This week let’s take a look at one of the largest tombs ever found in Luxor, Egypt! In this tomb was the sarcophagus of a woman that we don’t know much about. Her name was Pouyou!
Pouyou was a woman who lived during the 18th dynasty, between 1550 and 1295 B.C.E. Her name can also be written as Pouya. She most likely held some higher status during her life, but her title was unknown. Multiple other mummies were found around her, but it is unclear if these people were related to her.
The mummy was found inside of a white and yellow painted sarcophagus and was in very good condition. When it was discovered in 2018, the sarcophagus was opened while in the tomb. This was the first time Egyptian authorities opened an ancient coffin before an audience of international media. The mummy seemed to be in perfect condition as only the tips of her feet were missing.
Another mummy and sarcophagus from the 17th dynasty was also found nearby, along with the unwrapped mummies found next to Pouyou.
Now Pouyou was found within tomb TT33. This tomb is located in the El-Assasif cemetery across the Nile from Thebes. As of 2008, it was the largest non-royal site in the necropolis. The strangest thing is that this tomb is attributed to Pediamenopet, a prophet and lector priest from the 26th dynasty. So how was an 18th dynasty burial found within it?
Well, Pouyou was found in 2018, when the joint team from the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology and the University of Strasbourg discovered the archaeological deposit inside the enclosure. Pouyou’s tomb was obviously there first, so either Pediamenopet expanded on her original tomb, or he never knew it was there.
The tomb was first discovered in 1737 by Richard Pocke, who found the tomb open. It was more fully examined in 1881 by Johannes Dumichen from the University of Strasbourg, who has continued to examine the tomb. Most recently it was excavated by a French team lead by Frederic Colin from the same university.
The tomb contains 22 rooms connected by long corridors and distributed on three levels extending 20 meters below ground level. It is unclear where Pouyou was found within the tomb, but I am going to presume that she was found in the back of the tomb in the parts that haven’t been fully excavated yet. Interestingly the first three rooms of the tomb were turned into storage in the 1970s for the Egyptian Antiquities Service where more than 1,000 antiquities were stored here until 2005.
Let me present you with another mystery this week! Today I will be talking about the Younger Lady, a mummy found in the KV35 cache who has yet to be identified by name. Because we don’t know who she is, the information will be presented a little differently this week.
The mummy dubbed the Younger Lady was found with two other mummies in side chamber Jc of KV35. This again was a cache of looted New Kingdom mummies placed there by priests from the Third Intermediate Period. The Elder Lady and the mummy of a young boy were found next to her. The Elder Lady has now been identified as Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III, and the young boy is suspected to either be Prince Tuthmose or Webensenu.
All three of these mummies were completely naked, with no wrappings or coffins. Other mummies in this cache were found in labeled coffins or were given linen dockets to identify them. This of course adds to the mystery of why these three mummies were treated so differently from those in the rest of the cache. The Younger Lady is also called KV35YL or 61072, the latter of which is her accession number at the Cairo Museum.
The mummy of the Younger Lady was originally determined to be of a man by Loret, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb. This mistake was probably made because of the mummy’s shaved head, which was typical of male Egyptians. When G. Elliot Smith later examined the mummy, he determined that it was of a female.
She was anywhere from 25 to 35 years old when she died. She was 5 foot 2 inches tall and quite thin. The mummy is in very bad condition, though only some of the wounds were postmortem.
The only perimortem (before death) injuries are those found on the face. The Younger Lady has a gaping wound on the left side of her mouth and cheek. Some fractured facial bones are missing and a roll of resin-soaked linen was placed in the wound by the embalmers. Scholars have determined that this wound would have likely been fatal, but they have not determined how this injury occurred. It could have been the result of a heavy object hitting her face, the Younger Lady getting kicked in the face by an animal like a horse, or a chariot accident. There are also theories of deliberate violence like her being hit with an ax.
The other injuries can be attributed to the looters. She has a small oval-shaped hole in the front of her skull and bone fragments were found within the cavity. Apparently, there was no attempt to embalm or remove her brain as it is found shrunken in her skull. The front wall of her chest is also almost entirely missing. Her heart was left in place and remains visible in her chest cavity. The diaphragm had two holes where the lungs were removed in the embalming process. In addition, her torso was packed with linen.
Her pelvis was fractured, her legs damaged, and the front half of both of her feet are missing. She also had a double piercing on her left earlobe. Finally, her right arm is missing. Two severed arms were found in KV35 and compared with the body. One was bent at the elbow and would have laid over her chest, while the other was straight. At first, the bent arm was believed to be hers, but it was proven to be too long in relation to the attached arm. So, it is believed that the other straight arm which is of equal size is the matching arm.
There have been multiple theories about the identity of this mummy. G. Elliot Smith believed that she lived during the reign of Amenhotep II, but many of the more recent theories push this toward the reign of Amenhotep III and his son.
Marianne Luban proposed that the Younger Lady was Queen Nefertiti in 1999, a theory that has taken a life of its own. She based this mostly on the measurements between the mummy and the statue of Nefertiti, which were very close in size. She also pointed out the shaved head, the impression of a headband on her forehead, and the double ear piercing, all of which could point to a royal mummy. You can read her article here!
Joanne Fletcher supported this claim in 2003 pointing out all the same evidence that Luban did. She was actually allowed to examine the Younger Lady, which is when they found one of the detached arms wrapped in the bandages by her legs. But this was the flexed arm, which as I mentioned most likely does not belong to the Younger Lady. Fletcher used this as evidence that the mummy was royal because female royal mummies have one arm down and one arm flexed over the chest. But this is not a definitive factor as there are royal female mummies who have both arms down.
Dennis Forbes proposed that the mummy is Sitamun, a daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye. This theory was based on the two other mummies found with the Younger Lady, the Elder Lady, and the young boy. Again the Elder Lady has been identified as Tiye, Sitamun’s mother, and one of the main theories for the identity of the mummy of the young boy is Prince Tuthmose, Sitamun’s brother.
The other theories are mostly based on DNA tests were conducted on the mummy. These were conducted between 2007 and 2009 for the Cairo Museum’s Family of King Tutankhamun Project. These results told us that this woman was the daughter of Amenhotep III and Tiye, the full sister of the mummy found in KV55, who is presumably Akhenaten, and the mother of King Tutankhamun!!
Based on the DNA results (which you can read more about here), most scholars believe that the mummy is not Nefertiti or Kiya, another wife of Akhenaten who had been considered Tutankhamun’s mother. This is because neither woman was ever referred to as the King’s Sister or King’s Daughter. These titles would have been used throughout their life, even after they married. So because Nefertiti and Kiya are never shown with these titles, they have been excluded as possible daughters of Amenhotep III and Tiye.
Sitamun, Isis, and Hennuttaneb are three daughters of Amenhotep III that have been considered but also excluded based on titles. These three daughters were married to their father at the end of his reign. And because of that prestigious title, they would have become Akhenaten’s principal wife if he wanted to marry them. Meaning they would have taken precedent over Nefertiti, who was a non-royal, which we know didn’t happen. Nebptah and Beketaten are two other daughters of Amenhotep III who were not known to have married their father, so they are likely candidates.
Nonetheless, even though she was the daughter, sister, married to, and mother of a king, she does not seem to be a prominent figure in her lifetime. No inscriptions, reliefs, or statues have even been found of her. Nothing in King Tutankhamun’s vast tomb even references her. All evidence points to his mother dying before he rose to the throne and that she was a minor wife of Akhenaten. There is also a slim possibility that this woman was not married to Akhenaten, but part of his harem.
Facial Reconstruction and Controversy
In 2018, the mummy of the Younger Lady was featured on the seventh episode of the fifth season of Expedition Unknown, entitled “Great Women of Ancient Egypt.” Josh Gates the host and his guests were all under the presumption that the Younger Lady is the mummy of Nefertiti, which is a belief some scholars still hold. They used the preserved remains, modern technology, and artistry to present a reconstruction of what the Younger Lady looked like. The bust was created by French paleo-artists Elisabeth Daynes.
Again, because they presumed that the mummy was of Nefertiti, the reconstruction wore Nefertiti’s iconic crown and broad collar. Putting aside the controversial choice to depict the mummy as Nefertiti after the DNA tests had most likely ruled her out, the reconstruction received a lot of controversies.
Many people were upset with the color of her skin tone, mainly it being too light. The artists said that it was compared to the skin ton of modern Egyptians, but many were concerned that she was being white-washed. Some scholars agreed, but other scholars pointed out that there would have been a great mixture of races in the royal harems, including Caucasians. But the Younger Lady would have most certainly been more brown.
Aside from the royal regalia and the color of her skin, the face is claimed to be forensically accurate to the face of the Younger Lady.
This week let’s move to the Third Intermediate Period mummy which is now located in Boston, Massachusetts. Let’s meet Tabes!
Tabes lived during the 22nd Dynasty in the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, approximately 945 to 818 B.C.E. She and her husband Nesptah lived in Thebes in Upper Egypt. Nesptah has a job as a barber, shaving the heads of the temple priests. Tabes had a job in the temple choir.
It is not known when the mummy left Egypt, but somehow Tabes’ mummy stayed with her husband’s mummy! This is an extremely unique case, which helps us learn about mummification practices within a family. Nesptah is mummified a little bit differently, possibly indicating that when he died, mummification practices had changed.
The mummies were in the possession of Robert Hay, who lived in Limplum, Scotland in 1836. He then sold both mummies to Samuel A. Way in Boston in 1868. After making the trip across the ocean, Tabes and Nesptah’s mummies were donated by Samuel’s son to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1872. Tabes’ museum number is 72.4820c.
During the 22nd dynasty, mummy cases were made out of cartonnage which is like paper mache. First, a core of mud and straw is made in the shape of a mummy. This was then covered in plaster and layers of linen pasted with plant gum. The crafters would leave a hole at the bottom and a slit up the back of the case. The surface was covered with gesso to make it stiff and then the core was removed. The completed mummy was inserted within the stiff core. The back was then sewn up and the foot end plugged with a wooden board.
The final step was for the painters to decorate the case. Tabes’ case is decorated with protective winged deities. Six pairs of wings are wrapped around her stomach, including a falcon with a ram head. There are also pairs of winged goddesses such as Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Selqet.
Because of the beauty and fragility of the mummy case, Tabes has never been unwrapped. So all examinations of the mummy have to be non-invasive.
Between 1983 and 1987, 15 mummies from the MFA Boston were examined at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. CT images were taken of Tabes’ mummy to learn more about her body.
Tabes died in her early 30s (which is interesting because her husband Nesptah died in his 60s). There were no signs of major illness, but she did suffer from dental disease, which was very common for an Egyptian mummy.
The images show a bulge on her neck, which may be due to the packing material. Tabes’ eyes were untreated and shrunk within the sockets. Her nose was slightly crushed because of the cartonnage. Her ears were intact, but her hair had been matted down with resin. You can even see a large embalmer’s incision on her left side.
The CT scans also showed that a metal amulet was placed on her sternum. Another heart scarab with a winged amulet was placed over her ribs.
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, lets talk about an elusive mummy that is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the Barnum Museum. This mummy was originally labeled as Pa-Ib based on the name on the sarcophagus, but this has been proved to not be the name of the mummy. So, the mummy is technically known at the Barnum Mummy!
Like many of the other mummies I’ve talked about, there is very little known about this mummy. This is especially so, because this poor woman is not in her own coffin. We know that this woman most likely lived in the Middle Kingdom meaning she is about 4000 years old. It is unclear what position she may have held, but she could have easily been a servant or housewife. She probably died when she was 28 to 32 years old.
After the discovery that the coffin and mummy were not meant to, the museum staff wanted to give her a name. They decided on Ipy, which means “Most favorite,” and was a contemporary name to her time.
In 1894, Nancy Fish Barnum, the second wife and widow of P.T. Barnum, acquired the mummy and coffin in Egypt. She later presented it to the Bridgeport Scientific Society and Fairfield County Historical Society (1894.1. A-C). Later this would become the Barnum Museum.
The mummy was publicly unwrapped in August of 1894. The audience remarked on the “thousands of yards of linen bandages,” and the “peculiar and slightly disagreeable odor.” While at the museum, it has been scanned several times to learn more of the mummy.
In 2006, the mummy and coffin were examined, mainly to confirm if it was a legit Egyptian mummy. Barnum had previously created a fake mermaid mummy, so there may have been some speculation that this was a fake. The mummy was proven to be genuine, but this was when the coffin was discovered to not be originally meant for the mummy.
This of course blew everyone’s theories about the mummy out the window, but I will talk about the mummy below. First let’s talk about the coffin.
This coffin was made for a man name Pa-ib, who lived during the 25th or 26th dynasties. Pa-ib was the third prophet for the god Min, who is a god of fertility and creation. The coffin may have been made in the Upper Egyptian city of Akhmin, based on the decoration and that Min is their city god. That means that this coffin is only 2500 years old compared to the mummy!
It wasn’t until 2006 that the mummy was identified as a female. It was scanned at the nearby Quinnipiac University, where it was also scanned in 2010. The mummy was CT scanned, x-rayed, and fluoroscopically scanned. There were also endoscopic explorations, which may have helped discover that the mummy’s heart is missing.
She would have been five foot tall and again, 28 to 32 years old when she died. Her teeth were very worn, almost flat, with various dental infections. There were also four bundles found within her chest cavity. One was originally thought to contain a bird, but this was disproven. At least one of the bundles contains her internal organs, as was a typical tradition of this time. The head of the mummy was also examined separately because it had been separated during the unwrapping in the 1800s. Again, the scholars estimated that this woman did not do any hard labor, indicating that she may have been a household servant or housewife.
Check out these three videos about the Barnum Mummy!
Why don’t we talk about a more recent find? In 2017, the tomb of a goldsmith and his wife was found in Thebes. Let me introduce you to Amenhotep (and I know, I will explain her name)!
Since this is such a recent discovery, we still don’t know a lot about the goldsmith’s wife. But we know that she lived during the 18th dynasty and was the wife of a royal goldsmith, Amenemhat. Her name was Amenhotep, which is usually a male name. But throughout their tomb, she is titled the Lady of the House, and there is a statue depicting her as a woman. So this just seems to be a unique case for the male name given to a woman.
She had at least one son, who is depicted on a statue in her tomb. She may have had a second son, as another adult was found in the tomb. As a royal goldsmith, they would have lived certainly well-off, but most likely not in the noble class.
Although the female mummy has not been positively identified as that of Amenhotep, this woman most likely died in her 50s. There was also evidence of abscesses on the jaw of this mummy, which indicates a bone infection caused by cavities and may have contributed to her death.
The tomb was discovered in the courtyard of another tomb in Dra Abu el-Naga, a cemetery in western Thebes. This leads to a square chamber with a niche. Inside the niche is a damaged statue of Amenemhet and Amenhotep. As you can see from the photos, conservators have preserved the niche and the statue with tan-colored plaster.
Between the legs of the husband-and-wife statue is a small boy, presumably their son. This is very unique as a daughter is typically portrayed between the legs of her parents. And when a family doesn’t have a daughter, it is usually a daughter-in-law depicted. So this is a very unique family portrait.
Two burial shafts were found in the tomb. The first contained the suspected remains of Amenhotep and her sons. These mummies were unwrapped and skeletonized, indicating that the tomb was probably looted.
The second shaft held multiple skeletons and sarcophagi from the 21st and 22nd Dynasties. Funerary masks, potter, over 150 shabtis, and 50 funerary cones were also found in the tomb.
This 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.
This Women Crush Wednesday, I am sticking with the Roman Period. Today let’s talk about Aline, her husband, and her daughters buried in a tomb in Hawara.
Very little is known about Aline’s life, but based on the funerary remains, she would have been part of the elite of Hawara. Hawara is a city in the Fayum Oasis in Lower Egypt which was called Crocodilopolis in ancient Roman Egypt. A stele that was found at the head of her mummy is the only thing that told us about Aline.
“Aline, also called Tenos, daughter of Herodes, much loved, died in year 10, age 35 years, on the 7th of Mesore.”
She apparently had a second name, Tenos, and was the daughter of Herodes. She died in the 10th year of some Roman emperor’s reign, but which one is the question. Based on the stele and the hairstyle of Aline (which surprisingly is a legitimate dating technique), it could have been the 10th year of the reign of Tiberius, which is 24 A.D., or the 10th year of the Trajan, which is 107 A.D. Most scholars prefer the first date.
The tomb was found in Hawara in March 1892 by German archaeologist Richard von Kaufmann. There is contention if there was a superstructure to the tomb, but it seems to not have survived. A shaft led to a simple mud-brick-lined pit. Apparently, the tomb has been lost today, as the only description of the tomb was found in one of Kaufmann’s published lectures.
The Mummies in the Tomb
8 mummies were found in the tomb, stacked on top of each other. From top to bottom, there were three undecorated mummies, then two masked mummies, and three portrait mummies. Not all of the mummies have been preserved, but many of them are located at the Egyptian Museum, Berlin.
The only other items found in the tomb were the stele mentioned previously (ÄM 11415) and a cooking pot (ÄM 11403). Unfortunately, the stele has been lost since 1945, so the photograph is the only evidence of Aline’s name. The cooking pot however is almost completely preserved but has been glued from various sherds. It is blacked inside and out, indicating that it was used over a fire.
The three undecorated mummies have unfortunately not been studied, and their current location is not known. Although it is presumed that they were the last to be buried in the tomb, as they were found on top, their relationship to the other mummies is unclear. The ages and sexes of the mummies are not even known.
The two mummies with masks are of a man and a young woman. These mummies have “paper masks,” which are more like paper mache or plaster. These types of masks were common throughout the Greek and Roman period and were often very elaborate. These masks, like typical Egyptian coffins, were less concerned with depicting the individuals.
The mask of the man (ÄM 11414) was removed from the mummy and the mummy could not be located. This mask depicts a man wrapped in a toga, holding a small collection of pink flowers. He also wears a seal ring on his left hand. At the top of his head, the toga is painted to show lotus flowers and geometric motifs, but these may have been part of a restoration in the 1950s. The man’s eyes are inlaid with black and white stone and his eyelashes are made out of cut bronze. The man has been assumed to be the husband of Aline, but there is nothing that confirms this.
The other mummy (ÄM 12125/02) with a mask depicted a young woman, though, through CT scans, it was determined that the girl was around 7 years old. It is encased in linen bandages in a criss-cross pattern. The mask is also gilded, though the shroud and chiton are painted. She is also holding a garland of pink flowers. She is wearing hump earrings, a pearl necklace with a lunula pendant, two bracelets on the upper arms, two double-headed snake bracelets on the forearms, and an oval signet ring on her left pinkie finger. On the back of the head of the mask, there is an image of the goddess Nut in the form of a vulture. Presumably, this woman was a daughter of Aline.
The last two bodies were much smaller and found next to Aline. These have portraits rather than masks. These were extremely popular techniques, especially in the Hawara area. Many of these mummy portraits have been found, but unfortunately, many of them were removed from the mummies, which were then lost. There is contention on whether the portraits accurately portray the deceased, but it is generally agreed that they are more alike to the mummy than other Egyptian depictions.
The first child mummy (ÄM 11412) is wrapped in a rhombic pattern with small gilded stucco buttons. This girl was no more than four years old when she died. She seems to resemble her mother with curly black hair and bangs. She wears a brown tunic, a laurel wreath in her hair, hump earrings, and a gold chain with a crescent moon-shaped pendant.
The second mummy (ÄM 11413) has proven harder to examine. It was originally believed to be a boy based on the portrait, but that was contradicted based on the purple color of the tunic and the crescent-shaped necklace, both of which are typical for girls. But CT scans that were done on the body indicate that it was a boy who was about 2 and a half years old. The boy has curly dark hair with a golden leaf laurel wreath.
A shroud (ÄM 12125/01) was found on one of the girl’s mummies, but I could not figure out which mummy. It is badly damaged on the left, but it depicts multiple gods, including Anubis over a mummy on a bier.
When the tomb was found, the painting (ÄM 11411) was removed from the mummy and the mummy was unwrapped. Unfortunately, it has not been preserved. And the head was removed and given to Richard Virchow, who was supposed to create a facial reconstruction. According to sources, the mummy has rhombic wrappings with gilded stucco buttons, like the two other children.
The portrait was painted in tempera on linen, most likely after her death. Usually, these paintings were made before someone’s death and then hung in their house until their death. She is depicted with small black curls in a white tunic or chiton with thin lilac bands across her shoulder. She also wears large drop earrings and a golden necklace made of gilded plaster.
Images of the all the pieces – Egyptian Museum, Berlin
Portrait of Aline – Wikimedia Commons (Jean-Pierre Dalbera)
Portrait of the two daughters – Wikimedia Commons (Mumienporträt wohl einer Tochter der Aline, Tempera auf Leinwand, um 24 n.Chr., gefunden in Hawara/Fayum; Ägyptisches Museum Berlin/Altes Museum, Inv.-Nr. 11412 – 11413)
Mask of her husband – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))
Mask of her daughter – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))
Bodies of her children – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg))
This week let’s talk about a Roman mummy who has been dubbed Umi! He is located at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Museum of Natural History & Science.
There is very little known about the life of Umi. Umi is not his actual name, but a name that researchers have given him. The name is from African influence and means “life.”
We do know that this was the boy of a very young boy, probably 3 to 5 years old. He died sometime during the Roman Period of Egypt, probably around 100 A.D. Although the Romans ruled over Egypt at this time, Egyptian funerary traditions were still around, though slightly altered.
I couldn’t find out how the mummy came to America, but it seems to have been in the Cincinnati Art Museum since at least the 1970s. It was then in storage until the 1980s when it was x-rayed and possibly displayed in the museum. When this first scan was taken, it was discovered that the mummy was that of a young boy rather than of a “young princess,” as said in the records.
The mummy was then rescanned in 2009 in preparation for a traveling exhibition called “Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science” which was at the Cincinnati Museum Center. During this exhibition, the mummy was donated to the Museum Center from the Art Museum, and it has since been on display in the Museum of Natural History & Science.
It was then rescanned in 2019 at Northern Kentucky University’s Health Innovation Center. Here radiology students and museum professionals analyzed the remains with a single slice X-ray imaging device. This was done for a new exhibit that opened on March 22, 2019.
The mummy of the boy is preserved in a cartonnage, which is a plaster-like material. This is then decorated with images of Egyptian gods and goddesses, including Anubis (or a priest wearing an Anubis helmet) attending to the corpse of the boy laying on a bier. The mummy also shows the face of the boy in a much more realistic manner than many earlier sarcophagi. You can read more about the designs on the cartonnage here.
Although this mummy has not been unwrapped, the different 3D scans have helped us seen inside the mummy. They were able to determine the age of the mummy based on scans of the boys’ teeth and jaw. Scans did show a dusting along with the bones of what looks like cotton fuzz, which may be from insects, but the researchers aren’t sure. They were not able to figure out how the boy died, but they were able to see 24 amulets that had been placed within the wrappings.
A 3D printed replica of the mummy and the amulets was made in 2009 and supposedly a new model was going to be made from the 2019 scans.
This week’s Mummy Monday is a little different. We don’t know the identity of this mummy, but her remains tell us a very unique story. Let’s talk about the tattooed mummy from Deir el-Medina.
The tattooed torso of a woman was found and excavated in 2014. This was found within the assemblage that was stored in TT291 in Deir el-Medina, though it is believed that the assemblage was originally found in TT290, the tomb right next door.
Tomb 290 was originally the tomb of Irynefer, a necropolis workman who lived in Deir el-Medina during the Ramesside Period, 19th to 20th Dynasties. It is a small shaft tomb underneath a pyramid chapel. It was most likely looted in antiquity and then used for later burials. The tomb was discovered in 1922 and some of it was excavated in 1922. From pictures from the original excavation were full of comingled remains.
These remains were most likely moved to TT291 in 2004 in preparation for the public exhibition of Tomb 290. Anne Austin, an Egyptologist working for the Institute Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale’s mission to Deir el-Medina in 2014 researched the remains found. She determined that there were the remains of at least 26 individuals.
The torso also dates to the Ramesside Period (1300 – 1070 BCE). It was found unwrapped, except for one layer of bandages on the right forearm. The head, hands, and legs are no longer present. The mummy was at one point eviscerated, but there is no visceral cut. Rather there is a transvaginal or transperineal cut. While this practice wasn’t the most popular, there is evidence for this technique in other New Kingdom mummies.
Because the skull was missing, this made it very difficult to estimate the age of the mummy. But with the remaining bones of the torso, an estimation was made of 25 to 34 years old. She may have been mummified with the use of resins and this actually disguised some of the tattoos. Because of the looted state of the tomb, there is no way to tell if the mummy originally had any burial equipment when she was buried.
When the torso was discovered, Anne Austin noticed the marking on the neck of the mummy, but originally thought these were painted on post-mortem. But upon further investigation, these marks were tattoos. Tattoos in Egypt began to appear in the Middle Kingdom and evidence suggests that only women got tattoos.
Anne Austin published a paper and gave a talk about the finds on this mummy. When investigating the torso further, she was able to find many more tattoos. She also used infrared photography to find tattoos that had faded. A computer program called DStretch was used to flesh out and stretch the skin so that the tattoos looked more like they would have before mummification.
There is evidence that someone else would have had to apply some of these, as they are unreachable for the person to tattoo themselves. This implies that there was some sort of tattoo artist or system of tattooing established. There is also considerable variation in the darkness of the tattoos. This could imply that the applications of some tattoos were less effective, the tattoos may have naturally diffused over time, or some other process made the tattoos fade. If the tattoos naturally diffused over time, it implies that this woman received the tattoos over a couple of years rather than all at once.
In total 30 tattoos were found, but there may have been more on the parts of the body that were lost. The tattoos are found on the neck, shoulders, back, and arms. These locations are a slight departure from previous tattoos found on mummies. Usually, tattoos are found in more private places, where the tattoos would not be visible on an everyday basis. These are then associated with eroticism. Previous Egyptologists have remarked that tattooed Egyptian women were “prostitutes of dubious origins.”
But these tattoos, except for one on the lower back, are all in very visible places. I’ll talk about the interpretations of the individual tattoos and them as a whole after, but first, let’s take a look at them!
Anne Austin has labeled all of the individual tattoos by T- and then a number. I’ll be talking about them in groups because many of these tattoos are symmetrical! Check out her article here to see a table of all the tattoos and their interpretations!
On the neck, there are two symmetrical seated baboons (T01 & T02) on either side of Wadjet eye (or Eye of Horus) (T03) on top of two Wadjet eyes with two nefers in between them (T04). These are very visible and were the first tattoos noticed. Nefer is the hieroglyph that means “good” or “beautiful.”
On the left and right shoulder, there are matching symbols of two Wadjet eyes around three nefers (T05 & T06). There is also either a uraeus or a snake (T07 & T08) and another tattoo on either side that could not be discerned (T09 & T10). Below on the right shoulder is a girdle knot hieroglyph (T11) and a cobra (T13). Below on the left shoulder is just a cobra (T12).
This is where the tattoos begin to differentiate. Following the right arm down, there is a cross-shape (T15), a uraeus (T21), a Hathor handle (T22), an unknown tattoo (T23), possibly a bouquet of flowers (T24), and a snake with a basket (T25). On the left, there is a cross-shape (T14), a uraeus (T16), a snake with a solar disk (T17), dual khepri beetles or a sistrum (T18), faded hieroglyphs below a snake the signs mx wab (T19), and Hathor cows (T20).
On the upper back, there are a few asymmetrical tattoos. There is a hieroglyph of a clump of papyrus with the buds bending down and the signs for mw (T27), a Wadjet eye with the signs for mw (T28), and a Wadjet presented by a baboon (T29). Finally, the largest tattoo is found on the lower back. It is a series of dots connecting two lotus blossoms which are located on the back of the hips (T30).
The tattoos appear like amulets on the body which implies their meaning is of a magical or protective kind. This may have been a way to permanently attach the magical power of the amulet to one person. This could have been done to ensure healing and/or protection against illness, which would imply that this woman was very ill during her life. Unfortunately, because of the damage to the body, that is hard to discern.
Many of the tattoos can be associated with gods such a Thoth in the baboons and Hathor in the Hathor handle and cows. The Wadjet eyes and the nefer signs could be translated as “seeing the beauties” or as a votive formula, ir nfr ir nfr, or “do good, do good.”
The Hathor handle, which is pretty much a handle of something (usually a sistrum) with the face of Hathor, is upside down as if to mimic its position when held during use. This would have been “activated” by dance or movement, which would mean that every movement of this woman’s arm would ritually shake the handle.
While some of the tattoos are connected with the idea of power and divine action, most of them have to do with some sort of protective magic. This links the woman to the cult of Hathor, which would have empowered her to take on important cultic or magical roles. These tattoos help us conclude that she might have taken on one of several important roles in the cults of ancient Egypt, either as a wise woman, priestess, or healer.
You can also watch Anne talk about this find in the video below.