Monday, June 18, 2018

Ancient Egypt June 18

Top 5 Ancient Egypt Books for Kids

Many of us have been reading books about antiquity since our youngest days and if we were lucky enough to learn about ancient Egypt in elementary school, our fascination for ancient cultures blossomed at an early age. In this blog, the Nile Scribes have chosen our six favourite books which are perfectly suited to teach the youngest of readers about the world of ancient Egypt, and might even inspire some of them to be Egyptologists someday.

Museum displays parity of women in ancient Egypt

Like many a bumbling tourist, this traveler was perplexed by the unexpected. People dressed differently, ate differently, wrote differently, did everything differently. The river flowed not from north to south but from south to north.

But what was most perplexing to the fifth century BC Greek historian Herodotus when he visited Egypt was the role of women. "Women attend market and are employed in trade, while men stay at home and do the weaving," he wrote.

The Egyptians, he concluded, "in their manners and customs seem to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind."

Newsmax TV Takes a 'Journey Through the Valley of the Kings' in Ancient Egypt

Take an unforgettable journey through the burial grounds of the ancient world's most powerful rulers — the pharaohs of Egypt — as Newsmax TV presents a powerful new documentary, “Journey Through the Valley of the Kings.”

In this powerful TV event, you’ll go on an astonishingly realistic tour of the fabled “Valley of the Kings.” And while King Tutankhamun's tomb may be considered the most famous resting place in the world, the treasures that lay with him pale in comparison to those once buried with the greatest pharaohs in the valley.


Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered several pieces of ancient rock art from more than 3,000 years ago, according to a statement released by the country’s Ministry of Antiquities.

A joint American-Egyptian research team led by John Coleman Darnell from Yale University discovered the works at an ancient site in Egypt’s Eastern Desert—part of the Sahara that lies east of the Nile River—which was used as a quarry and a place for manufacturing flint in ancient times.

Renovation of discovered head of Ramses II completed
Newly discovered parts of the statue of Ramses II in the Temple of KomOmbo, Aswan – Photo courtesy of Ministry of Antiquities’ official statement.

Renovation of the discovered head of Ramses II statuein the Temple of Kom Ombo was completed, according to Ahmed Sayed, general manager of Kom Ombo antiquities sector.

Sayed said that the head was put in the museum's store of the temple to undergo some necessary studies.

Jersey’s lost Egyptian treasure

Among the pioneering Egyptologists searching for the tombs of the pharaohs in the 19th century was a little-known man of Jersey origin whose family would later make a sensational gift to the Island.

John Gosset appears in the pages of a diary written by Edward Lane, acknowledged as one of the first group of modern Europeans to seriously investigate the archaeological remains of the great Egyptian dynasties now so familiar to us.

Add caption
New logo design for Grand Egyptian Museum creates controversy

Some thought the design simple and elegant, whilst others thought it bore little relation to Egyptian culture.

The newly released logo design for the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) has resulted in controversy among archaeologists, artists and architects.

Egyptologist Kara Cooney Melds Scholarship and Popular History

This may be L.A.'s Year of King Tut, but the ongoing exhibition at the California Science Center shouldn't suggest the boy king is the only Egyptological celebrity in town. For nearly a decade, professor Kara Cooney has educated students — and the public at large — in the ancient ways of the land of the pharaohs. She's UCLA's Nefertiti of Near Eastern studies, and she's as statuesque as some of the granite likenesses she's studied in the field.

Moses Goes Down to Egypt by artist Nina Paley

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ancient Egypt June 11

Can Egypt’s superheroes stop corruption?
Characters from the El3osba comic book series include (L-R) Walhan, Microbusgy, Alpha, Horus, Mariam and Kaf.

Horus, the god of the sky in Egyptian mythology, has risen to fight corruption. He is accompanied by Mariam, who is a female doctor with the superpower to heal, and Microbusgy, a minibus driver who can control fire and dust.

How this ancient African town in Egypt became the world’s first planned city
Sir Flinders Petrie — Ancient Pages

Kahun, the first ancient Egyptian town that was excavated, was not like other towns at the time as it was not meant for the general population or ordinary activities.

It was basically a temporary site for workers who were building the Al-Lahun pyramid.

Abandoned right after work was done, Kahun was built during the reign of King Senusret.

In the late 19th century, Sir Flinders Petrie, a British archaeologist, first excavated Kahun, where he found many working tools like chisels, knives, fishing nets, hoes, rakes, mallets, and flints, emphasizing the fact that the area had served as a workers’ village.

Andrew Carnegie and Pittsburgh’s Ancient Egypt Collection
Egypt Hall entrance at Carnegie Museum of Natural History; credit CMNH

Known as the ‘Steel City’, Pittsburgh is a bustling metropolis in western Pennsylvania and is well-known for its long-time connections to Andrew Carnegie. An immigrant from Scotland who moved to the United States at the age of 13, Carnegie’s family settled in the area around Allegheny. Carnegie would go on to become a wealthy steel tycoon and devoted the later parts of his life to philanthropy, something for which he is well-known. Several institutions around Pittsburgh owe their existence to him: among them the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. In this week’s post, the Nile Scribes introduce you to the Carnegie’s Egyptian collection.

What Is It With Egypt? Ancient Egypt-themed Slots Making a Comeback

The mysterious world of ancient Egypt has always been an inspiration for the entertainment industry in all of its forms so it comes as a little surprise that the online gambling industry jumped on the band wagon, producing many Egypt-themed slots over the years. And, while we had a break of sorts for a brief period, it seems that casino games based on the myths and history of ancient Egypt are back in a full swing once again.

Dozens of Mysterious ‘Reserve Heads’ Were Sealed in Ancient Egyptian Tombs
Left to right: Possible brother of Snefrusonb, unknown male, unknown head, Prince Sneferu-seneb, Princess Meritites. PUBLIC DOMAIN

IN 1894, THE FRENCH ARCHAEOLOGIST Jacques de Morgan made a perplexing discovery in the royal necropolis of Dashur. In a tomb dating around the reign of Snefru (beginning 2613 B.C.) during Egypt’s fourth dynasty, he found an odd sculpture of a human head. This object, known as a reserve head, has puzzled and inspired scholars for over a century.

The Process of Papyrus to Papers in Ancient Egypt

The papyrus plant was of tremendous importance within the ancient Egyptian civilization. The plant served many uses, but the most significant was its development as a source of raw materials for the production of paper. The ancient Egyptians developed a process for the harvesting, manufacture, use and storage of this valuable material.

Ancient Egyptian Footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum
The sole of a mummy case with a bound Syrian and Nubian (Obj no. 2327/1 – Provenance unknown) (Photo: Malek, 4,000 Years, 348)

As you make your way north on St. George Street in downtown Toronto towards the similarly named subway station, you may notice a building shaped like a shoebox. The Bata Shoe Museum is dedicated to the cultural and creative uses of shoes throughout the world: from heels and seal fur boots to astronaut footwear. Their collection also includes sandals from ancient Egypt. The Nile Scribes visited the museum and explored their special exhibit The Gold Standard: Glittering Footwear from around the World.

Baking Ancient Egyptian Bread

Note: Last week, we had an article on making ancient Egyptian beer, so it's only fair we do bread this week. (Fortunately, this article appeared just in time.)

Bread was a staple in ancient Egyptian diet.  Made from a variety of ingredients, bread loaves of different sizes were made in a variety of shapes, including human figures and animals. They were often elaborately decorated and whole or cracked grain was frequently added, resembling the multi-grain breads baked nowadays. Experiments conducted to solve ‘the mysteries of Egyptian bread pot’ have provided few recipes, and a study carried out by Delwen Samuel has established that ancient Egyptians might have been as good at baking as they were at building pyramids.

Egypt: Old Kingdom

Strategy simulator of the Great Pyramids period, where you take your path from the unification of Egyptian tribes to the foundation of The First Empire. Developed with the assistance of Egyptologists.

Video of the Week

Monday, June 4, 2018

Ancient Egypt June 4

Egyptian antiquities uncovered during Sydney house clean-up donated to university

A large collection of Egyptian antiquities uncovered during a clean-up of a Sydney home has been donated to a university archaeological museum. Rosemary Beattie recalls the oddity of being shown what was supposedly a mummified cat during childhood visits to her grandmother's house.

Scientists Thought This Egyptian Mummy Was a Bird. The True Contents Were a Sad Surprise

A tiny, 2,100-year-old mummy from ancient Egypt had long been thought to contain the remains of a treasured bird - which would make sense, considering the hawk-themed decorations and small size.

Mystery of the giant building found in Egypt containing bronze tools, statues, and a commemorative gold coin

Researchers have discovered the ruins of a huge Roman bath at the San El-Hagar archaeological site in Egypt.

Alongside the 52-foot-long red brick structure, archaeologists also unearthed pottery vessels, terracotta statues, bronze tools, a chunk of engraved stone, and a statue of a ram.

The most remarkable artifact, however, is among the smallest.

Massive Buhen fortress still under Nile
Buhen-Fortress | by nubianimage Buhen-Fortress | by nubianimage / flicker

Buhen was a massive fortress located on the west bank of the Nile in Lower Nubia (northern Sudan). The walls of the fortress were made of brick and stone walls, approximately 5 meters (16 ft) thick and about 10 meters (33 ft) high, covering an area of about 13,000 square meters (140,000 sq ft) and extending more than 150 meters (490 ft). It was constructed during the reigns of King Senusret III in the Middle Kingdom era (12th dynasty) to protect Egypt and the commercial ships from rebel Nubians in the south, according to “Ancient Egypt” by David P. Silverman.

A sip of history: ancient Egyptian beer

Painted wooden model of four figures preparing food and beer. From Sidmant, Egypt, 6th Dynasty (c. 2345–2181 BC).

Beer was a result of the Agricultural Revolution (c. 10,000 BC), as fermentation was an accidental by-product of the gathering of wild grain. It’s said that beer was not invented but discovered, yet the manufacturing of beer was an active choice and the ancient Egyptians produced and consumed it in huge volumes.

Not unsurprisingly, beer has made other appearances in this blog. See Bread and Beer and From Beer to Sacred Cat Rugs.

Minecraft Adds New Egyptian Mythology Add-On Pack

Minecraft players now have a new Egyptian Mythology Mash-Up pack to download that adds all kinds of Egyptian-themed textures, new mobs, skins, and much more.

The optional Minecraft add-on was revealed earlier today by Mojang as it became available across all Minecraft platforms. Announcing the release of the add-on in a new post on the game’s site, Mojang’s Per Landin shared more on the add-on and what’s made possible because of it.

Picture of the week

H.M. Herget - from a 1941 issue of National Geographic.

Video of the Week

Monday, May 28, 2018

Ancient Egypt May 28

Agatha Christie: world’s first historical whodunnit was inspired by 4,000 year-old letters

When the ancient Egyptian priest and landowner Heqanakhte wrote a series of rather acerbic letters to his extended family sometime during the 12th Dynasty (1991-1802BC), he could not have known that he was creating the framework around which the British crime writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) would, some 4,000 years later, weave one of the world’s first historical crime novels.

Death Comes as the End (1944) is the only one of Christie’s novels not to be set in the 20th century and not to feature any European characters. The death of a priest’s concubine sets off a series of murders within the family and, as in Christie’s more familiar 20th-century whodunnits, the scene is soon littered with bodies. The book is due to be adapted for the screen by the BBC in 2019.

How did King Tutankhamun become a household name?

Out of all Ancient Egyptians, one Pharaoh remains a well-known figure today. And his continued prominence may be because of an an influential museum exhibition nearly fifty years ago. Treasures of Tutankhamun was an incredibly popular exhibition at the British Museum that promoted King Tut into public consciousness. ABC Overnights speaks to Secretary of the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society and Deputy Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine Sarah Griffiths who saw the exhibition when she was a young girl.

Graduate student unearths ancient Egyptian life stories from burial texts

A UCLA student discovered that ancient Egyptians used material objects to construct their social identities just as people do today.

Marissa Stevens, a graduate student in the department of Near Eastern languages and cultures, studied how ancient Egyptians used funerary papyri to convey social status and personalities by examining social documents buried with the dead. Stevens presented her research May 3 at the final round of the University of California Grad Slam, an annual contest in which UC graduate students present their research in just three minutes.

Collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts seized in Naples, Italy

The artefacts had been stolen from illegal excavation sites in Egypt.

Police in Naples, Italy have seized a number of parcels filled with artefacts from several countries, including ancient Egyptian artefacts.

Tel Al-Amarna Visitors' Centre in Minya to receive upgrade

The Ministry of Antiquities has begun a project to develop the Amarna Visitors' Centre in Minya in partnership with the University of Cambridge's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

The project is titled Delivering Sustainable Heritage Strategies for Rural Egypt: Community and Archaeology at Tel El-Amarna, and is funded by the Newton-Mosharafa Fund organised by the British Council and the Science and Technology Development Fund, according to Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities at Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.

Skeleton Found At Late Roman Fortress In Egypt Reveals Violent Death

At the Late Roman era fortress of Hisn al-Bab between ancient Egypt and Nubia, archaeologists recovered the skeleton of a young man who met a violent death and who was left exposed where he fell after the fort was destroyed. His remains may hold the key to understanding a previously undocumented battle.

Egypt: Old Kingdom by Clarus Victoria is now available on Steam!

Strategy simulator of the Great Pyramids construction period, where you take your path from the unification of Egyptian tribes to the foundation of The First Empire.

Deep historical research and stylized graphics - these two are the main features of Egypt Old Kingdom, the game made by Clarus Victoria Studio in cooperation with egyptologists from CESRAS (Center for Egyptological Studies of the Russian Academy of Science).

The player will lead a small group of Egyptians, who came to the Lower Egypt to found a new settlement. All he has is a minimal stock of food, a handful of people and a few soldiers as a protection from threats and wild animals.

Intriguing Gold Coin and Other Treasures Uncovered in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the remains of a huge, red, brick building — likely the remnants of a Roman bath — as well as a mountain of treasures, including a statue of a ram and a gold coin featuring King Ptolemy III, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Archaeologists discovered previously unknown hieroglyphic inscriptions in Egypt

Polish scientists discovered dozens of previously unknown hieroglyphic inscriptions on the rocks near the temple of Hathor at Gebelein, Southern Egypt. The inscriptions containing prayers to deities had been made by pilgrims or priests, the researchers say.

"The temple scribe Senebiu adores Hathor Lady of Gebelein" - reads one of the inscriptions discovered by a team of Polish scientists working at Gebelein. Like a few dozen others, it was engraved on a rock surface near the 3.5 thousand years old rock-cut chapel of the goddess Hathor.

Video of the week

Picture of the week

New Amenhotep III Statues at Kom El Hitan. Luxor's West Bank.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds

I recently saw this exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum, the first city in America to host it. It will be in St. Louis through September 9. World-renowned underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team discovered  two lost cities of ancient Egypt, which were submerged under the Mediterranean Sea for over a thousand years.

The exhibit is quite well organized and provides ample room for a mass of people.  I went on one of the museum's free days, and every entrance time slot was full, yet, I never felt pushed or crowded. All in all, one of the best exhibits I've seen in some time.

I took several photos, and I hope you enjoy some of them.

While waiting to enter the exhibit, you can study a mural of what they believe the submerged city looked like. The temple looks a lot like Edfu to me, so it might just be their fantasy.

When I visited Egypt in 2006 and 2007, I saw some of artifacts in the exhibit. At the time, they were bringing them up and "stashing" them in a Roman amphitheater in Alexandria. I remember seeing statues resembling the ones shown here, although they were rather crusted in lichen so I can't be sure they were the same ones.

The first statue is of the goddess Isis, if memory serves.

The second statue is of Arsinoe II, which is a magnificent example of Graeco-Egyptian art. The drapery of her dress is amazing. This sculpture might have been a cult statue of Arsinoe in the Serapeum of Canopus

Now, let's get our steles on. It's almost impossible for me to say which one I liked best, although I'm tilted toward the young Horus standing on a crocodile (Set?) and holding snakes in each fist.

I found these statues, both of Osiris, remarkable because they are made of wood, not stone or marble. Only after I read the information and pressed my nose to the glass did I see the wood grain.

And speaking of Osiris. . . . the mysteries of Osiris supposedly became less mysterious based on these findings. I bought the exhibition catalog, which supposedly explains all this, but I have not yet read it. Nonetheless, there were plenty of Osirion pieces, and here are a few of them.

  1. This statue called the Awakening of Osiris has long been a favorite of mine and was not found in the Mediterranean.
  2. Osiris Vegetans Figure in a Falcon-headed Coffin (800-600 BC). This figure is also called a corn-mummy and was formed from earth, Nile flood water, and seeds and then swaddled in linen. They were sprinkled with water until the seeds grew, which symbolized both the rebirth of Osiris and the annual regeneration of Egypt. 
  3. Osiris on Funeral and Revival Bed (1773 -1650 BC) found at Abydos represents the moment when Isis in the form of a kite (bird of prey) revives him with the breath of her wings. The etching behind the statue shows the same story, which I believe is from a carving from the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. 
  4. Osiris-Canopus (AD 100-200) is marble sculpture, which was produced after Egypt  became part of the Roman Empire. 

Horus, Taweret, and the Apis Bull represent the gods as sacred animals.

These beautiful fragments are the god Bes and a sacred ram of the god Amun.

And finally, the most whimsical piece in the exhibition, a commemorative column with a votive foot from the Temple of Ras el-Soda. The temple was dedicated to Osiris, Isis, and Horus. The Greek inscription reads "Flung from his carriage by his horses at the spot, Isidoros, restored to health by divine intervention, in exchange for  his feet." Isidoros dedicated this sculpture to the "Blessed," which was a name frequently used to describe Isis.

For the most recent article on the exhibition, see Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds in Antiquities and the Arts Weekly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ancient Egypt May 14 & 21

Bob Brier and the Hunt for the New York Obelisk

Bob Brier is arguably the world's most famous Egyptologist. Professor at Long Island University in New York, where he has tenure, he teaches both philosophy and Egyptology. A popular host on Learning Channel's Great Egyptians series, he was the first person since ancient times to mummify a human in the ancient Egyptian style. National Geographic's television special, Mr Mummy, caused its creator to be instantly dubbed ''Mr Mummy'', a nickname which stuck.

Earliest Version of Our Alphabet Possibly Discovered

The earliest example of our alphabet — a possible mnemonic phrase that helped someone remember "ABCD" — has been discovered on a 3,400-year-old inscribed piece of limestone from ancient Egypt, a scholar believes.

Three of the words start with the ancient equivalent of B, C and D, creating what may be a mnemonic phrase.

Archaeologists find remains of second century Roman-era temple in Egypt

Egypt says archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a temple dating back to the second century.

The antiquities ministry said on Thursday that the temple, which dates back to the reign of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, was found near the Siwa Oasis in the western desert. It includes the foundations of a large limestone building.

New Book Chronicles America’s First Female Egyptologist

A Missouri University of Science and Technology historian is telling the seemingly forgotten story of America’s first female Egyptologist.

Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, associate professor of history and political science at Missouri S&T, wondered why there was so little mention of the scholarly work of Dr. Caroline Ransom Williams, America’s first university-trained female Egyptologist, in archaeology’s published history. After all, Ransom Williams was a former student and longtime colleague of Dr. James Henry Breasted, the first American Egyptologist and founder of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.


In a Tuesday statement by the Antiquities Ministry, the discovery of a 19th dynasty tomb belonging to Ramsis II's army general, named Iwrhya, was made public. The remains of who the Ministry referred to as a 'great army general' was dug up near the Saqarra burial complex on Cairo's outskirts.

The head of the excavation mission Ola Al-Aguizy said to Sky News Arabia that the tomb is relatively large, and contains material that indicate the general and his descendants maintained a rather high status in the Egyptian army then.

3,500-year-old bust of female pharaoh is centrepiece of RBCM Egyptian exhibit

Slowly and gingerly, a 3,500-year-old bust of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut was lifted into place with a pallet jack Monday at the Royal B.C. Museum. At 790 kilograms, the sandstone sculpture doesn’t leave much room for error.
How Millennia of Cleopatra Portrayals Reveal Evolving Perceptions of Sex, Women, and Race
Margaret Foley, Cleopatra, 1871-1876. Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

Cleopatra’s death has captivated artists for reasons alternately sensual, solemn, and deeply suspect. For many painters and sculptors over the past few millennia, the subject matter has offered an opportunity to perpetuate myths about the dangers of powerful women and render the female nude in an anguished, dramatic state. In Giampietrino’s Death of Cleopatra (c. 1515), for example, a snake (a phallic figure if there ever was one) bites the naked woman’s nipple—the painter eroticizes female demise.

Yet many portrayals of the Egyptian queen offer more than mere images of morbid sexuality. Altogether, these depictions reveal more about the times in which they were made than about Cleopatra herself.

Soon You May Be Able to Text with 2,000 Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Collaborations among Egyptologists and digital linguistics promise global visualizations of what was written on inscriptions, papyri, wall paintings, and other sources of Hieroglyphs. It may also allow for more popular knowledge of Egyptian Hieroglyphs and encourage its assimilation into popular language-learning apps like Duolingo.

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds
March 25 - September 9, 2018

Note: I will post my photos from the exhibit later this week.

In 2018, the Saint Louis Art Museum will be the first North American art museum to tell the epic story of one of the greatest finds in the history of underwater archaeology, a story that revealed two lost cities of ancient Egypt submerged under the Mediterranean Sea for over a thousand years. World-renowned underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team discovered these submerged worlds and uncovered stunning ancient religious, ceremonial, and commercial artifacts, which has led to a greater understanding of life during the age of pharaohs.