Monday, May 29, 2017

Old Kingdom Royal Sculpture

     At the beginning of the Old Kingdom royal statuary was still a bit blocky and not overly elegant. A good example of this is the granite head of the late Third Dynasty to early Fourth Dynasty statue shown here.

     The head is slightly larger than life-size and shows the king wearing the white crown. The face has rather indistinct features and a rather "brooding" expression. Notice also the impossibly large ears.

     This head, which is now in the Brooklyn Museum reminds me of similar ones I have seen from this time period (in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for instance).  The provenance of this head is unknown.

     Based on this statue it is rather hard to believe that in just a few years Egyptian sculptors will produce the exquisite statues of the Pharaoh Menkara that were found in that king's funerary temple at Giza.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The New Issue of KMT Magazine

     The new issue of KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt arrived in my mailbox. As always it is full of interesting articles and gorgeous photographs. The magazine contains an article on the contents of the almost intact tomb of Maiherpri (found in the Valley of the Kings in 1899) as well as coverage of a Ramesses II special exhibit in Karlsruhe, Germany and another special exhibit in the Turin Museum. The usual information packed columns are on display as  "For the Record" contains information about exhibits and new publications in Europe and the Americas and "Nile Currents" reports on the latest excavations in Egypt. All in all, another great issue.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Old Kingdom Sarcophagus

     At the end of the Pre-Dynastic Period, Egypt was unified by a Pharaoh of Upper Egypt (possibly Narmer) and royalty began distinguishing themselves from the "average" Egyptian. Their mastabas tombs in the first two dynasties became larger than the burial places of the average persons, who were usually buried in simple graves with a few pots, some jewelry and, once in a while, a wooden coffin or bed (examples of both can be seen in the Old Kingdom galleries of the Metropolitan Museum). In the early third Dynasty Djoser and his architect Imhotep built a step pyramid that was, at the time, the largest stone building erected in human history.

     In the Fourth Dynasty this trend continued as Khufu, Khafra and Menkara built the great pyramids. But other members the royal family also began showing their wealth. They were often buried in large mastabas in the shadow of the king's pyramid.
     Pictured here is the sarcophagus of a prince or his wife which is currently in the Brooklyn Museum. It was carved from an incredibly heavy granite block and is decorated with a pattern of niches that imitate the front of a major building complex. The lid, which was carved from a separate block of granite, has four holes drilled in it to allow ropes to be used to lower the lid onto the body of the sarcophagus after the body was laid to rest in it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New Find in Egypt

     Unlike Iraq and Iran where archaeological excavations are currently almost non-existent, Egypt has a lot going on. A couple of the latest finds include:

1) A Greco-Roman necropolis has been found at Tuna el-Gebel- this necropolis contains the burials of numerous animal mummies (birds and baboons at least). But as excavations continued a cachette of seventeen non-royal human mummies was found. Some of the burials were in limestone sarcophagi and a couple of wooden coffins were also found.

2) The Thirteenth Dynasty Pyramid found at Dashur - some clarity is arriving as to exactly what has been found. Some thought it was the re-discovery of a pyramid that was found many years ago, but now it does seem to be a new pyramid. The original pyramid was found in 1957 and contained the remains of a canonic jar bearing the name of King Imeny-Qemaw. The new pyramid contains a fragment of a Pyramid Text for that pharaoh.  Also, a wooden canonic chest has been found bearing the name of the princess Hatshepsut who is known from two other Dynasty Thirteen objects inscribed with her name. The canpoic box was found in the pyramid's burial chamber, so this pyramid seems to have been built for Imeny-Qemaw's daughter Hatshepsut.