Sunday, December 29, 2013

Museum Pieces - Funeral Ostracon

(Photocredit: The Manchester Museum)

Accession Number5886
Object NameOstracon
DescriptionOstracon of limestone, from western Thebes, probably of New Kingdom date and donated by Sir Alan Gardiner. It bears a unique ink sketch: a scene of a funeral. The sketch shows a tomb shaft – of the type known from Deir el-Medina – with a group of female mourners gathered around it. Within the shaft a man is seen descending, and within the chambers of the tomb itself the burial party carry a coffin into place. A striking detail is that one of the party has a jackal head. Given the informal medium, the sketch is likely to show the burial as it happened, albeit in schematic fashion. The implication is that one of the party is wearing a jackal-headed mask. A famous example in Hildesheim may represent such a mask, used for the impersonation of Anubis, the god of mummification.
Height (cm)16.0
Primary MaterialsLimestone
Period/DynastyNew Kingdom
Earliest Date1539
Latest Date1075
Site NameAfrica, Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes: West Bank
AcquisitionGardiner, Sir Alan H. (Donation, 1913)
Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, vol. 35 (1913), p. 229, pl. 46.
Figure 39.


Friday, December 27, 2013

An unidentified royal statue head found in Luxor

A black granite head of an unidentified New Kingdom king's statue has been uncovered in Luxor

by Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 26 Dec 2013

The Egyptian-Spanish archaeological mission unearthed on Thursday a large granite head of a statue of an unidentified New Kingdom king during routine excavation at King Thutmose III’s funerary temple on Luxor’s west bank.
Photocredit: Ahram Online

Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), explained that the head is 29.6cm high, 24.3cm wide and 26.9cm deep. The head depicts a round face of a royal figure, not identified yet, wearing a wig, with traces of a broken nose, and two long ears that each reach 8cm. The eyes, he continued, have traces of kohl, with thick eyebrows.

Abdel-Maqsoud said that the head was found buried in sand in a pit on the northern side of the second court of the temple. Studies are underway in an attempt to determine which New Kingdom king it belongs to.

The temple of Thutmose III is a vey small temple located beside the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Al Deir Al-Bahari. It was first discovered in February 1962 during routine restoration work carried out by a Polish excavation mission of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology led by archaeologist Kazimierz Michalowski.

The temple is poorly preserved and was dedicated to god Amun-Re.  Although Thutmose III’s actual funerary temple Henkhet-Ankh is located a short distance away, such a temple had played some role within the king’s funerary cult.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Ancient Spider Rock Art Sparks Archaeological Mystery

By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor   |   December 20, 2013

Archaeologists have discovered a panel containing the only known example of spider rock art in Egypt and, it appears, the entire Old World.

The rock panel, now in two pieces, was found on the west wall of a shallow sandstone wadi, or valley, in the Kharga Oasis, located in Egypt's western desert about 108 miles (175 kilometers) west of Luxor. Facing east, and illuminated by the morning sun, the panel is a "very unusual" find, said Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo who co-directs the North Kharga Oasis Survey Project.

The identification of the creatures as spiders is tentative and the date of it uncertain, Ikram told LiveScience in an email. Even so, based on other activity in the area, the rock art may date to about 4000 B.C. or earlier, which would put it well into prehistoric times, before Egypt was unified, noted Ikram, who detailed the finding in the most recent edition of the journal Sahara.

The main panel shows what appear to be a few spiders, with a "star" that's possibly meant to depict a web next to the spider on the far left. There are also comblike drawings that are more enigmatic; Ikram said they could be insects being trapped by the spiders, plants or even silken tubes spun by the spiders.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 14

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.

Next week and the week after that there will not be a Wednesday Weekly because of the holidays. Wednesday Weekly will return at January 8.

The Amun-Ra-Egyptology Blog wishes everybody a merry christmas and a happy new year with lots of Egyptology news! Happy Holidays!!


By Rossella Lorenzi:

Top 10 Discoveries of 2013: World's Oldest Port


by Nevine El-Aref:

Two Ptolomaic tombs uncovered in Al-Qantara East

Upper Egypt's Malawi Museum is under restoration

Egyptian antiquities ministry tries to stop sale of 23 artefacts in US


by Nevine El-Aref:

'Cooking' Tutankhamun?


New blogpost by Timothy Reid:

Gift of the Nile


by Margaret Moose:

The Tattooed Priestess' of Hathor


Egypt Exploration Society: Winter Study Day - Saturday 7th December, 2013 "The Last Great Age of Ancient Egypt": Third Intermediate Period to the Late Period


Lecture by Bob Brier:

Egyptomania: Our Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs


By Sarah Dickins:

Theories about how the ancient pyramids were built are 'wrong'


New blogentry:

A demotic jar


New blogentry by Julia Thorne:

New Egyptology book releases: November 2013


New blogentry:

Back to Ancients/Basics


"Son of a count!"


New blogentry by Thomas H. Greiner:

Tour to 'Gifts of the Nile' Exhibit

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Museum Pieces - Painted funerary shroud

(Photocredit: The Global Egyptian Museum)

The decoration of the shroud combines both traditional Pharaonic and classical elements. The amuletic collar at the top is flanked by Isis and Nephthys, and the lateral scenes in the lower section include the mummy on a bier, the presentation of the deceased to Osiris, and a range of Egyptian deities. In the centre is a figure of the deceased, bearded and wearing Roman dress, but flanked by Egyptian architectural features on which perch two falcons wearing the double crown of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.

Present location: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND [30/002] DUBLIN
Inventory number: 1911:442
Archaeological Site: HAWWARA
Material: LINEN; GOLD
Width: 52 cm

W.M.F. Petrie, Roman Portraits and Memphis IV, London 1911, pl. 12.1-2, p. 15.

(Photocredit: The Global Egyptian Museum)

(Photocredit: The Global Egyptian Museum)

(Photocredit: The Global Egyptian Museum)

(Photocredit: The Global Egyptian Museum)


Friday, December 13, 2013

‘Cooking’ Tutankhamun?

The results of a virtual autopsy on the mummy of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun have created a brouhaha among Egyptologists, reports Nevine El-Aref

When British explorer Howard Carter stumbled upon the magnificent treasures of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, the world agreed that this was one of the most splendid archaeological discoveries ever found.

Over time, however, the find produced more than just lustrous treasures, since it also provided evidence of Tutankhamun’s life, death and royal lineage. In 2005, some of the mysteries that this evidence raised were solved when the Pharaoh’s mummy was subjected to an intense check-up, comprehensive forensic analysis, and CT-scan.

Using 1,700 high-resolution CT-scan images, an Egyptian scientific team concluded that Tutankhamun had died of natural causes at the age of 19 and had not been killed by a blow to the back of his head as had been traditionally believed. They discovered no indication of violence, discounting theories that he had received such a blow.

Instead, the team theorised that the open fracture at the back of the mummy’s head was most likely used as a second route through which embalming liquid was introduced to the lower cranial cavity and neck via the back of the upper neck. At the same time, they noted a fracture above the left knee that may have occurred a day or two before the Pharaoh’s death, suggesting that this could have become fatally infected.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 13

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.


New blogentries by Timothy Reid:

The Cairo Museum

The Mystery of the Cocaine Mummy


X-rays and the statues eyes


by María Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt: Bibliography

Nut with dishevelled hair in the Coffin of Nefer-Renepet


by Rossella Lorenzi

Ancient Dogs Found Buried in Pots in Egypt


Egypt museum hurt by political turmoil

by Nevine El-Aref:

Egypt recovers five Ptolemaic objects from France

26th Dynasty ushabti figure coming home from Brussels


by Owen Jarus:

Mummy Mystery: Tombs Still Hidden in Valley of Kings


New blogentry:

Portraits du Fayoum


In the Vault of the Mummies at Manchester Museum


New blogentry:

New publication on origins of Monsters (Ancient Egyptian too!)


Temples, Gold and Border Security: Nubia and Egypt in the New Kingdom


Metropolitan Museum exhibition celebrates Central Park Obelisk known as "Cleopatra's Needle"


by Richard Spencer:

Priceless missing statuette of Tutankhamun's sister found


Lecture by Alain Zivie:

Discovering the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti's Artist: The Tomb of Thutmose at Saqqara


By Bryan Sitch:

The Inspiration for Bram Stoker's The Jewel of Seven Stars?


New blogentry by Edmund Connolly:

Egypt on the Page: The Changing faces of Religion


Latest news

Monday, December 9, 2013

Priceless missing statuette of Tutankhamun's sister found

Statuette of ancient Pharoah's sister which went missing in looting during riots protesting overthrow on ex-president Morsi found in three pieces

By Richard Spencer, Cairo

A priceless statuette of the sister of the Pharaoh Tutanhkhamun which went missing during mass looting of a museum in central Egypt in the summer has been found, the antiquities ministry said on Sunday.

The statuette had been broken into three pieces, said Monica Hanna, an archaeologist who has led a campaign to protect Egypt's historical sites. However, the breaks appeared to be along the lines of previous restoration work and it seemed likely it could be put back together, she said.

The statuette was the highlight of the museum in the city of Mallawi, near the archaeological remains of the new capital established by Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten in the 14th Century BC.

Egyptian police and Unesco put out an alert through Interpol and to international museums and dealers after the museum was smashed and looted during Islamist riots protesting the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, in August.

More than 1,000 items went missing, but some experts believed that the protests were used as cover by professional thieves of Pharaonic exhibits to target the statuette, a small limestone figure of the princess holding an offering.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

26th Dynasty ushabti figure coming home from Brussels

The torso of a 26th Dynasty green faience ushabti figure stolen during the January 25 Revolution is to return to Egypt next week from Brussels

by Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 7 Dec 2013

Next week Egypt is to recover a 26th Dynasty ushabti torso that was reported missing from the Egyptian Museum on 28 January 2011, in the throes of the January 25 Revolution.

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said that the artifact was broken into two pieces. The lower part remained in the museum while the torso was stolen and smuggled out of the country and sold to a Belgian citizen.

A few days ago, continued Ibrahim, the Belgian citizen presented the torso to a French archaeologist to ascertain its authenticity and value. The French archaeologist recognised that the torso had been in collection the Egyptian Museum. He had studied it in 1989 at the museum.

The French archaeologist reported the find to the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), which in turn undertook the required procedures to recover it. The MSA contacted the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptian embassy in Brussels, Interpol and UNESCO in order to help in the restitution of the artifact.

"The torso was among the pieces stolen from the Egyptian Museum on 28 January 2011, but regretfully it was not included in the report issued at that time about the missing objects," Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

Ibrahim added that he referred the case to the prosecutor general for investigation on why the torso was not included in the missing items report.

Ali Ahmed, head of the Antiquities Repatriation Department at the MSA, explained that the whole statue was found in the Memphis necropolis in 1858 and belonged to a nobleman of various titles, among them the holder of the north stamps.

The ushabti is 29 centimetres tall and is well known among archaeologists.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ancient Dogs Found Buried in Pots in Egypt

By Rossella Lorenzi

Archaeologists have found some of the most curious canine burials ever unearthed in Egypt — two well preserved dogs buried in pots some 3,000 years ago.

Nicknamed Houdini and Chewie, the dog pots were discovered at Shunet ez Zebib, a large mud-brick structure located at Abydos — one of Egypt’s oldest standing royal monuments. The site was built around 2750 B.C and was dedicated to Khasekhemwy, a second dynasty king.

It is also known for the the thousands of ibis burials in jars that had been recovered in the dunes nearby, and for the interments of other animals, mostly raptors and canines.

“The site provided a very secure structure, with conveniently soft, sandy fill that was easy for quick burials within a sacred space,” Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo, wrote in a recently published Festschrift in honor of Dieter Kessler, a renowned scholar in the field of animal cults and Egyptian religion.

A leading expert on animal mummies, Ikram analyzed the results of a 2009 excavation led by David O’Connor and Matthew Adams, respectively director and field director of the North Abydos Project at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Digging in the Shunet ez-Zebib’s southeast corner, the archaeologists unearthed several jars containing animal burials.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mummy Mystery: Multiple Tombs Hidden in Egypt's Valley of Kings

By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor   |   December 04, 2013 

Multiple tombs lay hidden in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, where royalty were buried more than 3,000 years ago, awaiting discovery, say researchers working on the most extensive exploration of the area in nearly a century.

The hidden treasure may include several small tombs, with the possibility of a big-time tomb holding a royal individual, the archaeologists say. 

Egyptian archaeologists excavated the valley, where royalty were buried during the New Kingdom (1550–1070 B.C.), between 2007 and 2010 and worked with the Glen Dash Foundation for Archaeological Research to conduct ground- penetrating radar studies.

The team has already made a number of discoveries in the valley, including a flood control system that the ancient Egyptians created but, mysteriously, failed to maintain. The system was falling apart by the time of King Tutankhamun, which damaged many tombs but appears to have helped protect the famous boy-king's treasures from robbers by sealing his tomb.

The team collected a huge amount of data that will take a long time to analyze properly, wrote Afifi Ghonim, who was the field director of the project, in an email to LiveScience. "The corpus was so extensive it will take years, maybe decades, to fully study and report on," wrote Ghonim, an archaeologist with the Ministry of State for Antiquities in Egypt who is now chief inspector of Giza.

The project is part of "the most extensive exploration in the Valley of the Kings since Howard Carter's time," he said, referring to the Egyptologist whose team discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 12

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.


by Nevine El-Aref:

Egyptian archaeologists refute claims by German amateurs on Great Pyramid

A limestone relief found beneath a residential area in Al-Qantara East


by María Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Open Reflections on Mourning Ritual in Egyptian Geography

Book: "Hair and Death in Ancient Egypt"


New blogentry by Timothy Reid:



Lecture 04/12/2013: Ancestors in Ancient Egypt - Images and Practice

Object biography #14: A coral bracelet from Qau el-Kebir ( 7169)


Demon Blog:

Ancient Egyptian Hedgehog rattle keeps away demons


Cranial Injury: a brief overview of the ancient Egyptian and Nubian sources


By Mohamed Awad:

Man discovers ancient cemetery under his house


By Bibbi Abruzzini:

Treasure hunting: from Egypt to auction houses


New episode:

Episode XXII: Pepy Lives


New blogentry by Edmund Connolly:

Coptic Christmas: and a Myriad of Calendars (advent or otherwise)


New blogentry by Vincent Razanajao:

My dear Gardiner


Review by Salima Ikram:

Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt - A Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.11.60

Edward Bleiberg, Yekaterina Barbash, Lisa Bruno, Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt.   London; Brooklyn, NY:  D Giles Limited, in association with the Brooklyn Museum, 2013.  Pp. 152.  ISBN 9781907804274.  $40.00.

Reviewed by Salima Ikram, American University in Cairo

Although this beautifully illustrated book was produced to serve as a catalogue accompanying the eponymous exhibition, it can stand on its own, and is of interest to both scholars and general readers. It is divided into three main parts, each written by one of the authors, and concludes with an Appendix by Barbash, the author of the first chapter. A brief bibliography of selected readings appears at the end. The book is prefaced by a chronology—but this is unlike other chronologies found in exhibition catalogues: it goes beyond a list of dates as it mentions key points and trends that typify each period—a sort of a mini-history—and is illustrated by objects that relate to the period in question, while resonating with the animal theme of the exhibition.

The first chapter, ‘How the Ancient Egyptians Viewed the Animal World’, by Barbash, outlines the sacred and secular roles played by animals in ancient Egyptian culture. It stresses the ideas of duality (benevolent and dangerous) and balance that are inherent in the ancient Egyptians’ world-view, as manifested by the way in which they presented certain animals and their associated deities. This is followed by a brief but informative section on “Animal Imagery,” including animals that are personifications of kings and gods, and how these concepts display domination of nature and human beings, while maintaining cosmic balance. The chapter then segues into a list of the most common animals that were mummified, as well as their roles in the more prosaic daily existence of the ancient Egyptians: cattle, sheep, goats, canines, felines, antelopes, monkeys, shrews, birds ( ducks, geese, ibises, raptors), fish, reptiles, and insects, in the form of scarab beetles.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A limestone relief found beneath a residential area in Al-Qantara East

A limestone relief engraved with Greek text was uncovered under a residential house in Al-Qantara East town in Ismailia governorate

by Nevine El-Aref , Monday 2 Dec 2013

In an unusual turn of events, authorities pursuing a gang of antiquities smugglers along the Suez Canal have accidently stumbled across a Greek limestone relief beneath a residential house in the city of Al-Qantara East.

The Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAP) discovered the relief within the walls of an underground, ancient tomb. It was recovered today in coordination with the Ministry of State Antiquities (MSA), according to minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Section at the MSA, said that the relief is 40 cm tall and 20cm large, and engraved with four lines of Greek text, with a winged sun disk displayed at the top. The relief is now under restoration for future display in the town's storage museum.

The tomb is in a very poor state of preservation, but it was reported to contain remains of human skeletons and bones as well as clay pots and fragments.

Abdel Maqsoud believes that the tomb could be part of a Graeco-Roman necropolis, or city of the dead, that has since been built over and turned into a residential area.

The city of Al-Qantara East is located on the eastern side of the Suez Canal, about 160 kilometers northeast of Cairo and 50 kilometers south of Port Said.

Al-Qantara East has a rich history, dating back to the pharaonic era. Ahmose I, a pharaoh who founded the 18th century, waged many important wars in the area, most notably against the Hyksos, Seti, and Ramses II.

In modern times, it was the site of numerous World War I battles between the Allies and Turkish forces, as well the main base of the Australian Light Horse operations in Sinai from 1916 until 1920.

It was also the site of a massive warehouse and hospital centre, which were used again in World War II.

The city was captured by Israel during the 1967 War, but subsequently won back in 1973 after the 6 October War.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Museum Pieces - Statue of Lady Sennuwy

Photocredit: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Statue of Lady Sennuwy

Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret I, 1971–1926 B.C.

Kerma, Nubia (Sudan)

Framed (The object sits on epoxy bed /structural steel pallet tubing): 21.6 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (8 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Mount (Steel channel base with cross bracing 3" x 3/16"): 30.5 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (12 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Overall (steel pallet and object, weighed): 170.2 x 116.2 x 47 cm, 1224.71 kg (67 x 45 3/4 x 18 1/2 in., 2700 lb.) Weight (Object and steel pallet with attaching steel base, estimate): 1319.97 kg (2910 lb.) Weight (Object (calculated by subtracting estimate of pallet weight)): 1079.56 kg (2380 lb.)



Egypt: Sculpture and Tomb Chapels - 209

Egyptian officials of the Middle Kingdom continued the practice of equipping their tombs with statues to house the ka of the tomb owner and to provide a focal point for the offering cult. Highly ranked officials also dedicated statues of themselves at sanctuaries of gods and deified ancestors. Following the experimental and idiosyncratic interlude of the First Intermediate Period, sculptors once again produced large-scale stone statues, returning to the basic forms and poses established in the Old Kingdom.

Photocredit: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
This elegant seated statue of Lady Sennuwy of Asyut is one of the most superbly carved and beautifully proportioned sculptures from the Middle Kingdom. The unknown artist shaped and polished the hard, gray granodiorite with extraordinary skill, suggesting that he was trained in a royal workshop. He has portrayed Sennuwy as a slender, graceful young woman, dressed in the tightly fitting sheath dress that was fashionable at the time. The carefully modeled planes of the face, framed by a long, thick, striated wig, convey a serene confidence and timeless beauty. Such idealized, youthful, and placid images characterize the first half of Dynasty 12 and hark back to the art of the Old Kingdom. Sennuwy sits poised and attentive on a solid, blocklike chair, with her left hand resting flat on her lap and her right hand holding a lotus blossom, a symbol of rebirth. Inscribed on the sides and base of the chair are hieroglyphic texts declaring that she is venerated in the presence of Osiris and other deities associated with the afterlife.

Sennuwy was the wife of a powerful provincial governor, Djefaihapi of Asyut, whose rock-cut tomb is the largest nonroyal tomb of the Middle Kingdom. Clearly, the couple had access to the finest artists and materials available. It is likely that this statue, along with a similar sculpture of Djefaihapi, was originally set up in the tomb chapel, although they may also have stood in a sanctuary. Both statues were discovered, however, far to the south at Kerma in Nubia, where they had been buried in the royal tumulus of a Nubian king who lived generations after Sennuwy's death. They must have been removed from their original location and exported to Nubia some three hundred years after they were made. Exactly how, why, and when these pieces of sculpture, along with numerous other Egyptian statues, found their way to Kerma, however, is still unknown.


From Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, K III hall A. 1913: Excavated by the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan. (Accession Date: July 2, 1914)


Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Egyptian archaeologists refute claims by German amateurs on Great Pyramid

Head of ancient Egyptian antiquities explains why he thinks claims by two German amateurs concerning the construction date of the Great Pyramid are wrong

by Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

In response to the alleged stealing of samples from the Great Pyramid by two German amateur archaeologists, Egypt's antiquities ministry issued a press release Wednesday discrediting all findings by the German pair.

The archaeologists took a piece of Khufu's cartouche from a small compartment above his burial chamber and smuggled it to Germany for study, the Ancient Egyptian section of the Ministry of State of Antiquities (MSA) reported.

The results announced by the two Germans cast doubt on the construction date of the Great Pyramid and consequently the Pharaoh for which it was built.

The results suggest that the pyramid was built in an era preceding Khufu's reign. It also suggests that the Pyramid is not the burial place for a king but a centre of power.

Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, head of the ancient Egyptian department, asserted in a press release on Wednesday that a multitude of scientific research from the past two centuries shows that the Great Pyramid belongs to King Khufu, the second king of the fourth dynasty, and that it was built during his reign to be used as his royal burial place for eternity.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 11

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.


By Brenda Wang:

Penn Museum live: saving mummies


The Demon Blog by Dr. Kasia Szpakowska:

Ancient Egyptian Chariot pulled by griffins


New blog entries:

Looking inside our falcon mummy

Flippin' coffins


by María Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Open Reflections on Cutting and Offering Hair in Ancient Egypt

Shaking, Pulling, Cutting and Offering the Hair in Ancient Egypt Funerals


by Alvin Powell:

'Wonderful things', indeed


Article by Ati Metwaly:

Nefertiti's foster home

Article by Nevine El-Aref:

Restoring the Egyptian Museum


Article by Joel Gulhane:

Siwa: Sun, sand and springs


Game: Make a mummy


by Rossella Lorenzi:

Weird Facts About King Tut and His Mummy


Article by Tom Marshall:

Heritage: Hampstead resident Sir Flinders Petrie measured the pyramids of Giza and laid the foundations of Egyptology


By Abdallah Salah:

Pharaonic tomb discoverd in Aswan


by Nevine El-Aref:

Penalties imposed on two amateur German archaeologists


New blog of the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford:

Can you see anything?


by Christian de Vartavan:

Value for 'Money' in Ancient Egypt


Qurna Site updates:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Value for ‘Money’ in Ancient Egypt

by Christian de Vartavan

Years ago in Paris, as we were having at home an elegant Christmas dinner, I saw my father silent and with an enigmatic smile playing with the very large Ptolemaic stater he had just offered himself. These magnificent coins, which rarely survive in gold and silver but usually in bronze, are truly pleasant to handle because of their large size (42 mm), heavy weight (72gm) and soft patina. As I dared inquire of the reasons of his smile he softly responded, but with a larger grin:  ‘Do you realize that two thousand years ago a soldier could have paid an Alexandrian prostitute with this coin?’. [Silence – laugh!]. Well, considering the Empire wide reputation and skills of Alexandrian ladies of the time, I thought that the legionnaire might have had value for money and at a time when there was parity between the weight of the coin and its metal value?  But did he? I mean… did the value of the coin suffice to match the service provided? Or did it need more coins of the same?

Value for money. The point is that until the Greeks introduced coins in Ancient Egypt around the mid first millennium before Christ and formalized their first mint under Alexander’s reign (320 BC) or Ptolemy I around 290 BC, there was no money - i.e. metal coins even less paper notes – as we understand it today. The Ancient Egyptian economy was based on barter and hence ‘value for money’ meant something completely different. It is hard for us today to imagine an economy without exchangeable currencies, but the fact is the pharaonic civilisation fared extremely well for more than three millennia without them. And not only did it fare extremely well but it developed an extremely sophisticated economic model which time and time again not only proved itself efficient, but allowed pharaohs to build empires. How?