Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recycling the Egyptian Burial

Countless generations found their debt belonging to the ancient aristocracy for creating tombs most of the people could not afford however the owner is dead and depending on reverences the grave fell into disuse within a generation or two with its reuse only a matter of practicality.

By the end of the 6th Dynasty and again the 20th Dynasty the sacred burial grounds were teaming with not forgotten deposits of treasure with these past elites leading the way with fancy monuments but whether it was the grandsons and great grandsons of the parlours who dug up their own it would be most practical for the priests who forefathers buried the lord to have their sons undue the work.

The enthusiasm of the workers who are placed in charge of the dis-assembly of the sacred necropolis's and their sacred objects appear in the time of Piankh from a letter in the British Museum to be an extremely important events with King Piankh saying in his letter that the tomb found should remain sealed until he can get there.

Rulers like Herihor and Pinudgem I relished their positions within the reorganizing of the sacred vaults particularly in the royal valleys. Both men wanted to be associated with their handling's of the kings but what became of those harems of the individual rulers their are large amounts of queens burials and mummies now missing perhaps as the unfortunate result of placement during the reorganization at the beginning of the 21rst Dynasty.

The same too may be the natural response of priests at the fall of the Old Kingdom back at the end of the 6th Dynasty. It is not unreasonable that the priests of Giza and Saqqara may have also rounded the royal mummies together for safe keeping and to relieve the noble corpse of their possessions.

This activity probably reached its zenith during the reign of the Tanite King Psussenes I after this recycling high the slow descent began. A society dependent upon destroying the art created by their ancestors for those who they venerate they now destroy their legacy for gold.

The following generations of necropolis officials must certainly have faced the sacrilege of what they were doing as the pickings became slimmer and slimmer and the son's job not nearly so. The restoration of the necropolis's created generational occupations of destruction.

When DB 358 was discovered the tombs original occupant Meryetamen had been robbed of all her valuables including 3 of her alabaster canopic jars? The tomb is probably the finest restoration of a mummy that has come down to this day. Many hours were spent by workers in the uncomfortable environment beautifully re wrapping the mummy covering it in garlands even painting Meryetamen's two surviving coffins.

One wonders how "official" the robbery of the Queens tomb was and what role Meryetamen's riches played in King Herihor's Renaissance.

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