If I were a stockbroker and Nefertiti was a commodity, I would be advising my clients to buy. Dr. Zahi Hawass’ last year with the Supreme Council of Antiquities promises to be an interesting one, with robots crawling the Great Pyramid, mummies in CT scanners, and rumors of KV64.
But somehow Nefertiti seems to keep slipping back into the story.
When I interviewed Zahi Hawass for Heritage Key back in August (see Exclusive Interview: Dr Zahi Hawass in Indianapolis) a lot of interesting hints were tossed out for the curious. It’s no secret that he will be retiring from the Supreme Council of Antiquities, but it’s also no surprise that Dr. Hawass’ influence will continue to be felt in Egyptology for years, probably decades. After all, he is retiring his position, not his pick and shovel.
In the same interview Dr. Hawass revealed that he would not only continue writing, but that his work in the Valley of the Kings is far from over, so weep not for the Good Doctor just yet. Zahi Hawass is like the Terminator—so long as there is a spark alive within him he will continue to dig. But nonetheless, what will the last year at the helm of the SCA hold for Egyptology’s consummate showman?
There are the secret doors in the Great Pyramid, where he has hinted that a major breakthrough has already occurred (See Goings-on at Giza in Lecture Review: Zahi Hawass’ Mysteries of King Tut Revealed in my blog on Heritage Key). No doubt the news will be exciting. Personally, I think it would be wonderful, poetic, and kind of funny all at once if what he discovered was Jean-Pierre Houdin’s internal ramp, but you can expect more about that on Em Hotep! in coming weeks. Stranger things have happened…
There is the restoration work taking place in the complex of Djoser and the tomb of Seti I, and practically everywhere in Thebes. Historic mosques, even churches and synagogues, are benefitting from conservation efforts as well. All important, to be certain, but not quite the sort of headline grabbers that get a National Geographic Explorer special.
Let’s not forget the forensic mummy studies. In the Lecture at Clowes Hall that preceded the interview, Dr. Hawass let drop that he would be revealing sometime in September exactly what caused the death of Tutankhamun. That’s pretty exciting.
Then there are the DNA studies…
One of Dr. Hawass’ most exciting projects has been the genetic mapping of the Eighteenth Dynasty. This is important because there are a lot of anonymous New Kingdom mummies, and hidden somewhere within the pile are such luminaries as Tutankhamun’s parents, Queen Tiye, and yes, Nefertiti.
Another fact Dr. Hawass mentioned in the above lecture is that a second lab has confirmed that Tutankhamun is the father of one of the fetuses recovered from his tomb, and that both studies have been submitted for peer review. If it turns out that Tut is the father, then cross analysis will also identify the mother, Ankhesenamun, who happens to be the daughter of Nefertiti.
A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Hawass revealed in an article on Al-Ahram Weekly On-Line (“Dig Days: The Search for Queen Mutnodjmet”) that a genetic profile was to be constructed for Queen Mutnodjmet, as soon as they could relocate her missing mummy. He goes on to say that this would bring us closer to identifying Queen Nefertiti, who happens to be Mutnodjmet’s sister is thought by some, including Dr. Hawass, to be Mutnojmet’s sister. For the full story, see my blog entry at Heritage Key, Queen Mutnodjmet: Another Branch in Tutankhamun’s Genetic Line Found (and Lost)?
This is called triangulation. I am no Dominick Dunne, may he rest in peace, but identifying Queen Nefertiti through both Ankhesenamun and Mutnodjmet [given that they are sisters–Ed.] seems to make a pretty solid case. So assuming final confirmation of Tut’s paternity and the subsequent cross analysis of the fetus, and assuming the AWOL Queen Mutnodjmet makes a show, we may have the positive identification of Nefertiti’s mummy some time this year.
If I may again refer to the August 7th lecture at Indianapolis, Dr. Hawass stated that he hopes to reveal a “new tomb” in October. He then states later that he hopes to reveal the location of Nefertiti’s tomb this winter (2009/10). To speculate on a connection here would be, well, speculation. But it would not be unlike Dr. Hawass to announce the location of a new tomb one month, and then identify it several months later. He is a master of suspense.
The smart money, however, is on the “October Surprise” being KV64, and I have to admit that I tend to agree. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. Getting both KV64 and Nefertiti’s tomb within months of each other would make my Christmas merry, and I’m a Buddhist. But either way, Dr. Hawass did state explicitly that he hopes to reveal the location of Nefertiti’s tomb this winter, probably under a modern rest house just northeast of Seti I’s tomb. So far that gives us the mummy and tomb of Nefertiti.
To refer again to the Heritage Key interview, one of the things I asked Dr. Hawass about was the repatriation of the bust of Nefertiti. He responded that he would be writing a letter this October to the Altes Museum in Berlin requesting that the artifact be returned. In another recent article in Al-Ahram Weekly (“Queen of Egypt’s Heart”) we learn that Germany is prepared for a fight, but so is the dauntless Dr. Hawass. For more on this, see my blog entry at Heritage Key, The Bust of Nefertiti – A Century-Old Archaeological Detective Story Nearing an End?
Dr. Hawass mentioned in the interview that he has about ten (!) books coming out in the next year, eight of which he more or less identified. That leaves two. Who wants to bet one of them will be about Nefertiti? Of course, I could be way off base with all of this, and Nefertiti may end up playing a bit part in Dr. Hawass’ Final Act with the Supreme Council of Antiquities. And stockbrokers are hardly reliable these days. But I stand by my advice—if you are investing in Egyptian personas this year, buy Nefertiti. You’ll thank me.
Copyright 2009, all rights reserved.
Tags: Altes Museum, Ankhesenamun, Bust of Nefertiti, Eighteenth Dynasty, Forensic Mummy Studies, Internal Ramp, Jean-Pierre Houdin, KV64, Khufu's Pyramid, Mummies, Mutnodjmet, Nefertiti, New Kingdom, Repatriation, Secret Doors, Supreme Council of Antiquities, The Great Pyramid, Tutankhamun, Zahi Hawass