Monday, January 9, 2017

Ancient Egypt this week: A little bit of everything

Mrs. Naunakhte: An Ancient Egyptian Life In Stones
Deir al-Medina (image courtesy of Howard Middleton-Jones)

Three thousand years ago, a scribe sitting near the village of Deir al-Medina — across the hill from the Valley of the Kings — picked up a stone and wrote rapidly across it in the shorthand script used every day for administration.
When, in the twentieth century, an archaeologist picked up that stone, I like to think there was a frisson of excitement on his or her part. What might it say? What new clues might it reveal about ancient Egypt, and the man — or, perhaps, woman — who had written the text?

Victorian Egyptomania: How a 19th Century fetish for Pharaohs turned seriously spooky
Aleistere Crowley in his Egypt-inspired ritul garb, 1910

Antiquities had been brought from Egypt to Europe in the aftermath of Napoleon’s invasion of 1798–1801 (one of the results of which was the extraordinary career of Jean-François Champollion, ‘Father of Egyptology’ and first European to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs), and just as Egypt began the 19th Century under Napoleonic yoke, it would end it as the pith helmeted possession of Great Britain. In the decades between, an Anglo-Egyptian effort resulted in the Suez Canal (completed 1869) – the vital artery of Empire that placed the adjoining land firmly within the foreign policy orbit of Britain and saw the Nile flood into public life.

Irrational and fabulous, or misinterpretation? A study of the fear associated with the epagomenal days in ancient Egypt
Illustration from the Myth of the Heavenly Cow (Source:

The epagomenal days in the Egyptian civil calendar were five days added to the standard three hundred and sixty day year, introduced in order to align the calendar with the Sothic cycle. The earliest mention of the epagomenal days is attested to the Old Kingdom, proving that their inclusion in the calendar had occurred by this time.

It is believed that the Egyptians greatly feared these days due to the prevalence of plague and disease, attributed to the wanderers (SmAjw) and slaughterers (xAtjw) of the goddess, Sekhmet, which were particularly rife at the end of the calendar year.

The beauty secrets that once swept Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian women were well-known for their interest in beauty and cosmetics.

An archeological expert told that at the time each woman would have her own box of facial makeup, kohl (eyeliner), hair pins and combs and perfumes.

Dr. Abdelrahim Reehan added that a study by archeologist Abir Sadeq at the ministry of archeology showed that ancient Egyptian women's makeup was simple and only focused on accentuating the facial features.

Two AUC press books internationally recognized as best of 2016

Two of The American University in Cairo (AUC) Press books have been internationally recognized as distinguished works of 2016. The Financial Times selected No Knives in the Kitchen of this City as one of the top three best Fiction in Translation titles of 2016, and Choice magazine highlighted Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Royal Kingdom Mummies as one of its 2016 Outstanding Academic Titles, reflecting “the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice” each year.

Ancient Egyptian pot burials were not just for the poor

New research is stirring the pot about an ancient Egyptian burial practice.

Many ancient peoples, including Egyptians, buried some of their dead in ceramic pots or urns. Researchers have long thought these pot burials, which often recycled containers used for domestic purposes, were a common, make-do burial for poor children.

Nefer’s ancient Egyptian tomb brought back to life in Rome

Those who are passionate about ancient Egypt and happen to be in Rome should visit the Giovanni Barracco Museum of ancient sculpture.

This 16th century building houses the valuable “stele of the false door” of Nefer, a dignitary who lived in Egypt during the fourth Dynasty (2575-2465 BC), ruled by the great pharaohs who built the pyramids.

Picture of the week: Egyptian Guitar Gods

Image may contain: one or more people and guitar