Monday, February 22, 2010

More re Tutankhamun - Malaria and chronological issues

New York Times (John Noble Wilford)

Tut’s case may be one of the earliest established by genetic tests, but malaria was probably a common scourge then, as it still is. Last year, at least 250 million people contracted the disease, the United Nations estimates, and almost half the world’s population is at risk, mainly in poorer tropical lands. The wasting fever is expected to kill 700,000 children this year.

Malaria courses relentlessly through narratives of history and literature. It blighted the greatness that was Rome, though it may have saved the city from a sacking by Attila the Hun, who may have turned back out of fear of the fever raging there. Archaeologists digging in cemeteries near former marshes around Rome have uncovered evidence of widespread outbreaks of the disease in the empire’s waning years.

News from the Valley of the Kings (Kate Phizackerley)

Reading what has been written in press reports, it's tempting to conclude that the DNA testing of Tutankhamun's family has resolved everything. I don't think that's the case. I want to spend some time on looking at the family tree and chronology because I think it turns up some questions. It also highlights why some margin of error may need to be read into some of the results.

For instance if we take what is being said then we would have:

* Akhenaten reigned for 17 years (I've used his ascension as origin)
* His daughter Ankhesenamun (KV21A) was born in year 4 and was aged 21 - 25 at death
* His son Tutankhamun was born in year 12, ascended the throne at 9 and died aged 19.

As can be seen, that would give us two interesting things. There would be an inter-regnal gap between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun suggesting that there must have been another Pharaoh, possibly two. That's even if we discount co-regencies. But, if there was an intervening Pharaoh, why should be believe that the mummy in KV55 is Akhenaten rather than this other Pharaoh (Smenkhare?)?


Ishtar said...

All good points! Thank you....I imagine that there was all sort of jiggery pokery and jockeying for power going on among the Amun priesthood during those years and Tutenkhamum may well have been installed as their boy puppet king, even though he was sick and disabled, rather like the Roman empire and Claudius.

Anonymous said...

I watched the Discovery show last night and will review it again later. I was very disappointed. I can see the proof as to the finding of parents. I do not entire see proof that KV55 is Ankhenaten. Sorry, Zahi, I just didn't see the glyphs on the gold foil. And just because Zahi says it, does not make it so. Even if he thinks it does.

Andie said...

I'd be very intersted in posting a review here if you write one up? Andie.

Anonymous said...

Let me watch it again and the one tonight. I'll take motes and see what I can do. Wonder when you will get it in the UK.