Wednesday, February 8, 2017

'Monumental' building complex discovered at Qantir in Egypt's Nile Delta

A mortar pit with children's footprints still preserved was also uncovered at the site

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 7 Feb 2017

At the ancient city of Piramesse, which was Egypt's capital during the reign of the King Ramses II, an excavation team from the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim in Germany has uncovered parts of a building complex as well as a mortar pit with children’s footprints.

The head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at Egypt’s antiquities ministry, Mahmoud Afifi, describes the newly discovered building complex as "truly monumental," covering about 200 by 160 metres.

The layout suggests the complex was likely a palace or a temple, Afifi told Ahram Online.

The mission director, Henning Franzmeier, explained magnetic measurements were carried out last year in order to determine the structure of the ancient city, and through those measurements the building complex was located.

The site of excavation had been chosen, he explained, not just because of its archaeological potential but because of its proximity to the edges of the modern village of Qantir, which is endangering the nearby antiquities under its fields due to rapid expansion.

Franzmeier told Ahram Online that the team has also uncovered an area of about 200 square metres in its excavations. It is the goal of this work to locate a potential entrance to the monumental building, which seems not to be located as is typical in the axis of the complex, but rather in its north-western corner.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Princess tomb

The recent discovery of the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess from the Fifth Dynasty has opened a new chapter in the saga of the Abusir necropolis, says Nevine El-Aref

An archaeological mission from the Czech Institute of Egyptology at the Charles University in Prague, who is carrying out routine excavations on the north side of the Abusir necropolis, 30km south of the Giza Plateau, has been taken by surprise with the discovery of an important rock-hewn tomb.

The tomb belonged to a Fifth-Dynasty princess named Sheretnebty, and alongside it were four tombs belonging to high–ranking officials. An era enclosed within a courtyard. The tombs had been robbed in antiquity and no mummies were found inside them.

According to the Czech mission’s archaeological report, a copy of which has been given to Al-Ahram Weekly, traces of the courtyard were first detected in 2010 while archaeologists were investigating a neighbouring mastaba (bench tomb). However, active exploration of the royal tomb was not undertaken until this year, when it was discovered that the ancient Egyptian builders used a natural depression in the bedrock to dig a four-metre-deep tomb almost hidden amidst the mastaba tombs constructed around it on higher ground. Four rock-hewn tombs were also unearthed within the courtyard surrounding the royal tomb.

The north and west walls of the princess’s tomb were cased with limestone blocks, while its south wall was cut in the bedrock. The east wall was also carved in limestone, along with the staircase and slabs descending from north to south.

The courtyard of the tomb has four limestone pillars which originally supported architraves and roofing blocks.

On the tomb’s south side are four pillars engraved with hieroglyphic inscriptions stating: “The king’s daughter of his body, his beloved, revered in front of the great god, Sheretnebty.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tomb of Ramesside-era royal scribe uncovered in Luxor

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 31 Jan 2017

A Japanese mission from Waseda University discovered a private tomb in the Theban necropolis in Luxor, Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the antiquities ministry's Ancient Egypt Department, said on Tuesday.

Afifi says that the tomb, located at the El-Khokha area on the west bank of the Nile, is beautifully decorated and likely dates to the Ramesside period, based on its style. Early inspection of the tomb suggests that it belonged to a royal scribe named Khonsu .

Jiro Kondo, the head of the Japanese mission, told Ahram Online that the tomb was discovered while excavators were cleaning the area to the east of the forecourt of the tomb of Userhat, a high official under king Amenhotep III.

He added that the team aslso stumbled upon a hole hewn connected to the south wall of the transverse hall of the previously unknown tomb of Khonsu.

The tomb is built on a T-shape on an east-west axis, with the main entrance, currently covered in debris, facing the east.

The tomb measures approximately 4.6m in length from the entrance to the rear wall of the inner chamber, while the transverse hall measures approximately 5.5 m in width.

Kondo explains that on the north wall of the entrance doorway, a scene shows the solar boat of the god Ra-Atum being worshipped by four baboons in a pose of adoration.

On the adjacent wall, hieroglyphic texts are inscribed vertically describing Khonsu as a “true renowned scribe.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Polish researcher investigates the health of children in ancient Egypt

Anaemia, chronic sinusitis, tooth decay are among the most commonly recognized diseases in children whose burials Polish bioarchaeologist investigated in the Egyptian necropolis dating back more than two thousand years at Saqqara, near the oldest pyramid in the world.

Excavations in the extensive Egyptian necropolis at Saqqara were conducted for nearly twenty years by Prof. Karol Myśliwiec of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures PAS. Currently the project leader is Dr. Kamil O. Kuraszkiewicz from the Department of Egyptology, University of Warsaw. Since the beginning, research at Saqqara is conducted under the auspices of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW.

The biggest publicity had the discovery of beautifully decorated rock tombs of nobles from over 4 thousand years ago, from the Old Kingdom. Prof. Myśliwiec was awarded the Foundation for Polish Science Prizes, called Polish Nobel, for the publication documenting the discovery of the tomb of Merefnebef.

"Necropolis at Saqqara was founded about 6 thousand years ago, at the beginning of the so-called Old Kingdom, and remained in use almost continuously over the next few millennia. In contrast to the Old Kingdom period, after two thousand years, this area of the cemetery was used as a burial place for ordinary members of the community, and not just the elite, as before" - told PAP bioarchaeologist from the University of Manchester, Iwona Kozieradzka-Ogunmakin, who studied many of the discovered skeletons and mummies.

Burials of the Ptolemaic-Roman period (IV BC-I AD) were much more numerous and simple in form than those of the Old Kingdom - the dead were mostly buried directly in the desert sand. In total, archaeologists discovered more than half a thousand of such burials in the studied area of the necropolis.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Were Egyptian 'Pot Burials' a Symbol of Rebirth?

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | January 17, 2017

Ancient Egyptians who buried their deceased kin in pots may have chosen the burial vessels as symbols of the womb and rebirth, scientists argue in a new paper.

Credit: Adaima excavation. Crubezy & Midant-Reynes, IFAO

Pot burials in ancient Egypt have long been considered the domain of the very poor. In a paper published in the journal Antiquity, however, archaeologists Ronika Power of the University of Cambridge and Yann Tristant of Macquarie University in Australia assert that pots weren't just a last-ditch choice for the desperate. Instead, they wrote, pots may have symbolized eggs or the womb, and their use may have indicated beliefs that the dead would be reborn in the afterlife.

"[I]t is hard to dismiss the visual similarities between pots laden with human bodies with limbs contracted into the so-called 'foetal' or 'sleeping' position and gravid uteri or eggs," the researchers wrote. "It is clear that further study is required to untangle the symbolic meaning of this particular mode of burial, which has clear associations with gestation and (re)birth."

High-status dead?

Children, infants and fetuses in ancient Egypt are often found buried in pots, and for that reason, researchers have downplayed the importance of this ritual as mere rubbish disposal, according to the study researchers. But being buried in a recycled household pot doesn't necessarily indicate that the babies and children interred in this way were considered nothing more than garbage, Power and Tristant wrote. Ancient cultures recycled everything, they said, and even high-status people were sometimes buried in reused tombs or sarcophagi.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Archaeologists find compelling evidence for new tombs at Qubbet Al-Hawa site in Aswan

An ancient Egyptian encroachment wall uncovered below the visitors’ pathway at Qubbet Al-Hawa suggests additional tombs to be found

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016

During excavation work carried out below the visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the west Aswan cemetery, at Qubbet Al-Hawa site, archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP), stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient Egyptian encroachment wall.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Mahmoud Afify told Ahram Online that the wall is two-metres high and is part of the architectural support of the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Given the landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa, he explained, the support wall helped to secure the hillside and thus lower lying tombs that were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Nasr Salama, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the discovery as “stunning,” adding that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Queens of the Nile Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden

18 November 2016 until 17 April 2017

Photo courtesy of RMO Leiden
Queens of the Nile will tell the unique story of the ancient Egyptians pharaohs' wives during the New Kingdom period (1500 to 1000 BC). Visitors can admire 350 top archaeological pieces, including rare sculptures, magnificent jewellery and luxurious artefacts used by women at the Egyptian court, plus the sarcophagus cover and grave goods entombed with one of Egypt’s most celebrated queens, Nefertari. The Museo Egizio in Turin is loaning 245 of its finest objects for the exhibition. This is the second largest ancient Egyptian Museum in the world. 

Royal ladies of ancient Egypt

The exhibition will bring to life the riches enjoyed by the royal ladies of ancient Egypt, the intrigues they engaged in and the honours paid to them. During the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt was at the height of its power. Pharaohs were lords and masters of their realm and worshipped as gods. Their queens were also accorded divine and regal status. They fulfilled important religious functions and sometimes had temples especially built for them. Their divine status often continued after their death.

Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti, Nefertari

Famous queens as Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari were powerful women who were not simply wives but who ran the pharaoh's palace and exercised significant political power. Although pharaohs could marry many wives, only one was allowed to bear the title 'Great Queen'. She managed the day-to-day running of the harem, which sometimes comprised hundreds of women. At court she was surrounded by sumptuous jewellery, magnificent clothes, cosmetics and furniture. In the exhibition, beautiful artefacts such as necklaces, rings, glass scent bottles, painted vases and bronze mirrors provide a glimpse of the opulent life led by queens at the Egyptian court.

Unique objects from the tomb of Nefertari

A unique element in the exhibition will be the display of objects recovered from the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Her tomb, plundered in antiquity, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens, close to the Egyptian city of Luxor, in 1904. Regarded as one of the finest tombs from ancient Egypt, one of its richly decorated chambers will be reconstructed in the exhibition. Here visitors can experience the mystic beauty of Nefertari’s tomb, alongside her sarcophagus cover and gifts deposited at her entombment. The Museo Egizio seldom loans these precious grave goods.

Source: http://www.rmo.nl/english/exhibitions/queens-of-the-nile