Neither did Pharaonic Egypt escape pandemics. “Yes, the plague came to them, but it came from Asia. Herodotus already commented that they were the cleanest people in the world at that time.” And also “the most humane and bloodless state of the ancient Mediterranean”, although that does not imply that there were no murderous plots and conspiracies, such as the one that ended with Ramses III slaughtered, as he well remembers, now from the tranquility that retirement grants him, the Catalan Egyptologist Josep Padró (Barcelona, 1946), an authority on the subject that this summer has published ‘Secrets of Ancient Egypt‘(Criticism), nourished by little-known or surprising aspects of the “microhistory” of this civilization.
Founder and President of the Catalan Society of Egyptology, Padró starts out strong in the book: with a couple of assassinations perfectly documented at the time, that of Amenemes I and the aforementioned, of Ramses III, who ended up a victim of the harem plot, promoted by another aspirant to the throne, Pentaur, and his mother, Queen Tiyi. It wasn’t until 2012 that the mummy of this last great New Kingdom king was discovered to have a large knife wound to the neck, measuring three inches. A CT scan revealed that the cut had severed her trachea and arteries down to almost her spine and that during the mummification an amulet had been placed on the wound.
“This case contradicts the widespread opinion that the pharaonic monarchy, of thousands of years, passed peacefully and without frights. That is not true, the ambition for power always existed and, for example, Tell el-Amarna -capital created by Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh- ended up with spies coming and going, conspirators, assassins of all kinds and foreign agents, also during the twentieth century [como con la polémica salida del país del famoso busto de Nefertiti hacia Berlín durante la primera guerra mundial]”explains this emeritus professor of the UB, who excavated in Heracleópolis Magna and since 1992 has directed the archaeological mission of Oxirrinco, which managed to close its last campaign just before the confinement, in March.
Back in 1300 BC, Padró believes that Nefertiti died, never reigning as a widow, 12 years before her royal husband, Akhenaten, and that who reigned after him was actually Meritaton, his eldest daughter, whom the pharaoh would have married. “In the inscriptions and the letters she is indicated as ‘the lonely queen’, a queen without a king” -he points out- who wrote an unusual letter to the enemy Hittite king Suppiluliuma: “My husband is dead. I have no children. But they say that yours are numerous. If you give me one of them, it will be my husband. I will never take one of my servants for a husband! I am afraid, “say tablets from Hittite sources. Motives were not lacking, threatened by those who wanted to annihilate the Amarnian revolution of her father and husband, which established the monotheistic religion of Aten, the sun god. The Hittite sent a son, but he never became pharaoh of Egypt: he was killed during the trip. The plot, then, succeeded and opened the door to the reign of his young half-brother Tutankhamun, husband of his sister Anjesenamón.
Sex without taboos and “divine fellatio”
The veteran Egyptologist also highlights that although there was “400 known male kings, only five women were legally queens“, the best known Hatshepsut and Cleopatra.” It was the only civilization of antiquity where a woman could reach the highest magistracy of the country, be pharaoh, because since the II dynasty, the law established that women could be kings, not queen or regent, but heads of state. “A status that extended, he adds, to the everyday sphere.” Married women could make a will and leave their assets apart from the husband. It was a monogamous society, except for the king, who was allowed polygamy and incest. “
A society, he adds, “that I lived sex without taboos, which was part of everyday life“. And of the gods. It is only necessary to go to the story of Osiris, dismembered by his brother Seth. He questions that an oxyrhynus ate the phallus of Osiris and affirms that it was thanks to a” divine fellatio “by his wife and sister, the goddess Isis, reincarnated in that sacred fish, who could beget Horus.
Respectful of his colleagues, Padró does not enter to assess the controversial hypotheses about Nefertiti’s mummy. “We have no idea. Egyptologists tend to find evidence that we are not looking for instead of what we are convinced we will find in a place“Many secrets, you know, are still hidden.