Sunday, November 29, 2015

Still More from Tutankhamen's Tomb

     Preliminary results from the radar and infrared scan of Tutankhamen's tomb have been announced and there is some evidence that there is another room behind the Pharaoh's burial chamber. The possibility now exists that a hole will be drilled (probably from the treasury?) and a camera inserted to see what can be learned.

     It was also announced that radar and infrared scans of tomb KV5 (the sons of Ramesses II) has started.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Radar Check in the Tomb of Tutankhamen

     A second radar test is being conducted in the tomb of Tutankhamen to verify the results of the first test. So far specifics have not been released. Results are expected to be released on Saturday. Here is an article containing the latest.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Latest Issue of KMT Magazine

Fig 1 - Sphinx of Senusert  III, 12th Dynasty
     The Latest Issue of KMT Magazine is available on newsstands and as always there are a number of really interesting articles.

Fig. 2 Sphinx of Senusert III, Metropolitan Museum
     The feature article in this issue is a description of the Metropolitan Museum's special exhibit "Ancient Egypt Transformed". The exhibit features some of the major works of Middle Kingdom art from the Metropolitan, Brooklyn, Louvre and Kunsthistoriches Museum (Vienna). There are also pieces from Stockholm, London, Manchester and Kansas City among others. I have not yet seen this exhibit (I am planning on going to the Met next weekend) and will give a more detailed write up about it once I get to it. For the time being I have included a few photos of two objects from the Metropolitan Museum that are in the exhibit.

Fig. 3 - Amenemhat I, Metropolitan Museum
     Raymond Johnson weighs in with a re-interpretation of a famous Amarna talatat block that I think is right on the money. Add in an article on the Egyptian collection in Marseille, an Amarna head in Turin and a short biography of Egyptologist Georges Daressy along with the magazine's usual collection of great photographs and you have another excellent issue of KMT.

     You can find the magazine at Barnes & Nobles or you can subscribe at their website.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Amuduat in the Tomb of Tuthmose III

     The Book of the Amduat makes its first appearance in the early Eighteenth Dynasty painted onto the walls of royal burial chambers. The paintings look (intentionally I am sure) as if they are actually painted onto a papyrus scroll.

     The scene to the left is from the Seventh Hour of the text and shows the enemies of Osiris (and Tuthmose III, in whose tomb this painting can be found) being punished via decapitation. To the left of this scene, the seated god Osiris (protected by a Mehen serpent) acts as the judge of the dead and oversees the execution of those who are his enemies.

     The presence of Osiris in this scene is designed to emphasize the fact that Osiris is now actively supporting Ra's trip through this dangerous portion of the underworld.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hour Twelve of the Amduat

     The main event in the Book of the Amduat is the rise of the sun each morning. In the twelfth hour of the text Ra has regained his full power and is reborn in the eastern sky.

     In the middle register of this scene in the Tomb of Tuthmose III we see the sun god's boat being towed by twelve gods and thirteen goddesses toward a large snake (the "World Encircler"). The solar bark enters the snake at the tail and is reborn out the mouth of the serpent. The "old ones, weak from age" who are on the god's boat are rejuvenated along with Ra as they pass through the body of the snake. Finally the sun arrives at the eastern horizon where the it is reborn in the form of a beetle (the god Khepra).



Monday, November 9, 2015

Gates in the Amduat and the Sun's Encounter with Apopis

     Two hours of the Amduat have gates that the solar boat of Ra must pass each night. In the fourth hour the solar bark is towed along a zig zag path that (in the tomb of Tuthmose III) has two gates that must be passed. These gates are called "knives".

     The eighth hour is divided into five "caverns" or vaults by six gates. (also named "knives") There are three guardians in each cavern. In this hour the boat is towed by eight gods. In the fourth hour, there were four gods towing the boat, while in the Twelfth hour there are twelve gods fulfilling this task.

     In the Seventh hour, there is a different obstacle to overcome. It is here that Ra's greatest enemy, Apopis, tries to attack the solar bark. In the middle register of the scene representing this hour, this evil god dries up the water that the sun god's boat is floating on and Ra can only proceed through the magic of Isis and the "eldest magician" and by the magical power that is in the mouth of Ra himself. Selkis places fetters on the body of Apopis while Isis and the "eldest magician" cast spells on the snake body of Apopis. Ra is shown in this hour as surrounded by a "Mehen" serpent that also helps protect him from Apopis.

     In the lower register of this hour, the stars are shown (as human figures, both male and female) with stars on their heads as they proceed in front of Ra. In the upper register, the enemies of Osiris are punished. They are bound (elbows together) and then decapitated.

(See: Abt, Theodor and Erik Hornung. Knowledge for the Afterlife: the Egyptian Amduat - a Quest for Immortality, Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications, 2003).


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Amduat

     The Book of the Amduat is sometimes said to date back to the Old Kingdom. This argument has been advanced in spite of the fact that there does not seem to be any solid evidence for it (Hornung, Erik. The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999, pp. 27 - 28). The earliest example of the text is from the tomb of Tuthmose I. An argument has been made that his daughter Hatshepsut is responsible for the text being in Tuthmose's tomb, but there is, once again, no solid evidence for this idea.

     In the Tomb of Tuthmose III there is a complete copy of the text, which starts on the west wall of the Pharaoh's burial chamber (sunset) and concludes on the east wall (sunrise). In the tomb of Tutankhamen, an abbreviated version of this text is on the burial chamber walls, and some of the chapters are on the shrines that surrounded his sarcophagus and coffins.

     The tomb of Horemhab does not have any portion of the Book of the Amduat on its walls. Since Horemhab's shrines have long since disappeared, we do not know if they had a copy of the text on them or not. Portions of the text appear in the tombs of the Ramesside Pharaohs down to the 22nd Dynasty. By Dynasty 21 the text began appearing in the tombs of priests while, in Dynasty 30 it has been found on the sarcophagi of both kings and nobles. It finally goes out of use during the Ptolemaic Period (Hornung, p. 28).