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Grim secrets of Pharaoh's city
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:40 pm    Post subject: Grim secrets of Pharaoh's city Reply with quote

I searched the other forums at ED and didn't find this article posted anywhere, unless I missed it. I first saw it on another forum and then in the EEF mailing list. I apologize if it's already been posted somewhere at ED but I found the article interesting and thought some of you folks might like to read it.

The BBC article is about recently discovered human remains belonging to the workmen who built the city of Akhetaten. It's significant because although the site of the workmen's village at Amarna is known and has been excavated, much less is known about the quality of life of the workers who lived there. The article states:

Quote:
These were the first bones clearly identifiable as the workers who lived in the city; and they reveal the terrible price they paid to fulfil the Pharaoh's dream.

"The bones reveal a darker side to life, a striking reversal of the image that Akhenaten promoted, of an escape to sunlight and nature" says Professor Barry Kemp who is leading the excavations.


The full text of the article is here. Smile

It's a bit gratuitous and sensationalistic, as one must expect of most any modern media outlet, but nonetheless interesting and worth reading. The people who built Akhenaten's city suffered many of the same sort of skeletal infirmities seen in the bones of the pyramid builders at Giza 1,100 years earlier, but I doubt those working at Akhetaten were quite as well off as those working at Giza. The fact that around two-thirds of the Amarna workmen were dead by the age of twenty, is rather shocking. Shocked

That's all I'll say for now. I'm curious to see what others think of the article.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting information.
I cannot remember where I read it, but there were other excavations that showed that the people at Amarna lived a relatively better life than others.
I wonder if these new finds reflect the working class and the older finds were of a slightly higher class?

The short life span and the many injuries do paint a very "gothic" picture. It must have been a tremendous undertaking to erect a whole city in such a short time and it must have been very hard on the workers.

I was wondering about the nature of the workforce. There were not really slaves like in other areas of the world, but there are records from the time of Amenhotep III for instance that mention large groups of foreign workers (from the levant) who were settled in and near some of his temples where they were put to work.

I wonder if some of these workers may have come from that kind of population. It's rather brutal if you think about these very young people being forced to work under terrible circumstances. Would they just inflict that on Egyptians?

The article does mention:
"But even this backbreaking schedule may not be enough to explain the extreme death pattern at Amarna. "

It would be interesting if they find other evidence of a plague or something like that in these bones. They never really mention how many skeletal remains they are talking about.

I wonder too where exactly they were found. They talk about floods unearthing these remains. There are some cemetaries that they know existed in the vicinity of Amarna. I wonder if these remains come from one of these cemetaries.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mind find this interesting:
http://www.amarnaproject.com/pages/recent_projects/excavation/south_tombs_cemetery/2007.shtml

I haven't had time to digest the entire page, but there may be some indication of multiple burials in one grave?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just noticed this part of the text in above mentioned page:

Quote:
The pathological profile of the 2007 material is similar to past years. Spinal trauma was seen in 4 individuals (Figure 34) and iron deficiency anemia was observed in 12 skulls (33% of all skulls) in the form of cribra orbitalia (Figure 35). (Note: as cribra orbitalia is only found on the skull, all 36 skulls are included in this count as opposed to only individuals figuring into the demographic analysis). These rates are similar to the 2005 and 2006 samples and corroborate the statements that Professor Rose made in previous reports about the people being subject to heavy workloads and having diets poor in iron. Other pathological observations included 6 individuals with slight osteoarthritis on one or more joint surface, 2 individuals with healed broken fingers, 2 individuals with healed broken ribs, and 2 individuals with healed broken clavicles. Two cases of spina bifida were also observed. This is a rare condition where the arches on the back of elements of the spine do not fuse and cause parts of the spinal chord to be exposed to possible injury (Figure 36). Most of the observed pathologies indicate that the population of the South Tombs Cemetery lived lives that included hard work and a low-quality diet.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not surprised. Hard physical labor (there wasn't any other kind) was probably a leading cause of injury and death in young men. The women avoided that at the cost of repeated pregnancies and death from childbirth complications.

It was a rough age to be alive in. So, yeah, they would inflict this kind of stuff on Egyptians because it was considered a normal part of life. Nothing at all out of the ordinary.

Here's a quote from a book I'm reading "Mummies and Death in Egypt". "Anatomopathological study revealed particles of granite in the lungs. The intestines contained a number of schistosome and tapeworm eggs. The liver was cirrhotic, and the spleen was enlarge. The probable cause of death was thus schistosomiasis. The investigators also found subcutaneous cyst containing a Trichinella spiralis larva, which implied pork consumption." (The underlines are in the original)

The same mummy is reported on in Rosalie David's book Converations with Mummies. "Nakht's bone development was that of someone whose body was still growing...lines on his shin bones hinted at malnutrition or possibly a prolonged illness with high fever... arrested growth...apparently food was scarce in Thebes early in the 20th Dynasty." Later than Akhenaton's time, but probably not unusual, I would think. She continues: "enlarge spleen, bleeding at the time of death, suggested a diagnosis of malaria." Age 15.

Egyptian medical knowledge, in advance of everyone else's, was probably less than any of us have here in ED who have little or no medical training whatsover. They had no knowledge of the causes of disease, infectious or otherwise. They had no clue whatsoever about how the body worked. Remedies were on a trial-and-error basis unless there were prescriptions handed down from earlier times which in some cases at least, were not to be altered. I always make sure to take a book or two on Egyptian medicine along when I visit my doctors. They love reading this stuff and are absolutely amazed.

The situtation was not very different in our own society just a short while ago. When Social Security was started in the U.S. in the 1930's it was expected that the average guy would retire one day and drop dead the next. And yet, at age 65, this was a tremendous improvement over the life expectancy in the 19th century. And that was better than... well, you get the idea.

Enjoy!

Bob
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was this show not aired in the US? It was shown here in the UK a few nights ago under Timewatch and was greatly explained. Very Happy
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
Quote:
I was wondering about the nature of the workforce. There were not really slaves like in other areas of the world, but there are records from the time of Amenhotep III for instance that mention large groups of foreign workers (from the levant) who were settled in and near some of his temples where they were put to work.


It wouldn't be surprising if the workforce at Amarna contained foreigners. How they came to Egypt is another matter, whether by force or through immigration. I would probably suggest the latter. From names preserved on ostraca and such we know there were plenty of foreigners residing at Deir el Medina, and even back in the Middle Kingdom, at the site of Kahun, material evidence demonstrates the presence of foreigners living there--including probably the oldest evidence of exchange with the Minoan civilization (this is based on early Cretan pottery, and the debate goes on over whether this suggests that Minoans were present at Kahun or if the vessels came to there with Egyptians, through trade).

I should think that for the most part, if foreigners were living at the workmen's village at Amarna, they had come to Egypt of their own free will. That's just my opinion, however, and I could be way off. I've never read much about the types of physical evidence excavated at that village, such as the Cretan and Syro-Palestinian pottery of Kahun, which would tell us of the presence of foreigners.

Quote:
It would be interesting if they find other evidence of a plague or something like that in these bones. They never really mention how many skeletal remains they are talking about.


They're not really clear on that, are they? Nor are they clear on how the remains were found, as you said--other than that they "had been washed out by floods." Washed out from precisely where, I wonder? Because if they can find where, they ought to be able to locate a cemetery, one would think. The BBC article to which I linked us is dated Friday, January 25, but I don't know how recently the bones were found. Maybe it was very recently and they're only in the earliest stages of their analysis.

By the way, anneke, thanks for the link to the Amarna Project page. Would you believe I've come across that website before but have never given it much attention? Shame on me. Razz What a wealth of information! I printed out that whole page at work so I can read it at my leisure.
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, well I'm guessing that the program was only shown in the UK then. Confused If anyone wants to see the program you can watch it here! (Just click on Television "Last Seven Days" then click on "26 Sat" and on "Timewatch" from the list.) But hurry, because it's only available to watch for the next two days!

Thanks to Dachief for the link. Applause
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Rozette
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daughter_Of_SETI,


Thanks so much for posting the link Razz !!!

I'am gone watch the program to night Smile .

Rozette Wink
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're welcome, Rozette. Hope you enjoy the program. Very Happy
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Rozette
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just noticed that I can't watch the program because I don't live in the UK Sad .
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rozette wrote:
I just noticed that I can't watch the program because I don't live in the UK.

Embarassed Sorry, Rozette. I didn't realise that. Crying or Very sad I hope they show the program around the world for you guys soon, as it really was a really good show. Pray
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DOS, I have my uses Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't download it either, and I looked everywhere I could for a workaround. Crying or Very sad

You Brits. Why do you hate us foreigners so much? Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh, we don't hate you, it's just fun tempting you with tantalising trats, then cruely snatching it away! Laughing
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