Women Crush Wednesday: Paule Posener-Krieger

This week let me introduce y’all to a French Egyptologist who excavated a 5th dynasty pyramid. Meet Paule Posener-Krieger!

Early Life

Paule was born in Paris on April 18th, 1925. Her family was of Alsatian origin and her father was an engineer. In 1946, she took a full year of medical courses and in 1951 she received a “license es-lettres,” which is the French equivalent of a Bachelors of Arts.

Egyptology Career

Paule then took an Egyptology course within the framework of the Louvre School. She continued to take more courses at the École pratique des Hautes études, an elite research institution in Paris. She took courses under other French Egyptologists such as Georges Posener, Jacques Jean Clere, and Michel Malinie. Her main research areas were hieratic and diplomatic paleography of the Old Kingdom, technical vocabulary and administrative practices of the Old Kingdom, and museum studies.

Paule’s greatest accomplishment was excavating the pyramid complex of Neferefre in Abusir. This is a 5th dynasty pyramid complex for Pharaoh Neferefre. Here Paule discovered the Abusir papyri, which is a significant ensemble of documents dating to his reign. She would later translate and publish these. The excavations also found several statues of the Pharoah, which are some of the best examples of royal statuary from the 5th dynasty.

Paule would later become the director of the Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale from 1981 to 1989.

Married Life

In 1960 she married her former professor, Georges Posener. He was born on September 12, 1906 and graduated from the École pratique des hautes études in 1933. He was a resident of the Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale in Cairo from 1931 to 1935. He was then in charge of it until the beginning of WWII. He also wrote about 100 Egyptology books.

He died in 1988 and Paule died in 1996.

Publications

  • – P. Posener-Kriéger, J.-L. de Cenival, The Abu Sir Papyri. Edited, together with Complementary Texts in other collections (Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum 5th Series), London, 1968.
  • – P. Posener-Kriéger, Sara Demichelis, The archives of the funerary temple of Néferirkarê-Kakaï (The papyri of Abousir). Translation and commentary (BdÉ 65 / 1-2), Cairo, 1976.
  • – P. Posener-Kriéger, I papiri di Gebelein . Scavi G. Farina 1935 , Torino, 2004.
  • – P. Posener-Kriéger, Catalog of the France-Egypt exhibition, Paris, 1949.
  • – P. Posener-Kriéger, Catalog of the collection of the municipal museum of Limoges , 1958.
  • – “The papyri of the Old Kingdom”, in Texts and languages ​​of Pharaonic Egypt II (Study Library 64/2), Cairo, IFAO, 1973, p. 25-35.
  • – “The papyri of Abousir and the economy of the funerary temples of the Old Kingdom”, in State and Temple Economy in the Ancient Near East (Orientalia Lovanensia Analecta 5), ​​Louvain, 1979, p. 133-151.
  • – “Decrees sent to the funeral temple of Rêneferef”, in Mélanges Gamal Eddin Mokhtar I (Study Library 97/1), Cairo, IFAO, 1985, p. 195-210.
  • – “Old Kingdom papyri: external features”, in ML Bierbrier (ed.), Papyrus: Structure and Usage (British Museum Occasional Papers 60), London, 1986, p. 25-41.
  • – “Economic aspects of the Abousir papyri”, in Akten des vierten Internationalen Ägyptologen Kongresses München 1985 (BSAK 4), München, 1990, p. 167-176.
  • – “To the pleasure of paleographers. Papyrus Caire JE 52003 ”, in P. der Manuelian (ed.), Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, Boston 1996, p. 655-664.
  • – H. Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods ( Kingship and the Gods ), 1951.
  • – S. Schott, The Love Songs of Ancient Egypt ( Die altägyptischen Liebeslieder ), 1956.

You can also check out some more of her works here!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paule_Posener-Kri%C3%A9ger

https://prosopo.ephe.psl.eu/paule-posener-kri%C3%A9ger

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Posener

https://www.babelio.com/auteur/Georges-Posener/217079

Image Sources

Pyramid – https://www.egyptianhistorypodcast.com/episode-12-i-make-the-soul-beautiful/

Her photo – https://prosopo.ephe.psl.eu/paule-posener-kri%C3%A9ger

Her works – Abe Books and Meretseger Books Georges – http://nephicode.blogspot.com/2014/01/more-comments-answered-part-ii.html

Mummy Monday: Merenre I

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

Life

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

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

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

Rock inscription featuring Merenre I in Aswan

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

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

Ivory box with the name of Merenre I at the Louvre

Pyramid

Hieroglyph inscription of the Pyramid of Merenre I

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

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

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

Subteraean chambers of the Pyramid of Merenre I

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

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

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

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

Mummy

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

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

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

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

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

Mummy found in the pyramid of Merenre I

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

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

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

Pyramid – Wikimedia Commons – Wannabe Egyptologist

Pyramid plan – Wikimedia Commons – franck monnier

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

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

Picture of mummy in case – The Egyptians Blogspot

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

Sphinx and pyramid entrance – Ask Aladdin

Rock inscription in Aswan – Wikimedia Commons – Karl Richard Lepsius

Mummy – Ancient Egypt.org

Full statue – The Ancient Egypt Site

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

Mummy Monday: Sesheshet

This week we are going to take a look at a burial from the Old Kingdom! Let’s look at the mother of King Teti, Sesheshet.

Life

Very little is known about Sesheshet, sometimes known as Sesh. We do know that she was the mother of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Her husband’s name is unknown, but it unlikely that he was of royal blood. The last king of the 5th Dynasty, Unas, most likely died without an heir. But one of his daughters, Iput, married Teti, who them succeeded his father-in-law. It has been implied that Sesheshet had a significant role in arranging this marriage and thus enabled her son to gain the throne.

Very little is known about Sesheshet, sometimes known as Sesh. We do know that she was the mother of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Her husband’s name is unknown, but it unlikely that he was of royal blood. The last king of the 5th Dynasty, Unas, most likely died without an heir. But one of his daughters, Iput, married Teti, who them succeeded his father-in-law. It has been implied that Sesheshet had a significant role in arranging this marriage and thus enabled her son to gain the throne.

She is also referred to in the Ebers Papyrus, currently at the University of Leipzig, in Germany. In this papyrus, there was a medical recipe to cure baldness.

“Another remedy to make the hair grow, prepared for Shesh, the mother of his Majesty, The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Teti the justified.”

It is unclear if this recipe was made because the Queen was losing her hair or if the recipe was created at her request. For those curious, the cure for baldness is apparently, the claw of a dog, the hoof of a donkey and some boiled dates, though it is unclear what you were supposed to do with those ingredients!

For several other Egyptian cures for baldness, click here.

According to Manetho, a Late Egyptian priest who wrote about the history of the Egyptian pharaohs, Teti was murdered by his bodyguards in a harem plot, possibly by the usurper and next pharaoh Userkare. Though there is little evidence to back up this story, some have speculated that Sesheshet would have helped her son against the conspirators, but after her death, they defeated Teti.

Excavation

Again, we know very very little about Sesheshet. But remarkably her tomb and burial have been found.

On November 8th, 2008, the Supreme Council of Antiquties announced that they found Sesheshet’s pyramid in Saqqara. It was a subsidiary pyramid of her son Teti’s complex. The site had been excavated since 2006 and the pyramid was found in September 2008 under 7 meters of sand, a small shrine and mudbrick walls from later periods. The pyramid was not entered until January 2009.

A picture of the excavation. The pyramids in the distance are those of Teti, Userkaf, and the Step Pyramid of Djoser in the far back.

I will note that there is some conflicting data on whose pyramid this was. The Council announced that the pyramid was Sesheshet’s, but there are no inscriptions in the pyramid to prove this to be so. Some other articles mention that there was evidence within the pyramid, but do not elaborate. I believe that Sesheshet is the most likely candidate, as two other pyramids have already been identified as those of Teti’s wives.

Pyramid

The pyramid is now topless (currently 5 meters or 16 feet tall) but was most likely 14 meters or 46 feet tall when complete. It may have actually been Saqqara’s most complete subsidiary pyramid, as many of these were not completed. The base was 22 meters or 72 feet on all sides and the walls sloped at a 51 degree angle. The substructure of the pyramid was 19 meters underground.

Although I could not find a complete consensus from my sources, I believe the pyramid was found next to Teti’s Pyramid and the pyramids of his wives, Iput and Khiut. The other pryamids were found around 100 years ago and in 1994.

Sesheshet’s Pyramid is most likely north of #8, the Pyramid of Queen Iput. No map that included the new pyramid could be found.

The burial chamber was 22 meters long and 4 meters wide and a large granite sarcophagus was found inside. It had no inscriptions and the lid had two pinholes to secure it. The lid may have been around 6 tons (though other sources say the entire sarcophagus was that much). It took five hours for the lid to be lifted by the excavators.

Unfortunately, there was a vertical shaft from the top of the pyramid that was made by tomb robbers, so the excavators were not expecting much. The pyramid was mostly looted, but some treasures lay within the chamber and the sarcophagus.

According to some sources, the following items were found in the tomb: vessels made of alabaster and red clay, tools lacquered in gold, and canopic jars, possibly still holding the organs of the King’s Mother.

Mummy

Within the sarcophagus were the presumed remains of Sesheshet. Although her body may have been properly mummified when she died, the looters and time had tainted the body. A skull, legs, and pelvis were found, with bits of linen. Looters most likely took off the linen in search for gold or precious stone amulets or jewelry.

Though they were not able to take everything, as gold was found that would have covered the fingers of the deceased. If only I had a picture!

I know this wasn’t the most interesting Mummy Monday, but I wanted to try and move away from the later portion of Egyptian history, when the majority of the preserved mummies date to.

Sources

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

http://www.guardians.net/hawass/Press%20Releases/queens_pyramid_saqqara_11-08.htm

https://grahamhancock.com/phorum/read.php?1,308190

https://www.haaretz.com/1.5034161

http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com/2009/01/queens-are-magic.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-tomb-of-queen-sesheshet-49733615/

https://freddysetiawan.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/queens-mummy-found-in-4300-year-old-pyramid/

Photo Sources

Photos of the excavation – Mohamed Magahed

Picture of Teti Pyramid – Wikimedia Commons (Wknight94)

Teti Pyramid plan – Wikimedia Commons (Malyszkz)

Map of area – http://www.touregypt.net/sakkara.htm

Other Map – http://www.athenapub.com/aria1/_Egypt/DEpic/PE-SaqqaraNTomb1c.html

Ebers Papyrus, Mummy photos – Judith Weingarten Blog