Wednesday, November 25, 2020
News Egypt: Egypt’s Supreme Committee for Museums Display Scenario completes placing Amun’s mummies in New Administrative Capital Museum.
Dr. Ali Omar, head of the Supreme Committee for the Museum Display Scenario at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, explained that these mummies arrived in the museum last week, coming from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, in order to enrich the display of the Museum of Egyptian Capitals in the new Administrative Capital.
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The find was remarkable; mummified remains wrapped in cloth and buried in ornately decorated sarcophagi with brightly-coloured hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The discovery was the first since Covid-19 mostly shut Egypt's museums and archaeological sites and reduced tourism to a trickle.
What's interesting is that – to be frank – a mummy is much like most other mummies.
Sure, there may be more colour, but the basic concept remains the same; and yet, these artefacts of ancient Egyptian history have had a spellbinding effect on the west since the first mummy – named 'Ginger' for its red hair – was exhibited at the British Museum in 1901.
The first Hollywood mummy movie, 1932's The Mummy, was a smash hit and since then, Hollywood has produced close to 100 mummy related films.
So, what explains the western world's fascination with Egyptian mummies? It's not like they are the world's only examples of well-preserved, ancient human remains.
And they aren't the oldest. One mummy, that that was DNA tested, was found to be 28,000 years old.
Called Paglicci 23 due to being found in the Paglicci Cave in Apulia, Italy, it predates the oldest Egyptian mummies by 25,000 years.
There are Chinese mummies, there are South American mummies and there are frozen or preserved-in-a-bog specimens; some of which are in excellent condition.
There's something about ancient Egypt that has lured western scientists, tourists and movie makers for generations. Hollywood is infatuated with mummies, but even Tom Cruise couldn't save the disastrous 2017 film 'The Mummy.
The intended attempt to create a new franchise – on paper – had everything going for it: a great cast, a spookier story, a sexier mummy, but it bombed, badly. Universal Pictures put up US$345 million – no doubt banking on Cruise's star power – but the movie ended up losing the studio as much as US$95 million.
You would think after that they would have learned their lesson, but no, internet rumours abound of a 2021 Mummy re-re-boot, this time starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.
Every studio is denying it, but the fact there are fan-made trailers for a non-existent concept movie online attests to the staying power of Egyptian mummies.
Hollywood should have let
things be with the well-received 1999 The Mummy remake starring Brendan Fraser,
a film that mixed adventure and humour well. The movie and its cast didn't take
themselves too seriously and audiences enjoyed the ride.
But of course, Hollywood executives love to beat a dead camel and made half-a-dozen squeals and prequels and spinoffs, most of which got lost in quicksand.
And it's not just mummies that Hollywood seems infatuated with. The whole 'mystical Egypt' trope has spawned dozens of films, with The Scorpion King, Legion of the Dead, and even X-Men: Apocalypse, whose villain was some sort of ancient Egyptian king-mummy, to cite just a few.
It might be fair to credit or blame French scholar Jean-François Champollion with this enduring fascination. Champollion was the man who, in 1822, finally cracked the code to Egyptian hieroglyphics. He'd become entranced by hieroglyphics after spending time in the service of Napoleon Bonaparte as French armies rampaged through Syria and Egypt in 1798, partly in a bid to weaken Britain's control of India.
That French invasion also gave birth to another enduring western myth related to Egypt: that the nose of Great Sphinx of Giza was shot off by French troops doing target practice. Modern scholars have debunked the claim and archaeological research has concluded that it was broken with instruments sometime between the 3rd and 10th centuries CE, but by whom remains a topic for debate.
But back to the mummies.
Some praise the sophistication of ancient Egyptian mummification. Reports note the 3,000-year-old mummy of Pharaoh Seti I looked like he was sleeping after being discovered in 1881.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art, however, has a deeper answer than just how pretty the mummies look.
In one word, it's 'intrigue.' In an article for the Institute regarding Egypt, Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Mia's curator of African art notes, 'There's something about the mystery of it all.
Things are hidden — in pyramids, in tombs, in sarcophagi. There are false doors. Even hieroglyphs require a code to understand them.'
Mystery does indeed abound.
King Tutankhamun's mummy was buried inside three coffins nested inside each other like Russian dolls, those were then hidden inside a sarcophagus, which was in turn hidden inside a frame, all of which was entombed inside four shrines. Why he required nine coverings is fascinating and allows each observer to 'choose your own adventure,' if you will.
With so much still unknown about ancient Egypt, the mystery is sure to continue to entice travellers, scientists and of course, Hollywood.
An analysis of 12 ancient
papyrus fragments has revealed some surprising details about how the Egyptians
mixed their red and black ink – findings which could give us a lot more insight
into how the earliest writers managed to get their words down on the page.
We know that ancient Egyptians were using inks to write at least as far back as 3200 BCE.
However, the samples studied in this case were dated to 100-200 CE and originally collected from the famous Tebtunis temple library – the only large-scale institutional library known to have survived from the period.
Using a variety of synchrotron radiation techniques, including the use of high-powered X-rays to analyse microscopic samples, the researchers revealed the elemental, molecular, and structural composition of the inks in unprecedented detail.
"By applying 21st century, state-of-the-art technology to reveal the hidden secrets of ancient ink technology, we are contributing to the unveiling of the origin of writing practices," says physicist Marine Cotte from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France.
The red inks, typically used to highlight headings, instructions, or keywords, were most likely coloured by the natural pigment ochre, the researchers say – traces of iron, aluminium, and hematite point to this being the case.More intriguing was the discovery of lead-based compounds in both the black and the red inks, without any of the traditional lead-based pigments used for colouring.
This suggests the lead was added for technical purposes.
"Lead-based driers prevent the binder from spreading too much, when ink or paint is applied on the surface of paper or papyrus," the team writes in their study.
"Indeed, in the present case, lead forms an invisible halo surrounding the ochre particles."
As well as explaining how the ancient Egyptians kept their papyrus smudge-free, it also suggests some pretty specialised ink manufacturing techniques.
It's likely that the temple priests who wrote using this ink weren't the ones who were originally mixing it.
"The fact that the lead was not added as a pigment but as a drier infers that the ink had quite a complex recipe and could not be made by just anyone," says Egyptologist Thomas Christiansen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
"We hypothesise that there were workshops specialised in preparing inks."
Interestingly enough, the preparation of red ink inside a workshop has also been mentioned in a Greek document dated to the third century CE, backing up the idea of specialised ink mixing in Egypt and across the Mediterranean.
This technique of using lead as a drying agent was also adopted in 15th century Europe as oil paintings began to appear – but it would seem that the ancient Egyptians discovered the trick at least 1,400 years earlier.
The researchers are planning more tests and different kinds of analysis, but what they've found so far is already fascinating – another example of how modern-day scientific instruments can unlock even more secrets from the past, even down to coloured ink.
"The advanced synchrotron-based microanalyses have provided us with invaluable knowledge of the preparation and composition of red and black inks in ancient Egypt and Rome 2,000 years ago," says Christiansen.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
New Discovery, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb' Review: Egypt excavation documentary plays out like an ancient true crime show.
At one point, as Hamada is excavating in a shaft as others carefully look on, he accidentally disturbs the wooden coffin, and as the pieces of wood fall, so does your heart.
Another fascinating aspect of the documentary is the presence of women among the men who are digging through the tombs of ancient Egypt.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
As per a report in the Science Daily, the researchers were surprised to find these two elements in papyri. They believe that the inks were used for their drying properties and not as pigments.
Using advanced synchrotron radiation-based X-ray microscopy equipment, researchers investigated the red and black ink present in the 12 samples.
Speaking about the research, UCPH’s Thomas Christianse, an Egyptologist who is also the first author of this paper, said that papyri fragments are taken from the Tebtunis temple library and the inks that have both lead-based and iron-based compounds.
Sine Larsen, a Chemistry professor at UCPH and co-author of this study, informed that while iron-based elements are found in red inks, lead-based compounds are present in both the inks.
This new study is significant in understanding the use of inks as driers in ancient times.
A previous study on 15th-century European oil paintings had given similar results. In that as well, the application of lead-based drying technique was discovered to make the paintings.
It is established that Egyptians must have discovered the drying properties of the lead-based compounds 1,400 years earlier than Europeans.
The report says that it has been established earlier that in Egypt, inks were used as early as 3200 BC to write text.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Fathi Diab, Director-General of Siwa Antiquities, announced that the sites are committed to enforcing all COVID-19 precautionary measures, included mask-wearing and social distancing.
Indoor archaeological sites allow visits from groups of no more than seven, whereas outdoor and open sites have no capacity restrictions.
Located in the Western Desert, Siwa Oasis is famous for its lengthy nine-month tourist season, which boasts moderate weather.
Siwa receives many local and foreign tourists at archaeological sites such as the Gebel al-Mawta (Mountain of the Dead), Shali Mountain, Mount Dakrur, Oracle Temple, Umm Ubaydah Temple, and other Pharaonic, Roman, and Islamic monuments.
Egypt reopened its borders for tourism on July 1, and has gradually allowed hotels and tourist sites to resume operations. The government is enforcing strict anti-coronavirus measures to ensure the safety of both tourists and citizens.
Hawass expressed that the bust was obliterated and smuggled to Germany.
He pointed out that he is now collecting signatures from Egyptian and foreign intellectuals to restore Nefertiti’s bust to Egypt.
It was stolen and came out of Egypt, illegally. He said: “I want to turn the demand to return Nefertiti’s opinion to popular demand. We don’t want to involve the government in this matter.
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