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Thursday Photo


Colossal red granite statue of a Ptolemaic queen, 4.9 m high and weighing 4 tons, found close to the great temple of sunken Heracleion.

 This week’s photograph is courtesy of Franck Goddio Underwater Archaeologist.


Museum piece #20


EA 59500 Obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers (Source: The British Museum).

Object EA 59500 is an obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers which dates to the Late Period.

This type of amulet depicts the index and middle fingers and was used in the mummification process; however, there is some debate about its intended role. They were placed with the mummy wrappings close to the incision through which the the organs were removed. One theory is that the fingers represent those of Anubis, the god of embalming, and that their placement by the incision ‘reaffirmed’ the mummification process. Another theory is that they were protect the incision by ‘holding it together’ and keeping malevolent forces at bay.

These amulets were predominantly made of dark, hard stone such as obsidian, basalt, or steatite. This is interesting because statues of Osiris, the god of the Underworld, were often made of black stone. Black stone was symbolic of the afterlife. The hardness of the stone is thought to have represented endurance and would ensure that the protection of the amulet would last forever. The deceased’s body needed to remain intact in order for them to live on in the afterlife for eternity so it was important that the amulet’so powers endured.

The two finger amulet did not start being used until the Late Period, around 600BC.

To read more about Egyptian amulets:

Andrews, Carol. 1994. Amulets of ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press: Texas.


NEWS: Tomb of the 26th dynasty ruler of Upper Egypt uncovered in Asasif, Luxor

A relief depicting Badi-Bastet holding lotus flowers (Source: Ahram Online).

“Within the framework of the South Assassif Conservation Project on Luxor’s west bank, an Egyptian-American stumbled upon a 26th dynasty tomb that belongs to the vizier of Upper Egypt, Badi-Bastet.
Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, explained that the tomb was found inside the tomb of Karabasken, who was Thebes’ ruler and the fourth priest of Amun during the 25th dynasty (TT 391).

“Such a find highlights that Badi-Bastet reused the tomb,” he pointed out.
Afifi went on to say that the archaeological survey carried out recently on the court of Karabasken tomb shows that several architectural designs and paintings were made especially for Badi-Bastet as it bode well to his fine and important position in the governmental echelon.
“Badi-Bastet could be buried in a shaft inside the court or in a main burial chamber of Karabasken tomb,” the head of the mission Elena Pischikova suggested. She asserted that further cleaning of the tomb’s different sections and the continuation of the archaeological survey would definitely reveal more secrets of the tomb.

“It is a very important discovery,” the Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online. He explained that the discovery has shed more light on the architecture and design of tombs of top governmental officials during the Saite period, especially the 26th dynasty.
Studies carried out on Badi-Bastet’s different titles reveal that he was one of the grandsons of Babasa, a nobleman whose tomb is located east of Assassif (TT279).
The South Assassif Conservation Project started in 2006 when the two Kushite tombs of Karabasken (TT 391) and Karakahamun (TT 223) and the early Saite tomb of Irtieru (TT 390), were re-discovered there. These tombs have never been properly cleaned, studied and restored but now within the framework of the project they will be preserved” – via Ahram Online.

There is also a press release from the Ministry of Antiquities:

“The Egyptian-American mission working at the South Asasif Conservation Project discovered the 26th Dynasty tomb of “Padibastet”, Overseer of Upper Egypt, High Stewart of the God’s Wife.. Declared Dr. Eldamaty, Minister of Antiquities.

The importance of the discovery, added Eldamaty, lies in shedding more light on the planning of the Nobles tombs during this time, explaining that research on the titles and parents’ names of Padibastet, done by Dr. Erhart Graefe, a team member of the Project, suggests that he is a previously unknown grandson of “Pabasa” whose imposing tomb in the North Asasif is known as TT 279.

On the other hand, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities’ Sector, Mahmoud Afify said that this tomb lies within the tomb of ” Karabasken TT 391″, the Mayor of Thebes and Fourth Priest of Amun during the Twenty fifth Dynasty. Padibastet, a high official during the 26th Dynasty, must have usurped this tomb.

Afify also added that recent excavations in the sun court of “Karabasken” tomb revealed a large number of architectural and decorative features designed for “Padibastet” and is suitable for his ranks.

Mission Director, Elena Pischikova finally assumes that “Padibastet” was buried in the tomb of Karabasken in the court shaft or in the main burial chamber. Further clearing of the court and burial chamber in the following seasons will yield more information.

The MoA conservation team reconstructed the entrance area by reinstalling a one-meter-long lintel and a number of carved fragments found in the debris of the court” – via The EEF.

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EVENT: Masterworks from ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom set for Met Museum this Fall


(Source: Broadway World).

“The reunification of ancient Egypt achieved by Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II-the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom-was followed by a great cultural flowering that lasted nearly 400 years. During the Middle Kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11-Dynasty 13, around 2030-1650 B.C.), artistic, cultural, religious, and political traditions first conceived and instituted during the Old Kingdom were revived and reimagined. 

This transformational era will be represented through 230 powerful and compelling masterworks (individual objects and groups of objects) in the major international exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, opening October 12 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fashioned with great subtlety and sensitivity, and ranging in size from monumental stone sculptures to delicate examples of jewelry, the works of art are drawn from the preeminent collection of the Metropolitan-which is particularly rich in Middle Kingdom material-and 37 museums and collections in North America and Europe. This is the first comprehensive presentation of Middle Kingdom art and culture and features many objects that have never been shown in the United States.

“The astonishing continuity of ancient Egyptian culture, with certain basic principles lasting for thousands of years, gives the impression of changelessness,” said Adela Oppenheim, Curator of Egyptian Art. “But the works of art in the exhibition will show that ancient Egypt constantly evolved, and was remarkably flexible within a consistent framework. New ideas did not simply replace earlier notions; they were added to what had come before, creating a fascinating society of ever-increasing complexity.”

Arranged thematically and chronologically, the exhibition opens with a forceful, monumental statue of King Mentuhotep II, carved in an intentionally archaic style that suggests a link to the legendary kings of early Egypt (ca. 3300 B.C.).

Related events include a Sunday at the Met on October 25; a one-day symposium on Friday, January 22; a studio workshop on jewelry design on October 17 and 24 (register at www.metmuseum.org/artmaking); a workshop for K-12 educators; a Met Escapes program for individuals living with dementia and their care partners; and thematic gallery talks in the Museum’s permanent collection” – via Broadway World.

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Thursday Photo


The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid in 1856.

 This week’s photo is courtesy of Tour Egypt.


Tuesday Tomb – KU5

The tomb of Qalhata (Source: Osirisnet).

This week we are heading to Sudan to the tomb of Queen Qalhata. 

Qalhata was the queen of Shabaka and the daughter of Piye, the first pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (also known as the Kushite Dynasty). She was also the mother of the pharaoh Tanwetamani.

All of the Nubian kings (with the exception of Taharqo) were buried in Sudan at el-Kurru, 13km from the sacred mountain, Gebel Barkal. The tombs of nine kings and fourteen queens of the Kushite Dynasty have been discovered at this location. It is believed that Piye was inspired by the Egyptian pyramids when he decided to build his tomb at el-Kurru; however, his tomb is most like the private tombs of the New Kingdom. 

Each tomb consists of a pyramid, and one or two funerary chambers. All of the pyramids have been reduced to mounds, including that of Qalhata. 

Qalhata, wearing the vulture headdress of an Egyptian queen (Source: Osirisnet).

Qalhata’s tomb, together with that of her son, are the best preserved tombs in the necropolis and their decoration is very similar.

Like the other Kushite kings’ mothers, the queen is depicted wearing the traditional vulture headdress (above). She wears a gold necklace and bracelets, and is pictured holding hands with the children of Horus. She wears a white linen dress with fairly long sleeves. 

The mummiform figure of Qalhata (Source: Osirisnet).

On the North wall, the queen is depicted as Osiris, a mummiform figure (above). This scene is topped by a frieze of upright uraei. The mummy lies on a lion-headed bed. What is interesting about this scene is that the masculine attributes of royalty are depicted beneath the queen, for example, the crown, sceptres, and a shendjit-kilt. 

Qalhata depicted as a sphinx (Source: Osirisnet).

On the South wall, the queen is depicted again as Osiris but this time lying on her front (above). This is interesting because this scene, along with the scene of the North wall, show the queen as Osiris both lying down but also beginning to stand up this is the cycle of rebirth that the deceased goes through. Beneath the queen, more royal attributes are found, including the white crown of Upper Egypt and the Atef-crown (the crown worn by Osiris).

In the second room of the tomb, there is a pedestal on which a sarcophagus would have rested; however, this has not been found.

Bibliography and further reading:

Osirisnet – KU5: http://www.osirisnet.net/tombes/soudan/tanoutamon_qalhata/e_tanoutamon_qalhata.htm

Morkot, R. 2000. The Black Pharaohs: Egypt’s Nubian Rulers. London: The Rubicon Press.

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Hello, mummy!


The mummy of Tjuyu (Source: Per Ankh).

This week we are meeting the wife of Yuya, the lady Tjuyu.

Tjuyu was the mother of Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III. She was also the grandmother of Akhenaten and the great-grandmother of Tutankhamun. There is some speculation that she was the mother of the controversial figure, Ay.


The mummy mask of Tjuyu (Source: Wikipedia).

Tjuyu was of Egyptian origin and this discovery enabled the discussion of Queen Tiye’s ethnicity to be laid to rest. Tjuyu held the titles of Chantress of Hathor and Leader of the Harem of Amun. 


Shabtis from the tomb of Tjuyu and her husband Yuya (Source: yacielcruz on Flickr).

Tjuyu was embalmed later than her husband indicating that she outlived him. She was quite old when she died and was almost bald. There are a number of unusual features possessed by her mummy including the fact that the embalming incision is almost vertical and has been sewn up with string. The material packing the cavity beneath her eyelids has been painted to give the impression of eyes – this is unusual as it is a feature that was not used until much later.


The outer and inner coffins of Tjuyu (Source: Tour Egypt).

The mummy was laid to rest in KV46 along with that of Yuya. Both mummies were placed in a nest of coffins and wore beautiful funerary masks (above). Tjuyu’s outer coffin (above) is unusual as it is entirely gilded unlike her husband’s which was covered with pitch and then decorated with gilded bands and images.

Tjuyu’s mummy now rests in the Cairo Egyptian Museum.

Bibliography and further reading:

The Theban Royal Mummy Project – Tuyu: http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/18B.htm

The Theban Royal Mummy Project – The Treasures of Yuya and Tuyuhttp://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/SpecialExhibits/YuyaTuyu.htm

Tour Egypt – The Private Tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu in the Valley of the Kings: http://m.touregypt.net/featurestories/yuyat.htm#ixzz3hxHqYO61


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