Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yale archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs

By Bess Connolly Martell

Photo courtesy of YaleNews
A joint Yale and Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels) expedition to explore the the ancient Egyptian city of Elkab has uncovered some previously unknown rock inscriptions, which include the earliest monumental hieroglyphs dating back around 5,200 years.

These new inscriptions were not previously recorded by any expedition and are of great significance in the history of the ancient Egyptian writing systems, according to Egyptologist John Coleman Darnell, professor in Yale's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale, who co-directs the Elkab Desert Survey Project.

“This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest — and largest — signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system,” says Darnell.

The researchers also discovered rock art depicting a herd of elephants that was carved between 4,000-3,500 B.C.E. One of the elephants has a little elephant inside of it, which, according to Darnell, “is an incredibly rare way of representing a pregnant female animal.”

The archaeologists also identified a panel of four signs, created circa 3,250 B.C.E. and written right to left — the dominant writing direction in later Egyptian texts — portraying animal images of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald ibis bird above and between them. The arrangement of symbols is common in later Egyptian representations of the solar cycle and with the concept of luminosity. “These images may express the concept of royal authority over the ordered cosmos,” says Darnell.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ancient Tomb of Gold Worker Found Along Nile River

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | June 19, 2017

A 3,400-year-old tomb holding the remains of more than a dozen possibly mummified people has been discovered on Sai Island, along the Nile River in northern Sudan.

Archaeologists discovered the tomb in 2015, though it wasn't until 2017 that a team with the AcrossBorders archaeological research project fully excavated the site.

The island is part of an ancient land known as Nubia that Egypt controlled 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians built settlements and fortifications throughout Nubia, including on Sai Island, which had a settlement and a gold mine. The tomb, which contains multiple chambers, appears to hold the remains of Egyptians who lived in or near that settlement and worked in gold production.

The artifacts found in the tomb include scarabs (a type of amulet widely used in Egypt), ceramic vessels, a gold ring, the remains of gold funerary masks worn by the deceased and a small stone sculpture known as a shabti. The ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis could do the work of the deceased for them in the afterlife. Some of the artifacts bore Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions that revealed the tomb was originally created for a man named Khnummose, who was a "master gold worker."

The remains of Khnummose (which may have been mummified) were found next to those of a woman who may have been his wife. Some of the other people found in tomb may have been relatives of Khnummose, the researchers said, adding that they planned to conduct DNA analyses of the remains.

Friday, June 2, 2017

First complete genome data extracted from ancient Egyptian mummies

Study finds that ancient Egyptians were most closely related to ancient populations from the Middle East and Western Asia. 

An international team of researchers have successfully recovered and analysed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BCE to 400 BCE, including the first genome-wide data from three individuals. The study found that modern Egyptians share more ancestry with sub-Saharan Africans than ancient Egyptians did, whereas ancient Egyptians were found to be most closely related to ancient people from the Middle East and Western Asia.

This study counters prior scepticism about the possibility of recovering reliable ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies. Despite the potential issues of degradation and contamination caused by climate and mummification methods, the authors were able to use high-throughput DNA sequencing and robust authentication methods to ensure the ancient origin and reliability of the data. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that Egyptian mummies can be a reliable source of ancient DNA, and can contribute to a more accurate and refined understanding of Egypt’s history.

Egypt is a promising location for the study of ancient populations. It has a rich and well-documented history, and its geographic location and many interactions with populations from surrounding areas, in Africa, Asia and Europe, make it a dynamic region. Recent advances in the study of ancient DNA present an opportunity to test existing understandings of Egyptian history using ancient genetic data.

However, genetic studies of ancient Egyptian mummies are rare due to methodological and contamination issues. Although some of the first extractions of ancient DNA were from mummified remains, scientists have raised doubts as to whether genetic data, especially the nuclear DNA which encodes for the majority of the genome, from mummies would be reliable, and whether it could be recovered at all.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lintel bearing Middle Kingdom cartouches unearthed at Ihnasya site in Egypt

A lintel inscribed with the cartouche of Sesostris II was unearthed at Heryshef temple in Ihnasya

By Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 27 May 2017

Photocredit: Ahram Online

A large temple lintel made of red granite was discovered by an Egyptian-Spanish mission during excavation work at the temple of Heryshef at an archaeological site in Ihnasya El-Medina, Beni Suef.

Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, announced the discovery on Saturday.

He described it as “very important” because the lintel is engraved with two cartouches containing the name of the Middle Kingdom King Sesostris II, (c.1895 – 1889 BC), who built the Lahun pyramid located 10 km away from Ihnasya.

The presence of the lintel at the Heryshef temple proves the interest of Sesostris II in this site, and in Fayoum in general.

Maria Carmen Perez-Die, the director of the mission from the Antiquities Museum in Madrid, said that the mission had uncovered several constructions levels, one dating to the early 18th dynasty, which concluded with the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1479 – 1425 BC) and another to that of Ramesses II (c.1279 – 1213 BC).

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/269618/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Lintel-bearing-Middle-Kingdom-cartouches-unearthed.aspx

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Burial chamber of recently unearthed 13th Dynasty Pyramid in Dahshur uncovered

The wooden box of the canopic jars and remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus were uncovered inside the newly discovered pyramid remains in Dahshur necropolis

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 10 May 2017

The Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities uncovered the burial chamber of a 13th Dynasty Pyramid discovered last month at Dahshur archaeological site.

Adel Okasha, head of the mission and the general director of the Dahshur site, explained that after removing the stones that covered the burial chamber, the mission discovered a wooden box engraved with three lines of hieroglyphics.

These lines are rituals to protect the deceased and the name of its owner.

Sherif Abdel Moneim, assistant to the minister of antiquities, revealed that the box housed the four canopic jars of the deceased with their name engraved, that of the daughter of the 13th Dynasty King Emnikamaw, whose pyramid is located 600 metres away.

He said that the mission also discovered last month a relief with 10 lines of hieroglyphics bearing the cartouche of King Emenikamaw. Hence the box may belong to the King’s daughter, or one of his family. Inside the box, the mission found wrappings of the deceased's liver, intestines, stomach and lungs.

Remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus have been found but in a very bad state of conservation. Excavation works would continue to uncover more of the pyramid's secrets.

Khaled El-Enany, minister of antiquities, visited the site this morning to inspect the excavation works.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/268521/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Burial-chamber-of-recently-unearthed-th-Dynasty-Py.aspx

Friday, May 5, 2017

Unique funerary garden unearthed in Thebes

For the first time, an almost 4000 year-old funerary garden is uncovered in Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 3 May 2017

During excavation work in the area around the early 18th Dynasty rock-cut tombs of Djehuty and Hery (ca 1500­‐1450 BCE) in Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, a Spanish archaeological mission unearthed a unique funerary garden.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online that the garden was found in the open courtyard of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb and the layout of the garden measures 3m x 2m and is divided into squares of about 30cm.

These squares, he pointed out, seem to have contained different kinds of plants and flowers. In the middle of the garden the mission has located two elevated spots that was once used for the cultivation of a small tree or bush.

At one of the corners, Afifi continued, the roots and the trunk of a 4,000 year-old small tree have been preserved to a height of 30cm. Next to it, a bowl containing dried dates and other fruits, which could have been presented as offerings, were found.

“The discovery of the garden may shed light on the environment and gardening in ancient Thebes during the Middle Kingdom, around 2000 BCE,” said Jose Galan, head of the Spanish mission and research professor at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.

He explained that similar funerary gardens were only found on the walls of a number of New Kingdom tombs where a small and squared garden is represented at the entrance of the funerary monument, with a couple of trees next to it. It probably had a symbolic meaning and must have played a role in the funerary rites. However, Galan asserted, these gardens have never been found in ancient Thebes and the recent discovery offers archaeological confirmation of an aspect of ancient Egyptian culture and religion that was hitherto only known through iconography.

Moreover, he pointed out, near the entrance of the Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb, a small mud-brick chapel measuring 46cm x 70cm x 55cm was discovered attached to the façade. Inside it three stelae of the 13th Dynasty, around ca 1800 BCE, were found in situ.

He explained that early studies reveal that the owner of one of them was called Renef‐Seneb, and the owner of the second was “the citizen Khemenit, son of the lady of the house, Idenu.” The latter mentions the gods Montu, Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.

“These discoveries underscore the relevance of the central area of Dra Abul Naga as a sacred place for the performance of a variety of cultic activities during the Middle Kingdom,” asserted Galan.

The Spanish mission has been working for 16 years in Dra Abul Naga, on the West Bank of Luxor, around the early 18th Dynasty rock-cut tombs of Djehuty and Hery.


Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/267024/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Unique-funerary-garden-unearthed-in-Thebes.aspx

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2nd Pyramid Bearing Pharaoh Ameny Qemau's Name Is Found

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 4, 2017

A 3,800-year-old pyramid found with an alabaster block bearing the name of pharaoh Ameny Qemau has been discovered at the site of Dahshur in Egypt.

Another pyramid containing artifacts bearing the name of Ameny Qemau (also spelled Qemaw) was discovered in 1957 in Dahshur, a royal necropolis in the desert on the Nile River's west bank. The finding has left Egyptologists with a mystery as to why the same pharaoh seemingly has two pyramids to his name.

The remains of the pyramid's inner structure were discovered by a team of Egyptian archaeologists and announced today (April 4) by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

"The uncovered remains of the pyramid represents a part of its inner structure, which is composed of a corridor leading to the inner side of the pyramid and a hall, which leads to a southern ramp and a room to the western end," Adel Okasha, the director general of the Dahshur necropolis, said in a statement from the ministry.

Within the inner structure, the team discovered an alabaster block containing 10 lines of hieroglyphic writing. The ministry said it had not yet deciphered the writing on the block.

Live Science showed pictures of the pyramid's block, released by the ministry, to several Egyptologists. Both James Allen, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University, and Aidan Dodson, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, said  that inscribed on the block is a type of religious text used to line the walls of pyramids, and that it bears the name of the pharaoh Ameny Qemau.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

4th century imperial bath complex inaugurated in Egypt's Alexandria

By Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 1 Apr 2017

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and members of parliment inaugurated Alexandria's cistern and imperial bathing complex area in the Kom El-Dikka archaeological site.

The area had been undergoing excavation and restoration since 1960 by an Egyptian-Polish mission from Warsaw University.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, said that the newly inaugurated area will be included within the Kom Al-Dikka tourist path, which includes the Roman amphitheater, the bird villa and residential houses from the Hellenistic period until the Islamic era.

El-Enany describes the bathing complex as "one of the finest edifices of its time," and that the bathing halls had welcomed hundreds of bathers at a time.

The complex also includes palestrae for physical exercises, colonnade passages and amenities such as public latrines.

Water was supplied to the complex using huge cisterns and heated by a complex system of furnaces and pipes.

The minister and the parlimentary delegates also paid a visit to the planned Mosaic museum in downtown Alexandria to inspect the ongoing work and address any obstacles to its completion.

During the tour, Mohamed Abdelmaguid, director-general of the Underwater Archaeological Department, introduced a three-phase plan to develop the Qayet Bey Citadel and its surroundings.

Abdelmaguid also reviewed a plan for the construction of the first underwater museum beneath the city's eastern harbour, which once was the ancient Alexandria royal area.

Abdelmaguid suggests the building of an underwater park to promote diving as well as the establishment of a training centre for underwater archaeology.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/41/262047/Heritage/GrecoRoman/th-century-imperial-bath-complex-inaugurated-in-Eg.aspx

Friday, March 24, 2017

Can a long-lost Egyptian colossus save ancient Heliopolis?

By Garry Shaw 21 March 2017

Earlier this month, news of the discovery of a colossal statue of an ancient Egyptian king took the world by storm. Working deep in a water-logged pit, a joint team of Egyptian and German archaeologists discovered the eight metre-high colossus broken into two large pieces: a torso and lower part of the face, with a part of the pharaoh’s false beard present, and the top of its head, wearing a crown. These pieces have now been lifted to the surface, and taken for conservation at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where they will be temporarily displayed. Afterwards, the statue will be exhibited at the Grand Egyptian Museum, currently under construction at Giza and scheduled to open in 2018. Though early reports indicated that the quartzite colossus might have been erected under the famous King Ramesses II (c. 1279–1212 BC), it has since been shown to bear the name of King Psamtik I (c. 664–610 BC) of the Late Period – an arguably equally important pharaoh, though lacking the star power of the earlier, better known ruler.

The colossus was discovered in Matariya, a northeast suburb of Cairo. Now a densely packed area of apartment buildings, for thousands of years it was part of one of ancient Egypt’s greatest cities, better known today by its Greek name: Heliopolis, ‘City of the Sun’ (not to be confused with modern Heliopolis, a couple of kilometres to its east). From the beginning of Egyptian history, ancient Heliopolis was the main centre of Egypt’s sun cult, where priests worshipped the god Re, and developed myths proclaiming his temple to be built on the first land that rose from the floodwaters after creation. Ancient descriptions and depictions present it as a city of statues, obelisks (two of which are now in London and New York), sphinxes, shrines, large and elaborate temple complexes, housing, fields and farms, connected to the Nile by canal. It was a place of learning, where astronomical observations were made. Such was the city’s prestige that occasionally the office of high priest of Re was held by a royal prince.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Archaeologists unearth statue of Queen Tiye in Egypt's Luxor

The discovery of the statue was made by the European-Egyptian mission, working under the umbrella of the German Archaeological Institute

By Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 23 Mar 2017

A unique statue, possibly of Queen Tiye, the wife of King Amenhotep III and grandmother of King Tutankhamun, has been unearthed at her husband's funerary temple in Kom El-Hittan on Luxor's west bank.

The exciting find was made by the European-Egyptian mission, working under the umbrella of the German Archaeological Institute.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany who visited the site to inspect the discovery, described the staute as "unique and distinghuised".

He told Ahram Online that no alabaster statues of Queen Tiye have been found before now.

"All previous statues of her unearthed in the temple were carved of quartzite," he said.

Hourig Sourouzian, head of the mission said that the statue is very well preserved and has kept is colours well.

She said the statue was founded accidentally while archaeologists were lifting up the lower part of a statue of king Amenhotep III that was buried in the sand.

"The Queen Tiye statue appeared beside the left leg of the King Amenhotep III statue," Sourouzian said.

She added that the statue will be the subject of restoration work. 

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/261512/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Archaeologists-unearth-statue-of-Queen-Tiye-in-Egy.aspx

Neolithic rock art discovered in Egypt

The depictions feature an artistic marriage between Egyptian iconography and stylistics and pre-Egyptian method and motif.

By Brooks Hays   |   March 22, 2017 

March 22 (UPI) -- Newly discovered rock art may offer a link between the Neolithic period and Ancient Egyptian culture.
Photocredit: David Sabel/University of Bonn

The ritualistic engravings were discovered by Egyptologists at the University of Bonn and dated to the 4th millennium BC. The art features a series of small dots -- similar to pointillism -- depicting hunting scenes. Researchers suggest the scenes recall shamanistic art found elsewhere.

Scientists found the engravings while excavating a necropolis near Aswan, a city of ancient origins situated on the Nile in southeastern Egypt.

The necropolis, Qubbet el-Hawa, home to more than 80 burial mounds, has offered archaeologists a wealth of Egyptian artifacts through the decades, but the latest find is unique.

Previous discoveries showcased the lives of noble Egyptians living between 2200 and the 4th century BC. The rock engravings are much older.

"Style and iconography provide solid clues when dating these," Ludwig Morenz, head of the Egyptology department at Bonn, said in a news release. "It opens up a new archeological dimension."

Researchers suggest the depictions feature an artistic marriage between Egyptian iconography and stylistics and pre-Egyptian method and motif. The indentations are worn with age, but a close examination revealed three figures: a hunter with a bow, a shaman-like man dancing with his arms raised and, in between, an African ostrich.

"The archer clearly shows hunting for the large flightless bird, while the man with raised arms can be identified as a hunt dancer," explained Morenz.

Scientists say the hunt dancer appears to be sporting a bird mask. Similar shamanistic hunting depictions, featuring female dancers and bird masks were discovered at Hierakonpolis, an ancient Upper Egyptian city.

"This social practice and the associated complex of ideas have barely been looked at in Egyptology," Morenz concluded. "This opens up new horizons for research."

Source: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2017/03/22/Neolithic-rock-art-discovered-in-Egypt/9831490190673/

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New discovery: Intact tomb uncovered in Aswan

The intact tomb of the brother of a 12th Dynasty Elephantine governor has been uncovered, containing a range of funerary goods

Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 Mar 2017

Photocredit: Ahram Online
The Spanish Archaeological Mission in Qubbet El-Hawa, west Aswan, has discovered an intact structure where the brother of one of the most important governors of the 12th Dynasty, Sarenput II, was buried.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, described the discovery as “important” not only for the richness of the burial chamber, but also in shedding light on individuals close to those in power. 

Nasr Salama, director general of Aswan Antiquities, said that the find is unique with funerary goods that consist of pottery, two cedar coffins (outer and inner) and a set of wooden models, which represent funerary boats and scenes of daily life.

Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, head of the Spanish mission from the University of Jaen, said that a mummy was also discovered but is still under study. It is covered with a polychrome cartonnage with a beautiful mask and collars.

Inscriptions on the coffins bear the name of the deceased, Shemai. followed respectively by his mother and father, Satethotep and Khema. The latter was governor of Elephantine under the reign of Amenemhat II.

He explained that Sarenput II, the eldest brother of Shemai, was one of the most powerful governors of Egypt under the reigns of Senwosret II and Senwosret III. Apart from his duties as governor of Elephantine, he was general of the Egyptian troops and was responsible for the cult of different gods.

With this discovery, Serrano asserted, the University of Jaen mission in Qubbet El-Hawa adds more data to previous discoveries of 14 members of the ruling family of Elephantine during the 12th Dynasty. Such high numbers of individuals provide a unique opportunity to study the living conditions of the upper class in Egypt more than 3,800 years ago.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/261435/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/New-discovery-Intact-tomb-uncovered-in-Aswan.aspx

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Colossal Statue of Egyptian Pharaoh Discovered in Mud Pit

By Rossella Lorenzi, Live Science Contributor | March 9, 2017

Archaeologists have discovered a colossal statue, possibly depicting Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses the Great, in a muddy pit in a Cairo suburb, Egypt's antiquities ministry announced today (March 9).

Split in fragments, the quartzite statue was found by Egyptian and German archaeologists in the heavily populated Ain Shams and Matariya districts, where the ancient city of Heliopolis — the cult center for sun-god worship — once stood.

Indeed, the statue was found in a courtyard near the ruins of the sun temple founded by Ramses II, better known as Ramesses the Great.

"We found two big fragments so far, covering the head and the chest," said Dietrich Raue, head of the German archaeological team that discovered the statue. "As of yet, we do not have the base and the legs as well as the kilt," Raue told Live Science.

Raue, a curator at the Egyptian Museum of the University of Leipzig, estimates that the statue is about 26 feet (8 meters) tall. Although his team did not find any artifacts or engravings that could identify the subject of the colossal sculpture, its location in front of Ramesses II's temple suggests that it could have belonged to the pharaoh.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Statue of Amenhotep III, 66 of goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor

The discoveries shed further light on what the eighteenth dynasty pharaoh's temple would have looked like

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 8 Mar 2017

The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project has discovered a magnificent statue in black granite representing king Amenhotep III seated on the throne.
Project director Hourig Sourouzian told Ahram Online that the statue is 248 cm high, 61 cm wide and 110cm deep.

It was found in the great court of the temple of Amenhotep III on Luxor's West Bank.

"It is a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian sculpture: extremely well carved and perfectly polished," Sourouzian said, adding that the statue shows the king with very juvenile facial features, which indicates that it was probably commissioned early in his reign.

A similar statue was discovered by the same team in 2009 and is now temporarily on display in the Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art.

When the site's restoration is complete, Sourouzian said, the pair of statues would be displayed again in the temple, in their original positions.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ministry of Antiquities Ancient Egyptian antiquities department said the team has discovered up to 66 parts of statues of the goddess Sekhmet this archaeological season. These statues represent the goddess sitting or standing holding a papyrus sceptre and an ankh — the symbol of life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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

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

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 7 Feb 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Princess tomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tomb of Ramesside-era royal scribe uncovered in Luxor

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 31 Jan 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Polish researcher investigates the health of children in ancient Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Were Egyptian 'Pot Burials' a Symbol of Rebirth?

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

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

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

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

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

High-status dead?

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