It just wouldn’t have been the same with a Redhead like, oh, Conan O’Brien playing the Pharaoh… but might have been more authentic.
OK, I’m finding this out a bit late. Most of the articles have a date stamp of a year ago, some even older. So if you already know this, please forgive… but I didn’t know it… so it’s all new to me, and a bit “odd”…
It seems that several of the Pharaohs of Egypt were Redheads.
Now in The Bible we have a Redhead in Esau ( as in the brother of Jacob) and King David is reputed to have had red hair. The Berbers, for some tribes, along the north cost of Africa have an incidence of Redheads about the same as the Irish, and I’ve had it asserted that the Phoenicians were Redheads…
So I’m starting to get this picture of 2000 BC with a whole lot of European Redhead type folks running around North Africa and the Mediterranean including Egypt. Not quite the same image you would expect from looking at the often uniform black hair Arabic look common in Egypt today.
Now this ought not to be too big a surprise, as we’ve had folks moving in droves all over the world in time periods of 100 or so years for a few thousand years now. Things change, and we’ve had plagues and military adventures galore wipe out whole populations that got filled in from somewhere else. Frankly, that’s part of why I find the Redhead Gene interesting as it’s fairly easy to spot that population. It’s a recessive trait, so if you’ve got a Redhead you pretty much know what you’ve got.
Red hair (also referred to as titian or ginger hair) varies from a deep burgundy through burnt orange to bright copper. It is characterized by high levels of the reddish pigment pheomelanin and relatively low levels of the dark pigment eumelanin. People with red hair are often referred to as redheads or gingers and in Australian slang as bluey or blue. Approximately 1% to 2% of the human population has red hair. It occurs more frequently (between 2% and 6% of the population) in northern and western Europeans, and their descendants, and at lower frequencies throughout other parts of the world. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein. It is associated with fair skin color, lighter eye colors (gray, blue, green, and hazel), freckles, and sensitivity to ultraviolet light.
Yeah, we stand out… ( I’m one of those folks with “Dark Ash Blond” hair with red highlights (per the Clairol color chart) but with a red beard. At least, before it started turning white… And I’ve got the typical set of redhead gene artifacts including freckles, pale skin that never tans, sunburn if I leave the refrigerator door open too long making a selection, and blue eyes. And the genetics are very clear and leave easily measured markers in the melanin type.
So over the years I’ve kept an eye open for notable Redheads. When they found redhead mummies in central asia wearing tartan, that was interesting too. ( Here’s a random link for folks wanting to know more about them that includes this bit “The two Xinjiang mummies belonged to the same genetic lineage as most modern-day Swedes, Finns, Tuscans, Corsicans, and Sardinians.” )
Furthermore, in South America the legend was that a Redhead had come to teach them things, then left, but promised to return. Both places have pyramids. So it starts to look like maybe that hypothetical Egyptian connection could have a bit more evidence showing up. The Egyptians had some very large ships and it’s not all THAT far to cross the Atlantic.
But still, somehow the idea of a Redhead playing the Pharoah instead of Yul Brynner just seems a bit odd…
Ok, some links. These are semi-random results of just doing a Google, so no endorsement from me (some of them seem to have a bit of a racist tone to them), while I’m more interested in the vision of a Redheaded Cleopatra ;-) or at least, that’ what the Washington Post said:
Helen of Troy was a redhead. Cleopatra was a redhead. The ancient goddess of love, Aphrodite, was a redhead. Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (“Venus on the Half Shell”) shows a redhead. Titian painted so many redheads, his name became a label for a particular kind of red.
Columbus was a redhead. As was Isabella of Spain. Leif Ericson found the continent ahead of them, and Thomas Jefferson shaped up America afterward. Redheads also count among their number Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Catherine the Great, Charlemagne, Winston Churchill, Hernando Cortes, Oliver Cromwell, Ponce de Leon, the Marquis de Sade, Queen Elizabeth I, Galileo, Vladimir Lenin, Mary, Queen of Scots, kings of Sweden, France, Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Scotland, Ireland and Persia, and eight kings of England, including Henry VIII and William the Conqueror, according to “The Redhead Encyclopedia” by Stephen Douglas.
And it was in the newspaper so it must be true ;-)
But I guess with Cousins like that, we could expect a Pharoah or two…
Microscopic inspection of the roots of Ramesses II’s hair proved that the original color of the king’s hair was once red which suggests that he came from a family of redheads. This has more than just cosmetic significance; in ancient Egypt, people with red hair were associated with the god Seth, the slayer of Osiris, and the name of Ramesses II’s father, Seti I, means “follower of Seth.”
In other links I’ve seen it reported that Seti I was also a Redhead. So Ramesses’ mother would have been at least a carrier of the gene too. You need two copies to have the red hair expressed.
Professor P. F. Ceccaldi, with a research team behind him, studied some hairs which were removed from the mummy’s scalp. Ramesses II was 90 years-old when he died, and his hair had turned white. Ceccaldi determined that the reddish-yellow colour of the mummy’s hair had been brought about by its being dyed with a dilute henna solution; it proved to be an example of the cosmetic attentions of the embalmers. However, traces of the hair’s original colour (in youth), remain in the roots, even into advanced old age. Microscopic examinations proved that the hair roots contained traces of natural red pigments, and that therefore, during his youth, Ramesses II had been red-haired. It was concluded that these red pigments did not result from the hair somehow fading, or otherwise altering post-mortem, but did indeed represent Ramesses’ natural hair colour. Ceccaldi also studied a cross-section of the hairs, and he determined from their oval shape, that Ramesses had been “cymotrich” (wavy-haired). Finally, he stated that such a combination of features showed that Ramesses had been a “leucoderm” (white-skinned person). [Balout, et al. (1985) 254-257.]
Balout and Roubet were under no illusions as to the significance of this discovery, and they concluded as follows:
“After having achieved this immense work, an important scientific conclusion remains to be drawn: the anthropological study and the microscopic analysis of hair, carried out by four laboratories: Judiciary Medecine (Professor Ceccaldi), Société L’Oréal, Atomic Energy Commission, and Institut Textile de France showed that Ramses II was a ‘leucoderm’, that is a fair-skinned man, near to the Prehistoric and Antiquity Mediterraneans, or briefly, of the Berber of Africa.” [Balout, et al. (1985) 383.]
It is interesting to note the link to the North African Berbers: some Berber tribes, such as the Riffians of the Atlas Mountains, have incidences of blondism reaching almost 60%, and they have a percentage of red-haired people which is comparable to that of the Irish. [Coon & Hunt (1966) 116-117.]
And a bit further down:
Her speculations have been proved correct: Dr. Joann Fletcher, a consultant to the British Bioanthropology Foundation, has proved that Seti I (the father of Ramesses II), had red hair. [Parks (2000).] It has also been demonstrated that the mummy of Pharaoh Siptah (a great-grandson of Ramesses II), has red hair. [Partridge (1994) 169.]
So it looks like there were a fair number of Pharaohs with red hair. (Though it is worth noting that there is some quibbling over Cleopatra and she was of Greek origin originally as a Ptolomy).
These folks have some interesting comments, even if they have a garish sense of color… and like to voyage off into vodo and mind control… one can only hope their data are verifiable on who’s a Red…
Egyptian Female Pharaoh: Queen Hatshepsut, wife of Pharaoh Thutmosis II. The mummy which Egyptologists have identified as Queen Hatshepsut is displayed at the Egyptian museum in Cairo. She ruled Egypt after Thutmosis’ death in 1520 BC. Her long hair and facial structure has been well preserved by the embalming process of the time. American Egyptologist Donald P. Ryan excavated her tomb, in the Valley of the Kings, during the course of 1989. Ryan describes the mummy as follows:
“The mummy was mostly unwrapped and on its back. Strands of reddish-blond hair lay on the floor beneath the head.” [Ibid., p. 87.]
So a bit of look for some verification on Hatshepsut might be in order… FWIW, the color of slightly darker mummified hair can sometimes fade to a red color even if the person was not naturally red headed. You must look at the pigments themselves to be sure.
A well preserved body from the pre-dynastic period in Egypt, circa 3,300 BC. Buried in a sand grave, the natural dryness of the surroundings kept the body preserved. His red hair have been so well preserved that he has been given the nickname “Ginger” at the British Museum where he is kept on display.
After the Human Tissue Act 2004, the British Museum has developed policies for ethical treatment of human remains and no longer uses the nickname famously known as “Ginger”.
Despite the refusal of the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, to release any DNA results which might indicate the racial ancestry of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, the leaked results reveal that King Tut’s DNA is a 99.6 percent match with Western European Y chromosomes.
The DNA test results were inadvertently revealed on a Discovery Channel TV documentary filmed with Hawass’s permission — but it seems as if the Egyptian failed to spot the giveaway part of the documentary which revealed the test results.
Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations, for example R1b or R1b1. Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have different haplogroup designations. In essence, haplogroups give an inisight into ancestral origins dating back thousands of years.
By entering all the STR data inadvertently shown on the Discovery video, a 99.6 percent fit with the R1b haplogroup is revealed.
The significance is, of course, that R1b is the most common Y-chromosome haplogroup in Europe reaching its highest concentrations in Ireland, Scotland, western England and the European Atlantic seaboard — in other words, European through and through… refugees from Atlantis, and NOT “out-of-Africa”.
That last link includes the text quoted above, so it looks like the first article largely just lifted it from the link.
OK, some of the links run off to wacky ideas, but they look like they include references to justify their claims per Redheads (and that’s the only part of what they have to say that I’m really interested in.)
What I find fascinating is that there were so many Redheads running around in a place that is now very hot, sunny, and dominated by folks with dark hair. Was the whole population more “Celtic” in look? Or just a royal family or two? Or was Egypt just a precursor of our modern “melting pot” with people picked up from all over the Mediterranean and North Africa? The temple drawings show many folks of various shades of skin and hair. Perhaps we’ve lived in a mixed genetic “salad” for thousands of years… Or perhaps then, as now, “Gingers” liked to run off to sunny places like Australia and Brazil, California and Florida; for a bit of warmth in the shade ;-)