Ancient Egyptian tomb, new research


This 12 September 2018 video says about itself:

A 4,000-year-old tomb was recently opened in the town of Saqqara Necropolis outside Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis. The tomb, containing six burial chambers, is believed to belong to Mehu, a man so powerful that the walls list him as having 48 different titles. The tomb also contained colorful images depicting the life of Mehu as a ruler and a hunter. RT’s Trinity Chavez reports.

Mehu was an Ancient Egyptian vizier who lived in the Sixth Dynasty, around 2300 BC. The office of vizier was the most important one at the royal court: here.

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Women in ancient Egyptian religion


This 7 September 2018 video says about itself:

What Hieroglyphics Say About the Women of Ancient Egypt

The priests of Amun held an elevated position in ancient Egypt. But modern archaeologists were stunned to discover that a group of women were even more important – they were dubbed ‘The Wives of Amun‘.

From the Series: Sacred Sites: Egyptian Priestesses.

Egyptian religion in ancient Spain


This is a 4 September 2018 Spanish language video on Egyptian religion in ancient Spain.

From the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain:

The gens isiaca in Hispania: Egyptian gods in Roman Spain

September 4, 2018

Summary: Researchers have developed a geo-localized database which enables archaeological pieces from ancient religions to be located on the Iberian Peninsula. This platform, named ”The gens isiaca in Hispania”, provides a catalogue with more than 200 remains from the Roman age on Isis and other Egyptian gods.

This database has been created by the Historiography and History of Religions research group from UC3M, under the leadership of Ancient History professor Jaime Alvar, in collaboration with the university’s Library Service. The project enables the classification and geo-location of a set of archaeological pieces related to the goddess Isis, recovered from the three provinces of Roman Hispania (Baetica, Lusitania and Tarraconensis) between the 1st cent. BCE and the 3rd cent. CE.

Part of its innovation is its magnitude, as it triples the number of pieces registered on this topic from previous catalogues: “The main advantages are that it provides direct access to ground-breaking information and the immediate update of datasheets.” There is no need to wait for a new paper edition. What is more, the geo-location allows any abnormal distribution of materials to be observed. Practically the entire centre of the Iberian Peninsula has no findings, since they are mainly concentrated on the Catalan coast, in Occidental Andalusia and the capital of Lusitania, Mérida”, explains Jaime Alvar.

One of the aims of this research is to analyse the conditions of the reception of cultural change and the re-appropriation process of ancient rituals: “How do different sociocultural strata of a community which has been invaded and cross-cultured as a consequence of the Roman conquest act?” You can see how active oligarchies are in the process of generation of social change, or how dominated social groups are less interested in it,” Alvar points out.

The development of the database has been carried out in two stages: an initial stage of design, development, inclusion of content and processing of images, and a second stage of geo-location through a personalised Google map where the location of each of the items is determined. “We have created a kind of dialogue between the database and the geo-location, in such a way that if you access the description of the piece you can click on the link and go to the map to see where it was located and where it is being stored” notes Inmaculada Muro, in charge of research support for the UC3M Humanities Library.

With regards to the Library’s collaboration on the project, Teresa Malo, manager of the UC3M Library Service, stresses that the libraries “are no longer simply a warehouse storing knowledge but have rather become a factor in the spreading of knowledge.”

The database updates and expands on what is covered in Jaime Alvar’s book Los cultos egipcios en Hispania (2012) (Egyptian cults in Hispania), with the advantages of the digital environment: “It allows you to update, modify, correct, delete or add information to the existing datasheets or to other new ones, so that the user can know how recent the data they are viewing is”, Jaime Alvar concludes.

In its initial stages, this tool was designed to facilitate the work of specialists in the subject. However, the general public’s potential interest in it was later identified: “Some colleagues from the Faculty have already mentioned to me that they had found districts they have an emotional connection with on the map, which lead them to look at which materials had been found in that place. That is to say, it is also entertaining for a non-expert”, Alvar comments.

This research is being developed within the framework of the “Oriental Religions in Spain” (ORINS) project, funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competition, for the publication of online catalogues of the cults of the gens isiaca, of Mithras, and of Mater Magna in Hispania. What is more, they have collaborated with the ARYS Association: Antigüedad, Religiones y Sociedades (Antiquity, Religions and Societies), the Institut de Sciences et Techniques de l’Antiquité de l’Université de Franche-Comté (ISTA) and the Dykinson publishing house as co-editor.

Oldest Egyptian Nile Delta village discovered


This video is called Ancient Egypt Documentary – Complete History – 8000 B.C. to 30 B.C. Part 1.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Egyptian and French archaeologists in the Nile Delta have excavated the oldest village that has been found in the area so far. The excavations were at Tell El-Samara, about 140 kilometers north of the capital Cairo.

At the settlement objects were found from the Neolithic period …

Those objects were made between 4200 and 2900 years B.C.

This source says even 5,000 B.C.

That is before the time of the pharaohs

In the Nile Delta, settlements from that era had never been found before. …

In the village, storage sites have been found with animal bones, ceramics and remains of food and plants. According to archaeologists, they can be used to investigate how people lived then.

World’s oldest cheese discovery in Egypt


This video from Italy says about itself:

Farmer Follows Ancient Roman Recipe To Make Cheese – From the Milk of Endangered Goats

6 June 2018

This Sicilian farmer produces artisan vegetarian cheeses by following ancient Roman recipes. His cheese is made from the milk of endangered Girgentana goats – currently, there are only about 1300 of these goats left in the world. He uses vegetable rennet instead of animal rennet, which is taken from the stomach of the animals, which makes his cheeses purely vegetarian.

From the American Chemical Society:

World’s oldest cheese found in Egyptian tomb

August 15, 2018

Aging usually improves the flavor of cheese, but that’s not why some very old cheese discovered in an Egyptian tomb is drawing attention. Instead, it’s thought to be the most ancient solid cheese ever found, according to a study published in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry.

The tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis in Egypt during the 13th century BC, was initially unearthed in 1885. After being lost under drifting sands, it was rediscovered in 2010, and archeologists found broken jars at the site a few years later. One jar contained a solidified whitish mass, as well as canvas fabric that might have covered the jar or been used to preserve its contents. Enrico Greco and colleagues wanted to analyze the whitish substance to determine its identity.

After dissolving the sample, the researchers purified its protein constituents and analyzed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The peptides detected by these techniques show the sample was a dairy product made from cow milk and sheep or goat milk. The characteristics of the canvas fabric, which indicate it was suitable for containing a solid rather than a liquid, and the absence of other specific markers, support the conclusion that the dairy product was a solid cheese.

Other peptides in the food sample suggest it was contaminated with Brucella melitensis, a bacterium that causes brucellosis. This potentially deadly disease spreads from animals to people, typically from eating unpasteurized dairy products. If the team’s preliminary analysis is confirmed, the sample would represent the earliest reported biomolecular evidence of the disease.

I blogged before on still older cheese; some 5700 years before Ptahmes; made in Poland. However, that cheese seems to have been not solid cheese. So, this recent discovery in Egypt is still the oldest known solid cheese.

Analysis of fatty residue in pottery from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia revealed evidence of fermented dairy products — soft cheeses and yogurts — from about 7,200 years ago, according to an international team of researchers: here.

Amelia Edwards, British lesbian Egyptologist


This 2009 video from Britain says about itself:

Amelia Edwards: Egyptology’s Greatest Woman (at London’s Petrie Museum)

Heritage Key enters the Petrie Museum in London to talk to the curator Dr Stephen Quirke, who explains the importance of one of the co-founders of the Egypt Exploration Society – Amelia Edwards.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday, June 8, 2018

Frosty’s Ramblings: Amelia Edwards: lesbian and Egyptologist

With Pride month beginning tomorrow, PETER FROST tells the remarkable story of the author of A Thousand Miles up the Nile

AMELIA B EDWARDS was a Victorian English writer of the Arthur Conan Doyle School. Like Conan Doyle — who didn’t think Sherlock Holmes was his best writing — she made her not inconsiderable fortune from the books she didn’t rate as her favourites or her best work.

Perhaps her best-known work was a collection of ghost stories including the famous The Phantom Coach. Her novels included Barbara’s History and Lord Brackenbury.

But it was two travel books including A Thousand Miles up the Nile, and Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys: A Midsummer Ramble in the Dolomites, both written and illustrated by her, that were her proudest works.

Edwards was born in London to an Irish mother and a father who had been a British army officer before becoming a banker.

Home educated by her mother, she was already showing considerable promise as a writer at a very young age. She published her first poem at age seven, her first story at age 12.

She had work published in a large number of magazines including Chamber’s Journal and Charles Dickens’s Household Words, as well as the Saturday Review and the Morning Post.

Her first full-length novel was My Brother’s Wife, published when she was just 25. Her early novels were well received, but it was Barbara’s History, a novel about bigamy, that solidly established her reputation as a novelist.

It is hard today to understand just how popular she was. Her last novel, Lord Brackenbury, for instance, ran to no less than 15 editions.

The wealth these books brought her allowed her to write about what really interested her — travel and particularly Egyptology.

In the winter of 1873-4, accompanied by several friends, she toured Egypt, discovering a fascination with the land and its cultures, both ancient and modern.

She hired a dahabiyeh — a houseboat with a huge sail and an Egyptian crew. At this time Egypt and its many ancient sites had become a popular tourist destination with the well-to-do from England, Germany and other parts of Europe.

These tourists were often keen amateur archaeologists and they fell into two distinct camps. There were those who thought that all the best artefacts and works of art should be shipped home to the huge museums of Bloomsbury and many rival city museums of Germany or, even worse, into private collections.

Others took the view that the art should be left where it was in Egypt. Edwards sided with this view. A keen artist, she mostly sketched rather than collected what she saw.

She and her friends visited Cairo, Philae and ultimately reached Abu Simbel. Edwards’s description of her Nile voyage, A Thousand Miles up the Nile, was the outcome of this trip. The book was illustrated by beautiful and accurate wood engravings taken from her hand-drawn sketches. It became an immediate bestseller.

The book led, in 1882, to her co-founding the Egypt Exploration Fund, which still exists today as the Egypt Exploration Society.

Edwards’s travels in Egypt had made her aware of the increasing threats directed towards the ancient monuments by tourism and modern development.

Determined to stem these threats by the force of public awareness and scientific endeavour, Edwards became a tireless public advocate for the research and preservation of the ancient monuments.

She worked closely and supported the English archaeologist and Egyptologist Flinders Petrie. He became the first Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College London, taking the chair that was set up and funded in 1892 by a bequest shortly after her death.

She had instructed that Petrie should be its first incumbent. He continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day.

One of his students was Howard Carter, who went on to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun.

With the aim of advancing the fund’s work, Edwards largely abandoned her other literary work to concentrate on Egyptology. She wrote the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Egyptology.

As part of her efforts, Edwards embarked on an ambitious lecture tour of the United States in the period 1889-90. The content of these lectures was later published as Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers.

As well as writing ghost stories and travel books, Amelia seems to have made no secret of her unconventional sexual orientation. Some modern biographers have tried to hide this aspect of her life but Edwards never did.

Her friend, the author and critic John Addington Symonds, told Henry Havelock Ellis that she made no secret of her lesbian lifestyle.

Havelock Ellis was in 1897 co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality and he also published works on a variety of sexual orientations and inclinations.

She told both Symonds and Ellis she had formed a menage a trois with an English woman and her clergyman husband. Symonds said she told him that one day the husband had married Edwards to his wife at the altar of his church.

This unconventional bisexual couple were almost certainly John Rice Byrne and Ellen Byrne who the 1871 census shows as living at 7 Cambridge Park, Bristol. He was a clergyman and school inspector. When they moved away from Bristol, Edwards told Symonds it was like a death blow.

Edwards died of influenza on April 15 1892 at Weston-super-Mare. She is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Henbury, Bristol, and her grave is marked by a distinctive Egyptian obelisk and stone ankh — the ancient Egyptian symbol of life shaped like a cross with a loop at the top.

Buried beside Edwards is her lifetime companion, partner and lover Ellen Drew Braysher, with whom she shared a home for 30 years. Historic England designated her grave as Grade II listed, celebrating it as a landmark in English LGBT history.

Today many of Edwards’s books, now long out of copyright, can be downloaded free from the internet.

Female pharaoh Hatshepsut picture discovered


This 2017 video is called Hatshepsut: Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen.

From Swansea University in Wales:

Mysterious head of a pharaoh discovered by Swansea Egyptologist

March 23, 2018

Swansea University Egyptology lecturer Dr Ken Griffin has found a depiction of one of the most famous pharaohs in history Hatshepsut (one of only a handful of female pharaohs) on an object in the Egypt Centre stores, which had been chosen for an object handling session.

The opportunity to handle genuine Egyptian artefacts is provided by the Egypt Centre to students studying Egyptology at Swansea University.

This video is called Introduction to The Egypt Centre, Swansea.

During a recent handling session for an Egyptian Art and Architecture module Dr Kenneth Griffin, from the University’s Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, noticed that one of the objects chosen was much more interesting than initially thought.

Consisting of two irregularly shaped limestone fragments that have been glued together, the object had been kept in storage for over twenty years and was requested for the handling session based only on an old black and white photograph.

The front side depicts the head of a figure whose face is unfortunately missing, with the remains of a fan directly behind. Traces of hieroglyphs are also present above the head. The iconography of the piece indicates that it represents a ruler of Egypt, particularly with the presence of the uraeus (cobra) on the forehead of the figure. Who is this mysterious pharaoh and where did the fragment originate from?

A search of the Egypt Centre records provides no information on the original provenance or find spot of the object. What is known is that it came to Swansea in 1971 as part of the distribution of objects belonging to Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), the pharmaceutical entrepreneur based in London. The fragments are less than 5cm thick and had clearly been removed from the wall of a temple or tomb, as can be seen from the cut marks on the back.

Having visited Egypt on over fifty occasions, Dr Griffin quickly recognised the iconography as being similar to reliefs within the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri (Luxor), which was constructed during the height of the New Kingdom. In particular, the treatment of the hair, the fillet headband with twisted uraeus, and the decoration of the fan are all well-known at Deir el-Bahri.

Most importantly, the hieroglyphs above the head — part of a formulaic text attested elsewhere at the temple — use a feminine pronoun, a clear indication that the figure is female.

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty (c.1478-1458 BC) and one of only a handful of women to have held this position. Early in her reign she was represented as a female wearing a long dress, but she gradually took on more masculine traits, including being depicted with a beard. The reign of Hatshepsut was one of peace and prosperity, which allowed her to construct monuments throughout Egypt. Her memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri, built to celebrate and maintain her cult, is a masterpiece of Egyptian architecture.

Many fragments were taken from this site during the late nineteenth century, before the temple was excavated by the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Egypt Exploration Society) between 1902-1909. Since 1961 the Polish Archaeological Mission to Egypt has been excavating, restoring, and recording the temple.

Yet the mystery of the precious find doesn’t end there. On the rear of the upper fragment, the head of a man with a short beard is depicted. Initially there was no explanation for this, but it is now clear that the upper fragment had been removed and recarved in more recent times in order to complete the face of the lower fragment. The replacement of the fragment below the figure would also explain the unusual cut of the upper fragment. This was probably done by an antiques dealer, auctioneer, or even the previous owner of the piece in order to increase its value and attractiveness. It was eventually decided at an unknown date to glue the fragments together in the original layout, which is how they now appear.

While Deir el-Bahri seems the most likely provenance for this artefact, further research is needed in order to confirm this and it may even be possible to one day determine the exact spot the fragments originated from.

Given the importance of the object, the head of Hatshepsut has now been placed on display in a prominent position within the House of Life at the Egypt Centre so that the relief can be appreciated by visitors to the Centre.

Dr Griffin said: “The Egypt Centre is a wonderful resource and is certainly one of the major factors in attracting students to study Egyptology at Swansea University.”

“The identification of the object as depicting Hatshepsut caused great excitement amongst the students. After all, it was only through conducting handling sessions for them that this discovery came to light.”

“While most of the students have never visited Egypt before, the handling sessions help to bring Egypt to them.”