for Akhenaten


I posted that I have been attempting to contact Joyce Filer. She has been kind enough to make contact and answer my novice questions. She tells me that she remains sure of her conclusions, that the bones of KV55 were amongst the more simpler of bodies to assess with regard to age at death (in my words - because they were still in the “Growing Stage”, as my Gran would say) and that she believes that no-one has officially examined the KV55 remains in between her study and the Hawass et al study. She adds that there are chemical tests which could have been done (as part of the JAMA team's research) which might show if the KV55 remains are visually under-aged because of metabolic problems, but it is not clear whether any of these tests were undertaken and that although a diagnosis of Marfan's syndrome was alluded to in the JAMA report, the exact method of 'investigating' this was not described in detail.

Returning to Table 1, the age assessment is attributed to their CT investigation. (Note b)

I burst upon this scene with the enthusiasm of a puppy, hoping to “solve the problem”. In my e-travels it has been commented to me that it is extraordinary that only five letters of comment have been published by JAMA and the response to these by the article’s authors are pretty weak. Unfortunately I cannot get at these to form an opinion. But it would seem that from the position of the research on kinship “the KV55 mummy, who is most probably Akhenaten” the supporters of this view are happy to sit in their castle and let that idea become established fact. And, of course, they control access to the mummies. Sadly I come to the view that if very expert opinion is being ignored, the chances of further physical investigation is remote. I shall return to the role of interested bystander, but a slightly more educated one. And maybe one day go to the museum at Minya and see if KV55 is labelled “most probably Akhenaten”

Good luck with your debates.

Roger

rymerster said...

I believe it is very likely Akhenaten was young at his accession because he was definitely not the oldest son, his mother played a prominent role (as happened previously when a young king came to the throne), and it fits the established chronology and KV55 being young.

What is at question is how young, given the 6 daughters. It is possible he was 13 years old in Year 1 and able to father children, making him around 30 at death following 17 years on the throne. Therefore, it's possible for him to be KV55, even though personally I think not.

Roger said...

Kate, John – I can add nothing of worth to your thoughts on “how old would Akhenaten have had to be”, save that the JAMA article authors record (Table 1) the age of KV55 as 35 to 45 and thus must believe that this is an acceptable age for Akhenaten


I posted that I have been attempting to contact Joyce Filer. She has been kind enough to make contact and answer my novice questions. She tells me that she remains sure of her conclusions, that the bones of KV55 were amongst the more simpler of bodies to assess with regard to age at death (in my words - because they were still in the “Growing Stage”, as my Gran would say) and that she believes that no-one has officially examined the KV55 remains in between her study and the Hawass et al study. She adds that there are chemical tests which could have been done (as part of the JAMA team's research) which might show if the KV55 remains are visually under-aged because of metabolic problems, but it is not clear whether any of these tests were undertaken and that although a diagnosis of Marfan's syndrome was alluded to in the JAMA report, the exact method of 'investigating' this was not described in detail.

Returning to Table 1, the age assessment is attributed to their CT investigation. (Note b)

I burst upon this scene with the enthusiasm of a puppy, hoping to “solve the problem”. In my e-travels it has been commented to me that it is extraordinary that only five letters of comment have been published by JAMA and the responses to these by the article’s authors are pretty weak. Unfortunately I cannot get at these to form an opinion. But it would seem that from the position of the research on kinship “the KV55 mummy, who is most probably Akhenaten” the supporters of this view are happy to sit in their castle and let that idea become established fact. And, of course, they control access to the mummies. Sadly I come to the view that if expert opinion is being ignored, the chances of further physical investigation is remote. I shall return to the role of interested bystander, but a slightly more educated one. And maybe one day go to the museum at Minya and see if KV55 is labelled “most probably Akhenaten”

Good luck with your debates.

Roger

Stephanie said...

@roger,
thanks for sharing the info you got from Dr. Filer.
It is interesting that she even says the KV55 bones were rather easy to assess because signs of recent growth were still visible.
That`s exactly why Tut`s age at death is so neatly pinpointed at 18-19 by almost all his examiners, so how can there be so different opinions in KV55`s case?
Still I would welcome additional tests to search for a possible metabolic disorder. But I wonder in case there even was some disorder which delayed normal growth or development if this would have affected all the areas which serve as age markers such as skull sutures, epiphysal plates and wear on teeth or just a single one of them.
Marfan`s has basically been ruled out in the JAMA report on the grounds that the skulls of KV55 and Tut are not doliocephalic (long and narrow) which would be a main criterium for Marfan`s but on the contrary they are broad (brachiocephalic).
Besides non of the examined mummies displays other evident features such as elongated limbs.

And I guess that if you travel to Minya the skeleton will not be labelled as "most probably Akhenaten", but simply as "Akhenaten".

Charles Green said...

We cannot be certain that Akhnaten was not the eldest son since he is referred to as exactly that by Dushratta.
Joyce Filer's comments, via Roger, are welcome as they throw the age back to what other pathologists have found namely early twenties.
John Bright's attempts to estimate a minimum and maximum possible age are right not to include a co-regency as it is, as we say in the legal system of Scotland, Non-proven. The average of the estimates gives an age in the mid-thirties which is what Kate also estimated.
The balance of evidence still seems to argue against KV55 being Akhnaten.

Marianne Luban said...

@Charles, when your elder brother dies, you do become the eldest [living]son.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Prince_Thutmose

Charles Green said...

But Dushratta does not say eldest living or eldest surviving son. You have to go on the evidence presented.

roger said...

OK – I know I said I was going to retire BUT – I find that the
Egypt Exploration Society are running a study day led by Joyce Filer at the University of London next Saturday and it covers amongst other forensic things determining age at death. And two weeks later she is running another on mummification.

Unfortunately I cannot make either, which is a shame because the timing would have been so perfect. Anyone interested, see http://www.ees.ac.uk/events/index.html

Roger

Marianne Luban said...

@Charles, I am going by the evidence and the "living" part was put in parenthesis by me as an aside. Let's be logical. If I came to someone's house, knowing that this person had several sons and I wanted to see the eldest, I would simply say, "Where is your eldest son?" Even if I knew that an even older son had died, I am certainly not going to ask, "Where is your eldest living son?" Nobody would. I think you are making a mountain out of an anthill.

There can be little doubt that, at a certain point, Akhenaten was the eldest son of Amenhotep III because he became the successor. But it does not look like--from the preponderance of the evidence, that Akhenaten was the first born son of A III. There was a certain tradition within the 18th Dynasty for the eldest king's son to be called after his grandfather. If it did not happen, there may have been a good reason. The first king called Amenhotep was the son of Ahmose, usually called the first pharaoh of the dynasty, although Ahmose really belonged to the 17th.
Amenhotep I had a son called Ahmose-Sipair who did not live to succeed his father. Then the first Thutmose became king. No one has known for sure who his father was. Thutmose I had several sons that we know of and one of them, also called Thutmose, became the successor. But this second Thutmose was probably not the eldest son of Thutmose I. If Thutmose II is the actual father of Thutmose III [and most people believe he was] then the third seems to have been named for his illustrious grandfather.

Now Thutmose III did not name his eldest son Thutmose but called him "Amenemhat", instead. At least this Amenemhat is the first son of Thutmose III that we know of. In fact, although Thutmose III had several sons, none of them were called Thutmose to our knowledge--and we don't know what is the reason for this. However, Thutmose did name one of his sons Amenhotep and that son succeeded him. Amenhotep II kept up the tradition, it would appear, by naming at least one of his sons Thutmose but we cannot, this time, know if the future Thutmose IV was the eldest son of Amenhotep II or not. He may have been--but not by the right wife--or there was another problem because there was obviously some rivalry at this point in the dynasty. But there is no doubt that Thutmose IV named his eldest son Amenhotep after his grandfather. And it looks like the son of Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, in turn named his eldest son Thutmose after Thutmose IV. But, of course, this Prince Thutmose did not live to succeed but a young prince named Amenhotep did. After a few years, he changed his name to Akhenaten. The latter, having become an enemy of the god, Amen, was not about to name any son of his Amenhotep. We don't know for sure to this day if he had any sons at all.

John Bright said...

Some of the evidence for Crown Prince Tuthmosis is pretty vague. The text on the pet cat sarcophagus does indeed call Tuthmosis "eldest king's son" on one panel and the simpler "king's son" on another. What both terms lack is the phrase "of his loins" and, more helpfully, the name of which king is the father. Ay was termed "eldest king's son", but this is not taken literally. Given that Tuthmosis does not name his father, the find does not help establish him as a brother to Amenhotep IV/Akhnaten.
Likewise the owner of the whip stock found in the tomb of Tutankhamen claims he is "The king's son, the troop commander Tuthmosis who repeats life." but again the phrase "of his loins" is missing and no reference is made to who the father might be. Nicholas Reeves describes the identification of this Tuthmosis as "uncertain".
Taken together, these two pieces do not indicate any relationship between their owner(S?) and Amenhotep III.

Marianne Luban said...

The phrase "n XAt=f" is not mandatory but it would be helpful. That this "sA nsw Hm nTr sm", was probably only a child rests on the assumption that a sarcophagus made for a cat was the whim of a very young prince, who loved his. Cats, unlike dogs in ancient Egypt, were not even given names and the cat of Thutmose was no exception. More informative is a small bier with a figure of Thutmose lying on it in the Berlin museum. He certainly looks like a child and is wearing the same type of wig with braided sidelock that was found near the three mummies in KV35, the one Joanne Fletcher was so sure belonged to the YL. The bier is made of steatite. The short inscription calls Thutmose king's son and sem priest. Lest anyone want to argue that the young boy in KV35 has his own natural sidelock--that doesn't matter. People were rewrapped with wigs that were not on their heads. If one wants to worry about things being vague in Egyptology, it seems to me there is a great deal to be concerned over. A lot of things are too vague for me, as well. One can only hope for more information in the future. If that boy in KV35 turns out to be a son of A III and Queen Tiye, then that might add something. His DNA must be tested sometime.

Marianne Luban said...

I should have added that in the cat's sarcophagus, shown here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sarcophagus_of_Prince_Thutmose%27s_cat_by_Madam_Rafa%C3%A8le.jpg

she is treated just like a human--called "osiris" and "imakhy" just like a person. Although cats were mummified, this seems to me quite odd and may have been the whim of a very young person with the power to have his wishes carried out.

John Bright said...

I like the opening phrase of the cat's statement:
"I bristle before the sky......... For I am Ta-Miaut, The Triumphant."
The coffin/sarcophagus was found in 1892 and published in detail by Ludwig Borchardt in 1907. Cairo ref. no. CG5003 in the ancient catalogue I have from the 1900s. There is some reference to it possibly being a canopic box for the cat's entrails.

Charles Green said...

The piece in the Berlin Museum is attributed to "The king's son Tuthmosis, Sem Priest" Still no reference to parentage.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Marianne, it has been reported (Archaeology Magazine I think) that the boy's DNA has now been tested, but not published. I wonder how long publication might take? After the furore over the first paper, people might be reluctant to put their names to a second paper unless it was materially better. And right now, how many would wish to co-author any paper with Dr Hawass? Even if everything is untrue, he has become controversial and association with controversial figures can be bad for academic careers.

John Bright said...

If I were a modern day Arthur Weigall, I would invent a "KV55 Curse". It sometimes seems that everything connected with this tomb, however loosely, is contradictory, confused or blighted by associations. Kate, the information you have given could be so useful yet, as you have said, could not only be delayed but also doubted. What a shame all this is. I now appreciate why my research application was turned down years ago.

Stephanie said...

Kate, I think that the same team of scientists who published the first paper will publish a second paper soon.
I remember I read a statement made by Pusch, one of the co-authors, that the mtDNA has been tested and that the results will be published some time this year. The statement was made just shortly before the upheavals in Egypt began, so I guess that their work will continue once everything has returned to normal.
I would not be astonished to see the same names again on the second paper. After all it is about another year of work carried out by the same team since the last publication and the scientists will want to pull it through to the end.

The team involved were basically immune to criticism of the first paper and they will be prepared for more without caring too much.
And as for Hawass, I think that working with him has not become so unpopular. As he seems to be in his position for at least some more months this is the only option for most who want to do something related to Egyptian Antiquities.

John Bright said...

I have been trying to track down a copy of a stela for an Apis bull dating from the time of Amenhotpe III on which the king's son Tuthmosis is said to be recorded. So far the results have been very conflicting with one source saying the stela was only recorded in missing fragmentary notes left by Mariette. Can anyone help?

Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

@John

Scroll down through this page, there is a picture of a museum exhibit of stela from the Serapeum. I would guess that the one you are looking for may be in that display. It doesn't really say what museum it is, however.

http://egyptsites.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/saqqara-animal-cemeteries/

Sorry for the post that I deleted above, forgot the link...

John Bright said...

@Ken: Thanks for the link, I followed this through and the stelae shown are on display in the Louvre, found by Mariette and dedicated by private persons.
I came across an image of a fragment in Munich Museum, but this does not mention parentage, neither does a statue in the Louvre showing this Tuthmosis as a miller.
I have also found reference to an article by Aidan Dodson in which he is said to reassess the position of Tuthmosis so I am about to see if I can find more on this.

Marianne Luban said...

Here is the link showing the prince lying on his bier wearing the same type of wig found near the three bodies in the side chamber of KV35.

http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/2858/44princethutmose3mo.jpg

The Louvre has another statuette of the same prince kneeling and wearing this wig and his leopard skin. The text on this statuette is the same as on the bier. I haven't found the image online but I am looking at it in Kmt's "Amarna Letters", the first volume in a paper by Aidan Dodson called "Two Who Might Have Been King". The prince is obviously a child in both representations.
It is a king's son, no question, as an ordinary person never wears a wig with a sidelock.

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