Archive for the ‘Egypt in the News’ Category

Can’t make it to Egypt this summer?  Never fear, Peter Der Manuelian and Mehdi Tayoubi are combining Fourth Dynasty architecture, Twentieth (and 21st) Century archaeology, and Generation Wow technology to take you places that would be off limits even if you were in Egypt.

From scanning the landscape to crawling down into ancient tombs, you are there, dude.

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Two weeks ago I posted my article about the JAMA* report’s analysis of King Tut’s foot problems and how they might have potentially led to his downfall (no pun intended).  One of the elements of my argument was that Tutankhamun was missing a toe bone in his right foot.  But he wasn’t (and probably still isn’t).

I had based my contention on a typo in one of the tables in the JAMA report, a typo that is contradicted in numerous places throughout the rest of the article, a series of dots which I somehow failed to connect.  As a result, Gentle Reader Monica gently but concisely took me to task for my mistake in the Comments section of the article.

Now a writer for a much more high-profile (at least for now) outfit than Em Hotep has made the same mistake.  So shamey-shamey on us.  But how did the same mistake make it past the editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association?

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Mummy Scanners

   Posted by: Keith Payne

Tags: , ,

No, it’s not a new David Cronenberg movie about mummies with exploding heads, it’s an innovative use for those annoying scanners that airport employees use to ogle your naked bod.   

The scanners, technically called terahertz scanners, but more derisively dubbed “digital strip searches,” peek under your clothing but can’t penetrate your body, or any contraband you might have strapped to it. 


But terahertz scanners have other properties that have caught the attention of Dr. Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project.

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So much for the evil god Set keeping his mouth shut—people just seem to insist on questioning authority.  The JAMA article is jammed with answers, but queries continue.  Assembled here for your pleasure and edification are the best examples of critical questioning culled from the Egyptological blogosphere.    

Tangled roots, the passed-over prince, aging them bones, lack of control, and Kate Phizackerley’s Quest for Accuracy.

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Was King Tut a warrior king or “one sick kid”?  Even as the Family of Tutankhamun Project was publishing its findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the Boy King was a frail young man who needed a cane to walk, Egyptologist W. Raymond Johnson was publishing his evidence that Tut was an active young man who rode chariots into battle.

So which is the true Tut?  What if both versions are accurate?  Could this perfect storm of physical challenges and adventurous behavior have led Tutankhamun to a heroic but early grave?

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Meet the mummies of the Family of Tutankhamun Project!  If you are looking for a mummy-by-mummy summary of the recent JAMA article, then you are in luck! 

In The Mummies Gallery we will take a look at each of the mummies in both the study and control groups and pull together the familial and pathological data for easy referencing.

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Was King Tut murdered?  Did Akhenaten have both a male and female physiology?  Did incest and inbreeding lead the Eighteenth Dynasty down a genetic dead end?  Last month the Family of Tutankhamun Project attempted to answer these questions—and more—with the publication of a two-year forensic study of sixteen mummies of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

This article is the first of several in which we will attempt to put the research into layperson’s terms.  First we will take a look at the what, who, where, why and how of the study itself.

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Ok, so maybe I am not reviving the Blogroll Roundup as a regular feature, at least not until I get caught up on my own material, although I do have to say that I am amazed at how many hits months-old editions continue to garner.  But there has been so much really great material that has appeared in the Egyptology blogosphere in the last couple of weeks, I can’t help but share it.  So, for your convenience and enjoyment…


Re-wrapping a mummy, new Pyramid Texts, Abydos abides, the Akhenaten Museum, Hieroglyphs 101, Hanging out with Dr. Andrzej Cwiek, and WV22?

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Is academic criticism the personification of evil itself?

Egypt’s Vice Minister of Culture Zahi Hawass seems to think so.  As the critics, both pro and con, chime in with their own analysis of the recent JAMA article, Dr. Hawass seems to cross the line between making a response and taking offense.

“I call on Set, the [ancient Egyptian] god of evil to remain silent this time!”

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Mark Rose, the Archaeological Institute of America’s online editor, has written a well-timed editorial in Beyond Stone & Bone, Archaeology Magazine’s blog, regarding Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work with Khufu’s Pyramid.

If we can take physical samples from some of the most important and fragile “artifacts” in all of Egypt—royal mummies—then why can’t we allow Jean Pierre to conduct completely non-invasive work which may unravel one of humankind’s most abiding riddles:  How was the Great Pyramid built?

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Plus:  Catching Up Em Hotep!

All the world is abuzz with the long-awaited release of the current genetic study of the Eighteenth Dynasty, particularly as it relates to the goose that continues to lay the golden eggs—King Tut.

Your humble scribe is still mulling over the subject before attempting his own contribution, but in the meanwhile, here are a few excellent pieces from some of the most excellent writers in the Egyptology blogosphere.  In the spirit of parsimony, I have narrowed my selection down to the three which I found to be the most unique in their approach and thought provoking in their implications.  Enjoy!

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In the first part of January the media began breaking the news that the old yarn about slaves having built the pyramids had finally been dispelled.  Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that three large tombs had been newly discovered very close to the pyramid itself.  As the final resting place of some of the overseers of the workforce, both the structure and location of the tombs made it clear that these were no slaves.

Dr. Hawass’ statement that “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves” (source) was widely repeated in the press under headlines announcing that the belief that slaves had built the pyramids could now be retired.  But Egyptologists have long known that the Slave Hypothesis was pure Hollywood. 

Along with Hawass, Egyptologist Mark Lehner began uncovering the truth of the pyramid builders more than 20 years ago.  Lehner was consumed with the question of where such a large workforce could have lived.  After conducting the first detailed “to scale” survey of the Giza Plateau, he narrowed his focus to the area around the enigmatic Wall of the Crow, a colossal wall with no apparent related structures.

Lehner hit pay dirt, and his dogged pursuit of these ancient builders led to the excavation of the very city where they lived and worked—a large complex of barracks and permanent housing, distribution centers, industrial sites, and scribal workshops.  The recently discovered tombs tell us something of the status of the workers, but the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders gives us the everyday details of their lives.

Most of Em Hotep’s readers will be familiar with Dr. Lehner and his work.  But if you are not, then his total absence from the recent news stories may have left you with an incomplete picture of just how strong the case against the Slavery Hypothesis really is.  In this three-part series we will take a look at what Lehner discovered about the pyramid builders.  We will examine the evidence that the workforce had a surprisingly modern division of labor, followed by a tour of the city itself.

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News is beginning to pop up about a new tomb discovered in the Saqqara area of the Memphis Necropolis, and it’s a big one!  Actually, two tombs have been discovered, and while they seem to have already been looted, archaeologists have found artifacts, including human remains.


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Tim Reid, proprietor of The Egyptians, one of the most excellent Egyptology blogs on the internet, has posted his Top 10 stories of 2009.   I couldn’t possibly improve on his coverage, and why reinvent the wheel?  So if you haven’t checked it out yet, here is Tim Reid’s 2009 in Review!

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Berlin has given its official response to the Nefertiti Summit and Zahi Hawass’ plans to formally demand the return of the bust of Nefertiti to Egypt—ain’t gonna happen. 

German officials claim that the artifact’s constitution has already been evaluated and she is too fragile for travel, and that the Nefertiti Summit was never about the merits of Egypt’s case to begin with.

Meanwhile, Zahi Hawass intends to assemble a repatriation alliance based on his own model.  “Our strategy became a good case for everyone…. China announced they will do same as we do” (Source: M&C: “Egypt to aid return of Asian, African stolen artifacts”).

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