Archaeology Monday

Hello faithful reader(s)Today we are investigating Egypt, land of 1000 mysteries (or is it land of 1000 pyramids? maybe lakes? I have no idea – probably not lakes though). This is the most interesting news I have found of Egyptian archaeology over the past year or so.”King Tut’s curse” excited the world after the discovery in 1922 of the ancient pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. Lord Carnarvon, a British sponsor of archaeology in Egypt, died shortly after attending the tomb’s opening, inspiring speculation that supernatural forces were at work. Possible explanations: ancient, toxic pathogens from the sealed tomb; foodstuffs—meats, vegetables, and fruits (left with the dead to be brought to the afterlife), which may have attracted insects, molds, [bacteria], and those kinds of things; mold carried by the ancient mummies, including at least two potentially dangerous species—Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus flavus, which can cause allergic reactions ranging from congestion to bleeding in the lungs; respiratory-assaulting bacteria like Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus from the tomb walls; ammonia gas, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide inside sealed sarcophagi; fungus that can cause the influenza-like respiratory disease histoplasmosis from bat droppings.Conclusion? He was old, he didn’t get sick after his first exposure to the tomb months earlier, and he was already chronically ill. At least he didn’t live to see Tut all namby pambied up.This article sums up what’s been going on with Tut’s head. With 3 independent modes of analysis, scientists were able to come up with a pretty good picture of what he must of looked like. Conclusion: not murdered, not bashed in head. Possible leg injury led to fatal infection. The link also provides that lovely picture – eyelashes, hair, and kohl were added later.Here we have the unearthing of the first mummified lion ever found in an Egyptian tomb; the tomb of Tut’s wet nurse, to be exact. Archaeologists knew of cemeteries for baboons, ibis, fish, cats, dogs, and crocodiles, they had never found lions buried.Lion bones have been found in the city of Abydos, but this one was particularly special. Perched on a rock and surrounded by other animal bones lay a virtually complete skeleton of a feline creature. The skeleton was in excellent condition, except that the skull had been partly crushed. The large size indicated it was a male, and researchers believe it was probably kept in captivity before dying of old age. Although no linen bandages were found, they believe the lion had been mummified.

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