Tombs | Em Hotep!

Posts Tagged ‘Tombs’

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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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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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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In the first part of January the media began breaking the news that the old yarn about slaves having built the pyramids had finally been dispelled.  Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that three large tombs had been newly discovered very close to the pyramid itself.  As the final resting place of some of the overseers of the workforce, both the structure and location of the tombs made it clear that these were no slaves.

Dr. Hawass’ statement that “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves” (source) was widely repeated in the press under headlines announcing that the belief that slaves had built the pyramids could now be retired.  But Egyptologists have long known that the Slave Hypothesis was pure Hollywood. 

Along with Hawass, Egyptologist Mark Lehner began uncovering the truth of the pyramid builders more than 20 years ago.  Lehner was consumed with the question of where such a large workforce could have lived.  After conducting the first detailed “to scale” survey of the Giza Plateau, he narrowed his focus to the area around the enigmatic Wall of the Crow, a colossal wall with no apparent related structures.

Lehner hit pay dirt, and his dogged pursuit of these ancient builders led to the excavation of the very city where they lived and worked—a large complex of barracks and permanent housing, distribution centers, industrial sites, and scribal workshops.  The recently discovered tombs tell us something of the status of the workers, but the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders gives us the everyday details of their lives.

Most of Em Hotep’s readers will be familiar with Dr. Lehner and his work.  But if you are not, then his total absence from the recent news stories may have left you with an incomplete picture of just how strong the case against the Slavery Hypothesis really is.  In this three-part series we will take a look at what Lehner discovered about the pyramid builders.  We will examine the evidence that the workforce had a surprisingly modern division of labor, followed by a tour of the city itself.

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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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zah-tabFor obvious reasons, the primary source for what is going on in Egyptology is the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and the voice of the SCA is Dr. Zahi Hawass.  Some exciting things have been promised (or at least dangled before us!) for the 2009/10 excavation season, but not everything on the radar is being dug out of the ground.  There are mummy forensic studies, DNA tests, and the repatriation of artifacts, all of which play a role in Egyptology.

Dr. Hawass has promised, hinted, and suggested that October 2009 is going to be a particularly active month.  Just for fun, let’s make a checklist…

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25
Sep

Dra Abu el-Naga: Ray Stole My Tomb

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   in Egypt in the News, Tombs, Valley of the Kings

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.

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kv64-tabWe were all just a little disappointed when KV63, heralded a bit prematurely as a new tomb, turned out to be a storage room (actually, there is a lot to be excited about with KV63–see the article comments within).  Sometimes these things happen.

But if that little snafu prompts extra caution and discretion in the hunt for KV64, then that’s a Good Thing.  Over at Heritage Key, I provide a little primer on this developing story..

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28
Aug

A Day at Work in Egypt

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   in Photo Essays

daw-tabThis photo essay presents everyday people doing everyday jobs at some of the most fascinating places on Earth.

 

 

 

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