FAS 202 – SNHU

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Edmund Blair Leighton, God Speed, 1900, private collection

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Frank Bernard Dicksee, Romeo and Juliet, 1884, Southampton City Art Gallery

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(for the two above)

Corrado Giaquinto, Religion Protected by Spain, 1750sRoyal Palace of Madrid

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Eugène Delacroix, The Massacre at Chios, 1824, Oil on Canvas

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Honore Daumer, The Uprising, c. 1848

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Winslow Homer, Prisoners From the Front, 1866, oil on canvas, private collection

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Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain

h5_08-228Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm or The Oxbow, 1836, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Vincent Van Gogh, Olive Trees With Yellow Sky and Sun, 1889, The Minneapolis Institute of Art

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Aaron Brumbelow, Border of Howling Fjord, 2013

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Alfred Eisenstaedt, Kissing on VJ Day, 1945, Black and White Photograph

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Robert Smithson, “Spiral Jetty,” IKONOS satellite image, 11/11/02.

 

 

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The Scandal of King Tutankhamun

One thing I have mentioned before about being at my mother’s house is that she has cable TV. Hundreds of channels and still rarely anything I actually want to watch. However, there have been a few things of interest on the Smithsonian Channel. For example, last night they ran a show called King Tut’s Final Mystery.

Ever since Howard Carter and his team discovered – and let’s call a spade a spade, pillaged – King Tut’s tomb in 1922, the boy king has captivated the world. So how did the most iconic Egyptian king ever, actually die? And why so young? That is what the scientists featured in this show were out to discover.

We know that the 19-year-old king’s death was sudden and a surprise. How do we know this? Several things: first, his burial chamber was small, cramped, and hardly decorated. Secondly, there was something present in Tut’s tomb that has never been present in any other tomb: mold. The 3,000-year-old mold is indicative of the walls being hurriedly painted on wet plaster and then the chamber sealed. So whatever killed the pharaoh was not something anyone could have foreseen.

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click to enlarge

Check out the reconstruction of Tutankhamun. I find it interesting the dramatic contract between this image and the beautiful youth of his death mask. Notice the pronounced overbite and it is also believed that he had a cleft palate.

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click to enlarge

King Tut’s mummy was first x-rayed in 1968, causing speculation that the boy king had been murdered by a blow to the back of the head. If you look at the x-ray, there are some bone fragments inside the cranial cavity. People believed, and rightly so, that a killing blow to the back of the head would propel bone fragments inward. The problem with this is that the mummification process would have blown them back out again. So the fragments were somehow created post-mummification. The site Two Views mentions that some scientists believe that the bone fragments are not even from the skull, but are actually part of the first vertebra that were broken off during mummification. (I’m not sure if I entirely concur with this – more on this later). Either way, Myth #1 debunked.

Another thing the x-rays revealed is a broken femur. This is not an easy task. The femur is the largest bone in the body and it takes a tremendous amount of force to fracture it. This injury to Tut was pre- or peri-mortem (before or around the time of death). Personally, I believe (based on information that I have) that this injury happened close to the time of death. For one thing, the x-ray shows a very clear break. For another, none of the scientists mentioned the presence of ossification (bone formation) that would have indicated any type of healing process. Primary callus begins to form within two weeks, so it is my educated guess that death ensured within two weeks of this injury.

Ancient-Egyptian-Chariots-2But how he broke his leg led to another theory about his death. Perhaps he died in a chariot accident? The scientists decided to test it. How fast can a chariot even go? And would it be fast enough to cause a fracture? After several passes urging the horses on, the top speed reached was 21 miles per hour. Enough to assure that any bone fracture would be possible – even the femur. It seems likely that accidents with these “sports cars of their day” would not have been few and far between, so it seems we might be on to a valid hypothesis here.

Further examination in the “virtual autopsy”, which included more than 2,000 CT scans, showed that Tutankhamun was actually born with a club foot.  This deformity would have caused the young king to walk with a limp and more than likely use a walking stick. This affliction would make it unlikely that he would be able to use a chariot. But this revelation made understanding some of the artifacts in his tomb a bit easier: it contained 139 ebony, ivory, silver and gold walking sticks.  Myth #2 debunked.

Akhenaten

Akhenaten

Okay, so we have debunked the two major theories of how Tut died. So what did kill the 19-year-old king? Maybe we should step back and take a look at the larger picture. In order to do that, we need to know, for certain, who Tut’s parents were. It was generally believed that Akhenaten was Tut’s father because it was generally the way it was for a son to take the father’s place on the throne. However, this was not always the case. So a DNA profile was taken and compared to the one taken from Akhenaten, known as KV55. It was a match. And it was a “probability of better than 99.99 percent” certainty that Amenhotep III is Akhenaten. So we have a good paternal lineage for Tut now.

But what about Tut’s mother? After comparing Tut’s DNA sample to that of Queen Tiye, the wife of Akhenaten, there was no match. And there was not a match to any of Akhenaten’s known wives. Okay, our hands are not tied quite yet and we are finally able to find a maternal match with sample KV35YL, the DNA sample taken from a mummy designated “The Younger Lady”, found lying beside Queen Tiye. Here is where the water gets a bit murky. The Younger Lady was the sister of Akhenaten, making Tut the product of incest.

So the information of the incest and the club foot led to a question of: are there any other hereditary problems that could have led to Tut’s early death? If you go back to Tut’s great grandfather, Thutmose IV, all the men have wide hips and accentuated female characteristics. This is due to a condition known as gynecomastia. Also, they died early. It is estimated that Thutmose IV died at an age between 25 and 33 years old; Amenhotep III died at the age of 38 or 39 and Akhenaten died when he was between 28 and 45, although it is commonly believed to be on the younger ends of the scale.

Now let’s take into account the religious visions of Tut’s father and great grandfather. Thutmose IV while taking a rest after hunting had a vision of the Sphinx. It told Thutmose that if he uncovered all the sand that engulfed the feet of the Sphinx, it would make sure he ascended the throne. This vision is chronicled in the Sphinx Stele. Akhenaten had a religious vision that caused him to turn against the polytheistic pantheon, build the city of Amarna to honor the one God, Aten.

What can cause all of this: young death, religious visions and a hereditary problem compounded by a small gene pool? The only really good fit is familial temporal epilepsy. And when you look at all the information and that fact that the epilepsy would not have been treated in King Tut, it seems likely that he had a grand mal seizure, fell (causing the broken femur) and passed away either due to the fall or through sepsis (infection) caused by the damage of the fracture.

wildhuntThere is more damage to the body that just what I have covered.  However, I did not go over it because it was done post-mummification.  In fact, it was done by Carter and his crew when they removed the death mask from the mummy, as it was essentially glued to the body.  That is why I said earlier that I did not concur with the bone fractures done during mummification. I find it far more likely that it was just more damage done by Carter.

I would like to conclude by saying that this was a fascinating documentary and if you get the chance to see it, do.  I think you will find it very informative.

Happy New Year – 2015!

I would like to thank everyone who has dropped by this page over the past year. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading my posts – maybe I was able to teach you something. Who knows? But I wanted to say “Thanks” and wish you and everyone you love a very happy new year! Be safe out there!!

Personally, I have nothing planned for this New Year’s Eve (unless I get a call from an awesome organization about a job *fingerscrossed* – in which case I will be celebrating). But my dedication to you, dear reader, has been with me to the last! That is why I spent this morning fixing all my dead videos!! WOOT!!

So, enjoy the time with your loved ones; be sure to love yourself in the coming year as well as your pet, neighbor, neighbor’s pet and, hell, even your co-workers!! Spread the love!!

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Africa’s (Actually the World’s) Deadliest Animal Shows Compassion

If you were to ask a group of people what they thought Africa’s deadliest animal was – not including insects – you will probably get a diverse group of answers from reptiles like the Puff Adder, Crocodiles and the Black Mamba to mammals like Lions, Elephants and Rhinos.  But not many people know that the actual culprit is the Hippopotamus. According to statistics provided by the African Wildlife Foundation hippos kill nearly 3,000 people every year. hippo-rps-600Hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibious) are known to be aggressive and unpredictable while exhibiting fear of nothing.  They have been known to attack and kill crocodiles.  One report from 2009 was featured on the Telegraph’s web site.  A 1974 issue of Science Digest featured an article entitled “The Dangerous Hippo” by George and Lory Frame that stated:

            “Nearly all of the famous African explorers and hunters–Livingstone, Stanley, Burton, Selous, Speke, DuChaillu–had boating mishaps with hippos. All considered the hippo to be a wantonly malicious beast. Not long ago Spencer Tyron, a white hunter, was killed while hunting near the shores of Lake Rukwa, Tanzania. A bull hippo turned over the dugout canoe from which Tyron was shooting, and bit off his head and shoulders.”

Now add in the following facts:  they can run faster than you (18 mph) and can weigh up to 3 ½ tons (7,000 pounds or 3,175.15 kilograms). Crocodylus_niloticus_in_Lake_Chamo_02A Nile crocodile on average can reach 13 – 16 feet in length and weight 0.45 ton (900 pounds, 410 kilograms).  However, it is considered “not uncommon” for crocs to reach 20 feet and 1 ton (2,000 pounds, 900 kilograms) but was seen more in the 40s and 50s prior to severe hunting.  The Nile crocodile (Crocodyus porosus) is second only to the Saltwater Croc in size and aggression.  The crocodile is considered to be a more opportunistic animal than the hippo and carry a death toll of up to 200 a year. Wildebeest-Blue-2The gnu, or wildebeest, is an antelope that can weigh between 0.32 ton (639 pounds, 290 kilograms) for males and 0.29 ton (573 pounds, 260 kilograms) for females.  Males reach a height 150 cm (4.9 feet) at the shoulder and females stand about 120 cm (3.9 feet).  The yearly death toll they cause is minimal to nonexistent (mostly stupid people keeping them as pets or freak accidents). So what can happen when you put all three together?  Something amazing. The Daily Mail reported on March 11th about a rarely seen event.  While on safari in the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya in 2011, photographer Vadim Onishchenko was able to capture on film a group of hippos (known as a bloat) rescue and protect a gnu from a crocodile.  One of the largest hippos is even seen nudging the gnu to encourage it to move out of the water.  Onishchenko said:

            “It was an incredible moment, the hippo actually tried to push it out of the water and then guarded the gnu to prevent the crocs getting close. . . . Even our safari guide was stunned by the hippos behaviour, he said he had never seen anything like it before.”

One of Onishchenko's photos.

One of Onishchenko’s photos.

Onishchenko filmed the scene for more than two hours.  And if you watch the video below at about 45 seconds in, you can see one of the hippos stomp on the crocodile in order to get it to let go of the wildebeest. The wildebeest did make it ashore with Onishchenko saying:

            “We saw the gnu escape the water but it stood there for quite a while as I think it was in shock. When we left the animal was still ashore and seemed uninjured but we had to leave as it was getting dark.”

I can guarantee the gnu did not escape unscathed (as I have some first hand experience with an alligator and he was a baby!).  But I hope his injuries heal and have no ill effects except for giving him a little extra wisdom.

Versatile Blogger Award

Ok, I have been extended the honor of being nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award.  So my deepest thanks go out to Mac1949 for thinking my blog deserved the distinction.  So as a result, I am to list seven things about myself.  And as a bonus to my readers I will try to list things that are not obvious.  So here goes:

1.  I am fascinated by WWII.  Not so much the battles as the people.  I have a morbid fascination with Hitler and the Nazis.  I do not agree with their actions or mentality but I have that curiosity of poking a dead snake with a stick.  That was probably clear as mud, for which I apologize.

2.  I can pinpoint the turning point of my life and biggest regret to March of 1996.

3.  I despised school when I was growing up and I never read unless I had to (or was offered free pizza during the summer).  Even when I first started college I was not a big school person.  Now?  I love to learn and read constantly.  You can’t stop me!!

4.  My secret passion and dream job is to be either a professional nature photographer or to do photojournalism but still concentrating on my love of animals and nature.

5.  I am a mediocre cook but there have been times when I experiment and just wing it.  A lot of those times, flying by the seat of my pants, I hit on something really yummy.

6.  I am addicted to everything British and Scottish.  I love their TV shows including Qi and Hamish MacBeth.  And I adore their accents.  That is one reason why I love Douglas Henshall.

7.  I am a huge animal rights person.  I worked as a zookeeper and love exotic animals as well as domestic.

As a nominee I have also been asked to name 15 other blogs that I feel are deserving of a nomination.  My picks are (in no particular order):

1. Exotic Animal Lover: Learn about exotic animals at this blog, where Kim Edwards writes for people who have a passion for nature in the world, endangered species and more.

2.  Bucket List Publications:  This is Lesley’s blog and I am super jealous!!  She travels a lot and has adventures all over the world.  Amazing stuff.  This was previously known as Lesley’s Adventure Blog!!

3. Adventures in Nature:  Wonderful animal and nature blog by Rochelle.

4.  Texts From Last Night:  This site is hilarious.  It lists crazy texts that people send from all over the world and you can view it by area code.

5.  Olga, The Traveling Bra:  yes, you read that right.  This blog chronicles the adventures of a (rather lovely) black bra named Olga.  A delightful blog that had been inactive for a while but is back full force.

6.  World Zoo Today: This site hopes to bring zoos, aquariums, wildlife refuges, rescue centers, scientists and animal lovers together to work for animal conservation and education.

7.  ALDF Blog: Since 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. An awesome site to learn about current cases and campaigns.

8.  Depp!: A blog about the gloriously drool-worthy Johnny Depp.

9.  Funny Quotes and Sayings:  The title says it all.

10.  Fun And Food Blog:  This site has some amazing recipes with jaw dropping photos.  Yummy!

11.  Cat Blogosphere: An wonderful site that offers an impressive selection of daily news from cat bloggers at blogs around the web.

12.  Nora The Piano Cat:  Nora’s official blog with updates and merchandise.

13.  Fox Wood Wildlife Rescue:  They deal with more than just fox pups!  Amazing people!

14.  The Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife:  In memory of the late Bill Hicks – who was a profound animal lover – this Texas Foundation made up of a network of volunteers is doing their part for animal well being.  They specialize in mammals and marsupials.

15.  Romeo The Cat Animal Rescue:  A fun blog with a bit of quirk.  Plus they have been able to raise $60,000 for animals in need.  Gotta love it!!

So those are my picks.  Please, go out and spread the love!  Thank you all.