Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Ptolemaic tombs uncovered in Egypt's Minya, contents suggest a 'large cemetery'

Three new discoveries in El-Kamin El-Sahrawi point to a large cemetery spanning the 27th Dynasty and the Graeco-Roman era

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 15 Aug 2017

Three rock-hewn tombs from the Ptolemaic era have been discovered during excavation work in the El-Kamin El-Sahrawi area of Minya governorate, the Ministry of Antiquities announced on Tuesday.

The discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities working in the lesser-known area to the south-east of the town of Samalout.

The tombs contain a number of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as a collection of clay fragments, according to ministry officials.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Sector, said that studies carried out on the clay fragments suggest the tombs are from the 27th Dynasty and the Graeco-Roman era.

"This fact suggests that the area was a large cemetery over a long period of time," said Ashmawy.

Ashmawy describes the discovery as "very important" because it reveals more secrets from the El-Kamil El-Sahrawi archaeological site.

During previous excavation work, the mission uncovered about 20 tombs built in the catacomb architectural style, which was widespread during the 27th Dynasty and the Graeco-Roman era.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yale archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs

By Bess Connolly Martell

Photo courtesy of YaleNews
A joint Yale and Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels) expedition to explore the the ancient Egyptian city of Elkab has uncovered some previously unknown rock inscriptions, which include the earliest monumental hieroglyphs dating back around 5,200 years.

These new inscriptions were not previously recorded by any expedition and are of great significance in the history of the ancient Egyptian writing systems, according to Egyptologist John Coleman Darnell, professor in Yale's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale, who co-directs the Elkab Desert Survey Project.

“This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest — and largest — signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system,” says Darnell.

The researchers also discovered rock art depicting a herd of elephants that was carved between 4,000-3,500 B.C.E. One of the elephants has a little elephant inside of it, which, according to Darnell, “is an incredibly rare way of representing a pregnant female animal.”

The archaeologists also identified a panel of four signs, created circa 3,250 B.C.E. and written right to left — the dominant writing direction in later Egyptian texts — portraying animal images of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald ibis bird above and between them. The arrangement of symbols is common in later Egyptian representations of the solar cycle and with the concept of luminosity. “These images may express the concept of royal authority over the ordered cosmos,” says Darnell.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ancient Tomb of Gold Worker Found Along Nile River

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | June 19, 2017

A 3,400-year-old tomb holding the remains of more than a dozen possibly mummified people has been discovered on Sai Island, along the Nile River in northern Sudan.

Archaeologists discovered the tomb in 2015, though it wasn't until 2017 that a team with the AcrossBorders archaeological research project fully excavated the site.

The island is part of an ancient land known as Nubia that Egypt controlled 3,400 years ago. The Egyptians built settlements and fortifications throughout Nubia, including on Sai Island, which had a settlement and a gold mine. The tomb, which contains multiple chambers, appears to hold the remains of Egyptians who lived in or near that settlement and worked in gold production.

The artifacts found in the tomb include scarabs (a type of amulet widely used in Egypt), ceramic vessels, a gold ring, the remains of gold funerary masks worn by the deceased and a small stone sculpture known as a shabti. The ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis could do the work of the deceased for them in the afterlife. Some of the artifacts bore Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions that revealed the tomb was originally created for a man named Khnummose, who was a "master gold worker."

The remains of Khnummose (which may have been mummified) were found next to those of a woman who may have been his wife. Some of the other people found in tomb may have been relatives of Khnummose, the researchers said, adding that they planned to conduct DNA analyses of the remains.

Friday, June 2, 2017

First complete genome data extracted from ancient Egyptian mummies

Study finds that ancient Egyptians were most closely related to ancient populations from the Middle East and Western Asia. 

An international team of researchers have successfully recovered and analysed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BCE to 400 BCE, including the first genome-wide data from three individuals. The study found that modern Egyptians share more ancestry with sub-Saharan Africans than ancient Egyptians did, whereas ancient Egyptians were found to be most closely related to ancient people from the Middle East and Western Asia.

This study counters prior scepticism about the possibility of recovering reliable ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies. Despite the potential issues of degradation and contamination caused by climate and mummification methods, the authors were able to use high-throughput DNA sequencing and robust authentication methods to ensure the ancient origin and reliability of the data. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that Egyptian mummies can be a reliable source of ancient DNA, and can contribute to a more accurate and refined understanding of Egypt’s history.

Egypt is a promising location for the study of ancient populations. It has a rich and well-documented history, and its geographic location and many interactions with populations from surrounding areas, in Africa, Asia and Europe, make it a dynamic region. Recent advances in the study of ancient DNA present an opportunity to test existing understandings of Egyptian history using ancient genetic data.

However, genetic studies of ancient Egyptian mummies are rare due to methodological and contamination issues. Although some of the first extractions of ancient DNA were from mummified remains, scientists have raised doubts as to whether genetic data, especially the nuclear DNA which encodes for the majority of the genome, from mummies would be reliable, and whether it could be recovered at all.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lintel bearing Middle Kingdom cartouches unearthed at Ihnasya site in Egypt

A lintel inscribed with the cartouche of Sesostris II was unearthed at Heryshef temple in Ihnasya

By Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 27 May 2017

Photocredit: Ahram Online

A large temple lintel made of red granite was discovered by an Egyptian-Spanish mission during excavation work at the temple of Heryshef at an archaeological site in Ihnasya El-Medina, Beni Suef.

Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, announced the discovery on Saturday.

He described it as “very important” because the lintel is engraved with two cartouches containing the name of the Middle Kingdom King Sesostris II, (c.1895 – 1889 BC), who built the Lahun pyramid located 10 km away from Ihnasya.

The presence of the lintel at the Heryshef temple proves the interest of Sesostris II in this site, and in Fayoum in general.

Maria Carmen Perez-Die, the director of the mission from the Antiquities Museum in Madrid, said that the mission had uncovered several constructions levels, one dating to the early 18th dynasty, which concluded with the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1479 – 1425 BC) and another to that of Ramesses II (c.1279 – 1213 BC).

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/269618/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Lintel-bearing-Middle-Kingdom-cartouches-unearthed.aspx

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Burial chamber of recently unearthed 13th Dynasty Pyramid in Dahshur uncovered

The wooden box of the canopic jars and remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus were uncovered inside the newly discovered pyramid remains in Dahshur necropolis

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 10 May 2017

The Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities uncovered the burial chamber of a 13th Dynasty Pyramid discovered last month at Dahshur archaeological site.

Adel Okasha, head of the mission and the general director of the Dahshur site, explained that after removing the stones that covered the burial chamber, the mission discovered a wooden box engraved with three lines of hieroglyphics.

These lines are rituals to protect the deceased and the name of its owner.

Sherif Abdel Moneim, assistant to the minister of antiquities, revealed that the box housed the four canopic jars of the deceased with their name engraved, that of the daughter of the 13th Dynasty King Emnikamaw, whose pyramid is located 600 metres away.

He said that the mission also discovered last month a relief with 10 lines of hieroglyphics bearing the cartouche of King Emenikamaw. Hence the box may belong to the King’s daughter, or one of his family. Inside the box, the mission found wrappings of the deceased's liver, intestines, stomach and lungs.

Remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus have been found but in a very bad state of conservation. Excavation works would continue to uncover more of the pyramid's secrets.

Khaled El-Enany, minister of antiquities, visited the site this morning to inspect the excavation works.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/268521/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Burial-chamber-of-recently-unearthed-th-Dynasty-Py.aspx

Friday, May 5, 2017

Unique funerary garden unearthed in Thebes

For the first time, an almost 4000 year-old funerary garden is uncovered in Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 3 May 2017

During excavation work in the area around the early 18th Dynasty rock-cut tombs of Djehuty and Hery (ca 1500­‐1450 BCE) in Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, a Spanish archaeological mission unearthed a unique funerary garden.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online that the garden was found in the open courtyard of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb and the layout of the garden measures 3m x 2m and is divided into squares of about 30cm.

These squares, he pointed out, seem to have contained different kinds of plants and flowers. In the middle of the garden the mission has located two elevated spots that was once used for the cultivation of a small tree or bush.

At one of the corners, Afifi continued, the roots and the trunk of a 4,000 year-old small tree have been preserved to a height of 30cm. Next to it, a bowl containing dried dates and other fruits, which could have been presented as offerings, were found.

“The discovery of the garden may shed light on the environment and gardening in ancient Thebes during the Middle Kingdom, around 2000 BCE,” said Jose Galan, head of the Spanish mission and research professor at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.

He explained that similar funerary gardens were only found on the walls of a number of New Kingdom tombs where a small and squared garden is represented at the entrance of the funerary monument, with a couple of trees next to it. It probably had a symbolic meaning and must have played a role in the funerary rites. However, Galan asserted, these gardens have never been found in ancient Thebes and the recent discovery offers archaeological confirmation of an aspect of ancient Egyptian culture and religion that was hitherto only known through iconography.

Moreover, he pointed out, near the entrance of the Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb, a small mud-brick chapel measuring 46cm x 70cm x 55cm was discovered attached to the façade. Inside it three stelae of the 13th Dynasty, around ca 1800 BCE, were found in situ.

He explained that early studies reveal that the owner of one of them was called Renef‐Seneb, and the owner of the second was “the citizen Khemenit, son of the lady of the house, Idenu.” The latter mentions the gods Montu, Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.

“These discoveries underscore the relevance of the central area of Dra Abul Naga as a sacred place for the performance of a variety of cultic activities during the Middle Kingdom,” asserted Galan.

The Spanish mission has been working for 16 years in Dra Abul Naga, on the West Bank of Luxor, around the early 18th Dynasty rock-cut tombs of Djehuty and Hery.


Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/267024/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Unique-funerary-garden-unearthed-in-Thebes.aspx