Tuesday, September 4, 2018
New Discovery, Nile Delta: One of The Earliest Settlements of the Nile Delta Uncovered in Daqahliya Governorate
An Egyptian-French mission at the Tell el-Samara site in the Delta governorate of Daqahliya has recently uncovered one of the oldest villages ever discovered in the Nile Delta. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The joint mission excavated the remains of a Neolithic settlement, whose occupation lasted until the 2nd dynasty (ca. 4200-2900 BC), at the bottom level of the El-Samara site. “Discoveries from the Neolithic period are virtually unknown in this area, so this finding is of the upmost importance,” said Frederic Geyau, the head of the mission.
The only other settlement discovered so far from the Neolithic period is the town of Sais, which was excavated by the Egyptian Exploration Society. The significant amount of data collected at Tell el-Samara since 2015 provide a unique opportunity to gain a better knowledge of the prehistoric societies living in Lower Egypt a thousand years before the 1st dynasty. From the pottery and artefacts found at the site, researchers believe that communities settled in the wetlands of the Nile Delta as early as the end of the 5th millennium BC.
Ayman Ashmawi, the head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities sector, told Ahram Online that the mission has also discovered a dozen silos containing a sizable quantity of animal bones and botanical remains, which will allow for scientists to study the subsistence strategies of these populations.
He also said that the analyses of these organic remains will use cutting-edge technologies and, in conjunction with uncovering the unexcavated areas in the seasons to come, will definitely provide critical insights on the first populations of the Nile Delta, as well as providing insight into the origins of agriculture and husbandry in Egypt.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
New Discovery, Giza: Tomb of 5th Dynasty Top Official Hetpet Discovered Near Pyramid of Khafre on Giza Plateau
After almost 109 years of searching, the tomb of Hathor’s priestess Hetpet has been uncovered. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
“It is the first discovery to be announced in 2018,” said Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany at a press conference held at the step of Hetpet’s tomb in Giza's western cemetery.
El-Enany explained that blocks of the tomb were unearthed in 1909 by a British explorer who sent them to Berlin and Frankfurt.
“The tomb has never been uncovered until October 2017 when the Egyptian mission started excavation in the Giza western cemetery,” El-Enany said.
The minister explained that the cemetery was previously excavated by several archaeological missions since 1843, and the most distinguished and important ones were made by renowned Egyptologist and former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass.
The newly discovered tomb belongs to a lady named Hetpet, a top official in the royal palace during the end of the 5th Dynasty.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the head of the mission, told Ahram Online that the tomb has the architectural style and decorative elements of the 5th Dynasty, with an entrance leading to an “L” shape shrine with a purification basin.
On its western rear end there is a rectangular arcade lined with incense and offering holders. There is also a naos with a yet missing statue of the tomb’s owner. The tomb has very distinguished wall paintings in a very good state of conservation depicting “Hetpet” standing in different hunting and fishing scenes or sitting before a large offering table receiving offerings from her children.
“Scenes of reaping fruits, melting metals and the fabrication of leather and papyri boats as well as musical and dancing performances are also shown on walls,” Waziri said. He added that among the most distinguished paintings in the tomb are those depicting two monkeys in different positions. Monkeys were domestic animals at the time.
The first scene shows a monkey reaping fruits while the second displays a monkey dancing in front of an orchestra. Similar scenes are found in other tombs. The first one is painted on the wall of a 12th Dynasty tomb of Khnoum Hetep II in Beni Hassan in Minya governorate; the second is found in the Old Kingdom tomb of Ka-Iber in Saqqara, though it displays a dancing monkey in front of a guitarist not an orchestra.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The Discovered Head of The Queen
A French-Swiss archaeological team have unearthed the head of a wooden statute of Queen Ankhnespepy II (6th Dynasty, Old Kingdom, around 2350 BC), near her pyramid in the Saqqara area in Giza.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the head is of almost-human proportions, and is around 30cm high. The ears are decorated with wooden earrings.
Professor Philippe Collombert, the head of the Geneva University mission, said that the head was found in a disturbed layer to the east of the queen's pyramid near the area where the pyramidion was uncovered early this week.
Over the last two weeks, he said, the mission has uncovered the upper part of a granite obelisk that may belong to the queen's funerary temple, as well as the pyramidion of what may be an undiscovered satellite pyramid.
Collombert said that the head is not in good condition and will be subjected to restoration and documentation.
"It is a promising area that could reveal more of its secrets soon," Waziri told Ahram Online, adding that the mission is to continue its excavations in an attempt to discover the satellite pyramid and the rest of her funerary complex and collection.
Friday, October 13, 2017
A granite pyramid peak, probably belonging to Queen Ankhnespepy II, was unearthed in Sakkara. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The Uncovered Pyramidion
A Swiss-French archaeological mission directed by Professor Philippe Collombert from the University of Geneva has unearthed a large granite pyramidion, or pyramid peak, probably belonging Queen Ankhnespepy II, in the Sakkara necropolis.
This is the second discovery in a week by the Swiss-French mission, according to the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri.
The team previously unearthed the largest obelisk fragment ever discovered from the Old Kingdom, measuring 2.5 meters tall. This week's discovery measures 1.3 metres high and 1.1 metres wide on its sides. Its upper part is partly destroyed, but shows that it had been covered by metal foil, either gold or copper.
“The surface of the pyramidion’s lower part is not clean, as if it had been reused, or better, as if it had been left unfinished,” Collombert pointed out, adding that the area under the pyramidion is clearly smooth, and also shows the usual carved recesses that permit its fixation of top of the pyramid.
“We think that it is the pyramidion of the satellite pyramid of Queen Ankhnespepy II, as it was found near the place where we should expect the satellite pyramid to have been located,” Collombert told Ahram Online. He asserted that this fragment comrpised the only part of this secondary pyramid yet to be found. The queen's main burial pyramid was discovered in Saqqara in 1998.
The Head of the Ancient Egyptian Sector at Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities, Ayman Ashmawy, said that the mission is progressing well this archaeological season, and that the new discovery suggests the team will soon locate the queen's complete funerary complex. Queen Ankhnespepy II (ca. 2288-2224 BC) was a 6th Dynasty consort of King Pepy I and the mother of King Pepy II.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
New Discovery, Saqqara: Archaeologists Unearth Largest-Ever Discovered Obelisk Fragment From Egypt’s Old Kingdom
Waziri and Collombert on Site
Collombert said that the part of the obelisk that was unearthed is carved in red granite and is 2.5 metres tall; the largest fragment of an obelisk from the Old Kingdom yet discovered. “We can estimate that the full size of the obelisk was around five metres when it was intact,” he said.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the artefact was found at the eastern side of the queen’s pyramid and funerary complex, which confirms that it was removed from its original location at the entrance of her funerary temple.
“Queens of the 6th dynasty usually had two small obelisks at the entrance to their funerary temple, but this obelisk was found a little far from the entrance of the complex of Ankhnespepy II,” Waziri pointed out, suggesting it may have been dragged away by stonecutters from a later period. Most of the necropolis was used as a quarry during the New Kingdom and Late Period.
The Newly Discovered Obelisk
Collombert says that at the top of the obelisk, there is a small deflection that indicates that the pyramidion (the tip) was covered with metal slabs, probably of copper or golden foil, to make the obelisk glint in the sun. The main goal of the mission, which was established in 1963 by Jean-Philippe Lauer and Jean Leclant, is to study the pyramid texts of the Old Kingdom.
Since 1987, the mission has also been excavating the necropolis of the queens buried in pyramids around the pyramid of Pepy I. This year, the mission is continuing work on the funerary complex of Queen Ankhnespepy II, the most important queen of the 6th dynasty.
Ankhnespepy II was married to Pepy I, and upon his death, she married Pepy I’s son, Merenre, from her sister Ankhnespepy I. Ankhnespepy II gave birth to the future King Pepy II. Merenre died when Pepy II was around six years old. Ankhnespepy II then became regent, and the effective ruler of the country, but did not go as far as to become pharaoh, as Hatshepsut did later on. “This is probably why her pyramid is the biggest of the necropolis after the pyramid of the king himself,” he said.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Pre-Dynastic wall markings have been uncovered in Subeira Valley near Aswan. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
During an archaeological survey in the desert of Subeira Valley, south Aswan, an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon pre-Dynastic rock markings.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the markings can be dated to the late pre-Dynastic era, and were found engraved on sandstone rocks. They depict scenes of troops of renowned animals at that time, such as hippopotamuses, wild bulls and donkeys, as well as gazelles. Markings showing workshops for the production of tools and instruments were also found on some of the rocks.
Nasr Salama, director general of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the newly discovered markings as "unique and rare" in Egypt. He pointed out that similar markings were previously uncovered at sites in Al-Qarta and Abu Tanqoura, north of Komombo town.
"These markings helped archaeologists to determine the exact dating of the newly discovered ones in Subeira Valley," Salama asserted. He added that 10 new sections of wall markings at around 15,000 years old had been discovered.
Adel Kelani described the discovery as important because it dates to the same period of markings founds in caves in southern France, Spain and Italy, which confirms the idea that art and civilisation during that time spread from Africa to Europe and not vice versa.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
A 3,400-year-old tomb holding the remains of more than a dozen possibly mummified people has been discovered on Sai Island, along the Nile River in northern Sudan.
Archaeologists discovered the tomb in 2015, though it wasn't until 2017 that a team with the Across Borders archaeological research project fully excavated the site.
The island is part of an ancient land known as Nubia that Egypt controlled 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians built settlements and fortifications throughout Nubia, including on Sai Island, which had a settlement and a gold mine.
The tomb, which contains multiple chambers, appears to hold the remains of Egyptians who lived in or near that settlement and worked in gold production.
The artifacts found in the tomb include scarabs (a type of amulet widely used in Egypt), ceramic vessels, a gold ring, the remains of gold funerary masks worn by the deceased and a small stone sculpture known as a shabti.
The ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis could do the work of the deceased for them in the afterlife. Some of the artifacts bore Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions that revealed the tomb was originally created for a man named Khnummose, who was a "master gold worker."
The remains of Khnummose (which may have been mummified) were found next to those of a woman who may have been his wife. Some of the other people found in tomb may have been relatives of Khnummose, the researchers said, adding that they planned to conduct DNA analyses of the remains.
"We will try to extract ancient DNA from the [bones] of the bodies in question," said Julia Budka, professor for Egyptian Archaeology and Art History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. "If the [ancient] DNA is preserved, this will help us a lot.
Otherwise, it all remains tentative," said Budka, who noted that the samples are already at the Department for Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.
The archaeologists said they aren't sure how many of the bodies were mummified.
"The state of preservation is very difficult here," Budka said. "I am waiting for the report of my physical anthropologists. For now, the position and also traces of bitumen speak for some kind of mummification for all persons in Tomb 26 who were placed in wooden coffins."
Bitumen is a type of petroleum that the ancient Egyptians sometimes used in mummification.
Many of the coffins are also poorly preserved, and it's uncertain exactly how many of the people were buried in coffins, Budka said.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
During excavation work in the area neighbouring the Agha Khan mausoleum on Aswan’s west bank, an Egyptian mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon ten rock-hewn tombs.
Mahmoud Afifi, dead of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities at the ministry, said that the tombs can be dated to the Late Period and early studies reveal that the site is probably an extension of Aswan necropolis on the west bank where a collection of tombs belonging to Aswan overseers from the Old, Middle and New kingdom are found.
Nasr Salama, director-general of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities told Ahram Online that the tombs have similar architectural design. they are composed of sliding steps leading to the entrance of the tomb and a small burial chamber where a collection of stone sarcophagi, mummies and funerary collection of the deceased were found.
He said that during the next archaeological season which starts in September, the mission will continue the excavation and begin comprehensive studies and restoration work on the funerary collection uncovered to learn more about who the tombs contain.
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