Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who is Thuyu?

Thuyu has long been known to Egyptologists through the reference made to her and her husband on a scarab known as "the marriage scarab" created as propaganda for Amenhotep III to announce his marriage to the lady Tiye the daughter of Yuya and Thuyu. The discovery of the couples well preserved tomb in 1905 in the Valley of kings was the greatest find of it's kind until the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

A number of people to the tomb in 1905 expressed a great sadness that the couples journey through eternity had been disturbed and could clearly understand that this was not good for the couples mummies. Recent events in Cairo have seen looters create damage to the Cairo museum including reports that two mummies have had their heads ripped off or worse been destroyed.

In a video yesterday I pointed out that the cartonnage mummy cover which lay directly on Thuyu's mummy is to be seen lying damaged on the floor next to Thuyu's coffin. This sadly may indicate that Thuyu has been the target of an attack by invaders to the museum and may well be one of two mummies reported destroyed.

Photo : The Theban Royal Mummy Project

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dr. Hawass On the Museum

Crises at the Museum

A short Arabic video on the damage done at the Cairo museum, note the empty cases!

Great time for people around the world to show their support for the Egyptian people by joining Amnesty International and take action!

Egypt Falling Apart

News articles from Egypt indicate dozens dead in riots to overthrow the long ruling dictator Hosni Mubarak. The president has dismissed his government in an attempt to calm the riots and there are reports that Egypt's first lady Suzanne Mubarak has fled the country for the comfort of London.

Al Jazeera has excellent coverage of what is happening including the concern over the looting and damaging of the Cairo museum and a number of it's artifacts including the reported destruction of two mummies and a number of gilded statues from Tutankhamun's tomb.

Kate Phizackerley over at her Valley of Kings site is keeping a good timeline of events including a phone call with Jane Akshar from Luxor News who reports that Luxor is relatively quiet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Berlin's Nefertiti

Here we go the 2011 edition of this tedious never ending issue which at this time seems a little inappropriate in talking about the loaning of priceless objects to a dictatorship in the middle of a period of transfer of power which will bring one party elections later this year. The expected transfer of power will go from father Hosni Mubarak to his son Gamal and some will say it was an inspired choice.

The issue of who owns this pretty lady is secure now! The issue of  running around the world attempting to shakedown desired objects from museum collections is another matter. Seeing if they can be shamed out of the objects desired can only serve to harden the resolve of those resistant institutions out of thoughts of loan.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby Mummies at the Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum has always had a place in my heart as one of my favorite haunts in the years I lived in Toronto. Another is the Gardiner Museum across the street from the ROM.

Here is a video featuring ROM egyptologist Gayle Gibson on a pair of Egyptian baby mummies in the collection. Oddly enough for me it was not the Egyptian collection I was interested in but rather the Chinese collection was more to my taste in those days, how odd!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Residue of Royal Mummies

There is a lot of room for doubt in the DNA results published in the JAMA last year as to the result of testing on king Tutankhamun's mummy and mummies believed related to him and the nobles Yuya and Thuyu.

Sewage Workers find Coffins

Workers digging for a sewage line in Abu Yasseen village have found three pharaonic coffins and assorted artifacts. Two of the coffins were found reportedly smashed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tomb of Tutankhamun

The tomb of Tutankhamun will be closed to visitors soon in an effort to protect the tomb and it's painting from a thousand visitors a day. In an effort to still please tourists Dr. Zahi Hawass has commissioned a replica tomb.

There seems little choice in an effort of preservation of the most fragile of monuments including all of the decorated tombs in the valley of kings. The valleys fame has become it's own worst enemy and certainly must represent one of the most fragile environments in Egypt for preservation of thin layers of decorated plaster on walls which absorb the salts from the breath of countless numbers of visitors.

For the sake of preservation of the tombs in the valley of kings it would make sense to close the site, of course the tombs who's decoration is badly damaged including the tomb of Siptah Kv47 or the tomb of Merenptah Kv8 could be potentially left open as sacrifices for the dollar? Not a great solution!

The famous upper paleolithic art in the caves at Lascaux France have been closed to tourists since 1963 on behalf of the preservation of the art contained within. There are reproductions of two of the caves painted halls nearby, though I have to admit I will not be rushing to France to see them the closure is still the responsible thing to do.

Perhaps the Lascaux solution is the correct solution for the valley of kings leaving no option but for tourists to view reproductions of the tombs and return the royal cemetery back to she who loves silence, the goddess Meretseger.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Missing Pieces

This article from the Luxor times is most helpful on the recovery of missing pieces to the colossal statue of Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pieces of Amenhotep and Tiye

Anyone who has ever visited the Cairo museum has seen and remembers well the colossal statue of Amenhotep III and his great wife Tiye. The statue is extremely rare in Egyptian art for it depicts Tiye on the same scale as king Amenhotep III. When originally discovered in ruins in the nineteenth century the statue was pieced back together with the missing pieces replicated in stone.

Recent excavations have now turned up the missing pieces which are being held at the site till such time as they can be added back to the statue.

Discovery has it too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Itinerary for Thutmosis I's Mummy

"I inspected the excavation of the cliff tomb of his majesty, alone, no one seeing no one hearing. I sought out the excellent things upon====== I was vigilant in seeking that which is excellent. I made fields of clay in order to plaster their tombs in the necropolis; it was a work such as the ancestors had not done which I was obliged to do there======= I sought out for those who should be after me. It was a work of my heart, my virtue was wisdom; there was not given to me a command by an elder. I shall be praised because of my wisdom after years by those who shall imitate that which I have done,----------while I was chief of all works.

My praise endured in the palace, my love among the court. His majesty endowed me with peasant serfs and my income was from the granary of the kings estate on each day.

The king rested from life going forth to heaven having completed his years in gladness of heart" 1

The biography Ineni had inscribed on the walls of his tomb(TT81) has been long known with the famous line "no one seeing, no one hearing", a rare and valuable documentary source for the history of King Thutmosis I,(1504-1492bce). That being said Ineni was certainly capable of over glorious self-congratulations typical in tomb biographies which in reality does not mean the job was done right.

Among the participants for the funeral of King Thutmosis I would have been two future kings including his son Thutmosis II and his daughter Hatschepsut who more than likely would have judged the merit of Ineni's work for themselves. It might appear that they felt their great ancestor deserved something better.

John Romer's 1974 study of Kv20 showed the differences between the lowest chambers of the tomb in comparison with the upper corridor down to the antechamber, the largest room in the tomb and the only case in the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings where the burial chamber is smaller than the antechamber. Romer also noticed the unit of measure for the burial chamber was the same as at Hatschepsut's temple at Deir el Bahari.

Unfortunately, the foundation deposit is of Hatschepsut and not Thutmosis I but the evidence is good that Kv20 is indeed the tomb carved by Ineni for Thutmosis I at least down to the antechamber. Not very impressive work on Ineni's part, certainly anything but kingly and a good reason for Hatschepsut's workers to create the apartments below Ineni's half measure!

So did workmen simply push aside the kings mummy and continue chiseling? Probably not and one would suspect a nearby tomb would be required while Hatschepsut's workers modified Kv20 for her burial and the reburial of her father, and so begins an entire series of reburials for King Thutmosis I.

It is not unreasonable to think of Kv60 as the ideally located temporary home of Thutmosis while the workmen were expanding Kv20. The tomb is close by and the crudeness of the tombs carving may indicate its presence among the early rooms of the necropolis.

It is an assumption that upon the death of Hatschepsut that Kv20 would have been filled with the two royal mummies and closed. Unknown at which time the burial of King Hatschepsut was dismantled perhaps at the end of the New Kingdom or at the time of removal of Thutmosis I, that is if Thutmosis I actually ended up reburied in Kv20?

His quartzite sarcophagus was found lying on its side2, a position more attuned to be an accident of descent into the tomb rather than a necessity of removal of his coffins. The thought that robbers to the tomb would turn the stone sarcophagus on its side would have taken allot of manpower for a pointless act. Especially given that the tomb robbers probably worked very fast to get in and out of the deep dangerous tomb they were robbing whether clandestine or state sanctioned.

Rather I cannot help but feel that Thutmosis I's mummy never re-entered Kv20 but more than likely remained in the tomb Kv60 throughout her reign leaving Hatschepsut's intentions unmet at her death. Certainly, each king was responsible for the burial of their predecessor and had Hatschepsut's successor Thutmosis III wanted to remove kingly attributes from her burial he could have done that before the expense of her burial rather than playing the farce of digging her up to collect what never needed to go in, including his grandfather!

A sarcophagus inscribed for Thutmosis I was found in tomb Kv38, nearer the tomb of his grandson Thutmosis III. The tomb would have been a little more elegant affair than Ineni's creation with elements of decoration and is thought to be the tomb Thutmosis III used for the reburial of his grandfather?

Valley of the Kings tomb Kv38 is a little more impressive but sadly the painted walls have all been destroyed by water so we will never know if the walls contained images of Thutmosis I in the presence of the gods and/or the Amduat or like Kv42 only partially decorated? The style of cutting and surviving decorative elements clearly resemble the tomb of Thutmosis III(Kv34).

The evidence found in the DB320 "kings cache" tomb provided one of the coffins of the king believed to be part of the Thutmosis III restoration and of which would fit into the Kv38 sarcophagus including having decorative elements in kind to that tombs sarcophagus' lid. Whatever happened the evidence points that the mummy of Thutmosis I probably did end up in Kv38 whether he was still in it at the end of the New Kingdom is yet to know.

In the same cache two mummy's were also found of which one (CG61065) has always appeared to be of the family but has always been discredited as being too young to be Thutmosis I with recent CT scans revealing an arrow in this mummy's chest. The mummy is no longer believed to be that king but a prince of the Thutmoside family.

The other candidate for the mummy of Thutmosis I, is the  mummy (CG61066) the mummy identified as Thutmosis II is almost certainly a Thutmoside king but believed by some to be Thutmosis I because the mummy appears to be older in some eyes than the short-reigning Thutmosis II. There is a third mummy (CG61081) from the tomb of Amenhotep II and labeled with a docket on the shroud used by the XXIrst  Dynasty restorer to wrap up the king and his original wrappings. The docket giving the name of Seti II.

The problem comes in that the Seti II mummy does not look like his father Merenptah (CG61079), or his grandfather Ramesses II (CG61078), or his great-grandfather and namesake Seti I (CG61077) all of whom's mummies are in excellent state of preservation and resemble each other unlike the Seti II mummy who looks like the Thutmosis kings.

The suggestion has always left this mummy as a real possibility to be the missing Thutmosis I mummy. As a footnote besides the mummy inscribed Seti II, a coffin lid was also found in the tomb next to the coffin containing the Seti II mummy, the lid which was originally created for Seti II, though the box to the lid was not present?

At the end of the New Kingdom during the recycling of the Valley of the Kings the mummy of Thutmosis I may well have been removed from his Kv38 burial and placed in the tomb next door that of Kv15, the tomb of Seti II or more than likely Thutmosis I was moved to Kv14 also next door where there is some evidence of a cache of mummies once deposited in the tomb where the Seti II mummy may have also been placed after year 6 of Herihor(?)1074 B.C., based on a graffiti above Kv15.

Here the two mummies may have become confused especially if this cache which may have also included Sethnakht and/or Tuasret was found by the later restoration parties as robbed leaving the cache of mummies denuded of their inscriptions.

The problem comes here in that one of the two mummies did not make it into the tomb of Amenhotep II, either the Seti II mummy is present or not . The suggestion is that a mummy found by Howard Carter outside of the tomb of Kv15 and displayed within for years is actually one of these two kings. This to me is less than likely as the mummies arms are not crossed.

There is still another reasonable course for the mummy of Thutmosis I that after Kv38 the kings mummy may well have bypassed, for whatever reason, the Kv14 cache and instead was deposited in the not so far away tomb of Horemheb where there is evidence of the possible reburial of four royal mummies in that tomb. When discovered the tomb contained the scattered remains of four skeletons accompanied in the tomb debris by numerous late period funerary garlands and yet no objects of intrusive late period burials3.

Finally a last observation that the mummy of Seti II may actually end up being that person and the mummy identified as Thutmosis II may well be our missing Thutmosis I. For in all the activity that went on in ancient times in the Valley of the Kings over the burial of Thutmosis I nothing has ever been discovered, except mummy CG 61066 in modern times of the burial of Thutmosis II, no objects, no inscribed sarcophagus and no known tomb for this king.

While Hatschepsut and Thutmosis III were fussing over Thutmosis I there is no evidence that they did anything for the burial of Thutmosis II? The possibility does exist that Thutmosis II is still at rest in his intact tomb!

In the end the mummy of Thutmosis I may well have been the most traveled of the royal mummies of  the New Kingdom, a journey which may have included as many as five or six or more reburials over half a millennium from potentially 1492bc-934bc. It leaves no wonder that little material from the original burial of Thutmosis I in the tomb Ineni created(?), should still exist or be identifiable including the kings mummy!

"The king rested from life going forth to heaven having completed his years in gladness of heart".

Some suggestions for the route of Thutmosis I's mummy:

1492bc, Kv20-Kv60-reburialKv20-Kv38-Kv14-Kv35(labeled Seti II),1043bc

1492bc, Kv20-Kv60-Kv38-tomb of Inhapy-DB320(labeled Thutmosis II),after year 11 of Sheshonq I, (934bc)

1492bc,Kv20-Kv60-Kv38-Kv57,(22nd dynasty)


1.James Breasted: The Documentary Sources of Egyptian History
2. Dr. Karl H. Leser, Hatschepsut
3.The Complete Valley of Kings, Nicholas Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson, 2008, pg.204
4.Theban Mapping Project
5.Theban Royal Mummy project 


Head of XVIIIth Dynasty King:  Brooklyn Museum
Sarcophagus Thutmosis I:Keith Schengili-Roberts
Collosal head: Captmondo  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Obelisk of Thutmosis III

Dr. Zahi Hawass recently sent a letter to the Central park conservancy and the Mayor of New York concerned about the condition of the obelisk of Thutmosis III in New York's Central park. Dr. Hawass claims the monument is not properly being looked after and if something is not done he will "take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home."