Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Were Egyptian 'Pot Burials' a Symbol of Rebirth?

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | January 17, 2017

Ancient Egyptians who buried their deceased kin in pots may have chosen the burial vessels as symbols of the womb and rebirth, scientists argue in a new paper.

Credit: Adaima excavation. Crubezy & Midant-Reynes, IFAO

Pot burials in ancient Egypt have long been considered the domain of the very poor. In a paper published in the journal Antiquity, however, archaeologists Ronika Power of the University of Cambridge and Yann Tristant of Macquarie University in Australia assert that pots weren't just a last-ditch choice for the desperate. Instead, they wrote, pots may have symbolized eggs or the womb, and their use may have indicated beliefs that the dead would be reborn in the afterlife.

"[I]t is hard to dismiss the visual similarities between pots laden with human bodies with limbs contracted into the so-called 'foetal' or 'sleeping' position and gravid uteri or eggs," the researchers wrote. "It is clear that further study is required to untangle the symbolic meaning of this particular mode of burial, which has clear associations with gestation and (re)birth."

High-status dead?

Children, infants and fetuses in ancient Egypt are often found buried in pots, and for that reason, researchers have downplayed the importance of this ritual as mere rubbish disposal, according to the study researchers. But being buried in a recycled household pot doesn't necessarily indicate that the babies and children interred in this way were considered nothing more than garbage, Power and Tristant wrote. Ancient cultures recycled everything, they said, and even high-status people were sometimes buried in reused tombs or sarcophagi.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Archaeologists find compelling evidence for new tombs at Qubbet Al-Hawa site in Aswan

An ancient Egyptian encroachment wall uncovered below the visitors’ pathway at Qubbet Al-Hawa suggests additional tombs to be found

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016

During excavation work carried out below the visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the west Aswan cemetery, at Qubbet Al-Hawa site, archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP), stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient Egyptian encroachment wall.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Mahmoud Afify told Ahram Online that the wall is two-metres high and is part of the architectural support of the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Given the landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa, he explained, the support wall helped to secure the hillside and thus lower lying tombs that were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Nasr Salama, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the discovery as “stunning,” adding that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Queens of the Nile Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden

18 November 2016 until 17 April 2017

Photo courtesy of RMO Leiden
Queens of the Nile will tell the unique story of the ancient Egyptians pharaohs' wives during the New Kingdom period (1500 to 1000 BC). Visitors can admire 350 top archaeological pieces, including rare sculptures, magnificent jewellery and luxurious artefacts used by women at the Egyptian court, plus the sarcophagus cover and grave goods entombed with one of Egypt’s most celebrated queens, Nefertari. The Museo Egizio in Turin is loaning 245 of its finest objects for the exhibition. This is the second largest ancient Egyptian Museum in the world. 

Royal ladies of ancient Egypt

The exhibition will bring to life the riches enjoyed by the royal ladies of ancient Egypt, the intrigues they engaged in and the honours paid to them. During the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt was at the height of its power. Pharaohs were lords and masters of their realm and worshipped as gods. Their queens were also accorded divine and regal status. They fulfilled important religious functions and sometimes had temples especially built for them. Their divine status often continued after their death.

Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti, Nefertari

Famous queens as Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari were powerful women who were not simply wives but who ran the pharaoh's palace and exercised significant political power. Although pharaohs could marry many wives, only one was allowed to bear the title 'Great Queen'. She managed the day-to-day running of the harem, which sometimes comprised hundreds of women. At court she was surrounded by sumptuous jewellery, magnificent clothes, cosmetics and furniture. In the exhibition, beautiful artefacts such as necklaces, rings, glass scent bottles, painted vases and bronze mirrors provide a glimpse of the opulent life led by queens at the Egyptian court.

Unique objects from the tomb of Nefertari

A unique element in the exhibition will be the display of objects recovered from the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Her tomb, plundered in antiquity, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens, close to the Egyptian city of Luxor, in 1904. Regarded as one of the finest tombs from ancient Egypt, one of its richly decorated chambers will be reconstructed in the exhibition. Here visitors can experience the mystic beauty of Nefertari’s tomb, alongside her sarcophagus cover and gifts deposited at her entombment. The Museo Egizio seldom loans these precious grave goods.

Source: http://www.rmo.nl/english/exhibitions/queens-of-the-nile

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Statues of lioness goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor's Kom El-Hettan excavation

by Nevine El-Aref , Friday 9 Dec 2016

Egyptian archaeologists excavating the Mortuary Temple of King Amenhotep III in Luxor have unearthed a number of statues of the goddess Sekhmet, daughter of the ancient Egyptian sun god Re, project director Hourig Sourouzian told Ahram Online on Thursday.

"They are of great artistic quality" Sourouzian said of the statues, which were found in four parts, including three busts and one headless torso, in the Kom El-Hettan archaeological area on Luxor's west bank.

Sourouzian oversees the work of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, which is working to save the remains of the more than 3,000 year-old temple and eventually restore its dispersed artefacts to the site, to be presented in their original layout.

The project director said her team found the Sekhmet pieces in very good condition, buried in the temple's hypostyle hall—a roofed structure supported by columns. Several other statues of the goddess have been found previously on the same site.

According to Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet was charged with defending her father Re against enemies.

The many statues of the goddess in the temple of Amenhotep III would also have been intended to protect the ruler from evil and disease, Afifi told Ahram Online. 

"All statues of the goddess are now stored in warehouses supervised by the Ministry of Antiquities for security reasons,” Afifi said, adding that when excavations at the temple are completed and the site is opened to visitors, the statues will be placed back in their original setting.

In addition to the statues of Sekhmet, Sourouzian's team have uncovered large pieces of sphinxes carved in limestone, as well as a small torso of a deity in black granite, within the vicinity of the funerary temple's third pylon.  

“The sphinxes are in a bad state of preservation and will need to be treated before being exposed,” she said.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany is set to travel to Luxor on Monday, to inspect the newly discovered statues and attend the opening of a temporary exhibit to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Luxor Museum.

The exhibit will display a collection of 40 artefacts discovered by archaeologists on the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project.

The artefacts will include a collection of amulets, Greco-Roman coins, remains of clay pots and religious stelae—stone tablets or columns erected as tombstones or boundary markers.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/251690/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Statues-of-lioness-goddess-Sekhmet-unearthed-in-Lu.aspx

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Metropolis discovered in Abydos in the Upper Egypt's governorate of Sohag

A necropolis and residential settlement were uncovered in Abydos in Sohag, almost 400 m south of the temple of King Seti I

By Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 24 Nov 2016

A necropolis and residential settlement were uncovered Tuesday in Abydos in Sohag, almost 400 metres south of the temple of the New Kingdom pharaoh Seti I.
The settlement and Early Dynastic Period necropolis were found during excavation by an archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the newly discovered site could belong to high officials or architects responsible for the construction of the tombs and funerary walls of the pharaohs of the First Dynasty.

Afifi described the discovery as “very important” because it reveals new information that could change archaeologist's understanding of the history of ancient Abydos.

Excavators also uncovered 15 large mudbrick tombs of varying architectural design. The surface area of each, Afifi said, could reach 70 metres -- larger than that of a First Dynasty royal tomb.

“This size reflects the position of the tombs’ owners -- their importance and social level within the community of that period,” Afifi told Ahram Online.

He added that a group of mudbrick huts were also discovered within the settlement as well as a collection of artefacts from daily life, including the remains of a large number of clay vessels and stone tools used in land cultivation, which suggests that the huts could have belonged to workers supplying the settlement with provisions.

Yasser Mahmoud, the mission's field director, said that the uncovered tombs have a unique architectural design and one or more mastaba -- distinguished by flat roofs and sloping sides -- known only for pharaohs from the First and Third Dynasties at the Saqqara Necropolis. “This new discovery shows that the mastaba tombs were first used in Abydos for pharaohs from the First Dynasty,” Mahmoud said.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/250686/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Metropolis-discovered-in-Abydos-in-the-Upper-Egypt.aspx

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Egyptian giant crocodile mummy is full of surprises

Courtesy Interspectral and  Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
A three-metre-long mummified Egyptian 'giant crocodile', one of the finest animal mummies in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), turns out to be literally filled with surprises. Examination of detailed new 3D CT scans has led to the conclusion that, besides the two crocodiles previously spotted inside the wrappings, the mummy also contains dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles. This is an exceptional discovery: there are only a few known crocodile mummies of this kind anywhere in the world. Starting on 18 November, museum visitors can perform a virtual autopsy on the 3,000-year-old mummy, using an interactive visualisation exhibit in the new Egyptian galleries.

Virtual autopsy in museum galleries

A new scan of the large crocodile mummy was recently performed at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam. An earlier CT scan in 1996 had shown that there are two juvenile crocodiles inside a mummy that looks like one large crocodile. The Swedish company Interspectral, which specializes in high-tech interactive 3D visualizations, has converted the results of the new scan into a spectacular 3D application and thus detected the dozens of baby crocodiles. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

3,000-Year-Old Mummy Found in Egyptian Tomb

The well-preserved mummy is believed to be the body of a man named Amenrenef, a servant to a royal household.

Spanish archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Egyptian mummy in "very good condition" near Luxor, Egypt's antiquities ministry has announced.
Photo courtesy of Ahram Online

Resting inside a brightly colored wooden sarcophagus, the mummy had been bound with linen stuck together with plaster.

"The tomb was uncovered at the southern enclosure wall of the Temple of Millions of Years," Mahmoud Afifi, head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities department of the ministry, said in a statement.

The temple was built on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor by Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1490-1436 BC), one of Egypt's greatest warrior kings. Also known as the "Napoleon of Egypt," he was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt as it boasted pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.

The mummy is believed to be the body of a man named Amenrenef, who held the title of "Servant of the King's House." Amenrenef, however, did not live under Thutmosis III. His tomb likely dates from the Third Intermediate period around 1,000 BC, probably to the 21st Dynasty.

"When the temple was already not functioning, the area was used as a necropolis," Egyptologist Myriam Seco Álvarez, head of the Spanish archaeological team, told Seeker.

"Until now we knew about the necropolis under the temple dated to the Middle Kingdom, but we didn't know about the Late Period tombs and this one of the Third Intermediate Period," she added.

The 3,000-year-old mummy case features "many colorful decorations recalling religious symbols of ancient Egypt," the Egyptologist said.

Álvarez, who has been working at the Temple of Millions of Years since 2008, noted that the inscriptions and decorations include solar symbols, the protective goddesses Isis and Nephthys spreading their wings, the four sons of god Horus, and many other finely painted scenes.

"The mission will now study the tomb and its contents to find out more about its owner," Afifi said.

Source: http://www.seeker.com/3000-year-old-mummy-found-in-egyptian-tomb-2093293939.html