Our 1st place contest winner requested a Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep comic as their prize.
I took a class about Ancient Egypt last semester and we had a whole lecture dedicated to talking about how gay Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were.
Their tomb walls were decorated with scenes of them ignoring their wives in favor of embracing each other. In one scene, the couple is seated at a banquet table that is usually reserved for a husband and wife. There’s an entire motif of Khnumhotep holding lotus flowers which in ancient Egyptian tradition symbolizes femininity. Khnumhotep offers the lotus flower to Niankhkhnum, something that only wives were ever depicted as doing for their husbands. In fact, Khnumhotep is repeatedly depicted as uniquely feminine, being shown smaller and shorter than his partner Niankhkhnum and being placed in the role of a woman. Size is a big deal in Egyptian art, husbands are almost always shown as being larger and taller than their wives. So for two men of equal status to be shown in once again, a marital fashion, is pretty telling. Not to mention they were literally buried together which is the strongest bond two people could share in ancient Egypt, as it would mean sharing the journey to the afterlife together.
And yet 90% of the academic text about these two talks about these clues in vague terms and analyze the great “brotherhood” they shared, and the enigma of Khnumhotep being depicted as feminine. Apparently it’s too hard for archaeologists to accept homosexuality in the ancient world, as well as the possibility of trans individuals.
On the last note, I was walking around the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and there is a mummy on exhibit. It caught my attention because the panel that was describing it was talking about how it was a woman’s body in a male coffin and wow, the Egyptian working that day really screwed that up. My summary, not actual words, sorry I can’t remember verbatim but it basically said that someone screwed up.
They claimed that the Egyptians screwed up a burial.
The Egyptians. Screwed up. A burial.
Now I’m not an expert in Ancient Egypt but from what I know, and what the exhibit was telling me, burials and the afterlife and all that jazz DEFINED the Egyptian religion and culture. They don’t just ‘screw up’. So instead of thinking outside the box for two seconds and wonder why else a genetically female body was in a male coffin, the ‘researchers’ blatantly disregard the rest of their research and decided to call it a screw up. Instead of, you know, admitting that maybe this mummy presented as male during his life and was therefore honorably buried as he was identified. But it would be too much of a stretch to admit that a transgender person could have existed back then.
(Sorry I can’t find any sources online and it’s been like 2 years but it stuck in my mind)
There’s a lot of bigoted historian dragging on my dash these days and it makes me happy.
Once again, more proof that we queers have ALWAYS been here, and it’s a CHOSEN narrative to erase them.
I am reblogging this for the lols as well as a very accessible and engaging reminder that every historical narrative is created by human beings interpreting existing evidence and will necessarily reflect their biases, experiences, cultural norms and taboos.
Human objectivity is a myth, and until we have diversity present and speaking out in and across all disciplines, the truth will remain obscured.