This week let me introduce y’all to a French Egyptologist who excavated a 5th dynasty pyramid. Meet Paule Posener-Krieger!
Paule was born in Paris on April 18th, 1925. Her family was of Alsatian origin and her father was an engineer. In 1946, she took a full year of medical courses and in 1951 she received a “license es-lettres,” which is the French equivalent of a Bachelors of Arts.
Paule then took an Egyptology course within the framework of the Louvre School. She continued to take more courses at the École pratique des Hautes études, an elite research institution in Paris. She took courses under other French Egyptologists such as Georges Posener, Jacques Jean Clere, and Michel Malinie. Her main research areas were hieratic and diplomatic paleography of the Old Kingdom, technical vocabulary and administrative practices of the Old Kingdom, and museum studies.
Paule’s greatest accomplishment was excavating the pyramid complex of Neferefre in Abusir. This is a 5th dynasty pyramid complex for Pharaoh Neferefre. Here Paule discovered the Abusir papyri, which is a significant ensemble of documents dating to his reign. She would later translate and publish these. The excavations also found several statues of the Pharoah, which are some of the best examples of royal statuary from the 5th dynasty.
Paule would later become the director of the Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale from 1981 to 1989.
In 1960 she married her former professor, Georges Posener. He was born on September 12, 1906 and graduated from the École pratique des hautes études in 1933. He was a resident of the Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale in Cairo from 1931 to 1935. He was then in charge of it until the beginning of WWII. He also wrote about 100 Egyptology books.
He died in 1988 and Paule died in 1996.
– P. Posener-Kriéger, J.-L. de Cenival, The Abu Sir Papyri. Edited, together with Complementary Texts in other collections (Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum 5th Series), London, 1968.
– P. Posener-Kriéger, Sara Demichelis, The archives of the funerary temple of Néferirkarê-Kakaï (The papyri of Abousir). Translation and commentary (BdÉ 65 / 1-2), Cairo, 1976.
– P. Posener-Kriéger, I papiri di Gebelein . Scavi G. Farina 1935 , Torino, 2004.
– P. Posener-Kriéger, Catalog of the France-Egypt exhibition, Paris, 1949.
– P. Posener-Kriéger, Catalog of the collection of the municipal museum of Limoges , 1958.
– “The papyri of the Old Kingdom”, in Texts and languages of Pharaonic Egypt II (Study Library 64/2), Cairo, IFAO, 1973, p. 25-35.
– “The papyri of Abousir and the economy of the funerary temples of the Old Kingdom”, in State and Temple Economy in the Ancient Near East (Orientalia Lovanensia Analecta 5), Louvain, 1979, p. 133-151.
– “Decrees sent to the funeral temple of Rêneferef”, in Mélanges Gamal Eddin Mokhtar I (Study Library 97/1), Cairo, IFAO, 1985, p. 195-210.
– “Old Kingdom papyri: external features”, in ML Bierbrier (ed.), Papyrus: Structure and Usage (British Museum Occasional Papers 60), London, 1986, p. 25-41.
– “Economic aspects of the Abousir papyri”, in Akten des vierten Internationalen Ägyptologen Kongresses München 1985 (BSAK 4), München, 1990, p. 167-176.
– “To the pleasure of paleographers. Papyrus Caire JE 52003 ”, in P. der Manuelian (ed.), Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, Boston 1996, p. 655-664.
– H. Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods ( Kingship and the Gods ), 1951.
– S. Schott, The Love Songs of Ancient Egypt ( Die altägyptischen Liebeslieder ), 1956.
You can also check out some more of her works here!
This week let’s look at a mummy located in Varodra, India! This mummy is the best-preserved Egyptian mummy in India, so I’m really excited to cover it!
This is the mummy of a female who lived during the Ptolemaic Period, most likely during the reign of Ptolemy II (c. 230 B.C.E.). Nothing is known about her, except that she was most likely from the upper classes based on the type of mummification she received.
It is unclear from the sources if the mummy has no inscriptions, or if no research has been conducted on them. I could find no individual picture of the mummy from the top, so it is hard to know.
The mummy was purchased by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the ruler of the city of Gujarat, India from a museum in New York in 1895. It is not clear what museum this was. Believe it or not, it was purchased for $175. The mummy supposedly had a mummy mask, but its location is unknown.
It is currently located at the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery which was established originally in 1887. It didn’t open until 1921 because many of the objects for the museum were delayed in Europe during World War I. The mummy is one of the centerpieces of the Egypt-Babylonian Gallery. You can watch a short tour of the museum below!
The mummy is in relatively good condition, mainly in comparison to the other Egyptian mummies in India. The linen wrappings are still intact except for the toes. As the mummy is quite heavy which indicates that its internal abdominal padding is dense. X-ray reconstructions suggest that she was around 20 years old when she died.
Her brain was removed, most likely through her nose. And two possible fractures were revealed during X-rays. The radius and ulna of one of her arms were broken. There is no other evidence of diseases or trauma that would explain her death. She was 148 cm tall.
Unfortunately, the mummy has had a bad history of preservation problems. In September 1998, it was reported that a museum attendant accidentally sucked up part of the mummy with a vacuum cleaner. Apparently, he opened the glass case and believed that it could use a good clean. The damage was a linen bandage sagging, the paint peeling off of two of the toes, and her nose had unknown damage.
As I mentioned the mummy is still completely wrapped except for the toes. That is because someone unwrapped the toes around 50 years ago. This led to a buildup of white fungi. This likely occurred because the museum has a very high concentration of aeromycoflora. A report was made in 1999/2000 about this fungus on the toes and how this mummy needed a better case. The report agreed that it needed an oxygen-free glass chamber if it was going to be conserved. As of 2009, this case has not been replaced and it is unclear if it has been now.
It’s been a while since we looked at another female Egyptologist, so let’s learn about Violette LaFleur. She almost single-handedly saved the Petrie Museum’s collection during World War II.
Violette LaFleur was born in 1897, possibly in Canada. She was a Canadian citizen and the daughter of a leading Montreal judge. She went to school in Highgate, England, and then was a social worker in the 1920s.
Sometime in the 1930s, she entered the Department of Egyptology at the University College London as a non-degree student. She was close friends with Stephen Glanville, who at the time was the Edwards Professor of Egyptology. His wife Ethel had been at school with her.
Violette eventually became part of the new program of curatorial, cataloging, and conservation work in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. In 1935, she started to work in the museum as a general assistant and began conservation training at the British Museum. She was eventually promoted to Honorary Museum Assistant and responsible for the photography in the museum. She also gave six lectures on object conservation.
In 1936, she accompanied Glanville on his excavations of El-Amarna and Armant, Egypt.
Her conservation work extended outside of Egyptology to the remains of Jeremy Bentham. He was an English philosopher whose remains are displayed at UCL. She was responsible for cleaning and preserving his clothes, chair, and stick, as well as padding the skeleton so that it could be displayed in the Cloisters of the Wilkins Building.
Her biggest contribution to the Petrie Museum was during WWII. She managed the removal of the collections to Stanstead Bury, specifically to the home of a naval captain George Spencer Churchill, a cousin of Winston Churchill. On September 8, 1940, the college was the first bomb with destroyed the skylights above the area where some of the objects were. Violette returned a few days later to continue packing at personal risk.
In April 1941, the college was hit again and water from the fireman hoses seeped into the basements where the cases were in standing water. The artifacts were then unpacked, conserved, and repacked. Finally, the 14 tonnes of cases and crates were transferred by July 1943. She did this mostly on her own, sometimes with some help from college porters or former students. And if you can believe it Violette lost her own flat and most of her belongings during the Blitz in 1940.
Later Life and Recognition
After the war, when the collection was returned, Violette continued to preserve the collection and teach at the university until 1954. If you could believe it, this was an honorary volunteer position, and she never received a single penny for her work.
I could not find much more information, let alone photos, of her, but she did die in 1965.
In general, she did not have any recognition for her efforts. Rosalind Janssen dedicated her book, The First Hundred Years: Egyptology at University College London 1892-1992, to the memory of Violette LaFleur. Her work was once recognized in 1951 by Sir David Pye, the Provost of UCL at the Fellow’s dinner. There was a wish for a permanent record to her be made at the Petrie Museum, but no record was made.
This week let’s talk about my favorite goddess Nut! She was the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, and the universe.
Names and Epithets
Nut’s name means “Sky” in ancient Egyptian and uses the hieroglyph determinative for the sky. It can also be transcribed as Nunut, Nent, or Nuit. With any ancient Egyptian word, the pronunciation of her name is uncertain because vowels were omitted from its writing.
Like many gods, Nut had several epithets. She was the Coverer of the Sky, She who Protects, She who Bore the Gods, and She who Holds a Thousand Stars.
Nut is depicted in several ways, but the most common is as a dark blue nude woman covered with white or yellow stars. Often she depicted arching over the Earth with only her fingers and toes touching land. When she was depicted as a woman, she has a water-pot hieroglyph (which is pronounced nw or nu) over her head.
She could also be depicted as a cow, sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling piglets who represent the stars.
Nut’s birth is dictated in the Heliopolitan creation story. Tefnut is a personification of moisture, mated with Shu, which is a personification of the air. They gave birth to Nut and her brother Geb, who is the god of the Earth.
This is unique in that most ancient civilizations have a Father Sky and a Mother Earth, but in the case of Ancient Egyptian mythology, Nut is the Sky Mother and Geb is the Earth Father.
Nut is absolutely vital in Egyptian mythology because she birthed the gods that we know and love.
According to the myth, Ra was the second god to rule the world and he decreed that Nut shall not give birth any day of the year. At the time, the year was only made up of 360 days. Nut obviously didn’t like this because it meant that she wouldn’t be able to be with her husband Geb. So she came up with a plan with Thoth, the god of wisdom.
Nut decided to gamble with the Khonsu, god of the Moon. His light rivaled Ra so Nut thought she could use that to advantage. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Nut some of his moonlight. Apparently, he was not a very good gambler and lost several times. Eventually, Nut had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since those days were not technically part of the year, Nut could have all her children.
Nut then gave birth to four children: Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. In some versions of the myth (typically the ones from Graeco-Roman times) Horus is added to this list of children. Typical Egyptian myths have Horus as the son of Osiris and Isis.
Ra was of course furious about this, so he separated Nut and Geb for eternity. Their father Shu, who again is the personification of the Air, was meant to separate them. Shu is often depicted standing on Geb and holding up Nut.
Role in Egyptian Life
Nut’s chief cult center was located at Heliopolis but the Egyptians also worshiped Nut at Memphis as a healing goddess at a shrine called the House of Nut. She has been associated with the goddess Hathor at Dendera, but she has no known temple built exclusively for her.
“I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.”
In Egyptian life, Nut was the goddess of the sky and a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife. During the day, the heavenly bodies such as the Sun and the Moon would make their way across her body. At dusk, they would be swallowed pass through her belly at the night to be reborn at dawn. Her fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points, north, south, east, and west.
“O my Mother Nut, stretch Yourself over me, that I may be placed among the imperishable stars which are in You, and that I may not die.”
She was a barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos. Because of this, she was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the deceased. The ceilings of tombs were also painted dark blue with stars.
“Hail, thou Sycamore Tree of the Goddess Nut! Give me of the water and of the air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace.”
A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. The ladder was called maqet and a symbol of it was placed in tombs to protect the deceased and invoke the aid of the diety of the dead.
There was also a collection of Egyptian astronomical texts called the Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars or otherwise called the Book of Nut. It talks about various other sky and earth deities.
This week we are traveling back to the last period of Ancient Egypt, the Ptolemaic Period. I would like to introduce you to Cleopatra III, whose life was full of political turmoil.
Cleopatra III was born around 160 BCE, most likely in Alexandria where the Ptolemaic kings ruled from. Her mother was Cleopatra II, and her father was Ptolemy VI. She had possibly four siblings: Ptolemy Eupator, Cleopatra Thea, Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator, and possibly a sister named Berenice.
Here is a short background of what occurred within the ruling family before Cleopatra III’s birth. Be careful, there are a lot of identical names involved.
Cleopatra III’s uncle, Ptolemy VIII ruled together with his siblings (and Cleopatra’s parents), Cleopatra II, and Ptolemy VI from 170 to 164 BCE. Her uncle then expelled her parents from the throne and Egypt. But he was forced to abdicate in 163, and Cleopatra III’s parents ruled until 145 BCE.
This was when her father died from injuries sustained when falling off his horse during battle. Cleopatra III had at least one brother, but it seems like he was not chosen to be the heir, or he had already died at this point. And you’ll never guess who takes the throne now? Cleopatra III? Sadly, no.
It was her uncle Ptolemy VIII, again.
Now even those the Ptolemaic pharaohs were all of Greek origin, the arranged marriages of siblings were still done. So, Ptolemy VIII married his sister and Cleopatra III’s mother, Queen Cleopatra II, probably to solidify the throne.
But in an interesting turn of events, he also married his niece/stepdaughter, Cleopatra III. This was probably done because Cleopatra II was too old to have any more children. Cleopatra III and Ptolemy VIII were married in 139 BCE.
She had five children with him, all of which went on to rule different kingdoms. We’ll talk about her two sons Ptolemy IX Soter and Ptolemy X Alexander shortly. She had three daughters, Tryphaena, who married the Seleucid king Antiochus VII Grypus, Cleopatra IV, who married her brother Ptolemy IX (though she later divorced him and married the Seleucid King Antiochus IX Cyzienus), and Cleopatra Selene, who married her brothers Ptolemy IX and possibly Ptolemy X (then later married three Seleucid Kings Anthichus VIII, IX, and X).
It seems that Cleopatra III’s relationship with her mother was not great, as their first recorded quarrel was in 140/139. During this time, there was also an unsuccessful coup by an influential courtier named Galestes. Cleopatra III and her husband attempted to seek support from the native population to strengthen their position, but Cleopatra II rebelled against the king in 132 BCE.
This was a full-blown civil war between Cleopatra III’s mother and husband, and it is unclear who she sided with. While her mother controlled Alexandria, Cleopatra III and her husband fled to Cyrus in 132 BCE. He was able to return in 130 to regain control and she returned three years later when the civil war died down.
And then somehow, Cleopatra II rejoined them as joint ruled in 124 BCE. Honestly, I don’t know.
Ptolemy VIII died in 116 BCE and again Cleopatra III was allowed to jointly rule with one of her sons. Surprisingly, she skipped over her first son, Ptolemy XI (who was 14 at the time), and wanted to rule with her second son, Ptolemy X. But apparently, the Alexandrines didn’t like this and forced her to rule with her first son. Her second son was sent to Cyrus as an honorary general.
I have a feeling her mother influenced her decision because even after all the coups, Cleopatra II was still jointly ruling with her daughter and her grandson until she died in 116 or 117.
I honestly feel very bad for this family because it just seems like the family dynamics are all out of whack. Get ready for the craziest part of this rollercoaster.
In October 110, Cleopatra III expelled her first son and placed her second son as her co-ruler. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long and Ptolemy IX was soon back on the throne in February 109. Ptolemy X attempted this again in March 108 and again in October 107.
This last coup seemed to stick as Cleopatra III defeated Ptolemy IX in 102. Ptolemy X served as the annual priest of Alexander the Great. During this time, Cleopatra III tried to gain more support from the native Egyptians by presenting herself as the goddesses Maat and Isis.
Unfortunately, there were still tensions within the royal family, as according to the Latin historian Justin, Cleopatra was murdered by Ptolemy X, after he discovered her plans to kill him. This most likely happened sometime in 101 BCE, as she disappears from records in late 101. Her son marries his niece Berenice III and continues as the sole ruler.
When ruling, her Horus name was Nebtaoui Kenekhet, meaning Lady of the Two Lands, Mighty Bull. Depending on who she was ruling with, she was known by different names.
While married to Ptolemy VIII and ruling with her son Ptolemy X, she was known as Cleopatra Euergetis. When ruling with her son Ptolemy IX, she was known as Cleopatra Philmetor Soteira. And according to Strabo, she was known as Kokke when discussed in relation to her son Ptolemy X.
This week let’s take a look at one of the largest tombs ever found in Luxor, Egypt! In this tomb was the sarcophagus of a woman that we don’t know much about. Her name was Pouyou!
Pouyou was a woman who lived during the 18th dynasty, between 1550 and 1295 B.C.E. Her name can also be written as Pouya. She most likely held some higher status during her life, but her title was unknown. Multiple other mummies were found around her, but it is unclear if these people were related to her.
The mummy was found inside of a white and yellow painted sarcophagus and was in very good condition. When it was discovered in 2018, the sarcophagus was opened while in the tomb. This was the first time Egyptian authorities opened an ancient coffin before an audience of international media. The mummy seemed to be in perfect condition as only the tips of her feet were missing.
Another mummy and sarcophagus from the 17th dynasty was also found nearby, along with the unwrapped mummies found next to Pouyou.
Now Pouyou was found within tomb TT33. This tomb is located in the El-Assasif cemetery across the Nile from Thebes. As of 2008, it was the largest non-royal site in the necropolis. The strangest thing is that this tomb is attributed to Pediamenopet, a prophet and lector priest from the 26th dynasty. So how was an 18th dynasty burial found within it?
Well, Pouyou was found in 2018, when the joint team from the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology and the University of Strasbourg discovered the archaeological deposit inside the enclosure. Pouyou’s tomb was obviously there first, so either Pediamenopet expanded on her original tomb, or he never knew it was there.
The tomb was first discovered in 1737 by Richard Pocke, who found the tomb open. It was more fully examined in 1881 by Johannes Dumichen from the University of Strasbourg, who has continued to examine the tomb. Most recently it was excavated by a French team lead by Frederic Colin from the same university.
The tomb contains 22 rooms connected by long corridors and distributed on three levels extending 20 meters below ground level. It is unclear where Pouyou was found within the tomb, but I am going to presume that she was found in the back of the tomb in the parts that haven’t been fully excavated yet. Interestingly the first three rooms of the tomb were turned into storage in the 1970s for the Egyptian Antiquities Service where more than 1,000 antiquities were stored here until 2005.
This week let’s move to the Third Intermediate Period mummy which is now located in Boston, Massachusetts. Let’s meet Tabes!
Tabes lived during the 22nd Dynasty in the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, approximately 945 to 818 B.C.E. She and her husband Nesptah lived in Thebes in Upper Egypt. Nesptah has a job as a barber, shaving the heads of the temple priests. Tabes had a job in the temple choir.
It is not known when the mummy left Egypt, but somehow Tabes’ mummy stayed with her husband’s mummy! This is an extremely unique case, which helps us learn about mummification practices within a family. Nesptah is mummified a little bit differently, possibly indicating that when he died, mummification practices had changed.
The mummies were in the possession of Robert Hay, who lived in Limplum, Scotland in 1836. He then sold both mummies to Samuel A. Way in Boston in 1868. After making the trip across the ocean, Tabes and Nesptah’s mummies were donated by Samuel’s son to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1872. Tabes’ museum number is 72.4820c.
During the 22nd dynasty, mummy cases were made out of cartonnage which is like paper mache. First, a core of mud and straw is made in the shape of a mummy. This was then covered in plaster and layers of linen pasted with plant gum. The crafters would leave a hole at the bottom and a slit up the back of the case. The surface was covered with gesso to make it stiff and then the core was removed. The completed mummy was inserted within the stiff core. The back was then sewn up and the foot end plugged with a wooden board.
The final step was for the painters to decorate the case. Tabes’ case is decorated with protective winged deities. Six pairs of wings are wrapped around her stomach, including a falcon with a ram head. There are also pairs of winged goddesses such as Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Selqet.
Because of the beauty and fragility of the mummy case, Tabes has never been unwrapped. So all examinations of the mummy have to be non-invasive.
Between 1983 and 1987, 15 mummies from the MFA Boston were examined at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. CT images were taken of Tabes’ mummy to learn more about her body.
Tabes died in her early 30s (which is interesting because her husband Nesptah died in his 60s). There were no signs of major illness, but she did suffer from dental disease, which was very common for an Egyptian mummy.
The images show a bulge on her neck, which may be due to the packing material. Tabes’ eyes were untreated and shrunk within the sockets. Her nose was slightly crushed because of the cartonnage. Her ears were intact, but her hair had been matted down with resin. You can even see a large embalmer’s incision on her left side.
The CT scans also showed that a metal amulet was placed on her sternum. Another heart scarab with a winged amulet was placed over her ribs.
Today let’s talk about another female Egyptologist who assisted with the early development of the Egypt Exploration Society in England. Let me introduce you to Kate Bradbury Griffith!
Kate Bradbury was born on August 26th, 1854 in Ashton-under-Lyne, near Manchester. She was the eldest daughter to wealthy cotton businessman Charles Timothy Bradbury and his first wife Elizabeth Anne Tomlins. Kate had two younger siblings named Harold and Emma. Kate was probably educated at home as a child, but she attended finishing school in Switzerland, where she probably learned German.
Ancient Egypt was her passion, but she was also an avid painter. Botanists apparently sent many samples of her drawings from around Riversvale Hall. In 1882, her father moved to Riversvale Hall, where Kate and her husband would later live.
Kate was among the early supporters of the Egypt Exploration Fund, which was established by Amelia Edwards in 1881 to support British excavations in Egypt. Kate was very good friends with Amelia Edwards, even joining her on a lecture tour of America in 1890. She became a committee member and one of the Fund’s local secretaries, helping to gather subscriptions in Britain.
After Edwards died, Kate took care of her estate, including coordinating Edward’s Egyptian collection being moved and installed at University College London. Kate continued to work for the Egypt Exploration Fund underneath Flinders Petrie. He thanked her in 1889 for preparing Hawara textiles, saying
“all soaked cleaned, and ironed, and finally distributed to various collections; the most important and complete set technologically going to the Manchester Museum.”
Because of her knowledge of German, she translated Dr. Alfred Wiedemann’s Egypt Doctrine of Immortality and Religion of Ancient Egypt into English. She also helped Norman de Garis Davies as a copyist on Petrie’s excavations at Dendera for the 1897/1898 season.
In 1896, Kate married a former student of Petrie, Francis Llewellyn Griffith. He was born in 1862 in Brighton and worked as a student for the Egypt Exploration Fund. He later taught at both UCL, Oxford, and an honorary professor of Egyptology at Manchester University. She collaborated with her husband on translations of ancient Egyptian texts, which were published into a multi-volume work called Library of the World’s Great Literature.
Kate got seriously ill in 1901 and traveled to London for an operation, which was not successful. Her husband then took her to Silverdale near Morecambe Bay to recuperate. She died there on March 2nd, 1902 and is buried in Silverdale. Her husband returned to live at Riversvale with Kate’s father until he died in 1907.
Why don’t we talk about a more recent find? In 2017, the tomb of a goldsmith and his wife was found in Thebes. Let me introduce you to Amenhotep (and I know, I will explain her name)!
Since this is such a recent discovery, we still don’t know a lot about the goldsmith’s wife. But we know that she lived during the 18th dynasty and was the wife of a royal goldsmith, Amenemhat. Her name was Amenhotep, which is usually a male name. But throughout their tomb, she is titled the Lady of the House, and there is a statue depicting her as a woman. So this just seems to be a unique case for the male name given to a woman.
She had at least one son, who is depicted on a statue in her tomb. She may have had a second son, as another adult was found in the tomb. As a royal goldsmith, they would have lived certainly well-off, but most likely not in the noble class.
Although the female mummy has not been positively identified as that of Amenhotep, this woman most likely died in her 50s. There was also evidence of abscesses on the jaw of this mummy, which indicates a bone infection caused by cavities and may have contributed to her death.
The tomb was discovered in the courtyard of another tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga, a cemetery in western Thebes. This leads to a square chamber with a niche. Inside the niche is a damaged statue of Amenemhet and Amenhotep. As you can see from the photos, conservators have preserved the niche and the statue with tan-colored plaster.
Between the legs of the husband-and-wife statue is a small boy, presumably their son. This is very unique as a daughter is typically portrayed between the legs of her parents. And when a family doesn’t have a daughter, it is usually a daughter-in-law depicted. So this is a very unique family portrait.
Two burial shafts were found in the tomb. The first contained the suspected remains of Amenhotep and her sons. These mummies were unwrapped and skeletonized, indicating that the tomb was probably looted.
The second shaft held multiple skeletons and sarcophagi from the 21st and 22nd Dynasties. Funerary masks, potter, over 150 shabtis, and 50 funerary cones were also found in the tomb.
This Women Crush Wednesday, I am sticking with the Roman Period. Today let’s talk about Aline, her husband, and her daughters buried in a tomb in Hawara.
Very little is known about Aline’s life, but based on the funerary remains, she would have been part of the elite of Hawara. Hawara is a city in the Fayum Oasis in Lower Egypt which was called Crocodilopolis in ancient Roman Egypt. A stele that was found at the head of her mummy is the only thing that told us about Aline.
“Aline, also called Tenos, daughter of Herodes, much loved, died in year 10, age 35 years, on the 7th of Mesore.”
She apparently had a second name, Tenos, and was the daughter of Herodes. She died in the 10th year of some Roman emperor’s reign, but which one is the question. Based on the stele and the hairstyle of Aline (which surprisingly is a legitimate dating technique), it could have been the 10th year of the reign of Tiberius, which is 24 A.D., or the 10th year of the Trajan, which is 107 A.D. Most scholars prefer the first date.
The tomb was found in Hawara in March 1892 by German archaeologist Richard von Kaufmann. There is contention if there was a superstructure to the tomb, but it seems to not have survived. A shaft led to a simple mud-brick-lined pit. Apparently, the tomb has been lost today, as the only description of the tomb was found in one of Kaufmann’s published lectures.
The Mummies in the Tomb
8 mummies were found in the tomb, stacked on top of each other. From top to bottom, there were three undecorated mummies, then two masked mummies, and three portrait mummies. Not all of the mummies have been preserved, but many of them are located at the Egyptian Museum, Berlin.
The only other items found in the tomb were the stele mentioned previously (ÄM 11415) and a cooking pot (ÄM 11403). Unfortunately, the stele has been lost since 1945, so the photograph is the only evidence of Aline’s name. The cooking pot however is almost completely preserved but has been glued from various sherds. It is blacked inside and out, indicating that it was used over a fire.
The three undecorated mummies have unfortunately not been studied, and their current location is not known. Although it is presumed that they were the last to be buried in the tomb, as they were found on top, their relationship to the other mummies is unclear. The ages and sexes of the mummies are not even known.
The two mummies with masks are of a man and a young woman. These mummies have “paper masks,” which are more like paper mache or plaster. These types of masks were common throughout the Greek and Roman period and were often very elaborate. These masks, like typical Egyptian coffins, were less concerned with depicting the individuals.
The mask of the man (ÄM 11414) was removed from the mummy and the mummy could not be located. This mask depicts a man wrapped in a toga, holding a small collection of pink flowers. He also wears a seal ring on his left hand. At the top of his head, the toga is painted to show lotus flowers and geometric motifs, but these may have been part of a restoration in the 1950s. The man’s eyes are inlaid with black and white stone and his eyelashes are made out of cut bronze. The man has been assumed to be the husband of Aline, but there is nothing that confirms this.
The other mummy (ÄM 12125/02) with a mask depicted a young woman, though, through CT scans, it was determined that the girl was around 7 years old. It is encased in linen bandages in a criss-cross pattern. The mask is also gilded, though the shroud and chiton are painted. She is also holding a garland of pink flowers. She is wearing hump earrings, a pearl necklace with a lunula pendant, two bracelets on the upper arms, two double-headed snake bracelets on the forearms, and an oval signet ring on her left pinkie finger. On the back of the head of the mask, there is an image of the goddess Nut in the form of a vulture. Presumably, this woman was a daughter of Aline.
The last two bodies were much smaller and found next to Aline. These have portraits rather than masks. These were extremely popular techniques, especially in the Hawara area. Many of these mummy portraits have been found, but unfortunately, many of them were removed from the mummies, which were then lost. There is contention on whether the portraits accurately portray the deceased, but it is generally agreed that they are more alike to the mummy than other Egyptian depictions.
The first child mummy (ÄM 11412) is wrapped in a rhombic pattern with small gilded stucco buttons. This girl was no more than four years old when she died. She seems to resemble her mother with curly black hair and bangs. She wears a brown tunic, a laurel wreath in her hair, hump earrings, and a gold chain with a crescent moon-shaped pendant.
The second mummy (ÄM 11413) has proven harder to examine. It was originally believed to be a boy based on the portrait, but that was contradicted based on the purple color of the tunic and the crescent-shaped necklace, both of which are typical for girls. But CT scans that were done on the body indicate that it was a boy who was about 2 and a half years old. The boy has curly dark hair with a golden leaf laurel wreath.
A shroud (ÄM 12125/01) was found on one of the girl’s mummies, but I could not figure out which mummy. It is badly damaged on the left, but it depicts multiple gods, including Anubis over a mummy on a bier.
When the tomb was found, the painting (ÄM 11411) was removed from the mummy and the mummy was unwrapped. Unfortunately, it has not been preserved. And the head was removed and given to Richard Virchow, who was supposed to create a facial reconstruction. According to sources, the mummy has rhombic wrappings with gilded stucco buttons, like the two other children.
The portrait was painted in tempera on linen, most likely after her death. Usually, these paintings were made before someone’s death and then hung in their house until their death. She is depicted with small black curls in a white tunic or chiton with thin lilac bands across her shoulder. She also wears large drop earrings and a golden necklace made of gilded plaster.
Images of the all the pieces – Egyptian Museum, Berlin
Portrait of Aline – Wikimedia Commons (Jean-Pierre Dalbera)
Portrait of the two daughters – Wikimedia Commons (Mumienporträt wohl einer Tochter der Aline, Tempera auf Leinwand, um 24 n.Chr., gefunden in Hawara/Fayum; Ägyptisches Museum Berlin/Altes Museum, Inv.-Nr. 11412 – 11413)
Mask of her husband – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))
Mask of her daughter – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))
Bodies of her children – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))