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Ancient Egyptian cemetery with 40 MUMMIES and a necklace saying ‘Happy New Year’ is found along with 1,000 statues in the Nile Valley

Ancient Egyptian cemetery with 40 MUMMIES and a necklace saying ‘Happy New Year’ is found along with 1,000 statues in the Nile Valley. “THE MUMMIES RETURN,” The Sun says.

The necropolis was discovered near the Nile Valley city of Minya and includes four well-preserved jars designed to hold the mummified internal organs of the tomb’s owner.

By Mark Hodge

AN ancient cemetery containing 40 mummies and a necklace inscribed with the message “Happy New Year has been in Egypt.

The country’s Antiquities Ministry announced today the discovery of the necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo.

An ancient coffin uncovered from the site in Minya, south of Cairo

A human skull is seen in the newly discovered Egyptian cemetery

 

An Egyptian excavation worker works on a finding at the site

 

A stone coffin, known as a sarcophagus, is pictured at the cemetery

 

The area is known to house ancient tombs from the Pharaonic Late Period and the Ptolemaic dynasty

Archaeologists also uncovered 40 coffins, known as sarcophagi, believed to belong to the priest’s family members, some bearing the names of their owners in hieroglyphics.

Another tomb includes several coffins, statues depicting ancient priests and other funerary artefacts.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the archaeological mission, said that four amulet necklaces were found with semi-precious stones were found.

One of the amulets was engraved with the phrase: “Happy New Year,” reports the Egypt Independent.

Another ancient coffin is pictured at the cemetery

 

An Egyptian excavation worker inspects what appears to be a small animal’s skull

Waziri says eight tombs have been uncovered so far and he expects more will be discovered soon.

“We will need at least five years to work on the necropolis,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, “This is only the beginning of a new discovery.”

It is the latest discovery in an area known to house ancient catacombs from the Pharaonic Late Period and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

hunting

Color in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians had a great appreciation for life which is clearly depicted through their art. Images of people enjoying themselves – whether in this life or the next – are as plentiful as those most often seen of the gods or funerary rituals. The early Egyptologists who first encountered the culture focused their attention on the many examples of funerary art found in tombs and concluded that Egyptian culture was death-obsessed when, in reality, the ancient Egyptians were wholly absorbed in living life to its fullest.

A detail from the throne of Tutankhamun which shows the phara

Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE) at Malkata was brightly painted, the outer walls of white and the interiors of blue, yellow, and green, with murals and other ornamentation throughout. These colors were not chosen randomly but each had a very specific symbolism for the Egyptians and were used to convey that significance. Egyptologist Rosalie David comments on this:

Colour was regarded as an integral element of all art representations, including wall-scenes, statuary, tomb goods, and jewelry, and the magical qualities of a specific color were believed to become an integral part of any object to which it was added.


Color in ancient Egypt was used not only in realistic representations of scenes from every life but to illustrate the heavenly realms of the gods, the afterlife, and the stories and histories of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. Each color had its own particular symbolism and was created from elements found in nature. Egyptologist Margaret Bunson writes how “artisans began to observe the natural occurrence of colors in their surroundings and pulverized various oxides and other materials to develop the hues they desired” (54). This process of Egyptian artists creating colors for their art dates to the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-c. 2613 BCE) but becomes more pronounced during the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE). From the Old Kingdom until the country was annexed by Rome after 30 BCE, color was an important component of every work of art fashioned by the Egyptians.

A detail from the throne of Tutankhamun which shows the phara

Realism In Color

Each color was created by mixing various naturally occurring elements and each became standardized in time in order to ensure a uniformity in art work. An Egyptian male, for example, was always depicted with a reddish-brown skin which was achieved by mixing a certain amount of the standard red paint recipe with standard brown. Variations in the mix would occur in different eras but, overall, remained more or less the same. This color for the male’s skin was chosen for realism in the piece, in order to symbolize the outdoor life of most males, while Egyptian women were painted with lighter skin (using yellow and white mixes) since they spent more time indoors.

These paintings from the tomb of Nebamun (c. 1350 BCE) show the New Kingdom period accountant Nebamun hunting birds in the marshes of Egypt. He is accompanied by his wife and daughter. Scenes like these of the deceased enjoying himself were common in New Kingdom tomb chambers.
To the Egyptians, fertile marshes were a symbol of eroticism and rebirth, which gives additional meaning to this image.
On display at the British Museum, London, UK.

The gods were typically represented with gold skin, reflecting the belief that gods did, in fact, have gold skin. An exception to this is the god Osiris who is almost always shown with green or black skin symbolizing fertility, regeneration, and the underworld. Osiris was murdered, returned to life by Isis, and then descended to rule over the land of the dead; the colors used in his depictions all symbolize aspects of his story. Whether a scene shows a man and his wife at dinner or the gods in the solar barge, each color used had to accurately represent the various themes of these events.

Color Creation & Symbolism

The different colors below are listed with their Egyptian name following, the materials used in creating them, and what they symbolized. The definitions follow the work of Richard H. Wilkinson in his Symbolism & Magic in Egyptian Art and Margaret Bunson’s Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, supplemented by other works.

A scene from the Hall of Osiris at Abydos which shows the raising of djed pillars, symbols of stability.

Red (desher) – made from oxidized iron and red ocher, used to create flesh tones and symbolizing life but also evil and destruction. Red was associated with both fire and blood and so symbolized vitality and energy but could also be used to accentuate a certain danger or define a destructive deity. The god Set, for example, who murdered Osiris and brought chaos to Egypt at the beginning of time, was always represented with a red face or red hair or completely in red. One also sees this pattern in written work where the color red is sometimes used to signify a dangerous character or aspect in a story. In wall paintings and tomb scenes red must be carefully interpreted within the context of the scene. Although it was frequently used for emphasis of danger or even evil, it is also as commonly seen symbolizing life or a higher being (as in depictions of the Eye of Ra) or elevated status as in the Red Crown of Lower Egypt.

An Egyptian protective amulet in the form of the Eye of Horus (wedjat). Earthenware, 6th-4th century BCE. (Louvre Museum, Paris)

Blue (irtiu and khesbedj) – one of the most popular colors, commonly referred to as “Egyptian Blue”, made from copper and iron oxides with silica and calcium, symbolizing fertility, birth, rebirth and life and usually used to depict water and the heavens. Wilkinson writes, “by the same token, blue could signify the river Nile and its associated crops, offerings, and fertility, and many of the so-called `fecundity’ figures which represent the river’s bounty are of this hue” (107). Statues and depictions of the god Thoth are routinely blue, blue-green, or have some aspect of blue in them linking the god of wisdom with the life-giving heavens. Blue also symbolized protection. Fertility amulets of the protector-god Bes were often blue as were the tattoos women would wear of Bes or diamond-shaped patterns on their lower abdomen, back, and thighs. It is thought these tattoos were worn as amulets to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth.


Yellow (khenet and kenit) – made from ocher and oxides originally but, from the New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE) was mixed from arsenic trisulphide and symbolizing the sun and eternity. Yellow was darkened for the golden flesh-color of the gods or lightened with white to suggest purity or some sacred aspect of a character or object. Isis, for example, is always depicted with gold skin in a white dress but, sometimes, her dress is a light yellow to emphasize her eternal aspect in a scene or story. It is thought that priests and priestesses of the gods of Egypt would sometimes dress as their deities and Wilkinson suggests that priests of the god Anubis would color their skins yellow on certain occassions to “become” the god for the event. Although Anubis was traditionally represented as black-skinned, there are a number of texts depicting him with the golden hue of the other gods.

Green (wadj) – mixed from malachite, a copper mineral, and symbolizing goodness, growth, life, the afterlife, and resurrection. The Egyptian afterlife was known as The Field of Reeds and, in some eras, as The Field of Malachite and was always associated with the color green. Wilkinson writes how green was “naturally a symbol of growing things and of life itself” and goes on to point out how, in ancient Egypt, “to do `green things’ was a euphemism for positive, life-producing, behavior in contrast to `red things’ which symbolized evil” (108). Green is the color of the dying and reviving god Osiris and also of the Eye of Horus, one of the most sacred objects in Egyptian mythology. In early tomb paintings the spirit of the deceased is shown as white but, later, as green to associate the dead with the eternal Osiris. In keeping with the symbolism of ressurection, green is also often used to depict the goddess Hathor, Lady of the Sycamore. Hathor was closely associated with the Sycamore tree, with renewal, transformation, and rebirth. Mummies of tattooed women suggest the ink could have been green, blue, or black and tattoos have been linked with the worship of Hathor.

A detail from the Book of the Dead of Aaneru from Thebes, Third Intermediate Period, XXI Dynasty, 1070-946 BCE. (Egyptian Museum, Turin)

White (hedj and shesep) – made from chalk mixed with gypsum, often employed as a lightener for other hues, and symbolizing purity, sacredness, cleanliness, and clarity. White was the color of Egyptian clothing and so associated with daily life but was frequently employed in artistic pieces to symbolize the transcendent nature of life as well. Priests always wore white and so did temple attendants and temple personnel taking part in a festival or ritual. The objects used in rituals (such as bowls, plates, altars, tables) were made of white alabaster. White, like the other colors, was used realistically in depicting clothing and objects of that color in real life but frequently is employed to highlight the importance of some aspect of a painting; in some cases, it did both these things. The White Crown of Upper Egypt, for example, is routinely referred to as white – and so is realistically depicted – but also symbolized the close connection to the gods enjoyed by the king – and so symbolically represents purity and the sacred.

A scene from a wooden Egyptian sarcophagus depicting Anubis, the god of mummification and the afterlife. c. 400 BCE

Black (kem) – made from carbon, ground charcoal, mixed with water and sometimes burnt animal bones, symbolized death, darkness, the underworld, as well as life, birth, and resurrection. Wilkinson writes, “the symbolic association of the color with life and fertility may well have originated in the fertile black silt deposited by the Nile in its annual flooding and Osiris – god of the Nile and of the underworld – was thus frequently depicted with black skin”. Black and green are often used interchangably in Egyptian art, in fact, as symbols of life. Statues of the gods were frequently carved from black stone but, just as often, from green. Although black was associated with death it had no connotation of evil – which was represented by red – and, frequently appears along with green, or instead of green, in depictions of the afterlife. Anubis, the god who guides the dead to the hall of judgment and is present at the weighing of the soul’s heart, is almost always depicted as a black figure as is Bastet, goddess of women, one of the most popular deities in all of Egypt. Tattoos of Bes were done in black ink and images of the afterlife frequently make use of a black background to not only accentuate the gold and white of the foreground but also symbolize the concept of rebirth.

These basic colors were often mixed, diluted, or otherwise combined to create colors such as purple, pink, teal, gold, silver, and other hues. Artists were not bound by the minerals they mixed their paints from but only by their imaginations and talent in creating the colors they needed to tell their stories.

BLACK SYMBOLIZED DEATH, DARKNESS, THE UNDERWORLD, AS WELL AS LIFE, BIRTH, & RESURRECTION.

Color in Context

Aesthetic considerations were of great importance to the Egyptians. Art and architecture is charactized by symmetry and even their writing system, the hieroglyphics, were set down in accordance with visual beauty as an integral aspect of their function. In reading hieroglyphics, one understands the meaning by noting which direction the figures are facing; if they face left, then one reads to the left and, if up or down or right, in whichever of those directions. The direction of the figures provides the context of the message and so provides a means of understanding what it being said.

A pharaoh was known primarily by his throne name. This was traditionally a statement about his divine father, the sun-god Ra, so all cartouches with throne names display a sun-god at the top. A king’s birth name was the only name he had already as a prince and is preceded by the epithet “son of Ra”. Rulers deemed unimportant or illegitimate, including ruling queens, have been omitted from this list.


In the same way, color in Egyptian art must be interpreted in context. In a certain painting, red might symbolize evil or destruction but the color should not always instantly be interpreted along those lines. Black is a color often misinterpreted in Egyptian art because of the modern-day association of black with evil. Images of Tutankhamun, found in his tomb, sometimes depict him with black skin and these were originally associated with death and grief by the early archaeologists interpreting the finds; although the association with death would be correct, and grief did accompany the loss of anyone in ancient Egypt as today, a proper interpretation would be the association of Tutankhamun in death with Osiris and the concept of rebirth and resurrection.

White retains the same meaning in the present day that it had for the ancient Egyptians but, as noted, must also be interpreted in context. The white dress of Isis would signify purity and the sacred yet the white skirt of Set would simply be a representation of how a male Egyptian dressed. Recognizing the symbolism of Egyptian colors, however, and why they were most commonly used, allows one a greater appreciation of Egyptian art and a clearer understanding of the message the ancient artist was trying to convey.

Source/Images: https://www.ancient.eu/article/999/color-in-ancient-egypt/

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Fashion, Dress, and Styles in Ancient Egypt

In 1851 CE, a woman named Amelia Bloomer in the United States shocked the establishment by announcing in her publication The Lily that she had adopted the “Turkish Dress” for daily wear and, further, provided readers with instructions to make their own. This “Turkish dress” was a pair of light-weight pants worn under a dress which dispensed with the heavy petticoats and undergarments which constituted women’s fashion. At the time of Bloomer’s announcement, upper-class women were wearing dresses comprised of as many as 16 petticoats, which were quite heavy, and those of the lower classes were almost equally constrained. These ‘Turkish’ pants (which came to be known as ‘bloomers’) emancipated women from the constraints of fashion, allowing them freedom of movement, and became one of the symbols of the new women’s suffrage movement.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement had only just met to issue their Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in 1848 CE at Seneca Falls, NY, and Bloomer’s advocacy of the new style was embraced by one of the pivotal figures of the movement, Lucy Stone, who wore the pants during her lectures on women’s rights. It was Lucy Stone who would encourage Susan B. Anthony to take up the cause of the women’s suffrage movement and Anthony, of course, is now synonymous with women’s rights.

All of these challenges to the patriarchy of the 19th century CE were quite disturbing, to women as well as men, but they would have been nothing startling to the ancient Egyptians who viewed women as equals and whose fashion sense was nearly unisex long before that word, or concept, was understood by the more ‘advanced’ culture of the present day.

Limestone statue of Pashedu and his wife Ruiu: the two figures are seated on a high-backed chair, each with one arm resting on the far shoulder of the other. Pashedu wears a long braided wig and a long skirt. Ruau wears a long braided wig and a long tight-fitting dress. The inscriptions are incised on the front of the garments of the two figures and on the back of the chair, which is in the form of a round-topped stela. In the arch are two ‘wedjat’ eyes. The monument is in an excellent state of preservation. Much of the original paint is still visible: black on the wigs, and red on the bodies, fringes of garments and border lines of the front inscription.

Egyptian fashion was practical, simple, and, for most of the population, the same kind of outfit worn by a woman was worn by a man. The upper-class women in the Old Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2613-2181 BCE) wore longer dresses which covered their breasts, but the women of the lower classes would have worn the same simple kilt as their fathers, husbands, and sons.

Early Dynastic Period & Old Kingdom Styles

Images from the Early Dynastic Period in Egypt (c. 3150 – c. 2613 BCE) show men and women of the lower class in the same kind of dress: a knee-length, plain kilt, probably white or light in color. This would have been made of cotton, linen, or byssus (flax) and was fastened around the waist by a belt of cloth, papyrus rope, or leather.


Upper-class Egyptians in the same time period dressed the same only with more ornamentation. Egyptologist Helen Strudwick observes how “only by their jewelry could men from the wealthy class be distinguished from farmers and artisans” (374). Women’s dress was more distinctive between classes as upper-class women wore a long, figure-fitting dress with or without sleeves. These dresses were held in place by straps over the shoulders and sometimes were supplemented by a sheer tunic worn over them.

Egyptian, Dynasty 4, Reign of Khufu, 2551 – 2528 BCE, faience and gold. This beadnet dress is the earliest surviving example of a garment with the lozenge pattern. This pattern is frequently used when depicting women’s clothing in Egyptian art. Although the string had deteriorated, many of the beads were found in their original pattern. It is unclear whether the beadnet dress was sewn into the clothing or worn as a separate net over the linen. Currently housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

Women’s fashions which bared the breasts were not a matter of concern. The upper-class women’s dresses sometimes began below the breasts and went to the ankles. Lower-class women’s skirts, as noted, were from the waist to the knees without a top. Before the development of linen, people wore clothes made of animal hide or woven papyrus reeds. Strudwick writes:

Shepherds, ferrymen, and fishermen mainly made do with a simple leather sash from which hung a curtain of reeds; many also worked completely naked, at least until the Middle Kingdom – during this time it became rare to see an unclothed worker. Female millers, bakers, and harvest workers are often depicted in a long wraparound skirt but with the upper part of the body bared. (376)

Children of both sexes wore no clothes from birth until puberty and some occupations, as Strudwick notes, continued this practice. The washermen and washerwomen who worked daily by the banks of the Nile River washing other people’s clothing performed their tasks naked because they were in the water so frequently.

First Intermediate Period & Middle Kingdom Styles

The First Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 2181-2040 BCE) followed the collapse of the Old Kingdom and initiated many dramatic changes in the Egyptian culture but fashion remained relatively the same. It is only in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1782 BCE) that fashion changes as women begin to wear long cotton gowns and different hairstyles.

MIDDLE KINGDOM DRESSES WOULD BE MADE OF A SINGLE SHEET OF CLOTH WHICH THE WOMAN WOULD WRAP HERSELF IN AND THEN ARRANGE FOR STYLE WITH A BELT AROUND THE WAIST OVER WHICH SHE COULD BLOUSE THE TOP.

In the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period women are depicted with hair length just below their ears while, in the Middle Kingdom, their hair is worn to their shoulders. The Middle Kingdom dress of the upper class is also different in that outfits were often made of cotton. These dresses, still form-fitting, were often sleeved with a plunging neckline ornamented with a clasp necklace at the throat. These dresses would be made of a single sheet of cloth which the woman would wrap herself in and then arrange for style with a belt around the waist over which she could blouse the top.

From the same period, however, there is also evidence of upper-class women’s dresses which rose from the ankle to the waist and were held up by thin straps which ran over the breasts and were fastened over the shoulders at the back. Men at this time continued to wear the simple kilt only with pleats at the front. Precisely how the ancient Egyptian pleated their clothing is not known, but images in art clearly show pleats in both men and women’s clothing. The most popular article of clothing among upper-class men was the triangular apron; a starched, ornamented kilt which fell to just above the knees and was held by a sash. This would have been worn over a loincloth which was a triangular strip of cloth running between the legs and tied at the hips.

The New Kingdom

Following the Middle Kingdom, Egypt entered the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1782-1570 BCE) during which the foreign people known as the Hyksos ruled from Lower Egypt and the Nubians held the southern frontiers of Upper Egypt with only Thebes in the middle representing Egyptian rule.


The Hyksos gave Egypt many advances, innovations, and inventions which they later made significant use of but do not seem to have contributed to fashion. This is largely because the Hyksos greatly admired Egyptian culture and emulated Egyptian beliefs, behavior, and dress in their cities in the northern Delta.

C. 1570 BCE the Theban prince Ahmose I (c. 1570-1544 BCE) drove the Hyksos out of Egypt and initiated the period of the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570-1069 BCE) which saw the greatest advances in fashion in Egyptian history. The fashion styles of the New Kingdom are those most often depicted in films and television shows dealing with Egypt no matter what time period they are set in.

The New Kingdom was the era of Egypt’s empire when the country stepped onto the international stage and came into closer contact with other nations than they had previously. Even before the age of empire, however, fashion statements became more elaborate. Ahmose I‘s wife, Ahmose-Nefertari (c. 1562-1495 BCE), is depicted in a dress with winged sleeves and a wide collar which falls to above her ankles.

Rectangular fragment of a polychrome tomb-painting representing Ahmose-Nefertari standing among foliage with cartouche above.
20th Dynasty, Tomb of Kynebu, Thebes, Egypt.
British Museum, London.

Beaded gowns and dresses (the kalasiris which Herodotus mentions) ornamented with jewels begin to appear in the late Middle Kingdom but become more common in the New Kingdom among the upper classes. Elaborate wigs adorned with beads and jewels also appear with greater frequency at this time. Egyptologist Margaret Bunson notes how “the capelet, made of sheer linen, was the fashion innovation of the New Kingdom” (68). The capelet, or shawl cape, was a rectangle of linen twisted, folded, or cut, and usually attached to an ornamented collar. It was worn over a kalasiris which fell either from the waist or just below the breasts and became the most popular style of the upper classes.

Men’s fashion also advanced fairly quickly in the New Kingdom. The kilts of this period drop to below the knee, are more intricately embroidered, and they are often supplemented by a sheer, loose-fitting, blouse. The pharaoh, depicted in the nemes headdress, is often seen in this kind of clothing wearing either sandals or slippers. Bunson notes how men “wore kilts and sheer blouses with elaborately pleated sleeves. Great panels of woven materials hung from the waist and intricate folds were visible under sheer overskirts”. This style was popular with the royalty and upper classes who could afford the material.


The lower classes continued to wear the simple kilt, for both sexes, but now more women of the working class appear with covered tops. Previously, Egyptian servants are depicted in tomb paintings and other art as naked or nearly so but, in the New Kingdom, a number of servants are shown not only fully clothed but in fairly elaborate dresses. Strudwick writes:

The clothes worn by the servants of officials and dignitaries were more refined than those of simple folk. A servant depicted in an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb wears a finely pleated linen tunic and loincloth with a wide, pleated sash. (376)

Underwear was also developed further during this period, evolving from the rough, triangular loincloth wrapped between the legs and around the waist to a finer piece of cloth either sewn to a certain waist size or tied at the hips. Upper-class men’s fashion in the New Kingdom was this underwear beneath a loincloth over which was worn a long sheer shirt falling to the knees, a broad neck piece (for nobility), bracelets, and sandals. King Tutankhamun (c. 1336-c.1327 BCE) was buried with over 100 of this kind of underwear as well as shirts, jackets, kilts, and cloaks, providing some of the best examples of New Kingdom fashion yet found.

Women’s fashion from the period was more elaborate than in any previous era. Men and women of Egypt often shaved their heads to prevent lice and to cut down on the time it would take to maintain a full head of hair. Wigs were used by both sexes to protect the scalp and for ceremonial purposes. The wigs of the New Kingdom are the most ornate, especially for women, and show pleated, fringed, and layered hair styles with a length to the shoulders or below. Sheer gowns of light linen were in favor among the upper-class women, often ornamented with a sash or cape, belted at the waist, and accented by a headpiece, necklace, and earrings.

A painting on gesso on limestone of the Egyptian noble known as Lady Tjepu. New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, c. 1390-1352 BCE. From the tomb of her son Nebamun, Thebes. (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

Different professions also adopted fairly consistent styles of fashion. Viziers, for example, wore a long skirt (often embroidered) which fastened under the arms and fell to the ankles along with sandals or slippers. Scribes wore the simple waist-to-knee kilt and are sometimes seen in a sheer blouse. Priests wore white linen robes and, according to Herodotus, could wear no other color as white symbolized purity and the sacred. Soldiers, guards, and police forces also wore the simple kilt with sandals and sometimes wrist guards. Farmers, brewers, tavern keepers, masons, laborers, and merchants are uniformly depicted from this period in the same simple kilt, both male and female, though the merchant sometimes appears in a robe or a cloak. Coats, jackets, and cloaks were common throughout Egypt’s history as the temperature at night, and especially in the rainy season, could be quite cold.

Footwear & Accessories

Perfume and jewelry were appreciated and worn by both men and women, as were cosmetics. Egyptians of both sexes used kohl under their eyes to decrease sun glare and kyphi, the most popular Egyptian perfume, was regarded so highly it was burned as incense in the temples. Images of Egyptians with cones on their heads are depicting the use of kyphi in its cone form. It was composed of frankincense, myrrh, pine resin, and other ingredients and could be burned (as with the cones), applied to the skin, or used as toothpaste and mouthwash.

Kyphi was most often used by women and applied in very much the same fashion as perfume is in the modern day. A woman, or her maidservant, would open a container of kyphi, fan the air, and walk through the scent. The same is true of cosmetics, which were kept in pots or jars and applied from these containers with a brush or reed, much like the modern eyeliner.


The most popular form of jewelry among the upper classes was gold-based. The Egyptian word for gold was nub, and once the land to the south had been conquered, it came to be called Nubia for the vast amounts of gold found there. All classes of Egyptians wore some kind of jewelry as Strudwick notes:

Virtually every form of jewelry has been recorded, including finger rings, anklets, armlets, girdles and pectorals, necklasces, torques, chokers, diadems, ear studs, earrings, and hair ornaments. Colored semi-precious stones, such as cornelian, turquoise, feldspar, green and red jasper, amethyst, quarts, agate, and lapis lazuli were the most commonly used stones. Often, however, they were imitated by coloured glass and faience. (386)

Footwear was practically non-existent among the lower classes, but in cold weather or rough terrain, they seem to have wrapped their feet in rags. Among the upper classes sandals and slippers were worn but, like the lower classes, people usually went barefoot. Sandals were made of wood, papyrus, leather, or a combination of these and were fairly expensive. Tutankhamun‘s tomb contained 93 pairs of sandals in different styles and one even of gold. Slippers were made of papyrus rushes woven together but could be supplemented with cloth interiors.

Dating to 400-600 C.E., this pair of sandals features extensive leather-tooled decoration on the footbed, a design detail would have only been appreciated when the sandals were removed.

There is some evidence of shoes being worn by nobility in the New Kingdom and also the use of silk but this is rare. The Hittites had developed the shoe and the boot by this time, so it would not be surprising to see their appearance in Egypt. In 1258 BCE the Hittites and Egyptians signed the world’s first peace treaty, and afterwards cultural diffusion was common between the two. Still, the shoe never became popular footwear in Egypt as it would probably have been considered unnecessary effort; after all, even the gods went barefoot.

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3,500-Year-Old Tombs Uncovered in Egypt

3,500-Year-Old Tombs Uncovered in Egypt. One Has a Mummy. The final resting places of two ancient officials contain colorful grave goods, an elaborate mural, and linen-wrapped human remains.

By By Nariman El-Mofty | News.nationalgeographic.com

Luxor., EGYPT. Egyptian officials today announced the discovery and excavation of two tombs found in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga in Luxor. The tombs, dated to the 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 B.C.) belonged to officials who likely served here at the ancient capital of Thebes, now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The tombs were surveyed and numbered by German Egyptologist Friederike Kampp-Seyfried in the 1990s. At the time, the tomb known as Kampp 161 was never opened, while the tomb identified as Kampp 150 was only excavated to its entrance. The tombs were recently re-discovered and excavated by Egyptian archaeologists.




The names of the officials buried in the tombs remains unknown, as no inscriptions bearing the names of the tombs’ occupants have yet been found. In April, the tomb of an 18th Dynasty magistrate named Userhat was discovered in the same necropolis.

BANQUET FOR THE DEAD?A mural depicts an individual presenting offerings to the deceased, right, in the ancient Egyptian tomb known as Kampp 161.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NARIMAN EL-MOFTY, AP FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Kampp 161 likely dates to the reigns of Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV, based on stylistic and architectural comparisons with other tombs in the area, making it around 3,400 years old. The western wall of the tomb features an elaborate depiction of a social event, possibly a banquet, with a figure presenting offerings to the tomb’s occupant and his wife. Wooden funerary masks, the remains of furniture, and a decorated coffin were discovered in the tomb.



Kampp 150 most likely dates to the reign of Thutmose I—roughly a century earlier than Kampp 161—based on a cartouche found in the tomb. While no name-bearing inscription was found, many funerary seals bearing the names of a writer named Maati and his wife Mohi, found in the tomb’s courtyard, may hint at the identification of the tomb’s occupant. Archaeologists found colorful wooden statues, funerary masks and a linen-wrapped mummy in the tomb.

GUARDIAN IN DEATHAncient artists depicted an attentive jackal on a recently discovered 3,500-year-old wooden coffin. PHOTOGRAPH BY NARIMAN EL-MOFTY, AP FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

“It’s the first time to enter these two tombs,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told the large crowd of reporters assembled for a press conference.

While foreign archaeological expeditions have had a long history in the excavation of Egypt’s ancient sites, a senior official with the Ministry of Antiquities noted that the re-discovery and excavation of the tombs by Egyptian archaeologists reflect the growing professionalism and expertise of the country’s native scientific community.

The-Qurna-Eviction

The Qurna Excavations: Separating the Living from the Dead in Egypt

Built atop the 3,000-year-old Tombs of the Nobles, Qurna, a village located on the West Bank of the Nile, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, but it is also one of the most controversial. For nearly a century, the Egyptian government had wanted the citizens of Qurna out. Not only were they living on top of and within ancient tombs, they were also secretly looting priceless treasures, and making it impossible for excavations to take place. In 2006, the villagers were given their marching orders.


Overview of the Qurna Eviction

The significant problem posed by Qurna, in which a settlement had been built on top of an extremely important archaeological site, was first realized in the early 1900s. It is known from travelers’ accounts that the village of Qurna (aka. Kurna, Gourna) was already in existence since at least the 1800s. However, by the early-20 th century, it became apparent that not only were people living on top of pharaonic tombs, and in some cases inside them, but some villagers were looting tombs, which they could access beneath their homes, and selling off important artifacts. As soon as the Egyptian government became aware of what was taking the place, the started a plan to evict the villagers from their settlement.

Foundation tablet bearing the cartouche of the birth name and epithet “Amenhotep, the God, the Ruler of Thebes”. 18th Dynasty. From Temple of Amenhotep II at Kurna (Qurnah, Qurna, Gourna, Gurna), Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London. With thanks to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL. (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

The Egyptian government had planned to relocate the villagers of Qurna to a new settlement known as New Qurna. The man responsible for designing and building New Qurna was a famous Egyptian architect by the name of Hassan Fathy. The work began in 1946, and was completed six years later. Fathy’s philosophy behind this new village was as follows: “with the aid of local materials and techniques, sustainable human development and social cohesion can be met with vernacular architecture”.

A Question of Excavations

Proponents of the relocation provide several reasons as to why this was necessary. One of these, for example, is that the mud-brick houses of the villagers are an obstacle to the archaeological work that could potentially be carried out there. As an example, there are about 100 tombs, collectively known as the ‘Tombs of the Nobles’, which are sunk deep into the hillside located in this area of the Nile. Due to the houses of the villagers, however, it was not possible for archaeologists to excavate them.

Aerial view of the Tombs of the Nobles. The buildings belong to Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. Lower left corner: Ramesseum. (Raimond Spekking/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, European Egyptologists were excavating in that area, as it was already known to be full of tombs belonging to ancient Egyptian nobles. These Egyptologists needed workmen for their excavations, which naturally attracted locals to settle in the area. Some of the discoveries made thanks to the labor of these workmen include the tombs of Nakht (a scribe of the granaries during the reign of Thutmose IV), Rekhmire (a vizier serving under Thutmose III, and Amenhotep II), and Menna (a scribe in the service of Thutmose IV). The unearthing of these tombs also resulted in the arrival of tourists to the site. As a consequence of this, the villagers of Qurna were presented with another source of income.

Ancient Egyptian women and men wearing kohl, from the tomb of Nakht in Thebes. ( Public Domain )

Fighting to Stay in Qurna

Apart from serving as tour guides, the people of Qurna also began to make fake artifacts/forgeries to sell to tourists seeking to take home pieces of ancient Egypt with them as souvenirs. These objects bear such a strong resemblance to the real thing that it is often difficult to distinguish the real from the fake. The villagers of Qurna have also often been accused of looting the tombs in order to sell the artifacts on the black market. This unsavory reputation was first given to the villagers by European tourists during the 18th century (for the sole reason that they looked poor and forbidding) and has survived to this day. Thus, another argument in favor of relocating the villagers of Qurna is that it would help protect the tombs from further looting.

Sources: ancient-origins.net, images attributed in the captions respectively.



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Hathor and the Osiris Myth

Hathor is an ancient Egyptian goddess associated, later, with Isis and, earlier, with Sekhmet but eventually was considered the primeval goddess from whom all others were derived. She is usually depicted as a woman with the head of a cow, ears of a cow, or simply in cow form. In her form as Hesat she is shown as a pure white cow carrying a tray of food on her head as her udders flow with milk. She is closely associated with the primeval divine cow Mehet-Weret, a sky goddess whose name means “Great Flood” and who was thought to bring the inundation of the Nile River which fertilized the land.

After Set murdered Osiris and then hacked him into pieces, he scattered the body parts all across the land and flung some into the Nile. Isis gathered all the parts of her husband back together with the help of her sister Nephthys and brought Osiris back to life but he was incomplete because a fish had eaten his penis and it could not be restored. Isis then transformed herself into a kite (a falcon) and flew around Osiris’ body, drawing his seed into her and becoming pregnant with Horus. Osiris then descended into the underworld to become Lord of the Dead while Isis was left alone to raise her son and Set usurped Osiris’ place as king of the land.

Isis hid Horus from Set until the boy was grown; at which point Horus challenged Set for rule of the land. This struggle is sometimes represented as a battle but, in the story known as The Contendings of Horus and Set, it is a trial overseen by the Ennead, a tribunal of nine powerful gods, who are to decide who is rightful king. Chief among these gods is Hathor’s father Ra who, at one point becomes so upset with the proceedings, he refuses to participate. Geraldine Pinch relates the rest of the story:

Ra becomes angry when he is insulted by the baboon god Babi and lies down on his back. This implies that the creator sun god was sinking back into the inert state that would mean the end of the world. Hathor, Lady of the Southern Sycamore, visits her father and shows him her genitals. He immediately laughs, gets up, and goes back to administering justice. Hathor has aroused the sun god and driven away his evil mood (138).

Although clearly a sexual gesture, the abstract interpretation is of the importance of balance between the feminine and the masculine principles in maintaining order and harmony. Hathor reveals herself to her father in an unexpected gesture which lightens his mood and puts things in perspective. The balance between the duality of feminine and the masculine, between light and dark, fertility and aridity is emphasized throughout Egyptian culture in the gods and the myths relating to them.



The Temple of Hathor at Dendera, Egypt, a famous center of her cult.

Another Myth… Hathor and the Eye of RA

This balance is seen in the concept of the Eye of Ra, the female counterpart to the male aspect of creation embodied in Ra. The Eye of Ra, like the Distant Goddess, was associated with a number of female deities but, again, often Hathor. Geraldine Pinch notes that “the ancient Egyptian word for eye (irt) sounded like a word for “doing” or “acting”. This may be why the eyes of a deity are associated with divine power at its most interventional. Since the word irt was feminine in gender, divine eyes were personified as goddesses” (128). The Distant Goddess story is actually an Eye of Ra story in that the feminine aspect of the divine goes forth, acts upon its environment, and returns to bring transformation.

This same pattern is seen in the creation tale featuring Atum (Ra) and the ben-ben when he sends his children out with his eye to create the world. Hathor was often referred to as “The Eye of Ra” or “The Eye of Atum” and her sun disk is often represented as an eye from which the sun is born. In the story of the sun god’s voyage through the night sky and the underworld, Hathor stands in the prow keeping watch for any sign of danger from Apophis. Throughout Egyptian history she was known as the daughter of Nut and Ra, Wife of Ra, mother of gods, and great Mother Goddess (perhaps related to the even older goddess Neith) so it is no surprise that popular stories such as the Distant Goddess or concepts like the Eye of Ra would tend to feature her.

Horembheb facing the goddess of Hathor from Horembheb’s tomb, Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt, ca. 1300 BCE.

Some ancient stories depict her as the mother of Horus the Elder and others as the wife of Horus of Edfu, resulting in the birth of Horus the Younger who was later regarded as the son of Osiris and Isis. Hathor’s early identification as the mother of Horus, the god most closely associated with the ruler of Egypt, attests clearly to her importance prior to the rise in popularity of the Myth of Osiris when Isis became Horus’ mother. Hathor was worshipped in every region of Egypt before the ascent of Isis and her cult was popular with both the poor working class of Egypt and the ruling elite.

Source and Images: wikipedia, ancient.eu.

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The Ankh… the key of life!

The Ankh is one of the most recognizable symbols from ancient Egypt, known as “the key of life” or the “cross of life”, and dating from the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150 – 2613 BCE). It is a cross with a loop at the top sometimes ornamented with symbols or decorative flourishes but most often simply a plain gold cross. The symbol is an Egyptian hieroglyph for “life” or “breath of life” (`nh = ankh) and, as the Egyptians believed that one’s earthly journey was only part of an eternal life, the ankh symbolizes both mortal existence and the afterlife. It is one of the most ancient symbols of Egypt, often seen with the djed and was symbols, carried by a multitude of the Egyptian gods in tomb paintings and inscriptions and worn by Egyptians as an amulet.

The ankh’s association with the afterlife made it an especially potent symbol for the Coptic Christians of Egypt in the 4th century CE who took it as their own. This use of the ankh as a symbol of Christ’s promise of everlasting life through belief in his sacrifice and resurrection is most probably the origin of the Christian use of the cross as a symbol of faith today. The early Christians of Rome and elsewhere used the fertility symbol of the fish as a sign of their faith. They would not have considered using the image of the cross, a well-known form of execution, any more than someone today would choose to wear an amulet of an electric chair. The ankh, already established as a symbol of eternal life, leant itself easily to assimilation into the early Christian faith and continued as that religion’s symbol.

The Origin of “Ankh”

The origin of the ankh is unknown. The Egyptologist Sir Alan H. Gardiner (1879 – 1963 CE) thought it developed from a sandal strap with the top loop going around one’s ankle and the vertical post attached to a sole at the toes. Gardiner came to his conclusion because the Egyptian word for “sandal” was “nkh” which came from the same root as “ankh” and, further, because the sandal was a daily part of an Egyptian’s life and the ankh symbol came to symbolize life. This theory has never gained wide acceptance, however.

The theory of Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge (1857-1934 CE), who claims it originated from the belt buckle of the goddess Isis, is considered more probable but still not universally accepted. Wallis Budge equated the ankh with the tjet, the “knot of Isis”, a ceremonial girdle thought to represent female genitalia and symbolizing fertility. This theory, of the ankh’s origin stemming from a fertility symbol, is in keeping with its meaning throughout ancient Egyptian history and beyond to the present day. Egyptologist Wolfhart Westendorf (b. 1924 CE) supports Wallis Budge’s claim noting the similarity of the ankh to the tjet and the use of both symbols from an early date in Egypt’s history.

The ankh has always been associated with life, the promise of eternal life, the sun, fertility, and light.

The ankh came into popular useage in Egypt during the Early Dynastic Period with the rise of the cults of Isis and Osiris. The association of the ankh with the tjet mentioned earlier is supported by early images of Isis with the tjet girdle prior to the appearance of the ankh.

The Goddess Isis, wall painting

The Ankh and Significance in Ancient Egypt

The importance of the ankh was the instant recognition of what the symbol stood for. Even those who could not read would have been able to understand the symbolism of objects such as the djed or the ankh. The ankh was never solely associated with Isis – as mentioned, many gods are depicted carrying the symbol – but as the djed became linked to Osiris, the ankh fell more into the realm of Isis and her cult.

By the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 – 2181 BCE) the ankh was well-established as a powerful symbol of eternal life. The dead were referred to as ankhu (having life/living) and caskets and sarcophogi, ornamented regularly with the symbol, were known as neb-ankh (possessing life). During the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE) the word nkh was used for mirrors and a number of hand-mirrors were created in the shape of the ankh, the most famous being that found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.



The association of the ankh with the mirror was no chance occurrence. The Egyptians believed that the afterlife was a mirror image of life on earth and mirrors were thought to contain magical properties. During the Festival of the Lanterns for the goddess Neith (another deity seen with the ankh) all of Egypt would burn oil lamps through the night to reflect the stars of the sky and create a mirror image of the heavens on earth. This was done to help part the veil between the living and the dead so one could speak to those friends and loved ones who had passed on to paradise in the Field of Reeds. Mirrors were often used for divination purposes from the Middle Kingdom onwards.

The djed was a very popular amulet but so was the ankh. Although the most common amulet in Egypt was the sacred scarab (the beetle), the ankh was almost as widely used. During the New Kingdom (1570-1069 BCE), when the cult of the god Amun was increasing in power and stature, the ankh became associated with him. The ankh was used in temple ceremonies regularly at this time and became associated with the cult of Amun and royalty.

Use of The Key of Life Symbol

During the Amarna Period (1353 – 1336 BCE), when Akhenaten banned the cult of Amun along with the rest of the gods and raised the god Aten as the sole god of Egypt, the ankh continued in popular use. The symbol is seen in paintings and inscriptions at the end of the beams of light emanating from the solar disc of Aten, bringing life to those who believe. After Akhenaten’s death, his son Tutankhaten (whose name contains the ankh symbol and means “living image of the god Aten”) took the throne, reigning 1336-1327 BCE, changed his name to Tutankhamun (“living image of the god Amun”) and reinstated the old religion, retaining the ankh with the same meaning it had always held.

The ankh remained a popular symbol even though Akhenaten’s reign was despised and Tutankhamun’s successor Horemheb (1320 – 1292 BCE) tried his best to erase all evidence of the Amarna Period from Egyptian history. The greatest ruler of the New Kingdom, Ramesses II (1279 – 1213 BCE) employed the ankh regularly in his inscriptions and it continued in use throughout the remainder of Egypt’s history.

solar-barque-ra

Ships of the Gods in Ancient Egypt

The Nile River was the source of life for the ancient Egyptians and so figured prominently in their religious beliefs. At night, the Milky Way was considered a heavenly Nile, associated with Hathor, and provider of all good things. The Nile was also linked to Uat-Ur, the Egyptian name for the Mediterranean Sea, which stretched out to unknown lands from the Delta and brought goods through trade with foreign ports.

Watercrafts were no doubt among the earliest conveyances built in Egypt, with small boats appearing in inscriptions in the Predynastic Period (c. 6000 – c. 3150 BCE). These boats were made of woven papyrus reeds but later were made of wood, grew larger, and became ships.

The ships of the Egyptians were used for commercial ventures like fishing, trade, and travel and also in warfare, but from at least the Old Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2613-2181 BCE), they also feature in religious beliefs and practices. Ships known as Barques of the Gods are associated with a number of different Egyptian deities and, although each had its own significance, their common importance was in linking the mortal world with the divine.

The Barque of RA

Easily the most important divine vessel was the Barque of Ra which sailed across the sky each day as the sun. In one religious tale, Ra becomes enraged with humanity and their ceaseless stupidity and decides to destroy them by sending Sekhmet to devour them and crush their cities. He repents and stops her by sending her a vat of beer, which she drinks, passes out from, and wakes up later as Hathor, the friend to humans. In some versions, the story ends there, but in others, Ra is still not satisfied with humanity and so boards his great barge and sails away into the heavens. Still, since he cannot completely distance himself from the world, he appears each day watching over it as the sun. The solar barque the people saw during the day was called the Mandjet, and the one which navigated through the underworld was known as the Meseket.

By the time of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1782 BCE), this myth included the added dimension of the Great Serpent known as Apophis. As the Barque of Ra descended into the west in the evening, it entered the underworld where Apophis waited to attack it. Apophis was present at the beginning of creation when, in one myth, Ra is the god who stands on the primordial mound and raises order out of chaos. Apophis wanted to return the universe to its original undifferentiated state and could do this if he destroyed the barge of the sun god and the sun god with it.

Ra travelling through the underworld in his barque, from the copy of the Book of Gates in the tomb of Ramses I, Egypt, c. 1290 BCE.

Other gods, as well as the souls of the justified dead, would travel on the barge with Ra to protect him and his ship from Apophis during its journey through the underworld. A number of paintings and inscriptions depict all of the most famous gods, at one time or another, fending off the Great Serpent either alone, in groups, or in the presence of the justified dead.

Mortals were encouraged to participate in this struggle from their homes and temples on earth. Rituals such as The Overthrowing of Apophis were observed in which figures and images of Apophis were made of wax and then ritually mutilated, spat on, urinated on, and burned. This was among the most widely practiced execration rituals in Egypt and linked the living with the souls of those who had passed on and with the gods.

Every night the gods, souls, and humanity joined together to battle chaos and darkness and preserve life and light, and each time they won, the sun rose in the morning, and the dawn light was an assurance that all was well with Ra and life on earth would continue. As the barge sailed across the sky, however, Apophis returned to life in the underworld and would be waiting again once night fell; and so the battle would have to be fought again.

The Barque of AMUN

Ra’s barge existed in the spiritual realm but there were others which were built and maintained by human hands. The best known of these was the Barque of Amun constructed and kept at Thebes.

Amun’s Barque was known to the Egyptians as Userhetamon, ‘Mighty of Brow is Amun,’ and was a gift to the city from Ahmose I (c. 1570 – c.1544 BCE) following his victory over the Hyksos and ascension to the throne which initiated the era of the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570-1069 BCE). Egyptologist Margaret Bunson writes, “It was covered in gold from the waterline up and was filled with cabins, obelisks, niches, and elaborate adornments” (21). There was a cabin for the shrine of the god, decorated with gold, silver, and precious gems, from which Amun, in the form of his statue, would preside over festivals and welcome the praise of his people.

DURING AMUN’S ANNUAL FESTIVAL, THE FEAST OF OPET, THE BARQUE WOULD MOVE WITH GREAT CEREMONY, CARRYING AMUN’S STATUE.

During Amun’s annual festival, The Feast of Opet, the barque would move with great ceremony, carrying Amun’s statue from the Karnak temple downriver to the Luxor temple so the god could visit and then bringing him back again. At the ritual of the Wadi Festival (The Beautiful Feast of the Valley), one of the most significant of all Egyptian festivals, the statues of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu (the Theban triad) were transported on the barque from one side of the Nile to the other in order to participate in honoring the deceased and inviting their spirits back to earth to join in the festivities.

On other days the barque would be docked on the banks of the Nile or at Karnak’s sacred lake. When not in use, the ship would be housed in a special temple at Thebes built to its specifications, and every year the floating temple would be refurbished and repainted or rebuilt. Other barques of Amun were built elsewhere in Egypt, and there were other floating temples to other deities, but Amun’s Barque at Thebes was the most elaborate. The attention lavished on the ship reflected the status of the god who, by the time of the New Kingdom, was so widely venerated that his worship was almost monotheistic with other gods relegated nearly to the status of aspects of Amun.

The Barque of OSIRIS

Among his closest competitors for first place in the hearts of the people, however, was Osiris. Osiris was considered the first king of Egypt who, murdered by his brother Set and revived by his sister-wife Isis and her sister Nephthys, was the Lord and Judge of the Dead. Osiris’ son Horus was among the most important deities of the pantheon, associated with the just reign of the king and, in most eras, identified with the king himself.



When a person died, they expected to have to appear before Osiris for judgment concerning their deeds in life. Although the judgment of the soul would be influenced by the 42 Judges, Thoth, and Anubis who would participate in accepting or rejecting one’s Negative Confession and the weighing of the heart, it was Osiris’ word which would be final. Since one’s continued existence in the afterlife depended upon his mercy, he was perpetually venerated throughout Egypt’s history.

Osiris, seated on a throne, sails across the sky as the personification of the full moon, accompanied by the seated goddesses Nephthys on left and Isis on the right; Ma’at stands near the bow of the ship.

Worship of Osiris dates conclusively to the Early Dynastic Period in Egypt (c. 3150 – c. 2613 BCE) but no doubt originated in the Predynastic Period. The story of his death and resurrection by Isis became so popular that it pervaded Egyptian culture and, even when other gods might be honored more elaborately in state ceremonies, the festival of Osiris remained significant and his cult widespread. Mortuary rituals were based on the Osiris cult and the king was linked to Horus in life and Osiris in death. The king was, in fact, thought to travel to the land of the dead in his own barge which resembled the ship of Osiris.

Osiris’ barque was known as the Neshmet Barge which, though built by human hands, belonged to the primordial god Nun of the waters. Bunson writes, “An elaborate vessel, this bark had a cabin for the shrine and was decorated with gold and other precious metals and stones…it was refurbished or replaced by each king” (43). The Neshmet barge was considered so important that participation in its replacement or restoration was counted as one of the most significant good deeds in one’s life.

During the Festival of Osiris at Abydos, the Neshmet would transport Osiris’ statue from his temple to his tomb and back again, thus recreating the story of his life, death, and resurrection. At the beginning of the festival, two maidens of the temple would play the roles of the goddesses in reciting the call-and-response liturgy of The Lamentation of Isis and Nephthys which invited Osiris to participate in the ceremony while also ritually recreating his resurrection. Once he emerged from his temple in the form of his statue, the Neshmet Barge was waiting to transport him and the ceremony would be underway.

Ships of the Gods, Kings, & of the People

Many other gods and goddesses had their own ships which were all built along the same lines as the above. All were elaborately adorned and outfitted as floating temples. Bunson describes the barques of some of the other gods:

Other Egyptian deities sailed in their own barks on feast days with priests rowing the vessels on sacred lakes or on the Nile. Khons’ Bark was called “Brilliant of Brow” in some eras. The god Min’s boat was named “Great of Love”. The Hennu Bark of Sokar was kept at Medinet Habu and was paraded around the walls of the capital on holy days. This bark was highly ornamented and esteemed as a cultic object. The barks could be actual sailing vessels or carried on poles in festivals. The gods normally had both kinds of barks for different rituals. (43)

Hathor’s barque at Dendera was of similar opulence and the temples of major deities had a sacred lake on which the ship could sail during feast days or on special occasions. This association of the gods with watercraft led to the belief that the king departed his earthly life for the next world in a similar boat. Prayers and hymns for the deceased monarch include the hope that his ship will reach the afterlife without mishap and some spells indicate navigational instructions. For this reason, boats were often included among the grave goods of the deceased.

This boat was found practically intact; except for one oar, it was in remarkable condition. Built for Khufu, the ship was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The best known of these is the Ship of Khufu, but so-called Solar Barges were buried with many kings throughout Egypt’s history. Khufu (2589-2566 BCE), the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, had his barge buried near his tomb for use in the afterlife, as with any of his other grave goods. He was neither the first to do so nor, by far, the last and it became customary to include even a model boat among the grave goods in the tombs of the upper class.

These full-sized or model boats were thought, like all grave goods, to serve the soul of the deceased in the afterlife. Even a model ship could be used to transport one safely from a certain point to another through the use of magical spells. Statuettes of various animals, like the hippopotamus, were often included in tombs for this same purpose: they would come to life when summoned by a spell to help the soul when required.

The ships, large or small, provided the same service and, by including them in one’s tomb, one was assured of easy travel in the realm of the gods. More importantly, though, one’s personal boat linked the soul with the divine in the same way the ships of the gods had done when one lived on the earth.

Article/Source: ancient.eu

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Ancient Technology Reveals Itself in Egyptian Papyrus

A new study shows ink on 2,000-year-old Egyptian papyri fragments contains copper. This means the assumption that carbon was the only basis for ink to write on ancient papyri is now a thing of the past. The information will help researchers trying to match fragments of ancient texts and in the conservation of papyri writings.

Phys.org reports that until now scholars have believed all ink was carbon-based until at least the 4th or 5th centuries AD. This new study suggests ancient Egyptian scribes may have been using advanced inks hundreds of years before other cultures began this method.

The Seated Scribe, a statue from Saqqarah dated 2600–2350 BC. (Ivo Jansch/CC BY SA 2.0)

The information on the copper-based ink was uncovered by a cross-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen. They used advanced synchrotron radiation based X-ray microscopy equipment at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, Switzerland to make their find. This analysis was part of a larger study known as the CoNext project (Co(penhagen University Ne(utron and) X-(ray) T(echniques).

They examined the writing on personal documents of an Egyptian soldier named Horus as well as documents from the Tebtunis temple library. These papyri fragments are stored in the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection at the University of Copenhagen.

Fragment from the Tebtunis temple library in the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection. (University of Copenhagen)

Reflecting on the results, Egyptologist and first author of the study Thomas Christiansen from the University of Copenhagen said that there was a great deal of variation in the composition:

“None of the four inks studied here was completely identical, and there can even be variations within a single papyrus fragment, suggesting that the composition of ink produced at the same location could vary a great deal. This makes it impossible to produce maps of ink signatures that otherwise could have been used to date and place papyri fragments of uncertain provenance.”

A section of the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ written on papyrus. (CC BY SA 1.0)

Christiansen views this as a positive factor, stating:

“However, as many papyri have been handed down to us as fragments, the observation that ink used on individual manuscripts can differ from other manuscripts from the same source is good news insofar as it might facilitate the identification of fragments belonging to specific manuscripts or sections thereof.”

Moreover, Christiansen explained that because the variations in the ink composition were spread across location and time it “suggests that the ancient Egyptians used the same technology for ink production throughout Egypt from roughly 200 BC to 100 AD.”

Robin Whitlock explained some of the origins of papyrus itself in a previous Ancient Origins article, saying:

“Papyrus, which later gave rise to our modern word ‘ paper’, had a different meaning in the beginning. The original, Egyptian meaning is “that which belongs to the house”, referring to documents used in Ancient Egyptian bureaucracy. Papyrus became increasingly important with the development of writing, since papyrus was much easier to carry around than stone. Papyrus continued to be in use up until the 11th century AD.”

Egyptian peasants harvesting papyrus, mural painting in Deir el-Medina (early Ramesside Period). (Public Domain)

Papyrus was created by using the pith of the plant and it served many purposes in ancient Egypt, such as in the manufacture of boats, mats, rope, sandals and baskets. The plant’s root was also a source of food and used in making medicine and perfume.

The researchers believe that knowledge of the composition of ink used on papyri will be helpful in conservation and aid museums in their decisions regarding the storage of ancient Egyptian papyri. Christiansen suggested that “It might facilitate the identification of fragments belonging to specific manuscripts or sections” as well.

The study was published in Scientific Reports.

Top Image: Papyrus (P. BM EA 10591 recto column IX, beginning of lines 13-17). Source: Public Domain

Source: http://www.ancient-origins.net/



Valley of the kings at night

The Valley of the Kings: the facts behind the most important location in Ancient Egypt

The valley of the Kings; Once part of the ancient city of Thebes is the burial site of almost all of Egypt’s Pharaohs from the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties. Archaeologists have found around sixty-three tombs (with the latest discovery being in 2008) at this burial complex located in the hills of Dayr- al-Bahri.

Even though most of the tombs that are located in this valley have been robbed and luted the remains of these ancient burial sites give archaeologists and historians an estimate of the power of ancient Pharaohs and noblemen. This archaeological site has been the center of attention for researchers since the eighteenth century and even today scholars rush to ancient Thebes to study and explore the history behind one of the most important locations in ancient Egypt.



The Facts and History

  • The valley of the Kings: the facts behind the impost important locations in Ancient Egypt
  • The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes. Or also, Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field).
  • The first tomb discovered was of pharaoh Ramses VII designated KV1
  • Most of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings are not open to the public.
  • Researchers state that the quality of the rock in the Valley is quite inconsistent, ranging from finely grained to coarse stone.
  • Builders took advantage of available geological features when constructing the tombs; due to the lack of specific tools, the builders had to look out for any advantage that could help them achieve their goal.
  • The peak of al-Qurn which watches over the valley is an iconic feature of the region; the tomb police, known as the Medjay, watched over the valley from this location.
  • The tomb of Akhenaten was originally intended to be located in the Valley of the Kings; Archaeologists point toward the unfinished WV25 as the intended burial chamber for Akhenaten.
  • During Roman times the valley of the kings was a very attractive touristic location.
  • Many of the tombs have graffiti written by ancient tourists; researchers have located over 2100 ancient graffiti, mostly Latin and Greek.
  • Archaeologists have found that most of the ancient graffiti are located in KV9, which contains just under a thousand of them. The earliest positively dated graffiti dates to 278 B.C.
  • The mark “KV” actually stands for “Kings Valley” while WV stands for Western Valley.
  • There is a number of unoccupied tombs in the Valley of the Kings and their owners remain unknown.
  • The most imposing tomb of this period is that of Amenhotep III, WV22 located in the West Valley.
  • The burial site of Tutankhamun is one of the most famous in the entire Valley of the Kings.
  • The tomb of Tutankhamun was one of the first royal tombs to be discovered that was still largely intact, even though robbers had already accessed it in the past.
  • The tomb of Horemheb is one of the most unique tombs in the Valley of the Kings exhibiting unique features compared to other tombs in the Valley, it is rarely open to the public.
  • The first ruler of the twentieth dynasty, Setnakhte, had two tombs constructed for himself.
  • The tomb of Ramesses III is one of the largest and most visited tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
  • The first unknown tomb since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb is dubbed KV 63; even though it has a sarcophagus, pottery, linens, flowers, and other materials it is unoccupied.

Sources and references: National Geographic, Wikipedia, Ancient Code.
Image Credit: National Geographic. Photograph by Kenneth Garrett