Saturday, December 10, 2016

In the Year 2016



In the year 2016, the discoveries were largely that of laboratory exercises though field excavation brought some interesting finds. Perhaps the most beautiful work of art found in 2016 came in November with the discovery of the Third Intermediate Period coffin of a servant of the palace Amenrenef, and hey what would a year be without finding more statues of the goddess Sekhmet. The year also brought the opening of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings to tourist as well as the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, something that I do not expect to last for long.

The year began with the big story of the possibility that Nefertiti may be buried behind the north and /or west wall of Tutankhamun's tomb. Expert Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves believed this to be a possibility and as an expert on the 18th Dynasty, his words were taken with gravity. The theory had legs and the world reacted with excitement to find Nefertiti. The article "The Truth in the Search for Nefertiti" examines one of the more flawed news reports and the subject.

In January as well the Biblical Archaeology Society published an article on a study in The International Journal of Paleopathology on what is the oldest known case of scurvy. The subject being the skeletal remains of a 6000-year-old infant found at Nag el-Qarmila, Egypt. Newsweek had a very interesting article on science and the Elephantine Papyri. The January review of Ancient Egypt: Kingdom of the Pharaohs has been among the runners for this site in 2016.


In February we were presented with a nice video on "The Lost Egyptian Throne of Queen Hetepheres", Hetepheres being the mother of King Khufu builder of the great pyramid on the Giza plateau. Hetepheres' furniture was discovered in 1925 by the Harvard-Museum of Fine Arts excavation at Giza, though all the wood of her furniture had disintegrated into a cigar ash texture only the gold casings were left. Through careful excavation and restoration, most of Hetepheres' furniture has been restored in a glass cased room in the Cairo Egyptian Museum with replicas in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. All but her throne which was immensely complex and until now unable to be restored.

The Egyptian-University of Alabama Mission excavating in the Dashur necropolis at El-Lisht found the tomb of the stamp bearer of King Senosert I. Senosert was the second king of ancient Egypt's glorious 12th Dynasty. February's edition of "Tuesday's Egyptian: The Lost Mummy of King Kamose" has also been a runner over the course of the year


The month of March brought a number of discoveries such as a 4500-year-old boat found at Abusir and still more Sekhmet statues at the mortuary temple of King Amenhotep III. Most interesting however was the discovery of a 3400-year-old cemetery at Gebel el Sisila north of Aswan. The excavators found tombs which had suffered considerable damage from the annual rise of the Nile.

April brought in articles on scanning pyramids including the Bent Pyramid, Red pyramid and the pyramids of Khufu and Khafra on the Giza plateau. Blocks from a barque station for the creator god Khnum erected by Hatshepsut have been found on the island of Elephantine. In the inscriptions, it refers to Hatshepsut as a woman making the station for Khnum's boat an early building of Hatshepsut.


In May the good folks from Spain's Jaen University discovered an important late Middle Kingdom burial of a daughter of the Nomarch Sarenput II named Sattjeni. The burial is much destroyed by insects which have reduced the outer coffin to wood dust. The important lady had two sons who ruled the island of Elephantine at the end of ancient Egypt's 12th Dynasty.

 A great surprise for Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum when a micro-CT scan revealed that inside a tiny ancient Egyptian coffin, in their collection, was found the youngest known Egyptian mummy of a fetus. The fetus is even younger than the two found in Tutankhamun's tomb which respectively is 25 weeks and 37 weeks gestation


Very exciting find in June of a wood box in the basement of Cairo's Egyptian museum that contains gold sheets found in the controversial Valley of the Kings tomb KV55. As interesting as the inscribed gold sheets are equally as interesting are the two fragments of a human skull found in the box and presumably tomb KV55. The excavation of the tomb was poorly done leaving the mummy found in the coffin in doubt even though surviving inscriptions say the coffin belonged to the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten. So if the mummy in the coffin is not Akhenaten then maybe the fragments of this extra skull belong to this extraordinary pharaoh. This article was followed with another in July.

The Egyptian-Polish Mission at the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut is studying the use of the temple as a cemetery by the royal families of the 23rd and 25th Dynasties. The cemetery was created in the upper terrace of the destroyed Deir el-Bahri temple.


"The Writing Pallete of Meketaten" is a mystery as to how an exceptionally well-preserved ivory pallete belonging to one of Tutankhamun's sisters came into the collection of Lord Carnarvon around the same time as the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb which included similar ivory palletes for both Tutankhamun and another of his sisters Meritaten?

Also in August the fine people at Poland's National Museum in Warsaw received a bit of a surprise when they scanned their mummy of the priest Hor-Djehuti and found the mummy was actually that of a woman.


In September came the article "Cartouche of Akhenaten" the article is about a jewel pried from the lid of a coffin found in the Valley of the Kings in tomb KV55. A number of objects found in the tomb were stolen at some point including the gold foils that were all that was left of the decayed trough of the coffin. These stolen objects have over the years turned up in various museum collections.

The big discovery in October were two Late Period tombs found near the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the west bank at Aswan. An Egyptian-German Archaeological Mission to Matariya has found blocks belonging to a temple of Ramses II west the obelisk of Senusret I.



November brought the discovery of one of the most beautiful coffins to have been found in years. The coffin belongs to a servant of the palace named Amenrenef, who lived during Egypt's Third Intermediate Period and was buried beneath the mortuary temple of King Thutmosis III. It will look nice in the Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art.

The Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden had their impressive 3-meter long Egyptian crocodile mummy put through a CT-scanner which identified dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles within the beast. Throughout the year various artifacts including many items from Tutankhamun's tomb have made their way to The Grand Egyptian Museum which is set to partially open in 2017. Many of the artifacts are to undergo long overdue restoration in the new museum's state of the art laboratories.


The end of November brought an article on the mummified legs found in the tomb of Ramses II's great royal wife Nefertari. The article suggests that Ramasside chronology may be off but more likely the carbon 14 readings are off or that the legs do not belong to Nefertari.

Another fine year has flown by with many interesting discoveries though no real spectacular find. Unfortunately, the Nefertiti in Tutankhamun's tomb looks less likely and turned into a bit of a sideshow with a man allowed into the tomb whose equipment could only be read by him. Regrettably, equipment that could be read did not come up with positive results.

I would like to thank my readers and wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best to you and your loved ones for the coming year.

Thank You

Timothy


Notes:

Photo of Ramses II making offerings  Olaf Tausch
Photo: Elephantine Papyri, requesting the rebuilding of a Jewish temple on Elephantine
Photo of tomb entrance: The Gebel Sisila Project
Photo of coffin of Satjeni: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities 
Article about Sattjeni from Seeker
Photo of coffin: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Image of Pallete of Meketaten: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo of Warsaw mummy by Olek Leydo
Polish National Museum in Warsaw
Scan Pyramids 
Coffin of Amensenef: Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities 
Photo of legs courtesy of Michael Habicht

(Spelling of kings names are according to article mentioned)

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