Stories tagged ancient Egypt

Hot stuff: New testing on a fragment of King Tut's mummy reveals his remains caught fire after being entombed in his sarcophagus.
Hot stuff: New testing on a fragment of King Tut's mummy reveals his remains caught fire after being entombed in his sarcophagus.Courtesy Jon Bodsworth
We've documented the travails leading to the demise of young King Tut many times here on Science Buzz. But headlines today just add more fuel to the King Tut woe fire (so to speak). Tests done on a small fragment of Tut's mummy that is held in Great Britain show that his mummy caught fire. And that fire, researchers believe, occurred after Tut was mummified and entombed in his sarcophagus through spontaneous combustion from the mixture of embalming oils, wrapping fabric and oxygen. A virtual autopsy done as part of this research also concludes that Tut died from being run over by a chariot. All in all, not a very good day of news for young King Tut.

Corornary artery disease is often presented as a modern disease that has developed due to fatty, salty diets. But 3500-year-old Egyptian Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon is now the oldest known sufferer of the disease.

Even as the King Tut exhibit continues its run here at the Science Museum of Minnesota, headlines around the world continue to keep Egyptology at the forefront of people's attention, particularly in light of the recent political turmoil in Egypt.

Here's an interesting story of recent lost and found about one of the trumpets found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

And the head of Egyptian archaeology efforts, Zahi Hawass, finds himself entangled with post-revolution fallout with his connections to former deposed president Hosni Mubarak and other controversies. Here are a couple reports from the Washington Post and CNN.

And here's an interesting slideshow of Hawass doing the various aspects of his job.

It's no secret that King Tut, even being just a boy pharaoh, had a thing for the bling. But now researchers have discovered that his footwear was not just stylish, but sensible. Research this year discovered that among Tut's many medical problems was a club foot. And now, new discoveries show that he had special orthopedic sandals that looked good, too. Click here to learn more and see a Tut sandal style show.

Feb
16
2010

What's wrong with Tut?: CT scans and DNA tests conducted over the past two years have uncovered several major problems that contributed to King Tut's death: malaria, broken leg, a club foot and restricted blood flow to Tut's left foot.
What's wrong with Tut?: CT scans and DNA tests conducted over the past two years have uncovered several major problems that contributed to King Tut's death: malaria, broken leg, a club foot and restricted blood flow to Tut's left foot.Courtesy Sanandreas
Being a boy king of Egypt had it’s share of downs along with all the gold and glitter.

CT scans and DNA testing conducted on the mummy to King Tutankhamun (King Tut for short) show that the boy pharaoh was suffering from several medical problems at the time of his death at age 19.

The contemporary medical testing shows that Tut had a cleft palate and a club foot and was suffering from malaria and a broken leg at the time that he died some 3,300 years ago. The results were announced today and will be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Medical experts have also been able to untangle the web of intrigue as to who Tut’s parents were, sort of. DNA shows that Tut is the son of the previous pharaoh, Akhenaten, and his likely mother is an unidentified sister of Akhenaten. In total, 16 mummies underwent CT scanning to get a better picture of who Tut was and what the times were like when he was alive.

The 21st Century testing was able to answer more than half of Tut’s paternity questions by identifying his father. And while we know that Akhenaten’s sister was Tut’s mother, her mummified remains confirm Tut’s DNA, her identity is still unknown. It was not uncommon in New Kingdom Egypt for pharaohs to marry to their sisters.

The findings put to bed once and for all long-held speculation that Tut was murdered. That idea was fueled by a hole in his skull, but a 2005 scan of Tut’s mummy showed that hole was made as part of the mummification process.

The majesty that we associated with Tut based on the ornate furnishings found in his burial chamber may be a far cry from what life was like for the finals days of the boy king. The medical testing shows that Tut was a sickly teen who was done in by complications from the broken leg and malaria in his brain.

On top of that, Tut had a club foot that likely required him to use a cane. In fact, 130 canes or walking sticks have been found among his burial goods, with some of the canes showing wear and tear. Tut also suffered from Kohler's disease in which lack of blood flow was slowly destroying the bones of his left foot.

Another theory cleared up through the medical tests: Tut did not suffer from any medical conditions that would have given him female body characteristics or misshapen bones.

Want to learn more? Here’s a Q&A with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, about the new Tut findings.

And here is even more in-depth coverage from National Geographic.

Bummed out that Tut was so sickly and need a pick-me-up? Do you really need a shot of Steve Martin's "King Tut" song right now? Enjoy (with a special guest appearance by Fonzie [aka Henry Winkler]). Maybe Steve needs to add a new verse to include all this new medical information.

Tut's ancestory to be revealed: Later this month, authorities will be releasing the DNA test findings conducted on the mummy of King Tut. The research could determine who his ancestors were.
Tut's ancestory to be revealed: Later this month, authorities will be releasing the DNA test findings conducted on the mummy of King Tut. The research could determine who his ancestors were.Courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
In what sounds more like a script from a Maury Povich show, archaeology authorities in Egypt have announced they will be sharing the findings of DNA testing done on the mummy of King Tut later this month.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has announced that a news conference Feb. 17 at the Cairo Museum will share the results of the testing, which could include determining the ancestory of the boy pharaoh.

Egyptian archaeologists this week announced the discovery of nearly 30 mummies among 52 tombs in Lahun, a site about 75 miles south of Cairo. Click here to see samples of the new discoveries and learn why mummy coffins are decorated the ways they are.

Apr
01
2009

Calling ancient Egypt: Believe it or not, archaeologists in Egypt have discovered this crude device believed to be the first cellular signal transmitting device.
Calling ancient Egypt: Believe it or not, archaeologists in Egypt have discovered this crude device believed to be the first cellular signal transmitting device.Courtesy GAP archaeology specialists
With an avalanche of new archaeological discoveries coming from Egypt in recent weeks, this latest find has thrown all previous ideas of ancient Egyptian culture on end.

Archaeologists working at the site of the Giza pyramids just west of Cairo have found evidence of what is believed to be primitive cellular telephone technology. While ancient Egyptians were considered to be way ahead of their time in architecture, engineering and language development, previous work in Egypt has not shown any signs of electronic communication potential.

Here is the fully annotated report from the Giza Archaeology Project’s (GAP) website.

Researchers admit they were slow to report their findings since people would find it so hard to believe. In fact, they couldn’t fully believe it themselves until they did more analysis.

Back in December, they discovered a tomb wall rendering of a device that looks a lot a cell phone. But they quickly turned their attentions to other meanings for the symbol since it couldn’t have possibly been a telecommunications tool. Then in mid-February, members of the same research team looking in a newly discovered burial chamber in the Pyramid of Khafre found an unbelievable discovery: a wooden device that looks similar to a cell phone was mixed in among the gold and treasures buried with the royal dead at the scene.

“At first we thought it was simply a religious relic,” said lead research Mike Lohnor of GAP. “Then one of our more nerdy archaeologists started poking around on it during his coffee break and discovered there was a crude network of wires in a hollowed out area inside the device.”

Doing some chemical tests on the unit, the archaeology team found that the wood was actually a special strain of cedar that has properties that conduct, and actually amplify electricity.

Click here to see photos and diagrams of the inside the wood cell phone.

“The network of wires inside the wood block was arranged in such a way that when held out in the sun at about a 45-degree angle, a fairly strong electrical field could be induced,” Lohnor said. “While the Egyptians hadn’t figured out a speaker system to tie into this electrical format, they did have a ten-digit numerical keypad that allowed them to send coded messages.

Tomb art confirmation: This piece of tomb art inside the Pyramid of Khafre confirmed researcher's beliefs that they had found a crude text-messaging device.
Tomb art confirmation: This piece of tomb art inside the Pyramid of Khafre confirmed researcher's beliefs that they had found a crude text-messaging device.Courtesy GAP archaeology specialists
“I essence, the leaders of ancient Egypt were text messaging each other,” he added.

Just a couple days after finding the inner workings of the wood device, archaeologists doing more work inside the Pyramid of Khafre found a narrow vertical passage leading to the tip of the pyramid. Inside was another tight web of crude copper wires.

“So the pyramids were serving a dual purpose,” said Lohnor. “As we’ve known for a long time, they were burial monuments. But it also appears they were cell phone signal towers.”

Click here to see photos of the antenna shaft.

Hieroglyphic experts have been brought on to the project to see if there are any recorded samples of these ancient text messages might have said.

“We’re really at a loss to figure out how these text messages were used,” Lohnor said. “Like a lot of ancient Egyptian language, it was probably only used by the elite: the ruling authorities and the religious leaders. Maybe it was a quick way to communicate with masons working in quarries in Upper Egypt, or a way for the Pharaoh to get updates from generals in the battlefield. We won’t really know until we can get our hands on more message samples.”

So far, the only text samples that have been uncovered are a warning to not text while driving a chariot and another passage noting that there was a daily limit of 10 texts per day to vote for Egyptian Idol.

And if you’ve made it this far without figuring it out: Happy April Fool’s Day!!!

Mar
18
2009

Rule like an Egyptian: This statue of Hatshepsut can be seen as at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She posed as a man to rule as an Egyptian pharaoh from  1479-1458 B.C.
Rule like an Egyptian: This statue of Hatshepsut can be seen as at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She posed as a man to rule as an Egyptian pharaoh from 1479-1458 B.C.Courtesy User:Postdlf
There were a lot of women trying to break the political glass ceiling last year. Think Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin. And while their efforts were noteworthy, they were far behind the curve when it came to female leadership of a great nation.

April's National Geographic has a huge profile on Hatshepsut, the female ruler of Egypt from 1479 to 1458 B.C. who actually took on the appearance of a man to be able to lead the nation. That story is amazing enough, but the National Geographic piece goes on to tell about all the modern science that was used on a random, anonymous mummy to pin-point that it was the remains of this famous Egyptian leader.

It's a great summary of a project I've been a part of in the past year. We've been creating an exhibit called "Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science." It will open Memorial Day time at COSI – a museum in Columbus, Ohio – and eventually travel here to SMM sometime on its six-year tour. A good portion of that exhibit will focus on how researchers can use modern technology – CT scanning and rapid prototyping to name two – to gather information on mummies without ever unwrapping them or doing physical damage to them.

If you're like a lot of people, you'll find ancient Egypt fascinating and want to check out this story on Hatshepsut or the Lost Egypt exhibit. Why do you think ancient Egyptian culture is so cool? Or what do you think of Hatshepsut's unique story? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.

While it has all the trappings of a campy daytime TV show, science will actually be work now that researchers have found two mummified fetuses in the tomb of King Tut. Read this to learn about how they'll be analyzed and what Egyptologists hope to learn from these discoveries.