CyberNews 06 (14 April 2006)

1)    King Tut Slain by Sword in the Knee…another wild one
2)    Ancient Egyptian records provide clues to ophthalmic care
3)     Cosmetic recipes from ancient Egypt
4)    Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in Ancient Egypt
5)    Stone Age Cemetery and Artifacts Unearthed in Sahara
6)    On-Line Egyptian Dictionaries
7)    Mark Lehner and Giza Plateau Mapping Project have new web site    
8)    Tourism piece on Sohag, with mention of antiquities
9)    Treasures for the taking…early looting of Egypt
10)   Mysterious mummy lies in Geology Hall
11)   Adventures in the Step Pyramid


1a)    King Tut Slain by Sword in the Knee…another wild one

Eduard Egarter Vigl, the caretaker of Ötzi the Iceman, and Paul Gostner, head of radiology at Bolzano General Hospital were both members of the Egyptian-led research team that last year begun examining King Tut's CT scan images. They found compelling new evidence for a deadly infection after examining three-dimensional images of the left knee and foot, the local daily Alto Adige reported.

The CT scan revealed that King Tut's kneecap was broken, as well as his left foot. Moreover, the embalming liquid had entered the spaces within the knee fracture, a clear sign that the pharaoh was mummified when the wounds were still open.

"In the left knee we found traces of gold leaf decorations, probably depicting birds. They were deformed because they entered the knee violently," Egarter told Alto Adige.

According to the Italian doctors, it was likely that King Tut suffered a violent blow, most likely by a sword. The blow would have lodged gold fragments from the decorations of the pharaoh's armour or dress into the knee. Shortly after, infection set in, bringing Tutankhamun to death at the age of about 19.

Discovery News

1b)    Tutankhamun was killed by a sword blow to the knee, Italian experts claim.  Two doctors from Bolzano University, longtime researchers into Italy's famed Iceman, were part of an international team that recently took another look at Egypt's most famous mummy .

The group found traces of gold leaf bearing animal symbols in the late pharaoah's right kneecap, leading them to surmise that it had fallen off Tutankhamun's raiments and lodged in a hole during mummification .

The hole in question appears to have been caused by a sword, they say .
The two Italian researchers, Eduard Egarter and Paul Gostner, have conducted several studies into Italy's 5,000-year-old Iceman mummy .


1c)     Eduard Egarter Vigl, caretaker of Vtzi the Iceman, and Paul Gostner, head of radiology at Bolzano General Hospital, members of the Egyptian-led research team that conducted study on the Pharaoh's CT scan images said Tutankhamen suffered from a deadly infectious disease in his left knee.

Three dimensional examination of the images of the left knee and foot revealed that Tutankhamen's kneecap as well as his left foot was broken, and the embalming liquid had entered spaces within the knee fracture, a clear sign that the pharaoh was mummified when the wounds were still open.

According to the duo, Tutankhamen suffered a violent blow, most likely by a sword, the resultant impact lodging gold fragments from the decorations of his armour or dress into the knee. Shortly after this infection set in, killing him at the premature age of 19.

“In the left knee we found traces of gold leaf decorations, probably depicting birds. They were deformed because they entered the knee violently,” Discovery News quoted Egarter as saying to the daily Alto Adige.



2)    Ancient Egyptian records provide clues to ophthalmic care

Most of the medical information from this early period comes from two papyrus scrolls, each of which is named after its archaeological discoverer or the person who purchased it.

Chronic trachoma was most likely a serious disease of the period. Eye blurriness in both acute and chronic forms is mentioned in the Ebers papyrus. The condition was treated with oily or fatty ointments, which contained myrrh, resin, malachite, yellow ocher, and red natron. These treatments were used by Greek and Arab physicians later.

Leukoma or a white spot of the cornea was treated with a variety of animal galls, specifically that of the tortoise. Chalazion, or little grain, was treated with ointments. Pterygium and cataracts also were mentioned in both of these scrolls but there was no indication that surgery was ever considered in either of these disorders. Bending of the hairs of the lid (trichiasis) and eversion of the flesh (ectropion) involved pulling the hairs out of the lid margin when they became too long and injured the eye. Other remedies for lid disorders included sulfite of antimony and a variety of copper solutions. Milk, blood, urine, and animal excrements were also part of the ancient Egyptian pharmacopoeia.

Blindness was also depicted in Egyptian paintings and on monuments. It is well-known that blind musicians were admitted to the harems of kings and nobles. One of the most famous paintings of the blind from 1500 B.C. is that of a blind harpist with seven blind choral singers sitting behind him.

ophthalmology times


3)     Cosmetic recipes from ancient Egypt

Two natural compounds bound with some animal grease were identified: crushed ore of black galena (PbS) and cerussite (PbCO3). Galena is still the basic constituent of many khols traditionally used in North Africa, Asia and the Middle-East nowadays. White cerussite enters the composition of gray-to-white make-up. More surprisingly our analyses revealed the presence of two more white constituents: laurionite (PbOHCl) and phosgenite (Pb2Cl2CO3). These products are very rare in nature and could not have been extracted from the mines in sufficient quantities for the preparation of the cosmetics. These products could have been formed by chemical alteration and ageing, assuming the original content of the make-up receptacles had been in contact with carbonated and chlorinated waters. However, no clear trace and no evidence of such alteration processes could be found in any of the 49 recipients.

Therefore one major conclusion of this work is that laurionite and phosgenite were intentionally manufactured by the Egyptians. The texts of Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides (first century AD) report on a number of medical recipes. In particular some of them refer to the use of lead oxide, that was ground and diluted into salted and sometimes carbonated (natron) water. This wet process was mimicked in the laboratory. By maintaining the solution at a neutral pH, a slow reaction yields white precipitates of either laurionite or phosgenite. This is the first indication that wet chemistry has been practiced since 2000 BC.

Why should these white lead derivatives PbOHCl and Pb2Cl2CO3 be added to black PbS, since white cerussite PbCO3 was sufficient to vary and tune the cosmetics tint from black to white? One should consider that since the earliest periods of Egyptian history, the cosmetics have been intensively used not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for their therapeutic and magic or religious properties. The Greco-Roman texts mention that the white precipitates synthesized from PbO are good for eye and skin care. These lead compounds could be used as a bactericide and as a protection for the eye against exposure to the sun's rays.


4)    Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in Ancient Egypt

The course: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in Ancient Egypt. 3 credits. Freshmen only. Offered by the Department of Near Eastern Studies in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Cross-listed with Women, Gender and Sexuality. The instructor: Betsy Bryan, Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and chair of the Near Eastern Studies Department. Bryan specializes in the Egyptian New Kingdom (18th to 20th dynasties), spanning the time from 1567 B.C.E. to 1085 B.C.E. Her many publications include The Quest for Immortality: Hidden Treasures of Egypt, which she co-edited; the book was published in conjunction with a National Gallery of Art exhibition by the same name for which Bryan was guest curator. A Web site that chronicles her excavation each January at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, garners thousands of hits each winter.

Photos from Bryan's excavations and her related travels throughout Egypt are important teaching tools in this course. Using her laptop computer and a projector, Bryan lights up one wall of the classroom with slides of tomb art. Parsing the images, she helps her students see that the paintings are rich with sexual symbolism. For example, students learn that lettuce is featured in several scenes depicting feasts because the vegetable was considered an aphrodisiac. Figs appear in the paintings to echo love poems of the day, when the fruit was often shared between lovers. Actions associated with amorous behavior are also all over the tomb walls; women fixing their hair, beds being made and wives handing arrows to their husbands are all considered to be sexual gestures, Bryan says.

"I'm not gonna lie — what grabbed my attention about this seminar was the name. I thought it sounded incredibly interesting, so I came to class ready for a good time. It's a lot of reading, but it's interesting, so you breeze right by it. Professor Bryan is great; she's really funny in class and always makes sure the class discussions are really interesting."
— Chad Williams, 19, international relations major, Berwyn, Pa.

Johns Hopkins Gazette


5)    Stone Age Cemetery and Artifacts Unearthed in Sahara

Archaeologists have excavated a trove of Stone Age human skeletons and artifacts on the shores of an ancient lake in the Sahara. The seven nearby sites include an extensive cemetery and represent one of the largest and best preserved concentrations of ancient skeletons and artifacts ever found in the region, researchers say. Harpoons, fishhooks, pottery, jewelry, stone tools, and other artifacts pepper the ancient lakeside settlement. The objects were left by early communities that once thrived on the former lake's abundant fish and shellfish.

"They were living on a diet rich in catfish [and] mollusks," said Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist and National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence. "It was a place you could walk out the door of your hut amid the sand dunes and perhaps see hippos, elephants, giraffes, and crocodiles," he added.

The team's radiometric analysis is not yet complete. But based on artifacts at the site, Garcea made a preliminary estimate that the area was occupied "between 10,000 and 5,000 or 4,000 years ago."

National Geographic


6)    On-Line Egyptian Dictionaries

Online AE dictionaries
--  Jean-François Champollion, Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique, Firmin-Didot frères, Paris, 1841-1843. Edited by Jacques-Joseph Champollion-Figeac. XXXVI, 487 pp. - Based on Champollion's own notes.

-- Adolf Erman, Hermann Grapow, Ägyptisches Handwörterbuch, Reuther & Reichard, Berlin, 1921. VIII, 232 pp.

-- Das Digitalisierte Zettelarchiv des Wörterbuches der ägyptischen Sprache [The digitized slip archive of the "Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache"]
German introduction:
English introduction:

-- Walter Ewing Crum, A Coptic Dictionary, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1939.
XXIV, 953 pp.

-- Adolf Erman, Hermann Grapow, Wörterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache, vol. I-V, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 1971 (reprinted from Leipzig, 1926-1931). XVI, 583 pp.; 506 pp.; 489 pp.; 569 pp.; 639 pp. Vol. VI. Deutsch-aegyptisches Wörterverzeichnis, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 1950. VIII, 256 pp. - "Die Belegstellen" are missing. - seperate pdf-files, all in all: 75.6 MB  [*]

[* Wondering about copyrights, I contacted the staff of the Altägyptisches Wörterbuch and they said that they have no problems with these Wb scans. They will, however, in time put a digital version of the Wörterbuch on the WWW themselves that will allow, for example, to click directly on the references ("Belegstellen") on every page to navigate from there through the sheets ("Zettel") of their archive. So this will be a functionally superior version to the mere image-digitalisation of the pages on this Russian site. AKE]

    (As reported by Michael Tilgner in Weekly EEF News summaries)

[Note from Egyptology Resources editor: don't forget that a very simple dictionary based on the Beinlich Wordlist has been online on this site since 1995!]


7)    Mark Lehner and Giza Plateau Mapping Project have new website
The above is a new website, which is the official Web site of the Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), specifically Dr. Mark Lehner and the Giza Plateau Mapping Project. It is a good looking site, with some nice features, including a search engine, details on current projects (including an interactive map of the Lost City), an overview of the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), a page showing highlights of some of the artefacts found, and a "Resources" page. The Resources page offers free document downloads (in PDF format) of, amongst other things, AERAgram, the official newsletter of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, and three excellent articles from Journals, written by Mark Lehner. Good photographs appear throughout. AERA was established in1985 "for the purpose of funding and facilitating the research of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project", and there are details on the site about how to donate to the Project.

Posted on the ‘Egyptology News” website


8)    Tourism piece on Sohag, with mention of antiquities

Sohag is also, in and of itself, intensely beautiful, both in terms of its impressive, varied natural and historical scenery and in terms of the warmth, genuine hospitality, frankness and cultural integrity of its inhabitants, who genuinely wanted us to be there and to talk and write about their region when we returned home. Most Egyptian tourism websites and guidebooks catering to the global traveller tend to skip Sohag altogether, while the few that do include it only do so insofar as mentioning two or three of its historical sites, while failing to mention places to stay and less frequented and obvious sites of great artistic and cultural interest to anyone with a taste for beauty, politics, history or culture.

Though the town of Sohag indeed has very little to offer to the eager traveller, Akhmim, a much older town just 10 kilometres away from the governorate's capital centre and just a bridge across from its outskirts, proved to be the ideal start to the journey. Until the dawn of the 20th century, Akhmim was a more important town than Sohag, and both the presence of an important Pharaonic temple at its heart and its modern-day bustling production and trade bear witness to its significance as an ancient town.

Al-Ahram Weekly Online


9)    Treasures for the taking…early looting of Egypt

Muhammad Ali used antiquities as a diplomatic lever. His ambitious plan to modernise Egypt required foreign expertise, and sensitive as he was to Western fascination with the country's ancient monuments, he charmed professionals to Egypt by offering them a free hand to collect whatever they wished. It was no difficult task to gather beautiful objects in those days -- statues or parts of statues, painted reliefs from collapsed walls of tombs and temples lay all over the place, and the desert winds revealed burial grounds that could be dug up for mummies, sarcophagi and funerary objects.

(Historical piece on early collecting in Egypt)

Al-Ahram Weekly Online


10)    Mysterious mummy lies in Geology Hall

Having been discovered in a closest at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, this mummy now sits in Geology Hall on the Old Queens campus. Although now at home in the Rutgers Geology Hall, the female mummy that resides on the Old Queens campus building spent many years in a far more undignified place: one of the closets of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

"We know it came from Northern Egypt, but that's about it," said William Selden, the collections manager of the Geology Hall. Other than that and the fact it dates to about 320 or 330 B.C., Rutgers experts are unaware of exactly where the mummy originated from, or to what family the woman belonged.

A missionary who had traveled to Egypt brought the mummy to New Jersey in the early 1700s, back when Rutgers was still a school of the Dutch Reformed Church, Selden said. When Rutgers and the church went their separate ways in 1766, the seminary kept the mummy.

The Dailey Targum 1037715.shtml?norewrite&


11)    Adventures in the Step Pyramid (by Zahi Hawass

People say I live dangerously because they have seen my exciting adventures in many documentary films. They see me entering shafts and tombs, and also pyramids. In one section of a live show I did few years ago with FOX TV I entered one of the queens' pyramids located south of the Menkaure Pyramid at Giza.

The interior of this pyramid is unique. The width is about 20 to 30cm. and it slopes down about 20m. After that you reach the entrance of the burial chamber, which is secured by a granite door. Only about 15cm. lies between the bottom edge of the door and the ground.

I entered the pyramid on live TV with Suzie, a TV presenter. She was very slim and could easily enter the pyramid. She had a camera on her head so that the audience could see me. They had put the camera batteries on my back, and that made it much more difficult for me to move. I managed to enter the 20m opening and proceed down the shaft, but when I reached the entrance of the burial chamber and began to enter the 15cm shaft I got stuck. I was on live TV: I was terribly scared, and of course the delay affected the timing of the programme. Suzie began to push me down but without success, and audiences all over the world could see. Many people were afraid, but it was more exciting for them than for me. Finally I took the batteries out and was able to enter. When we had finished exploring the pyramid and started to climb out I had another frightening experience. As I tried to get out, the slope of the entrance meant I found myself falling back down. When finally and with much difficulty I reached the top, I could not believe that I was alive. This is living dangerously.

Al-Ahram Weekly Online