NEWS: 18th Dynasty temple discovered during illegal excavations

IMG_2067.JPGGiza men arrested after digging up ancient temple under house
Men carrying out illegal excavation work found the remains of an Egyptian temple from the reign of New Kingdom King Tuthmose III (Source: Ahram Online).

“Seven residents of a Giza district have been arrested after they illegally excavated the area beneath their home and found the remains of an ancient Egyptian temple.

The huge limestone blocks, engraved with hieroglyphic texts, date from the reign of the New Kingdom’s King Tuthmose III, and were found in the Hod Zeleikha area of Al-Badrasheen district.

The find was made two weeks ago, according to Major General Momtaz Fathi, an aide to the interior ministry and a director in the tourism police.

A unit from the tourism and antiquities police heard of the illegal excavation work and arrested the seven men – two of whom are Palestinian, Fathi said.

The police also found diving costumes, oxygen cylinders and diving masks with the detainees.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damaty said that the unearthed blocks are genuine and belong to a huge temple from the reign of King Tuthmose III.

Seven reliefs and two marble columns were unearthed along with a huge red-granite armless colossus of a seated person, El-Damaty.

The items have been brought to the Saqqara site for restoration and further study, the minister said, adding that the Hod Zeleikha area has now been declared an archeological site and under the control of the ministry in order carry out more surveys nearby and unearth more of the temple” – via Ahram Online.

More pictures here.


Hello, mummy!


The mummy of Queen Tiye (Source: Global Post).

‘Hello, mummy!’ returns this week and focuses on a true beauty of the 18th Dynasty, Queen Tiye.

Queen Tiye was the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III and the mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten. She was also the grandmother of Tutankhamun.


It is evident that Queen Tiye was a true beauty (Source: The Theban Royal Mummy Project).

Tiye was married to Amenhotep III by Year 2 of his reign but there is some debate about her origins. Her father, Yuya, does not appear to have been of royal blood; however, Tiye’s mother, Tuya, held many religious titles leading to speculation that she may have been royalty. Due to her father’s features and name, it is believed that Tiye may have been of non-Egyptian descent.

Colossal statue of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye (Source: Crystal Links).

Tiye certainly held great influence during the reign of her husband and that of her son, Amenhotep IV, who later became Akhenaten. She is known to have held the respect of foreign dignitaries and is believed to have acted as an adviser to both pharaohs. Letters indicate that she communicated directly with foreign leaders. This has led some scholars to believe that Tiye was of Nubian descent as strong female rulers were a Nubian custom. She is often depicted in statuary as the same height as her husband (above), indicating her elevated position.

Remains of Queen Tiye’s temple at Sedeinga, Nubia (Source: The History Blog).

Tiye is commemorated on many royal monuments from the reigns of both her husband and her son. Amenhotep III constructed a temple for her at Sedeinga in Nubia (above). Here she was represented as the goddess Hathor-Tefnut, associated with the fearsome ‘Eye of Ra’. Carvings from this temple depict the queen as a powerful striding sphinx (below), a representation more often reserved for pharaohs.

Relief scene depicting Tiye as a striding sphinx (Source: Mautalent on Flickr).

The original burial place of Queen Tiye is disputed; however, it is likely that she was originally buried in KV 22, the tomb of her husband, Amenhotep III. It is is thought that her mummy was moved to KV 55 before finally being laid to rest in KV 35, the tomb of Amenhotep II, during the 21st Dynasty when the tomb was used as a cache. Her mummy was discovered, unwrapped, laying beside two others (below).

Queen Tiye’s mummy was found unwrapped (Source: The Theban Royal Mummy Project).

The identity of the mummy, known simply as ‘The Elder Lady’, remained uncertain until 2010 when DNA testing, organised by Dr Zahi Hawass, indicated that ‘The Elder Lady’ was Queen Tiye.

Although the mummy was badly damaged by tomb robbers, Tiye still retains the beauty of a queen with her long flowing locks and elegant facial features. It is evident that she has always been a beautiful woman.

The mummy of Queen Tiye now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Bibliography and further reading:

Dodson, Aidan, & Dyan Hilton. 2004. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.

Hawass, Zahi et al. 2010. “Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun’s Family” The Journal of the American Medical Association 330: 640-641.

O’Connor, David, & Eric H. Cline. 1998. Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

The Theban Royal Mummy Project – Tiye. Available from: http://members.tripod.com/anubis4_2000/mummypages1/18B.htm#Tiye

Tyldesley, Joyce. 2006. Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.


FUN: Egyptian Spelling Rules #2



Thursday Photo


A column featuring Sobek at Kom Ombo (Source: Wikimedia Commons).


Tuesday Tomb – Saqqara tomb of Maya and Meryt


The Saqqara tomb of the New Kingdom official Maya and his wife, Meryt (Source: Saqqara.nl).

The Saqqara tomb of the New Kingdom official Maya and his wife, Meryt (Source: Saqqara.nl).

The Tuesday Tomb returns as a fortnightly feature with the tomb of Maya and Meryt. The Saqqara tomb was the first Egyptian tomb that I ever entered and it is one of my personal favourites.


The interior of the tomb (Source: Saqqara.nl).

Maya was Overseer of the Treasury and Overseer of Works during the reign of Tutankhamun in the Eighteenth Dynasty. He is also known to have served under the General Horemheb when he became pharaoh. He died in Year 9 of Horemheb’s reign and his wife, Meryt, was already deceased by this time. They were buried together in a tomb close to that of Horemheb in Saqqara.

The tomb was partially excavated by the archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius in 1843 but was eventually covered by sand and lost again. The tomb was re-discovered in 1986 by a joint expedition of archaeologists from the Egypt Exploration Society in London and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, Netherlands and excavated between 1987 and 1991. They had begun their attempts to rediscover the tomb in 1975 and were finally rewarded 11 years later when Professor Geoffrey T. Martin and Dr. Jacobus Van Dijk located the burial chamber 18 metres below the surface.

Professor Martin said: “We were in total darkness for about 15 minutes…Suddenly we glimpsed wonderful reliefs and were extremely startled to find ourselves in the antechamber leading to a burial chamber. My colleague looked across at an inscribed wall and said, ‘My God, it’s Maya’.


Relief showing Maya before the god, Osiris (Source: Author’s own photograph).

The tomb is very similar to that of Horemheb and is composed of a pylon, an outer courtyard, a statue chamber flanked by two storerooms, an inner courtyard, and three offering chapels. The tomb appears to be unfinished with columns running along the west side of the outer courtyard only. The outer courtyard has a mud floor and is lacking reliefs. The pylon is built from mudbrick rather that being finished in limestone.


Detail of relief scene depicting the goddess, Isis (Source: Author’s own photograph).

The lowest subterranean section of the tomb comprises three beautifully decorated chambers. Relief scenes show Maya and Meryt before numerous gods and goddesses. The figures and texts are decorated predominately in yellow with some use of blue and black detailing.


Stela of the priest, Yamen (Source: Saqqara.nl).

Although the tomb had been plundered, fragments of jewellery, furniture and coffins indicate that the burial was a rich one. A beautiful limestone stela was found in one of the two chapels that were discovered outside of the tomb. The stela depicts a priest by the name of Yamen, offering to the deceased couple, Maya and Meryt.

It is presumed that the funerary cult of Maya and Meryt was left in the care of this priest by Maya’s half-brother, Nahuher, after he had taken care of the burial. Maya and Meryt had two daughters but no son to perform their funerary cult duties.


Seated statue of Maya and Meryt (Source: Wikipedia).

Many statues from the tomb have been on display in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden since 1823 including a particularly beautiful statue of Maya seated beside his wife.

Skeletal remains found in the tomb have been analysed and appear to belong to Maya, Meryt and their relatives.

Bibliography and further reading:

Aston, D.A., and Aston, B.G., The Tomb of Maya and Meryt, III: The Pottery (in preparation).

Martin, G.T., et al., The Tomb of Maya and Meryt, I: The reliefs, Inscriptions, and Commentary (London, 2012).

Raven, M.J., et al., The Tomb of Maya and Meryt, II: Objects and Skeletal Remains (Leiden/London, 2001).

Saqqara.nl, Tomb of Maya and Merit (found in 1986): http://www.saqqara.nl/excavations/tombs/maya–merit


Book Review: Egyptomania by Bob Brier

IMG_0006.JPGWhen I was asked to review this book, I was immediately excited. My own Egyptomania is what started me on my Egyptological path. From a young age, I collected articles, videos, magazines, photos, and fiction books about ancient Egypt. I’d drive my mother crazy asking her to buy me my ancient Egypt magazine so that I could add the weekly offering of hole-punched mini-articles to my ring binder.

The minute that I opened this book, I was greeted by Bob Brier’s account of his Egyptomania and, while his was on a far grander scale than my own, I enjoyed reminiscing about my own teenage collecting habits as he reminisced about bidding in auctions and trawling through antiques fairs and flea markets for anything remotely Egyptian themed.

I was fascinated to learn just how many items have been inspired by ancient Egypt through history – tea sets, cigarettes, pocketknives and even talcum powder have all been treated to an Egyptomaniacal makeover!


The 1963 epic ‘Cleopatra’ is a prime example of Egyptomania (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Brier recounts tales of the events that started the worldwide fascination with all things Egyptian, from the Romans’ obsession with obelisks, to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign and Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

There is something for everyone in this book: adventure, Hollywood glamour, and astounding engineering feats. I particularly enjoyed reading about how ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’ came to be standing on the bank of the River Thames in London – I didn’t realise the sheer determination, courage, and sadness that surrounds this iconic landmark!

There is far more to Egyptomania than meets the eye, and Brier’s entertaining read will leave anyone with even a remote interest in ancient Egypt with a desire to clear their shelves for some Egyptian themed memorabilia.


This iconic tea set was launched by Wedgwood to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon at the ‘Battle of the Nile’ (Source: Brier 2013, Colour Plate 2).

Right, I’m off to hunt eBay for bits of Egyptian themed Wedgwood…

You can buy ‘Egyptomania’ here.

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NEWS: ‘Egypt’s Sunken Secrets’ exhibition to tour three European capitals

IMG_2020.JPG(Source: Luxor Times).

“The Ministry of Antiquities has agreed to hold an antiquities exhibition named “Egypt’s Sunken Secrets” in three European capitals for a year.

The Ministry agreed to an offer by Franck Goddio, founder of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, to hold this exhibition for 600 thousand Euros plus 1 euro on each ticket after the first 100 thousand visitors.

The exhibition will display 293 artefacts chosen from different Egyptian museums: 18 from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, 22 from the Graeco-Roman Museum, 31 from Alexandria National Museum, 15 from Bibliotheca Alexandrina Museum and 207 artefacts from the Sunken Monuments Department.

First stop for the exhibition will be in the Arab World Institute in Paris between 7th of September 2015 till 7th of January 2016 then it moves to Berlin from 15th of April till 15th of August 2016 and the last stop in London from 15th of November 2016 until 15th of March 2017.

The exhibition is insured for 150 million Egyptian pounds” – via Luxor Times.

Read more here.


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