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Thursday, August 29, 2019

‘They wanted to be immortal’: Mummies have stories to tell at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Montreal |

'They wanted to be immortal': Mummies have stories to tell at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Global News at 5:30 Montreal: Mummies descend on Montreal Museum of Fine Artsx

WATCH: Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts is preparing to welcome some very special guests. Nestawedjat is the name of one six mummies set to make an appearance at the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibit slated to start in September and run until February. Brittany Henriques has more.


The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will host six mummies from overseas in an effort to educate Montrealers on ancient Egyptian life, death and the afterlife.

"They wanted to be immortal," said Laura Vigo, curator of Asian art and archaeology at the MMFA. "So in a way the fact that they actually managed to travel to us like rock stars. It is actually kind of a way of immortalizing them."

The MMFA is preparing to unveil a new exhibit titled Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives in September. After running in Australia and China, the exhibit from the British Museum is making its North American debut.

The interactive exhibit will delve into different themes such as magic, music, gods and infancy.

"We will talk about mummification: the mummification process and how it was carried out, who were the agents in the process, what was the importance in mummification and how that evolved," said Vigo.

Caroline Barton, collection manager at the British Museum, says the technologies used on the archaeological finds are groundbreaking.

Artifacts from the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring              Ancient Lives Exhibit.

Artifacts from the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives Exhibit.


"On certain scans you can go so deep, you can see the contents of their stomachs," said Barton. "On some examples — what was their last meals? Things like that, which 10 to 15 years ago we could have never comprehended that we could do things of that standard."

Vigo believes ancient Egyptian finds are crucial to our growth as a society.

"It makes us realize that we're not that much different, that we can actually learn about the past to understand the present and foresee the future," she said.

The star mummy of the show, Nestawedjat, is a rare find, according to Barton.

Artifacts from the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring              Ancient Lives Exhibit.

Artifacts from the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives Exhibit.


"We have the opportunity, that we have not only her but her inner coffin that she would've been buried in, the middle coffin that that coffin would've been buried in and a very large decorated outer coffin," she said.

The exhibit will run from Sept. 14 to Feb. 2, 2020.

Mummy and coffin from the Egyptian              Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives Exhibit

Mummy and coffin from the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives Exhibit

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Tahtib: Modernizing Egypt’s Ancient Martial Art  - Bloody Elbow

Egyptian painting by Alaa Awad depicting tahtib Alaa Awad

Tahtib: Modernizing Egypt's Ancient Martial Art

Karim Zidan delves into Tahtib, the ancient martial art that incorporates stick fighting into its arsenal, and how Egypt plans to modernize the 5000-year-old sport. 

On June 20, 2019, the Ministry of Antiquities organized an exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo that paid homage to the country's sports heritage ahead of the 32nd African Cup on Nations (AFCON) football tournament. The exhibit, titled 'Sports Through the Ages,' showcased more than 90 Egyptian artifacts that represented the wide range of sports that locals participated in through the ages.

The remarkable items on display included a statue of King Tutankhamun, which welcomed visitors as they step into the exhibit. The boy king is seen holding a javelin in his right hand, and a chain in his left, capturing him in the act of throwing the spear. There is also a painting taken from inside the tomb of ancient Egyptian official Baqet III that showed 220 pairs of wrestlers in unique poses.

Hidden amongst the impressive statues and murals is a small ceramics plate from the Fatimid era (909–1171 A.D.) painted a picture of two men practicing a traditional stick-fighting martial art called tahtib. It was a subtle callback to the ancient combat sport that continues to exist in small pockets of Egyptian society, but it also under threat of extinction.

History of Tahtib

Tahtib (or tahteeb) is an ancient martial art performed with wicker or bamboo-like sticks that dates back over 5000 years.

According to engravings from the archaeological site of Abusir located in south-western Cairo, tahtib dates back to 2500 BC during the Fifth Dynasty. The Pyramid of Sahure showed images and captions of soldiers using tahtib as part of their military training, along with archery and wrestling. Several tombs in the Beni Hassan necropolis (1900-1700 BC), as well as the archaeological site of Tell el Amarna (1350 BC), also contained engravings with scenes of tahtib as a tool of warfare.

Tahtib engraved on ancient archaeological sites

The first evidence of tahtib being practiced in civilian context by peasants and farmers for festive reasons appeared on engravings on the walls of Luxor and Saqqara in the New Empire (1500-1000BC), at which point it had already begun to develop as a performance art and form of sports entertainment.

Over the years, tahtib lost its place as a martial art and evolved into a form of demonstrative dance. It remained popular amongst peasants and rural communities, who performed the dance as a form of stress relief. The dance was always accompanied by music, usually a tabla (goblet drum), and a mizmar (folk-style oboe made of reed).

As Egypt's rural communities began to migrate to the cities in search for employment and better opportunities in the 20th century, the practice of tahtib dwindled and once again took new form. Women started to take part in tahtib, using it as a form of flirtatious dancing calls Raqs al-assaya (dance of the stick), which they performed either as soloists or with a male counterpart at cabarets and weddings.

tahtib performace Wikicommons

However, the past few years have seen a resurgence in tahtib as a martial art form by formalizing the techniques used and applying a fixed structure that better facilitates competition.

Modernizing an Ancient Sport

The establishment of modern tahtib is credited to one man: Adel Boulad. As the founder of the modern form of tahtib, he revived the ancient techniques and presented it as a form of training, while also incorporating the dance aspect for performance value. All this was done in an effort to ensure that the ancient martial art does not become extinct.

Boulad's efforts were not in vain. In November 2016, tahtib was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage — a step taken to help ensure that the sport does not become extinct. Training centres were opened in Egypt and across the world, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, where the tahtib championships is held.


In modern tahtib, participants wear loose clothing such as t-shirts and athletic wear. After an opening ritual, the players take turns on the attack, where their goal is to touch the opponent's head with the stick without being touched themselves. Players stay within a designated circle as they attempt this, while victory in ensured after any touch to the head or three touches to the rest of the body. Music remains essential to the sport, and is still performed with a bass drum and a mizmar.

Ahead of the first tahtib championships in July 2017, Al-Monitor interviewed Rania Medhat, the first Egyptian woman ever to be certified as a tahtib instructor. She was selected by the Association of Upper Egypt for Education and Development, a nongovernmental organization based in Cairo, to take part in a modern tahteeb training course in Cairo taught by none other than Adel Boulad. She completed the 30-day program and became the country's first certified female player and instructor.

"In the Upper Egyptian governates, with their conservative communities, it is difficult for me as a woman to perform tahteeb, a male-dominated sport. So I attended the courses in the capital. The first-ever modern art tournament for tahteeb will be held this July in Cairo as well," Medhat told Al-Monitor.

After seeing her friends eager to learn the sport, Medhat urged Egyptians to help keep the ancient sport alive and to push for it to be included in Egypt's physical education curriculums.

"Apart from being our ancestors' heritage, tahteeb helps in developing one's physical skills" like flexibility, reaction speed and strength, she said. "It can be used as a new method in fighting a harasser, even without the stick. This art is really helping to strengthen the Egyptian identity and enhance the self-confidence of its practitioners."
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ANE TODAY - 201908 - The Ancient Near East after 1919 -

The Ancient Near East after 1919

By Alex Joffe


Did the Ancient Near East exist before 1919? Of course it did; that's why it is ancient. But in another sense it did not; 1919 marks the end of World War I, and prior to that date study of the Ancient Near East, though copious, was neither especially systematic nor particularly scientific. But advances after 1919 came with a cost.

November 2018 marked the centennial of the 'war to end all wars,' a phrase that is unfortunate in many ways.

Minto War Memorial, (Scotland), dedicated 1925. The face is based on Desmond Elliot, son of the Earl of Minto. Photo by the author.


But in some ways 1919 was more consequential. The Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the conflict, was signed in June 1919. This was followed by other treaties that sound like fine French wines–Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Sèvres, Lausanne–that ended the conflict for the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires and effectively divided those empires into pieces. The treaties created the world as we know it, a patchwork of warring nation-states amidst new empires.

The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles 1919, by William Orpen. (


Prior to the war excavations took place in the various provinces of the Ottoman Empire, as well as in Egypt, controlled by the breakaway regime of Muhammad Ali and then the British (after 1882), and Iran under the Qajar dynasty. Westerners had been coming to these regions for centuries but systematic study is usually dated to Napoleon's conquest of Egypt in 1798. Teams of scholars and scientists spread out over the country cataloguing the landscape, flora and fauna, and antiquities, and producing the multi-volume Description de l'Égypte in 1809.

Bonaparte Before the Sphinx by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1868. (


The 19th century saw a rush to study Egypt and Mesopotamia, and to extract objects and monuments to fill new national museums. A new world had been opened in Egypt with the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 – found by the French, taken as booty by the British. The gradual opening of excavations in Mesopotamia in the 1840s and 1850s by complex figures like Austen Henry Layard (at once a commercial agent, diplomat and spy) led to the decipherment of cuneiform writing and to an understanding of Mesopotamia at an entirely new level, in their own words. Excavations proliferated across the regions, producing immense clearances of buildings, countless finds, and tens of thousands of texts.

The Nineveh Room, at the British Museum. Illustrated London News 1853. (


Driven largely by a Biblical worldview which put ancient Israel at the center of most things (as well as some German scholars who strove to remove Israel from real consideration), various evolutionary schemes which put Europeans at the pinnacle, and protected and even driven by ever-expanding European imperialism, the business of archaeology and its allied fields was as haphazard as it was competitive. Later in the century well-known figures like Flinders Petrie and Heinrich Schliemann were joined by many others, like Hormuzd Rassam, Édouard Naville, and Robert Koldewey.

Hormuzd Rassam in Mosul, 1854. (


Most had training, intuition, and varying levels of support from their home nations, whose museums they filled. Others had no training, while a few, like the Giovanni Belzoni earlier in the century–hydraulics engineer and circus strongman–were mere adventurers.

Brilliant work was done but basic observations, such as the nature of stratification–the chronological layering of deposits over time, which correlated to changes in styles of pottery and other objects–came only around the turn of the 20th century. Overall there was little understanding even of the sequence of cultures, much less their natures or the relationships between them. Still, these monumental undertakings created the foundations for all understanding of antiquity, but all research (except in the Ottoman and Iranian heartlands) had taken place under imperial domination.

World War I changed the geopolitical scene entirely. By siding with the Central Powers against Britain, France, Italy and Russia, the Ottoman Empire made a fateful and fatal mistake. In the aftermath of war its imperial possessions were decisively lost. Iran's Turkic Qajar dynasty would last until 1925 when it was replaced by the Persian Pahlavi dynasty. Through League of Nations 'mandates' Britain and France dominated the Levant and Mesopotamia until the 1940s when independent states emerged.

Near Eastern archaeology, like the world, emerged from the war as a different enterprise. The British and French mandates over Palestine and Syria, de facto British rule of Egypt and Cyprus, the new secular Turkish Republic under Ataturk, and Pahlavi Iran, created a golden age for archaeology. Many of the excavations that provided the baseline for unraveling the archaeology of regions from Iran to Libya were launched. Iconic excavations like Megiddo, Uruk, Susa, Bogazkoy, Byblos, Babylon, Assur, and Dura Europos, were either launched or restarted in this era.

University trained scholars (still mostly but not exclusively men) like William Foxwell Albright and Henri Frankfort, armed with a higher baseline of historical and linguistic knowledge and better excavation and scientific skills, introduced a new level of precision to excavation and analyses. As the immensity of remains in Iran, Mesopotamia and Syria were exposed, the Biblical emphasis began to drop away and these cultures began to be appreciated in their own right.

Henri Frankfort at Abydos, 1920s. (


Archaeologists moved mostly unimpeded from one region to another, producing a level of breadth that has not been achieved since. National antiquities departments were created by mandatory powers, along with museums, cadres of local archaeologists were trained, preservation laws introduced and sometimes even enforced. And word about archaeological discoveries spread around the world. This was the last period when newspapers followed archaeology with a certain passion, born of both Biblical and scientific interests.

Like all golden ages, it was brief. The Depression put the breaks on this brave new world of discovery that managed to limp along until the eve of World War II. Thereafter excavations were abandoned, publications languished, to be haphazardly relaunched by or under the new and generally impoverished national regimes in the later 1940s and 1950s.

Intellectually one of the most serious by products of the interwar period was hubris, a sense that things had been worked out, both an outline of history and the methods to reconstruct the past. One result was that sites were relentlessly and even ruthlessly excavated with no thought to leaving portions for future generations.

Aerial view of Megiddo after the conclusion of the 1937 season. Megiddo II, frontpiece.


Another was the idea that elaborately spun webs of chronology, based on Egyptian and Mesopotamian correlations, had worked things out with precision. The discovery of radiocarbon dating in 1947 put an end to this particular conceit, which then began anew. Perhaps above all was the lazy belief that the status quo of Western intellectual privilege would somehow last. Of course that too was an illusion. But of the many illusions shattered by World War II, these were among the least significant.

The interwar era was indeed golden, at least from the perspective of Western archaeologists. It was somewhat less golden for local peoples and traditions, who mostly found themselves shut out of the intellectual enterprise and emerging narratives about the past. Racism was not uncommon; this was the era of classification tinged with scientific racism, from the high class phrenology of physical anthropologists trying to decipher the ancestry of ancient peoples and their relations to the present, to the proud flying of the Nazi flag over the German excavations at Uruk. Colonial powers created frameworks for studying the past where previously they had been thin or lacking, including the first universities and departments of antiquity, but nationalist forces, particularly after the war, routinely exploited 'their' pasts to glorify regimes in the present.

Still, it is useful to ask what our understanding of the Ancient Near East would look like without 1919. With all due respect to dedicated Ottoman scholars and brave Westerners, it would not have been the same. The interwar period was critical for developing the fundamental systematics of chronology and history, the sequence of Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and the succession of cultures, and the detailed typologies of pots, stone tools, and the like. Without the sheer intensity of work that followed World War I it is unlikely we would have the same understanding today.

Or perhaps we would. Counterintuitive history suggests that a liberalizing Ottoman Empire that had not made the fatal error of joining the Central Powers could have embraced science, including archaeology, and opened itself further. Without the post-war virus of nationalism that impelled local groups to demand their own territories, liberalizing empires could have afforded scholars the same kind of range, from Egypt to Iran, generating the same broad perspectives that we have today. Of course, as the saying goes, if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a trolley car.

But was it worth it? World War I was long preceded and then accompanied by episodes where the Ottomans slaughtered over two million Christians, Greeks and Armenians. This is in addition to the 20 million killed during the war itself. Had Archduke Ferdinand survived in Sarajevo in 1917 imperial oppression and slaughter would have continued, and it is entirely likely that some other pretext would have been found for empires to fight one another. Study of the past hardly seems worth the price.

So should we celebrate 1919? At one level the answer is simple. The first war that featured industrialized warfare and mass slaughter was ended; German militarism was defeated, and decrepit, repressive empires were destroyed. And a new era of scientific study of the past was launched, creating the real foundations for deep and subtle understandings of ancient societies and the development. We are the direct beneficiaries.

But at another level the answer is not so simple. Defeat of Germany laid the foundation for fascism and Nazism, whose horrors exceeded those of its predecessor. The brief era of European colonialism helped create independent nation-states that have been at war with one another almost constantly since. And the very contexts that make scientific study of the past possible – scientifically oriented, urbanized industrial societies with mechanized agriculture – are everywhere erasing the physical traces of the past at ever increasing rates.

Still, it is difficult to imagine things turning out differently, or at any rate better, had the Allies not been victorious over the Central Powers. So two cheers for 1919.


Alex Joffe is the editor of The Ancient Near East Today.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Papyrus part of an ancient puzzle - The Arlington Catholic Herald

Papyrus part of an ancient puzzle

First slide

Jacco Dieleman, a research associate professor in the department of Semitic and Egyptian languages, recently made a startling discovery while examining artifacts housed in The Catholic University of American in Washington's Semitics/Institute of Christian Oriental Research collections. Dieleman identified a papyrus fragment from the university's collection as a small piece of a larger papyrus scroll from the Tebtunis Temple Library, an important collection of ancient manuscripts that is shedding new light on the world of ancient Egypt.

The Tebtunis Temple Library, which was excavated in the town of Tebtunis in Egypt in the early 20th century, contains numerous papyri written in the Demotic Egyptian and Koine Greek languages, dating back to the second century A.D. Among the many documents found in the collection are texts about rituals, medical practices and works of literature. The largest parts of the library collection are housed today in Copenhagen at the Carlsberg Papyrus Collection, but additional pieces of papyri manuscripts are scattered around the world.

According to Dieleman, the fragment found at Catholic University is part of a scroll inscribed with a story about the Egyptian prince Inaros, who rebelled against the Assyrian occupiers around 665 B.C. After his death, Inaros became an Egyptian folk hero comparable to King Arthur, with many fictional tales written about his heroism for centuries to come.

Dieleman first became aware that a papyrus fragment could be in the area from his colleague, Professor Kim Ryholt of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who sent him a 30-year-old Xerox copy of the fragment. Relying on the copy, Ryholt had recently identified the piece as joining similar fragments in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Berlin. The Xerox did not say where the fragment was held, but Ryholt had been told that it might be in the Washington area. Later, when Dieleman examined Catholic U.'s collection, he recognized the fragment immediately.

"I wrote to him and said, 'I think you may recognize this piece,'" Dieleman said. While the fragment itself is only a few inches long, it is inscribed in the same Demotic Egyptian language used in the other pieces of the manuscript. It also includes the name of a major character from the Inaros stories. As it joins directly to the fragment in Reykjavik, scholars can now reconstitute and read a broken column of text. 

"What's interesting about the story cycle is that it includes all these stories about a glorious past of Egypt right at the time when Egypt was ruled by first Greek and then Roman over-rulers," Dieleman said. Dieleman theorized that the ancient Egyptians looked to the Inaros stories as a form of nostalgic escapism during a difficult political period.

How the piece ended up at Catholic U. is another mystery, Dieleman noted. At the time of the Tebtunis Library's excavation, many papyri pieces were sold on the antiquities market and scattered around the world, with the largest chunks being purchased by collectors in Copenhagen and Florence. The university's fragment pieces were archived as part of the Henri Hyvernat Collection, named for a founding professor at the university who amassed a large collection of artifacts related to the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

To find a piece of papyrus fragment from the Tebtunis Library at Catholic University was a great surprise to Dieleman. As more and more Egyptologists have begun to study the Tebtunis documents, Dieleman believes the Tebtunis Temple Library will rise to the same level of importance as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"This little piece of papyrus, insignificant at first sight, is actually an important part of an ancient puzzle which shows what ancient Egyptians were reading and studying," Dieleman said. "This research is slowly revolutionizing Egyptology from within and hopefully one day will change the way we think about how ancient Egyptians collected and disseminated knowledge." 

© Arlington Catholic
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AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Digital Library: Electronic Publications of the Czech Institute of Egyptology
On 08/25/2019 06:58 AM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Digital Library: Electronic Publications of the Czech Institute of Egyptology [First posted in AWOL 13 September 2011, updated 25 August 2019]

 Electronic Publications of the Czech Institute of Egyptology
  • The publications of the members of Czech Institute of Egyptology are available also through  Academia.
  Publication Programme of Czech Institute of Egyptology in Arabic

The Abusir Series

Abusir_I  Miroslav VernerAbusir I. The Mastaba of Ptahshepses: Reliefs, vol. I-II
Charles University, Prague 1982

This two-volume work is dedicated to the analysis and publication of the reliefs preserved in situ in the area of the mastaba of Ptahshepses. The first volume contains the text, the second consists of the drawings of the individual reliefs.
Abusir_II Miroslav VernerAbusir II. Baugraffiti der Ptahschepses Mastaba
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1992
The publication of building graffiti found on the walls of the Mastaba of Ptahshepses. Building graffiti represent an important source of information about the organization of ancient Egyptian construction works, their creation and the people who had built them.
Abusir_III Miroslav VernerAbusir III. The Pyramid Complex of Khentkaus
Charles University in Prague and Academia, Prague 1995
The unique pyramid complex of Khentkaus (the 'mother of two kings' who lived around 2500 BC) was discovered by the Czech Institute of Egyptology in 1976. This volume provides the final report on the excavation as well as specialist reports on the masons' marks, the fragments of papyri and reliefs, and the sealings. It also contains an evaluation of the architectural remains and some conclusions about what this find tells us about Egyptian history at the beginning of the 5th Dynasty.
Abusir_IV Ladislav BarešAbusir IV. The Shaft Tomb of Udjahorresnet
Charles University in Prague, Prague 1999
This report describes work in the 1980s and 1990s on the tomb of Udjahorresnet, a prominent official who participated in the Persian occupation of Egypt around 525 BC and may even have been one of their main collaborators. As well as chapters on the results of excavations, on the development of the Saite-Persian shaft tomb tradition, and the finds, this book presents a full review of what we know about this colourful 1st Millennium BC figure.
Abusir_V Miroslav BártaAbusir V. The Cemeteries at Abusir South I
Set Out and the Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 2001
This report describes work carried out between 1991 and 1993 on a number of Old Kingdom tombs, mostly of lesser officials. Each tomb is given a full treatment with archaeology, architecture, decoration, epigraphic descriptions and a catalogue of significant finds, with the exception of pottery, which will be published separately. The volume is illustrated with line drawings. Contents: The tomb of Ity; the Lake of Abusir tombs; the tomb of Fetekty and adjacent tomb complexes; the tomb of Kaaper; some taphonomic, demographic and pathologic aspects of the skeletons from mastaba tombs at Abusir South; Palaeographic table; Indexes: Royal names, non-royal names, titles and epithets, gods, tombs.
Abusir_VI Miroslav Verner – Vivienne G. CallenderAbusir VI. Djedkare's Family Cemetery
Czech Institute of Egyptology and Set Out, Prague 2002
This volume contains the results of excavations at the Djedkare's family cemetery at Abusir, arranged by individual tomb. Verner and Callender describe the structure and archaeology of the tomb including plans of the rooms, its owner, wall paintings and finds from the tomb. These chapters are succeeded by a discussion of the chronology of the tombs, a typology and details on the skeletal remains. Appendices look at the role of female members of the Djedkare family in the old Kingdom.

Conference Proceedings

Barta_Abusir-Sakkara_2000 Miroslav Bárta – Jaromír Krejčí (eds.)Abusir & Saqqara in the Year 2000
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Oriental Institute, Prague 2000
This collection of articles contains the basic survey of the works that have been realized in the Abusir-Saqqara area in the course of the last fifty years. The book is arranged into several sections: varia, Islamic, Coptic and Late Periods, the New Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period, the Middle Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period, and the Old Kingdom and the Archaic Period.

Other books of the Czech Institute of Egyptology

Barta_Memories Miroslav Bárta (text) – Kamil Voděra (photography)Memories of 4500 years ago
Foto-Grafika Kamil Voděra, Brandýs nad Labem 2002
A guide to the exhibition dedicated to new discoveries of Czech Egyptologists in South Abusir, in the family tomb complex of vizier Qar and judge Inti. Czech and English versions.
Strouhal_Secondary-cemetery Eugen Strouhal – Ladislav BarešSecondary Cemetery in the Mastaba of Ptahshepses at Abusir
Charles University, Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1993
This large-format excavation report describes work at a large mastaba tomb which was used for successive burials between the 7th Century BC and 1st Century AD. There are chapters on the burials in and around the monument, the coffins and funeral equipment, demography, burial rites, the human and accompanying animal bones.
Verver_CAA Miroslav Verner
CAA Tschechoslowakei Lieferung I: Altagyptische Saerge in den Museen und Sammlungen der Tschechoslowakei

Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1982
This huge volume of loose-leaf text and plate pages constitutes volume 1 in the Corpus Antiquitatum Aegyptiacarum for the Czech Republic. Mummy cases from the extensive Czech collections are catalogued and discussed in detail, and each example is shown in black and white photographs. Text in German.
Verner_Ztracene-pyramidy-zapomenuti-faraoni Miroslav VernerLost Pyramids, Forgotten Pharaohs, Abusir
Academia, Prague 1997
This volume is addressed to the general public with interest in the history and culture of ancient Egypt. It relates to the reader the results of the work of Czech Egyptologists at Abusir from the beginning of their excavation at this site to the mid 1990s. The book exists in Czech, English and German versions.
Verner_Some-nubian-petroglyphs Miroslav VernerSome Nubian Petroglyphs on Czech Concessions
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Philologia Monographia XLV 73, Prague 1973
This book presents results of work by the Czech Institute to catalogue rock art later covered over by the waters of the Aswan High Dam. The symbols discovered are grouped into: Foot and sandal prints; Signs and symbols and Erotica. Despite the problems of dating rock art, the different types of mark discovered seem to show a long tradition and, as well as cataloguing the material, this book contains some interesting discussion about what the marks meant and how they were used.
Verner_Objevovani Miroslav Verner et al.Unearthing Ancient Egypt / Objevování starého Egypta 1958-1988
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1990
Presented in both Czech and English this book commemorates work by the Czech Institute of Egyptology in Egypt between 1958 and 1988. The topics covered are: The international UNESCO campaign to save the monuments of Nubia; work at the Mastaba of Ptahshepses at Abusir; work in the South Field at Abusir; an overview of Czech Egyptological Expeditions and a bibliography of Czech Egyptological publications. Text in Czech and English.
Zaba_Maximes Zbyněk ŽábaLes maximes de Ptahhotep
Édition de l'Académie Tchécoslovaque des Sciences, Prague 1956
Zaba_Orientation Zbyněk ŽábaL'orientation astronomique dans l'anceinne Égypte, et la précision de l'axe du monde
Édition de l'Académie Tchécoslovaque des Sciences, Prague 1953
Zaba_rock_inscriptions Zbyněk ŽábaThe Rock Inscriptions of Lower Nubia, Czechoslovak Concession
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1974
This huge book records 293 inscriptions on rock from the area which the Czech Institute took responsibility for surveying as the waters of the Aswan dam rose. This was a region 100 km long, extending between the famous temples of Kalabsha and Gerf Hussein. Most of the inscriptions are in Egyptian, dating from the 1st Dynasty down to the Coptic period with a particularly large number from the early 12th Dynasty (shedding new light on the conquest of Nubia under Amenemhet I and Senwosret I). The remaining inscriptions were written in Greek, Latin, Carian, Meroitic and Aramaic. Each inscription is translated, discussed and given both location and date. Each is also shown in a black and white photograph and transcribed.
_Lexa František Lexa: The Founder of Czech Egyptology / Der Begruender der tschechischen Aegyptologie
Charles University, Prague 1989
This bilingual publication (in Czech and in German) describes the life and work of the founder of Czech Egyptology Prof. František Lexa.
_Preliminary-report Zbyněk Žába – Miroslav Verner et al.Preliminary Report on Czechoslovak Excavations in Mastaba of Ptahshepses at Abusir
Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague 1976
Ptahshepses was a high official of the 5th Dynasty pharaoh Sahure. His mastaba was first discovered in 1893 but proper investigation was left to a series of Czech expeditions which mapped and excavated the site between 1960 and 1974. This book contains preliminary reports on the 7 expeditions and special studies on: The geodetic documentation survey; The architecture; The reliefs; The inscriptions and marks on masonry blocks; Secondary burials; Coffins of secondary burials; Pottery; The pillar system of the pillar court; The eight-stems columns of the East portico. The book is well illustrated.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Egypt Centre Collection Blog

Monday, 26 August 2019

Missing Pieces: The Nubian Cemeteries at Armant

The blog post for this week is a guest entry by Dr Aaron de Souza, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. 

Located just south of Luxor (ancient Thebes), the town of Armant is home to a myriad of sites spanning the breadth of Egyptian history. Perhaps the best-known sites are the catacombs for the sacred Buchis bulls (known as the Bucheum), a temple dedicated to the god Montu, and cemeteries and settlements dating to the Predynastic Period. Among all of these better-known locales is an often overlooked cemetery of the so-called Pan-Grave culture, a nomadic people who moved around the Nile Valley and deserts to the east of the Nile from the late Middle Kingdom until the early Eighteenth Dynasty (de Souza 2019). This small cemetery, Cemetery 1900, remains unpublished, but a draft manuscript prepared by Oliver Humphrys Myers (1903–1966) survives in the Lucy Gura Archive at the EES (fig. 1), and a small collection of ceramics from the site is now held by The Egypt Centre.

Fig. 1: Archive photograph of Pan-Grave pottery from Armant Cemetery 1900. The current location of these objects is unknown., Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society

This Pan-Grave pottery (fig. 2) was the main reason for my research trip to Swansea as part of my Marie Skłodowska-Curie Project, InBetween, which reviews our understanding of the so-called Middle Nubian culture groups.* The collection of Pan-Grave objects in the collection, although fragmentary, is essential to my long-term goal of reuniting the finds from Cemetery 1900 and ultimately to more fully understanding the Pan-Grave presence in Egypt. Even in its fragmentary state, the pottery in the Egypt Centre's collection was enough to tell me a few interesting and important things about the site (fig. 2). The Pan-Grave pottery is all very comparable with material I've studied during recent excavations at Hierakonpolis and at sites around Aswan, all of which dates to the late Middle Kingdom. This date is further supported by photographs of Egyptian pottery from Cemetery 1900 as well as descriptions of the graves themselves in Myers' unpublished manuscript. These characteristics would place the Armant Pan-Graves among the earliest known in the Nile Valley, not long after the people buried in them are first attested in the Nile Valley. It was also somewhat unusual—at least in my opinion!—that the assemblage included a number of sherds that I would classify as coarse, utilitarian wares. Usually called cooking pots, this type of pottery is usually associated with settlement sites and is not typically found in funerary contexts. The same phenomenon occurs at other early Pan-Grave sites, so maybe this is another marker of an early date.

Fig. 2: New monograph on the Pan-grave people

All of this being said, the other finds from Cemetery 1900 need to be (re-)located before I can make any firm observations… and herein lies the challenge! The finds from Armant have been scattered far and wide across the UK, a bit here, a bit there. So far I've located some of the faunal remains at the World Museum in Liverpool, including painted skulls and horns from cattle and goats that are as dramatic as they are enigmatic. In relation to those objects, I stumbled upon an envelope addressed to J. Wilfrid Jackson (1880–1978), an archaeologist and the former Keeper of Zoology at Manchester Museum, who excavated at Armant. Jackson is also the man who studied the same painted animal skulls that are now Liverpool (fig. 3), and I was able to identify them in his unpublished report on the remains from Cemetery 1900, which also now resides in the EES archives. The search continues, and there are tantalising clues everywhere, but for now I must work with the photos and notes that survive in the archives like ghosts of objects missing or lost.

Fig. 3: Aaron examining a painted cattle skull from Armant, now located at the World Museum, Liverpool.
(photo by Ashley Cooke)

But, on a happier note, after having looked through all of the material, I can tell you that the collection of finds from Armant held in the collection of The Egypt Centre is both impressive and extensive, and it is crying out for more attention! The scope of the collection is incredible—virtually a continuous sequence of pottery from the Predynastic to Islamic periods (with a few fragments of the eighteenth century European porcelain thrown in for good measure!), stone vessels, flint tools, jewellery, glass, statue fragments… it is a veritable microcosm of Egyptian history from the earliest days up to the recent past (figs. 4–5)! There is so much waiting to be studied anew, and I am extremely grateful to Ken and Carolyn for allowing me to access the material. I hope I'll be able to come back soon, but in the meantime, I would encourage anyone interested to come to Swansea to study the finds from Armant. There is quite literally something for everyone!

Fig. 4: Aaron drawing an A-Group sherd from the Egypt Centre collection. 

Fig. 5: A-group pottery from Armant cemetery 1600 in the Egypt Centre,

* The InBetween project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 796050.

Aaron's monograph on the Pan-grave people (fig. 2) has just been published and can be purchased direct from the publisher.

de Souza, A. M. (2017) 'The Pan-Grave Panned Out! New Digs at HK 47 and HK 21A'. Nekhen News 29: 18–21.
——— (2018) 'The "End" of an Era: A Review of the Phasing System for the Late C-Group and Pan-Grave Cultures'. In Nubian Archaeology in the XXIst Century: Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference for Nubian Studies, Neuchâtel, 1st–6th September 2014, ed. M. Honegger. Publications de la mission archéologique suisse à Kerma 1; Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 273. Leuven: Peeters. 233–244.
——— (2018) 'Paint it Black: Pan-Grave Black-topped and Egyptian Black-rimmed Pottery of the Late Second Intermediate Period and Early New Kingdom'. Cahiers de la céramique égyptienne 11: 75–90.
——— (2019) New Horizons: The Pan-Grave Ceramic Tradition in Context. Middle Kingdom Studies 9. London: Golden House Publications.
Mond, R. and O. H. Myers (1934) The Bucheum. Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Society 41. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
——— (1937) Cemeteries of Armant I. Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Society 42. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
——— (1940) Temples of Armant: A Preliminary Survey. Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Society 43. London: Egypt Exploration Society. 
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