Archive for the ‘Tombs’ Category

We have examined how George Reisner developed his concept of the nucleus cemeteries, and how these grew into what we now call the Western Field, or, Western Necropolis. We have examined how the field was divided into three tracts so that concessions could be assigned to international missions. We will now begin looking at an assortment of the tombs themselves, beginning with George Reisner and the Hearst Expedition.

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We have been introduced to the Western Cemetery of Khufu, and how it began as nucleus cemeteries that expanded as additional mastabas and burials were added, creating the not-always-so-neat mosaic of a history in stone of the Fourth Dynasty, beginning with the reign of Pharaoh Khufu. Now the Egyptian authorities were going to allow three international missions to begin excavation in the Western Cemetery. But how would the concessions be divided? How was the decision made, as regards who digs where? In Part 3, we begin to demystify at least how this process began. As we go, we will see that concessions get passed on, swapped, and at least temporarily, set aside. The concessions at Giza today may look somewhat differently, but at least in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, this is how it started.
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We introduced the subject of Khufu’s Western Cemetery in the last article of this series. Before we can begin an organized delve into the mastabas themselves, we first need to understand a couple of key concepts. We need to know about the nucleus cemeteries and how they expanded into the necropolis we seek to study (the subject of this article), and how the Western Cemetery was carved up into concessions (the subject of the next article). So, how did the Western Cemetery evolve?

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Khufu's Western Cemetery Part 1 - Introduction

With the Scan Pyramids project doing work in the field, and the Harvard University/Museum of Fine Arts Boston Giza Archive Project being reinvented as Digital Giza, it seems the Old Kingdom is in the air. Many of you have been following my Western Cemetery series on Facebook in the Old Kingdom Egyptology Group, but there is a need for a more permanent home for the series, which is a great reason to jump start Em Hotep!

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000 - tabGiza 3D is the virtual world of the Giza Plateau reconstructed from the thousands of archaeological photographs, first hand sketches of artifacts and monuments in situ, dig diaries, aerial and satellite imagery, and all the resources the Giza Archives have to offer, “a real-time virtual reconstruction of the Giza Plateau, based on actual archeological data gathered by Harvard and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) expeditions to Egypt in the first part of the 20th century” (Forbes: “How Harvard Students Explore Ancient Egypt From Cambridge With New 3D Technology”).

Here at Em Hotep we want to provide you with a set of travel guides to the virtual tours conducted by Peter Der Manuelian, where to go and what to see when you enter the free-style navigation mode that lets you wander around, and how to make the best of the many resources Giza 3D offers.  Join us for the first Travel Guide as we explore a series of three connected Fourth and Fifth Dynasty mastabas, the G 2100 Family Tomb Complex.

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The more we learn about Hierakonpolis, the more likely it seems that during the Naqada II Period this ancient township was the capital of a province that reached well beyond its immediate boundaries. While it may be too early to call it a kingdom—we don’t know if the position of chieftain was hereditary or not—it was certainly headed in that direction.

Had consolidation been emphasized just a little more, and a tighter grip exercised over the northward expansion, Hierakonpolis might have become the capital of a united Egypt 500 years earlier than Narmer (Andelkovic, 2011, p. 29).  As it turned out, expansionism during Naqada II was more about the gradual assimilation of Lower Egypt, and consolidation was focused on three cities rather than just one—Hierakonpolis, Naqada, and Abydos.  But the roots of royalty were firmly established at Naqada II Hierakonpolis.

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The unification of Egypt is credited to Narmer, the traditional first king of a unified Egypt, who extended his pharaonic mace from his capitol at Hierakonpolis to smite the backward villages of Lower Egypt and rein them in to southern ways.

Well, maybe not exactly.

The unification of Egypt was a process, not a historical event that can be neatly situated into a single time and place, much less a single person.  But one thing is for certain, that process began to take recognizable shape at Hierakonpolis and the earliest roots of that development began with the Badarian culture.  As we shall see in this article, the Naqadian people would build on the material culture of the Badarians, mostly through innovation and improvement of existing types, and this process would plant the seeds for pharaonic Egypt first at Hierakonpolis.  But as sometimes happens, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

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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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It would be easy to think that the ancient Egyptians, for all their amazing accomplishments in the arts and sciences, were morbidly obsessed with death.  After all, what do you think of when you imagine ancient Egypt?  The Pyramids:  tombs.  Tutankhamun:  a golden mummy.  Valley of the Kings: a cemetery.

But the truth of the matter is that the Egyptians were obsessed with life, and they fully expected it to continue on the Other Side.  Just as we work, save, and invest for our retirement today, the ancient Egyptians prepared for their eternal retirement amongst the gods.  Most of the art and artifacts connected to this planning, what we would call the funerary tradition and/or architecture, was considered to be the machinery of the afterlife, the tools and rituals required for the care and feeding of a departed spirit.

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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)

News is beginning to pop up about a new tomb discovered in the Saqqara area of the Memphis Necropolis, and it’s a big one!  Actually, two tombs have been discovered, and while they seem to have already been looted, archaeologists have found artifacts, including human remains.

 

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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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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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cleo-tabIf you already thought October was going to be exciting for Egyptology, then dig this!  Dr. Zahi Hawass says that new work in the search for the tombs of Cleopatra and Mark Antony will begin this October.

The search for the famous queen of the Ptolemaic Dynasty has been tightening around Alexandria in recent years, and this year’s dig season could bring us even closer.  Also, Dr. Hawass confirms an item from our October checklist!

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