This week for Women Crush Wednesday we are going to talk about one of the most influential reference authors in Egyptology. Her name was Bertha Porter and she was the co-author of the series of reference books, dubbed Porter and Moss.
Bertha Porter was born in 1852 to Fredrick William Porter, an Irish architect and surveyor for the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, and Sarah Moyle. She had seven siblings, although her older sibling died in infancy, which made her the eldest. Very little is known about her early life, but it was said that she was in many literary circles.
In 1885, Bertha was employed by Sir Sidney Lee, an English biographer, writer, and critic, to write for the Dictionary of National Biography. This was a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history. She worked there for the next 25 years where she completed 156 biographies. You can see a list of her biographies here.
Life as a Reference Writer
Around 1900, she was employed by the former curator of the British Museum, Francis Llewellyn Griffith. A few years earlier he had established funding and direction for the compilation of a reference text for Egyptologists. This was called Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings. It started as an economical filing system, with the information recorded on cards and categorized systematically. It was combined into a book containing the location and content of texts found on ancient monuments in Egypt and Sudan.
Bertha was in charge of compiling the bibliography. It is not known if she had any knowledge of Ancient Egyptian history prior to this job, but she did study Egyptian hieroglyphs in London under Griffith and at the University of Göttingen under Kurt Sethe.
Interestingly, Bertha never traveled to Egypt. She was always based in London, usually living with her brother Horatio in Russell Square. She was interested in physical research, depending on publications, photographs, and drawings, and verifications by other scholars. In 1934, she took on Rosalind Moss as an assistant, who eventually took over after Bertha retired from the project in 1929. Moss tended to do most of the fieldwork, traveling to Egypt frequently.
Bertha later moved to Oxford, where she took lodgings on Banbury Road. She died in 1941.
Porter and Moss
The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings is most frequently called Porter and Moss after its two main authors. There are eight volumes total. The first seven are arranged topographically, covering the whole of Egypt and Nubia. The eighth volume addresses the significant body of material in museums and private collections which had no provenance.
The last volume was published in 1975, so they technically are not the most up-to-date reference, but there is literally nothing like this in the field of Egyptology, so it is a vital reference for older publications or sites that are not well preserved in the present day.
This week for Mummy Monday, let’s meet another ancient Egyptian priestess and God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare Mutemhat.
Maatkare Mutemhat lived during the early Third Intermediate Period in the 21st Dynasty. She was the daughter of the High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem I. He was also the defacto ruled of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE and proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was Duathathor-Henuttawy, a daughter of Ramesses XI, the last ruler of the 20th Dynasty.
Maatkare Mutemhat is the throne name of Queen Hatshepsut. She was depicted as a young girl in the Luxor Temple, along with her sisters Henuttawy (B) and Mutnedjmet. She is also depicted as a high priestess on the façade of the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak and on a statue, which is now in Marseille, France. During her father’s reign as pharaoh, Maatkare received the title of Divine Adoratrice, God’s Wife of Amun. She was first God’s wife to take on the praenomen of Divine Adoratrice, which used to only be for pharaohs. With this title, Maakare was considered the female head of the priesthood of Amun at Karnak, and therefore she had almost the same status as a queen. Her titles from the Khonsu Temple are listed below:
r-p’t(t),w ‘rt hsw’t, hmt-ntr n ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-sw’t, s’t-nsw n kt. f, nbt t’wy
Hereditary princess, great of favors, God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s bodily daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
hmt-ntrn ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-swt, s’t-nsw n (ht.f), nbt t’wy
God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s (bodily) daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
Her family was well endowed because of her father. Her brother later became pharaoh, Psusennes I, one sister became queen, and three other brothers held the title of High Priest of Amun in succession. After her death, Maatkare’s position was given to her niece, Henuttawy (D).
Her original burial place is unknown, but it could be presumed that it was somewhere in the Theban necropolis. Her coffin, mummy, and some shabtis were found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320), which I have talked about several times on this blog. Along with several members of the royal family from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (see Nodjmet, Sqenenre Tao, and Unknown Man E), many of Maatkare’s family members were also buried here. Her father, Pinedjem I, her mother, Duathathor-Hunuttawy, and her brother, Masaharta. Her other family members were buried in tomb MMA60 in Deir el-Bahri.
Because this was a reburial, there weren’t too many funerary goods that were attributed to Maatkare. At least three shabtis were found inscribed for her. One is in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (US39863), one is at the Pelizaeus Museum in Germany (5485), and another is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.194.2405). A funerary papyrus has also been found but was not originally found in the tomb. It was probably stolen by the Abd el-Rassul family, who originally discovered DB320 and then sold many of the objects on the antiquities market. The papyrus is now located in Cairo.
One interesting object that was found in her coffin with the mummy was a small, wrapped package. At first, archaeologists believed that it was the mummy of a small baby, possibly stillborn. This would have been strange because, in her position as God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare was supposed to be celibate. Finally, when the package was x-rayed, it was revealed to be the mummy of a female hamadryas baboon, either a pet of hers or it was placed there for a ritual purpose.
She was found within two coffins both of which are located in the Cairo Museum (CG 61028; JE 26200). The outer coffin shows signs of minor damage as a gilded right hand is missing and some of the decoration on the forehead has been removed. The three distinct holes indicate that it may have been a golden vulture head flanked by two uraeus serpents. These would have completed the gilded vulture headdress that the coffin was wearing. These symbols were reserved for exceptionally important individuals in her time.
The coffin also depicts a fantastically detailed wig with small braids carved into the wood. The clenched fists that are both on the outer and inner coffin were symbols of masculine power and were normally reserved for the coffins of high-status males. Female coffins typically had outstretched fingers, indicating that this choice was a bold statement of social status.
The inner coffin and coffin board were much less preserved. The hands and faces have been completely removed. These are both elaborately decorated similarly to the outer coffin lid. You can also see that the inside of the bottom of the inner coffin is decorated with a large winged goddess.
The pattern of damage seems to have been done on two separate occasions. The first set of thieves had probably only targeted the inner coffin and the coffin board for petty pilfering. These could have been members of the burial party because if they only damaged the inner coffin and coffin board, they could cover their tracks with the outer coffin lid. Sometime later, someone removed her headpiece and the one gilded hand from the outer coffin. Or these could have fallen off while moving the mummy to DB320.
The mummy of Maatkare Mutemhat (CG 61088) had been disturbed before it was buried in DB320. G. Elliot Smith examined the mummy in June of 1909 and found extensive damage. The shroud of the mummy had been torn from the forehead to the pelvis as well as the right arm wrapping. This was all done in an attempt to find valuables.
Her left forearm was broken, and her hand had been badly damaged, both of them been broken off. You can see below, that on her right hand there were three gold and silver rings on the thumb which were not stolen by thieves. Her body was internally packed with fat, possibly butter, mixed with soda, and molded into the shape of a woman. This included the face.
Maatkare’s face was stuffed to present a life-like appearance. Although we have many examples of these practices, she may have been the earliest example. The wrappings on the face were also painted yellow ochre in an attempt to get a realistic skin tone. She also has two glass eyes that were placed in the wrappings. Her dark hair is still visible around the wrappings. Apparently, her nails had been tied with string to prevent them from falling off.
A leather thong was found around her head that probably held an amulet, which is now missing. X-rays reveal that there is a gold plate covering the embalming incision on her side.
This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is mostly known for a recent study on the mummy. Let’s talk about one of the “Cocaine Mummies,” Henut Taui.
Henut Taui, also known as Henuttaui or Henuttawy, was an ancient Egyptian priestess during the 21st Dynasty. Her name means “Lady of the Two Lands,” which was typically a title of a Queen. She was a priestess and chantress in the Temple of Amun at Thebes. There is virtually nothing known about this mummy. She was most likely buried in Deir el-Bahri or somewhere else in the Theban necropolis.
The mummy and sarcophagus became the property of the king of Bavaria, likely Ludwig I. He later donated it to the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst in Munich (ÄS 57). Her coffin was once located at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon, but it is now in Munich too.
Presence of Cocaine
In 1992, German toxicologist Svetlana Balabanova discovered traces of cocaine, hashish, and nicotine on Henut Taui’s hair, as well as on the hair of several other mummies in the museum. This is very significant because the only source of cocaine and nicotine had been considered to be the cocoa and tobacco plants that are native to the Americas. Before this discovery, these plants were not thought to be in Africa.
Seven mummies were tested, including Henut Taui. The other mummies are of an unknown origin and some of them were only detached heads. The museum in Munich has a policy to not display human remains so none of these mummies are on display. They are also not allowed to be filmed or shown on TV, which is why I am sorry there is a serious lack of images in this post.
Some, who believe that there was contact between the Pre-Columbian people and the ancient Egyptians, took this result as evidence of their theories. This became very controversial, especially because two successive studies failed to reproduce Balabanova’s results.
There is also the possibility that these were “fake” mummies, which were common in the 19th century as the tourism in Egypt increased. But all these mummies claim to be authentic.
Balabanova has stuck to her results and even gone to test more mummies. She tested 134 bodies from Sudan and although they came from a later period, 1/3 of them tested positive for nicotine and cocaine. She has further tested about 3000 samples from 3700 BCE to 1100 AD. Because of the results, she has determined that there must have been a tobacco plant native to Africa, Europe, or Asia, which is now extinct.
Now, the alternate theory to this entire study is that was modern contamination. But to keep the mystery going, there is apparently evidence of tobacco found on the linens and within the mummy of Ramesses II. So, honestly, who knows?
This is a lengthy YouTube video about the mummy and the discovery of cocaine on the mummy.
Why don’t we talk about another famous royal, whose tomb we have mentioned several times? This week let’s talk about Amenhotep II, the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.
Amenhotep II was born to Pharaoh Thutmose III and his minor wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was born and raised in Memphis, instead of the traditional capital of Thebes. As a prince, he oversaw the deliveries of wood sent to the dockyard of Peru-nufe in Memphis. He was also made a Setem, which is a high priest over Lower Egypt. Amenhotep II left many inscriptions touting his athletic skills while he was the leader of the army. He claims to have been able to shoot an arrow through a copper target one palm thick and to row his ship faster and farther than two hundred members of the navy could row theirs.
Now Amenhotep II was not the firstborn of the Thutmose III. He had an elder brother named Amenemhat, but he and his mother died between Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, which prompted the king to remarry and have more children.
Life as Pharaoh
Amenhotep II rose to the throne around 1427 BCE, on the first day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was days after his father’s death, which indicates that they might have been in a coregency together. He was probably around 18 years old when he became the pharaoh as indicated by his great Sphinx stela,
“Now his Majesty appeared as king as a fine youth after he had become ‘well developed’, and had completed eighteen years in his strength and bravery.”
He married a woman named Tiaa, with whom he had as many as ten sons and one daughter. His eldest son and heir was Thutmose IV. Princes Amenhotep, Webensenu, Amenemopet, and Nejem are clearly attested, which Princes Amenemhat, Kaemwaset, Aakheperure, and Princess Iaret are possible children.
Besides Tiaa, Amenhotep II did not record the names of his other wives. Some Egyptologists have theorized that he felt the women had become too powerful under titles such as God’s Wife of Amun. They point at the fact that he participated in his father’s removal of Hatshepsut’s name from her monuments and the destruction of her image. Amenhotep II may have continued to destroy her images in his co-regency with his father, but not during his reign. But he may have still harbored his father’s concern that another woman would sit on the throne.
Amenhotep II took his first campaign in his 3rd regnal year, where he was attacked by the host of Qatna, but he did emerge victoriously. He also apparently killed 7 rebel princes at Kadesh, who were then hung upside down on the prow of his ship and then hung on the walls of Thebes and Napata.
Amenhotep II died after 26 of his reign. Although the dates of his reign indicate that he was about 52 when he died, his mummy reveals that he was closer to 40 years old.
He constructed a tomb in the Valley of the Kings KV35, which I will talk about below, and a mortuary temple at the edge of the cultivation in the Theban necropolis, but it was destroyed in ancient times.
I know we have talked about KV35 several times already, but I will mainly focus on the tomb as it was when Amenhotep II had it built.
The tomb is in the shape of a dog’s leg, which means it turns at a 90-degree angle. This is a typical layout of tombs of the 18th dynasty. Upon entering the tomb, there are two sets of stairways and two corridors before the well shaft. This is decorated with images of the King performing ritual acts before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor.
After the tomb takes a 90-degree angle, there is a pillared vestibule and another wide flight of stairs. There is one small annex off of this first vestibule. This leads to a third corridor and a large six-pillared room. The burial chamber is just past the last set of pillars.
The burial chamber is a rectangular shape and divided into upper and lower pillared sections. The lower part held the sarcophagus of the king which was made of red quartzite. There are also four annexes off of this chamber. The walls of the burial chamber are decorated with a frieze and scenes from the Amduat, which is one of the many different Egyptian funerary texts. The pillars are decorated with the king before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor. As with many tombs from this period, the ceiling is blue and covered in stars.
Although the tomb had been plundered in antiquity and then reopened to place the cache, some items from Amenhotep II’s burial were still found. These included a papyrus with extracts from the Book of Caverns, emblems in wood, a broken Osiris bed, at least one large wooden funerary couch, a large wooden figure of a serpent, a large wooden Sekhmet figure for the king’s son Webensenu, a life-size cow head statues, faience vases, a resin-coated wooden panther, 30 empty storage jars, and many miniature wooden coffins.
As we know, KV35 was used as a mummy cache in the Third Intermediate Period for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Those found in the tomb are listed below:
These mummies were discovered in March of 1898 by Victor Loret.
When the mummy was originally found, there were garlands of mimosa flowers around his neck. The mummy had also been rewrapped and given a shroud by the priests of the Third Intermediate Period. Unfortunately, in 1901 when the tomb was plundered by modern robbers, the mummy was taken from the tomb and exposed from the waist up. Howard Carter was able to track down the robbers, using, among other clues, the imprints of their feet in the dust of the tomb. The mummy was then returned to the sarcophagus. Up until 1928, the mummy of Amenhotep II was still found in the quartzite sarcophagus before it was transferred to the Cairo Museum (CG61069).
After the 1901 plundering, the mummy was severely damaged. The head and right leg were separated from the body, the front abdominal wall was missing, and the spine was broken as well. There were also distinctive patterns of ossification along the vertebrae, which is a degenerative type of arthritis seen in people aged 60 years and older. His skin was covered in raised nodules, which were also found on the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III. This could have been from disease or by a reaction of the embalming materials with the skin. Amenhotep II’s teeth were worn but in good condition.
He was probably 6 foot tall in life and he had graying hair and a bald spot on the back of his head. There were impressions of jewelry found in the resin which had been used in the embalming process. Finally, there was a large bow, which was broken or cut in two was found with the mummy.
This week I am looking toward the end of Egyptian history at the Ptolemaic Era. Let’s talk about the second Greek Queen of Egypt, Berenice I.
Life Prior to Egypt
Berenice was born in Eordaea, which is an area in Northern Greece, around 340 BCE. She was the daughter of Princess Antigone of Macedon, and a Greek Macedonian nobleman called Magas. Her maternal grandfather was a nobleman called Cassander, who was the brother of Antipater, the regent for Alexander the Great’s empire.
In 325 BCE she married a local nobleman and military officer named Philip. He had been previously married and had other children. They had three children: Magas, future King Magas of Cyrene, Antigone, wife of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, and Theoxena. Magas dedicated an inscription to himself and his father when he served as a priest of Apollo and Pyrrhus named a city after his mother, Berenicis.
Life in Egypt
In 323 BCE, after conquering the Persian empire and almost reaching modern-day India, Alexander the Great died in Babylon. Because of this, Alexander’s empire was split into four main sections. Egypt was then ruled by one of Alexander’s generals Ptolemy, who was later known as Ptolemy I Soter.
Berenice moved to Egypt with her children in 321 BCE as a lady in waiting for the wife of Ptolemy, Eurydice, who was also Berenice’s mother’s first cousin. It is unclear if her husband came with her, but Philip seemingly died around 318 BCE, which would have been after she traveled to Egypt.
Shortly after Berenice’s arrival (and possibly after her husband’s death?), Ptolemy I took her as his concubine and married her in 317 BCE. It must be noted that he was still married to Eurydice, but this was typical. Apparently, because she was not of royal blood, a genealogy was fabricated to make her a half sister of the king.
In 308 BCE, Berenice gave birth to a son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, as well as two daughters Arsinoe II and Philotera. Berenice was crowned Berenice I, Queen of Egypt in 290 BCE.
Interestingly, her son was recognized as his father’s heir in preference to Eurydice’s children and he was made coregent by his father in 285 BCE. Ptolemy II’s second wife was his sister Arsinoe II, as we can see from this gold coin (British Museum, 1964, 1303.3) which marks them “Adelphon,” or Siblings. On the opposite side of these coins, Ptolemy I and Berenice I are marked with “Theon,” meaning Gods.
Although it is not clear, Berenice I most likely died in 277 BCE. After she died, her son and grandson decreed divine honors to her and her son named a port on the Red Sea, Berenice.
This Mummy Monday I am starting with a special request to look at the mysterious Mummy on the Boat from KV 35.
This is a pretty interesting case because we don’t really know the identity of this mummy. So I am first going to describe the discovery, provenance, and theories, and then the mummy itself.
Discovery of the Mummy on the Boat
The Mummy on the Boat was found in KV35, in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was originally for Pharaoh Amenhotep II and it later became a cache burial for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom during the Third Intermediate Period. He was found in Antechamber F, which was a distance from the original burial chamber and the side chambers where the other mummies in the cache were found.
Victor Loret, the Egyptologist who discovered the cache in 1889, described the mummy as a “horrible sight…all black and hideous, its grimacing face turning towards me and looking at me…” The mummy had obviously been pillaged, which I will describe later. There was a small partly unwrapped bundle next to the mummy, which may have been a mummified animal or a bundle of wrappings.
The mummy was found leaning on top of a large funerary boat, which is not a typical burial technique. The remainder of this antechamber was mostly empty.
Shortly after the cache was placed in KV35, thieves entered and plundered the tomb again. This was most likely when the mummy was first plundered as the thieves tried to remove him from the boat, but the arms and feet were broken off.
When the cache was found by Loret, the Mummy on the Boat had not been scheduled for removal from the tomb along with the other burials, but had been moved from his original positions and placed out of the way when Antechamber F was used to store the other mummies in their large shipping crates.
Three years after the discovery of the tomb on November 24, 1901, modern thieves also broke into the tomb and stole the wooden funerary boat. During this time, the mummy was smashed to pieces on the floor. The funerary boat was later acquired by the Cairo Museum from a local dealer (which I believe is pictured in the photo above), but the remains of the mummy are now lost. Howard Carter wrote, “the boat in the Antechamber had been stolen; the mummy that was upon it, was lying on the floor and had been smashed to pieces.”
The images below are the only images of the mummy. There is a possibility that the pieces were swept out of the tomb or are in some sort of box in the Cairo Museum.
Theories of the Identity of the Mummy
There are two main possible candidates for the identity of the mummy, along with an alternative theory.
The first theory is that the Mummy on the Boat was Prince Webensenu, son of Pharaoh Amenhotep II. The prince’s shabtis and a canopic jar have been found in KV35, which implies that the prince’s body was buried in his father’s tomb. The prince predeceased his father and was probably buried in KV35 before his father was. But he probably would have been buried in one of the side chambers to the burial chamber, rather than in Antechamber F. His burial would have gotten in the way of any of the subsequent burial, so this is quite unlikely.
He possibly could have been buried somewhere else in the Valley and then moved into KV35 at the time of his father’s burial. But again, it would have been logical to bury him in the side chamber.
To add to the confusion of all of this, another mummy was found in the KV35 cache that had also been attributed to Prince Webensenu. This is the mummy of a young boy, maybe 11 years old. But this mummy has also been identified as Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III, so we really don’t have a clue.
The other popular option for the identity of the Mummy on the Boat is Pharaoh Sethnakhte, founder of the 20th Dynasty. His father was one of the sons of Ramesses II and he ascended the throne after the death of Queen Taweseret. But he died shortly after he ascended the throne and may have even been originally buried in Queen Taweseret’s tomb KV14.
His coffin basin and lid were found in KV35, in side chamber Jb, as they were reused by the mummies of Merenptah and Unknown Woman D. Fragments of his cartonnage were also found in the main burial chamber. It is theorized that his mummy was placed with the other cached mummies in side chamber Jb, which of course leads to the confusion of why the mummy was found in Antechamber F.
Again, it seems very unlikely that anyone would move a mummy up from the burial chamber to antechamber F, or purposefully separate one mummy into room F. The usual explanation is that the tomb robbers removed the mummy from chamber J, dragged it across the chamber, and then up into antechamber F so they could strip it of its wrappings and valuables.
But the position of the mummy on the model boat does not also appear accidental. The body seems to have been carefully positioned. The robbers may have found the mummy already in place on top of the boat and removed the wrappings there. And the reason they didn’t remove it from the boat because the oils and resin in the wrappings had stuck it to the boat, which would have made its removal a time-consuming chore.
The last theory is that this mummy is a private individual from a period later than the recorded official inspection of KV35. At the beginning of the 22nd Dynasty, there were many intrusive burials. This could explain why it was found in chamber F and the unusual positioning on top of the wooden model boat.
The Mummy on the Boat
When Loret found the mummy, he said that the legs and arms were bound. Loret thought that it may have been a sacrificial victim or a thief slain by tomb guardians or fellow thieves. The bandages had already been torn off entirely, except for those tangled around the mummy’s abdomen and upper thighs, which made Loret think that the mummy had been bound.
The mummy is of a male with long dark hair. There was a hole in the sternum and a smaller hole in the skull. The left-arm had been broken off while the right arm appears to be disconnected. The left arm and the disconnected right foot are visible on the chamber floor next to the mummy. The fingers were individually wrapped. The remaining skin of the torso and face appears to be thoroughly perforated by tiny holes, maybe by insects. There is also possible evidence of an embalmers incision on the left side of the lower abdomen.
For Women Crush Wednesday, this Egyptologist was more renowned for her illustration work of Egyptian sites. This week we are talking about Myrtle Broome.
Myrtle Florence Broome was born on February 22, 1888, in Muswell Hill, London to Eleanor Slater and Washington Herbert Broome. Her father was a music and book publisher. She received her art training at a school in Bushey, which was founded by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.
From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.
From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.
Career in Egypt
In 1927, she was invited to participate in a project in Egypt by the British School of Archaeology. Here they copied tomb inscriptions at Qua-El-Kebi. Apparently, on this trip, she was smitten by the attentions of a local police officer. When he invited her to his family home, the visit was a disaster and Myrtle admitted, “it would never have worked.”
In 1929, she returned to Egypt as an artist with the Canadian epigrapher Amice Calverley, who was hired by the Egypt Exploration Society to copy the wall scenes in the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, starting in 1927. A year later, the project was fully funded by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller after they visited the site. The Oriental Institute in Chicago was also involved.
Calverley became the director of the project and hired Myrtle as her assistant. The pair of them did eight seasons together. They were responsible for all the paintings and replications. They also used large photographs to record the reliefs and later penciled over them to become more accurate. The reproductions were mainly watercolor paintings, as black and white photographs were the only ones available during this time. These were published in four volumes with colored plates between 1933 and 1958.
During the projects, Myrtle and Calverley lived in a mudbrick house near the temple with two local servants. They were both actively involved in the life of the village, participating in feasts and ceremonies and often providing medical assistance to the villagers. They also traveled throughout Egypt, taking trains and often driving through the desert in a Jowett car they named Joey. Myrtle’s impressions of Egypt are noted in her letters and illustrations that she sent back to her parents. These archives are kept at the Griffith Institute in Oxford.
Their last season in 1938 and their fifth volume was interrupted because of WWII and it, unfortunately, has yet to be published.
Myrtle retired from Egyptology in 1937. She also returned to England because her father was ill. During this time she continued to paint several watercolors of Egyptian villages and the surrounding landscape. She may have become a designer and a craft worker who designed for Liberty, a luxury department store in London. And she also went into business with her father with their business “Designed and Workers in Metal and Enamel.”
Her family home in Bushey is listed with Historic England, which is the government group that protects cultural institutions in the UK. Myrtle has created multiple painted panels and decorations throughout the home. It is now the Bushey Museum, which houses over 70 of her paintings, some of which you can see here and here.
Myrtle Broome died on January 27th, 1978.
Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1933. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume I: the chapels of Osiris, Isis and Horus. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1935. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume II: the chapels of Amen-Rē’, Rē’-Ḥarakhti, Ptaḥ, and King Sethos. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1938. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume III: the Osiris complex. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1958. The temple of King Sethos I at Abydos, Volume IV: the second hypostyle hall. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
This week let’s talk about an elite lady from the 25th and 26th dynasties. Her name is Asru and she is currently located at the Manchester Museum in the United Kingdom (1777.a-c)!
Asru’s name meant “Her arm against them,” which is probably a reference to the protective power of the goddess Mut, consort of the Theban god Amun. Her mother was Lady of the House Ta-di-Amun, or “She whom Amun has given,” and her father was called Pa-Kush, or “The Kushite,” who was a document scribe of the southern region. Although her father’s name sounds a bit odd, the 25th dynasty was actually ruled by Kushite kings, coming from the southern nation of Kush (also called Nubia).
Asru herself only had one title as Lady of the House, which means that she was a married woman. She has been previously misidentified as a temple singer or handmaiden, which are pretty common titles women carried in Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of her husband or if they had any children.
Asru probably died when she was between 50 and 60 years old, which was a considerable age for an Ancient Egyptian. A reconstruction of her face was made in the 1970s by Richard Neave.
Asru and her sarcophagus were among the earliest additions to the Manchester Museum collection after being donated to the Manchester National History Society by William and Robert Garnett in 1825. The mummy had been previously unwrapped before donation, no doubt at a Victorian Unwrapping party (check on my Fun Fact Friday page to learn more about those).
She was examined as part of the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s and scanned in 2012 in preparation for the reopening of the gallery. The 2012 examination was led by Professors Rosalie David and Judith Adams. I’ll put all the results below!
Asru was buried in two coffins. The outer coffin depicts Asru with a stripped wig and large broad collar. There are a winged sun-disk and depictions of the Asru being brought before the gods while her heart is being weighed.
The inner coffin depicts Asru with a vulture headdress and another broad collar. Below there is a winged figure of the sky goddess Nut and another depiction of her heart being weighed. Further down there is also a depiction of Asru’a Ba, depicted as a human-headed bird, hovering over her mummy lying on a bed.
Both coffins are covered in formulaic offering spells that mention her parents.
As I mentioned earlier, Asru was anywhere from 50 to 60 years old at her death and her mummy was previously unwrapped. Through these examinations and scans, multiple medical problems have been determined.
Asru suffered from arthritis and parasitic infections called Strongyloidiasis (also known as threadworm) and Schistosomiasis (also known as Snail Fever or Bilharzia). Her arthritis was in her neck and may have been caused by bearing a heavy weight over a prolonged period of time. It has been speculated that she may have carried something on her head that had a ritual function.
The infections would have given her anemia, a cough, stomach aches, and diarrhea. She also had a slipped disc in her back and a hydatid cyst in her lung, the latter caused by the parasites.
When her mummy was scanned, it was discovered that her brain had been removed from her skull, but the ethmoid bone, which is the bone separating the nasal cavity and the brain, was found intact. Her brain was most likely removed through the eye socket, which is not unknown, but unusual.
Interestingly as part of the examination, Asru’s fingerprints and toeprints were taken by the Greater Manchester Police. This showed none of the wear and tear that most ordinary Egyptians would have expected. This supports the theory that she was from the upper class and never worked a hard labor job.
This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is a little sad, but I wanted to include her to keep her memory alive. Let’s talk about Sha-Amun-en-su, an Ancient Egyptian mummy lost in the fire at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.
Sha-Amun-en-su, meaning “The fertile Fields of Amun,” was an Egyptian priestess and singer who lived in Thebes during the 22nd Dynasty. She was probably born around 800 B.C.E. into a wealthy family. She was probably not born into nobility, but her family was wealthy enough for her to be selected and prepared to work in a temple at an early age.
Sha-Amun-en-su belonged to the main group of priestly singers within the temple complex, called a Heset. They conducted ceremonial duties and ritualistic functions by helping the God’s Wife of Amun. This tradition lasted in Thebes between the 9th and 6th centuries B.C.E.
Interestingly, the Heset were not obliged to live permanently in the temple. Many of them only went to the temple when there were ceremonies. But the women had to obey strict codes of conduct. One of the rules was that they had to stay chaste. They didn’t necessarily have to be virgins, but they were considered extremely pure.
It was also common for an older singer to adopt a younger trainee as their tutor. There is a possibly that Sha-Amun-en-su had an adoptive daughter as there is another sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for a singer named Merset-Amun. She is labeled as “the daughter of Sha-Amun-en-su, singer of the shrine of Amun.”
She most likely died around the age of 50 years old, but her death could not be determined as her mummy was never unwrapped.
There is no record of the date or exact archaeological site where the coffin was found, but it is more than likely from Thebes based on the style of the coffin and that she was a priestess at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes. It originally was in the Egyptian Khedivate collection, which was the rulers of Egypt while it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II visited Egypt for a second time. Dom Pedro II was an amateur Egyptologist and enthusiast. Khedive Ismail Pasha gifted the sarcophagus and the mummy to the emperor, who in return gave him a book.
The mummy was brought back to Rio de Janeiro and was one of the featured items displayed in the Palace of São Cristóvão. The mummy was part of his private collection and on display in his study. At one point, the sarcophagus was damaged by a storm. It was knocked down by the wind and crashed into the one of the windows in his office. It’s left side was broken, but later restored. There was also a rumor that Dom Pedro II would talk to the mummy while in his study alone.
Because of the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the mummy became a part of the Egyptian collection at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, the curator of the Egyptian collection in the National Museum, Antonio Brancaglion Jr. said in regard to the importance and uniqueness of the sarcophagus,
“If you have a mummy, you have a mummy. If you have not, you won’t get one anymore. If we lose it, we will never get anything else remotely similar. We have to keep it to the end.”
This quote is especially sad, considering that the tragic end of the National Museum on September 2nd, 2018, where the entire museum burned. Almost the entire collection of the museum was lost.
After the fire there have been multiple recovery efforts to help re-establish the National Museum. Via Google Arts and Culture, you can do an entire virtual tour of the museum pre-fire, which you can view here.
Over 300 Egyptian related items have been salvaged from the fire. One of them is the heart scarab of Sha-Amun-en-su, which had never been previously seen because the mummy was never unwrapped. It had been picked up on previous CT scans that I’ll talk about below. But here is a 3D scan of the heart scarab!
This artist did a series of photographs and sculptures for an exhibition titled Museum of Ashes, where he took ashes from the National Museum and recreated some of the lost works, including Sha-Amun-en-su. You can read an interview with him here and see the exhibition pieces here.
And finally there had been multiple contests for artists to recreate something that was lost in the fire. Two artists chose to recreate the face of Sha-Amun-en-su. One is by Gislaine Avila, and the other was by user Rodrigo Avila.
The sarcophagus of Sha-Amun-en-su is carved in polychrome stuccoed wood. Its decoration had references to the Heliopolitan theology. The head of the sarcophagus has a blue headdress with a yellow vulture headdress and red ribbons. There is then an image of the goddess Nut and a ram-headed bird with wings outstretched. There are also two uraeus serpents with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and the four sons of Horus.
There was also a representation of the singer’s Ba, which was a part of the Egyptian concept of the soul. On the back of the sarcophagus was a djed pillar which was a sign of stability associated with Osiris.
The first band bore the inscription,
“An offering that the king makes [to] Osiris, Chief of the West, great God, Lord of Abydos – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine [of Ammon], Sha-Amun-en-su “.
And the second line of hieroglyphs reads,
“An offering that the king makes [to] Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, Lord of the [shrine] Shetayet – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine of Ammon, Sha-Amun-en-su”.
Again, all examinations of the mummy have been made without opening the casket as it had never been unwrapped.
The mummy’s throat was covered in resin-coated bandages. This may indicate that the mummifying priests were protecting a zone seen as vital for a singer with ritualistic functions so that she could use her voice in the afterlife. This was also done to a mummy of an singer of Amun at the University of Chicago, Meresamun. This may indicate that this was a special procedure for the mummies of women who were charge of chanting hymns and songs.
The mummy otherwise appears in good condition with no trauma or injuries. Sha-Amun-en-su kept all of her teeth except one. She also went under a 3D laser scan by Jorge Lopes from Tri-dimensional Experimentation Nucleus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. This scan allows for the construction of a small scale replica of her skeleton.
Several amulets were identified in her wrappings. One was the heart scarab that I mentioned previously. It is made out a oval green stone that was previously set in gold (which probably melted in the fire). This was placed on the heart of the mummy so that it could replace her heart which was removed.
This week for Mummy Monday we are throwing it back to the 6th dynasty, which is a rarity for preserved mummies. Today we are talking about Pharoah Merenre I.
Merenre Nemtyemsaf I was the fourth king of the 6th dynasty of Egypt, reigning from 2287 to 2278 B.C.E. He was the son of Pepi I and Ankhesenpepi I and grandson of the female vizier Nebet and her husband Khui.
Hr anx xaw
Horus, living of apparition
nb.tj anx xaw
The Two Ladies, living of apparition
Golden Falcon Name
bik.wj mnx.wj nbw(.wj)
The two excellent golden falcons
The two golden falcons
mr n ra
Beloved of Re
nmti m sA=f
Nemty is his Protection
anti m sA=f
There are royal seals and stone blocks that have been found in Saqqara that indicate that Merenre’s aunt, Queen Ankhesenpepi II was the wife of his father and himself. (I know this sounds weird, but remember that Egyptian kings frequently married their sisters, so his aunt would have been the sister of both Pepi I and Merenre’s mother.) This indicates that Merenre was probably the father of Pharaoh Pepi II, rather than Pepi I, as was previously thought. He was also the father of Ankhensenpepi III (as if two wasn’t enough), Input II, and Neith, which were all wives of Pepi II.
His reign was slightly longer than a decade, with the South Saqqara Stone crediting him with a minimum reign of 11 to 13 years. Merenre shared his father’s fascination with Nubia and continued to explore deep into this region. In his 5th regnal year, he traveled to the 1st cataract on the Nile to receive tribute from the Nubian chiefs. He also began a process of royal consolidation, appointing Weni as the first governor of all of Upper Egypt and expanding the power of several other governors.
There are very few depictions of Merenre from his reign, but there is a small sphinx statue in the National Museum of Scotland (A.1984.405). His name is also attested to a hippo ivory box in the Louvre.
Merenre built a pyramid in Saqqara, southwest of the pyramids of Pepi I and Djedkare. This pyramid was called Khanefermerenre (Ḫˁj-nfr-Mrj-n-rˁw), which meant “Merenre’s beauty shines” or “The Perfections of Merenre Appears.” Today it is mostly in ruins and it is not open to the public.
It was built 52.5 meters (173 ft 3 in) high, 78.75 m (258 ft 4 in) in base length with an inclination of 53 degrees. A 250 m (820 ft) long causeway was attached to the pyramid along with a mud-brick wall. Only traces of the mortuary temple have been found, presumably because construction was halted and never resumed.
The entrance to the burial chamber is on the north face which descends to a vestibule where another shaft leads to an antechamber. There were three portcullises in the passage. To the right of the antechamber is the burial chamber and two the left is a serdab.
In the burial chamber, there were polychrome reliefs on the walls and the ceiling was covered with stars. Besides the sarcophagus, there was a niche for the canopic chest that was sunk into the floor.
There was a decorated sarcophagus standing against the wall. This was in pretty good condition, although it had been plundered. The sarcophagus has a palace motif on the sides and the lid was found pushed back. The only burial equipment noted were two alabaster shells and a small wooden knob or handle for a chest.
The pyramid was first examined in the 1830s by John Perring. In the 1880s, the subterranean chambers were explored by Gaston Maspero (or Auguste Mariette, sources differ on who), who was in search of pyramid texts. He was the one to discover the mummy inside of the pyramid. Since the 20th century, a French team led by Jean Leclant has been researching the site.
As stated above, the mummy in question was found in January of 1881. Apparently, Mariette was sick and dying in his tent, so the task of inspecting the contents of the pyramid and sarcophagus was left to his assistants, brothers Heinrich and Emile Brugsh. When they approached the basalt sarcophagus, they found the well-preserved mummy inside. Unfortunately, the brothers apparently took the mummy out and dragged it across the desert to show Mariette. This…may have broken the mummy in half along the way…*sigh*
You can check out this (strange) reproduction of the discovery of the mummy below!
It was not originally believed that this was the mummy of Merenre, which is entirely a possibility. But, if this is the mummy of Merenre, this would be the oldest complete royal mummy known to us today.
It was reasonably preserved when it was discovered. The lower mandible (jaw) was missing as were some of the upper teeth. The head was also torn loose from the body and the chest smashed, probably by looters looking for valuables. The arms of the mummy are stretched out along the body and both feet a spayed outwardly. It has not been determined whether this position was a deformity that the man suffered from or if this was arranged by the embalmers.
The mummy was also found with a side-lock, which is a hairstyle typical of young boys in ancient Egypt where their entire head is shaven except for one braided lock. This may be why Maspero thought this was a later mummy that was buried inside the pyramid during the 18th dynasty.
The mummy is currently located in the Imhotep Museum in Saqqara, where it is covered by a sheet leaving only his face and forehead exposed.