Notes: Episode 32, The Aten Heresy (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


4:01 – That would be Lucy, the fossil who would eventually be classified as Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1974 by an international team of archaeologists, paleontologists, and anthropologists. Believed to be about 3.2 million years old, the fossil was in notably good shape and taught us a lot about human ancestry as well as popularizing anthropaleontology. It also completely blew my 8 year old mind.

25:42 – In general, you want to watch out for theories that have very little in the way of hard proof and base their legitimacy on the “neatness” of the theory. If there isn’t either lots of evidence or some very convincing credentials behind some information, you should probably disregard it. Honestly, if people making stuff up on the internet trying to fill some pat little conspiracy theory would just bite the bullet and write fiction, we’d be living in a golden age of literature. I realize that I’m saying this as a source from the internet that relies on neatly put together stories and has little in the way of credentials. You probably shouldn’t listen to me either – except then you’d be listening to strangers on the internet, wouldn’t you? Which includes me. This is called a paradox, and if you’re a robot, you might be dead now.

28:04 –  Maybe “almost certain” is a little strong. The tomb known as KV55 is widely believed to belong to Akhenaten, but it’s not a 100% verification. However, much of our knowledge of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and the end of the 18th dynasty relies on the assumption that it is in fact Akhenaten’s mummy buried there – for example, the mummy found at KV55 is genetically proven to be Tutankhamun’s father. If at some point it is proven not to be him, our entire current understanding would essentially crumble. It seems highly unlikely, but given some of the uncertainty of that era, I’d be hesitant to call it impossible.

32:34 – Egyptian genealogy is a nightmare. Nefertiti’s father was most likely Ay, who we’ll be seeing later as an interim pharaoh. Ay was the brother of Tiye, Amenhotep III’s wife and likely mother of Akhenaten, making Akhenaten and Nefertiti cousins. So yes, I did technically get that one right, but given my level of confidence I don’t blame anyone for checking here for clarification.

46:33 – Maybe I wasn’t clear here. I think that the Discovery Channel and its affiliates have gotten really, really bad. They can be fun, but my word are they awful when it comes to their original mandate of, you know, the truth.

49:15 – Not really a correction, but I just realized how confusing this section must be to listen to. When you’re speaking, it’s easy to have the name “Ay” in mind. It mostly just sounds like I’m doing a bunch of things – “I took over” and whatnot. Good luck!

49:53 – Ay was Tutankhamun’s uncle once removed through Akhenaten. As Nefertiti was not Tutankhamun’s mother, that means Ay was only related via one main vector, which is surprisingly good in this situation; he kind of ruined it, however, by marrying his niece once removed in order to solidify his claim. It’s also notable that he was great uncle once removed through both Tutankhamun’s (and therefore Ankhesenamun’s) mother’s and father’s sides, as Akhenaten and his sister were parents to both of them. I told you Egytpian genealogy was a nightmare.

52:04 – Again, this genetic confirmation does rest on the assumption that the KV55 mummy is indeed Akhenaten. The logic isn’t quite as circular as it seems, though; it’s unambiguous that the KV55 mummy is Tutankhamun’s father. The only uncertainty that follows is whether that mummy is indeed Akhenaten. The preponderance of evidence does suggest that it is, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *