Showing posts with label Mummies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mummies. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Discovery , Sakkara "2": Secrets of mummy's portrait exposed under microscope after 1,800 years.

ANALYSIS of an ancient speck of paint has exposed the secrets of a portrait buried alongside an Egyptian mummy more than 1,800 years ago.

The striking painting, known as The Portrait of a Bearded Man, hails from the second century AD when Egypt was under Roman control.

Consequently, the painting does not resemble Egypt's two-dimensional murals that adorned the walls of its numerous temples and tombs. Instead, it is a very life-like depiction of the person it was buried alongside nearly 2,000 years ago. 

The portrait was discovered in Faiyum, some 62 miles southwest of Cairo. Experts have dated it to between 170 and 180 AD, and the painting one of about 1,100 similar works of art from the Roman period of Egypt's history. The portraits were painted onto wooden boards and wrapped up into the linens used to hold their mummified owners together.

Archaeologists believe these depictions not only represent a likeness of their owner but also hold clues about their status in life - one they held or aspired to hold before death. And according to a team of researchers who analysed microscopic amounts of purple pigment from the portrait, status played a big role in how these portraits were assembled.

Darryl Butt, a material scientist at the University of Utah, US, who co-authored a study of the portrait, said: "We're very interested in understanding the meaning and origin of the portraits, and finding ways to connect them and come up with a cultural understanding of why they were even painted in the first place." A small part of the Faiyum portrait shows purple marks on the man's Roman toga or robe - a symbol of status known as the clavi.

Glenn Gates of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where the portrait is housed, said: "Since the purple pigment occurred in the clavi - the purple mark on the toga that in Ancient Roman indicated senatorial or equestrian rank - it was thought that perhaps we were seeing an augmentation of the sitter's importance in the afterlife."
But according to Dr Butt, the purple pigment has only raised more questions about the Egyptian mummy.

In some cultures, the colour purple is viewed as a symbol of death, while others consider it a symbol of life. Purple was also often associated with royalty in ancient times and is still thought of such today. Queen Elizabeth I, for instance, forbade everyone but royalty from wearing the colourAnd purple is believed to have been particularly revered in the Byzantine Empire as a symbol of power.

Dr Butt said: "So the presence of purple on this particular portrait made us wonder what it was made of and what it meant. The colour purple stimulates many questions."

To better unlock the secrets hidden within the portrait's pigments, Dr Gates sents a microscopic particle to Dr Butt and his team to analyse. The speck of paint was about the same width as a human hair - 50 microns across.

Dr Butt said: "The process of analysing something like this is a bit like doing surgery on a flea." However, the expert and his colleagues were able to determine the purple pigment was synthetic in nature, and not naturally from the glands of the Murex sea snails as most purple dyes were at the time.

Instead, the researchers have suggested the purple was an accident - possibly made by mixing together red and blue indigo dyes together. The dye was then likely mixed with clay or a silica material into a pigment that was bound with beeswax. Pigments made this way are known as lake pigments.

Dr Gates said: "Lake pigments were thought to be without crystallinity prior to this work.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

New Discovery Saqqara "2': Ancient Egyptian coffins unearthed 400 years ago ‘virtually’ opened to reveal ‘bodies buried with organs’ and gold coins.

Scientists were able to peer inside the ancient coffins without opening them thanks to a few CT scans.
Two of the coffins were found 400 years ago in a rock cut tomb at the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt.
Only three of these coffins are known to still exist and the third one was also found at Saqqara at a later date.
They're known as 'stucco-shrouded portrait mummies' because the outside of the coffin supposedly depicts what the people inside looked like when they were alive.
One contains a male and the other two contain females, one of which is a teenager girl.
These mummies were unusual because they were placed on wooden boards, wrapped in decorative shrouds and then covered in plaster on which a whole-body portrait and gold was added.
CT scans showed that the teenage girl mummy was definitely buried with all of her organs inside.
That includes the brain, which was often removed during standard mummification.
Researchers think all of the mummies may have been left with their organs inside, which then decayed.
Both women were buried wearing multiple necklaces and all of the coffins contained artefacts that Egyptians may have thought were useful in the afterlife.
These include coins that might have been intended for paying Charon, a god believed to carry souls across the river.
All the mummies date to the late Roman period in Egypt, which was around 30 BCE to CE 395.
It's thought they were all fairly wealthy when they were alive.
The two famous mummies found together in Saqqara were X-rayed before in the 1980s but the CT scans revealed much more.
For example, we now know the woman died in her 30s and was around 4'11".
She is also thought to have suffered with arthritis.
The teenage girl died between the ages of 17 and 19 and had a benign tumour in her spine.
The male was around 5'4" inches, died around the age of 25 and had some quite bad dental issues.
The teenage mummy is on display at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt.
The other two can be found at an exhibition in Dresden in Germany.
This research has been published in the journal PLOS One

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

New Discovery , Saqqara "4": Egypt to announce biggest archaeological discovery of 2020 soon.

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities will announce the biggest archaeological discovery of 2020 at a press conference in the Saqqara necropolis in the next few days.
The Egyptian archaeological mission announced that, in the past few years, a number of important archaeological discoveries in Saqqara have been made. 
The last of these was the discovery of 59 well-preserved, painted coffins of top officials and priests from the 26th Dynasty, with mummies still inside.
The discovery was announced at an international press conference early last October.
The excavations of the Egyptian archaeological mission, which is working in the Saqqara necropolis, discovered new shafts filled with a huge number of intact, painted and anthropoid coffins buried inside.
Such is the size of the new discovery, that it exceeds even the huge number of coffins that were discovered and announced in early October. The shafts, which have been closed for over 2,500 years, include a number of gilded artefacts, including wooden statues and coloured and gilded masks

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

News: In Egypt the mummies return. But will tourists in a pandemic?

Saqqara, a dusty necropolis south of Cairo, has become instrumental in Egypt's fightback against a tourist slump.
It's been an extraordinary year for archaeological discoveries at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where separate finds have unearthed scores of sarcophagi and a host of artifacts, including an obelisk and a unique, bejeweled statue of the god Nefertum.
This, following the reopening of the 4,700-year-old Djoser's Step Pyramid in March after a 14-year, $6.6 million restoration.
In early October, 59 sarcophagi, around 2,500 years old, were uncovered. Wonderfully preserved with their original colors and hieroglyphs, their unveiling was an opportunity to reach a prized audience: tourists. Alongside press, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities invited dozens of foreign ambassadors, who subsequently shared images and details across social media.
"The discovery entered into the hearts of everyone all over the world," former minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass tells CNN.
"I think the ambassadors really sent a message to their countries about the pleasures of Egypt, because we need tourists to come back."
Tourism in Egypt had been growing in recent years, according to Kevin Graham, Egypt editorial manager at research and advisory company Oxford Business Group (OBG). "At the beginning of 2020 there was the expectation that this growth trend would continue," he tells CNN.

Then the pandemic happened. International flights were suspended in March along with the closing of archaeological sites and museums. Commercial flights didn't resume until July.
OBG calculates tourism contributed over 9% of Egypt's GDP in 2019, and while domestic tourism has continued to an extent, Graham adds, international tourism plummeted.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its forecast for tourism expenditure in Egypt this fiscal year from $17.8 billion to $2.7 billion.
Egypt has had more than 107,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,200 deaths from Covid-19 at the time of writing, and more than 1,00 cases in the past week, per John Hopkins University. 
New deaths and cases peaked in June.
While the pandemic rumbles on, the tourism sector is regrouping.
In July, a smattering of attractions reopened including the Great Pyramids of Giza, along with hotels issued with government safety certificates indicating they met World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. 
In September, more archaeological sites reopened, and the Egyptian government announced further measures to support the sector, including extending visa fee exemptions for tourist hotspots Luxor, Aswan, the Red Sea and South Sinai until April 2021, and delaying repayments on utility bills and debts for tourism-related companies.

Amr Karim, general manager for Travco Travel, one of Egypt's largest travel operators, says after a "drastic decline," the past three months have seen a "gradual increase in beach holidays," with bookings coming from across Europe.
Visitors to Egypt are currently required to present a negative PCR test certificate on arrival, taken no more than 72 hours prior to their flight departure, although arrivals at some airports on the coast are allowed to take a $30 PCR test then quarantine until they receive their results.
Travco is implementing WHO regulations and is disinfecting hotel rooms, public spaces and vehicles, while staff are using face masks, sanitizing tools and social distancing. Karim notes the proportion of elderly travelers is down while there's been a rise in travelers under 50, and that tourists are, by and large, sticking to their hotels.
He anticipates a "boom" in tourism to ancient sites by the third quarter of 2021.
"The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has been exerting monumental efforts in the last few years to enhance and shed light on Egypt's archaeological treasures," Karim says, citing new archaeological sites, events including the parade of 22 royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum to their new home at National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, and the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

After years of groundwork, these efforts will culminate in the opening of the GEM in 2021. Cairo's vast new museum -- nearly half a million square meters and built at a cost of over $1 billion -- is nearing completion close to the site of the Pyramids of Giza. 
The treasures within will include an 83-ton, 20-meter (66 feet) granite statue of Ramses the Great and over 5,000 artifacts from King Tutankhamun's burial chamber -- the first time the blockbuster haul will be displayed in the same place.
"It is hard to make any predictions in the status quo," says Karim. "It all depends on the medical revelations and vaccines in progress to combat the Covid-19 pandemic ... We are hoping for the best."
Hawass remains bullish -- understandable, given he's been involved with the GEM for two decades -- and is optimistic 2021 will be better than 2020.
"I really think that Egypt is more safe than other countries," he says. "We need tourists back."

Source: edition

Sunday, November 1, 2020

News, Egypt: Hollywood's Enduring Fascination With 'The Mummy'.

The early October announcement that Egyptian archaeologists had unearthed 59 highly-preserved, sealed wooden coffins that are at least 2,500 years ago sent the international media into overdrive, with Google offering nearly 11 million search options for 'mummy discovery 2020.'
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.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

New Discovery, Saqqara: Egypt reveals 59 ancient coffins found near Saqqara pyramids, many of which hold mummies

Egypt’s tourism and antiquities minster said on Saturday archaeologists have unearthed dozens of ancient coffins in a vast necropolis south of Cairo.
Khalid el-Anany said at least 59 sealed sarcophagi, with mummies inside most of them, were found that had been buried in three wells more than 2,600 years ago.
The Saqqara plateau hosts at least 11 pyramids, including the Step Pyramid, along with hundreds of tombs of ancient officials and other sites that range from the 1st Dynasty (2920 B.C.-2770 B.C.) to the Coptic period (395-642).
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said initial studies show that the decorated coffins were made for priests, top officials and elites from the Pharaonic Late Period (664-525 B.C.).  

The Saqqara discovery is the latest in a series of archeological finds that Egypt hasought to publicize in an effort to revive its key tourism sector, which was badly hit by the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising. The sector was also dealt a further blow this year by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“I consider this is the beginning of a big discovery,” el-Anany said, adding that there is an unknown number of coffins that have yet to be unearthed in the same area.
He spoke at a news conference at the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara where the coffins were found. The sarcophagi have been displayed and one of them was opened before reporters to show the mummy inside. Several foreign diplomats attended the announcement ceremony.
He said archaeologists also found a total of 28 statuettes of Ptah-Soker the main god of the Saqqara necropolis, and a beautifully carved 35 cm tall bronze statuette of god Nefertum, inlaid with precious stones. 

The name of its owner, Priest Badi-Amun, is written on its base, he said.
Egyptian antiquities officials had announced the discovery of the first batch coffins last month, when archaeologists found 13 of the containers in a newly discovered 11 meter-deep (36 feet) well. 
El-Anany said the Saqqara coffins would join 30 ancient wooden coffins that were discovered in October in the southern city of Luxor, and will be showcased at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which Egypt is building near the Giza Pyramids.

Source : USA Today

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Monday, September 21, 2020

New Discovery, Saqqara "8" : Egypt tomb Sarcophagi buried for 2,500 years unearthed in Saqqara.

A total of 27 sarcophagi buried more than 2,500 years ago have been unearthed by archaeologists in an ancient Egyptian necropolis.
They were found inside a newly-discovered well at a sacred site in Saqqara, south of the capital, Cairo.
Thirteen coffins were discovered earlier this month, but a further 14 have followed, officials say.
The discovery is now said by experts to be one of the largest of its kind.
Images released show colourfully painted well-preserved wooden coffins and other smaller artefacts.

Saqqara was an active burial ground for more than 3,000 years and is a designated Unesco World Heritage Site.
Initial studies indicate that these coffins are completely closed and haven't been opened since they were buried," Egypt's antiquities ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement adds that Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani initially delayed announcing the find until he could visit the site himself, where he thanked staff for working in difficult conditions down the 11m-deep (36ft) well.
Excavation work is continuing at the site as experts attempt to establish more details on the origins of the coffins.
The ministry said it hoped to reveal "more secrets" at a press conference in the coming days.
Other artefacts discovered around the wooden coffins also appeared to be well-crafted and colorfully decorated.
In November, a large cache of mummified animals discovered in 2018 by archaeologists near the Step pyramid of Saqqara were displayed to the public for the first time.
The discovery included mummified cats, crocodiles, cobras and birds.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Exclusive Video: Inside the Newly Discovered Tomb in Sakkara

Exclusive video showing Dr. Mostafa Waziry talking about the discovery and the tomb. 
Who is the tomb owner? What was his job? The description of the tomb contents? What is yet to be discovered?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

New Discovery, Saqqara: 'Exceptionally Well-Preserved' Tomb of Fifth Dynasty Royal Priest Discovered in Egypt's Saqqara

An Egyptian archaeological mission has uncovered an “exceptionally well-preserved” tomb belonging to a Fifth Dynasty royal priest at Saqqara, the antiquities ministry has said. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The mission at the Sacred Animal Necropolis in Saqqara discovered the tomb of a royal purification priest named “Wahtye” from the reign of King Nefer Ir-Ka-Re, Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany announced. A large number of foreign and Arab ambassadors and members of Egypt’s parliament attended an event announcing the new discovery.

El-Enany said that the tomb is exceptionally well-preserved and painted, with walls decorated with colourful scenes depicting the owner of the tomb with his mother, wife and family as well as a number of niches with large coloured statues of the deceased and his family. El-Enany describes it as “the most beautiful tomb” found this year.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the head of the excavation mission, said that the mission was able to reach the facade of the tomb during its second excavation season in November, but was not able to enter it then as the doors were sealed.

Excavations continued, and after removing the debris from the tomb’s façade, a lintel on top of the tomb’s door was revealed, inscribed with three hieroglyphic lines: the name and different titles of the owner, who was the royal purification priest, the supervisor of King Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re and the inspector of the holy boat.

Waziri added the tomb’s walls have several coloured inscriptions showing the name of the wife of the tomb’s owner (Weret Ptah), and many scenes featuring the deceased with his mother (Merit Meen) and his family, as well as scenes depicting the fabrication of pottery and wine, making religious offering, musical performances, boats ailing, the manufacturing of the funerary furniture, and hunting. Inside the tomb there are 18 niches displaying 24 large coloured statues carved in rock and depicting the owner of the tomb and his family.

Meanwhile, the lower part of the tomb contains 26 small niches with 31 statues of a yet unidentified person standing, or in the seated scribe position. “This statue might be of the deceased or a member of his family,” Waziri said.

Sabry Farag, the general director of the Saqqara archaeological site, said that the tomb consists of a rectangular hall about 10 metres long from north to south, 3 metres wide from east to west, and about 3 metres high, with a basement at the end of the tomb. Waziri said that the tomb contains five burial shafts, all of which will be excavated, in addition to two false doors, one belonging to the deceased and the second to his mother.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Discovery, Aswan: 3,700 Year Old Skeletons of Woman, Fetus Discovered in Egypt's Aswan

3,700-year-old skeletons of woman, fetus discovered in Egypt's Aswan
An Italian-American archaeological mission working in Aswan's Kom Ombo has uncovered the grave of a woman and her fetus dating back 3,700 years, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri announced. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Waziri explained that the grave is almost intact and was found in a small cemetery previously used by nomadic people who moved to Egypt from the desert hinterland of its southern neighbour, Nubia, during the Second Intermediate Period (c 1750-1550 BCE).

He added that studies have shown that at the time of her death the woman was about 25 years old and was very close to giving birth. He added that the baby’s skeleton was found in the mother's pelvic area and had already settled in a "head down" position, suggesting that both mother and child may have died during childbirth.

Preliminary analysis of the mother’s remains revealed a misalignment in the woman’s pelvis, most likely the result of a fracture that had healed incorrectly. It is possible that this abnormality had caused problems during labour leading to death.

The mother’s skeleton was resting in a contracted position and was wrapped in a leather shroud. Two pottery vessels accompanied her on her journey to the afterlife: one was a small Egyptian jar, beautifully made and worn down by years of use; and the other was a fine bowl with a red polished surface and black interior, produced by these nomadic communities following a Nubian style.

Waziri mentioned that the mission also found an unexpected offering in the grave, consisting of many unfinished ostrich eggshell beads and blank fragments. The reason behind this offering is unclear; it is possible that in life the woman was a well-regarded bead maker and her family placed an amount of un-worked material in the grave to honour her memory.

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 ...