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. 


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."


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.


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.