I’m exceptionally pleased to present today’s Guest Slap. The author, Dr. Flamingo Jones, is a world-renowned archaeologist and researcher at the University of Oxbridgeshire. While I know little about his reclusive past and current whereabouts, he has kindly agreed to share with us, occasionally, his knowledge, discoveries, and insights.
Good day to you, ladies, gentlemen, and those who do not wish to confine yourselves to such limiting terminology. Today, I, Dr. Flamingo Jones, will be answering a question I received from one of my many fans about homosexuality in ancient times.
For those few of you out there who are unfamiliar with my work, I am an intrepid explorer, researcher extraordinaire, head of the Department of Queer Archaeology at the University of Oxbridgeshire, and part of the team of researchers that made international headlines when we discovered the world’s longest, 16th century gay club inside the Great Wall of China.
As my work deals with queer archaeology, I am often asked about how far back into antiquity evidence of homosexuality can be found. Of course, as long as there have been human beings, there have been Adams who find themselves oriented toward another Adam over an Eve (as has been demonstrated in classical legends of kings, gods and heroes in many ancient works, such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey); however, finding actual archaeological proof of it is a much more difficult matter.
The oldest known evidence of homosexuality would have to go to the ancient Egyptians—specifically to two men whose remains were found in Ahmed Moussa’s 1968 excavation of the necropolis at Saqqara, Egypt.
Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were two male manicurists serving Pharaoh Niuserre around the time of the fifth dynasty, which was about 2400BC. They were buried in the same tomb, much in the same manner as a wealthy husband and wife would have been. At first, theories were proposed that the two were brothers, even twins, or maybe just good friends. In fact, the tomb has become known as the Tomb of the Brothers. Modern interpretation by more open-minded archaeologists, however, has allowed for a more sensible consensus to be reached: that Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were a same-sex couple, wealthy enough and favoured by the Pharaoh, to have their own elaborate tomb built for them.
Covering the walls of the tomb are various pieces of artwork depicting the couple together—one image depicting them embracing, with their noses touching. Some of the hieroglyphs of the names Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum form a play on words, and can be translated as “joined in life and joined in death.”
I visited the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum seven years ago, hoping to find even more conclusive evidence of their sexual orientation. I scoured the tomb looking for hidden chambers or artifacts overlooked by previous researchers; however, I came up empty-handed as I realized that feather boas are probably too fragile to be well-preserved even in the dry Egyptian climate, and Madonna’s first album would have still been another four and a half millennia in the making.
I’d love to explain more about those queer Egyptians, but now I’ve got to go off to some ancient ruins to fight some mummies, avoid some very complicated traps, recover some lost treasure, fight aliens, Russians & Nazis, and then rescue a handsome single prince while I’m at it. You know, just an average day in the life of your typical archaeologist.