Commentary on the recent Tutankhamun research Part 1

Apparently information was leaked early.  I was down with a cold and therefore not up to saying much but "wow, really?" the past few days.
I've since got my hands on the Journal of the American Medical Association articles.  I'm kind of pissed that the meat of the info is in a restricted access journal, but that's a bitch-fest for a different time.
There is a ton of info to be gleaned from the information presented.  Some long-standing questions answered and now some new ones brought to light.
I think I'm going to post this in pieces and even then, it's going to be long.

First of all, they looked at a set of 11 royal mummies all thought to date roughly to the Amarna Period - late 18th Dynasty to determine possible familial relations among them.  Of these 11, only 4 were definitively identified (as in their names and titles) prior to the study.  A further 6 mummies from the early 18th Dynasty were examined as a control group.  Most of the interest and information is related to the study set of 11, but there were a few bits of interesting information gleaned from the re-examination of the control group.

Remains examined with known identities prior to recent analysis:
Tutankhamun – KV62
Amenhotep III – KV35
Yuya – KV46, father of Tiye, chief royal wife of Amenhotep III
Thuya – KV46, mother of Tiye

Remains examined with only speculated identities prior to analysis (new identifications in bold):
KV55 – male, age 35-45, speculated to be Smenkhare or Akhenaten.  Akhenaten
KV35YL – (YL = younger lady), speculated to be Nefertiti, Kiya, or some other royal lady.  Tutankhamun's mother and full sister to Akhenaten (specific identity still unknown, possibly Nebetiah or Beketaten, NOT Nefertiti or Kiya as neither of them are attested as daughters of Amenhotep III )
KV35EL – (EL = elder lady), speculated to be Nefertiti or Tiye.  Tiye
KV62 – 2 female stillborn fetuses buried with Tutankahmun, speculated to be his daughters or some type of “ritual offering” to ensure rebirth or eternal youth.  Daughters of Tutankhamun
KV21A - 18th Dynasty royal woman.  Possibly the mother of Tut's daughters, but data insufficient for definite identification as their mother and/or as Ahkhesenamun
KV21B – 18th Dynasty royal woman (?)

Some other notes:

Aside from Tutankhamun and Yuya and Thuya (who were buried together), none of these individuals was found in their original tomb.  The numbers given (KV##) stand for King's Valley plus the tomb number, which are more or less in order based on the order in which they were found/excavated.  Tutankhamun, for example, was buried in KV62.  Sixty-two was the highest KV number until the very recent discovery of KV63, the late 18th Dynasty burial cache thingie.  Because Tut was also found in KV62, we could call his mummy by that same designation, but most people don't bother, especially since we know who he is.
The others, however, were almost certainly not in their original tombs.  Robberies were a major issue in the Valley of the Kings, especially during times of unrest and loss of central administrative control as happened at the end of the New Kingdom and at various other periods.  From time to time, the officials in charge of the necropolis would gather up the mummies from disturbed tombs and whatever easily portable funerary equipment came to hand and move them all to what they hoped was a safer spot.  Those they could identify they did, usually with a quickly written note.  There are two significant caches.  
One is the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320) located near but not in the Valley of the Kings.  It held quite a diverse group – several 17th Dynasty Theban kings and queens, a few Ramessid kings (19th - 20th Dynasties) and a group from the Third Intermediate Period and people of various high ranks from the Second Intermediate Period, New Kingdom, and Third Intermediate Period.  The cache was originally found by some local men in the Abd el-Rassul family in around 1881 and they began slowly selling items from the cache.  Of course, people started to notice the appearance of some very nice pieces on the antiquities market and an investigation, including some brutal tactics by the local officials led to the Abd el-Rassuls.  The actually held out under severe interrogation, but one  of the brothers decided they'd do better to fess up, get what money they could, and quit having to worry about it, so they went to the authorities and the Antiquities Service was called in.
The second cache is KV35, originally the tomb of Amenhotep II, was found by Victor Loret in 1898.  It contained a few 18th Dynasty royals, including Amenhotep II and III and a few Ramessids of the 19th and 20th Dynasties.  Three of the mummies recently studied were found here – Amenhotep III and the two ladies called the “Elder Lady” and the “Younger Lady.”

Later today or tomorrow I'll get more into the meat of discussion about the recent findings.  

1 comment:

Alwen said...

Yeah, I'm re-reading you three years later, because Egyptology snark, yay!