Upper Egypt

Archive for the ‘Upper Egypt’ Category

Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt is a collaboration between Richard Wilkinson, who is Regent’ Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Director of the Egyptian Expedition at the University of Arizona, and some of the most recognizable names in current Egyptology.

Written for a general audience, but with all the details a specialist looks for in a good book, Tausret is one of those books that will teach you about Egyptology while entertaining you with an adventure.  But it’s not the sort of swashbuckling adventure you might get with, say Belzoni.  It’s more of a detective story, spread out over a lot of detectives.

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Last week as news was breaking about the new tomb—KV64—Em Hotep received word from Stephen Cross, an Egyptologist and Geologist specializing in the Valley of the Kings, that he had photographed the tomb while conducting his own, unrelated research in the Valley.  Naturally, Steve held onto this wonderful shot until after the University of Basel had made their announcement.  Now that the whole world knows about KV64 and its lovely occupant, Steve has very kindly agreed to allow us to publish the photo, along with answer some questions about what is going on in the Valley of the Kings.

Inside:  Current projects in the Valley of the Kings, Steve’s meeting with the new head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and a picture of KV64 you will not see anywhere else!

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In case you haven’t heard, there is a new addition to the list of tombs in the Valley of the Kings!  As I am currently focused on the next pyramid shaft article, and my multi-tasking cache already runneth over, I am pointing you to the sources I go to for information about such things—my brother and sister bloggers.

As always, these are not typical bloggers (have I mentioned how much I dislike that marginalizing term, blogger?), these are folks who are thoughtful, critical, analytical, and who often have direct channels to the primary sources.  Don’t forget to check out the comments sections, as this is where the story tends to develop.  And you have my word that these kind people will welcome your comments and questions as well.

 

 

(Kate gets two entries because VoK is her bailiwick)

The Donation Stele of Pharaoh Ahmose I endowed the office of the God’s Wife of Amun with an estate that consisted of financial income, real estate, her own retinue, and the means to support the entire operation.  Called the Per Duat, or, House of the Adoratrice, this estate allowed (at least in theory) the God’s Wife to operate with autonomy from the priesthood and royal house alike.

But in the early part of the New Kingdom the God’s Wife and the Divine Adoratrice were two separate offices within the temple hierarchy at Karnak, which can cause some confusion when exploring the history of these unique institutions.  This article will endeavor to disentangle this relationship as we seek to understand what these two offices were and how they came to be merged into a single position, or at least a single career track.

Note:  At the end of the last article in this series, The God’s Wives of Amun – Royal Women and Power Politics in the Eighteenth Dynasty, I said that this article would also cover the details of the Donation Stele and exactly what was endowed to the House of the Adoratrice.  After some revision it became clear that these were two separate articles.  The properties of the House of the Adoratrice will be explored in Part 2: The Demesne of the God’s Wife.  This present article will focus on the parallel development of the God’s Wife and the Divine Adoratrice, as well as the House of the Adoratrice as an institution.

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If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, what were the first steps Hemienu took when starting the construction of the Great Pyramid?  Six letters from Hemienu is a work of epistolary historical fiction, with a very heavy emphasis on historical, which explores the sort of details that would have required his attention immediately after choosing a building site for Khufu’s Pyramid. 

The purpose of these imaginary missives from the desk of the Overseer of All the King’s Works is to give the reader an idea of the amount of planning, materials, and manpower involved not only in building the Great Pyramid, but in preparation for the work itself.  There were mines and quarries to be opened, a fully functional workers’ city to be constructed, and an entire nation to be mobilized.

In many ways this is a re-introduction to the Hemienu to Houdin series, but it is also intended to be a stand-alone monologic narrative (fancy-speak for letters from just one person that tell a story) of how Hemienu initiated the project that would occupy all of Egypt for more than two decades.  Methods and materials, labor and logistics, tools and tasks, they are all here for your evaluation, along with a short annotated bibliography at the end.

Note:  The names used, with the exception of the Grand Vizier himself, are invented but not without some forethought (the Overseer of the Expedition to the Sinai to open the copper mines, for instance, is named Biah-Ahky, which translates to copper miner), and the titles and positions they hold do have their historical counterparts. 

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During the Middle Kingdom Period, having a daughter appointed as a God’s Wife in your local temple meant that you were a member of the upper crust of Egyptian society.  But at the dawn of the New Kingdom, Pharaoh Ahmose I drafted a legal contract that made the God’s Wife of Amun arguably the second most powerful person in the kingdom.  Before all was said and done, one God’s Wife would use the office to become the most powerful person in the kingdom. 

With Amun now the King of the Gods, his earthly consort came into her own wealth and authority in a way that would ultimately shatter the glass ceiling of Egyptian politics, at least for a while…

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The story of Amun’s rise to supremacy over the Egyptian pantheon is inseparable from the story of how Thebes rose from an insignificant speck on the map to the spiritual center of the Egyptian universe.    

This account of the ascent of Thebes and the god Amun sets the background for a series that will investigate an order of female pontiffs called the God’s Wives of Amun and how these tributaries converge into the ethos, or pathos, of the Heretic King, Akhenaten.   

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And now for something completely different!  Terry Jones of Monty Python fame teams up with Egyptologist Dr. Joann Fletcher to give us a look at everyday life in ancient Egypt by comparing it to everyday life in modern Egypt.

Food and fun, work and play, you will be surprised by how much remains the same.  Summary, analysis, and some really cool video clips wait inside!

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schaden-tabDr. Otto Schaden has posted an update to his webpage stating that the excavation of KV63, the tomb/mummy cache he discovered back in 2005, has been completed.  This milestone was passed this fall when the remaining sealed jars discovered in KV63 were opened and their contents examined.  In addition to seven empty (except for smashed jars and mummification tools) coffins, Dr. Schaden’s team discovered 28 large storage jars in one of the chambers of KV63, most of them sealed.

But with all the jars now opened, work on KV63 is far from over and the most exciting discoveries are certainly yet to come.

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edfu1-tabEdfu is most often associated with the Temple of Horus built there during the Ptolemaic Period, but the Tell Edfu Project, directed by the Oriental Institute’s Dr. Nadine Moeller, is literally uncovering a much older story.  Ancient Edfu was a persistent city that took a two-fisted approach to adversity and not only survived the first two Intermediate Periods, but flourished.

In Edfu Part One:  Ancient Djeba we will look at the history of this ancient mid-sized town that shattered the myth of Egypt being a “civilization without cities.”

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tut-tabTutankhamun’s tomb lasted undisturbed for thousands of years, but after mere decades of constant visitors the most famous burial site in the world is on the endangered list. 

It would seem we have found the infamous Curse of King Tut, and it is us…

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dra1-tabDra Abu el-Naga is a sort of suburb, if you will, of the Valley of the Kings where some tombs belonging to Seventeenth Dynasty royalty (such as Queen Ahhotep I, to the left) have been discovered, along with the tombs of Theban priests and officials.

Zahi Hawass has released a new video, which premiered at Heritage Key, with some of the recent discoveries at Dra Abu el-Naga, including some details about the tomb of Amun-Em-Opet, the Supervisor of Hunters.

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aby-a-tabDr. David O’Connor is the Co-Director of the Yale University-University of Pennsylvania-Institute of Fine Arts, NYU Excavations at Abydos, which just had their group symposium at Penn Museum on September 19, 2009.

I interviewed Dr. O’Connor for Heritage Key under my daytime name, Keith Payne.  Dr. O’Connor offered his insights on such subjects as the Cult of Osiris, royal mortuary chapels, the excavation of an entire fleet of ships, and human sacrifice!

Read the interview at:  Exclusive Interview: Dr David O’Connor of the Abydos Expedition.