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NEWS: Researchers ‘shocked’ to find Egyptian mummy was a pregnant woman

Polish researchers examining an ancient Egyptian mummy that they expected to be a male priest were surprised when X-rays and computer tests revealed instead it was a mummy of a woman who had been seven months pregnant.

The researchers said on Thursday it was the world’s first known case of such a well-preserved ancient mummy of a pregnant woman.

The mummy was brought to Warsaw in 1826 and the inscription on the coffin named a male priest. No previous examination had disproved the belief that it was a male.

“Our first surprise was that it has no penis, but instead it has breasts and long hair, and then we found out that it’s a pregnant woman,” Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist and archeologist, told the Associated Press. “When we saw the little foot and then the little hand [of the foetus] we were really shocked.”

The researchers estimated the woman was between 20 and 30 years old and said the size of the baby’s skull suggested she was 26 to 28 weeks pregnant.

Their findings – from the Warsaw Mummy Project, a study of mummies at the Polish capital’s national museum – were published this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Team member Wojciech Ejsmond told the AP: “This is our most important and most significant finding so far, a total surprise. It opens possibilities of learning about pregnancy and treatment of complications in ancient times.”

The researchers say the excellent quality of the embalming suggests it could have been performed well before the first century BC, as it is dated now.” – via The Guardian.

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Fifty ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis

A mummy dating back to the New Kingdom found at the funerary temple of Queen Naert. Photograph: Mohamed Hossam/EPA (Source: The Guardian Online).

“Egypt has announced the discovery of a new trove of treasures at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, including an ancient funerary temple.

The tourism and antiquities ministry said the “major discoveries” made by a team of archaeologists headed by the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass also included more than 50 sarcophagi.

The wooden sarcophagi, which date back to the New Kingdom period – between the 16th and the 11th century BC – were found in 52 burial shafts at depths of 10 to 12 metres (40 feet).

Hawass said the funerary temple of Queen Naert, the wife of King Teti, as well as three warehouses made of bricks were also found on the site.

Saqqara, home to more than a dozen pyramids, ancient monasteries and animal burial sites, was a vast necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis that has become a Unesco world heritage site.

In November, Egypt announced the discovery of more than 100 intact sarcophagi, in the largest such find of the year.

The sealed wooden coffins, unveiled alongside statues of ancient deities, dated back more than 2,500 years and belonged to top officials of the Late period and the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt. At the time, the antiquities and tourism minister, Khaled al-Anani, predicted that “Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents”.

Hawass said the latest discoveries could shed new light on the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom. The find was made near the pyramid where King Teti, the first pharaoh of the sixth dynasty of the Old Kingdom, is buried.

Egypt hopes archaeological discoveries will spur tourism, a sector that has endured multiple shocks, from the 2011 uprisings to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Later this year, and after several delays, authorities hope to inaugurate a new museum – the Grand Egyptian Museum – at the Giza plateau.

There has been a flurry of excavations in recent years in Saqqara, home to the step pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest built in ancient Egypt” – via The Guardian Online.

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NEWS: Spanish team discovers unique tombs

“The Egyptian-Spanish archaeological mission working at the site of Oxyrhynchus, known as Per-medjed in ancient Egypt, was one of the most important cities in Egypt during the Greco-Roman Period. The most part of the city is under the modern city El-Bahnasa (180 km south of Cairo) has discovered a unique Saite tomb.

Dr. Mostafa Waziry (Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities) said “The tomb is unique. This style wasn’t discovered before in El-Bahnasa. The one-room polish limestone tomb has an entrance form the north. The walls leaning at the ceiling so it makes it flat instead of domed like the previously excavated tombs in the area.”

Dr. Waziry also said “No funerary furniture was found in the tomb.”

The director of the mission from Barcelona university Dr. Esther Pons said “The excavations revealed 8 tombs, all non-decorated with domed ceiling. Several Roman tomb stones were found inside as well as Bronze coins, Small crucifixes and mud seals.”

The discovered tombs were unearthed under the bases of the gravestones from a Roman Period. Some of the findings were related to the deceased people from the Byzantine Period, such as inkpots and bronze earrings, ostraca and a funerary gravestone from a freedman, a released slave who could prosper and had been asked to work on a stela.

The team had to finish this season’s work early because of COVID-19 epidemic. During this mission, researchers worked on topographical works, as well as 3D photogrammetry and aerial imaging.

The excavation in the Oxyrhynchus site is a joint project by the Institute of Ancient Near East Studies (IPOA) of the UB, the Spanish Ministry for Culture and Sports, the University Paul Valéry – Montpelier 3, the Palarq Foundation and the Catalan Society of Egyptology and of course the main partner, The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities” – via Luxor Times.


NEWS: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life

(Source: Leeds Museums and Galleries)

“Scientists have fulfilled a mummified Egyptian priest’s wish for life after death – by replicating his voice with artificial vocal chords.

Nesyamun’s voice has been reproduced as a vowel-like sound that is reminiscent of a sheep’s bleat.

The priest lived during the politically volatile reign of pharaoh Ramses XI, between 1099 and 1069BC.

As a priest in Thebes, Nesyamun would have needed a strong voice for his ritual duties, which involved singing.

When Nesyamun died, his voice fell silent, but 3,000 years on, a team of researchers have brought it back to life.

They have done so by producing a 3D-printed voice box based Nesyamun’s vocal tract, which was scanned to establish its precise dimensions.

By using the vocal tract with an artificial larynx sound, they synthesised a vowel sound meant to be similar to the voice of Nesyamun.

It is believed to be the first project of its kind to successfully recreate the voice of a dead person through artificial means. In the future, the researchers hope to use computer models to recreate full sentences in Nesyamun’s voice” – via BBC News.

Read more and watch the video here.

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NEWS: Coffins Cachette Discovery in Luxor

(Source: Luxor Times).

Dr. Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Antiquities accompanied by Dr.Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, rushed to Luxor to inspect the newly discovered cachette of intact and sealed coffins at Assasif on Luxor’s West Bank.

The details of such a discovery will be announced in a press conference to be held on Saturday.

The discovery details known so far as follows; a cachette contains at least 20 painted wooden coffins and they appear to be intact and many in an excellent state of preservation. The coffins are stacked in two layer and has human remains and mummies inside” – via Luxor Times.

For more exclusive photographs, visit the Luxor Times website.

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NEWS: Zahi Hawass announces two archaeological discoveries by his team in Luxor

The discoveries include a clay oven and area for workmen, and a royal tomb (Source: Ahram Online).

“Egyptologist Zahi Hawass has announced two new archaeological discoveries made by an Egyptian expedition which he is heading in Luxor.

One discovery was in the West Valley, also known as the Valley of the Monkeys, and the other was in the East Valley, which contains the famous pharaonic tombs.

He made the announcement during a press conference on Luxor’s West Bank on Thursday which was attended by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri.

You can view exclusive videos from Luxor Times below:

Hawass said that the Egyptian expedition, which has been working in the Valley of the Monkeys since December 2017, has found “an industrial area” for the first time ever in the location.

He explained that the area contains an oven used for clay products, and a water storage tank used by workmen to drink from.

A scarab ring and hundreds of inlay beads and golden objects which were used to decorate royal coffins were also discovered at the site (Source: Ahram Online).

A scarab ring and hundreds of inlay beads and golden objects which were used to decorate royal coffins were also discovered at the site. Some of the inlays are decorated with the wings of Horus.

Hawass said that the excavation in the West Valley is searching for the tombs of Nefertiti and Ankhsenamun, her daughter and the widow of Tutankhamun.

He said that he thinks that the wide valley between the tomb of Amenhotep III and Ay could be the area that contains the tombs of the Amarna family. Another crucial discovery, he said, is the uncovering of 30 workshops. They are comprised of storage buildings and buildings for the cleaning of the funerary furniture, and contained many pottery finds dated to the eighteenth dynasty.

He has also discovered a royal tomb, labelled KV 65. Inside were tools used for tomb construction.

Hawass said that the expedition that is working in the East Valley is the largest excavation which has taken place since the time of Howard Carter. It is searching for tombs that have never been found before, as well as those of the wives and sons of the kings of the eighteenth dynasty buried in the Valley of the Kings, since the Valley of the Queens did not start taking on burials until the beginning of that dynasty.

The expedition is working near the tomb of Ramses VII, the tomb of Hatshepsut, the tomb of Ramses III and behind the tomb of Merenptah, the son of Ramses II.

The expedition also excavated the surroundings of the tomb of Tutankhamun. It found many important objects, he said” – via Ahram Online.

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NEWS: Ancient Egyptian Mayor’s Tomb Discovered in Luxor

(Source: Luxor Times).

“A tomb belonging to an high official held many titles including Mayor, Royal Seal Bearer and Prince who was called “Djehuty Shed Sou” has been discovered in Dra’ Abu el-Naga site on the West Bank of Luxor city in Upper Egypt, Minister of Antiquities Khaled el Anani announced Thursday.

“It is the biggest rock-cut tomb to be unearthed in the ancient city of Thebes”, the minister said, “dated back to the Ramesside era”.

Moustafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, called it “an important discovery” because it would change the historical and archaeological map of Dra’ Abul el-Naga necropolis.

An Egyptian archaeological team, under Waziri, discovered the tomb – which is located to the north of Theban Tomb TT255 of Roy – after removing the debris that accumulated as a result of successive foreign excavations more than 200 years ago.

As the team worked to remove the rubble on the site, it came across a complete compartment made of adobe with its well inside the courtyard of the cemetery, Waziri said, adding that it probably dates back to the period of the Ramesses, Waziri said.

He added that six other tombs have been discovered underneath the courtyard, noting that one of them belongs to the king’s scribe.

A group of Ushabti statues made of blue faience and wood has also been unearthed, as well as an assembled mask made of cartonnage and more than 50 funeral seals of persons whose tombs are yet to be discovered, the MoA official said” – via Luxor Times.

You can read more and watch an exclusive video here.


NEWS: Discovery of an Ancient Egyptian Woman’s Teeth Reveals She Had a Surprising Profession

Incisor wear. (Source: Lovell & Palichuk, Bioarchaeology of Marginalized People, 2019)

“When we study ancient societies, it can sometimes be difficult to tell who fulfilled which of the various day-to-day roles. For Ancient Egypt, we have a wealth of information, including pictorial records along with sculptures and figurines, buried with the deceased so they could have workers in the afterlife.But these depictions can be idealised, or leave things out. Bones, on the other hand, don’t lie – and the teeth of an Egyptian woman who lived over 4,000 years ago show that the lives of women back then may have been more varied than some records suggest.

Two patterns of wear on 16 of her 24 teeth are inconsistent with eating, which means she was using her teeth for something else; further analysis suggests she was a craftswoman.
This, according to a research team from the University of Alberta, is a surprise.
“Based on tomb paintings and recovered texts, scholars assert that there were only seven professions open to women throughout ancient Egyptian culture history,” they wrote in a new paper.

“[Those are] as priestesses in temples dedicated to goddesses (for high status and well-connected women); as singers, musicians, and dancers (for women with skills and talent); as mourners; as weavers of cloth in the workshops of the aristocracy; and as midwives.”
The remains, originally excavated in the 1970s, are from a necropolis in Mendes, which was once the capital of Ancient Egypt. The woman lived around 2181-2055 BCE, and died after the age of 50.

Apparently she was well respected, too, compared to other remains dating from the same era. She was placed in a wooden coffin lined with reeds, with grave goods that contained alabaster vessels, a bronze mirror, cosmetics and gold leaf.

And, of the roughly 1,070 total teeth from the necropolis site that survived the millennia and excavation of their 92 skeletons, only hers showed these unusual wear patterns” – via Science Alert.

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NEWS: Huge discovery as sarcophagus opened after 2,500 years

Archaeologists opened the priest’s stone sarcophagus (Source: Discovery Channel).

“The discovery of the “exquisitely preserved” mummy was made at Al-Ghorifa, a remote site around 165 miles south of Cairo. Archaeologists opened the priest’s stone sarcophagus in a live broadcast of Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live on the Discovery Channel on Sunday. They found the mummy covered in gold banding inside the sealed stone coffin.

Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and former antiquities minister, lead the expedition with American explorer and host of the show Josh Gates.

When the high priest was discovered, Mr Hawass said: “I can’t believe this, this is incredible.”

Mr Gates then added the mummy was a high priest of Thoth, the ancient Egyptian God of wisdom and magic. He said: “Towards the end of Ancient Egypt, the power really was with the high priests and you can see this… almost feels like a royal burial.”
Two other mummies were also found during the expedition.

One was believed to be a female and was found inside a “family tomb” with other objects including ancient board games.

The mummy may also date back Ancient Egypt’s 26th dynasty, which was the last native dynasty to rule until 525 BC. The Discovery Channel confirmed the third mummy was not a high priest or well preserved.

A 2,500-year-old wax head was also found and was thought to be a cast of one of the high priests.” via The Express.

To read the article and watch a video clip, click here.


NEWS: Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus to be opened on live TV

Thousands-year-old coffin to be featured on Discovery channel is believed to contain an Egyptian nobleman (Source: The Times of Israel).

“A sarcophagus believed to contain an Egyptian nobleman will be opened on live TV during a special broadcast by the American channel Discovery.
The two-hour “Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live” will air Sunday night (0000 GMT Monday) from the site outside Minya, which is along the Nile River south of Cairo and its Giza pyramids.

Egypt has sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism hit by turmoil after the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

The site containing the sarcophagus was discovered in February last year, and a Discovery spokesman told AFP that the project was set up in collaboration with Egypt’s antiquities ministry.

Archaeologists at the site recently discovered a network of vertical shafts leading to a network of tunnels and tombs containing 40 mummies “believed to be part of the noble elite.”
In one of those, a limestone sarcophagus holding a 3,000-year-old mummy is to be opened during the show.

Discovery declined to disclose the identity of the mummy prior to the broadcast” – via The Times of Israel.