Sunday, January 26, 2014

Philae, Dendur and Kalabsha in the Augustan Period

Figure 1 - Kiosk of Augustus at Philae
     The Egyptological Seminar of New York had their first meeting of 2014 this past Friday. The guest speaker was Erin Peters, who gave a talk entitled "Philae, Dendur and Kalabsha in the Augustan Period".

     Ms. Peters had some interesting material and talked about a number of things that I was not previously aware of, including:

  • Augustus negotiated a peace with the kingdom of Kush in the winter of 20 - 21 B. C.
  • This treaty split the area between the first and second cataracts between the two empire

     The temples that were discussed contain many inscriptions on them from a variety of sources. Official inscriptions were, of course, in Egyptian hieroglyphs. But a number of worshipers left inscriptions in Demotic, Greek and even Meroitic.

     At Philae representations of Augustus were carved on the exterior walls of the innermost building of the temple. Augustus also made some additions to the temple including the well-known kiosk (figure 1). Also at Philae, but not built by Augustus, were temples to Imhotep (the deified builder of Djoser's step pyramid in the Third Dynasty), temples to two Nubian gods and a Roman style temple built by Diocletian.

     Kalabsha temple was dedicated to the Nubian god Mandulis and there is a carving on that temple's walls showing Horus, Isis and Mandulis receiving offerings from Augustus. The gods are separated from Augustus by an offering table and Augustus is shown wearing the double crown of the Pharaoh. But the double crown is very unusually represented in a frontal view, rather than in the normal profile view.

     Augustus is also shown on the walls of the temple of Dendur offering to two young men who drowned in the Nile.

     All three of these temples were moved as part of the rescue mission that took place when the Aswan High Dam was constructed. The dam would have completely flooded these temples if they had not been moved. Portions of the Kalabsha temple are now in Berlin and the Temple of Dendur is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Philae is, of course, still in Egypt, but in a new location where is is safe from flooding.

All photos copyright (c) 2014 by John Freed

Friday, January 24, 2014

Newly Translated Clay Tablet Prototypes Noah's Ark?

     A newly translated clay tablet seems to describe the building of a giant boat into which animals would be "led two by two".

     The tablet was brought to Irving Finkel, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, by a man whose father had acquired it in the Middle East after the end of the Second World War. The tablet tells of a large flood and the building of a huge boat that protected people and animals from the flood.

     The tablet has just gone on display in the British Museum.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tomb of the Parents of Senenmut (Cont.)

     One of the surprises I had when looking at the objects found in the tomb of Hatnofer and Ramose is the amount of linen. The photo here gives only a partial idea of the amount of cloth found in this tomb.

     Cloth was a valuable commodity in ancient Egypt, particularly if the cloth was of high quality. Most people no doubt had few changes of clothing and the finest of linen could only be afforded by the wealthy. Spinning and weaving were important occupations for the women of a wealthy household, with extra cloth possibly being sold to other people in the local community.

     Cloth also had other uses in Egypt, such as for padding on a bed or on the headrest that a person slept on.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tomb of Second Intermediate Period Pharaoh Found

     Archaeologists have found the tomb of a Second Intermediate Period Pharaoh at Abydos in Egypt. The Pharaoh, named Seneb Kay, might belong to the Sixteenth Dynasty.
     Here is a link to an article on the tombs discovery (another article and more photos can be found here). The tomb contained what is possibly the skeleton of the King. The tomb itself, based on the photos I have seen, appears to have consisted of painted limestone blocks lining the walls of an underground chamber, with the tomb being covered by a mud brick superstructure.
     This comes on the heels of the discovery of the immense sarcophagus of the Thirteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Sobekhotep I last week.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tomb of the Parents of Senenmut

Figure 1 - Coffin of Ramose
     Senenmut was the famous official who rose to high position during the reign of Hatshepsut, in Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty. Some archaeologists have even speculated that Senenmut and Hatshepsut may have been lovers.

Figure 2 - Canopic chest of Hatnofer
     While Senenmut's mother, Hatnofer, lived to a ripe old age (possibly about sixty), her husband, Ramose, died young (in his thirties). Senenmut provided a tomb for his parents on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes and Ramoses' body was re-buried there (along with six other unidentified women and children) after Hatnofer passed away.

     The couple's final resting place was found intact by excavators from the Metropolitan Museum and the artifacts found there have been divided between the Cairo Museum and the Met. Hatnofer's grave goods are more expensive than her husband's. This is probably due to Senenmut being a young man when his father passed away, but his being a major figure at court when his mother died.

     The coffin of Ramose is a fairly simple painted wood coffin likely deigned to represent Ramose's mummy with a painted "death mask" over its head and gold bands running vertically and horizontally on the lower part of the mummy. The yellow bands, somewhat unusually, do not have inscriptions on them.

     Figure two shows the wooden canonic chest of Hatnofer. Its shape is fairly common at this time period, but it is rather simply decorated with only a coat of white paint.

Photos copyright (c) 2014 by John Freed

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rishi Coffin in Scotland

     A well known Rishi coffin, possibly of a Seventeenth Dynasty Queen was found many years ago by Flinders Petrie. The burial also contained the body of a child in a small rectangular coffin that was painted white. The full burial is now in Scotland's National Museum.

     The museum's website has a description of the find and some good photos.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Tomb of Egypt's Sam Adams

      The tomb of an ancient Egyptian master brewer named Khonso-Im-Heb has been found at Luxor by a team of archaeologists from Japan's Waseda University. The tomb has well preserved paintings in it and a photo can be seen here

     The tomb dates to the Ramesside Period and has a representation of the Opening of the Mouth ceremony (one more for me to add to my list). The Luxor Times has some more photos of the tomb here.