So, I gather from commentary on some of the other Egyptology blogs I keep an eye on plus the Discovery Channel feed that there is already controversy regarding the results of the DNA testing. I'm having a series of brain foggy days (if I haven't beaten new people over the head with it already, I have health issues that occasionally affect my cognition) so take this with a grain of salt:
As far as I can tell a lot of the controversy isn't so much about the contents of the JAMA article so much as what has been said publicly, primarily by Zahi Hawass, about what the results mean. Sigh. For anyone who knows/knows of ZH, this isn't all that surprising.
I suspect a lot of the controversy has been further fueled by media reports which are themselves in many cases based not on the actual JAMA article, but on press releases and other interviews.
I haven't seen a whole lot of the secondary stuff primarily because a) my TV isn't hooked up for broadcast/cable and I'm usually disinclined to watch them on my computer; b) I tend not to watch or read interviews with officials because they frequently just irritate me and while that can be entertaining, well...
Anyway, what I gather is that there are issues regarding the id of KV55 dude as Akhenaten. Partially because of some chronological quibbles regarding length of reigns and the projected age of the skeletal remains, partially because being son of Amenhotep III and Tiye plus father of Tutankhamun doesn't necessarily automatically = Akhenaten so far as some people are concerned. Part of this stems from the method of chromosomal analysis, part of it from the possibility that the mummy of Amenhotep III is incorrectly identified, partly on the basis of what I will call here the Smenkhare issue (who was he, what was he, etc. etc.)
For example, one person has suggested an alternative pedigree in which the mummy of Amenhotep III is actually Akhenaten and KV55 is Smenkhare.
At the moment, I am willing to trust the JAMA article as it goes and I am not inclined to think that it's totally incorrect. I am also totally willing to be proved wrong. Playing with ancient DNA is fraught with complications and issues and is a new thing for everyone. The history and familial relationships of the Amarna period are all kinds of confusing and complicated. The history/news as entertainment environment surrounding this whole issue doesn't help matters at all as we have people giving interviews saying some things, an article that says something else entirely or is at least not as concretely sure about things, plus personalities and pet theories and so on involved that make things even more whacked out.
I'm not prepared to get into that here for the moment.
I reported the results from the JAMA article as I understood them and tried to put them into historical context and tried to avoid too much theorizing based on them.
If you want some of the more fun and informed theorizing and other commentary, here are some links to blogs with some goodies (and links to yet more goodies):
News from the Valley of the Kings
I don't have the energy at the moment to evaluate all the issues (srsly, makes me slightly dizzy; pedigree charts are annoying enough, but add in a heaping helping of incest and I'm just like "dude, they were all fucking each other and then they died, the end!"), but if anyone has particular questions and wants to ask me, feel free.
In other news, I'm hoping to try doing a regular article once a week or so, beginning with the Predynastic. I toyed with the idea of setting up a separate blog to do it, but I'm too damn lazy for that. So, I'm leaving it here. The subtitle of the blog is "A Selection of Craftiness and Randomness" after all. So, it'll be like a treasure hunt or a dig or something - sift through the blathering and "holy shit, I'm broken, where is my warranty!" and dog stories and amigurumi photos for the Egyptology. Bwahahaha.