Monthly Archives: December 2011

Unearthing The Colosseum’s Secrets

A German archaeologist has deciphered the great stadium‘s complex stagecraft. Its underground labyrinth has just opened to visitors By Tom Mueller.

The Colosseum arena, showing the hypogeum. The...

The floor of the Colosseum, where you might expect to see a smooth ellipse of sand, is instead a bewildering array of masonry walls shaped in concentric rings, whorls and chambers, like a huge thumb-print. The confusion is compounded as you descend a long stairway at the eastern end of the stadium and center ruins that were hidden beneath a wooden floor during the nearly five centuries the arena was in use, beginning with its inauguration in A.D. 80. Weeds grow waist high between flagstones; caper and fig trees sprout from dank walls, which are a patchwork of travertine slabs, tufa blocks and brickwork. The walls and the floor bear numerous slots, grooves and abrasions, obviously made with great care, but for purposes that you can only guess.

The guesswork ends when you meet Heinz-Jurgen Beste of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome, the leading authority on the hypogeum, the extraordinary, long-neglected ruins beneath the Colosseum floor. Beste has spent much of the past 14 years deciphering the hypogeum – from the Greek word for “underground” – and this past September I stood with him in the heart of the great labyrinth.

“See where a semicircular slice has been chipped out of the well?” he said, resting a hand on the brickwork. The groove, he added, created room for the four arms of a cross-shaped, vertical winch called a capstan, which men would push as they walked in circle. The capstan post rested in a hole that Beste indicated with his toe. “A team of workmen at the capstan could raise a cage with a bear, leopard or lion inside into position just below the level of the arena. Nothing bigger than a lion would have fit.” He pointed out a diagonal slot angling down from the top of the wall to where the cage would have hung. “A wooden ramp slid into that slot, allowing the animal to climb from the cage straight into the arena,” he said.

Just then, a workman walked about out heads, across a section of the arena floor that Colosseum officials reconstructed a decade ago to give some sense of how the stadium looked in its heyday, when gladiators fought to their death for the public’s entertainment. The footfalls were surprisingly loud. Beste glanced up, and smiled. “Can you imagine how a few elephants must have sounded?”

Today many people can imagine this for themselves. Following a $14 million renovation project, the hypogeum was opened to the public this past October.

Trained as an architect specializing in historic buildings and knowledgeable about the Greek and Roman archeology, Beste might be described as a forensic engineer. Reconstructing the complex machinery that once existed under the Colosseum floor by examining the hypogeum’s skeletal remains, he has demonstrated the system’s creativity and precision, as well as its central role in the grandiose spectacles of imperial Rome.

When Beste and a team of German and Italian archaeologist first began exploring the hypogeum, in 1996, he was baffled by the intricacy and sheer size of its structures: “I understood why this site had never been properly analyzed before then. Its complexity was downright horrifying.”

The Colosseum

The disarray reflected some 1,500 years of neglect and haphazard construction projects, layered one upon another. After the last gladiatorial spectacles were held in the sixth century, Romans quarried stones from the Colosseum, which slowly succumbed to earthquakes and gravity. Down through the centuries, people filled the hypogeum with dirt and rubble, planted vegetable gardens, stored hay and dumped animal dung. In the amphitheater above, the enormous vaulted passages sheltered cobblers, blacksmiths, priests, glue-makers and money-changers, not to mention a fortress of the Frangipane, 12th century warlords. By then, local legends and pilgrim guidebooks described the crumbling ring of the amphitheater’s walls as a former temple of the sun. Necromancers went there at night to summons demons.

Interior of the Colosseum, Rome. Thomas Cole, ...

In the late 16th century, Pope Sixtux V, the builder of Renaissance Rome, tried to transform the Colosseum into a wool factory, with workshops on the arena floor and living quarters in the upper stories. But owing to the tremendous cost, the project was abandoned after he dies in 1590.

In  the years that followed, the Colosseum became a popular destination for botanists due to the variety of plant life that had taken root among the ruins. As early as 1643, naturalists began compiling detailed catalogs of the flora, listing 337 different species.

By the early 19th century, the hypogeum’s floor lay buried under some 40 feet of earth, and all memory of its function – or even its existence – had been obliterated. In 1813 and 1874, archaeological excavations attempting to reach it were stymied by flooding groundwater. Finally, under Benito Mussolini’s glorification of Classical Rome in the 1930s, workers cleared the hypogeum of earth for good.

Beste and his colleagues spent four years using measuring tapes, plumb lines, spirit levels and generous quantities of paper and pencils to produce technical drawings of the entire hypogeum. “Today we’d probably use a laser scanner for this work, but if we did, we’d miss the fuller understanding that old-fashioned draftsmanship with pencil and paper gives you,” Beste says. “When you do this slow, stubborn drawing, you’re so focused that what you see goes deep into the brain. Gradually, as you work, the image of how tings were takes shape in your subconscious.”

Unraveling the site’s tangled history, Beste identified four major building phases and numerous modifications over nearly 400 years of continuous use. Colosseum architects made some changes to allow new methods of stagecraft. Other changes were accidental; a fire sparked by lightning in A.D. 217 gutted the stadium and sent huge blocks of travertine plunging into the hypogeum. Beste also began to decipher the odd marks and incisions in the masonry, having had a solid grounding in Roman mechanical engineering for excavations in southern Italy, where he learned about catapults and other Roman war machines. He also studied the cranes that the Romans used to move large objects, such as 18 foot tall marble blocks.

By applying his knowledge to eyewitness accounts of the Colosseum’s games, Beste was able to engage in some deductive reverse engineering. Paired vertical channels that he found in certain walls, for example, seemed likely to be tracks for guiding cages or other compartments between the hypogeum and the arena. He’d been working at the site for about a year before he realized that the distinctive semicircular slices in the walls near the vertical channels were likely made to leave space for the revolving bars of large capstans that powered the lifting and lowering of cages and platforms. Then other archaeological elements fell into place, such as the holes in the floor, some of smooth bronze collars, for the capstan shafts, and the diagonal indentations for ramps. There were also square mortises that had held horizontal beams, which supported both the capstans and the flooring between the upper and lower stories of the hypogeum.

To test his ideas, Beste built three scale models. “We made them with the same materials that children use in kindergarten – toothpicks, cardboard, paste, tracing paper,” he says. “But our measurements were precise, and the models helped us to understand how these lifts actually worked.” Sure enough, all the pieces meshed into a compact, powerful elevator system, capable of quickly delivering wild beasts, scenery and equipments into the arena. At the peak of its operation, he concluded, the hypogeum contained 60 capstans, each two stories tall and turned by four men per level. Forty of these capstans lifted animal cages throughout the arena, while remaining 20 were used to raise scenery sitting on hinged platforms measuring 12 by 15 feet.

Beste also identified 28 smaller platforms (roughly 3 by 3 feet) around the outer rim of  the arena – also used for scenery – that were operated through a system of sables, ramps, hoists and counterweights. He even discovered traces of runoff canals that he believes were used to drain the Colosseum after it was flooded from a nearby aqueduct, in order to stage naumachiae, or mock sea battles. The Romans re-enacted these navel engagements with scaled-down warships maneuvering in water three to five feet deep. The create this artificial lake, Colosseum stagehands first removed the arena floor and its underlying wood supports – vertical posts and horizontal beams that left imprints still visible in the retaining wall around the arena floor. (The sofy spectacles ended in the last first century A.D., when the Romans replaced the wood supports with masonry walls, making flooding the arena impossible.)

Beste says the hypogeum itself had a lot in common with a huge sailing ship. The underground staging area had “countless ropes, pulleys and other wood and metal mechanisms housed in very limited space, all requiring endless training and drilling to run smoothly during a show. Life a ship, too, everything could be disassembled and stored neatly away when it was not being used.” All that ingenuity served a single purpose: to delight spectators and ensure the success of shows that both celebrated and embodied the grandeur of Rome.

Beyond the thin wooden floor that separated the dart, stifling hypogeum from the airy stadium above, the crowd of 50,000 Roman citizens sat according to their place in the social hierarchy, ranging from slaves and woman in the upper bleachers to senators and vestal virgins – priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth – around the arena floor. A place of honor was reserved for the editor, the person who organized and paid for the games. Often the editor was the emperor himself, who sat in the imperial box at the center of the long northern curve of the stadium, where his every reaction was scrutinized by the audience.

The official spectacle, known as the munus iustum atque legitimum (“a proper and legitimate gladiator show”), began, like many public events in Classical Rome, with a splendid morning procession, the pompa. It was led by the editor’s standard-bearers and typically featured trumpeters, performers, fighters, priests, nobles and carriages bearing effigies of the gods. (Disappointingly, gladiators appear not to have addressed the emperor with the legendary phrase, “We who are about to die salute you,” which is mentioned in conjunction with only one spectacle – a navel battle held on a lake east of Rose in A.D. 52 – and was probably a bit inspired improvisation rather than a standard address.)

The first major phase of the games was the venatio, or wild beast hunt, which occupied most of the morning: creatures from across the empire appeared in the arena, sometimes as part of a bloodless parade, more often to be slaughtered. They might be pitted against each other in savage fights or dispatched by venatores (highly trained hunters) wearing light body armor and carrying long spears. Literary and epigraphic accounts of these spectacles dwell on the exotic menagerie involved, including African herbivores such as elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and giraffes, bears and elk from the northern forests, as well as creatures like onagers, ostriches and cranes. Most popular of all were the leopards, lions and tigers – the dentatae (toothed ones) or bestiae africanae (African beasts) – whose leaping abilities necessitated that spectators be shielded by barriers, some apparently fitted with ivory ronners to prevent agitated cats from climbing. The number of animals displayed and butchered in an upscale venatio is astonishing: during the series of games held to inaugurate to Colosseum, in A.D. 80, the emperor Tutus offered up 9,000 animals. Less than 30 years later, during the games in which the emperor Trajan celebrated his conquest of the Dacians (The ancestors of the Romanians), some 11,000 animals were slaughtered.

The hypogeum played a vital role in these staged hunts, allowing animals and hunters to enter the arena in countless ways. Eyewitnesses describe how animals appeared suddenly from below, as if by magic, sometimes apparently launched high into the air. “The hypogeum allowed the organizers of the games to create surprise and build suspense,” Beste says. “A hunter in th arena wouldn’t know where the next lion would appear or whether two or three lions might emerge instead of just one.” This uncertainty could be exploited for comic effect. Emperor Gallienus punished a merchant who had swindled the express, selling her glass jewels instead of authentic ones, by seting him in the arena to face a ferocious lion. When the cage opened, however, a chicken walked out, to the delight of the crowd. Gallienus then told the herald to proclaim: “He practiced deceit and then had it practiced on him.” The emperor let the jeweler go home.

During the intermezzos between hunts, spectators were treated to a range of sensory delights. Handsome stewards passed through the crowd carrying trays of cakes, pastries, dated and other sweetmeats, and generous cups of wine. Snacks also fell from the sky as abundantly as hail, one observer noted, along with wooden balls containing tokens for prizes – good, money or even the title to an apartment – which sometimes set off violent scuffles among spectators struggling to grab them. On hot days, the audience might enjoy sparsiones (“sprinklings”), mist scented with balsam or saffron, or the shade of the vela, an enormous cloth awning drawn over the Colosseum roof by sailors from the Roman navel headquarters at Misenum, near Naples.

No such relief was provided for those working in the hypogeum. “It was as hot as a boiler room in the summer, humid and cold in winter, and filled all year round with strong smells, from the smoke, the sweating workmen packed in the narrow corridors, the reek of the wild animals,” says Beste. “The noise was overwhelming – creaking machinery, people shouting and animals growling, the signals made by organs, horns or drums to coordinate the complex series of tasks people had to carry out, and, of course, the din of the fighting going on just overhead, with the roaring crowd.”

At the ludi meridiani, or midday games, criminals, barbarians, prisoners of war and other unfortunates, called damnati, or “condemned” were executed. (Despite numerous accounts of saints’ lives written in the Renaissance later, there is no reliable evidence that Christians were killed in the Colosseum for their faith.) Some damnati were released in the arena to be slaughtered by fierce animals such as lions, and some were forced to fight one another with swords. Others were dispatched in what a modern scholar had called “fatal charades,” executions staged to resemble scenes from mythology. The Roman poet Martial, who attended the inaugural games, describes a criminal dressed as Orpheus playing a lyre amid wild animals; a bear ripped him apart. Another suffered the fate of Hercules, who burned to death before becoming a god.

Here, too, the hypogeum’s powerful lifts, hidden ramps and other mechanism were critical to the illusion-making. “Rocks have crept along,” Martial wrote, “and, marvelous sight ! A wood, such as the grove of the Hesperides [nymphs who guarded the mythical golden apples] is believed to have been, has run.”

Following the executions came the main event: the gladiators. While attendants prepared the ritual whips, fire and rods to punish poor or unwilling fighters, the combatants warmed up until the editor gave the signal for the actual battle to begin. Some gladiators belonged to specific classes, each with its own equipment, fighting style and traditional opponents. For example, the retiarius (or “net man”) with his heavy net, trident and dagger often fought against a secutor (“follower”) wielding a sword and wearing a helmet with a face mask that left only his eyes exposed.

Contestants adhered to rules enforced by a referee; if a warrior conceded defeat, typically by raising his left index finger, his fate was decided by the editor, with the vociferous help of the crowd, who shouted “Missus!” (“Dismissal!”) at those who had fought bravely, and “Iugula, verbera, ure!” (“Slit his throat, beat, burn!”) at those they thought deserved death. Gladiators who received a literal thumbs down were expected to take a finishing blow from their opponents unflinchingly. The winning gladiator collected prizes that might include a palm of victory, cash and a crown for special valor. Because the emperor himself was often the host of the games, everything had to run smoothly. The Roman historian and biographers Suetonius wrote that if technicians botched a spectacle, the emperor Claudius might send him into the arena: “[He] would for trivial and hasty reasons match others, even for the carpenters, the assistants and men of that class, if any automatic device or pageant, or anything else of the kind, had not worked well.” Or, as Beste puts it, “The emperor threw this big party, and wanted the catering to go smoothly. If it did not, the caterers sometimes had to pay the price.”

To spectators, the stadium was a microcosm of the empire, and its games a re-enactment of their foundation myths. The killed wild animals symbolized how Rome had conquered wild, far-flung lands and subjugated Nature itself. The executions dramatized the remorseless force of justice that annihilated enemies of the state. The gladiator embodied the cradinal Roman quality of virtus, or manliness, whether as victor or as vanquished awaiting the deathblow with Stoic dignity. “We know that it was horrible,” says Mary Beard,, a classical historian at Cembridge University, “but at the same time people were watching myth re-enacted in a way that was vivid, in your face and terribly affecting. This was theater, cinema, illusion and reality, all bound into one.”

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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Archaeology


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The Man behind the Mask

Science Illustrated Nov-Dec 2010

English: Tuthankamen's famous burial mask, on ...

King Tut is the most iconic of Ancient Egypt’s pharaohs. But who was he? New DNA evdence may finally answer lingering questions about the ruler’s lineage and his mysterious death.

By the fall of 1922, English archaeologist Harward Carter had spent six years digging in Egypt’s Valley of Kings. He was losing hope that he would even find an undisturbed royal tomb – his ultimate goal – when his team encountered steps leading to a forgotten chamber. Although robbers had penetrated its outer rooms, the inner tomb, which held the burial room and treasury, was found untouched, a first for any Egyptian expedition. Behind a sealed wall, the sarcophagus of the haraoh Tutankhamun lay intact amid piles of precious grave goods destined to accompany him on his journey to the afterlife.

The artifacts provided historians with new clues to ancient Egypt’s power in the Mediterranean, its affluence, religious eliefs, politics and funerary traditions. Within weeks, the New York Times heralded Tutankhamun as “the most sensational Egyptological discovery of the century.” In the decades following the discovery, traveling museum exhibitions displayed the King Tut collections, further catapulting the pharaoh into the pubic eye.

Researchers have determined that Tutankhamun died in 1323 B.C. at the age of 19. only nine years after he ascended to the throne. Although pharaohs’ chambers were typically expansive and cut into the valley’s hills, Tut’s was small and built on the valley floor, suggesting that the chamber was hastily converted from one meant for a non-royal. Tut’s death, archaeologists reported, was unexpected, and his kingdom unprepared for his burial.

The evidence of Tut’s sudden death kicked off fervid speculation among modern scholars. Some took a suspicious hole in his skull as an indication that he had been murdered by a blow to the head. Others argued that Tutankhamen had been poisoned or had died in an accident.

In 2007, Egyptian and German scientists used improvements in DNA-collection techniques and radiology to try to solve the mystery. Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities; Carsten Pusch, a molecular geneticist at the University of Tubingen’s Institute of Human Genetics; and their colleagues published the results of the two-year collaborative project this February in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was the first ever DNA analysis of royal mummies, and it offers insight into the life and death of Tutankhamun. Ancient Egypt’s best-known king rose to power on an inbread lineage, the researchers reported, and was weakened at a young age by physical deformities and disease.

Turbulent Times
Tutankhamun came to power in 1333 B.C. during Egypt’s 18th dynasty, which lasted from 1539 B.C. to 1292 B.C. It was one of the most powerful and prosperous periods in the civilization’s history. The country’s military and foreign-policy influence stretched into Asia and the mediterranean, and pharaos built monuments and temples at a rapid clip.

Sometimes in the last 100 years of the empire, the dynasty saw one of the biggest religious conflicts in Egyptians history. Just two years after ascending to the throne in 1353 B.C., the ruler Amenhotep IV unpended his civilization’s traditional beliefs, demoting Amun, the long standing king of the gods, below Aten, the sun-disk god. The pharaoh also declared himself the sole intermediary between Aten and the Egyptian people. The so-called “heretic pharaoh” officially changed his name to Akhenaten, abandoned the Egyptian capital of Thebes (modern day Luxor), and built a new ruling city named after himself about 200 miles south of Cairo, where Tell el-Amarna stands today. The shuttering of temples that funded local governments rendered political leaders powerless. When Akhenaten died in 1336 B.C., an interim ruler named Smenkhkare, about whome little is known, assumed the throne for two or three years.

Tutankhamun came to power next, Although he’s famous today, scholars believe the boy-ruler was not a pivotal figure in Egypt’s history. Only nine years old at the time of his ascension, Tut was essentially a fiturehead dominated by his chief advisers, Ay, a high priest, and Horemhed, a military general. Most likely at thir bidding, he restored Amun as the king of the gods, rebuilt the ruined temples, and reestablished Thebes as the capital city. Tut’s nine-year reign was notable only for decisions that he didn’t make himself.

Tut’s somewhat unremarkable reign, combined with the haste with which his tomb was assembled, left much about his heritage unknowable for decades. What was his father? Why was he eligible to rule? Several inscriptions dated to Tut’s monarchy identify Amenhotep III as his father, but the term can also be interpreted as “grandfather” or “ancestor”. Other inscriptions point to Akhenaten, and some scholars say that his father may have been Smenkhkare.

Several royal mummies unearthed in the Valley of the Kings that date to the time of Tutankhamun provide clues to his heritage. Until now, however, the mummies couldn’t be identified because their tombs were stripped of useful markers, such as artwork emblazed with personal histories, by grave robbers centuries earlier. But by leaving the bodies behind, the robbers left perhaps the best clue of all: DNA.

Modern Forensics.
Ancient Questions
Geneticist Carsten Pusch had previously proved that DNA of sufficient quality and quantity to trace ancestry and disease could be obtained from ancient remains. In 2007, he and Hawass teamed up to determine how members of the royal family from the mid-to late-18th dynasty were related using a technique similar to a modern-day paternity test. Eleven mummies were selected for testing, all dating to roughly the period of Tutankhamun’s rule. In addition to Tut himself the mummies included two still born fetuses found in his tomb, assumed to be his daughters. Four of the 11 mummies had been identified prior to the study using evidence found in their tombs. Five additional older royal mummies from the period between 1550 B.C. and 1479 B.C. (approximately two centuries older than the Tut group) served as genetic and physiological control samples.

The team extracted DNA from 55 mummy bone biopsies. To reduce the risk of contamination by the researchers, the samples were sent to two seperate labs. Only results confirmed by both labs were used in the final analysis.

The researchers looked at micro-satellites, repeating sequences of DNA base pairs passed down from parents to children that can be used as a sort of genetic fingerprint. By matching one mummy’s dominant sequences with those of another male and female, the mummy’s parentage can be determined. Using this technique, the team compiled a five-generation family tree of Tutankhamun’s immediate lineage.

The results revealed that Tutankhamun’s father was a mummy known as KV55 (for King’s Valley, a grave number 55). KV55 was determined to be the some of Amenhotep III, whose mummy had previously been identified based on artifact inscriptions. Amenhotep III was known to be Akhenaten’s father, so the researchers concluded that KV55 was the remains of Akhenaten. Tutankhamun’s father, therefore, was Akhenaten, and his grandfather Amenhotop III. The father-son connection is supported by previous research, which found that KV55 and Tutankhamun shared the same blood type, as well as a slightly cleft palate and a characteristic overbite. CT scans of KV55’s bones, conducted in concert with the DNA analysis, indicated that he was between 35 and 45 years old when he dies, as evidenced by bone growth and damage; these results correspond to what historians know about Akhenaten.

Deutsch: Büste der Nofretete im Neuen Museum, ...

The DNA also showed that Tutankhamun’s parents were brother and sister and that his wife was his half sister. Inbreeding, a common occurrence among ancient Egyptian royalty, kept royal wealth from passing to outsiders. And it was condiered the way of the gods, who were said to copulate with siblings. Pharaohs typically took additional wives or concubines, so it is not surprising that Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s legendary queen and senior wife, was not Tutankhamun’s mother. Akhenaten’s sister – Tut’s mother – was the mully called KV35YL (“YL” for Younger Lady).

A Frail Pharaoh
With Tutankhamen’s lineage settled, the researchers turned to the question of his mysterious death. His inbred parentage assured him the throne, but biologically it was no blessing. Inbreeding most likely contributed to several skeletal deformities, including a clubfoot and malformed toe bones, that showed up on Tut’s CT scans.

The scans also revealed non hereditary progressive bone loss in his left foot, possibly the result of Kohler disease or Freiberg-Kohler syndrome. These disorders temporarily shut off blood supply to foot bones, killing the tissue of the bone. As a result, Tutankhamen would have had paid and swelling in his left foot, beginning as early as the age of three, when the disease typically sets in. More than 100 walking sticks found in his tomb and several paintings depicting him with a cane and seated rather than standing on his chariot support the findings.

The researchers ruled out leprosy, plague or tuberculosis as culprits in Tut’s death. (And the hole in his skull, it was previously determined, resulted from the mummification process, not violence.) They did, however discover genes from the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most severe form of malaria, in Tut’s bone marrow. Although it’s unlikely that malaria directly killed him – he had trace of multiple infections, indicating that he may have built up partial immunity to the disease – the combination of bone deformities and malaria could have caused an inflammatory, immuno-suppressive state. Pusch says. Combined with an already weakened immune system from his inbred lineage, the pharaoh’s health would have been compromised.

So what provided the death blow? CT scans taken in 2005, during one of Hawass’s previous projects, revealed a left leg fracture with no sign of healing. Hawass believes Tut broke his leg just before his death. With his immune system unable to fight off infection, the injury could have caused a bacterial overload in the bloodstream called speticemia, which can trigger multiple-organ failure and death in severe cases.

A New Beginning
Not everyone is satisfied with the new findings. A series of letters published in the June issue of JAMA contested the conclusions. Researchers from the Center of GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark questioned the reliability of the DNA samples, arguing that they might have degraded or been contaminated despite the precautions taken by Hawass’s team. A group from Arizona State University disputed the age ascribed to KV55, calling its identity as Akhenaten into question, and researchers from Stanford University Medical center argued against the CT evidence that Tutankhamun had a club left foot. Yet another group of scientists, from the Bernhard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine in Germany, believe that Tut’s foot malformations point to sickle-cell, nor Kohler disease.

Hawass’s team, however, remain confident in their analysis, and they have counterarguments for each objection. Improved CT technology for each objection. Improved CT technology, they say, allowed for more accurate determination of KV55’s age than previous scans, for example. As for the sickle-cell theory, which received significant press coverage, the researchers say they found no evidence of the hereditary disease among Tut’s  newly identified relatives, which means Tut himself was unlikely to have had the disease.

Hawass and Pusch’s work had broad implications for Egyptology. The collaborative project offers a new pproach to deciphering history, one that merges the natural, life and cultural sciences with the humanities and medicine and ushers in an age of what they’ve dubbed molecular Egyptology. Time will tell if the emerging field can solve more of ancient Egypt’s remaining mysteries, among them finding the final resting place of Nefertiti.

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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Archaeology


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