For this week’s Mummy Monday let’s look at another mummy found in the Deir el-Bahri cache, who may be one of the “most perfect examples of embalming…from the time of the early 18th Dynasty.” Let me introduce you to Lady Rai!
Lady Rai was an ancient Egyptian woman from the early 18th Dynasty. Little is known about her life, but she served as a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. We have no evidence of her parentage, but she was no doubt from some elite family as she was most likely buried in the elite burials in Deir el-Bahri and Thebes.
Tomb and Burial in DB320
Lady Rai’s original tomb is not known, but it was most likely looted in antiquity, which is why she was reburied in the cache in Deir el-Bahri. She was originally buried in two coffins, but it seems her outer coffin is all that was preserved. But Rai’s body was not found inside it.
It was common for the priests of the Third Intermediate Period to mix up coffins and the mummies in these caches. That is why many of the mummies have small linen dockets, which are just labels made from linen, which help identify the mummy. Lady Rai’s outer coffin (CG 61004) was used for the burial of Ahmose-Inhapi. The coffin’s gilding had been almost entirely removed, along with the eye inlays. But the robbers who stripped the coffin, who were probably the restorers, preserved the symbolic figure of Isis and Nephthys at the foot.
Lady Rai’s mummy was found in a 19th-20th Dynasty coffin (CG 61022) which was originally belonged to “a servant in the Palace of Truth,” named Paheripedjet. This title indicates that the original owner worked in Deir el-Medina, but it is unclear where this man’s body is currently.
The only personal belongings of Lady Rai that have been found was a single barrel-shaped carnelian bead on her right wrist. This is just a fraction of what Rai’s jewelry was before.
As I mentioned previously, G. Elliot Smith called Lady Rai’s mummy one of the most perfect examples of 18th Dynasty embalming and “the least unlovely” of the existing female mummies. Smith unwrapped the mummy on June 26th, 1909. Rai was a slim woman only about 4 foot 11 inches. She was estimated to be about 30 or 40 years old when she died around 1530 B.C.E.
The mummy’s face and body had been thinly coated with resin mixed with sand. There was an embalming incision in the traditional position on the left side of the body, which was covered with a fusiform embalming plate, which was common for mummies of the 18th Dynasty. The body was carefully wrapped in linen bandages. Some of these bandages were inscribed with her name, which helped identify her.
Her scalp retained abundant amounts of what appears to be her own hair, not a wig, which would have been more common. This was styled in tightly plaited groups of braids down to her chest. Rai’s teeth only had slight wear. In 2009, the mummy was CAT scanned, which revealed that she had a diseased aortic arch and thus the oldest known mummy with evidence of atherosclerosis.
For this week’s Mummy Monday, let’s look at one of the later rulers of the 19th Dynasty, Pharaoh Siptah.
Siptah’s full name was Akhenre Setpenre Spitah or Merenptah Siptah. His father’s identity is not actually known, but a couple of pharaohs have been suggested. Mainly, Seti II, Amenmesse, and Merenptah have been suggested. His mother is also unknown but could be Tiaa, the wife of Seti II, or a woman named Sutailja/Shoteraja. The evidence for the latter is according to a relief in the Louvre (E 26901). It has also been implied that she may have been the king’s Canaanite concubine because her name is Canaanite.
We do know that he was not originally the crown prince but probably succeeded the throne as a child after the death of Seti II. His accession date occurred on 1 Peret, Day 2, which is around December.
He ruled for only about six years as a young man, as he was only ten or eleven when he took the throne. One of the king’s chancellors was named Bay, and he was instrumental in installing Siptah on the throne, though he fell out of favor with the king and was executed in Siptah’s 5th year. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the rest of his reign.
Siptah most likely died in the middle of the second month of Akhet, as his burial dates to the 22nd day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was recorded on an ostraca found in Deir el-Medina and mentions that the Vizier Hori visited the workmen close to the burial.
Pharaoh Siptah was originally buried in KV47, but his mummy was reburied in the KV35 cache with many other royals from the New Kingdom.
KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).
KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).
In total, the tomb seems to have been unfinished. The cutting of chamber J1 was halted after the workmen cut into the side chamber (Ja) of KV32, the tomb of Tia’a. The workers were also forced to abandon the chamber and create a second burial chamber, chamber J2. The burial chamber contains a granite sarcophagus.
Much of the history of this tomb is not clear as the king’s cartouches had been removed and then later restored. Only the first corridors and chamber were plastered and decorated with scenes from the Litany of Ra (corridors B and C), Book of the Dead (corridor C), Imydwat (corridor D), representations of the deceased with Ra-Horakhty (corridor B), the sun disk on the horizon (gate B) and winged figures of Ma’at (gate B, gate D).
The tomb was of course looted sometime after the burial and then reused in the Third Intermediate Period. The tomb was discovered on December 18th, 1905 by Edward R. Ayrton. Theodore M. Davies then published an account of the site’s discovery and excavation in 1908, but that was after the excavations were stopped in 1907 due to safety fears. Harry Burton also returned in 1912 to dig further.
As I mentioned previously the mummy of Siptah was found not in KV47 but KV35, which was a royal mummy cache that I have talked about previously. Siptah’s body was found in side chamber Jb. It was found in a replacement coffin (CG 61038), which may have originally belonged to a woman as all the inscriptions had been adzed off and it was reinscribed for Siptah. He was also found beneath a shroud that had been placed there by the Third Intermediate Period priests. The shroud has a hieratic inscription, but it is very faded. Some of the original bandages have a few painted lines and hieroglyphs texts.
Siptah appeared to be around the age of sixteen when he died. He was about 1.6 meters tall and had curly reddish-brown hair. But his body had been badly damaged by the original tomb robbers. The right cheek and front teeth had been broken off and were missing. His ears had also been broken off. His right arm was fractured, the right hand had been detached. Interestingly, there was an attempt made to repair this broken forearm with wooden splints and linen. Finally, the body wall had been broken through, probably in search of a heart scarab and other valuables.
The cheeks have been filled out with linen packing and his body cavity had been filled with dried lichen instead of the usual resin-soaked bandages. The embalming wound had been sewn shut with a strip of linen. There is also an unusual crescent-shaped band of black paint across Siptah’s forehead, the significance of which is unknown.
Siptah had a clubbed foot, which could have been from polio or cerebral palsy. No objects were found among Siptah’s wrappings, but there is an impression of a pectoral ornament left in the thick dried resin which coated the mummy’s chest. There is also some gold foil impressed into the resin covering Siptah’s right elbow, which may have been left by a gilded staff originally held in the mummy’s left hand.
This week we are looking at another mummy found in the Valley of the Queens, who might have been the first person buried in this valley. Her name was Princess Ahmose, daughter of the 17th Dynasty pharaoh Sequenenre Tao!
The name Ahmose means “Child of the Moon” and was a common name in the Late Second Intermediate Period and the early New Kingdom. Today we are talking about Princess Ahmose, the only known daughter of Pharaoh Sequenenre Tao and his sister/wife Sitdjehuti. Ahmose was the half-sister of Pharaoh Kamose, Pharaoh Ahmose I, and Queen Ahmose Nefertari, both of whom she outlived.
During her life she was given the titles of King’s Daughter and King’s Sister, indicating that she lived throughout her brother’s reign. It is estimated that she died during the rule of Thutmose I (who was her great-nephew) in the 18th dynasty when she was in her 40s.
Ahmose’s tomb, QV47, is thought to be the earliest in the Valley of the Queens, which a nearby valley to the Valley of the Kings. This was a fairly simple tomb consisting of one chamber and a burial shaft, which are typical of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. It is technically located in a subsidiary valley named the Valley of Prince Ahmose.
The tomb was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli during excavations in the valley from 1903 to 1905. The tomb was most likely pillaged in antiquity. The tomb contains some evidence of reuse from the Roman period, as well as evidence of modern flooding and bats.
Although the tomb was looted in antiquity, enough material has been found to support a theory of a rich burial for the princess. The tomb has been cleared multiple times and objects were found every time. First, it was cleared by the Italian mission, which is when the mummy was originally found. Fragments of a wooden sarcophagus, fragments of the Book of the Dead, and leather sandals were also found.
In 1984, the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) re-excavated the tomb and found much more. They found a small cutting of human hair, inscribed shrouds, a wax seal, fragments of dyed leather, decorated wood, a fragment of a female figurine, and a fragment of a mummy. And finally, in October 2008, one more piece of a mummy was found in the tomb.
Supposedly there were almost remains of a canopic chest, though no remains of the jar. The inscription on the shroud and the fragments of the Book of the Dead (S.5051-S.5065) is what helped archaeologists identify the tomb as Ahmose’s and connect her with her father and mother. At the time of the excavation, this was the oldest Book of the Dead that had been found. It was written on linen and there are fragments of 20 different chapters.
Her mummy (S.5050) and the majority of the other burial goods are all located in the Egyptian Museum in Turin because Schiaparelli discovered it. Unfortunately, there is very little information about the mummy. Ahmose probably died in her 40s, possibly from heart disease. She was also a relatively tall person for her advanced age.
This week for Mummy Monday, let’s meet another ancient Egyptian priestess and God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare Mutemhat.
Maatkare Mutemhat lived during the early Third Intermediate Period in the 21st Dynasty. She was the daughter of the High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem I. He was also the defacto ruled of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE and proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was Duathathor-Henuttawy, a daughter of Ramesses XI, the last ruler of the 20th Dynasty.
Maatkare Mutemhat is the throne name of Queen Hatshepsut. She was depicted as a young girl in the Luxor Temple, along with her sisters Henuttawy (B) and Mutnedjmet. She is also depicted as a high priestess on the façade of the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak and on a statue, which is now in Marseille, France. During her father’s reign as pharaoh, Maatkare received the title of Divine Adoratrice, God’s Wife of Amun. She was first God’s wife to take on the praenomen of Divine Adoratrice, which used to only be for pharaohs. With this title, Maakare was considered the female head of the priesthood of Amun at Karnak, and therefore she had almost the same status as a queen. Her titles from the Khonsu Temple are listed below:
r-p’t(t),w ‘rt hsw’t, hmt-ntr n ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-sw’t, s’t-nsw n kt. f, nbt t’wy
Hereditary princess, great of favors, God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s bodily daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
hmt-ntrn ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-swt, s’t-nsw n (ht.f), nbt t’wy
God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s (bodily) daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
Her family was well endowed because of her father. Her brother later became pharaoh, Psusennes I, one sister became queen, and three other brothers held the title of High Priest of Amun in succession. After her death, Maatkare’s position was given to her niece, Henuttawy (D).
Her original burial place is unknown, but it could be presumed that it was somewhere in the Theban necropolis. Her coffin, mummy, and some shabtis were found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320), which I have talked about several times on this blog. Along with several members of the royal family from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (see Nodjmet, Sqenenre Tao, and Unknown Man E), many of Maatkare’s family members were also buried here. Her father, Pinedjem I, her mother, Duathathor-Hunuttawy, and her brother, Masaharta. Her other family members were buried in tomb MMA60 in Deir el-Bahri.
Because this was a reburial, there weren’t too many funerary goods that were attributed to Maatkare. At least three shabtis were found inscribed for her. One is in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (US39863), one is at the Pelizaeus Museum in Germany (5485), and another is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.194.2405). A funerary papyrus has also been found but was not originally found in the tomb. It was probably stolen by the Abd el-Rassul family, who originally discovered DB320 and then sold many of the objects on the antiquities market. The papyrus is now located in Cairo.
One interesting object that was found in her coffin with the mummy was a small, wrapped package. At first, archaeologists believed that it was the mummy of a small baby, possibly stillborn. This would have been strange because, in her position as God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare was supposed to be celibate. Finally, when the package was x-rayed, it was revealed to be the mummy of a female hamadryas baboon, either a pet of hers or it was placed there for a ritual purpose.
She was found within two coffins both of which are located in the Cairo Museum (CG 61028; JE 26200). The outer coffin shows signs of minor damage as a gilded right hand is missing and some of the decoration on the forehead has been removed. The three distinct holes indicate that it may have been a golden vulture head flanked by two uraeus serpents. These would have completed the gilded vulture headdress that the coffin was wearing. These symbols were reserved for exceptionally important individuals in her time.
The coffin also depicts a fantastically detailed wig with small braids carved into the wood. The clenched fists that are both on the outer and inner coffin were symbols of masculine power and were normally reserved for the coffins of high-status males. Female coffins typically had outstretched fingers, indicating that this choice was a bold statement of social status.
The inner coffin and coffin board were much less preserved. The hands and faces have been completely removed. These are both elaborately decorated similarly to the outer coffin lid. You can also see that the inside of the bottom of the inner coffin is decorated with a large winged goddess.
The pattern of damage seems to have been done on two separate occasions. The first set of thieves had probably only targeted the inner coffin and the coffin board for petty pilfering. These could have been members of the burial party because if they only damaged the inner coffin and coffin board, they could cover their tracks with the outer coffin lid. Sometime later, someone removed her headpiece and the one gilded hand from the outer coffin. Or these could have fallen off while moving the mummy to DB320.
The mummy of Maatkare Mutemhat (CG 61088) had been disturbed before it was buried in DB320. G. Elliot Smith examined the mummy in June of 1909 and found extensive damage. The shroud of the mummy had been torn from the forehead to the pelvis as well as the right arm wrapping. This was all done in an attempt to find valuables.
Her left forearm was broken, and her hand had been badly damaged, both of them been broken off. You can see below, that on her right hand there were three gold and silver rings on the thumb which were not stolen by thieves. Her body was internally packed with fat, possibly butter, mixed with soda, and molded into the shape of a woman. This included the face.
Maatkare’s face was stuffed to present a life-like appearance. Although we have many examples of these practices, she may have been the earliest example. The wrappings on the face were also painted yellow ochre in an attempt to get a realistic skin tone. She also has two glass eyes that were placed in the wrappings. Her dark hair is still visible around the wrappings. Apparently, her nails had been tied with string to prevent them from falling off.
A leather thong was found around her head that probably held an amulet, which is now missing. X-rays reveal that there is a gold plate covering the embalming incision on her side.
Why don’t we talk about another famous royal, whose tomb we have mentioned several times? This week let’s talk about Amenhotep II, the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.
Amenhotep II was born to Pharaoh Thutmose III and his minor wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was born and raised in Memphis, instead of the traditional capital of Thebes. As a prince, he oversaw the deliveries of wood sent to the dockyard of Peru-nufe in Memphis. He was also made a Setem, which is a high priest over Lower Egypt. Amenhotep II left many inscriptions touting his athletic skills while he was the leader of the army. He claims to have been able to shoot an arrow through a copper target one palm thick and to row his ship faster and farther than two hundred members of the navy could row theirs.
Now Amenhotep II was not the firstborn of the Thutmose III. He had an elder brother named Amenemhat, but he and his mother died between Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, which prompted the king to remarry and have more children.
Life as Pharaoh
Amenhotep II rose to the throne around 1427 BCE, on the first day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was days after his father’s death, which indicates that they might have been in a coregency together. He was probably around 18 years old when he became the pharaoh as indicated by his great Sphinx stela,
“Now his Majesty appeared as king as a fine youth after he had become ‘well developed’, and had completed eighteen years in his strength and bravery.”
He married a woman named Tiaa, with whom he had as many as ten sons and one daughter. His eldest son and heir was Thutmose IV. Princes Amenhotep, Webensenu, Amenemopet, and Nejem are clearly attested, which Princes Amenemhat, Kaemwaset, Aakheperure, and Princess Iaret are possible children.
Besides Tiaa, Amenhotep II did not record the names of his other wives. Some Egyptologists have theorized that he felt the women had become too powerful under titles such as God’s Wife of Amun. They point at the fact that he participated in his father’s removal of Hatshepsut’s name from her monuments and the destruction of her image. Amenhotep II may have continued to destroy her images in his co-regency with his father, but not during his reign. But he may have still harbored his father’s concern that another woman would sit on the throne.
Amenhotep II took his first campaign in his 3rd regnal year, where he was attacked by the host of Qatna, but he did emerge victoriously. He also apparently killed 7 rebel princes at Kadesh, who were then hung upside down on the prow of his ship and then hung on the walls of Thebes and Napata.
Amenhotep II died after 26 of his reign. Although the dates of his reign indicate that he was about 52 when he died, his mummy reveals that he was closer to 40 years old.
He constructed a tomb in the Valley of the Kings KV35, which I will talk about below, and a mortuary temple at the edge of the cultivation in the Theban necropolis, but it was destroyed in ancient times.
I know we have talked about KV35 several times already, but I will mainly focus on the tomb as it was when Amenhotep II had it built.
The tomb is in the shape of a dog’s leg, which means it turns at a 90-degree angle. This is a typical layout of tombs of the 18th dynasty. Upon entering the tomb, there are two sets of stairways and two corridors before the well shaft. This is decorated with images of the King performing ritual acts before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor.
After the tomb takes a 90-degree angle, there is a pillared vestibule and another wide flight of stairs. There is one small annex off of this first vestibule. This leads to a third corridor and a large six-pillared room. The burial chamber is just past the last set of pillars.
The burial chamber is a rectangular shape and divided into upper and lower pillared sections. The lower part held the sarcophagus of the king which was made of red quartzite. There are also four annexes off of this chamber. The walls of the burial chamber are decorated with a frieze and scenes from the Amduat, which is one of the many different Egyptian funerary texts. The pillars are decorated with the king before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor. As with many tombs from this period, the ceiling is blue and covered in stars.
Although the tomb had been plundered in antiquity and then reopened to place the cache, some items from Amenhotep II’s burial were still found. These included a papyrus with extracts from the Book of Caverns, emblems in wood, a broken Osiris bed, at least one large wooden funerary couch, a large wooden figure of a serpent, a large wooden Sekhmet figure for the king’s son Webensenu, a life-size cow head statues, faience vases, a resin-coated wooden panther, 30 empty storage jars, and many miniature wooden coffins.
As we know, KV35 was used as a mummy cache in the Third Intermediate Period for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Those found in the tomb are listed below:
These mummies were discovered in March of 1898 by Victor Loret.
When the mummy was originally found, there were garlands of mimosa flowers around his neck. The mummy had also been rewrapped and given a shroud by the priests of the Third Intermediate Period. Unfortunately, in 1901 when the tomb was plundered by modern robbers, the mummy was taken from the tomb and exposed from the waist up. Howard Carter was able to track down the robbers, using, among other clues, the imprints of their feet in the dust of the tomb. The mummy was then returned to the sarcophagus. Up until 1928, the mummy of Amenhotep II was still found in the quartzite sarcophagus before it was transferred to the Cairo Museum (CG61069).
After the 1901 plundering, the mummy was severely damaged. The head and right leg were separated from the body, the front abdominal wall was missing, and the spine was broken as well. There were also distinctive patterns of ossification along the vertebrae, which is a degenerative type of arthritis seen in people aged 60 years and older. His skin was covered in raised nodules, which were also found on the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III. This could have been from disease or by a reaction of the embalming materials with the skin. Amenhotep II’s teeth were worn but in good condition.
He was probably 6 foot tall in life and he had graying hair and a bald spot on the back of his head. There were impressions of jewelry found in the resin which had been used in the embalming process. Finally, there was a large bow, which was broken or cut in two was found with the mummy.
This Mummy Monday I am starting with a special request to look at the mysterious Mummy on the Boat from KV 35.
This is a pretty interesting case because we don’t really know the identity of this mummy. So I am first going to describe the discovery, provenance, and theories, and then the mummy itself.
Discovery of the Mummy on the Boat
The Mummy on the Boat was found in KV35, in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was originally for Pharaoh Amenhotep II and it later became a cache burial for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom during the Third Intermediate Period. He was found in Antechamber F, which was a distance from the original burial chamber and the side chambers where the other mummies in the cache were found.
Victor Loret, the Egyptologist who discovered the cache in 1889, described the mummy as a “horrible sight…all black and hideous, its grimacing face turning towards me and looking at me…” The mummy had obviously been pillaged, which I will describe later. There was a small partly unwrapped bundle next to the mummy, which may have been a mummified animal or a bundle of wrappings.
The mummy was found leaning on top of a large funerary boat, which is not a typical burial technique. The remainder of this antechamber was mostly empty.
Shortly after the cache was placed in KV35, thieves entered and plundered the tomb again. This was most likely when the mummy was first plundered as the thieves tried to remove him from the boat, but the arms and feet were broken off.
When the cache was found by Loret, the Mummy on the Boat had not been scheduled for removal from the tomb along with the other burials, but had been moved from his original positions and placed out of the way when Antechamber F was used to store the other mummies in their large shipping crates.
Three years after the discovery of the tomb on November 24, 1901, modern thieves also broke into the tomb and stole the wooden funerary boat. During this time, the mummy was smashed to pieces on the floor. The funerary boat was later acquired by the Cairo Museum from a local dealer (which I believe is pictured in the photo above), but the remains of the mummy are now lost. Howard Carter wrote, “the boat in the Antechamber had been stolen; the mummy that was upon it, was lying on the floor and had been smashed to pieces.”
The images below are the only images of the mummy. There is a possibility that the pieces were swept out of the tomb or are in some sort of box in the Cairo Museum.
Theories of the Identity of the Mummy
There are two main possible candidates for the identity of the mummy, along with an alternative theory.
The first theory is that the Mummy on the Boat was Prince Webensenu, son of Pharaoh Amenhotep II. The prince’s shabtis and a canopic jar have been found in KV35, which implies that the prince’s body was buried in his father’s tomb. The prince predeceased his father and was probably buried in KV35 before his father was. But he probably would have been buried in one of the side chambers to the burial chamber, rather than in Antechamber F. His burial would have gotten in the way of any of the subsequent burial, so this is quite unlikely.
He possibly could have been buried somewhere else in the Valley and then moved into KV35 at the time of his father’s burial. But again, it would have been logical to bury him in the side chamber.
To add to the confusion of all of this, another mummy was found in the KV35 cache that had also been attributed to Prince Webensenu. This is the mummy of a young boy, maybe 11 years old. But this mummy has also been identified as Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III, so we really don’t have a clue.
The other popular option for the identity of the Mummy on the Boat is Pharaoh Sethnakhte, founder of the 20th Dynasty. His father was one of the sons of Ramesses II and he ascended the throne after the death of Queen Taweseret. But he died shortly after he ascended the throne and may have even been originally buried in Queen Taweseret’s tomb KV14.
His coffin basin and lid were found in KV35, in side chamber Jb, as they were reused by the mummies of Merenptah and Unknown Woman D. Fragments of his cartonnage were also found in the main burial chamber. It is theorized that his mummy was placed with the other cached mummies in side chamber Jb, which of course leads to the confusion of why the mummy was found in Antechamber F.
Again, it seems very unlikely that anyone would move a mummy up from the burial chamber to antechamber F, or purposefully separate one mummy into room F. The usual explanation is that the tomb robbers removed the mummy from chamber J, dragged it across the chamber, and then up into antechamber F so they could strip it of its wrappings and valuables.
But the position of the mummy on the model boat does not also appear accidental. The body seems to have been carefully positioned. The robbers may have found the mummy already in place on top of the boat and removed the wrappings there. And the reason they didn’t remove it from the boat because the oils and resin in the wrappings had stuck it to the boat, which would have made its removal a time-consuming chore.
The last theory is that this mummy is a private individual from a period later than the recorded official inspection of KV35. At the beginning of the 22nd Dynasty, there were many intrusive burials. This could explain why it was found in chamber F and the unusual positioning on top of the wooden model boat.
The Mummy on the Boat
When Loret found the mummy, he said that the legs and arms were bound. Loret thought that it may have been a sacrificial victim or a thief slain by tomb guardians or fellow thieves. The bandages had already been torn off entirely, except for those tangled around the mummy’s abdomen and upper thighs, which made Loret think that the mummy had been bound.
The mummy is of a male with long dark hair. There was a hole in the sternum and a smaller hole in the skull. The left-arm had been broken off while the right arm appears to be disconnected. The left arm and the disconnected right foot are visible on the chamber floor next to the mummy. The fingers were individually wrapped. The remaining skin of the torso and face appears to be thoroughly perforated by tiny holes, maybe by insects. There is also possible evidence of an embalmers incision on the left side of the lower abdomen.
This week let’s talk about an elite lady from the 25th and 26th dynasties. Her name is Asru and she is currently located at the Manchester Museum in the United Kingdom (1777.a-c)!
Asru’s name meant “Her arm against them,” which is probably a reference to the protective power of the goddess Mut, consort of the Theban god Amun. Her mother was Lady of the House Ta-di-Amun, or “She whom Amun has given,” and her father was called Pa-Kush, or “The Kushite,” who was a document scribe of the southern region. Although her father’s name sounds a bit odd, the 25th dynasty was actually ruled by Kushite kings, coming from the southern nation of Kush (also called Nubia).
Asru herself only had one title as Lady of the House, which means that she was a married woman. She has been previously misidentified as a temple singer or handmaiden, which are pretty common titles women carried in Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of her husband or if they had any children.
Asru probably died when she was between 50 and 60 years old, which was a considerable age for an Ancient Egyptian. A reconstruction of her face was made in the 1970s by Richard Neave.
Asru and her sarcophagus were among the earliest additions to the Manchester Museum collection after being donated to the Manchester National History Society by William and Robert Garnett in 1825. The mummy had been previously unwrapped before donation, no doubt at a Victorian Unwrapping party (check on my Fun Fact Friday page to learn more about those).
She was examined as part of the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s and scanned in 2012 in preparation for the reopening of the gallery. The 2012 examination was led by Professors Rosalie David and Judith Adams. I’ll put all the results below!
Asru was buried in two coffins. The outer coffin depicts Asru with a stripped wig and large broad collar. There are a winged sun-disk and depictions of the Asru being brought before the gods while her heart is being weighed.
The inner coffin depicts Asru with a vulture headdress and another broad collar. Below there is a winged figure of the sky goddess Nut and another depiction of her heart being weighed. Further down there is also a depiction of Asru’a Ba, depicted as a human-headed bird, hovering over her mummy lying on a bed.
Both coffins are covered in formulaic offering spells that mention her parents.
As I mentioned earlier, Asru was anywhere from 50 to 60 years old at her death and her mummy was previously unwrapped. Through these examinations and scans, multiple medical problems have been determined.
Asru suffered from arthritis and parasitic infections called Strongyloidiasis (also known as threadworm) and Schistosomiasis (also known as Snail Fever or Bilharzia). Her arthritis was in her neck and may have been caused by bearing a heavy weight over a prolonged period of time. It has been speculated that she may have carried something on her head that had a ritual function.
The infections would have given her anemia, a cough, stomach aches, and diarrhea. She also had a slipped disc in her back and a hydatid cyst in her lung, the latter caused by the parasites.
When her mummy was scanned, it was discovered that her brain had been removed from her skull, but the ethmoid bone, which is the bone separating the nasal cavity and the brain, was found intact. Her brain was most likely removed through the eye socket, which is not unknown, but unusual.
Interestingly as part of the examination, Asru’s fingerprints and toeprints were taken by the Greater Manchester Police. This showed none of the wear and tear that most ordinary Egyptians would have expected. This supports the theory that she was from the upper class and never worked a hard labor job.
This week for Mummy Monday we are throwing it back to the 6th dynasty, which is a rarity for preserved mummies. Today we are talking about Pharoah Merenre I.
Merenre Nemtyemsaf I was the fourth king of the 6th dynasty of Egypt, reigning from 2287 to 2278 B.C.E. He was the son of Pepi I and Ankhesenpepi I and grandson of the female vizier Nebet and her husband Khui.
Hr anx xaw
Horus, living of apparition
nb.tj anx xaw
The Two Ladies, living of apparition
Golden Falcon Name
bik.wj mnx.wj nbw(.wj)
The two excellent golden falcons
The two golden falcons
mr n ra
Beloved of Re
nmti m sA=f
Nemty is his Protection
anti m sA=f
There are royal seals and stone blocks that have been found in Saqqara that indicate that Merenre’s aunt, Queen Ankhesenpepi II was the wife of his father and himself. (I know this sounds weird, but remember that Egyptian kings frequently married their sisters, so his aunt would have been the sister of both Pepi I and Merenre’s mother.) This indicates that Merenre was probably the father of Pharaoh Pepi II, rather than Pepi I, as was previously thought. He was also the father of Ankhensenpepi III (as if two wasn’t enough), Input II, and Neith, which were all wives of Pepi II.
His reign was slightly longer than a decade, with the South Saqqara Stone crediting him with a minimum reign of 11 to 13 years. Merenre shared his father’s fascination with Nubia and continued to explore deep into this region. In his 5th regnal year, he traveled to the 1st cataract on the Nile to receive tribute from the Nubian chiefs. He also began a process of royal consolidation, appointing Weni as the first governor of all of Upper Egypt and expanding the power of several other governors.
There are very few depictions of Merenre from his reign, but there is a small sphinx statue in the National Museum of Scotland (A.1984.405). His name is also attested to a hippo ivory box in the Louvre.
Merenre built a pyramid in Saqqara, southwest of the pyramids of Pepi I and Djedkare. This pyramid was called Khanefermerenre (Ḫˁj-nfr-Mrj-n-rˁw), which meant “Merenre’s beauty shines” or “The Perfections of Merenre Appears.” Today it is mostly in ruins and it is not open to the public.
It was built 52.5 meters (173 ft 3 in) high, 78.75 m (258 ft 4 in) in base length with an inclination of 53 degrees. A 250 m (820 ft) long causeway was attached to the pyramid along with a mud-brick wall. Only traces of the mortuary temple have been found, presumably because construction was halted and never resumed.
The entrance to the burial chamber is on the north face which descends to a vestibule where another shaft leads to an antechamber. There were three portcullises in the passage. To the right of the antechamber is the burial chamber and two the left is a serdab.
In the burial chamber, there were polychrome reliefs on the walls and the ceiling was covered with stars. Besides the sarcophagus, there was a niche for the canopic chest that was sunk into the floor.
There was a decorated sarcophagus standing against the wall. This was in pretty good condition, although it had been plundered. The sarcophagus has a palace motif on the sides and the lid was found pushed back. The only burial equipment noted were two alabaster shells and a small wooden knob or handle for a chest.
The pyramid was first examined in the 1830s by John Perring. In the 1880s, the subterranean chambers were explored by Gaston Maspero (or Auguste Mariette, sources differ on who), who was in search of pyramid texts. He was the one to discover the mummy inside of the pyramid. Since the 20th century, a French team led by Jean Leclant has been researching the site.
As stated above, the mummy in question was found in January of 1881. Apparently, Mariette was sick and dying in his tent, so the task of inspecting the contents of the pyramid and sarcophagus was left to his assistants, brothers Heinrich and Emile Brugsh. When they approached the basalt sarcophagus, they found the well-preserved mummy inside. Unfortunately, the brothers apparently took the mummy out and dragged it across the desert to show Mariette. This…may have broken the mummy in half along the way…*sigh*
You can check out this (strange) reproduction of the discovery of the mummy below!
It was not originally believed that this was the mummy of Merenre, which is entirely a possibility. But, if this is the mummy of Merenre, this would be the oldest complete royal mummy known to us today.
It was reasonably preserved when it was discovered. The lower mandible (jaw) was missing as were some of the upper teeth. The head was also torn loose from the body and the chest smashed, probably by looters looking for valuables. The arms of the mummy are stretched out along the body and both feet a spayed outwardly. It has not been determined whether this position was a deformity that the man suffered from or if this was arranged by the embalmers.
The mummy was also found with a side-lock, which is a hairstyle typical of young boys in ancient Egypt where their entire head is shaven except for one braided lock. This may be why Maspero thought this was a later mummy that was buried inside the pyramid during the 18th dynasty.
The mummy is currently located in the Imhotep Museum in Saqqara, where it is covered by a sheet leaving only his face and forehead exposed.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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 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 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.
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!