Sunday, January 31, 2016

Identification of Egyptian Royal Mummies

     The American Journal of Physical Anthropology has published an article on the identification of the Egyptian royal mummies. I have not yet read it so I cannot comment, but you can find a copy of it here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Babylonian Use of Sophisticated Geometry

     A newly translated Babylonian tablet shows how the plant Jupiter was tracked through the heavens using a sophisticated type of geometry that scientists had previously thought was unknown until Medieval times. The tablet seems to date from sometime between 350 B. C. and 50 B.C. Here are two links to articles that will give more information on this text:

Short News Article
Journal of Science article

     In other news, Egyptologists have found some very early inscriptions in the area of Wadi Ameyra in Egypt. Supposedly the inscriptions show that Queen Neith-Hotep was not the wife of Narmer, but was actually the regent queen ruling for a very young King Djer of the First Dynasty.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Statuette of the Lady Senbi

     This small, cedar wood statuette of the lady Senbi dates to the late Eleventh or early Twelfth Dynasty. It shows Senbi wearing a tight sheath dress and has a painted outline of a broad collar around her neck. The dress and any other details would originally have been shown in paint and are not clearly delineated by the carving of the statuette itself.

     As is normal with Egyptian wooden statues, this piece was cared as several separate pieces of wood which were then pegged together. The statuette was likely covered wth a thin layer of gesso and then painted.

     The face of this work has a certain charm to it and the original black paint on the hair and the outline of her eyes have survived until modern times.

     This object is on loan from the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Middle Kingdom Harp

Fig. 1 - Stela of Iki
     Harps were a common musical instrument in ancient Egypt. There are numerous representations of harper, including the stela shown here. This object, made for a man called IKI and his wife Renesankh, shows a grossly overweight harpist (fig. 2) playing a tune for the couple.

Fig. 2 - harpist from the top register of the stela
Fig. 3 - Middle Kingdom harp
     The stela is of a common type, rectangular in shape, almost as if it is a shrine of some sort.  Iki sits in front of an offering table to the harpist's left. His wife stands behind him and rests one of her hands on his shoulders. The middle and lower rows of the stela show Iki and his family receiving funerary offerings. Hapists are often represented as being blind, but there is no indication of that being the case here. This object is from late Dynasty 12 and is from Abydos. It is now in the Rijksmuseum in Leiden.

     In fig. 3 we see an actual harp that dates to late Dynasty 12 or early Dynasty 13. The sound box at the bottom of the harp would have originally been covered by an animal skin or parchment. The harp had five strings that were played by being plucked.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

An Early Dynasty 12 Stela

Fig. 1 - Stela of Kay
     Some of the stelae shown in the Met's Middle Kingdom special exhibit have some interesting details on them. This particular one is from Dynasty Twelve and shows a hunter, named Kay with either his wife or mother and his hunting dogs.

Fig. 2 - Detail of two of Kay's dogs
Fig. 3 - Kay and his Mother or Wife
     Kay has his bow in one hand and a few arrows in the other. His wife or mother carries a lotus flower (see fig. 2) in one hand while her other hand rests on her husband's / son's shoulder. Both figures are wearing broad collars which probably were originally painted several colors representing inlays of semi-precious stones.  The  detail work on the two human's hair is both interesting and unusual (see fig. 3) and seems to suggest very tightly braided or curled hair (wigs?).

     Two of Kay's dogs tag along at their owner's feet with several more dogs lying on the ground at Kay's feet (see fig. 4).The dogs seem to be of different breeds.

     This object may have been found near Thebes.

Fig. 4 - Three Dogs Lying Down at Kay's Feet