Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt discover mummification workshop

Archaeologists in Egypt stumbled upon a new discovery dating back to more than 2,500 years ago near Egypt’s famed pyramids at an ancient necropolis south of Cairo. The discovery which includes a mummification workshop and a shaft, used as a communal burial place, is located at the Saqqara necropolis of Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt. Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its vast necropolis are home to a wide range of temples and tombs as well as the three renowned Giza pyramids. The latest find, announced at a press conference Saturday, belongs to the Saite-Persian Period, from 664-404 B.C. The site, which lies south of the Unas pyramid, was last excavated more than 100 years ago, in 1900. In the mummification workshop, an embalmer’s cachette holding a large collection of pottery vessels, bowels and measuring cups were found. Archaeologists believe the findings will reveal more about the oils used in the mummification process in the 26th Dynasty. “We are in front of a goldmine of information about the chemical composition of these oils,” said Ramadan Hussein, the head of the German-Egyptian mission, at the press conference. Among the artifacts found were fragments of mummy cartonnages, canopic cylindrical jars and marl clay and faience cups. Many will be displayed in the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum, the first phase of which is expected to be inaugurated later this year. Archaeologists also found a gilded silver mask on the face of a mummy in a badly-damaged wooden coffin. The mask, the first to be discovered since 1939, belongs to a priest. “The finding of this mask could be called a sensation,” Hussein said. “Very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day, because the tombs of most Ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted in ancient times.” Down the 30-meter-deep shaft is a host of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways. There lie several mummies, wooden coffins and sarcophagi. “It’s only the beginning,” added Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani. He told reporters that the sites will likely yield more discoveries after further excavation. Egypt has gone to great length to revive its vital tourism industry, still reeling from the political turmoil that followed a 2011 popular uprising. The Antiquities Ministry has boosted discoveries in recent years in the hopes of bolstering tourism, a major pillar of foreign currency.

Very cool!!    🙂

Pyramid discovery: Scientists use cosmic rays to find mysterious chamber inside ancient edifice

Scientists have harnessed sophisticated scanning technology to discover a mysterious chamber inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza. The discovery, which was revealed in the journal Nature, has been described as the first discovery of a major new space within the pyramid since the 19th century. An international team of researchers used cosmic-ray imaging to find a 30-meter (98.4 foot) “void” within the Great Pyramid, which is also known as Khufu’s Pyramid for its builder, a 4th Dynasty pharaoh who reigned from 2509 to 2483 B.C. Cosmic ray imaging records the behavior of subatomic particles called muons that penetrate the rock similar to X-rays, only much deeper. The muon scan harnesses special plates that are planted inside and around the pyramid to collect data on the particles, which rain down from the earth’s atmosphere. The particles pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces, enabling scientists to study their trajectories and discern what is stone and what is not. Several plates were used to triangulate the void discovered in the Great Pyramid. The technology was also used to analyze the Fukushima nuclear reactor after it was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Scientists involved in the pyramid scanning called the find a “breakthrough” that highlighted the usefulness of modern particle physics in archaeology. “This is a premier,” said Mehdi Tayoubi, a co-founder of the ScanPyramids project and president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute. “It could be composed of one or several structures… maybe it could be another Grand Gallery. It could be a chamber, it could be a lot of things.” “It was hidden, I think, since the construction of the pyramid,” he added. Intriguingly, the newly discovered space does not appear to be connected to any known internal passages. Egyptologists, however, say there is unlikely to be any treasure within the hidden space. The pyramid’s ‘void’ is the latest ancient Egyptian discovery to thrill experts. Last month, for example, archaeologists announced the discovery of an ancient temple belonging to King Ramses II. In August experts revealed that they had unearthed three tombs from an ancient “great cemetery” in Egypt’s Nile Valley. A month earlier, archaeologists said that a tomb that may have belonged to the wife of King Tutankhamun had been discovered in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. In June, archaeologists from Yale and the Royal Museum of Art and History in Belgium announced the discovery of the earliest-known ‘billboard-sized’ hieroglyphs in the ancient city of Elkab. Other finds include a 3,000-year-old royal tomb in the Luxor area and the tomb of an ancient gold worker on Sai Island in northern Sudan.

Fascinating!!  For more, click on the text above.

Mystery of Great Pyramid may be solved, researchers say

It has long been known that the rock was extracted eight miles away in Tura and that granite used in the monumental structure was quarried 533 miles away in Aswan. However, archaeologists have disagreed over how the material was transported to Giza, now part of modern-day Cairo, for construction of Pharaoh Khufu’s tomb in 2600 BC. Now that mystery could be a step further to being solved after the discovery of an ancient scroll of papyrus, a ceremonial boat and a network of waterways, reported the Mail on Sunday. The new evidence shows that thousands of laborers transported 170,000 tons of limestone along the River Nile in wooden boats built with planks and rope. The 2.5-ton blocks were ferried through a system of specially designed canals before arriving at an inland port built just yards away from the base of the Great Pyramid. The papyrus scroll is the only firsthand record of how the pyramid was built, and was written by an overseer named Merer. He explained in detail how the limestone was moved from the quarry in Tura to Giza using the Bronze Age waterways. Archaeologist Mark Lehner has also uncovered evidence of a waterway underneath the plateau the pyramid sits on. He said: “We’ve outlined the central canal basin, which we think was the primary delivery area to the foot of the Giza Plateau.”

Fascinating!!  To see photos, and a video, click on the text above.    🙂

3,500-year-old pharaonic tomb discovered in Luxor

Egypt has announced the discovery in the southern city of Luxor of a pharaonic tomb belonging to a royal goldsmith who lived more than 3,500 years ago during the reign of the 18th dynasty. The tomb is located on the west bank of the river Nile in a cemetery where noblemen and top government officials are buried. Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany said the tomb is not in good condition, but it contains a statue of the goldsmith and his wife as well as a funerary mask. He said a shaft in the tomb contained mummies belonging to ancient Egyptian people who lived during the 21st and 22nd dynasties. The tomb was discovered by Egyptian archeologists and the fanfare surrounding Saturday’s announcement is designed to boost Egypt’s slowly recovering tourism industry.

Very cool!!   🙂

Egyptologists examine ‘sensational’ discovery: a fake toe

Think losing a toe in ancient Egypt meant you’d be forever without one? Not so, at least in one case. Egyptologists from Switzerland’s University of Basel have since 2015 been studying what a press release calls an “ancient Egyptian elite cemetery” near Luxor, and one of its finds was small but big: one of the oldest prosthetic devices ever found, which served to replace the right foot’s big toe and was made with incredible skill. The 3,000-year-old prosthesis was discovered in the upper-class tomb of a priest’s daughter at plundered burial site Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna and has now been re-examined. Not only is it attractive and functional, but “the mobility of the prosthetic extension and the robust structure of the belt strap” show it was made by an artisan who was “very familiar” with the human form. At the Conversation, Jane Draycott of the University of Glasgow notes prostheses have also been found in ancient Greece, and advancements in this field likely followed war as soldiers with missing extremities returned home. It isn’t clear what happened to the priest’s daughter, but researchers believe her toe was amputated and a pricey prosthetic fitted in its place. Using microscopy and X-rays, they determined the wooden toe was actually refitted at least three times, per UPI. It shows “she had a certain living standard,” researcher Andrea Loprieno-Gnirs tells Swiss Info. Ancient Egyptians “often wore sandals, so you can imagine that a well-formed foot was important,” she adds, calling the prosthetic an “extraordinary” and “sensational find.”

Fascinating!!  To see a photo of this, click on the text above.

5,000-Year-Old “Nativity” Scene Found in Egypt

Italian researchers have discovered what might be the oldest nativity scene ever found — 5,000-year-old rock art that depicts a star in the east, a newborn between parents and two animals. The scene, painted in reddish-brown ochre, was found on the ceiling of a small cavity in the Egyptian Sahara desert, during an expedition to sites between the Nile valley and the Gilf Kebir Plateau. “It’s a very evocative scene which indeed resembles the Christmas nativity. But it predates it by some 3,000 years,” geologist Marco Morelli, director of the Museum of Planetary Sciences in Prato, near Florence, Italy, told Seeker. Morelli found the cave drawing in 2005, but only now his team has decided to reveal the amazing find. “The discovery has several implications as it raises new questions on the iconography of one of the more powerful Christian symbols,” Morelli said. The scene features a man, a woman missing the head because of a painting detachment, and a baby. “It could have been interpreted as a normal depiction of a family, with the baby between the parents, but other details make this drawing unique,” Morelli said. He noted the newborn is drawn slightly above, as if raising to the sky. Such position, with the baby not yet between the parents, would have meant a birth or a pregnancy. “As death was associated to Earth in contemporary rock art from the same area, it is likely that birth was linked to the sky,” Morelli said. The scene becomes more symbolically complex if the other figures, two animals and a small circular feature, are taken into consideration. On the upper part is a headless lion, a mythical beast which appears in several rock art drawings from the same area, while below in the scene a baboon or an anthropomorphic monkey can be seen. In the east, the Neolithic artist drawn what appears to be star. The researchers called the site the “Cave of the Parents.” “No doubt it’s an intriguing drawing,” Morelli said. “We didn’t find similar scenes until the early Christian age.”

Fascinating!  To see a picture of the scene in question, click on the text above.   🙂

42 tombs and a shrine discovered in Egypt

Forty-two rock-cut tombs and a shrine decorated with a winged sun disc have been found along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. The discovery of this necropolis, the burial ground of men, women and children, proves that Gebel el-Silsila in Upper Egypt was not just a quarry site for the kingdom’s temples and tombs; it was also a bustling population center, according to the archaeological team that discovered the structures. “This is actually a major hub of commerce, worship and possibly political [activity],” said John Ward, assistant director of the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project. A big mystery surrounds the new tombs, however. Where is the lost city of Silsila? So far, archaeologists have discovered tombs, the quarry, a temple and slab monuments called stelae. But they haven’t found a town or village where the people who used these structures would have lived. Silsila was originally believed to be a sort of work camp, where the predominant activity was quarrying for sandstone. Survey project mission director Maria Nilsson, Ward and their colleagues have been discovering much more than that at the site, however. Earlier this year, for example, they announced the discovery of six statues dating back 3,500 years that depicted elite families. Yesterday (March 30), Ward, Nilsson and the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector announced the spring archaeological season discovery of the new tombs. They date back to the 18th and 19th dynasty, a period of time that runs from about 1543 B.C. to about 1189 B.C., which includes famous pharaohs like Hapshetsut. Archaeologists had known that rock-cut openings were present on the site’s Nile bluffs, Ward told Live Science. But the river has been eating away at the sandstone exteriors, damaging the structures. The group of archaeologists launched a project to clean out three of the openings, both to find out what was inside them and to see if they could slow down the erosion. They found that the tombs were filled with Nile silt, indicating that they’d been flooding before the first dams in the river were constructed in the 1800s. This silt was acting as a “sponge” to draw in river water, worsening the erosional damage, Ward said. “Once we started to clear this Nile silt, we could see that the actual sandstone surface itself was starting to dry out,” he said. “Tomb” 1, which was already clear of silt, turned out not to be a tomb, but a two-room shrine. While the outer room overlooks the Nile to the west, the inner room, which once had a slightly elevated floor, is damaged by water, Ward said. Despite the water damage, a carved stone solar disc with wings — a symbol of power and protection — is still visible, he said. Tomb 2 is an actual tomb, with stairs leading down into a rough-cut chamber without paintwork or any interior design. The space is so small that workers have to kneel to fit inside rather than stand up, Ward said. Many human bones were found in a jumble inside, which was probably caused by the Nile waters, he said. The tombs were also looted at some time in antiquity. Still, they contained many pieces of pottery such as beer jugs, offering plates, and bowls and storage jars — all funerary wares that were used in ancient Egyptian tombs, Ward said. The other two tombs that have been cleaned out, Tombs 14 and 15, were also looted, but both contained crypts carved into the floor. The crypt in Tomb 15 even retains half its lid, Ward said. The excavation also turned up “lots and lots of beads,” Ward said. And most intriguingly, the archaeologists found a scarab amulet bearing the name of the 18th-dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III and a seal right along with his cartouche (an oval symbol surrounding a royal name), reinforcing the theory that Silsila was more than just a work camp for quarry diggers. These artifacts suggest that the people buried in the tombs were of higher standing than quarry workers, Ward said. Each of the documented tombs has a door with notches carved in the door jambs that could have held a stone portcullis, which could have been raised or lowered for new burials. “These are family tombs,” Ward said. The portcullis closures would have kept out floodwaters and wildlife, though maybe not permanently. In Tomb 14, the archaeologists found crocodile scutes — the triangular, bumpy protrusions seen on crocs’ backs. It’s not certain whether a crocodile made it into the tomb, Ward said, or whether the scutes flowed in with the Nile floodwaters. The team members plan to excavate more tombs in the next field season, and hope to find remains or names of the tomb occupants. They’re also continuing the survey in hopes of solving the biggest mystery surrounding Silsila: Where was the town, or village, that this necropolis served? “We’re pretty excited, to say the least,” Ward said. “It’s kind of nice to be able to say, ‘Silsila, we’ve got a necropolis now.'”

Very cool!!   🙂

Particles could reveal clues to how Egypt pyramid was built

An international team of researchers said Sunday they will soon begin analyzing cosmic particles collected inside Egypt’s Bent Pyramid to search for clues as to how it was built and learn more about the 4,600-year-old structure. Mehdi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, said that plates planted inside the pyramid last month have collected data on radiographic particles known as muons that rain down from the earth’s atmosphere. The particles pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces. By studying particle accumulations, scientists may learn more about the construction of the pyramid, built by the Pharaoh Snefru. “For the construction of the pyramids, there is no single theory that is 100 percent proven or checked; They are all theories and hypotheses,” said Hany Helal, the institute’s vice president. “What we are trying to do with the new technology, we would like to either confirm or change or upgrade or modify the hypotheses that we have on how the pyramids were constructed,” he said. The Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, just outside Cairo, is distinguished by the bent slope of its sides. It is believed to have been ancient Egypt’s first attempt to build a smooth-sided pyramid. The Scan Pyramids project, which announced in November thermal anomalies in the 4,500 year-old Khufu Pyramid in Giza, is coupling thermal technology with muons analysis to try to unlock secrets to the construction of several ancient Egyptian pyramids. Tayoubi said the group plans to start preparations for muons testing in a month in Khufu, the largest of the three Giza pyramids, which is known internationally as Cheops. “Even if we find one square meter void somewhere, it will bring new questions and hypotheses and maybe it will help solve the definitive questions,” said Tayoubi.

Fascinating!!   🙂

Lost resting place of Egyptian queen Nefertiti may have been hidden by Tutankhamun’s tomb, archaeologist says

An English archaeologist has suggested that the tomb of Tutankhamun, the most famous of Egypt’s pharaohs, is hiding a secret that has eluded researchers since its discovery more than 90 years ago. Dr. Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona told the Times of London that he believes he has discovered a secret doorway leading from the tomb of King Tut to that of, Nefertiti, believed to be the boy-king’s mother and one of the most powerful women of the ancient world. Reeves told the Times that he discovered the bricked-up “ghosts” of the doorways after examining digital scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, across the Nile River from Luxor in southern Egypt. He believes that one of the doorways leads to a little-used storeroom, but the other, on the north side of the tomb, leads to “the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s rightful owner.” If Reeves is correct, the room containing Tut’s tomb — discovered by English archaeologist Howard Carter to global acclaim in 1922 — was built to be an antechamber to that of the more illustrious and glamorous Nefertiti. It would also explain some facts about Tutankhamun’s resting place that have puzzled researchers. For one thing, the size of Tutankhamun’s tomb is smaller than those of other Egyptian kings. Second, as Reeves writes, many of the artifacts that have enraptured millions of museum visitors around the world are largely second-hand, having been recycled from earlier burials. Finally, the opening in question appears to have been decorated with religious scenes at an earlier date than the other three walls of Tutankhamen’s tomb. The scenes would have been meant to confer protection on the room beyond. “Only one female royal of the late 18th Dynasty is known to have received such honours [sic], and that is Nefertiti,” Reeves wrote in a report published by the Armana Royal Tombs Project. Nefertiti, who bore the titles “Lady of All Women” and “Mistress of Upper and Lower Egpyt” during her lifetime, ruled as the chief consort of the pharaoh Akhenaten in the late 14th century B.C.. She is believed to have died in around 1330 B.C., approximately seven years before the estimated date of Tutankhamun’s death. Despite her fame and power during her lifetime, no one is quite sure where she has been buried. Some believe she was buried at Armana, the capital city established by her husband approximately 250 miles north of the Valley of The Kings. Others say one of two mummies discovered in the Valley of the Kings may be the former Queen of Egypt.

Fascinating!! 🙂

Egypt intensifies security at antiquities sites: state news

Egypt’s antiquities minister issued orders on Wednesday to intensify security at antiquities sites across the country in coordination with the Interior Ministry, in comments reported by state news agency MENA on Wednesday. A suicide bomb attack near a tourist site in the southern city of Luxor that left four Egyptians wounded marks an escalation of attacks on tourist sites in the country.

Smart move! And, kudos to Egypt! We’ve seen the horrific destruction of ancient temples and relics by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I’m sure they’d love to do the same in Egypt. So, very glad to see this. 🙂