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 take a look at another royal from the 20th Dynasty. Meet Pharaoh Ramesses V!
Usermaatre Sekheperenre Ramesses V was born c. 1110 B.C.E. to Pharaoh Ramesses IV and his wife Duatentopet. Very little is known about his early life. He did have a chief wife named Tahenutwati and another wife named Taweretenro. We know he did not have a son to succeed him, but it is unclear if he had any children.
Here are his royal names:
Horus name: Kanakht Menmaat
Golden Falcon name: Userrenputmiatum
Nomen: Ramesses (Amunherkhepeshef)
Ramesses V rose to the throne after the death of his father around 1149 B.C.E. His reign was the continued growth of the power of the priesthood of Amun. They controlled much of the land of country and state finances. Multiple papyri date to his reign that describes some political turmoil.
The Turin 1887 papyrus records a financial scandal involving the temple priests of Elephantine. The Turin 2044 papyrus recorded that the workmen of Deir el-Medina stopped working on Ramesses V’s tomb in his first regnal year. This may be because of fear of Libyan raiding parties which were close to Thebes. And finally, the Wilbour Papyrus records a major land survey and tax assessment which reveals that most of the land was controlled by the Amun Temple.
Besides all these problems, Ramesses V’s reign wasn’t that eventful. He continued to build his father’s temple in Deir el-Bahri, possibly usurping it in the end. And he built himself a tomb, KV9. He only reigned for four years, until about 1145 B.C.E.
Death and Tomb
The circumstances of his death are unknown, but there are multiple theories. The strongest is that Ramesses V died of smallpox because of the lesions on his face. He is thought to be one of the earliest known victims of the disease. He was succeeded (and possibly deposed) by his uncle Ramesses VI.
You can read more about his small pox in these two articles below!
He was buried in Year 2 of Ramesses VI, which was highly irregular as most pharaohs should be buried precisely 70 days into the reign of the successor. This might be because Ramesses VI was expelling Libyans from Thebes. Possibly, he has made a temporary tomb until KV9 was done.
Although KV9 was originally made for Ramesses V, it was severely edited by Ramesses VI and they were presumably buried together. I talked all about the tomb when I covered Ramesses VI, which you can check out here!
The mummy of Ramesses V (CG61085/JE34566) was found in 1898 in the Valley of the Kings cache in Amenhotep II’s tomb, KV35. It was found in side chamber Jb (position 6). He was found in the base of a large rectangular white coffin (CG61042). No lid was found with this coffin which was not the original coffin of the king. There are no inscriptions on this coffin that would indicate the original owner.
A shroud was found over a tangle of linens and then the body, which had been robbed in antiquity. Some of the bandages have been burnt by a corrosive agent, which may have been a result of a chemical reaction from the organic substances used during the embalming and funerary rituals.
His body was very well preserved and was unwrapped on June 25th, 1905. He was anywhere from 20 to 35 years old. His face was painted red and his earlobes were greatly stretched out, indicating that he wore large earrings. His skull was packed with 9 meters of linen through the right nostril which was then plugged with wax. There is a particularly wide gash on his side shows where the embalming was done. His organs were removed and then placed back in his abdomen.
The thieves that originally robbed the tomb did not do much damage to the mummy itself, although they did chop off some of the fingertips of his left hand, probably to get some rings.
There is also a hole in the parietal bone of the skull, which has been found on the mummies of Merenptah, Seti II, Ramesses IV, and Ramesses VI. His wound is a little different from these though. The scalp had actually been rolled back by the opening. This probably occurred just before or immediately after death as antemortem dried blood may have caused the discoloration of the area.
Another theory of his death is bubonic plague because of a possible bubo, an ulcer-like lesion, on his right groin.
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 another pharaoh from the 19th dynasty, Seti II!
Seti II was the son of Pharaoh Merenptah and his wife Isetnofret II. He was probably born in the Lower Egyptian capital of Pi-Ramesses, where many of the kings of the 19th Dynasty ruled.
There was some contest for the throne when Merenptah died. Most likely, Seti II rose to the throne as his son, but during the fourth year of his reign, a man named Amenmesse took control of Thebes and Upper Egypt. Who Amenmesse was is a whole different question, but it has been theorized that he was the brother, half-brother, or even son of Seti II.
Seti II was able to take back Upper Egypt before the 5th year of his reign. He then proceeded with a smear campaign of Amenmesse. Seti II’s throne name was Userkheperure Setepenre, meaning “Powerful are the manifestations of Re, the chosen one of Re.”
During his reign, he expanded the copper mines at Timna Valley in Edmon and built a temple of Hathor nearby. He also made small additions to the temple complex of Karnak.
Seti II was married two at least to women Twosret and Takhat. If the theories that Amenmesse was his son are true, then he may have also been married to his mother Tiaa. Seti only had one son, Seti-Merenptah, but he sadly died before his father. This left a serious succession crisis when Seti II died.
Death and Tomb
Seti II only ruled for about 5 years and 10 months. Siptah was named successor of Seti, but after his short reign, Queen Twosret took the throne as Pharoah!
KV13 was Seti II’s tomb built in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes. During Amenmesse’s takeover, Seti’s name was removed from the tomb. It was then recarved when Seti took power. Unfortunately, the tomb was not finished when he died, so he may have been originally buried in his wife’s tomb, KV14, before being moved.
The tomb consists of a short entry corridor, three more corridors, a well chamber (although with no well), a four-pillared hall, and then the final corridor leading to the burial chamber. The walls and the ceiling of the chamber were covered with plaster and painted with images of Anubis, Osiris, and the goddess Nut on the ceilings. It features images of different funerary texts like the Litany of Re, the Amduat, and the Book of the Gates. There are also some very unique images of Seti on a shrine, on the back of a panther, and in a papyrus skiff.
The tomb was opened in antiquity as there are several Greek and Latin graffiti. Richard Pococke apparently performed the first brief excavations in 1738. But Howard Carter did a full excavation from 1903 to 1904. The tomb was then used as a makeshift laboratory for the cleaning of objects found in King Tut’s tomb.
When the tomb was discovered only the lid of his sarcophagus was found. So where was his mummy? Like many of the New Kingdom mummies, priests in the Third Intermediate Period removed looted mummies of pharaohs and placed them in caches.
The mummy of Seti II was found in KV35, which was used as a mummy cache. This was discovered on March 19th, 1899. The mummy, which I will describe below, was found in an uninscribed and undecorated coffin (CG 61036-7). The original decoration was adzed off and it was then covered in a layer of plaster.
There was no lid for the coffin, but a lid inscribed for Seti II was discovered on the coffin where Amenhotep III was found.
Interestingly, in 1908 Egyptologist Edward R. Ayrton found a small tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV56. This tomb contained a small cache of jewelry that featured the name of Seti II, including these earrings.
The body was severely damaged in antiquity. The body has adze marks from the tool used to strip away the original bandages. Part of the chest wall has been broken away, which seems to have happened before the body was wrapped. Perhaps in a bad mummification job?
The head was found detached from the body along with the arms. The right forearm, hand, and several of the left fingers were missing. There was also a small hole in his skull, which has been similarly found on the skulls of Merenptah, Ramesses IV, Ramesses V, and Ramesses VI.
Several objects were placed with the mummy, either when it was originally buried or when it was rewrapped in the cache. There were blue faience wdat amulets on strings which were wound up from his ankles to his knees. Blue scarabs were attached to the ends of these strings. Finally, there were three small sphinx amulets on top of the right knee.
The mummy’s original wrappings had been covered with a shroud, where there was a small docket giving the name of Seti II. Clothing had also been employed to wrap the mummy. Reportedly there were also two intact shirts made of fine muslin were found among the wrappings along with pieces from several other garments. The cartouche of Merenptah and two other hieratic inscriptions were found on the shirt. There was also apparently red and blue fringing on some of the wrappings.
The mummy was just recently moved from the Cairo Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in April 2021.
This week let’s talk about the founder of the 19th Dynasty, Ramesses I.
Ramesses I was born Pa-ra-mes-su to a noble military family from the Nile Delta. His father was a troop commander named Seti and his uncle was Khaemwaset, an army officer married to Tamwajesy, matron of the Harem of Amun. He was born during the rise and fall of the Amarna Period, which was a very turbulent period of Egyptian history.
After the death of Pharaohs Tutankhamun and Ay, General Horemheb took the throne, making Ramesses I his vizier. He had several other titles such as,
“Chief of the Archers, Master of the Horse, Commander of the Fortress, Controller of the Nile Mouth, Charioteer of His Majesty, King’s Envoy to Every Foreign Land, Royal Scribe, Colonel, General of the Lord of the Two Lands, Chief of the Seal, Transporter of His Majesty, Royal Messenger for all Foreign Countries, Chief of the Priests of all Gods.”
Horemheb had no children so he was in search of an heir, which is found in Ramesses. This may be because Ramesses already had a son, Seti I, and grandson Ramesses II so that the rule will stay in the family. Ramesses then became the “prince of the whole country, mayor of the city, and vizier,” as it is stated on a statue of him found in Karnak.
As mentioned, Ramesses I married a woman named Sitra who also came from a military family. They had one son, who would later become Pharaoh Seti I. He probably rose to the throne when he was in his 50s, which was quite old for an ancient Egyptian king. His prenomen was Menpehtyre, meaning “Established by the strength of Ra,” though he preferred to use his personal name Ramesses, which meant “Ra bore him.”
Ramesses I only ruled for about 16 or 17 months, either from 1292-1290 or 1295-1294 B.C.E. During his reign, he probably took care of domestic matters, while his son was in charge of undertaking military operations. Ramesses was able to complete the second pylon of Karnak Temple, which was started by Horemheb. He also ordered the provision of endowments for a Nubian temple at Buhen.
Death and Tomb
Since his rule was so short, his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was hastily finished. KV16 is located directly across from Horemheb’s tomb. It is 29 meters long with a long single corridor and one unfinished room. First, there is one long flight of stairs with an entryway. Then there is a downward corridor with smooth walls but no plaster, followed by a second stairway. This is built into the rock with two deep ledges on either side. While the next chamber would typically be a well chamber, this is where the burial chamber is.
This chamber is a very small room with an immense sarcophagus made of red granite. This was painted rather than carved, probably due to a lack of time. The chambers are decorated with depictions of the Book of the Gates, which is a funerary text from the New Kingdom. It describes the nocturnal journey of the sun through the 12 gates which create the hours of the night. The images are very distinct as they all have a blue-grey background, which is the same style as Horemheb’s tomb.
Check out this link to learn more about the depictions in the tomb.
What Happened to his Mummy?
The tomb was discovered by Giovanni Belzoni in 1817. All that remained in the tomb was the damaged sarcophagus, a pair of six-foot wooden guardian statues once covered in gold foil, and some statues of underworld deities. But there was no mummy. So where was it?
The first clue was found in 1881 when the Deir el-Bahri cache was found. Here a fragmented coffin contained inscriptions telling us that the mummy of Ramesses I was removed from KV17 and placed in DB320 in Year 10, 4 prt, Day 17 of Siamun. The whole inscription on this coffin docket is below. This indicated that the priests of the Third Intermediate Period moved Ramesses I’s mummy from KV16 to KV17 before moving it to DB320. So, the mummy should be in DB320, right?. Unfortunately, not.
“(Yr 10 4 prt 17 of) king (nsw) Siamun. (Day of bringing king Men)pehtyre out of the (tomb of king Menmaatre-) Setymer(en)ptah (that he might be) taken into this high place (k3y) of Inhapi which is a (great pla)ce (st c3t) (and in which Amen)ophis rests, by the prophet of Amon (-Re king) of the gods Ankhefenamun son of Baky, and the god’s father of Amon (-Re king) of the gods, third prophet of Khonsemwast-Neferhotep, the scribe of off(erings of the house of Amon-Re) king of the gods, sm-priest of the temple of (Usermaatre-Setepenre) in the house of Amun, general of Tasetmerydjhuty, scribe and chief agent Nespakashuty son of Bak(en)khons. Afterwards Mut, the one having the authority over the great place (st wrt) said: (That which was in good condition in my care…)”
In the late 90s, a mummy was discovered that had many indications of being a royal mummy, possibly that of Ramesses I.
This mummy was purchased by Dr. James Douglas in 1861 and brought to the United States. It was then sold to Colonel Sidney Barnett, son of the founder of the Niagara Falls Museum and Daredevil Hall of Fame. The mummy stayed in the museum for the next 130 years, labeled as one of the possible wives of Akhenaten, maybe even Nefertiti?
In 1985, a German technician named Meinhard Hoffman persuaded a German television station to conduct a scientific examination of the mummy. Dr. Anne Eggebrecht examined the mummy and first discovered that it was a male. Dr. Wolfgang Pahl and his assistant Lisa Bark noted many features that could have been one of the missing New Kingdom mummies, such as the crossed arms and the hands clenched. There was also a coffin in the museum dated to the late 18th and early 19th dynasty.
The museum went under in the late 90s, and the Egyptian antiquities were purchased by the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University for 2 million dollars. Here the mummy went through CT-scanning and carbon dating. Based on the CT scans, x-rays, skull measurements, radiocarbon dating, and the overall look of the mummy, it was proposed to be the mummy of Ramesses I.
This most likely means that the Abu-Rassul family who found DB320 in 1871 (and thus put many items out on the antiquities market for years without detection) may have found the tomb almost 11 years earlier. It is thought that Ramesses I’s mummy was taken by the family and sold in 1860.
Based on all the evidence, the Egyptian government requested the mummy be returned to Egypt. It was returned on October 6th, 2003, and is now located at the Mummification Museum in Luxor, Egypt. Not all scholars agree that this is Ramesses I, but agree that it was a noble from the 18th or 19th dynasty, maybe even the mummy of Horemheb.
The mummy in question is 1.60 meters tall and died when he was 35 to 45 years old. It is very well preserved for his perilous journey. An incision was made in the left abdomen through which the internal organs had been removed and replaced with linen packing. The brain was extracted through the nose and the skull was filled with liquid resin. These are all typical of the late 18th and early 19th dynasties.
One of the mummy’s ears was deformed, which could have been a result of a poorly done ear piercing procedure. Although there is no other indication of how the pharaoh may have died, this ear infection could have contributed to his death.
For Women Crush Wednesday let’s talk about an Egyptologist who is known for her imaginative drawings of the ancient kings and queens of Egypt. Let’s meet Winnifred Brunton.
Winifred Mabel Newberry was born on May 6th, 1880 in the Orange Free State of South Africa. Her father Charles Newberry was a millionaire who made his money in the diamond mining industry in Kimberly South Africa. Winifred’s mother was named Elizabeth and she was also very artistic. Her father was also the builder of Prynnsberg Estate, which is a large house in Clocolan. This house is still standing to this day and is now an elite hotel and wedding venue.
Winifred was presented to court in London in 1898. This is most likely where she met Guy Brunton, who became her future husband. Guy Brunton was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist. He most notably discovered the Badarian predynastic culture. He later became the Assistant Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1931.
They were married on April 28th, 1906, and built a house together in Berea, Johannesburg later that year. Together they studied at University College London under Flinders Petrie, training with Margaret Murray. During this time, Winifred painted a portrait of Petrie.
They traveled to work with Petrie in Lahun from 1912 to 1914. Here, Winifred studied the evidence of the various paintings, sculptures, and even mummies to develop her final portraits. They also worked with Petrie at sites like Badari where Winifred drew many of the discovered artifacts.
In Guy’s publication of the excavations of Mostagedda in 1927 and 1929, he wrote that she was “the hardest-working member of the party” and “without her skill and untiring energy this volume would have had only a very small proportion of its value as a record.” Both of them would be on-site for months at a time and Guy and Winifred were equal partners. She was also known to work with Gertrude Caton Thompson and Hilda Petrie.
Winifred and her husband retired at her family’s mansion in Prynnsberg where she died in 1959 at the age of 78.
Winifred was best known for her portraits of the ancient Egyptian kings and queens. She published many of these watercolors in her books, Kings, and Queens of Ancient Egypt in 1926 and Great Ones of Ancient Egypt in 1929.
While her portraits are not necessarily accurate, her portraits have been hugely influential and defined the faces of the Pharaohs and the Queens in popular cultures. I believe that some may need a little updating because of biases of the time.
Here is a link to some of her paintings with are on sale.
She also painted the murals in her family’s home, some of which were Egyptian-themed. The estate became a national gem, but her family’s fortune did not survive, and many items were sold in 1996. Some of the auction pieces were numerous Egyptian antiquities that the Bruntons excavated and one of her paint palettes, which is now in the collection of Lambert Vorster.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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!
For this week’s Mummy Monday, let’s look at one of the later rulers of the 19th Dynasty, Pharaoh Siptah.
Siptah’s full name was Akhenre Setpenre Spitah or Merenptah Siptah. His father’s identity is not actually known, but a couple of pharaohs have been suggested. Mainly, Seti II, Amenmesse, and Merenptah have been suggested. His mother is also unknown but could be Tiaa, the wife of Seti II, or a woman named Sutailja/Shoteraja. The evidence for the latter is according to a relief in the Louvre (E 26901). It has also been implied that she may have been the king’s Canaanite concubine because her name is Canaanite.
We do know that he was not originally the crown prince but probably succeeded the throne as a child after the death of Seti II. His accession date occurred on 1 Peret, Day 2, which is around December.
He ruled for only about six years as a young man, as he was only ten or eleven when he took the throne. One of the king’s chancellors was named Bay, and he was instrumental in installing Siptah on the throne, though he fell out of favor with the king and was executed in Siptah’s 5th year. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the rest of his reign.
Siptah most likely died in the middle of the second month of Akhet, as his burial dates to the 22nd day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was recorded on an ostraca found in Deir el-Medina and mentions that the Vizier Hori visited the workmen close to the burial.
Pharaoh Siptah was originally buried in KV47, but his mummy was reburied in the KV35 cache with many other royals from the New Kingdom.
KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).
KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).
In total, the tomb seems to have been unfinished. The cutting of chamber J1 was halted after the workmen cut into the side chamber (Ja) of KV32, the tomb of Tia’a. The workers were also forced to abandon the chamber and create a second burial chamber, chamber J2. The burial chamber contains a granite sarcophagus.
Much of the history of this tomb is not clear as the king’s cartouches had been removed and then later restored. Only the first corridors and chamber were plastered and decorated with scenes from the Litany of Ra (corridors B and C), Book of the Dead (corridor C), Imydwat (corridor D), representations of the deceased with Ra-Horakhty (corridor B), the sun disk on the horizon (gate B) and winged figures of Ma’at (gate B, gate D).
The tomb was of course looted sometime after the burial and then reused in the Third Intermediate Period. The tomb was discovered on December 18th, 1905 by Edward R. Ayrton. Theodore M. Davies then published an account of the site’s discovery and excavation in 1908, but that was after the excavations were stopped in 1907 due to safety fears. Harry Burton also returned in 1912 to dig further.
As I mentioned previously the mummy of Siptah was found not in KV47 but KV35, which was a royal mummy cache that I have talked about previously. Siptah’s body was found in side chamber Jb. It was found in a replacement coffin (CG 61038), which may have originally belonged to a woman as all the inscriptions had been adzed off and it was reinscribed for Siptah. He was also found beneath a shroud that had been placed there by the Third Intermediate Period priests. The shroud has a hieratic inscription, but it is very faded. Some of the original bandages have a few painted lines and hieroglyphs texts.
Siptah appeared to be around the age of sixteen when he died. He was about 1.6 meters tall and had curly reddish-brown hair. But his body had been badly damaged by the original tomb robbers. The right cheek and front teeth had been broken off and were missing. His ears had also been broken off. His right arm was fractured, the right hand had been detached. Interestingly, there was an attempt made to repair this broken forearm with wooden splints and linen. Finally, the body wall had been broken through, probably in search of a heart scarab and other valuables.
The cheeks have been filled out with linen packing and his body cavity had been filled with dried lichen instead of the usual resin-soaked bandages. The embalming wound had been sewn shut with a strip of linen. There is also an unusual crescent-shaped band of black paint across Siptah’s forehead, the significance of which is unknown.
Siptah had a clubbed foot, which could have been from polio or cerebral palsy. No objects were found among Siptah’s wrappings, but there is an impression of a pectoral ornament left in the thick dried resin which coated the mummy’s chest. There is also some gold foil impressed into the resin covering Siptah’s right elbow, which may have been left by a gilded staff originally held in the mummy’s left hand.
This week we are looking at another mummy found in the Valley of the Queens, who might have been the first person buried in this valley. Her name was Princess Ahmose, daughter of the 17th Dynasty pharaoh Sequenenre Tao!
The name Ahmose means “Child of the Moon” and was a common name in the Late Second Intermediate Period and the early New Kingdom. Today we are talking about Princess Ahmose, the only known daughter of Pharaoh Sequenenre Tao and his sister/wife Sitdjehuti. Ahmose was the half-sister of Pharaoh Kamose, Pharaoh Ahmose I, and Queen Ahmose Nefertari, both of whom she outlived.
During her life she was given the titles of King’s Daughter and King’s Sister, indicating that she lived throughout her brother’s reign. It is estimated that she died during the rule of Thutmose I (who was her great-nephew) in the 18th dynasty when she was in her 40s.
Ahmose’s tomb, QV47, is thought to be the earliest in the Valley of the Queens, which a nearby valley to the Valley of the Kings. This was a fairly simple tomb consisting of one chamber and a burial shaft, which are typical of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. It is technically located in a subsidiary valley named the Valley of Prince Ahmose.
The tomb was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli during excavations in the valley from 1903 to 1905. The tomb was most likely pillaged in antiquity. The tomb contains some evidence of reuse from the Roman period, as well as evidence of modern flooding and bats.
Although the tomb was looted in antiquity, enough material has been found to support a theory of a rich burial for the princess. The tomb has been cleared multiple times and objects were found every time. First, it was cleared by the Italian mission, which is when the mummy was originally found. Fragments of a wooden sarcophagus, fragments of the Book of the Dead, and leather sandals were also found.
In 1984, the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) re-excavated the tomb and found much more. They found a small cutting of human hair, inscribed shrouds, a wax seal, fragments of dyed leather, decorated wood, a fragment of a female figurine, and a fragment of a mummy. And finally, in October 2008, one more piece of a mummy was found in the tomb.
Supposedly there were almost remains of a canopic chest, though no remains of the jar. The inscription on the shroud and the fragments of the Book of the Dead (S.5051-S.5065) is what helped archaeologists identify the tomb as Ahmose’s and connect her with her father and mother. At the time of the excavation, this was the oldest Book of the Dead that had been found. It was written on linen and there are fragments of 20 different chapters.
Her mummy (S.5050) and the majority of the other burial goods are all located in the Egyptian Museum in Turin because Schiaparelli discovered it. Unfortunately, there is very little information about the mummy. Ahmose probably died in her 40s, possibly from heart disease. She was also a relatively tall person for her advanced age.
This week for Mummy Monday, let’s meet another ancient Egyptian priestess and God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare Mutemhat.
Maatkare Mutemhat lived during the early Third Intermediate Period in the 21st Dynasty. She was the daughter of the High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem I. He was also the defacto ruled of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE and proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was Duathathor-Henuttawy, a daughter of Ramesses XI, the last ruler of the 20th Dynasty.
Maatkare Mutemhat is the throne name of Queen Hatshepsut. She was depicted as a young girl in the Luxor Temple, along with her sisters Henuttawy (B) and Mutnedjmet. She is also depicted as a high priestess on the façade of the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak and on a statue, which is now in Marseille, France. During her father’s reign as pharaoh, Maatkare received the title of Divine Adoratrice, God’s Wife of Amun. She was first God’s wife to take on the praenomen of Divine Adoratrice, which used to only be for pharaohs. With this title, Maakare was considered the female head of the priesthood of Amun at Karnak, and therefore she had almost the same status as a queen. Her titles from the Khonsu Temple are listed below:
r-p’t(t),w ‘rt hsw’t, hmt-ntr n ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-sw’t, s’t-nsw n kt. f, nbt t’wy
Hereditary princess, great of favors, God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s bodily daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
hmt-ntrn ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-swt, s’t-nsw n (ht.f), nbt t’wy
God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s (bodily) daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
Her family was well endowed because of her father. Her brother later became pharaoh, Psusennes I, one sister became queen, and three other brothers held the title of High Priest of Amun in succession. After her death, Maatkare’s position was given to her niece, Henuttawy (D).
Her original burial place is unknown, but it could be presumed that it was somewhere in the Theban necropolis. Her coffin, mummy, and some shabtis were found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320), which I have talked about several times on this blog. Along with several members of the royal family from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (see Nodjmet, Sqenenre Tao, and Unknown Man E), many of Maatkare’s family members were also buried here. Her father, Pinedjem I, her mother, Duathathor-Hunuttawy, and her brother, Masaharta. Her other family members were buried in tomb MMA60 in Deir el-Bahri.
Because this was a reburial, there weren’t too many funerary goods that were attributed to Maatkare. At least three shabtis were found inscribed for her. One is in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (US39863), one is at the Pelizaeus Museum in Germany (5485), and another is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.194.2405). A funerary papyrus has also been found but was not originally found in the tomb. It was probably stolen by the Abd el-Rassul family, who originally discovered DB320 and then sold many of the objects on the antiquities market. The papyrus is now located in Cairo.
One interesting object that was found in her coffin with the mummy was a small, wrapped package. At first, archaeologists believed that it was the mummy of a small baby, possibly stillborn. This would have been strange because, in her position as God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare was supposed to be celibate. Finally, when the package was x-rayed, it was revealed to be the mummy of a female hamadryas baboon, either a pet of hers or it was placed there for a ritual purpose.
She was found within two coffins both of which are located in the Cairo Museum (CG 61028; JE 26200). The outer coffin shows signs of minor damage as a gilded right hand is missing and some of the decoration on the forehead has been removed. The three distinct holes indicate that it may have been a golden vulture head flanked by two uraeus serpents. These would have completed the gilded vulture headdress that the coffin was wearing. These symbols were reserved for exceptionally important individuals in her time.
The coffin also depicts a fantastically detailed wig with small braids carved into the wood. The clenched fists that are both on the outer and inner coffin were symbols of masculine power and were normally reserved for the coffins of high-status males. Female coffins typically had outstretched fingers, indicating that this choice was a bold statement of social status.
The inner coffin and coffin board were much less preserved. The hands and faces have been completely removed. These are both elaborately decorated similarly to the outer coffin lid. You can also see that the inside of the bottom of the inner coffin is decorated with a large winged goddess.
The pattern of damage seems to have been done on two separate occasions. The first set of thieves had probably only targeted the inner coffin and the coffin board for petty pilfering. These could have been members of the burial party because if they only damaged the inner coffin and coffin board, they could cover their tracks with the outer coffin lid. Sometime later, someone removed her headpiece and the one gilded hand from the outer coffin. Or these could have fallen off while moving the mummy to DB320.
The mummy of Maatkare Mutemhat (CG 61088) had been disturbed before it was buried in DB320. G. Elliot Smith examined the mummy in June of 1909 and found extensive damage. The shroud of the mummy had been torn from the forehead to the pelvis as well as the right arm wrapping. This was all done in an attempt to find valuables.
Her left forearm was broken, and her hand had been badly damaged, both of them been broken off. You can see below, that on her right hand there were three gold and silver rings on the thumb which were not stolen by thieves. Her body was internally packed with fat, possibly butter, mixed with soda, and molded into the shape of a woman. This included the face.
Maatkare’s face was stuffed to present a life-like appearance. Although we have many examples of these practices, she may have been the earliest example. The wrappings on the face were also painted yellow ochre in an attempt to get a realistic skin tone. She also has two glass eyes that were placed in the wrappings. Her dark hair is still visible around the wrappings. Apparently, her nails had been tied with string to prevent them from falling off.
A leather thong was found around her head that probably held an amulet, which is now missing. X-rays reveal that there is a gold plate covering the embalming incision on her side.