Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tomb of Tuthmose III

One of my favorite spots in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, is the tomb of Tuthmose III. It is tucked away in a corner of the royal valley and is accessed via a high stairway (more a ladder than a stair really). Climbing this stairway can be exhausting in the mid-day heat. You then go down a series of stairs until you finally enter the burial chamber, which looks like it was decorated by a child armed with several different colored magic markers.
I suspect that the burial chamber's decoration is designed to look like a papyrus with scenes from the various books of the underworld on it. One of the "books" of the underworld found in this tomb is the Litany of Re; another was the Amduat. The photo above portrays a demon of the seventh hour of the Amduat decapitating the enemies of the King in the underworld.
The other photo in this post shows Isis, as a tree with breasts, nursing Tuthmose. To the left of this scene is a drawing of the King standing with a mace and staff in his hands (partially visible). To the left of Tuthmose (not shown) are drawings of three of Thuthmose's wives and one of his daughters. This particular scene is on one of the columns that supports the ceiling of the tomb.

Photos copyright John Freed

Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning Middle Egyptian

I joined a study group today to "learn" Middle Egyptian. I learned the language years ago, but could use a refresher course. I also like the idea of working with others who want to learn the language.

The study group has a moderator who will post homework assignments for the group. The group will communicate via email. I am looking forward to seeing how this works out.

If anyone is interested in joining the study group you can do so at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlyphStudy/

Lady Hor is a Man

A CT scan of a Brooklyn Museum mummy that has always been considered to be a woman has revealed that the mummy is actually that of a man. The mummy has never been unwrapped because it is covered by a superb cartonnage cover.

Here is a link to the story:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CT Scan Reveals Temple Singer's Face

A CT scan of the mummy of the temple singer Meresamun has been used to reconstruct her facial features. Meresamun died in about 800 B. C.

Here is a link to a story : http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,529062,00.html

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Six Hyksos Kings (a Possible Retraction)

As I mentioned in my previous post, there seems to be a problem with the list of kings I proposed as being the six "Great Kings" of the Fifteenth Dynasty.

Sheshi has almost universally been assumed to be one of these kings. But scholars have recently realized that seals of Sheshi found at Uronarti and Mirgissa (in Nubia) are in contexts that would make Sheshi contemporary with the early Thirteenth Dynasty.

Additionally, a seal of Yakubher has been found at Shikmona which seems to be contemporary with the mid-Thirteenth Dynasty (Ryholt, K. "The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period", Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, p. 42). K. Ryholt would place both of these kings in the Fourteenth Dynasty (Ryholt, p. 46), which ruled at the same time as the Thirteenth Dynasty.

It should be noted however, that Dr. Ryholt has reconstructed the sequence of Second Intermediate Period kings differently from other scholars and that the evidence for that sequence is based on the stylistic developement of scarabs. I have commented in an earlier post that using scarabs as evidence for much of anything is dangerous, as the number of scarabs preserved from the Second Intermediate Period is small. Additionally, there is no consensus whatsoever on how scarabs could be used (or even if they should be used) to sequence kings.

Time will tell if Dr. Ryholt is correct in removing Sheshi and Yakubher from the Fifteenth Dynasty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Six Hyksos "Great Kings"

Many years ago (1987 to be exact), I wrote a couple of papers on Egypt's Second Intermediate Period. In one of them, I made a half-hearted attempt to identify the six Hyksos "Great Kings". I include the relevant section of the paper below. I my next post, I will retract part of what I wrote many years ago in light of new evidence that has become available.

The Six “Great Kings” of the Hyksos:

It is difficult to determine exactly who the six Hyksos “Great Kings” were. Manetho claims that the Sixteenth Dynasty was comprised of Hyksos Pharaohs, but this is impossible as the Kamose Stela proves that Kamose (of Dynasty Seventeen) and Apopis (of Dynasty Fifteen) were contemporaries[1]. Furthermore, the Turin Canon clearly states that there were six Hyksos Kings[2]. The usual explanation for Manetho’s Sixteenth Dynasty is that Manetho somehow got a list of HyksosPrincelings” and came to the conclusion that they were Pharaohs in a separate dynasty[3]. In view of the almost total lack of evidence for this period it must be admitted that no better idea is available.

Going on the assumption that there were only six Hyksos Pharaohs and that they comprised the Fifteenth Dynasty we next turn to the question of exactly who those six Kings were. Manetho’s version of the names of these King’s is too garbled to be of any real use, and will be ignored for the most part in the following discussion.

The Inscribed monuments show that Apopis must have been one of the six Kings in question and that he must have been either the last of the six or next to the last (this is proven by the Kamose Stela, which clearly shows that Apopis is a contemporary of Kamose). Khian is certainly one of the six as well, but it cannot be stated for certain who the other four were.

Attempts to clear this matter up have been made by several scholars in the past. Olga Tufnell, in her analysis of the scarabs of the period[4], is one of the persons who have tried to shed light on this topic. A detailed analysis of her work is impossible here, but a summary of her results is in order.

First of all, she concludes that the only “Kings” who must be included in Dynasty Fifteen for sure are Khian, Apopis and Khamudy, There are no scarabs or other monuments of Khamudy; Manetho provides the only evidence for his existence when he claims that Khamudy was the (short-lived) successor of Apopis[5].

Secondly, she separates a list of “Kings” who are represented by a greater amount of “evidence” than the others. She includes on this list: Khian, Meruserre Yakubher, Mayebre Sheshi, Kauserre Amu, Sekhaenre Ykbmw, Nebuserre Y’mw, Ahetepre, Apopis and Khamudy. The remaining three Pharaohs could be any three persons on this list, or even from a list of lesser know individuals.

Thirdly, and most importantly, she has created a relative chronology of the Kings in question, which is not contradicted by any other historical source. This chronology indicates that Khian must be one of the earliest Kings of the period, while Apopis must be at the end. Most scholars accept Mayebre Sheshi as one of the Hyksos Kings[6] and, if her chronology is accurate, he must rule after Khian and before Apopis[7]. There is no way to prove who the remaining two Hyksos rulers were, but the present author is inclined to follow von Beckerath and, very tentatively, suggest Yakubher and Sekhaenre[8], as these two have left behind a larger number of scarabs than other candidates. Taking all of this in to consideration, I would suggest that the six “Great Kings” of the Hyksos, in the order that they ruled, were Meruserre Yakubher, Khian, Mayebre Sheshi, Sekhaenre, Apopis and Khamudy.

[1] Hibachi, p. 31 and passim.

[2] Gardiner, pp. 149-50.

[3] Trigger, p. 158.

[4] Tufnell, O. Studies on Scarab Seals, vol II, (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, lt., 1984).

[5] Tufnell, p. 172.

[6] Tufnell, p. 162.

[7] Tufnell, p. 168, fig. 29.

[8] Von Beckerath, p. 32 and Tufnell, p. 162 and sources quoted therein.

Tomb of Amenemopet

The tomb of a New Kingdom official has been found at Dra Abu el Naga on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor. Excavators have apparently found one or more mummies in the tomb. The tomb continues to be cleared and cleaned. A few photos can be found here (click on the "previous" link above the photo).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Imhotep the Alchemist?

Dr. Audran Labrousse did a lecture this evening on the changing view of Imhotep, Djoser's architect and the builder of the Step Pyramid, the world's first large stone building, from earliest times until today. The lecture was given at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and was fascinating.

Imhotep is referenced only once in his lifetime, on the base of a statue of the Pharaoh Djoser. By late Pharaonic times he came to be viewed by the Egyptians as a good of healing. Dr. Labrousse also had a photo of a statue of Imhotep wearing Greek clothing and also showed references to Imhotep from the Renaissance (!) and on into modern times. Dr. Labrousse also traced the development of the "myth" of Imhotep, from his being an architect, to a god of healing to his being mentioned in later European tradition as an alchemist of all things!

This was a really enjoyable lecture and if you have an opportunity to hear him give this lecture while he is in the United States, by all means go.

Met Lecture on the Necropolis of Pepy I

Dr. Audran Labrousse is doing a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum on Saturday, June 20 at 3:00 pm. The lecture will be the Met's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium and will concentrate on the necropolis of the family of Pepy I of Egypt's Sixth Dynasty. Dr. Labrouse has excavated in both Iran and Egypt.

Dr. Labrousse will also be addressing the Egyptological Seminar of New York tonight (Thursday) on Djoser's architect, Imhotep. I am attending this lecture and will post a short note about it tomorow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some More Links

http://www.archaeology.org/interactive/hierakonpolis/ contains some great information and photos from one of the most important sites in Egypt.

has a story about the discovery of some homes used by the commoners at Persepolis.

http://www.gizapyramids.org/code/emuseum.asp is the website for the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) Giza Project. You can download PDFs of mant of the Museums publications here. The site is available in English, French, German and Arabic.

http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/ is a site developed by the Petrie Museum as a teaching tool.

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s site is http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/opac/

The British Museum website is http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights.aspx

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Famous Amarna Stela a Fake?

The latest issue of KMT magazine has an article by Rolf Krauss that suggestes that a famous Amarna stela in the Cairo Museum might be a fake. If this turns out to be true, there could be serious repercussions.

This is the stela that Cairo received instead of the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti (that went to Berlin). The Egyptians have felt for years that they were cheated during the division of finds from Berlin's excavations at Amarna. If the prime piece that they receeived turns out to be a forgery they will be really upset (and rightly so).

Also, if the stela is a forgery, were the excavators a part of the fraud in an attempt to make sure that Berlin got the Nefertiti bust?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The New Issue of Archaeology Magazine

The July / August issue of Archaeology magazine has just hit the newsstands, and it has some interesting articles in it.

  • A ship wreck has been found off the coast of Turkey that was carrying marble column "drums" to the temple of Apollo at Claros. Column drums are circular marble slabs that would have been piled on top of each other to build a column to support the roof of the temple.
  • A Phoenician shipwreck has been found off the coast of Spain. The ship dates to the 6th century B. C. and may indicate that the Phoenicians went through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic Ocean to trade.
  • Florida State Maritime Archaeologist Cheryl Ward has built a full-sized replica of a boat that Hatshepsut's Punt expedition would have used to sail on the Red Sea. The ship was built based on Egyptian representations of boats and wooden parts from an ancient boat found on the coast of the Red Sea. The newly built ship was used for an eighteen day cruise on the Red Sea.
  • The ancient city of Petra in Jordan is suffering from water damage. A team of conservationists are working to protect the remains of the once flourishing trading center.
  • Bob Brier has published an article that further describes the new theory that the Great Pyramid was built with an interior ramp that was used to haul stones into place. I reviewed his book on this topic in an earlier post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Interesting Links

Here are some more interesting links that I have found while searching the internet:

http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/near-east-images has many photographs of archaeological sites in the Middle East, including some very nice photos of Sakkara and Giza in Egypt.

http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/cotafamily4/turkish_living/1211342340/tpod.html contains some photos of the Hittite capital in what is now Turkey.

http://www.hittitemonuments.com/zincirli/ has some photos of Hittite objects.

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/meresamun/ has some photos from a project which recently CT scanned an Egyptian mummy. Very interesting and well worth a look.

http://vovici.com/wsb.dll/s/a81eg3def5 has a survey that Archaeology Magazine is doing regarding a special issue devoted to Ancient Egypt that will be on the newsstands in the near future. Go to this site and give them your opinion.

http://www.youtube.com/archaeologytv is the Archaeological Institute of America’s You Tube website.

http://www.archaeological.org/ This is the website of the Archaeological Institute of America.

http://www2.rz.hu-berlin.de/nilus/net-publications/index.html is an online publication of the Humboldt University in Berlin. It is devoted to Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology. All articles to date are in German.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Manual of Sumerian Grammar (a Review)

This volume is a superb grammar that is very suitable for self-learners. This is not to say that it is an easy read. It is however a thorough and understandable text which will help the interested reader learn Sumerian.

Chapter one discusses Sumerian’s linguistic affiliations (or lack thereof) and gives an overview of the languages characteristics. The book then lays out the specifics of Sumerian grammar in a series of twenty-six lessons. During these lessons, Dr. Hayes openly discusses areas of Sumerian Grammar that are not well understood and covers the theories of other scholars that differ with his own.

Each lesson contains vocabulary words and one or more texts which are transliterated and translated by the author. The grammar of each line of the text is explained in detail. Many of the chapters conclude with a short discussion of some point of Sumerian history or culture that is related to the texts the student has just finished working on.

The texts range from only five or six lines to ones of slightly over twenty lines. Some are temple dedication texts while others are historical texts. There is a good variety of texts so that the student does not get tired of translating the same type of text over and over.

At the end of the book there is a glossary and a superb bibliography.

This is without a doubt the grammar that a student of Sumerian should start with. Other grammars written in English are really not meant for the beginning student.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Introduction to Akkadian (a Review)

Richard Caplice’s “Introduction to Akkadian” is a concise introductory Akkadian grammar. It is designed to provide a one semester survey of the main points of Akkadian.

The book is easily carried about for reading. It does cover the essentials of Akkadian grammar but provides only a few reading exercises. Answers to the exercises are not provided, which makes this book difficult to use for a self-learner. A student could use this book to review the language; as a “brush up” course if you will.

As I mentioned in a different review, any student who wants to really learn Akkadian should be reading John Huehnergard’s “Grammar of Akkadian” and should also buy the separate answer key to that grammar. Dr. Caplice’s book is solid and well written, but has been superseded by Dr. Huehnergard’s book.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Manual of Akkadian (a Review)

This thin book by Dr. David Marcus is a good introductory grammar of Akkadian. It contains long extracts from the Law Code of Hammurabi, “The Descent of Ishtar”, and “The Annals of Sennacherib” in cuneiform.

Each chapter contains an extract from one of these texts and a discussion of the grammar points that the student needs to know to translate them. Texts in the first five chapters are shown in Cuneiform, normalized transliteration and in translation. After chapter five, only the cuneiform is given, the student must work out the normalization and translation for himself. This does present a problem for anyone trying to teach themselves Akkadian. If you get stuck with a passage, you will not be able to check your work.

The book is concise (it has 180 pages) and has a very good sign list and dictionary at the rear. If this work has a flaw it is the binding. The book cannot be opened flat. On the other hand, it is light and can be carried around easily.

While I would recommend John Huehnergard’s “A Grammar of Akkadian” over Dr. Marcus’ book for a self learner, this work is nevertheless a valuable addition to the scholar’s library.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Size of the Hyksos Empire (Part 4)

Having ruled out the possibility of the Levant and Nubia being a portion of the Hyksos “empire”, it remains to determine exactly how much of Egypt was ruled by the Asiatics. First it is clear that the Hyksos ruled the Nile delta as Manetho tells us that their capital was located there[1], and there is a great deal of evidence for a Middle Bronze Age II culture, heavily influenced by Palestine, at Tell-ed-Daba and at Tell-el-Yahudieh[2] in the delta. It is also clear that the Hyksos ruled Memphis, as a genealogy of a priest of Memphis in Dynasty XXII lists his ancestors as having served under Apopis (rather than under the kings of Dynasty XVII)[3].

Hall has argued that Upper Egypt was controlled as far as Aswan by the Hyksos, basing his argument on the fact that Aswan granite was used by Apopis in the construction of his monuments in the delta[4]. This is possible, but not necessarily true as the Kamose stela shows that the Egyptian nobility were grazing their cattle in the Delta at a time when the Asiatics certainly ruled that part of Egypt[5]. If it was possible for the Egyptians to graze their cattle in Hyksos territory then surely the Asiatics could have obtained granite from Aswan (in return for grazing rights?). One other possibility suggests itself. The Hyksos may have temporarily ruled a large part of Southern Egypt, or that Upper Egypt may have paid tribute to the Hyksos King in return for independence. There is some evidence for such a situation as the names of Khian and Apopis are known from objects found in Upper Egypt[6].

It should be emphasized that these are the only two Hyksos Kings who have left any trace of themselves anywhere in Upper Egypt[7]. Hyksos influence in Southern Egypt must have been of very short duration, however, as the Kamose stela tells us that Kamose ruled Upper Egypt independently of Apopis (who was clearly King of the Hyksos at the time Kamose was ruling Southern Egypt)[8]. Enberg notes that Hatshepsut’s inscription in the Speos Artemidos does not mention any temple south of Cusae needing repair as a result of Hyksos depredations[9] and the Kamose stela states flatly that the boundary between the Egyptians and the Asiatics was at Cusae[10].

[1] Gardiner, A. Egypt Under the Pharaohs, p. 164.

[2] Trigger, B. Ancient Egypt, pp. 156 – 7 and Bietak, M. Avaris and Pi-Ramesses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 238-9 and passim.

[3] Trigger, B. Ancient Egypt, p. 155.

[4] Enberg, R. “Hyksos Reconsidered”, p. 16 and sources quoted therein.

[5] Habachi, L. p. 48.

[6] Winlock, p. 99.

[7] Winlock, p. 99.

[8] Trigger, p. 156.

[9] Enberg, p. 15, note 49.

[10] Habachi, p. 48.

The Size of the Hyksos Empire (Part 3)

In the previous post I mentioned that the Kamose Stela showed that the King of Kush ruled independantly of the Hyksos King. Some explanation of that statement is due.

At the beginning of the second Kamose Stela the Pharaoh has already advanced all the way to Avaris. Apopis, the Hyksos King, has one last card to play against Kamose. The Hyksos ruler sent a messenger southwards by way of the oases in the Libyan Desert, in an attempt to get the King of Kush (in what is now the Sudan) to attack Kamose from behind. But Kamose, “… captured his message beyond the oasis going southward to Kush…”[1] and foiled Apopis’ plot. Apophis is clearly in no position to order the King of Kush to attack.

The second stela also reveals that Kamose had conducted a campaign against Kush, probably sometime during the period of time covered by the lost portion of the first stela. Kamose must have advanced at least as far as Toshka during this campaign as there are two graffiti there from his reign[2]. The stela of Emhab lends further credence to the belief that this campaign took place in year three of Kamose’s reign. This text tells of Emhab fighting in a campaign in Kush during year three of an unnamed King, who fought from Avaris to Kush[3].

[1] Habachi, p. 49.

[2] Habachi, p. 52.

[3] Habachi, p. 57