Saturday, August 22, 2015

Looking for Queen Nefertiti

Does the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti rest in the tomb of the Boy King Tutankhamun, as a British Egyptologist has claimed, asks Nevine El-Aref

The beautiful Queen Nefertiti, wife of the monotheistic King Akhenaten and her son-in-law the golden Boy King Tutankhamun, has always perplexed archaeologists.

Nefertiti acquired unprecedented power during the first 12 years of the reign of her husband Akhenaten. She occupied the throne alongside her husband and appeared nearly twice as often in reliefs as Akhenaten during the first five years of his reign. She continued to appear in reliefs even when, in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign, she disappeared from the scene and her name vanished from the pages of history.

Some think she either died from plague or fell out of favour, but recent theories have denied this claim. Four images of Nefertiti adorn Akhenaten’s sarcophagus, not the usual goddesses, indicating that her importance to the pharaoh continued up until his death and disproving the idea that she fell out of favour. It also shows her continuous role as a deity or semi-deity with Akhenaten.

Shortly after her disappearance, Akhenaten took a co-regent to the throne. The identity of this person has created speculation. One theory says it was Nefertiti herself in a new guise as a “female king,” like the female pharaohs Sobkneferu and Hatshepsut who ruled the country for several years.

Another theory introduces the idea of two co-regents, a male one called Smenkhkare and Nefertiti under the name of Neferneferuaten. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti became co-regent with her husband, and that her role as queen consort was taken over by her eldest daughter Meritaten.

Although her iconic bust, now on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, was unearthed in an artist’s workshop at Tel Al-Amarna in 1912 by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, neither her tomb nor mummy have yet been unearthed. As for the Boy King Tutankhamun, his mysterious death, lineage and health have seen many controversies and debates.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Unravelling the animal mummies of Ancient Egypt

Creepy exhibition reveals what lies beneath the bandages of cats, crocodiles and jackals offered to the Gods 

By Sarah Griffiths for MailOnline

From bandaged crocodiles to cats entombed in wooden effigies, a new exhibition seeks to unravel the mystery of animal mummies.

The ancient Egyptians carefully prepared the mummies in their millions as votive offerings to the gods.

Now, thousands of years after they were made, the exhibition will reveal the contents of these unusual mummies using X-rays and CT scans to the public.

The Gifts for the Gods exhibition at Manchester Museum will explain the background behind what today seems like a bizarre religious practice, in the context of life in ancient Egypt.

While many people may imaging Ancient Egypt to be a sandy wilderness, it was a country of lush grassland and a taxidermy exhibit will show what the mummified animals would have looked like when they were alive.

The strangest one to go on display is a jackal mummy which was found to contain fragments of human bone.

But Lidija McKnight, Research Associate at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester told MailOnline: ‘The ancient Egyptians mummified just about every animal they could find from cats and dogs, to fish, crocodiles, rodents, birds and baboons.

‘Perhaps the more surprising are the mummies which don’t contain animals themselves, or which contain more than species wrapped together.’

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What lies beneath?

A tantalising clue to the location of a long-sought pharaonic tomb 
NOTHING has inspired generations of archaeologists like the discovery in 1922 of the treasure-packed tomb of Tutankhamun. What if another untouched Egyptian trove lies buried, not in a distant patch of desert, nor even nearby amid the overlapping tomb-shafts of Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, but instead just a millimetre’s distance from plain view?

This is the dramatic hypothesis of a just-published paper by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist who co-discovered an undisturbed Egyptian tomb in 2000, and who is at the University of Arizona. His key evidence is disarmingly simple, and in fact free to see on the internet in the form of photographs published by Factum Arte, a Madrid- and Bologna-based specialist in art replication that recently created a spectacular, life-sized facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb, intended for tourists to visit without endangering the original.

What Mr Reeves found in these ultra-high-resolution images, which reveal the texture of walls beneath layers of paint in the original tomb, was a number of fissures and cracks that suggest the presence of two passages that were blocked and plastered to conceal their existence. One of these would probably lead to a storeroom; its position and small size mirror that of an already-uncovered storeroom inside the multi-chambered tomb. The other, bigger possible doorway in the north wall of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber suggests something much more exciting.

There are several oddities about Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is small compared with others in the valley. The objects found in it, while magnificent, seemed hurriedly placed and were found to be largely second-hand; even the boy-king’s famous gilded funerary mask sports the strangely unmanly feature of pierced ears. The tomb’s main axis is angled to the right of the entrance shaft, an arrangement typical of Egyptian queens rather than kings.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ancient Egyptian Mummies Embalmed With Unusual Recipes

By Rossella Lorenzi

Unusual embalming recipes have been identified on two ancient Egyptian mummies, according to new international research.

The study investigated the 18th Dynasty mummies of the royal architect Kha and his wife Merit, a couple who were believed to have undergone a short and poor mummification -- if no mummification at all -- despite their relative wealth at death.

Indeed, their internal organs were not removed and placed in canopic jars, as generally occurs in classical royal 18th Dynasty artificial mummification.

Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that all internal organs – brain, thoracic and abdominal organs, eyeballs as well as ocular muscles and nerves -- were in excellent state of preservation after some 3,500 years.

"Both individuals underwent a relatively high quality of mummification, fundamentally contradicting previous understanding," Frank Rühli, Stephen Buckley, Joann Fletcher, Raffaella Bianucci, Michael Habicht, Eleni Vassilika and colleagues wrote in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Elucidated ‘recipes,’ whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties, were used to treat their bodies," the researchers added.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

4,400 year-old artifacts accidentally found under Edfu Temple

By Rany Mostafa

CAIRO: A set of ancient Egyptian jars, skeletons and burials have been unearthed under the foundation of Edfu Temple north of Aswan, Antiquities Ministry said in a statement Sunday.

“The discovery was accidentally made during the restoration work of the temple’s foundation which involves reducing its groundwater level,” Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in the statement.

According to Damaty, the jars date back to ancient Egyptian history eras of Old Kingdom (2680B.C.-2180B.C.) and the Late Period (665B.C.-330B.C.)

“A significant number of burials, human bones and an Old Kingdom copper mirror are among the finds,”

Dedicated to the ancient Egyptian protection God Horus, Edfu Temple is located 90 kilometers north of Aswan and dates back to the Greco-Roman era (330 B.C.-395A.D).

In January 2012, the Antiquities Ministry along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new groundwater lowering project at the temple.

“The project aims to establish a drainage system to lower the groundwater level that threatens antiquities in the Edfu Temple and will be carried out over approximately 20 months,” according to a statement by the U.S. embassy in Egypt.

In 2010, a five million EGP ($750,000) project to restore Edfu Temple was completed. The project involves opening a new entrance, restoring the carvings on it walls as well as installing a new lighting system.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Suez Canal exhibition at Egyptian Museum

Exhibition to mark the opening of the New Suez Canal will take place at the Egyptian Museum

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 28 Jul 2015

On Sunday, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty is to open the "Discoveries of Egypt's eastern gate,"  an exhibition at the Egyptian Museum, as part of the ministry's celebration of the opening of the New Suez Canal.

The exhibition, Eldamaty pointed out, is to highlight the history of the area around the Suez Canal and its military importance since the ancient era until modern times.

He went on saying that the exhibition is to put on display a collection of artefacts that have been unearthed at ten archaeological sites located on the eastern and western banks of the Suez Canal,  including Pelusium, Tel Habuwa, Tel Abu Seifi, Tel Kedwa and Tel Al-Heir. Photos showing excavation works in these sites are to be also exhibited.

Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, General Coordinator for the development of archaeological sites around the New Suez Canal, told Ahram Online that the exhibition is one of three temporary exhibitions established  in Ismailia Suez Museums.

He explained that the exhibition displays the most important discoveries carried out by foreign and Egyptian excavation missions in the sites surrounding the Suez Canal, including a limestone painted relief depicting the different titles of King Ramses II, a stone block depicting King Tuthmosis II before the god Montu, the lord of Thebes, as well as a stelae from the reign of King Ramses I before the god Set of Avaris town. A collection of engraved lintels are also on display as well as photos showing the New Kingdom military fortresses uncovered in situ, royal palaces from Tuthmosis III and Ramses II's reigns as well as remains of a 26th dynasty temple. A storage cellos, and an industrial zone were also uncovered in Tel Dafna on the Suez Canal's western bank and a Roman structure in Pelusium.

Abdel-Maqsoud announced that for the first time since its discovery, the relief of King Ibres discovered at Tel Dafna in Al-Ismailia is to be exhibited. The relief dates to the 26th dynasty and is carved in sandstone. It shows one of the military expedition launched by Ibres across Egypt's borders through Sinai and Horus Military Road. This stelae was discovered by the army during the 2011 revolution.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Three newly discovered stelae at Wadi el-Hudi (Aswan)

Antiquities Minister, Dr. Mambouh Eldamaty declared today the discovery of three archaeological stelae at Wadi El-Hudi that hold inscriptions of historic importance. The discovery was made during the fieldwork conducted by an American Mission sponsored by Princeton University in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Aswan Inspectorate. The mission is overseen by Aswan Inspector Moataz Sayed Ibrahim, and directed by Kate Liszka, Cotsen Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University and Bryan Kraemer of the University of Chicago. Wadi el-Hudi lies 35 kilometers southeast of Aswan in the Eastern Desert.

Eldamaty added that the area includes several amethyst mines each connected with their own fortified settlements.
He elaborated that many of the discovered hieroglyphic inscriptions are faded therefore they still await extensive study and the team will use Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) photographic technology to delineate further detail.

From his side, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, Dr. Mahmoud Afify said the Wadi el-Hudi is an important area because it contained a number of amethyst quarries, a beautiful purple stone used in jewelry. Ancient Egyptians periodically sent several expeditions in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055-1650 BCE) to procure this precious stone.

Afify added that two of the carved granodiorite stones mentioned the 28th year of Senwosret I from Dynasty 12. They may also number various types of people who were part of the Egyptian expeditions into the desert, and these may relate to the founding of this site.

The famous Egyptian Archaeologist, Ahmed Fakhry was the first to publish these sites in 1952 and discussed their connection to amethyst quarries of Montuhotep IV of Dynasty 11 based on historic inscriptions connected with the hilltop settlement.

© Ministry of Antiquities, Press Office
Eman Hossni