Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Rendezvous with Ramses

My friend Paul E. Martens has just drawn to my attention that tonight's episode of Nova on PBS is about whether a mummy found in Niagara Falls might be that of Ramses I.

Well, I'd dealt with that very issue in my Hugo-award nominated Humans, published in 2003 -- science catches up with the Rob-man! In Humans, I wrote this, involving my character Mary Vaughan:

Daria Klein -- one of Mary's grad students -- had clearly been in repeatedly during Mary's absence, though. Her work area had been rearranged, and the chart on the wall showing her sequencing of the ancient Egyptian Y chromosome she was working on had many more spaces filled in.

Arne Eggebrecht of the Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany, had recently suggested that an Egyptian body purchased from an old Niagara Falls tourist attraction might in fact have been Ramses I, founder of the line that contained Seti I, Ramses II (the one portrayed by Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments), Ramses III, and Queen Nefertari. The specimen was now housed in Atlanta's Emory University, but DNA samples had been sent to Toronto for analysis; Mary's lab was world-renowned for its success in recovering ancient DNA, a fact that had led directly to her involvement with Ponter Boddit. Daria had made considerable progress on the putative Ramses in Mary's absence, and Mary nodded approvingly.

And, later on in the book:

"Daria!" exclaimed Mary. "How good to hear from you!" Mary pictured the slim brown-haired girl's angular, smiling face.

"It's nice to hear your voice, too," said Daria. "I hope you don't mind me phoning. I didn't just want to send an e-mail about this." She could practically hear Daria jumping up and down.

"About what?"

"About Ramses!"

Mary's first thought was to quip, "You know, they're only ninety-seven percent effective," but she didn't. Daria was obviously referring to the ancient Egyptian body whose DNA she'd been working on. "I take it the results are in," said Mary.

"Yes, yes! It is indeed a member of the Ramses line -- presumably Ramses the First! Chalk up another success for the Vaughan Technique!"

Mary probably blushed a bit. "That's great," she said. But it was Daria who had done the painstaking sequencing. "Congratulations."

"Thanks," said Daria. "The people at Emory are delighted."

"Wonderful," said Mary. "Great work. I'm really proud of you."


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