Egypts Unexplained Files (2019) s01e03 Episode Script

Tuts Curse-The New Evidence

Narrator: Pyramids, temples, tombs these ancient wonders promise even greater secrets still to be found under the sands of Egypt.
Now cutting-edge science decodes the mysterious land of the pharaohs.
With modern technology, we are gaining an insight into the way the ancient Egyptians lived and the manner in which they died.
Narrator: This time, the beliefs and superstitions central to ancient Egyptians' society.
Can pine trees in California reveal new truths about the plagues of the exodus? Did these biblical plagues actually happen? Narrator: DNA testing of cat mummies reveals a macabre secret.
Modern science is proving that the Egyptians were mass-producing these animal mummies.
Narrator: And could scientific testing of a baboon mummy reveal the location of a land once thought only mythical? Bard: And baboons are not indigenous in Egypt.
So they had to have been brought from elsewhere.
Narrator: Ancient clues unearthed Long-lost evidence re-examined Precious artifacts brought into the light of the 21st century These are "Egypt's unexplained files.
" the land of punt, long thought to be a mythical country.
Macca: We have reliefs or carvings on the walls that seem to depict a great expedition to the land of punt, a land of palm trees and wild animals.
Narrator: Its location has remained a mystery.
Punt is a legendary place.
We don't know where it is.
Narrator: Until now.
Egyptologists hope that by using cutting-edge techniques to test the remains of a 3,000-year-old baboon, they'll be able to find it.
Macca: Have we found the mythical land of punt? Narrator: In 2004, archeologists were digging at a site near the small Egyptian harbor of Wadi Gawasis on the Red Sea.
Kathryn bard and her team from Boston university made a remarkable discovery.
We found pieces of ancient ships, 26 coil-papyrus ropes riggings from an ancient ship.
Narrator: These ships were not built for the river Nile.
They were made for the open ocean.
The first seafaring vessels ever to be uncovered from ancient Egypt.
Alongside the rigging, they discovered a set of strange boxes and realized the incredible significance of the find.
Bard: This was a really wonderful find.
We excavated 43 discarded cargo boxes.
And why do we know that they were cargo boxes? Because two of them were inscribed like a package label with "the wonderful things of punt.
" Narrator: This was the first evidence that the mysterious land of punt was a real place and that the ancient Egyptians were trading there.
But where was it? for over a century, the land of punt is thought to be nothing more than a tall tale, first discovered by researchers on a 4,000-year-old papyrus.
There is a wonderful fictional tale dating maybe about 1900 b.
c.
Called "the tale of the shipwrecked sailor.
" and it's about a sailor who is on a seafaring expedition.
He washes up on an island, an island in the Red Sea.
And this is a magical island.
Narrator: The sailor tells stories of fabulous creatures and exotic spices.
He is taken care of by a serpent king.
Darnell: In the course of this tale, the serpent refers to himself as the lord of punt.
Narrator: Researchers now re-examined an ancient tablet called the Palermo stone.
They find accounts of voyages that were previously considered fictional.
Could this help them locate the land of punt? The Palermo stone mentions voyages and interaction with the mystical land of punt.
It was a place where they were importing their exotic trade goods.
Narrator: The Palermo stone reveals that punt is the source of many essential goods brought into ancient Egypt.
Rose: Incense, wood, gold Elephant ivory, ebony punt was where exotic raw materials were obtained.
They were highly desirable for temple ceremonies, especially incense.
Narrator: All the evidence points to punt being a trading partner for ancient Egyptians using the boats found in the cave.
But the stone does not reveal its location.
Then teams excavating the ocean-going ships make an incredible breakthrough.
They find shards of ancient pots, which once contained goods from punt.
The team turns to science to try to locate the origin of the pots and discover that the clay comes from the east coast of Africa.
We have evidence now based on our excavation of pottery that came from those regions.
Narrator: But exactly where on Africa's coast remains a mystery to researchers.
They turn to inscriptions at queen Hapshetsut's temple in Deir El-Bahari.
Here they find accounts of a voyage to punt.
The depictions of some of the figures on the wall have long puzzled visitors.
They have a different skin color to the Egyptians.
We have representations of foreign people with red skin and chin beards much like the Egyptians.
Narrator: Convinced that these are real people, they look for more clues.
They find a passage which describes the animals Hapshetsut shipped back to Egypt.
She brought back baboons, dogs, and living incense trees.
Narrator: Baboons are known to have been sacred to the ancient Egyptians.
Macca: The baboon was considered a really incredible animal almost human, but certainly divine.
It was considered a divine animal of wisdom.
Narrator: Baboons are not indigenous to Egypt.
So if archeologists can determine the origin of the baboons found in Egypt, it could help them pinpoint the exact location of punt.
They scour historical records and track down a baboon mummy, originally discovered in the valley of the kings, now kept in London.
There's one baboon in the British museum that comes from a temple dating to the 20th dynasty, so that would be maybe 1200 b.
c.
Narrator: 2010.
A team of scientists at the British museum in London test the baboon using a scientific technique called stable oxygen isotope analysis.
Stable isotope analysis was done on some hairs from one baboon.
This gives us information about the region in which these baboons would have lived originally before they were brought to Egypt.
Narrator: Will the location of punt be revealed at last? The stable isotope analysis of these hairs points to the northeast Africa region in what is today Eritrea or eastern Sudan.
Narrator: It's a revelation.
Modern science confirms the ancient Egyptians as intrepid seafarers, sailing over 1,000 miles along the coast of east Africa trading in spices and exotic animals.
It finally proves not only that the legendary land of punt is real but its geographical location.
the tomb of king Tutankhamun the greatest Egyptian discovery of all time.
News of its wondrous treasures is overshadowed by the tale of a deadly curse.
Day: Only months after the discovery of the tomb, the earl of Carnarvon suddenly died.
Narrator: Talk of a curse has endured for over 70 years.
Now a pioneering new science could help answer once and for all if there is any truth behind this supernatural story.
Is there any reality to the curse? Can the death simply be explained by coincidence? Narrator: 2009, and the famous tomb of Tutankhamun is under threat.
We've been very concerned in recent times about the state of some of the tombs in the valley of the kings the impact that tourism has.
Let's face it, Egyptian tombs weren't made to pack millions of people in.
Narrator: The tourists who visit the tomb are slowly destroying it with their breath.
Anthony: When people were coming into the tomb, we are exhaling.
And when the moisture gets onto the walls, it desecrates the paint, the wall paintings.
Narrator: Conservationists race to solve the problem.
Anthony: At first, they limited the number of how many tourists could go in at a time and how many could go in per day.
But now they've built a replica.
So you can go in and breathe as much as you like.
Narrator: Specialist teams build this replica using the latest 3-d laser-scanning technology.
It saves the tomb from the curse of the visitors.
Now, can Egyptologists combine this data with more new science to shed light on the supposed curse of Tutankhamun? the tale of the curse dates back to the tomb's discovery in 1922.
Soon after Howard carter and the earl of Carnarvon opened the tomb, disaster strikes.
Only months after the discovery of the tomb and before they got as far as opening up the mummy in the burial chamber, the earl of Carnarvon, the fifth earl, got an infection.
That he received a bite from a mosquito to his face.
And that whilst he was shaving a few days later, he nicked this bite, and that it became infected.
Narrator: On the 5th of April 1923, lord Carnarvon dies from blood poisoning.
Newspapers connect his death to a deadly curse supposedly written on the walls of the burial chamber.
Johnston: Within the tomb was discovered a little inscription stating that "death will come on swift wings to any who disturb the pharaoh's tomb.
" the story of the curse spreads around the world like wildfire.
Narrator: Over the next decade, six more people connected to the excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb die suddenly.
Scientists previously looked for clues to the mysterious deaths by looking at the mummified body of king Tutankhamun.
Could the remains themselves be toxic? Johnston: The theory is that the body is still reacting with the unguents and the linen wrappings.
And therefore when the sarcophagus is opened, that there'll be a release of gas given off by the body itself.
Ammonia gas could affect the eyes, the nose, the mouth.
Extreme cases, it could affect the breathing.
And if left untreated, could ultimately lead to death.
Narrator: But there's a big problem with this theory.
The one man who would have been hit by the toxic gas does not experience any symptoms.
Given that Howard carter is himself responsible for opening these, he would be the person most likely to be affected.
And he remains entirely unaffected.
I believe it's highly unlikely that the gases could have done serious damage to anyone.
Narrator: Egyptologists now look for other possible causes that could explain the curse.
They turn their attention to the tomb itself.
Specialist teams scrutinize every detail and find, including a clue found in the plaster.
Dark patches which contain a strange black fungus.
They are unique to Tutankhamun's tomb in the valley of the kings.
Narrator: The team ask themselves why this strange mold is not found in any other tomb.
They look for clues to how it got there.
Experts think it may be to do with the tomb's rapid construction.
Johnston: It is very much a rush job.
And it's entirely possible that the plaster was still wet when the paint was applied and the doors were eventually locked.
I think that's the reason that we have this mold.
Narrator: Could this be the reason people died once the tomb was unsealed? It's been suggested that these fungal spots are responsible for deaths connected with the tomb.
Narrator: The mold is tested to see if it's poisonous.
The team draw a blank.
The mold is harmless.
We have no evidence that mold is the reason why anyone associated with these discoveries has died.
Narrator: Scientists conclude that nothing in the tomb could have caused the deaths, fueling doubts about the entire story.
They turn their attention back to the original curse, reportedly carved into the tomb walls.
A linguistic study of the text reveals it is very different to curses discovered in other tombs.
Johnston: Most of the curses, they are not nearly as terrifying as the curse that we know of from Tutankhamun's tomb.
They tend to be made dreadful things happen to you "may you be eaten by a crocodile as you're swimming in the Nile, may you be savaged by a hippopotamus.
" I mean, they're not good.
But with the same token, there's not this monolithic evil attached to it, either.
Narrator: Historians begin to suspect it is not written by the hand of an ancient Egyptian at all.
And when they turn again to the tomb, their investigations uncover no sign of any inscriptions containing the curse.
There's nothing of the "death shall come on swift wings" to those who disturb the tomb of the pharaoh.
" that never existed.
That inscription that was fake news.
Narrator: And scientific analysis suggests to Egyptologists that the curse of Tutankhamun is knowing more than a newspaper fantasy.
Everybody wanted to report on this tomb.
So they had to make up new news.
Let's invent the curse tale.
Day: It made sensational headlines instant press.
Money, money, money.
That's what it was really all about.
Narrator: Far from being a 3,300-year-old jinx cast from beyond the grave, modern analysis reveals the curse of Tutankhamun was a work of imagination by 20th-century journalists.
Ancient Egyptians go to extraordinary lengths to mummify and preserve their dead in readiness for the afterlife.
But when Egyptologists discover a tomb containing dozens of mummified cats instead of people, they are baffled.
Why were these cats mummified? Narrator: Historians turn to science to try and decode the meaning behind these cats.
This was a massive, massive religious experience.
Narrator: During the spring of 2018, archeologists excavating catacombs outside Cairo make an unusual discovery.
Inside the maze of tombs, they find dozens of mummified cats.
At other sites across Egypt, even more are found.
How on earth did they get here? And why? What's their purpose? Narrator: Advances in technology may allow experts to discover the secrets behind this bizarre practice for the first time.
Day: Now we finally have the technology to study things like their DNA, their genetics.
Narrator: Scientific analysis delivers an intriguing revelation.
DNA testing shows that these cats are very interbred.
Narrator: Scientists conclude the cats have been specially bred on a cat farm.
Ikram: They are all quite closely related, which means that they must have been factory farmed.
Or these were really kitten mills.
Day: Modern science is proving that the Egyptians were mass-producing these animal mummies.
Narrator: It seems to Egyptologists that the kitten mills are supplying animals to a mummification industry.
Cats are mummified in a variety of ways.
But the best quality cat mummy would have the cat gutted, eviscerated.
Oils and unguents are applied to give the body a little bit of flexibility.
And resins are applied.
And then the cat is wrapped up in bandages.
Narrator: The bandaged cat was then creatively embellished.
They would often decorate the external appearance of the mummy with things like eyes, false ears, whiskers.
Narrator: Cat mummification appears to be big business.
But why? Researchers look for clues to discover the scale of this industry.
They find an astonishing account from the early days of Egyptian archeology the mummified remains of 180,000 cats found in a field at Beni Hasan outside Cairo in the 19th century.
A farmer puts his spade into the ground only to discover that he's not digging soil, but his spade has found a pit.
We're told that he falls into it.
And he discovers a catacomb filled with thousands of mummified ancient Egyptian cats.
Narrator: It's an extraordinary find unlike anything seen before in Egypt.
For Egyptologists, this is a hall of cat mummies on an industrial scale.
Johnston: They're variously wrapped, some of them in quite gaudy wrappings, others in more plain linen wrappings.
Narrator: It's the largest collection of cat mummies ever found.
Now it's sent to England to be sold privately.
accounts of cat mummies in such huge numbers lead Egyptologists to form a theory.
Those cats are being mass-produced to be slaughtered for mummification.
X-ray technology provides scientists with more clues to back up this theory.
The cats lived very short lives.
X-rays reveal injuries that show many died a brutal death.
These cats are being killed at a relatively young age by having their necks broken.
Narrator: It's a disturbing revelation.
The outer package looked very impressive.
But the inner packet often contained some poor little strangled kitten.
Narrator: But why did the ancient Egyptians create these mummies in such huge quantities? Archeologists believe it points towards a large-scale religious practice.
Mcknight: The shear number of these cat mummies that are interred at sites like Beni Hasan suggest that this was a massive, massive religious experience.
It was an activity that lots of people were taking part in.
This mass breeding of these cats shows that they were being produced specifically to be given as offerings.
Cat mummies were made by the million and deposited by the million.
It's a little bit like the way today that some people go to churches and light a candle, as a kind of an offering.
Narrator: Experts now understand why there are so many mummified cats in Egypt.
Their final question is what happened to the 180,000 cats sent to England for sale in the 19th century? When the cats arrive at the Liverpool docks, there are two large auctions which take place.
There's a story that one of the auctioneers uses the head of a cat as a gavel.
Narrator: Despite the salesman's efforts, the cat mummies don't attract much interest from buyers.
Nobody really wants to buy them because they don't really know what these things are.
But they end up being sold for a very low price.
3 pounds, 13 shillings, and 9 pence per ton of mummified ancient Egyptian cat.
Narrator: The fate of the mummies is a shock.
They got ground down as fertilizer.
It is truly astonishing.
The cats which were murdered, mummified, offered to goddess in ancient Egypt should then be ground up and turned into fertilizer in Victorian England.
Narrator: It's a wasted chance to study the lost cats, but there may be more beneath the sands waiting to be discovered.
the bible's book of exodus describes a series of terrible plagues that hit ancient Egypt.
The Nile turns to blood.
A plague of frogs and biting insects and lice and flies.
Narrator: Could there be any truth in these strange phenomena? Can we really explain the phenomenon of the Nile river turning into blood as recorded in exodus? Narrator: Growth rings contained within ancient trees discovered in California could unlock the answer.
These forests include some of the oldest living trees in existence dating back to the times of ancient Egypt.
Narrator: Now scientists look for the truth behind the biblical story.
Did these biblical plagues actually happen? Narrator: 8,000 miles from Egypt in the white mountains of California Scientists study high-altitude trees looking for evidence of global climate change.
Harrison: Bristlecone pine forests in California are at roughly 9,000 feet.
And these forests include some of the oldest living trees in existence, dating back to the times of ancient Egypt.
Narrator: Investigators study tree rings from 3,500 years ago, around the time the plagues supposedly hit ancient Egypt.
The rings can be used to reveal information about the global climate at that time.
They notice something intriguing.
When scientists examine the rings from the period, they find that the distance between these rings shrinks dramatically.
Narrator: Experts compare these results to records from other ancient trees around the world.
They're almost identical.
For climate scientists, it's a revelation.
Harrison: This can mean only one thing global catastrophic climate change.
Narrator: Data from the tree ring studies shows a massive worldwide drop in temperatures around 3,500 years ago.
Scientists begin the hunt for an explanation.
They search records for a geological event big enough to cause such a worldwide change in temperature.
What could cause such a thing? Perhaps a meteor strike or a huge volcanic eruption.
Narrator: Experts identify a possible culprit.
It's not in California but on the other side of the world, on the tiny Mediterranean island of Santorini, just 400 miles north of the Egyptian coast.
There is a volcano called Thera.
This volcano erupted around 1600 b.
c.
And wiped out the local civilization.
This eruption in ancient times was about four times more powerful than Krakatoa.
And it would have spewed up hundreds of thousands of tons of ash into the atmosphere, effectively blotting out the sun.
Narrator: It coincides with the climate change event recorded in ancient tree rings.
It also coincides with the story of exodus.
According to the bible, the pharaoh imprisons the Jewish people of Egypt and refuses to release them.
Desperate to free his people, Moses appeals to god.
And god sends plagues upon Egypt.
Narrator: The bible tells how the land of the pharaohs is beset with terrible misfortune.
The waters of the land turning to blood.
Killing the fish.
A plague of frogs and biting insects and lice and flies.
Narrator: Is it possible this geological event could explain the divine retribution cast down upon ancient Egypt as described in the bible? Rose: There's a team of geologists now working off the coast of Santorini in the crater where the volcano used to be and digging into the seafloor.
What they've discovered is a lot more ash than anyone ever suspected, up to 30% more.
And what they've calculated is that the plume of ash during the eruption would have gone 25 miles up into the atmosphere.
So the question is, could that then have reached ancient Egypt? Narrator: An Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 gives experts an idea of how far an ash cloud can travel.
The volcanic eruption in Iceland was months of disruption.
It ejected so much ash into the atmosphere.
It went all around the globe.
And in doing so, disrupted airline traffic, courier services, all packages being delivered everything ground to a halt for about a week.
Narrator: The scale of this modern eruption leaves no doubt that an ancient eruption could easily reach Egypt.
In the hunt for any volcanic telltale signs, researchers now closely investigate the geology of the Nile delta and find shards of volcanic rock.
Chemical analysis confirms their hunch the shards come all the way from Santorini, thrown hundreds of miles by the huge volcanic eruption.
It's a significant result.
And their investigation continues to reveal more clues to explain the biblical plagues.
This ash cloud would have had a devastating effect on the entire ecosystem that it came in contact with.
I mean, this is poisonous gas.
So as it's falling back down onto the earth, it's falling into the Nile.
It's falling into the Red Sea.
It's falling into the lakes throughout Egypt.
And it's poisoning the water with sulfur.
Narrator: Large quantities of volcanic ash and sulfur would have a major impact on the Nile.
Scientists believe it could change the color of the water matching the river of blood described in the book of exodus.
This acidic sulfuric deposit could taint the river and pollute it, turning it a deep red.
Narrator: It's the first solid evidence to link a natural event to the accounts written in the bible.
Could this fouling of the Nile also be linked to the other biblical disasters, like the plague of frogs or the infestation of flies? Experts identify a toxic chain reaction.
Bianchi: The turning of the Nile red has a disastrous effect on the wildlife.
Harrison: Fish in the river would begin to die off.
And because of this, all of the life that lived on the sides of the river, such as frogs, would begin to move away from that toxic water.
Eventually other animals die and their corpses become infested.
And they in turn spawn the lice and the flies, which continue to spread the plague.
Narrator: Modern scientific investigation has revealed evidence that the biblical stories could be based in fact but driven by natural events rather than the wrath of god.
We could tie this all back to one catastrophic global event.
Narrator: The plagues and devastation described in the bible may well have been the side effects of a giant volcanic eruption.
Ancient Egyptians often bury mummified animals with them in their tombs.
Archeologists find cats, dogs, and even baboons.
But when they find coffins containing mummified dung beetles, they're intrigued.
Godenho: Why on earth would the dung beetle be so central to the ancient Egyptians' religion? Narrator: A new discovery could help Egyptologists find out.
Narrator: Experts exploring Egyptian tombs are used to finding carvings of majestic animals, like the jackal or the falcon, beasts which protect the dead in the afterlife.
But in 2018, at a tomb outside Saqqara, a team of archeologists find something else something extremely rare.
Wrapped in linen, they uncover tiny perfectly preserved beetle mummies from 4,500 years ago.
Experts identify the insects as scarab beetles, a type of dung beetle.
This is literally an insect which lays its eggs in and feeds on feces.
Narrator: The find is highly unusual.
Researchers question why creatures considered dirty and unclean would be deemed important enough to be mummified.
Egyptologists suspect the attitudes of the ancient Egyptians towards bodily waste must be worlds apart from our own.
In the ancient world, human and animal waste isn't necessarily something useless and to be discarded.
People used it as fertilizer.
They used it to build their homes.
They used it to heat cooking fires.
It's used in magical medical texts to cure particular ailments as part of medicine.
Narrator: Egyptians may not have been repelled by animal dung, but that alone doesn't explain the spiritual significance of the beetles.
One so important that it grants them a ritual burial.
For researchers, the insects' natural behavior offers the next important clue.
Godenho: In the same way that the ancient Egyptians noticed the sun rolling into the sky onto the horizon each morning, they noticed the dung beetle rolling a ball of dung.
And in the same way they noticed the life-giving properties of the sun, they noticed the newborn babies of the dung beetle hatching out of this ball of dung.
Narrator: Egyptologists believe that the ancient Egyptians see the spherical ball of dung as a representation of the sun making the beetle a sun god.
The ancient Egyptians see the scarab beetle as the god Khepri.
Harrison: The solar god represented the rising sun, the renewal of the sun, and, therefore, the renewal of life.
Narrator: Researchers ask, could this be a clue to the insect's role in the journey to the afterlife? Archeologists re-examine beetle carvings found in sarcophagi containing dead people.
Each was discovered placed over the heart of the deceased.
Godenho: When ancient Egyptians enter the afterlife, they have to go through a series of trials.
And the very last part of those trials is when they enter the hall of judgment before Osiris whom they want to join within the afterlife.
But they don't get to walk straight through.
Cooney: If you're not clean of heart, then you won't be able to move into the afterlife.
And you would cease to exist in any space of the living or the dead.
Narrator: Egyptologists form a theory that for a sinner, the beetle over the heart is an insurance policy to get into paradise.
They find charms called amulets in other tombs that appear to serve the same purpose.
Cooney: There's a particular kind of amulet known as the heart scarab.
It's in the shape of a beetle.
And on the back of this scarab is inscribed text.
And in this text, you read, "oh, heart of my mother," oh, heart of my mother, do not turn against me "in the halls of justice.
" Harrison: If you had a scarab amulet protecting your heart, it would stop your heart from testifying against you in the hall of judgment.
The last thing you want is for your heart to speak up against you and to say that you are a sinner that you're not worthy of going into the afterlife.
And so you make sure that you put this heart scarab beetle amulet on your heart to cleanse it and make sure that you get into the afterlife intact.
Narrator: Experts now know that this tiny insect is an ancient Egyptian's ticket to paradise.
It seems that some need more help than others in getting there, enough to devote an entire sarcophagus to a lowly dung beetle.
on the ceiling of an Egyptian burial chamber, a 4,000-year-old mystery the figure of a strange animal.
One thing that stands out is this bizarre creature with the body of a hippo.
She's got the paws of a lion and from the head up, a crocodile.
Narrator: It's unlike anything ever seen before.
Who is this creature? And why does it have the form of three vicious predators? What does it all mean? Narrator: Experts have long known that certain animals are associated with specific Egyptian gods.
Ancient Egyptians were very observant of the animals that were around them.
Mcknight: They see things in the natural world that they believe has connections to the gods because they don't know how else to explain things that they see.
So for the Egyptians, each animal was associated with a god, had a power, had some sort of mystical role to play in the cosmos.
Narrator: Research suggests there is a link between how these animals behave and the deities they represent.
Take for example the season when the Nile starts to flood, frogs appear everywhere.
And so there's a deity known as Heqet, which is basically a frog goddess.
And she's not just the deity of renewal and agriculture and rain but of fertility.
The baboon was also considered a really incredible animal.
They were associated very often with the sun god Horus, tied to the sky.
It wakes up, stretches to where the sun is going to rise, does this, and cries out.
And it's thought to be this encouragement to help the sun rise.
Narrator: 200 years ago, the role of the gods was revealed in glorious detail when explorer Giovanni Belzoni opened a painted tomb in the valley of the kings.
This is the most spectacular tomb in the valley.
It's the biggest.
It's absolutely magnificent.
Narrator: Belzoni's gaze fell on the familiar paintings of deities that adorned the walls.
But he was mystified by a painting of an unusual goddess.
Rose: The body of a hippo.
She's got the paws of a lion and from the head up, a crocodile.
Narrator: Now experts re-examine the goddess and ask whether animal behavior could hold the key to the identity of this historical enigma.
First, they examine why she is made up of three ruthless killers.
One clue, maybe Egypt's dangerous natural habitat.
You step out of the door, and it's terrifying.
In fact, you get out of bed, it's terrifying because you never know if there's a scorpion that's going to get you.
If you go down to wash or to clean your clothes at the river, you also have to be kind of afraid that you're going to be eaten or dragged into the bottom of the Nile.
There you are, a poor, feckless human being with no fur, no claws, nothing.
So the gods have to protect you.
Narrator: Archeologists explore the theory that the mysterious goddess takes her form from fierce animals so that she can offer protection.
But to whom? Researchers analyze the three creatures which make up the deity.
Her head belongs to a crocodile.
Mcknight: The Egyptians see the crocodile as a powerful animal.
It's a very fearsome animal that lives in the Nile.
It also is very good at protecting its young and watching over eggs.
Narrator: Egyptologists believe the goddess' body is another fiercely maternal creature a hippopotamus.
Hippopotami are very fierce mothers.
Anthony: If you've ever been to Africa and you're familiar with hippopotami, you know that these are probably the fiercest creatures around.
You do not want to be engaged with these animals at all.
Narrator: The goddess also has the paws of a lion an animal that's yet another ferocious mother.
Experts form a theory that the goddess has a maternal connection.
They hunt through records to find evidence of the goddess on other tombs.
They find a match on the walls of a fertility temple.
Mcknight: We find the imagery in tomb contexts often belonging to those of women sometimes who've died in childbirth or at some stage of pregnancy.
Narrator: Further investigation of the ancient texts reveals her name Taweret.
Rose: Taweret is something like a mother goddess to the ancient Egyptians.
She protects women and children.
She's often depicted as this fierce demonic character that's guarding the household.
Narrator: Taweret might seem alien to modern eyes, but as guardian of pregnant women, her fearsome features made her a powerful protector of the most vulnerable in Egyptian society.