Sunday, July 29, 2012

In Egypt, archaeologists re-open tombs to woo tourists

GIZA, Egypt — More than 4,500 years since the paint was first applied, the reds, yellows and blues still stand out on the walls of the tomb of Queen Meresankh III.
A hunter throws a net to catch water birds, craftsmen make papyrus mats while a stream of people carry baskets filled with offerings for the afterlife.
Decorating the walls all around are paintings, reliefs and statues of Meresankh herself, draped in a leopard-skin cloak, standing beside her mother in a boat pulling papyrus stems through the water, or being entertained by musicians and singers.
Egypt’s tourism industry has been battered since last year’s revolution, but here, beside the pyramids of Giza, officials are trying to attract the visitors back.
The tomb of Meresankh, whose names means lover of life, will be opened to the public for the first time in nearly 25 years later this year, while five other tombs of high priests — buried under the desert sands for decades — will be thrown open.
“We want to give people a reason to come back, to give them something new,” said Ali Asfar, director general of archaeology on the Giza plateau.
Meresankh was a woman whose life was intimately bound up in the pharaoh’s incestuous rule. Her tomb lies a stone’s throw east of the Great Pyramid of her grandfather Khufu, better known as Cheops.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Oxford Handbook Of Roman Egypt

Roman Egypt is a critical area of interdisciplinary research, which has steadily expanded since the 1970s and continues to grow. Egypt played a pivotal role in the Roman empire, not only in terms of political, economic, and military strategies, but also as part of an intricate cultural discourse involving themes that resonate today - east and west, old world and new, acculturation and shifting identities, patterns of language use and religious belief, and the management of agriculture and trade. Roman Egypt was a literal and figurative crossroads shaped by the movement of people, goods, and ideas, and framed by permeable boundaries of self and space. This handbook is unique in drawing together many different strands of research on Roman Egypt, in order to suggest both the state of knowledge in the field and the possibilities for collaborative, synthetic, and interpretive research. Arranged in seven thematic sections, each of which includes essays from a variety of disciplinary vantage points and multiple sources of information, it offers new perspectives from both established and younger scholars, featuring individual essay topics, themes, and intellectual juxtapositions.

Author: Christina Riggs
Publisher: Oxford University Press (2012)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First Dynasty funerary boat discovered at Egypt's Abu Rawash

French archaeological mission discovers 3000BC funeral boat of King Den northeast of Giza Plateau, indicating earlier presence at the Archaic period cemetery

Ahram Online, Wednesday 25 Jul 2012

During routine excavation works at the Archaic period cemetery located at Abu Rawash area northeast of the Giza Plateau, a French archaeological mission from the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO) stumbled on what is believed to be a funerary boat of the First Dynasty King Den (dating from around 3000BC).

Photo credit:

The funerary boat was buried with royalty, as ancient Egyptians believed it would transfer the king's soul to the afterlife for eternity.

Unearthed in the northern area of Mastaba number six (a flat-roofed burial structure) at the archaeological site, boat consists of 11 large wooden planks reaching six metres high and 150 metres wide, Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said in a press release sent to Ahram Online on Wednesday.

The wooden sheets were transported to the planned National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation for restoration and are expected to be put on display at the Nile hall when the museum is finished and opens its doors to the public next year.

The IFAO started its excavation works at Abu Rawash in the early 1900s where several archaeological complexes were found. At the complex of King Djedefre, son of the Great Pyramid King Khufu, Emile Chassinat discovered the remains of a funerary settlement, a boat pit and numerous statuary fragments that bore the name of Fourth Dynasty King Djedefre.

Under the direction of Pierre Lacau, the IFAO continued its excavation work and found new structures to the east of the Djedefre pyramid. However objects bearing the names of First Dynasty Kings Aha and Den found near the pyramid indicate an earlier presence at Abu Rawash.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Faces of Egyptian mummies on show in Manchester

The faces of ancient Egyptians have gone on show in Manchester.
The portraits painted on to panels that covered the heads of mummies form part of an exhibition at the city's John Rylands Library.
Photo Credit: University of Manchester
The panels, which have rarely been shown in public, were bequeathed to Manchester Museum by cotton magnate Jesse Haworth in 1921.
The museum's Egyptology curator Campbell Price said they depicted people who looked "strikingly modern".
The paintings, known as Fayum portraits after the region near Cairo where they were found, were discovered on archaeological digs in 1888 and 1911 by William Flinders Petrie.
They date back to about AD 150, when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pharaoh's playground revealed by missing fractals

20 July 2012 by Colin Barras

THE Dahshur royal necropolis in Egypt was once a dazzling sight. Some 30 kilometres south of Cairo, it provided King Sneferu with a playground to hone his pyramid-building skills - expertise that helped his son, Khufu, build the Great Pyramid of Giza. But most signs of what went on around Dahshur have been wiped away by 4500 years of neglect and decay. To help work out what has been lost, archaeologists have turned to fractals.
All around the world, river networks carve fractal patterns in the land that persist long after the rivers have moved on (see picture). "You can zoom in as much as you like, at each magnification the [natural fractals] would look the same," says Arne Ramisch at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany. This should be the case around Dahshur, because it sits on the fringes of the Western desert, where river channels drain into the floodplain of the Nile - but it isn't.
Ramisch and his team generated a digital model of the topography around Dahshur and assessed its fractal geometry as part of their archaeological investigations. They found a surprisingly large area around the pyramids - at least 6 square kilometres - where the natural fractal geometry was absent. The find suggests that the entire area was once modified, probably under the orders of Sneferu and other pharaohs of the Old Kingdom.
"The modification is hard to spot, especially if your eyes are untrained," says Ramisch. "Even with trained eyes, it is difficult to believe the gigantic footprint the Egyptians have left."
The disturbance to the natural fractals can even give a sense of what occupied the site. In this case, says Ramisch, it was probably broad terraces several kilometres long, which would have "increased the sense of monumentality of the pyramids".
"It's a new approach," says Keith Challis at the University of Birmingham, UK. There is a well-established link between human activity and landscape modification, he says. "This provides an interesting new way of identifying such modification."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Returned rare sarcophagus of mummified rat to be displayed in Egyptian Museum Tuesday

The Egyptian Museum will display a rare Ptolemaic sarcophagus of a rat Tuesday after museum curators in Germany helped discover it was was illegally in Europe for at least 15 years

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 17 Jul 2012

On Tuesday, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square will host a very rare Ptolemaic sarcophagus of a rat after 15 years of being on display at the Egyptian Museum in Leipzig, Germany.

The sarcophagus is wooden and as small as its host: a mummified rat. Rats symbolised the god Horus in ancient times and a subservient nation during the decline of the civilisation.
Photo credit:

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim reveals that the recovery of such a very distinguished and rare object began a year ago when some of the curators at the Egyptian Museum in Lisberg, Germany questioned the origins of the sarcophagus before it came into the possession of the museum. They surmised it was probably smuggled illegally out of Egypt.

Those curators, continued Ibrahim, reported their doubts to the concerned Egyptian authorities and called the Egyptian Cultural Bureau in Germany. The cultural burea, in turn, trailed the documents and confirmed that it, indeed, belonged to Egypt.

The sarcophagus was among the artefacts discovered by a Cairo University excavation mission led by Egyptian Egyptologists Sami Gabra in 1804 at the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site in the governorate of El-Menya.

In November 1964, Ibrahim continued, a German antiquities collector called Robert Schleicher bought the sarcophagus from an antiquities trader in Amsterdam and it was offered to the museum later.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ancient Egyptian limestone relief found at Cairo home

A limestone relief from the era of Ramses II has been found at a residential home in the Matariya area of Cairo

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 14 Jul 2012

A rectangular shaped limestone relief from the era of 19th Dynasty King Ramses II was found by chance at a residential home at Hesn Al-Arab district in Matariya area in Cairo.

The relief is broken in two pieces and engraved with hieroglyphic text saying, “King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the master of both lands, Ramses II.”

Youssef Khalifa, head of confiscated antiquities at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), said the story started three days ago when a home owner in Hesn Al-Arab complained to the Matariya local government that his home was deteriorating and that he need help with its renovation.

Police embarked on an inspection, to verify the deterioration, but turned their attention to a neighbouring house when they found evidence of illicit excavation by its owner. While searching, officers found the relief along with digging tools and geographical measuring equipment. The police confiscated the instruments and the relief and apprehended the home's owner.

Khalifa told Ahram Online that an archaeological committee has verified the authenticity of the relief and early studies on it reveal that it could be part of the lintel of a false door to a tomb.

The relief is now at the Egyptian Museum for restoration before being put on display.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ancient script, modern wisdom

Czech Egyptologist links hieroglyphics to mind mapping

By Fiona Gaze 

There are few people whose eyes will light up when you ask them about their jobs, or who will reply, "I have the most awesome job ever." But for Renata Landgráfová, being an Egyptologist with a specialty in translating and interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphics is about as cool as it gets. Her work at the Charles University Czech Institute of Egyptology has taken her not only to the sites of archeological digs in Egypt numerous times but also past the brink of a new discovery: the connection between hieroglyphics and the modern practice of mind mapping and memory coaching.
Landgráfová, 35, reads the writing on the wall - specifically, the messages in tombs, tablets and texts from ancient Egypt. She is often one of the first experts onsite at a newly opened tomb in Egypt, and the first to not only hold a text that has not seen the light of day in several millennia but to decipher its meaning and relevance. Through her various publications and her university teaching, she presents a new way to look at hieroglyphics, revealing histories and stories of an ancient civilization that hold much more than mythology for the modern age.
In addition to the excitement of quite literally holding history in her hands, Landgráfová says the study of hieroglyphics and the culture behind them holds lessons we can apply today.
"I think it helps us - as all history does - to understanding a little more about humanity, and this is, in the end, what mankind's quest for knowledge has always been about," she says.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why is cancer almost never found in mummies? A disease of modern living

by: Craig Stellpflug

(NaturalNews) "Cancer found in mummies is very rare," say professors Rosalie David and Michael Zimmerman from the University of Manchester. Their investigation of hundreds of Egyptian mummies found only one case of cancer. Searching for evidence of cancer in fossils and ancient medical texts, they uncovered only five cases of tumors, mostly benign. They conclude that cancer among ancient people "was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle."

"Cancer appears to be a modern disease created by modern life."

The ancient Egyptians were very adept at the use of herbs and drugs for disease treatments and made meticulous notes for every physical specialty of their day. During the following centuries, there were many fathers of medicine that recorded human maladies and treatments, building on the foundation of the great Egyptian physicians. The scarcity of references to cancer in ancient literature seems to confirm the rarity of cancer in olden times. But since then, cancer rates have risen almost exponentially, beginning with the Industrial Revolution. This is particularly true with childhood cancer, proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Massive Looting and Destruction at Ancient Egyptian Archaeological Site

Dismembered mummies and severely damaged ancient buried structures paints a picture of irretrievable losses.

After the January 2011 revolution in Egypt, Professor and Archaeologist Carol Redmount of U.C. Berkeley began contacting friends and colleagues in the country to get some updates about their safety and welfare. In 2001, she and a team of archaeologists with the University had conducted excavations at the ancient site of El Hibeh about 180 miles south of Cairo, a site that evidenced occupation from Pharaonic times through the early Islamic periods. Their last season was completed in 2009, and for a variety of reasons they were not able to return. Now, there were concerns about the state of the archaeological remains at the El Hibeh site. She had been informed that there was extensive looting, and that the situation there was "very bad".
Destroyed mummy on burial textiles a few meters south of destroyed excavation trench. Photo and caption credit: Andy Daily
"Very bad" may have been an understatement. When she and a team finally returned to begin work at the site again in February, 2012, the scene was more than disheartening. They found hundreds of looters' pits, exposed tombs, destroyed walls, and even human remains, including remnants of dismembered mummies and strewn mummy wraps, littering the site like trash.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Persians in Egypt in the Achaemenid period

The last pharaoh of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty, Psamtik (Psammetichus) III, was defeated by Cambyses II (q.v.; 530-22 B.C.E.) in the battle of Pelusium in the eastern Nile delta in 525 B.C.E.; Egypt was then joined with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the Achaemenid empire (Cook, p. 214; Bresciani, Camb. Hist. Iran, pp. 502-03; Briant, 1987; idem, 1992, p. 67). The “first Persian domination” over Egypt (or Twenty-Seventh dynasty) ended around 402 B.C.E. After an interval of independence, during which three indigenous dynasties reigned (the Twenty-Eighth, Twenty-Ninth, and Thirtieth; for the probable last ruler, Khababash, see Ritner; cf. Bresciani, 1990, pp. 637-41), Artaxerxes III (q.v.; 359-38 B.C.E.) reconquered the Nile valley for a brief period (342-32 B.C.E.), usually called the “second Persian domination.”
The first Persian domination. Cambyses led three unsuccessful military campaigns in Africa: against Carthage, the oases of the Libyan desert, and Nubia. He remained in Egypt until 522 B.C.E. and died on the way back to Persia. In contrast to the hostile tradition transmitted by Herodotus (3.64-66) and Diodorus Siculus (1.95), who described Cambyses’ conduct in Egypt as mad, ungodly, and cruel, contemporary Egyptian documents offer a different perspective on this sovereign’s “atrocities” (Posener, pp. 171 ff.; Klasens; Bresciani, Camb. Hist. Iran, pp. 504-05), even though violence and abuses perpetrated by the occupation troops can be taken for granted. Herodotus may have drawn on an indigenous tradition that reflected the Egyptian clergy’s resentment of Cambyses’ decree (known from a text in Demotic script on the back of papyrus no. 215 in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) curtailing royal grants made to Egyptian temples under Amasis (Bresciani, 1981).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Egypt's Sphinx, Pyramids threatened by groundwater, hydrologists warn

New water pumping system at Giza Plateau has ecologists worried about possible damage to Egypt's best-known historical monuments

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 5 Jul 2012

One month ago, Giza's antiquities inspectorate installed a new system to pump subterranean water out from under Egypt's historical Sphinx monument and the underlying bedrock.

Subterranean water levels at the Giza Plateau, especially the area under the valley temples and Sphinx, have recently increased due to a new drainage system installed in the neighbouring village of Nazlet Al-Seman and the irrigation techniques used to cultivate the nearby residential area of Hadaeq Al-Ahram.

The system involves 18 state-of-the-art water pumps capable of pumping 26,000 cubic metres of water daily.

The project, which cost some LE22 million and is financed by USAID, has raised fears among some hydrologists and ecologists that it could erode the bedrock under the Sphinx and lead to the historic monument's collapse.

Kamal Oda, professor of hydrology at Suez Canal University, told Ahram Online that, according to a report by Egypt's Ministry of State for Antiquities, the machines will pump some 9.6 million cubic metres a year of water at a depth of 100 metres beneath the Sphinx. This, he warned, could cause a drop in the ground level and increase the risk of erosion and collapse of both the Sphinx and the nearby great Pyramids of Giza.

Ali El-Asfar, director of Giza Plateau antiquities, for his part, challenged Oda’s assertion. He said that the pumping machines would stop automatically when subterranean water levels reached 15.5 metres above sea level.

El-Asfar told Ahram Online that the Sphinx, the Great Pyramids and the plateau's valley temples were "completely safe," since water levels underneath them had reached 4.6 metres below ground level – the same levels seen in ancient times.

"Such levels are natural," said Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim. He went on to point out that the Nile River had once reached the plateau, where a harbour had been dug for the boats transporting stone blocks for the as-yet-unbuilt pyramids from faraway quarries in Aswan and Tora.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Major project to document all Egypt's sites starts with Beni Hassan tombs

National initiative, overseen by Egypt's antiquities ministry, aims to document details of country's historical heritage

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 2 Jul 2012

Eight years after giving the go-ahead for the National Project to Document Egypt’s Heritage, Beni Hassan necropolis in the Upper Egyptian town of Minya has become the first site on the list to be documented.

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) is responsible for archaeologically documenting Egypt’s cultural and historical heritage, in an attempt to protect and preserve it, as well as providing comprehensive and detailed studies of every site and monument in Egypt for researchers and students in the field.

Mohamed Ibrahim, antiquities’s minister, told Ahram Online that Egyptologists used state-of-the-art equipment and modern technology to document the necropolis and published the findings in a booklet of 337 pages, including 268 photos and 62 drawings and charts.

Director of the ministry's registration department, Magdi El-Ghandour, described the documentation effort as one of Egypt’s major projects to preserve its heritage. He added that the project aims to establish a scientific database for every monument in Egypt, to help the work of researchers.
"It is the second documentation project to be established in Egypt; the first was carried out in 1985 during the Nubian temples salvage operation, documenting the Nubian temples whether rescued or inundated in Lake Nasser."

Ahmed Saeed, professor of ancient Egyptian civilisation at Cairo University, stated that the Beni Hassan necropolis is the first archaeological site to be documented, and many are still on the list. He said that Egyptologists had focused their documentation work on the 12 out of 39 tombs within the necropolis which are complete and have distinguished wall paintings and architecture.

Beni Hassan is an ancient Egyptian necropolis located approximately 20 kilometres to the south of Minya. It includes 39 rock-hewn tombs, some of which belong to the Old Kingdom, but the majority are dated to the Middle Kingdom. Only 12 tombs are decorated and most were left unfinished. The best examples belong to the local "nomarchs" (governors) from the Middle Kingdom.

The necropolis is located on the eastern bank of the Nile, overlooking the river valley with magnificent views in both directions. A temple constructed by Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III dedicated to the local goddess Pakhet was found to the south of the necropolis.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Connections: Communication in Ancient Egypt

Since the very beginning of human evolution, communication has played a crucial role in social development. In our modern world, when messages are conveyed through countless routes, it is very appropriate to look back and understand how interaction influenced past societies.
‘Connections’ aims to explore the ways in which the ancient Egyptians communicated between each other and those in a wider international environment. The methods they used are not far removed from our own, using various verbal and non-verbal techniques. Contributions to this study include investigations of written communication, along with interaction through material culture, gestures and much more. ‘Connections’ hopes to provide a unique insight into the ways that the Egyptians communed with the deceased, the illiterate, the divine and sacred worlds, foreign countries and different social groups.
An online catalogue accompanies a physical exhibition taken from objects loaned to the University of Birmingham from the Eton College Joseph William Myers Collection of Egyptian antiquities. These objects are among the finest items of Egyptian art to have been collected during the late nineteenth century. Many of them are small masterpieces in their own right – but those less aesthetic objects also communicated messages, and have not been neglected in this project.
Photo courtesy IAA University of Birmingham
How objects worked as intermediaries when information had to be exchanged is shown by ECM202, a globular jug with tall neck and disk rim with one vertical handle, dating to the early Nineteenth Dynasty, c. 1292-1203BC (fig. 1 © IAA University of Birmingham). Its fabric is of a fine Marl clay (probably Marl A in the Vienna System). The jug is decorated using paints of black and yellow to red pigments to give the impression that the vessel was made of granite (a much tougher material to work than clay). The owner of this vessel chose to communicate wealth and prestige through the selection of this decoration. A text is also preserved across the front reading, ‘The Osiris, Mistress of the House [name missing], Amenemope […]’. Although the name of the deceased is missing, we can see from the titles that the owner was female and most likely married. Amenemope is a deity worshipped at the temple of Luxor, his name literally translates as, ‘Amun of Luxor’. As part of the Ritual of Djeme, every ten days this god left the shrine and travelled to the small temple of Amun at Medinet Habu on the west bank of Thebes where he worshipped the primeval gods (his ancestors) to revive their kas.¹ Water and milk were used in this ritual and this practice also became a part of the funerary cult in Egypt. This vessel therefore indicates how the deceased ‘mistress of the house’, mentioned on ECM202, connected with the divine during the Ritual of Djeme. From this brief analysis it is possible to allocate Thebes as a provenance for this vessel, and that it was likely found within a tomb. The linen bandages and clay sealing at the top of the vessel indicate that after the burial this object was sealed and placed with the deceased for use in the afterlife. ECM202 is iconic to the topic presented through ‘Connections’ as it demonstrates communication between the deceased and the divine in ancient Egypt. The communication of wealth and prestige between social groups and conveyance of a textual message to those literate individuals within the funeral procession are also themes which will be explored through the ‘Connections’ exhibition.
In a world when the media of internet, television, radio and telephones never existed, the Egyptian people maintained systems of communication not far removed from our own – in verbal, non-verbal and symbolic ways. ‘Connections’ aims to explore and interpret these systems and put people and their media in the centre of this exhibition.

Carl Graves, June 2012.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


(Sarapis) Serapis has presented a riddle for Egyptologists. His worship originated among the Ptolemies, the transplanted Macedonian dynasty that ruled Egypt from their capital at Alexandria in the wake of Egypt’s conquest by Alexander the Great, and was subsequently adopted and promoted by the emperors of Rome. But Serapis remained, paradoxically, an Egyptian God worshiped in the company of other Egyptian Gods from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, but almost entirely by non-Egyptians. As the consort of Isis, Serapis became a fixture of the international Isis cult. In this role, Serapis displaced Osiris for many foreign devotees. Serapis is depicted in fully Hellenistic style as a bearded, robust man enthroned with the sign of a modius, or grain measure, on his head. The grain measure symbolizes allotting the portion deserved. Serapis is a God of miracles, destiny, healing and the afterlife, often fused with the Greek God Zeus or the Roman God Jupiter, extending the notion of sovereignty to include dominion over fate. Occasionally, for reasons unknown, a bust of Serapis sits atop a colossal right foot. Serapis and Isis may also be depicted as two snakes.

It is generally thought that Serapis derives from the Egyptian Osiris-Apis, the Osirianized form of the Apis bull, but the situation is complicated. Greeks and Egyptians alike affiliated Serapis more and more with the native cults over time, and the identification of Serapis with Osiris-Apis was clearly an official one; hence a chapel of Serapis catering to Greek pilgrims was installed at Memphis within the temple complex of Osiris-Apis. The cults remained, however, as a practical matter, separate. The canonical account of the origin of Serapis is told by Plutarch in his On Isis and Osiris (28), which relates that Ptolemy Soter (323-282 BCE) saw in a dream a certain colossal statue, of which he had no prior knowledge, in Sinopê, a city on the southern coast of the Black Sea. The statue spoke to him, urging him to have it brought to Alexandria. Making inquiries, the king learned that such a statue did indeed exist in Sinopê. The statue having been obtained by whatever means, it was brought to Alexandria. This statue, according to Plutarch, showed the God accompanied by a Cerberus dog and a serpent, and was therefore identified as a statue of Pluto by experts Ptolemy consulted, but “took to itself the name which Pluto bears among the Egyptians, that of Serapis,” (362 A). However, Plutarch himself connects Serapis, not with Osiris-Apis, but with Osiris simply, stating that Osiris “received this appellation at the time when he changed his nature,” (362 B) that is, when he was resurrected. Thus Plutarch, although aware of much of the theology surrounding the Egyptian Apis cult—for instance, that “we must regard Apis as the bodily image of the soul of Osiris,” (362 D)—is seemingly either unaware of or unimpressed by a direct derivation of the name of Serapis from ‘Osiris-Apis’, and says that in his opinion, “if the name Serapis is Egyptian, it denotes cheerfulness and rejoicing, and I base this opinion on the fact that the Egyptians call their festival of rejoicing sairei,” (362 D) an etymology most likely spurious. Plutarch states as well that Serapis is “a God of all peoples in common, even as Osiris is; and this they who have participated in the holy rites well know,” (362 B).

The story placing the origins of Serapis in Sinopê, on the other hand, is by no means without support (see Stiehl 1963 27f). Perhaps most significantly, the philosopher Diogenes (404-323 BCE), a native of Sinopê, is quoted as having said, upon learning that the Athenians had given Alexander the Great the title of “Dionysus,” that “You might as well make me Serapis,” (Diogenes Laertius VI. 63). The obscurity surrounding the origins of Serapis is also indicative, however, of what is most distinctive about the God: Serapis is presented as a truly international deity. Aside from the question of his identity with Osiris or with the Osirianized form of the bull who is himself the living soul of Osiris on earth, Serapis expresses a universality implicit in the nature of Osiris all along insofar as the latter embodied what is essential to all mortals as such.

Stiehl, Ruth. 1963. “The Origin of the Cult of Sarapis.” History of Religions Vol. 3, No. 1: 21-33.