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I will be referring to this picture a bit:
http://www.ehs.pvt.k12.ca.us/students/9900/6/ACProjects/egypt/images/twoofmypicturesofnefertiti.jpg

The Modern Curse

Let me first start by saying that I don't believe in any sort of death curse that an ancient Egyptian king set on his temples. There isn't any evidence of it anywhere. There have been examples of curses found in tombs that say things like "For any man entering this tomb, may their servant sleep with their wife." or something kinda silly like that. More of an informal curse like one would yell at someone who cut them off on the freeway. Nothing too serious. Anyways, I've heard documentation of about a women who visted the pyramids at Giza, went home and then mysteriously died a few days later. When they did an autopsy and stuff like that, they found she died of a fungal infection. Basically, she disobeyed the rules and touched the walls of the pyramids and other things like that and carried the fungus with her. Now the idea that the ancient Egyptians placed that fungus there on purpose is ludicrous. What happened was: they left all sorts of things for the king to live off of during the after life in the king's tomb including many perishable things such as food. The food rotted quickly and developed bacteria and fungii. Fungii has a truly amazing resilient quality and lived for a very long time. These types of rumours were probably started by those who first investigated the tomb of king Tutankhamen (perhaps, the most well-preserved tomb ever). Many of them died within twelve hours of first venturing in. This is not unnatural. Jim Henson (you know, the muppets?) died in the same way. He became infected with some fungus and died within twelve hours. The symptoms of this type of infection can range from a swift, painful death to a long, painless toenail infection. So they didn't really do this on purpose. Also, all of this would come from Old Kingdom or possibly early Middle Kingdom tombs. After that, pharaohs stopped requesting large, magnificent monuments to themselves and actually started making hidden tombs in the desert that were completely hidden and visually uninteresting on the outside, but just as much on the inside (or atleast they tried to be. It was hard because the Egyptians and not yet developed the idead of an "Arch" and had to use numerous columns inside that really cluttered the whole thing and made it hard to navigate through).

The Old Curse (the effects of)

Well, the older was more direct. It took effect on king Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaton (all of these effects can be explained scientifically, historically, or politically (or can they??)) and it can all be seen through the art of the time. Akhenaton's father (Amenhotep III) decided to break the tradition of the royal family and marry outside the family. They had a long history of inbreeding (of course there were a few different subsets of the family that made up the whole family) and they had kept it up just long enough so that no real deformations were visible. Of course the effects of inbreeding don't really show up in the first generation but rather the 3rd or 4th, unless it's a genetic disease in which case it does show up in the 1st generation. Amenhotep literally married a peasant-girl. Therefore, he and his family line was cursed. Based on the art of Akhenaton the deformations did show up him. He was disliked for this (in a way) and also for the political chaos he caused among the high priests. I'll talk about that later. First of all, Akhenaton created a whole new fashion style. Look back to Regal Positions and Symbolism in Ancient Egyptian Royal Sculpture for more details on the old form of art. I will summarize it here: kings were displayed as eternally youthful, healthy, and handsome in the images in their tombs. But in the sculptures and paintings of Akhenaton he clearly has a swollen belly, full breasts, an elongated skull, almond eyes, large rounded "childbearing hips", and full lips. He also has slightly stretched arms and legs. Not to say that the older pharaohs really were healthy and young. Khafre died at the age of 90. He definately did not look like his ka images. But this look that Akhenaton had became popular. He also had a new style of royal "kilt". Other supporters of the king tried to emulate him and dress like him. He created the new style of fashion. This did not bother the high priests very much but what did was that he wanted to change everything religious. He blotted out the name of most Egyptian gods included the ever-famous "Amen" from all inscriptions including the name of his father and even his own name (that's why he's now called Ahenaton). He wanted to change the beliefs of Egypt from polytheism to monotheism and make everyone worship Aton (who was really not an important god at all until then) as the one and only sun god. He changed the capital from Thebes to a new site dedicated to and named for Aton but which is now called Tell el-Amarna. He claimed himself the universal god and only son of Aton. Therefore he did not need at priests with him and their jobs were made useless. The priests obviously did not like this. Previously, the king was taken care of by the priests essentially. The priests made just about every political and other decision. The king was kept in solitude and knew little about the world outside of his palace. His purpose was to perform monotonous rituals. Akhenaton did not like this.

But what about this new city? Pyramids took more than 20 years to build but he built an entire city in less the 10 years! Well, the pyramids were built with huge blocks of stone and he discovered that when the ston was cut into smaller uniform blacks that they were much easier to handle. And smaller buildins could easily be built quickly as long as they used these simple bricks. Anyways, the priests hated him and after he was dead, the priests destroyed his city. Really all they did was push the whole thing over which was great for archaeologists who have recently pieced the city back together like one huge 3 dimensional puzzle! Also, the priests destroyed nearly all of the art of the king. Very few pieces survived. What about this king's deformities? Were they real or just part of the art? Most historians and scholars now believe that it was real. Originally it was thought because of the king's eyes that he had Down Syndrome. But usually accompanied by Down Syndome (atleast the major cases) is mental retardation. Akhenaton was probably not retarded. He was fairly clever about not introducing this new belief system too suddenly. He spaced it out through several years, by first telling everyone about it then slowly building the city and having people migrate to the new capitol gradually. The Egyptians did know about the Asians from the east and it is very likely that the king had some Asian blood in him. Also, the full lips is a good piece of evidence of the original Egyptians being black Africans. The stomach is probably just an exageration of his weight problem but what about the breasts and hips. Some actually thought that he might have been a hermaphrodite but through several writings it has been verified that he is not. His figure and elongated skull is most likely the effect of inbreeding. As you can see in paintings of him and his family, his wife does not have a head like his, but his three daughters do. Some thought that it might be a manipulation of their body started at an early age. A good example is the Mayans who would place boards on the heads of their children and gently massage them into the desired shape. This has been ruled out because of the large size and roundness of their heads. Historians think that this is a rare bone condition. It causes the elongation of arms and legs which is prominent (it also makes the bones have trouble calcifying and becoming hard). Because of this, the three plates that make our skulls and are usually pressed together during birth and later fused permanently are never pushed together. Their brains grow rampantly and their heads make a truly alien shape. (Don't even try to tell me they were space aliens.)

Also notice the change from stiff regal positions of the old kingdom to the playful more human ones of the new. In one painting you see Akhenaton's wife cradeling two of their daughters while Akhenaton himself is kissing the other on the forehead. You would never see this in the old kingdom. In another you see one of his daughters massaging the other's back while one rubs the others cheeck in affection. (Aww...)

Anyways, different cultures take to different deformalities differently and obviously Akhenaton's was loved by his peers (probably only because of his status) but still it became the new fashion throughout the rich in the kingdom. Another example is of many Native American tribes who believe that people with bodily deformations were just so full of spiritual energy that it physically manifested itself through the deformations. But how could Akhenaton be the king if he wasn't true to the bloodline? Well, even though "officially" there was a big uproar, the people didn't really care. They excepted all sorts of strange kings. For example, Queen Hatshepsut became pharaoh over her brother because she claimed she had a dream where she was told she was chosen to be Pharaoh. Contrary to popular belief she was liked by most people and built an elaborate tomb for herself in the valley of kings. The valley of the kings and that of the queens aren't physically seperated so it wasn't that big of a deal. But what was a big deal was that she would lead her troops into battle. No pharaohs ever went into battle "physically" (they directed their Ma'at). No one ever expected it, especially of a women. Anyways, a king's curse can have many dangerous consequences...

An Original work of BigHoliday

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