Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Pharaoh’s Mummy Figurines Reveal the Source of Ancient Egyptian Copper –

New Study on Pharaoh's Mummy Figurines Sheds Light on Understudied Ancient Egyptian Period

Re: Now on YouTube: "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism"

The video "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism" has been restored, with one small cut recommended by YouTube. My apologies for the discontinuity.


On 6/10/21 9:38 PM, Glenn Meyer wrote:
Dr. Rita Lucarelli's recording of her fine lecture for Northern California ARCE, "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism," has been uploaded to the chapter's YouTube channel, and is now available at .

If you have any difficulties viewing the video, please contact me.

Otherwise, enjoy!


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--   Sent from my Linux system.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Farmer discovers 2,600-year-old stone slab from Egyptian pharaoh | Live Science

Farmer discovers 2,600-year-old stone slab from Egyptian pharaoh

By Owen Jarus - Live Science Contributor about 11 hours ago

This stela, dating back about 2,600 years, was found in a farmer's field near the city of Ismailia in Egypt. It contains 15 lines of hieroglyphic writing. (Image credit: Egyptian antiquities ministry)

A farmer living near Ismailia in Egypt has uncovered a 2,600-year-old stela erected by pharaoh Apries, who ruled from about 589 B.C., to 570 B.C., the Egyptian antiquities ministry reported.

The farmer found this ancient slab of sandstone while preparing his land for cultivation, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Cairo; he then contacted the Tourism and Antiquities Police about the discovery, the ministry statement said. The stela is 91 inches (230 centimeters) long, 41 inches (103 cm) wide and 18 inches (45 cm) thick.

At the top of the stela is a carving of a winged sun disk (a disk that was sometimes associated with the sun god Ra) with a cartouche of pharaoh Apries, with 15 lines of hieroglyphic writing below that, the statement said. Apries, also known as Wahibre Haaibre, reigned during the 26th dynasty of Egypt (688 B.C. to –525 B.C.), a time when Egypt was independent and its capital was often located at Sais in northern Egypt.

Related: 30 of the world's most valuable treasures that are still missing

Efforts are underway to translate the stela. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the stela appears to be related to a military campaign that Apries undertook east of Egypt.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (lived ca. 484-425 B.C.) claimed that Apries fought a losing war against the Phoenicians that left many Egyptian soldiers dead and sparked a civil war in Egypt that ultimately led to Apries being killed and replaced as pharaoh by a man named Amasis. Whether this stela will shed new light on these events is unclear.

Originally published on Live Science.--
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Inside the Tombs of Saqqara | History | Smithsonian Magazine

Inside the Tombs of Saqqara

Dramatic new discoveries in the ancient Egytptian burial ground. A special report produced with Smithsonian Channel


Twenty miles south of Cairo, on the Nile's west bank, where riverfed crop fields give way to desert, the ancient site of Saqqara is marked by crumbling pyramids that emerge from the sand like dragon's teeth. Most striking is the famous Step Pyramid, built in the 27th century B.C. by Djoser, the Old Kingdom pharaoh who launched the tradition of constructing pyramids as monumental royal tombs. More than a dozen other pyramids are scattered along the five-mile strip of land, which is also dotted with the remains of temples, tombs and walkways that, together, span the entire history of ancient Egypt. But beneath the ground is far more—a vast and extraordinary netherworld of treasures.

The          excavation site
The excavation site is not far from Djoser's Step Pyramid, which was thought to convey divine energy. (Roger Anis)

One scorching day last fall, Mohammad Youssef, an archaeologist, clung to a rope inside a shaft that had been closed for more than 2,000 years. At the bottom, he shined his flashlight through a gap in the limestone wall and was greeted by a god's gleaming eyes: a small, painted statue of the composite funerary deity Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, with a golden face and plumed crown. It was Youssef's first glimpse of a large chamber that was guarded by a heap of figurines, carved wooden chests and piles of blackened linen. Inside, Youssef and his colleagues found signs that the people buried here had wealth and privilege: gilded masks, a finely carved falcon and a painted scarab beetle rolling the sun across the sky. Yet this was no luxurious family tomb, as might have been expected. Instead, the archaeologists were astonished to discover dozens of expensive coffins jammed together, piled to the ceiling as if in a warehouse. Beautifully painted, human-shaped boxes were stacked roughly on top of heavy limestone sarcophagi. Gilded coffins were packed into niches around the walls. The floor itself was covered in rags and bones.

This eerie chamber is one of several "megatombs," as the archaeologists describe them, discovered last year at Saqqara, the sprawling necropolis that once served the nearby Egyptian capital of Memphis. The excavators overseen by Youssef uncovered hundreds of coffins, mummies and grave goods, including carved statues and mummified cats, packed into several shafts, all untouched since antiquity. The trove includes many individual works of art, from the gilded portrait mask of a sixth- or seventh-century B.C. noblewoman to a bronze figure of the god Nefertem inlaid with precious gems. The scale of discoveries—captured in the Smithsonian Channel documentary series "Tomb Hunters," an advance copy of which was made available to me—has excited archaeologists. They say it opens a window into a period late in ancient Egyptian history when Saqqara was at the center of a national revival in pharaonic culture and attracted visitors from across the known world. The site is full of contradictions, entwining past and future, spirituality and economics. It was a hive of ritual and magic that arguably couldn't seem more distant from our modern world. Yet it nurtured ideas so powerful they still shape our lives today.

* * *

Travelers visiting Egypt have long marveled at the vestiges of the pharaohs' lost world—the great pyramids, ancient temples and mysterious writings carved into stone. But Egyptology, the formal study of ancient Egyptian civilization, didn't begin in earnest until Napoleon Bonaparte invaded at the turn of the 19th century and French scholars collected detailed records of ancient sites and scoured the country for antiquities. When Jean-Fran├žois Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs, in the 1820s, the history of one of humanity's great civilizations could finally be read, and European scholars and enthusiasts flocked to see not only the pyramids at Giza but also the colossal Ramses II statues carved into the cliffs at Abu Simbel and the royal tombs in Luxor's Valley of the Kings.

map showing          where the archaeological dig and Saqqara necropolis are located
(5W Infographics. Sources: Smithsonian Channel, At Land Productions, Lion TV)

Apart from its eroding pyramids, Saqqara was known, by contrast, for its subterranean caverns, which locals raided for mummies to use as fertilizer and tourists ransacked for souvenirs. Looters carted off not only mummified people but also mummified animals—hawks, ibises, baboons. Saqqara didn't attract much archaeological attention until the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, who became the first director of Egypt's Antiquities Service, visited in 1850. He declared the site "a spectacle of utter devastation," with yawning pits and dismantled brick walls where the sand was mixed with mummy wrappings and bones. But he also noticed the half-buried statue of a sphinx, and probing further he found a sphinx-lined avenue leading to a temple called the Serapeum. Beneath the temple were tunnels that held the coffins of Apis bulls, worshiped as incarnations of Ptah and Osiris.

Since then, excavations have revealed a history of burials and cult ceremonies spanning more than 3,000 years, from Egypt's earliest pharaohs to its dying breaths in the Roman era. Yet Saqqara has remained overshadowed by the glamour of Luxor to the south, where in the second millennium B.C. pharaohs covered the walls of their tombs with depictions of the afterlife, and the Great Pyramids just miles to the north.

Mohammad Youssef, the site director, prepares to explore a shaft tomb. The shafts can descend 30 feet, and open at different levels into niches and chambers. (Roger Anis)
Mohammad Youssef

It certainly took a while for Mostafa Waziri, the archaeologist directing the latest project, to be converted to Saqqara's charms. He spent most of his career excavating in Luxor, but in 2017 he was appointed director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (making him, among other things, a successor to Mariette). The new job entailed a move to Cairo. Continuing to dig in southern Egypt was therefore no longer practical, he says, but on his doorstep was another great opportunity: "I realized it was less than one hour from my office to Saqqara!"

Working with an Egyptian team, including Youssef, the site director, Waziri chose to excavate near a mysterious temple called the Bubasteion, dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet, that had been cut into limestone cliffs near the site's eastern boundary around 600 B.C. A group of French archaeologists had worked nearby for decades, where they found, among other discoveries, the 14th-century B.C. tomb of King Tutankhamen's wet nurse, Maia. But Waziri targeted an area that the French team had used to pile the debris from their excavations, calculating that whatever lay beneath it had remained untouched.

Local          laborers
Local laborers helped to excavate using a traditional winch known as a tambora, which can raise objects weighing close to 1,000 pounds. (Roger Anis)

His approach paid off. In December 2018, Waziri announced the discovery of a 4,400-year-old tomb, intact and ornately carved, that belonged to a high-ranking priest named Wahtye. The next season yielded intriguing caches of animal mummies—not just cats but a cobra, a lion cub, a mongoose and even a scarab beetle. Then, in September 2020, the team unearthed a vertical shaft dug 30 feet down into the bedrock, the first of the "megatombs." In separate niches at the bottom were two giant coffins, and when the archaeologists cleared the surrounding debris they found dozens more. "I had to call the [antiquities] minister," says Waziri. "He asked me, 'How many?'" Eighteen months later, Waziri is still counting.

* * *

In a simple conservation lab set up at the site, Youssef and his colleagues admired the first coffin to be removed from the shaft. Sealed with black resin, it was roughly human-shaped but huge and squat—more than 7.5 feet long and 3 feet wide—with a wide, impassive face. Removing the intricately carved wooden lid revealed a glint of gold: A second coffin was nested inside, complete with gilded mask. Beautifully preserved, it showed the face of a woman with large, kohl-lined eyes. The rest of the inner coffin was intricately painted in blue, green and red, and included flower and leaf motifs and a depiction of the sky goddess, Nut, with outstretched wings. Most exciting, though, were the hieroglyphs, because they provided valuable information about the occupant: not just spells to aid her journey to the afterlife but details of her family, as well as her name: Ta-Gemi-En-Aset.

Research          field station tent
The Bubasteion, dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet, was likely built in the 6th century B.C. near Saqqara's eastern boundary. The tent is a research field station. (Roger Anis)

These details and the distinctive style of the coffin indicate that she lived during the sixth or seventh century B.C., at the start of Egypt's Late Period, when a pharaoh named Psamtik I reunified the country after a period of instability and foreign invasions. Egypt was strong and prosperous once again, a global power alongside Babylon and Persia. Psamtik also revived the powerful city of Memphis, then home to around two million people, and nearby Saqqara to hold its dead. According to Campbell Price, curator of Egypt and Sudan at the Manchester Museum in England, the name Ta-Gemi-En-Aset means "she who was found by Isis." The coffin inscriptions describe her mother as a singer, and include a symbol representing a sistrum, a musical rattle used in temples. Price suggests that Ta-Gemi may have belonged to the cult of Isis, and perhaps played a role in rituals and festivals in a nearby temple devoted to the goddess.

The second coffin retrieved from the shaft was similar to Ta-Gemi's, and it also contained an inner coffin with a gilded mask. This time, the portrait mask showed a bearded man named Psamtik (probably in honor of one of several pharaohs of this period who shared the name). At first, the team wondered whether Ta-Gemi and Psamtik were related. The hieroglyphs revealed that their fathers had the same name: Horus. But their mothers' names were different, and further discoveries revealed a different picture.

An engineer          from Cairo's Ain Shams University uses a Lidar scanner
An engineer from Cairo's Ain Shams University uses a Lidar scanner to map the 4,300-year-old tomb of a high-ranking official named Pinomis. (Roger Anis)

The team dug deeper, a painfully slow process that involved the help of local laborers, who scooped out the sand by hand and hauled basketsful of debris to the surface using a traditional wooden winch called a tambora, the design of which hasn't changed in centuries. Below Psamtik's burial niche was a room filled with many additional coffins, covered in rubble and damaged by ancient rockfalls. The bottom of the shaft led to a second, even bigger cavern, inside of which were jammed more than a hundred coffins of different styles and sizes. There were also loose grave goods, including ushabtis, miniature figures intended as servants in the afterlife, and hundreds of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statuettes. There were even coffins buried in the base of the shaft itself, as if whoever put them there was running out of space. The result was a megatomb described by the research team as the largest concentration of coffins ever unearthed in Egypt.

Rule of the Pharaohs

Power, glory, the spoils of war and awe-inspiring monuments mark ancient Egypt's historical epochs

Research by Matthew Browne

Great collections of mummies and coffins have been found before, but never grouped so densely together. This was mass burial on an astonishing scale, and it shines a light on Egyptian culture at a moment of transition. In the Old Kingdom, in the third millennium B.C.—Djoser's time—the elites appear to have favored private family spaces such as the priest Wahtye's rock-cut tomb, which included an ornate, above-ground chapel for visitors lined with painted reliefs, inscriptions and statues of Wahtye himself. Burial shafts dug into the floor of such tombs were dedicated to particular family members. By the Late Period, some 2,000 years later, well-to-do Egyptians such as Ta-Gemi and Psamtik were packed into tight, shared spaces like cheap crates. Why did people who could clearly afford expensive coffins settle for such a crowded resting place?

According to Aidan Dodson, an Egyptologist at the University of Bristol, in England, they did so in part because by then the practice was simply routine. Shared tombs became popular across Egypt around 1000 B.C., driven by economic necessity as the kingdom faced a period of instability and collapse. When Psamtik I restored order in the seventh century B.C., the practice stuck. "We know that from the Late Period, that's how burials are done," Dodson says.

Old Kingdom tombs
Old Kingdom tombs such as Pinomis' were spacious and ornate. By the Late Period, 2,000 years later, coffins crowded rough-hewn shafts. (Roger Anis)

Campbell Price, of the Manchester Museum, adds that the answer also has to do with Saqqara's pyramids. The necropolis had always been a center for religious cults, from the time high-ranking Egyptians were first buried there, often in low, flat-roofed tombs called mastabas, and probably long before. To help bring the country together after turbulent times, Psamtik encouraged a revival of traditional rituals and belief; after a long period as a backwater, Saqqara exploded again in popularity. Far more than a local cemetery, says Price, it became a pilgrimage site, "like an ancient Mecca or Lourdes," attracting visitors not just from Egypt but from all over the eastern Mediterranean. Buildings such as the Step Pyramid were already thousands of years old at this time, and people believed their creators, such as Djoser and his architect Imhotep, were gods themselves. Cults and temples sprang up. Pilgrims would bring offerings, and they vied for burial spaces for themselves and their families near the ancient, sacred tombs. "Saqqara would have been the place to be seen dead in," says Price. "It had this numinous, divine energy that would help you get into the afterlife."

The variety of burials inside the shafts, from simple wood boxes to painted coffins and stone sarcophagi, suggests that individuals from across the Late Period's middle classes were buried together. (Roger Anis)
The variety of burials          inside the shafts

That created conditions for a thriving commercial operation entwined with the spiritual one, resulting in a kind of real estate market for the dead. "It's a business," says Dodson. There was probably a sliding scale of options available. Senior officials and military officers were interred in large tombs near the Old Kingdom pyramids of Unas and Userkaf, for example, while the poorest in society were probably buried "in the desert in a sheet." But the wealthy middle classes appear to have opted for a shared shaft, perhaps with a private niche if they could afford it, or were simply piled with others on the floor. If you wanted to be close to the magical energy of Saqqara's gods and festivals, Dodson says, "you bought yourself a space in a shaft."

The coffin of          a man who likely lived during the Late Period.
The coffin of a man who likely lived during the Late Period. The winged goddess Nut protects the mummy inside; a funerary prayer, in hieroglyphs, is above his name and parentage. (Roger Anis)

The supersized burials unearthed by Waziri's archaeology team reveal how intense the desire for particular locations became—and how profitable they were. Instead of digging new tombs, the priests in charge of burials reused older shafts, expanding them and, Price and Dodson suggest, cramming in as many coffins as they could. The cliffs of the Bubasteion, overlooking the landscape and close to the main processional route, may have been one of the most sought-after spots of all.

* * *

Last October, the archaeologists found a new shaft beneath the ruins of the Bubasteion—the chaotic, painted chamber illuminated by Youssef's flashlight. It was another megatomb, bursting with some of the finest coffins and mummies yet discovered, as well as grave goods including a falcon-topped wooden box (possibly a canopic chest, used to store internal organs removed during mummification) and numerous painted Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statues, one of which contained seeds of corn, a symbol of rebirth.

Smithsonian Channel's new "Tomb Hunters" series, which follows discoveries made at the Saqqara site, premieres Monday, June 21.

Many of the burials date later than the other finds at Saqqara, to the era of Greek rule in Egypt following the Late Period, after Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's top generals, founded a new dynasty of pharaohs in 305 B.C. With the Ptolemaic pharaohs came strong Greek cultural influences, particularly at the Mediterranean capital of Alexandria, home to some of the finest scholars of the Hellenistic world, such as the mathematician Euclid and the physician-anatomist Herophilus. Hundreds of thousands of migrants from across the Greek world settled elsewhere in Egypt, and many were awarded plots of land. Public life was Greek-run, but in private life, including religious worship, there was considerable freedom, and many of the new arrivals appear to have adopted Egyptian beliefs and customs, including mummification. As time went on, says Dodson, "more people who self-identified as Greeks were being buried according to Egyptian customs." Saqqara was as busy as ever, and the new discoveries suggest the priests were still squeezing as many bodies as possible into the shafts.

A conservator cleans a statuette of the composite deity Ptah-Sokar-Osiris; each god was associated with creation or rebirth and venerated at Saqqara. (Roger Anis)
A conservator cleans a statuette
A jar from a shaft
A jar from a shaft seemingly engraved with the face of Bes, a beneficent deity with grotesque features who protected against evil beings. (Roger Anis)
Unprotected            remains
Because the shafts were used by Egyptians of different means, archaeologists have found unprotected remains, such as this skull, along with expensive coffins. (Roger Anis)

In a nearby shaft, the team unearthed cat mummies along with human remains. Previous excavations had discovered a huge cat necropolis at the Bubasteion, where the animals, sacred to the feline goddess Bastet, were embalmed and left as offerings. It was one of many local animal cults. Just north of the Bubasteion is the Anubieion, a temple complex dedicated to the jackal-headed god of death, Anubis, where mazelike tunnels are estimated to have held millions of mummified dogs. Beyond that are catacombs once filled with mummified ibises, hawks and baboons. To the west is the Serapeum, where Apis bulls were laid to rest.

A coffin            bearing the well-preserved mummy of a woman named Ta-net-Imen,            dating to the Ptolemaic era more than 2,000 years ago. The            gilded mask attests to her wealth and status.
A coffin bearing the well-preserved mummy of a woman named Ta-net-Imen, dating to the Ptolemaic era more than 2,000 years ago. The gilded mask attests to her wealth and status. (Roger Anis)
A painted            wood coffin
A painted wood coffin, with faux-kohl-lined eyes, containing the well-preserved mummy of an unknown high-ranking official from the Late Period. (Roger Anis)

These cults always existed at Saqqara. Their roots stretch back to predynastic times, and they thrived especially in the Late Period, during the renaissance inaugurated by Psamtik, perhaps because they were seen as archetypally Egyptian, says Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist based at the American University in Cairo—a symbol of national identity when foreign influence was an ever-present threat. But they became even more popular under the Greeks, with millions of animals bred to order, presumably on nearby farms, and often sacrificed shortly after birth. Waziri and his colleagues found animal mummies of varying qualities, which were probably priced accordingly. X-rays reveal that some "mummies" have no cat remains inside at all. And the mix with human bones suggests that if priests ran out of space in the dedicated animal catacombs, they simply commandeered older human tombs. The animal cults, in other words, became an ever more significant economic and spiritual force, helping to drive Saqqara's final flourish. Or as Price puts it: "Saqqara was like an enormous, divine magnet or battery, powered by all these animal mummies."

To the Greeks, part of the appeal of such Egyptian customs may have been the ease of making a personal plea to the gods, by visiting a stall selling mummified animals and choosing from a range of prepared products on offer. And the reward would likewise have been appealing: the promise, unique to Egyptian theology at that time, of an eternal afterlife of splendor. By contrast, "Greek ideas for the afterlife were pretty dull," says Price. In classic Greek literature, for example, the dead were mere shadows inhabiting a dark underworld. The Babylonian and Jewish traditions had very exclusive notions of heaven; eternal life was reserved for the gods. But Egyptian texts covering the walls inside the Saqqara pyramids describe the king's soul rising up after death to join the sun in the sky. By around 2000 B.C., resurrection spells were written onto coffins directly, enabling even ordinary citizens such as Ta-Gemi to make the journey to idyllic, golden fields. Although the details of the afterlife changed over time, the most desirable postmortem destination during the Ptolemaic period was the "Field of Reeds," an agricultural paradise with unfailing harvests and eternal spring.

two statues            and a false door
Left: A life-size wood statue found in Pinomis' tomb. In his left hand is a long staff; in his right (now empty) was probably a baton. Both signified his rank and authority. Center: This remarkably preserved false door, considered a gateway between the worlds of the living and the dead, was found in the tomb of Pinomis, which also houses his wife and children. It's inscribed with funerary prayers. Right: A bronze statue of the god Nefertem inlaid with precious gems. Typically depicted as a young man with a lotus-flower headdress, the deity was associated with rebirth. (Mohamed Elseaidy and Nagm Eldeen)
The Egyptian Museum, in Cairo, is home to the world's largest collection of pharaonic antiquities, from the predynastic eras to the time of Rome. (Roger Anis)
The Egyptian Museum

After Cleopatra ended her life in 30 B.C., bringing the Ptolemaic era to an end, Rome ruled Egypt. Whereas the Greeks had integrated into Egyptian culture, the Romans remade it, imposing their laws and administrative systems and, in time, their newly adopted Christian faith. At Saqqara, the last Egyptian mummies date to the third century A.D. Despite the cultural triumph of Rome, however, some Egyptian iconography lives on in Christian narratives. Many scholars have noted similarities between Egyptian and Christian religious symbolism, for example in stories of the goddess Isis and her son Horus and the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus. "A lot of the iconography in Christianity is derived from ancient Egypt," says Ikram, of the American University in Cairo.

The tilted            mask on coffin
The tilted mask on this coffin, carved separately, may indicate that the deceased could not afford higher-quality construction; the coffin is otherwise unadorned. (Roger Anis)

Which is not to say that these images were necessarily appropriated directly; rather, in antiquity these influences ran in many directions. The historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, of Oxford, notes that Christian ideas of the afterlife in particular drew heavily on Greek belief, which by then had developed a "vocabulary" for concepts such as Plato's notion that the human soul "might reflect a divine force beyond itself." Plato, for his part, was influenced by Pythagoras, who is thought to have studied in Egypt in the sixth century B.C. "By the time Christians were beginning to construct their own literature," MacCulloch writes in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, "their writers clearly found such talk of the individual soul and of resurrection completely natural."

* * *

Today, the pace of discoveries at Saqqara remains high. "We found something last Saturday," Waziri said recently, buzzing from excitement. "But I can't tell you about it yet." Salima Ikram is working with Japanese archaeologists just north of the Bubasteion, where some coffins appear to have been deposited directly in the sand. The archaeologist Zahi Hawass recently reported finding a temple belonging to a previously unknown wife of the Old Kingdom pharaoh Teti. A group working near Unas' pyramid found a Late Period mummification workshop, complete with embalmer's platform, incense burner and rock-cut channels to drain the blood. Waziri hopes to discover workshops where the wooden coffins were made. "What we found in the last three years," he says, "is not even 10 percent of what we will find."

two figures            at dig site
The recent digs have already unearthed hundreds of coffins. "We need to know more about them and their lives, to complete our history," says archaeologist Ahmed Zikrey. (Roger Anis)

Egyptologists, meanwhile, are eager to study the hundreds of new mummies and coffins. "The interesting thing would be to try to map these people onto the landscape," says Price. He has previously used geophysical techniques to probe below the ground at Saqqara, which revealed the remains of numerous temples lining the processional route to the Serapeum, but this approach can't yield texts or names to identify which gods were worshiped at these sites. Now we can add the "social layer," he hopes, to discover who the people working in these temples were and what they believed. Ikram says the coffin inscriptions might identify relationships between individuals, perhaps revealing if families were buried together or with people of similar occupations.

Already, though, the recent discoveries are helping to redefine this necropolis not as a silent graveyard but as a vibrant economic and spiritual center, filled with temples, embalming houses, stalls and workshops. There were offerings and burials to suit all budgets, profit squeezed out of every encounter, and above all, the fierce determination to defy earthly mortality and survive forever. The secret of Saqqara, then, wasn't death. It was life.

Additional research by Caterina Turroni, Marianne Tames-Demauras and Sam Kassem.

Watch the Smithsonian Channel program "Tomb Raiders" when it premieres on Monday, June 21, at 8 pm ET. Check your local cable provider for listings.

About the Author: Jo Marchant is an award-winning science journalist and former editor at New Scientist and Nature. She is the author of The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars and The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy. Read more articles from Jo Marchant and
About the Author: Roger Anis is a photojournalist based in Egypt. Read more articles from Roger Anis

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Egyptian Museum in Tahrir exhibits 22 unique artifacts in celebration of World Music Day - EgyptToday

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Re: Now on YouTube: "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism"

The video "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism" has been temporarily removed from the chapter's website. When it is restored, I will send out another notification. My apologies for any inconvenience.

Glenn Meyer
Publicity Director
Northern California ARCE

On 6/10/21 9:38 PM, Glenn Meyer wrote:
Dr. Rita Lucarelli's recording of her fine lecture for Northern California ARCE, "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism," has been uploaded to the chapter's YouTube channel, and is now available at .

If you have any difficulties viewing the video, please contact me.

Otherwise, enjoy!


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Monday, June 14, 2021

Cairo Court announces 3 decisions in Zamalek apartment case - Daily News Egypt

Cairo Court announces 3 decisions in Zamalek apartment case

Total of 1,204 artefacts dating back to Ancient Egyptian and Islamic periods found in apartment

The Execution Department at the South Cairo Court has announced three decisions regarding an infamous Zamalek apartment, in which a group of historical and artistic treasures were found.

The decisions included informing the Public Prosecution to start investigations into the apartment's contents, and to seize both the apartment and its related shop, in addition to continuing tight security on the two units.

The apartment, which holds paintings, antiques, medals, and art accessories, is owned by Counsellor Ahmed Abdel Fattah, former Vice-President of the State Council.

The case has occupied public opinion in the past few days, as a mission from the South Cairo Court's Judgment Execution Department by chance found, on 27 May, a large amount of jewellery, precious stones, and antiques inside the apartment. The discovery was made during the implementation of a civil judgment.

The mission noted that one of the antique medals found in a group of badges read, "Justice is the foundation of the king from Muhammad Ali Pasha".

The court formed special committees from the Stamp Authority and the Ministries of Tourism and Antiquities, and Culture, to examine the antiques and jewellery, and prepare a report on their value. This would take place alongside enquiries about their title deeds.

The result of the examination of the committees found 1,204 artefacts dating back to the Ancient Egyptian and the Islamic eras, in addition to 787 artefacts belonging to the family of Muhammad Ali.

A further 103 paintings of very high artistic, historical, and material value suitable for museum display were also found, including 13 antique paintings and 56 high-value paintings that are not suitable for museum display.

There were also 47commercial plates, and 10 plates for display at the House of Books and Documents.

The Committee also found 2,907 pieces of yellow and white gold, platinum, high and low quality diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones, as well as about 800 pieces of high-value accessories.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Egyptian Museum of Antiquities gets makeover to compete for tourists - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

Egyptian Museum of Antiquities gets makeover to compete for tourists

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square is undergoing a facelift that tourism officials and curators hope will allow it to compete with the Grand Egyptian Museum, soon to open its doors to visitors.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities 2014

Located at downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is an impressive Beaux-Arts building dating to the turn of the 20th century. Despite its popularity among tourists and Egyptian museum-goers, the museum has been subject to criticism due to multiple shortcomings, not least among which is its cramped display space, which helps cause overcrowding

This has led some critics to liken it to a "warehouse" for Egyptian treasures. The limited space has also meant that many of the antiquities discovered in recent years have had to be stored in the museum's basement, often exposing them to conservation threats.  

Poor acoustics are another of the museum's weaknesses. Although visually appealing, its high ceiling and large atriums have undermined the museum's acoustical environment by magnifying the noise in the exhibition halls, causing an echo and excessive reverberation. Furthermore, reaching the museum is in itself a challenge as visitors have to battle central Cairo's notorious traffic to get there.  

In stark contrast, the new state-of-the-art, billion-dollar Grand Egyptian Museum has been built as a multipurpose space. Sitting on a site of approximately 500,000 square meters (around 120 acres), it is being promoted by the media as the world's largest antiquities museum. The building is about 60,000 square meters (645,000 square feet).

Not only is the new museum much bigger than the old museum, it is also better equipped to house and store Egypt's treasures in a safe environment. Adding to its appeal is the impressive array of artifacts it will display: No fewer than 50,000 antiquities are to be showcased in the new facility, according to Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anany. 

Many of the Grand Egyptian Museum's antiquities have been transferred from the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and other museums across the country. These include Tutankhamun's treasures, long a magnet for tourists visiting the old museum in Tahrir. Popularly known as King Tut and the Boy King, Tutankhamen is perhaps the best known of all the Pharoah kings due to the  wealth of treasures found in his tomb but also,  partly because of the mystery surrounding his death around 1324 B.C. 

Tut died at the age of 19 (reportedly from an infected thigh fracture) 10 years after ascending the throne. His treasures, to be displayed over an area of over 7,000 square meters (75,000 square feet), will include his funerary bed, his famous gilded chariot and solid gold death mask.       

More than half of the artifacts in the new museum have not been exhibited before. Tourism officials hope that the facility, with its unrivaled location, modern design and spatial layout, will attract at least 5 million visitors annually to Egypt when it opens later this year, reviving the tourism industry, which was dealt a blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Aptly located on the Giza Plateau, the new museum overlooks the Pyramids of Giza and is in close proximity to the new Sphinx International Airport, which opened in early 2019.  The short drive from the airport to the Grand Egyptian Museum means that tourists and businessmen coming to Egypt on short trips would have the opportunity to visit both the museum and the pyramids without wasting time being stuck in traffic jams.  

Still, efforts are underway to transform the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and ensure that it gets its fair share of visitors when the larger and more spectacular museum opens. Thanks to two cultural heritage preservation projects funded by the European Union, "The Egyptian Museum is being restored to its original glorious state and will serve as a sustainable educational and cultural center," said Mohamed El Sayyed, supervisor of the Revival of the Egyptian Museum Initiative. The initiative is one of two projects for the museum carried out with guidance and assistance from the Egyptian consulting firm Environmental Quality International.

"Layers of paint have been scraped off the walls, floors and ceilings using medical chisels to reveal the museum's original colors — burgundy and beige," El Sayyed told Al-Monitor. "We found decorative motifs on the walls that we did not know existed," he noted. 

"We worked as visitors toured the museum as the facility had to remain open to accommodate tourists," he said.

"Another challenge facing the restoration experts was that the objects had to remain in their place during the entire restoration process," he added.

As part of the project, walking tours and educational activities for children are being organized in and around the museum to raise cultural awareness among local residents of their rich cultural heritage. 

There also is the EU-funded Transforming the Egyptian Museum project. It has been developing new labels and banners to give detailed information about artifacts and "enhance the visitor experience," according to curator Ilona Regulski, who is the project coordinator.  

"This project is about rethinking the display of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after many of the objects have been transferred to other museums," the Belgian-born Regulski told Al-Monitor.  "We are trying, basically, to do more with less objects." 

Earlier this year, the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities lost one of its major attractions when 22 royal mummies that had previously been showcased in the museum's Mummies Gallery were transported in a glamorous parade to their new resting place at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the Fustat area of Cairo. But Regulski said that even without these royal mummies, the older museum "is still well worth visiting as it houses one of the most important collections in the world."        

"Having less objects gives us an opportunity to spotlight them, tell interesting stories about them and give them the attention they deserve," she said.

The current phase of the project, carried out in collaboration with a consortium of five prominent European museums (the Louvre, the British Museum, Italy's Turin Museum, Museo Egizio and the Agyptisches Museum and Papyrussammlung of Berlin), focuses on the entrance galleries housing artifacts from the pre-Dynastic  (5500 to 3100 B.C.) and early Dynastic periods as well as antiquities from the Old Kingdom (2700 to 2000 B.C.) and the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 to 30 B.C.).

"We are adding new labels that tell visitors when and how the antiquities were discovered; we are also adding photos of the excavations as well as archival photos from the museum," museum director Sabah Abdel Razek told Al-Monitor.   

The new additions are being made in an attempt "to enhance the visitor experience and attract more visitors to the museum," Regulski said.

New signs are also being put up to guide visitors along their museum tour, telling them what they can expect to see in each hall. "The entrance galleries on the left and right represent two vastly different periods of Egyptian history — the Old Kingdom and the Greco-Roman period — yet both galleries showcase massive stone sarcophagi, which shows that despite the many changes throughout Egyptian history, the culture, and in particular the funerary traditions, remained unchanged," Regulski said. 

A further notable change that the museum is undergoing is the special attention given to the way of life of the ancient Egyptians. "As part of the transformation, visitors can now expect to see not just colossal statues of the ancient kings and queens, but also smaller statues and papyri depicting those in the lower strata of ancient Egyptian society such as workers,  farmers, fishermen and pottery makers," said Heba Abdel Gawad, scientific coordinator at the Turin Museum.   

Another highlight is the valuable Tanis collection, which has replaced the Tutankhamen collection after the latter's relocation to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Some say the Tanis royal treasures — discovered by French Egyptologist Pierre Montet in the ancient city of the same name in the Nile Delta, northeast of Cairo in the late 1930s and early 1940s — are as spectacular as Tut's, albeit lesser-known. The Tanis collection includes gold masks, jewelry and solid silver coffins.

"Even after some of the objects have left, the Egyptian Museum is still a treasure house of antiquities; visitors — foreign and Egyptian — will always find something new to see here," Regulski said.  

It is no surprise then that the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities has in recent months been added to UNESCO's World Heritage Site Tentative List (a list of sites proposed by countries as being of significant cultural and national heritage value). Regulski and Abdel Razek both said they believe that once the transformation has been completed, the museum will "deservingly" become a World Heritage Site. 

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Now on YouTube: "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism"

Dr. Rita Lucarelli's recording of her fine lecture for Northern California ARCE, "Ancient Egypt and Its Reception in Black America: From Afrocentrism to Afrofuturism," has been uploaded to the chapter's YouTube channel, and is now available at .

If you have any difficulties viewing the video, please contact me at

Otherwise, enjoy!


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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Upcoming Egyptology Lectures from Northern California ARCE

American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE)
Northern California Chapter

Upcoming Lectures

ARCE's Northern California Chapter is pleased to present the following lectures by renowned Egyptologists. Until further notice, all lectures are virtual, Sunday at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. Registration instructions will be sent out one month before each lecture. In normal times, most lectures take place on the University of California Berkeley campus.

Akhenaten's Main Temple to the Sun God at Amarna:
How Archaeology Is Revealing Its Development and Use

Aug. 15, 2021
Dr. Barry Kemp, Amarna Trust

Hand Unto Ethiopia: The First African-Americans to Visit Nubia
Sept. 12, 2021
Dr. Jeremy Pope, University of William and Mary

Virtual Saqqara
Oct. 10, 2021
Dr. Elaine Sullivan, UC Santa Cruz

Development of the Royal Titulary in Reflection of Important Prehistoric Sites
Nov. 14, 2021
Dr. Ronald Leprohon, University of Toronto

Topic TBD
Dec. 12, 2021
Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, UC Santa Barbara

For more information, please visit,,, or To join the chapter or renew your membership, please go to and select "Berkeley, CA" as your chapter when you sign up.

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Monday, June 7, 2021

Phar-old Find: Farmer Discovers Ancient Egyptian Monument As He Plants Crop  - The Tennessee Tribune

Phar-old Find: Farmer Discovers Ancient Egyptian Monument As He Plants Crop 

This ancient sandstone monument dating back to around 600 B.C. was discovered by an Egyptian farmer while he was clearing land to plant crops.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement that the ancient sandstone stela from the 26th Dynasty of Egypt (664 B.C.–525 B.C.) had been found by a farmer in the Ismailia Governorate of Egypt on June 3.

'Stela' is a Latin word used for a stone slab typically shaped like a gravestone which on the surface has either text or ornamentation, and was created to pass on a message.

The farmer who found the ancient stela on his plot of land immediately notified the Tourism and Antiquities Police.

Mostafa Waziry, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the stela measures 90 inches (230 centimeters) in length and 40 inches (103 centimeters) in width with a thickness of 17 inches (45 centimeters) and it was sent to The Museum of Antiquities in Ismailia.

He added that the arch of the stela is marked with the winged sun symbol associated with divinity, royalty and power in Ancient Egypt and a cartouche of pharaoh Wahibre, also known by his Greek name Apries, who was the fifth king of the 26th dynasty. Also, 15 lines of hieroglyphs are seen engraved on the rock.

The 26th dynasty was the last dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 B.C. Apries ruled Ancient Egypt from 589 to 570 B.C. and led Egypt during a period that was fraught with internal problems.

The Ismailia Museum in Egypt received a sandstone stela dating back to the 26th dynasty that was discovered on a farm in Ismailia governorate, Egypt. (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Zenger News)

Apries faced a mutiny from soldiers in the Kingdom of Judah, failed to protect Jerusalem from Babylonian forces and saw his army mauled by the Greeks during a war in Libya.

Waziry explained that the stela was probably erected by Apries during a military campaign in which he led his armies to the East.

The stela is currently being analyzed by experts at the Antiquities Museum.

(Edited by Angie Ivan and Kristen Butler)

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Egypt traces relics of Ramses III back to Saudi Arabia - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

Egypt traces relics of Ramses III back to Saudi Arabia

An Egyptian archaeological mission is preparing to launch an excavation project in Saudi Arabia after several discoveries showed that ancient Egyptian King Ramses III had a presence in the Arabian Peninsula.
A sparrow perches in a recess along a wall adorned with            reliefs at the Mortuary Temple of the 20th dynasty Pharaoh            Ramses III at Medinet Habu, on the west bank of the Nile            outside Luxor, Egypt, April 10, 2021.

CAIRO — Egypt's former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs and prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass said in a press statement May 27 that he discussed in a meeting with the CEO of the Heritage Commission of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, Jasir al-Harbash, the mechanisms needed to kickstart the excavation project at the site of King Ramses III, one of the kings of the 20th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, in Saudi Arabia in November.

Hawass noted research showed that King Ramses III had deployed several missions to extract copper from a neighboring country and recorded this on a papyrus from that era. This neighboring country is believed to be Saudi Arabia, he added.

Once the trade route is unveiled, he continued, a lot of information regarding its use during historical eras will be coming our way.

He pointed out that there are many other regions found on the trade route that linked the two countries, and excavations will be carried out in these regions to find new evidence of Egyptian kings who sent missions to Saudi Arabia more than 3,000 years ago.

An important group of scarabs found in Saudi Arabia came from Egypt, he said.

On Nov. 7, 2010, the Saudi Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) announced the discovery of what it described as the first hieroglyphic inscription in the Arabian Peninsula dating back to the 12th century B.C., an inscription found on a rock in the Tayma region of northern Saudi Arabia. The inscription includes a cartouche (royal signature) of King Ramses III, the last king of Ramesses (the kings of that period were all called Ramses), who ruled Egypt between 1192 and 1160 B.C., which confirms the existence of a commercial relationship between the two countries at that time.

The commission said that Saudi archaeologists conducted a field and desk research that led them to conclude that there is a direct trade route linking the Nile Valley with Tayma in northwestern Saudi Arabia that was used during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses III. Egyptian convoys would travel by this road to buy valuable goods in Tayma, which was famous for its incense, copper, gold and silver.

Ali bin Ibrahim al-Ghabban, vice president for Antiquities and Museums at the SCTA, said back then that the discovery of this road will be a turning point as far as studies about the roots of civilizational relations between Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula are concerned.

He expected more cartouches of Ramses III to be found on the trade route, or cartouches of other kings of Egypt in Hasma — a sand desert in the Tabuk region of northern Saudi Arabia, stretching over 400 kilometers (248 miles) between Tayma and the Aqaba Gulf on the Red Sea. The area is characterized by rocky facades suitable for writing and engraving. 

Saudi Arabia, one of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, is located in Asia to the east of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the two countries are separated by the Red Sea.

Asked about the details of the excavation project in Saudi Arabia, Hawass told Al-Monitor over the phone that this is the first time that an Egyptian mission digs for Pharaonic antiquities in Saudi Arabia, as the missions that were previously deployed there were mainly foreign. He pointed out that the excavations will take place at two sites, one of them near the coast and another near the area where the cartouche belonging to Ramses III was found — the Tayma region.

Asked about his expectations of what the excavation will lead to, Hawass said that there will be no expectations regarding the shape or nature of the antiquities that the mission is looking for before the excavation begins, but the mission is trying to find out more about the existence of a commercial relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the era of the modern Egyptian state dating back 3,000 years.

The mission, he added, set a period of three months for the excavations before the announcement of any discoveries.

Tayma is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula in general, and includes antiquities dating back more than 85,000 years. It was traditionally a commercial and economic hub and a melting pot for the ancient trade routes.

According to a report published by the Saudi Press Agency on Oct. 7, 2018, many civilizations settled in the Tayma region.

Hussein Abdel Basir, director of the Antiquities Museum at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told Al-Monitor over the phone that the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, has a rich civilization, and there were lines of communication between this region and Egypt in the past, as evidenced by the inscriptions that belonged to King Ramses III. Also, there was a relationship between Egypt and the Qataban region in Yemen (in the Arabian Peninsula) during the reign of King Thutmose III, who belonged to the 18th Dynasty, he said.

Asked about Tayma particularly, Abdel Basir said that it served as the seat of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus, who ruled during the period 556-539 B.C., as mentioned by the Arabs in the Assyrian texts in the seventh century B.C.

He noted that the presence of an Egyptian mission excavating antiquities there is pivotal, as it enhances cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the archaeological field.

"I believe that the mission's goal is not to prove the existence of a relationship between the two countries per se but to focus on the value of what will result from this drilling irrespective of its nature," he concluded.

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