Women Crush Wednesday: Merit

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

Life

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

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

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

Tomb Discovery

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

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

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

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

Tomb

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

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

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

Burial Assemblage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coffins

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

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

Mummy

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

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

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

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

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

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

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

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

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

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

Entrance of permanent exhibition in Turin – Hans Ollermann

Deir el Medina western cemetery – Kenka Peacock

Stela of Kha and Merit – Su Bayfield

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

Wooden door of the tomb – Hans Ollerman

Objects found in tomb in Turin – Su Bayfield

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

Bronze bowl – Hans Ollerman

Coffins of Kha and Merit – Hans Ollerman

Cubit rule and scribal palettes – Hans Ollerman

Wooden grinders – Su Bayfield

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

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

Shabtis – Dik van Bommel

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

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

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

Protractor thing? – Flickr (Hans Olldermann)

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

Mummy Monday: Kha

This Monday and Wednesday I am featuring an ancient Egyptian couple, Kha and Merit, who lived and were buried in Deir el-Medina in the 18th Dynasty. Today let’s talk about Kha!

Life

Kha was the overseer of works in Deir el-Medina, which if you recall is a special village built on the West side of the Nile from Thebes that housed the builder and craftsman that built the royal tombs. As overseer of works, sometimes called the royal architect, Kha would have been in charge of the various tombs being built and decorated in the Valley of the Kings and Queens. He was responsible for the projects constructed during the reigns of Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III.

Kha’s wife was named Merit, who I will talk about in great detail this Wednesday. They had three known children, two sons, Amenemopet and Nakhteftaneb, and a daughter named Merit. Amenemopet seems to have followed his father’s footsteps in becoming an overseer of works while their daughter because a Singer of Amun.

Tomb Discovery

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

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

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

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

Tomb

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

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

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

Burial Assemblage

This was one of the few tombs of nobility to survive intact. I am only going to mention the items that explicitly belonged to Kha, though there will be some overlap with Wednesday’s post. Approximately 196 objects can be attributed to Kha, 39 objects are attributed to Merit, and 6 objects are attributed to both of them.

Some of the most important items for Kha were found in his tomb. These included tools that he would have used in his job. There is a cubit ruler that is covered in gold leaf which was a gift from Amenhotep II and a reward for the rapid construction of a building. This was probably more ceremonial, but he would have had a wooden one. There were also multiple scribal palettes and a writing tablet. Four smoothers were found in the tomb which would have been used for papyrus or perhaps to grind pigments. There is one unique wooden instrument with a wheel below, whose purpose has been debated for the past 100 years. Most views conclude that this was used as a balance or as a protractor.

The remainder of the tomb was filled with various items that would help Kha get to the afterlife. There was a bed made out of wood and interlacing fibers in the center. It had a large footboard and a headrest on one side. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit in the burial chamber so it was left in the antechamber. There were also storage chests, chairs, stools, and wooden tables.

Many of the boxes were inscribed with texts, some invoking the god Amun-Re and others saying “A funerary offering dedicated to Kha’s ka spirit.” These boxes contained many of the personal belongings of Kha and Merit including kohl tubes, rugs, and textiles. There were also boxes painted with native scenes of the deceased and his wife before an offering table. One bronze bowl was found with the name Amenhotep III and a painting with the name of Kha.

A statue of Kha was also found. It wears a shoulder-length wig and a small garland of real flowers adorned on the chest. This had a funerary prayer written in yellow pigment on the statue. Two shabtis for Kha were found and placed in a model sarcophagus with agricultural tools.

Multiple pieces of clothing were found including 26 knee-length shirts and about 50 loincloths. There were also short triangular pieces of material that would have been worn in the context of agricultural or building work. 17 heavier linen tunics were found for winter wear and there was one example of a lightweight linen tunic without sleeves, which is the only one that has ever been found. Many of these pieces had laundry marks, which were small inscriptions that labeled the owner. Some of the textiles were found with woven lotus motifs. Finally, sandals that were made from vegetable fibers and leather were also found.

Coffins

Kha was buried in one rectangular coffin and two anthropoid coffins. The outer rectangular coffin was in the shape of a shrine and covered in bitumen, which is a black resin substance. This coffin was left of sledge runners, which would have helped the priests bring the coffin into the tomb.

The outer coffin was covered in black bitumen, with the face, stripes of the wig, bands of inscription, and figures of funerary gods in gilded gesso. There is a gilded vulture of Nekhbet on the chest of the coffin. A garland of flowers was laid over this coffin.

The inner coffin was entirely covered in gold lead, except for the eyes, eye-brows, and cosmetic lines, which were inlaid. Quartz or rock crystal was used for the whites of the eyes while black glass or obsidian was used for the pupils. The rest was made out of blue glass. The coffin is posed like the god Osiris with his arms over his chest. The coffin has a board collar with falcon-headed terminals. Below is a vulture with outstretched wings grasping two shen-signs in the talons.

Kha’s Book of the Dead was found within the inner coffin. It has 33 chapters and is 13.8 meters long.

Mummy

Kha’s mummy was never unwrapped, but it has been scanned and studied multiple times over the years. His mummy is better preserved than his wife’s. There had been theories that Kha was not mummified because the organs were not removed from the body and placed in canopic jars. But upon further investigation, the organs were mummified and then preserved inside the body. Kha’s wrapping was treated with animal fat or plant oil and balsam.

Kha’s mummy was wearing extensive jewelry. He wore large golden earrings, which were one of the earliest examples of a man wearing earrings. A gold of honor collar was around his neck. This was a reward that distinguished ancient Egyptians and was received from their king. It is made of a single string of golden discs. He wore six different rings on his fingers which were made out of gold, faience, and some scarabs.

A heart scarab that was attached to either a wire or gold or a gold plated spun chain was around his neck. The scarab most likely had spell 30B of the Book of the Dead on the base. Two more amulets were found on Kha. One was an amulet of Isis which was probably made out of a red stone. And then there was a serpent amulet which was found on the forehead of Kha, kind of like a uraeus on a king. Because this amulet was typically found on the neck, this may imply that the people of Deir el-Medina regarded Kha as a local king.

Kha was about 50 to 60 years old when he died. Besides an inflamed elbow and a bad back, Kha was in relatively good health. His brain remnants and his lungs had shrunken, and his hands laid on his pelvis. There was no evidence of any fatal trauma.

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

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

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

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

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

Entrance of permanent exhibition in Turin – Hans Ollermann

Deir el Medina western cemetery – Kenka Peacock

Stela of Kha and Merit – Su Bayfield

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

Wooden door of the tomb – Hans Ollerman

Objects found in tomb in Turin – Su Bayfield

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

Bronze bowl – Hans Ollerman

Coffins of Kha and Merit – Hans Ollerman

Cubit rule and scribal palettes – Hans Ollerman

Wooden grinders – Su Bayfield

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

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

Shabtis – Dik van Bommel

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

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

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

Protractor thing? – Flickr (Hans Olldermann)

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

Women Crush Wednesday: Goddess Sekhmet

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

Name

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

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

Traits

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

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

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

Iconography

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

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

Worship

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

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

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

Sources

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

https://egyptianmuseum.org/deities-sekhmet

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

Image Sources

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

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

Temple of Kom Ombo – Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

Sekhmet – Wikimedia Commons (Jeff Dahl)

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

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

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

Mummy Monday: Siptah

For this week’s Mummy Monday, let’s look at one of the later rulers of the 19th Dynasty, Pharaoh Siptah.

Life

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.

Reign

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.

Tomb

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.

To see some more photos, check out this link!

Mummy

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.

Sources

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/19A.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KV47

https://web.archive.org/web/20081101162842/http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/sites/browse_tomb_861.html

Image Sources

Siptah – Wikimedia Commons (John D. Croft)

Cartouche of the King on a foundation sandstone block from the mortuary temple of Merenptah-Siptah at Thebes, Egypt – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP)

Mummy – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/19A.htm

Tomb painting – Wikimedia Commons (John D. Croft)

Tomb plan – Wikimedia Commons (R.F. Morgan)

Sarcophagus of Siptah – Wikimedia Commons (Neithsabes)

Photos of the tomb decoration – https://egyptsites.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/tomb-of-siptah-kv47/

Photos of the Tomb – http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/siptah.htm

Photo of the Tomb – https://www.etltravel.com/luxor/siptah-tomb-egypt/

Photos of the Tomb – https://the-ancient-pharaohs.blogspot.com/2017/04/kv47-tomb-of-siptah-part-25.html

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: Princess Ahmose

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!

Life

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.

Tomb

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.

Burial Goods

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.

Mummy

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.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmose_(princess)

https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf_publications/pdf/qv_vol1_part2.pdf

http://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf_publications/pdf/qv_vol2.pdf

http://collezioni.museoegizio.it/en-GB/material/S_5050/?description=ahmose&inventoryNumber=&title=&cgt=&yearFrom=&yearTo=&materials=&provenance=&acquisition=&epoch=&dynasty=&pharaoh=

http://collezioni.museoegizio.it/en-GB/material/S_5051_S_5065/?description=ahmose&inventoryNumber=&title=&cgt=&yearFrom=&yearTo=&materials=&provenance=&acquisition=&epoch=&dynasty=&pharaoh=

Image Sources

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Khruner

Hieroglyphs – Wikipedia

Take pictures of tomb and mummy – From Valley of the Queen Assessment Report

Full Picture of Mummy, and all pieces of Papyrus – Turin Museum

Family Tree – https://historyofegypt.net/?page_id=4920

Women Crush Wednesday: Bertha Porter

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

Early Life

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

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

Life as a Reference Writer

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

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

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

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

The only image I could find of Bertha Porter

Porter and Moss

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

A physical copy of the editions of Porter and Moss

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

You can download the entire series here.

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images

Image of Bertha Porter – Griffith Institute

Image of Books – Historical.ha.com

Image of front of the book – AbeBooks

Image of Rosalind Moss – Jstor

Image of the Dictionary of National Biography – Wikimedia Commons

Mummy Monday: Maatkare Mutemhat

This week for Mummy Monday, let’s meet another ancient Egyptian priestess and God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare Mutemhat.

Life

Name of 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).

Reburial

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.

Burial Goods

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.

Small mummified baboon found with Maatkare

Coffins

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.

Mummy

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.

Maatkare’s hands including the three rings on her right thumb

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.

Sources

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

https://egypt-museum.com/post/187667347486/mummy-of-maatkare-mutemhat

https://sites.google.com/site/historyofancientegypt/god-s-wife-of-amun/maatkare-mutemhat

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/21A.htm

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

Images

Statue at the bottom of Pinedjem’s colossal statue in Karnak – Wikimedia Commons (Hedwig Storch)

Her hieroglyphs are on the Wikipedia page

Face of Mummy – https://egypt-museum.com/post/187667347486/mummy-of-maatkare-mutemhat

Depictions from the Khonsu Temple – Lepsius Abt III, Band 8, pg 248 and 250

Shabti’s, and funerary papyrus, cartouche, and coffin – https://sites.google.com/site/historyofancientegypt/god-s-wife-of-amun/maatkare-mutemhat

Mummy, baboon mummy, papyrus, and image of her hands with rings – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/21A.htm

Images of her coffin – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/MaatkareCoffinCESRAS.htm