2.19.2010

Commentary on the recent Tutankhamun research Part 4: Everything I Couldn't Fit in the Other Sections

If you've stuck with it this long, congratulations and thank you!



One of the awesome things about mummies is that you get not only skeletons, which themselves can provide a truly amazing wealth of information about society in general and individuals in particular, you also get at least partial preservation of some soft tissues.  This gets you even more information.

Nearly everyone in both the 11 Tutankamun potential-relatives group and the less or non-related control group show signs of scoliosis or even kyphoscoliosis (abnormal curvature both side to side as in scoliosis and also front to back).  Everyone has at least some minor dental issues. Yuya and Thuya both had malaria, but lived into their 50s or 60s.  Amenhotep III had a club-foot, as did the two women from KV21 and Tut.  Tut and Akhenaten had cleft palates.  And Akhenaten seemed to have some bone issues.  Several individuals had what is being called “incisional hernia.”  Unfortunately there is no further information about this so whether this means hernias related to prior abdominal surgery (which seems to be the most common definition of “incisional hernia”) or something else is unclear.  Dammit.

Pandemic
There idea of some sort of epidemic striking near the end of Akhenaten's reign has been put forth for years. Something sucked big-time in Hattusa and seems to have made its way west to Egypt.   It's been postulated to have caused the seemingly sudden end of the reign and the disappearance of key figures like Nefertiti and Akhenaten himself, and possibly his mother Tiye.  The genetic analysis, though, only showed evidence of malaria.
That doesn't, of course, rule out the epidemic, it just means that what the disease in question was is still open to debate and speculation.


KV35YL – the “Younger Lady” - aka Tut's Momma
The “younger lady” had her face freakin' smashed in, people.  I think most of us assumed that was post-mortem damage, maybe occurring in the course of a tomb robbery, partial tomb collapse, or when she was moved from her original resting spot into the KV35 cache.  Instead, it appears that the cause of death was having her face smashed in.  Damn.  I can't find any more details indicating whether this was from falling, from being hit and if so, with what, etc.  Also, we don't have the greatest idea of timeline here – did she die before or after Tutankhamun became king or died?  Her precise identity is still unclear.  She is probably not Nefertiti or Kiya but may be one of the daughters of Amenhotep III that he didn't marry, such as Nebetiah or Beketaten as mentioned in the JAMA article.  Not being particularly interested in the Amarna period, I know their names and that's about it.  We totally needed another
mystery woman.
Warning:  Black and white photo of the mummy of the Younger Lady after the jump.  If you're squeamish, you might want to close your eyes.  I honestly can't judge as I like digging up skeletons.


Speaking of digging up skeletons, I wonder if this will reignite any of the Joann "Banned from Further Work in Egypt" Fletcher drama from a few years ago when she said the younger lady had to be Nefertiti because, uh, because and Zahi got all "noooo, someone got more screentime!  I wave my hat threateningly at you!" and so on.


Tiye - KV35 "Elder Lady"
According to the JAMA article, Tiye had mild scoliosis (curvature of the spine), an incisional hernia (Gahh, what does that mean?  Am I cracked-out enough to email the corresponding author?), and "struma."  My handy-dandy Google/Wiki search shows two possible conditions called "struma" one is a skin disease caused by the same little bastard bacteria that cause tuberculosis.  Also known as scrofula.   The other condition is goitre - enlarged neck caused by swelling of the thyroid gland.  Now, also according to the JAMA article, none of the mummies examined was positive for tuberculosis.  So, I will tentatively suggest that Tiye had a thyroid problem.  The thyroid can swell up from lack of iodine, and/or when too much or too little thyroid hormone is floating around in the body, so what caused hers is unclear right now.  I'm going to guess iodine insufficiency.  A peek at the old photograph and the new CT suggests maybe an enlarged neck to go with the goitre theory that I am at present mostly pulling out of my ass.  As I won't get said ass sued if I show you nice old black and white photo, here you go:

Pictured:  Tiye, early Pantene haircare spokesmodel.  Keep your hair shiny and vibrant.  For centuries

So, thyroid problem.  I have something in common with her!  Go me!  Also, if memory serves, Tiye was all about some henna and had some wickedly orange hair as a result.


Hatshepsut
The mummy of Hatshepsut was part of the control group and re-analysis of her remains indicate a severe dental abscess as well as a metasticizing bone tumor her pelvis.  Either could have caused her death.  Ouch again.

3 comments:

Roxie said...

Now I know why the samurai Knitter loves you! Awesome stuff!!

Barbara said...

This is just great. More please! You rock!!!!!!

Alwen said...

Fascinating stuff!

When you get that time machine working, I'm standing in line for it. I have my own list of people in the past I want to go slap!