Monday, May 2, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Happy Shemu! Have some Tiger Nuts.

It's May, so Happy Shemu!

The 1st of May is an ancient Northern Hemisphere festival now known as May Day. It traditionally marked the return of spring. Some believe the celebration originated in Egyptian agricultural ritualsfor ensuring fertility of the crops.

Shemu (shomu - low water, harvest) was the third season in the ancient Egyptian calendar, running from early May to early September.  The additional five epagomenal days which brought the number of days in the year to 365 fall at the end of Shemu.

According to Plutarch, the Ancient Egyptians offered salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their deities on this day.

In the Egyptian calendar, May 1 was the Festival of Renenutet, a snake goddesss.  According to the Pyramid Texts, Renenutet was the goddess of plenty and good fortune. Snakes were often seen in the fields around harvest time, hunting the rodents who threatened the crop. Renenutet protected the harvest and was called Goddess of the Double Granary, the  Lady of Fertile Fields, and the  Lady of Granaries.

Amenemhet III and Amenemhet IV dedicated a temple to Renenutet, Sobek, and Horus at Dja (now called Medinet Madi). An annual harvest festival was held in her honour  at this temple. During the festival, the best quality produce was dedicated to her; in areas where wine was made, they built shrines to her. She was also linked to the coming of the inundation. By the later period, she presided over the eighth month of the ancient Egyptian calendar known by the Greek name "Parmutit".
The Hymn of Renenutet 
I will make the Nile swell for you,
without there being a year of lack and exhaustion in the whole land,
so the plants will flourish, bending under their fruit.
The land of Egypt is beginning to stir again,
the shores are shining wonderfully,
and wealth and well-being dwell with them,
as it had been before.
The Giza Pyramid Complex – Interactive Map

Looking for some nerdy fun? Click on various places on the map and to see information about the structures around the pyramids. Here's one example:

Queens' Pyramids
Menkaure built three queen’s pyramids on the southern side of his monument, though the largest eastern one (G3-a), which has a T-shaped substructure, was perhaps first intended as a satellite cult pyramid, but later presumably used for the burial of a queen, as were all three satellite pyramids, which had mudbrick chapels attached.

Brazilian Animator Sets Story In Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt has inspired scores of tales and adventures. Last month at the Luxor African Film Festival, one of the screened films was The Scape, a ten-minute short by Brazilian animator Douglas Alves Ferreira, about a young child who escapes his Roman captors to hide inside the Great Pyramid only to discover a link between time and space of different civilizations. Egypt Today caught up with Ferreira to get his thoughts on the short, ancient Egyptian civilization and the inspirations behind his animation work.

trailer A FUGA from Douglas Alves Ferreira on Vimeo.

Speak like an ancient Egyptian
Mai Samih discovers how ancient Egyptian expressions and traditions have survived to the present day. Today’s Egyptians have inherited from their Pharaonic ancestors not only their distinguished civilisation, but also certain traditions and words from their hieroglyphic vocabulary.

Loathed By Farmers, Loved By Ancients: The Strange History Of Tiger Nuts

Take a look at some lawns this spring. You might see something that looks like a crown of thin leaves and spikey, yellow flowers shooting over the grass, particularly if you live in the South. If the stems are triangular, you've just found a sedge. Dig it up. If it's the right kind of sedge, clinging to the roots will be a few chewy, brown, marble-sized tubers called tiger nuts.

In the tomb of Vizier Rekh-Mi-Re', a high-ranking ancient Egyptian official buried in the 15th century B.C., a wall painting shows workers shoveling heaps of the stuff while a scribe counts the amount.

In Pictures: Inside The Egyptian Museum

In an effort to draw in more visitors, the Egyptian Museum recently allowed free photography for a limited time. Photo Editor Mohsen Allam went inside to capture a series of images of some of the museum’s most iconic and stunning pieces.

If you haven't had the pleasure of visiting the museum, these photos will give you an idea of what amazing things it holds.

Mummification for the Ancient Egyptians