Jun 27, 2007

Hatshepsut Mummy Identified

Statue of Queen Makare Hatshepsut (1503-1482 BC) Holding Two Vases Containing Offerings of Wine

An unidentified mummy has been confirmed by DNA evidence to be that of the female pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut.

The mummy was discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings burial ground in 1903, but had not been identified as that of the queen and was left on site until two months ago when it was brought to the Cairo Museum for testing, said Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass.

. . .

A woman monarch who called herself a pharaoh and dressed like a man, Hatshepsut ruled over Egypt during the 15th century B.C.

During her famed 18th Dynasty rule, she wielded more power than Cleopatra or Nefertiti. But when her rule ended, all traces of her mysteriously disappeared, including her mummy.

According to A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut's mummy was intentionally hidden because of political intrigue surrounding her reign. Hatshepsut usurped the role of named heir to the throne Tuthmosis III.

Hatshepsut (Ma'atkare') the fifth ruler of the 18th Dynasty (1473-1458 B.C.), the daughter of Tuthmosis I and Queen 'Ahmose. As was common in royal families, Hatshepsut married her half-brother, Tuthmosis II. They had a daughter, Neferu-Re'. By a minor wife, Isis, Tuthmosis II had a son, Tuthnmosis III.

Tuthmosis II was suffering from a systematic illness and died in 1479 B.C., managing to appoint his harem-born son his heir before dying. Hatshepsut stood as regent because Tuthmosis III was quite young. They ruled jointly from all appearances until 1473, when Hatshepsut had herself declared pharaoh, assuming all of the office's masculine titles and masculine attire. She had considerable backing in the court, being able to count on the high priest of Amon, Hapuseneb and other officials. It is possible that her daughter , Neferu-Re', married Tuthmosis III. This princess lived until the 11th year of Hatshepsut's reign.

Administering the affairs of the nation, Hatshepsut also bagan work on her temple at Deir El-Bahri, on the western shore of hte Nile at Thebes. Reliefs on the walls of that shrine portray her fictional divine birth as the daughter of Amon and her right to rule Egypt. She also laid claim to a previous coronation, an equally fictitious event that supposedly happened in the reign of her father, Tuthmosis I making her his co-ruler. At her side in this period was her chief steward, Senenmut, who had entered the service of the royal family during the reign of Tuthmosis II. Other high-ranking officers of the court also aided her until Neferu's death and the downfall and death of Senenmut, in or before the 19th year of her reign. A few years later the Asiatic rebelled in the principalities of the east.

During her reign, Egypt remained secure, and Hatshepsut, initiated many building projects. Although she professed hatred for the Asiatics in her reliefs, Hatshepsut apparently did not sponsor punitive campaigns against them. When Kadesh and its allies started revolt in c. 1458 B.C., Tuthmosis III led the army out of Egypt, and Hatshepsut disappeared. Her statues, reliefs and shrines were mutilated by the Tuthmosis camp in time, and her body was never found. There was some speculation concerning a female corpse discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep II. It is known that Hatshepsut's corpse was hidden from Thuthmosis's allies...

Further reading on Queen Hatshepsut:
Manchester Guardian
Rich East
Tour Egypt

Jun 10, 2007

"Yoga May Help Treat Depression, Anxiety Disorders"

Woman Performing Yoga

Emphasis on the word "may." The article so entitled is heavily caveated. First the good news:

Yoga's postures, controlled breathing and meditation may work together to help ease brains plagued by anxiety or depression, a new study shows.

Brain scans of yoga practitioners showed a healthy boost in levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) immediately after a one-hour yoga session. Low brain levels of GABA are associated with anxiety and depression, the researchers said.

"I am quite sure that this is the first study that's shown that there's a real, measurable change in a major neurotransmitter with a behavioral intervention such as yoga," said lead researcher Dr. Chris Streeter, assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Now, for the bad news: None of the research subjects actually suffered from these or other psychological disorders.

[Zindel Segal, chairman of psychotherapy and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Toronto] also pointed out that all of the people in the study were mentally healthy, and clinical depression and anxiety disorders involve more than the "daily fluctuations in stress and tension" that healthy individuals are prone to.

The control group used in the study sat and read -- a rather cerebral activity and far from stress reducing depending on what one reads. The study did not compare different types of physical activities, or even other forms of meditation. Segal again:

"We know that yoga can have a profound effect" on smoothing out life's daily ups and downs, Segal said. "But so does working out on a Stairmaster for an hour."

On the plus side, we now know a little more about why yoga is really good for healthy people.