Search This Blog

Sunday, November 26, 2023

In Photos: New Zealand museums hand over mummified remains to Egypt - Ancient Egypt - Antiquities - Ahram Online

In Photos: New Zealand museums hand over mummified remains to Egypt

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 25 Nov 2023

A collection of mummified human remains that were handed over to the Egyptian embassy in New Zealand earlier this month arrived safely in their home country.

Whanganui Regional Museum and Southland Museum

These remains were on display at the Whanganui Regional Museum and Southland Museum in New Zealand, which have now returned them to Egypt.

Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities expressed his appreciation for the decision of both museums. in the interest of global heritage preservation.

Waziri commended the Egyptian Ministries of Tourism and Antiquities, Foreign Affairs, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation in returning these artefacts to their homeland.

Shaban Abdel-Gawad, Director-General of the General Administration for Antiquities Repatriation and the Supervisor of the Central Administration for Archaeological Units explains that the recovered items consist of body parts of ancient Egyptian human mummies, a mummified hawk, fabric fragments, and cartonnage.

They are now being held at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to undergo restoration.

Abdel-Gawad added, on behalf of his government body, that museums worldwide should return Egyptian artefacts, especially human remains, as per the ethical guidelines of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

Short link:


--   Sent from my Linux system.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

ARCE-NC Egyptology Lecture 12/10: Contexts and Circumstances in Designing the Divine in Ancient Egypt

The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a lecture by Dr. Jennifer Miyuki Babcock, Pratt Institute:

Contexts and Circumstances in Designing the Divine in Ancient Egypt

Sunday, December 10, 2023, 3 PM Pacific Standard Time

Room 20 Social Sciences Building (formerly Barrows Hall), UC Berkeley
This lecture will be recorded.

About the Lecture:

How do we decide what a god looks like? Some ancient Egyptian texts describe the gods generally, and others are more precise. Yet a divinity's true, underlying form is unknown. Nonetheless, depictions of deities on monumental and small-scale artworks are seen throughout ancient Egyptian history.

In this talk, we will look at some basic, common forms that ancient Egyptian gods adopt, and uncover the reasons behind these design choices. We will not only consider how the images illustrate a god's specific divine power, but also how their representation may be determined by the context and placement of the god's image.

About the Lecturer:

Dr. Jennifer Miyuki Babcock is Assistant Professor and Coordinator for the History of Art and Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY. Before teaching, Dr. Babcock was a Postdoctoral Curatorial Associate at The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU, and has held research and fellowship positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Brooklyn Museum. She earned her Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.

Among Dr. Babock's extensive list of publications is the book Animal Fables in Ancient Egypt: Tree Climbing Hippos and Ennobled Mice (Brill 2022), which examines how drawings of anthropomorphized animals are linked to oral folklore and the religious environment of New Kingdom Thebes. Her interests include the cross-cultural and temporal transmission of artistic iconography in the ancient world, and studying cultural parallels between ancient and modern and contemporary lives.

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 at

About ARCE-NC:

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.

Monday, November 20, 2023

That’s not a potato: mystery of Egyptian treasures found buried in grounds of Scottish school | Archaeology | The Guardian

That's not a potato: mystery of Egyptian treasures found buried in grounds of Scottish school

Incredible tale of Melville House where, over a 30-year period, pupils uncovered treasures of antiquity

An ancient Egyptian artefact discovered in the school grounds.
The upper half of a faience shabti inscribed for a man named Hor-sa-Iset, discovered in the school grounds. Photograph: © National Museums Scotland

Sun 19 Nov 2023 05.00 EST Last modified on Sun 19 Nov 2023 11.28 EST

In 1952, a schoolboy was digging up potatoes, assisting a gardener in the grounds of his school in Fife as part of a punishment. He stumbled across a bulbous shape that he initially mistook for a potato, only to discover later that he had found an Egyptian masterpiece made some 4,000 years ago.

The idea of finding ancient treasures buried in the Scottish countryside, rather than beneath the sands of Cairo, is somewhat unlikely. Yet this was to be the first of 18 Egyptian antiquities unearthed on three separate occasions by schoolboys over some 30 years in the most unexpected of places – Melville House, a historic building near the small parish of Monimail in Fife.

Most of the antiquities are now in National Museums Scotland (NMS), which is for the first time telling the remarkable story behind the discoveries. In 1952, Melville House was occupied by Dalhousie School. A teacher brought the boy's discovery to the then Royal Scottish Museum – now NMS – where its distinguished Egyptologist, Cyril Aldred, realised its significance as an important mid-12th dynasty red sandstone statue head (about 1922-1855 BC), whose quality suggests a royal workshop.

Fourteen years later, in 1966, an Egyptian bronze votive statuette of an Apis bull was found in the same school grounds by pupils doing a PE class outdoors. During a vaulting exercise, one of the boys landed on a spike protruding from the ground. It turned out to date from the Late or Ptolemaic Period (about 664-332 BC).

The supervising teacher, a "Mr McNie", brought the object into the museum for identification. By the strangest of coincidences, he was the very boy who found the head in 1952. Aldred offered to have it cleaned by museum staff, but McNie took the bull away with him and it disappeared without trace.

Following the closure of Dalhousie School, Melville House was purchased in 1975 by the then Fife regional council, who used it until 1998 as a residential school for young offenders and children with behavioural issues.

In 1984, Dr Elizabeth Goring was the museum's curator of Mediterranean archaeology when a group of teenagers visited with an object for her to identify. They sensed it might be old, and it turned out to be an ancient Egyptian bronze figurine of a man. Goring recalled her predecessor, Aldred, telling her about previous Egyptian finds in Melville's grounds, and she realised that the figurine found there must be connected.

Its discovery established beyond doubt that there had once been a collection there, but how the objects got there, and why they ended up buried, was a mystery.

Intrigued, she decided "to dig a little deeper", and arranged to visit the school to establish where the figurine had been buried. However, by the time it had been brought into the museum some three years later, its finder had ended up in Saughton Prison in Edinburgh. But a meeting with him at Melville House was arranged under the supervision of his probation officer, and he showed her the rough find-spot.

Experts at the British Museum agreed the figurine represented a priest bringing offerings, an unusual subject. It was possibly created during the 25th dynasty (about 747-656 BC).

Goring explored the site further, finding other objects, ranging from the top part of a fine faience figurine of the goddess Isis suckling her son Horus to part of a faience plaque bearing the Eye of Horus.

Melville House is a fine stately home commissioned by the first Earl of Melville in 1697, and now serves as self-catering holiday accommodation.

Volunteers digging in the grounds of Melville House, in 1984.
Volunteers digging in the grounds of Melville House, in 1984. Photograph: © National Museums Scotland

Goring's research extended to the antiquities' legal title, to establish whether they had been assembled by a member of the Leven and Melville family who had once occupied the property. But, in 1984, it was agreed that the finds of that year should be treated as treasure trove and acquired by the museum.

The story of the discoveries is being told for the first time by Goring and her successor, Dr Margaret Maitland, in the forthcoming Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, to be published on 30 November.

One possible explanation is that they were acquired by Alexander, Lord Balgonie, heir to the property, who visited Egypt in 1856 with his two sisters to improve his poor health after falling ill during service in the Crimean war. But he returned to Britain weaker, and died in 1857, aged only 24, from TB.

It is possible that grief and the sad association of the antiquities with his early death prompted someone to dispose of them. It also could be that stories of "the mummy's curse", dating to the 1860s, linked such antiquities with ill fortune, prompting someone to bury them.

Maitland, NMS's principal curator of the Ancient Mediterranean, said: "We can't be sure whether superstition played any role in their abandonment, but it's not impossible."

The sandstone head, which measures 110mm in height, is on display in the NMS. Maitland said: "This is an extraordinary masterpiece, highly important in terms of Egyptian culture."

Goring added: "Every curator can tell you some extraordinary stories, but this is one of the most extraordinary that happened to me in my 26 years at the museum."

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Animal Amulets: Ancient Egyptian Art and the Natural World | The Art Institute of Chicago

Sent from my Linux system.

Radiocarbon dating meets Egyptology and Biblical accounts in the city of Gezer

Radiocarbon dating meets Egyptology and Biblical accounts in the city of Gezer

Aerial image of the excavations. Credit: Tandy archaeological expedition to Tel Gezer, CC-BY 4.0 (

New dates provide detailed insights into the timing of events in the ancient city of Gezer, according to a study published November 15, 2023 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lyndelle Webster of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and colleagues.

Gezer is an ancient southern Levantine city, well known from Egyptian, Assyrian, and Biblical texts and associated with stories of power struggles and significant historical figures. It is also a rich archaeological site with abundant Bronze Age and Iron Age remains and with great potential for research into the daily lives of its denizens.

Recent excavations at the site have uncovered a continuous stratigraphic sequence that allows for detailed dating and the establishment of an absolute chronology for events at the site.

In this study, Webster and colleagues obtained 35 on organic materials (mostly seeds) from seven distinct stratigraphic layers at Gezer. These dates range from the 13th to the 9th centuries, a time period that covers numerous significant changes in the city, including multiple destructive events, rebuilding episodes, and the fortification of the city. Some of these events have been proposed to be linked to certain stories from ancient texts.

This study provides a detailed dataset that can be used to test proposed correlations between the and . These dates suggest, for example, that the correlation of a certain destructive episode with the actions of the pharaoh Merneptah is plausible, while the proposed link between another such episode and the campaign of Hazael is not.

Ultimately, this new dataset provides an independent source of absolute dates that will allow researchers to better understand the events at Gezer and to place them in a regional perspective.

The authors add, "The development of a radiocarbon-based chronology at Tel Gezer—a site with uniquely rich historical connections—illustrates the crucial role radiocarbon dating can and must play in reconstructing individual site histories, resolving long-running debates and testing possible correlations between and written sources."

More information: The chronology of Gezer from the end of the late bronze age to iron age II: A meeting point for radiocarbon, archaeology egyptology and the Bible, PLoS ONE (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0293119. … journal.pone.0293119

Journal information: PLoS ONE

Sent from my Linux system.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Revealing the secrets of Abusir - Heritage - Al-Ahram Weekly - Ahram Online

Revealing the secrets of Abusir

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 14 Nov 2023

Excavation work carried out at the Saite-Persian Cemetery in Abusir is revealing more about ancient Egyptian society during the 26th and 27th dynasties

Cemetery in Abusir
Excavation work carried out at the Saite-Persian Cemetery in Abusir

The family is the basic unit of any society, even as its structure and function can vary considerably across different cultures, writes Nevine El-Aref. All societies have a concept of the family, though this may differ according to the particular culture. 

Our knowledge of life and society in ancient Egypt is largely derived from the reliefs engraved on the walls of monuments, tombs, and temples, with these providing a rich saga of the daily lives of wealthy and less wealthy families as well as their hopes for life after death.

The shaft tombs of the Saite-Persian Cemetery southwest of the Neferefre Pyramid at the Abusir Necropolis reveal information about the society that produced them, showcasing the society that produced King Djoser's Pyramid, the first stone structure in history.

The area was not used until the end of the 26th Dynasty, when high-ranking dignitaries at the royal court selected it to be their final resting place for eternity.

"We don't know the exact purposes behind the selection. We can only speculate about the reasons," said Miroslav Bárta, director of the archaeological team from the Czech Institute of Egyptology at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague, which started excavations at this site in the early 1980s.

Bárta said the site is on a straight line connecting the Giza Pyramids with the King Djoser Pyramid, forming the head of two shallow valleys running from the east and southeast. It is also located near older royal structures and has a sanctified status steeped in long-standing tradition. 

It is likely close to the cemetery of foreign mercenary soldiers commanded by dignitaries. The geological foundations of the site, characterised by a substantial layer of hardened mud, proved conducive to the construction of tombs.

According to surface and geophysical surveys, the cemetery consists of large and small shaft tombs arranged in two rows stretching approximately west to east. The core of the design consists of a burial chamber constructed from limestone blocks positioned at the base of an expansive shaft measuring up to 12 by 12 metres and reaching depths of up to 25 metres. 

After a tomb's completion, the shaft was backfilled, necessitating access to the burial chamber through a narrow secondary shaft. From there, a horizontal corridor, more akin to a tunnel than a passage, led directly to the chamber entrance.

"This practice of situating burial chambers deep below the surface appears to serve dual purposes," Bárta said, explaining that it helped to bring the mummies closer to the subterranean realm of the dead, governed by the god Osiris, and to provide protection against tombs raiders. 

Despite the apparent grandeur and rich embellishments of the above-ground portions of these structures, many were heavily damaged or entirely obliterated over time.

Scientific studies carried out by the Czech team have revealed that the group of larger and smaller tombs at the cemetery was constructed at the very end of the 26th Dynasty. According to graffiti found in the tomb of Udjahoresnet, its construction begun in the 41st or 42nd year of the reign of Amasis in 529 or 528 BCE.

 It is likely that their construction ceased in 525 BCE, when the Persian king Cambyses invaded Egypt and the situation remained unstable for several years. Neither the tomb of Udjahorresnet nor that of Iufaa were completely finished. Some of the tombs were used only after this time during the reign of the Persian King Darius I.

In the vicinity of the large tombs, several simple burials have been found. The bodies, belonging probably to the poor inhabitants of neighbouring villages, were placed in shallow pits in the sand. 

Some of these poor burials may come from the late Ptolemaic Period, around 200 to 300 years after the construction of the large shaft tombs, and perhaps represent evidence of the esteem in which the dignitaries buried in this part of the necropolis, and above all Udjahorresnet, were held by subsequent generations.

The most important shaft tombs within the cluster is the intact one of the high priest Iufaa, a rare discovery which made headlines. It consists of a shaft about 28 metres deep and inside it an intact tomb and an enormous white limestone sarcophagus of about 50 tons in weight. 

There is a plaster seal between the lid and the sarcophagus itself. Iufaa's burial chamber and portions of his sarcophagus are lavishly adorned with frequently unique texts and scenes designed to facilitate his journey to the afterlife and ensure a blessed eternal existence.

TOMBS: The oldest tomb is attributed to Udjahorresnet, whose statue is housed in the Vatican Museum in Rome, with the inscription upon it being the most extensive Egyptian record chronicling the events surrounding the conquest of Egypt by the Persian ruler Cambyses in 525 BCE.

Following the Persian occupation, Udjahorresnet, originally the commander of foreign mercenaries and the admiral of the fleet, transitioned into one of the foremost local collaborators with the new rulers.

The burial chamber and double sarcophagus of Menekhibnekau feature an array of texts and relief-carved scenes. While little remains of his once-opulent funerary belongings, notable remnants include a distinctive official seal. 

Alongside these three tombs, two additional structures of comparable size have been partially excavated, along with as many as five or six smaller tombs, two of which have undergone excavation. One of these smaller tombs, also housing a decorated burial chamber, belonged to the courtier Padihor.

The newest discovery in the cemetery is the tomb of the high official Djehutiemnakht. The upper part of this tomb, situated above ground, was destroyed in antiquity, while its burial chamber is situated at the bottom of the main shaft located at a depth of 14 metres below ground. 

To the north is a small shaft of about 1.2 by 1 metre giving access to the chamber through a narrow horizontal corridor about three metres long. 

"Surprisingly enough, the small shaft was partly filled with several dozen large relief blocks from the monumental neighbouring tomb of Menekhibnekau," said Mohamed Megahed, deputy director of the Czech mission, who added that the burial chamber is richly decorated with texts and scenes. 

The northern entrance wall is covered with a long sequence of apotropaic spells against snake bites from the ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. "Interestingly, the snakes mentioned in them were on the one hand considered dangerous, but on the other hand also acted as powerful protectors of the deceased and his mummy," Megahed said.

"It is a richly decorated shaft tomb of medium size, whose owner, a certain Djehutyemhat, held the office of royal scribe," said Ladislav Bareš, who has coordinated the Czech excavations of the Late Period shaft tombs in Abusir for more than two decades.

"This new find, together with our previous discoveries from this excavation site, as well as the large-scale shaft tomb of Wahibrameryneith, will shed more light on the historical changes taking place in Egypt in the turbulent times of the sixth and fifth centuries BCE," he said. 

The southern and western walls of the tomb are adorned with ritual offerings. On the ceiling of the burial chamber, there are depictions of the sun's journey across the sky in the morning and evening barques, accompanied by hymns to the rising and setting sun.

The burial chamber is covered with relief decoration, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and depictions of the gods. It contains a large stone sarcophagus, whose lid is adorned with three columns of hieroglyphic texts from Chapter 178 of the Book of the Dead, which is composed of excerpts from the older Pyramid Texts. 

The longer sides of the lid feature Chapter 42 of the Book of the Dead, dedicated to the deification of the body of the deceased, including depictions of individual deities to whom the deceased is assimilated. The shorter sides bear images of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, accompanied by texts in which they provide protection to the deceased. 

On the outer sides of the chest of the sarcophagus, there are excerpts from the Coffin Texts and Pyramid Texts, partially repeating the spells that appear on the walls of the burial chamber. At the bottom of the inner side of the coffin, Imentet, the goddess of the West, is depicted, and the inner sides contain the so-called "canopic spells" recited by this goddess and the earth god Geb. 

All of these religious-magical texts were intended to ensure the deceased's smooth entry into eternal life in the afterlife.

The tomb of the scribe Djehutyemhat was discovered almost empty, having been robbed, like other tombs in the burial site, probably as early as the 5th century CE. Analysis of the skeletal remains undertaken by leading Egyptian experts has shown that Djehutyemhat died at a relatively early age, bore signs of occupational disease on the spine from sedentary work, and suffered from severe osteoporosis. 

"The latter fact could place him within the family of other inhabitants of this burial site, in whom this disease has also been confirmed," Bárta said.

It is possible that most of the owners of the shaft tombs buried in this part of the Abusir Necropolis belonged to one extended family strongly anchored in the military elite of late Saite Egypt.

 Djehutiemhat's mother, however, probably came from quite different circles and a different part of the country. Her two names can be translated as "Nubian" and "Vixen", the latter written in an unusual, probably Berber, form. Detailed photographic documentation and analysis of the finds and texts will continue.

Abusir is located about six miles to the south of the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Sphinx on the Giza Plateau. It is to the north of the first stone pyramid built in Egypt, known as the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. The site contains about 11 pyramids of kings and queens and the sun temples of the Fifth Dynasty. 

The Sahure Pyramid, the most famous in Abusir, was excavated by the German Egyptologist Ludwig Burchardt, and it is thought that the pyramid complex contained about 10,000 square metres of wall reliefs.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 16 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link:


--   Sent from my Linux system.