Monday, February 29, 2016

THE HARBOR OF KHUFU on the Red Sea Coast at Wadi al-Jarf, Egypt (NEA 77/1) | Gregory Marouard and Pierre Tallet -


King Tut's Tomb: The Hidden Chamber is a recent documentary from UK's Channel 5. Relax and enjoy :).

From Ellie Rose Elliott

independent researcher, writer and translator

King Tut's Tomb: The Hidden Chamber is a recent documentary from UK's Channel 5. Relax and enjoy :).

Mark Bazeley, with the help of experts like Aidan Dodson and some dramatic recreations of 18th Dynasty Egypt, describes the historical background - the reign of Akhenaten and what happened next - and explains the context of the 'hidden chamber' excitement in the always-recognised-to-be-curiously-small tomb of Tutankhamun. The film highlights the role of the Factum Arte replication of the tomb, which enabled experts to recognise by touch (as they could never have done with the original) a change of texture in the plaster at the point the false door is thought to have been covered over . . .

This film is only available on Facebook. If you can, do sign up. If you can't access Facebook, my apologies. It's not always possible to find a film on YouTube, due to copyright restrictions.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Northern Cal. ARCE Egyptology Talk - Daring the Western Desert : Ancient Travelers and Their Rock Inscriptions

The Northern California Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt; the Department of Near Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley; and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, are sponsoring the following lecture:

Daring the Western Desert: Ancient Travelers and Their Rock Inscriptions

By Dr. Nikolaos Lazaridis
California State University, Sacramento

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016
WHERE: Barrows Hall, Room 20, Barrow Lane and Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley
There is no admission, but donations are welcomed.

About the Talk

Since 2001 the North Kharga Oasis-Darb Ain Amur Survey team has been exploring the sandy routes connecting Kharga oasis to Dakhla and beyond. In the course of this survey we have discovered and recorded numerous lonely rock sites which were used in antiquity as camping spots and stopovers for travelers. The rich epigraphic material from these sites provides us with valuable information about the uses of these desert routes, traveling practices, as well as the identity and background of the ancient travelers who chose to carve their marks on these rocks. In this lecture I will discuss some of these Egyptian rock graffiti, focusing on their connection to ancient Egypt's historical narrative and their appropriation of Egyptian formal writing conventions.

About the Speaker

Dr. Nikolaos Lazaridis is the Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean History at California State University, Sacramento. He is one of the very few Greek Egyptologists. He left Greece in 1996 to study Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and Oxford University, and later became a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies at Radboud University of Nijmegen, Netherlands. 

His doctoral dissertation, Wisdom in loose form: The language of proverbs in Egyptian and Greek collections of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, was published by Brill Publishers in 2007. In addition, Dr. Lazaridis has authored numerous articles on ancient Egyptian literature, epigraphy, and religion. He is currently preparing two monographs: "Let me have Your Majesty hear a marvel": Aspects of narrative writing in ancient Egypt, and North Kharga Oasis Survey, vol. 2: The Darb Ayn Amur, co-authored with Dr. Salima Ikram and Dr. Leslie-Anne Warden Anderson.

In 2003, while still a doctoral student at Oxford, he joined the North Kharga Oasis Survey team, headed by Salima Ikram and Corinna Rossi, and since 2007 he has become the team's chief epigrapher. Last year Dr. Lazaridis was one of the recipients of the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities award for Scholarly Editions and Translations. This year he received Sacramento State University's award for research, scholarship, and creative activity.


Go to or send email to Chapter President Al Berens at


Glenn Meyer
Publicity Director
Northern California ARCE

ARCE 2016 Annual Conference schedule of papers

To download the schedule, click on this link.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Berkeley AHMA Colloquium March 7: Constructing the Demonic in Christian Egypt

The Threat of the Headless Being:
Constructing the Demonic in Christian Egypt

David Frankfurter, Boston University

Noon AHMA Colloquium

Monday, March 7, 12-1.30 pm
370 Dwinelle, UC Berkeley

This paper concerns the way local demonologies change under the influence of Christianity and the role of ritual experts, in this case monks, in this change.  The case-study involves two sixth-century exorcistic charms from late antique Egypt, both of which appeal to the Christian Trinity and archangels to relieve affliction from "headless beings," in one case a headless dog.  Whereas "headless being [Akephalos]" had once been a cypher for the god Osiris in his solar form, the use of "headless" in these charms reflects little of this earlier tradition and probably no popular beliefs either, yet still some monk's memory of a category of supernatural being. Rather than "pagan survivals" and esoteric mysteries this paper offers a new appreciation of the agency of ritual specialists like monks and holy men and a more grounded understanding of demons and ritual protection in antiquity.

Sponsored by The Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Ancient History & Mediterranean Archaeology Program, UC Berkeley

Contact information:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project: KV 60: AN ENIGMATIC AND CONTROVERSIAL TOMB

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Changing venues: moving a large work-table to the other side of the Valley
     About a week ago we finished up our investigation of KV 48, the tomb of the vizier, Amenemope, and turned our attention to KV 60, one of the more controversial tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It's located near the cliffs on the opposite of the Valley.  The tomb is relatively small consisting of some stairs  .leading down to a corridor with a little side chamber about halfway down.  At the end of the corridor is a square opening leading to a single burial chamber.  The tomb throughout is very crudely carved and obviously unfinished, as if quickly made at the death of someone important enough to be buried in the Valley.   Here’s a short history of its exploration:

1903: KV 60 was first encountered by English archaeologist, Howard Carter.  The tomb had been robbed in ancient times and there were bits and pieces of objects from a destroyed burial.  In the chamber at the end of the corridor chamber were found two female mummies: one lying on the floor and the other in a lidless coffin bearing the name of a royal nurse named Sitre. There were no paintings on the wall to provide additional information.  Carter and a colleague surmised that perhaps these two women were nurses of the 18th dynasty pharaoh, Thutmosis IV (c.1400- 1390 B.C.) whose royal tomb is situated nearby.  He wrote only a few comments about the tomb in a journal article the next year.  A few years later, a statue was found that indicated that Sitre was the royal nurse of the famous female pharaoh, Hatshepsut.  Hatshepsut ruled Egypt successfully (c.1473-1458) during the 18th dynasty and her reign was characterized by spectacular building projects and foreign expeditions.  There is much speculation about her life and she is recognized as one of the great women of ancient history.  A royal and much damaged tomb in the Valley, KV 20, belongs to her.

1906: Edward Ayrton excavated a tomb directly behind KV 60 and likely removed the nurse’s coffin and its occupant to Cairo around that time, leaving the other mummy in the tomb.  The tomb was thereafter covered over and its exact location lost.

1966:  American Egyptologist, Elizabeth Thomas, suggested that if KV 60 ever were to be rediscovered, perhaps the remaining body therein might be the long-missing mummy of Hatshepsut herself.  Her idea was that after most of the royal tombs were robbed around 1000 B.C, her mummy might have been removed from KV 20 by priests, and then hidden in the nearby KV 60, the tomb of her nurse. (The comment was published in her masterful research volume on the Valley of the Kings and other royal cemeteries, “The Royal Necropoleis of Thebes.”)

The entrance stairs of KV 60 as rediscovered by the PLU expedition in 1989.
1989: The Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project rediscovered the tomb on its first day of work in the Valley.  (It’s a great story but it will need to wait for a future post.)  We found lots of broken up and well-preserved bits of coffins and other objects, several examples of mummified food (“victual mummies”) meant to serve as provisions for the deceased, and a female mummy lying on the floor.  It was striking what some argue is a pose for royal females: left arm bent diagonally across the body with a clenched left hand and the right arm straight alongside the body.  We found nothing in the tomb to indicate her identity, although we reconstructed a once gold-gilded face-piece from a coffin that has a notch for a beard – a symbol of royalty.

The mummy as seen on the floor of the burial chamber of KV 60.
A reconstructed fragment from a shattered coffin lid found in KV 60.  They eyes and eyebrows were once inlaid and the face gilded with gold.
2006: The head of Egyptian antiquities, Zahi Hawass, removed the mummy (which he named KV 60-A) to Cairo as part of a study to identify Hatshepsut’s mummy from among several possibilities. He originally speculated that the mummy in the nurse's coffin (KV 60-B) could be the queen, but then changed his mind.

The mummy from KV 60.  Hatshepsut?
The coffin fragment, cleaned of black resin, reveals a painting and a name.
2007: Zahi Hawass announces that KV 60-A is indeed the mummy of Hatshepsut.  The identification method was unique.  A wooden box bearing the name of Hatshepsut, and containing what appeared to be some mummified internal organs, was CT-scanned and a tooth was found within; a specific tooth with a broken root.  It seems to have been a perfect fit in the mouth of KV 60-A and the announcement of the identification was an international sensation.  (There was also a Discovery Channel documentary made on the subject: Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen.)

2007:  The PLU Valley of the Kings Project examined a large fragment of coffin found in KV 60.  It was covered with black resin and when a local conservator cleaned it, a beautiful painting of the goddess Nephthys was revealed along with a funerary inscription.  The inscription indicates that the coffin belonged to a female temple singer by the name of Ty.

2014: I (Donald P. Ryan) presented a conference paper entitled, “Who is really buried in KV-60?” which considered the various possibilities for the tomb’s history.  Have the mummies been accurately identified?  Is one of them really Hatshepsut?  Are there three women involved with this tomb (Sitre, Ty and Hatshepsut) or is it some sort of mummy cache?  Would KV 60 simply be considered the tomb of a royal nurse and a temple singer had Elizabeth Thomas not thrown the name Hatshepsut in the mix?  These are all interesting questions and the story of KV-60 isn’t over yet. (A version of my conference paper has recently been published as “KV 60: Ein rätselhaftes Grab in Tal der Könige." In, Michael Höveler-Müller, ed., 2015, Das Hatschepsut-Puzzle.  Nünnerich-Asmus: Mainz.)

Our new protective door reveals the upper steps of KV 60.
2015: The PLU Valley of the Kings Project installed a special door over the entrance to KV 60 and added a descriptive sign. 

2016: We revisited KV 60 in order to find any additional clues.  A thorough examination of all the mummy wrappings stored in the tomb kept us busy but unfortunately added nothing new.  We did, however, make a great improvement by removing a rock wall installed in front of the entrance of the tomb’s underground corridor in 1989.  Now, for the first time in 25 years, the lower steps of KV 60 are once again revealed.

Examining boxes full of mummy wrappings in the burial chamber in 2016.

Clearing away the old wall blocking the lower steps.
Believe me, the above is the short version. KV 60 remains both enigmatic and controversial and someday perhaps...maybe...we’ll figure out its true story.

Currently in the Lab | In the Artifact Lab - Penn Museum

Currently in the Lab

What will you see when you visit the Artifact Lab? There are two areas where you can see objects: on formal display in our exhibition space and behind the glass, being worked on in the lab. Here is a list of what is currently on view:

In the lab:

(this list includes objects that are likely to be visible when visiting the lab, but some may not be visible depending on the day)

  • E3413A: Mummy of Djed-Hapi, location unknown, Ptolemaic (332-31 BCE)
  • E16220A: Mummy of Hapimen, Abydos, Late Period (381-343 BCE). Related blogposts
  • 97-121-114 A-C: Baby boy mummy and coffin, Location unknown, Roman (31 BCE – 395 CE)
  • E2553A: Skeleton of a Man, Deshasheh, Old Kingdom (2500-2350 BCE)
  • E2552: Coffin belonging to man (E2553)
  • E14260: Painted wooden boat model, Sedment, First Intermediate Period (2130-1980 BCE) 
  • Animal mummies, including:
    • 50-17-1: Cat mummy, Late Period (664-332 BCE) 
    • E17631: Crocodile mummy, Fayum, Ptolemaic Period (332-31 BCE) 
    • E12441: Falcon mummy, Abydos, Ptolemaic/Roman (332 BCE – 395 CE) 
    • E12438: Ibis mummy, Abydos, Ptolemaic/Roman (332 BCE – 395 CE) 
    • E12440 A-B: Ibis mummy in coffin, Abydos, Ptolemaic/Roman (332 BCE – 395 CE)
    • E16219: Hapi-puppy, Abydos, Late Period (381-343 BCE) (associated with Hapimen)
  • 31-27-118 A-B: Painted wooden coffin, Meydum, New Kingdom (1539-1292 BCE)
  • E883A,B: Mummy and coffin box of Nespekashuti, location unknown, New Kingdom (1570-1070 BCE). Related blogposts


On exhibit:

  • E521: Crocodile mummy, location unknown, date unknown
  • E2148: Funerary mask, Balansura, Roman Period (100-200 CE)
  • E882D: Funerary Mask of Nefrina, Akhmim, Ptolemaic Period (305-30 BCE). Related blogposts
  • E12444: Falcon mummy, Abydos, date unknown. Related blogposts
  • E17636: Cat mummy, location unknown, date unknown
  • E416: Mummified woman’s head, location unknown, date unknown
  • E16012: Stela of the royal purification priest Sasopedu-iienhab,
    Abydos, Middle Kingdom (1759-1650 BCE)

Object biography #20: A baboon of Iuwlot (Acc. no. 1785) | Egypt at the Manchester Museum
Campbell@Manchester wrote:
Object biography #20: A baboon of Iuwlot (Acc. no. 1785)

Acc. no. 1785

This imposing (65cm high) black granodiorite statue represents the god Thoth as a baboon (Acc. no. 1785). Damage to the baboon’s muzzle has resulted in a rather forbidding impression, although Thoth was appealed to as a god of wisdom and of healing.

The statue has until now been dated to the New Kingdom, following archaeologist W.M. Flinders Petrie’s 1894 publication of finds from the site of Coptos, just north of Thebes. Several of the finds unequivocally dated to the reign of Ramesses II and so Petrie assumed the baboon to be of that period as well. However, the reading of the unusual name of the donor of the statue – a High Priest of Amun, named in an inscription within a pectoral carved on the baboon’s chest – has always puzzled me.

Petrie read the name of the donor as ‘Iua-Mer’ but did not publish a photograph of the statue or a copy of the inscription in the excavation report. Perhaps as a result it does not appear in a standard reference work of monuments, the Topographical Bibliography of Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts. Unless someone had visited Manchester, it is unlikely they would know what the statue looked like.

The Christie’s baboon

By chance, whilst perusing a Christie’s sale catalogue for an auction held on Thursday 2 May 2013, I happened upon the perfect doppelganger of our piece: a granodiorite baboon statue, identified as having been dedicated by a 22nd Dynasty high priest of Amun named Iuwlot. The unusual name, combined with a rare combination of hieroglyphic signs in its spelling mean there can be no doubt that this is the same man as dedicated our almost identical statue. Unsurprisingly given its apparent lack of publication, the author(s) of the Christies catalogue entry were unaware of the Manchester baboon.

Iuwlot is an intriguing but little-known character. He was the son of the Libyan king Osorkon I, and held the important title of High Priest of Amun at Thebes. He is attested from five other inscribed objects: two Nilometer Texts (no. 20 and 21), a stela from Thebes (British Museum 1224), a stela in Moscow and finally the so-called Stèle de l’apanage in Cairo.

Detail of the pectoral carved on acc. no. 1785

In the vexed subject of ancient Egyptian chronology, especially of the Third Intermediate Period, all attestations of named and titled individuals count. Two new records can now be added for Iuwlot in the form of the baboons from Coptos – as the Manchester one has a firm provenance, it is likely that they were set up as a pair, perhaps to flank a temple doorway at Coptos. Interestingly, Iuwlot’s son Wasakawasa is known from an electrum pectoral dedicated to Thoth, Lord of Hermopolis (Petrie Museum UC13124), perhaps implying a particular family regard for this god.

These baboons may have been carved much earlier and have been repurposed by the 22nd Dynasty royal family. Other monumental elements, such as granite jambs of Tuthmose III, were reused by Osorkon I at Coptos, and such reuse is widely attested in ancient Egypt.

This is proof, yet again, that even well-visited objects on display can hide secrets in their stories.

Our baboon can be viewed in our award-winning ‘Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed’ exhibition tour.

Egypt Centre, Swansea: Warrior queens, beautiful princesses and gentle Hathor: various aspects of women in ancient Egypt
Carolyn Graves-Brown wrote:
Warrior queens, beautiful princesses and gentle Hathor: various aspects of women in ancient Egypt
With Mothers’ Day coming up, and of course International Women's Day, I thought it might be fun to take a quick peak at the varied ways in which women, human and divine, were depicted in ancient Egypt.

There do seem to have been stereotypes, such as the gentle Bastet vs aggressive Sekhmet trope. And, generally, it seems as though women were expected to be meek and gentle. But things are totally two sided.

While women did not enter the army, at times queens do seem to have been buried in ways suggesting warrior attributes. First there is the possible warrior queen, Ahhotep II. Her tomb was discovered in 1859 at Dra Abu el-Naga, Thebes and her coffin bears the title ‘King’s Wife’. Ahhotep II was buried with a dagger and battle axe, as well as three golden fly pendants. You can see a picture of that here, it is from the Wikimedia page about the lady. Such pendants were given as awards for military valour, because good warriors were like flies - persistent, impossible to ward off and numerous! Although the dagger and battle-axe found in the tomb are usually associated with her, they do not actually bear her name and since the Dra Abu el-Naga tomb was not her original burial place, it is possible that the objects belong to another person altogether. The axehead shows Ahmose smiting his enemies. However, the golden fly jewellery was closely associated with the queen, as the pendants were found inside her coffin. Unfortunately, we don't have any golden fly ancient Egyptian necklaces in the Centre, but you can get a replica from our shop!

Another Ahhotep, Ahhotep I, is also credited with aggression. She was the mother of Ahmose, honoured in a stela at Karnak as ‘one who pulled Egypt together, having cared for its army, having guarded it, having brought back those who fled, gathering up its deserters, having quieted the South, subduing those who defy her’.

These two Ahhoteps were queens in that they were royal women. They did not however, rule in their own right as kings did. In ancient Egypt only a few women reigned in the way king’s did, and these include Sobekneferu, Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII.

Queens ruling in their own right were endorsed as real kings partly through use of the warrior image since the king is shown as engaged in warfare in order to maintain cosmic order. Thus, the king’s title ‘Lord of Doing Things’, occurs on many items of warfare in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The feminine version of the title is used by only two women, both of whom ruled as kings, Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut herself took part in at least two military campaigns, but whether or not she led from the front, as kings claim to have done, is unknown.

In contrast we have the beautiful princess trope. Georgia Xekalaki, in particular, has written about the role of princesses in ancient Egypt. Of course there role changes over time; but, as one might expect, the role of the princess was usually a ritual one, and often to support and revive the king through her youthful beauty. So for example, In the Twelfth Dynasty Tale of Sinuhe, they are said to welcome the hero with their sistra. On depictions of New Kingdom sed festivals, festivals of royal revival, the royal daughters appear in processions carrying sistra. The named daughters of Rameses II are shown in the Great Temple of Abu Simbel shaking sistra.

In popular literature, the most famous royal daughters are those of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. They are shown in Amarna art as childlike (even when the date of the works suggests they must have been adults). Sometimes they are shown playing musical instruments. It seems that in private tombs daughters were sometimes shown in a similar way, reviving guests and their parents and funerary parties. They play musical instruments and serve wine. The picture of the rig bezel on the right shows a young woman playing a lute. The bezel is from Amarna and may well have been connected with festivals of revival.

There is also the gentle Hathor trope. Hathor was, for most of Egyptian history, the most important goddess, with more temples built to her than any other deity. Because of her gentle nature she is sometimes depicted as a cow, and no, cows did not have the same metaphoric values in ancient Egypt as they do today! Cows were considered loving, gentle creatures. Hathor was also a goddess of minerals and the eastern desert, she was linked to other worlds and associated with music and dance. She was even a goddess of drunkenness. Here you can another object from the Egypt Centre's collection, it is part of a sistrum, the two sides are shown. A sistrum was a kind of rattle. It shows the goddess Hathor; but look carefully at her ears. They are cow's ears showing her cow-like attributes.

There is also a story which suggests that although goddesses might seem one-sided, their nature could change. The story of the quarrel between Hathor and her father, and her later return, exemplifies this. There are several versions of the story.

An early version of this myth is extant on the Book of the Heavenly Cow, which first appears, though in incomplete form, on the outermost of the four gilded shrines of Tutankhamun. The story, called ‘The Destruction of Humanity’, goes that, in times past, a golden age existed when humans and gods existed under Re, and night and death did not exist. Humanity plots against Re and the god sends his daughter, the Eye in the form of Hathor, to kill them all. ‘Hathor, the Eye of the Sun, went into the desert transformed into the raging lioness Sekhmet, the powerful one. There she began slaying humanity for the evil they had done’. She goes on the rampage wading in their blood. Re changes his mind, but no one knows how to stop the furious goddess, so he orders 7,000 jars of beer to be made and coloured with ochre. Thinking that this is blood, the goddess drinks, and then in a drunken stupor, becomes happy and pacified, with all thought of killing forgotten. Once again, she is the beautiful and gentle Hathor. Her return to Egypt is celebrated by song and dance and drinking. Re returns to the sky on the back of the heavenly cow and institutes the netherworld as a dwelling for the dead.

There are several variations to this myth: in one version Hathor becomes cross with Re and that is why she storms off to Nubia. Thoth has to coax her back by telling her stories. She bathes in the Nile, which becomes red with her anger, and then she becomes peaceful and happy. In other variations, it is Tefnut who goes to Nubia and Shu who brings her back.

So then there are at least three different types of women which we can see through ancient Egyptian literature and archaeology.


Xekelaki, G. 2007. ‘The Procession of Royal Daughters In Medinet Habu and their Ritualistic Role: Originas and Evolution.’ In Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists. Grenoble, 6-12 septembre 2004. II edited by J-C. Goyon and C. Cardin, C. Leuven, Paris and Dudley MA: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1961–1965.

Xekelaki, G. and el-Khodary, R. 2011. ‘The Cultic Role of Nefertari and the Children of Ramesses II.’ In Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen edited by M. Collier and S. Snape. Bolton: Rutherford Press Ltd., 561-571.

Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum wrote:
Dig Diary, Feb. 14: The hot air balloons usually stay over the...

Dig Diary, Feb. 14: 

The hot air balloons usually stay over the west bank of the Nile, but sometimes the wind blows them east. On the morning of February 6 we were greeted by the sight of these two balloons drifting by just south of Mut. The week was rather uneventful, although our western square is getting a bit more interesting.

By February 8, however, we finally reached the bottom of the huge stratum of broken pottery that we had been excavating seemingly forever. Beneath it on the east side of the square we found remains of a plaster surface badly cut by later pitting. Just to its west (to the left of the meter stick) there was a patch of mud brick debris that looked promising.

Abdel Aziz (left), his brother Ayman (center) and Abdel Hamid (right) went to work on the mass, which soon turned into a row of organized brick that is appearing under their brushes and trowels.

By the end of the week the row of brick had developed into a clear wall as you can see in this photo looking to the northwest. So far it is 3.5 courses deep and runs into the south baulk. It is well below the diagonal wall we found in our first week and is, in fact, almost 2 meters below the modern surface. Because we are running short of time, we have decided to concentrate on the east half of the square, the new wall acting as our western boundary.

Aside from ostraca (of which we now have 26) and pottery vessels, the small finds this year have been rather mundane. This week, however, we found these two interesting objects. The faience figure on the left plays a musical instrument that rests on his erect (and outsized) penis. This type of figure was quite common, particularly in the later periods of pharaonic Egypt. Brooklyn has a similar and more complete example in limestone. Dr. Ben, a retired obstetrician-gynecologist with a long-time interest in Egyptology, is making a study of female fertility figures such as the one on the right, which are usually found broken. Because sex was strongly linked to ideas of regeneration and rebirth, such objects had as much of a religious as an erotic meaning.

Did I mention that we have a lot of pottery this year? This is just a few days’ worth. Once the pottery has been washed, every single sherd has to be examined carefully, even the plain body sherds. Not only do we look for pieces that will join to form a whole pot (or at least a complete profile of a pot), but almost all our ostraca this year were found in the pottery baskets. Julia cheerfully spends her mornings on the pottery mats doing this sorting and photographing interesting or diagnostic shapes such as rims, bases and handles that tell you about the shape of the whole vessel.

Dr. Ben was only able to be with us a short time this season, most of which he spent either sorting or drawing pottery. As you can see from his expression, drawing a pot takes great concentration to be sure you get the precise measurements you need. It also requires patience, which Ben has in abundance. The original pot and Ben’s drawing are on the right. The right half shows the pot’s profile, the left half the shape of its rim and handles and the thickness of its walls. Thank you, Ben.

There is always something to watch on the Nile. On this afternoon, a motor launch was ferrying a number of Luxor residents and tourists to the west bank while a felucca in full sail provided a pleasant jaunt for visitors.

Posted by Richard Fazzini

Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum wrote:
“So long as there is gold underneath, who cares about the dust...

“So long as there is gold underneath, who cares about the dust on top?” ― Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Travel photography has come a long way since the early days of exploration in Egypt. Currently, the Brooklyn Museum’s expedition to the Precinct of Mut is transmitting a weekly dig diary full of lively photographs, along with news of discoveries and progress on the site.

Images delivered through the ether have their own unique excitement. We wish you were here and thenin an instant—there you are, standing beside the crew, gazing into a trench or kneeling beside a newly unearthed treasure. The perspective is personal—and your presence in faraway locales not an impossible dream—as scholars disturb the dust of this planet and uncover its past.

The Brooklyn Museum Library and Archives has recently acquired two rare albums of early Egyptian travel photos, many of which were taken by Antonio Beato (1830-1903). Operating in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Beato created detailed photographs of archaeological sites in Egypt and the Mediterranean. He also catered to the growing number of western tourists to the region, frequently assembling custom photo albums for travelers. Active for decades, Beato’s vision of Egypt became part of the standard imagery of the East as seen by the West.

These photos present a contrast to the modern style of travel photography and are a window into the unique sensibility of a turn of the century tourist.

Rather than being intimate and immediate like modern snapshots—Beato’s vision was monumental, mysterious and grand.  Although our newly acquired albums were created as one person’s travel diary documenting their own personal experience, each image radiates a feeling a vast distance. Landscapes, ruins and artifacts all communicate a strong sense of being separate or remote—in time, in space and in the knowledge of a culture that the west was in the process of re-discovering.

Although the places may be familiar, and much photographed in modern times, these travel albums preserve in a very unique way what a traveler of the time experienced when they visited Egypt, as well as the sites that were documented through photography. The resulting albums are of immense research value to many working today and in the future.

In time it’s likely that scholars of the future will study our own flurry of candid snaps and Instagram feeds – I wonder what these will say about us?

Posted by Roberta Munoz   

Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum wrote:
“Who was Nespeqashuty and how did part of his tomb end up in...

“Who was Nespeqashuty and how did part of his tomb end up in Brooklyn?”

When we think about art created during the Renaissance and after, we think about artist, subject, and story, essentially, people. Because the lives of Ancient Egyptians are so far removed from life today, the humanity of their art sometimes gets lost in the wonder of viewing it.

More than 2,600 years ago lived a man named Nespeqashuty (center). Part of his tomb is in the Brooklyn Museum’s Mummy Chamber. Looking at the reliefs and inscriptions, we know that he was a vizier, the highest ranking official in the bureaucracy. One of his minor duties was to serve as witness on documents such as the Saite Oracle Papyrus (one priest’s petition to work for a different temple) displayed in a neighboring gallery.

Nespeqashuty’s unfinished tomb reliefs reveal the process of two artisans differentiated by carving style. The vizier must have died suddenly at a young age or after changing his tomb’s location late in life. His ancestors were buried at Abydos. The unusual Theban location, amongst tombs of Middle Kingdom officials, suggesting Nespeqahuty’s affinity for the Middle Kingdom reunification of Egypt probably because Nespeqashuty served a pharaoh, Psamtik I, who is credited with a similar feat.

The tomb was excavated in 1923 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the 1940s, a reconstruction of the relief blocks was attempted, but was unsuccessful due to missing pieces. The decision was made to deaccession most of them. In 1952 the Brooklyn Museum acquired much of the west wall and fragments of the east wall. One more piece was acquired in 1968 after Ernest Erickson, a friend of the Museum and collector, found it with an art dealer.

Each ancient object’s story includes artisans, patrons, consumers, viewers, archaeologists, collectors, curators, scholars, and even the visiting public today.

Posted by Elizabeth Treptow

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum wrote:
This dagger from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (Dynasty 12, ca....

This dagger from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (Dynasty 12, ca. 1938-1759 B.C.E.) came up to the Conservation Lab for examination and treatment in preparation for an out-going loan. Weapons of this type, with copper alloy blades, inlaid handles and curved ivory pommels, are fairly common in museum collections (ie. this dagger from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and this dagger from The Petrie Museum at University College London).

Because the dagger will be traveling internationally, we had to figure out whether or not its crescent-shaped pommel it is made from ivory, and if so what type, as required by The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). During the course of treatment, modern adhesive joins in the pommel were reversed so it could be examined both in cross-section and longitudinally.

Ivory, a term which describes the dentine of large mammals, is a dense, fine-grained material. Unlike bone, it has a notably laminated structure caused by growth rings, and does not have a canal system.

The ivory sources used by the Ancient Egyptians were African elephant and hippopotamus, both of which exhibit distinct features in cross-section and longitudinal section when viewed under low magnification. African elephant tusks have a distinct cross-hatch pattern in cross-section (see above) and wavy bands in longitudinal section.

Neither of these features was visible the dagger pommel. On the other hand, hippopotamus teeth have fine, even and regular concentric lines following the tooth shape in cross-section. This is the only characteristic feature visible on the pommel, and no distinctive features are visible in the longitudinal section.

So, by process of elimination, it looks like we have hippo ivory. To the Ancient Egyptians, hippos were considered highly dangerous, both in daily life and in the afterlife. There are many tomb paintings and reliefs that depict hippos being hunted with harpoons—and the by-product of such hunting was an abundant supply of ivory. However, hippos (like crocodile and frogs) were also symbols of regeneration due to their habit of disappearing under the water and subsequent reemerging.

Posted by Anna Serotta

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum wrote:
As the Brooklyn Museum excavations wrap up at the temple...
Two squacco herons on the Isheru, Mut Precinct, Egypt. Photo by Mary McKercher.

From Egyptian birds for the most part seen in the Nile Valley / by Charles Whymper.

From Bestiaire des pharaons / Pascal Vernus, Jean Yoyotte.

From Bestiaire des pharaons / Pascal Vernus, Jean Yoyotte.

As the Brooklyn Museum excavations wrap up at the temple precinct of the goddess Mut, #bkmlibrary has followed the progress from afar. The team spent the season digging, clearing, cataloging and measuring—the dig season is short and there’s so much to discover!

But in the midst of all of this bustle and activity, sometimes a little piece of eternity falls into your hands. A picture of two Egyptian herons resting on Mut’s sacred lake (the Isheru) shared by our archaeological team reminds us that while new discoveries are being made, there is a timeless continuity between the ancient world and our own.

These placid herons on Mut’s moon-shaped sacred lake have inhabited the region—and posed for artists—for thousands of years. Here they are drawn by the artist Charles Whymper in 1909. Egyptians herons are chronicled in Nicoll’s Birds of Egypt and in the rare A Handbook to the Birds of Egypt by G.E. Shelley From 1872. The species is also featured in a beautiful new acquisition by the Wilbour Library Bestiaire des Pharaons.

How many archaeologists and curious travelers have these creatures seen come and go? We must remember—The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living (Cicero)—and our present excavations will contribute new artifacts and memories to bring the past to life.

Posted by Roberta Munoz