Egyptology

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!!    🙂

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.