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.

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.

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

Pain in the Neck

A beautifully wrapped mummy has recently been x-rayed and a metal object in the back of the mummies neck remains unidentified.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Mighty Doctor

Like many other of Dr. Hawass's books no doubt will be beautifully illustrated.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kent Weeks Updates KV5

It has been some time since Kent Weeks updated on the progress of his clearance and consolidation of Valley of the Kings tomb KV 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 traveler to Egypt and many other places in the world knew. The name represented safety for the traveler and the Cook became one of the world's first trusted travel agencies.

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.

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 king's sarcophagus in the Valley of the 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 king's 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 museum's 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 king's 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 king's 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 evening's 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 museum's 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 furthermore 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.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tell us Dr. Hawass

Very interesting article on the happenings in Egyptology including the discovery of Valley of the Kings tombs 64 and 65.

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 fetuses were found in king Tutankhamun's tomb that does not necessarily mean they are his. Like much of the boy king's funerary equipment, the fetuses 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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Children of Tutankhamun

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 fetuses were found in kingTutankhamun's tomb that does not necessarily mean they are his. Like much of the boy king's funerary equipment, the fetuses 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.

Papyrology Online

Here we have an online database of papyrus's.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Naked Bodies At the Manchester Museum

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

Valley of the Kings Update

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

Saturday, August 2, 2008

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 modeling its features may have evolved in the 5TH Dynasty to the coating of the human mummy with the same modeling represented in the reserve heads?

That a mummy like Nefer/Watay in the 5TH Dynasty which is sculpted out of plaster could be the descendant 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 37 known reserve heads who are the prince's and princess's and their partners of the king's court.

The head of princess Merytyetes bears a distinct dignity her head slightly upturned bearing her royal constitution while her husband's head which is better preserved does not possess 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 others 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 and was discarded.

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 northwest 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 host's 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 stelae. The visitor can buy the museums publications here.

Soon our lanterns brought us into the grand gallery its walls covered in stelae including the famous Piankhi stelae 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 whose 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 stelae of the Ethiopian king Piankhi, unfortunately too 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 the 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 stelae 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 helplessly in their tattered 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 our 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 king's, and queen's and their associates, the well preserved unwrapped mummy of the scribe Nebseni kept us in his sight, the sentinel for the rest of the occupants here.

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 museum's 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 stelae. 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 museum's dock where we found our boat and made our way to Alexandria.