Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meet Middlebury's Mummy

The only known mummy buried in America

Who Tamed Who

This story about the domestication of cats leaves me to wonder about tolerance rather than "taming".

The human home always had mice and I am sure that wild cats were probably tolerated long before they became pets.

When the cats around but there are no mice the home owner may just as well throw a scrap of food at the wild cat to keep him around.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unearthing Egypt's Greatest Temple

The mortuary temple of the 18Th Dynasty King Amenhotep III must have been quite the most sumptuous ever created.

This king's reign was an artistic high, sadly little more than a century later an earthquake partially destroyed it and a 19Th Dynasty king made his funerary monument out of the older monuments blocks.

On the upside King Merenptah had the blocks turned around and re carved for himself thus the older carvings were unseen and protected.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Aswan more than meets the eye

This great old picture shows the worlds largest obelisk still half buried and of course with the crack which stopped the work on it thousands of years ago.

Today the obelisk has been cleared of the rubble and is a huge tourist attraction.

Vermont Mummy

A small story with pictures about a mummy in Vermont.

Egyptian Canal's

Part of what made ancient Egypt great was its now long forgotten transportation infrastructure. No not roads but canals everywhere all linked to the mighty highway, the Nile.

Boy King to Face Crowds

So King Tutankhamun finally looses the last of his divine coverings and will be displayed in his antechamber as a mere mortal under glass.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hatshepsut found

Though the year is not over yet I am willing to be wrong to suggest early that this story wins the title as "Most important discovery of 2007".

Egypts top Ten Archaelogical Discoveries

This is the second installment of Dr. Zahi Hawass's series and I am in agreement that the settlement and cemetery of the builders of the great pyramid is just this important. As for the crackpots who desire alien or cavemen cultures to be responsible take that!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Egypt through the Stereoscope

Egypt Through the Stereoscope

Wow! This 1908 publication has stereoscopic views of a finer time in tourism.

One of the views is titled "Magnificent desolation-the deserted temple of Luxor".

A work by the great James Breasted

Gizeh and Rifeh

This 1907 publication by Flinders Petrie is highlighted with the discovery of an intact middle kingdom tomb of two brothers named Nekht Ankh and Khnum Nekht at a site called Rifeh.

Their entire funerary ensemble including the mummies (skeletons) of the brothers is in the Manchester Museum.

The publication is a short read with good black and white excavation photos.

Manchester Museum

University College London's Digital Egypt for Universities

The Mummies Royal

I cannot believe that I have still not put this book on my blog.

If my home was burning and I could only save one book it would be this one.

A number of years ago Dr.'s Aidan Dodson and Salima Ikram found a faint inscription on the mummy of unknown women "B" this inscription gave her name as "The great kings wife" Tetishiri.

Queen Tetishiri is well known because her grandson King Ahmosis "the liberator" erected a now famous stelea as well as other monuments in her honor.

The Mummies Royal:

Illahun, Kahun and Gurob

Illahun, Kahun and Gurob

This 1889-90 archaeological report by W. M. Flinders Petrie along with the 1890 report Kahun, Gurob and Hawara document a very important season in the life of a man considered the father of modern archaeology.

When he displayed his finds in london in 1889 the mummies bearing greco roman portraits were said to have inspired Oscar Wild to write " A portrait of Dorian Grey".

Here we have the Petrie Museum

Aswan Damn Bites

Indeed yes forty years later and Egypt may now be facing an ecological catastrophe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Threatening Speech

In a speech made by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme council of antiquities a few of years ago in Paris to members of UNESCO's Intergovernmental committee for the return of cultural heritage. Dr. Hawass made a fiery speech which did not help his cause and left 5 museums thinking "I lend my piece to Dr. Hawass and I will never see it again".

The biggest fight has been with the Berlin museum over a bust of Nefertiti which is the museums star. Dr. Hawass has irritated its director with repeated requests followed by Berlin's denial saying the bust is too fragile to travel.

Each of these denials has infuriated Dr. Hawass who clearly see's the bust as stolen. At this point there is a strong belief among some that Egypt's Supreme council of antiquities will just steal it back, if it ever gets its hands on it.

No moral issues here.

When we think Egyptology most people may think of the Rosetta stone like the Nefertiti bust, the museums star. The Rosetta stone is the British museums most visited object, even more so than its Elgin marbles.

As Egyptian antiquities go it is possibly the most famous object in the world and if Dr. Hawass was to get his hands on this object the President for life of Egypt would pin a medal on the doctor and the doctor would become a national hero and the stone would never see England again. Although I am sure the Cairo museum would be happy to send its copy back.

Likewise the Louvre can more than likely kiss the Dendara zodiac goodbye if they ever sent it back.

However in the last 2 cases the objects may be unique but perhaps not important enough for the Egyptian authorities to risk damaging their reputation perhaps loosing millions of dollars. I think Boston should overlook Dr. Hawass's poor diplomatic abilities and loan its bust of Ankhaf which was given through division of finds by the staff of the Cairo museum and is not seen as a stolen object.

Perhaps someday the more important of these objects will be able to be loaned back to Egypt but I don't think the director of Berlin's museum is in any rush to help the doctor get a medal pinned to his chest.

Hemiunu to Return to Egypt

Well Dr. Hawass has one of his 5 requests to open his new museum in 2011. Hopefully The Boston museum of Fine Arts will be next and allow its bust to also join the occasion.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

See whats happening at the pyramids now.

Journey to Tod Temple

Anytime you find an archaeological site which is not overrun by tourists is a good place to visit.

Excavating the Nile

What should turn out to be an interesting excavation. I have long wondered when such excavations would be done. The Nile must be an absolute treasure trove of objects lost or given.

National Geographic: The Mummy Roadshow

A brief article which include x rays to examine a mummy thought to be a princess.

King Tutankhamen Revealed

The boy Pharaoh will be put in climate controlled case visible to tourists for the first time. The effects of thousands of visitor a day are taking their toll and must also be damaging his outer gilded coffin which lye's unprotected in his quartzite sarcophagus.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Inventory Stelea

This stelea was found by August Mariette during his clearance around the sphinx in the little temple of Isis east of the great pyramid sometime between ca. 1853-58 ce.

He made for his mother, Isis, Divine mother; Hathor, mistress of Nun. The record was placed upon this stelea. He gave to her an offering anew and he built her temple of stone again. He found these gods in her place.

The district of the sphynx of Harmakhis is on the south of the abode of Isis, Mistress of the pyramid; on the north of Osiris Lord of Rosta. The words of the goddess of Harmakhis were brought in order to be recorded.

---may he grow; may he live forever and ever facing toward the east.

As Horus lives, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt; Khufu who is given life. He found the abode of Isis, Mistress of the pyramid, beside the house of the sphynx of Harmakhis on the north west of the house of Osiris, Lord of Rosta. He built his pyramid beside the temple of this goddess, and a pyramid for his daughter Henutsen beside the goddesses temple.

Egypt's 10 greatest Archaeological discoveries

A new series from Egypt's top gun Dr. Zahi Hawass.

Building Inscrition of Ahmose I ca 1540 bce

Now it came to pass that his majesty sat in the audience hall, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebpehtire the Son of Re, Ahmose I given life; while the hereditary princess were great in favor, great in amiability, kings daughter, kings sister, divine consort, great kings wife, Ahmose Nofretari who liveth, was with his majesty.

One spoke with the other seeking benefactions for the departed, to present libations of water to offer upon the alter, to enrich the offering tablet at the first of every season at the monthly feast at the first of the month, the feast of the coming forth of the sem, the feast of the night offerings on the fifth of the month, the feast of the sixth of the month, the feast of Hakro, the feast of the wag, the feast of Toth, and at the first of every season in heaven and of earth. His sister spoke and answered him; Wherefore has this been remembered? And why has this word been spoken? What has come into thy heart?

The king spoke to her; I it is who have remembered the mother of my mother, Teteshiri triumphant. She already has a tomb and a mortuary chapel on the soil of Thebes and Abydos, I have said this to thee in that my majesty has desired to have made for her a pyramid and a house in Tauzeser as a monumental donation of my majesty. Its lake shall be dug and its trees planted, its offering will be founded equipped with people endowed with lands, presented with herds, mortuary priests and ritual priests having their duties, every man knowing his stipulation.

Lo his majesty spoke this word while this was in the process of construction. His majesty did this because he so greatly loved her, beyond everything. Never did former kings the like of it for their mothers. Lo his majesty extended his arm and bent his hand, be pronounced for her a mortuary prayer...............

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Abbott Papyrus

There were sent inspectors to the great august necropolis, the scribe of the vizier and the overseer of the white house of pharaoh in order to inspect the tombs of former kings, the resting places of the nobles, located on the west of the city....

Tomb of Amenhotep I, the eternal horizon of King Zeserkare, L.P.H., the son of Re Amenhotep I L.P.H., which is a hundred and twenty cubits deep from its superstructure which is called "The high ascent, north of the house of Amenhotep LP.H, of the garden" The great nobles saying; "The thieves have broken into it." Inspected on this day; it was found uninjured by the inspectors.

Pyramid of King Intef I, The pyramid of the king, the Son of Re Intefo which is on the north of the House of Amenhotep of the court, of which the pyramid is destroyed before which its stelea still stands; the figure of the king stands upon this stelea his hound being between his feet named Behka. It was inspected on this day and found uninjured.

Pyramid of King Nubkheperre- Intef, The pyramid of the KIng Nubkheperre Son of Re Intef, it was found in the course of being tunnled into by thieves; they had tunneled 2 1/2 cubits into its masonry, 1 cubit from the outer chamber of the tomb of the chief of the oblation bearers of the house of Amen, Yuroi, which is in ruins. It was uninjured the thieves had not been able to enter.

Pyramid of Sekhemre- Intef, The pyramid of Sekhemre Upmat,Son of Re Intefo. It was in the course of being tunneled into by thieves at the place where its stelea of its pyramid is set up. Inspected on this day it was found uninjured, the thieves were unable to enter.

Pyramid of King Sobekhemsaf, The pyramid of King Sekhemre Shedtowe, Son of Re, Sobekhemsaf was found that the thieves had broken into it by mining through the base of the pyramid from the outer chamber of the tomb of the overseer of the granary of King Menkheperre, Nebamen. The burial place of the king was found void of its lord, as well as the burial place of the great kings wife, Nubkhas, his royal wife, the thieves had laid their hands upon them.

James Breasted

The Confession

...King's wife Nubkhas, his royal wife in the place of his, it being protected with blocks covered in mortar. We penetrated them all and found her resting likewise. We opened their coffins and their coverings in which they were. We found the august mummy of this king,. There was a numerous list of amulets and ornaments of gold at its throat; its head had a mask of gold upon it; the august mummy of this king was laid with gold throughout. Its coverings were wrought with gold and silver within an without; inlaid with every costly stone.

We stripped off the gold which we found on the august mummy of this god, and its amulets and ornaments which were at its throat and the coverings wherein it rested. We found the kings wife likewise; we stripped off all we found on her likewise. We set fire to their coverings. We stole their furniture which we found with them, being vases of gold, silver and bronze. We divided and made the gold which we found on these two gods, on their mummies, and the amulets and ornaments and coverings into eight parts.

Secrets of Egypt's lost Queen

Discovery channel's two hour program on finding the mummy of the female king was interesting with amazing access to the royal mummies. However for people like myself who read and watch everything I can on Egypt's mummy collection I could not help but notice a huge error.

The mummy being marketed in the show as unknown women "B" from the Deir el Bahari cache was in fact unknown women "D" from the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of kings complete with her raised toe on her left foot.

The fact that Dr. Zahi Hawass was able to accept that the mummy identified as Thutmosis I was not that king is good, most people interested in this subject realised this many decades ago. However it is worrying that unknown women "D" now has ct scan records identified as belonging to unknown women "B".

With such an obvious mistake occurring it leaves me to wonder about the final sensational results of the finding of Hatshepsut, though all appears to be well.

How such a mistake could occur among all these experts from the Supreme council of antiquities, its director as well as the staff of the Cairo museum amazes me that not one of them realized the error.

Dr. Hawass needs to publicly correct this mistake before the ct scan on unknown women "D" gets filed away under the title of unknown women "B" and forgotten.

The mistake unfortunately is almost as big as the discovery.

Small and misleading was a graphic showing unknown woman "A" lying next to unknown woman "B" with the Hatshepsut box described as being between them in the last chamber of DB320. The excavator of DB320 never made any notes in regard to the position that either of these mummies or the box were found in the tomb.

All in all I was entertained partly because of the mistakes.

Revisiting the Saving of Abu Simbel: 40 years later

The saving and reconstruction of both Ramesses the greats temples at Abu Simbel required five years and $40 million.

Begun on November 16 1963 the first of the 1,041 blocks was moved on may 21, 1965 while the first block to be laid at the new site was set on January 4 of the following year.

Three weeks later engineers installed the four gods in the inner sanctuary of the temple placing beneath them a foundation deposit including among other things copies of the Koran, newspapers and some coins.

On September 14 1966 a highlight the reunification of the face with the rest of the body of the first of the three 67 foot statues of the great king, this one being the farthest to the left.

By the following fall the baboons on the cornice of the great temple were once again in place after an absence of two years.

Image from:

With the rise of lake Nasser: 40 years later

The Aswan damn of the 1960's created a new lake and drowned the original sites of more than two dozen ancient monuments while completely drowning the Nile's less impressive architectural monuments such as a number of mud brick middle kingdom forts.

The damn with its twelve generators have created massive amounts of needed electricity as well as mitigating floods and droughts since its completion in 1970. As expected however going on forty years the damn is silting up, these silts used to go down river to stabilize the coast of the Nile delta. Along with the silt came the nutrients which used to attract a now dying fishery on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

It may now be time to undue damages before they get worse but I know that's just crazy talk.

Perhaps moving the Abu Simbel temples again to raise the damn still further higher is only as crazy as erecting the damn in the first place.

No simple solutions !

Interview with Zahi Hawass and Cartherine Roehrig

Excellent twenty six minute interview by Charlie Rose about the recent discovery of the Hatshepsut mummy.

The return to Thebes ca. 1465 bce

Look to your feet ye people! Behold the load is very heavy! Prosperity be with us for the sake of the myrrh tree in the midst of gods land for the house of Amen, there is a place it shall be made to grow for Maatkare in his temple according to his command.

The loading of the ships very heavily with the marvels of the country of Punt; all goodly fragrant woods of gods land, heaps of myrrh resin with fresh myrrh trees, with ebony and pure ivory, with green gold of Emu, with cinnamon wood, khesyt wood, with ihmut incense, sonter incense, eye cosmetic, with apes and monkeys, dogs and with skins of the southern panther, with natives and their children. Never was brought the like of for any king who has been since the beginning.

Sailing, arriving in peace, journeying to Thebes with joy of heart by the army of the Lord of the Two Lands, with the chiefs of this country behind them. They have brought that, the like of which was not brought for other kings, being marvels of Punt, because of the greatness of the fame of this revered god, Amen Re Lord of Thebes.

The Ebony Shrine of Deir El Bahari, ca. 1470 bce

Discovered in the temple of Deir el Bahari by E. Naville the surviving left side bares inscriptions that credit the shrines creation to Thutmosis II for Thutmosis I, however the the nuances of the piece suggest it was actually created on orders of Hatshepsut, this may even be the remains of the ebony shrine created by Thutiy and mentioned in his own tomb inscriptions.

The good god, Lord of the two lands, lord of offering, lord of diadems, who hath taken the crown of two lands, King of upper and lower Egypt, Aakheperenre the son of Re, Thutmosis II, he made it as his monument for his father, Amen Re, making for him an august shrine of ebony of the best of the highlands, that she might live and abide for him like Re, forever

James Breasted

The Instruction of Kagemni ca. 2613 bce

...the timid man flourishes, praised is he who is upright, open is the chamber to the silent, spacious is the seat of a man of cautious word. Sharp are the knives against the one who forces his way, that he not pass, save in his due season.

If you sit in the company of others, resist the food you desire, restrain your heart, gluttony brings disregard. A handful of water quenches the thirst, a mouthful of herbs brings strength to the heart. A good act takes place of what is good, yet just a little takes place of much.

Repulsive is the voracious, should time pass and he forget who's house he entered. If you sit with a glutton, eat when his appetite has passed. Should you drink with a drunkard, drink when his heart is glad. Do not help yourself to meat from the table of a glutton, accept his offering do not refuse it on courtesy.

He who is blameless of taking more than is his, no word can prevail against. The shy face and impassive heart, the struggle is kinder than his mother, all are beholden to him. Let your name be spoken though your lips remain closed.

When you are called forth be not great of heart because of your strength among piers lest you be denied. One sees not the future and how god punishes.

The Vizier had his children brought forth after he had acquired the knowledge of men their presence having come upon him. He said to them " All that is written in this book do as I have told you, do as has been set for you". Then they laid on their stomachs before him and recited out loud that which had been written down. Their hearts were filled with good above anything in the entire land. They rose up and sat down in accordance.

His majesty the king of upper and lower Egypt Huni came to the west and his majesty Sneferu ascended the throne of his father in all his beneficence in the entire land. Kagemni made overseer of the city and Vizier.

A letter form the King of Mitanni to the Queen Mother of Egypt

To Tiye Lady of Egypt
Thus speaks Tushratta King of the Mitanni
Approximately 1350 bc

All is well with me.
May all be well with you.
May all go well in your house, for your son, may all be perfectly well for your soldiers and for all belonging to you.

You are the one who knows that I have felt friendship for your husband, that your husband had felt friendship for me.
The things that I wrote and told your husband and things that your husband told me, were known to you. But it is to you who knows better than anyone, the things we have told each other. No one knows better than you.

You should continue sending joyous envoys, one after another. Do not stop them coming.
I shall not forget the friendship with your husband. This friendship is ten fold for your son.

You are the one who knows the words of your husband, but still I have not received your gift of homage which your husband ordered. I have asked your husband for colossal gold statues but your son sent me statues of gilded wood. As gold is like dust in your sons country, why have their been reason for such pain's that your son not to have given to me.
Neither has he given what his father gave to me?

AUTHORS NOTE: This letter was found at the Queen's son's capital and may well have never been read or responded to by the Queen mother who visited her son's capital perhaps maybe only once.
The Queen mother probably lived out her golden years at her palace at Malquatta near Thebe's.

Tomb of Amenhotep III, The Pharaoh Nebmaatre

These pictures of the tomb are unique on the web. The tomb has suffered badly and the kings head has been stolen from a number of the paintings in the tomb. These are now in the Louvre.

Dating the Amarna period in Egypt: 2

In the northern tombs in the cliffs at Akhet-Aten stands the Tomb of "the greatest seers of the Aten" Meryre I. The tomb has a unique surviving depiction of the sun with two sets of arcs one below the other, both arcs below the orb and emerging from the arcs are the suns rays.

With no other surviving representation of this in egyptian art its meaning can only be guessed at whether to be taken literally, as a record of an actual event which had occurred during the life of Meryre or a stylistic convention of the Aten which never caught on.

In an article in KMT magazine titled "A rare solar display" Dr. Lenore O. Congdon made a well founded argument that the event depicted in the tomb may actually be solar halos, a rare event caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere. These halos can appear in the same formation and colors as in the image in the tomb.

The author of the article however disagreed with this and is in the belief that the scene represented a solar eclipse or possibly a lunar eclipse.

It is at this place all falls to pieces and the authors cited source of the Nasa web page contradicts him at every date.

The Hammamat Inscriptions c1990 bce

Year 2, second month of the first season, day 15, Nibtowere Mentuhotep living forever.

His majesty commanded to erect this stelea to his father Min, lord of the highlands in this august primeval mountain........ order that his ka may be satisfied and that the god his desire, as does a king who is upon the great throne, first in thrones: enduring in monuments, excellent god, lord of joy, mighty in fear, great in love, heir of Horus in his two lands, whom the divine Isis, Min and Mut, the great sorceress reared for the dominion of the two regions of Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nibtowere Mentuhotep IV, living like Re forever, he says;

My Majesty sent forth the hereditary prince, governor of the city and vizier, chief of works, favorite of the king, Amenemhet, with an army of 10 000 men from the southern nomes, and the.....of the Oxryrhyncus nome; to bring for me an august block of pure costly stone which is in the mountain, who's excellent things Min makes; for a sarcophagus, an eternal memorial, and for monuments in the temples of middle Egypt, according as a king of the two lands sends to bring for himself the desire of his heart, from the highlands of his father Min.

He made as his monument for his father Min of Koptos, lord of the highlands, head of the Troglodytes, in order that he might celebrate very many Sed Jubilees, living like Re forever.