Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pharaohs not allowed to be fat?

Fat prejudice is everywhere. I was cruising along, happily perusing a National Geographic article on "The She-King of Egypt," and hit this little gem:

When Zahi Hawass set out to find Her Majesty King Hatshepsut, he was fairly certain of one thing: The naked mummy found resting on the floor of a minor tomb was not her. "When I started searching for Hatshepsut, I never thought I would discover that she was this mummy," Hawass says. For starters, she had no apparent regal bearing; she was fat, and as Hawass wrote in an article published in the journal KMT, she had 'huge pendulous breasts' of the sort more likely to be found on Hatshepsut's wet nurse.
WTF?! Dr. Hawass has found a lot of fat mummies on various digs -- not pharaohs, but plenty of upper level bureaucrats (priests, usually) who were definitely rotund. He's been on the History Channel plenty of times talking about different excavations, tomb paintings, mummies, you name it and he's been there in what National Geographic calls his "trademark fedora." He knows that the middle and upper classes, if they lived long enough, turned portly. Except all the fat dudes he's dug up have been just that: dudes.

It was rather mind-blowing to realize that modern society's vision of what "successful" women are supposed to look like is so pervasive that even an experienced archeologist like Dr. Hawass was operating on autopilot and assuming that when/if he found Hatshepsut she'd look like Rachel Weisz (aka Princess Nefertiri) instead of what she was: a middle-aged woman who also happened to be the one person in ancient Egypt who never had to worry about going hungry.


  1. Everyone knows that Hatshepsut looked like Tyra Banks.

    Cleopatra, on the other hand, had an uncanny resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor.

  2. Now they are excavating 3 sites outside of Alexandria, where my son is living. Hoping that one is the tomb of Cleopatra, and the argument is ongoing as to whether she was a beauty or down right ugly. Give me a break...she's dead!

  3. They've been arguing about Cleo since before she died.

  4. cleopatra was she would look like a greek woman of today probably...they have pics of her on coins and she had a huge nose, and looked jowly...
    but everyone knows nefiriti looks like loretta young

  5. I'm laughing too hard at the comments to remember what I was going to type!


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