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.
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.
Eqypt's Lost Queens
Professor Joann Fletcher explores the history of Eqypt's queens focusing on Hetepheres, Hatshepsut, Nefertari, and Arsinoe. This is a fascinating look at the women who took part in government life in Ancient Eqypt.
She first explores the story of Osris and Isis and their stories. Fletcher explores Hetepheres first, as she was the mother of the Pharaoh. Her tomb reveals that she's was the beloved mother of the Pharaoh and that she was a royal woman who was taken care of really well.
Hatshepsut was one of the first female pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt, she brought Egypt glory through exploration, trade and monument building. She defended her people in battle and protected her kingdom. Her pharaohship was virtually erased by her stepson.
Nefertari was the wife of Ramses II, part of a "royal double act," in Fletcher's words. She was a royal diplomat abroad and the perfect wife at home. She supported her husband in his duties and was beloved by the pharaoh. Her tomb was one of the most beautiful in all of ancient Egypt and her husband is not found in it.
Arsinoe came from the Ptlomey's. She was sent off to Greece to be married, but fled when the marriage turned sour. She married her brother and became Pharaoh on her father's death. She introduced coinage to Egypt and turned Egypt's fortunes around. She respected the women who came before her and took the crowns of Hetepheres, Nefertari, Hatshepsut, and Alexander the Great. Cleopatra took her inspiration from this lady.
This is an excellent episode to show while there is a sub in the classroom at the start of the year when the students are studying Ancient Egypt. Fletcher is very knowledgeable on her subjects and is an enthusiastic presenter.
That said, if you don't have time to show the whole documentary, then show the part of Hatshepsut, it will give the students the gist of who she was about.
For use in the classroom just copy and paste into a word document or GoogleDoc or Google Classroom Document. Format the way you want it to format. All questions should fit onto one page with enough space for the student to write down their answers.
You can find the link for the YouTube Video here.
Egypt's Lost Queens Questions:
Egypt's Lost Queens Answers:
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