Monday, August 31, 2015

Ancient Egypt this week: Save Sekhemka, Best Birthday, Bees, Mad Max, Mummies, & Neferititi Talk

Crowd-funding Sekhemka the Scribe

The 4,500-year-old statue of a scribe called Sekhemka – sold at auction by Northampton Museum for nearly £16m in July last year – could disappear for good into a wealthy collector’s private museum when an export ban imposed on it expires at the end of this month.

However Egypt’s government has now appealed to Egyptians to help raise the money to return the “irreplaceable masterpiece” to its native country.
There are several articles about this effort:

Multimedia at the Grand Egyptian Museum
Conservators are restoring Ancient Egyptian artifacts at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The massive new museum by the Pyramids is intended to house 100,000 ancient artifacts.

Mad Max: Fury Road, Retold Ancient Egyptian Style

Japanese artist Takumi recreated everything from Mad Max: Fury Road in an ancient Egyptian style, and while the movie has nothing to do with ancient Egypt, it still fits and looks really awesome with this art style.

Best Birthday Ever!

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty has granted an American child, fascinated with anything relating to ancient Egypt, free admission to all archaeological sites across the country.

I am so very, very jealous.  But isn't he adorable?

Thank you from Sean for Birthday wishes from Egypt!
Posted by Nancy Munger on Saturday, August 22, 2015

Favorite Photo of the Week

From the Egyptology Temple Facebook page.

Ancient Egyptians Forced Open Mouths During Mummification

Ancient Egyptians were likely to lose some of their front teeth before they could become mummies, says a new research debated at the International Congress of Egyptologists in Florence.

Tears of Ra: Ancient Egyptian beekeeping techniques

Gene Kritsky, author of The Tears of Re, describes the sophisticated beekeeping techniques of the ancient Egyptians—such as smoking the hive and the calling of the queen.

Mummy of Tutankhamun to remain in Valley of the Kings

After much debate, the decision has been reached not to move the mummy of the boy king Tutankhamun to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The mummy will remain in the Valley of the Kings on the Nile's west bank near Luxor. The mummy will be displayed in its tomb.

Where is the tomb of Nefertiti?

The recent theory regarding the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti should be welcomed by the scientific community. But it requires very careful evaluation, Egyptian renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass says.

Alone before the God: Gender, Status, and Nefertiti's Image

Jacquelyn Williamson Harvard University
Two architectural elements from Akhenaten's early buildings at Karnak temple, a gateway and a set of pillars, are decorated with scenes of Nefertiti worshipping the Aten alone with only her daughters in attendance. Assumed to be examples of Nefertiti acting independently in the Aten cult, these monuments are sometimes hailed as precursors to the Sunshade of Re/sun temple structures so popular at Tell el-Amarna, most of which are associated with Akhenaten's female family members. In this article these monuments are studied in the context of scenes reconstructed from Kom el-Nana, a Sunshade of Re at Tell el-Amarna, and other examples of women shown as the sole ritualist before a deity. It is proposed that images of Nefertiti acting alone are an indication of her lower status in the early part of Akhenaten's reign, and that her status was elevated after the erection of the gateway and pillars. Nefertiti did not yet have enough status to act along side Akhenaten before year 6, and the gateway and pillars from Karnak cannot be considered precursors of Sunshade of Re temples, or as evidence for her independence in the Aten cult. In conclusion it is suggested that conversations about ancient women in religious hierarchies should be shifted from discussions about agency and power to discussions about importance, as a means to avoid the anachronistic application of western feminist thought to ancient evidence.

Friday, August 28, 2015

How to make papyrus (videos)

Of course, you don't "make" papyrus, you grow it. So, the really long, unsnappy headline should be A method for turning the papyrus plant into something you can write on. These days, we often use the word papyrus to mean paper, so I hope I didn't lose anyone.

The word papyrus /pəˈpaɪrəs/ refers to a thin paper-like material made from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus. Papyrus can also refer to a document written on sheets of papyrus joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book.

Papyrus was used in ancient Egypt (at least as far back as the First Dynasty). The Cyperus papyrus plant was a wetland sedge that was once abundant in Southern Sudan as well as the  Nile Delta of Egypt. Papyrus was also used throughout the Mediterranean region and in the Kingdom of Kush. Ancient Egyptians are thought to have used papyrus as a writing material, as well as employing it commonly in the construction of other artifacts such as reed boats, mats, rope, sandals, and baskets.

Or, if you're in a more serious mood

In any event, my little plant has a long way to go.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ancient Egypt this week: Movies, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, the Met, & Blue Suede Sandals?

Gods of Egypt tipped to be the big flop of 2016?‏

Gerard Butler stars in the new movie Gods of Egypt, which will hit the big screen in 2016. Many are tipping the film to be a big flop

You can pretty much guarantee that there will be at least one big movie flop every year, with a project having a very impressive budget but failing to make back the numbers at the box office. This year we have already seen a couple of films struggling to turn a profit at the box office, with talk already turning to which movies could be the big flop of next year.

The Nefertiti story continues

Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves is set to arrive in Egypt mid-September in the hopes of confirming his theory about the location of Nefertiti’s final resting place. The visit is at the invitation of Egypt's Antiquities Ministry.
Could the long lost burial place of Queen Nefertiti be located inside King Tutankhamun's tomb? Al-Ahram Daily Interviews British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves
Author Michelle Moran brought the famous Egyptian queen to life in her popular book Nefertiti – and is thrilled by what the possible discovery of her tomb could teach us about her life.
Ancient Egypt at the Met

Jewelry, art and stone sculpture from ancient Egypt's renaissance will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning this fall.

The new exhibit, titled "Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom," will be the first comprehensive presentation of Middle Kingdom art and culture, and will feature many items that have never been shown in the U.S., according to museum officials. Here's another article.

Leather Sandals

In Ancient Egypt, leather sandals were color coded according to class; dignitaries wore pastels and the middle class wore plain yellow and red. Of course, gold leather and jewels were saved for the Pharaoh and his court. Over time, the king upped his style game with pointed sandals that peaked over the foot... sort of like an elf. The peaked style was a clear sign of power since only the wealthy could afford to use the extra leather for embellishments, not function.

‘Blue’ adds history and culture to the color

Blue-plate special, blue jeans, blues music: Today the color blue is associated with a down-to-earth sensibility. But it was not always so. In ancient Egypt blue was a sacred color, expensive and rare.

Blue was associated with the heavens and the life-giving waters of the Nile, but blue pigments weren’t easy to use or deep in hue. That changed in the 12th century, when Europe began importing an intensely blue pigment made from a semiprecious stone found in Afghanistan and Persia. Blue became a favorite color of royalty. Yet because of its expense, blue remained a luxury item for painters. Advances in Germany and France in the 18th and 19th centuries gave painters such as Monet, Renoir, and van Gogh a range of affordable blues. “Blue” makes it clear that the art of every age is inextricably tied to business and technology, discoveries and inventions, supply and demand.

Who will be the next Cleopatra? 

Hunt is on for actress to play 18-year-old Egyptian Queen in new TV series.
Beautiful, powerful, rich, famous and a string of high profile lovers - Cleopatra was the original celebrity.
Now a search is underway to find a young actress to play the 18-year-old Egyptian queen in a new TV series.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What does it all mean? Egyptian Symbols

Ancient Egyptian culture has many symbols. The following chart describes the meaning of a few of the more common ones:
    The Sekhem-scepter was a  ritual scepter that symbolized authority and was often incorporated in names and words associated with power and control.
  2. WAS
    The Was scepter was a visual representation of  "power" or "dominion." Naturally, its earliest depictions in Egyptian art found it in the hands of the gods and goddesses, such as  Osiris and Ptah. In their hands, the Was scepter was combined with the ankh and djed. The pharaohs also often carried it.
  3. WADJ
    Wadj might have originated in the hieroglyphic script for a stylized papyrus stem and the words for 'green' and 'flourishing'. It was used as an amulet that was important enough to merit its own spell in the Book of the Dead. Wadj-amulets were worn by the living as well as the dead. In iconography, the Wadj occurs as a sceptre held by a goddess.
  4. ANKH
    While the origins of the ankh might be obscure, the meaning is certainly clear: "life". The ankh is carried in the hands of many Egyptian deities and usually represents the life-giving elements of air and water. It was often shown being offered to the king's lips as a symbol of the "breath of life."
  5. KNOT of ISIS (Tjet)
    There is much debate about  this symbol, which often appears with the Djed . It is similar to the knot used to tie garments in place, and so is often called the "knot of Isis". Knots were thought to bind magic and Isis s the Mistress of Magic, so this is not  an unreasonable suggestion. Others suggest  it is 'the girdle" or 'the blood" of Isis, and the e symbol represents a cloth used during menstruation or an ancient charm for menstrual cramps. Still others suggest it represents the female reproductive organs and Isis in her role as the universal mother. Whatever the original meaning, there seems to be a link toIsis,  blood, power, and regeneration.
    Also known as the Eye of Horus, it was an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet . It is also known as ''The Eye of Ra.''
    The crook and flail were symbols of  royal power, usually crossed-over each other and held across the chest of Kings and the god, Osiris, the mythological first king of Egypt.
    The Djed pillar is said to represent Osiris' backbone, and there are many references in Egyptian literature to this association. Wallis Budge believed that it was the oldest symbol of Osiris, representing his body as well.
    The scarab beetle was a symbol of rebirth and represents the god Khepri, who was thought to push the sun disc through the morning sky as a scarab beetle pushes its ball of dung. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ancient Egypt this week - Ancient roots, ancient lives, ancient history, ancient pre-nups

Prenups in  Ancient Egypt
Long before Kanye was around to deem them "Gold Diggers," ancient Egyptian women were planting their feet in the sand and demanding some pretty progressive rights given the time period.

Eight feet long from edge to edge and brushed with beautiful calligraphy, the stretched-out scroll hanging on the walls of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago could easily be mistaken for a poem, or an ornate royal decree. It's neither. It's a prenup.

Here's another article.

Suez Canal has ancient Egyptian origins
The idea of connecting the Red and the Mediterranean Seas, along with the Nile River, haunted the ancient Egyptians for years.

“Lots of references to the Sesostris Canal were found in the journals of travellers and historians such as Herodotus,” explained professor Fathi Saleh Founder and emeritus director of CULTNAT, as well as Former ambassador of Egypt to UNESCO.

What lies beneath?
A tantalising clue to the location of a long-sought pharaonic tomb

NOTHING has inspired generations of archaeologists like the discovery in 1922 of the treasure-packed tomb of Tutankhamun. What if another untouched Egyptian trove lies buried, not in a distant patch of desert, nor even nearby amid the overlapping tomb-shafts of Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, but instead just a millimetre’s distance from plain view?

Remembering Barbara Mertz
Two years ago, the prolific best-selling author and dedicated Egyptologist Barbara Mertz, fondly known by her pen name Elizabeth Peters, tragically passed away, from cancer. Dr. Mertz was a true trailblazer -- both as a writer of popular fiction and as a serious scholar.

To find out more, visit the official website of Elizabeth Peters.

Ancient history and sensory overload in Cairo
From millennia-old pyramids to Tahrir Square. Radha Chadha on the wonders of Cairo.

I have seen it in pictures a hundred times, but the shock and awe of finally standing at the foot of the Great Pyramid at Giza is quite something. It is massive of course—I feel like an ant looking up at an elephant—but there is something else, a stillness, a quiet stealthy presence that is both fascinating and unnerving.

3,500-year-old Egyptian mummies embalmed with unusual recipes
Researchers studying two ancient Egyptian mummies, dating back to some 3,500 years, have found that they were embalmed with unusual recipes whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties.

Papyrus scraps offer glimpse into everyday ancient life

They may be written on 1,800-year-old papyrus, but when you translate them and read them out loud, they sound just like modern emails.

Two small scraps of papyrus were recently rediscovered at the University of British Columbia Library's Rare Books and Special Collections.

4,400 year-old artefacts unearthed

A set of 4,400-year-old artefacts were unearthed under a temple in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan, an official statement said.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ancient Egypt this week - Who's heard of Medjed or unwrapped a mummy?

The Obscure Egyptian God Medjed and His Bizarre Afterlife on the Japanese Internet

The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian text describing the passage of departed souls into the afterlife and listing the spells they must recite to proceed through Duat (the Realm of the Dead). In Spell 17, the god Medjed is mentioned: "I know the name of that Smiter among them, who belongs to the House of Osiris, who shoots with his eye, yet is unseen." He is not referred to in any other context.

Hotelier in Egyptian town of Abydos holds dear Temple of Seti I's powers

ABYDOS, Egypt — The ancient Temple of Seti I is slightly elevated above this sleepy farming town backed by mountains.

Antiquity Imagined: The Remarkable Legacy of Egypt and the Ancient Near East

Robin Derricourt’s book explores how Egypt’s past has been creatively interpreted by later ages and shows in depth how ancient Egypt and the surrounding lands have so continuously and seductively tantalised the Western imagination. Readers in the US, it is available on Amazon. I know this because I ordered it.

The Egyptian Room in Sydney
There's an Egyptian Room inside the Petersham Masonic Centre on New Canterbury Road, a room lavishly decorated with images from Egyptian mythology.The exterior is a brick office building, a neat box that attracts no attention.One night a year, on the second Friday in November, the Egyptian Room is open to the public.

I want to go back to Sydney. On the second Friday. In November.

The Unwrapping of a Mummy at Edgeworth Manor House

In the autumn of 1851, Edmund Hopkinson (1787-1869), the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, issued invitations to an eclectic mix of guests to his mansion, Edgeworth Manor in Stroud.  Scientists, doctors, chemists, and a scattering of Hopkinson’s friends, were promised a sumptuous dinner; but first they were to be treated to a very special late afternoon entertainment, for Hopkinson was in possession of an Egyptian mummy which he had chosen that day to unwrap.  Hopkinson was neither a collector nor had he acquired the mummy as a souvenir, both of which were the usual methods of owning such an antiquity.   Instead, it’s journey to Edgeworth Manor came via a succession of owners, each enjoying the artefact for its curiosity value.

Underwater treasures to be exhibited for the first time in Paris
More than 290 artefactsArtefacts discovered amid submerged ruins of cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus are part of an exhibition titled Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt. It will be staged at the Arab World Institute in Paris – headed by Jack Lang, France’s former minister of culture – from 8 September until 31 January. Here's another article on the exhibit.

I NEED to go to Paris again. :-)

Imhotep: Polymath of Humanity and Egypt

“We must come to the land of the Nile for the origin of many of man’s most distinctive and highly cherished beliefs,” Sir William Osler.

This quote was said to pay attention to the contributions of the Egyptian scientist Imhotep, who is considered by historians to be humanity’s first polymath. He was a physician, astronomer, engineer, theologian, sage, vizier and chief minister of the Egyptian king Djoser, the second king of Egypt’s 3rd dynasty.

Ancient Egyptians  received medical treatment and paid sick leave

Many of us consider national health services as relatively new innovations of the 20th century, but they appear to have much older origins.
Ancient texts uncovered among the human remains of an Egyptian village suggest workers from the New Kingdom had their own version of a state-supported health care.

Links between Ancient Egypt and the Grand Canyon

It's mostly a naming thing, and other mythologies are mentioned, but still an interesting video. Read this article for more on the hoax mentioned in the video.

Amazing Egyptian Discoveries Image Gallery

Live Science shows images of some of the most amazing finds of ancient Egypt. (I realize this MIGHT be subjective.) And while we're on this topic. . . .

13 Things that Egyptians Were the First to Create 

Egypt has a glorious past, it’s people descended from a civilization that was once the most intellectually and technologically advanced in the world. Because we all sometimes need a reminder, here’s a quick round-up of successful inventions that were created by Egyptians before any other civilization. Toothbrush, breath mints, and high heels. . . I'm in.