Monday, April 11, 2011

Valley of the Kings mystery – New research shows 3,500 year old tomb contained infants who suffered from disease

The Valley of the Kings is set to reveal another secret.
Photo by Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic
 It certainly wasn’t a tomb for a pharaoh.

New research presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) shows that a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV 44, contained the remains of infants who were suffering from disease. The skeletons of adult women were also found but no men.
The tomb was first discovered in 1901 by Howard Carter who found it to be looted and containing “rubbish.” Its design is remarkably simple, consisting of a shaft entryway and chamber with no apparent decoration on the walls.  
It was constructed at some point during Egypt’s New Kingdom period (3,500 to 3,100 years ago), a time of great prosperity that saw the valley become populated with the tombs of pharaohs. During the 22nd dynasty (around 2,900 years ago) it was re-used, housing a woman named Tentkerer.
In the 1990’s a team led by Professor Donald Ryan, of Pacific Lutheran University, excavated the tomb and found skeletal remains. Recently another team led by Dr. Jerome Cybulski, of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, examined the skeletons and made some surprising finds.
 “The human remains were exclusively of females and infants with about half the latter sample (n = 8) showing signs of disease,” he writes in the abstract of his paper. “We compare this demographic with other multiple occupant tombs in the Valley to show the unusual nature of KV44 and use all available evidence to speculate on who these people might have been.”
This, heart-wrenchingly, is where the story ends for now.
Dr. Cybulski refused an interview request and, despite the fact that the meeting was open to the general public and media, also refused to release a copy of the paper he presented. The meeting was held in Chicago.
“Thanks for the kind invitation to discuss our project. I can only give an interview when the work is written up, peer-reviewed, and accepted for publication,” he wrote in an email.
So until this appears in a peer-reviewed journal we must wait to see the full details on the new secret the Valley of the Kings is set to reveal.  


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