Special ancient Egyptian tomb discovery


This video from Egypt says about itself:

Dr Mostafa Waziry talking on the new discovery in Luxor

18 April 2017

The Egyptian archaeological mission working in Dra Abu El-Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank unearthed the funerary collection of a New Kingdom tomb of Userhat.

The tomb represents a typical example of a nobleman tomb. It is a T-shaped tomb consisting of an open court leading into a rectangular hall, a corridor and an inner chamber.

After removing almost 450 cubic metres of debris out of the open court, appeared the entrance of the tomb as well as two other entrances leading to two joint tombs.

Excavation works are at its full swings to reveal the secrets of these two tombs.

Check the links for more on the tomb location and details.

From AFP news agency:

Mummies discovered in ancient tomb near Egypt’s Luxor (Update)

April 18, 2017, by Mohamed Abdel Aziz

Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed several mummies, colourful wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor, hailing an “important discovery”.

The 18th Dynasty tomb containing at least eight mummies was discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, the antiquities ministry said in a Tuesday statement.

It belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as the city judge. It was opened to add more mummies during the 21st Dynasty, about 3,000 years ago, to protect them during a period when tomb-robbing was common, Mostafa Waziri, the head of the archaeological mission, said at the site.

“It was a surprise how much was being displayed inside,” Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters outside the tomb.

“We found a large number of Ushabti (small carved figurines), more than 1,000 of them,” Enany said.

“This is an important discovery.”

Ushabti figurines were often placed with the deceased in ancient Egyptian tombs to help with responsibilities in the afterlife.

Antiquities officials had initially said six mummies along with partial remains were discovered near the southern city, but said they had later identified two more mummies.

“There are 10 coffins and eight mummies. The excavation is ongoing,” Waziri said.

Inside the tomb, archaeologists wearing white masks and latex gloves inspected the sarcophagi, which were covered with intricate drawings in red, blue, black, green, and yellow, and featured the carved faces of the dead.

Further discoveries possible

The coffins were mainly well-preserved, though some had deteriorated and broken over the years.

Archaeologists were also examining a mummy wrapped in linen which was inside one of the coffins.

White, orange, green, and patterned pots were also found in the tombs.

The necropolis is located across the Nile from Luxor, on the west bank, where many of the famous ancient Egyptian pharaohs were buried, including Tutankhamun.

The age of the tomb was determined “through the drawings on the ceiling,” said Waziri.

“It is a T-shaped tomb (which) consists of an open court leading into a rectangular hall, a corridor and an inner chamber,” the ministry said in a statement.

A nine-metre shaft inside the tomb held the Ushabti figurines, as well as “wooden masks and a handle of a sarcophagus lid,” the ministry said.

“The corridor of the tomb leads into an inner chamber where a cachette of sarcophagi is found,” the ministry said.

Waziri said the mummies dated back to an age called “the era of the tomb robbers.”

“It’s evident that someone with a conscience, the priests or a high-profile government official… made an opening to the chambers, and they put the coffins there,” he said.

Another room in the tomb was also discovered, though it has not yet been completely excavated, the ministry said.

Archaeologists were able to enter the tomb “after removing almost 450 metres of debris out of the open court,” it added.

The tombs and ancient temples of Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt during its later periods and now the city of Luxor, have been a major tourist attraction.

Tourism here has dropped in the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Enany said he hoped these new discoveries would help attract tourists again.

Nevine el-Aref, the spokeswoman for the antiquities ministry, said “there is evidence and traces that new mummies could be discovered in the future” at the site.

American archaeologists have unearthed a pharaonic tomb from the 18th dynasty in Egypt’s famed temple city of Luxor, officials said on Tuesday: here.

Pharaoh’s tomb discovery in Egypt


This video is called Bent Pyramid perfectly cut stones. Dashur, Egypt. April 2016.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio:

Newly discovered pyramid is royal tomb

Today, 11:09

In Egypt a new pyramid has been discovered. Egyptologist Huub Pragt says to the NOS Radio 1 News that the discovery is special. “This is a royal tomb, which is unusual.” The structure was discovered in Dashur, an archaeological area where several pyramids have been found.

That it is a tomb of a pharaoh is reflected in the structure and layout of the building. The tomb of which king it is not yet clear.

Hieroglyphs

Because the building dates from the 13th dynasty it is interesting to find out who is in the tomb, says Pragt. Because pharaohs quickly alternated at that time there are gaps in the list of kings. “So, it could be an unknown pharaoh. It is scientifically very interesting to perhaps again add a pharaoh’s name to the king list.”

Newly discovered Dashur hieroglyphs, photo Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/EPA

Pragt is hopeful it can be figured for whom the pyramid was built as a piece of stone was found with hieroglyphs. “I have seen a faded photograph of them, but it is not entirely clear to me what it says.”

UPDATE: there is suspicion it is the grave of Pharaoh Ameny-Qemau.

Ancient Egyptian discoveries in Abydos


This May 2016 video is called The Great Pharaohs of Egypt – The First Pharaohs.

From Archaeology:

Large Mud-Brick Tombs Discovered in Abydos

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ABYDOS, EGYPT—A cemetery and residential area dating to around the time of Egypt’s First Dynasty (late fourth millennium B.C.) has been discovered in Abydos, according to a report in Egypt Independent. Both are thought to have been used by senior officials tasked with planning tombs for the ancient Egyptian royal family along with the workers who actually built the tombs.

Archaeologists found remains of huts, pottery, and stone tools at the site. Hany Aboul Azm, head of the Central Administration of Upper Egypt, said that 15 large mud-brick tombs had been uncovered, and that their large size underscores the importance of those buried in them. The tombs date to around the time of the establishment of Egypt’s First Dynasty, when Abydos is thought to have been the country’s capital. For more on archaeology in Egypt, go to “‘T’ Marks the Spot.”

So, this new discovery is over 5,000 years old. Many corporate media (eg, here and here) mistakenly claim an age of over 7,000 years.

Here are the most significant Egyptian archaeological discoveries that made waves around the world in 2016.

Ancient Egyptian queens, exhibition


This 9 November 2016 Dutch video is about constructing the Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Exhibition shows luxury and power of Egyptian queens

17 November 2016

The Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities finally affords the wives of the pharoahs the attention they deserve. Thanks to guest curator Olaf Kaper, students and PhD candidates gained valuable experience in museum curating.

History and life at court

Like a child in a sweetshop. That’s how Kaper felt over the past year as he strolled around the world’s most prominent museums on Egypt. Kaper, an egyptologist at Leiden University, was given carte blanche by Leiden’s National Museum of Antiquities to come up with a concept for an exhibition on ancient Egypt. The exhibition had to complement the existing collection, which can be seen from 18 November in a completely new setting at the museum. Why did Kaper opt for ‘Queens of the Nile’? ‘Too little attention has been paid to the wives of the pharoahs, both in science and in the museum world. I wanted to tell their history and show different aspects of life at court.’

Divine status

The exhibition covers a period of some 500 years (1539-1077 BC) and focuses on the five queens of the New Empire: Ahmose Nefertari, Hatsepshut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari. These women had great political influence and were accorded divine status, Kaper explains. They surrounded themselves with luxury and that’s abundantly clear. The exhibition shows 350 objects, including royal portraits, statues of deities, sumptuous jewellery and valuable accessories such as mirrors set in bronze.

Murder of Ramses III

What does Kaper regard as the prize exhibits? ‘There are so many of them, but two are particularly special: the decorated granite cover of the sarcophagus of Queen Nefertari and a five-metre papyrus. This enormous document is a legal text that describes the conspiracy against and the murder of Pharoah Ramses III by a group of ladies from the harem and a number of officials. It proves that women at that time were by no means happy to accept a subordinate role.’

Students reconstruct the dress of the queens

Kaper carried out new research before the exhibition. Together with students, he reconstructed one of the outfits of the queens. ‘Pharoah Tutankhamun is the only royal whose clothing has been found. There is not a single item of clothing remaining that belonged to the queens, but there are portraits and images of the women from which we were able to reconstruct their dress.’ The result of their search can be seen at the exhibition that includes a mannequin wearing the outfit of a queen, including a stunning gold headdress.

Publications by PhD candidates

‘This exhibition was also an exceptional opportunity for my students and PhD candidates,’ Kaper explains. His students were able to gain research experience and the results of their work can be seen in the museum. Several PhD candidates published an article on their research in the exhibition catalogue. Irene Morfini wrote an article on the artists who constructed the tombs of the kings, and Steffie van Gompel and Petra Hogenboom published on their research on the position of women in Ancient Egypt. Kaper: ‘Thanks to this exhibition, young researchers have also been given a platform. It’s a great example of interaction between the worlds of the museum and academia.’

This is the first major exhibition on the queens of Egypt to be held in the Netherlands. The exhibition will run from 18 November to 17 April 2017. Most of the artefacts are from the Museo Egizio in Turin, the world’s second largest museum on Egypt.

This 17 November 2016 Dutch video is about the Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

Oldest alphabet Hebrew, derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs?


This video says about itself:

How Egypt invented the alphabet – History of Writing Systems #7 (Abjad)

25 September 2015

From Egyptian hieroglyphs to your alphabet, watch these miners turn fancy symbols into simple scratches that were all about the sounds.

First marvel at hieroglyphic inscriptions in the shadow of the great pyramids. Once you grasp how those work (or dismiss their archaic complexities), travel to a cave in the Sinai desert. See those old ornate consonants and determinatives turn into a rushed, simplified alphabet before your very eyes!

But this isn’t where the story of writing ends. A Phoenician merchant asks you to pack up the alphabet and help her trade it around the ancient Mediterranean. See the results of that next time!

From Science News:

Oldest alphabet identified as Hebrew

Controversial claim argues that ancient Israelites turned Egyptian hieroglyphics into letters

By Bruce Bower

8:00am, November 19, 2016

SAN ANTONIO — The world’s earliest alphabet, inscribed on stone slabs at several Egyptian sites, was an early form of Hebrew, a controversial new analysis concludes.

Israelites living in Egypt transformed that civilization’s hieroglyphics into Hebrew 1.0 more than 3,800 years ago, at a time when the Old Testament describes Jews living in Egypt, says archaeologist and epigrapher Douglas Petrovich of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Hebrew speakers seeking a way to communicate in writing with other Egyptian Jews simplified the pharaohs’ complex hieroglyphic writing system into 22 alphabetic letters, Petrovich proposed on November 17 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

“There is a connection between ancient Egyptian texts and preserved alphabets,” Petrovich said.

That’s a highly controversial contention among scholars of the Bible and ancient civilizations. Many argue, despite what’s recounted in the Old Testament, that Israelites did not live in Egypt as long ago as proposed by Petrovich. Biblical dates for the Israelites’ stay in Egypt are unreliable, they say.

Scholars have also generally assumed for more than 150 years that the oldest alphabetic script Petrovich studied could be based on any of a group of ancient Semitic languages. But not enough is known about those tongues to specify one language in particular.

Petrovich’s Hebrew identification for the ancient inscriptions is starved for evidence, said biblical scholar and Semitic language specialist Christopher Rollston of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. There is no way to tell which of many Semitic languages are represented by the early alphabetic system, Rollston contended.

The origins of writing in different parts of the world — including that of the alphabet carved into the Egyptian slabs — have long stimulated scholarly debates (SN: 3/6/93, p. 152). A German scholar identified the ancient Egyptian writing as Hebrew in the 1920s. But he failed to identify many letters in the alphabet, leading to implausible translations that were rejected by researchers.

Petrovich says his big break came in January 2012. While conducting research at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, he came across the word “Hebrews” in a text from 1874 B.C. that includes the earliest known alphabetic letter. According to the Old Testament, Israelites spent 434 years in Egypt, from 1876 B.C. to 1442 B.C.

Petrovich then combined previous identifications of some letters in the ancient alphabet with his own identifications of disputed letters to peg the script as Hebrew. Armed with the entire fledgling alphabet, he translated 18 Hebrew inscriptions from three Egyptian sites.

Several biblical figures turn up in the translated inscriptions, including Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his half-brothers and then became a powerful political figure in Egypt, Joseph’s wife Asenath and Joseph’s son Manasseh, a leading figure in a turquoise-mining business that involved yearly trips to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, is also mentioned, Petrovich says.

One inscription, dated to 1834 B.C., translates as “Wine is more abundant than the daylight, than the baker, than a nobleman.” This statement probably meant that, at that time or shortly before, drink was plentiful, but food was scarce, Petrovich suspects. Israelites, including Joseph and his family, likely moved to Egypt during a time of famine, when Egyptians were building silos to store food, he suggests.

A book by Petrovich detailing his analyses of the ancient inscriptions will be published within the next few months. Petrovich says the book definitively shows that only an early version of Hebrew can make sense of the Egyptian inscriptions.

Many baby crocodiles discovered in Egyptian mummy


Baby crocodiles discovered

From the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden):

Egyptian giant crocodile mummy is full of surprises

15 November 2016

The three-metre-long mummified Egyptian ‘giant crocodile’, one of the finest animal mummies in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), turns out to be literally filled with surprises. Examination of detailed new 3D CT scans has led to the conclusion that, besides the two crocodiles previously spotted inside the wrappings, the mummy also contains dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles.

Exceptional discovery

This is an exceptional discovery: there are only a few known crocodile mummies of this kind anywhere in the world. Starting on 18 November, museum visitors can perform an interactive virtual autopsy on the crocodile mummy and the mummy of an Egyptian priest. On a large touch screen, they can examine the mummies layer by layer, learning about their age, physical features, and the mummification process. The amulets placed inside the linen wrappings with the mummies can also be examined in detail and from all sides in 3D.

Virtual autopsy in museum galleries

A new scan of the large crocodile mummy was recently performed at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam. An earlier CT scan in 1996 had shown that there are two juvenile crocodiles inside a mummy that looks like one large crocodile. The Swedish company Interspectral, which specializes in high-tech interactive 3D visualizations, has converted the results of the new scan into a spectacular 3D application and thus detected the dozens of baby crocodiles.

A reference to new life after death?

The museum’s Egyptologists suspect that the crocodiles of different ages were mummified together as a reference to the ancient Egyptian belief in rejuvenation and new life after death. Another possibility is that no large crocodiles were available at a time when they were needed as offerings to the gods. The mummy was given the shape of one large crocodile with various kinds of stuffing: bits of wood, wads of linen, plant stems, and rope.The ancient Egyptians mummified all sorts of animals, usually to pay homage to a particular deity that could manifest in animal form. For instance, crocodiles were offered to the god Sobek.

Museum’s curators excited about the find

The museum’s curators are excited about this remarkable find: “What was intended as a tool for museum visitors, has yet produced new scientific insights. When we started work on this project, we weren’t really expecting any new discoveries. After all, the mummy had already been scanned. It was a big surprise that so many baby crocodiles could be detected with high-tech 3D scans and this interactive visualization.”