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No sign of Queen Tut as tomb reveals 3,000-year-old secret
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Disregard that last sentence because I found the letter. Here's the opening:

Quote:
We are writing to express our regret about the injudicious and inaccurate May 22, 2005 article about Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.


It was in response to an unkind article about Hawass that had been written, I think, in The Times. I'll let the letter speak for itself, so here it is:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-1710891_1,00.html

Just a good reminder that as much as some of us laypeople tend to slam Hawass, no matter how knowledgeable some of us are, he still garners the support of many influential colleagues. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RobertStJames wrote:
We know that two of Tut's children were born w/spina bifida. Spina bifida is not 100% genetic in all cases, but when you have two children both suffering from it, it's a good bet they're getting it from one or both parents.



I don't think that's entirely correct. One foetus definitely had some sort of spinal abnormality, but the younger foetus was normal, and had simply not acheived full gestation ie was miscarried.

Re: determining the origin of injuries to Tut, I thought in this case would could be fairly sure that he suffered a leg fracture prior to death, since calcification was seen. This (laying down of new bone) is a normal part of the healing process, so, with or without inflammation markers, or whatever else, we can clearly see he suffered a break prior to death and survived long enough for some minimal repair of this fracture to take place.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One foetus definitely had some sort of spinal abnormality, but the younger foetus was normal, and had simply not acheived full gestation ie was miscarried.


You're right, ELISE. Only one of the fetuses was thus affected, and I found a nice Tour Egypt article summarizing these two tiny children. The article quotes, inpart:

Quote:
...radiography revealed evidence to suggest that the child had a condition known as Sprengel's deformity, with congenitally high right scapula, spina bifida and scoliosis.


Here's an old radiograph of this fetus, taken from the article:



Given this state, it was probably fortunate that this poor girl did not live.

As for our ongoing debate on the nature of Tut's health and death, I must be honest and relate (and I think RobertStJames intimated this) that the team which examined the boy-king's mummy is not in complete agreement about the fracture. Just to refresh the memory of anyone interested, here is a summary of the report released by the team. The debate about the fractured leg is about halfway down.

One of the strongest arguments for the fractre is that embalming liquids (resin and unguents) were found inside the wound. This is a giveaway. The wound still had to be open and had to have occured before death for the liquids to be within the wound site. The detractors on the team report:

Quote:
...that if such a fracture had been suffered in life, there would have been evidence for hemorrhage or haematoma present in the CT scan. They believe the embalming liquid was pushed into the fracture by Carter's team.


The argument that the liquid was "pushed" into the wound by Carter's team simply falls flat. I don't buy it. Because of the copious amounts of resin and unguents poured over the mummy prior to wrapping, the body was nearly completely carbonized millennia before Carter and his team came along. The farther down Tut's body you go, the more skeletal he is--and from the waist down he's not much more than bones with but a thin film of dried skin. I am not a doctor but was a combat medic in the Army and an EMT later on, so I have to wonder how much soft tissue there could've been at that location for a hemorrhage or haematoma to have left much if any evidence after the mummification...and the passage of 3,300 years. But I can't speak with authority on that, so I can't elaborate further. Yet I can say with confidence that "pushing" now-carbonized dried embalming fluid into the wound should be quite clearly different from said fluid having seeped into the wound when the body was being mummified. In other words, one should be able to tell the difference without a lot of fuss.

Quote:
Re: determining the origin of injuries to Tut, I thought in this case would could be fairly sure that he suffered a leg fracture prior to death, since calcification was seen. This (laying down of new bone) is a normal part of the healing process...


Perhaps you understand this bodily process better than I. Inflammation can happen rapidly and is a natural occurance, as is calcification. But given the onset of infection and death within approximately five days of the injury, is that enough time for calcification to happen?

On a final note for now, RobertStJames still seems convinced that Tutankhamun suffered from crippling scoliosis, despite medical findings to the contrary. The team reports this:

Quote:
There is a slight bend in the spine, However, the scientists agree that this is not a pathological scoliosis, since there is no rotation and no associated deformation of the vertebrae. This bend most likely reflects the way the mummy was positioned by the embalmers.


I was back in the Tutankhamun exhibition this morning at the Field and spent awhile lingering in the final gallery, which (among other things) displays some of the CT-scan images from 2005. I took a careful look at the spine on all of the life-sized images (actually they may be even larger than life-sized) and noted the severe curve to the backbone, and it's clear this was not the form the backbone had during the boy-king's life. It's obvious this stems from the mummification. Had Tut suffered from that severe of a bend to his spine while he was alive, it's doubtful he would've even made it to puberty. People are indeed born with crippling deformaties to the spine, but it takes modern medicine and sophisticated surgery to correct the deformation. Otherwise, as the child grows, the respiratory system and other vital organs are compromised and the condition is fatal during the childhood years.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given that the various portrayals of Tutankhamen 'with staff' are on Amarna artworks which may well have been appropriated from Akhenaten/Smenkhkare, would it not be a more reasonable conclusion that IF any member of the Royal family did have a disability it was a predecessor rather than him?

Eg, Berlin relief (King and Queen in a garden, king with staff and dodgy leg!!!!) which probably isn't Tut due to showing late teens/adults in the Amarna style. Or I suppose it could support the (not unreasonable)argument that everyone had them and they were highly fashionable rather than particularly practical.

BTW Even if he (Tut) was disabled and did have a staff, it doesn't automatically mean he had a genetic condition - he could have had an injury from which he recovered, but needed aid to walk. (I'm playing devils advocate a bit. Very Happy )

I do agree though that the number of staffs found in the tomb is interesting and somewhat suggestive - wish we knew more about whether they were actually his, or more inherited family stuff - his tomb seems to be a store for absolutely any Amarna artifacts remaining at the time of his death.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ps I'm not suggesting the Berlin relief was appropriated - I know it isn't named. It is sometimes ascribed to Tut and Ankh though... Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is the relief you are talking about, some people think now that they are Achnaton and Nefertiti:


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love that piece - what on earth happened to his left leg though!!!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I love that piece - what on earth happened to his left leg though!!!


Looks to me like the artist's attempt at showing a figure standing with the left foot crossed over the right--a pose of relaxation and not necessarily debilitation. You can see the lines of the right leg actually crossing over the left, but the Egyptians weren't terribly good at this kind of artistic perspective. It was of little matter to them, I'd suggest. Anyway, I've also read that this piece is now ascribed to Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

The plethora of walking staves in KV62 is not convincing evidence of Tut's having been disabled. As anneke mentioned, many of these staves would not have supported much weight in the first place, and as she also pointed out, the stave or staff was a symbol of authority and nobility. It is even a common determinative in ancient Egyptian words of this nature, such as the noun sr ("official"):



And as I've said more than once now, many of the staves in KV62 were quite elaborately decorated, such as this one:



What you're seeing here is actually the top of the staff, turned upside-down, and depicting a Nubian captive with arms bound at the back. Whenever Tut grabbed hold of this staff, he would be symbolically overpowering his Nubian enemies. It's the same concept as Pharaoh's sandals on the bottoms of which were figures of Egypt's enemies, so that whenever the king went for a walk, he would be symbolically treading all over his enemies. Very Happy

And just because there happened to be a lot of walking staves in Tut's tomb, we cannot rush to judgements that this must be unique to the boy-king. Bear in mind that almost every other kingly tomb ever found, had been completely plundered in antiquity. We simply don't know what was originally in those tombs, which is why Tut's KV62 is so important: it provides a tangible point of reference for the kinds of things with which a king was equipped for the afterlife.

In point of fact, there is almost no evidence to suggest definitively that Tutankhamun was a cripple, which is why most Egyptologists have thrown that old dusty theory in the relic pile. All we have are occasional snippets and scenes that are too easy to misinterpret. One of the only depictions that I've found at all odd is a certain scene on that famous small golden shrine of Tut, which happens to be my favorite artifact in the current Tut exhibition. I'm referring to the vignette in the lower-left corner on this side:



It's hard to make out in this photo, which is from the Griffith Institute web site, but you can just make out the boy-king in the act of drawing his bow. He is hunting fowl in this scene, accompanied by Ankhesenamun. What's odd about the scene is that Tut is drawing his bow from a seated position, which is considered unusual. But again that's hardly evidence of a crippling deformation of his spine. Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ELISE wrote:
BTW Even if he (Tut) was disabled and did have a staff, it doesn't automatically mean he had a genetic condition - he could have had an injury from which he recovered, but needed aid to walk. (I'm playing devils advocate a bit. Very Happy )

That's exactly how I would see it.
I think that there are too many depictions of Tutankhamun with a staff, to say with any certainty that he never needed to use one. And I can't recall pharaohs being depicted with staffs, only gods, which they certainly never leant against, they were always held out in front of them with authority.
That being said, I don't really see why it matters if Tutankhamun suffered from a disability, because it can't have been serious enough to have caused his death, otherwise there would be evidence on his mummy, which it seems to me that there isn't.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="kmt_sesh"]
Quote:
Anyway, I've also read that this piece is now ascribed to Akhenaten and Nefertiti.


I posted about this on another thread some time ago.

The reason it was so often asigned to Smenkhkare/Meritaten was because of the queens red girdle which some authors (eg Aldred) believed was only worn by an heiress queen ie it's not Nefertiti. (Of course it could be Akhenaten with one of the older daughters as queen if you subscribe to the theory he married them after Nefertiti's death.)

However, more recently the significance of the red girdle seems to have lessened. Fletcher for example thinks it was simply the fashion at Amarna and didn't have any particular significance - so then this could be Nefertiti after all, and Akhenaten - in fact agewise and stylistically they would then become the most probably candidates.

Sorry to repeat myself but it's so rare that I actually get the chance to show I know anything at all !! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I can't recall pharaohs being depicted with staffs, only gods, which they certainly never leant against, they were always held out in front of them with authority.


That particular staff is what's called the was-scepter. You see Isis, Ptah, and Re-Horakhty each clutching one in this illustration, and here's a Tour Egypt article that contains more information. It's completely different from the staffs or staves in Tut's tomb and usually only the deities are depicted holding them. The word w3s is translated as "dominion."

Quote:
That being said, I don't really see why it matters if Tutankhamun suffered from a disability, because it can't have been serious enough to have caused his death, otherwise there would be evidence on his mummy, which it seems to me that there isn't.


I agree. There is no evidence that Tut died a natural death, be it disease or disability.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="kmt_sesh"]
Quote:

I agree. There is no evidence that Tut died a natural death, be it disease or disability.


But unless there is evidence of a deliberately inflicted injury/illness (and how you would conclude an injury had occurred 'with malice', goodness only knows) the assumption must be that he died a natural death. Getting septacemia after breaking your leg would be a natural death, though I doubt you'd be able to assay the blood (if there were any left) for that 300 years on.

Even in ancient Egypt the majority of deaths must have been due old age, illness or accidental injury - I bet murder comes a long way down the list.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That should be '3000 years on', not '300' Embarassed
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your opinion that most Egyptians died of old age or accidental death applies, particularly, to the common or lower-class Egyptian. The Royals eem to have been another matter entirely!
In various papyrii there are several cases, such as the Harem Conspiracy, of secondary queens or concubines doing the utmost--including deaths--to get the throne for their sons. All in all, the Royals seem to have been a rather evil lot! We really don't know how many Pharaohs were "assisted" into their journey to the stars...
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II wrote:
All in all, the Royals seem to have been a rather evil lot!

Surprised Only from a modern point of view. If they were to be compared to the rulers and royalty of their own time, I would't of thought they were that bad.
More like cuddley little bunnies. bunny (OK, that might be stretching it )
Compare them to the Roman Emperors that came later! Anxious They can't have been that bad. Very Happy
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