Monday, December 29, 2014

The online battle for papyrus texts

Papyrus scrolls are also now increasingly desirable items in the distinctly 21st Century world of the online auction trade, writes Philip Sherwell

By Philip Sherwell, New York

They are tattered yellowing fragments of bygone civilisations, ancient manuscripts that open a remarkable window on previous millennia, including the earliest days of Christianity.
But papyrus scrolls are also now increasingly hot items in the distinctly 21st Century world of the online auction trade.
A rectangular scrap measuring about 4.5 inches by 1.5 inches and featuring 15 partial lines of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad in the elegant hand of a 4th Century Egyptian scribe was just [DEC] picked up by an unidentified European buyer for £16,000 after a feverish Internet auction battle.
That price was way above the posted estimated but is typical of the sums that collectors will now spend to lay their hands on these fingerprints from the past.
Indeed, it is not just modern art that has been setting jaw-dropping records at auction recently - so have ancient scrolls.
When a fragmentary parchment sheet from the 3rd century AD featuring portions of Paul’s epistle to the Romans was bought at Sotheby’s for £301,000 auctioneers and antiquity experts alike were stunned.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Museum Pieces - Model of Nubian Soldiers

Model of Nubian Soldiers

Photocredit: Museums for Intercultural Dialogue
datation: Early Middle Kingdom (11th Dynasty around 2055-1985 BC)
provenance: Asyut
area: Egypt
period: 3000-2000 BC
materials: Wood.

These small figurines of different sizes, wood stuccoed and painted, represent Nubian soldiers as if in a parade. They are fixed on a base composed of five boards joined by three cross boards below. This group was found in a tomb dated to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom in the necropolis of Asyut in Middle Egypt, accompanied by a second group representing a troop of Egyptian soldiers.

These objects are in fact what we call “models”, made to accompany the deceased in his/her trip to the afterlife. They probably belonged to the governor of the nome (province) that they call Nomarch, perhaps Mesehti, who lived during the late 11th Dynasty.

The black skinned figures, dressed in a red or white loincloth and wearing a necklace and hair band, are standing in a way which represents the march of the parade: the bare feet, with the left leg forward. The left arm is brought back to a right angle and holds a bow. The other arm is left dangling by the body with the hand holding a set of arrows. The squad consists of four lines of ten soldiers giving a total of forty soldiers.

In Pharaonic Egypt, from the earliest times, there existed a military organization consisting of both Egyptians and other ethnic groups such as Nubians. The Nubian and Medjay auxiliaries appeared in the Middle Kingdom. Some stelae testify that a garrison of Nubian and Medjay archers was established in the late 11th Dynasty at Gebelein in Upper Egypt. In this period, it was primarily the infantry of defeated soldiers who were enlisted in the Egyptian troops.

With the New Kingdom and expansive aims of Egypt the army became professionalized. The pharaoh, supreme commander of armies, was surrounded by important management personnel. Titles connected to the military were numerous; from scribe to chief of troop (so-called General).

The Old and Middle Kingdoms defended their borders and did not venture out much, except to Sinai and Nubia up to the Second Cataract. With the appearance of the horse, a new military unit was created: the chariot, which will have a big influence in conflicts starting from the New Kingdom, especially considering it was a period when ambitions for the Near East intensified. In this period, other ethnic groups from Libya and the Near East will be incorporated into the army. The foreign reinforcements in the army will be continued in future periods as pharaohs will not hesitate to call on foreign mercenaries from the Saite period and onwards: a practice which will become the norm in Antiquity from Hellenistic Greece to Rome.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 59

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

The Amun-Ra Egyptology Blog wishes you all happy holidays and a healthy and save 2015 with lots of Egyptology news!!


Egypt unveils renovated Tutankhamun gallery


Karnak (v 0.1.5): Projet d'index global des inscriptions des temples de Karnak

Swiss Mummy Project

Egyptian Funerary Cones Wiki

New Open Access Monograph Series: Estudos de Egiptologia


New post by Timothy Reid:

The Treasures of Tutankhamun


Isis in Ancient Egypt: A Winged Snake with Hathoric Crown.


New post by Molly Gleeson:

Putting the finishing touches on the shabti box


Karomama tomb discovered in the Ramesseum temple

Osiris statues unearthed in Karnak temple

Amenhotep III colossi at the Northern gate of his temple is finallyunveiled


Recent Luxor discoveries include tomb inside Ramesseum


Amenhotep III rises again: Colossal statue of the Egyptian king is restored 3,200 years after its collapse in an earthquake


By Julia Budka:

Kick-off: Year 3 and new perspectives in micro- and geoarchaeology

By Jördis Vieth:

Update of the research on the so-called temple towns in New Kingdom Nubia


Using UV Light to Examine Ancient Paint


Photo exhibition of Queen Nefertari’s tomb inaugurated in the Egyptian museum

Tomb of “divine wife of God Amun” unearthed in Luxor

2,500 year-old bronze statues of Osiris unearthed in Karnak temple


Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled in Egypt

Egypt unveils renovated Tutankhamun gallery


Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt

Photos: Ancient Egyptian Cemetery with 1 Million Mummies

Monday, December 15, 2014

The perks of being an Egyptologist in Luxor

By Edu Marin

Luxor, Egypt, Dec 12 (EFE).- At five o'clock in the morning, the Egyptian city of Luxor wakes up to the sound of Muslim prayer and the braying of donkeys. At that same time, Spanish Egyptologist Milagros Alvarez Sosa and her team begin to prepare for a 3,500-year journey backwards in time to the Pharaonic era.

Alvarez preps for her archaeological expedition by donning a shirt, hiking boots, red hat and sunglasses. She sips at her coffee, as breakfast won't be until considerably later on.

"Sometimes we feel more like farmers than Egyptologists, because Luxor is another world," Alvarez tells Efe, referring to the Min Project, conducted in coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The site includes the tomb of Min, who was a tutor to the Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1427-1401 BC).

Luxor is at the epicenter of modern Egyptology: time does not only stand still in the Theban necropolis, where most of the archeological treasures are concentrated, but also in the city itself.

"Animals are an important part of life in Luxor. It is a very rural area," Italian archeologist Irene Morfini tells Efe. Morfini recalls how she had to wait many times for the female donkey to breastfeed her baby while on their way to the tomb of Min.

It was during the reign of Thutmose III (1490-1436 BC) when Min tutored the young prince and future pharaoh, Amenhotep II, teaching him the essential skills of the era, such as archery.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Museum Pieces - Diorite bust of Horemheb

Photocredit: Nicholson Museum

Diorite bust of Horemheb

Collection: Nicholson Museum: Stone Artefacts, Ancient Egyptian
Object Category: Sculpture - Bust
Name/Title: Fragmentary statue of the pharaoh Horemheb as a kneeling scribe
Media: Stone - diorite
Measurements: 45.5 h/l x 40.0 w x 26.0 d cm, 147 kg
Acquisition Credit Line: Donated by Sir Charles Nicholson 1860
Museum Number: NMR. 1138


Place: Ptah Temple, Memphis, Egypt
Date: 1330-1320 BC


The figure wears a very fine garment with pleated sleeves and collar at base of the throat. Almost certainly Horemheb from his pre royal career.

History Notes:

Description and Function (Author: Dr Sophie Winlaw)

There are no inscriptions on the surviving section of this statue (including the narrow back pillar - an area which is usually inscribed with the subject's name). However, the identity of this individual can be determined through an examination of his facial features, the distinctive style of sculpture, the clothing and the wig. The long unstructured wavy wig is commonly worn by scribes who are usually represented in statuary as seated figures with crossed legs and in many cases papyrus scrolls on their laps (the fold of skin of our piece below the breast is suggestive of either a seated or squatting figure).

Scribes form a well respected professional class who are literate - unlike the majority of ancient Egyptians - so for this man to be represented as a scribe it reflects his high social status. This is also reflected by the style of wig and the garment he wears - types which were worn by high officials of the late 18th and early 19th dynasties (1550-1213 BC). Scribes are also protected by the god Thoth - the ibis headed god of writing and knowledge.

Many of the scribal statues depict the subject as being bare-chested but in this case he wears a distinctive type of robe which is draped loosely over his upper arms. The facial features are very distinctive, especially the shape of the eyes and the fullness around the jaw line and cheeks (representative of the Amarna Period). This statue has been carved, smoothed and polished with great precision and there would have been few officials who could have afforded a statue of this quality.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New discoveries at Luxor

By Rany Mostafa:

Tomb of “divine wife of God Amun” unearthed in Luxor

CAIRO: The tomb of “the divine wife of God Amun,” an ancient Egyptian title given only to royal wives, has been discovered at the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses II in the west bank of Luxor, according to Abdel-Hakim Karar, director of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department, Thursday.

“The tomb is relatively small with a stone door leading to a 5-meter shaft and a burial chamber, where funerary equipments, offerings and 20 well-preserved statuettes were found,” Karar told The Cairo Post Thursday.

The statuettes, found by the tomb’s entrance, bore the name of  “Karomama” and hieroglyphic inscriptions describe her as “the earthly spouse of the god Amun,” and we believe she may have been the wife of the 22nd Dynasty’s Pharaoh Osorkon II (872B.C–837B.C.,) said Karar.

The discovery was made by French-Egyptian mission led by Christian Leblanc, a French archaeologist, who has been excavating in the mortuary temple and the tomb of Ramses II since 1980s.

“The new discovery may not be spectacular from the artistic point of view, but due to the scarcity of Karomama’s artifacts that have been discovered so far, it is definitely a significant find as it sheds more light on her life,” Leblanc was quoted by the Pharaoh Magazine Thursday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 58

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


Egyptian Sarcophagus Opened To Reveal 2,500-Year-Old Mummified Remains Of 14-Year-Old Boy


Open Access Journal: Sudan notes and records

Coptic Scriptorium

Open Access Publications of the Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten - Netherlands Institute for the Near East

The Xia Nai Index of Egyptian Beads in The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology


Amon singer coffin discovered intact


New post by Molly Gleeson:

Wilfred or Wilfreda?


Manchester TAG 2014 – Cataloguing Magic: Papers abstracts


Isis with Apis in Ancient Egypt Iconography.


By Nevine El-Aref:

The sarcophagus of god Amun's singer unearthed


Saving Khufu’s second boat


Digital recording of and at Gebel el Silsila


The Great Pyramid Diagonals: Do They Point to a Hidden, Inner Platform Within the Pyramid?


Sphinx unearthed at Karnak temple

Ancient tomb of ancient Egyptian vizier in Luxor to be opened Dec 20

‘Pharaohs of Egypt’ exhibit extends run in Hungary

3,000 yr-old masked mummy found intact in Luxor: official


Chicago scientists open Egyptian mummy coffin


New post by Owen Jarus:

2,400-Year-Old Coffin's 'Odd' Art Hints at Ancient Egypt's Brain Drain

In Photos: Ancient Egyptian Coffin with 'Odd' Art


Mainz Egyptologist receives approval for long-term project on Egyptian cursive scripts

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saving Khufu’s second boat

A Japanese-Egyptian team is reconstructing Khufu’s second solar boat, 4,500 years after it was buried to ferry the pharaoh to eternity, writes Nevine El-Aref

The southern side of Khufu’s Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau is a hive of activity these days. Dozens of workers, Egyptologists and restorers are removing piece by piece the wooden beams of the pharaoh’s second solar boat, which has remained in situ for 4,500 years after it was buried to ferry him to eternity.
Restorers are cleaning the timber, oars and beams, while Egyptologists are busy documenting them in the laboratory recently established at the site to rescue the different parts of the boat.
The boat was discovered along with the first one inside two pits neighbouring each other in 1954, when Egyptian archaeologists Kamal Al-Mallakh and Zaki Nour were carrying out routine cleaning on the southern side of the Great Pyramid.
The first pit was found under a roof of 41 limestone slabs, each weighing almost 20 tons, with the three westernmost slabs being much smaller than the others leading them to be interpreted as keystones. On removing one of the slabs, Al-Mallakh and Nour saw a cedar boat, completely dismantled but arranged in the semblance of its finished form, inside the pit. Also inside were layers of mats, ropes, instruments made of flint, and some small pieces of white plaster, along with 12 oars, 58 poles, three cylindrical columns and five doors.
The boat was removed piece by piece under the supervision of restorer Ahmed Youssef, who spent more than 20 years restoring and reassembling the boat. The task resembled the fitting together of a giant jigsaw puzzle, and the completed boat is now on display at Khufu’s Solar Boat Museum on the Giza Plateau.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 57

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


Open Access Journal: Egypt Exploration Society Newsletter

The Virtual Mummy: Unwrapping a Mummy by Mouse Click

The Reconstructed Chronology of the Egyptian Kings


New blogpost by Timothy Reid:

The Highlites of 2014


239 artefacts to be returned to Egypt from France

Mummy wearing gold jewellery unearthed in Egypt's Luxor

Huy tomb open to public soon


Searching for Sesostris

New Port Said Museum

Pyramid truth revealed


Conflict surrounds Khufu Cartouche sentence


Episode 40: Feasting, Laughing and Dancing

Interlude: Celebrating the Divine.


Sherdy Season


By: Ashley Fiutko Arico, The Johns Hopkins University, George A. Barton Fellow

The Context of Ancient Egyptian Statuary in the Levant


My Favorite Artifact

Favorite Artifact: Hawk Mummy. Ptolemaic Period (332 BC–AD 100). Egypt (Bayview Collection). KM 1971.2.182


Ancient Egypt In Focus: The Photographic Archives Of John Garstang


239 smuggled Egyptian artifacts retrieved from France

US approves Egyptian request to impose restrictions on smuggled antiquities


Uptown Girls in Roman Oxyrhynchos?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Museum Pieces - A Worshipper Kneeling Before the God Anubis

Photocredit: Walters Art Museum
A Worshipper Kneeling Before the God Anubis

A bronze statuette of the anthropomorphic god Anubis facing a kneeling worshipper. He has the head of a jackal and the body of a human male. The piece has been cast in three sections and then joined. The eyes of Anubis are inlaid with gold and there are traces of gilding on the shoulders, wrists, ankles, neck, wig, and ears. The gilding was delicately applied to the eyes, eyebrows and muzzle, but in other areas it appears to have been applied in a more careless fashion. The piece is well preserved in general but there is a break on the lower back corner of the base and there is some green and bright blue corrosion on the lower side of the base. 

A hieroglyphic inscription runs around the main base, the base of the Anubis figure and along the back pillar of the worshiper, identifying the dedicant as one Wdja-Hor-resnet, son of Ankh-pa-khered, who is asking for the blessings of the god Anubis. The figure of Anubis is in a striding position with his proper left leg advanced. His proper right arm hangs at his side and the right hand is clenched into a fist with the thumb protruding. The proper left arm is raised and bent at the elbow and there is a drilled hole in the hand for the insertion of an object. Earlier photographs of this piece in Darresy's "Statues de Divinités," show that the missing object was a "was" scepter. He wears a tripartite wig, "shendyt" kilt with deep pleats and a striated belt. A broad collar, armlets and bracelets are incised and gilded. Anklets are suggested by the gilding around the ankles but they are not incised. The musculature of the limbs and the torso is clearly defined. The ears of the god are large and the inner detailing has been carefully modeled. The muzzle comes to a delicate point, accentuating the skillfully modeled eyes, sweeping brows, nose and mouth. 

There are two cobras at the feet of the deity facing the worshipper. The proper right cobra wears the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the left cobra wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt. The head of the left cobra is raised slightly higher than that of the right. A worshipper kneels before the god with his back against an inscribed pillar which is pyramidal at the top. He kneels with both knees down on a flat rectangular base, which is attached to the larger main base below. He extends his hands to the god palms down. He wears a "shendyt" kilt, but the pleats are not carved with the same precision that is seen on the kilt of the god. The bent knees are squared off unnaturally and the legs blend together below the kilt. He has an inscribed broad collar. He also wears a skull cap, the front line of which is clearly marked across his brow. The face is round with full cheeks and no definition of the chin. The ears are large and set high. The eyes are natural and do not have cosmetic brows. The nose is straight and the mouth is small with slightly pursed lips. The overall surface of the worshipper is pitted whereas the figure of Anubis has a high polish.

[Translation] May Anubis, give life, health, long life and great and good old age to Wdja-Hor-resnet, son of Ankh-pa-khered, whose mother is Ta-gemiw(t), who is born (made) of the Mistress of the house, Hy-inty for Pen-pa-djew./ May Anubis give life to Wdje-hor-resnet, son of Ankh-pa-khered./ May Anubis, who is before the place of the divine booth, give life, health, strength, a long life, and a great old age and happiness to the son of Ankh-pa-khered, whose mother is Ta-gemiw(t), who is Mistress of the House, Hy-inty for Pen-pa-djew.

Acquired by Henry Walters, 1930

PERIOD: ca. 747-525 BCE (Third Intermediate Period-Late Period, 25th-26th dynasty)
MEDIUM: bronze with gilt, gold inlay
MEASUREMENTS: H: 8 3/16 x W: 5 11/16 x D: 2 1/16 in. (20.8 x 14.4 x 5.3 cm)

Read more about Anubis...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Searching for Sesostris

A new French exhibition presents what is known about the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Sesostris III, writes David Tresilian in Paris

Not as famous as his New Kingdom successors Ramses II or Tutankhamun, and not responsible for the kind of grand building projects that immortalised his Old Kingdom predecessors Khufu and Khafre, builders of the largest of the Great Pyramids at Giza, the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Sesostris III was nevertheless one of the country’s most important rulers, becoming a kind of symbolic embodiment of ancient Egyptian kingship.

However, until recently it has been difficult to disentangle fact from fiction in inherited accounts of the pharaoh’s accomplishments, with modern historians tending to see the list of achievements attributed to Sesostris III by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, for example, as either invented or a composite of actions taken by many different rulers.

According to Herodotus, writing in the long second book of his Histories dedicated to ancient Egypt, Sesostris, an unusually war-like ruler, sailed down the Arabian Gulf with a fleet of warships, subduing coastal tribes as he did so. Later, he led campaigns in Asia, defeating the Scythians, and even led Egyptian armies into southern Europe, defeating sundry armies in Thrace.

“It is a fact,” Herodotus writes, “that the Colchians are of Egyptian descent,” indicating that Sesostris and his armies reached the far side of the Black Sea. “I noticed this myself before I heard anyone else mention it… and found that the Colchians remembered the Egyptians more distinctly than the Egyptians remembered them.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Weekly # 56

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


New article by Owen Jarus:

Ancient Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered


Ancient Egyptian Mummy Wearing Jewels Found


Egypt will retrieve 239 artefacts from France in the next few days


Some Open Access Articles from Chronique d'Égypte

Deir el Medine Online: Nichtliterarische Ostraka aus Deir el Medine

Open Access Journals: i-Medjat (papyrus électronique)

Digital Library at The Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies


New post by Molly Gleeson:

Meet Wilfred


A Guest Post From Our Museum Beekeepers


Nephthys in Ancient Egypt, Assitant of Isis.


The Controversial Afterlife of King Tut


Oldest papyri ever discovered document pyramid building, or More reasons why the aliens did not build the pyramids


Amenhotep III head unearthed in Luxor


Episode 39: The Wealth of Asia

The Wealth and Splendour of Nubkaure Amenemhat II.


Demons at the Egypt Centre, Wales

Armed and dangerous:

An iconography of protective Middle and New Kingdom demons

Wednesday, 3 December 2014, 7 pm

Fulton House 2, Swansea University, Wales


New post by Julia Budka:

Ahmose Nebpehtyre in Upper Nubia


16 Reasons Why Egypt's Pyramids were Tombs


Ancient Egyptian laborers worked through the pain despite health care: new study

Antiquities minister gives go-ahead for restoration of Nubian temples

Exorcism, love spells common in Classical Egypt: Australian researchers

Archaeologists unearth bejeweled ancient Egyptian mummy

Work under way on restoration of Amenhotep III statues

Limestone bust of Tuthmosis III discovered south of Luxor


Oxford team shed light on ancient Egyptian obelisk