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Amarna, Before and After


Wistman

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Wistman said:

Thanks, yes I see.  And what about Ankheperure, I thought that it is sometimes represented with a 't' as Ankhetperure.  Perhaps I'm misremembering.  Now that I look at it I suppose the 'kheper' element would be split with a 't' so maybe not.

Some confusions, and I've un-necessarily confused myself I'll admit. I had always thought that apart from the epithets for Neferneferuaten showing that this was a woman, a female determinative, the small "t",  had been found in her prenomen Ankhkheperure, but on checking this I can find not the slightest trace of this, either by an author saying it is so, or in the original hieroglyphs, so where did this come from, I don't remember, probably the Box 001K thread.

As for the spelling of Meritaten, well, problems occur in translations, some write it as Meryetaten on a reading of N36 as "mery", the "e" and "y" being added by modern translators. Looking at a clear image of all the names on Box 001K, Meritaten, and all cases of "mery" = "beloved of", are spelled with N36. Therefore when Aldebaran says that in the tomb of Meryre II and on the sequin, without the "T", it reads "Meryaten", a male name, vide the tomb owner Meryre, she is correct. So in two known cases the same error was made and the "T" was omitted, unless this is a male, but that really does get very difficult.

I still ask why on earth translators have transcribed N36 as N37, and very clearly so in all cases, which caused my confusion when I see something that I know isn't right and cannot intially work out what's going on, even when it's very simple, overthinking. My previous posts on this are a bit redundant as apart from AE spelling errors and modern transcription errors, or at least unclear transcriptions, I let myself fall into a rabitt hole.

Edited by Wepwawet
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Reading what Allen says about a female determinative for Neferneferuaten in 1988 in an article now on jstor "clears up" just what this determinative is. He references the Co-regency stela and also Ralph Kraus, and says that the third cartouche in a group of four shows signs of having the sitting woman female determinative, sign B1. Looking at an image of the transcription I cannot see this, but Allen also admits to difficulty as he had to go by a photo. I can see that this cartouche contains Akhenaten's prenomen, Neferkheperure, But this is odd, to me at least, because this is a repetition of the first cartouche. They go in the order left to right, Neferkheperure, Akhenaten, Neferkheperure, Neferneferuaten. Why is Akhenaten's second instance of his prenomen in the cartouche that should read Ankhkheperure, no idea and Allen does not discuss this, but he says the B1 female determinative is associated with this cartouche. However, he does state that the cartouche has been altered, but that the female determinative is part of the original cartouche and changed version. There, all cleared up without any ambiguity at all, hm.....

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Where's the image?  The Coregency Stela has only the four cartouches of the coregents in a row.  No room for a "seated female" glyph there.  Here's that image, altered at some point from one where Nefertiti's name was there as a consort,

 

altered inscription.JPG

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It's what Allen says he sees, I also don't see it btw. He's referencing Kraus who presumably had seen the stela face to face, while Allen is going off a photo, and he states that this is not ideal.

I think this highlights an issue for all of us with an interest in this topic, but do not have the acces to source materials that professionals do. They can, or have a reasonable chance, of getting to see an actual item, for instance Dodson was able to physically examine Tutankhamun's second coffin, but we have only their word, photos, usually of too small a resolution to be of much use, drawings and transcriptions, which may not be exact, or an interpretation only of the person who has seen the original. Can we be sure that Lepsius correctly copied the cartouches in the tomb of Meryre II, probably, but as the originals are now dust, who knows.

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On 5/31/2024 at 2:23 PM, Wepwawet said:

Reading what Allen says about a female determinative for Neferneferuaten in 1988 in an article now on jstor "clears up" just what this determinative is. He references the Co-regency stela and also Ralph Kraus, and says that the third cartouche in a group of four shows signs of having the sitting woman female determinative, sign B1. Looking at an image of the transcription I cannot see this, but Allen also admits to difficulty as he had to go by a photo. I can see that this cartouche contains Akhenaten's prenomen, Neferkheperure, But this is odd, to me at least, because this is a repetition of the first cartouche. They go in the order left to right, Neferkheperure, Akhenaten, Neferkheperure, Neferneferuaten. Why is Akhenaten's second instance of his prenomen in the cartouche that should read Ankhkheperure, no idea and Allen does not discuss this, but he says the B1 female determinative is associated with this cartouche. However, he does state that the cartouche has been altered, but that the female determinative is part of the original cartouche and changed version. There, all cleared up without any ambiguity at all, hm.....

So the very curious prenomen Ankhkheperure, used by two individuals in their pharaonic devices, is the one which you point out is missing, seemingly.  The lack of nominal distinction between them is perhaps is why Akhenaten chose to repeat his own prenomen instead; seems like he was operating by the seat of his pants in a difficult and unique situation, creating confusion and obscurity in the king lists.  And, as has been pointed out, the nomen Smenkhkare is itself a curiosity, more like a prenomen: not a proper traditional nomen for Pharaoh.  In the crisis of leadership/power that occurred, the pharaonic titulary was being played with, obscuring identities.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Wistman said:

So the very curious prenomen Ankhkheperure, used by two individuals in their pharaonic devices, is the one which you point out is missing, seemingly.  The lack of nominal distinction between them is perhaps is why Akhenaten chose to repeat his own prenomen instead; seems like he was operating by the seat of his pants in a difficult and unique situation, creating confusion and obscurity in the king lists.  And, as has been pointed out, the nomen Smenkhkare is itself a curiosity, more like a prenomen: not a proper traditional nomen for Pharaoh.  In the crisis of leadership/power that occurred, the pharaonic titulary was being played with, obscuring identities.

I made a mistake, seeing double or something, the third cartouche does in fact read as Ankhkheperure, and no female determinative in sight, least not that I can see on a transcription of a photo from the original.  Obscuring identities is certainly a thing though.

Here's a thought, I wonder what the visible public presense of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten was. As they were known by their throne name, I wonder just how the public saw this, just one king Ankhkheperure, or two, were the public being fooled?. The court would know of course, but the bulk of the illiterate peasant population. Perhaps when Smenkhkare became co-ruler it was publicised, and really I don't doubt it, he dies before any substantial monuments carry his name, and Nefertiti takes his place as a sort of fiction, not a total deception, but a desire for a continuation using that name. In his lifetime, Smenkhkare may have been popular and a need was seen to create the fiction that he "continued" in some form. It's as if we are in a dark room blundering around looking for a black cat, which isn't even there.

Edited by Wepwawet
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3 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

I made a mistake, seeing double or something, the third cartouche does in fact read as Ankhkheperure, and no female determinative in sight, least not that I can see on a transcription of a photo from the original.  Obscuring identities is certainly a thing though.

Here's a thought, I wonder what the visible public presense of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten was. As they were known by their throne name, I wonder just how the public saw this, just one king Ankhkheperure, or two, were the public being fooled?. The court would know of course, but the bulk of the illiterate peasant population. Perhaps when Smenkhkare became co-ruler it was publicised, and really I don't doubt it, he dies before any substantial monuments carry his name, and Nefertiti takes his place as a sort of fiction, not a total deception, but a desire for a continuation using that name. In his lifetime, Smenkhkare may have been popular and a need was seen to create the fiction that he "continued" in some form.

Thanks for the correction.

I think your notion about the public/citizenry is probably correct, the two identical prenomens were meant to confuse or deceive, to conflate the two in the minds of the lower classes for stability's sake.  Akhetaten was, for the most part, remote from the general public's eye.  And perhaps a visual deception at the Window of Appearances, ie: Nefertiti presented convincingly as a male (from a distance) or some such covert theatrics, would more or less do the trick.   Also, with foreign affairs in trouble, it might have been meant to reassure foreign assets/alliances with this sleight of hand, though one would imagine that those country's spies and diplomats would have quickly figured it out and passed on the information.  This all seems reactionary to events out of the king's control, like the plague for instance and the decline of foreign tribute, both stressing the kingdom's financial and social well being as the Akhetaten experiment came unraveled.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Wistman said:

This all seems reactionary to events out of the king's control

What I always keep in mind is the fact that they always blocked out bad things in public. The deathbed scenes in TA26 are of course unique, but they are most certainly not public. The public would know bad things have happened, it happens to everybody at some point, but never made public in a concrete fashion, why imortalise bad things in public? So the public face would be of unchanging normality, even if in private there was instability.

Things like the co-regency stela and box 001k tell us that we have a co-regency, and who the kings are, but that's it, nothing else. Then look at now long this co-regency may have lasted, sometime between the year 16 Nefertiti grafitto and Ankhenaten's death in year 17. How long? between two weeks and two years, but I think maybe months. Chaos behind the scenes? one co-ruler dead after probably only a few months judging by lack of presense, just the name Smenkhkare surviving in one known instance in the tomb of Meryre II in an unfinished scene shoehorned into an unused tomb. Plague? with Ankhenaten following Smenkhkare within a short time. Just when do the TA26 scenes date to, after year 12 but before Nefertiti becomes co-ruler is all that can be said. About year 13/14 is usually given, but maybe it was later, year 16 perhaps, and the same bout that maybe did for Smenkhkare and Akhenaten, who knows. I think it was all very desperate at court, and then there's the violent deaths of Tutankhamun's mother and, presumably, brother. Chaotic.

Edited by Wepwawet
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On 6/3/2024 at 8:29 AM, Wepwawet said:

It's as if we are in a dark room blundering around looking for a black cat, which isn't even there.

Seems that way much of the time.  The actual succession, coregencies...,before the CT-scan of the KV55 individual nobody knew why Akhenaten would have wanted or needed a female coregent.  But KV55 seems to have had degeneration of the hip for which problem he was really too young--except if he had sustained an injury.  Nowadays, the same disability in a young male is usually the result of a motorcycle mishap.  Akhenaten had only the chariot for a vehicle.  Regardless, he could have been laid up for quite sometime and so designated Nefertiti as a temporary co-ruler.  This doesn't necessarily need to have occurred near Year 17.  If Nefertiti was a coregent pro tem, she can have gone back to being GRW before Year 16, when she is attested as such.  Anyway, as Akhenaten had children, it was not likely his wife would become the designated permanent coregent. meaning future king when Akhenaten died.

However, I think that was exactly the case with Smenkhkare.  He was made a coregent so he would be the sole pharaoh at the death of Akhenaten, the successor the latter chose.  That's why I suggested in a paper that Nefertiti could have become Ankhkheperure twice in an unexpected sequence of events.  Again, under any prenomen, she was never expected to be a permanent ruler.  Perhaps when she was no longer using Ankhkheperure, it was given to Smenkhkare by Akhenaten with the hope that this successor would have a long reign,  It is my belief that Smenkhkare, married to Meritaten, was the one made coregent close to the time of Akhenaten's death in order to prevent the succession of Tutankhaten, just a tiny boy but first in line as the son of the GRW.

All agree that Smenkhkare can't have lasted long.  Having no son of his own, Tutankhaten was now next up.  But the little prince was helpless to reign on his own so Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten resumed her kingship.  I feel sure she meant to step down when her son reached puberty, became a man in oriental terms, but did not live to see the day.  That why Tutankhaten became king while still a boy of eight or nine.  That's my take.  But the cat is still black in the dark and not to be clearly seen.  So little hard proof of anything in this enigmatic period.

 

 

 

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There's something about how some 18th Dynasty kings used their names I cannot really pin down. Thutmose III nomen is actually Thutmose-Neferkheperu, but it seems he sometimes just used Neferkheperu. The prenomen of Amunhotep III is Nebmaatre, and he at times used this name twice where it would be expected that the second cartouche would hold his nomen Amunhotep. I just wonder if this non standard use of their names, in a different manner to how they were spelt, may have any bearing on the double Ankhkheperure problem, though not being one person, that's no longer in doubt.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Aldebaran said:

Akhenaten had only the chariot for a vehicle.  Regardless, he could have been laid up for quite sometime and so designated Nefertiti as a temporary co-ruler.

They as a family may have just been really unlucky when it came to horses and chariots. Potentially Akhenaten taking a fall of the back of a chariot, Neferneferuaten, if the Younger Lady, kicked in the face by a horse, the KV35 boy falling of the back off a chariot, the fully dislocated right femur head and multiple severe fractures to the pelvis suggest this, and the possibility of Tutankhamun falling off the back of a chariot. So perhaps no nevarious goings on, no Ay lurking in the shadows with a dagger and an evil grin, just bad driving.

Edited by Wepwawet
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12 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

There's something about how some 18th Dynasty kings used their names I cannot really pin down. Thutmose III nomen is actually Thutmose-Neferkheperu, but it seems he sometimes just used Neferkheperu. The prenomen of Amunhotep III is Nebmaatre, and he at times used this name twice where it would be expected that the second cartouche would hold his nomen Amunhotep. I just wonder if this non standard use of their names, in a different manner to how they were spelt, may have any bearing on the double Ankhkheperure problem, though not being one person, that's no longer in doubt.

Can you show any examples of cartouches as I am not aware of having seen this?  I do know that the nomen of his father, Amunhotep, became anathema when Akhenaten became sole pharaoh on account of the presence of the proscribed god, was mutilated in his cartouche posthumously, but I must admit I've never seen a double cartouche with Nebmaatre..

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5 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

They as a family may have just been really unlucky when it came to horses and chariots. Potentially Akhenaten taking a fall of the back of a chariot, Neferneferuaten, if the Younger Lady, kicked in the face by a horse, the KV35 boy falling of the back of a chariot, the fully dislocated right femur head and multiple severe fractures to the pelvis suggest this, and the possibility of Tutankhamun falling off the back of a chariot. So perhaps no nevarious goings on, no Ay lurking in the shadows with a dagger and an evil grin, just bad driving.

I know the YL’s facial wound was determined to be pre mortem, has it been established it wasn’t foul play?

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Just now, Aldebaran said:

Can you show any examples of cartouches as I am not aware of having seen this?  I do know that the nomen of his father, Amunhotep, became anathema when Akhenaten became sole pharaoh on account of the presence of the proscribed god, was mutilated in his cartouche posthumously, but I must admit I've never seen a double cartouche with Nebmaatre..

I'm looking for examples. This was something mentioned by Allen decades ago that I dug up, but no references. It was this information, true or not, that helped cause me to misread the third cartouch as a repetition of Neferkheperure.

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8 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

Neferneferuaten, if the Younger Lady, kicked in the face by a horse

I am very skeptical this actually happened and have taken a good look at radiological images in the past.  If a horse kicked someone in the face, the terrible blow would break the bones of the face that the hoof reached and destroy the teeth.  But I doubt the soft  living flesh of the face would be excised with surgical precision.  If something was torn, the embalmers could have sewn it back together and maintained the integrity of the side of the face

However the skin of a mummy is hard and brittle.  It is much more easily broken by a blow from anything.  Don't forget the mummy of the YL was found with a piece of cloth hanging from its mouth.  All the debris from the blow, according to x-rays, were near the remaining front teeth and none had passed the cloth.

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6 minutes ago, Antigonos said:

I know the YL’s facial wound was determined to be pre mortem, has it been established it wasn’t foul play?

Nothing has been determined, and never will be I think. Over a decade ago on the now defunct Egyptian Dreams forum a vet who had seen the results of people being kicked in the face by a horse stated that the YL's wound was similar. I've seen videos on youtube of people being kicked in the face by a horse, and while the actual wound is never shown, it can be seen that the hoof tends to hit horizontally right in the middle of the face. On the other hand, her wound seems to match the profile of a khepesh, however, while a killing blow, does not seem to fit the bill for an assasination. The reason I think not is that it would be awkward to hit her horizontally on the face with a weapon that seems designed to smash downwards. It would work if she were laying down, but why hit her mouth and jaw and not her skull to be sure of finishing her. But, we just cannot know the circumstances.

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13 minutes ago, Aldebaran said:

I am very skeptical this actually happened and have taken a good look at radiological images in the past

And this is a very good reason for her CT scans to be released, and another forensic examination as a second opinion to the 2003 one.

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22 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

Nothing has been determined, and never will be I think. Over a decade ago on the now defunct Egyptian Dreams forum a vet who had seen the results of people being kicked in the face by a horse stated that the YL's wound was similar. I've seen videos on youtube of people being kicked in the face by a horse, and while the actual wound is never shown, it can be seen that the hoof tends to hit horizontally right in the middle of the face. On the other hand, her wound seems to match the profile of a khepesh, however, while a killing blow, does not seem to fit the bill for an assasination. The reason I think not is that it would be awkward to hit her horizontally on the face with a weapon that seems designed to smash downwards. It would work if she were laying down, but why hit her mouth and jaw and not her skull to be sure of finishing her. But, we just cannot know the circumstances.

Thanks for the information. You raise some valid points.

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Bubonic plague at Akhetaten has been postulated as an early incidence of that disease in the Ancient World which brought about a political calamity, but Tiye's mummy shows no sign of it if memory serves.  Norrie speculates that AIII's numerous Sekhmet statues intimate an outbreak of the disease at that time, though there's no explicit evidence for the notion yet.  Prince Thuthmose may have been one of its victims...perhaps.  I'm not sure what other disease could have crashed the Amarna world the way it did, but whatever it was it seems not to be perceptible to us except by inference.  Or am I wrong?

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14 minutes ago, Wistman said:

Bubonic plague at Akhetaten has been postulated as an early incidence of that disease in the Ancient World which brought about a political calamity, but Tiye's mummy shows no sign of it if memory serves.  Norrie speculates that AIII's numerous Sekhmet statues intimate an outbreak of the disease at that time, though there's no explicit evidence for the notion yet.  Prince Thuthmose may have been one of its victims...perhaps.  I'm not sure what other disease could have crashed the Amarna world the way it did, but whatever it was it seems not to be perceptible to us except by inference.  Or am I wrong?

None of the Amarna and related mummies show signs of plague, only malaria in Yuya, Thuya and Tutankhamun, which it seems they were just living with. Problem is that there are just not enough mummies from this period, and none with signs of buboes or marked like Ramesse VI with smallpox. It could have been a flu type virus not leaving any traces, unlike chronic malaria in your body for years. Needs a medical professional for this though. The army of statues of Sekhmet, one for each day and night of the year, is certainly a strong reaction to a disaster of some sort, and I cannot think of anything beyond an infection of some sort, but, they of course would never mention anything about it. Make an image in a tomb of the effects of a calamity and it magically perpetuates it for eternity, the FIP image of starving people being a one off.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Wepwawet said:

None of the Amarna and related mummies show signs of plague, only malaria in Yuya, Thuya and Tutankhamun, which it seems they were just living with. Problem is that there are just not enough mummies from this period, and none with signs of buboes or marked like Ramesse VI with smallpox. It could have been a flu type virus not leaving any traces, unlike chronic malaria in your body for years. Needs a medical professional for this though. The army of statues of Sekhmet, one for each day and night of the year, is certainly a strong reaction to a disaster of some sort, and I cannot think of anything beyond an infection of some sort, but, they of course would never mention anything about it. Make an image in a tomb of the effects of a calamity and it magically perpetuates it for eternity, the FIP image of starving people being a one off.

Here is a paper that proposes the endemic malaria in ancient Egypt was intensified at Akhetaten, because so many mud-brick buildings were being built in a hurry (and in a place that had almost no previous infrastructure for promoting public health). 

 https://fount.aucegypt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6085&context=faculty_journal_articles 

Did Akhenaten's Founding of Akhetaten Cause a Malaria Epidemic;  Lisa Sabbahy Dr.

Edited by atalante
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22 hours ago, Wistman said:

Bubonic plague at Akhetaten has been postulated as an early incidence of that disease in the Ancient World

And here we have an issue as there is no historical record of plague before 541 AD, so we have to guess. It's still the case that Ramesses VI is the earliest known case of smallpox, and, doing a bit of research, no mummy, to my knowledge,  has yet been found to show signs of bubonic plague. I'm sure it's been around for a long time, but has left no trace in the historical or biological record as far back as the late 18th Dynasty.

What I did find of interest is that generally it kills more females than males, and we see in TA26 three young daughters dead. I've tried to find out if plague leaves a trace in ancient bones, but have drawn a blank. The relevance here is the skeletons of mostly young adult and child workers discovered at Amarna by the now late Barry Kemp, so that's two "big hitters" gone this year with Jan Assmann a few months back.

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51 minutes ago, Wepwawet said:

And here we have an issue as there is no historical record of plague before 541 AD, so we have to guess. It's still the case that Ramesses VI is the earliest known case of smallpox, and, doing a bit of research, no mummy, to my knowledge,  has yet been found to show signs of bubonic plague. I'm sure it's been around for a long time, but has left no trace in the historical or biological record as far back as the late 18th Dynasty.

What I did find of interest is that generally it kills more females than males, and we see in TA26 three young daughters dead. I've tried to find out if plague leaves a trace in ancient bones, but have drawn a blank. The relevance here is the skeletons of mostly young adult and child workers discovered at Amarna by the now late Barry Kemp, so that's two "big hitters" gone this year with Jan Assmann a few months back.

RIP those two great contributors to Egyptology.

Indeed, Habicht (I know, I know) goes into this problem of the history of plague and epidemic in the ancient world* and bubonic having no deep physical presence in the evidentiary archaeological record, but aside from that and relative to Amarna there are those letters EA11 and EA35 that show plague at Akhetaten and Cyprus (Alashiya) respectively, the Cypriot king referring to the Hand of Nergal, the name of the then-current Hittite Plague.  And interestingly the EA35 letter is highly degraded and hasn't been determined as intended for Akhenaten or AIII, since letters to the court of both kings were found in the midden at Akhetaten, indicating that the archives at Malkata were likely transferred to Akhetaten when the court finally moved there, and then eventually discarded, not moved along to Memphis when the court left.  If it were written to AIII it may be possibly related to the supposed catastrophe around the time of his first heb-sed.

*   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9186437/    This 2020 article is interesting but curious I think, though official on this government site, the authors seem to have read the letter EA11 as referring to AIII's plague, but that is a leap of inference I don't understand and he doesn't mention EA35, so....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_letter_EA_11

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_letter_EA_35

So maybe he doesn't mention EA35 because the Hittite Plague (which hit Cyprus, see EA35) is seen today as having been tularemia, a zoonotic disease sometimes referred to as rabbit-fever;  however...

Quote

The Hittite Empire stretched from Turkey to Syria.[1] The plague was likely an outbreak of Francisella tularensis which occurred along the Arwad-Euphrates trading route in the 14th century BC. Much of the ancient Near East suffered from outbreaks; however, Egypt and Assyria initiated a quarantine along their border, and they did not experience the epidemic.

however...

Quote

Muršili [Hittite king] believed that the plague had been transmitted to the Hittites by Egyptian prisoners who had been paraded through the capital city Hattusa. There is some evidence suggesting that the Egyptians suffered from tularemia in the years preceding 1322 BC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hittite_plague

meh....

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19 minutes ago, Wistman said:

So maybe he doesn't mention EA35

I'd forgotten the Amarna letters, the shame of it...    However, obviously there was some virulent lurgy going around. As there is no known visible evidence of at least bubonic plague on mummies, then it probably wasn't that. I have to admit that when I see the word plague I asscociate it with the bubonic plagues that hit Europe, the Black Death, Venice, London etc, and view Egyptian plagues as the same, when they don't have to be, Spanish Flu was a plague, Covid is a plague, and neither will leave visible evidence on a mummy.

29 minutes ago, Wistman said:

Hand of Nergal

And deciphering just what the disease is, or might be, from a colourful name if symptoms are not adequately described. The "bloody flux" from around the 17th Century of our times might be a mystery if not for accompanying gross descriptions, and for "the readers", it's dysentery, cured by burning a witch, probably.

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On 6/5/2024 at 4:23 PM, atalante said:

Here is a paper that proposes the endemic malaria in ancient Egypt was intensified at Akhetaten, because so many mud-brick buildings were being built in a hurry (and in a place that had almost no previous infrastructure for promoting public health). 

 https://fount.aucegypt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6085&context=faculty_journal_articles 

Did Akhenaten's Founding of Akhetaten Cause a Malaria Epidemic;  Lisa Sabbahy Dr.

An interesting read.  However, are mosquitoes really so prevalent in an arid place?  I can tell you of my own experience.  I used to live in an American state that had 10,000 lakes and very much snow in the winter.  The summers had many days of extreme humidity.  The mosquitoes there were terrible in the summer.  One couldn't be outside in the evening without being bitten by them. Once I was at my daughter's house in the country and when I stepped outside it looked like it was raining--that is how thick the mosquitoes were in the air.  However, since I have moved to the desert or semi-desert climate of the American West I have never been bitten by a mosquito or seen one.  Where I live now there is a small. thin, river that is nothing at all next to the mighty Mississippi and some agriculture on the outskirts of the town.

On the other hand there have always been some rare cases of bubonic plague in Western America precisely due to the arid climate.  Fleas bite the cats, who are the vectors, and they can pass the disease to humans.  The plague can be cured now, of course.  Another of my daughters tells me there are no fleas in the area where we live.  As I have no pets, I have no experience.

Yes, heaven knows what contagions there were in antiquity.  Remember the Plague Prayers of the Hittite king who thought something had been brought to Hatti by Egyptian prisoners of war?  This sickness, whatever it was, had lasted for 20 years and devastated his country.  My theory is that Pharaoh finally released the Hebrews when he became convinced they were the source of some contagion that was killing Egyptians--send it back to the East from whence it had presumably come.  Some ancient writers called it "leprosy" but a lot passed for leprosy in antiquity.   I think it was common in a world ignorant of microbes to believe foreigners were responsible for bad diseases.  In the time of the Black Plague of the 14th Century, Christian Europeans blamed the Jews.  Who really knows why the influenza of the First World War was so deadly or COVID-19  when it first began?  There are few historic episodes more difficult to understand than the catastrophic epidemics of times long past?  What, for instance, was the "Sweating Sickness"?

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