Sunday, April 20, 2014

26th Dynasty Tombs Discovered at Al-Bahnasa

Archaeologists from the Spanish mission of Barcelona University have discovered two 26th Dynasty tombs at Al-Bahnasa in Middle Egypt. The first tomb contains the well preserved unidentified mummy of a scribe including an inkwell and pens but even more surprising is the presence of many mummified fishes in the tomb.

The second tomb contains a collection of stone sarcophagi, bronze Osiris statuettes, inscribed canopic jars and a collection of bronze coins.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Slap on the Wrist

Last years discovery of six objects of ancient origin believed smuggled out of Egypt has met with an anti-climatic ending. The pieces were discovered when a Briton, Neil Kingsbury took the pieces to Christie's auction house to sell them giving an explanation that they belonged to an uncle who brought the pieces to England after WWII.

It was then noticed that one of the pieces was a red granite fragment of a Nubian prisoner from a statue of a seated kings throne. A curator at the British museum, Marcel Maree however spotted the piece and recognized it from having been discovered at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at Thebes.

A clear case of theft from that archaeological site and of smuggling antiquities out of Egypt but more than this a collection of some importance. Mr. Kingsbury was arrested and charged and after a nine month trial has been convicted for his part in the theft and smuggling and because of his co operation was given a lenient sentence of L550 in fines.

Somehow the operation appears to be worth the risk, especially had it not been for that piece of granite the pieces would likely have brought in many thousands of pounds. A very lucky man for the ending would have been very different and likely very unpleasant for Mr. Kingsbury had he been caught with the material in Egypt!

Photo: (MPAA)

Further Reading:
Fragments from Christie's
Who's Collection?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Journey of Three Mummies

Here we have an article involving three ancient mummies and a number of coffins and artifacts stolen by a gang and recovered. This is another clear example of heritage lost, where as in England the finder would have brought reward to turn it over, but in Egypt the reward is nothing to prison for making such a find.

Not scientific in any form, but a sad loss on any level!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lions Stolen from Luxor

This past week someone has walked off from the Luxor temple open air museum with two small limestone statues of lions, pictured here with the arrows. Though the lions are small they are heavy and too large to fit in a persons pocket.

Hopefully they will turn up as with the publicity they are now relatively worthless to buyers .

Photo: Dr Raymond Johnson

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gold Coins found in Coptic Alter

A series of 29 Byzantine gold coins has been found in a Pharaonic tomb at Dra Abu el Naga. The tomb was at some time converted into a Coptic chapel and it was within a small column supporting the alter that the coins were found.

The coins bear the names of four Byzantine rulers with the latest emperor present being Justinian which may place the establishment of the alter in the chapel sometime before 565 AD or slightly after. The chapel is considered the earliest part of the monastery Deir el Bakhit who's ancient name was the monastery of St. Paulo's.

Photo: DAI Cairo

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Raising of Amenhotep III

The Egyptian antiquities service has re-erected 2 statues on their original site in the memorial temple of Amenhotep III at Luxor. Amenhotep III was known as "the magnificent" because he reigned at the epoch of the Egyptian empire in the middle of the 14th century BC.

The kings temple of millions years was the largest of the memorial temples at Luxor but became damaged by an earthquake shortly after the kings death. By the time of the Pharaoh Merenptah, at the end of the 13th century BC, the blocks and sculptures from the temple were re used in the elderly Merenptah's own temple.

This last step was fortunate as those blocks which were re used had their sculpted surfaces turned down so the original decoration was hidden away and protected from further damage. Merenptah's workmen also took a stela from the site inscribed for Amenhotep III and carved the back for Merenptah.

The stela was found by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1896 and is considered by many to be that famous archaeologists most important find, this being because the stela's inscription contains the first known mentioning in archaeology of "Israel".

AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki

Monday, March 24, 2014

Old Kingdom Official Found

A skeleton of an official from the Vth Dynasty court of King Nefereer-Ka-Re has been located within his limestone sarcophagus at Abusir. The official named Nefer was discovered inside his roughly carved burial chamber by the Czek archaeological mission to Abusir headed by Mirislav Barta.

A number of burial shafts have also been found and no doubt will provide interesting material in the future for the excavation team.

Photo: Supreme Council of Antiquities

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Discovery of the Mummy of Ramses I

It is hard to believe that more than a dozen years has passed since the mummy below left a sideshow in Niagara Falls Canada and made its way to the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, where the mummy would be revealed in a show to be the lost mummy of King Ramses I. The exhibition hall was decorated with reproduction walls of the kings simple tomb in the Valley of kings.

The museum advertised that they intended to graciously return the mummy to Egypt, which they did, and Ramses I was sent back in a jet, being welcomed home in Egypt complete with red carpet. Research done on the mummy since has shown this man is about 400 years too late to be that king, and with this the mummy was sent to the Luxor museum separated from the royal mummy collection in the national museum in Cairo.

                                                              Not Ramses I ! 

The theory of the day was that the Abd Roussel family who discovered the royal mummy cache removed the mummy of Ramses I for sale to the gentleman who brought the mummy back to Niagara falls in 1860. The main flaw is the Roussel family did not remove any coffins from the cache, especially since the massive wood sarcophagus Of King Seti I blocked the corridor which would have made it difficult to get any mummy past that coffin.

 If the Abd Roussel's had wanted a mummy from that cache to sell to the doctor it would make much more sense to remove the mummy from the coffin of Nebseni at the entrance to the cache. Not to also forget, the mummy was in North America eleven years before the unofficial discovery of the royal tomb in question.

The mummy is certainly of high status demonstrated by his mummification but almost certainly did not come from the royal cache of DB320.

                                What became of the mummy of Ramses I?

While the Niagara falls mummy lay in his case the director of Egypt's antiquities service, Gaston Maspero in his 1889 book stated that the mummy of a naked well built man found lying next to the broken remains of the coffin of Ramses I from the DB320 cache, had raised its arm during a midday siesta, frightening the workers when they returned back to work. The arm with some force was replaced back to its original position, but the event left Mr. Maspero to remark that he believed that mummy to be Ramses I.

Over the years the mummy of Ramses II has been replaced as the mummy in the story because his arms are unusually high above his torso. The problem becomes that Ramses II was not found lying naked next to coffin fragments of Ramses I, in fact Ramses II was sealed in his coffin and tied into a shroud which bore inscriptions of his Osirifications. Still somewhere around this time the mummy in question, that of Ramses I disappeared.

The question had been raised in 1901 with the robbery of the tomb of Amenhotep II, and the riffling of the said kings mummy. What was the value of an authentic kings mummy on the black market? Workers at the then Boulaq Museum must first be looked too, was the temptation of those who held the keys to great to be ignored, this is unlikely.

A king like Ramses II would be immediately missed but a lesser king such as Ramses grand father the first Ramses maybe not so soon. So sometime between 1889 and 1902 the mummy in question vanishes from the national collection kept in the Boulaq museum or its transfer to the Giza palace museum. I would assume the Cairo Museum register has no record in 1902 for the mummy of Ramses I in the incoming collection to the new museum, though recent events have displayed poor inventory records.

Most likely a search of nearby medical facilities might reveal not only Ramses I, but hopefully the Priest King Pinudgem I, as well, certainly if a royal mummy was in the possession of a foreign nations collection it would have been noticed by now. So we are left with an old private collection or misplaced by the antiquities service.

The worst scenario of a stolen king is probably wrong, and both Pinudgem and Ramses are more than likely present in some long forgotten coffins on dusty shelves in Cairo.

                                                     If not Ramses I, than who?

With all the descriptions of the mummies high standard of mummification, the lavish use of resin and pleasant odor which it exudes give strong indication of his disassociation from the cheap coffin that is associated with the mummy . This is likely not an object that has something to do with the original burial of this man. The coffin has become almost completely irrelevant in finding the answer of it's last occupants name.

The most compelling testimony are the carbon 14 readings which do not support his identity as Ramses I by several hundred years.(A) Ramses I died around 1294 BC yet with carbon 14 calibrations showing dates ranging between 1085-790 BC he is not to be the first pharaoh of Egypt's Dynasty XIX.

The c14 data further tightened with the most probable date of death of said individual being perhaps 870 BC. The individual may be 40-50 years old at time of death with a time of death of 870 BC we may suppose time of his birth to be around 920-910 BC.(1)

His high standard of mummification suggest someone of high place in Egyptian society while his date of death falls into one of the most controversial periods in Egyptian history, where Egypt fractured into multiple city states with many cities having pretender kings. These kings emboldened themselves with royal privileges, including the kings death pose of Osiris. His well preserved corpse places his burial in Upper Egypt perhaps around Luxor with his standard of burial he may well fit in as the high priest of Amun or a local king.

He may well be the son of Osorkon I, the High Priest of Amun, Smendes III, who died in approximately 874 BC.


Photo of Ramses I statue: Keith Shengili-Roberts
Photo of Mummy:   Examining the Mystery of the Niagara Falls Mummy; Pgs. 26-34
Image of Buolaq Museum: The Amhersts of Didlington Hall
KV16 : Tomb of Rameses I
Michael C. Carlos Museum
(1).Dylan Bickerstaff ,winter issue, KMT(2006-07)  

(A) See comments

Further Reading:
KMT; Winter 2000-01 Gayle Gibson, The Unfinshed History of the Niagara Falls Mummies, Pgs. 18-29
PBS.Org: The Mummy who Would be King