Women Crush Wednesday: Merit

As I mentioned on Monday, today we are going to talk about Kha’s wife Merit. I have duplicated the text about their tomb below, so if it looks similar to Monday’s post, then that’s why!

Life

Merit was titled Mistress of the House, which was a standard title for women who were in charge of a large household. Women from Deir el-Medina often had a large range of tasks to undertake because the men of the village lived near the worksite for the majority of the week.

Merit had three known children, two sons, Amenemopet and Nakhteftaneb, and a daughter named Merit. Amenemopet seems to have followed his father’s footsteps in becoming an overseer of works while their daughter because a Singer of Amun.

Merit died many years before her husband died, so she was the first one buried in the tomb.

Tomb Discovery

The chapel of Kha and Merit had been found in the early years of the 19th century by Bernardino Drovetti. This stela was found in the pyramid chapel is currently located at the Turin Museum (N.50007), years before Kha and Merit’s items were on display there.

Kha and Merit were buried in TT8 above Deir el-Medina, 25 meters away from the pyramid chapel. The tomb was discovered by Arthur Weigall and Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906 on behalf of the Italian Archaeological Mission. They were working at the top of the western cemetery when they found the tomb. They were surprised to discover the tomb in the isolated cliffs surrounding the village and not in the immediate proximity of the chapel itself.

The tomb escaped discovery because it was hidden in the hill opposite the chapel, rather than beneath it. This was what Arthur Weigall said when it was found,

“The mouth of the tomb was approached down a flight of steep, rough steps, still half-choked with debris. At the bottom of this, the entrance of a passage running into the hillside was blocked by a wall of rough stones. After photographing and removing this, we found ourselves in a long, low tunnel, blocked by a second wall a few yards ahead. Both these walls were intact, and we realized that we were about to see what probably no living man had ever seen before…”

Tomb

Two of the walls were removed so that they could stand in a roughly cut corridor about standing height. Lined up against the wall were pieces of burial furniture, several baskets, a couple of amphorae, a bed, and a stool with a carrying pole. At the end was a simple wooden door,

“The wood retained the light color of fresh deal and looked for all the world as though it had been set up but yesterday. A heavy wooden lock held the door fast. A neat bronze handle on the side of the door was connected by a spring to a wooden knob set in the masonry door post; and this spring was carefully sealed with a small dab of stamped clay. The whole contrivance seemed so modern that professor Schiaparelli called to his servant for the key, who quite seriously replied, “I don’t know where it is, sir.” “

The lock was carefully cut with a fret saw and the burial chamber was behind this door. All of the burial items were carefully placed around the room covered with dust sheets. This is also where the coffins of Kha and Merit were located.

Burial Assemblage

This was one of the few tombs of nobility to survive intact. I mentioned the majority of the items found in the tomb on Monday, but today, I’ll talk about the items explicitly buried for Merit. Approximately 196 objects can be attributed to Kha, 39 objects are attributed to Merit, and 6 objects are attributed to both of them.

Like Kha, Merit was also buried with a large bed. This was found made up with sheets, fringed bed covers, towels, and a wooden headrest encased in two layers of cloth. This is almost identical to Kha’s bed, but it is smaller. It rests on lion feet raised on cylindrical wooden pads painted red, while the rest of the bed is painted white.

Merit’s beauty case is one of the most beautiful that has been found. It contains multiple cosmetic vessels like a high necked blue faience jar, an alabaster jar with a silver handle, 3 covered alabaster jars, a conical jar of horn with a bronze handle, and a removable base decorated with a rosette.

Like Kha, she also had various boxes packed with clothing for her to “use” in the afterlife. But one of the most amazing objects found was a wig and a wig case of Merit. Inside the case was a long wig made from human hair, about 54 cm long. It was elaborately crimped with a middle part and the tresses were plaited at the ends. Three long thick plaits are positioned at the back of the wig with two thinner plaits to frame the face. This wig is held together by an elaborate system of knots and weaves. The box was made of acacia wood in the shape of a shrine. On the lid and side of the box, there is a funerary offering formula.

I also want to mention some of the other items that I didn’t get a chance to talk about on Monday. Ten stools were found in the tomb in total. Some were painted white and some had lion paw feet, similar to the bed. Two stools were made out of brown leather and one of those stools actually folded! Interestingly, two of the stools would have been the same type used by artisans in workshops.

There was also a game of senet, which was an ancient Egyptian board game that during the New Kingdom took on a religious aspect. It was used as a way that the ancient Egyptians could play the game against “fate” to earn a place in the afterlife. This one is made out of wood with a sliding drawer to hold all the pieces. On the other side of the board is another game called the Game of Twenty Squares.

Coffins

Because Merit died at such a young age, she apparently had not had any coffins made for her yet. So, her husband donated his already prepared coffin for her burial. But this coffin was too big for his wife, so Kha’s linens, as they had various laundry marks on them, were used as stuffing around the body.

Merit was buried in two coffins. The outer coffin was in the shape of a large shrine. The lid of her inner coffin was entirely gilded but the box was covered with the black bitumen resin, with only the figures and inscriptions in gold. The eyebrows and eye sockets were made of inlaid blue glass, while the eyes were made of opaque white and translucent glass. Merit also had a cartonnage mask. It was made of linen stuccoed, covered in gold leaf, and inlaid with stone and colored glass. It was found slightly crushed and needed conservation. The left eye was restored and the mask reshaped.

Mummy

Merit’s mummy, like Kha’s, has never been unwrapped, but it has been studied and scanned extensively. Her body was not as well preserved or wrapped as well as Kha’s. She was also wearing a ton of jewelry like her husband.

She wore a Wesekh or a broad collar which was made of gold interspaced with gemstones. These were probably amethyst, lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, or faience. Merit had two pairs of golden ribbed earrings, which a unique example of a double piercing. These were fashionable of elite women of the mid-18th dynasty. She also wore four finger rings, two of which has a fixed oval plate and two which had a flexible oval plate. One of these rings fell off and was found behind her head.

Merit also wore a matching set including a necklace, a bracelet, and a girdle. The necklace has three rows made of very fine beads connected by fine golden tubes. Some of these pieces and parts of its dislocate elements appear near the ankles. The bracelet follows the same style as the necklace as it is made out of ten rows of fine beads strung between golden elements and a locking end piece. The girdle sits on her waist and is made of fine beads and metal cowrie shell-shaped parts.

No amulets were found on her body probably because of her sudden death. All of these pieces of jewelry are items that she would have worn while she was alive. Merit’s mummy is also wearing a wig, so she was prepared for the afterlife.

Merit was most likely 25 to 35 years old when she died. There was significant post-mortem damage including a depressed thorax, broken rib cage, dislocated spine, and pelvis. There is no evidence of how she died. The mummy had been treated with fish oil, balsam, resin, and beeswax.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TT8

http://www.deirelmedina.com/lenka/TurinKha.html

https://www.archaeology.org/news/3561-150810-kha-merit-embalmed

https://www.efe.com/efe/english/technology/secret-lives-of-mummies-science-unravels-all-at-egypt-exhibit-in-turin/50000267-3933701

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4511739/

Image Sources

Inner gilded coffin of Kha – Wikimedia Commons (Hans Ollermann)

Bowls, vases, and jugs – Wikimedia Commons (Hans Ollermann)

Statue of Kha and a chair – Wikimedia Commons (Jean-Pierre Dalbera)

Toilet box and vessels of Merit and Kha – Wikimedia Commons (Jean-Pierre Dalbera)

Entrance of permanent exhibition in Turin – Hans Ollermann

Deir el Medina western cemetery – Kenka Peacock

Stela of Kha and Merit – Su Bayfield

Ernesto Schiaperelli’s bust in the Turin Museum – Hans Ollerman

Wooden door of the tomb – Hans Ollerman

Objects found in tomb in Turin – Su Bayfield

Bread, bowls with seeds, grapes, meats – Hans Ollerman

Bronze bowl – Hans Ollerman

Coffins of Kha and Merit – Hans Ollerman

Cubit rule and scribal palettes – Hans Ollerman

Wooden grinders – Su Bayfield

Bed, stools, boxes, jugs, and metal objects, faience rings, baskets, sandals, Book of the Dead, Merit’s funerary mask, oitments and jugs, box handle, wig box and inscription,  – Hans Ollerman

Boxes and jugs, tunic, senet game, statue, Merit’s bed, her wig,  – Su Bayfield

Shabtis – Dik van Bommel

X-rays – Article (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131916)

Images of tomb, outer coffin of Kha and Merit, Merit’s funerary mask, Merit in her coffin, Book of the Dead, gold cubit rod, chair, wig and wig box, senet board, stela, glass jars   – https://www.egyptianhistorypodcast.com/kha-and-merit/

Tomb – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322711469_Schiaparelli_et_les_archeologues_italiens_aux_bords_du_Nil_egyptologie_et_rivalites_diplomatiques_entre_1882_et_1922

Protractor thing? – Flickr (Hans Olldermann)

Pictures of the tomb location and decoration – https://egyptmyluxor.weebly.com/kha-tomb-tt8—deir-el-medina—luxor.html

Women Crush Wednesday: Goddess Sekhmet

This week let’s do something a little different. How about we discuss an ancient Egyptian goddess. And I couldn’t pick a better one first choice as Sekhmet!

Name

Sekhmet’s name has been spelled in a variety of ways from Sachmis, Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Scheme. Her name comes from the Egyptian word sxm, which means “power” or “might.” It is typically translated as “The One who is Powerful.”

She has a large range of titles. She was the “One Before Whom Evil Trembles,” “Mistress of Dread,” “Lady of Slaughter,” “She Who Mauls,” “One Who Loved Maat,” and sometimes even the “Lady of Life.”

Traits

Now Sekhmet was the goddess of war, chaos, the hot desert sun, and even healing. She is the protector of the pharaohs and protected them in the afterlife. She was said to breathe fire, and the hot winds of the desert were likened to her breath. She also caused plagues, which were called her servants or her messengers. Even though she has all these terrifying characteristics, she was also the patron of physicians and healers, because to her friends, she could cure all diseases.

There is not always a clear family tree of Egyptian gods and goddesses, but Sekhmet was sometimes considered the wife of Ptah and the mother of his son Nefertum. She also may have been the mother of another lion god called Maahes. And her parents are sometimes considered to be Geb, who was the earth, and Nut, who was the sky.

She was a solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of Ra. It was said that she was created from the fire of the sun god Ra’s eye when he looked upon the earth. He apparently created her as a weapon to destroy humans for their disobedience. In one myth about the end of Ra’s rule on Earth, Ra sends the goddess Hathor in the form of Sekhmet to destroy humans. After the battle, which Ra quickly realized had gotten out of hand, Sekhmet’s bloodlust could not be quelled. To stop her, Ra poured out beer dyed with either pomegranate juice or red ochre so that it resembled blood. She became so drunk that she gave up the slaughter.

Iconography

Sekhmet is depicted as a lioness or as a woman with the head of a lioness. Since she is a solar deity, she is depicted with a sun disk on her head and a uraeus, which associates her with Wadjet. She was often dressed in red, ie. the color of blood. Sometimes these dresses have a rosetta pattern over each breast, which is an ancient leonine motif that is traced to the observation of the shoulder knot hairs on lions. She is usually depicted holding a scepter in the form of papyrus, suggesting that she was associated primarily with the north. This is contradictory to the fact that she may have been associated with the south and the Sudan, where lions are much more plentiful.

When Sekhmet was in a calmer state, it was said she would take the form of the household cat goddess Bastet.

Worship

Again, even though she was, in general, a terrifying goddess, the ancient Egyptians believed that Sekhmet had a cure for every problem. To stay on her good side, they would offer her food and drink, play her music, and burn incense. They would also whisper prayers into the ears of cat mummies and offer them to Sekhmet.

Because she was closely associated with kingship, many kings in the New Kingdom worshiped her. Amenhotep II built almost 700 statues of her for his mortuary temple, as well as hundreds more for the temples in Karnak. Ramesses II also adopted Sekhmet as a symbol of his power in battle. During the Greek dominance of Egypt, there was a large temple of Sekhmet at Taremu in the Delta region in a city the Greeks called Leontopolis.

As I mentioned previously, Sekhmet was the main deity worshiped during the Festival of Intoxication, in which they recreate the Sekhmet’s drunkenness. I talked about this during a Fun Fact Friday post a couple of weeks ago!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekhmet#:~:text=In%20Egyptian%20mythology%2C%20Sekhmet%20(%2F,and%20led%20them%20in%20warfare.

https://egyptianmuseum.org/deities-sekhmet

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/sekhmet/

Image Sources

Gold cultic Aegis – Wikimedia Commons (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)

Gilded bier from the tomb of Tut – Wikimedia Commons (Hans Ollermann)

Temple of Kom Ombo – Wikimedia Commons

Image from Menat necklace – Wikimedia Commons (Keith Schengili-Roberts)

Statue from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))

Statue from Temple of Mut Luxor at the National Museum, Copenhagen – Wikimedia Commons (McLeod)

Sekhmet – Wikimedia Commons (Jeff Dahl)

Sekhmet in the entrance of the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, Medinet Habu – https://www.arce.org/resource/statues-sekhmet-mistress-dread

Sekhmet statues in the British Museum – https://thatmuse.com/2019/11/01/sekhmet-the-destroyer/

Women Crush Wednesday: Nina de Garis Davies

This week let’s look at another Egyptologist who specialized in illustrating and copying ancient Egyptian tomb paintings! Her name was Nina de Garis Davies.

Early Life

Nina was born Anna Machpherson Cummings on January 6th, 1881 in Salonika, Greece. She was the eldest of three daughters of Cecil J. Cummings, who was of English and Scottish ancestry. Her family returned to Aberdeen, Scotland with the death of her father in 1894. They then moved to Bedford where the girls went to private school. Nina showed considerable promise as an artist in her youth. It was so promising that her family moved to London for her training at the Slade School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

Norman and Nina de Garis Davies

In 1906, she went to visit a friend in Alexandria, Egypt, which is where she met her future husband Norman de Garis Davies. Norman was born in 1865 and studied theology at Glasgow University and Marburg University before working with Egyptologist Flinders Petrie at Dendera. He later became the head of the Egypt Exploration Fun’s Archaeological Survey and was an expert at interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Their house in Egypt, with Nina sitting on the front porch

Nina and Norman hit it off right away and were married in Hampstead, London on the 8th of October 1907. They settled in the Theban Necropolis and began documenting tomb paintings.

Life in Egypt

One of the first projects the couple worked on was for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York making facsimiles. They did this by tracing the tomb images and then replicating the brushstrokes and colors. In most cases, the copies reflected the actual scene, including any damage to the walls. In other cases, the drawings were rendered to look like they would have when the tomb was originally built thousands of years ago.

Technically, Norman was hired for this position, but Nina was also a part-time worker. Interestingly, most of the time it is difficult to differentiate Nina and Norman’s paintings. Nina signed her work Ni.deGD and Norman signed his pieces No.deGD. But others were signed N.dGD, which makes it entirely unclear.

Drawing by Norman of the various tombs in the Theban Necropolis

The tombs were located on the Nile’s west bank of western Thebes, which included the tombs of the officials, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and the Deir el-Medina. It is one of the “richest sources of ancient Egyptian paintings preserved anywhere in Egypt.”

They started experimenting with color copying in Theban Tomb 45. Usually, copyists used watercolors, but one of their first assistants Francis Unwin suggested the use of tempera, which is a faster drying paint made with egg yolks. First, the artist does a pencil tracing against the wall and then painted the rest by eye.

Nina’s paintings were also recognized by another Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner, who acquired as many of her paintings as possible between 1909 and 1929. These were then published in two volumes of Ancient Egyptian paintings.

Nina with friends in her garden, including Rosalind Moss on the left

Nina is specifically credited for plates in publications of the Tomb of Amenemhet, Huy, and Ramose. She and her husband also worked for the Egypt Exploration Society and the Oriental Institute by documenting other Egyptian sites like Abydos and Amarna.

Later Life

Nina and Norman lived in a house in Qurna until 1939 when they moved back to England. They most likely left because of Norman’s age and the MMA policy. But their house was not emptied, implying that they may come back. Norman died in 1941 and Nina got to work organizing his objects, books, and papers. She reorganized the material for his publication of the Temple of Hibis in el-Kharga Oasis III. She then cataloged the textile collection of P.E. Newberry, aided Gardiner in editing Seven Private Tombs at Kurneh, and painted facsimiles of all sides of the box of Tutankhamun in 1962.

Nina died in 1965 but she lives on in her paintings, which help preserve and document the tombs of the Theban Necropolis.

Collections

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has 413 pieces by Nina and Norman de Garis Davies. 157 were painted by Nina, 15 have both their names, and 59 are signed by Norman.

The British Museum has 22 of Nina’s paintings which were donated in 1936 by Alan Gardiner. Some more of her paintings can be found here.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544567

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548565

https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/barbering-tomb-of-userhat-nina-de-garis-davies/RQFu-xgT96y2kw?hl=en

Publications

Here are some of their publications:

  • Egypt Exploration Fund (Egypt); Nina Macpherson Davies; Norman de Garis Davies, Alan Henderson Gardiner (1915). The Theban Tombs Series. Edited by Norman de Garis Davies and Alan H. Gardiner.
  • Nina de Garis Davies; Sir Alan H. Gardiner (1923). Facsimiles of Theban Wall-paintings by Nina de Garis Davies Lent by Alan H. Gardiner. Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Norman de Garis Davies (1901). The Rock Tombs of Sheikh Saïd. Sold at the Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Walter Ewing Crum; George Albert Boulenger (1902). The Rock Tombs of Deir El Gebrâwi: Tomb of the Aba and smaller tombs of the southern group. Sold at the offices of the Egypt exploration fund.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Seymour de Ricci; Geoffrey Thorndike Martin (1906). The Rock Tombs of El-A̕marna: The tomb of Meyra. Sold at the Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Seymour de Ricci (1908). The Rock Tombs of El Amarna: Smaller tombs and boundary stelae.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Seymour de Ricci; Geoffrey Thorndike Martin (1908). The Rock Tombs of El-A̕marna: The tomb of Meyra. Sold at the Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • Norman de Garis Davies (1911). Graphic Work of the Egyptian Expedition. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) (1911). The Rock-cut Tombs of Shiekh Abd El Qurneh, at Thebes. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Norman de Garis Davies (1913). Five Theban Tombs: (being Those of Mentuherkhepeshef, User, Daga, Nehemawäy and Tati). London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner.
  • Norman de Garis Davies (1917). The tomb of Nakht at Thebes. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). Egyptian Expedition (1933). The tomb of Nefer-hotep at Thebes. Arno Press.
  • Norman de Garis Davies (1920). An Alabaster Sistrum Dedicated by King Teta. Egypt Exploration Society.
  • Norman de Garis Davies; Alan Henderson Gardiner (1920). The Tomb of Antefoker, Visier of Sesostris I, and of His Wife, Senet. Allen & Unwin, under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). Egyptian Expedition; Norman de Garis Davies (1918). The Egyptian Expedition, 1916-17. The Museum.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). Egyptian Expedition; Ambrose Lansing; Norman de Garis Davies, Hugh Gerard Evelyn-White (1920). The Egyptian Expedition, 1916-1919. The Museum.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.); Albert Frisch; Emery Walker, Nina De Garis Davies, Norman de Garis Davies (1925). Egyptian Wall Paintings from Copies by Norman de Garis Davies, Nina de Garis Davies and H.R. Hopgood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

More of her publications can be found here:

https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Davies%2C%20Norman%20de%20Garis%2C%201865%2D1941

http://giza.fas.harvard.edu/modernpeople/1626/full/

http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/4daviest.html

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._de_Garis_Davies

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

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

Image Sources

Norman and Nina, and another image of Nina – Brown

View of Theban cliffs by Norman – Wikimedia Commons

Tomb of Nakht by Norman and Nina – Wikimedia Commons

Women Crush Wednesday: Hilda Petrie

For this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite females in Egyptology, Hilda Petrie! And happy belated International Women’s Day!!

Early Life

Hilda Mary Isabel Urlin was born in 1871 in Dublin as the youngest of five children to Richard Denny Urlin and Mary Elizabeth Addis Urlin. They were an English couple who were long-time residents in Ireland, but they moved back to London when Hilda was four years old. She was educated by a governess along with other children of a similar age.

Hilda was known for preferring the countryside to the city and took many bicycling expeditions with her friends. She did also enjoy the museums and galleries that the city had. Interestingly, Hilda did sit for a painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Henry Holiday in his studio in Hampstead.

Holiday, Henry; Aspasia on the Pnyx; Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/aspasia-on-the-pnyx-123266

She studied at King’s College for Women where she took courses in geology and in facsimile drawing, both of which would help in her archaeological career.

Married Life

When Hilda was 25 years old, she was introduced by Henry Holiday to William Flinders Petrie. This was originally a professional introduction as Petrie needed to employ an artist with copying skills for his archaeological digs. Their relationship progressed quickly and they were married on November 26, 1896. They actually left for Egypt the day after their wedding, skipping their wedding breakfast.

They had two children together, John in 1907, and Ann in 1909. John Petrie later became a mathematician, who gave his name to the Petrie Polygon. While the family lived in London, they lived in Hampstead. Hilda typically went with Petrie for every field season except for the years when their children were young.

Archaeological Career

Although Hilda had no archaeological experience, she proved herself vital to many of the expeditions. On their initial “honeymoon” trip, Hila and Flinders traveled to Cairo and Giza first. While in Giza, Hilda chose to climb the Great Pyramid of Giza without her cumbersome skirt, so she was pretty much in her underwear.

Personally, my favorite image of her

They held excavations at the Temple of Dendera, north of Luxor. During this dig, Hilda worked in one of the deep shafts of the tomb that was being excavated, climbing down a rope ladder to copy scenes and inscriptions. She apparently spent several days lying on the ground to copy some 20,000 hieroglyphs on one large sarcophagus. She also drew profiles of the pots, beads, scarabs, and other small finds for the excavation reports. This was her most common task on Petrie’s excavations, while Petrie himself took care of the domestic side.

In 1898, they excavated the cemetery sites of Abediyeh and Hu. Hilda was responsible for surveying the site, identify the shapes of pots, slates, and flints based on the Naqada examples, and writing the grave number on all of the finds. Petrie noted at the beginning of the excavation report,

“My wife was with me all the time, helping in the surveying, cataloging, and marking of the objects, and also drawing all the tomb plans here published.”

In 1902 when they worked at Abydos, Hilda was given control of excavation and worked with Margaret Murray and Miss Hansard. They attempted a difficult and hazardous excavation after the discovery the previous year of what appeared to be the approach to a huge underground tomb discovered in an area at the back of the temple of Seti I. The excavation area was in constant danger of caving in, and the work was ultimately abandoned.

In 1902 when they worked at Abydos, Hilda was given control of excavation and worked with Margaret Murray and Miss Hansard. They attempted a difficult and hazardous excavation after the discovery the previous year of what appeared to be the approach to a huge underground tomb discovered in an area at the back of the temple of Seti I. The excavation area was in constant danger of caving in, and the work was ultimately abandoned.

In 1904, she worked in Ehnadya, and in 1905, she remained at Saqqara to copy reliefs in some of the Old Kingdom tombs.

In 1905, Petrie founded the British School of Archaeology in Europe and Hilda helped as a secretary. She raised funds and recruited new subscribers by writing to the wealthy. She also oversaw their publications and gave public lectures in London and the UK.

In 1913, she rejoined Petrie at Kafr Ammar and recorded three painted 12th Dynasty tombs in Riqqeh. This task was also very dangerous, but she published a chapter within the final report for this excavation season.

During and after WWI

Most excavation efforts were halted during the two world wars. During WWI, she turned her attention to several women’s organizations, including her fundraising expertise as Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Women’s Hospital. She was later awarded the Serbian Order of St. Sava.

Most excavation efforts were halted during the two world wars. During WWI, she turned her attention to several women’s organizations, including her fundraising expertise as Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Women’s Hospital. She was later awarded the Serbian Order of St. Sava.

Excavations resumed in 1919, and Hilda excavated a Coptic hermit’s cell in the Western hills at Abydos in 1921. By 1926, Petrie had moved on from Egypt and became mainly excavating Palestine and Jerusalem. This was following the restrictions placed on excavating bodies in Egypt and the exportations of antiquities after the discovery of King Tut in 1922.

Hilda arrived in Gaza in November 1926 where she supervised, registered, and paid excavation workers. In 1931, they excavated Tell el-Ajull. In 1933, Flinders and Hilda moved to Jerusalem, where they also excavated Sheikh Soweyd between 1935 and 1937.

Later Life

Flinders Petrie died in 1942. For a few years, Hilda lived at the American School of Palestine while editing her husband’s papers, which she had determined to send to the newly formed library of the Department of Antiquities in Khartoum.

Hilda Petrie and Margaret Murray

Hilda returned to England in 1947 where she wound up affairs at the British School of Archaeology. She was also able to publish the tomb reliefs from Saqqara that she had copied in 1905. Hilda Petrie died of a stroke in University College Hospital in 1957.

Sources

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

https://trowelblazers.com/hilda-petrie/

https://egyptartefacts.griffith.ox.ac.uk/people/hilda-petrie

Image Sources

Flinders and Hilda – Wikimedia Commons (http://www.egyptorigins.org/petriepics.html)

Her digging – https://trowelblazers.com/hilda-petrie/

Hilda and Margaret Murray – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Hilda&last=Petrie

Some Pictures of Hilda and Flinders in Palestine – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259561969_Publicising_Petrie_Financing_Fieldwork_in_British_Mandate_Palestine_1926-1938

Flinders Petrie’s diary recording “H. to suffrage meeting” on July 25 1913 – https://historyofarchaeologyioa.weebly.com/notes/category/hilda-petrie

Henry Holiday Painting “Aspasia on the Pnyx” – https://storiesfromthemuseumfloor.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/hilda-and-flinders-a-reluctant-romance/

Hilda recording a wall – https://storiesfromthemuseumfloor.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/hilda-and-flinders-a-reluctant-romance/

Hilda and her daughter? – https://alchetron.com/Hilda-Petrie

Flinders and Hilda – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/485474034832631135/

Flinders and Hilda in front of car in Syria in 1934 – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/485474034832631135/

Flinders in the 1880s – https://www.thecollector.com/flinders-petrie-archeologist/

Hilda at Abydos in 1903 – https://ucldigitalpress.co.uk/Book/Article/73/97/5456/

Flinders and Hilda at Qau 1938 – Flickr (UCL News)

Hilda in December 1898 on a Horse – http://framingarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2009/08/image-10-hilda-petrie-on-horseback.html

Women Crush Wednesday: Bertha Porter

This week for Women Crush Wednesday we are going to talk about one of the most influential reference authors in Egyptology. Her name was Bertha Porter and she was the co-author of the series of reference books, dubbed Porter and Moss.

Early Life

Bertha Porter was born in 1852 to Fredrick William Porter, an Irish architect and surveyor for the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, and Sarah Moyle. She had seven siblings, although her older sibling died in infancy, which made her the eldest. Very little is known about her early life, but it was said that she was in many literary circles.

In 1885, Bertha was employed by Sir Sidney Lee, an English biographer, writer, and critic, to write for the Dictionary of National Biography. This was a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history. She worked there for the next 25 years where she completed 156 biographies. You can see a list of her biographies here.

Life as a Reference Writer

Around 1900, she was employed by the former curator of the British Museum, Francis Llewellyn Griffith. A few years earlier he had established funding and direction for the compilation of a reference text for Egyptologists. This was called Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings. It started as an economical filing system, with the information recorded on cards and categorized systematically. It was combined into a book containing the location and content of texts found on ancient monuments in Egypt and Sudan.

Bertha was in charge of compiling the bibliography. It is not known if she had any knowledge of Ancient Egyptian history prior to this job, but she did study Egyptian hieroglyphs in London under Griffith and at the University of Göttingen under Kurt Sethe.

Interestingly, Bertha never traveled to Egypt. She was always based in London, usually living with her brother Horatio in Russell Square. She was interested in physical research, depending on publications, photographs, and drawings, and verifications by other scholars. In 1934, she took on Rosalind Moss as an assistant, who eventually took over after Bertha retired from the project in 1929. Moss tended to do most of the fieldwork, traveling to Egypt frequently.

Bertha later moved to Oxford, where she took lodgings on Banbury Road. She died in 1941.

The only image I could find of Bertha Porter

Porter and Moss

The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings is most frequently called Porter and Moss after its two main authors. There are eight volumes total. The first seven are arranged topographically, covering the whole of Egypt and Nubia. The eighth volume addresses the significant body of material in museums and private collections which had no provenance.

A physical copy of the editions of Porter and Moss

The last volume was published in 1975, so they technically are not the most up-to-date reference, but there is literally nothing like this in the field of Egyptology, so it is a vital reference for older publications or sites that are not well preserved in the present day.

You can download the entire series here.

Sources

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

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

http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/topbib.HTML

https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/oee_ahrc_2006/

https://hythehistoryblog.wordpress.com/tag/bertha-porter/

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Bertha_Porter

Images

Image of Bertha Porter – Griffith Institute

Image of Books – Historical.ha.com

Image of front of the book – AbeBooks

Image of Rosalind Moss – Jstor

Image of the Dictionary of National Biography – Wikimedia Commons

Women Crush Wednesday: Henut Taui

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is mostly known for a recent study on the mummy. Let’s talk about one of the “Cocaine Mummies,” Henut Taui.

Life

Henut Taui, also known as Henuttaui or Henuttawy, was an ancient Egyptian priestess during the 21st Dynasty. Her name means “Lady of the Two Lands,” which was typically a title of a Queen. She was a priestess and chantress in the Temple of Amun at Thebes. There is virtually nothing known about this mummy. She was most likely buried in Deir el-Bahri or somewhere else in the Theban necropolis.

Unfortunately, the Munich Museum does not have an online accessible collection database, so I am not even sure if this coffin is that of Henut Taui

The mummy and sarcophagus became the property of the king of Bavaria, likely Ludwig I. He later donated it to the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst in Munich (ÄS 57). Her coffin was once located at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon, but it is now in Munich too.

Presence of Cocaine

Svetlana Balabanova

In 1992, German toxicologist Svetlana Balabanova discovered traces of cocaine, hashish, and nicotine on Henut Taui’s hair, as well as on the hair of several other mummies in the museum. This is very significant because the only source of cocaine and nicotine had been considered to be the cocoa and tobacco plants that are native to the Americas. Before this discovery, these plants were not thought to be in Africa.

Seven mummies were tested, including Henut Taui. The other mummies are of an unknown origin and some of them were only detached heads. The museum in Munich has a policy to not display human remains so none of these mummies are on display. They are also not allowed to be filmed or shown on TV, which is why I am sorry there is a serious lack of images in this post.

Some, who believe that there was contact between the Pre-Columbian people and the ancient Egyptians, took this result as evidence of their theories. This became very controversial, especially because two successive studies failed to reproduce Balabanova’s results.

There is also the possibility that these were “fake” mummies, which were common in the 19th century as the tourism in Egypt increased. But all these mummies claim to be authentic.

Balabanova has stuck to her results and even gone to test more mummies. She tested 134 bodies from Sudan and although they came from a later period, 1/3 of them tested positive for nicotine and cocaine. She has further tested about 3000 samples from 3700 BCE to 1100 AD. Because of the results, she has determined that there must have been a tobacco plant native to Africa, Europe, or Asia, which is now extinct.

I believe this is an image of the mummy of Henut Taui, though I am not 100% sure as photos are severely lacking

Now, the alternate theory to this entire study is that was modern contamination. But to keep the mystery going, there is apparently evidence of tobacco found on the linens and within the mummy of Ramesses II. So, honestly, who knows?

This is a lengthy YouTube video about the mummy and the discovery of cocaine on the mummy.

Sources

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

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

https://jiveturkeythebook.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/85/

https://faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/mummy.htm

https://michael-chen-mg2n.squarespace.com/news/2017/7/19/mystery-of-the-cocaine-mummies

https://www.gaia.com/article/the-cocaine-mummies-henut-tauis-ancient-global-trade-network

https://blog.cansfordlabs.co.uk/hair-testing-cocaine-mummies-real-or-fake

https://www.paulwagner.com/the-cocaine-mummies-henut-taui/

Images

Name in Hieroglyphs – Wikipedia page

Face of Mummy – Mummipedia

Dr. Svelta Balabanova – https://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/egyptian-mummies-0011354

Women Crush Wednesdays: Berenice I

This week I am looking toward the end of Egyptian history at the Ptolemaic Era. Let’s talk about the second Greek Queen of Egypt, Berenice I.

Life Prior to Egypt

Cameo of a woman wearing a diadem, perhaps Berenice I. Possibly found in Pompeii, British Museum, 1814,0704,1718.

Berenice was born in Eordaea, which is an area in Northern Greece, around 340 BCE. She was the daughter of Princess Antigone of Macedon, and a Greek Macedonian nobleman called Magas. Her maternal grandfather was a nobleman called Cassander, who was the brother of Antipater, the regent for Alexander the Great’s empire.

Coin of Berenice’s son from her first marriage, Magas, King of Cyrene

In 325 BCE she married a local nobleman and military officer named Philip. He had been previously married and had other children. They had three children: Magas, future King Magas of Cyrene, Antigone, wife of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, and Theoxena. Magas dedicated an inscription to himself and his father when he served as a priest of Apollo and Pyrrhus named a city after his mother, Berenicis.

Life in Egypt

In 323 BCE, after conquering the Persian empire and almost reaching modern-day India, Alexander the Great died in Babylon. Because of this, Alexander’s empire was split into four main sections. Egypt was then ruled by one of Alexander’s generals Ptolemy, who was later known as Ptolemy I Soter.

Berenice moved to Egypt with her children in 321 BCE as a lady in waiting for the wife of Ptolemy, Eurydice, who was also Berenice’s mother’s first cousin. It is unclear if her husband came with her, but Philip seemingly died around 318 BCE, which would have been after she traveled to Egypt.

Berenice I’s daughter Arsinoe II on a gold coin

Shortly after Berenice’s arrival (and possibly after her husband’s death?), Ptolemy I took her as his concubine and married her in 317 BCE. It must be noted that he was still married to Eurydice, but this was typical. Apparently, because she was not of royal blood, a genealogy was fabricated to make her a half sister of the king.

In 308 BCE, Berenice gave birth to a son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, as well as two daughters Arsinoe II and Philotera. Berenice was crowned Berenice I, Queen of Egypt in 290 BCE.

Interestingly, her son was recognized as his father’s heir in preference to Eurydice’s children and he was made coregent by his father in 285 BCE. Ptolemy II’s second wife was his sister Arsinoe II, as we can see from this gold coin (British Museum, 1964, 1303.3) which marks them “Adelphon,” or Siblings. On the opposite side of these coins, Ptolemy I and Berenice I are marked with “Theon,” meaning Gods.

Although it is not clear, Berenice I most likely died in 277 BCE. After she died, her son and grandson decreed divine honors to her and her son named a port on the Red Sea, Berenice.

Sources

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

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Berenice-I

https://www.livius.org/articles/person/berenice-i/

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1814-0704-1718

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_1964-1303-3

Images

Gold Coins and Cameo – British Museum

Ptolemy I statue in the Louvre – Wikimedia Commons (Marie-Lan Nguyen)

Berenice I drawing – Wikimedia Commons (Guillaume Rouille)

Coin of Magas, as King of Cyrene – Wikimedia Commons (Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.)

Coin of Arsinoe II – Wikimedia Commons (MET)

Bust of Ptolemy II, National Archaeological Museum, Naples – Wikimedia Commons (Marie-Lan Nguyen)

Women Crush Wednesday: Myrtle Broome

For Women Crush Wednesday, this Egyptologist was more renowned for her illustration work of Egyptian sites. This week we are talking about Myrtle Broome.

Early Life

Myrtle Florence Broome was born on February 22, 1888, in Muswell Hill, London to Eleanor Slater and Washington Herbert Broome. Her father was a music and book publisher. She received her art training at a school in Bushey, which was founded by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

Career in Egypt

In 1927, she was invited to participate in a project in Egypt by the British School of Archaeology. Here they copied tomb inscriptions at Qua-El-Kebi. Apparently, on this trip, she was smitten by the attentions of a local police officer. When he invited her to his family home, the visit was a disaster and Myrtle admitted, “it would never have worked.”

The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos (complete in 4 vols.) [INCLUDING 231 PLATES] by Calverley, Amice; Myrtle F. Broome; Alan H. Gardiner (ed.)

In 1929, she returned to Egypt as an artist with the Canadian epigrapher Amice Calverley, who was hired by the Egypt Exploration Society to copy the wall scenes in the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, starting in 1927. A year later, the project was fully funded by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller after they visited the site. The Oriental Institute in Chicago was also involved.

Calverley became the director of the project and hired Myrtle as her assistant. The pair of them did eight seasons together. They were responsible for all the paintings and replications. They also used large photographs to record the reliefs and later penciled over them to become more accurate. The reproductions were mainly watercolor paintings, as black and white photographs were the only ones available during this time. These were published in four volumes with colored plates between 1933 and 1958.

Painting of Amice Calverley and their car

During the projects, Myrtle and Calverley lived in a mudbrick house near the temple with two local servants. They were both actively involved in the life of the village, participating in feasts and ceremonies and often providing medical assistance to the villagers. They also traveled throughout Egypt, taking trains and often driving through the desert in a Jowett car they named Joey. Myrtle’s impressions of Egypt are noted in her letters and illustrations that she sent back to her parents. These archives are kept at the Griffith Institute in Oxford.

Their last season in 1938 and their fifth volume was interrupted because of WWII and it, unfortunately, has yet to be published.

Later Life

Myrtle retired from Egyptology in 1937. She also returned to England because her father was ill. During this time she continued to paint several watercolors of Egyptian villages and the surrounding landscape. She may have become a designer and a craft worker who designed for Liberty, a luxury department store in London. And she also went into business with her father with their business “Designed and Workers in Metal and Enamel.”

Her family home in Bushey is listed with Historic England, which is the government group that protects cultural institutions in the UK. Myrtle has created multiple painted panels and decorations throughout the home. It is now the Bushey Museum, which houses over 70 of her paintings, some of which you can see here and here.

The Bushey Museum, which was Mrytle Broome’s family home

Myrtle Broome died on January 27th, 1978.

Publications

  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1933. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume I: the chapels of Osiris, Isis and Horus. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1935. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume II: the chapels of Amen-Rē’, Rē’-Ḥarakhti, Ptaḥ, and King Sethos. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1938. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume III: the Osiris complex. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1958. The temple of King Sethos I at Abydos, Volume IV: the second hypostyle hall. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.

Sources

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

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Broome_Myrtle%20Florence.pdf

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Myrtle%20Florence&last=Broome

Image Sources

Self Portrait – Wikimedia Commons – WP:NFCC#4

Paintings from the Temple of Seti I – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/42986/amice-calverley-myrtle-f-broome-alan-h-gardiner/the-temple-of-king-sethos-i-at-abydos-complete-in-4-vols-including-231-plates

The Gulf of Suez – https://en.wahooart.com/@@/AQULXT-Myrtle-Broome-The-Gulf-of-Suez

Photo of her – https://archive.griffith.ox.ac.uk/index.php/broome-correspondence

Bushy Museum – https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/14461427.bushey-artist-gets-egypt-bug/

Women Crush Wednesday: Sha-Amun-en-su

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is a little sad, but I wanted to include her to keep her memory alive. Let’s talk about Sha-Amun-en-su, an Ancient Egyptian mummy lost in the fire at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.

Life

Sha-Amun-en-su, meaning “The fertile Fields of Amun,” was an Egyptian priestess and singer who lived in Thebes during the 22nd Dynasty. She was probably born around 800 B.C.E. into a wealthy family. She was probably not born into nobility, but her family was wealthy enough for her to be selected and prepared to work in a temple at an early age.

Sha-Amun-en-su belonged to the main group of priestly singers within the temple complex, called a Heset. They conducted ceremonial duties and ritualistic functions by helping the God’s Wife of Amun. This tradition lasted in Thebes between the 9th and 6th centuries B.C.E.

Interestingly, the Heset were not obliged to live permanently in the temple. Many of them only went to the temple when there were ceremonies. But the women had to obey strict codes of conduct. One of the rules was that they had to stay chaste. They didn’t necessarily have to be virgins, but they were considered extremely pure.

It was also common for an older singer to adopt a younger trainee as their tutor. There is a possibly that Sha-Amun-en-su had an adoptive daughter as there is another sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for a singer named Merset-Amun. She is labeled as “the daughter of Sha-Amun-en-su, singer of the shrine of Amun.”

She most likely died around the age of 50 years old, but her death could not be determined as her mummy was never unwrapped.

Provenance

There is no record of the date or exact archaeological site where the coffin was found, but it is more than likely from Thebes based on the style of the coffin and that she was a priestess at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes. It originally was in the Egyptian Khedivate collection, which was the rulers of Egypt while it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II visited Egypt for a second time. Dom Pedro II was an amateur Egyptologist and enthusiast. Khedive Ismail Pasha gifted the sarcophagus and the mummy to the emperor, who in return gave him a book.

An image from Dom Pedro II’s trip to Egypt in 1876

The mummy was brought back to Rio de Janeiro and was one of the featured items displayed in the Palace of São Cristóvão. The mummy was part of his private collection and on display in his study. At one point, the sarcophagus was damaged by a storm. It was knocked down by the wind and crashed into the one of the windows in his office. It’s left side was broken, but later restored. There was also a rumor that Dom Pedro II would talk to the mummy while in his study alone.

Because of the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the mummy became a part of the Egyptian collection at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, the curator of the Egyptian collection in the National Museum, Antonio Brancaglion Jr. said in regard to the importance and uniqueness of the sarcophagus,

“If you have a mummy, you have a mummy. If you have not, you won’t get one anymore. If we lose it, we will never get anything else remotely similar. We have to keep it to the end.”

An image of the National Museum ablaze on September 2nd, 2018

This quote is especially sad, considering that the tragic end of the National Museum on September 2nd, 2018, where the entire museum burned. Almost the entire collection of the museum was lost.

Recovery Efforts

After the fire there have been multiple recovery efforts to help re-establish the National Museum. Via Google Arts and Culture, you can do an entire virtual tour of the museum pre-fire, which you can view here.

Some of the objects recovered from the fire (note that many of them are stone, which is well preserved in a fire).

Over 300 Egyptian related items have been salvaged from the fire. One of them is the heart scarab of Sha-Amun-en-su, which had never been previously seen because the mummy was never unwrapped. It had been picked up on previous CT scans that I’ll talk about below. But here is a 3D scan of the heart scarab!

This artist did a series of photographs and sculptures for an exhibition titled Museum of Ashes, where he took ashes from the National Museum and recreated some of the lost works, including Sha-Amun-en-su. You can read an interview with him here and see the exhibition pieces here.

And finally there had been multiple contests for artists to recreate something that was lost in the fire. Two artists chose to recreate the face of Sha-Amun-en-su. One is by Gislaine Avila, and the other was by user Rodrigo Avila.

Sarcophagus

The sarcophagus of Sha-Amun-en-su is carved in polychrome stuccoed wood. Its decoration had references to the Heliopolitan theology. The head of the sarcophagus has a blue headdress with a yellow vulture headdress and red ribbons. There is then an image of the goddess Nut and a ram-headed bird with wings outstretched. There are also two uraeus serpents with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and the four sons of Horus.

There was also a representation of the singer’s Ba, which was a part of the Egyptian concept of the soul. On the back of the sarcophagus was a djed pillar which was a sign of stability associated with Osiris.

The first band bore the inscription,

“An offering that the king makes [to] Osiris, Chief of the West, great God, Lord of Abydos – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine [of Ammon], Sha-Amun-en-su “.

The name of Sha-Amun-en-su and her titles

And the second line of hieroglyphs reads,

 “An offering that the king makes [to] Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, Lord of the [shrine] Shetayet – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine of Ammon, Sha-Amun-en-su”.[4]

Mummy

Again, all examinations of the mummy have been made without opening the casket as it had never been unwrapped.

The mummy’s throat was covered in resin-coated bandages. This may indicate that the mummifying priests were protecting a zone seen as vital for a singer with ritualistic functions so that she could use her voice in the afterlife. This was also done to a mummy of an singer of Amun at the University of Chicago, Meresamun. This may indicate that this was a special procedure for the mummies of women who were charge of chanting hymns and songs.

CT scans of Sha-Amun-en-su

The mummy otherwise appears in good condition with no trauma or injuries. Sha-Amun-en-su kept all of her teeth except one. She also went under a 3D laser scan by Jorge Lopes from Tri-dimensional Experimentation Nucleus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. This scan allows for the construction of a small scale replica of her skeleton.

Several amulets were identified in her wrappings. One was the heart scarab that I mentioned previously. It is made out a oval green stone that was previously set in gold (which probably melted in the fire). This was placed on the heart of the mummy so that it could replace her heart which was removed.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sha-Amun-en-su

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Sha-Amun-em-su

https://artsandculture.google.com/streetview/the-sarcophagus-of-sha-amun-en-su/bQFRFDBrFqrXnw?hl=en&sv_lng=-43.22620415620449&sv_lat=-22.90580314721926&sv_h=301.26589544240363&sv_p=-27.748126633175573&sv_pid=t9CdnSQBuW0iLU_rTtrESA&sv_z=1

https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/gislaineavila/sha-amun-en-su/

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/v1zLbD

https://anba.com.br/en/brazil-natl-museum-reclaims-its-expertise-in-egyptology/

https://www.zbrushcentral.com/t/sha-amun-en-su-topia-contest/216421

Image Sources

Profile of Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Gian Cornachini

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke

Inscription of her name and title – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown author

Sarcophagus – Wikimedia Commons – Museu Nacional

X-ray and CT scan, picture of Dom Pedro in Egypt – https://revistapesquisa.fapesp.br/en/emperors-favorite-final-act/

Picture of display – https://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2018/09/04/Mummy-of-Ancient-Egypt-singer-engulfed-in-Rio-de-Janeiro-museum-fire

Coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke                       

Image of fire – https://blog.hmns.org/2018/09/what-the-loss-of-the-museu-nacional-in-rio-de-janeiros-collections-means-to-the-world/

Some of the artifact recovered – https://anba.com.br/en/rio-national-museum-egyptian-items-now-viewable-online/

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