Little Tart loves it all…most of the time

The new face of Egypt’s Past

Posted on: July 1, 2007

An interesting discovery out of Egypt this week. Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy, the only female pharaoh, has been genetically identified. Apparently a toss up between two female mummies dating from the same period, iron-fisted Grand Pooh-Bah of Egyptology Zahi Hawass, had been quoted hoping the slender mummy with a “regal face” was the queen, “…Until the discovery, Hawass and others had believed that the smaller mummy—with long, wavy, white hair and its fingers individually bandaged—was more likely Hatshepsut…” but found instead that the larger heavy-set female was in fact Hatshepsut.

Hawass’ stance raises some questions about how much of history is fact, and how much is the wishes and desires of the historian to paint a beautiful picture of their (and our) past. Almost all of Ancient Egyptian history is filtered through wishful thinking not just by contemporary scholars, but by the ancients themselves. I went to the De Young museum’s Hatshepsut exhibit last year and witnessed over and over how idealized the Egyptians wished themselves. Hatshepsut turns out to be a fat diabetic who died of bone cancer. I didn’t see a hint of her there, and these artifacts were carved by artists who knew the woman. Can history really afford to be doubly clouded by allowing leading archaeologists and historians to hope something beautiful is reality simply because the alternative is something which isn’t aesthetically pleasing? I personally find Hatshepsut fascinating. Learning what she truly looked like, rather than a beautiful princess, only ads to her mythology, and our knowledge of history.

Hatshepsut identified


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