ZAHI HAWASS – Comes to San Francisco March 8th

Renowned Egyptologist reveals new discoveries at the War Memorial Opera House

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Dr. Zahi Hawass, internationally known Egyptologist and Vice Minister of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities returns to San Francisco on Monday, March 8th, to deliver a lecture, “Mysteries of Tutankhamun Revealed,” at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House in conjunction with the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, currently on view at the de Young Museum. Dr. Hawass will present the findings of the recently announced CT scan and DNA study, “Ancestry and Pathology of King Tut’s Family,” published in the February 17th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). These discoveries shed light on the cause of death and familial lineage of the world’s most recognized pharaoh, Tutankhamun. Tickets for the lecture are $15 (general admission) and available on: TicketMaster.com

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DR. ZAHI HAWASS

The results of the two-year study were released during a press conference in Cairo this week. Four major areas of discovery were revealed, all of which change the way several objects in Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs can be interpreted.

Tutankhamun’s Health Issues
Tutankhamun was revealed to have had a cleft palate, and clubfoot, and suffered from malaria tropica and avascular bone necrosis which led to weakening or deterioration of the bone in his foot. Some of these ailments in addition to his broken leg appear to have contributed to his early death. These recent scientific discoveries confirm previous hypotheses based on objects found in Tut’s tomb. “Walking impairment and malarial disease sustained by Tutankhamun is supported by the discovery of canes and an afterlife pharmacy in his tomb,” suggest the researchers. Over 100 walking sticks, 10 foot rests and 12 stools were discovered in Tut’s tomb. The de Young’s exhibition features a walking staff that was buried in close proximity to Tut’s mummy in between the walls of the outermost and second shrines in the burial chamber, Staff Bearing the Figure of a King crafted from silver and wood. Also on view are two mobility-related objects from Tut’s tomb: Child’s Chair with Footrest and a Folding Stool in a Fixed Position of ebony, ivory and gold.

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Child’s Chair with Footrest. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC).
Chair – ebony and ivory. Footrest – wood and ivory. Photo, Seán Martinfield

Daughters of Tutankhamun
For decades, scientists conjectured about the identities of the mummified fetal remains of two stillborn children buried in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Through the DNA study these children were confirmed to be the daughters of Tut and his wife Ankhesenamun. A small gold and wood nested coffinette, a miniature gold mask and a photograph of one of the mummies are currently on view in the exhibition. This discovery solves the mystery of whether these two girls were the offspring of Tut or innocent souls placed in his tomb to help him symbolically achieve a rebirth in the next world.

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Nested Fetus Coffins.  Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC).  Wood, gypsum, gold.
Coffinette for the Viscera of Tutankhamun. Gold, carnelian, obsidian, rock crystal, glass.

Artistic Depiction of Tut
No signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome were found in Tutankhamun in the DNA study. These conditions would yield symptoms of feminized appearance in males that would explain the androgynous depiction of Amarna period pharaohs in sculpture. Instead researchers conclude that the “artistic presentation of persons in the Amarna period is … most probably related to the religious reforms of Akhenaten. Egyptian kings typically had themselves and their families represented in an idealized fashion.” An early statue of Tut, Granite Statue of Tutankhamun, which opens the de Young’s exhibition presents the boy king in the Amarna style with a feminized silhouette including breasts, a narrow waist and slightly bulging belly. These characteristics are even more pronounced in the two gold statues later in the exhibition portraying Tutankhamun as King of Upper and Lower Egypt.

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AHKENATEN. Photo, Seán Martinfield

Identification of Tut’s Family Tree
Two previously unidentified royal mummies found in the Valley of Kings were confirmed to be Tiye, grandmother of Tutankhaumn, and the pharaoh Akhenaten, who was identified as the father of Tutankhamun. A third unknown mummy (KV35YL) was discovered to be the mother of Tutankhamun and a sister of Ahkenaten. This contradicts a long held assumption that Tut’s mother was Kiya, a lesser wife of Akhenaten. The exhibition includes a beautifully carved head of Queen Tiye, the imposing Head of a Colossal Statue of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) from the Karnak Temple in Luxor, and a crystalline limestone Balustrade Showing Akhenaten and Family under the Aten which features Akhenaten with the exaggerated feminine features common to the Amarna style.

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Part of a Balustrade Depicting Akhenaten and Family under the Aten.
Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten (1353-1336 BC).  Crystalline  limestone.
Granite Staute of Tutankhamun.  Gray Granite.  155.5 x 29.5 x 53.5 cm.
Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun.

Thirty years since the Treasures of Tutankhamun set attendance records and changed the face of museum exhibitions, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opened at the de Young on June 27, 2009. The exhibition runs through March 28, 2010.

The 130 artifacts in the exhibition present a larger, more comprehensive display that places King Tut in the expanded context of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, its “Golden Age.” Fifty objects from Tut’s tomb are featured, including his golden diadem, the dagger found wrapped in his mummy’s linen bandages, and the miniature inlaid golden coffinette that held his mummified liver.

Eighty other objects of stone, faience and wood from the tombs of other pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Tuthmosis IV and Akhenaten, as well as other 18th Dynasty royalty inform the viewer about daily life in ancient Egypt and the burial practices of pharaohs and the elite. The exhibition includes works of sculpture, burial artifacts, jewelry, decorative arts, household objects, weapons, sarcophagi and personal objects, all more than 3,000 years old.

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Cosmetic Jar with a Recumbent Lion on the Lid. Calcite, ivory, gold.
Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun. Photos, Seán Martinfield

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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