Monday, March 28, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Curses, Demons, Mummies, and Pyramids Oh, my!



Swansea University hosts ancient Egyptian 'demons' conference

Experts studying ancient Egyptian supernatural entities in texts and objects are gathering for a conference at Swansea University. An academic who advised on films like The Mummy is among speakers to attend. The aim is for scholars to share their research findings into "demons" featured in ancient Egyptian artefacts. The Demon Things Conference 2016, which is open to the public, is hosted by the Egypt Centre and the Department of History and Classics.

And lest you think this is a one-off thing, you really should check out the DemonThings - Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project site, which among other thngs features a Daily Demon.

The composite being appears on a mythological papyrus that belonged to an elite woman named Dirpu, Lady of the House, Chantress of Amun. The 21st dynasty papyrus was found at Deir el-Bahri.

Nail-biting films depicting the wrath of mummies for disturbing their final resting places are no more than the myth of Hollywood, says a leading expert on Egyptology.

The biggest conference of its kind ever held is seeing experts from around the world converge this week on Swansea to put the whole question of curses and demons under the microscope.

Uncovering ancient Egypt's afterlife
Going beyond the images of mummies and pharaohs, an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum throws light on the mystique that surrounds the rites of mortality.

The coffin belonged to a man named Nespawershefyt and on its surface appears to be a gloriously elaborate memoriam, exquisitely decorated, finely constructed, capturing all the mystique that surrounded the Egyptian way of death for millennia.

What the pictures from the CT scan showed was something more mundane. The coffin had been made with bits of wood from other coffins and patched up to appear as good as new.


Is the Golden Age of the pyramids coming back?

Can it be that the Old Kingdom’s five-century run didn’t end, that it was just lying in wait to be noticed again? How else to explain the growing number of buildings shaped like tetrahedrons?

Ancient paintings discovered in Egypt’s Aswan shows evidence of prehistoric life

German archaeological excavations have unearthed more than 15 prehistoric inscription in Egypt's southern city of Aswan, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced Thursday.




Getting ready for Grand Egyptian Museum Grand Opening

OK, it's not until 2018, but this is going to be a big, big thing. (I for one hope they're not totally closing down the old museum, which I dearly love.) They're moving artifacts already. Here are a couple of articles from this week's prep.

Ancient Artifacts Collected for Grand Egyptian Museum's Big Opening with video
 CAIRO — How do you move a precious and ancient statue that weighs as much as a small elephant? Very carefully.

That's how team of experts last week shipped a 4-ton, 3,500-year-old statue of King Amenhotep seated next to the falcon-headed Egyptian god Ra. The pink granite piece, which had lain hidden in the sands of southern Egypt until it was rediscovered in 2009, was packed in a purpose-built box and carried in a heavy truck on special air bags over 400

800 ancient artefacts moved to Cairo for Grand Egyptian Museum

About 800 artefacts have been moved to Cairo for a new museum that is being built in the Egyptian capital. The artefacts were moved from the ancient pharaonic city of Luxor.

Ramesses III Killed by Multiple Assailants

The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III was assassinated by multiple assailants — and given postmortem cosmetic surgery to improve his mummy's appearance.
Those are some of the new tidbits on ancient Egyptian royalty detailed in a new book by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and Cairo University radiologist Sahar Saleem, "Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies" (American University in Cairo Press, 2016).

The Daily Mail also reports on this with some nice color photos.

Boat discovery sheds light

Scholars have long debated the purpose of ancient Egyptian boat burials. Did they serve the deceased in the afterlife? Or might they have functioned as symbolic solar barques used during the journey of the owner through the underworld?


The Old Kingdom kings adopted the earlier tradition and often had several boats buried within their pyramid complexes. Unfortunately, most of the pits that have been found are empty of timber, while others contain little more than brown dust in the shape of the original boat. The only exceptions are the two boats of the First Dynasty king Khufu, and these have been reconstructed or are in the process of reconstruction.

However, no boat of such dimensions from the Old Kingdom has been found in a non-royal context until the newly discovered boat at Abusir.