The colour yellow in ancient Egypt


This January 2018 video says about itself:

The world’s first artificial pigment, Egyptian blue, may help scientists prevent forgery and even save lives.

From the University of Southern Denmark:

Discovered: Unknown yellow colors from antiquity

October 15, 2019

Summary: Antique artefacts have been studied by chemists, revealing a hitherto unknown use of yellow in Ancient Egypt

Archaeologists have long known that artefacts from the Antiquity were far more colorful than one would think when looking at the bright white statues and temples, left behind for today.

The statues and buildings only appear white today because the colors have degraded over time. Initially, lots of colors were in use.

This was also true for King Apries I‘s palace in Ancient Egypt. This palace was situated in the Nile Delta, and from here King Apries ruled from 589 to approx. 568 BC.

Fragments of the palace are today kept at the Glyptoteket Museum in Copenhagen, and recently they have been the focus of a collaboration between archaeologists from Glyptoteket, the British Museum, the University of Pisa and a chemist from the University of Southern Denmark.

“We are interested in learning more about the use of pigments, binders and the techniques associated with using them in the Antuquity. It has an obvious relevance for art historians, but it can also tell us about how different cultures in the Mediterranean and the Near East exchanged materials and knowledge and thus connected,” says Cecilie Brøns, classical archaeologist at Glyptoteket.

With this in mind, the archaeologists have worked with professor of archaeometry Kaare Lund Rasmussen from the University of Southern Denmark.

Professor Rasmussen is an expert in conducting advanced chemical analyzes of archaeological objects. Among other things, he has examined the beard of renaissance astronomer Tycho Brahe, Italian monk skeletons, medieval syphilis-infested bones, sacred relics and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For this project he has taken samples of the palace fragments to learn more about the pigments and binders used.

The project has resulted in two scientific articles, the last one just been published. They can both be found in the journal Heritage Science.

“We have discovered no less than two pigments whose use in Antiquity has hitherto been completely unknown,” says Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

These are lead-antimonate yellow and lead-tin yellow. Both are naturally occurring mineral pigments.

“We do not know whether the two pigments were commonly available or rare. Future chemical studies of other antiquity artefacts may shed more light,” he says.

Lead-antimonate yellow and lead-tin yellow have so far only been found in paintings dating to the Middle Ages or younger than that. The oldest known use of lead-tin yellow is in European paintings from ca. 1300 AD. The oldest known use of lead-antimonate yellow is from the beginning of the 16th century AD.

Analyzing binders is more difficult than analyzing pigments. Pigments are inorganic and do not deteriorate as easily as most binders which are organic and therefore deteriorate faster.

Nevertheless, Kaare Lund Rasmussen’s Italian colleagues from Professor Maria Perla Colombini’s research group at the University of Pisa managed to find traces of two binders, namely rubber and animal glue.

The rubber is probably tapped from an acacia tree and served as a solvent for powdered pigment. Rubber was widely used as a binder, and it has also been found on stone columns in the Karnak Temple and murals in Queen Nefertite‘s tomb.

Animal glue was also commonly available. It was made by boiling animal parts, in particular the hides and bones, in water to a gel-like mass which could be dried and pulverized. When needed, the powder was stirred with warm water and ready to use.

The researchers also found these color pigments:

  • Calcite (white).
  • Gypsum (white).
  • Egyptian Blue (a synthetic pigment, invented in the 3rd millennium BC)
  • Atacamite (green).
  • Hematite (red).
  • Orpiment (golden yellow).

20 ancient coffins discovered in Luxor, Egypt: here.

Egyptian pyramid age tomb discovery


This 13 April 2019 video says about itself:

Egypt unveiled a 4,400-year-old tomb on Saturday. The site was discovered in early April in the Saqqara burial site in the Giza Governorate.

The tomb belonged to a Fifth Dynasty nobleman named Khuwy and consisted of chambers and sub-chambers decorated in colourful reliefs and well-preserved inscriptions.

Secretary General of Supreme Council for Egyptian Antiquities Mostafa el-Waziry said archaeologists were able to identify fingerprints of the tomb’s painter.

A group of reportedly 52 foreign ambassadors and cultural attaches, among them Egyptian actress Yousra, accompanied Waziry at the unveiling ceremony.

From AFP news agency, 13 April 2019:

Egypt unveils colourful Fifth Dynasty tomb

In a major archaeological discovery, Egypt on Saturday unveiled the tomb of a Fifth Dynasty official adorned with colourful reliefs and well preserved inscriptions.

The tomb, south of Saqqara, a vast necropolis south of Cairo, belongs to a senior official named Khuwy who is believed to have been a nobleman during the Fifth Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt about 4300 years ago.

“The L-shaped Khuwy tomb starts with a small corridor heading downwards into an antechamber and from there a larger chamber with painted reliefs depicting the tomb owner sitting at an offerings table” said Mohamed Megahed, the excavation team’s head, in an antiquities ministry statement.

Flanked by dozens of ambassadors, antiquities minister Khaled al-Enani said that the tomb was found last month.

It is mostly made of white limestone bricks.

Ornate paintings boast a special green resin throughout and oils used in the burial process, the ministry said.

The tomb’s north wall indicates that its design was inspired by the architectural blueprint of the dynasty’s royal pyramids, the statement added.

The excavation team has unearthed several tombs related to the Fifth Dynasty.

Archaeologists recently found an inscription on a granite column dedicated to Queen Setibhor, who is believed to have been the wife of King Djedkare Isesis, the eighth and penultimate king of the dynasty.

Egyptian priest’s sarcophagus discovery


This 9 April 2019 video says about itself:

Egypt uncovers the remains of a powerful ancient priest

Archeologists on Sunday streamed live the discovery of the 2,500-year-old remains of a powerful ancient Egyptian high priest at Al-Ghorifa, a remote site about 165 miles south of the capital, Cairo.

Inside the priest’s stone sarcophagus covered in gold banding was a very well preserved mummy. Within the inner chambers of the burial site experts also discovered two other mummies. One seeming to be a female inside a “family tomb” and the other is believed to be a singer in the temple of Thoth, an ancient Egyptian god.

Archeologists recently uncovered a network of ancient tunnels and tombs containing 40 mummies “believed to be part of the noble elite.”

Ancient Egyptian religion, videos


This video series is part of the present exhibition on the gods of ancient Egypt in the museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. Subtitles in most of the videos are first in English, then in Dutch. The above video is about an Egyptian creation myth.

This video is about the heavens.

This video is about earth.

This video is about eternal life.

This video is about the underworld. Subtitles first in Dutch, then in English.

Gods of Egypt, exhibition


This November 2018 video is about the exhibition Gods of Egypt in the antiquities museum in Leiden, the Netherlands.

I saw that exhibition today.

The museum site says about it:

Gods of Egypt: until 31 March 2019

This winter, the mystical world of the ancient Egyptian gods comes to life in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities). The large exhibition Gods of Egypt is entirely devoted to the ancient Egyptian pantheon and brings numerous treasures to the Netherlands. More than five hundred imposing sculptures of gods and goddesses, magical papyri, gold jewels and richly painted mummy cases, from museums in the Netherlands and abroad, demonstrate the enormous influence of the gods on the lives of the Ancient Egyptians.

Partnership with European museums

For Gods of Egypt, the National Museum of Antiquities is working together with the Egyptian Museum in Torino, which has the second largest Egypt collection in the world. In addition, remarkable statues of gods, reliefs, stelae, and mythological papyri are on loan from the British Museum (London), Musée du Louvre (Paris), Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum (Hildesheim), the August Kestner Museum (Hannover) and the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam).

Religion and magic in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt is saturated in religion and magic. Stories about gods and the creation determined how the people saw the world. In this exhibition you will learn to recognise fascinating symbols and gods and gain a better understanding of the Egyptian world view. Themes include the role that temples played in the country, the countless rituals for the gods and the journey to the underworld; the realm of Osiris, where every Egyptian hoped to reside after death. A crucial element was the position of the pharaoh, who was seen as the reincarnation on earth of the god Horus. Gods of Egypt concludes with the role played by the Egyptian gods in modern art, films and lifestyles, illustrated by objects from a unique private collection.

The exhibition says there were hundreds of gods in ancient Egypt. That was because the Nile valley was originally various small city states, each with their own religion. After Egypt became a unified monarchy about 5,000 years ago, many of these local gods got positions in a complex national pantheon.

Still later, when first Greek Alexander the Great, later the Romans, conquered Egypt, worship of Egyptian deities like Isis spread all over the Roman empire. Also, lines between gods became blurred, some deities acquiring characteristics of various different gods, leading sometimes to gods, both native and foreign, fusing. Eg, the god Serapis was a fusion of the Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis and the Greek gods Hades, Demeter and Dionysus.

The exhibition claims that this lessening in individualities of the gods helped pave the way for monotheism. In 389 CE, a Christian mob led by Pope Theophilus of Alexandria destroyed the Serapeum of Alexandria. Egypt then became a mostly Christian country.

Ancient Egyptian high priest’s tomb discovered


This 15 December 2018 video says about itself:

Archaeologists in Egypt have made an exciting tomb discovery – the final resting place of a high priest, untouched for 4,400 years.

From the BBC today, with photos there:

Egypt tomb: Saqqara ‘one of a kind’ discovery revealed

Archaeologists in Egypt have made an exciting tomb discovery – the final resting place of a high priest, untouched for 4,400 years.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades”.

The tomb, found in the Saqqara pyramid complex near Cairo, is filled with colourful hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs. Decorative scenes show the owner, a royal priest named Wahtye, with his mother, wife and other relatives.

Archaeologists will start excavating the tomb on 16 December, and expect more discoveries to follow – including the owner’s sarcophagus.

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.