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NEWS: Intact tomb uncovered in Aswan

The intact tomb of the brother of a 12th Dynasty Elephantine governor has been uncovered, containing a range of funerary goods (Source: Ahram Online).

“The Spanish Archaeological Mission in Qubbet El-Hawa, west Aswan, has discovered an intact structure where the brother of one of the most important governors of the 12th Dynasty, Sarenput II, was buried.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, described the discovery as “important” not only for the richness of the burial chamber, but also in shedding light on individuals close to those in power. 

Nasr Salama, director general of Aswan Antiquities, said that the find is unique with funerary goods that consist of pottery, two cedar coffins (outer and inner) and a set of wooden models, which represent funerary boats and scenes of daily life.

Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, head of the Spanish mission from the University of Jaen, said that a mummy was also discovered but is still under study. It is covered with a polychrome cartonnage with a beautiful mask and collars.

Inscriptions on the coffins bear the name of the deceased, Shemai. followed respectively by his mother and father, Satethotep and Khema. The latter was governor of Elephantine under the reign of Amenemhat II.

He explained that Sarenput II, the eldest brother of Shemai, was one of the most powerful governors of Egypt under the reigns of Senwosret II and Senwosret III. Apart from his duties as governor of Elephantine, he was general of the Egyptian troops and was responsible for the cult of different gods.

With this discovery, Serrano asserted, the University of Jaen mission in Qubbet El-Hawa adds more data to previous discoveries of 14 members of the ruling family of Elephantine during the 12th Dynasty. Such high numbers of individuals provide a unique opportunity to study the living conditions of the upper class in Egypt more than 3,800 years ago” – via Ahram Online.

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Event: Peek Inside the New ‘Mummies’ Exhibition at the Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

A ‘gilded lady’ seen in three different ways (Source: The American Museum of Natural History).

“Mummies in real life can be just as captivating as the ones in the movies — particularly when you can see their insides.

That’s the point of “Mummies,” a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History opening on March 20.

On tour from the Field Museum in Chicago, the exhibit not only showcases the ritually preserved bodies and accompanying artifacts of 18 ancient Egyptians and Peruvians from the pre-Columbia era, but the modern technology that makes them more accessible than ever.

“This show simultaneously offers a fascinating window into the past — including two very different ancient worlds, cultures and burial practices — and onto the latest imaging technology used to study them,” museum president Ellen V. Futter said at a preview Thursday.

“Perhaps most thrillingly… we offer an actual glimpse into the actual people entombed as mummies — who they were, what their lives were like, and even what they may have looked like.”

Images, videos, 3D printed objects and interactive touch-screens included in the exhibit present the kinds of discoveries made possible through technologies like computerized tomography (CT) scanning and DNA testing.

In the words of co-curator Dr. David Hurst Thomas, visitors will “come face-to-face with mummified people of the past.”

According to Dr. Thomas, The exhibition’s ‘show-stopper’ is the middle-aged Egyptian “Gilded Lady,” seen above from three different perspectives: the gold-masked coffin that encases her body, a CT scan used to generate a 3D-printed reconstruction of her skull, and a realistic portrait of what she may have looked like” – via This is New York.

“Mummies,” a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History opens on March 20.


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NEWS: Newly discovered royal colossus believed to be of Psammetich I not Ramesses II

The colossal statue was originally thought to be of Ramesses II (Source: National Geographic).

“The Ministry of Antiquities tonight announced the probable identity of the royal colossus discovered last week in Matariya district, Cairo (ancient Heliopolis).

Few Hieroglyphic signed and initial studies carried out on fragments of the colossus reveal that it belongs to king Psammetich I (664-610 BC) 26th Dynasty.

The torso’s back-pillar has preserved one of the five names of king Psammetich I. If it belongs to the later, it is the largest statue of the Late Period that was ever discovered in Egypt. This date explains the puzzling features of different ancient stylistic details since the Late Period, which is known for its archaizing art.

The colossal statue is carved in quartzite brought from Al-Gebel Al-Ahmar, (Medinet Nasr). It originally measured about 9m in height. The two fragments of the statue were discovered on Tuesday 7th March, under the water table, which made their location and extraction extremely difficult. The fragments were found adjacent to a heavily congested housing area, 2 to 3 meters beneath the water. The excavation work was carried out by the Egyptian-German Mission, working in the Temple of Matariya since 2012.

Both fragmentswere moved and successfully saved by a team of restorers from the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir as well as Matariya Antiquities Inspectorate and skilled workmen from Qift.

Both parts and a collection of recently discovered artifacts in Matariya were transported to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir for restoration and temporary exhibition until its final location at the GEM, scheduled to be soft opened mid 2018. The transportation to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir was carried out today in collaboration with the Transportation Department of Egypt’s Armed Forces.

The artifact that is on show with the fragments of the royal colossus includes is a relief of King Ramses II. It features King Ramses II with an extended right arm, performing the ritual of anointing the representation of the cult-statue of a goddess.

The goddess can be identified by other blocks from this area as Mut, “For most of the horns of the gods.” This relief was found in the remains of a second temple of King Ramses II.

The temple of Matariya is well known as one of the most important sites of pharaonic religion, since it was considered to be the place of the world`s creation by the sun-god. For about 2400 years, most kings erected their monuments in the temple.

Because of the vicinity to modern Cairo, the site was heavily destroyed in antiquity, from the Late Roman times onwards to the Mameluke era. The blocks of the temple were used to build various monuments in Cairo such as Bab el-Nasr and others.

It is therefore, especially noted that in this site there are still important monuments that can be found even today” – via The EEF.

Photo: National Geographic.


NEWS: Burial chamber discovered in Asasif on Luxor’s west bank

The burial chamber and sarcophagus of a 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor has been discovered (Source: Ahram Online).

“During excavation and cleaning work carried out in the tomb of the 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor Karabasken in south Asasif, on Luxor’s west bank, the Egyptian American South Asasif Conservation Project discovered his burial chamber and sarcophagus.

“The sarcophagus is a unique example of Kushite sarcophagi in an elite tomb,” Mahmoud Affifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online, adding that the sarcophagus is carved in plain red granite and does not bear any engravings or paintings.

Elena Pischikova, director of the archaeological mission, explained that the burial chamber was found accidently during excavation work carried out in a room of the tomb. As an was found in its centre and it led to the burial chamber.
Pischikova said that the base and lid of the sarcophagus bore deliberate damage — evidence of two attempts to break into the sarcophagus at some time in antiquity.
“The interior of the sarcophagus was flooded after the first attempt, but further cleaning work will show if any fragments of the wooden coffin or other burial equipment are still preserved inside,” Pischikova said” – via Ahram Online.


NEWS: Polish archaeologists studied a unique necropolis in Egypt

Shafts I, IX and X in the temple of Hatshepsut (Source: PAP Science and Scholarship in Poland).

“Archaeologists have summed up the 10-year study of an unusual cemetery, which was founded in the times of unrest in Egypt – the so-called Third Intermediate Period, when the power in Egypt was taken over by the kings who came from Libya, and then from the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which is today’s Sudan. The latter were described as “black pharaohs”.

Even before the year 900 BC, Hatshepsut temple was destroyed by great cataclysm. Probably as a result of an earthquake, hundreds of tons of debris fell on the sanctuary from the surrounding hills. The famous temples of Karnak and Luxor located on the east bank of the Nile also sustained serious damage.

“Members of the royal family – XXIII and XXV dynasty – took advantage of the situation. They consciously decided to build tombs on the upper terrace of the ruins of the Temple of Hatshepsut” – told PAP Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, leader of the Polish-Egyptian restoration and archaeological mission in the temple of the famous queen. According to the researcher, even after its destruction the temple considered a sacred place.

In total, scientists have discovered nearly 20 tombs. The entrance in the form of several meters deep shaft carved into the rock, ending in a single, undecorated burial chamber, was located in the floor of the temple.

“Not just anyone was buried here. We know that two viziers rest here, second persons in the country after the pharaoh. They were also members of royal families and high-ranking priests” – said Dr. Szafrański. Among the deceased was also the wife of the king’s son. Interestingly, over time more mummies were placed in the burial chambers, but ones belonging to the same social circle.

Dr. Szafrański noted that the overground part of the tomb, or chapel, where the cult of the dead took place, had an important role in the beliefs of the Egyptians. Builders of the graves skilfully used the preserved walls of the temple of Hatshepsut. They carved the tomb entrances near the decorations in the form of sacrificers or blind doors – thus they did not waste time on carving similar depictions, just skilfully annexed those from 800 years before. Blind doors were the places where the offerings were being placed.

“Thus, gifts, that on decorations were being carried for Amon or for Hatshepsut, were symbolically given to those resting in the new tombs” – said Dr. Szafrański.

The majority of the graves were robbed in ancient times. Still, among the rubble archaeologists managed to find objects which allowed to identify the first owners of the tombs. These finds included fragments of cartonnage, the shells of sarcophagi containing the mummies. Cartonnage was made of layers of cloth, glue, ground limestone and gypsum. The shells were richly decorated with paintings and hieroglyphs, from which the title and name of the deceased could be read.

“Despite the political turmoil at the time, they were made at a very high artistic level” – Dr. Szafrański assessed both the paintings and the processing of material of which they had been made.

In the plundered tombs archaeologists also managed to find ushebti figurines (which symbolically were supposed to work instead of the deceased after his death), fragments of bandages, in which the mummies were wrapped, faience jewellery. There was also a wooden figurine coated with gold plate.

“But the most important discovery for us are texts – visible on cartonnage, bandages and figurines. Such discoveries allow us to reconstruct the family trees of the ancient Egyptians” – added the archaeologist.

According to Dr. Szafrański, one of the tombs, belonging to the Vizier Padiamonet, had been partially opened for tourists. Above its entrance in the floor of the temple of Hatshepsut, armoured glass has been installed, allowing secure view of the tomb shaft.

Polish archaeologists have been studying and reconstructing the temple of Hatshepsut since the 1960s. The work is conducted under the auspices of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw” – via PAP Science and Scholarship in Poland.

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NEWS: Mummy of ‘very important’ female figure discovered in Aswan

A 12th dynasty mummy of a prominent ancient Egyptian noblewoman was unearthed in Upper Egypt by a Spanish archaeological mission (Source: Ahram Online).

“Spanish excavators from Jaén University discovered the 12th dynasty mummy of an Egyptian noblewoman named Sattjeni during excavation work at the Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis west of Aswan.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that Sattjeni was the mother of two renowned Elephantine governors, Heqaib III and Amaeny-Seneb, under the reign of King Amenemhat III around 1800-1775 BCE.

Afifi said the mummy was found wrapped in linen inside two wooden sarcophagi carved in cedar exported from Lebanon.

Remains were found on the mummy of Sattjeni’s cartonnage funerary mask.

The inner coffin was in such good condition that experts could possibly determine the year the cedar tree – used to make the coffin – was cut down.

Nasr Salama, director of the ministry’s Aswan and Nubian Antiquities Department, said that Sattjeni was a key figure in Elephantine, as she was the daughter of the nomarch Sarenput II as well as the mother of the two governors.

According to Salama, Sattjeni was also the unique holder of dynastic rights in the government of Elephantine after the death of all the male members of her family. 

The Spanish mission – led by Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano – that made the discovery has been working in west Aswan since 2008.

The mission has discovered over several archaeological seasons a number of intact burial sites from different periods, including the tombs of government officials Haqa-Ib and Sabny.

The mission has also made a discovery of an unidentified skeleton believed to be of the oldest breast cancer patient ever found” – via Ahram Online.


NEWS: Outcomes of the Second International Tutankhamun Conference

“‘It is essential to perform more scans using other devices atthe Tutankhamun Tomb (KV62) at the Valley of the Kings- Luxor using more technical and scientific methods and radar devices’ is one of a number of recommendations reached at the end of the Second International Tutankhamun Conference that was held today (May 8th 2016) at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

Antiquities Minister Dr. Khaled El-Enany emphasized at the open scientific discussion that came at the end of the conference that no drilling will be done at the tomb’s walls unless we are 100% certain that there is a cavity behind them. Egyptology and radar experts participated in the final session among them former antiquities ministers Dr. Zahi Hawas and Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty, the Japanese radar expert Prof. Watanabe, Dr. Yaser El-Shayeb from the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and a number of Egyptian archaeologists and stakeholder.

In his lecture, former Antiquities Minister Dr. Zahi Hawas said that radar scan is not sufficient alone to make a new archaeological discovery stressing that he is against the British scientist Nicholas Reeves’ hypothesis that Queen Nefertiti’s tomb exist behind that of King Tut’s. Hawas added that a scientific committee consisting of archaeologists, radar experts and remote sensing experts should be formed immediately to supervise the works inside the tomb.

Former antiquities minister Dr. Eldamaty also gave a lecture entitled “the Rediscovery of the Tutankhamun Tomb” in which he summed up all the work steps that have been made at the radar scan project at the Golden Pharaoh’s tomb, expressing that the results reached so point out that there is a 50% possibility of a cavity behind the Tomb’s walls.

In a related context, Dr. Tarek Tawfik – General Supervisor on the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Project added that among the recommendations of this conference came the formation of an Egyptian Archaeological Committee with the assistance of foreign experts aiming at drawing a road map for the transfer process of the Golden Pharaoh’s fragile artifacts that are sensitive to light and motion. Also the Tutankhamun’s Research Center that was established last year will be provided with a web channel to publish all the researches and studies related to the Boy King” – Ministry of Antiquities press release via the Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum.