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/

Mummy Monday: Lady Rai

For this week’s Mummy Monday let’s look at another mummy found in the Deir el-Bahri cache, who may be one of the “most perfect examples of embalming…from the time of the early 18th Dynasty.” Let me introduce you to Lady Rai!

Life

Lady Rai was an ancient Egyptian woman from the early 18th Dynasty. Little is known about her life, but she served as a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. We have no evidence of her parentage, but she was no doubt from some elite family as she was most likely buried in the elite burials in Deir el-Bahri and Thebes.

Tomb and Burial in DB320

Lady Rai’s original tomb is not known, but it was most likely looted in antiquity, which is why she was reburied in the cache in Deir el-Bahri. She was originally buried in two coffins, but it seems her outer coffin is all that was preserved. But Rai’s body was not found inside it.

It was common for the priests of the Third Intermediate Period to mix up coffins and the mummies in these caches. That is why many of the mummies have small linen dockets, which are just labels made from linen, which help identify the mummy. Lady Rai’s outer coffin (CG 61004) was used for the burial of Ahmose-Inhapi. The coffin’s gilding had been almost entirely removed, along with the eye inlays. But the robbers who stripped the coffin, who were probably the restorers, preserved the symbolic figure of Isis and Nephthys at the foot.

Lady Rai’s mummy was found in a 19th-20th Dynasty coffin (CG 61022) which was originally belonged to “a servant in the Palace of Truth,” named Paheripedjet. This title indicates that the original owner worked in Deir el-Medina, but it is unclear where this man’s body is currently.

The only personal belongings of Lady Rai that have been found was a single barrel-shaped carnelian bead on her right wrist. This is just a fraction of what Rai’s jewelry was before.

Mummy

As I mentioned previously, G. Elliot Smith called Lady Rai’s mummy one of the most perfect examples of 18th Dynasty embalming and “the least unlovely” of the existing female mummies. Smith unwrapped the mummy on June 26th, 1909. Rai was a slim woman only about 4 foot 11 inches. She was estimated to be about 30 or 40 years old when she died around 1530 B.C.E.

The mummy’s face and body had been thinly coated with resin mixed with sand. There was an embalming incision in the traditional position on the left side of the body, which was covered with a fusiform embalming plate, which was common for mummies of the 18th Dynasty. The body was carefully wrapped in linen bandages. Some of these bandages were inscribed with her name, which helped identify her.

Her scalp retained abundant amounts of what appears to be her own hair, not a wig, which would have been more common. This was styled in tightly plaited groups of braids down to her chest. Rai’s teeth only had slight wear. In 2009, the mummy was CAT scanned, which revealed that she had a diseased aortic arch and thus the oldest known mummy with evidence of atherosclerosis.

Sources

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Early18.htm

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/17A.htm

Image Sources

Lady Rai profile – Wikimedia Commons (G. Elliot Smith)

Back of Lady Rai – http://www3.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_page.pl?DPI=100&callnum=DT57.C2_vol59&object=134

Mummy and Coffin – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Early18.htm

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

Mummy Monday: Amenhotep II

Why don’t we talk about another famous royal, whose tomb we have mentioned several times? This week let’s talk about Amenhotep II, the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

Life

Amenhotep II was born to Pharaoh Thutmose III and his minor wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was born and raised in Memphis, instead of the traditional capital of Thebes. As a prince, he oversaw the deliveries of wood sent to the dockyard of Peru-nufe in Memphis. He was also made a Setem, which is a high priest over Lower Egypt. Amenhotep II left many inscriptions touting his athletic skills while he was the leader of the army. He claims to have been able to shoot an arrow through a copper target one palm thick and to row his ship faster and farther than two hundred members of the navy could row theirs.

Now Amenhotep II was not the firstborn of the Thutmose III. He had an elder brother named Amenemhat, but he and his mother died between Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, which prompted the king to remarry and have more children.

Life as Pharaoh

Amenhotep II rose to the throne around 1427 BCE, on the first day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was days after his father’s death, which indicates that they might have been in a coregency together. He was probably around 18 years old when he became the pharaoh as indicated by his great Sphinx stela,

“Now his Majesty appeared as king as a fine youth after he had become ‘well developed’, and had completed eighteen years in his strength and bravery.”

He married a woman named Tiaa, with whom he had as many as ten sons and one daughter. His eldest son and heir was Thutmose IV. Princes Amenhotep, Webensenu, Amenemopet, and Nejem are clearly attested, which Princes Amenemhat, Kaemwaset, Aakheperure, and Princess Iaret are possible children.

Besides Tiaa, Amenhotep II did not record the names of his other wives. Some Egyptologists have theorized that he felt the women had become too powerful under titles such as God’s Wife of Amun. They point at the fact that he participated in his father’s removal of Hatshepsut’s name from her monuments and the destruction of her image. Amenhotep II may have continued to destroy her images in his co-regency with his father, but not during his reign. But he may have still harbored his father’s concern that another woman would sit on the throne.

Amenhotep II took his first campaign in his 3rd regnal year, where he was attacked by the host of Qatna, but he did emerge victoriously. He also apparently killed 7 rebel princes at Kadesh, who were then hung upside down on the prow of his ship and then hung on the walls of Thebes and Napata.

Death

Amenhotep II died after 26 of his reign. Although the dates of his reign indicate that he was about 52 when he died, his mummy reveals that he was closer to 40 years old.

He constructed a tomb in the Valley of the Kings KV35, which I will talk about below, and a mortuary temple at the edge of the cultivation in the Theban necropolis, but it was destroyed in ancient times.

Tomb

I know we have talked about KV35 several times already, but I will mainly focus on the tomb as it was when Amenhotep II had it built.

The tomb is in the shape of a dog’s leg, which means it turns at a 90-degree angle. This is a typical layout of tombs of the 18th dynasty. Upon entering the tomb, there are two sets of stairways and two corridors before the well shaft. This is decorated with images of the King performing ritual acts before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor.

After the tomb takes a 90-degree angle, there is a pillared vestibule and another wide flight of stairs. There is one small annex off of this first vestibule. This leads to a third corridor and a large six-pillared room. The burial chamber is just past the last set of pillars.

The burial chamber is a rectangular shape and divided into upper and lower pillared sections. The lower part held the sarcophagus of the king which was made of red quartzite. There are also four annexes off of this chamber. The walls of the burial chamber are decorated with a frieze and scenes from the Amduat, which is one of the many different Egyptian funerary texts. The pillars are decorated with the king before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor. As with many tombs from this period, the ceiling is blue and covered in stars.

Although the tomb had been plundered in antiquity and then reopened to place the cache, some items from Amenhotep II’s burial were still found. These included a papyrus with extracts from the Book of Caverns, emblems in wood, a broken Osiris bed, at least one large wooden funerary couch, a large wooden figure of a serpent, a large wooden Sekhmet figure for the king’s son Webensenu, a life-size cow head statues, faience vases, a resin-coated wooden panther, 30 empty storage jars, and many miniature wooden coffins.

As we know, KV35 was used as a mummy cache in the Third Intermediate Period for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Those found in the tomb are listed below:

  • Queen Tiye (The Elder Lady)
  • A prince, either Webensenu or Thutmose
  • The Younger Lady
  • Unknown woman D
  • Two skulls were found in the well and an anonymous arm
  • The Mummy on the Boat

These mummies were discovered in March of 1898 by Victor Loret.

Mummy

When the mummy was originally found, there were garlands of mimosa flowers around his neck. The mummy had also been rewrapped and given a shroud by the priests of the Third Intermediate Period. Unfortunately, in 1901 when the tomb was plundered by modern robbers, the mummy was taken from the tomb and exposed from the waist up. Howard Carter was able to track down the robbers, using, among other clues, the imprints of their feet in the dust of the tomb. The mummy was then returned to the sarcophagus. Up until 1928, the mummy of Amenhotep II was still found in the quartzite sarcophagus before it was transferred to the Cairo Museum (CG61069).

After the 1901 plundering, the mummy was severely damaged. The head and right leg were separated from the body, the front abdominal wall was missing, and the spine was broken as well. There were also distinctive patterns of ossification along the vertebrae, which is a degenerative type of arthritis seen in people aged 60 years and older. His skin was covered in raised nodules, which were also found on the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III. This could have been from disease or by a reaction of the embalming materials with the skin. Amenhotep II’s teeth were worn but in good condition.

He was probably 6 foot tall in life and he had graying hair and a bald spot on the back of his head.  There were impressions of jewelry found in the resin which had been used in the embalming process. Finally, there was a large bow, which was broken or cut in two was found with the mummy.

Sources

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KV35

http://www.narmer.pl/kv/kv35en.htm

http://www.narmer.pl/dyn/18en.htm#7         

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

https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/le/mummy-amenhotep-ii

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Aeighteen.htm

Images

Head of Amenhotep II at the Brooklyn Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Keith Schengili-Roberts)

Head of Amenhotep II at the State Museum of Egyptian Art, Munich – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg))

Head of Amenhotep II at the Louvre – Wikimedia Commons (Rama)

Stela from Elephantine, now on display at the Kunthistorisches Museum, Vienna, recording Amenhotep II’s successful campaign against Syria – Wikimedia Commons (Captmondo)

Amenhotep II shown at the Temple of Amada, Lake Nasser, Egypt – Wikimedia Commons (Dennis Jarvis)

Image of tomb, tomb plan, mummy – http://www.narmer.pl/kv/kv35en.htm

Wooden cow head and image of sarcophagus – http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/amenophist.htm

Black and white photo of the sarcophagus – https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/le/mummy-amenhotep-ii

Mummy – https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Amenhotep_II

Mummy and sarcophagus, and objects found in the tomb – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Aeighteen.htm

Pictures of the tomb – https://ib205.tripod.com/kv35_cache.html

Pictures of the tomb – https://alchetron.com/KV35

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/

Mummy Monday: Asru

This week let’s talk about an elite lady from the 25th and 26th dynasties. Her name is Asru and she is currently located at the Manchester Museum in the United Kingdom (1777.a-c)!

Life

Asru’s name meant “Her arm against them,” which is probably a reference to the protective power of the goddess Mut, consort of the Theban god Amun. Her mother was Lady of the House Ta-di-Amun, or “She whom Amun has given,” and her father was called Pa-Kush, or “The Kushite,” who was a document scribe of the southern region. Although her father’s name sounds a bit odd, the 25th dynasty was actually ruled by Kushite kings, coming from the southern nation of Kush (also called Nubia).

Asru herself only had one title as Lady of the House, which means that she was a married woman. She has been previously misidentified as a temple singer or handmaiden, which are pretty common titles women carried in Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of her husband or if they had any children.

Facial reconstruction of Asru from the 1970s

Asru probably died when she was between 50 and 60 years old, which was a considerable age for an Ancient Egyptian. A reconstruction of her face was made in the 1970s by Richard Neave.

Provenance

Asru and her sarcophagus were among the earliest additions to the Manchester Museum collection after being donated to the Manchester National History Society by William and Robert Garnett in 1825. The mummy had been previously unwrapped before donation, no doubt at a Victorian Unwrapping party (check on my Fun Fact Friday page to learn more about those).

She was examined as part of the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s and scanned in 2012 in preparation for the reopening of the gallery. The 2012 examination was led by Professors Rosalie David and Judith Adams. I’ll put all the results below!

Sarcophagus

Asru was buried in two coffins. The outer coffin depicts Asru with a stripped wig and large broad collar. There are a winged sun-disk and depictions of the Asru being brought before the gods while her heart is being weighed.

The inner coffin depicts Asru with a vulture headdress and another broad collar. Below there is a winged figure of the sky goddess Nut and another depiction of her heart being weighed. Further down there is also a depiction of Asru’a Ba, depicted as a human-headed bird, hovering over her mummy lying on a bed.

Both coffins are covered in formulaic offering spells that mention her parents.

Mummy

As I mentioned earlier, Asru was anywhere from 50 to 60 years old at her death and her mummy was previously unwrapped. Through these examinations and scans, multiple medical problems have been determined.

Asru suffered from arthritis and parasitic infections called Strongyloidiasis (also known as threadworm) and Schistosomiasis (also known as Snail Fever or Bilharzia). Her arthritis was in her neck and may have been caused by bearing a heavy weight over a prolonged period of time. It has been speculated that she may have carried something on her head that had a ritual function.

The infections would have given her anemia, a cough, stomach aches, and diarrhea. She also had a slipped disc in her back and a hydatid cyst in her lung, the latter caused by the parasites.

When her mummy was scanned, it was discovered that her brain had been removed from her skull, but the ethmoid bone, which is the bone separating the nasal cavity and the brain, was found intact. Her brain was most likely removed through the eye socket, which is not unknown, but unusual.

Asru’s mummy being scanned in 2012

Interestingly as part of the examination, Asru’s fingerprints and toeprints were taken by the Greater Manchester Police. This showed none of the wear and tear that most ordinary Egyptians would have expected. This supports the theory that she was from the upper class and never worked a hard labor job.

Sources

https://egyptmanchester.wordpress.com/tag/asru/

https://egyptmanchester.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/curators-diary-30612-ct-scanning-asru-and-a-crocodile-mummy/

http://www.teachinghistory100.org/objects/about_the_object/egyptian_mummy_and_coffins

http://www.ancient-egypt.co.uk/manchester/pages/asru%203.htm

http://harbour.man.ac.uk/mmcustom/Display.php?irn=153165&QueryPage=%2Fmmcustom%2FEgyptQuery.php

Image Sources

Coffin and Mummy – Manchester Museum Blog

Reconstruction statue and mummy face – Ancient Egypt.co.uk

Mummy Monday: Merenre I

This week for Mummy Monday we are throwing it back to the 6th dynasty, which is a rarity for preserved mummies. Today we are talking about Pharoah Merenre I.

Life

Merenre Nemtyemsaf I was the fourth king of the 6th dynasty of Egypt, reigning from 2287 to 2278 B.C.E. He was the son of Pepi I and Ankhesenpepi I and grandson of the female vizier Nebet and her husband Khui.

  • Horus Name
    • Hr anx xaw
      • Horus, living of apparition
  • Nebti Name
    • nb.tj anx xaw
      • The Two Ladies, living of apparition
  • Golden Falcon Name
    • bik.wj mnx.wj nbw(.wj)
      • The two excellent golden falcons
    • bik.wj nbw(.wj)
      • The two golden falcons
  • Prenomen
    • mr n ra
      • Merenre
      • Beloved of Re
  • Nomen
    • nmti m sA=f
      • Nemtimsaf
      • Nemty is his Protection
    • or:
    • anti m sA=f
      • Antimsaf

There are royal seals and stone blocks that have been found in Saqqara that indicate that Merenre’s aunt, Queen Ankhesenpepi II was the wife of his father and himself. (I know this sounds weird, but remember that Egyptian kings frequently married their sisters, so his aunt would have been the sister of both Pepi I and Merenre’s mother.) This indicates that Merenre was probably the father of Pharaoh Pepi II, rather than Pepi I, as was previously thought. He was also the father of Ankhensenpepi III (as if two wasn’t enough), Input II, and Neith, which were all wives of Pepi II.

Rock inscription featuring Merenre I in Aswan

His reign was slightly longer than a decade, with the South Saqqara Stone crediting him with a minimum reign of 11 to 13 years. Merenre shared his father’s fascination with Nubia and continued to explore deep into this region. In his 5th regnal year, he traveled to the 1st cataract on the Nile to receive tribute from the Nubian chiefs. He also began a process of royal consolidation, appointing Weni as the first governor of all of Upper Egypt and expanding the power of several other governors.

There are very few depictions of Merenre from his reign, but there is a small sphinx statue in the National Museum of Scotland (A.1984.405). His name is also attested to a hippo ivory box in the Louvre.

Ivory box with the name of Merenre I at the Louvre

Pyramid

Hieroglyph inscription of the Pyramid of Merenre I

Merenre built a pyramid in Saqqara, southwest of the pyramids of Pepi I and Djedkare. This pyramid was called Khanefermerenre (Ḫˁj-nfr-Mrj-n-rˁw), which meant “Merenre’s beauty shines” or “The Perfections of Merenre Appears.” Today it is mostly in ruins and it is not open to the public.

It was built 52.5 meters (173 ft 3 in) high, 78.75 m (258 ft 4 in) in base length with an inclination of 53 degrees. A 250 m (820 ft) long causeway was attached to the pyramid along with a mud-brick wall. Only traces of the mortuary temple have been found, presumably because construction was halted and never resumed.

The entrance to the burial chamber is on the north face which descends to a vestibule where another shaft leads to an antechamber. There were three portcullises in the passage. To the right of the antechamber is the burial chamber and two the left is a serdab.

Subteraean chambers of the Pyramid of Merenre I

In the burial chamber, there were polychrome reliefs on the walls and the ceiling was covered with stars. Besides the sarcophagus, there was a niche for the canopic chest that was sunk into the floor.

The burial chamber of Merenre I with the stats on the ceilings and the pyramid texts behind the sarcophagus

There was a decorated sarcophagus standing against the wall. This was in pretty good condition, although it had been plundered. The sarcophagus has a palace motif on the sides and the lid was found pushed back. The only burial equipment noted were two alabaster shells and a small wooden knob or handle for a chest.

The pyramid was first examined in the 1830s by John Perring. In the 1880s, the subterranean chambers were explored by Gaston Maspero (or Auguste Mariette, sources differ on who), who was in search of pyramid texts. He was the one to discover the mummy inside of the pyramid. Since the 20th century, a French team led by Jean Leclant has been researching the site.

Mummy

As stated above, the mummy in question was found in January of 1881. Apparently, Mariette was sick and dying in his tent, so the task of inspecting the contents of the pyramid and sarcophagus was left to his assistants, brothers Heinrich and Emile Brugsh. When they approached the basalt sarcophagus, they found the well-preserved mummy inside. Unfortunately, the brothers apparently took the mummy out and dragged it across the desert to show Mariette. This…may have broken the mummy in half along the way…*sigh*

You can check out this (strange) reproduction of the discovery of the mummy below!

It was not originally believed that this was the mummy of Merenre, which is entirely a possibility. But, if this is the mummy of Merenre, this would be the oldest complete royal mummy known to us today.

It was reasonably preserved when it was discovered. The lower mandible (jaw) was missing as were some of the upper teeth. The head was also torn loose from the body and the chest smashed, probably by looters looking for valuables. The arms of the mummy are stretched out along the body and both feet a spayed outwardly. It has not been determined whether this position was a deformity that the man suffered from or if this was arranged by the embalmers.

The mummy was also found with a side-lock, which is a hairstyle typical of young boys in ancient Egypt where their entire head is shaven except for one braided lock. This may be why Maspero thought this was a later mummy that was buried inside the pyramid during the 18th dynasty.

Mummy found in the pyramid of Merenre I

The mummy is currently located in the Imhotep Museum in Saqqara, where it is covered by a sheet leaving only his face and forehead exposed.

Sources

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

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

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

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/old-kingdom/6th-dynasty/merenre/biography-of-merenre-i.html

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/old-kingdom/6th-dynasty/merenre/titulary-of-merenre-i.html

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/old-kingdom/6th-dynasty/merenre/pyramid-of-merenre-i.html

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/history/old-kingdom/6th-dynasty/merenre/mummy-found-in-merenre-is.html

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

https://tim-theegyptians.blogspot.com/2016/05/tuesdays-egyptian-mummy-of-king-merenre_31.html

https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/collection-search-results/sphinx/302994#

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

Image Sources

Box with the name of Merenre Nemtyemsaf I, Musee du Louvre – Wikimedia Commons – Iry-Hor

Pyramid – Wikimedia Commons – Wannabe Egyptologist

Pyramid plan – Wikimedia Commons – franck monnier

Entrance to the pyramid, hieroglyphs of pyramid’s name – https://egyptphoto.ncf.ca/pyramid%20of%20merenre%20entrance.htm

Pyramid plan – http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/merenrep.htm

Picture of mummy in case – The Egyptians Blogspot

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Juan R. Lazaro (Flickr)

Sphinx and pyramid entrance – Ask Aladdin

Rock inscription in Aswan – Wikimedia Commons – Karl Richard Lepsius

Mummy – Ancient Egypt.org

Full statue – The Ancient Egypt Site

Head of Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Gaston Maspero (1915)

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