Friday, August 29, 2008

Egyptian Queens in Monaco

Here we have a slide show containing 14 images of the shows exhibits.

New Gallery at the British Museum

A new gallery is set to open this winter at the world famous British museum. The gallery will be centered around the 11 Nebamun tomb chapel fragments ca. 18th dynasty.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In a Perfect World

It can not be without admiration the ancient Egyptian culture who left to their legacy a world in pictogram's unlike any other peoples. Many cultures originated ethnic languages with pictogram's but then moved on to script while the Egyptians did too in hieratic but continued their love affair with the hieroglyphic puzzle.

The entire ancient Egyptian world in pictures.

The head of a bull represents a bull and loaf of bread simply a loaf of bread but more than just this a pair of legs can be walking or walking backward. All living creatures, action, belief and universal existence placed into pictures.

Egyptian hieroglyphs came to its full form around 2000 bc. in Pharaonic Egypt's Middle Kingdom but never stopped being developed upon. The pictogram's could be placed into arrangements which were visually compelling and normally read from right to left even though the ancient populace loved to send their messages in many directions.

Later Egyptian scribe would make the pictogram's so complicated they could talk among themselves in the presence of foreign overlords whether Persian, Greek or Roman.

Egyptian Queens in Monaco

The article has a nice picture of part of the exhibit even though the term "Queen' was not part of the Egyptian vocabulary.

and here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Egypt: Gift of the Nile

The brand new Surrey museum in British Columbia Canada is a well proportioned and designed museum with a cheerful staff and with entrance fees of $2.50 for children and $5.00 for adults is a must see for locals and tourists.

Gift of the Nile from the Royal Ontario museum occupied one room in this museum who's permanent collections are based on the pioneer experience but more importantly on the experience of the people of the first nations who occupied British Columbia before the coming of the pioneers.

Ancient Egyptian objects sadly rarely show up here on the west coast of Canada and it has been nearly four years since the Royal British Columbia museum had its show Eternal Egypt from the British museum. Though the objects displayed in the exhibit are much more humble objects than the masterpieces of the British museum the objects still retain an aura of magnificence and perhaps even more so than the masterpieces they retain a sense of charm.

The collection displayed at the Surrey museum consisted of material mostly from Pharaonic Egypt's Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom and Late periods including a copy of the cartonnage mummy envelope (ca. 950bc.) of the singer Djedmaatasankh. An ancient scribe wrote disrespectfully on her coffin that she was "the husband of bulls" indicating Djedmaatasankh may have been a bit of a bully.

A number of charming wooden models from the Middle Kingdom were present with a scribe being one of the exhibits stars though I know that the Royal Ontario museum has such models from the tomb of the Pharaoh Mentuhotep II the information cards were too vague on their find spots.

Nearby stood a case containing pottery pots of elegant and sophisticated style with a wood headrest of standard tastes.

As I was towing along two eight year olds and a six year old I was happy with all the interactive qualities, the children had a number of fun games to play with including colouring pages of Egyptian tomb scenes which even the adults had to collect for themselves, always nice to get a free souvenir so that we all can remember the delightful day we spent at the Surrey museum.

Surrey Museum

Mastaba of Meryteti

Here we have this old kingdom mastaba brought to us by the excellent Osirisnet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

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.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kent Weeks Updates KV5

It has been sometime since Kent Weeks updated on the progress of his clearance and consolidation of Valley of Kings tomb 5.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Makeover for Nesyamun

Here we have an article on the beautiful mummy of the Waab Priest Nesyamun. The mummy is the sole survivor or the Leeds mummy collection the other mummies were destroyed during bombing in WWII.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thomas Cook

In the late 19th century Cook was a name every traveller to Egypt and many other places in the world knew. The name represented safety for the traveller and the Cook became one of the worlds first trusted travel agencies.

Fake Art in Brooklyn

For every collector of objects of value must eventually deal with the issue of fakes. Whether a museum or a small collector every once in a while a fake enters the collection.

Fakes are often acquired because the price was right to take a chance.

Here Comes the Mummy

An interesting well preserved mummy that has been resting forgotten in the basement of a French museum is out for scientific analyses.

Sphynx's Unearthed

Four headless sphynx's have been found at Luxor.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What Became of Rameses I?

Gaston Maspero's assertion in his 1889 book that a naked mummy of an unidentified man from the DB320 cache that had raised its arms is Rameses I.

Over the years the mummy of Rameses II has been replaced as the mummy in the story because his arms are unusually high above his torso. The problem becomes that Rameses II was not found lying naked next to coffin fragments of Rameses I in fact Rameses 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 Rameses 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.

Important men in important places in the antiquiries service must first be looked too. Was the temptation of those who held keys to great to be ignored. A King like Ramses II would be immediately missed but a lesser King such as Rameses Grand father the first Rameses not so soon.

So sometime between 1889 and 1902 the mummy in question vanishes from the Bouloq museum or its transfer to the Giza museum. To my knowledge no record was created in 1902 to register the mummy in the incoming collection of the new Cairo museum.

Most likely a search of nearby medical facilities might reveal not only Rameses 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.

Since the misplacing of the mummy of a king seems hard to believe we are left with the reality that not one but two Kings are missing from the collection and we do know that the 21rst dynasty Priest King was found and now remains unaccounted for.

We are left with at the very least sloppy work on behalf of the Egyptian antiquities service which has resulted in loss of major pieces from the national collection.

The worst scenario of a stolen King is probably less than probable and both Pinudgem and Rameses I are more than likely present in some long forgotten coffins on dusty shelves in Cairo.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

To the Great Lord Granted Eternal Life

With the arrival of the great cache of Dier el Bahari to the Boulaq museum in 1881 the directors found themselves in the presence of eleven kings of Dynasties 17 -21, ca. 1650 - 945 bce. Also accompanying the kings were seven queens and a number of prince's, princesses and courtiers plus a baboon and a gazelle.

With the faces of the "Warrior king" Thutmosis III and Rameses II "the Great"being hidden by only a few meters of cloth it was decided to unwrap the "warrior king" who curiously had a broom and a few oars tied into his wrappings. These oars would have originally been laid around that kings sarcophagus in the Valley of kings.

Instead of unrolling the king which might have subjected the body to undue handling it was decided to cut open his bandages at the end of which the great warriors pathetic smashed remains lay before those in attendance, a picture was taken and to the further horror the mummy fell to pieces.

With this disaster it was decided no more kings would be unrolled.

By December of the following year it was noticed that the elderly 17th dynasty Princess Hontimehu had been damaged during her journey from the tomb to the museum and so she was examined. This examination revealed a mummy that had also been damaged by tomb robbers but that she was still in pretty good condition and very hard from the resins used in her mummification.

Among the mummies found in the cache 2 of them were found without inscriptions in the huge coffin of the Kings Wife Nofretari, one mummy was wrapped in a shroud while the second was in a small cheap coffin.

By September 1885 a putrid smell was emerging from the mummy salons, an investigation found that the shrouded mummy from the coffin of Nofretari was beginning to rot and so the decaying mummy was buried beneath the museums store rooms.

The 1885 Baedecker guide book tells us that the interior coffin and wrapped mummy of Queen Nofretari is on display next to her son Amenhotep I who was the only mummy in the cache to still have a mask, though not original to that kings burial.

By 1886 the absurdity of displaying royal mummies covered in tattered bandages when their faces and in some cases true identities from inscriptions were hidden in their wrappings.

So that on the 1rst of June 1886 a gala event was held which included the unwrapping of Rameses II. First up that evening the first Queen of the 21rst dynasty of Priest Kings, King Herihor's wife Nodjmet. Queen Nodjmet's mummy was opened and put on a good show.

Next up was the star of the gala event the mummy of Rameses the Great was opened to the delight of those present the great kings mummy was in beautiful conditioned and undamaged.

Unfortunately the unrolling had taken only 15 minutes and was not much of a show, this author is unaware if the coffined mummy displayed as Queen Nofretari was meant to be unrolled or whether the quick unwrapping of Rameses had left a vacuum in the evenings entertainment.

The mummy was brought out removed from its coffin and placed on the table for unwrapping, As the shroud was taken away and the bandages removed an amulet of gilded wood was revealed, this was inscribed for the last great Emperor of the New Kingdom, Rameses III.

The suspense was heightened at the thought that the museums collection may have another great king in their collection, when further unwrapping revealed another amulet this one of heavy solid gold also inscribed for the Pharaoh Rameses III.

By the end of the evening museum officials and guests found themselves in the presence of a handsome mummy of a king they did not know they possessed. The evening had ended on a high finding another king but also by the fact that all three mummies unwrapped that evening were all undamaged.

However if the person that had been on display as Queen Nofretari was actually Rameses III than where was the Queen?

So the mummy which had been buried beneath the store rooms years earlier was exhumed and found that the burial had stopped the mummy from decaying further and though the mummy bore no inscription during its unwrapping.

A female mummy from the correct period for the Queen was found , her mummy further more resembles the mummies of other women from the court of that Queens own time.

The Great Sphinx

This report is from Dr. Zahi Hawass and all appears well on the health of the monument.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meet the Mummy

Excellent video and interactive look at the Brooklyn museums mummy named Demetrious.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Dr. Hawass reveals the temperment of the second solar boat buried by the Pharaoh Djedefre in pits next to his fathers pyramid.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ushabti Go Home

That ushabti stolen from a magazine at Saqqara in 1987 has been returned back to Egypt.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Prove it Dr. Hawass!

This article is on Dr. Zahi Hawass's continued examination of all the royal mummies with his new DNA lab. Though I imagine getting DNA from these deteriorated mummies will be difficult.

Though the two fetus's were found in King Tutankamen's tomb that does not necessarily mean they are his. Like much of the boy Kings funerary equipment the fetus's may actually belong to Tut's predecessor King Smenkare.

However if they do belong to King Tut and his Queen and they yield mitochondrial DNA than perhaps they may point to one of the unknown female mummies as Queen Ankhesenamun.

Having said all of that one must also remember Dr. Hawass's discovery of the mummy of Hatshepsut which more than a year later he has not had his results independently verified. Dr. Hawass should not make claims that he cannot or does not want to back up.

If he did find the mummy of Egypt's greatest female King than he should be more than proud to prove it otherwise he is wasting his new labs time and misleading the Egyptological community.

Dr. Hawass I'm having doubts and just because you say its so does not make it so!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interview with Salima Ikram

Salima Ikram's Enthusiasm for her job is a real motivator to her viewers.

Anybody Loose a Fetus

This article is on Dr. Zahi Hawass's continued examination of all the royal mummies with his new DNA lab. Though I imagine getting DNA from these deteriorated mummies will be difficult.

Though the two fetus's were found in King Tutankamen that does not necessarily mean they are his. Like much of the boy Kings funerary equipment the fetus's may actually belong to Tut's predecessor King Smenkare.

However if they do belong to King Tut and his Queen and they yield mitochondrial DNA than perhaps they may point to one of the unknown female mummies as Queen Ankhesenamun.;_ylt=AsSchmSC9Gt0HMndo96a6OBFeQoB

Papyrology Online

Here we have an online database of papyrus's.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ushabti Return

A small servant figure buried to aid an ancient Egyptian in the afterlife has been returned back to the Egyptian Supreme council of antiquities.

Death of the King

Never has more energy been spent on figuring out how someone died. The facts may be blurred by the post mortem activities of the embalmers who mummified the King as well as the work of Howard Carter and Douglas Derry who cut apart the body of the King.

Naked Bodies

So the Manchester museum has come back to where it started and the Egyptian mummies of Asru and Khary will remain on display. Now I guess the question must be asked about reburying those mummies not wanted for display.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Egypt and Rome

An exhibition about ancient Egypt and its relationship with ancient Rome.

Early Dynastic Inscriptions

Here we have a site devoted to early dynastic inscriptions of Egypt.

Valley of Kings Update

Here are some comment about the health of excavator Otto Schaden and his work in tombs 10 and 63 in the Valley of Kings.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vanishing Pharaoh

The guessing of who's who among Egypt's royal mummies keeps becoming more elusive as the answers are found so appear fine examples of previously missing or mutilated kings as in this presence others who's position seemed solid disappear from our view.

Grafton Smith's remarkable 1912 book "Mummies Royal" raised many questions in regards to the identities given by the ancient priests or the mummies nineteenth century unroller Gaston Maspero. Mr. Maspero though a brilliant Egyptologist had no anatomical training and thus the unrolling were little more value than the exposing of the mummies.

A quarter century later Mr. Smith' examinations pointed out problems between appearances of some of the mummies and their supposed family members or style of mummification. Mr. Smith did not have access to or permission to X-ray the mummies with the exception some years earlier when he accompanied Howard Carter on a journey to X-ray the mummy of the Pharaoh Thutmosis IV.

A favorite after dinner story of Mr. Carter.

In the "M.Royal" Mr. Smith notices that the Pharaoh of Ahmosis I does not physically look like his father or his sister.

James Harriss and Kent weeks publication in 1980 of an x-ray atlas of the royal mummies revealed that the mummy of Ahmosis does not resemble his father, sister or his son Amenhotep I who because of his fine wrappings has not been unwrapped in modern times. The Liberators mummy is sadly vanishing and is absent from the fine line of eighteenth dynasty kings in Cairo's room 52.

Mr. Smith next noticed that the mummy identified years earlier as Thutmosis I was clearly the body of a man who would have died somewhere between the ages of 18-20 years old, not old enough to have been a king who according to historical evidence came to the throne later in life. Mr. Harriss's x-rays showed that he was more than likely a brother or son of Thutmosis III.

With pendent arms and an arrow in his chest he is dismissed as not being that king or any 18th dynasty king.

Mr. Smith's examination of the next king, Thutmosis II, was comfortable with his identity. Mr. Harriss's x-rays placed this mummy as actually not the second Thutmosis but the first. This fit well since the ancient scribe had began to write the name of Thutmosis I when he stopped himself and instead wrote the name of the second Thutmosis.

To accept the scribe became confused is reasonable considering the reburial of the royal dead took place over one hundred and twenty years moving mummies from one tomb to the next with four eighteenth dynasty kings named Thutmosis and four named Amenhotep the confusion is expected.

The x-rays next showed the mummy labeled as the nineteenth dynasty king Seti II fit best as the second Thutmosis. This was not a surprise Mr. Smith and anybody with eyes could clearly see he resembled strongly the early eighteenth dynasty kings and not the later nineteenth dynasty kings.

Next Mr. Harriss x-rayed the mummy supposed to be Thutmosis III, the body laying in a coffin probably original to that kings burial. A badly damaged funerary shroud bearing passages from the book of the dead as well as the names of Thutmosis III lying on top.

Fortunately the x-rays left the mummy as being that king.

Than the real problems began.

Victor Loret's workmens discovery of the tomb of Amenhotep II in 1898 is the stuff of legends a cache of kings with Amenhotep II lying in his own quartzite sarcophagus. This seemed solid unfortunately the x-rays did not support the idea that the mummy supposed to be Thutmosis III was the father of the mummy supposed to Amenhotep II.

They also showed that the mummy identified by inscriptions on both his coffin and wrappings to be Thutmosis IV could not be the son of the Amenhotep II mummy.

There is no doubt that Thutmosis III was the father of Amenhotep II and that Amenhotep II was the father of Thutmosis IV. The historical record is not in error the inscriptions on the mummies are wrong and the second Amenhotep vanished. Mr. Harris suggested the remote possibility that the Thutmosis III mummy was the father of the Thutmosis IV mummy.

The x-rays showed that although the Thutmosis IV mummy was not the son of the Amenhotep II mummy he was probably the father of the Amenhotep II mummy.

That turned the Amenhotep II mummy into Amenhotep III "the Magnificent" a most fitting pharaoh to end up in a place of honor in any tomb including his grandfathers. The uninscribed body found in the sarcophagus of Amenhotep II. The assumption of modern observers that the body was Amenhotep II is understandable.

This leaves the battered remains identified by inscriptions as Amenhotep III the x-rays showed that this body's father was most likely the Amenhotep II mummy. That turned the remains identified as Amenhotep III into his son the heretic pharaoh Akenaten.

Ancient followers of the heretic king probably found his tomb smashed and rounded up the pieces of the king and at least two other people put them in a bundle giving the pieces the name of the heretics father to protect him from further degradation in the future.

Mr. Harriss's x-rays also showed that the Akenaten remains is not the father of the remains of probably Smenkara or Tutankhamen who in turn are either father and son or brothers their closest ancestor being the Thutmosis IV mummy.

All is not entirely well with this most precious collection but with a future of technology these document still have much to say to us unhampered by inscriptions placed on by priests who rescued some of histories most important documents.

Conventions of Egyptian Sculpture

Where did these reserve heads come out of and why did they not integrate into the conventions of Egyptian funerary sculpture?

What had been the need for limestone heads with their features in plaster? Could it have been part of the death rituals, the act of coating the limestone head and modelling its features may have evolved in the 5th dynasty to the coating of the human mummy with the same modelling represented in the reserve heads?

That mummies like Nefer/Watay in the 5th dynasty which are sculpted out of plaster could be the descendants of these heads in the 5th dynasty with the mummies being far rarer than the preceding reserve heads.

The heads are unlike the seradab statues of the same dynasty which feature individual Egyptians in full frontal poses from head to toe with their families. Many of these much more elaborate constructions are for people of much lower status than those represented by the 30 odd reserve heads who are the Prince's and Princess's and their partners of the Kings court.

The head of Princess Merytyetes bears a distinct dignity her head slightly upturned bearing her royal constitution while her husbands head which is better preserved does not posses her haughty disposition but rather a calming smile.

Many like the royal couple just mentioned are wearing skull caps like that worn by the God Ptah while some are bald.

The heads may have led to the development of plaster mummies in the middle of the Old Kingdom with limited success and the 4th dynasty convention of reserve heads became obsolete.

Oriental Institute at Edfu

This article on recent excavations at Edfu is top notch with excellent photos.

Friday, August 1, 2008

An Evening at the Boulaq

Though the sun had set the heat of the north African summer would not give up its hold as we passed through oil lit streets to make our approach.

Soon we found ourselves in the court the shadow of a colossal head of a king loomed to the right above us, before us two large sphinx's faced each other and in between the windows before them on our right in the shadows stood the crude statue of the god Amen and an Ethiopian queen found by a Mr. Berghoff in 1882 at Moroe, unfortunately Mr. Berghoff had been captured and beheaded a few months later by the Mahdi.

Upon entering its garden we are surrounded by six ancient stone sarcophagi, opposite the entrance in the middle of the garden is the tomb of its founder, the four small sphinx's facing each other in front of it are from the avenue of the serapeum.

To the north west is the Nile river the roar of its black currents reflecting an iridescent glow in the full moon. Before us stood the entrance surrounded by a pair of statues of a king, these statues being later re inscribed for Rameses the great.

Inside the doors we could see the light from our hosts lantern and as we lit our own he unlocked the door greeting us, quickly locking it behind us again.

We found ourselves in a small room with 2 stone coffins the walls of the room covered with ancient stelea. The visitor can buy the museums publications here.

Soon our lanterns had lead us into the grand gallery its walls covered in stelea including the famous Piankhi stelea of the 21rst dynasty, in the center of the room just to our right the alabaster statue of Amenirdis separated from us by a wooden rail and surrounded by various statues and shrines including the bronze lion of the Pharaoh Apries of which was on our list.

Our friends who's job it was looked after this lion well and we set about in the dark for our next destination passing the stone coffin of the Lady Anhk to which our host had taken rest a short while before.

We ignored the west salon as among its treasures little was of interest to our evening its exception was the 25th dynasty stelea of the Ethiopian king Piankhi, unfortunately to large for our venture.

Our party entered the middle salon, a room filled with cases of glass and wood filled with ancient trinkets of bronze, wood, papyrus and stone of no interest to us. Along its walls coffins of various periods, the beautiful diorite statue of the pharaoh Khafre stood in the center of this gallery with the famous wood statue known as the Shiek el- Beled nearby.

However this room was of little interest to us except that along the north wall is a case we have come to see, the case contains the jewels of a queen known as Aahotep of Egypt's 17th dynasty along with some greco-roman jewels we adored them and left our men. I learned later that one of the men had seen fit to adore a blue enamel Hippopotamus from another case.

Leaving the Central salon we ignored the gallery to the west of the central salon known as the gallery of the ancient empire as its sarcophagi and stelea were of no interest to us.

We made our way to the east to the funerary gallery a room filled with coffins and glass cases filled with objects personal to the mummy, the gallery is of no interest as we make our way to the Royal mummy collection.

Entering the Royal mummies salon we found our ancient hosts hiding helpless in their wrappings to afraid to dare face our presence their massive coffins dwarfing our importance. On the north wall of this room are cases and on the bottom shelf rests the fabricated mummy of princess Sitamen, daughter of the founder of Egypt's 18th dynasty Ahmosis.

On the top shelf of the south wall, between the pillars are 2 wigs belonging to queen Isiemkheb and a box of wood and ivory inscribed to Hatshepsut along with mummified fruits and a fragment of the coffin of Rameses I, still yet on the cabinets fourth shelf contains the mummy found in the sarcophagus of the pyramid of the 6th dynasty pharaoh Merenre I. As had been requested of us our man took hold of the Hatshepsut box joining are friends back at the door.

In the center of this room stands a funerary bed with a mummy of a princess lying upon it, the bed being more than a thousand years older than the mummy. The salon filled with coffins and mummies of kings , queens and their associates, the well preserved unwrapped mummy of the scribe Nebseni kept us in his sight, the sentinel for the rest of this rooms occupants.

Soon we entered the greco roman salon passing statuary of ladies and emperors we soon found the two cabinets containing objects of gold of which we had been requested. My friend grasped the eagle shaped handle of a roman sword, a gold ring and a gold statuette of Venus making his exit through the east salon back to join the others.

I made my way south to the museums storeroom where I collected all the books of the dead that could carry filling the bag I had brought. With this I made my exit through the greco-roman salon to the east salon, a room filled with numerous stone heads and stelea. Passing the grand gallery I could see my compatriots exiting the building through the way we had come.

Making our way west through the garden down the flight of steps to the museums dock where we found are boat and made our way to Alexandria.