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Museum piece #16 – Cat. 22690

IMG_0005.JPGVatican Museums Cat. 22690 Naophorous statue of Udjahorresnet (Source: Author).

Earlier this month as a part of my honeymoon, I had the immense pleasure of visiting the wonderful treasure trove that is the Vatican Museums. Of course, I was heading straight for the Egyptian antiquities in the Museo Gregoriano Egizio (although I visited and thoroughly enjoyed many of the other amazing exhibits as well), and I was not disappointed as I stepped into the galleries.

The very first piece to catch my eye was an old friend of mine, the naophorous statue of the Late Period official, Udjahorresnet, a figure you will be familiar with if you have read my earlier posts about the Persian king, Cambyses, and the Apis bull. Having studied photographs of this statue and its inscriptions many times, I didn’t expect to be so captivated by it when seeing it in person. At 27.5 inches high, it really is the most beautiful little thing that I have seen in a long time but perhaps I am biased as it has always been a personal favourite of mine.

IMG_0004.JPGVatican Museums Cat. 22690 Naophorous statue of Udjahorresnet (Source: Author).

This type of statue were quite common in the Late Period (below) and would have been set up in a temple – this one in particular would have resided in the temple of the goddess Neith at Sais in the Western Nile Delta. The term ‘naophorous’ refers to the naos or statue held by the private individual depicted. One interpretation is that this type of statue and the protective manner in which the individual holds the image of the deity could be a means of ensuring that the individual receives reciprocal protection from the deity. Part of the inscription on Udjahorresnet’s statue supports this interpretation:

‘O Osiris, lord of eternity! The chief physician, Udjahorresnet has placed his arms about you as protection’.
IMG_0025.JPGMMA 1982.318 Naophorous block statue of a governor of Sais, Psamtik[seneb] (Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art).

The statue of Udjahorresnet is a particularly wonderful example of this type of statue because it is inscribed with a lengthy biographical text, the only one if its kind to be attested to the Late Period. It reveals much about the attitude of the Persian kings Cambyses and Darius I towards the native Egyptian religion. The inscription reveals the way in which both kings respected the native religion – Cambyses cleansed the temple of Neith of squatters and made offerings to the goddess and, similarly, Darius I restored the House of Life.
IMG_0026.JPGStatue of the goddess Neith (Source: Wikipedia).

The inscription reveals how Udjahorresnet helped the Persian kings to successfully rule over Egypt, not only as foreign kings, but also as pharaohs, advising them and even helping to compose their pharaonic titulary, ensuring that they would be accepted by the Egyptian people as king.

Not only is the statue staggeringly beautiful, but it is hugely fascinating in terms of what it reveals about this period of Egypt’s history and that is why it will always be one of my favourite pieces.

If you would like to read more about Udjahorresnet and the Persian kings, please take a look at my previous post on the subject, Dispelling the myth – Herodotus, Cambyses, and Egyptian religion #1

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NEWS: Wall painting discovered in Giza tomb

20140716-191801-69481488.jpg(Source: Archaeology).

“A painting has been discovered on the walls of the tomb of Perseneb, a priest and steward who had been buried to the east of the Great Pyramid of Giza during the fifth dynasty, sometime between 2450 and 2350 B.C.

“Known since the nineteenth century, the [tomb] could hardly present any new principal features. Therefore, it was a real surprise to discover an Old Kingdom painting on the eastern wall of the central room,” Maksim Lebedev of the Russian State University for the Humanities told Live Science.

The painting had been covered with soot and dirt, and much of it has been damaged. Yet “none of the scenes has been lost completely. The remaining traces allow [for the] reconstruction [of] the whole composition,” he said. The images reflect the deceased’s high status, and depict boats sailing on the Nile River, agricultural scenes, and a man hunting marsh birds. There’s also an image thought to represent Perseneb with his wife and his dog” – via Archaeology.

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NEWS: Mahat chapel of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II discovered in Abydos by Egyptian Egyptologists

20140701-215015-78615845.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

“The Minister of Antiquities and Heritage, Dr. Mamdouh El Damaty, announced the discovery
of a limestone Mahat chapel dated to 11th Dynasty in Abydos in Sohag governorate.

The chapel shows high reliefs including the titles of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (reigned ca. 2046 BC – 1995 BC), the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom.

According to the Minister, the importances of this discovery as the rare antiquities of Mentuhotep II in Abydos as only few blocks were found in Kom El Sultan necropolis at Abydos.
The discovered chapel located about 150 meters to the Northern East of Seti I temple” – via Luxor Times.

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NEWS: Nine intact Late Period coffins found in Qubbet el Hawa

20140601-180702-65222594.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

The Minister of Antiquities has announced a new discovery of an intact burial chamber. The chamber contains nine coffins containing mummies dating to the Late Period (650-525 B.C) in Qubbet el Hawa, South of Aswan.

A wooden sarcophagus was found in good condition containing a mummy of a Nubian descent as suggested by the tools found with the mummy.

The Minister said that the discovery, achieved by the Spanish mission directed by Dr. Alejandro Jiménez, Professor of Ancient History of the University of Jaén in cooperation with Ministry of Antiquities, is in line with the discoveries by the mission which were announced in previous seasons (burials belonging to two families of the Twelfth Dynasty, during the Middle Kingdom reign of Amenemhat III). The new discovery proves that the burial was re-used in Late Period.

Dr. Alejandro Jimmenez said “This season the mission has done full documentation on the previously found mummy of “Haka Ip III” who was of the governors of Elephantine, a male of circa 26 years old, buried in two nested coffins, the inner one of which was originally made for a woman.

Also we found burials of his family members including a woman called “Ja wt Ankoket” and the governor’s half brother’s mummy who was called “Sarenpot”. Beside the mummy, an ushabti was found in its own sarcophagi” – via Luxor Times.

Read more here.

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NEWS: Egyptian archaeologists unearth Ptolemy II temple of Isis

20140519-202642.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

“The Minister of Antiquities visited Beni Suef today to announce the discovery of a Ptolemaic limestone temple in Gebel El-nour site on the east bank of the Nile in Beni Suef governorate (115km south of Cairo). The temple dated back to Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) 284-246 B.C.

The importance of this discovery that it is the first temple of Ptolemy II to be found in Beni Suef which will help to shed the light on one of the important rulers who reigned for over 39 years.

The Minister said that initial look on the temple show that it was probably dedicated to the goddess Isis. He also stressed that more excavations has to be carried out to uncover more of the architectural elements of the temple soon.
Ali Al Asfr said that the Egyptian mission managed to reach the second part of the temple which contains few rooms as well as pottery and blocks bear the name of Ptolemy II.20140519-202811.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

Dr. Mansour Boraik, Director of the central administration of middle Egypt antiquities, said that that exterior of the eastern side of the temple shows King Ptolemy II with the Nile God “Hapi” behind him repeatedly carrying different offerings reflects the wealth of Egypt’s land – via Luxor Times.

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NEWS: Funeral relics of pharaonic singer unearthed at Saqqara necropolis

20140518-092131.jpgThree painted sarcophagi belonging to an Ancient Egyptian singer have been unearthed at Saqqara (Source: Ahram Online).

“During excavation works carried out in Bastet cemetery at the Saqqara necropolis just outside Cairo, French archaeologists stumbled upon three wooden sarcophagi belonging to Ta-Ekht, a singer in a sacred choir in the 18th dynasty period (1543–1292 BC).
Mohamed Ibrahim, the antiquities minister, said that the sarcophagi were found inside each other. The outer sarcophagus is a little deteriorated while the middle and inner ones are well-preserved.

Ibrahim told Ahram Online on Saturday that the sarcophagi were unearthed during excavation works at the tomb of the daughter of 18th dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten, Maya, who was known as Meritee Atun.

Ali El-Asfar, head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities department at the ministry told Ahram Online that the sarcophagi depict the facial features of Ta-Ekht and are decorated with paintings of foliage.

Some elements of Ta-Ekht’s funerary collection were also found inside the middle sarcophagus, including two wooden headrests and a rectangular wooden box inlaid with ivory.

The box contained a collection of beauty tools were found, including a spoon with a gazelle-shaped handle, two eye liner containers, a collection of faience beads, and a faience amulet in the famous “eye of Horus” shape.

El-Asfar said that studies are now being conducted to find out why the singer’s sarcophagi were located inside Maya tomb – via Ahram Online.

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NEWS: The mummified FOETUS: Scans reveal tiny ancient Egyptian sarcophagus contains the remains of a 16-week-old embryo

20140510-180229.jpgA CT scan has revealed what appears to be a foetus, pictured, in the centre of a tiny Egyptian mummy. The majority of the interior is taken up by folded strips of material. Within this material is a darker area, about 3-inches (10cm) long, that researchers claim is a foetus, in the foetal position with the placental sac (Source: The Daily Mail).

“For more than 40 years, mystery has surrounded a tiny mummy that lay among exhibits at an Egypt centre in Wales.

Experts were so baffled by its unusually small size and its delicate design that some even suggested it was a fake, created in the 19th century.

Now CT scans have revealed not only is the case a genuine Egyptian artefact, it contains the rare remains of a mummified foetus thought to have been just 12 weeks into development when it died.

The 20-inch (52cm) mummy is part of the Wellcome collection at Swansea University’s Egypt Centre and is thought to date back to the 26th Dynasty – around 600BC.

On 28 April, Swansea University’s Paola Griffiths from the Clinical Imaging College of Medicine analysed the artefacts using a CT scanner.

This revealed the majority of the interior of the case is taken up by folded strips of material, thought to be linen bandages.

Within these bandages is a darker area, about 3-inches (10cm) long, that the researchers claim is a foetus, in the foetal position with the placental sac.

Experts also identified what could be the foetus’ femur.

The length of the femur, together with the size of the dark patch, is consistent with that of a foetus 12 to 16 weeks into development, continued the researchers.

Another dark patch suggests an amulet was also placed in the case, and and there are several areas with dark circles resembling strings of beads or tassels.

The Egypt Centre said it was not unusual for strings of beads to be placed loose in mummy wrappings of this date.

The mummy, officially known as W1013, arrived in Wales in 1971, but nothing is known about how Henry Wellcome acquired it” – via The Daily Mail.

Read more here.

Amazing! And in my university’s own Egyptian museum!

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