ARCENCPostings

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Trying out AI on the latest news in Egyptology.

I just asked Google's AI, Bard, for the latest news in Egyptology. I received five items, none of which was especially new, except for the last item. My response was "Give me the url for the last item. This looks suspect." Here's what happened. You'll note that June 2023 hadn't occurred yet when I asked the question, at least not in California. AI apparently stands for "Artificial, indeed."

Glenn

--------------------------

  • Unearthing the ancient 'pharaohs' of the Emerald Isle

In June 2023, archaeologists announced the discovery of what is believed to be the remains of a group of ancient Egyptian traders who settled in Ireland over 2,000 years ago. The remains, which were found in a bog in County Meath, Ireland, include the bones of several adults and children.

These are just a few of the latest news stories in Egyptology. As more and more archaeological discoveries are made, we are learning more and more about this fascinating ancient civilization.

Give me the url for the last item. This looks suspect.

View other drafts

I apologize for the mistake. There is no news story about the discovery of the remains of a group of ancient Egyptian traders who settled in Ireland over 2,000 years ago. I must have confused Egyptology with another field of archaeology.

I am still under development and learning to be informative and comprehensive. I will try my best to provide accurate information in the future.


--   Sent from my Linux system.

Northern Cal. ARCE Lecture Next Sunday (5/7) - New Perspectives on the African Empire of Kush: Excavation at Jebel Barkal


The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a lecture by
Dr. Geoff Emberling, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Univ. of Michigan.




New Perspectives on the African Empire of Kush:
Excavation at Jebel Barkal

Sunday, May 7 2023, 3 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Room 20 Social Sciences Building (formerly Barrows Hall)
UC Berkeley


Jebel Barkal (Image courtesy of the lecturer)

About the Lecture:

Kush was the dominant political power in the Middle Nile region of northern Sudan for over 2000 years (ca. 2000 BCE – 300 CE). Our understanding of this extensive ancient empire has long been constrained by the long legacy of focus on monumental remains (palaces, temples, pyramids) at the expense of investigation of settlements that would broaden our understanding of Kushite economy and social identities.

A joint project of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of Sudan and the University of Michigan has begun work on a newly discovered area of settlement at Jebel Barkal (ancient Napata), one of the major cities of Kush (and a UNESCO World Heritage site). This talk will present the results of our first seasons of work on Meroitic levels of settlement at the site, contemporary with the Roman occupation of Egypt (1st century BCE – 1st century CE).




About the Lecturer:


Dr. Geoff Emberling is an archaeologist and museum curator who has worked extensively on ancient cultures of North Africa and the Middle East. His research has focused on identities, urbanism and empires in Mesopotamia and in Nubia. He has directed projects in northern Sudan over the past 15 years and his team is just beginning its work at Jebel Barkal, the "pure mountain" of the ancient Egyptians and capital city of ancient Kush.



Parking is available in UC lots all day on weekends, for a fee. Ticket dispensing machines accept debit or credit cards. Parking is available in lots around the Social Sciences Building, and in lots along Bancroft. A map of the campus is available online at http://www.berkeley.edu/map/

About ARCE-NC:

For more information, please visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/NorthernCaliforniaARCE, https://facebook.com/NorthernCaliforniaARCE/, https://twitter.com/ARCENCPostings, or https://khentiamentiu.org. To join the chapter or renew your membership, please go to https://www.arce.org/general-membership and select "Berkeley, CA" as your chapter when you sign up.

Newsletter Osirisnet Avril - April 2023

https://www.osirisnet.net/news/n_04_23.htm?en


Qu'est-ce qui a provoqué la fin brutale du puissant Empire hittite ?Severe multi-year drought coincident with Hittite collapse around 1198–1196 BC

Photos: Le Figaro

La possibilité que le changement climatique modifie considérablement l'histoire de l'humanité est une préoccupation actuelle urgente, mais les effets spécifiques des différents types de changement climatique restent inconnus. Il est probable que la survenue plusieurs années consécutives d'événements climatiques extrêmes, rares et inattendus, puissent pousser une population à dépasser ses capacités d'adaptation et ses pratiques séculaires. Cette question peut être abordée en comparant des données paléoclimatiques et archéologiques.

L'étude réalisée est basée sur l'examen dendrochronologique de certains bois. Quand l'eau se raréfie, la croissance des arbres est plus lente, un changement qui se lit dans leurs cernes de croissance : chaque anneau marque une année ; de larges cernes suggèrent un climat favorable, car l'arbre a poussé plus vite ; ceux plus étroits peuvent correspondre à des années de sécheresse.

Par ailleurs, les auteurs ont aussi analysé les changements structurels qui se produisent au niveau cellulaire en cas de sécheresse extrême. Ils ont étudié des échantillons de bois de genévrier provenant du site de Gordion, au centre de la Turquie. Les résultats montrent des conditions plus sèches que la normale au cours des 300 dernières années de l'histoire du royaume hittite et l'existence d'une sécheresse dévastatrice de trois ans en 1198-1196 avant J.-C. Ce n'est surement pas la seule raison qui a amené à la disparition de l'empire, mais cette sècheresse a pu lui donner le coup de grâce, après une domination régionale d'un demi millénaire, durant laquelle le Hati - comme l'appellaient les Égyptiens - a donné à plusieurs pharaons bien des sueurs froides. Ainsi, lors de la fameuse bataille de Qadesh, où les Hittites ont été à deux doigts de remporter la victoire sur Ramsès II, même si ce dernier a essayé de faire croire à une grande victoire.

Cross-section of wood from the Gordion site

The potential of climate change to substantially alter human history is a pressing concern, but the specific effects of different types of climate change remain unknown. It is likely that consecutive multi-year occurrences of rare, unexpected extreme climatic events may push a population beyond adaptation and centuries-old resilience practices. This question can be addressed using palaeoclimatic and archaeological data.
An assessment of juniper tree-ring samples from central Turkey, together with other types of dating analysis, demonstrate drier than normal conditions over the last 300 years of the Hittite kingdom's history and that a devastating drought in 1198–1196 BC contributed to the end of the Hittite empire.

The Hittites were one of the great powers in the ancient world across five centuries, with an empire centred in a semi-arid region in Anatolia with political and socioeconomic interconnections throughout the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. Between about 1650 and 1180 BC, the Hittites controlled much of present-day Turkey and Syria. Their history is known from the numerous cuneiform clay tablets found in their capital. An inscription at Medinet Habu of the Egyptian ruler Ramesses III — approximately dated to 1188 BC or 1177 BC- lists the Hittites among those swept away by the 'Sea Peoples' before they attacked Egypt.

Hattusa, the capital (not far from the present day Ankara), was abandoned and emptied by the royal administration and only later burnt. The city was the centripetal political and core religious venue of the Hittite gods and kings for centuries, and the reasons for its abandonment remain unclear. This is surely not the only reason that led to the disappearance of the empire, but this drought was able to give him the final blow, after a regional domination of half a millennium, during which the Hati - as the Egyptians called it - gave many many cold sweats to Pharaoh. For instance, during the famous battle of Qadesh, it is the Hittite empire of Muwatalli which confronted the New Kingdom of Ramses II.

Une fosse de mains coupées pourrait être le vestige d'une macabre cérémonieA Pit of Severed Hands Could Be The Remains of a Grisly Ceremony

Photos: Scientific Reports

11/12 of the severed hands were found in one pit only (red circle)

Pour la première fois, les mains droites sectionnées de 12 individus ont fait l'objet d'une analyse ostéologique. Les mains ont été déposées dans trois fosses situées dans une cour devant la salle du trône d'un palais Hyksos de la 15e dynastie (vers 1640-1530 av. J.-C.) à Avaris/Tell el-Dab'a, dans le Delta. À cette époque, les rois Hyksos régnaient sur la Basse et la Moyenne Égypte jusqu'à la ville de Cusae.

Hands as they appeared

Ce type de pratique est connu par des inscriptions et des reliefs dans des tombes ou des temples depuis le Nouvel Empire. Mais c'est la première fois qu'un examen physique permet d'en savoir plus sur la procédure et les individus dont les mains ont été prélevées.

Les mains appartiennent à au moins 12 adultes, 11 hommes et peut-être une femme (ce qui pourrait indiquer que les femmes et la guerre n'étaient pas des mondes étrangers l'un à l'autre). Il semble que ce qu'on observe soit le résultat d'un rituel macabre de "prise de trophée" par un envahisseur étranger.

On ne sait pas si les mains ont été prélevées sur des personnes mortes ou vivantes. La capsule articulaire a été ouverte et tranchée puis on a coupé les tendons du poignet. Après avoir enlevé toutes les parties attachées à l'avant-bras, les mains ont été placées dans le sol sur leur face palmaire, avec les doigts largement écartés. Selon les scientifiques, les individus ont probablement été mutilés pendant ou peu avant une cérémonie, puis les mains étaient placées dans le puits une fois la rigidité cadavérique passée. L'analyse ostéologique confirme l'interprétation archéologique et apporte des précisions sur les pratiques d'attribution des trophées dans l'Égypte ancienne. Selon les chercheurs, l'amputation de la main droite était pratiquée en Égypte par les Hyksos quelque 50 à 80 ans avant qu'elle ne soit retrouvée dans les hiéroglyphes des tombes. "Les Égyptiens ont adopté cette coutume au plus tard sous le règne du roi Ahmose, comme le montre un relief représentant une pile de mains dans son temple d'Abydos". Les mains coupées n'était pas une forme de punition mais un trophée pour les victoires militaires, placées après un acte cérémoniel dans un endroit bien visible.

For the first time, the severed right hands of 12 individuals have been analysed osteologically. The hands were deposited in three pits within a courtyard in front of the throne room of a 15th Dynasty (c.1640–1530 BC) Hyksos palace at Avaris/Tell el-Dab'a in the river Nile's Delta, when the Hyksos kings ruled over Lower and Middle Egypt all the way up to the city of Cusae.

Although this kind of practice is known from tomb or temple inscriptions and reliefs from the New Kingdom onwards, this is the first time that physical evidence has been used to learn more about the procedure and the individuals whose hands were taken.

The right hands belonged to at least 12 adults, 11 males, and possibly one female (which may indicate that women and warfare were not worlds apart). It could be the result of a gruesome "trophy-taking" ritual by a foreign invader.

evidence of severed hands: inscription in the tomb of Ahmose at Elkab

It is unclear if the hands were taken from dead or living individuals. The hands were deliberately amputated, by slicing through the joint capsule and then cutting across the tendons that cross the wrist. After removing any attached parts of the forearm, the hands were placed in the ground with wide-splayed fingers, mainly on their palmar sides. The scientists said that the individuals were likely dismembered during or shortly before a ceremony, with the hands being placed in the pit once rigor mortis had passed.
The osteological analysis not only supports the archaeological interpretation of this evidence but also adds more detail regarding trophy-taking practices in Ancient Egypt. According to the researchers, right-hand amputation was practiced in Egypt by the Hyksos some 50 to 80 years before it was recorded in tomb hieroglyphs. "The Egyptians adopted this custom at the latest in King Ahmose's reign, as shown by a relief of a pile of hands at his temple in Abydos" they write. The mutilation was not a form of punishment but a trophy for military victories, placed in a prominent location visible to the public eye.

Une tombe et des chapelles datant du Nouvel Empire retrouvées à SaqqaraNew Kingdom tomb and chapels discovered at Saqqara

Photos: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) and Leyde-Turin expedition

The tomb of Panehesy

À Saqqara, une mission menée par Christian Greco, directeur du Museo Egizio de Turin et Lara Weiss, conservateur du musée de Leyde, vient de découvrir une tombe-temple et quatre chapelles funéraires plus petites. Ces monuments remontent au règne du pharaon Ramsès II.

• La tombe-temple appartient à Panehesy ("Le Nubien")

Il était "intendant du temple d'Amon". Le complexe rectangulaire de Panehesy mesure 13,4 x 8,2 mètres (ce qui me paraît petit) ; il a la forme d'un temple indépendant avec une porte d'entrée, une cour intérieure avec des portiques à colonnes et un puits menant aux chambres funéraires souterraines. La tombe de Panehesy est située au nord de la célèbre tombe de Maya, un haut fonctionnaire de l'époque de Toutankhamon (vous trouverez une description détaillée de la tombe de Maya et Meryt sur Osirisnet). Les murs en briques crues de la structure supérieure ne mesurent plus que 1,5 mètre de haut, mais sont finement gravés et peints. Les plus belles scènes montrent Panehesy adorant la vache Hathor ou en compagnie de son épouse Baia, qui était "chanteuse d'Amon". On voit aussi plusieurs prêtres et porteurs d'offrandes. Un homme chauve, dont les épaules sont recouvertes d'une peau de léopard, se tient en face du couple. Il s'appelle Piay, il est "le scribe de la table sacrificielle" et "l'adjoint (??) de Panéhésy". Il s'agit donc d'un subordonné du propriétaire, chargé des rites funéraires de son maître, qui n'avait peut-être pas de fils capable de remplir cette fonction.

• Les quatre petites chapelles funéraires

Lors des fouilles, la mission est tombée sur quatre petites chapelles funéraires situées à l'est de la tombe de Panehesy. Ces chapelles sont très bien conservées et leurs murs portent des reliefs de grande qualité.

• Tombe de Youyou : L'une d'entre elles appartient au "fabricant de feuilles d'or du trésor du roi, Youyou". Bien qu'il s'agisse d'une chapelle funéraire relativement petite, quatre générations de la famille de Youyou ont été vénérées dans de magnifiques reliefs colorés montrant la procession funéraire de Youyou et la résurrection de sa momie pour vivre dans l'au-delà, ainsi que la vénération de la vache Hathor et de la barque du dieu local de Saqqara, Sokar.

Nota Bene: J'ai découvert par hasard dans le Journal de Ham que les montants de porte de la chapelle de Youyou sont conservés depuis 1927 au Musée de Picardie à Amiens, auquel ils avaient été donnés par Albert Maignan, un peintre passionné d'Égypte antique qui, à sa mort, avait légué à l'établissement l'ensemble de sa collection. Il aurait lui-même racheté ces montants à l'égyptologue vendéen Émile Amélineau, qui les avait acquis sans connaître leur origine (montant de porte de Youyou).

Chapelle anonyme : Une autre découverte notable a été faite sur le côté est de la tombe de Panehesy : une chapelle encore anonyme comporte une représentation sculptée très rare du propriétaire de la tombe et de sa famille. Le style de la représentation pourrait avoir été inspiré par les statues voisines de la tombe de Maya et Meryt.

At Saqqara, a mission led by Christian Greco, director of the Museo Egizio, and Lara Weiss, curator of the museum of Leiden, have just discovered a tomb-temple and four smaller funerary chapels. These monuments date back to the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II.

carved wall with the name Panehesy

The tomb belongs to Panehesy ("The Nubian")

He was "steward of the temple of Amun". The rectangular complex of Panehesy measures 13.4 by 8.2 metres (which seems small to me); it has the form of a free-standing temple with a gate entrance, an inner courtyard with columned porticoes, and a shaft leading to the underground burial chambers. Panehesy's tomb is situated north to the famous tomb of Maya, a high-ranking official from the time of Tutankhamun (you can find a thorough description of the tomb of Maya and Meryt on Osirisnet). The mud brick walls of the upper structure are 1.5 metres high and bear colourful reliefs, the most beautiful of which depicts Panehesy worshipping the cow Hathor. Beneath it, are Panehesy and his wife Baia, who was "singer of Amun", along with several priests and offering bearers. A bald man with leopard skin around his shoulders stands opposite the couple. His name is Piay, he is "the scribe of the sacrificial table" and "secondary to Panehesy". So, he was a subordinate of Panehesy, responsible for the funeral rites of his master, who perhaps did not have a son who could fulfill this function.

The four smaller tomb chapels

During excavation work, the mission stumbled upon four smaller tomb chapels located to the east of Panehesy's tomb. The tombs are very well-preserved, and their walls bear high-quality decorations.

Yuyu's tomb:

One of these tombs belongs to "the gold foil-maker of the treasury of the King, Yuyu". Although it is a relatively small tomb chapel, four generations of Yuyu's family were venerated in beautiful colourful reliefs showing Yuyu's funerary procession and the reviving of his mummy to live in the afterlife, as well as the veneration of the Hathor cow and the barque of the local Saqqara god Sokar.

Nota Bene: I discovered by chance in Le Journal de Ham that the doorposts of the chapel of Yuyu are preserved in the Museum of Picardy in Amiens (France) since 1923 (Yuyu chapel - doorpost).

Largest relief found at the tomb of Panehesy in Saqqara

Anonymous chapel: Another notable find was made at the eastern side of Panehesy's tomb, where a yet anonymous chapel with a very rare sculptured representation of the tomb's owner and his family was discovered. The artistic style of the representation might have been inspired by the statues neighbouring the tomb of Maya and Meryt.

Découverte d'une statuette de Bouddha dans un temple de Bérénice (région de la Mer Rouge)Buddha statue unearthed at a temple in Berenike (Red sea region)

Photos: Al Ahram

Les fouilles menées par une expédition américano-polonaise ont permis de découvrir sur le site de Bérénice les objets décrits ici en janvier 2022. Mais ces découvertes n'ont été rendues publiques que récemment par le Conseil suprême des antiquités d'Égypte. L'objet le plus étonnant est une statue en marbre de Bouddha, qui était placée sur le parvis du principal temple de la ville datant du début de l'époque romaine et dédié à la déesse Isis.

La statue mesure 71 cm de haut et représente Bouddha debout, tenant une partie de son vêtement dans sa main gauche. Autour de sa tête se trouve un disque (halo) sur lequel sont représentés des rayons de soleil, ce qui fait référence à son esprit rayonnant. À côté de lui se trouve une fleur de lotus. L'exécution est très soignée. Cette statue est la meilleure preuve à ce jour de l'existence du bouddhisme en Égypte.

La statue a été fabriquée à partir d'une pierre probablement extraite dans la région située juste au sud de l'actuelle Istanbul, en Turquie, mais elle a dû être sculptée localement à Bérénice et dédiée au temple par un ou plusieurs des riches marchands venus d'Inde.

En dehors de cette statue, les archéologues ont également trouvé des monnaies indiennes, ainsi qu'une inscription en sanskrit datant du règne de l'empereur romain Philippe l'Arabe (244-249 de notre ère). Cette inscription ne semble pas être de la même époque que la statue de Bouddha, qui est probablement beaucoup plus ancienne.

L'Égypte était au centre d'une route commerciale qui reliait l'Empire romain à de nombreuses régions du monde antique, y compris l'Inde. Plusieurs ports situés sur la côte égyptienne de la mer Rouge participaient à ce commerce, le plus important étant Bérénice. Les navires en provenance de l'Inde y arrivaient avec du poivre, des pierres semi-précieuses, des textiles et de l'ivoire. À Bérénice, ils étaient déchargés et la cargaison était transférée sur des chameaux qui transportaient les marchandises à travers le désert jusqu'au Nil. D'autres navires transportaient ensuite les marchandises jusqu'à Alexandrie et, de là, vers le reste de l'Empire romain.

Excavations by an American-Polish expedition discovered the artefacts here described in January 2022, on the site of Berenike, but they have only recently been publicized by the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. The most stunning is a marble statue of Buddha placed in the forecourt of the main early Roman period temple of the town dedicated to the goddess Isis.

The statue is 71 cm high and depicts Buddha standing and holding part of his clothing in his left hand. Around his head is a disc (halo) with sunrays depicted on it, which is a reference to his radiant mind. Next to him stands a lotus flower. The workmanship is very fine. It is the best evidence thus far excavated for Buddhism in Egypt. The statue was made from stone probably quarried in the region just south of modern Istanbul, Turkey, but it must have been sculpted locally at Berenike and dedicated to the temple by one, or more, of the rich merchants from India.

Apart from this statue, archaeologists also found an inscription in an Indian language (Sanskrit) dating to the rule of the Roman emperor Philip the Arab (244–249 CE). This inscription seems not to be from the same time as the statue of Buddha, which is probably much older.

Egypt was at the center of a trade route that connected the Roman Empire with many areas of the ancient world, including India. There were several Roman-era harbors on the Red Sea coast of Egypt involved in this commerce, the most important of which was Berenike. Ships from India arrived there with products such as pepper, semi-precious stones, textiles, and ivory. At Berenike, they were offloaded, and the cargo was transferred to camels that conveyed the goods across the desert to the Nile. Other ships then transported the merchandise to Alexandria and, from there, to the rest of the Roman Empire.

Cyber PROTECTION
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Friday, April 28, 2023

Ancient Egyptian neutron imaging uncovers coffins

https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/ancient-egyptian-neutron-imaging-mummifications/158223/

https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/STFC-210423-ISISMummy.jpg
Neutron imaging of one animal coffin from the port of Naukratis in the western Nile Delta shows textile wrappings and an 8mm long bone (arrow). Credit: British Museum, UK Research and Innovation

Ancient Egyptian neutron imaging: 'Unwrapping' 2,500-year-old coffins

Researchers use neutron imaging and tomography to look inside sealed Ancient Egyptian animal coffins to see the remains

How do researchers know that inside 2,500-year-old ancient tombs are lizard mummies – without damaging the coffins to have a look inside?

A team at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source research facility in Oxfordshire, used a process called neutron imaging, a digital methodology to X-ray ancient artefacts.

With its huge potential to help archaeologists look at ancient objects without causing any damage to them – the researchers 'unwrapped' the mummies and see organic remains through their bronze or leaded copper alloy containers.

Neutron imaging is more effective than X-rays, and can see through metal

Neutron imaging uses powerful beams of subatomic particles called neutrons, which are directed at materials so that scientific instruments can investigate these materials, based on the path that neutrons take through them.

The imaging produced detailed images of the contents of six sealed first millennium BC animal coffins from Ancient Egyptian sites – without damaging the containers or the materials inside them.

Understanding Egyptian history, digitally

Found in sites such as the Nile Delta, the coffins contained bones consistent with North African wall lizards which were wrapped in textiles.

Animal mummification was a common practice in ancient Egypt, and many people mummified their pets to ensure their presence with them in the afterlife.

Though these particular lizards were not pets, researchers believe they were mummified as part of religious practices, synonymous with beliefs which thrived in the first millennium BC.

How did they know this? The lizards studied are believed to have been linked with the cult of Egyptian creators and sun gods, such as Atum.

statue of Atum in Luxor,          https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/atum/
Statue of Atum in Luxor
© J Hill 2008

Atum was often depicted as a human-headed creature with a part-cobra part-eel body, which was seen on two of the coffins the team analysed.

Because Atum was such an important figure in Egyptian mythology, it goes without saying that he was widely worshipped by ancient Egyptian people.

"Neutron imaging has many important applications in 21st-century science"

Dr Aurélia Masson Berghoff, Project Curator at the British Museum said: "In the first millennium BC, lizards were commonly mummified in ancient Egypt, as were other reptiles, cats, dogs, falcons, ibises, shrews, fishes and more.

"Lizards, like snakes and eels, were particularly associated with ancient Egyptian solar and creator gods such as Atum, and perhaps in the case of Naukratis Amun-Ra Shena.

"With the help of neutron imaging, we have the potential to learn more about the ritual and votive practices surrounding these once impenetrable animal coffins, the ways they were made, used and displayed."

"With the help of neutron imaging, we can learn more about the ritual and votive practices"

Dr Anna Fedrigo, Neutron Imaging Scientist at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and former STFC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, added: "Neutron imaging has many important applications in 21st century science.

"This study shows that it can also shed light on the inner structure of complex archaeological objects, including their manufacturing techniques and contents."

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Thursday, April 27, 2023

Roman-Era Mummy Tags Unveil Climate Patterns in Ancient Egypt

https://cairoscene.com/Buzz/Roman-Era-Mummy-Tags-Unveil-Climate-Patterns-in-Ancient-Egypt

Roman-Era Mummy Tags Unveil Climate Patterns in Ancient Egypt

A team of researchers in Switzerland analysed 300 wooden tags in a study of ancient Egypt's climate.

Cairo Scene

Scientists have found a new way to study the ancient climate in the eastern Mediterranean. A team of researchers, led by François Blondel from the University of Geneva, has analysed over 300 wooden tags that were affixed to Egyptian mummies during the Roman era.

These tags provide a glimpse into the past by revealing the growth rings of trees, which in turn indicate the climate at the time. Since much of the wheat consumed in the Roman Empire was grown in Egypt, understanding the climate fluctuations in the region could help us better comprehend the impact of climate change in ancient times.

The wooden tags were inscribed by family members with the name of the deceased, the names of the person's parents, and sometimes a short religious message, before being sent with the body to the embalmer. The tree's growth rings were later used by scientists to study past climate fluctuations in the region. Broad rings indicate rapid growth in a wet year, while narrow rings can be the result of drought.

By overlapping the patterns of growth rings among different species of trees, such as pine, cypress, cedar, and juniper, researchers can reflect possible fluctuations between years of drought and years of growth.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Riddle of ancient Egypt’s ‘impossible’ sculpture is finally solved—in Scotland

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2023/04/21/kneeling-man-ancient-egypt-statue-riddle-solve-national-museums-scotland

Riddle of ancient Egypt's 'impossible' sculpture is finally solved—in Scotland


For more than 150 years, a curious ancient Egyptian statue of a kneeling man has sat in the collections of the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) in Edinburgh. The man's face has been destroyed at some point over the past 3,000 years. But, nestled in his outstretched arms, he holds the small, chubby figure of a child. The child, unmistakably, is a pharaoh.

The statue, viewable at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the flagship museum of National Museums Scotland, has remained a mystery to generations of Egyptologists because it should be impossible; by the strict conventions ruling every aspect of Egyptian life, a commoner could not, at any time, touch a reigning king, let alone be in such intimate contact. For centuries, to carve such an act in stone would be considered heresy.

"The instant I saw it, I thought: 'That statue shouldn't exist'," says Margaret Maitland, the principal curator of the ancient Mediterranean at NMS. "It blew my mind."

But Maitland has managed to decipher the ancient statue. In doing so, she has named the faceless man and, for the first time, identified a whole group of sculptures, including in other major museums, that have never been categorised together before.

Ensuring immortality

The statues, Maitland discovered, all hail from the same remarkable site in Egypt: Deir el-Medina, a desert village of craftworkers who designed, built and decorated the tombs that ensured the pharaohs' immortality. In doing so, they were privy to their rulers' most intimate secrets.

Maitland joined the NMS in 2012 and made the discovery while working on the redisplay of the museum's Egyptian collection in the Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery. She presented her research at an international conference on Deir el-Medina at the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy.

Before her research, curators at NMS had interpreted the statue as depicting a tutor with a royal child, while the Victorian archaeologist who first excavated it thought it was a king nursed by the goddess Isis—even though the small figure wore a crown, while the larger figure was definitely a man.

"The statue clearly shows a crowned king, but a normal person would never be shown in three dimensions with a ruler," Maitland says. "For centuries, it was forbidden even to portray such a grouping in two dimensions in tomb paintings."

The statue became part of NMS in 1985 when the collection of the former National Museum of Antiquities, also in Edinburgh, merged with that of the Royal Scottish Museum. Before that, the statue was part of the collection of the pioneering but almost forgotten archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind, who hailed from the town of Wick in the far north of Scotland and made his name excavating prehistoric sites in northern Scotland before travelling to Egypt for the first time in 1855. Rhind died in 1863, aged just 29, of tuberculosis. By revisiting his meticulous records, Maitland learned that Rhind had discovered and excavated the statue at Deir el-Medina.

As Ancient Egypt fell, the village was gradually abandoned and never rebuilt. But, at its height, the isolated community was full of prestigious, highly skilled and learned people who were well paid for their craft. Literacy was so common in Deir el-Medina that archaeological digs have uncovered thousands of shards containing sketches, messages, lists, complaints and jokes. The workers' temple, as well as their own tombs, have also been found buried in the sand.

Maitland's immersion into Deir el-Medina led to a discovery. The small figure depicted in the statue, she realised, was not a living pharaoh, but a statue of a pharaoh. The iconography of the larger man, kneeling as he is with outstretched arms, echoed other familiar depictions of an Egyptian figure presenting an offering.

Maitland began to research all the other sculptures from Deir el-Medina and found a whole group, including a fragmentary but beautifully carved example in New York's Metropolitan Museum and several in the Egyptian national museum, some surviving as no more than the offering hands. A few in the group show the royal statue within a shrine, so in less intimate contact with the donor than the Edinburgh example.

Her conclusion is that the most senior workers at Deir el-Medina were uniquely permitted to not just build the tombs of the rulers—but to also offer statues to chapels in their own temple of Hathor, portraying themselves in the closest contact with these images of divine power and authority. This could not have happened without the knowledge of the royal court; every aspect of the work of the village was regulated and recorded, from the materials supplied to the food they ate and the beer they drank. These images were mutually beneficial, Maitland believes, reinforcing both the supreme power of the rulers and the loyalty and status of the village officials so intimately connected with them.

So, who is the faceless man and the statue of the child pharaoh? The kneeling donor wears a garland of flowers on his head. This was common in statues of women but very rare in depictions of men—except for a period during the reign of the Ramesses kings, Maitland found.

Ramesses II, known as 'Ramesses the Great', reigned from 1279-1213BC, the second longest reign of any ancient Egyptian king. His image was ubiquitous, for he erected more temples and statues honouring his own glory than any other Egyptian ruler. The highest village official at Deir el-Medina, and the direct link with Ramesses' court, would have been an official known as the vizier, but the statue does not show the robes typically worn by such a senior figure.

The next in line—and, Maitland believes, the man who would have commissioned the statue—would have been the senior scribe, who was responsible for the crucial inscriptions on the tombs. If Maitland's identification of Ramesses II is correct, we know his scribe was a man named Ramose, for his tomb still survives. Ramose, then, has achieved his own immortality—in a gallery in Edinburgh.

Internecine squabbles among Egyptologists are common and knocking down a new theory a favoured sport. But, so far, Maitland's work has been accepted. "There is more work to do," she says. "I am haunted by the idea that the missing inscription—maybe even the missing face—may still lie in the sand waiting to be found, to prove or explode my theory."

--   Sent from my Linux system.