Monday, January 2, 2017

Ancient Egypt this week: A New Year

My one, the sister without peer, the handsomest of all!
She looks like the rising morning star at the start of a happy year.


New Years in Ancient Egypt 

First Stanza, Beginning of the sayings of the great happiness, from Papyrus Chester Beatty I

The brightest star SpDt, as the Ancient Egyptians called it, or Sirius "The Dog Star" appears aat midnight on New Year’s Eve. See the article on Sirius from EarthSky.

Sopdet ("skilled woman", also known as Sothis) represented Sirius, the Dog-Star. Sirius was the most important star to ancient Egyptian astronomers. It signalled the approach of the inundation and the beginning of a new year. New year was celebrated with a festival known as "The Coming of Sopdet".

Sopdet was the wife of Sahu ("the hidden one"), the constellation Orion, and the mother of Sopdu ("skilled man"), a falcon god who represented the planet Venus. This triad echoed the trio of Osiris, Isis and Horus, but the connections were not always simple. Sopdet became increasingly associated with Isis, who asserts that she is Sopdet (in "the lamentations of Isis and Nephthys" c 400 B.C) and will follow Osiris, the manifestation of Sahu. However, as well as being considered to be the spouse of Orion (Osiris), she is described by the pyramid texts as the daughter of Osiris.

Although Sopdet started out as an agricultural deity, closely associated with the Nile, by the Middle Kingdom she was also considered to be a mother goddess. This probably related to her growing connection with the goddess Isis. This connection was further strengthened by Sopdet's role in assisting the Pharaoh find his way to the imperishable stars. It may be no coincidence that Sirius disappeared for seventy days every year, and mummification took seventy days.

Building Pharaoh's Chariot

Some historians claim that the Egyptian chariot launched a technological and strategic revolution and was the secret weapon behind Egypt’s greatest era of conquest known as the New Kingdom. But was the chariot really a revolutionary design? How decisive was its role in the bloody battles of the ancient world? A team of archaeologists, engineers, woodworkers and horse trainers builds and tests two accurate replicas of Egyptian royal chariots. Driving them to their limits in the desert outside Cairo, NOVA’s experts test the claim that the chariot marks a crucial turning point in ancient military history.

Click on the title link for a video.

Which Egyptian Pharaoh are you?

For some New Year's fun take the quiz by clicking on the link in the title. For what it's worth, I'm Ptolemy II:
"You are both a very dignified and a very curious person. You love to immerse yourself in literature and the arts, where you find beauty, exotic images, and noble thoughts. Publicly, you are a champion of learning. In your opinion, the world would be a much better place if everyone was a little more well-informed."

Bull fat, bats blood, and lizard poop were the drugs of choice in ancient Egypt
Photo: Mikkel Andreas Beck

Spells and lizard dung were part of the medical treatment in ancient Egypt, as evidenced by this 3,500-year-old papyrus. (Photo: Mikkel Andreas Beck).
“Bull fat, bat blood… donkey blood… what looks like the heart of a lizard. And a little pulverised pottery and a dash of honey.”

Egyptologist Sofie Schiødt traces her forefinger over the hieroglyphs as she reads aloud. We are in the papyrus reading room at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Museum Mysteries: The Mummy in the OR

When, in the early 1800s, a patient was brought into the surgical amphitheater at Massachusetts General Hospital, he or she was likely blinded by the terror of undergoing surgery fully conscious. Yet had the patient looked around, while being lashed to a chair, he or she might have taken in the cupola and louvered windows admitting the morning sun; a gathering of physicians, medical students and other onlookers in the tiered seats; the surgeon preparing his instruments; and a pair of upright glass-fronted cases, one containing an Egyptian mummy coffin, and the other, the mummy himself.

Watch Full Episodes of PBS Egypt's Treasure Guardians online

Premieres December 28, 2016.
Egypt is home to many of the most famous archaeological treasures on Earth. But over the last five years, Egypt has suffered a tumultuous revolution and tourist numbers have plummeted. This show follows a select cast of individuals determined to bring Egypt back from the brink, to discover more of Egypt’s history, to keep its heritage safe and to get tourists to visit the country again.

Ancient Egyptian goddess of protection to greet arriving travellers at Cairo airport

The Egyptian goddess of protection, Serqet, is to welcome Egypt’s visitors at Cairo International Airport starting Thursday, when a replica statue of the deity will be erected in Terminal 2.

From the Ministry of Antiquities Facebook page:
A Replica of the ancient Egyptian goddess Serqet greets Egypt's visitors at Cairo International Airport. 
Upon its arrival to Building Number 2 at Cairo International Airport today evening, goddess of protection Serqet opens its arms to welcome Egypt's visitors.
The replica statue was fabricated in the workshops of the Ministry of Antiquities' Replica Unit in Salaheddin Citadel along the last two months to offer to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in an attempt to encourage tourism to Egypt, highlight the ongoing cooperation between the two ministries and the ministry of tourism as well as promoting the ministry of antiquities' production of replicas. 
The ministry of antiquities has organized its first replica exhibition last August in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir where a collection of 150 replicas was on display.
The exhibition was very successful and encouraged many foreign countries to demand the establishment of similar exhibitions abroad.

Bolton Museum transformation of its Egyptology gallery

BOLTON Museum has revealed how its new Egyptology gallery could look.

The museum is undergoing a multi-million pound transformation which is set to make the town an international tourist attraction, drawing in crowds from around the world to see one of the most significant Egyptology collections.


Recording rematerialising the Sarcophagus of Seti I and all the the tomb's scattered elements

The photogrammetric recording of the sarcophagus of Seti I in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London was carried out between the 14th and the 19th March 2016 by Pedro Miró, Manuel Franquelo and Ferdinand Saumarez-Smith from the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation. This initiative marks the first stage of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative: a collaboration between the Ministry of Antiquities (Egypt), Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation (Spain), and the University of Basel (Switzerland), with contribution from Autodesk and Capturing Reality, and financial support by donation to the Factum Foundation. This multi-year outreach program, launched in 2014, is an ambitious approach to preserve the tombs of the Theban Necropolis in the Valley of the Kings, designed to simultaneously promote a spread of knowledge and research.

Picture of the week: How Pharaoh celebrates