Vanishing Evidence Essay Series
Prof. Manu Ampim
June 2005 issue Original black ka-statue of Tutankhamen
CAIRIO SYMPOSIUM (1974)
The question of “What race were the ancient Egyptians?” was emphatically resolved at the historic international Cairo Symposium, held from January 28 – February 3, 1974. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convened 20 of the world’s top Egyptologists to debate the race of the founders of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Until this symposium, it was
assumed by the vast majority of European Egyptologists that the ancient
Egyptians were either Caucasians or western Asiatics. Outside of Black scholars, few writers in the
world agreed that the people of pharaonic
Armed with a formidable body of
evidence from numerous academic disciplines, Diop presented specific
information to prove the black origins of Kemet (ancient
Professors El Nadury (
Prof. Jean Leclant
Dr. Diop protested that these were not positive arguments presenting any evidence, but simply negative statements against his black African origins position. In fact Maurice Glélé, the neutral UNESCO representative, interjected on at least two occasions to state that if classifying people in terms of white, black, or yellow are so debatable and subjective then a revision should be made of the entire terminology of world history to avoid misconceptions. It is clear that the participants abandoned the old Caucasoid and western Asiatic theories and instead retreated to a new “mixed race” position, without presenting any meaningful evidence to support this new theory.
Nevertheless, the conclusion of the official UNESCO report indicates the triumph of Diop and his colleague Obenga. It stated, “Although the preparatory working paper sent out by UNESCO gave particulars of what was desired, not all participants had prepared communications comparable with the painstakingly researched contributions of Professors Cheikh Anta Diop and Obenga. There was consequently a real lack of balance in the discussions.” In laymen terms, Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophilé Obenga gave out an important academic spanking on a world stage. Western Egyptologists now unsuccessfully try and downplay the significance of Diop’s triumph over their colleagues.
MAGAZINE FANTASIES: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC & KMT
Since the 1974 Cairo Symposium,
the “Caucasoid origins” theory has been slowly abandoned in academic
writings. However, this fanciful view
has continued to enjoy life in the popular media, such as in TV docu-dramas,
modern paintings, cartoons and comic books, museum displays which focus on the
foreign period of Greco-Roman occupation, and drawings in scholarly and popular
magazines such as National Geographic. For decades, National Geographic Magazine
has played a prominent role in misrepresenting ancient Egyptian images, beginning
with its influential October 1941 issue which included 23 paintings by H. M.
Herget, and text by William Hayes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
Unfortunately, these outrageous National Geographic images are still used today by Euro-American scholars as illustrations in publications, and in television documentaries to supplement their “academic” writings. National Geographic continues to be an important leader in promoting imaginary Caucasian images of ancient Egyptians. This publication has set a precedent with its October 1941 issue, which it and other publications continue to use more than a half century later.
For example KMT Magazine, the over-priced ($8.95) California-based publication, in its Spring 2005 issue continues to reproduce the image of the Deng, which is most vile and absurd anti-African painting in this 1941 series. The editors of KMT -- like National Geographic -- are completely shameless in their racist representations of African people. This ongoing fraud and deliberate misrepresentation of ancient images demonstrates a relentless attempt to steal African heritage and denigrate Black people in the process.
KING TUTANKHAMEN & FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION
There is a current controversy around the exhibit, “Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” at the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA). The recent shocking facial reconstruction of King Tutankhamen as a “North African Caucasoid” has caused considerable concern and protests from the public, because this modern bust of King Tut is not a real artifact, yet it is placed in the same exhibit as the authentic artifacts from his tomb. At the LACMA exhibit (until November 15, 2005), visitors are misled to believe that this 21st century artistic interpretation and reconstruction of Tutankhamen is connected to the actual artifacts, when in fact there is absolutely no such relationship. National Geographic, the usual ally of racial propaganda and deceit, carried this same “Caucasoid” image as a frontpage cover story in its June 2005 issue. The magazine appropriately indicated that this image is “the new face of King Tut.” This facial reconstruction was done under the name of “forensic science,” as modern artists have entered the digital age and thus have moved from stencil and paintbrush to computer graphics. With the term “forensic” it is often assumed that this implies an “exact science,” although this is not the case.
Forensic reconstruction has been used since 1895 with the pioneering work of the German anatomist Wilhelm His. Over the past 100 years, computer technologies and digital imaging have now redefined the forensic field. Computer tomography (CT) scans, for example, chart the contours and topography of the skull and obtain detailed data that allow researchers and artists to create a three-dimensional likeness of the deceased person. Forensic reconstruction and illustrative art are used to help identify crime victims, and are used in archeology to create a likeness of a deceased person from the distant past. Forensic reconstruction, then, is “any art that aids in the identification of unknown deceased persons.”
However, although this forensic technique has significantly developed over the past century it still remains an art, not an exact science. In constructing an image, forensic artists have to give a “guesstimate” of the person’s nose, lips, ears, hair, ethnicity and skin color. These gaps are filled in by the overall working assumptions that the artists are using. These data are often supplied by anthropologists or archeologists who are also working on the case. Thus, it is important that the data inputted is accurate, because the wrong data will always lead to wrong conclusions. In other words, “garbage in, means garbage out.”
The latest controversial forensic
reconstruction of Tutankhamen is the result of CT scans in January 2005,
carried out by
Below: Tutankhamen is represented in the two
browned-skinned middle images. (Tomb of Tutankhamen).
Below: Tutankhamen is represented in the two browned-skinned middle images.
(Tomb of Tutankhamen).
Zahi Hawass standing over Tutankhamen’s mummy, with the two brown-skinned images of Tutankhamen on the far left.
(Tomb of Tutankhamen). Hawass does not wear gloves or a face mask to protect the mummy from bacteria.
The CT machine scanned Tutankhamen’s mummy from head to toe and created 1,700 digital x-ray images. The SCA wanted to determine with the scans how King Tut died. This question is still not known, but it is certain that he was not killed from a blow to the head as was speculated by many Egyptologists and historians. However, the CT scans did give Hawass a chance to commission teams of forensic artists to reconstruct Tut’s image as a “North African Caucasoid.” This Caucasoid hypothesis is completely imaginary and not supported by any first-hand evidence. It completely ignores all of the dark-skinned Africoid paintings of Tutankhamen on the walls of his tomb, his brown and black skinned statues, his Africoid thick lips, and his all-black family members. There were three forensic teams (American, Egyptian, and French) that each produced totally different results from the same CT scan produced data. The three teams created their reconstructions separately -- the Americans and French working from a plastic skull, the Egyptians working directly from the CT scans. The French and Egyptians knew they were recreating King Tut, but the Americans were not told where the skull was from. Totally ignoring the actual results, Hawass claims that "The results of the three teams were identical or very similar in the basic shape of the face, the size, shape and setting of the eyes, and the proportion of the skull." Despite the claims of Hawass, any reasonable person can view the forensic results of the three teams and determine that the images are fundamentally different.
Results of the French reconstruction team.
Results of the Egyptian reconstruction team.
Results of the American reconstruction team.
It is obvious that all three versions are significantly different, particularly the treatment of the neck, chin, lips, and head shape. Hawass himself even admitted that “the noses of all three are different.”
The color was arbitrarily added by the French team without any relevant data. The National Geographic article indicates that, “Skin tone, which could have varied from very dark to very light, was based on an average shade of modern Egyptians.” There have been no meaningful studies or data collected regarding the skin tones of ancient or modern Egyptians, thus the pale color of the French reconstruction is completely arbitrary and lacks credibility.
Hawass, representing the SCA, claims that the results of the three teams are identical or very similar in the shape of the face, the size, shape, and setting of the eyes, and the proportions of the skull. Further, he even stretching all credibility and further asserts that “the shape of the face and skull [of the three results] are remarkably similar to a famous image of Tutankhamen…where he is shown…rising from a lotus blossom.”
When the modern forensic images are compared to the authentic Tutankhamen lotus flower image, it is plain to see that they are dramatically different and that Hawass is under a heavy illusion as his statements totally lack honesty:
American reconstruction Tutankhamen lotus image Tutankhamen actual skull
Tutankhamen half-body sculpture Tutankhamen lotus image French reconstruction
Egyptian reconstruction Tutankhamen lotus image Tutankhamen on throne
From the three forensic reconstructions, we can conclude the following:
1. The three different teams came up with differing shapes of nose, ears, lips, chin/jaw, and neck;
2. The assignment of the skin color was completely arbitrary and was based on an assumption of the “average” color of the modern Egyptian population.
*See Dr. Ahmed Saleh, current member of the SCA, for his opposition to the position of Zahi Hawass, the problem with the “false image of Tutankhamen,” and the problem with facial reconstructions of Egyptians.
Finally, it is of interest to note that nowhere does Zahi Hawass, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, or National Geographic show any of the original Tutankhamen images or his actual skull next to the three modern images for the readers to compare. We are simply given Hawass’ biased personal opinion that all of the images are “identical” or “remarkably similar.” National Geographic writer A.R. Williams further misleads the public with his statement that the CT scans provide “precise data for an accurate reconstruction.”
“The false image of Tutankhamen” (left) compared to original Africoid images from Tut’s tomb.
2002 TUTANKHAMEN RECONSTRUCTIONS
There were two other forensic
versions of King Tutankhamen made in 2002, and again they look totally
different from all of the others. The
process of creating these Tut images was equally unreliable as the 2005
versions, and it involved mere guesswork.
To create the modern 2002 Tut
bust, scientists in
reconstructions of "Tutankhamen" are dramatically different and have no
These 2002 reconstructions of "Tutankhamen" are dramatically different and have no resemblance.
Middle: In the
1983 TUTANKHAMEN RECONSTRUCTIONS
In 1983 Betty Pat. Gatliff, who has over 30 years experience in doing facial reconstructions in clay for police agencies and various museums, did a facial reconstruction of King Tut. It was pictured in Life Magazine in 1983 and again in National Geographic World in 1985. Gatliff’s reconstruction is yet another distinct version of Tutankhamen, as she depicts him with brownish skin (closer to reddish-brown) and a round face. Gatliff’s Tut version is not very accurate but it is closer to the authentic images than the three 2005 versions, as she depicts him with the brown skin tone that Tutankhamen is always portrayed with by the ancient African artists (other than Tutankhamen’s two jet-black ka statues, now in the Cairo Museum).
Little more needs to be said
about this unreliable forensic art reconstruction process, as every forensic artist for the past
twenty years has produced a unique version of Tutankhamen. Despite this fact, the public is being misled
by the SCA and National Geographic to
believe that the scanned digital images have somehow made the work of modern forensic
artists completely “accurate” and thoroughly “scientific.” I indicated in 2002 that we should be careful
of taking *any* forensic reconstruction serious. There is no reason to
replace authentic and original paintings and sculpture of Tutankhamen (or
anyone else) with modern artistic guesswork and biased interpretations.
Even if the forensic results showed Tutankhamen as a black African, it would be
folly to fall for the game of modern propagandists, who are attempting to move
the public away from the primary sources toward modern interpretations based on
racial illusions and imaginary “North African Caucasoids.”
Back in 2002, there was much debate about whether the King Tut forensic
reconstruction by the
Postscript: Previous Examinations
In 1925, three years after the discovery of the tomb, the mummy of King Tutankhamen was dismantled by Howard Carter’s team, which was interested primarily in recovering the almost 150 jewels and other items wrapped with the body and gaining scientific information from the body itself. In order to remove the objects from the body and the body from the coffin, Carter’s team cut the body into a number of pieces (for example, the trunk was cut in half, the arms and legs were detached). The head, cemented by the solidified resins to the golden mask, was severed, and removed from the mask with hot knives. Carter placed the mummy back in the tomb in 1926. The mummy has now been X-rayed three times, once in 1968 by a team from the
The Peopling of Ancient
symbols that are central to ancient Egyptian culture are exclusively African
symbols such as the ostrich feather
representing divine law; leopard-skin
outfit worn by high priests and pharaohs; lotus flower representing spiritual transformation and also
southern Egypt; sledge plant representing
kingship in southern Egypt; ivory and
granite used for utensils and
construction respectively; the country name KMT
meaning the black land or the land of black people; the southern orientation where the term imnty means both west and right (in the sense of
direction), and i3bty means both east
and left. Thus for the ancient
Egyptians, on a map the region of
3. UNESCO, Peopling, p. 91.
Hayes, “Daily Life in Ancient
5 Omar Zuhdi, “The African Journeys of Count Harkhuf & the Gift of a Dancing Dwarf,” KMT Magazine, vol. 16, no. 1 (Spring 2005), pp. 74-80.