Monday, March 2, 2015

Opening ceremony of another part of the Temple of Hatshepsut

Opening ceremony of the Solar Cult Complex in the temple of Hatshepsut, reconstructed by the Poles, was held on Sunday, February 22 - reported the University of Warsaw on its website.

Temple of Hatshepsut is considered one of the most original and picturesque structures of its kind in Egypt. It is one of the main tourist attractions within the Theban necropolis near Luxor. It was built in the fifteenth century BC beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari, in honor of one of the few women who ruled Egypt. The building, partly carved in rock, consists of three terraces connected by ramps and topped with porticos.

Polish work on the reconstruction of the Upper Terrace of Hatshepsut’s temple started in the 1960s, under the supervision of Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski. Currently, the mission is headed by Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański.

Joint, interdisciplinary work of several generations of archaeologists, conservators and architects allowed to reconstruct the Upper Terrace, which includes now opened for tourism rooms of the Solar Cult Complex. Polish achievements include restoration of the original appearance of this part of the temple, determining the function of its premises, as well as an explanation of the chronology of their creation. "There was also an attempt to reconstruct the original appearance of the courtyard of the Solar Altar. It is believed there could be a sacrificial table and two obelisks" - reads the release sent to PAP.

Solar Cult Complex is a group of rooms located in the northern part of the Upper Terrace, which consists of the Night Sun Chapel, Solar Altar Court and the Anubis Shrine. As the researchers explain, this it the place of worship of Amun-Ra, as well as Ra- Horachty and Atum-Amun - representing two other aspects of the solar god. Night Sun Chapel is located in the eastern part of the complex, reflecting the idea of the resurrection of the sun on the eastern horizon after an overnight journey by barge through the Underworld. Sculptural decoration of the chapel illustrated the overnight journey. The altar, according to Egyptian custom, is located in the courtyard under the open sky, so that the life-giving rays can reach it without hindrance. The priests would walk up the stairs to the top of the altar to offer sacrifice to the Sun - the researchers believe.

The official organizer of the opening ceremony was the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities in cooperation with the PCMA Research Centre in Cairo and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. Due to the significance of the monument for World Heritage and the status of the event, Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities and Heritage Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty announced his participation in the event, as did Prime Minister of the Government of Egypt, the Minister of Tourism and the governor of Luxor. The Polish side was represented by Michał Murkociński - Polish Ambassador, Dr. Tomasz Waliszewski - Director of the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw and Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, Director of the Station in Cairo.

The website of the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Conservation Mission in the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari was launched in October 2014. It presents projects carried out within the complex, a database of finds and history of activities.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


Saturday, February 28, 2015

The tomb of Queen Khent-kawes III

A Czech team working at Abousir near Saqqara has found the tomb of a previously unknown ancient Egyptian queen, writes Zahi Hawass

A Czech expedition directed by Miroslav Barta recently made a great discovery at the site of Abousir, to the south of the Giza Pyramids and between the Pyramids and Saqqara.

Abousir is the site of the “forgotten pyramids,” and the Czech expedition has been working there for many years, first under Miroslav Verner, and now under Barta. Last month it found a tomb at Saqqara recording for the first time the name of a queen. Her name is Khent-kawes, but we know of two other queens named Khent-kawes.

Khent-kawes I is known from Giza, where Egyptologist Selim Hassan found her tomb in 1932-1933. Some scholars believe that this Khent-kawes ruled at the end of Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, between the pharaohs Khafre and Menkaure. Her tomb is unique for a queen, and its construction may be evidence that she actually ruled in her own right.

It consists of a huge mastaba that caused Hassan, its excavator, to designate it as a fourth pyramid of Giza. The tomb, which had a boat located near its southwest corner, is associated with a settlement that may have housed the priests who maintained the cult of the queen after her death.

This is the oldest such settlement to be found in Egypt, and the tomb is also associated with a structure that could be a valley temple. The settlement is surrounded by an enclosure wall.

The title of the queen was Mother of the Two Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt, and these may have been kings of the Fifth Dynasty. It is also possible that this title can be read as two separate titles, as the Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt and Mother of the Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Was King Senebkay killed in battle?

Injuries to pharaoh's bones suggest he was brutally hacked with axes while riding his horse

By Sarah Griffiths for MailOnline

The 3,650-year old skeleton of King Senebkay has revealed the pharaoh died a violent death. Senebkay lived at a time when rulers battled for power before the rise of Egypt’s New Kingdom in 1,550 BC and his skeleton shows 18 injuries caused by axes. Injuries to his skull, lower back and ankles, suggest he was attacked while on his horse and hacked at with the deadly weapon - dying from blows to the head.

The tomb of Senebkay was unearthed at the Abydos archaeological site, near the city of Sohag, Egypt last year and was identified by an inscription on the wall of this burial chamber. It was the first time that any trace of the pharaoh was found, who was only previously known about by fragments of his name on an ancient list of Egyptian rulers.

Now, archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania, who came across the tomb, have revealed how the pharaoh probably died. Injuries to the skull, as well as vertical cuts on the ankles, feet and lower back, suggest the king was killed in a battle and was aged between 35 and 49 when he died, Luxor Times Magazine reported. Josef Wegner of the university, who led the dig, said the injuries suggest that the king died a violent death.

He was a ruler of Abydos for just four and a half years, at a time when dominant families battled for control of land. The angle and direction of the lacerations show he must have been higher up than his attackers when they cut him with axes.
It is likely that the king was on horseback and blows to his back and legs caused him to fall to the ground, where his enemies brutally struck his head until he died, far from his home.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 67

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

Nile Magazine


Das Digitale Schott-Archiv (DSA): Altägyptische Monumente und Antiken in Photographien des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts


Full report on the Sun Cult complex in Hatshepsut temple after restoration

American Egyptologists prove Pharaoh was brutally killed in a battle away from home


The Talatat Wall in the Luxor Museum


Texts in Translation #15: An offering table dedicated by Queen Tiye (Acc. no. 633)

MAES Study Day 21/03/15: ‘The Power Behind the Throne’ – Key Personalities in Ancient Egyptian History


Spring cleaning?


Preservation And Presentation Of The Palace At Malqata

Frog Blog

Rest Day

Thank you, AEF!

How many bricks would a pharaoh make if a pharaoh would make bricks?

Frog Blog 2

Our 2015 Representative from the Ministry of Antiquities


Year of the sheep/goat/ram


Busts of the lioness goddess unearthed in Luxor


What is our backsight today?


Episode 44: The Shipwrecked Sailor


Details on lost Ancient Egyptian queen’s tomb emerge


End of week 7: mud sealings, pottery vessels & not yet a tomb

More dogs from Sai Island


Amara West 2015: recycling in the New Kingdom town

Amara West 2015: who let the dog(s) out?

Amara West 2015 (week 6): a familiar character appears


Question of the Week: What is that object?


Work at the City Wall

Pyramid niche

The face of a pyramid


Back in Cairo 18th February 2015

Up to Beni Salama! 19th February 2015

The Wadi Gamal Terraces 21st February 2015


Happy Caturday from the Brooklyn Museum!


The Esoteric Meaning of the Myth of Osiris

Dominican archeology team uncovers ancient stele in Egypt that is over 2,200 years


Saved From The Skip

One of a Kind

A Great Honour For A Young Prince

The Great Hypostyle Hall

And the winner is...


Week 6: Sunday February 15 - Saturday February 21

Monday, February 23, 2015

Colleen Manassa, Imagining the Past: Historical Fiction in New Kingdom Egypt - A Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.02.27

Colleen Manassa, Imagining the Past: Historical Fiction in New Kingdom Egypt.   Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press, 2013.  Pp. xxviii, 339.  ISBN 9780199982226.

Reviewed by Nikolaos Lazaridis, California State University, Sacramento 

Colleen Manassa, the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Associate Professor of Egyptology at Yale University, has demonstrated in her publications over the past decade a remarkable breadth of research interests and scholarly skills. In this latest monograph she revisits four previously published New Kingdom texts, exploring their themes, form, language, and scope, and considering them as fair representatives of ancient Egyptian historical fiction. These texts are: the Quarrel of Apepi and Seqenenre, the Capture of Joppa, Thutmose III in Asia, and the Libyan Battle Story. Her study is thorough, well-written, and multi-layered; it may serve not only as these texts’ proper introduction for an audience not familiar with them, such as students or non-Egyptologists, but also as a well-rounded reconsideration of these texts’ reconstruction and interpretation for experts.

The four central chapters constitute her text-by-text analysis. These are preceded by an introduction to Egyptian historical fiction and its important interconnections to other Egyptian genres of writing and are followed by a short final chapter where the author summarizes the results of her analysis and treats them as defining features of this genre.

In Chapter 1 the author first discusses her definition of historical fiction as “narrative in which a process of historical events is itself an actor within the plot and whose characters are directly and repeatedly influenced by those events” (p. 3).1 Then she proceeds to introduce the four tales, relating their production and circulation to the intellectual context of Egypt’s temple and scribal cultures and stressing their dynamic intertextuality with earlier and contemporary historical narratives. Next, the author engages with Mikhail Bakhtin’s famous “chronotope”, arguing that these tales’ particular treatment of spatiotemporal aspects distinguishes them from other types of Egyptian narrative. Finally, the author briefly discusses the tales’ “paratextual elements”, pointing out, among other things, that their mixed Late Egyptian and Middle Egyptian grammar could be taken as an additional sign of their fictionality, and that possibly the tales’ transmission followed parallel oral and written paths.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Museum Pieces - Aegis of Isis

Photocredit: British Museum

Aegis of Isis

From Kawa, Sudan
Kushite, late 3rd century BC
Height: 17.500 cm
Width: 16.000 cm

Excavated by Prof Francis Llewellyn Griffith

EA 63585

Ornamental head of a goddess, possibly Isis

The term aegis is used in Egyptology to describe a broad collar surmounted by the head of a deity, in this case a goddess, possibly Isis. Representations in temples show that these objects decorated the sacred boats in which deities were carried in procession during festivals. An aegis was mounted at the prow and another at the stern. The head of the deity identified the occupant of the boat and it is likely that this example came from a sacred boat of Isis.

The eyes and eyebrows of the goddess were originally inlaid. The large eyes, further emphasized by the inlay, are typical of later Kushite art. The rectangular hole in her forehead once held the uraeus, which identified her as a goddess. The surviving part of her head-dress consists of a vulture - the wing feathers can be seen below her ears. The vulture head-dress was originally worn by the goddess Mut, consort of Amun of Thebes, but became common for all goddesses. The rest of the head-dress for this aegis was cast separately and is now lost, but would have consisted of a sun disc and cow's horns. The piece bears a cartouche of the Kushite ruler Arnekhamani (reigned about 235-218 BC), the builder of the Lion Temple at Musawwarat es-Sufra.

S. Wenig, Africa in antiquity: the arts, Vol II, exh. cat. (Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Museum, 1978)

M.F. Laming Macadam, The temples of Kawa (Oxford, 1949 (vol. I) 1955 (vol. II))


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Even the ancient Egyptians had paid sick days

How state-supported health care worked in ancient times.

By Anne Austin

We might think of state-supported health care as an innovation of the 20th century, but it’s a much older tradition. In fact, texts from a village dating to Egypt’s New Kingdom period, about 3,100 to 3,600 years ago, suggest that ancient Egypt had a state-supported health-care network designed to ensure that workers making the king’s tomb were productive.

Health care boosted productivity on the royal tombs

The village of Deir el-Medina was built for the workmen who made the royal tombs during the New Kingdom (1550 to 1070 BCE). During this period, kings were buried in the Valley of the Kings in a series of rock-cut tombs, not the enormous pyramids of the past. The village was built close enough to the royal tomb to ensure that workers could hike there on a weekly basis.

These workmen were not what we normally picture when we think about the men who built and decorated ancient Egyptian royal tombs — they were highly skilled craftsmen. The workmen at Deir el-Medina were given a variety of amenities afforded only to those with the craftsmanship and knowledge necessary to work on something as important as the royal tomb.

The village was allotted extra support: The Egyptian state paid them monthly wages in the form of grain and provided them with housing and servants to assist with tasks such as washing laundry, grinding grain and porting water. Their families lived with them in the village, and wives and children could also benefit from these provisions from the state.