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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peek Inside Cat Mummies With New X-ray Images

Turns out there's more than one way to scan a cat.

By Joshua Rapp Learn

Archaeologists may soon unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt using a new imaging technique that offers a better look inside mummies without removing a single piece of wrapping.

The new kind of CT scan has been successfully tested on cat mummies from the collections of the South Australian Museum. While the exact ages of these mummies are unknown, feline mummies were fairly common in Egypt from about 600 B.C. until A.D. 250.

Typical CT scans use a single type of x-ray to take images of an object from multiple angles and then create a digital image of the insides. Such scans can tell the difference between muscle and bone based on their relative density. But this can present challenges for mummies: As they get older, their skin and muscles dry up and become denser, while the bones lose marrow and become less dense.

The new technique, known as atomic number imaging, instead uses two kinds of x-rays to peer inside stuff and figure out the hidden composition based on a material’s atomic number—one of the defining characteristics of a chemical element. For instance, the scans can distinguish between bones filled with calcium and phosphorous and muscle, which is mostly carbon.

“It’s a technique that can be done on any CT scanner,” says lead author James Bewes, a radiology resident at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, who describes the work in the August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

“We can dive that little bit deeper into the makeup of what we’re imaging,” Bewes says. “We’re trying to tell how they lived and how they died through their bones and through their muscles.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ministry of Antiquities trying to decipher the most controversial mystery coffin in the history of ancient Egypt

The Ministry of Antiquities is trying to decipher the most controversial mystery coffin in the history of ancient Egypt

The Ministry of Antiquities resumes the study of the golden fragments found inside a wooden box inside the store of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir with a grant of $28,500 provided by the American Research Center (ARCE) Endowment Fund 2016.

Elham Salah, Head of Museums Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities pointed out that the study will be conducted by a team of Egyptian archaeologists and restorers from the Egyptian Museum who would study another group of these fragments, which are likely belong to the sarcophagus of tomb KV 55 on the West Bank of Luxor.

Salah also explained that this study significantly contributes in resolving the controversy over the identity of the sarcophagus found in tomb KV55, considered as one of the most controversial sarcophagus in the ancient Egyptian history. This sarcophagus is currently displayed in the Egyptian museum, she pointing out, and the studies conducted by the working team last year figured out the possibility of subordination of these fragments to the sarcophagus.

Islam Ezzat, member of the scientific office at the ministry of antiquities pointed out that after the completion of this extensive study the identity of the owner of this sarcophagus would be determined as well as the owner of tomb KV55. The researchers team is currently working on the dating of this sarcophagus through figuring out the similarities of these fragments with the sarcophagus and its inscriptions.

It is worth mentioning that the wooden box inside the museum’s store had about 500 golden fragments, a small part of a human skull, a paper written by hand in French dates to the time of the discovery of the tomb indicate that these fragments belong to a royal sarcophagus without specifying its name.

The researched team is working under the supervision of a large collection of Egyptian antiquities and restoration scientists in Egypt and the world including Prof./ Faeza Hekal professor of Egyptology at the American University, Prof./Hassan Selim professor of Egyptology at Ain Shams University, Prof./Mark Gabold professor of ancient Egyptian language at the University of Montpellier in France, Prof./ Arnest Brnikas professor of material science at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Prof. Suseran Janescy Great Restorer in Boston Museum at the United States of America, and Hala Hassan, head of the first section of the Egyptian Museum.

Source: Ministry of Antiquities