Friday, May 30, 2014

OEDIPUS and AKHNATON


Immanuel Velikovsky
Sidgwick and Jackson Limited
London
1960

ISBN 10: 0349135665

I have recently been dealing with controversial subjects which sometimes cause thoughtful questions, but just as often the writers in question, do a disservice to their readers with nonsense intended only to achieve notoriety for themselves without regard of the cost of credibility, not only to history and the author but also the unsuspecting reader. Immanuel Velikovsky is without doubt one of the most controversial writers of the twentieth century on the subject of Akhnaton, and I am reading a first edition of this book.

In the forward the author lays down a background of the books subject figures of Oedipus and Akhnaton and the preparations taken by Mr. Velikovsky to prepare the current work. The book opens with the legend of Oedipus and the various authors of antiquity and modern philosophy who deal with the psycho-analytical nature of the son who kills his father to posses his own mother.

The sphinx is next dealt with, including its emergence from the Old Kingdom and as a monster who destroys anyone who cannot answer his riddle in efforts to save a captive maiden or enter a city or castle to find some treasure. The author turns to the two Thebes of antiquity, respectively in Greece and Egypt, with the various wars of the Greek states and the rise of Thebes in Upper Egypt from the Middle Kingdom to the rise of empire in the New Kingdom and the building of the great monuments of that city to its destruction by foreign invaders.

The kings of Egypt's 18th Dynasty were largely responsible for the monuments especially King Amenhotep III and his principal Queen Tiy who according to the author, sculptures of Queen Tiy as a sphinx are the first representation of a woman as a sphinx in the ancient world, a form adopted by the Greeks etc...

The great monuments of Amenhotep III including his colossal statues show a king of great refinement but also of his devoted wife Tiy, a queen who possessed an unique elevated stature and at times a likely regent for both her husband and son. Mr. Velikovsky informs the reader that in Amenhotep III's old age he had himself pictured in the type of dress worn by women of the period, and in this depiction the author goes into the inference that Amenhotep was engaged in "Greek love".

Through all of the kings publicity, in no relief, in no painting, and in no statue is Amenhotep III ever pictured with his son and heir to the throne Akhnaton. The author suggests Akhnaton was raised far away from Thebes perhaps in other countries growing up in other royal courts.

The Amarna letters are presented to show that Amenhotep III was dead and that Tiy was perhaps sitting on the throne for a time. At Akhnaton's arrival to Thebes to claim his throne, he was a stranger to the court, and a stranger to the high priest of Thebes, again the Amarna letters are introduce to display that the king is also a stranger to the foreign kings which good relations had been established by his father.

Through all the read Mr. Velikovsky is continuously making references to the story of Oedipus, here in the killing of Oedipus' father in reference to Akhnaton damaging of his fathers name on Amenhotep III's monuments. The chiseling out of the Amen in his fathers monuments and anywhere the gods name could be found had exceptions with one of them being Amenhotep I, whose monuments were not touched.

We are presented with a section of black and white pictures of which the most interesting is a sphinx of Hatschepsut at Deir el Bahri. Akhnaton's title "Living in truth" is next explored as it is unique to this king and may denote Akhnaton's rejection of evil, or wrong doing too himself, perhaps as a result of the rejection of his father and an oracle.

We are told that in year five of Akhnaton's reign he moved his residence from Thebes to his new capital Akhetaten. Mr. Velikovsky describes the layout of the city including the guards post.

   " chariotry always ready for action on an instant's notice. Roads were always kept open for the wheeled vehicles of the flying squad. In the south were the estates and mansions of the vizier, the high priest, the commandant, the master of horse, sculptures' quarters, and not far from these were ateliers for glassmaking.

In the North City were mansions and the North Palace, with beautiful wall paintings of bird life in the marshes; on the palace grounds were fishponds and aviaries and stables."

Mr. Velikovsky takes time out to criticize the actions of the German archaeological team who excavated the site in 1912, acquiring the famous bust of Nefertiti now in Berlin's Neues museum when it should be in Cairo. The author is next on to the two groups of sepulchers carved in the faces of the surrounding cliffs at Tell el-Amarna , one group to the south, the other to the north of the city.

The construction of these monuments is explored as are the owners and the carvings on the walls. These monuments have been long known about from their obvious presence in the cliffs while the city below was unknown to past explorers before excavations.

The owner of one of these tombs is a man of low origin named Parennefer whose tomb was carved out near that of the high priest of Aton. Geman Egyptologist, H. Ranke said of Parennefer,

    "It appears that the favours are given to him because of some old relation to the king whom he served when the latter was an infant. He was apparently a simple servant" this servant "with clean hands"; he was made equal to the noblest of el-Amarna."

With this Mr. Velikovsky turns to the servant who saved the life of the infant Oedipus by not abandoning him in wasteland, instead giving the baby to a herdsman and his wife to raise. The finest tomb in the necropolis was cut for a man named Ay, of whom we are told is Tiy's brother, and whom went on to be king after the death of Tutankhamun and of whom the author relates to Creon in Oedipus Rex.

The arrival of King Akhnaton's mother Tiy to Amarna creates a division with Nefertete for position of chief queen with Nefertete reduced to a concubine of the harem disappearing  from the record in year 12. We are next onto Princess Beketaten who posses a different title than Nefertete's daughters who are pictured with their mother while Beketaten always appears by Tiy's side, bringing the author to the conclusion that she is the product of an incestuous relationship between Queen Tiy and her son Akhnaton.

We are told of an unnatural relationship between Akhnaton and the handsome young Prince Smenkhkare who Akhnaton allowed to be his co-regent for a year or so. Akhnaton having had relations with his mother and the young prince now turns to his third daughter Ankhesenpaaten who gives birth to a young girl that dies shortly after.

Mr. Velikovsky now turns to the blind seer in the Beotian Thebes, Tiresias who was an old man in the days of Oedipus and his sons. The author is convinced that the Egyptian seer Amenhotep, son of Hapu, a wise sage who lived during the reigns of Amenhotep III and who would have been an old man during the reign of Akhnaton is the Greek Tiresias, instrumental in the downfall and exile of Oedipus/ Akhnaton.

The author points out the similarities between Tiresias and Amenhotep, son of Hapu who was regarded by later ages as a patron to the blind and honored with a mortuary temple by Amenhotep III. We turn to a chapter on the blind king, Oedipus who became blind and was later deposed and sent into exile by his sons.

There are a number of scholars pointed out by Mr. Velikovsky who believe Akhnaton became blind at the end of his reign. We are introduced to the excavations of Theodore Davis in the Valley of kings including the discovery of the tomb of Queen Tiy, Valley of kings tomb Kv55. 

The damp tomb contained the burial furniture of Tiy but the mummy in the coffin was a young man, who may have been hidden with Tiy's furniture in order to disguise the identity of the mummy from the followers of Amun. Once again in literature the reader is made to endure yet another telling of the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

The two mummies skulls, Tutankhamun and Kv55 mummy are compared to reveal that they are likely brothers. The author tells the reader further that on the gold foils found covering the Kv55 mummy were repeated inscription saying "Beloved of Akhnaton", not a title you would find on Akhnaton's mummy but rather identifying the mummy to be Smenkhkara.

In these identifications our author believes he has found Oedipus' two sons Polynices/Smenkhkare in Eteocles/Tutankhamun who ruled one after another being controlled by the elderly Creon, the younger being used by him to usurp the throne of his older brother. Creon goes further in his first proclamation that Polynices should remain unburied for the wild animals to drag away, while Eteocles would be buried with all the dignity of a sovereign.

Near the tomb of Tutankhamun is a pit known today as Valley of Kings tomb 54. The pit measures only six feet deep and when found early last century contained an assortment of linens, cheap dishes and the remains of a banquet said to belong to the funeral of Tutankhamun in large sealed jars.

We are told that the find is unique and that the jars were not from a funeral party but filled by with the remains of many meals from Antigone who Creon held prisoner in the pit with provisions provided to keep her alive. She had defied Creon's order that Polynices should be left to the wild animals and had hurriedly buried him in a cave, Valley of kings tomb 55.

If the story be true than the sister who buried Polynices/Smenkhkare and who died imprisoned in Valley of kings tomb pit 54 must be Ankhnaton's eldest daughter and Smenkhkare's queen, Meryetaten . Now that Creon/Ay has disposed with Polynices, Eteocles and Antigone he can now claim the throne and create his own royal tomb in the Valley of kings Kv23.

Ay's tomb has a number of unique features in it particularly the destruction caused to the walls and the smashing of Ay's sarcophagus, Ay like Creon was thrown out of his tombs and the burial destroyed. In the end Oedipus' mother Queen Jacosta/Tiy commits suicide in grief over her incestuous relationship with her son Oedipus, the result that the Queen Tiy was denied a decent burial in the valley.

Mr. Velikovsky delves into the themes which provide that the events of the Amarna royal house based in Egypt at Thebes which in time and Greek authors turned the story to the Beotian Thebes.The book ends with a psychological assessment of Oedipus by the author as well as the late Sigmund Freud.

The book was well written and I believe most readers will enjoy it very much. Mr. Velikovsky's ideas were a bit extreme for me, though thoroughly engaging and the life of Akhenaton would have been around a thousand years old by the time of Oedipus Rex and the Theban cycle, to which these scandalous events were based, whether historical or unrelated Greek drama.

Mr Velikovsky succeeded in impressing myself ultimately because of his knowledge and his fluid presentation, and hey you cannot get better actors than Oedipus and Akhnaton!

     "None of the discoveries of psychoanalytical research has evoked such embittered contradiction, such furious opposition, and also such entertaining acrobatics of criticism, as this indication of the incestuous impulses of childhood which survive in the unconscious."
                                                                                                Sigmund Freud

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Petrie Museum: Pre-historic Egyptian pot from 3400 BC found in Cornish garage

A couple in Cornwall contacted the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology regarding a broken pot in their garage, after seeing a television documentary.
Watching The Man Who Discovered Egypt, about pioneering archaeologist Flinders Petrie, they were reminded of a small black-topped vessel, around 15cm high and complete with a yellowing label, which had been forgotten about for years.
Curator Alice Stevenson was then able to match the number 1754, visible on the base of the pot and the label, to grave records from Petrie’s excavations in Naqada during the 1890s, now held in the museum’s archives.
The pot had previously belonged to the finder’s grandfather, a taxi driver in the High Wickham area in the 1950s, and is believed to have been offered as payment by a mystery passenger, in place of the standard fare.
Petrie Curator Alice Stevenson said:
 “We don’t know what the pot was originally used for but it may have had a different function in daily life, such as holding a liquid like beer, before being re-used as a tomb offering.
 “Petrie’s discoveries were widely distributed to museums across Europe and the US but some items found their way into private hands. The fact that effort was put into printing and designing a label suggests that this was not a one off, so it’s possible that many other artefacts from prehistoric Egypt might be unknowingly concealed in garages, cupboards and attics.
“The pot is particularly significant as it marks the discovery of a new era in Egyptology – not really known about at the time of excavation.  The unusual nature of such pots such as this one, led Petrie to be the first to define the Predynastic Egyptian era, the period before the pharaohs.”
The pot is now being conserved by the museum and will go on display with other objects from the same grave as part of the Festival of Pots, an exhibition and public events programme celebrating the 25 years of the Friends of the Petrie Museum, 20 May-14 June.

Photo: The Petrie Museum 

Press Release

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crime and Punishment in Budapest

This lintel is from the Old Kingdom chapel of the High Priest Hunefer at Saqqara during the reign of the VI Dynasty King Pepi I, 2332-2283 BC. The lintel was along with two other pieces on display at the Fine Arts Museum in Budapest, Hungary has been demonstrated to be stolen from Egypt.

One has to wonder how a reputable museum which I would assume Budapest's Fine Arts Museum to be (?), could be acquiring such an obvious set of inscriptions and what homework did the museum do before acquiring these pieces to check if they had been stolen from Egypt. Does the museum have documents from Egypt's antiquities department to verify that they were legal for the museum to buy?

If not, then it sounds like the museum has a shoot first ask questions later attitude, I guess once the pieces are on display than the museum will deal with the issue as, and if it happens there display is proved stolen. What consequences does the museum face, its director and the purchasers of the material, is there any meat of punishment towards the institution or does the Fine Arts Museum's director hand back the pieces and say OOPS sorry, and that's the end of it.

This sounds to me like a serious crime on the international art market, that without consequences to the museum opens the door for all other institutions to do likewise and play fast with the trust and reputation of their citizens, as it sounds like the people of Budapest and their guests have been, and in the knowledge that Budapest and greater Hungary's own history can be carried away just as easily.

Photo: Al Ahram

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Secrets of Egypt For The Millions


Marilyn Seal Pierce
For The Millions Series
Los Angeles
1970
Library of Congress 75-99877

I have to be clear that this paperback on "secrets" kind of made me cringe at its potential content though the book contains no pictures its most likely telling point comes from the back of the book with a page on other books from this series which included titles such as "ESP for the Millions" and "Dowsing, Divining Rods, and Waterwitches for the Millions".

The book opens with an overview of Egyptian history including the effects of the Nile on the people of the two very distinct lands of Upper and Lower Egypt leading to unification. The author presents the reader with the realization that the art of mummification was always secondary as without Egypt's dry heat even with the best mummification of the period, the mummies still would have rotted in European soil.

Ms. Pierce presents an admirable and unusual method of demonstrating the separation of Egyptian Dynasties, of which we owe our thanks to the writings of the ancient historian Manetho. Dynasties which were unknown to the kings who had ruled for twenty five centuries up to the Greek historian, who in turn himself measured a dynasty every time a new family came to the throne with some exceptions.

Our author makes an interesting comparison to Manetho's list with the history of the United States and the example that every time a different party won the presidential office a new dynasty was installed. This means that there were two presidents in the United States 19th Dynasty founded by John F. Kennedy. A concept which is likely as bizarre to the American people as it would have been to the Egyptian of historic time.

The author now turns to Egyptian life and customs of health, enjoyment and folly, cleanliness, the food the people ate and the positions held versus obligation with the high priest of Amun, attaining at one point rival status with the king.

Ms. Pierce quotes a number of authors including of note, but then there appears the dreaded "A" word(Atlantis), but only in relation to a theory believed by some and not yet assigned to the authors own.The reader is next on to the "Egyptian religion", a subject which involved every event, every action, everything in existence because of the gods wished it to be.

Herodotus referred to the Egyptian's as the most religious of people in the world with its pantheon of gods, superstitions and magic. The author explores the most important of these gods including the various attributes and forms that each possessed, and assumed, and often bearing contradiction.

Ms. Pierce says of Ptah:

       "It is believed that Ptah was a very ancient god because of the fact that statues show him with his legs together and his arms held tightly to the rest of his body. This indicates, experts say, that when he was first represented the sculptors were not advanced enough to show him with separate arms and legs. By the time artists had achieved this skill, his form was fixed and so no changes were made.

Although it was said that this stylized form represented a mummy, making Ptah a god of the dead, primarily Ptah was mentioned as a god of fertility. Ptah was thought to be the source of all creation, the very oldest of all the gods."

We are next on to "The book of the dead" which we are told is Sir E.A.Wallis Budge's translation being used by the author. I have read the book of the dead of "Ani" as well as the Theban Recession from which these books are derived, however I have not read Mr. Budges translations of which I am told are not great.

Still Ms. Pierce presents passages from a number of well known books of the dead which appear to give a fair recording of their original content.

     "Oh thou who art in thine egg [i.e.,Ra], who shinest from thy Disk and risest in the horizon, and dost shine like gold above the sky, like unto whom there is none among the gods, who sailest over the pillars of Shu [i.e., in the ether], who givest blasts of fire from thy mouth, [who maketh the two lands bright with thy radiance, deliver] thou the pious Nebseni from the god whose form is hidden, whose eyebrows are like unto the two arms of the Balance on the night of reckoning destruction."

A short chapter follows on the funeral and embalming of an ancient Egyptian with of course the ancient "gossip" Herotodus' account of the three techniques of embalming from most expensive to cheapest. It is the chapter on hieroglyphs and language of the Egyptians that may well be the best in the book, that within a matter of a few pages the author does an amazing job of teaching the reader how to read the hieroglyphs.

The basic hieroglyphic "alphabet" to English translation is present but it is the authors explanations on their connections that is so well explained:

     "let us assume that instead of writing English in letters we wrote it in symbols. If this were so, we could use the symbol % to mean "cat." Everytime you saw the symbol % you would immediately think "cat." Now, let us assume that the language evolves and, over a period of several hundred years, someone discovers that many words have the same sound as "cat" at their ends; for instance, "rat," "mat," "fat," and so on. Someone concludes that having separate symbols for each of these words is confusing and suggests that the symbol % be used to indicate the sound "at," wherever this might occur in a word. This means that the symbol %, which originally meant only "cat," now becomes part of many words which have nothing whatsoever to do with the word "cat"!"

This is the problem in reading the hieroglyphs that the symbol which is being read as "cat" actually has nothing to do with the meaning in words like "hat," "fat," or even words like "hat(e)" or "fat(e)" would make the reading of our language impossible to anyone who still saw the symbol as "cat. "This was the problem overcome by Champollion's decipherment of the hieroglyphics.

The author now turns to the pyramids, the evolution of, and the building of, including some of the usual remarks made by that town gossip Herotodus. Well we made it this far without it turning wacky, I guess I hoped for too much, and with that Ms. Pierce begins with the secrets of levitation according to "the sleeping prophet" Edgar Gayce.

Mr. Gayce believed the great pyramid was moved block by block through "the balancing forces of gravity". The reader is further told that the great pyramid was built as a house of initiation for those whom wished to dedicate themselves to the secrets of the mysteries of the Egyptian religion.

      "In certain seasons a cosmic fire was lighted on top the Pyramid, for symbolic purpose, by a method known only to the Atlanteans."

As I try to hold back my breakfast the true horror has yet to peak as the book now turns to "Akhnaton and Nefertiti" and into a train wreck as the author begins quoting dubious names and informs us that Princess Bekataten was the product of mom, son, relations and Nefertiti is the long suffering wife who puts up with her husbands homosexual tendencies. The book ends with a few pages on ancient Egypt's impact on the modern world.

This book has been a roller coaster ride, I realized from the start that it was probably going to be a laughable content but with the exception of the garbage filled chapters 8 and 9, which I would take with a grain of salt, the book had its moments. The authors strong start was perverted by nonsense from men who passed themselves off as sages when the reality was the opposite.

The book is not advised for young readers, but without pictures I would doubt there would be much interest anyway, and it is not something I would give as a gift to anyone.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Week of Discoveries


The recent events of the last week include the discovery from the Wellcome collection at Swansea University Egypt Center that a mummified baby in the collection long thought as a fake because the hieroglyphic inscription on it is meaningless, has through CT scans revealed the baby inside the wrappings probably is authentic.

The week also brought the discovery of a tomb of a 20th Dynasty royal messenger named Baser at Saqqara  south of King Unas' causeway. The messenger had the titles of "The overseer of the Egyptian army records" and "The King's messenger to foreign rulers".

If that was not enough there was  also the discovery of a late period "Chantress of Amun" buried in the Bastet cemetery at Saqqara near Tutankhamun's Wet nurse Maya. The Luxor Times has by far the best pictures of this find.

Lastly a Ptolemaic temple has been found at Beni Suef erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus, II., and yes it is the Luxor Times site that's got game this week!


Image of mummy W1013: Swansea University Egypt Center

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Spring 1979


Charles K. Wilkinson

Egyptian Wall Paintings: The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of Facsimiles created by its Graphics section.

The bulletins content is on the Graphic section facsimiles of Theban tomb paintings in the museums collection done beginning in the 1907-8 excavation season and displayed in room 135 of the Metropolitan museum of Art in New York.

The bulletin begins with an introduction by the former Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philippe de Montebello who introduces the reader to Charles K. Wilkinson and to the Metropolitan's facsimiles program which accompanied the museums excavations in Egypt at the beginning of the last century ending with the museums excavations in 1936.

The museums collection includes 365 facsimiles of mostly Theban tomb paintings including inscriptions. These Theban facsimiles were begun in 1910 when the museum received its concession at Thebes and the graphic section of the excavation was at that time headed by Norman de Garis Davies.

In 1920 our author Mr Wilkinson joined the excavation and relates to the reader his experiences first of all to the environment of Thebes in the 1920's including people living within the tombs. A nice black and white photo shows the tomb of Neferhotep (T 49) being used as a home for a family and their livestock.

Mr Wilkinson talks about the destruction of the paintings over the centuries starting with the Amarna Heresy moving through the destruction by Coptic monks who used the tombs as homes and places of meditation. The 19th century habit of destroying the paintings to gain pieces for collectors was mostly thwarted by closing of the tombs with metal gates.

From the middle of the 15th century B.C. in the tomb of Userhat (T 56) is a fine scene of Userhat in his chariot hunting with his chariot being lead by a wonderful red horse. To the right of the image a Coptic monk 2000 years later has drawn their own version of the red horse which was described by Davies as a triumph of failure.

Invaluable works from early 19th century explorers to the tombs, particularly Sir John Gardiner Wilkinson and Robert Hay who made notes and drawings of tomb decorations and their condition 100 years before the Metropolitan's concession  were helpful in filling in detail missing by the 1920's. The 56 page bulletin is filled with some of the great masterpieces of Pharaonic art represented by the guache facsimiles produce for posterity by the museums artists.

The layout of the tombs are explored as is the decoration which conforms to certain formalities varying in quality, such as the deceased in front of a table of offerings. The artists doing the copying were each possessive of the tombs they worked in and while a number of very accomplished people copied the wall paintings the finest economy of  hand was perhaps the work of Nina de Garis Davies.


The reader is presented with an interesting black and white photo taken in 1922 in the tomb of Khety (T 311), the tomb decorated in the middle of the 21rst century B.C. The picture of the chamber above the shaft is lined with decorated limestone blocks of offerings and so far back in the tomb that reflectors could not be used to bring light to the space, so a pressure lamp was used until it exploded leaving the copying to be done by candlelight.

The magnificent and now destroyed mural from the north palace at Tell el Amarna is beautifully copied and the very point of the graphic section of the Metropolitan's concession. Of the condition of the murals we are told,

"Collapse, rain, and termites had all contributed to the serious deterioration of the wall surface, and the paint remained only as a thin, cracked skin covering cavities made by termites." "Attempts by the society to salvage some small sections might be best described as unfortunate, as the only piece to arrive safely in London was in miserable condition."

Mr. Wilkinson is onto the ceiling decorations which are usually of abstract nature and nearly boundless in design and colours with some exceptions such as the grape trellis decorating the ceiling of one tomb. The usual decorations are explored such as the funeral procession of the tomb owner, or the mourners giving offerings to the deceased.

In one of the finest tombs, the tomb of the sculptor Ipuy (T 217), we are again presented with an image that is mostly gone from the wall it was painted on 3200 years ago, but here is preserved for posterity.


This same scene leads the reader to the authors next presentation in the scenes which are unique to the individual tombs, such as the cat staring out at you from beneath the lady's chair. Among the formula for tomb decoration was the owners occupation and those laborers they controlled, these scenes represent some of the most important works of art for our understanding of occupation and everyday life in ancient Egypt.

The facsimiles now presented to the reader demonstrate the great ability of the ancient artists to create movement among two dimensional figures. Especially impressive is the nature of the occupation of the ancient artist, and it cannot be ignored that these paintings with their great detail were created without reflectors but by oil lamp.

In the tomb of Tutankhamun's viceroy of Nubia Huy(T 40), we find a tribute scene that may be among the greatest scenes created by the ancient artists of the Theban necropolis, alive with movement and intricacy of design. The author presents knowledge gained from these tombs and the various occupations of craftsmen and the affluent values afforded by their ancient owners.

The volume closes with a painting from the ceiling of a copula in a Coptic tomb in the Kharga oasis which displays early Christian saints and biblical figures one of which holds an ankh the symbol of life, a last vestige of Pharaonic beliefs and the purpose that all these tombs aimed to achieve. Life!


Notes:

1. Cat Killing a Serpent, Tomb of Sennedjem 
Charles K. Wilkinson
Period:
New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty:
Dynasty 19
Reign:
reign of Ramesses I–Ramesses II
Date:
ca. 1295–1213 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes
Medium:
Tempera on paper
Dimensions:
Facsimile H. 47 cm (18 1/2 in); w. 84.5 cm (33 1/4 in) scale 1:1 Framed H. 50.8 cm (20 in); w. 87 cm (34 1/4 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1930
Accession Number:
30.4.1

This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 135 

Charles K. Wilkinson

Period:
New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty:
Dynasty 19
Reign:
reign of Ramesses I–Ramesses II
Date:
ca. 1295–1213 B.C.
Geography:
Original from Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes
Medium:
Tempera on paper
Dimensions:
Facsimile h. 54 cm (21 1/4 in); w. 84.5 cm (33 1/4 in) scale 1:2 Framed h. 57.8 cm (22 3/4 in); w. 88.3 cm (34 3/4 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1930
Accession Number:
30.4.2

This artwork is on display in room 135

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Artifacts Returned to Cairo Museum


How special is this picture to see not only the statue of Tutankhamun back in the museum but also some of Yuya's shabti and a whole number of objects that have been retrieved since the January revolution of 2011. It makes me wonder if the Tutankhamun statuette pictured should be left in its current state as an example of the decades of manipulation of the museums budget that allowed the robbery to  occur!

Photo: Reuters

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Challenge of the Great Pyramid


Destiny: The Magazine of National Life
Destiny Publishers
Massachusetts
USA
Seventh Issue; 1966

I picked this magazine up maybe a decade ago mainly for this article on the Great Pyramid, pictured on the cover, though the magazine contains other articles including one by former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurman. The very nature of the magazine is Christian salvation and the theory proposed by the author was very popular during the Victorian era and into the 20th century.

The author(?) begins the article with an overview of the subject in question of the great pyramid at Gizeh being its sacred units of measurement layed out within the size, volume, weight, temperature and alignments with the stars and the mass of the earth all set out by god to be read by the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples of modern times. We are recounted the story of the visit by Al Mamoun in the year 825 A.D. with apparent little success.

We are told about the beginning of the theory in the end of the 18th century and the 19th century founding in 1859 with Mr. John Taylor's book "The Great Pyramid: Why Was It Built? and Who Built It?" Mr. Taylor's theories were most famously backed up by Astronomer Royal Piazzi Smyth in his own study of 1864-65 and publication of "Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid".

"It was never even remotely understood, either by the Egyptian, or any other branch of the Cainite and anti Israelite family of nations. But that it is able, nevertheless, to explain its grand, even Messianic mission, most unmistakably. Not indeed, in the usual manner of less ancient monuments, by the use of any written language, whether hieroglyphic or vulgar, but by aid of the mathematical and physical science of modern times,"           
                                                                                                                   Piazzi Smyth 
Next we pass through proponents of the theory including David Davidson and his work "The Great Pyramid: Its Divine Message". Our author goes into the accuracy of the measurements of such men to prove their points. The author makes no mention of the father of modern archaeology, Sir Flinders Petrie who went to Egypt himself in 1880 to verify family friend Piazzi Smyth's measurements.

We come next to the importance of the pyramids geographical location including a line running east to west through the pyramids apex terminating at Jerusalem. The structure of the pyramid is next explored including the "pyramid inch" and the origin of the word "pyramid" in Chaldee "Urimmiddin", literaly "Revelation measures".

The article also contains three diagrams of the exterior and interior structures of the pyramid including timeline of sacred measurements by god which shows that Christ's crucifixion of 30 A.D. is placed on the timeline of the interior passages at the beginning of the grand gallery leading to the "Kings Chamber" or the "Chamber of the open tomb". In the following parts on mathematics and astronomy the author drags on and on with numbers and measurement that become more and more complex.

This barrage of numbers is this theories best ally as it leaves a mass of scientific numbers so complicated as to leave most laypeople including myself far behind. What I did notice was that the authors concept included the age of the pyramid at around 2100 B.C., more than 500 years archaeologically after the pyramid was constructed.

 In 1880 Sir Flinders Petrie found that the measurements put forward to testify for the theory by Piazzi Smyth and his proponents were wrong and the theory exposed as a tantalizing fantasy!
 
Further Reading:

A Miracle in Stone, 1877

The Great Pyramid, Its construction, Symbolism and Chronology, 1931

Great Pyramid Proof of God, 1932, also by Destiny Publishers

Photo: Piazzi Smyth, Peter Stubbs

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pre Dynastic Burial Discovered

Archaeologists working at the ancient site of Hierakonpolis have discovered a Pre Dynastic tomb complete with artifacts and mummy of a young man. The burial is believed to have taken place around 3600 BC and will yield much information as it is rare for such an old internment to survive.

The term mummy is being used to describe the occupant of the tomb though the art of mummification had not yet been developed.

Photo: Luxor Times/Renee Friedman

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Virtual Mummies from the British Museum



Here is an article on the CT scanning of some of the British Museums mummies which have remained wrapped over the last couple centuries. The mummies include a Third intermediate period priestess and temple singer named Tamut who died at Thebes around 900 BC.

An unknown man was revealed during the scans in the coffin of a woman. The man had bad teeth and probably suffered terribly,  amazing technology!

The mummies will be presented among others in  Ancient Lives from May 22 -November 30, 2014 at the British Museum

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Who's Buried in KV40?


The recent excavation of Valley of kings tomb KV40 by archaeologists from Basel University and the subsequent reporting of the excavation have left me perplexed by exaggerated reports. In some cases it is being reported that as many as five dozen royal mummies have been found, a sensational find indeed even if the truth appears much less grand.

The mummies are first of all very fragmented including a number among them from a priestly clan of later period. The "royals" include children, perhaps a dozen have been mentioned in inscriptions also some foreign women are mentioned who may or may not be royal .

Indications are about thirty people are mentioned, that does not mean that all the named people are present in the tomb including the mention of two previously unknown princess. The possibility may be that those royals mentioned were removed during the recycling of the Valley of kings at the end of the New Kingdom and that any human remains found may in part or as a whole be the remains of the priestly clan who took over the tomb after its royal use.

Nowhere in the article from Basel University that I have translated and read does it say that five dozen royal mummies have been found. Instead the archaeologists are reporting the presence of the fragmentary remains of 50 people in the tomb including the head pictured which is more likely to be the head of a late period priest.

I look forward to reading more about this find though very little of this excavation likely will find its way to the displays in the Cairo Museum.

University of Basel 

Photo: Matjaz Kacicnik, University of Basel/Egyptology