Monday, August 31, 2015

The tomb of the 26th dynasty ruler of Upper Egypt uncovered in Assassif, Luxor

The tomb of the 26th dynasty vizier of Upper Egypt discovered in South Assassif on Luxor's west bank

By Nevine El-Aref

Within the framework of the South Assassif Conservation Project on Luxor's west bank, an Egyptian-American stumbled upon a 26th dynasty tomb that belongs to the vizier of Upper Egypt, Badi-Bastet.

Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, explained that the tomb was found inside the tomb of Karabasken, who was Thebes' ruler and the fourth priest of Amun during the 25th dynasty (TT 391).

"Such a find highlights that Badi-Bastet reused the tomb," he pointed out.
Afifi went on to say that the archaeological survey carried out recently on the court of Karabasken tomb shows that several architectural designs and paintings were made especially for Badi-Bastet as it bode well to his fine and important position in the governmental echelon.

"Badi-Bastet could be buried in a shaft inside the court or in a main burial chamber of Karabasken tomb," the head of the mission Elena Pischikova suggested. She asserted that further cleaning of the tomb's different sections and the continuation of the archaeological survey would definitely reveal more secrets of the tomb.

"It is a very important discovery," the Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online. He explained that the discovery has shed more light on the architecture and design of tombs of top governmental officials during the Saite period, especially the 26th dynasty.

Studies carried out on Badi-Bastet's different titles reveal that he was one of the grandsons of Babasa, a nobleman whose tomb is located east of Assassif (TT279).

The South Assassif Conservation Project started in 2006 when the two Kushite tombs of Karabasken (TT 391) and Karakahamun (TT 223) and the early Saite tomb of Irtieru (TT 390), were re-discovered there.  These tombs have never been properly cleaned, studied and restored but now within the framework of the project they will be preserved.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ancient Mummy Has Oldest Case Of Heart Failure

By Rossella Lorenzi

The oldest case of acute decompensated heart failure has been found in 3,500-year-old mummified remains, a research team announced at the international congress of Egyptology in Florence.

Consisting of just a head and canopic jars containing internal organs, the remains were found in a plundered tomb by the Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904 in the Valley of the Queens, Luxor, and are now housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

They belong to an Egyptian dignitary named Nebiri, a “Chief of Stables” who lived under the reign of 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmoses III (1479-1424 BC).

“The head is almost completely unwrapped, but in a good state of preservation. Since the canopic jar inscribed for Hapy, the guardian of the lungs, is partially broken, we were allowed direct access for sampling,” Raffaella Bianucci, an anthropologist in the legal medicine section at the University of Turin, told Discovery News.

She investigated the mummified remains with researchers from the Universities of Turin, Munich and York.

Detailing the findings at the conference, Bianucci reported that Nebiri was middle aged — 45 to 60 years old — when he died and that he was affected by a severe periodontal disease with massive abscesses, as revealed by Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) and three dimensional skull reconstruction.

The scans showed there was a partial attempt at excerebration (removal of the brain), but a considerable amount of dehydrated brain tissue is still preserved. Linen is packed in the inner skull, eyes, nose, ears, mouth and even fill the cheeks.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Looking for Queen Nefertiti

Does the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti rest in the tomb of the Boy King Tutankhamun, as a British Egyptologist has claimed, asks Nevine El-Aref

The beautiful Queen Nefertiti, wife of the monotheistic King Akhenaten and her son-in-law the golden Boy King Tutankhamun, has always perplexed archaeologists.

Nefertiti acquired unprecedented power during the first 12 years of the reign of her husband Akhenaten. She occupied the throne alongside her husband and appeared nearly twice as often in reliefs as Akhenaten during the first five years of his reign. She continued to appear in reliefs even when, in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign, she disappeared from the scene and her name vanished from the pages of history.

Some think she either died from plague or fell out of favour, but recent theories have denied this claim. Four images of Nefertiti adorn Akhenaten’s sarcophagus, not the usual goddesses, indicating that her importance to the pharaoh continued up until his death and disproving the idea that she fell out of favour. It also shows her continuous role as a deity or semi-deity with Akhenaten.

Shortly after her disappearance, Akhenaten took a co-regent to the throne. The identity of this person has created speculation. One theory says it was Nefertiti herself in a new guise as a “female king,” like the female pharaohs Sobkneferu and Hatshepsut who ruled the country for several years.

Another theory introduces the idea of two co-regents, a male one called Smenkhkare and Nefertiti under the name of Neferneferuaten. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti became co-regent with her husband, and that her role as queen consort was taken over by her eldest daughter Meritaten.

Although her iconic bust, now on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, was unearthed in an artist’s workshop at Tel Al-Amarna in 1912 by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, neither her tomb nor mummy have yet been unearthed. As for the Boy King Tutankhamun, his mysterious death, lineage and health have seen many controversies and debates.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Unravelling the animal mummies of Ancient Egypt

Creepy exhibition reveals what lies beneath the bandages of cats, crocodiles and jackals offered to the Gods 

By Sarah Griffiths for MailOnline

From bandaged crocodiles to cats entombed in wooden effigies, a new exhibition seeks to unravel the mystery of animal mummies.

The ancient Egyptians carefully prepared the mummies in their millions as votive offerings to the gods.

Now, thousands of years after they were made, the exhibition will reveal the contents of these unusual mummies using X-rays and CT scans to the public.

The Gifts for the Gods exhibition at Manchester Museum will explain the background behind what today seems like a bizarre religious practice, in the context of life in ancient Egypt.

While many people may imaging Ancient Egypt to be a sandy wilderness, it was a country of lush grassland and a taxidermy exhibit will show what the mummified animals would have looked like when they were alive.

The strangest one to go on display is a jackal mummy which was found to contain fragments of human bone.

But Lidija McKnight, Research Associate at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester told MailOnline: ‘The ancient Egyptians mummified just about every animal they could find from cats and dogs, to fish, crocodiles, rodents, birds and baboons.

‘Perhaps the more surprising are the mummies which don’t contain animals themselves, or which contain more than species wrapped together.’

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What lies beneath?

A tantalising clue to the location of a long-sought pharaonic tomb 
NOTHING has inspired generations of archaeologists like the discovery in 1922 of the treasure-packed tomb of Tutankhamun. What if another untouched Egyptian trove lies buried, not in a distant patch of desert, nor even nearby amid the overlapping tomb-shafts of Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, but instead just a millimetre’s distance from plain view?

This is the dramatic hypothesis of a just-published paper by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist who co-discovered an undisturbed Egyptian tomb in 2000, and who is at the University of Arizona. His key evidence is disarmingly simple, and in fact free to see on the internet in the form of photographs published by Factum Arte, a Madrid- and Bologna-based specialist in art replication that recently created a spectacular, life-sized facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb, intended for tourists to visit without endangering the original.

What Mr Reeves found in these ultra-high-resolution images, which reveal the texture of walls beneath layers of paint in the original tomb, was a number of fissures and cracks that suggest the presence of two passages that were blocked and plastered to conceal their existence. One of these would probably lead to a storeroom; its position and small size mirror that of an already-uncovered storeroom inside the multi-chambered tomb. The other, bigger possible doorway in the north wall of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber suggests something much more exciting.

There are several oddities about Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is small compared with others in the valley. The objects found in it, while magnificent, seemed hurriedly placed and were found to be largely second-hand; even the boy-king’s famous gilded funerary mask sports the strangely unmanly feature of pierced ears. The tomb’s main axis is angled to the right of the entrance shaft, an arrangement typical of Egyptian queens rather than kings.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ancient Egyptian Mummies Embalmed With Unusual Recipes

By Rossella Lorenzi

Unusual embalming recipes have been identified on two ancient Egyptian mummies, according to new international research.

The study investigated the 18th Dynasty mummies of the royal architect Kha and his wife Merit, a couple who were believed to have undergone a short and poor mummification -- if no mummification at all -- despite their relative wealth at death.

Indeed, their internal organs were not removed and placed in canopic jars, as generally occurs in classical royal 18th Dynasty artificial mummification.

Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that all internal organs – brain, thoracic and abdominal organs, eyeballs as well as ocular muscles and nerves -- were in excellent state of preservation after some 3,500 years.

"Both individuals underwent a relatively high quality of mummification, fundamentally contradicting previous understanding," Frank Rühli, Stephen Buckley, Joann Fletcher, Raffaella Bianucci, Michael Habicht, Eleni Vassilika and colleagues wrote in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Elucidated ‘recipes,’ whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties, were used to treat their bodies," the researchers added.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

4,400 year-old artifacts accidentally found under Edfu Temple

By Rany Mostafa

CAIRO: A set of ancient Egyptian jars, skeletons and burials have been unearthed under the foundation of Edfu Temple north of Aswan, Antiquities Ministry said in a statement Sunday.

“The discovery was accidentally made during the restoration work of the temple’s foundation which involves reducing its groundwater level,” Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in the statement.

According to Damaty, the jars date back to ancient Egyptian history eras of Old Kingdom (2680B.C.-2180B.C.) and the Late Period (665B.C.-330B.C.)

“A significant number of burials, human bones and an Old Kingdom copper mirror are among the finds,”

Dedicated to the ancient Egyptian protection God Horus, Edfu Temple is located 90 kilometers north of Aswan and dates back to the Greco-Roman era (330 B.C.-395A.D).

In January 2012, the Antiquities Ministry along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new groundwater lowering project at the temple.

“The project aims to establish a drainage system to lower the groundwater level that threatens antiquities in the Edfu Temple and will be carried out over approximately 20 months,” according to a statement by the U.S. embassy in Egypt.

In 2010, a five million EGP ($750,000) project to restore Edfu Temple was completed. The project involves opening a new entrance, restoring the carvings on it walls as well as installing a new lighting system.