An Odd One... need a French speaker

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An Odd One... need a French speaker

#1  Postby hackenslash » Sep 02, 2021 4:41 pm

So, I've been watching a thread about a reconstruction of Ramses II from his mummy, wherein some lively discussion has been had because whoever did the reconstruction has given him fair skin and blonde hair, which has raised the eyebrows usually levelled at pictures of Cesaré Borgia, the central object of worship in Christianity.

Late in the thread, somebody has popped up saying that a forensic study showed that he was a ginger, based on a 'forensic' study, the nature of which I'm trying to ascertain, but which doesn't appear to be haplotyping or, indeed, anything else genetically related.

I've exhausted every bit of google-fu at my disposal, and I can't find any primary literature, just oodles of blogs repeating this. The interlocutor linked me to a scan of a page from the ANM in France, but French was never a strong point, even thirty years ago when I last had use for it.

I'm pretty confident that the red hair is because of henna dye, which was ubiquitous throughout the period and since, but I could do with a better idea than I can glean from this. Can anybody help?

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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#2  Postby hackenslash » Sep 02, 2021 5:47 pm

Tracked where the scan came from.

https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6445192d/f141.item

Also found this, which undermines the notion pf naturally red hair.

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/500828

Pretty confident this is a shoddy conclusion that's entered the realm of urban myth. Looks very probable that it was only henna.
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#3  Postby Beatrice » Sep 03, 2021 12:52 am

nm
Last edited by Beatrice on Sep 03, 2021 1:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#4  Postby Beatrice » Sep 03, 2021 1:02 am

I found the part where they talk about hair it's on page 122

It does say that Ramses was likely a white skinned Berbere, and that they found some red-pigments in the hair. So apparently, according to this Ramses was a true red-head.
I don't have much time atm but I could maybe give you a rough translation if you're interested. Or maybe someone else with more understanding of the topic will have a go!
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#5  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 03, 2021 3:50 am

I can read it to an adequate level, but there's no actual information about the nature of the forensic study. I assume it just means the hair and follicles were looked at through a microscope, which should be adequate to note whether the pigment is artificial or not. Given this occurred back in the 70's, the study certainly didn't involve genetic data.

However, I don't think it's a particularly exceptional claim, depending on how confidently it's asserted. Red hair is common among many of the peoples of North Africa, such as the Berbers whose ancestors resided there plausibly from the end of last Ice Age - and they have fairer skin than the people from Upper Egypt, the Nubians.

Because it's Egyptology, Wikipedia is actually a surprisingly comprehensive source.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_history_of_Egypt


A few generations later, but...

2012 and 2020 DNA analysis by Zahi Hawass' researchers, Egypt

In 2012 the DNA of the 20th dynasty mummies of Ramesses III and another mummy "Unknown Man E" believed to be Ramesses III's son Pentawer were analyzed by Albert Zink, Yehia Z Gad and a team of researchers under Zahi Hawass, then Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt. Genetic kinship analyses revealed identical haplotypes in both mummies using the Whit Athey's haplogroup predictor, they identified the Y chromosomal haplogroup E1b1a (E-M2) [20]

In 2020 Yehia Z Gad and other researchers of the Hawass team published results of an analysis of the mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal haplogroups of several mummies of 18th Dynasty Including Tutankhamun in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, Volume 30, Issue R1, 1 March 2021, Pages R24–R28,[21] https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddaa223. Results were used to provide information about the phylogenetic groups of his family members and their presence among the reported contemporary Egyptian population data. The analysis confirmed previous data of the Tutankhamun's ancestry with multiple controls authenticating all results. The proposed sibling relationship between Tutankhamun's parents, Akhenaten and the mummy known as the "younger lady" (KV35YL) is further supported. Genetic analysis indicated the following haplogroups:

Tutankhamun YDNA R1b / mtDNA K
Akhenaten YDNA R1b / mtDNA K
Tiye mtDNA K
Amenhotep III YDNA R1b / mtDNA K
Yuya G2a / mtDNA K
Thuya mtDNA K

The clade of R1b was not determined in this study. In the IGENA study of 2010, the clade determined of R1b was R-M269[22] which is essentially present in Europe and Middle East. A high frequency of R1b1a2 (R-V88), another clade of R1b, was observed among the Berbers from the Siwa Oasis (26.9%)[23] in Egypt and this haplogroup reaches it's highest frequency in Norther Cameroon at frequencies as high as 95%.[24] It is also found in some individuals in southern Europe and Western Asia.
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#6  Postby Beatrice » Sep 03, 2021 3:55 am

Ok, here's my attempt at a translation. It is very rough and very literal as 1) I suck at writing 2) I understand very little of the context.

Finally, the hair, of special interest because so well preserved: thin, supple, slightly wavy in places, a yellowish strawberry blond.

An oval section (the section is oval?), and in agreement with all the other anthropometric observations. It is characteristic of leucoderma cymotriche. closer to prehistoric Mediterranean, such as a white-skinned Berbere and not a black Nubian as was sometimes argued.

The microscopic exam reveals an almost intact morphology. One can find red (hair) pigments: he was a true red-head.
It's only at the macro fibrillar level that one can detect some (perturbations?), probably due to a partial (desegration?) of non-keratinous proteins
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#7  Postby hackenslash » Sep 03, 2021 5:48 am

Thanks, peeps. The piece certainly say what the interlocutor suggested, but I'm still pretty sceptical. Maybe it's because I'm so used to crystal clear data in the topics I usually cover. For me, the DNA analysis is the biggie, and we seem not to have any of that.

More research required, methinks.

@Beatrice Thank you so much for that. You're a superstar.
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#8  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 03, 2021 8:07 am

hackenslash wrote:Maybe it's because I'm so used to crystal clear data in the topics I usually cover.



It'd be ideal if all sciences complied to a universal standard deviation sigma score, but frankly, the vast majority of the historical sciences would struggle to fit onto a mutually meaningful scale with the physical sciences.

It's one of the reasons I lost interest in formally studying the social side of anthropology after just the first year: really, you could say anything you liked (at least in accordance with any available data) so long as you could concoct a nicely worded blag.

An alternative approach here that I would tend towards would be to say: we might not know for sure he had red hair, but it shouldn't be considered extraordinary to suppose it, and no significant ramifications (nearly a pun!) arise regardless of whether he was, or was not, a ginger.

At least it's potentially amenable to contemporary genetic testing, supposing the samples aren't irreversibly contaminated now.
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Re: An Odd One... need a French speaker

#9  Postby hackenslash » Sep 04, 2021 7:29 am

Yes. It's not something I know much about, but my vague grasp is that hair colour is determined by balance of two melanin pigments, with one dominating black to brown and the other dominating red to blonde. Oodles of perfectly valid reasons, including environmental factors during gestation, that could lead to the dominance of the latter.

And I agree. I like to be able to point to something and say 'that, right there, is a true fact about the world'.
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