Saturday, January 31, 2015

Statue of an Asiatic in Munich

Figure 1 - Head of an Asiatic Official in Munich
     Munich has a statue of a "typical" Asiatic that the museum has dated to either Egypt's Dynasty Twelve or Dynasty Thirteen. It is well known that by this point in Egyptian history a large number of non-Egyptians had entered the Nile Delta by crossing the Sinai Peninsula and had taken up residence in Egypt. Others entered to trade with the Egyptians or to water their flocks. See representations of such a group in one of the Middle Kingdom tombs as Beni Hasan where the group is referred to as "Heka Khasut" which is the Egyptian term for the Hyksos. Also see a representation of another such a group in the Sinai's Serabit el-Khadim temple where one of the Asiatics is shown riding a donkey.

     Only the head of the Munich statue is preserved. The Asiatic is shown with the "mushroom" haircut that is so typical of these statues. A very similar statue to the one shown here was found during excavations at the Hyksos capital of Avaris. The statue found at Avaris is very fragmentary, but clearly shows the same hair style as well as the top of a throw stick held in the hand of the official. It is quite possible that the Munich statue would also have shown the throw stick if more of the statue had been preserved.

Copyright (c) 2015 by John Freed

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Millionaire who Hunted Mummies

     The Millionaire and the Mummies is the story of Theodore Davis, who is best known for finding more tombs in Egypt's Valley of the Kings than any other explorer before or since. But Davis' rise to fortune is a classic story of financial shenanigans that involved making money from an association with "Boss" Tweed and from the hard work of liquidating (looting?) an insolvent bank.

     Davis knew poverty as a child and was determined to become rich. And so he did. He was also the subject of three congressional investigations, from which he escaped totally unscathed (how much money was paid to various members of Congress is unrecorded).It would be easy to label him a greedy thief, but quite contrarily he was generous with his friends and relatives. And today he is best known for spending large amounts of money looking for the burials of ancient Egypt's royalty.

     Davis' expeditions found the tombs of Yuya and Thuya, Horemhab and many others, but it is the discovery of Tomb 55 that Davis is best known for. To this day we are not sure who was actually buried there. Davis insisted for ages that the body was that of Queen Tiye, (even though the doctor who examined it claimed that the body was male). Unlike many of his predecessors, Davis felt that most of his finds belonged in Egypt and he actually took far less for his personal collection than his agreements with the Antiquities Service allowed him.

     John M. Adams has done a great job of writing this book. He has skillfully moved back and forth between Davis' rise to wealth and power as a young man and his adventures in Egypt as a retiree. He paints a fascinating picture of Egypt in the early twentieth century and America in the Gilded Age (late 1800's). The book is well written, nicely paced and is easy to read. Anyone who is interested in Egyptian Archaeology will find this book fascinating.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pyramids in the News

     There have been several news items regarding pyramids in the news over the past few days including:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fake Mummies in the Vatican

     The Vatican Museum has discovered that two mummies in its collection are fake. The mummies have never been unwrapped, so the forgery was only discovered when they were recently x-rayed. Here is an article that contains more information.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Middle Kingdom Fortress Found

     A series of fortresses dating from Egypt's Middle Kingdom through to the New Kingdom has been found in the eastern delta of the Nile. This collection of walls and fortresses was mentioned in the tale of Sinhue (a famous story dating to the Middle Kingdom).

     There is a somewhat inaccurate story about the discovery published in Ahram Online. The newspaper article states that Sinhue fled Egypt during the reign of Amenemhat III, when in actuality he (for reasons unknown) left Egypt at the death of Amenemhat I. The story mentions that the fortresses were designed with water breaks to protect them from floods during the Niles's annual inundation.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pyramid Texts

     I mentioned in the previous post that Dr. James Allen has published new translations of some Egyptian religious texts. I was poking around in the internet and found that he is working on the Pyramid texts and he has posted some very useful, if very specialized, information on this topic.

     In the first volume of the work he has posted a new concordance of the Pyramid texts. What this means is that he has listed each of the pyramid texts, which pyramids they occur in, which room in the pyramid they can be found in and, finally, the column number in the pyramid where the text can be found. Then he offers each text in transliteration.

     In the next few volumes of the work, Dr. Allen publishes copies of the hieroglyphs in the texts. This is still a work in progress as he has copied and posted only a little over 600 of the texts (out of well over 1,000).

     If you are interested in working on the Pyramid texts, there is enough information here to keep you busy for a long time. If you translate any of these texts and want to check your translations, you can do so in Dr. Allen's book The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts.

New Egyptian Literature Book to be Released

     James Allen, who is the Author of the superb book Middle Egyptian: an Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, has a new book that will be published soon, entitled Middle Egyptian Literature: Eight Literary Works of the Middle Kingdom. Dr. Allen is one of the world's greatest experts on the ancient Egyptian language and he has published many other works, including translations of the major Egyptian religious texts. This book will contain the hieroglyphs, transliteration and translation of the eight famous Middle Kingdom texts. Hieroglyphic copies of these texts are not readily available to students and Gardiner's publication of these texts in hieroglyphs is, sadly, hopelessly out of print.

     If you are interested in learning the language of the ancient Egyptians, then by all means buy Dr. Allen's Middle Egyptian grammar; it is well written and more up to date that Alan Gardiner's book on the same subject. I am looking forward to working through the new book as soon as it is released.

     The book is being offered on on a pre-release basis. As soon as I get a copy I will post a review.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Queen's Tomb Found at Abu Sir

     The tomb of a previously unknown Fifth Dynasty Egyptian Queen has been found at Abu Sir near the pyramid of the Pharaoh Neferefre and the team that found the tomb of the Queen (named Khentkaus III) is speculating that she may be the wife of that King. Here are two links to stories on the discovery:

The Luxor Times Article

The Al-Tahrir Article

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Few Egyptology Links

Here are a few links relating to Egyptian archaeology you may find useful:

The Egyptologists Forum - news, links to digitized books, newsletters and papers; their emails contain listings of special exhibits from all over the world

The Egyptian Museum, Bonn - German only site

French Institute of Oriental Archaeology - French only site

Thursday, January 1, 2015

KMT Magazine Turns 25

     With the publication of its most recent issue, "KMT, a Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt"was founded in 1990 and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary and its 100th issue published.

     The magazine has been nurtured for all of those years with loving care by editor Dennis C. Forbes who produces a high-quality magazine loaded with great articles and beautiful pictures every quarter. The articles are written by some of the most well respected egyptologists in the world including Emily Teeter, Nicholas Reeves, Aiden Dodson and many others.

     In her regular column "Nile Currents", Salima Ikram reports on the results of excavations at Memphis, Sakkara, Amarna, Karnak or any other places in Egypt that archaeologists are working. David Moyer, in his column "For the Record" keeps readers all over the world up to date on public lectures, museum exhibits, newly published books and newspaper articles, as well as any movies or television specials made with ancient Egypt as their topic.

The magazine is available at Barnes and Nobles and can be subscribed to at their website.