Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Egypt in Italy

     I am back from vacationing in Italy. I was hoping to have some things to share, and I do. Just less than I had hoped for.

     Rome has almost as many Egyptian obelisks as Egypt has, but I only managed to see two of them (at the Vatican and the Spanish Stairs). We ran out of time and did not get to any of the others. I also had hoped to see the Egyptian collection at the Vatican Museum, but it was so crowded that we were only (!)  able to see the Raphael paintings and the Sistine Chapel.

     The photos will be downloaded from the camera in the next couple of days and they will be posted as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Egypt Closes all Museums and Archaeological Sites

The Egyptian government today announced that all museums and archaeological sites have been closed due to the violence in the country. Here is a link to the announcement.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Uruk - an Article in Archeology Magazine

    NJust a quick note that the current issue on Archaeology Magazine, has an article ("The Everlasting City") on Uruk, which may have been the first city in the world. The photograph on the second page of the article is striking. It shows Uruk as it is today, a hill in a barren desert. Thousands of years ago the city was located in a lush delta. But then the river shifted its course and left the city to be abandoned by its inhabitants.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Central Park Obelisk

Figure 1 - Obelisk of Tuthmose III in Central Park
There are any number of Egyptian obelisks scattered throughout the world. One of them is in Central Park. Sadly, time has not been kind to it, but I will get to that.

     The obelisk in Central Park, as I mentioned in a post in May of this year, is located near the Metropolitan Museum and was originally erected by Tuthmose III in Heliopolis. It was moved, along with its twin, to Alexandria during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. One of these obelisks was later moved to London and set up on the banks of the Thames, while the other was moved, in 1880, to New York City.

     The inscriptions on these obelisks are rather unenlightening. All of them, both those of Tuthmose III and those of Ramesses II, give a seemingly endless list of names and titles that tell us nothing of any great importance.

Figure 2 - Heavy Damage to the Inscriptions
     There is a picture of the obelisk being set up in Central Park in Budge's book Egyptian Obelisks; the picture shows the inscriptions to be in excellent condition. Contrast that picture with figure 2 and you can see how badly the New York weather has harmed the obelisk. The pictures here were taken about twenty years ago, so the damage is certainly even worse now. Will all of the inscriptions be destroyed in my lifetime? Sadly, that may very well happen.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Mouse Demon of the Book of the Dead

     I am reading John Taylor's book Journey Through the Afterlife and I saw something in a photo on page 19 that struck me as odd.

     On the papyrus of Nesitanebisheru (Dynasty 21 or 22) there is a rather traditional scene showing The sky goddess Nut being separated from Geb (the god of the earth) by the god Shu. To the upper right of this scene are representations of gods and demons raising their hands in adoration. One of the demons (for the lack of a better word) has the head of a mouse or similar animal. I have never seen anything quite like it.

     The name of the demon is something like srk'd. The first three characters in the name are very clear (srk). The fourth character in the name looks like the fish that Gardiner's sign list transliterated as 'd (Gardiner's Grammar, p. 477, sign K3).

Does anyone have a clue what this demon is? If so, please let me know.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Tomb of Djehuynakht (Conclusion)

     Djehutynakht's tomb contained objects of great interest over and above the painted coffins of the owner and his wife. This tomb also contained the largest collection of wooden "models" known from the Middle Kingdom. Like the more famous models found in the tomb of Meketre, the wooden models in Djehutynakht's tomb showed many scenes of daily life. Cows are being fed, servant girls are bringing offerings to the owner of the tomb, granaries and breweries are shown. And there are a number of model boats. The excavators also found a few pieces of jewelry that the tomb robbers somehow missed.

     The tomb also held one rather grisly surprise for the excavators. The head of either Djehutynakht or his wife (it is not certain which of them) was found in the tomb. The head shows that the brain of the deceased was partially removed via the nose (as would become normal later in Egyptian history) and partially through the base of the head at the back of the skull.