Well, I am stuck in the ancient world again as I search for documentaries on the Renaissance and the Reformation. Today, I am going to blog about Mummy Forensic and the Mystery of the Misfit Mummy. The run time for this episode is 48:35.
Mummy Forensics: is a group of mummy experts who try to solve the mysteries of the world’s most mysterious mummies. The team applies modern forensics and looks to the historical record to learn more about Ancient Egyptian Mummies. Joann Fletcher, Stephen Buckley an archeological chemist, Duncan Lees a forensic archeologist, and Jill Scott an Egyptologist make up the Mummy Forensic Team. Each brings their particular set of skills to help tell the mummy’s story. They bring both history and science together to help explore history to help explore how these mummies died.
Today, this mummy forensic team is on the case of a mummy of a temple dancer. The mummy is found in the Bolton Museum. She is partially unwrapped but her cause of death remains a mystery. This mummy is one of the most popular attractions in the museum. Her coffin is beautifully painted and demonstrates her high status. The coffin is an incredibly tight fit for the body. Her shoulders are bashing against the edges of the coffin. How would this lady fit after being wrapped?
Joann Fletcher wants to solve the mystery of this mummy and why she was put in a coffin too small for her body. She sets to work inspecting the mummy and taking photographs. She is looking for even the smallest of clues to crack the case. This case is going to be a challenge for the Mummy Forensic Team. Joann talks about her initial examination. The coffin has been studied over the years by academics and has been written about. The mummy was a priestess, but Joann points out that there was no way the body could have fit.
Jill concurs with this explanation and points out how the paint was scraped off as the lady was put into the coffin. However, the team will need more information. Joann then focuses on the teeth; the lady would have had the modern equivalent of “buck teeth” in her mouth. The Pharaohs of the New Kingdom shared this distinct characteristic. Was this a royal mummy? Stephen Buckley talks about the marks on this mummy’s face. It was hinted that Ramses II had smallpox and this was evidenced by his mummy, but that is disputed. The team makes a plan to examine the mummy further. The mummy is delicate so the team will have to be careful when they examine the mummy further.
Stephen Buckley takes his samples first. The chemical analysis of the mummy will take weeks to process. Joann Fletcher reaches out for help to learn more about the pictograms on the coffin. Alan Fiddles, the pictograms expert carefully examines the paintings on the coffin. The pictograms reveal that she was a singer and participated in the sacred rituals at the Karnak Temple. Jobs in the temple were few and were generally reserved for the elite in society. These women would have spent one month in three serving in the temple. Professor Don Brothwell is also brought in and the mummy is x-rayed. These x-rays will help move the investigation forward…or does it?
The results reveal that the skeleton in the coffin is a MAN! The man had a slender build. His mouth would have given him trouble eating and speaking. This throws the whole investigation into doubt. This means that coffin was not originally built for him. So who was this young man? Due to his mouth condition, there could be a connection to the royal family. However, there would have to be a facial reconstruction and a deeper investigation into the mummy. Who was this man? Why was he put into a woman’s coffin? Did this man have a connection to the Royal Family? Continue to watch this episode to find out!
Even though we are talking about ancient history in this documentary, Mummy Forensic would be an excellent series to show in a science classroom because of the elements of experimental history in this show. If the high school offers a forensic science class, then this is appropriate for the teacher’s list of documentaries to show in the classroom.
The Family of Tutankhamun
The Family of Tutankhamun is a documentary about the Tutankhamun family and their fall. They were one of Egypt’s greatest families, so why did they disappear? Was there a hereditary disease in the family? How did the family fall? The answers to those questions lie in the tomb of Tutankhamun and the genetic studies that have been done. This story beings with the discovery by Howard Carter of the tomb. The Tomb’s discovery would change history. The runtime for this documentary is 49:09.
Howard Carter was struggling to find the tomb of Tutankhamen. He hoped that this tomb would have been so unimportant the tomb was not raided by grave robbers. Carter had one last chance to find the tomb. After two days, a step was found. It might have been nothing, however as Carter’s team dug, they continued to go deeper and deeper. Sixteen flights later, at the end of those steps there was a horde of treasures was discovered. For the first time, Tutankhamun became a worldwide figure. His tomb was the most complete in Egyptian history.
Additional to the treasures in the tomb there were two other bodies discovered, they were in two miniature coffins. They were two unborn children. Were these the unborn children of Tutankhamun? Would these children hold the key to the sudden end of the family? The questions have never been answered until now.
Tutankhamun’s treasure takes off half of the Cairo Museum. His treasures give a glimpse of the life he lived. So why did this family die out? They were a powerful family that carved out an empire for over two hundred years. They left behind many monuments that proclaimed their achievements. Unfortunately, the family came to an abrupt end. Why was this? How could a family vanish so suddenly?
The 18th Dynasty began with a brother and sister marrying and in each successive generation, a brother continued with this tradition? Was this inter-sibling marriage the cause of the collapse of the 18th Dynasty? Was this family so inbred they could no longer sustain themselves? How inbred was this family? The Egyptian Museum is providing answers.
The Pharaohs are on the move and this is the first time the museum directors will have access to the pharaohs themselves. This will allow them to collect DNA samples from the pharaohs. After the pharaohs are sealed in their climate-controlled boxes, they will be protected for generations. Two genetic scientists from America are helping the Egyptians with their testing. These genetic scientists have experience in DNA as well as in genealogy. As well as testing the pharaoh’s DNA they hope to test the DNA from the two babies found in the tomb. What will these DNA tests reveal about the pharaohs?
One by one the Pharaohs were tested as they were moved into their climate-controlled cases. Additionally, these two scientists went on a search for the two babies. The coffins were found on-site, but where are the bodies? So while the Egyptian authorities look for the babies, the two scientists work on the Pharaohs to build a genetic profile of the family. The DNA of Thutmose III is going to be tested. He is the only mummy properly identified so his DNA will be important to provide a baseline for the rest of the family.
Would these DNA tests prove in-breeding? Would these DNA tests show a genetic disease in the family? Researchers seem to think that there was a genetic disease in the family and the Pharoah Akhenaten may have had it. He was a man who overthrew the traditional gods of the Egyptians and created a new god. Art changed under the king as well. Images of Akhenaten show him with wide hips and elongated limbs. Was this a result of a genetic disease or artistic license? Other researchers studied the skulls of the pharaohs to see if there are similarities. Would the evidence show that there was a disorder in the Egyptian dynasty? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out.
This sounded like a Secrets of the Dead Episode that was repackaged for Odyssey. Additionally, there was some glitching at 17:00 minutes and that lasted until 18:00. Periodically there were additional glitches throughout the rest of this episode. Other than the glitches, this would be a good episode to show in a classroom.
Cleopatra's Lost Tomb
Good morning everyone, today I will share another YouTube video perfect for a class on Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome. The video is from the Secrets of the Dead series: Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb. It tells the story of Cleopatra as a historical figure, not focusing on the myth.
Kathleen Martinez leads an expedition to find Cleopatra’s lost tomb. She is a criminal defense lawyer and approaches the search for Cleopatra’s tomb as a potential client. She came up with a new theory as to where Cleopatra was buried. Her search starts in a temple complex known as Taposiris Magna Necropolis. The Taposiris Magna Necropolis was seen as an unfinished temple. The bare walls did not hint at any period in history. These empty walls caused scholars to write off the site. However, Martinez disagrees with that and that it was a functioning temple and that it was the burial site of Cleopatra. She was greeted with skepticism; however, she was undeterred.
Cleopatra was a controversial figure as well as a mystery. Lately, scholars are finding new interpretations of Cleopatra. She is seen as a scholar. She is seen as politically astute. Cleopatra made sure that her people were fed. She is aware of the problems of her kingdom and wants to do something about them. Cleopatra worked to gain allies in Rome. A document cited that Cleopatra wanted to give tax concessions to a Roman. Cleopatra’s death is even poorly documented. The story goes she was poisoned with the bite of an asp. After her death, what happened to her body is unknown.
In the meantime, Kathleen received permission to dig at the site and for eight weeks did not find anything. She was confident that she would find something at the site, but they were disappointed. However, on the final day before the permit was to expire, the team found a hidden shaft. With the discovery of the shaft, they were allowed to continue with the excavation. Would they find more secret shafts? Would one of these shafts contain the tomb of Cleopatra? This shaft was not found by professional archeologists.
As the expedition moved forward, the team discovered fragile tablets. They were from the temple’s foundation. Ptolemy IV laid the original foundation for the temple. This also proved the link between the temple and the Ptolemies. It was a shocking find that shook the archeological community. When the trench was extended they found another building, another temple in the Taposiris Magna complex. It was a temple that was dedicated to the goddess Isis.
Cleopatra, as queen, aligned herself with Isis. She also presented herself as Isis. It was the way she identified herself as Egyptian. Perhaps, Cleopatra decided to be buried in the Taposiris Magna complex because of her identity as Isis. Inside the Isis Temple, the team found coins with Cleopatra’s image on it. Martinez theorized that the temple was still in use during Cleopatra’s reign. The fact that Cleopatra put her image on bronze coins showed that the Queen wanted to be seen by the public. Older rulers put their images on silver coins. Silver coins were used by the rich, but by putting her image on bronze coins, Cleopatra made sure everyone knew her.
Just outside the temple, another shaft was discovered by Kathleen’s team. Kathleen goes underground to explore the shaft discovering two tunnels. There were additional vertical shafts in the tunnel. On top of discovering shafts and passageways, they found pieces of the Isis Temple. Additionally, they also found human remains.
To continue to learn more about Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb, continue to watch the documentary.
You can access the YouTube video here.
You can follow Kathleen Martinez's work here.
Immortal Egypt - Episode 3
Joann Fletcher continues to the story of Ancient Egypt. She introduces the audience to Amenhotep III. She views him as the greatest Egyptian Pharoah. The Egyptian civilization had survived its dark ages. The Golden Age of Egypt began. However, all good things come at a price, the priests became even more powerful than the pharaoh and corruption reigned.
Archaeologists are working on uncovering the funerary temple of Amenhotep III. It was the largest funerary temple created by a Pharoah. It was the Temple where the Pharoah could be worshiped for future generations. This temple was to guarantee the immortality of the Pharoah’s soul. Giant statues adorned the temple and the archeologist uncovered a three-meter statue head.
Amenhotep III had the empire firmly in his hand. He had plenty of gold. He used it to make marriages. He used it to send messages. Gold brought Egypt peace. Gold could help the Pharoah in the afterlife as well. Gold allowed the gods to recognize the dead. The gods' skin was made out of gold and by using masks of gold, wealthy Egyptians could demonstrate that they too would be welcomed by the gods.
The Valley of the Kings was established during this time. It was seen as a safe place where the Pharaohs could lie in peace. After the desecration of the ancestors' tombs, the Pharaohs did not want that to happen again. It was also a way for ordinary people to help their Pharoah’s have a peaceful afterlife. The tomb builders carefully surveyed the area.
However, even with the strong religious influence on the Egyptian Civilization, the religious influence hid a threat. Karnack was the largest religious complex in Egypt. It was 250 acres at its height and was Egypt’s religious heart for 2,000 years. This caused the priest’s influence to grow exponentially. The Pharoah expanded Karnack and poured gold into the temple complex. The temple and the priests grew rich as a result. They were set apart from the rest of Egyptian society. They shaved every day, bathed four times a day, wore white linen robes, and took care of their teeth.
Amon was the Egyptian state god and every Pharoah needed to keep him content. The priests took care of the statue of Amon like was a human. Only the Royal Family was aware of the secret rituals that took place in the temple. However, this power of Amon was going to break. Pharoah Akhenaten built a new temple complex for a single god, the Aten. It was unlike the other temples in Karnack, it was a temple made of bricks which meant these buildings be constructed quickly. Akhenaten stamped his control on the Karnack temple, turning Egyptian civilization on its head. When the priest objected to the changes, Karnack was closed and the royal court moved to a different area of Egypt.
In Amarna, Akhenaten and Nefertiti could put their stamp on Egypt in peace. They built the city with the newly seized wealth from the priests. The sun was worshiped every day and to get the blessing from the Aten, the people had to go to the Pharoah. They had to bow and scrape before Pharoah and his wife Nefertiti. After Akhenaten died, religious order was restored. The priests dumped the old burial goods of Akhenaten and Nefertiti were thrown into Tutankhamun's tomb.
Seti took over Egypt kicking off the 19th Dynasty. He completely restored the old gods of Egypt. The images he created in his burial looked back to the golden age. Seti had brought back the days of glory and it was a relief to the ordinary people.
To continue to learn more about Ancient Egypt, continue to watch the documentary
You can access that YouTube video here.
Immortal Egypt - Episode 2
The pyramid building Ancient Egyptian civilization could not last. Ancient Egyptian's confidence was soon shattered. Economic collapse put a pause on the Egyptian Civilization. The Ancient Egyptian people were soon filled with dread as the society collapsed around them. Egpyt was soon thrown into chaos, signifying a new era in Ancient Egypt. The military took over and they ruled by fear and intimidation.
Saqqara not only shows the Egyptian’s confidence in their civilization but also the collapse of that civilization. A funeral causeway reveals the collapse of Ancient Egypt. An image from that causeway shows people suffering from famine. This famine is slowly closing in on Ancient Egypt. The images of plenty were replaced by images of skeletons. Such images were never created before but now reality hit ancient Egyptians in the face. They tried to keep the forces of reality at bay but the images Fletcher refers to were an omen of the future.
The Nile and its flood allowed Ancient Egyptians to thrive. Unfortunately for them, the Nile’s flood ceased. This led to suffering, starvation, and in some cases cannibalism. The Ancient Egyptians believed strongly in their kings. The Pharoah was soon seen to be weak during their time of need. Pharoah Pepi II, in his old age, tried to show off his physical prowess in the Jubilee celebrations. However, the image of a vital Pharoah was shattered.
The Egyptian Dark Ages was an age where its people turned to magic to sort out their problems. They thought that by reaching out to magic, they would be able to control the world. The Egyptians also started writing out curses on pots or wax figures. They would burn the figure or smash the pot to activate the curse. It was informal religious, it showed how suspicious the Eqyptians had gotten. Chaos meant that the Egyptians’ worldview had changed.
A once united Egypt fractured into smaller kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms had a strong warlord leader. These leaders believed themselves above the previous Pharoah. They used the language and the images that the previous Pharaohs used to describe themselves. They were the heroes without a peer. These leaders did what they could to take care of their people: they gave bread, they gave sandals, they gave money. There may have been cases of exaggerations of how bad it was. This helped them claim that they were gods.
However as the power of the warlords grew, more and more conflicts happened. Some warlords created alliances with other warlords or they fought each other. They ended up turning on the remains of the old pharaohs and destroyed the old tombs of the pharaohs in the valley of the Kings. This violation of the old burying places appalled the people. The destruction of the tombs broke the line of history. After the destruction, ordinary Egyptians made atonement, bitterly regretting the tomb destruction.
After this destruction, one warlord decided to unite Egypt. This king would end Egypt’s dark age. The Egyptian Civil War was violent. The bodies of these warriors bore witness to the violence of their death. The Pharoah made sure to bury his warriors in a prominent tomb with great ceremony. After the civil war, the people started to feel safe. The economy was rebuilt. However, the trauma of the civil war remained. Their tombs changed, funerary art reflected the wish for a peaceful afterlife. If the people could not feel secure in the present life, they could feel secure in the afterlife. The Pharoah’s concerned themselves with National Security. They built castles to maintain order and goods between Nubia and Egypt.
To continue to learn more about Ancient Egypt, continue to watch the documentary.
You can access the documentary here.
Immortal Egypt - Episode 1
Good morning! The school year is winding down for many districts around the US. It is not the time to prepare for the next school year...or is it? Well, today I will introduce you to another series that could be brought into the classroom.
Immortal Egypt is a four episodes series on Ancient Egypt presented by Joann Fletcher. The first episode kicks off the series by exploring the origins of Ancient Egypt. Fletcher explores the different stories of Ancient Egypt, weaving them all together with intelligence and humor. She is a historian that should be brought into the classroom. Students will enjoy learning about Ancient Egypt from her.
Fletcher travels to Quarta, Egypt, and discovers the earliest remnants of the Egyptian Civilization. The Quarta cliffs bore witness to the earliest beginnings of Egyptian Civilization. The people who dwelt in Quarta were early hunters and took care of cattle. Quarta was situated in grassland before the climate changed and left it in a desert landscape. Egypt was fed by the rains until the climate changed which meant people moved to settle near large lakes and rivers. Hippos, humans, boats, and cattle images were carved into the cliff walls, a tantalizing clue about what was to come.
The calendar was invented to predict the rains which then led to the earliest forms of religion. People started working together in the community. The cow was important to the ancient people. The cow was a source of milk and meat, eventually, the cow became known as the goddess Hathor. She was one of the earliest deities created. Eventually, the ancient people developed 1000’s of deities. These deities were built on familiar, everyday life. Some of the created deities were created as a way to control the element they were a deity of.
Eventually, due to climate change, the ancient people started to congregate around the Nile River. The Blue and White Nile came together in Sudan to form the bigger Nile River. The annual Nile Flood was an important event to Ancient Egyptians because it became an agricultural civilization. Upper and Lower Egypt started forming at specific points on the Nile River.
The writing was also developed during this time. It was developed as a means of calculating taxes for the Ancient Egyptians. The Rosetta Stone helped archeologists translate the hieroglyphic symbols.
Eventually, Upper and Lower Egypt came into conflict. In 3100 BC, Upper and Lower Egypt were united under one Pharaoh. Namah became the first Pharoah of a united Egypt. Hathor was his protector. He was the template from which all other Pharoah’s took their inspiration from. He had the tie on the beard, had a crown, and took the smitting pose. It made every single Pharoah after Namah copy him, as a way to legitimize their claim to the throne. A list of Kings was put together as another way to provide legitimacy to the current Pharoah’s reign.
Royal burials were developed at this time and the precursor to the Valley of the Kings was found. Originally, when a Pharoah died all their courtiers were killed and buried with the Pharoah. This changed and courtiers were allowed to live. These courtiers would go on and build their elaborate tombs.
To continue to learn about the early beginnings of Ancient Egypt continue to watch this documentary.
Fletcher tells a fascinating story about Ancient Egypt. It is even more than what I originally learned in school. It goes to show that with new discoveries, our interpretation of history changes. Teachers need to use an episode of this fantastic series in the classroom. If there is a substitute teacher in the room, have them pull an episode up on YouTube to show the students. Or you can use clips of this series in a lecture it is up to the teacher. If there is a student project involving Ancient Egypt, then I would point them to this series for more information.
You can access the documentary here.
Engineering Ancient Egypt
Bettany Hughes covers the history of Egypt exploring the Great Pyramids and Ramses II.
Ancient Pharaoh's conjure up images of cruel dictators who built their empires on the backs of slaves. However this may not have been the case at all times. Take the Great Pyramids, Kufu brought the people together and invited them to take part of a grand project to not only ensure his immortality but their immortality as well.
The early pyramids were stepped and the smooth sided pyramid was slow to develop. It took a few tries but a small smooth sided pyramid. Kufu wanted to scale up the pyramid and selected a place where his dream could come true. At a plateau in Giza, Kufu assembled his army of builders into one place. A city was built to house them, and they would be able to return to their farms to farm when the Nile was in its low stage. The workers would work while the Nile was flooded and they were unable to work in the fields. He encouraged his workers by saying that they were helping him move into the next world and it would be an honor for them to work on his pyramid. The workers succeeded in finishing the Great Pyramid in time.
Ramses II was another great builder Pharaoh as well as a warrior. He was a defender to his people and an excellent propagandist. His father Seti, groomed his son into going out among the people, making the job of Pharaoh more visible to the people. Ramses had to justify his rulership to the people. He still included an ambitious building program as part of his reign, but the religious sites he built allowed ordinary people to take part of religious life. This wasn't enough for Ramses and he went after the Egyptians most deadly enemy: the Hittites. So what happened when he fought the Hittites, find out by watching the documentary.
For use in the classroom: just highlight, copy and paste into a word document or a google document for use in the classroom. You can easily format these questions to your specifications. All questions should fit onto one page after formatting. Each student should find at least three things to learn about from the presentation.
You can find the link for the YouTube video here.
Engineering Ancient Egypt Questions:
Engineering Ancient Egypt Answers:
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