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Nefertiti's eyes - an article in Archaeology
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 10:09 pm    Post subject: Nefertiti's eyes - an article in Archaeology Reply with quote

The article by Ertman is available online for those of us who do not subscribe to Archaeology.
http://www.archaeology.org/0803/etc/nefertiti.html

Summary given online:
"Did the queen's distinctive feature become a symbol of Egyptian royalty?
by Earl L. Ertman "

Apparently the eyelids of some of the royalty from the Amarna period have some particular trait.
Ertman writes about this feature because some of the coffins from KV63 also show this trait.

There is some discussion about this topic on other board and lists (EEf for instance) so I thought I would mention it here.
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BobManske
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there any chance that this condition would survive mummification and be identifiable today?

Bob
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The article made a point of saying that such a feature would not be shown in a mummified corpse.
Actually, it was quite an interesting article--but much too short!
The writer is the art historian for Schaden's KV63 expedition.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also enjoyed the article. I don't know how many scholars argue that Nefertiti was Tut's mother but it's an interesting spin.

I was reading one of the EEF notices to which anneke referred, and the writer thought the argument about the East Asian trait was way off because plenty of people in Africa also bear this trait.
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Sesen
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a good reading article, very interesting. I would have liked to read more too, its always nice to hear about whats being discovered as they analyse the finds in KV 63.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sesen:
Here you go--

Earl L. Ertman, "Nefertiti's Eyes"
> http://www.archaeology.org/0803/etc/nefertiti.html
>
> "(..) Otto Schaden, our expedition director, asked me, as staff art
> historian and object analyst, if any information could be gleaned
> from the [seven] coffins [found in KV63] (..). I began with the four
> coffins that had yellow-painted faces. (..) Rather than indicating
> the coffins were for females, the yellow faces probably copied those
> of the very wealthy, who could afford gold faces on their coffins.
> (..) With no inscriptions and the ambiguous nature of the yellow face
> color, I began looking at other characteristics that might prove
> helpful, such as the shape and details of the faces. In doing that,
> the eyes on three of the painted KV63 coffins brought me back to
> Nefertiti. (..) The face of one, which we designated coffin A, had
> eyes rimmed with blue glass in a traditional shape, unlike the other
> three coffins with yellow faces, designated B, F, and G. What links
> the eyes of these three coffins, beside the fact that all are painted,
> is that the inner canthus--the corner of the eye near the
> nose--descends abruptly and abuts the upper lid, giving them an East
> Asian appearance [i.e. showing an epicanthic fold]. Nefertiti's
> famous bust illustrates this eye shape better than words. (..) And
> this brings us back to KV63, with its upper-class coffins. Like the
> yellow faces meant to represent gilding, did the eye shape seek to
> portray a "royal marker" derived from Nefertiti's own eyes? (...)"
>

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I triple hate it whenever people try to use features from statues, etc. as evidence. Even with Amarna period portraiture there's an element of stylization that makes any claim as to what a person looked like based on their statuary moot.
Even if all the portraiture of Nefertiti had this feature, you have to guess that maybe 1% of the artists had ever actually seen the woman and the rest is a copy of THEIR work? Therefore, any portraiture is bound by the perception and interperetation of stylistic rules of one or two people.
Some of the more beleivable identifications based on portraiture come from comparing the proportions of Hatshepsut's waist and hips to ThutmosisIII. There's a definite difference. But even these are shaky observations and shouldn't be used as a basis for anything but speculation.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I have to clarify here.
This is not a problem with identifying a particular ruler based on their image. That's perfectly valid. This is an issue with comparing features on statues with biological features of the people themselves.
ie. Akhenaten has long fingers in his early portraiture, therefore he must have had Marfan's syndrome.
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obviously, you didn't read Ertman's article.
It seems that all portraits of Nefertiti had this feature, while some of the depictions of Akhenaten did not. If it were merely a style that was the trend, any relief of akhenaten and any relief of Nefertiti would have the same trend. This is not the case, leading Ertman to THEORIZE that the almond-shaped eye was a feature of Nefertiti.
The portrait of her and her daughters shows Meritaten with this feature also, but not the other daughter. Again, if were merely style, why wouldn't both have the same?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL It's been brought to my attention precisely who wrote the EEF e-mail to which I referred when I posted that "plenty of people in Africa also bear this trait." Without naming names I must stress that the source is questionable, so take what I wrote with a grain of salt. For all I know the information is correct, but I'd be more comfortable with some corroboration. Laughing
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BobManske
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II wrote:
The article made a point of saying that such a feature would not be shown in a mummified corpse.


By the time I finished reading the article, I had forgotten the following quote from it:

"but without her remains no diagnosis can be made (and the evidence may have been destroyed or altered during mummification)."

That's nowhere close to "making a point" of it.

So the question remains: could this feature actually be discerned? The article leaves the question open.

Bob
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:24 am    Post subject: rant. Reply with quote

TMK, there was no name on any of the sarcophagi in KV63, so we can't make any conjectures on what Nefertiti or her relatives looked like based on these coffins. We know of maybe two or three royal women depicted in Amarna art who were not related to Nefertiti: Tiye, Kiya, Baketaten, Mutnodjmet, and perhaps the Ta-Sherit daughters. Representations of these women, with the exception of Kiya and Tiye are fairly few, and most of Kiya's have been carved over. (I do not recall that the carving over for Merytaten of Kiya's images involved enlarging and reshaping the corners of the eyes, which would lend this theory a little more credence. ) Where I'm going with this is that there's too small of a sample of the alternatives to make any kind of reasonable conjecture on what genetic traits in Nefertiti's family might have been.
On top of this, we know that Amarna art tended towards giving its royal subjects distinguishing features to set them apart from the normal populace, to underscore their divinity. This makes a lot more sense than attributing the eccentric features of the Amarna royals to rare genetic conditions. I see no reason why this cannot apply to the phenomenon with the eyes as well.
I feel a little betrayed when scholars feel the need to dramatize on history without a lot of proof. Sure, it gets people's attention, it gets funds for your research, it gets people watching your documentary, but people then have a hard time telling the difference between idle speculation and credible theory. You'll notice that these amazing observances almost always revolve around Tut, Nefertiti or Cleopatra, it's because those are the household names. Those are the names that will rake in the cash.
Sadly, there are a lot of people still convinced that Tut was murdered and that we do have the body of Nefertiti, even though the proof for both "theories" was pretty much nil to begin with.
Such melodrama might bring in the cash for the Discovery Channel, and excavation X, but does nothing to improve our collective knowledge of the past as a society.
Sorry if this was too ranty and too snobby.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Seshat, you're being neither ranty nor snobby. I agree with you.

Different subject: I saw another National Geographic last night. In this one they had a woman telling us that based on clothing found in Tut's tomb, they decided that his measurements, from top to bottom, were something like 31-29-43. In other words, they felt the strange hip proportions in the Amarna portraiture were real.

Maybe someone can give us an idea of how accurately you can measure someone's body size by looking at their clothes, and particularly, for the hips, their loin cloths.

Something else interesting in the that one. According to them, you have to wear a tightly wrapped corselet around your waist, indeed everything from below the chest to the groin when riding a chariot to keep the internal organs stable. Well, those things don't have shock absorbers, although I recall reading that the floors were often suspended.

This one was new to me but you all have probably seen it before.
Bob
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree about the "syndrome" syndrome of interpretation.

As for the Tut show Bob mentioned, I remember seeing it and wondering what in the world. I have a hard time buying the dimensions for him they gave. And the courselet thing? Another figment of the imagination as far as I'm concerned.

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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The CT scan results of Tutankhamen show the body of a normal male.
I can't imagine where those measurements could come from! (maybe the Baggy Look was "in" in ancient Egypt!)
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