Friday, April 26, 2013

Pan Grave People

Figure 1 - Animal Cranium with Painted Decoration
     A fair number of very distinctive burials dating to the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period have been found in both Egypt and Nubia. These burials consist of small, shallow, round graves that are usually called "pan graves". The graves are adorned with animal skulls (goats, sheep or cattle) that have painted decorations on them (see figure 1). One of these painted skulls, from Mostagedda in Egypt, shows a Pan-Grave warrior with his weapons (Fisher, Marjorie, et Al, Ed. Ancient Nubia, New York: American University In Cairo Press, 2012, pp. 147 - 148).

Figure 2 - Material from a Pan Grave Burial
     The deceased is usually buried in a flexed position and sometimes they are covered with leather or linen blankets and provided with pottery and jewelry.  The pottery is of two types: either a reddish brown pot with a black top, or a lighter brown pot with incised decoration (see Figure 3). Bows, arrows and daggers are often found in these graves.

Figure 3 - Material from a Pan Grave Burial

     Figure 1 shows an animal cranium decorated with red and black bands. The red bands have white dots painted on them. The animal cranium in Figure 3 is decorated with different colored dots. All three of the burials shown here are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

      It is thought that these Pan-Grave People were the Medjay who served in the Egyptian army as mercenaries against the Hyksos and even against the Nubians. The Egyptians made a clear distinction between the Medjay, who were loyal to Egypt, and the "Nhsy" who were Nubian enemies of Egypt (van Seters, John. The Hyksos: a new Investigation, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966, pp. 105 - 107).

Photos Copyright (c) 2013 by John Freed

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