The Algerian singer, Djillali Rezkellah, has passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 49. [more inside]
One of the modern world's favorite stories of ancient Egypt is the religious upheaval and family drama of Akhenaten, the "Heretic Pharaoh," and his queen Nefertiti. (Previously.) Since the regime's history was deliberately obliterated by later pharaohs, archaeologists have had to reconstruct the whole story, leaving many open questions. No one has even been able to say how exactly the members of the royal family were related, particularly whether Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamun, everyone's favorite boy-king (previously). This February, leading scientists published an article in JAMA [abstract with paywall] regarding the results of the King Tutankhamun Family Project -- DNA analysis on the mummies of royal family members, some never identified. It may be that the question of the pharaoh's descent and relations has been answered at last, and that we now can identify an unnamed skeleton, hidden in a woman's tomb, to be the remains of Akhenaten. However, the data is not definitive, and since "leading scientists," in Egypt, are always led by the colorful and dictatorial Dr. Zahi Hawass, there is bound to be some argument. [more inside]
Akhetaten (a.k.a. Amarna) was the city built by Pharaoh Akhenaten, famous for his monotheistic beliefs and his queen, Nefertiti and son, Tutankhamun. The Amarna Letters has translations of correspondence sent to the Akhenaten, but a trove of it was found at the Amarna site. During his reign a distinctive style of art rose to prominence, only to vanish after his death. The Boston MFA has 40 objects from the era in its collection. Perhaps the most famous of the cultural artifacts of Akhenaten is the Great Hymn to Aten (hieroglyphics, four different English translations: 1, 2, 3, 4). This poem was set to music by Philip Glass for his opera Akhnaten (information about the opera). Some see direct parallels between The Great Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104. Though it was billed as a new beginning, like many utopias, Amarna was no haven for the regular folk who lived there.