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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
Not only did they incorporate animals into their pantheons, they
also honored them as gods by breeding the animals, then sacrificing and
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”
Greek and Roman primary sources, like Herodotus and
Strabo, place great emphasis on the care Egyptians paid their crocs.
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.
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
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.
Egyptian archaeological mission working in the al-Ghuraifah area in Minya Governorate has
uncovered the tomb of a royal treasury supervisor named “Badi
Stone statues and other archaeological findings within indicated that the tomb
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
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.
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
for the first time, the 4,000-year-old "rabbit's warren" represents
one of the largest groupings of Middle Kingdom burials.
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.
many of the site's ancient tombs have long been concealed under feet of
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Bard and other Egyptologists believe that there's still information to glean.
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.
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.
all these other sites in Egypt,” she says, “there’s a lot left to map and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
said that he is very happy to witness such an opening as he studied the lintel
and witnessed the tomb’s restoration.
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
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
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.
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
Djoser’s southern tomb renovations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
at Tie's Tomb
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.
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
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.