Saturday, November 22, 2014

Archaeologists unearth bejeweled ancient Egyptian mummy

By Rany Mostafa

CAIRO: A team of Spanish archaeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old female mummy wearing jewels in the necropolis below the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Thutmosis III in the west bank of Luxor, Aly el-Asfar, the head of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department, said Saturday.

Credit: Manuel González Bustos/Thutmosis III Temple Project 
Both the mummy and the wooden sarcophagus in which it was found were badly damaged and trapped under the tomb’s collapsed roof, and the site of the find dates back to the Middle Kingdom (2,000 B.C.-1,700 B.C.), Asfar told The Cairo Post.

“The sarcophagus was found sealed, which suggests the tomb and its contents apparently eluded tomb robbers in both ancient and modern times. It seems that the roof had already collapsed before tomb robbers were able to enter,” he added.

The mummy, who is believed to have been an aristocrat in her 30s, was found wearing intact jewelry, including a gold-plated necklace inlaid with lapis lazuli, a shell-shaped golden pendant, two badly damaged silver ankle bracelets and two golden bracelets on her wrists, according to Asfar.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ancient Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor   |   November 20, 2014

Researchers have deciphered an ancient Egyptian handbook, revealing a series of invocations and spells.

Among other things, the "Handbook of Ritual Power," as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat "black jaundice," a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.

The book is about 1,300 years old, and is written in Coptic, an Egyptian language. It is made of bound pages of parchment — a type of book that researchers call a codex.

"It is a complete 20-page parchment codex, containing the handbook of a ritual practitioner," write Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, who are professors in Australia at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, respectively, in their book, "A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power" (Brepols, 2014).

The ancient book "starts with a lengthy series of invocations that culminate with drawings and words of power," they write. "These are followed by a number of prescriptions or spells to cure possession by spirits and various ailments, or to bring success in love and business."

For instance, to subjugate someone, the codex says you have to say a magical formula over two nails, and then "drive them into his doorpost, one on the right side (and) one on the left."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 55

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more!


Egypt - Fayum

The 2015 field school will excavate at the Graeco-Roman town of Karanis, founded in the third century BCE and abandoned during the early seventh century CE. The preservation of the ancient remains is excellent and a wide range of archaeological materials, including botanical macro-remains, textiles, wood and metal, is studied by a large group of archaeological specialists.

Course Dates: Oct 16 - Nov 21 2015

Payment Deadline: January 15, 2015
Enrollment Status: OPEN
Total Cost: $ 4,800 
Course Type: Field Archaeology

Instructor: Prof. Willeke Wendrich


Stanford archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina


Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis Online

Corpus Antiquitatum Aegyptiacarum Old Kingdom Volumes Online


New posts by Molly Gleeson:

Hello, goodbye

Tawahibre, front and center


Fifteen beams of King Khufu's second solar boat arrive to GEM after restoration

UNESCO teams visits old Cairo, Djoser's step pyramid,-Djosers-step-pyrami.aspx

UNESCO ends visit to Egypt, discusses preliminary recommendations,-discusses-preliminary-.aspx


Revealed: Modern medicine unwraps ancient mysteries of Bolton's 2,000-year-old child mummy


The truth about Tutankhamun

Was Tutankhamun epileptic?


A final call to save Alexandria’s antiquities


Welcoming Visitors- TARA, MEHEN and Plymouth Egyptology Society

2 weeks in photos


Call for papers: Demon Things conference

Demon Things:

Ancient Egyptian Manifestations of Liminal Entities

21-24 March, 2016

at Swansea University, Wales, UK

This international conference explores the range and variation of liminal entities the Ancient Egyptians believed capable of harm and help from the Predynastic through the Coptic periods.


New post by Julia Budka:

Home game: presenting AcrossBorders in Vienna


The Wigtown Daily Interview

A Scribe in Brussels


Childhood in Roman Egypt


Hawass under investigation for graft

15 pieces of Khufu’s solar boat transported to GEM

Do mummies deserve a ‘return to eternity?’

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stanford archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina

By combining an analysis of written artifacts with a study of skeletal remains, Stanford postdoctoral scholar Anne Austin is creating a detailed picture of care and medicine in the ancient world.

By Barbara Wilcox 

Ancient Egyptian workers in a village that's now called Deir el-Medina were beneficiaries of what Stanford Egyptologist Anne Austin calls "the earliest documented governmental health care plan."

The craftsmen who built Egyptian pharaohs' royal tombs across the Nile from the modern city of Luxor worked under grueling conditions, but they could also take a paid sick day or visit a "clinic" for a free checkup.

For decades, Egyptologists have seen evidence of these health care benefits in the well preserved written records from the site, but Austin, a specialist in osteo-archaeology (the study of ancient bones), led the first detailed study of human remains at the site.

A postdoctoral scholar in the Department of History, Austin compared Deir el-Medina's well-known textual artifacts to physical evidence of health and disease to create a newly comprehensive picture of how Egyptian workers lived. Austin is continuing her research during her tenure as a fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities.

In skeletal remains that she found in the village's cemeteries, Austin saw "evidence for state-subsidized health care among these workers, but also significant occupational stress fueled by pressure from the state to work."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Museum Pieces - Counterpoise of a menat

Counterpoise of a menat

A bronze decorative counterpoise of a menat. It has the form of Sakhmet, with her body represented as a shrine. A figure of the goddess stands within the shrine wearing a sun or moon-disk. The menat, a bead necklace with counterpoise, was an important ritual object used by priestesses in temple ceremonies, and could be rattled to accompany singing and dancing.

Present location: LIVERPOOL MUSEUM [03/061] LIVERPOOL
Inventory number: 1987.408
Dating: 18TH DYNASTY
Archaeological Site: UNKNOWN
Category: MENAT
Material: BRONZE
Technique: FULL CAST
Height: 15 cm


The menat (mnit) consists of several strings of beads joined together to a two-part end piece shaped like a rectangle or trapezium with a disk attached. This part functioned as a counterpoise whenever the menat was worn as a necklace. The menat was also often carried in the hand. The strings of beads resulted in the menat making a rattling noise when shaken, similar to that of a sistrum. Together with the sistrum, the menat was used as an accompanying instrument for song and dance.

The first illustrations date from the 6th Dynasty and show the menat being held by women who had functions in the cult of Hathor. Hathor is often shown herself with a menat around her neck, and it can even be seen as one of the manifestations of Hathor, with the counterpoise often taking the shape of the face of Hathor. Hathor's son, Ihy, uses the menat as a musical instrument, just like the musicians named after him who performed at Hathor festivals. Via Ihy, the instrument was transferred to Khons.

The menat is considered to be multifunctional - it could be used for protection, to calm a divine power, or to transfer something of the being of the goddess to the person who touched the menat. The close connection to Hathor meant that contact with the menat would transfer zest for life and love. One relief shows the goddess holding a menat to the nose of the king, as if it were an ankh sign. It is also related to the sphere of fertility and birth. From the late New Kingdom on, the deceased was given the end piece of a menat; in representations they wear it as a kind of pectoral. The friezes on sarcophagi dating to the Middle Kingdom already show complete menats; they represent the menats which were offered to the deceased in the tomb reliefs by dancers.


Piotr Bienkowski and Angela Tooley., Gifts of The Nile: Ancient Egyptian Arts and Crafts in Liverpool Museum., 1995., 62; pl.96.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The truth about Tutankhamun (2)

In the second of two articles, Zahi Hawass continues his explanation of the mystery of Tutankhamun

November 2014 marks 92 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Luxor. This is an occasion that could be used to promote tourism to the city where the golden king and his tomb are located. It is also be an ideal opportunity to announce that only one ticket is now needed to visit Tutankhamun’s family tombs, including those of Amenhotep II, Yuya and Tuya, and tomb KV55.
Even with the passage of time, we should never forget what the English team did to the pharaoh’s mummy in 1968. Jewellery disappeared, and pieces of the mummy were taken without permission. Only last year an English team announced, based on their examination of these stolen pieces, that the mummy of Tutankhamun had been burned.
My intention in this article, and in the article published in the Weekly last week, is to show that despite the problems that Tutankhamun had during his life, he was in good health and used to hunt wild animals. He was not disabled, contrary to what was alleged on a recent TV show.
Last week I wrote about the lies told in an English TV show about the golden king, and how a scientist had perjured himself in front of scholars all over the world. The truth about Tutankhamun is the real discovery made by the great British archaeologist Howard Carter, enabling us to discover new material about the boy king every year. The truth has been revealed by the great work of the Egyptian Mummy Project and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s family and how he died.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 54

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more!


By Kara Cooney:

Who Remembers the Greatest Woman to Rule the Ancient World?


Update on Rakow Research Grant work currently happening in Egypt


The truth about Tutankhamun


2000-year-old youth organization


In Our Time, Hatshepsut


Recent Open Access Dissertations from Leiden University

Leuven Online Index of Ptolemaic and Roman Hieroglyphic Texts: Ptolemaic Temple Texts (PTT)


10/11/14 Bob Partridge Memorial Lecture: Dr Renée Friedman on Hierakonpolis


Had in Ancient Egypt the Goddess Nephthys a Lower Status?


New post by Timothy Reid:

The Life & Times of Cleopatra Queen of Egypt


Sphinx and Khafre's Pyramid to open Sunday


New blogpost by Julia Thorne:

Girls' day out to the new Egyptology gallery at the Atkinson, Southport


A new season!

10 days into the new season – a poetic captivation by our topographer


An Update on the Building Research


BASONOVA Lecture: Queen for Eternity

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, the Biblical Archaeology Society of Northern Virginia (BASONOVA) will host the lecture “Queen for Eternity: Digital Archaeology and the (After) Life of Meresank III” by Dr. Rachel Aronin, research associate at Harvard University.


France, Egypt to host symposium on antiquities smuggling

University of Oslo study reveals details of childhood in Roman Egypt

Engineers Syndicate: Step Pyramid restoration must be resumed immediately

Latest Great Sphinx restoration complete; site reopened to the public Sunday


The basics #4: Gardiner's sign list


Tut Ankh Amon tomb closure postponed, mummy not to be relocated

Saqqara pyramid committee urges restoration to prevent collapse

Library of Alexandria to host lecture on the city's ancient history