Monday, March 08, 2010

Time for the Great Pyramid?

Archaeology Magazine (Mark Rose)

Like any scientific research, the methods, data, and conclusions presented in JAMA can now be evaluated and debated. Right now, for example, I am working on a short piece about the results to go into our May/June issue. There’s something I’m checking about one point of the DNA analysis, and I wish that more of the CT scan-bone interpretation side of the study had been presented here. The implication of malaria as a cause in Tut’s death seems speculative—he might have had it earlier and survived. In places, what’s in the JAMA paper seems to have been overplayed in the media. Tut’s widely reported “cleft palette” is actually a partially cleft palette and within the normal range of variation.

But the point is that Hawass and colleagues have done the science and put the results out there for discussion. That’s how it should work. Interestingly, a week or two back I received in the mail a copy of Khufu’s Pyramid Revealed from architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, whose investigations into the possible use of an internal spiral ramp in the construction of the Great Pyramid were featured in Bob Brier’s article “How to Build a Pyramid” (May/June 2007) and update “Return to the Great Pyramid” (July/August 2009). Though I have only known Houdin for a few years, his passion and boundless energy for this topic strike me as quite similar to Hawass’s.


Anonymous said...

Done the science? I don't think so. Time for hawass to retire.

Keith Payne/Shemsu Sesen said...

Dr. Hawass was supposed to retire from his position with the SCA this year, as required by law. When he was appointed Vice Minister of Culture last Fall his status placed him above that law, so he decided to retain the position, along with his new cabinet position.

As his position with the ministry apparently makes him answerable only to himself with regard to his position with the SCA, I wouldn't look for his retirement any time soon. The best we can hope for is that the public attention he wields so deftly may be employed to apply some checks and balances to what might otherwise be arbitrary power.

Unfortunately, benevolent despots are generally benevolent on a whim. This is why the media was established inthe first place. Viva Mark Rose!