Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who's That Kings Wife, ca 1886 bc




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 at least one 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, 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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Boat Beneath the Pyramid

This book by Nancy Jenkins is filled with many images about pyramids of the old kingdom and the boat pits that accompany them including the subject of the book the boat found and restored by the genius of Ahmed Youssef Moustafa and now displayed in its museum next to the great pyramid at Giza built by King Khufu.

The book opens with a rundown of the pyramid age and its Kings, the cleaning of the debris on the southern side of the great pyramid and the discovery in 1954 of the two boat pits there found. One can only be impressed by the sheer intimidation of the project of restoring the great ship and the amazing work done by Egyptian authorities including the antiquities authorities chief chemist the late Dr. Iskander and the credentials of the ships restorer Hag Moustafa.

The task of just excavating the boat from its pit must have been arduous enough the five times and ten years it took to finally figure out this ancient jigsaw puzzle was surely a pinnacle of accomplishments for the restorers and the antiquities service. Very interesting and previously unknown to me were the ten marks in inverted pyramids found on the south wall of the boat pit.

In the final chapters the author talks about ships and ship building which of course includes a lot of interesting pictures of beautiful ships with the best pictures being of Khufu's ship during its excavation and after reconstruction. The author also discuses the concept of death in Pharaonic Egypt and the role of the Gods and boats within the ancient religion.

The conclusion is uncertain with the exception that the boat is an immensely important object that needs to be properly cared for or the ship which survived for 45 centuries can easily be lost.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Farouk Hosni for Director General of UNESCO

Mr Hosni has said amongst other things that he would personally burn all Israeli books in Egyptian libraries and as a result he is an inappropriate choice to represent the preservation of world heritage which whether Mr. Hosni likes it or not includes Israeli heritage.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/270304,german-panel-opposed-to-e=yptian-minister-as-unesco-head.html

Contact UNESCO:

http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=6427&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

Lost Egypt

The marketing for this show which will run through till September has been as well thought out as I am sure the show itself will be.

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/weekender/stories/2009/05/28/9A_KID28.ART_ART_05-28-09_T4_AKDUTL0.html?sid=101

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Life and Times of Akhnaton

This book originally published in 1910 was updated in 1922 by its author the late famous Egyptologist Arthur Weigall. The book opens with Mr. Weigall's 1922 preface in which he discusses the discovery of tomb 55 in the valley of Kings and the authors belief that the occupant found in the tomb was indeed the Pharaoh Akhnaton.

Mr. Weigall has a good argument of the identity of this mummy as he was the government inspector who oversaw the clearance of the contents of KV55. The author than goes on to a quick run down of the founding of the eighteenth dynasty leading up to Thutmosis IV and the introduction of the Aton in this reign.

From there the author moves on to an interesting examination of the art of the period and its connection with early dynastic styles as well as the influence of the young Kings mother Queen Tiye over her sons early reign and the development of the religion of the Aton. As interesting as this is the suggestions of Mr. Weigall of the developments of the ensuing battle with the priesthood of Amen are from a highly enlightened man and reasonable.

The developments that were taking place during the Kings 10th to 12 years of his reign including the great hymn to the Aton as well as other accompanying hymns are made suitable for the decorating the tombs of the nobles and the prominent role played by Queen Nefertiti are discussed.

Mr. Weigall's view of Akhnaton is that of a sickly gentle enlightened homebody who completely in his pacifist ideals sacrificed his empire for his beliefs. The book culminates with the sad downfall of the visionary Pharaoh leading to his death.

In the last chapter Mr. Weigall finishes his description of the events and the many opening and closings of tomb 55 in the valley of Kings. The authors views in this matter is some of the most fascinating read of the book.

The life and times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall was fascinating and recommend it for people who may or may not be interested in ancient Egypt.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Building Inscription of Ahmose I

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...............

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dr. Hawass has Nothing to Explain

Dr. Zahi Hawass explains himself over criticism that he has been receiving but to a degree I still think Dr. Hawass probably is missing the point. As I am an avid reader and have read numerous articles and many of Dr. Hawass' books I can tell you the Doctor does indeed give credit where due no issue there.

The fine doctor often refers to Egypt's colonial days where foreigners made all the discoveries while the native Egyptians did all the dirty work and rarely received the credit due. Victor Loret's days in the valley of kings is an example of credit hogging. Still all the same Dr. Hawass should drop the foreign history of excavation it clearly bothers him and gets under the nails of those countries who paid for those discoveries.

The good doctor may also recognize that the retention of everything found is not a sign of good will and surely must inspire ill will to the current state including the doctor who often comes across as President Mubarak's mini-me.

Perhaps Dr. Hawass should tone it down and not look for friends in the foreign press.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/948/he1.htm

Looking for Alexander

This article is on recent discoveries in Alexandria of a beautiful looking statue and some early dynastic material in the Fayum.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/948/he2.htm

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Say Hi to Mummy

A wonderful show on mummies is set to go on display in northern Italy the mummies exhibited include a grown cat that because of its age at death may well have been a pet rather than a temple sacrifice.

http://www.ansa.it/site/notizie/awnplus/english/news/2009-05-19_119364977.html

Under the Step Pyramid

This is a video of the step pyramid including King Djoser's burial chamber.

http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/mobile/Special_Report_Egypt_Adventure_20090518

Off the Beat and Track

Here Dr. Hawass talks about restoration and exploration of a number of sites no usually seen by tourists where three ancient capitals of Egypt existed.

http://drhawass.com/blog/trip-sharkiya

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Pyramid it construction, symbolism and chronology

Basil Stewart
Stanhope Press Limited
1931

This short 55 page document is yet another in the theory of the great pyramid being a creation of divine inspiration. My copy is a third edition from 1931 written by Basil Stewart and a brief on his larger work "Witness of the great pyramid".

The author contends that the pyramid was never meant to be a tomb for a king but purely a bible in stone meant to enlighten mankind. The author is knowledgeable about Egyptian pyramids though unfortunately puts forward the idea that its message was particularly meant to be read by the British race whom Mr. Stewart puts forward as the closest race to the monuments builders.

Again the theory that the measurement and astronomical alignments are telling a message of world history is put forward though I must say the measurement presented in one of the diagrams of the Kings chamber seems to show that history came to an end on August 20 1953.

The Queens chamber in the pyramid is once again referred to as the Jews chamber because its shafts were covered over representing the blindness of the Jews who on judgement day would have their eyes opened to Christ the saviour. As much as this offends me the author is not the only perpetrator of this idea it seemed to belong to the theory.

The last chapter talks of the pyramids missing capstone and its significance in the absence of the savior being the capstone of humanity. It is only explained in the end of the document that the August 20 1953 date represents the Armageddon and that 48 years later in 2001 Christ will reappear at the start of the newly cleansed earth.

I must have missed this event, that's bad but not as bad as the theory in this book and I would avoid reading this book if it were not already too late for me.

A Slump in Tourism

The economy is being blamed for a drop in tourism in Egypt however I wonder if Egyptian officials attitudes towards its tourists may also be playing its part. I have many friends who love Pharaonic Egypt but who have no desire to visit the country.

Many western tourists may choose to spend their money in democracy's which Egypt is of course a dictatorship. Western tourists may also be uncomfortable supporting a regime where freedom of speech is not allowed and which journalists or bloggers can be jailed for publishing views which run contrary to the state line referred to as defaming the state or its President.

Egypt may have lots of ancient monuments but it also has an ugly side which many western tourists would probably rather not spend their hard earned money supporting!

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-05-19-voa19.cfm

CT Meresamun

This is an article on the recent CT scan of the coffin containing the mummy of Meresamun in the Oriental institute.

http://spie.org/x35066.xml?highlight=x2416&ArticleID=x35066

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mysteries of the Great Pyramid

Dr. Hawass says that secrets of the pyramid will be revealed in July including perhaps King Khufu's burial chamber.

http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/EgyptOnline/Culture/000002/0203000000000000001151.htm

The Search for Cleopatra

Here a short video from Dr. Hawass on the finding of a Greco-Roman cemetery in the search for Cleopatra.

http://drhawass.com/blog/video-search-antony-and-cleopatra

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Doing it With Your Sister

The 18th dynasty royal family was filled with brother sister marriages in an effort to keep the throne in the direct family. This however can lead to deformation problems as suggested in this article.

http://yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2009_05/findings_akhenaten.html

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Miracle in Stone


Reverend Joseph A. Seiss
Porter Coates
Philadelphia
1877
ASIN B002EEP30M

This 137 year old book is by Reverend Joseph A. Seiss pastor of The Church of the Holy Communion. The book is about the theory that the great pyramid at Giza is a holy book made in stone and that its measurements, volume including its astronomical alignments are divine measurements from God which will explain the natural world and the history and future of mankind.

The author talks about passages from the bible in relation to the elements of the pyramids architecture including a passage in the bible which tells about the cornerstone of God which the author convincingly equates to the capstone on the great pyramid.Though the analogies are somewhat of a stretch they are surprising in interest and not unreasonable and most comforting not preachy like.

The reverends theories concerning the Jewish people and the so called Queens chamber are perhaps a little controversial but honest to the acceptance of a pastor of the late Victorian era though I found his theory of alignment of the pyramid and the queens chamber with the city of Jerusalem to be a little confusing.

The author also talks about it being near the end of days with only a few inches left before judgment days, this was for me a bit of an eye roller even though the author is very well read and quotes numerous other authors whom have written about the great pyramid.

Towards the end of Reverend Seiss' third lecture we find him relating Darwinism to the complex structure of the great pyramid and the idea that the predecessor of Victorian man closer to apes than himself could have built so complicated a structure as the great pyramid.

In the fourth lecture the author presents and talks about testimonials both positive as well as negative with the most impressive pro testimonial from the late Scottish Astronomer Royal Piazzi Smyth the theories most vocal proponent. Reverend Seiss defends his argument admirably and with grace.

I realized from the start that in reality the authors point was already disproved but I ended up enjoying the book I found it interesting and thought worthy though I must say in the end the author trailed off into the end of days sermon. Luckily 132 years later we are still present enough for me to review the authors work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

World Class Preservation

Here is a run down of preservation of monuments in Luxor.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/947/heritage.htm

Ani's Book of the Dead

This is a wonderful look at Ani's book of the dead illegally smuggle out of Egypt by Wallis Budge and presented here by Vassar college.

http://projects.vassar.edu/bookofthedead/

The Great Pyramid Shafts

The shafts that extend from the northern and southern walls of the Queens chamber have been found to have doors with copper bolts inside them. Perhaps behind one of these doors we will find a sarcophagus containing the missing mummy of Khufu's mother Hetepheres and the shaft will turn out to be a symbolic corridor leading to her burial chamber.

We know Khufu's sarcophagus had to be placed into the Kings chamber at the time of that chambers construction the same may be true for his mother who may be in a chamber just big enough to hold a sarcophagus within the masonry of the pyramid.

http://drhawass.com/events/mystery-hidden-doors-inside-great-pyramid-0

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hapi Dog

A mummified puppy has recently undergone ct scanning revealing the unusual mummy.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/05/01/puppy-mummy-egypt.html

Dr. Hawass Steps into Deep Doo

Dr. Hawass is reexplaining comments he made that have been taken out of context. The state of Israel must take the reputation it has earned and live with it, this state is after all the Goliath in this battle.

http://drhawass.com/blog/further-remarks-statements-regarding-israeli-palestinian-conflict

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Life in the Fayum

Archaeological discoveries are being found in the Fayum north of lake Qarun includinf Arrow heads and pottery.

http://drhawass.com/blog/press-release-archaeological-discoveries-faiyum

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is That Alexander?

A rare and attractive marble statue has been found at Alexandria which mar represent Alexander the great.

http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/EgyptOnline/Culture/000002/0203000000000000001144.htm

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bad Blood

Here Dr. Hawass gets into the fake Nefertiti argument. Well the art historian has sure done a good job of getting attention for himself. Ignore the tasteless comments at the end of the article.

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/05/09/72373.html

Friday, May 8, 2009

On the Return from Eton of Trinkets

The Myers museum at Eton has done what is correct as would be expected from an institution of its standing

The issue is not with the correct actions of the Myers museum or any other institution in doing what is right but rather laws which take trivial objects and criminalizes the ownership of such.

It is one thing to see antiquities in books or museums but quite another thrill to own and appreciate them.

It is true that important objects representative of a peoples pride and achievement belong in museums but that much of what has been created in history would be better appreciated in the hands of the common people, as it is Mr Webb and Davey have left a legacy of dubious nature and a hundred years earlier and Eton would not have a collection of antiquities.

In the end prohibition does not work and objects forgotten in drawers do not teach.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/946/eg3.htm

Fake Amarna Queen

It is of course an assumption that the bust in Berlin is of Nefertiti there is no proof of that identity other than the shape of her crown. Now there are claims though I must admit a little far fetched that the bust was created early in the last century at the archaeological site at tel el Amarna.

Dr. H. must be having a good laugh!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/8038097.stm

Restoring Humanity

Here is the tale of a mummy being made ready for display including taking advantage of the moment to study it.

http://lostegypt.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/meeting-annie/

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gizeh and Rifeh

This 1907 publication by Flinders Petrie is one of my favorites and 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.
http://www.etana.org/coretexts/15112.pdf

Manchester Museum
http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/

University College London's Digital Egypt for Universities
http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/

The Tunnel in the Tomb of Seti I

This nice video is an update on progress being made in the clearing of the tunnel at the back of the tomb of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Seti I.

http://drhawass.com/blog/video-join-zahi-hawass-inside-mysterious-tunnel-tomb-seti-i

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Second Dynasty Tomb

The Illahun has turned up an intact tomb some 5000 years old, the article contains nice pictures of the find.

http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSTRE54445920090505

Nefertiti is a Fake

The Famous bust of Nefertiti is believed to be a fake created at the 1912 dig site using ancient pigments.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/famed-nefertiti-bust-a-fake-expert-20090505-au3g.html

The Mayors Daughter

Opening another persons grave thousands of years old brings many feelings including those of this author.

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090502/WEEKENDER/705019812/1080

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rebuilding Abu Simbel

The saving and reconstruction of both Rameses 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.

The Aswan dam 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 dam 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 dam 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 dam still further higher is only as crazy as erecting the dam in the first place.

No simple solutions !

Friday, May 1, 2009

Penns Mummies

The University of Pennsylvania has ct scanned some of its museums mummies including one with a mummified puppy at its feet.

http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v55/n31/mummies.html