Neglected Egyptian influences on ancient Rome


Roman obelisque, showing a pharaoh with a Roman helmetTranslated from Leiden university in the Netherlands:

Ancient Roman culture more multicultural than thought

The ancient Roman material culture appears to be influenced more by other cultures than was previously assumed. In Rome plenty of elements such as images of Egyptian pharaohs were integrated, says archaeologist Marike van Aerde. PhD ceremony April 23rd.

Multiculturalism was normal

From the Romans from the period of Emperor Augustus (27 BC -14 AD) it was already known that they took elements of Greek and Hellenistic culture. They did this for instance in pottery, jewelry and buildings. The study by Marike van Aerde show that they did this also with aspects of Egyptian culture.

Van Aerde: “They did not only take these elements, they really integrated them.” Eg, Van Aerde found a picture of a pharaoh with a Roman helmet on an obelisk made in Rome. “This integration demonstrates that multiculturalism in Augustan Rome was normal. Egypt was from 30 BC on a Roman province, but the Roman material culture did not treat the Egyptian culture as inferior.”

Illegible hieroglyphics

Van Aerde analyzed nearly two hundred objects unearthed in Rome like pottery and jewelry. Much of this came from museums, including the British Museum. The archaeologist also participated in excavations. She also looked at public monuments and murals. She found many Egyptian figurative scenes and architectural and decorative elements. She found at the Sallustiano obelisk previously undiscovered illegible hieroglyphics. “This was actually a strange multicultural mix, but it did not surprise the Romans probably. They used Egyptian influences as a way to enhance their status. It improved one’s status to be multicultural.”

Terracotta panel depicting the Egyptian goddess Isis and two sphinxes, in a Roman-Hellenistic style

Museums move objects

Roman glass depicting an Egyptian head. Copyright the Trustees of The British MuseumSome Roman objects looked at first sight so Egyptian that people thought that the Romans had taken them from Egypt, Van Aerde says. She included an analysis of a number of fragments of Roman cameo glass, which consist of two or more layers in contrasting colors. They proved to be of Roman manufacture and date from the Augustan period. Van Aerde “Some museums have on these insights moved these objects from the Egyptian to the Roman departments. A perspective shift is needed. We are used to stick a label on everything: this is Greek, this is Roman, this is Egyptian. My research shows that one cannot always make such a distinction.”

(April 23, 2015 – CR)

Unknown ancient Egyptian queen’s grave discovered


This video is called Top 10 Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

From the BBC:

5 January 2015 Last updated at 10:01 GMT

Queen Khentakawess III‘s tomb found in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen, Egyptian officials say.

The tomb was found in Abu-Sir, south-west of Cairo, and is thought to belong to the wife or mother of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said that her name, Khentakawess, had been found inscribed on a wall in the necropolis.

Mr Damaty added that this would make her Khentakawess III.

The tomb was discovered in Pharaoh Neferefre’s funeral complex.

Miroslav Barta, head of the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission which made the discovery, said that the location of the queen’s tomb made them believe that she was the wife of the pharaoh.

The Czech archaeologists also found about 30 utensils made of limestone and copper.

Mr Damaty explained that the discovery would “help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids.”

Abu-Sir was used as an Old Kingdom cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

See also here.

Ancient Egyptian mummy new skull discovery


This video is called Unknown Man ‘E': The Most Mysterious Mummy in the World (Ancient Egypt History Documentary).

From Archaeology magazine:

Vascular Prints Discovered in Egyptian Mummy’s Skull

Monday, September 29, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN—Imprints from the blood vessels surrounding the brain have been found inside the skull of a 2,000-year-old mummy from Egypt’s Kom al-Ahmar/Sharuna necropolis. The inside of the man’s skull had been coated with a preservative during the mummification process that captured the extremely fragile structures with “exquisite anatomical details,” Albert Isidro of the Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor told Live Science.

The brain was usually removed by Egyptian embalmers. “The conditions in this case must have been quite extraordinary,” Isidro and his team explained. Their complete report has been published in the journal Cortex. For more on recent research into Egyptian mummies, see ARCHAEOLOGY’s news brief “Well Preserved Mummies Found in the Valley of the Kings.”

Ancient Egyptian woman with 70 hair extensions discovery


The remains of a 3,300-year-old woman who wore a complex hairstyle with 70 hair extensions was discovered in the ancient city of Armana. Credit: Photo by Jolanda Bos and Lonneke Beukenholdt

From LiveScience:

Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

September 17, 2014 08:40am ET

More than 3,300 years ago, in a newly built city in Egypt, a woman with an incredibly elaborate hairstyle of lengthy hair extensions was laid to rest.

She was not mummified, her body simply being wrapped in a mat. When archaeologists uncovered her remains they found she wore “a very complex coiffure with approximately 70 extensions fastened in different layers and heights on the head,” writes Jolanda Bos, an archaeologist working on the Amarna Project, in an article recently published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.

Researchers don’t know her name, age or occupation, but she is one of hundreds of people, including many others whose hairstyles are still intact, who were buried in a cemetery near an ancient city now called Amarna. [See Photos of the Egyptian Skeletons and Elaborate Hairstyles]

This city was constructed as a new capital of Egypt by Akhenaten (reign ca. 1353-1335 B.C.), a pharaoh who unleashed a religious revolution that saw the Aten, a deity shaped as a sun disk, assume supremacy in Egyptian religion. Akhenaten ordered that Amarna be constructed in the desert and that images of some of Egypt’s other gods be destroyed. Amarna was abandoned shortly after Akhenaten’s death, and today archaeologists supported by the Amarna Trust are investigating all aspects of the ancient city, including the hairstyles its people wore.

Bos is leading the hairstyle research, and the woman with 70 extensions leaves her puzzled.

“Whether or not the woman had her hair styled like this for her burial only is one of our main research questions,” said Bos in an email to Live Science. “The hair was most likely styled after death, before a person was buried. It is also likely, however, that these hairstyles were used in everyday life as well and that the people in Amarna used hair extensions in their daily life.”

Many of the other skulls Bos analyzed also had hair extensions. One skull had extensions made of gray and dark black hair suggesting multiple people donated their hair to create extensions.

Hairy discoveries

As Bos analyzed a selection of 100 recently excavated skulls (of which 28 still had hair) from the Armana cemetery, she noticed the people who lived in the ancient city had a wide variety of hair types. They range “from very curly black hair, to middle brown straight,” she noted in the journal article, something “that might reflect a degree of ethnic variation.” [Photos: 10 Iconic Hairstyles That Took Root]

Those skulls with brown hair often had rings or coils around their ears, a style that was popular at Amarna, she found. Why people in this city liked it is unknown. “We still have no idea. This is of course one of the answers we are still trying to find from the record,” said Bos in the email.

People in the city also seemed to be fond of braids. “All braids found in the coiffures were simple and of three strands, mostly 1 cm [0.4 inches] wide, with strands of approximately 0.5 cm [0.2 inches] when tightly braided,” Bos writes in the journal article.

People at Amarna also liked to keep their hair short. “Braids were often not more than 20 cm [7.9 inches] long, leaving the hair at shoulder length approximately,” Bos added. “The longest hair that was found consisted of multilayered extensions to a length of approximately 30 cm [11.8 inches].”

Fat was used to help create all the hairstyles Bos found, something that would have helped keep the hair in one piece after death. More research is needed to determine whether the fat was from animals. A textile found on each of the skulls may have been used to cover part of the head.

Hide the gray?

In one case a woman has an orange-red color on her graying hair. It appears that that she dyed her hair, possibly with henna (a flowering plant).

“We are still not completely sure if and what kind of hair coloring was used on this hair, it only seems that way macroscopically,” said Bos in the email. “At present we are analyzing the hairs in order to find out whether or not some kind of coloring was used. On other sites dyed hair was found from ancient Egypt.”

This woman, among other ancient Egyptians, may have dyed her hair “for the same reason as why people dye their hair today, in order not to show the gray color,” Bos said.

See also here.

Ancient Egyptian pharaoh statues, new in museum


Statue of Pharaoh Ninetjer

Translated from the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden today:

The National Museum of Antiquities has bought two ancient Egyptian pharaoh statues, including the oldest statue in the world with a pharaoh‘s name on it. It is a seated figure of pharaoh Ninetjer, one of the first kings of ancient Egypt (ca. 2785-2742 BC). The museum also bought a tomb statue of pharaoh Taharqa (690-664 BC.), one of the “black pharaohs” from Sudan.

Until the beginning of November 2014, you can see the pharaoh statues in a display in the entrance hall of the museum, next to the Egyptian temple. In 2016, they will get a prominent place in the by then renovated Egyptian department.

The Ninetjer statue is 13 centimeter high. The hieroglyph inscription on the statue says: ‘King of Upper and Lower Egypt, protected by the vulture and cobra, Ninetjer’. The cobra was the symbol of northern Egypt; the vulture of southern Egypt.

Pharaoh Taharqa statue

The Taharqa statue is 35 centimeter.