Ancient Egyptian cat, dung beetle mummies discovered

This 10 November 2018 video says about itself:

Egypt: Mummified cats, scarab beetles discovered in ancient tombs near Cairo

Seven ancient Egyptian tombs containing mummified cats and scarabs, have been discovered in the Saqqara necropolis, 30 km (19 miles) south of Cairo, according to an announcement by Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany on Saturday.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Mostafa Waziri, said he believes this is the first time the preserved insects have ever been found, saying “we asked museums in many countries if they have mummified scarabs, but no one have mummified scarabs till today.”

Three of the tombs, which date back to the New Kingdom period and are between 3500 and 3000 years old, appear to have been used for feline burial as dozens of mummified moggies were discovered within, as well as wooden cat statutes and representations of the cat goddess Bast.

The other four tombs are believed to date from the Old Kingdom period and are thus at least 4000 years old.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Tombs with mummies of cats and dung beetles discovered in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered seven tombs in Egypt from the time of the pharaohs. More than 200 cat mummies and mummies of scarabs were found in the tombs. They also appeared to contain wooden images of other animals, such as a lion, a cow and a falcon.

Three graves date from the time of the New Kingdom, from 1550 to 1069 BC, the other four from the Old Kingdom, which ran from 2686 to 2181 before the beginning of our era. The archaeologists discovered the tombs in the pyramid complex of the necropolis Saqqara, south of Cairo.

Experts call the discovery of the mummified dung beetles, which were revered by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of rebirth [in the hereafter], unique. Cats were also honoured during the time of the pharaohs. Bastet, the goddess of fertility, was depicted by the Egyptians as a cat. A bronze statue of her was found in one of the graves.

To the surprise of the archaeologists they discovered the door of another tomb, when they were preparing for an exhibition of the found objects in the area. The discovery of this tomb from the fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom is special because the door and the façade are still intact and not, like many other graves, destroyed by grave robbers. .

This may indicate that the contents of the tomb are still untouched. Experts want to open this tomb somewhere in the coming weeks.


Animals in ancient Egypt

This 12 October 2018 video says about itself:

A 6,000-year-old ancient Egyptian cemetery is uncovered, filled with the remains of wild animals such as ostriches, crocodiles and leopards. Was it a kind of zoo or could there be another explanation?

This 16 October 2018 video says about itself:

Archaeologists have a theory why ancient Egyptians maintained zoos filled with wild animals: it was an attempt to harness the power of these beasts, to combat the forces of nature – such as floods.

From the Series: Secrets: Beasts of the Pharaohs.

Egyptian Pharaoh Psamtik I, new information

This video says about itself:

Was This Egyptian Pharaoh More Important Than We Thought?

Psamtik I was believed to be a minor Egyptian pharaoh. But in 2017, an exquisite statue of him was uncovered, suggesting his status and importance in history may need to be revisited.

Egyptian sacred ibis mummies, Cuvier, Lamarck and evolution

This video says about itself:

Sarcophagus for the mummy of a sacred ibis. Egypt, Ptolemaic Period

3rd century BC – Polychrome wood – Height: 23 cm. Length: 44 cm. The piece is inscribed with a Demotic text.

From PLOS:

How Sacred Ibis mummies provided the first test of evolution

A charismatic personality set back the acceptance of evolution 50 years before Darwin

A debate over mummified birds brought to France after Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt played a central role in delaying acceptance of evolutionary theory; an episode in the history of biology revealed in an Essay published September 27 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Caitlin Curtis of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, as well as Craig Millar, David Lambert. The debate between the naturalists Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck took place five decades before Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species.

Cuvier had developed a theory of bodily form and function called the “correlation of parts“, in which every part was integral to the function of the whole. In this model, evolution would be disastrous, and thus Cuvier argued for “the fixity of species“, accepting extinction but not gradual adaptation to new environmental conditions. Lamarck, meanwhile, proposed a gradual transformation of species over time in response to environmental changes. While today Lamarck is most famous for incorrectly arguing for the “inheritance of acquired characteristics” as a mechanism of evolutionary change, Curtis, Millar, and Lambert note that he was an important theorist and champion of evolution fifty years before Darwin.

In 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt, and scientists accompanying the army brought back to France hundreds of mummified animals, including many Sacred Ibises, revered by ancient Egyptians. Cuvier examined these birds, and correctly linked them to recently collected, unclassified birds in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, making him the first scientist to test the idea of evolution. The similarity between the ancient and recent specimens indicated to Cuvier that the bird had not changed form in two thousand years, and thus supported his idea of the fixity of species. Lamarck disagreed, arguing that much more time would be needed to accumulate observable change in a species.

In 1802 the two scientists (and another colleague from the Museum) noted the similarity of a collection [of] Egyptian animal mummies to contemporary specimens, and presented this information to the French Academy of Sciences. Cuvier and Lamarck subsequently disagreed about the significance of these findings, however, and continued the argument for more than two decades. Curtis and colleagues argue that Cuvier’s greater public prominence and dramatic presentation style tipped the scales in favor of his incorrect theory, which was not effectively refuted until after Lamarck’s death in 1829, and continued to influence scientific opinion until the publication of Darwin’s theory reshaped evolutionary thought in 1852.

“The case of the Sacred Ibis highlights the disproportionate influence that a charismatic and dominant personality like Cuvier can have”, according to Curtis and her colleagues. “His unwillingness to consider the potential for the accumulation of small differences over long periods of time set back the acceptance of evolution for the next five decades.”

“In the late 18th/early 19th century, debates such as these often took place in public spaces like the halls of the Paris Museum.” Curtis said. “These days, public debates may have shifted to social media and news outlets, but debates about important scientific issues are still taking place and have a big influence on policy and society. The story of Cuvier highlights that although 200 years have passed we are still grappling with the issue of dominant personalities in science having disproportionate influence on its direction.”

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.

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.