Saturday, September 10, 2016

Games from ancient Egypt

Amira El-Noshokaty investigates the children’s games today’s Egyptians have inherited from their ancestors

It is sometimes said that if you really want to know about a nation, look at the attention it pays to its children.

As people flock to see the relics of ancient Egyptian civilisation at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo they could do worse than look carefully at the children’s toys and board games amid all the grand statues and other objects.

These items reveal a lot about the civilisation that made them, particularly in the excellence and attention to detail shown in them.

According to a recent book, Ancient Egyptians at Play: Board Games Across Borders by Walter Crist, Anne-Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi and Alex de Voogt, the “culture of board games in Egypt has long been a topic of interest for archaeologists, anthropologists and lay people alike, the climatic conditions of the Nile Valley allowing the preservation of perishable materials.”

On the second floor of the Egyptian Museum in the corridor that leads to the display of the funerary items found in the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, there are some very interesting ancient Egyptian royal toys.

There is the toy box of Tutankhamun himself, a white wooden box with a round handle so that the royal baby does not hurt himself when handling it. The box is very like those used today for children to keep their toys in while tidying up their rooms.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Boat beam lifted

The wooden beam that may once have held the oars of the Pharaoh Khufu’s second boat was lifted yesterday from its pit on the Giza Plateau, Nevine El-Aref reports

History has a special scent and taste on the Giza Plateau, where an unsurpassed assembly of soaring pyramids, the awe-inspiring Sphinx, and splendid chapels and tombs reflects the great civilisation of ancient Egypt. Although most of the plateau has been thoroughly excavated, there are still secrets to be revealed.

 The Japanese-Egyptian team as well as journalists and photographers, yesterday gathered around the pit of the Pharaoh Khufu’s second boat on the southern side of the Great Pyramid at Giza to watch minute by minute the lifting up of a boat beam that had recently been discovered, revealing a further such secret.

The beam is carved in wood with metal pieces in different shapes and sizes. The restorers had earlier removed other beams from the pit and covered them in situ with a special chemical solution to protect them from the atmosphere.

The present beam has now been taken to the laboratory on the plateau where restorers will first reduce its humidity until it has reached 55 per cent and then treat and consolidate it.

“This may be the beam that once held the oars of Khufu’s second boat,” Eissa Zidan, director of restoration at the project told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the beam had been found during excavations carried out inside the pit on the boat’s eighth layer.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The mummy of a man from the National Museum in Warsaw turned out to be... a woman

The mummy of the priest Hor-Djehuti, which is in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, hides a woman's body under the bandages. Polish scientists announced the unusual discovery on August 11 at the World Congress on Mummy Studies in Lima, Peru.

The discovery was made in the comprehensive, interdisciplinary Warsaw Mummy Project. Its authors are Polish archaeologists and bioarchaeologists, PhD students at the University of Warsaw: Wojciech Ejsmond, Marzena Ożarek-Szilke and Kamila Braulińska. Braulińska, who delivered a speech in Lima, is the main coordinator of the project.

"A CT scan showed that the skeleton of the alleged priest has a very delicate constitution, which is quite unusual for a man. It was the first signal that we were not dealing with a person referred to by the inscription on the coffin, in which the deceased had been placed" - explained in an interview with PAP Marzena Ożarek-Szilke, archaeologist and physical anthropologist.

Further, more detailed analyses convinced scientists that it was indeed a woman under the bandages. One of the things they noticed on the tomographic images was the lack of... penis. "The Egyptians mummified this organ. It is usually well preserved" - added Ożarek-Szilke.

The researchers performed a three-dimensional reconstruction of the body of the dead woman. This was possible without unwrapping the mummy, through tomographic technology.

"On the obtained 3D images clearly visible are long, curly hair flowing down to her shoulders, and mummified breasts" - described the anthropologist.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Burial chamber discovered in Asasif on Luxor's west bank

The burial chamber and sarcophagus of a 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor has been discovered

by Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 25 Aug 2016

During excavation and cleaning work carried out in the tomb of the 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor Karabasken in south Asasif, on Luxor's west bank, the Egyptian American South Asasif Conservation Project discovered his burial chamber and sarcophagus.

“The sarcophagus is a unique example of Kushite sarcophagi in an elite tomb,” Mahmoud Affifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online, adding that the sarcophagus is carved in plain red granite and does not bear any engravings or paintings.

Elena Pischikova, director of the archaeological mission, explained that the burial chamber was found accidently during excavation work carried out in a room of the tomb. As an was found in its centre and it led to the burial chamber.

Pischikova said that the base and lid of the sarcophagus bore deliberate damage — evidence of two attempts to break into the sarcophagus at some time in antiquity.

“The interior of the sarcophagus was flooded after the first attempt, but further cleaning work will show if any fragments of the wooden coffin or other burial equipment are still preserved inside,” Pischikova said.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/241662/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Burial-chamber-discovered-in-Asasif-on-Luxors-west.aspx

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Historic Find at Tel-Hazor: A Statue of an Egyptian Official

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.

The statue was originally placed either in the official's tomb or in a temple – most probably a temple of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue's base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue's owner. This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century B.C.E.) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ancient Logbook Documenting Great Pyramid's Construction Unveiled

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | July 18, 2016

A logbook that contains records detailing the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza has been put on public display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in honor of the pharaoh Khufu (reign ca. 2551 B.C.-2528 B.C.) and is the largest of the three pyramids constructed on the Giza plateau in Egypt. Considered a "wonder of the world" by ancient writers, the Great Pyramid was 481 feet (146 meters) tall when it was first constructed. Today it stands 455 feet (138 meters) high.

The logbook was written in hieroglyphic letters on pieces of papyri. Its author was an inspector named Merer, who was "in charge of a team of about 200 men," archaeologists Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard wrote in an article published in 2014 in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology.

Tallet and Marouard are leaders of an archaeological team from France and Egypt that discovered the logbook at the Red Sea harbor of Wadi al-Jarfin 2013. It dates back about 4,500 years, making it the oldest papyrus document ever discovered in Egypt.

"Over a period of several months, [the logbook] reports — in [the] form of a timetable with two columns per day — many operations related to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza and the work at the limestone quarries on the opposite bank of the Nile," Tallet and Marouard wrote.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Polish archaeologists studied a unique necropolis in Egypt

Polish scientists studied a cemetery from the times of the reign XXIII and XXV Dynasty (VIII - VII century BC) in Egypt. The royal necropolis is located in the ... temple of Hatshepsut.

Archaeologists have summed up the 10-year study of an unusual cemetery, which was founded in the times of unrest in Egypt - the so-called Third Intermediate Period, when the power in Egypt was taken over by the kings who came from Libya, and then from the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which is today's Sudan. The latter were described as "black pharaohs".

Even before the year 900 BC, Hatshepsut temple was destroyed by great cataclysm. Probably as a result of an earthquake, hundreds of tons of debris fell on the sanctuary from the surrounding hills. The famous temples of Karnak and Luxor located on the east bank of the Nile also sustained serious damage.

"Members of the royal family - XXIII and XXV dynasty - took advantage of the situation. They consciously decided to build tombs on the upper terrace of the ruins of the Temple of Hatshepsut" - told PAP Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, leader of the Polish-Egyptian restoration and archaeological mission in the temple of the famous queen. According to the researcher, even after its destruction the temple considered a sacred place.

In total, scientists have discovered nearly 20 tombs. The entrance in the form of several meters deep shaft carved into the rock, ending in a single, undecorated burial chamber, was located in the floor of the temple.