Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is Hatshepsut still hiding?


DNA tests to study tiny mummies from King Tut tomb

This article is about the upcoming DNA testing on two infant mummies found in King Tutankhamun's tomb. But the part that interests me the most concerns Hatshepsut. I've blogged on the discovery of her body before ( here and here). The Discovery Channel special on the testing of unidentified mummies, in the quest to find Hatshepsut's remains, was certainly interesting. But there are now some problems. The media savvy Head of Egyptian Antiquities, Zahi Hawas has not exactly been forthcoming about his results:

...He has never disclosed the full outcome of the examinations of the mummy of Hatshepsut, Egypt's most powerful queen and the only female pharaoh. Nor has he submitted the results for a test by second lab, as it is a common practice. This has raised concerns about the validity of the Egyptian results...

In the last year, I've been reading of increasing concern in regards to the above. The thing is, even just a careful watching of the televised special reveals some concerns. First off, a great deal of the identification relies on a scan of a supposed tooth fragment imaged in an unopened canopic box. The box has been accurately attributed as containing the organs of Hatshepsut, and the mummy id'ed as her body is missing a tooth. But that seems rather flimsy evidence. (The box remains unopened, so we don't even know if the object is indeed a tooth.) In addition, Hatshepsut has always been portrayed as rather a petite woman. Yet this mummy is large and obese. In addition, a number of mummies from the Tuthmosis line have been accurately identified, all of them having rather similar facial appearances. Although a forensic match-up was provided in the documentary, the fact is, at least to my eyes, the faces don't really match up.

7 comments:

Livia Indica said...

Like many I've always had something of a love/hate feel for Hawass. He's so public, so out there and yet keeps this under wraps. Makes me wonder if he's saving it all up for another book.

Yvonne said...

Yo Gene! Interesting post - can I have it as a guest post at Pagans for Archaeology?

genexs said...

Yvonne:

How cool! I'm honored. Of course you can have it. Btw, the pic in the post is the lovely Zita Johann of the 1933 "The Mummy".

genexs said...

Livia:

I feel the same way about him. He's done a lot of his country's precious heritage. But the show-man in him takes over too much sometimes.

green_ghost113 said...

Yeah - that was very interesting Gene.
I love the photo of Zita Johann too.
Cheers!

genexs said...

Hi green_ghost:
As you know, I'm trying to dig up more info on her and I'm having luck. She lived here in the Hudson Valley! Hatshepsut has such cherub face, it's hard to match it up with that mummy. I wonder if sculptors might have 'Hathorized' her face a little, but then again, all images of her look pretty consistent. I've stood as close as you can stand to a number of her statues; even ones carved near the end of her rein depict her as the same--rather slim and petite. It's possible she could have ordered slimmer depictions of herself, but it seems Egyptian artists did not shy away from depicting atypical body types, including possible deformities...and even the dreaded 'man boobs'! heh!

Yvonne said...

Thanks Gene! It's here.