Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tutankhamun Treasures: Press Release Canada 1964-65

Here I have a press release concerning the 1964-65 tour of Canada creatively named Tutankhamun Treasures and I know if you have ever seen an exhibit of Tutankhamun treasures no doubt you have seen one of these canopic coffinettes, the air miles must be through the roof on this thing. The show appears to have had only a little less than three dozen objects and all of which are small. This tour of Canada was only one of two Tutankhamun exhibitions touring the world at the time to raise funds and donations to help fund the rescue of the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel before it descended beneath the rising waters of Lake Nassar after the building of the Aswan high dam.

The venues for the Canadian tour were:

The National Gallery of Canada
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology
The Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery
Le Musee du Quebec

The guide begins with a brief forward by the Director of The National Gallery of Canada, Charles F. Comfort who explains the motivation for the show as well as thanking those who helped with the exhibition. The introduction covers the same issues except for this time it is the United Arab Republic's Minister of Culture and National Guidance Abdel Kader Hatem.

A short history of the life of Tutankhamun and the times in which he lived is well presented by Rudolf Anthes from The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. This is followed by the objects in the exhibition all of which are represented by black and white photographs

List of Objects:

1. Gold Dagger and Sheath found on the mummy of the king
2. Gold Coffinette
3. Gold pectoral inlaid with glass and semi-precious stones with chain and heart counterpoise
4. Gold and blue glass flail
5. Gold and blue glass crook
6. Large scarab of Lapis Lazuli and gold
7. Armlet of gold inlaid in blue and red glass
8. Gold signet ring the bezel which bears a seated figure of Amun-Re found on the mummy.
9. Gold ring with oval bezel containing an image of a boat with two baboons worshipping the moon. Found on the left hand of the mummy.
10. Amulet of Anubis in green feldspar set in a gold frame. Found on the neck of the mummy.
11. Amulet in chased sheet gold of the cobra goddess Wadjet. Found on the neck of the mummy.
12. Amulet of chased sheet gold of vulture goddess Nekhbet. Found on the mummy.
13. Amulet of girdle-knot in sheet gold. Found upon the chest of the king's mummy.
14. An amuletic collar of chased sheet gold of a winged cobra. Found on the chest of the mummy.
15. Walking stick with standing gold figure of the king wearing the blue crown.
16. Gilded statuette of the falcon god Hor-khenty-khem with resin covered pedestal.*
17. Wooden Shawabti of Tutankhamun given to his burial by General Min-nakht.
18. Turquoise blue glass headrest
19. Spouted libation vase in dark blue faience with a white royal inscription.
20. Pear-shaped vase in dark blue faience with a royal inscription in white including the king's throne name and personal name.
21. Dark blue faience cup with Tutankhamun's personal name in white.
22. Alabaster vase with an inner shell and two outer shells carved in openwork of Uraei and lotus flower petals.
23. Tall alabaster vase with inlaid colored faience garlands of lotus petals.
24. Alabaster canopic jar lid of king's head.
25. Alabaster Shawabti.
26. Sandstone shawabti.
27. Alabaster box decorated with black and red inlaid pigments of flowers and cartouches for Tutankhamun and his queen.
28. Alabaster jug.
29. Small wooden box in shape of cartouche and decorated with the king's name in blue pigment.
30. Bronze torch in the shape of an ankh on a wooden base.
31. Pair of linen gloves.
32. Five gold toe stalls found on the mummy of Sheshonk found at Tanis in 1939.*
33. Gold sandal found on the mummy of Sheshonk at Tanis.
34. Gold bracelet inlaid with glass and semi-precious stones decorated with the eye of Horus and inscribed for Sheshonk I. Found on the mummy of Sheshonk.*

This small collection in the exhibition is certainly not on the scale of exhibits at the 1972 British Museum 50th anniversary show or any of the tours that took place in the 1970's but its purpose was of greater interest and as a result, the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel is today safe, and on land overlooking Lake Nassar


* Not included in the exhibition
* Similar to examples in Tutankhamun's tomb.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Way to Eternity

Fergus Fleming, Alan Lothian
Duncan Baird Publishers
Time Life
Time Warner Inc.
ISBN: 0 7054 3503 2

After the last book, I reviewed I needed something a little easier to read and this child-friendly read seems like a possibly pleasant choice though having said that it must be acknowledged that Egyptian mythology is not actually a child-friendly topic. The book should be good with Dr. Joanne Fletcher as a consultant on this project. A quick glance through this one hundred and thirty-seven-page publication reveals the book contains a number of images of objects that are new to this reader and of course many pictures of the usual brick a brack including King Tutankhamun's treasures.

The book opens with a slightly confused telling of Napoleon and his men conquering Egypt in 1798 with his soldiers at Thebes in awe of the monuments there then switches to Napoleon at Giza. A nice half page map gives a good outlay of Egypt and her ancient cities. The dawn of Egyptian civilization and the river Nile molded the Egyptian people into sustaining agriculture according to the seasons of the river. The politics of the country are directly related to the various competing theologies with the power of literacy determining a persons station in life.

A brief but nice timeline is set down for the young reader as the author takes us into the afterlife and on to the later dynasties. A two-page spread of jewelry and amulets is a lovely display with a number of pieces I have not seen elsewhere with two fish. The authors move on to the creation myths complete with the many tales of the sun god Re including the famous legend of Re sicking the lioness goddess Sekhmet to destroy humankind. The many apparitions of Re include the orb of the Aten worshipped by the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten. A section on the houses of the gods is a pretty layout with a number of images of interest.

The book is filled with sub-articles which occupy large portions of the book and of which can be a little confusing as I have lost my place a number of times. In the next chapter, we are on to astronomy and the Egyptian calendar. The pantheon of gods and goddess' now moves on the list to gods of war and others for fertility. It is hard to review the list of gods and not think of Isis who may be ancient Egypt's most successful god being revered well into Roman times and worshipped as far away as Great Britain.

The worship of animal gods led to huge quantities of animal mummies to fill sacred catacombs with offerings from ancient pilgrims to those gods. The author quotes Herotodus on a house fire:

     "Nobody takes the least trouble to put out the blaze for it is only the cats that matter. Everyone stands in a protect the cats which nevertheless slip through the line, or jump over it, and hurl themselves into the flames. This causes the Egyptians deep distress."1

After the murder of Osiris Osiris's son, Horus set out to gain his thrown from his uncle Seth who had murdered his father and stolen the throne for himself. These neverending battles eventually frustrated the gods though, in the end, Isis catches Seth into agreeing that the rightful heir to the throne was Horus. The numerous color pictures include an unusual statue of Seth and a fragment from the book of the dead of Hirweben depicting the god of chaos fighting Apophis on the sun gods journey through the underworld.

The power of earthly kings and the turmoils the pharaohs endured brought heavy burdens on the ruler who is the responsible for his peoples well being and happiness.

 "Beware of subjects who are nobodies,
Of whose plotting one is not aware.
Trust not a brother, know not a friend,
Make no intimates, it is worthless.
When you lie down, guard your heart yourself,
For no man has adherents on the day of woe.
I gave to the beggar, I raised the orphan, I gave success to the poor as to the wealthy;
But he who ate my food raised opposition, He to whom I gave my trust used it to plot"2

From here the author moves onto the varied myths attached to kingships such as the divine birth of Hatshepsut and the dream a prince named Thutmosis had in which the great Sphinx at Giza promised Thutmosis the throne if he had the sand cleared from around the Sphinx.

The religious texts of the times determined the evolving practices of burial including the art of mummification and the insertion of magical items in the tomb and mummy to help on its journey through the afterlife to reanimate in the heavenly Field of Reeds. The legend is told of a son of Rameses II who vied for a book of magic by the God Toth that was discovered in an ancient tomb.

The subject of magic cannot be mentioned without the tales of the ultimate magician the Goddess Isis and though the God Toth was its inventor nobody rivaled Isis whose worship took place before recorded time up to late Roman times long after her fellow gods had been forgotten. The book closes with a number of fascinating and well told ancient tales that have come down to our generation.

I do not think that I have reviewed a Time Life book before I guess it was because I expected that Time life stood for a quality presentation for a growing families budget making my instincts right on with The Way to Eternity.


1. Herotodus: page 67
2. The Instructions of King Amenemhat: page 85

Friday, May 4, 2018

History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria Volume I

Gaston Maspero
The Grolier Society
London, UK
Volume 1

I have had this series of 114-year-old books for many years but never read them. The author Gaston Maspero was the head of Egypt's Egyptian Museum and in charge of giving excavation permits in the late 19th century early 20th century. Mr. Maspero was chief Egyptologist and expert archaeologist of Oriental history. It must be noted that the use of and spelling of English words from 1904 differs from today's vocabulary. It must further be noted that interpretations of Egyptian hieroglyphs particularly names have also changed over the past century.

The book opens with a layout of the course the opening chapter will follow in an overview of the geography of the Nile valley and the course of history that man has existed within this environs and how the early Egyptians used their environment to advantage. Early farmers learned to make use of mud-built canals and dikes to water fields during the inundation season when the Nile floods its banks. The advent of stone tools creates devices for hunting, fishing, spinning cloth and the production of pottery of which upper Egyptian potters created very fine vessels. The reader is presented with the Nile god Hapi who resided in a grotto on the island of Biggeh.

"Hail to thee, Hapi! - who appearest in the land and comest - to give life to Egypt; - thou who dost hide thy coming in darkness - in this very day whereon thy coming is sung, - wave, which spreadest over the orchards created by Ra - to give life to all them that are athirst - who refusest to give drink unto the desert - of the overflow of the waters of heaven".1

Mr. Maspero lays down the basic food crops of vegetables, grains, and fruit like figs to make various kinds of bread and beer and the domestication of various animals. The chapter ends with the various nomes, their main towns and the nomarchs who ruled them. These nomes are in possession of a given god whom the local population worships. The book is filled with drawings of 19th-century photographs and various works of art on most pages.

                                                             The Guardians of the Temple

The author gives an overview of the many gods and goddess' that were worshiped in ancient Egypt these gods are local deities attached to local fetishes or standards. There are also national gods as in Hapi the Nile god or in later times the rise of the God Amun. Invasion and conquering other nomes would result in the cannibalization of the losing tribe's deity whose powers would be absorbed by the victorious nomes god.

"It was the duty of certain genii to open gates in Hades or to keep the paths daily traversed by the sun. These genii were always at their posts, never free to leave them, and possessed no other faculty than that of punctuality fulfilling their appointed offices. Their existence, generally unperceived, was suddenly revealed at the very moment when the specific acts of their lives were on the point of accomplishment. These being completed, the divinities fell back into their state of inertia, and were, so to speak, reabsorbed by their functions until the next occasion. Scarcely visible even by glimpses." 2

Mr. Maspero moves on to the constellations;

"A world as vast as ours rested upon the other side of the iron firmament; like ours, it was distributed into seas, and continents divided by rivers and canals, but peopled by races unknown to men. Sahu traversed it during the day, surrounded by genii who presided over the lamps forming his constellation. At his appearing ' the stars prepared themselves for battle, the heavenly archers rushed forward, the bones of the gods upon the horizon trembled at the sight of him,' for it was no common game that he hunted, but the very gods themselves. One attendant secured the prey with a lasso, as bulls are caught in the pastures, while another examined each capture to decide if it were pure and good for food. This being determined, others bound the divine victim, cut its throat, disembowelled it, cut up its carcass, cast the joints into a pot, and superintended their cooking."3

The reader is presented with the art and reasons for mummification by the ancient Egyptians. The development from the earliest times in the predynastic mummies naturally dried in their desert graves and the defleshed disarticulated skeletons left from early attempts.

The author moves on to the relationships of the deities to each other including triads of a mother, father, and son though not all gods belong to such groupings. The various traditions of the Enneads are laid out in the earliest dynasties of Egypt and her god-kings.

     "Scarcely was Sibu enthroned as the successor of Shu, who, tired of reigning, had reascended into heaven in a nine days' tempest, before he began his inspection of the eastern marches, and caused the box in which was kept the uraeus of Ra to be opened. "As soon as the living viper had breathed its breath against the Majesty of Sibu there was a great disaster- great indeed, for those who were in the train of the god perished, and his Majesty himself was burned in that day."4

Mr. Maspero introduces the advent of the rule of mortal kings beginning with King Menes and the rulers of Dynasty 1 whose graves are at Abydos and were first excavated by Emile Amelineau between 1895 to 1899. Flinders Petrie's re-excavation of the same site was caused by the unprofessional and unpublished excavations and wild theories put forward by the excavator Amelineau now discredited for being little more than a plunderer today.

The book ends with an examination of the early Archaic rulers and their monuments to that of King Zosiri (Djoser) including the content of the" Famine Stela" and the step pyramid which the author puts forward the green glazed tiles in that pyramids apartments are not of IIIrd Dynasty but of Dynasty XXVI.

The book was a difficult read with the changes in the interpretations of the hieroglyphs and the outdated English which the book is written. The book is definitely not for children and those looking for a romantic read, but for those college-age students of Egyptology it is a must read. Everyone else should probably pass on this book.


1. page 51
2. pages 109-110
3. page 130
4. page 243

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pyramid of Amenemhet I Yields More Reliefs

This article is about the rescue of two limestone blocks for the antiquities authority discovered at Amenemhet I's pyramid in 2011. The blocks had been discovered by looters one of whom called the proper authority hoping for a reward.  The result was an affair of some cunning including the skill of transporting two giant blocks of enormous weight and avoiding looters.

The first lovely block above is part of the decoration for Amenemhet's funerary monument while the second appears to be an older block reused in the monument. The pyramid has produced many Old Kingdom carved reliefs from funerary monuments of Khufu, Khafra, Unas, among others and used as fill within the construction. These blocks may have been used for magical associations between Amenemhet and his predecessors and or suggest that the monuments of the Old Kingdom were in ruin by that time. Amenemhet I founded the 12th dynasty ca. 1991 - 1962 B.C., and appears to have been assassinated according to a papyrus known as the Instructions of Amenemhet where the king's ghost speaks to his son and heir Senwosret I.

1. Live Science
2. Tour Egypt
3. Instructions of Amenemhet I