Showing posts with label Saqqara Mummy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saqqara Mummy. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "4": ‘Death has become a big business.’ Elaborate coffins illuminate hidden history of ancient Egypt.

Last week, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced a spectacular find. More than 100 elaborately decorated wooden coffins, many containing intact human mummies, were unearthed at the Saqqara necropolis, a burial complex covering 160 square kilometers and located 20 kilometers south of Cairo. 
The most recent finds date back roughly 2500 years, to a time archaeologists call Egypt’s late period.
Unlike earlier eras in Egyptian history, when prominent people were laid to rest individually in multichambered tombs or inside massive, eye-catching pyramids, Egyptian archaeologists found these coffins stacked two and three deep at the bottom of deep underground shafts.
The artifacts illuminate a lesser known era in Egypt’s history: one separated from the reigns of more familiar pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramesses II by more than 700 years of turmoil, civil war, and decline.
Science spoke to University of Tübingen archaeologist Ramadan Hussein, who has excavated extensively at Saqqara but was not part of the latest dig, about what the new finds reveal about the ancient Egyptians. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Why are there so many coffins at this site?

A: By 650 B.C., Egypt was starting to get back on its feet and become a power in the Mediterranean again. At some point the center of power moves back to Memphis, on the other side of the Nile and also about 20 kilometers south of Cairo. Saqqara once more becomes the main cemetery for a thriving, wealthy city full of temples. All those priests and government officials were high-income individuals; that explains why we have so many beautiful coffins from the late period. The richness of the city at the time is reflected in the richness of the burials.

Meanwhile, there’s an intellectual movement to look back at Egyptian history and revive its traditions. They even call it a renaissance at the time: They’re reviving art, literary traditions, and religious practices from 1000 years earlier. That shows up in the decorations and burial practices. You can see a nostalgia for what was good in Egyptian history in the cemeteries at Saqqara, like inscriptions on the coffins replicating religious texts from the walls of nearby pyramids.

Q: Yet Egypt has changed. What do the burials tell you about what was going on at the time?

A: In the late period, Egypt has started becoming an international power again, and as a result it’s becoming a real mosaic of ethnicities: There are Phoenicians and Greeks and Libyans, and you can see their influence in the grave goods, from a gilded silver mask made from imported metal we discovered in 2018 to pottery and precious oils. Trade connections with Greece are intensifying. Many of the coffins at Saqqara are made from expensive wood brought in from southern Europe and elsewhere around the Mediterranean.

Q: But there are no new pyramids.

A: No, but death has become a big business. Discoveries like this are important for what they tell us about how you administer a cemetery and run the business of death. Priests and undertakers at Saqqara are selling everything from mummification services to burial plots. The ideology of death had shifted. People weren’t focused on the size of their tomb, they were happy to be buried in a sacred precinct and a nice coffin.

For example, a lot of these coffins come from shafts cut into older buildings: Apparently the best way to sell new cemetery plots was to put them close to places considered ancient and therefore sacred. Undertakers would just stack as many coffins as they could in tunnels at the bottom of each shaft—they promised customers it would be in a sacred space, not that it would be private.

Q: Is there more to come?

A: Will we see another find like this? Definitely. There are more of these shafts we haven’t found yet. But analyzing the texts and scenes on the Saqqara coffins alone is going to give us work for the next 50 years.

Source:sciencemag

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

New Discovery, Saqqara "3": Mummy count continues to grow at ancient Egypt burial site.

The number of mummy-filled coffins found in a series of burial shafts at Saqqara in Egypt keeps growing, archaeologists with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reported.

At the start of September, the team had found 13 coffins with mummies inside. By the beginning of October, that number had risen to 59, and now the number is over 100, archaeologists reported in a statement issued Saturday (Nov. 14).

People are "asking how many coffins did we find. The answer is I don't know yet," said Mustafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a video released by the ministry and the Smithsonian Channel, which is filming the excavations.

Inside the burial shafts, the team also found 40 statues depicting the deity "Ptah-Soker," the ministry said. This deity is an amalgamation of "Ptah," who was the god of Memphis, and "Soker," who was the god of Saqqara. Archaeologists also found 20 wooden boxes showing depictions of Horus — an Egyptian sky god with a falcon head. Additionally, two wooden statues are inscribed with the name "Phnomus," though the researchers are still trying to figure out who that person was in antiquity.

Numerous shabti figurines were also found. Ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis acted as servants for the deceased in the afterlife.

The various finds date back between roughly 712 B.C. and 30 B.C., according to the ministry statement. During this time period, ancient Egypt was occupied and controlled by foreign groups such as the Assyrians, Persians and Greeks. 

At times, Egypt would regain its independence only to lose it to another foreign power. Excavations continue at the site, and the archaeologists expect to find more coffins filled with mummies and other artifacts, said Khaled El-Enany, Egypt's antiquities minister.

The Smithsonian Channel is filming a documentary called "Tomb Hunters" and released a statement claiming that some of the artifacts date back 4,500 years — to around the time when the Giza Pyramids were being built. The antiquities ministry statement has not confirmed this claim.

Source:livescience

Monday, November 16, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "2":Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old ancient coffins, statues found in Saqqara.

Egyptian antiquities officials on Saturday announced the discovery of at least 100 ancient coffins, some with mummies inside, and around 40 gilded statues in a vast Pharaonic necropolis south of Cairo.
Colourful, sealed sarcophagi and statues that were buried more than 2,500 years ago were displayed in a makeshift exhibit at the feet of the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara.
Archaeologists opened a coffin with a well-preserved mummy wrapped in cloth inside. They also carried out X‐raying visualising the structures of the ancient mummy, showing how the body had been preserved.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany told a news conference that the discovered items date back to the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt for some 300 years – from around 320 B.C. to about 30 B.C, and the Late Period (664-332 B.C.).

He said they would move the artefacts to at least three Cairo museums including the Grand Egyptian Museum that Egypt is building near the famed Giza Pyramids. He said they would announce another discovery at the Saqqara necropolis later this year.
The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids, as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1970s.
Egypt frequently touts its archaeological discoveries in hopes of spurring a vital tourism industry that has been reeling from the political turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The sector was also dealt a further blow this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Source:stuff

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "1": Egypt announces the biggest archaeological discovery in 2020 at Saqqara Necropolis.

A collection of 100 intact 26th Dynasty coffins were unearthed in Egypt's Saqqara Necropolis, in addition to golden funerary masks and a collection of 40 wooden statues of Saqqara goddess Ptah Soker, some of which are gilded.

Excavations conducted by the Egyptian archaeological mission working in the Saqqara Necropolis resulted in the discovery of three 12- metre deep shafts, closed for more than 2,500 years, containing 100 intact, sealed and painted anthropoid coffins.

During the announcement, a CT- scan was conducted on a mummy in one of the coffins. It was revealed that the deceased died in his 40s, was 175 cm tall, healthy, and did not suffer any fatal diseases.

Bassem Gehad, who conducted the scan, said the deceased was perfectly mummified with his arms crossed on his chest, in a position known in ancient Egypt as the Osiris shape.

“It is a great discovery in 2020, but it is not the last one,” said khaled El-Enany, the minister of tourism and antiquities.

"We have discovered only one per cent of the antiquities buried in the Saqqara Necropolis," he added, pointing out that many other discoveries will follow.

El-Enany stated a discovery made by renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass will be announced soon in Saqqara. 

He explained the coffins will distributed among the Cairo Museum in Tahrir, the Grand Egyptian Museum, and the National Museum of Egyptian civilization.

The Egyptian archaeological mission made throughout the past years a number of important discoveries in Saqqara, the last of which was in October when the mission unearthed 59 painted coffins with mummies in a good condition of top officials and priests from the 26th Dynasty. 

A short film released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to coincide with the discovery described the Saqqara Necropolis as a “sacred place where the rich and powerful wanted to be buried."

The video showed many statues of animals, figurines, as well as intact and sealed coffins.

“That is what we were expecting; the coffins were well-sealed, no chemical reaction, no air inside, nothing, that is why it is all in perfect condition of preservation,” the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziry, explained in the film.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

New Discovery, Saqqara "1": Archaeologists finally peer inside Egyptian mummies first found in 1615.

Two ancient mummies discovered in a rock-cut tomb in Egypt more than 400 years ago are finally spilling their secrets, now that scientists have CT scanned their remains, a new study finds.
Both mummies, as well as a third on display in Egypt, represent the only known surviving "stucco-shrouded portrait mummies," from Saqqara, an ancient Egyptian necropolis. Unlike other mummies, who were buried in coffins, these individuals were placed on wooden boards, wrapped in a textile and a "beautiful mummy shroud," and decorated with 3D plaster, gold and a whole-body portrait, said study lead researcher Stephanie Zesch, a physical anthropologist and Egyptologist at the German Mummy Project at Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany.
Now, CT (computed tomography) scans reveal that at least one of these three stucco-shrouded portrait mummies was buried with organs (even the brain) and that the two females were interred with beautiful necklaces, the researchers found
.

The CT scans also showed that after the deaths of these individuals — a man, woman and teenage girl dating to the late Roman period (30 B.C. to A.D. 395) — their mummies were interred with artifacts likely thought useful in the afterlife, including coins that were possibly meant to pay Charon, the Roman and Greek deity thought to carry souls across the River Styx.
The CT scans also revealed several medical problems, including arthritis in the woman. "The examination of the individuals yielded that they died at rather young ages … however, the cause of death of the individuals could not be determined," Zesch told Live Science.
Long journey
Two of these mummies have traveled far and wide. In 1615, Pietro Della Valle (1586−1652), an Italian composer, took a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and ended up traveling through Egypt. He learned about two stucco-shrouded portrait mummies — a man and woman — discovered by locals in Saqqara. Della Valle acquired these mummies and brought them to Rome, making them the "earliest examples of portrait mummies to have become known in Europe," the researchers wrote in the study.
After passing through several owners, and a little worse for wear, the mummies ended up in the Dresden State Art Collections in Germany, where they were X-rayed in the late 1980s. However, the CT scan revealed much more about their insides.

For instance, the CT scan revealed that the male died between the ages of 25 and 30. He stood about 5'4" inches (164 centimeters) tall, and had two unerupted permanent teeth and several cavities. Some of his bones were broken and jumbled, probably because someone unwrapped him shortly after the mummy's discovery, the researchers wrote in the study. 

While the man's brain was not   preserved, there's no evidence it  was removed through his nose. Nor were many embalming substances used.
Instead, he was wrapped up and painted. Two metal objects found during the CT scan are likely seals from the mummification workshop that handled his remains, Zesch said.
The woman's brain wasn't preserved either, but the teenager's was — it had shrunk, but the cerebrum and brainstem were still identifiable — and the teenager's other internal organs were also present. 
"We are quite sure there was no removing the brain or the internal organs" from these mummies, Zesch said.
"It's very probable that those mummies were only preserved because of a kind of dehydration with the use of [the desiccation mixture] natron, but there is not a huge amount of embalming liquids."

The woman, who died between the ages of 30 and 40, stood about 4'11" (151 cm) tall.
She had advanced arthritis in her left knee. The teenager, who wore a hairpin, according to the CT scan, died between the ages of 17 and 19, and stood about 5'1" (156 cm) tall. She had a benign tumor in her spine known as a vertebral hemangioma, which is more common in people over 40, the researchers said. 
Both women were buried with multiple necklaces. It's exciting to see these necklaces, but it's not unexpected, Zesch said.
"Because of these very precious shrouds, we are sure that those individuals have to be members of the higher socioeconomic class," meaning that they could have easily afforded jewelry, Zesch said. 
Zesch noted that she studied the three mummies with a multidisciplinary team from the German Mummy Project, the Dresden State Art Collections, the Institute for Mummy Studies at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy and the American-Egyptian Horus Study Group.
Their work informed a now-live interactive exhibit of the male and female mummy in Dresden.
The teenager's mummy is on display at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

New Egypt bombshell: 4,500-year-old Saqqara mummy bone analysis ‘could change ancient history’.

Egypt bombshell: 4,500-year-old Saqqara mummy bone analysis ‘could change ancient history’
EGYPT experts made the stunning discovery of an intact tomb of a high-ranking official in Saqqara, and analysis of his bones "could change ancient history".
Wahtye was a priest who served under the third king of the Fifth Dynasty, Pharaoh Neferirkare. Described as a “once in a generation” find, his tomb was found in a remarkable state of preservation – with 55 statues carved into the walls – making it the most decorated tomb ever found in Saqqara. Excavations led by a team of Egyptian archaeologists uncovered over 3,000 artefacts during their journey, helping to piece together the secrets of what has been called “Egypt’s most significant find in almost 50 years”.

Netflix’s new documentary ‘Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb’ follows the decoding of the burial of the Old Kingdom priest, untouched for 4,500 years and the excavation of five shafts to uncover the rest of his family.
But Professor of Rheumatology at Cairo University, Dr Amira Shaheen, revealed during the series how she discovered an anomaly within the remains of Wahtye’s bones.
She said: “His skeleton is kept better than the other ones.
“Although he’s a man, he still had some feminine features for his skull.
He seems to be a very delicate man. He’s about 35 years old.
“I think this was Wahtye, at last, I meet him.

“He does not have that strong or rough muscle attachment, which may indicate that he was a fine man with a fine job.”
But the expert found that some of the bones were distended – an indication of what possibly led to his death.
She added: “The skull of Wahtye was showing thickening of the bone and this can give us an indication that something was happening inside these bones.
“These bones can tell us that this person may have some sort of anaemia.
“The same swelling was found in the mother; we have congenital causes of anaemia.
“This is a remote idea because they both died at a different age, but by putting the whole situation together, we may think of some sort of disease, or epidemic. Most probably malaria.

“It may have affected this whole family. If that’s true, it would change ancient Egyptian history.”
This is a monumental theory, as if proven, it will be the first documented case of malaria in history by more than 1,000 years.
The documentary, which will be released globally on Netflix tomorrow, also features the exploration of the wider ancient necropolis where Egyptians buried their dead over thousands of years.
It details the discovery of shafts filled with mummified animals, beautifully preserved human mummies still inside their highly decorated coffins, funerary artefacts and rare finds spanning from the Old, New and Late Kingdoms.
The documentary was filmed in Saqqara, less than a mile from the site of the Step Pyramid – one of the oldest and most iconic stone structures on Earth.
Director James Tovell said in a press release: “This has been an exciting moment for the whole world.
“Shooting this film has been an experience full of thrilling surprises. Working with an Egyptian team that has a deep connection with their ancestors has made the project even more unique.”
Source:news18

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 ...