Showing posts with label Ancient Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ancient Egypt. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

News: Crocodiles in Ancient Egypt.


According to archaeologists, it looks like worshipers of the croc deity Sobek bred the Nile’s most famous reptile for mummification.
Nobody loved animals in quite the way the ancient Egyptians did.
Not only did they incorporate animals into their pantheons, they also honored them as gods by breeding the animals, then sacrificing and mummifying them.
Look no further than the Egyptians’ complex relationship with the Nile’s crocodiles.
After all, they both worshiped the crocodile god Sobek and bred, raised, and mummified tons of baby crocs.
Sobek and affiliated reptilian deities had their headquarters in the Faiyum, an oasis in Upper Egypt; their popularity peaked in the Greco-Roman period (332 BCE–395 CE).
According to scholar Michal Molcho, a crocodile cemetery in the Faiyum, especially the town of Tebtunis, contained thousands of mummies.
The sheer scale suggests that “the young reptiles may have been bred commercially”
there.
Greek and Roman primary sources, like Herodotus and Strabo, place great emphasis on the care Egyptians paid their crocs.
Molcho posits that the sheer number of crocodile mummies meant that people would have had to capture or breed them by the thousands; breeding might have been easier after several generations of taming the animals, rather than trapping dozens of reptiles or stealing eggs.
The written evidence for croc keepers is scarce, but the evidence for breeding programs of other sacred animals is abundant.


As Molcho suggests, scholars can extrapolate from this knowledge to understand more about what went on in the Faiyum.
Contemporaneous evidence for the cult of the ibis (sacred to Thoth) and the cult of the hawk (sacred to Horus) mention formal positions for bird “attendants.” These sacred animals and their offspring even had their own bodyguards, as well as their own feeding grounds, leased by shrines for the birds’ exclusive use. Temples to Sobek owned quite a bit of land in their own right, so it’s likely some was set aside for crocs to devour goodies as they pleased. 
Molcho notes a fascinating discovery in the Faiyum town of Narmouthis. There, archaeologists have singled out two buildings as “a crocodile nursery and hatchery,” suggesting an institutional breeding program was, indeed, present in at least one town.
About ninety crocodile eggs were discovered, buried in deep holes, being incubated. Once hatched, the baby crocodiles would reside in shallow basins before being “sacrificed, mummified and then sold to worshipers as votive dedications.”
The fact that Narmouthis provides the only extant evidence for crocodile hatcheries might be a bit of a fluke, however. If the Egyptians utilized the marshy conditions near the Faiyum canals to create crocodile-breeding havens, then physical evidence from many nurseries has likely been drowned or destroyed.
Molcho also suggests a regional trade network in the Faiyum. 
Perhaps the animals were bred in one place and exported to another for mummification, which allowed the whole region, rather than one town, to profit from the business.
Thus, the Egyptians worshiped and commodified the croc: a truly complex inter-species bond.

Monday, October 26, 2020

New Discovery El Minya "2" : Egyptian team uncovers ancient tomb of royal treasury supervisor in Minya.


An Egyptian archaeological mission working in the ​​al-Ghuraifah area in Minya Governorate has uncovered the tomb of a royal treasury supervisor named “Badi Est”.
Stone statues and other archaeological findings within indicated that the tomb was well-preserved.
The tomb consists of a burial well that is ten meters deep, leading to a large room with niches engraved in the rock and closed with regular stone slabs, said the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Head of the Mission Mostafa Waziry.
Inside were two stone statues, one for Apis the bull god and the other of a woman, he added. A canopic vessel was also found, made of alabaster in the form of the four sons of Horus.
On the vessel, the titles and names of the deceased were engraved, Waziry noted.
He added that 400 blue and green Ushabti statues bearing the name of the deceased were also found, alongside six graves for his family members containing nearly a thousand faience statues and sets of utensils.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Our Treasures Abroad, London: Egypt Retrieves Smuggled Ancient Artefact From London Auction.


Egypt has retrieved an ancient artifact illegally smuggled out of the country after being displayed at an auction hall in London, the antiquities ministry said. Witten By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The piece, a cartouche of King Amenhotep I, was identified following observation of international auction websites, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The ministry took all the necessary measures to stop the sale of the relief and withdraw it from auction,” it added.

The ministry did not elaborate on when or how the artifact was stolen and smuggled out of the country.

The relic was earlier exhibited at the open museum of the ancient temple of Karnak in the southern city of Luxor, the ministry's repatriation department director Shaaban Abdel-Gawad said.

The Egyptian embassy in London received the piece last September following coordination between the foreign ministry, the embassy and British authorities, Abdel-Gawad added.

Earlier this month, the BBC reported that the only casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from 8 February.

The large block of fine white limestone will go on show for the first time outside Egypt and the first time since it arrived in Scotland in 1872, the BBC said.

Abdel-Gawad told Ahram Online last week that Egypt would send an official inquiry to Scotland asking for a certificate of possession and export documents for the stone, adding that Egyptian authorities will take all necessary step to recover the piece if it was proved to be smuggled out of the country.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Discovery, Giza: More Than 800 Egyptian Tombs Revealed in Ancient Burial Ground


Described for the first time, the 4,000-year-old "rabbit's warren" represents one of the largest groupings of Middle Kingdom burials.

For thousands of years, a necropolis has been lurking under the desert near the village of Lisht in Egypt, just south of Al Ayyat. Located at the edge of the Sahara, the ancient cemetery is no secret; today, a pair of pyramids rises above the landscape in the north and south of the burial grounds.

But many of the site's ancient tombs have long been concealed under feet of sand—until now.

In just a single field season, a joint expedition between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities mapped out a whopping 802 tombs at Lisht. These newly described tombs date back roughly 4,000 years and were previously unknown to Egyptologists, according to an announcement from Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Antiquities, and Mostafa Waziry, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

“What we have at the site is one of the largest corpuses of Middle Kingdom tombs in the entire country of Egypt,” says archaeologist Sarah Parcak, a National Geographic Explorer and professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who co-led the expedition with Adel Okasha, Director of the Pyramids Region.

While the tombs were largely looted before the expedition started work, they still offer many insights into the lives of the people who once bustled in the ancient city nearby, believed to have been the Middle Kingdom capital of Itj-Tawy.

Middle Kingdom Riches
Spanning from roughly 2030 to 1650 B.C., the Middle Kingdom is a period marked by flourishing art and culture. “You see this blossoming during the Middle Kingdom,” Parcak says.

Much of what we know so far about Lisht during this period comes from extensive excavations conducted since the early 1900s by researchers with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Per museum policy, Met curator Adela Oppenheim declined to comment directly about the new research. But she notes that artifacts from this period seem to reflect a greater awareness of the human condition, which is part of what makes the Middle Kingdom so fascinating.

Met teams have primarily focused their efforts on documenting and mapping the two pyramids—built for the kings Amenemhat I and Senusret I—as well as the surrounding royal tombs. But there's still much more to learn from the rest of the site's resting places.

“From this area, there really aren't very many tombs that are known, except for the royal tombs there,” says Kathryn Bard, an archaeologist at Boston University who was not involved in the work. “That's why this cemetery is important.”

Underground Network
The latest work began in 2014 when Parcak and her colleagues noticed evidence of looting pits in high-resolution satellite images. From 2009 to 2013, the dark pockmarks multiplied in the images. But from the sky, Parcak notes, the team couldn't be sure where the holes led.
Since then, work on the ground that was partially funded by National Geographic revealed that most of these pits led to tombs. At each site, the team carefully documented features of the tombs, collecting images and GPS coordinates to assemble a database for the region.

Many shaft tombs had places for up to eight burials, which means the interlocking mortuary system likely housed at least 4,000 individuals in the afterlife.

“They used all the space they could get their hands on,” says Parcak, who compares the dense system of graves to the winding tunnels of a rabbit warren. “Many would have been reused by families or grandchildren, or great-grand children, or third cousins three times removed.”
Fragments of Information
 By the time the researchers arrived on the scene, looters had emptied most of the tombs. Parcak's work previously suggested that looting intensified in Egypt during the economic instability that followed the 2009 recession and the 2011 revolution. Lisht seemed to be no exception.

But Bard and other Egyptologists believe that there's still information to glean.

“I think it was a good first step,” Mark Lehner, director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, says of the mapping and documentation efforts. Pottery shards, fragments of wall murals, human remains, and even the tomb structures themselves can help researchers learn more about the health, economic status, and mortuary practices of the people who once lived in the capital.

“This is really, to me, where the value is of this work,” says Parcak. She adds that these latest finds are limited to the southern part of the site, and the team hopes to continue work in the northern regions next season.

“Like all these other sites in Egypt,” she says, “there’s a lot left to map and discover.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

News, Sakkara: Egypt Inaugurates Tomb of Sixth Dynasty Vizier Mehu's in Saqqara Necropolis 8 Decades After Its Discovery


Minister of Antiquities El-Enany, Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, Egyptologist Zahi Hawwas, and a number of foreign ambassadors to Cairo, toured the tomb and funery complexes in Saqqara. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated on Saturday the tomb of the sixth Dynasty Vizier Mehu in Saqqara Necropolis, Giza, almost 80 years after its discovery in 1939 by an Egyptian mission led by Egyptologist Zaki Saad.

“The tomb is one of the most beautiful in the Saqqara Necropolis because it still keeps its vivid colours and distinguished scenes,” said El-Enany, adding that among the most peculiar scenes in the tomb is one depicting the marriage of crocodiles in the presence of a turtle.

Among the most important scenes shown on the walls are those featuring the owner of the tomb while hunting in the jungle or fishing, as well as those showing scenes of good harvests, cooking and acrobatic dancing – all of which has not been previously found in other discoveries in Saqqara before the sixth Dynasty.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate's Affairs Nabila Makram and renowned Egyptologist and former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, along with 12 ambassdors to Cairo, including the European Union, Brazilian, French and Belgian, attended the opening.

Hawwas said that he is very happy to witness such an opening as he studied the lintel and witnessed the tomb’s restoration.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that the ministry is undertaking restoration work on the different scenes of the tomb by consolidating paintings, strengthening colours and developing the lighting system inside. Sabri Farag, the director-general of the Saqqara archaeological site, pointed out that the tomb does not only belong to Mehu himself but members of his family as well.

Mehu lived during the reign of King Pepsi I and he held 48 names and titles inscribed on the wall of his burial chambers, as well as his sarcophagus. Among these titles are the scribe of the royal documents, the vizier and head of the juries.

The tomb is six meters to the south of the southern wall of Djoser’s pyramid complex, and consists of burial chambers for his son Mery Re Ankh and grand-son Hetep Ka II. It has a long narrow corridor with six chambers. Inside Mehu’s burial chamber, a sarcophagus with a lid was uncovered.

Mery Re Ankh had 23 titles carved and inscribed on the walls of his burial chamber. He was the overseer of Buttu region. Meanwhile, Muni’ s grand son lived during the reign of king Pepsi II and painted his false door inside the pillars hall of Mehu. He held 10 titles among them, the holder of the Director of the palace.

King Djoser’s southern tomb renovations
After the Mehu’s tomb opening, El-Enany along with a group of foreign ambassadors to Egypt, including the Brazilian, Belgium and French envoys, embarked on an tour to inspect the latest work carried out at the southern tomb of King Djoser’s in Saqqara. The tomb is expected to open after the completion of the king’s funerary pyramid complex.

The minister pointed out that the southern tomb is one of the most important structures of the king Djoser’s funerary complex. It was discovered in 1928 and it is located in the south- western side of the funerary complex.

Waziri explains that the conservation works carried out inside the tomb included the consolidations of the faience tiles that once decorated the inner arches of the tombs well as the floors, walls and ceiling.

Farag explained that the tomb has an entrance from the southern side leading to a sloping staircase towards a 28 meter deep shaft where a small granite burial chamber is found beneath. The chamber is 1.6 metres long with corridors whose walls are decorated with scenes depicting king Djoser’s in the Hebset ritual.

The king was featured twice: one time while wearing the white crown, and the second with the red crown symbolizing that he is the king of the north and south. He pointed out that the function of this tomb has perplexed Egyptologists as some suggested that it is a symbolic tomb for King Djoser as the King of Upper Egypt, while others see that it is a place to preserve the king’s Canopic jars. A third group believe that it could be the beginning of the construction of side pyramids of other predecessor Kings.

Restorations at Tie's Tomb
El-Anany also visited Tie’s tomb in Saqqara, which is now under restoration. The minister said that conservation work carried out at Tie’s tomb would be completed within days and is scheduled to be open soon. Tie was the supervisor of the Fifth Dynasty royals’ pyramids. Though he was not a vizier, he was still able to construct a large tomb in Saqqara Necropolis.

The tomb was discovered by French archaeologist August Mariette in 1865. It is also considered as one of the most beautiful tombs in Saqqara. It is well-known for its coloured inscriptions and reliefs depicting scenes of baking bread and brewing beer.

Waziri pointed out that since its discovery the tomb, no restoration work has been carried out there until recently when an Egyptian-Czech mission in collaboration with Saqqara conservators team started the cleaning and conservation work for its walls. This process meant to remove dust and strength the colours of scenes depicted. Conservation work carried out at Tie’s tomb at the Saqqara Necropolis is scheduled to be open soon. Tie was the supervisor of the 5th Dynasty royals’ pyramids, and although he was not a vizier he was able to construct himself a large tomb in the Saqqara Necropolis.

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...