Monday, June 12, 2017

Ancient Egypt June 12

Manchester Museum reviews The Mummy

Mummy movies play an undeniably powerful role in feeding (pre)conceptions about ancient Egypt among the general public, particularly for museum-goers. In my experience of working with school groups in the last ten years, a good deal of time was spent correcting misinformation gleaned from the swashbuckling Brendan Frasier/Rachel Weiss 1999 ‘Mummy’ franchise. To ignore the most recent re-boot, starring Tom Cruise and on general realise from today, would be churlish. Some Egyptologists will simply laugh it off while others will grumble about inaccuracies, perhaps assuming that Egyptology is in some way an exact science or that museums don’t construct their own ‘facts’ about the Egyptians all the time.

Maidstone Mummy

This 2,700-year-old woman is the jewel of the Maidstone Museum's Egyptian collection.

The mummy is the jewel of the Museum’s Egyptian collection, a nearly intact figure resting in the bottom half of a wooden inner coffin (the top half is in museum storage). She is swaddled in burlap, her remarkable hands, feet, torso, and serene face all visible through a glass case.

Tourism, the enemy of archaeology
Zahi Hawass

Tourism can be the enemy of archaeology, but archaeology also cannot be protected without tourism.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism invited me to take part in the International Congress on World Civilisations and Creative Tourism that took place in Sofia at the end of last November.

The Temple of Dendur: Celebrating 50 Years at The Met

On April 28, 1967, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded an ancient Egyptian temple built in the first century B.C.—a gift from Egypt to the United States—to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today the structure, the Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, is one of the iconic and most beloved works of art at The Met.

Turin’s Egyptian Museum honors Italy’s own Indiana Jones

The prolific team at Turin’s Egyptian Museum never ceases to research and amaze. Its latest ‘excavation site’ was the huge archive of the museum itself, and what it brought to light was the story of one of the institution’s most illustrious figures: archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli, museum director and founder of the Italian Archaeological Mission, whose work on Egyptian soil lasted nearly two decades – from 1903 to 1920 – and enriched the Turinese collection no end.

Pharaohs and sphinxes from Lancaster to Penzance: ‘Egypt in England

Note: For more information about the book on which the exhibit is based on, go to the Egypt in England website.

This exhibition does what it says on the tin, really. It’s about Egypt – in England. So, what does that involve? Well, it includes:
  • an Ancient Egyptian god with a power drill;
  • sheep grazing on the roof of a linen mill;
  • a Victorian Earl called Black Jack, allegedly a member of the Hellfire Club, who is buried with his mistress (who he eloped with) in an Egyptian style tomb;
  • the man called ‘The Shakespeare of the Sawdust’ with a grave guarded by sphinxes;
  • another Jack, this time called Mad Jack, who is buried in a pyramid;
  • and England’s (probably the world’s) only Egyptian style cinema organ.

Did children build the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna?
A juvenile burial under excavation at the North Tombs Cemetery, Amarna, Egypt. Photograph: Mary Shepperson/Courtesy of The Amarna Project

New evidence from Akhenaten’s capital suggests that a ‘disposable’ workforce of children and teenagers provided much of the labour for the city’s construction.

There’s a whiff of magic about the site of Tell el-Amarna that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s partly down to the effort of imagination needed to conjure a great capital of ancient Egypt from the sea of low humps stretching between the cultivation and the desert cliffs, and partly the long shadows cast by its founders – the ‘heretic’ pharaoh Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti.

10 Pharaonic tombs uncovered in Aswan

Ten Late Period tombs have been uncovered near the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the west bank of the Nile River at Aswan governorate, southern Egypt, during the excavation work carried out by an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities.

Mahmoud Afifi, the Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at the ministry made the announcement in a press statement.

Letters to the Dead in Ancient Egypt

. . . In ancient Egypt, however, the afterlife was a certainty throughout most of the civilization's history. When one died, one's soul went on to another plane, leaving the body behind, and hoped for justification by the gods and an eternal life in paradise. There was no doubt that this afterlife existed, save during the period of the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE), and even then the literature which expresses cynicism toward the next life could be interpreted as a literary device as easily as a serious theological challenge. The soul of a loved one did not cease to exist at death nor was there any danger of a surprise in the afterlife such as the rich man from Luke experiences.

An exception is in the fictional work from Roman Egypt (30 BCE - 646 CE) known as Setna II, which is the probable basis for the Luke tale. In one part of Setna II, Si-Osire leads his father Setna to the underworld and shows him how a rich man and a poor man experienced the afterlife.