Women Crush Wednesday: Grace Mary Crowfoot

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is another contemporary woman who was a pioneer in the study of archaeological textiles, otherwise called a Grand Dame of Archaeological Textiles. Although she worked with a wide range of ancient and modern textiles from North Africa, Europe, and the British Isles, she also worked on a very important piece that belonged to one of the most famous Egyptian kings. Meet Grace Mary Crowfoot, nicknamed Molly!

Early Life

Grace Mary Hood was born in Lincolnshire England in 1879 to Sinclair Frankland Hood of Nettleham Hall, and his wife Grace. She was the eldest of six children, two girls, and four boys. Their family were “landed gentry,” meaning they were part of a British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income or at least had a country estate.

Her grandfather Reverend William Frankland Hood collected Egyptian antiquities, which were displayed in a wing added to the main building of Nettleham Hall. Because of her family’s interests, they were able to put her in contact with many early archaeologists, including the illustrious William Flinders Petrie. Grace later became lifelong friends with Hilda Petrie.

She attended a finishing school in Paris when she was younger and was expected to attend Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford. But she did not attend as her mother discouraged it. As Grace was determined to make a useful contribution to society, she trained to become a professional midwife in 1908 at Clapham Maternity Hospital in London. This would prove very useful in her later years.

Her earliest archaeological experience was from 1908-1909. While on vacation in Italy with her family she was able to excavate the prehistoric remains in a cave at Tana Bertrand above San Remo on the Italian riviera. On this excavation, she found over 300 beads and signs of early occupation. These excavations were not published until 1926.

Life in Egypt

John Winter Crowfoot on the right

In 1909, Grace married John Winter Crowfoot, who she had met years before in Lincoln. He at the time was the Assistant Director of Education in Sudan, so she joined him in Cairo. While living in Egypt, their eldest daughters Dorothy, Joan, and Elisabeth were born.

Grace with her daughter Dorothy in 1911

During this period of her life, she began to study different plants in North Africa. She created several botanical volumes that contained photographs and line drawings of the wild plants. Many of these drawings are now located in Kew Gardens in London.

During WWI in 1916, she sent her daughters to England while she and her husband moved to Khartoum, Sudan. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is where the White Nile and the Blue Nile meet to form the Nile.) Her husband was in charge of both education, as the Director of Gordon College (today Khartoum University), and antiquities in the area. Grace quickly immersed herself in the lives of the local women in a village called Omdurman.

Here is where she took up spinning and weaving. She became proficient on the looms that the Sudanese women used. Grace would later publish two papers on weaving and these looms. At the request of Flinders Petrie, she compared these weaving methods with an Ancient Egyptian model weaver that had been discovered in an 11th dynasty tomb. She found that the techniques and equipment had changed little since ancient times.

Throughout this time in Sudan, Grace was also collecting several locally made handicrafts, a few of which are in the British Museum’s collection as seen below.

By learning the locals’ handicrafts, she also got to know the Sudanese women and understanding their lives. She was introduced to the local tradition of Female Genital Mutilation, which at the time took its most severe form in Sudan. She was very cautious about how the locals would see an outsider intervening, so she founded the Midwives Training School in the early 1920s. They were able to train local midwives, improve conditions of childbirth, and at the same time try and tackle FGM.

Grace riding a camel in Nubia, 1917.

Following the birth of her fourth daughter, Diana, and the end of WWI, she and her husband returned to England and their three older daughters, where they leased a house in Geldeston, Norfolk. This would be their family home for the next 60 years.

All four of her brothers died during and after WWI and Grace was deeply affected. She became a passionate supporter of the League of Nations Union.

Life in Palestine

In 1926, Grace’s husband was offered the Directorship of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Here he ran major excavations at Samaria-Sebaste in 1931-2 and 1935, the Jerusalem Ophel in 1927, and early Christian churches in Jerash in 1928-1930. Grace was in charge of living and feeding arrangements on-site for the archaeologists. Both of them were admired for their diplomatic and organizational skills in the smooth running of these expeditions. Grace was among the authors and editors for the final three volumes on the excavation on Samaria-Sebaste.

While living in Jerusalem, she gathered folk tales with her friend Louise Baldensperger. They then produced From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of plants in Palestine (1932). This was an early work of ethnobotany.

Retirement

Grace and her husband returned to England in the mid-1930s, in time to see their two eldest daughters married and the arrival of the first of 12 grandchildren.

Grace and her four daughters

A quick note on her absolutely talented children. Her daughter Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a renowned chemist who won the 1964 Noble Prize for Chemistry. Joan Crowfoot Payne followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an Egyptologist and curator at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. After a short career in acting, Elisabeth Crowfoot helped her mother study archaeological textiles and also became a Grande Dame. Her last daughter, Diana Crowfoot became a geographer.

She took an interest in village activities by setting up a local branch of Girl Guides, serving as a wartime secretary of the New Village Produce Association, and post-war chairwoman of its Labor Party. She also attended the House of Commons in 1949 when questions were raised about the continued prevalence of FGM in Sudan. She informed them about her experience with the subject and told them that an outright ban would just drive the practice underground and undo the two decades of work that the Midwives’ School had done.

Her Work with Archaeological Textiles

Based on her knowledge of weaving, Grace slowly became an expert on Archaeological Textiles and she consulted on a variety of pieces discovered. She also made reproductions of Egyptian finds of Flinders Petrie and other pieces for the British Museum. Her daughter Elisabeth helped her examine and analyze numerous textile samples from a variety of excavations.

Grace published short reports about textiles from the nearby Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. She was invited in 1949 to examine the linen wrappings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and she published two articles about this in 1951 and 1955. You can learn more about these linens here.

She also reconstructed a sword harness that was found in an excavation in Taplow (1883,1214.17a-e). The fabric had not been preserved, but she was able to reconstruct the weave based on the pressure point left by the tread on the gold wire that was preserved. This reconstruction is in the British Museum (1955,1012.1a-b).

Finally, in 1942, she published an article on the Tunic of Tutankhamun. As part of this, she rewove various of the applied bands from the garment in order to see how they were made. One of these pieces is on display in the Textile Museum in Leiden. Download her article and another article about the textiles found in King Tut’s tomb.

Through her work, she trained a generation of textile archaeologists included Audrey Henshall and her daughter Elisabeth (as seen in the photo on the left in 1921). She helped establish a new field of study, ensuring that textile remnants found at any site were henceforth preserved for analysis, instead of being cleared from the metal and other objects to which they remained attached.

During her last few years, she was often bed-ridden as she battled childhood tuberculosis and then leukemia. She died in 1957 and is buried next to the tower of the parish church of St. Michael and All Saints in Geldeston.

You can read these two articles about her life and her contribution to the study of the Sudan.

Grace’s Collections

As I mentioned previously many of her drawings of the flora of North Africa and the Middle East are in Kew Gardens in London, and some of her textile pieces she collected in the Sudan and Palestine are in the British Museum.

Her unpublished papers and photos relating to her time in Egypt, Sudan, and Palestine are held in the Sudan Archives at Durham University Library and the Palestine Exploration Fund Archives in London. More papers along with her collection of textiles and spinning and weaving implements are now held in the Textile Research Center in Leiden, Netherlands.

Publications

  • Botany
    • Some desert flowers collected near Cairo (1914). 35 plates.
    • Flowering Plants of the Northern and Central Sudan (1928), 163 line drawings.
    • From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of Plants in Palestine (1932). 76 plates.
    • The text of From Cedar to Hyssop (1932) is now available online.
    • Some Palestine Flowers: 64 line drawings (1933)
  • Textiles, other crafts and folk-tales
    • North Africa and Middle East
      • Models of Egyptian Looms (1921)
      • A tablet woven band, from Qau el Kebir (1924). From 6th-century A.D. wrapping of a Coptic body.
      • Methods of hand spinning in Egypt and the Sudan (1931). Earlier versions of this text were published in Sudan Notes and Records, issues 3 (1920) and 4 (1921).
      • Pots, ancient and modern (1932)
      • Ramallah embroidery (1935)
      • Samaria-Sebaste 2: Early Ivories (1938)
      • The tunic of Tut’ankhamun, (1942)
      • Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1865 to present, online
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, Primitive Weaving I: Plaiting and finger-weaving (1943)
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, 2: Jerusalem hammock cradles and Hebron rugs (1944)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—I (1951)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—II (1952)
      • The linen textiles (1955). Description and analysis of the linen wrappers from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • Europe and British Isles
      • Anglo Saxon Tablet Weaving (1952)
      • Textiles, Basketry and Mats (1954). Entry in History of Technology.
      • The braids (1956). Tablet-woven braids from the vestments of St Cuthbert at Durham.
      • The textiles (1983). Finds from Sutton Hoo ship burial by Elisabeth Crowfoot, expanding on earlier joint publications in 1951-2 by her mother and herself.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Mary_Crowfoot

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Grace&last=Crowfoot

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/about-us/archive/past-exhibitions?id=286

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/89-research/trc-projects/285-the-crowfoot-collection

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/people-and-functions/authors-scholars-and-activists/crowfoot-grace-1877-1957

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-31

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-47

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-38

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-41-a-b

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1955-1012-1-b

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1955-1012-1-a

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1883-1214-17-b

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Crowfoot_Grace.pdf

Image Sources

Photo of her – Courtesy of John Crowfoot (her grandson) https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/people-and-functions/authors-scholars-and-activists/crowfoot-grace-1877-1957

More photos – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Grace&last=Crowfoot

Family photo – Short Biography pdf

Hand Spinning and Woolcombing book – Abe Books.com

Methods of Hand Spinning in Egypt and the Sudan – Amazon

John Crowfoot with Sudanese notables – Wikimedia Commons – John Crowfoot

Her replica of Anglo-Saxon textiles, relics of St. Cuthbert – https://durhamcathedral.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/shattering-perceptions-archaeology-1/

Possible recreation of the Tunic (At the Swedish Textile Museum)- https://www.reddit.com/r/ancientegypt/comments/ird3rm/syrian_tunic_of_tutankhamun_worn_by_him_as_an/

Images of the tunic – PDF

Mummy Monday: Nefrina

This week’s Mummy Monday has been the focus of a small museum in Pennsylvania for almost 90 years! Meet Nefrina, the mummy located at the Reading Public Museum in Reading Pennsylvania!

Life

Nefrina (phonetically spelled Nfr-ii-n) was an Egyptian woman during the Ptolemaic Period of Ancient Egypt. Her name could be translated as, “May our comings be good,” or “It is a good thing that has come to us.” She lived in the town of Akhmin with her parents and brother, Nesmin. Her father’s name was Irethourrou (Irt-Hr-r-w) and he held honored titles as the keeper of the god’s wardrobe in the temple of the Egyptian god Min. That meant that he took care of dressing the cult statue, which was a ritual that needed to be done every day. Her mother’s name was Irtyrou (Ir(ty)-r-w) and she was a housemistress and a sistrum player for the god of Min.

It is not clear why Nefrina herself did not hold a title, but it can be presumed that she worked with her family in the temple of Min. She died when she was about 25 years old around 275 B.C.E.

Provenance and Display at the Reading Public Museum

The exact provenience of Nefrina is not known, but it is more than likely that she was buried in Akhmin. The University of Pennsylvania acquired her in 1839, though I could find no details on this transaction or if the mummy went on display within their museum.

In 1930, the University loaned the mummy to the Reading Public Museum, where Nefrina became a permanent installation in 1949 (1930.318.3). During her stay in Reading, she was x-rayed in 1972, CAT scanned in 2003, and received a facial reconstruction in 2006 by forensic artist Frank Bender, the results of which I will talk about below.

Here is a video about her original display at the Reading Public Museum called Nefrina’s World.

This past year, the original exhibit got some serious upgrades along with the rest of their Ancient Civilization Gallery. Installation started in early September of 2020 and was opened in late September. They worked with Egyptologist Melinda Hartwig from the Carlos Museum at Emory University on a special project. They created a hologram of Nefrina who welcomes visitors and tells the story of her life. Dr. Hartwig ensured that her appearance and narrative were historically accurate, and an actress was chosen based on her likeness from the facial reconstruction created in 2006.

Here is a series of short videos from Neo Pangea, the designers of the new Nefrina exhibit.

Coffin and Mask

The outside of the coffin of Nefrina

Nefrina is kept in one coffin which is painted black with a gold face. Text can be read along the legs of her coffin, which describes her family and includes spells to help her to the afterlife. The gold on her face is indicative of the Egyptian belief that the gods had the skin of gold. It is also an indicator of her family’s high status in Akhmin. This was an elaborate burial that was typical for the upper class.

The cartonnage on the mummy of Nefrina

On top of her mummy, there are several cartonnage pieces. These were typical of this era and were just an extra decorative and protective layer. They depict a broad collar, wedjats (eyes of Horus), the four sons of Horus, the goddess Nut, and other winged goddesses. There are also two depictions of a mummy sitting on a platform and a bed, which are supposed to depict her own coffin. A piece of cartonnage at her feet depict two feet wearing golden sandals, though there is damage in this area.

It is unclear when the wrappings around her face were unwrapped, but the mask used to be placed over these wrappings. Funerary masks were meant to be an idealized representation of the deceased and were usually made of cartonnage. In 2011, the mask was sent to the Penn Museum Conservation lab to be repaired and conserved. It had been stabilized for photography in 1993, but these masks are prone to damage because of the various layers of cartonnage. They stabilized and realigned the tears, compensated for the structural losses, and stabilized and filled any cracks. You can read more about the process here, here, and here.

Mummy

As I said previously, the only portion of the mummy that is unwrapped is her face. But through x-rays and CT scans, scholars were able to determine that she mostly died from complications from a broken hip. She suffered from a right hip fracture which could be seen on the x-rays and CT scan. Interestingly, a poultice bag was inserted near the fracture site when she was mummified. This indicates that the wound was not healed when she died and that the bag was intended to heal her in the afterlife.

These scans also revealed that her organs were removed, mummified, and then packed into the torso. And she had false wooden ears, which is a rarity and not fully understood.

Again here is her facial reconstruction made in 2006.

Facial reconstruction of Nefrina

Sources

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Nefrina

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nefrina

http://collection.readingpublicmuseum.org/objects/15187/nefrina?ctx=77c25b25-87ff-4f00-ab1b-b3aef0df527a&idx=28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWhx9HGt8L4

https://www.readingpublicmuseum.org/press-release-nefrina

https://www.penn.museum/sites/artifactlab/2013/06/21/the-conservation-story-of-nefrinas-funerary-mask-part-1-condition/

https://www.penn.museum/sites/artifactlab/2013/07/16/the-conservation-story-of-nefrinas-funerary-mask-part-2-tear-repair-and-reshaping/

https://www.penn.museum/sites/artifactlab/2013/08/08/the-conservation-story-of-nefrinas-funerary-mask-part-3-stabilization-of-the-exterior/

https://www.wfmz.com/news/area/berks/reading-museum-finishes-transformation-of-mummy-exhibit/article_95aadb16-feab-11ea-aaf4-07df74ff7b8d.html

Image Sources

Reconstruction and mask – Mummipedia page

Photo of the old exhibit – https://www.wfmz.com/news/area/berks/reading-museums-famous-mummy-to-come-to-life-as-hologram/article_ce9573fe-d724-11ea-904c-2bd293761f18.html

The new exhibit – https://berksweekly.com/arts-entertainment/annual-night-at-the-museum-explores-ancient-egypt-with-modern-technology/

Conservation photos – Penn Museum Conservation Lab

Mummy – https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/ptolemaic-mummy-and-sarcophagus-of-nefrina-nefer-ii-ne-unknown/oAFh6pqY1fGC9A

Coffin and face – Reading Public Museum

Women Crush Wednesday: Mayet

This week we are going to talk about a child buried in the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II in Deir el-Bahri. Her relationship to the king is not entirely known, but her name was Mayet, meaning “The Cat.”

Life

Mayet (alternatively spelled Miiut or Miit) probably lived during the rule of Mentuhotep II from 2061 to 2010 B.C.E. in the Middle Kingdom. Her relationship to the royal family is not known, but since she was buried within the mortuary temple, it can be assumed that she was a close family member to Mentuhotep II.

It is generally assumed that she was a young daughter of the king who died unexpectedly, but the Brooklyn Museum cites that she was a wife of the King. This is unlikely as she was probably around five years old when she died, which would be extraordinarily young for the wife of a king. As I said her name means “the cat,” and her name is written with the hieroglyph of a cat!

Burial

Map of the series of tombs in the back of the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II. Mayet’s tomb is the first on the right.

Her burial was found intact in the back of a columned structure in the center of the complex. Here there were six burials with shrines, which were discovered in 1921 by the American expedition by Herbert Eustis Winlock. Five of the burials belong to other royal women with the titles of King’s Wives. These were Ashait, Henhenet, Kawit, Kemsit, and Sadeh. Unfortunately, Mayet’s burial did not contain any titles, not even King’s Daughter, which leads to confusion about her relationship with the royal family.

Check out this article about the discovery of the tombs of these Queen’s and Mayet’s tomb!

Her coffins were found at the bottom of Pit 18. She was buried in three coffins, one made of limestone and two wooden coffins. The outer limestone coffin was inscribed with a simple offering formula. It was also much bigger than required, which suggests that it was not originally made for her small size. This implies an unexpected death and the use of someone else’s coffin. The stone sarcophagus was seemingly left in the tomb in Deir el-Bahri.

The outer wooden coffin is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 26.3.9a-b). This coffin has several offering spells on each of its sides and a pair of magical eyes on one side, which would allow the deceased to see when priests made offerings to them.

The inner coffin (and preseumably her body?) is located in the Brooklyn Museum (52.127a-b) and made of cypress and fig wood. It is also inscribed with a simple offering spell and decorated with a pair of magical eyes on one side. There is also evidence that the names within the offering spells had been altered to spell Mayet’s name. This is direct evidence of the use of someone else’s coffin.

Direct evidence of the removal of a name to replace with Mayet’s name

Within the wooden coffin, the body of the girl was found wrapped in linen and adorned with a mummy mask. The embalmers added substantial padding to her feet and her head to make the mummy look longer and fit within the adult size coffin. It is unclear if the body is currently with the inner coffin in the Brooklyn Museum, as I could not locate any pictures of the mummy or the mummy mask.

Check out these awesome 3D models of her coffin by Indiana University!

Linen

There are several linen markers found within the coffin, which are located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (22.3.4-22.38). These are short inscriptions written in ink on the corners of large sheets of linen. Some mention the names or titles of high officials, to whose estate the linen may have belonged to or who were possibly overseeing its acquisition or production. Other marks say nfr meaning good, which refers to the quality of the fabric.

One inscription (Above, 22.3.7), which came from a sheet of linen (22.3.6) that was laid inside her coffin, mentions the steward Henenu, who may have been the same person depicted on a different stela at the MET (26.3.21a,b).

Some of the linen padding found in the coffin MET 26.3.14

There is evidence that the tomb was robbed in antiquity, but the looters did not open the sarcophagus. This is lucky because there are several beautiful necklaces found on the mummy. All of her jewelry are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Jewelry

Five necklaces were found around the neck of the mummy. Her necklaces are some of the finest jewelry that survives from this period. The drilled stone beads are very tiny, making this a technically brilliant manufacture. The necklaces are made out of beads (22.3323) and amulets (22.3.324), carnelian (22.3.321), and gold (22.3.320 and 22.3.322).

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayet_(ancient_Egypt)

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Mayet

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/3575

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544147

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/590944

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544145

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544146

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544144

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/552232

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545320

Image Sources

Inner coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown Author

Inner coffin -Brooklyn Museum

Necklaces – MET

Image of mummy in coffin – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/43305/h-e-winlock/excavations-at-dier-el-bahri-1911-1931

Excavation Images – Bulletin of the MET 1921

Mummy Monday: Unknown Man E

This Mummy Monday let’s talk about another mummy found in the Deir el Bahri cache, Unknown Man E. The identity of this mummy is not known, though there are a couple of theories. The most prominent theory is that this mummy is a Prince from the New Kingdom, who may have been involved and tried in a harem conspiracy.

Because we are not entirely sure who this mummy was, I am going to talk about the mummy first and then the theories as to who this mummy may be!

Coffin

The mummy was buried in a white simple Osiriform coffin (CG 61023) that was completely undecorated or labeled. It lacked any features to help date the coffin or identify the owner. The crossed arms on the coffin were popular in the 19th dynasty and onward, but the simple headdress dates to the earlier 18th dynasty. It was made out of expensive cedar wood, indicating whoever owned it was well off. The coffin and the mummy had seemingly not been rifled through by thieves.

Besides the mummy, two canes were found in the coffin. They were made out of braided reeds. Egyptologist Geoffrey Martin noted that the treasurer of Tutankhamun, a man named Maya, had been depicted in his tomb with two canes. Unfortunately, the canes current location has not been found.

Mummy

As I mentioned this mummy was found in the Dier el-Bahri cache (DB 320), which we have talked about several times. I’ve already posted about Nodjmet and Seqenrene Tao, who were also found in this cache.

Discovery of DB 320

The mummy we are focusing on has been labeled as Unknown Man E (CG 61098). He was about 18 to 24 years old at the time of his death. After the discovery of the cache in 1881, the mummy was transported back to Cairo where it was first unwrapped on June 6, 1886, by Gaston Maspero.

The first thing that everyone notices about the mummy is the internal scream that the face is locked in. This mummy has often been referred to as “The Screaming Mummy.” Unfortunately, this has led a few Egyptologists to assume he died a painful death, but more on that later.

The body was found wrapped in sheepskin, which for the Egyptians was a ritually unclean object. The sheepskin still has some of the original white wool attached. Beneath this were layers of thick linen, dating to the 18th dynasty, and a layer of natron salts which were applied to the final layers of the bandages. This natron had absorbed fat from the body and emitted a strong putrid odor when unwrapped. The bandages that covered that layer were impregnated with an adhesive and could only be removed with a saw, which would have destroyed any inscriptions that were on the bandages (if there were any).

It was originally believed that his hands and feet were found bound, but this could have been misinterpreted. Apparently, the bandages were held in place around the upper wrists and lower legs with knotted lengths of linen. They were tied extremely tightly because they left a definitive imprint on the skin on the upper arms. There is the possibility that the arms and legs were tied down because rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the joints and muscles of a body a few hours after death, had already set in by the time the body was mummified.

Underneath this layer was a coating of natron salt, crushed resin, and lime, which most likely consisted of calcium oxide. This was applied directly to the skin, covered the whole body, and was extremely caustic. After this was removed by Maspero and his team, they found the body of the young man. They noted that the muscles of his abdomen were extremely constricted and that his organs were still inside his body, going against all Egyptian mummification traditions. His penis was still intact but was missing when G.E. Smith examined the mummy a quarter-century later.

Gold earrings were found in his pierced ears. They were in the shape of hollow tubes “tapered at both ends and bent back to form an ellipse.” Like the canes found in the coffin, the earrings’ current location cannot be found.

Check out this image to the right and this video below to see a possible reconstruction of the face of Unknown Man E. The video also features one of his missing earrings!

Theories About the Mummy’s Death

When examining the mummy, Maspero had been convinced that there was foul play.

“All those who saw him first hand thought that [he] looked as though he had been poisoned. The contraction of the abdomen and stomach, the desperate movement with which the head is thrown back, the expression of excruciating pain spread over the face hardly allow for any other explanation.”

CT image of Unknown Man E, showing the lower neck region and shoulder joints. The scapulae are shifted to the lateral side (as seen by the arrows) and the soft tissues are inflated because of gas formation (star).

Daniel Fouquet, a physician who examined the mummy, was convinced that the mummy had died of poison, stating,

“…the last convulsions of horrid agony can, after thousands of years, still be seen.”

This seems to be based on the constriction of the abdomen. But this may be a reaction to the preservative chemicals that were placed on his skin. That substance would have sucked out all the moisture from his skin, which then would have made his internal organs shrink and thus constrict the skin of the abdomen. But one fact that may support poison is that there was no food found in his stomach which could indicate that he vomited everything up after ingesting the poison.

CT image of the lower thoracic region of the Unknown Man E. Thorax is filled with air (stars) and appears to be inflated. Residue in the diaphragm and organs (arrows) are present in the dorsal side.

A chemist named Mathey said this,

“the wretched man must have been deliberately asphyxiated–most likely by being buried alive.”

The buried alive theory seems to have been mostly attributed to the bound hands and feet and the horrible scream on the face. This is a theory that many believed in the early 1800s and 1900s and from what I know, I don’t believe there is evidence of any Egyptian being buried alive.

Some have also posed that he was impaled because his perineum was found badly torn. But this was unlikely because his large intestine was found undamaged, so the anal injury must have been post-mortem.

G.E. Smith dismissed these previous theories, saying,

“a corpse that was dead of any complaint might fall into just such an attitude as this body has assumed.”

It has been assumed that many of the earlier theories of his death were simply based on the mummy’s facial expression. Several other mummies are locked into this silent scream, which can mostly be attributed to rigor mortis, lockjaw, or the mummification method.

Theories About the Mummy’s Identity

There is very little known about who this mummy was in life, but based on the mummification techniques, there are a few theories, though only one (besides the theory of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer), has a named Egyptian attached to it. Although this is one of the first theories, I’m going to talk about it last.

One of the theories is that this mummy was the unnamed Hittite prince that was sent by his father to marry Ankhsenamun, the widow/sister of King Tutankhamun. According to preserved documents, this prince was murdered on the way to Egypt. But why wasn’t he sent back to the Hittites?

One of the more important pieces of evidence for the identity of this mummy lies in the sheepskin laid on top of the body. As I mentioned, sheepskins were seen as ritually unclean by the ancient Egyptians. By why would an Egyptian noble or a Hittite prince buried in Egypt be buried with a sheepskin? Some scholars have looked at a reference is the story of the Tale of Sinuhe. In this story, the pharaoh tries to convince Sinuhe, a former friend and confidant who has been living abroad, to return to Egypt. The king says,

“You shall not die in a foreign land…you shall not be placed in a sheepskin as they make your grave.”

This implies that placing a sheepskin over a body was a non-Egyptian tradition.

This led some scholars to believe that this mummy was an important Egyptian governor or dignitary who had died abroad, possibly in an Egyptian outpost in Palestine. They speculate that maybe he died in the desert while hunting and his body was not found immediately. This would attribute to the rigor mortis that had set in and made it difficult for his body to fit in the coffin. Then his body would have been prepared by non-Egyptian embalmers, which was why the mummification was not consistent with Egyptian traditions. The sheepskin, possibly an Asiatic burial tradition, and the use of the calcium oxide mixture on the skin, which points to a Greek influence, are the two foreign features. The official may have already had the coffin prepared (since he might have been in a location where cedar wood was more accessible), but it had not been painted or inscribed with the vital texts. So they sent the mummy and the body back to Egypt.

The Egyptian officials who received it may have noticed the sheepskin and found it offensive, so they just immediately buried the coffin. Based on the location in the DB cache, the mummy was probably originally buried in the Valley of the Kings or somewhere close by. This location is probably true no matter what the identity of the mummy is.

An Answer to His Identity?

Maspero was the first to propose that this was the mummy of Pentawer, a prince of the 20th dynasty involved in a harem conspiracy that led to the death of his father. Maspero determined that the contorted expression, the organs not being removed, the tightly bound wrappings, the taboo sheepskin, and the undecorated coffin were all done to stop this person from entering the afterlife.

Bob Brier examining Unknown Man E

This theory was revived by Egyptologist Bob Brier, who was able to examine the mummy after it hadn’t been seen for almost 100 years. He also concluded that it was most likely the body of Pentawer.

Bob Brier and Zahi Hawass examining Unknown Man E. The large bundle in front of the body may the sheepskin??

Most importantly, the DNA of Ramesses III (who funnily enough was also buried in the DB 320 cache) and Unknown Man E were compared. They both shared paternal Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1a and half of their DNA, which means that they were most likely father and son. Ramesses III had at least seven sons, most of which mummies have been found, so there is a small chance that this mummy could have been another one of his minor sons.

Zahi Hawass with the bodies of Unknown Man E and Ramesses III

You can check out this article by Zahi Hawass and others which studied the bodies of Ramesses III and Unknown Man E, thus helping connect them.

Who was Pentawer?

Pentawer, also known as Pentawere or Pentaweret, was the son of Pharaoh Ramesses III and his secondary wife Tiye (not related to the wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten, also called Tiye). All we know of this prince comes from the documents related to the harem conspiracy.

Image of one of the reconstructions of Unknown Man E

Interestingly the actual name of the prince is not known; this was just the name that was given to him in the Judicial Papyrus of Turin. This papyrus contains the records of the harem plot that he might have been involved in.

Harem Plot

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin is a combination of papyri in the Egyptian Museum in Turin that all describe the trial of those accused on the harem plot to kill Ramesses III. These papyri were separated by a thief to sell them. Luckily when they separated it, they did not damage the text. Papyrus Rollin, Papyrus Varzy, Papyrus Lee, Papyrus Rifaud, and Papyrus Rifaud II are all included in this collection.

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin

According to the Judicial Papyrus of Turin, Pentawer’s mother Tiye may have initiated a harem conspiracy to assassinate the pharaoh and put her son on the throne, even though the next in line to the throne was the son of Tyti. This plot was unfortunately not foiled as Ramesses III was most likely assassinated by having his throat slit on the 15th day of the third month of Shemu in 1155 B.C.E. This was the day of the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, which caused quite a commotion in the palace and harem in Medinet Habu, which was to provide cover for the assassination. Pebekkamen, a court official and one of the main conspirators, received help from a butler named Mastesuria, the cattle overseer Panhayboni, overseer of the harem Panouk, and clerk of the harem Pendua.

Ramesses III in his harem. From the Medinet Habu Temple

It was once thought by Egyptologists that Ramesses III may have survived the attack, but recent CT scans on his mummy reveal a different story. His throat was cut so severely that it severed the trachea, esophagus, and hit his neck bones. This means it was probably immediately fatal. Check out this video about recent CT examinations that helped determine these new clues.

Mummy of Ramesses III, including the extra bandages around the fatal wound on his neck

But they were unable to put Pentawer on the throne because there were too many officials still loyal to Ramesses III and his heir Ramesses IV. The new king selected 12 magistrates to investigate and judge the cases across five trials. Accusations were brought up against Tiye, Pentawer, men in charge of the harem, women from the harem, and military and civil officials.

This is a translation from a portion of the Judicial Papyrus,

“Pentawere, to whom had been given that other name. He was brought in because he had been in collusion with Teye, his mother, when she had plotted the matters with the women of the harem concerning the making rebellion against his lord. He was placed before the butlers in order to be examined; they found him guilty; they left him where he was; he took his own life.”

Check out this link to an entire book about the Harem Conspiracy by Susan Redford and check out the article below to read the Judicial Papyrus of Turin.

Pentawer may have been an unfortunate pawn in this conspiracy. And since he was a noble, he may have been given the option of killing himself by poison to be spared the alternative. 28 people were executed, meaning that they burned alive and their ashes were strewn in the streets, which would ruin their chances for the afterlife. Others like Pentawer were given the choice to kill themselves, while others had their ears and noses cut off. The punishment for Queen Tiye is not included.

The likelihood that Unknown Man E was the Prince Pentawer has gained enough traction to be more than likely. But I do appreciate the thorough study of the mummification method which concluded that this was a foreign dignitary mummified abroad. I think a lot of the unique features of the mummification method could be attributed to that, which is why I question why they (mostly the calcium oxide mixture) would be used if this was the body of Pentawer.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentawer

https://archive.archaeology.org/0603/abstracts/mysteryman.html

https://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/UnknownManE/ManE.htm

https://www.livescience.com/61749-screaming-mummy-backstory.html

https://strangeremains.com/2015/08/23/a-pharaonic-murder-mystery-that-was-solved-with-forensic-analysis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harem_conspiracy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_Papyrus_of_Turin

https://ib205.tripod.com/unknown_man.html

Image Sources

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – G Elliot Smith

Hieroglyphs of his name – Wikipedia Article

Bob Brier with mummy, with Zahi Hawass, and drawing of the discovery of DB320 – Pat Remler

The mummy, reconstruction, and coffin – The Theban Royal Mummy Project

Mummy of Ramesses III – Wikimedia Commons – G Elliot Smith

Judicial Papyrus of Turin – Wikimedia Commons – Khruner

Hawass, Unknown Man E, and Ramesses III – http://ambassadors.net/archives/issue34/selected_studies3.htm

Coffin Image – https://blog.selket.de/tag/pentawer

Women Crush Wednesday: Djedmaatesankh

For this weeks Women Crush Wednesday, lets talk about Djedmaatesankh, a middle-class musician from Thebes. Her mummy and canopic jars are currently located at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (910.10).

Life

Djedmaatesankh was originally from the city of Waset, which was the ancient name for the city of Thebes. She was a musician probably in a temple somewhere in Thebes.

Her husband was named Pa-ankh-entef, which means “Life belongs to him.” Interestingly, his mummy may also be preserved. Gayle Gibson, an Egyptologist and teacher at the Royal Ontario Museum, and Stephanie Holowka, a technician at a hospital in Toronto, theorize that Djedmaatesankh’s husband is located in the Art Institute of Chicago. This mummy is labeled as Paankhemamun, which is an accepted longer name for the nickname Paankhentef.  They also cite similar dating and iconography between both coffins.

Djedmaatesankih and the possible mummy of her husband Paankhemamun (Paankhentef) from the Art Institute in Chicago

Djedmaatesankh died in the middle of the 9th century B.C.E, in the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. She was probably 30 to 35 years old.

Provenance

The coffin and mummy were brought to the Royal Ontario Museum by its first director Dr. Charles Trick Currelly. The original provenance of this mummy is unclear, but based on the textual inscription and style, she was most likely buried somewhere in the Theban necropolis.

Mummies from the Third Intermediate Period, depending on their social status, would have an outer coffin made from wood where the mummy would be placed. The outer coffin of Djedmaatesankh has not been located, so all that is preserved is the outer cartonnage surrounding the mummy.

The cartonnage is one of the best preserved for this period, which is why this mummy was never unwrapped. Cartonnage forms a tough shell around the mummy, so any attempt to remove it would severely damage the decoration. The decoration features references to the Book of the Dead, “emphasizing the protection and re-birth of the deceased through the protective image of the Sun god as a ram-headed falcon.” The most prominent image is the deceased being presented to the god Osiris.

To preserve the decoration and learn about the mummy, Djedmaatesankh was the first mummy to ever received a non-invasive CT scan. The Royal Ontario Museum conducted this first scan on multiple mummies in their collection in 1978, starting with Djedmaastesankh. She received another CT scan in 1994, where more was discovered about her based on the improved technologies.

Mummy

Through the two CT scans, scholars have learned a lot about Djedmasstesankh. This was when they learned that she was between 30 to 35 years old when she died. She may have died from an abscess in her teeth which had erupted. Dental problems were a frequent problem to the ancient Egyptians. While some scholars cannot definitively prove that a mummy died by a dental problem, in the case of Djedmaatesankh, her upper jaw was swollen and there was a 1-inch abscess in her skull. This infection may have left her with a fatal blood infection. Her jawbone was found pitted with small holes, possibly indicating a few unsuccessful attempts to drain the abscess. This shows that she or others knew there was a problem, and someone attempted to heal her.

CT scan of the abscess in Djedmaatesankh’s jaw

Gibson and Holowka noticed from the most recent CT scan that Djedmaatesankh’s pubic bone in her pelvis was still intact, meaning that it was unlikely that she ever had children. This would be quite strange for a married woman of her age, because Egyptian women were married young and would have had multiple children by then. The researchers posed that she may have been infertile, though I don’t believe that they found any evidence for this on the CT scan.

One study (which I have included below) discovered that Djedmaatesankh might have had something wrong with her ears or her hearing. She may have had sensorineural hearing or vestibular dysfunction.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the structures in your inner ear or your auditory nerve. Today it is the cause of more than 90% of hearing loss in adults. This can either be caused by exposure to loud noises, genetic factors, or the natural aging process.

Vestibular dysfunction is when the vestibular system in your ear isn’t working properly. This system included the parts of the inner ear and the brain that processes sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. A problem with this system can cause dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and instability.

This is the first report of an abnormaility of the auditory-vestibular apparatus in an Egyptian mummy. It is extremely interesting that she had these problems, considering her profession was a musician. It would be very interesting to know if she had these problems for a long time (maybe her whole life?) or if these problems only came up in the last few years before her death.

This is an apparent 3D reconstruction of Djedmaatesankh, though I do not know from which CT scan

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djedmaatesankh

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Djedmaatesankh

https://collections.rom.on.ca/objects/195676/coffin-and-mummy-of-the-lady-djedmaatesankh?ctx=e5155f2e-e198-4c5a-bf4b-6f0efb3dcc33&idx=13

https://www.thestar.com/news/2007/11/06/return_of_the_mummies.html

Image Sources

Coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Daderot

Coffin and x-rays – Royal Ontario Museum

Face scan – ROM tumblr

Skull X-ray – Hearing Loss article

Paankhemamun – Art Institute Website

Mummy Monday: Seqenenre Tao

We are back! Thank you all for the support during my two-week break. I am rested and prepped for a great 2021.

Our first candidate for Mummy Monday for the year needed to be big. And what is bigger than an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh who most likely died in battle and has the scars to prove it? This week we will be talking about Sequenenre Tao, otherwise known as the Brave.

Life

Seqenenre Tao, also known as Seqenera Djehuty-aa, Sekenenra Taa, or Sequenenre Tao II (after his father), ruled over the last of the local Theban kingdom in the 17th Dynasty of the 2nd Intermediate Period. Seqenenre means “Who Strikes like Re,” and Tao means “brave,” which may have been a name given to him based on his bravery in life.

The center scribal palette in the image (currently located in the Louvre) is inscribed with the name of Seqenenre Tao

He was probably the son and successor of Senakhenre Ahmose and Queen Tetisheri. He would have risen to power either in 1560 to 1558 B.C.E. He had multiple wives including Ahmose Inhapy, Sitdjentui, and Ahhotep I. Through Ahmose Inhapy, he had a daughter Ahmose Henuttamehu, and through Sitdjehuti, he had another daughter named Ahmose. But it was Ahhotep I who bore the next two kings of Egypt, Seqenenre Tao’s sons Kamose and Ahmose I. She also gave birth to Ahmose Nefertari, Ahmose Meritamon, Ahmose Nebetta, Ahmose Tumerisy, Binpu, Ahmose Sapair, and Ahmose Henutemipet, many of whom were married to one of their brothers.

This jar lid (currently located at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, M.80.203.224) is inscribed with the name of Seqenenre Tao

His rule was anywhere from 5 to 3 years, so this left almost no time for monumental building. He did build a new mudbrick palace at Deir el-Ballas. When this site was excavated, a large amount of Kerma-ware pottery was found. Kerman Nubians either traded heavily with the Egyptians or were residents in the palace. This also may indicate that they were allied with the Egyptians in the upcoming battles.

Sometime during his reign, Seqenenre Tao came into contact with the Hyksos people in the north. They were most likely a Canaanite group that settled in the north during this period of instability. They lived in their capital of Avaris in the Delta. It looks like the Egyptians and the Hyksos met in a city called Apepi or Apophis. There is a tale written about this meeting that is called, “The Quarrel of Apophis and Seqenenre.” A portion of this tale is translated below.

“Give orders that the hippopotamus-pool which is in the flowing spring of the city be abandoned; for they (the voices of the hippos) do not allow deep sleep to come to me either by day or by night; but their noise is in mine ear.”

If this letter was actually sent, it is unclear. But the Hyksos king was obviously complaining about Seqenenre’s growing power. But it must be noted that this tale was written by the Egyptians, who notoriously would create propaganda to benefit their own rule. There is always the possibility that the Hyksos king had no quarrel with the Egyptians, but Seqenenre wanted a unified Egypt and chose to attack them.

Death

Seqenenre Tao seemed to have actively participated in the war against the Hyksos, which may have led to his demise. Based on the injuries to his mummy (which I will describe below), Seqenenre Tao was most likely struck down in battle. He was probably around the age of 40 when he died.

Painting of a Queen Ahhotep I recovering her husbands body from the battlefield (Artist’s rendering; there is no evidence of this encounter.) By Winifred Mabel Brunton in 1915.

After Seqenenre Tao’s death, his son Kamose took the throne and continued to battle the Hyksos people. He may have also died in battle (though this is not for certain), but his brother Ahmose I then rose to the throne (after a possible regency of Ahhotep I) to finally defeat the Hyksos, end the Second Intermediate Period and 17th Dynasty and start the New Kingdom and the 18th Dynasty.

This battle axe of Ahhotep I depicts Ahmose I defeating a Hyksos in battle.

Tomb

Although his tomb has not been found, it is presumed that Seqenenre Tao was buried in Dra Abu-el-Naga on the west bank from Thebes. This is where other 17th Dynasty rulers were buried, including the tomb of Ahhotep (still unclear if this was the I or the II).

According to the Abbot Papyrus (British Museum, 10211), which is a document that recorded tomb robberies during the 20th Dynasty, Seqenenre Tao’s tomb was still intact in Year 16 of Ramesses IX.

Image of some of the coffins found in the Deir el Bahri cache

Sometime after this, the tomb was robbed by looters, and in the 21st Dynasty, local priests relocated the coffin and the mummy to the Deir el-Bahri cache in DB320, which we have talked about multiple times. This cache was discovered in 1881 and contained the bodies of several famous kings of the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Dynasties. Here is a list I have shown before of the mummies found in this cache:

  • Tetisheri
  • Ahmose Inhapy
  • Ahmose Henutemipet
  • Ahmose Henuttamehu
  • Ahmose Mertiamon
  • Ahmose Sipair
  • Ahmose Sitkamose
  • Ahmose I
  • Rai
  • Siamun
  • Ahmose Sitamun
  • Amenhotep I
  • Thutmose I
  • Baket (?)
  • Thutmose II
  • Iset
  • Thutmose III
  • Unknown man C
  • Ramesses I
  • Seti I
  • Ramesses II
  • Ramesses III
  • Ramesses IX
  • Pinedjem I
  • Nodjmet
  • Duathathor-Henuttawy
  • Maatkare
  • Masaharta
  • Tayuheret
  • Pinedjem II
  • Isetemkheb D
  • Neskhons
  • Djedptahiufankh
  • Nesitanebetashru
  • Unknown man E
  • 8 other unidentified mummies; funerary remains of Hatshepsut

As you can see, his mother, one of his wives, several of his daughters, and one of his sons were all moved here after their tombs had been looted. Check out my post on Nodjmet to learn more about the DB320 cache!

Coffin

The mummy of Seqenenre Tao was found in its original coffin (CG 61001). This coffin was decorated with a royal uraeus and eye inlays, which were most likely removed by tombs robbers along with the majority of the gilding. But the inscriptions and symbolic elements have been preserved and even restored, possibly after the gilding was removed.

Mummy

Mummy of Seqenenre Tao

The mummy of Seqenenre Tao (JE 2609/CG 61051) has captured a lot of attention over the years of its appearance. After the discovery of the cache in 1881, his mummy was partially unwrapped by Egyptologist Gaston Maspero on June 9th, 1886. It was completely unwrapped by Eugene Grebaut, who took office in the Antiquities Service after Maspero resigned in 1886, on September 1st, 1906. The mummy was also reexamined in the early 1900s by G. Elliot Smith.

By all indications, the mummy seems to have been hastily embalmed. His mummy is the worst preserved of all the mummies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There was no attempt to remove the brain or add linen inside the cranium or eyes. His organs were removed, and the body packed with linen, but there was one thing done wrong – the heart was also removed. Now, this is against every Egyptian tradition. The Egyptians believed that the heart was the most important organ and that you thought with your heart. This was always left within the body to help in the afterlife. In some cases when the heart was removed, a heart scarab amulet was put in its place. While it is unclear why the heart was removed, there is the possibility that it was removed in an attempt to destroy him in the afterlife.

A “foul, oily smell filled the room the moment the case in which his body was exhibited was opened.” This is probably because of the poor embalming process and the absence of the use of natron salts to dry out the body, which left some of the bodily fluids in the mummy at the time of burial.

The mummy’s chest is also broken, and the ribs were hurriedly squeezed together by the embalmers and wrappers. His arms, legs, and vertebrae are also disarticulated, and the pelvis is in pieces. Worms were also found in the shroud and shells of beetle larvae in the king’s hair. This is another indication of a bad or quick mummification.

The Face of Seqenenre Tao with arrows pointing at the wounds to his face

The face of the mummy was what really cause speculation. It is very damaged, and his mouth is open, as some thought in horror. Multiple wounds cover the mummy’s face. There is a small cut above the eye, on the forehead, and a wound behind his ear.

Below is a description of the injuries given by Maspero.

“…it is not known whether he fell upon the field of battle or was the victim of some plot; the appearance of his mummy proves that he died a violent death when about forty years of age. Two or three men, whether assassins or soldiers, must have surrounded and dispatched him before help was available. A blow from an axe must have severed part of his left cheek, exposed the teeth, fractured the jaw, and sent him senseless to the ground; another blow must have seriously injured the skull, and a dagger or javelin has cut open the forehead on the right side, a little above the eye. His body must have remained lying where it fell for some time: when found, decomposition had set in, and the embalming had to be hastily performed as best it might.”

The back of the Head of Seqenenre Tao with an arrow showing the wound behind his ear

The wound to his forehead fits the shape of an Egyptian battle-axe while the wounds above the right eye and left check fit a Hyksos style battle-axe. His check and nose were smashed in. This may have been done with the blunt end of an axe or by a mace. The wound behind his ear was most likely made by a dagger or spear, possibly while Seqenenre was lying prone. There were no injuries found to his arms or hands, indicated that he was not able to defend himself. But there is some evidence that the wound behind his ear has begun to heal. This may indicate that this injury was caused in battle and then other injuries were made later, possibly in an assassination attempt.

This battle-axe (currently located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.80.203.43) is inscribed with the name of Seqenenre Tao. The original owner of this piece is unknown.

Until 2009, the main hypothesis was that Seqenenre Tao had died in battle or was assassinated in his sleep, before or after a battle. Egyptologist Garry Shaw and archaeologist/weapons expert Robert Mason reconstructed the death of the king and came up with an alternate theory. They suggested that Seqenenre Tao was executed by the Hyksos king after being captured. This may have been a ceremonial execution at the hands of the enemy commander.

Here you can read a fictionalized account of his death by Shaw, but you can also download his scholarly article on his findings below. Also, check out this video where Shaw and Mason recreate the injuries.

While I have not seen anything to corroborate this, I have a theory that aligns with Shaw and Mason’s theory of the ceremonial execution. If Seqenenre Tao was executed, his body would have been in enemy hands for an unknown amount of time. Maybe the Hyksos people attempted to mummify him?

This would explain why it was done so badly and why the heart was missing. This wasn’t them trying to ruin his chance in the afterlife, just a simple lack of knowledge of Egyptian mummification. They probably assumed that all the organs were removed.

Otherwise, his body may have been returned to his family and the priests just did an extremely quick mummification job. Just a theory, but it would be interesting to look into!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seqenenre_Tao

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Seqenenre_Tao

https://rawi-magazine.com/articles/sequenenre_tao/

https://egypt-museum.com/post/187302666356/mummy-of-seqenenre-tao

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/seqenenretao/

https://members.tripod.com/anubis4_2000/17A.htm#Seqnenre-Taa%20II

Image Sources

Photo of skull – Wikimedia Commons – G. Elliot Smith

Photo of mummy in case – Rawi Magazine

Photo of mummy – Egypt Museum.com

Cartouches – ancientegyptonline.co.uk

Photo of Coffin and mummy – members.tripod.com

Photo of battleaxe – Wikimedia commons – LACMA (M.80.203.43)

Photo of scribal palette with his name (Louvre) – Wikimedia Commons – Rama

Jar lid with his throne name – Wikimedia Commons LACMA (M.80.203.224)

Women Crush Wednesday: Dr. Hilde Zaloscer

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is an Egyptologist, Coptologist, and Art Historian who battled prejudice throughout her life. But she persevered and became and expert in her field. Her name was Dr. Hilde Zaloscer.

Early Life

Hildegard Zaloscer was born on the 15th of June, 1903 in the city of Tzla, then part of Austria-Hungary, and now located in Bosnia Herzegovina. She was the eldest daughter of an affluent Jewish lawyer and state official, Dr. Jacob Zaloscer, and his wife Bertha (nee Kallach). She had two younger sisters name Erna and Ruth.

At the end of World War I, her family had to flee to Vienna, the capital of Austria, when the Austrian monarchy collapsed. Here, Hilde finished her secondary education and studied art history and prehistory at the University of Vienna. She studied under Professor J. Strygowski, Josef Strnad and R. von Heine-Geldern.

She received her PhD in Art History in 1926. Her dissertation was “Die frühmittelalterliche Dreistreifenornamentik der Mittelmeerrandgebiete mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Denkmäler am Balkan” or “The early medieval three-stripe ornamentation of the Mediterranean areas with special consideration of the monuments in the Balkans.”

She received her PhD in Art History in 1926. Her dissertation was “Die frühmittelalterliche Dreistreifenornamentik der Mittelmeerrandgebiete mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Denkmäler am Balkan” or “The early medieval three-stripe ornamentation of the Mediterranean areas with special consideration of the monuments in the Balkans.”

After graduating Hilde couldn’t find any jobs that offered her any research opportunities. She gave tours of the art history museum and taught in higher education. From 1927 to 1936, she was the editor of the art magazine Belvedere.

Escape and Life in Egypt

Image of Hilde’s passport (?) from the exhibition about women who entered into marriages of convenience in exile

Unfortunately, an increase in anti-Semitism in Vienna forced her to leave Austria. Hilde emigrated to Egypt in 1936. There is evidence that undertook a fictious marriage with a native Egyptian to obtain Egyptian citizenship. It is unclear if this marriage took place before she emigrated or before she obtained the citizenship in 1939. I could also not find any evidence of the name of the man she “married.”

While this may sound a bit strange, according to some scholars there were 13 women who undertook these marriages to obtain citizenship and escape Nazi persecution. You can learn more about these other women here. Although it is not entirely clear, Hilde may have been ousted from the University of Vienna because of the changing world and her faith.

While in Egypt, she held several public lectures and courses in the artists association called Atelier. She also studied many of the Coptic monuments that were recently acquired by the Egyptian State Museum. I could not figure out if Hilde’s interest in Coptic studies began before or after she lived in Egypt. Nonetheless, in Egypt she was able to study many of these objects closer.

While in Egypt, she held several public lectures and courses in the artists association called Atelier. She also studied many of the Coptic monuments that were recently acquired by the Egyptian State Museum. I could not figure out if Hilde’s interest in Coptic studies began before or after she lived in Egypt. Nonetheless, in Egypt she was able to study many of these objects closer.

What is Coptology, you may ask? Coptoloy is the study of Coptic language, literature, and culture. Copts are an ethnoreligious group that are a Christian denomination and are mainly concentrated in Northern Africa and Egypt. Christianity was introduced in Egypt in 42 C.E. and the Coptic religion stems from that. What is most interesting about the Coptic religion, in regard to Egyptology, is that their language of the same name stems from the ancient Egyptian Demotic language. Coptic is know only typically spoken in the Coptic church (like Latin is spoken in some other Christian churches), but it is the only evidence of a spoken Egyptian language.

From 1946 to 1968, Hilde was a professor of art history at the University of Alexandria. This may be where she became a prominent and world-renowned expert in Coptic art. She returned to Austria in 1947 to try and continue her research but had to return to Egypt.

Later Life

After the Six Days War in 1967, many Jews faced more prosecution and expulsion in Egypt other Arab nations. Hilde was either expelled from Egypt or left the country with extreme difficulty. She temporarily live in Vienna from 1968 to 1970, where she could find no work at 65 years old.

Then she was invited as a visiting professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario for two years. After returning to Vienna, she finally obtained at job at her old university, University of Vienna from 1975 to 1978.

Throughout this period, she published many articles and books, as well as editing the Encyclopedia Coptica. There was apparently a barely existing library at the university which forced Hilde to use her own scientific method of investigation when conducting research. Though she had no direct contact with any of the objects she studied, Hilde developed a research path dericed from phenomenology, the study of the structure of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. “Thinking for yourself, looking for yourself, experiencing for yourself, led to new results.”

Hilde showed that with Coptic art was a mixture of the art of the Greco-Romans, the Byzantines, and the Pharaohs. In addition, she also devoted herself to the problems of modern art.

She died at the age of 96 on December 20th, 1999.

Legacy

The Memorial for the excluded, expelled, and murdered graduates of the Art History Institute

A memorial outside of the Institute of Art History at the University of Vienna is dedicated to the “excluded, expelled, and murdered graduates of the Art History Institute.” Hilde’s name is the last on the list, implying that she was one of the “excluded or expelled,” students. The memorial was designed by Hans Buchwald and inaugurated in October 2008.

And in 2018, Hilde was included in an exhibition about women who had marriages of convenience in exile to escape persecution. This was held at the Jewish Museum in Vienna. The stories of the women were presented by showing their portrait and their escape routes, with personal objects, documents, and videos about them. These show the before, during, and after their marriages. An image of Hilde’s display can be seen below and you can learn more about this exhibition as a whole here or watch this YouTube video (mind you this is in German).

Mock-up for Hilde’s portion of the exhibition

Awards

Hilde received multiple awards throughout her life, the majority of these I assume she received when she lived in Vienna near the end of her life.

  • The Golden Honorary Doctorate of the Vienna University
  • Theodor-Körner Prize, Austria
    • Set of annual Austrian awards bestowed by the Theodor Körner Fund in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances
  • Adolf-Schärf Prize
    • An award for the Advancement of Science
  • Goldenes Verdienstkreuz des Landes Wien or the Golden Medal of Merit of the State of Vienna
    • An award given to people who have made great services to the State of Vienna through public or private work
  • Kulturmedaille der Stadt Linz or Cultural Medal of the City of Linz
    • An award given to those who have made special contributions to business, science, culture and humanity in the city of Linz, Austria
An example of the modern Golden Medal of Merit of the State of Vienna

Publications

The majority of her publications were in German or French. Here I have translated all the titles into English, but her complete list of publications can be found on her Wikipedia page. A few of her articles seem to have been published after her death.

  • 1926 – The early medieval three-strolling drama of the Mediterranean regions with special consideration of the monuments in the Balkans
  • 1946 – Le Greco
  • 1947 – Some considerations on the relationship between Coptic art and the Indies
  • 1953 – Thomas Mann’s “Doctor Faustus” and his models
  • 1953 – On musical composition in literary works
  • 1955 – The Woman with the Veil in Coptic Iconography
  • 1959 – The antithetics in the work of Thomas Mann
  • 1961 – Portraits from the desert sand
  • 1962 – Egyptian knitting
  • 1969 – From the mummy portrait to the icon
  • 1974 – Art in Christian Egypt
  • 1985 – The cry, sign of an epoch : the expressionist century: fine art, poetry and prose, theater
  • 1988 – There is no homecoming
  • 1991- On the genesis of Coptic art: iconographic contributions
  • 1993 – Egyptian textile art
  • 1997 – Visual evocation, autonomous work of art, ideograph
  • 1999 – On Egyptian death masks
  • 2004 – Scientific work without scientific apparatus
  • 2004 – The three times exile
  • 2004 – Art history and National Socialism

Sources

https://www.geschichtewiki.wien.gv.at/Denkmal_f%C3%BCr_Ausgegrenzte_und_Ermordete_des_Kunsthistorischen_Instituts

https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Monument_to_victims_of_Kunsthistorisches_Insitut,_University_of_Vienna_02.jpg

http://www.gabuheindl.at/en/overview/political-history/persecuted-engaged-married-marriages-of-convenience-in-exile.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptology

Photo Sources

Photo of memorial – Wikimedia Commons (Herzi Pinki)

Image of document – https://www.univie.ac.at/geschichtegesichtet/h_zaloscer.html

Pictural of memorial – https://geschichte.univie.ac.at/de/artikel/denkmal-fuer-ausgegrenzte-emigrierte-und-ermordete-des-kunsthistorischen-instituts-der

Picture of memorial – https://www.geschichtewiki.wien.gv.at/Datei:Denkmal_f%C3%BCr_Ausgegrenzte_und_Ermordete_des_Kunsthistorischen_Instituts,_1090_Altes_AKH.jpg

Picture of her – https://www.univie.ac.at/biografiA/daten/text/bio/zaloscer.htm

Mummy Monday: Nebiri

This week’s mummy is unfortunately not completely intact. But that hasn’t stopped researchers from learning a ton about this Egyptian. His name was Nebiri and he is currently located at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy (S_5109).

Life

Very little is known about Nebiri in his life because his tomb was looted. But, based on the location he was buried, he was most likely an important official during his life. He most likely lived in the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom, during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, 1479 to 1424 B.C.E.

The only title that we know he had was Chief or Superintendent of the Stables, meaning that he was in charge of the horse stables, possibly those of the kings. He was anywhere from 45 to 60 years old when he died.

Tomb

Image of all the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. Nebiri was buried in QV30, seen here on the bottom middle of the image.

Nebiri’s tomb was located in the Valley of the Queens. This was another valley located on the west side of the Nile from Thebes. Like the Valley of the Kings, this valley was used from the late 17th dynasty and on to bury those of the royal family. While it is labeled as for queens, there are several non-queens were buried in this valley, Nebiri included.

A view of the South east side of the Valley of the Queens, with the tomb of Nebiri (QV30) in the center

He was buried in QV30, which is located on the south slope of the main valley. It is a single rectangular shaped chamber with a vertical shaped shaft. Like many of the tombs of both of the valleys, it was looted in antiquity. This tomb was hit particularly hard as Nebiri’s body was either taken or destroyed. The only things left in the tomb were some faience objects, terracotta vases, some Aegean style (probably Cypriote) vessels (seen below), a canopic jar inscribed for the god Hapy, the guardian of the lungs, and the head of Nebiri.

The tomb was discovered by Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904. The objects were then sent to the Egyptian Museum in Turin. In a recent survey of the Valley of the Queens by the Getty Conservation Institute, the tomb had evidence of reuse in the Roman Period and modern flooding. Currently, the tomb shaft has a modern cemented masonry surround.

To read more about the Getty’s work in the Valley of the Queens check out the two files below!

Mummy

As I mentioned, only the head of Nebiri was left in the tomb. It was left almost completely unwrapped but is still in good condition. Luckily, the canopic jar that remained in the tomb, contained the lungs of Nebiri.

Linen bandages were stuffed into the head, nose, ears, eyes, and mouth. They also included packing in the mouth to fill out the cheeks. Researchers discovered that the linen bandages had been treated with a complex mixture of animal fat or plant oil, a balsam or aromatic plant, a coniferous resin, and heated Pistacia resin.

CT scans of Nebiri’s head, showing some of the linen bandages packed in the skull
3D reconstruction of Nebiri’s brain surface from the CT scans

During a CT scan of the head, a tiny hole was found in the honeycomb-like bone structure, known as the cribriform plate. This piece separates the nasal cavity from the brain. Although the brain was usually removed in the mummification process, Nebiri’s brain was not removed. This hole was actually used to insert the packing rather than taking the brain out. Researchers were able to 3D reconstruct the brain surface. These mummification techniques seem to confirm that Nebiri was a high-status figure of the 18th dynasty.

Using a type of computed tomography and facial reconstruction techniques, researchers have produced a facial approximation of Nebiri. He had a prominent nose, wide jaw, straight eyebrows, and thick lips. Check out the article below to learn more about the “Virtopsy” that was conducted on Nebiri’s head.

Medical Marvel

Researchers at the Turin Museum have discovered a few medical problems that Nebiri had before he died. Like many Egyptians, Nebiri had very bad teeth. He has several periodontal or gum disease and abscesses in his mouth.

Then by examining the remains of Nebiri’s lungs from the canopic jar, they found evidence of edema or fluid collected in the lung’s air sacs. One of the researchers Bianucci explained, “when the heart is not able to pump efficiently, blood can back up into the veins that take it through the lungs. As the pressure increases, fluid is pushed into the air spaces in the lungs.”

There was also calcification in the right internal carotid artery, suggesting mild atherosclerosis. Cells were also found within the lung tissue also resembled cells that have been found in patients with heart failure. Scholars concluded that Nebiri had chronic heart failure and may have died from acute decompensation of chronic left-side heart failure. This is the earliest found case of chronic heart failure found!

Sources

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Neibiri

https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ancient-egyptian-mummy-nebiri-oldest-case-chronic-heart-failure-1517644

https://www.livescience.com/59530-egyptian-mummy-face-and-brain-reconstructed.html

https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/researchers-identify-oldest-known-case-heart-failure-egyptian-mummy-003701

Valley of the Queens Assessment Book

Virtopsy article

Photo Sources

Head and canopic jar – Mummipedia

Facial reconstruction and scans of the head – Philippe Froesch va livescience.com

Reconstruction and CT scan – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4618596/Scientists-reconstruct-head-ancient-mummy.html

Side view of reconstruction – http://khentiamentiu.blogspot.com/2017/06/face-of-ancient-dignitary-shows-how.html

CT scans and reconstructions – Loynes et al “Virtopsy shows a high status funerary treatment in an early 18th Dynasty non-royal individual”

Head – https://www.ancientpages.com/2015/08/28/nebiri-a-chief-of-stables-oldest-case-of-heart-disease-found-in-3500-year-old-mummy/

Images of Tomb – Getty Valley of the Queens PDF

Women Crush Wednesday: Merneith

After taking about the first confirmed female pharaoh of Egypt, Sobekneferu, I also wanted to mention some earlier women who may have ruled Egypt. So let’s talk about Mereneith from the 1st Dynasty!

Life

Merneith (also known as Meritneith or Meryt-Neith) was a consort or queen during the 1st Dynasty of Egypt. Her name means “Beloved of Neith.” She may have been the daughter of Pharaoh Djer, which would have made her the granddaughter of the first pharaoh of a unified Egypt, Narmer. She was probably married to Pharaoh Djet and mother of Pharaoh Den, as indicated by a clay seal found in the tomb of Den, labeled “King’s Mother, Mereneith.”

She is believed to have ruled after the death of Djet sometime around 2950 B.C.E., although her title is still debated. It is possible that her son Den was two young to rule, so she may have ruled as regent for her son until he was old enough. But is she ruled in her own right, then she may have actually been the first female pharaoh of Egypt, or the second, if an earlier queen Neithhotep ruled in her own right. Her name is not recorded in any ancient king lists.

Merneith’s name can be seen on the far right. The vulture and the plant with shoots is the world for mother, while the three signs below it, spell her name.

She is known from only a select number of artifacts, none of which contain any depictions of her. Her name was found on a cylinder seal from the tomb of her son Den. This seal contains all the Horus names of kings from the 1st dynasty. Mereneith is mentioned here with her title, King’s Mother. Some objects were found with her name in the tomb of King Djer in Umm el-Qa’ab.

Reconstruction of the tomb of Mereneith in Abydos

In an unpresecedneted move, Mereneith may have built two sperate tombs for herself. First we will talk about her confirmed tomb in Abydos and then I will talk about her possible tomb in Saqqara.

Tomb in Abydos

Mereneith’s tomb in Abydos is located in the Umm el-Qa’ab cemetery, particularly in the 1st Dynasty royal cemetery. Her tomb is the strongest evidence that she was a ruler of ancient Egypt, because it is in the middle of the other royal tombs. She is buried in Tomb Y, which is close to the tombs of Djet and Den. Flinders Petrie discovered the tomb in 1900, and he believed that it belonged to a previously unknown male pharaoh. Two stela with her names were found outside this tomb

The tomb is only slightly smaller in scale to the other tombs at 16.5 meters by 14 meters. It was shown to contain a large underground chamber, lined with mud bricks. The actual burial chamber was dug deeper than rooms surrounding it. There were 8 storage rooms that were filled with pottery. This neck of a Levantine jug (UC 17421) which was found is currently at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. A schist bowl was also found labeled as “that which is from Mereneith’s treasury,” which confirms it was an offering from the royal treasury and not her personal property. A solar boat was found in or near her tomb, which would allow her to travel with the sun diety in the afterlife.

The tomb was surrounded by rows of small satellite burials, with at least 40 subsidiary graves for servants. During this period, servants were sacrificed to be buried with their king so that they could assist the ruler in the afterlife. This was significantly less than at her husband and her son’s tombs.

The Levantine jug handle found in the tomb of Merenneith in Abydos located in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (UC 17421)

Tomb in Saqqara

Reconstruction of the supposed tomb of Mereneith in Saqqara

Her name has also been found on inscribed stone vessels and seal impressions in a tomb in Saqqara, Mastaba S3503. This has lead some to believe that this is another tomb of Mereneith. It is 41 meters long and 16 meters wide. The exterior was decorated like a place façade, with nine niches on the long sides and three niches on the short sides. There were 23 chambers on the ground floor, with 20 subsidiary tombs arranged around the structure. Some have speculated that this tomb has features of some of the funerary structures of the 3rd dynasty. Behind the palace façade there is the base of a stepped structure.

Below the ground level there was a large burial chamber in the middle of the building with four side chambers. Although it was probably robbed in ancient times, multiple items were still found in their original locations. There was a large sarcophagus in the center, of which only a few wooden planks were found. They did contain the remains of a skeleton, but they could not be determined to be a man or a woman. Bowls and vessels were found in the remains of a chest, some of which were inscribed with the name of Mereneith. North of the sarcophagus, poles were found which were probably intended for a canopy or tent. There was also a cylinder seal found with her name inside a royal serekh. Interestingly, this serekh had an image of the goddess Neith rather than the typical Horus falcon on top of it.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merneith

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastaba_S3503

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/firstdynastysaqqara.htm

https://www.livius.org/articles/person/merneith/

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydostomby.html

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/queenmereneith/

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/who-is-who/m/merneith/tomb-y-at-umm-el-qaab.html

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/chronology/queenmeritneit.html

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydosforts2.html

Photo Sources

Detail of the tomb stela, Egyptian Museum Cairo (JE 34450) – Wikimedia Commons (Juan R. Lazaro)

Cemetery B, Umm el-Qa’ab – Wikimedia Commons (Jolle~commonswiki)

Plan of the main chamber of the tomb – Wikimedia Commons (Josiane d’Este-Curry)

Funerary enclosure – https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydosforts2.html

Levantine jug – Petrie Museum (UC 17421)

Full stela – Ancient Egypt Fandom (Tomrowley)

Reconstruction of the tomb – http://www.ancient-egypt.org/who-is-who/m/merneith/tomb-y-at-umm-el-qaab.html

Reconstructions of Saqqara tombs – https://www.courses.psu.edu/art_h/art_h201_ejw3/egypt.html

Seal impression from the tomb of Den – http://xoomer.virgilio.it/francescoraf/hesyra/merneith.html

Royal Tombs of Abydos – Wikimedia Commons (PLstrom)

Mummy Monday: Ramesses VI

Throughout Egyptian history, there were 11 pharaohs named Ramesses, all living during the New Kingdom. This week we are going to look at the mummy of Ramesses VI.

Life

Ramesses IV Nebmaatre-Meryamun was born Amenherkhepsehf (C) to Ramesses III and most likely queen Iset Ta-Hemdjert. This is suggested by the presence of his cartouches on the door jamb of her tomb in the Valley of the Queens. As a prince, he held the titles of royal scribe and cavalry general. He was the 5th pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, after his older brother Ramesses IV son, Ramesses V died without a male heir.

His Great Royal Wife was Nubkhesbed and they had at least four children: princes Amenherkhepshef, Panebenkemyt, and Ramesses Itamun (future pharaoh Ramesses VII) and one princess Iset. His first son died before his father and was buried in KV13 and his daughter was appointed as God’s Wife of Amun.

He only reigned for about 8 years (1145 to 1137 B.C.E) which may have been quite turbulent. Ramesses IV stopped frequent raids by Libyan or Egyptian marauders in Upper Egypt. But Egypt lost control of its last strongholds in Canaan, which weakened Egypt’s economy and increased prices throughout the kingdom. The pharaoh’s power also waned during this period as the priesthood of Amun began to rise in power. This is when Ramesses VI appointed his daughter as a priestess of Amun in an attempt to reduce their power.

There are multiple statues of him, many of which he usurped from past rulers by engraving his name over theirs. These usurpations were most likely done because of the economic depression rather than a sign of antagonism against his predecessors. One statue that was well documented on the reverse of the Turin Papyrus Map was installed in the Temple of Hathor at Deir el-Medina. It was called “Lord of the Two Lands, Nebamaatre Meryamun, Son of Re, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses Amunherkhepesef Divine Ruler of Iunu, Beloved like Amun.” The statue was apparently made out of both painted wood and clay, showing the pharaoh wearing a golden loincloth, a crown of lapis lazuli and precious stones, a uraeus of gold, and sandals of electrum.

Ramesses VI died in his 40s, in the 8th or 9th year of his rule. He was succeeded by his son Ramesses VII Itamun. Besides his tomb (described below), it is also thought that he usurped his nephew’s mortuary temple in El-Assasif, Thebes (which was probably stolen from Ramesses IV). It was planned to nearly half the size of Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses II. But only the foundations were built at the death of Ramesses IV so it is unclear if it was ever completed.

Tomb

The outside of the Tomb

Now presumably because Ramesses VI was older when he rose to power, he chose to usurp his nephew’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV9. It is unclear if Ramesses V was first buried in this tomb and then moved, or if Ramesses VI buried his nephew somewhere else. Unlike his usurpation of his predecessors’ cult statues, this usurpation could have been because he did not hold his nephew in high regard. It was most likely completed in the 6th or 8th year of his reign.

Layout of KV9

The tomb is 104 meters or 341 feet long and has several chambers. The entrance of the tomb is decorated with a disk containing a scarab and an image of the ram-headed god Re between Isis and Nephthys. In the first corridor, there are images of Ramesses VI before Re-Horakhty and Osiris.

Ramesses VI worshipping Osiris above the entrance to the hallway

The Book of Gates is on the south wall while the Book of Caverns is on the north wall. These are both Ancient Egyptian funerary texts that would help the newly deceased soul into the afterlife. The Book of Gate describes several gates, each associated with different goddesses and required the deceased to recognize the particular character of the diety. The Book of Caverns is very similar, but it describes six caverns of the afterlife which are filled with rewards for the righteous and punishments for the bad.

The ceiling of the long hallway is decorated with an intricate astronomical ceiling. The Book of the Gates and the Book of Caverns continued on their respective walls. Above the entrance to the next corridor, the king is shown before Osiris. The second corridor is decorated with two more funerary texts: the Book of the Imi-Duat and the Books of Day and Night. Here Ramesses is shown before Hekau and Maat.

At the end, there is a hall and the burial chamber. Again, these are decorated with more funerary texts, mainly the Book of the Dead and the Book of the Earth (also known as the Book of Aker). Ramesses was buried in a large granite coffin box and mummiform stone sarcophagus in the center of the chamber.

Unfortunately, like many of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, it was looted in antiquity, most likely around 20 years after Ramesses VI was buried. They took everything and destroyed much of the sarcophagus and mummy. The mummy was removed from the tomb in the 21st Dynasty. Interestingly, the workers huts that were built for the construction of this tomb, obscured the entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which may have been a reason that it was not seriously looted during this period.

Check out the tour of the tomb completely 3D tour of the tomb here and here! You can also see more images of the tomb decoration here.

In the Graeco-Roman Period, the tomb was identified as that of Memnon, the mythological king of the Ethiopians who fought in the Trojan War. This meant that it was frequently visited during this time. Visitors from the 1st century B.C.E. to the 4th century C.E. left approximately 995 pieces of graffiti. These were mostly in Greek, Latin, Demotic, and Coptic, and in black or red ink. Many of these were found higher up on the walls, indicating that the floor level was higher during this period. Since 1996, the graffiti has been studied by the Epigraphic Mission from the Polish Center of the Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw. Check out the article below to learn more!

The tomb was cleared by Georges Emile Jules Daressy in 1898. He uncovered the fragments of the coffin and sarcophagus. During this time, the face, and several other pieces, of the sarcophagus were taken by visitors. The face (EA140), which was taken by Giovani Belzoni, Italian strongman turned explorer, for Henry Salt, the British consulate in Cairo, is currently in the British Museum, and attempts to return it to Egypt have been futile.

In 1997, Egyptologist Edwin Brock received funding from the American Research Center in Egypt to restore the sarcophagus. They completed the work in three seasons reassembling the 370 broken pieces and a fiberglass replica of the mask. Much of the decoration of the coffin had been obscured by a black resinous layer which was most likely a ritualistic oil that was poured over the sarcophagus at the time of burial. The reassembled sarcophagus is currently on display inside the burial chamber.

Burial in Royal Cache

Now, like many of the royal mummies of the New Kingdom, the mummy of Ramesses VI was not found in KV9, but in KV35, also known as the Royal Cache. Here is an excerpt about this tomb that I wrote in an earlier post about Amenhotep III.

The priests of Amon in the 21st dynasty moved multiple mummies from the looted Valley of the King’s tombs to one specific tomb in the valley. This was the tomb of Amenhotep II, KV35. The mummy cache lay undiscovered until 1898. Here is a list of the other pharaohs found in this cache:

  • Thutmose IV
  • Merneptah
  • Seti II
  • Siptah
  • Amenhotep II
  • Amenhotep III
  • Ramesses IV
  • Ramesses V
  • Ramesses VI
  • Queen Tiye (originally labeled and the Elder Lady)
  • A prince (either Webensenu, child of Amenhotep II, or Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III)
  • The Younger Lady (mother of Tutankhamun, and daughter of Amenhotep and Tiye)
  • Unknown Lady D
  • Two skulls and an arm

The mummy of Ramesses VI (CG 61086/JE 34564) was found in side chamber Jb inside an 18th dynasty coffin (CG 61043) of a man named Re, who was a high priest of the mortuary cult of Menkheperre-Thutmose III. Ramesses VI’s name had been written over the original owner’s name. The face of the coffin had been hacked off in antiquity, possibly indicating that it had been gilded and thus taken by tomb robbers.

Mummy

When the mummy was unwrapped by G.E. Smith on July 8th, 1905, the body was found in disarray. It apparently had been hacked to pieces by the tomb robbers who were looking for precious jewelry. The head had been shattered and the bones of the face were missing. His hip bone and pelvis were found among the bones at his neck and his elbow and humerus were discovered on his right thigh. Bones from two other mummies were also found including the right hand of an unidentified woman and the right hand and forearm of an unidentified man.

Ramesses VI was embalmed in a fashion similar to his two predecessors. The cranial cavity had been packed with linen and a resin paste, which was also plastered over the face, eyes, and forehead. The king’s ears had also been pierced and his teeth were only moderately worn. And due to the presence of a skull piercing similar to those found on the skulls of Ramesses IV, Ramesses V, Merenptah, and Seti II, it has been speculated that Ramesses VI had originally been moved to the KV14 cache along with those mummies before being finally placed in KV35.

The Face of Ramesses VI

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramesses_VI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KV9

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Gates

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Caverns

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Ramesses_VI

https://www.arce.org/project/conservation-sarcophagus-ramses-vi

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA140

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/20A.htm

https://madainproject.com/kv9_(tomb_of_ramesses_v_and_ramesses_vi)

Photo Credits

Face of Stone Sarcophagus – British Museum; Wikimedia Commons (Carlos Teicxidor Cadenas)

Relief of Ramesses VI as a prince from Medinet Habu – Wikimedia Commons (Neithsabes)

Statue of Ramesses VI holding a bound Libyan captive, currently in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo – Wikimedia Commons (Georges Legrain)

Portrait of Ramesses VI from his tomb – Wikimedia Commons (Champollion and Rosellini)

Broken bust of Ramesses IV at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon – Wikimedia Commons (Colindla)

Mummy face– Wikimedia Common (G. Elliot Smith)

Mummy body – Mummipedia (Tawfika)

Ushabtis of Ramesses VI at the British Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Jack1956)

Reassembled lid, cleaning the fragments, the glued fragments groups, Brock checking the joins – Francis Dzikowski

Test cleaning of the sarcophagus – Edwin Brock

Images of Tomb – Madain Project

Mummy in coffin – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/20A.htm

Picture of 18th dynasty coffin – http://ib205.tripod.com/ramesses_6_cache.html

Tomb Layout – https://famouspharaohs.blogspot.com/2011/05/kv9-tomb-of-ramesses-v-and-ramesses-vi.html