Mummy Monday: Nesyamun

This week let’s talk about the only surviving mummy in Leeds, United Kingdom. Let’s meet Nesyamun!

Life

Nesyamun was a priest from the reign of Ramesses XI, around 1100 BCE. His name means “the one belonging to the God Amun.”

He worked in the temple of Karnak, which may have employed over 80,000 people at one time. Nesyamun was specifically a wab priest, which means that he reached a certain level of purification and was therefore permitted to approach the statue of Amun in the innermost sanctum of the temple. He also held the titles of incense bearer and scribe.

Mummification and Coffins

Nesyamun died around his 40s or 50s and was mummified with a double coffin. His body was covered in spices and wrapped in 40 layers of linen bandages. The coffins are among the best researched of their kind.

The outer coffin lid was damaged, so the above center images is what it would look like reconstructed. There are a few cracks in this coffin and its beard is missing.

Provenance

Nesyamun and his coffins were donated to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in 1824 by John Blaydes. This later became the Leeds Museum. Nesyamun was not the only mummy in Leeds, there were actually two other mummies and coffins in the collection.

During WWII, Leeds was bombed many times, and the museum was badly damaged. The front half of the museum was destroyed. The two other mummies were destroyed and Nesyamun’s inner coffin lid was blown out into the street. The mummy was remarkably unharmed.

Eventually, the museum was moved to its new home at the Leeds City Museum in 2008.

Mummy

Nesyamun’s mummy was probably unwrapped when it arrived at the museum in 1824 or shortly before. Based on photos it looks like the face and feet were the only things unwrapped or they were left unwrapped.

His mouth was left open when he was mummified. This is not typical and may indicate that the body was already in rigor mortis when it was mummified. Some have suggested that he died from a severe allergic reaction, but that has not been proven.

Nesyamun is also bald, which is typical for a priest. He did not have many teeth left and had many splinters left in his gums, possibly from brushing his teeth with a twig. The soft palette of his mouth was also not preserved.

Studies on the Mummy

In 1990, the Director of the Leeds Museum invited Egyptologist Dr. Rosalie David to study the mummy. She was part of a team formed in 1973 to research the living conditions, diseases, and causes of death in the ancient Egyptians. This group helped research and document Nesyamun. The Leeds Museum continued to document and research the decoration of the coffins which has led to a greater understanding of the nature of Nesyamun’s roles.

The most recent study was in January of 2020 when scientists from the University of York attempted to reconstruct the throat and trachea of Nesyamun. These used CT scans to create a 3D model of the throat. They were then able to create noise with the 3D reconstruction. It’s not the most remarkable sound and there are some concerns with the methodology which you can read here.

You can listen to the voice and learn more about the project here!

Sources

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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/NiHfYrybREuUwnSY8AnpKQ

https://leeds-list.com/culture/3-forgotten-stories-from-leeds-past

https://www.mylearning.org/stories/ancient-egypt-death-and-the-afterlife/326

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/10805180/ancient-egyptian-mummy-priest-voice-sound-3000-years/

https://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2020/01/31/no-researchers-didnt-really-reconstruct-the-voice-of-a-3000-year-old-egyptian-mummy/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ancient-egypt-voice-of-egyptian-priest-mummy-recreated-3000-years-after-death/

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

Image Sources

Reconstructed coffin – Wikimedia Commons (Tomohawk)

Coffin – Leeds Museum and Galleries

Mummy and Museum – Flickr (Leeds City Council Leisure)

CT scan, 3D printed model of the vocal tract – https://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2020/01/31/no-researchers-didnt-really-reconstruct-the-voice-of-a-3000-year-old-egyptian-mummy/

Mummy in the museum – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/science/mummy-voice.html

Mummy – https://www.sharow.n-yorks.sch.uk/classes/class-five/posts/news/2019/january/leeds-museum-ancient-egypt-workshop

CT scans – https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/after-3000-years-we-can-hear-the-voice-of-a-mummified-egyptian-priest/

Coffin and cover of a book – Flickr (Thomas Small MA MAAIS

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: Takabuti

This week let’s learn about a mummy with a tragic death. Let me introduce you to Takabuti, the mummy at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Life

Takabuti was a young woman living in Thebes during the 25th Dynasty. Her mother’s name was Taseniric and her father (whose name seems to be lost) was a priest of Amun. She held the title of Mistress of the House, meaning she was probably married to a middle-class or elite man. She was about 20 to 30 years old when she died. The circumstances around her death are very mysterious and I will talk about them at the end of the post.

Provenance

The mummy and her coffin were purchased by Thomas Greg of Ballymenoch House, Holywood Co. Down in 1834. It is unclear where it was purchased from. The mummy was originally donated to Belfast’s Natural History Society’s museum. She was the first Egyptian mummy to travel to Ireland. It was later transferred to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

This is where it was unwrapped and examined on January 27th, 1835. Egyptologist Edward Hincks was present during this examination and helped decipher the hieroglyphs. Funnily enough, her name was originally translated as “Kabooti.” After the examination, there were dozens of newspaper articles written about her all over Ireland. She also had a poem written about her and a painting done.

You can learn more about the mummy in this video!

Mummy

Unfortunately, because the mummy was unwrapped, there were multiple beetles found on the mummy. A small sample of hair was taken from her, and you can see it here framed. Her hair is in excellent condition. It was very fine and only about 3 ½ inches long. It was styled in ringlets and it was a deep auburn shade.

Most middle or upper-class Egyptians shaved their heads to avoid lice. Mummies’ heads were also sometimes shaved, but not Takabuti’s. Her hair was cut, curled, and gelled. It was also most likely dark brown when she was alive.

Most of her brain tissue is gone, removed from the back of her skull. Her eyes have been removed and packed with linen. It was originally thought that her heart was removed, mummified, and then put back in her body. But this object in her chest cavity turned out to be material to pack a wound. She also had two rare mutations. She had an extra tooth, which appears in 0.02% of the population, and an extra vertebra, which occurs in 2% of the population.

Takabuti’s DNA was tested recently. It turns out that she was part of mitochondrial haplogroup H4a1. This technically means that her DNA is more closely related to Europeans rather than modern Egyptians. Some have accused the investigators of wanting to prove that ancient Egyptians were white, which was then dismissed by the curators. Because Takabuti lived in the 25th dynasty of Egypt, this result makes more sense as this was a time where there was a larger mixing of different civilizations in Egypt.

Finally, there was damage to her left hand and spine. These injuries were post-mortem. Her hand was probably damaged when the mummy was prepared for burial because parts of her missing fingers were found inside her chest. Her lower back break likely happened when she was unwrapped in 1835.

Circumstances around her Death

Now to the juiciest detail about this mummy. There is strong evidence that she was murdered! The theories have slightly changed over time, but scholars still agree that she was most likely murdered gruesomely.

It was originally suspected that she stabbed with a knife, but it is now suspected to have been an ax. A new book in 2021 examined the circumstances around her death. The wound is in her upper left shoulder and was likely instantaneously fatal. Several of her ribs were fractured because of the injury. It has been hypothesized that she may have been attempting to escape from her assailant. This could have been one of Takabuti’s own people or an Assyrian soldier.

You can also watch a lecture about this mummy and read an article about her DNA results below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnE3gPKS5kU

Sources

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

https://www.livescience.com/egypt-mummy-murdered-with-knife.html

https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/shocking-truth-behind-takabutis-death-revealed/

https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Things-to-see/Takabuti-the-ancient-Egyptian-mummy.aspx

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74114-9

Image Sources

Coffin and mummy – Wikimedia Commons (Notafly)

Coffin and Mummy – Ulster Museum (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/2600-year-old-mummy-died-violent-backstabbing-180974066/)

Coffin and Mummy – https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/shocking-truth-behind-takabutis-death-revealed/

Tons more images – https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Things-to-see/Takabuti-the-ancient-Egyptian-mummy.aspx

Her in the gallery – https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/mummy-murder-case-Takabuti-finally-solved

Facial reconstruction – Flickr (Gareth Ashe)

Women Crush Wednesday: Baroda Mummy

This week let’s look at a mummy located in Varodra, India! This mummy is the best-preserved Egyptian mummy in India, so I’m really excited to cover it!

Life

This is the mummy of a female who lived during the Ptolemaic Period, most likely during the reign of Ptolemy II (c. 230 B.C.E.). Nothing is known about her, except that she was most likely from the upper classes based on the type of mummification she received.

It is unclear from the sources if the mummy has no inscriptions, or if no research has been conducted on them. I could find no individual picture of the mummy from the top, so it is hard to know.

Provenance

The mummy was purchased by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the ruler of the city of Gujarat, India from a museum in New York in 1895. It is not clear what museum this was. Believe it or not, it was purchased for $175. The mummy supposedly had a mummy mask, but its location is unknown.

It is currently located at the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery which was established originally in 1887. It didn’t open until 1921 because many of the objects for the museum were delayed in Europe during World War I. The mummy is one of the centerpieces of the Egypt-Babylonian Gallery. You can watch a short tour of the museum below!

Mummy

The mummy is in relatively good condition, mainly in comparison to the other Egyptian mummies in India. The linen wrappings are still intact except for the toes. As the mummy is quite heavy which indicates that its internal abdominal padding is dense. X-ray reconstructions suggest that she was around 20 years old when she died.

Her brain was removed, most likely through her nose. And two possible fractures were revealed during X-rays. The radius and ulna of one of her arms were broken. There is no other evidence of diseases or trauma that would explain her death. She was 148 cm tall.

Unfortunately, the mummy has had a bad history of preservation problems. In September 1998, it was reported that a museum attendant accidentally sucked up part of the mummy with a vacuum cleaner. Apparently, he opened the glass case and believed that it could use a good clean. The damage was a linen bandage sagging, the paint peeling off of two of the toes, and her nose had unknown damage.

As I mentioned the mummy is still completely wrapped except for the toes. That is because someone unwrapped the toes around 50 years ago. This led to a buildup of white fungi. This likely occurred because the museum has a very high concentration of aeromycoflora. A report was made in 1999/2000 about this fungus on the toes and how this mummy needed a better case. The report agreed that it needed an oxygen-free glass chamber if it was going to be conserved. As of 2009, this case has not been replaced and it is unclear if it has been now.

Sources

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

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/states/story/20090817-the-mummy-returns-740495-2009-08-07

https://www.mapsofindia.com/vadodra/travel-guide/baroda-museum-and-art-gallery.html

https://www.jstor.org/stable/24106399?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

https://apnews.com/article/37541b81c7a2f9c56eb60dc1647b64f9

http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/egyptian-princess-continues-her-battle-for-oxygenfree-chamber/408623/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g4F0rHrRe4

Image Sources

Mummy – Mummipedia

Museum and Mummy – Flickr (Purnendu Singh)

Mummy – https://www.indiaheritagewalks.org/blog/6-egyptian-mummies-you-can-see-india

Mummy’s toes – Flickr (Bhaskar Dutta)

Baroda Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Bracknell)

Mummy Monday: Ramesses V

This week let’s take a look at another royal from the 20th Dynasty. Meet Pharaoh Ramesses V!

Life

Usermaatre Sekheperenre Ramesses V was born c. 1110 B.C.E. to Pharaoh Ramesses IV and his wife Duatentopet. Very little is known about his early life. He did have a chief wife named Tahenutwati and another wife named Taweretenro. We know he did not have a son to succeed him, but it is unclear if he had any children.

Reign

Here are his royal names:

  • Horus name: Kanakht Menmaat
  • Golden Falcon name: Userrenputmiatum
  • Prenomen: Usermaatre-sekheperenre
  • Nomen: Ramesses (Amunherkhepeshef)

Ramesses V rose to the throne after the death of his father around 1149 B.C.E. His reign was the continued growth of the power of the priesthood of Amun. They controlled much of the land of country and state finances. Multiple papyri date to his reign that describes some political turmoil.

The Turin 1887 papyrus records a financial scandal involving the temple priests of Elephantine. The Turin 2044 papyrus recorded that the workmen of Deir el-Medina stopped working on Ramesses V’s tomb in his first regnal year. This may be because of fear of Libyan raiding parties which were close to Thebes. And finally, the Wilbour Papyrus records a major land survey and tax assessment which reveals that most of the land was controlled by the Amun Temple.

Besides all these problems, Ramesses V’s reign wasn’t that eventful. He continued to build his father’s temple in Deir el-Bahri, possibly usurping it in the end. And he built himself a tomb, KV9. He only reigned for four years, until about 1145 B.C.E.

Death and Tomb

The circumstances of his death are unknown, but there are multiple theories. The strongest is that Ramesses V died of smallpox because of the lesions on his face. He is thought to be one of the earliest known victims of the disease. He was succeeded (and possibly deposed) by his uncle Ramesses VI.

You can read more about his small pox in these two articles below!

He was buried in Year 2 of Ramesses VI, which was highly irregular as most pharaohs should be buried precisely 70 days into the reign of the successor. This might be because Ramesses VI was expelling Libyans from Thebes. Possibly, he has made a temporary tomb until KV9 was done.

Although KV9 was originally made for Ramesses V, it was severely edited by Ramesses VI and they were presumably buried together. I talked all about the tomb when I covered Ramesses VI, which you can check out here!

Mummy

The mummy of Ramesses V (CG61085/JE34566) was found in 1898 in the Valley of the Kings cache in Amenhotep II’s tomb, KV35. It was found in side chamber Jb (position 6). He was found in the base of a large rectangular white coffin (CG61042). No lid was found with this coffin which was not the original coffin of the king. There are no inscriptions on this coffin that would indicate the original owner.

A shroud was found over a tangle of linens and then the body, which had been robbed in antiquity. Some of the bandages have been burnt by a corrosive agent, which may have been a result of a chemical reaction from the organic substances used during the embalming and funerary rituals.

His body was very well preserved and was unwrapped on June 25th, 1905. He was anywhere from 20 to 35 years old. His face was painted red and his earlobes were greatly stretched out, indicating that he wore large earrings. His skull was packed with 9 meters of linen through the right nostril which was then plugged with wax. There is a particularly wide gash on his side shows where the embalming was done. His organs were removed and then placed back in his abdomen.

The thieves that originally robbed the tomb did not do much damage to the mummy itself, although they did chop off some of the fingertips of his left hand, probably to get some rings.

There is also a hole in the parietal bone of the skull, which has been found on the mummies of Merenptah, Seti II, Ramesses IV, and Ramesses VI. His wound is a little different from these though. The scalp had actually been rolled back by the opening. This probably occurred just before or immediately after death as antemortem dried blood may have caused the discoloration of the area.

Another theory of his death is bubonic plague because of a possible bubo, an ulcer-like lesion, on his right groin.

Sources

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

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ramses-V

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

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/chronology/ramsesv.html

https://members.tripod.com/anubis4_2000/mummypages2/20A.htm#Ramesses%20V

http://www.historyembalmed.org/egyptian-pharaohs/ramses-v.htm

Image Sources

Obelisk in the Archaeological Museum of Bologna (KS 1884) – Wikimedia Commons (Khruner)

Mummified head – Wikimedia Commons (G. Elliot Smith)

Mummy – The Theban Royal Mummy Project

Women Crush Wednesday: Violette LaFleur

It’s been a while since we looked at another female Egyptologist, so let’s learn about Violette LaFleur. She almost single-handedly saved the Petrie Museum’s collection during World War II.

Early Life

Violette LaFleur was born in 1897, possibly in Canada. She was a Canadian citizen and the daughter of a leading Montreal judge. She went to school in Highgate, England, and then was a social worker in the 1920s.

Sometime in the 1930s, she entered the Department of Egyptology at the University College London as a non-degree student. She was close friends with Stephen Glanville, who at the time was the Edwards Professor of Egyptology. His wife Ethel had been at school with her.

Egyptology Career

Violette eventually became part of the new program of curatorial, cataloging, and conservation work in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. In 1935, she started to work in the museum as a general assistant and began conservation training at the British Museum. She was eventually promoted to Honorary Museum Assistant and responsible for the photography in the museum. She also gave six lectures on object conservation.

In 1936, she accompanied Glanville on his excavations of El-Amarna and Armant, Egypt.

Her conservation work extended outside of Egyptology to the remains of Jeremy Bentham. He was an English philosopher whose remains are displayed at UCL. She was responsible for cleaning and preserving his clothes, chair, and stick, as well as padding the skeleton so that it could be displayed in the Cloisters of the Wilkins Building.

Her biggest contribution to the Petrie Museum was during WWII. She managed the removal of the collections to Stanstead Bury, specifically to the home of a naval captain George Spencer Churchill, a cousin of Winston Churchill. On September 8, 1940, the college was the first bomb with destroyed the skylights above the area where some of the objects were. Violette returned a few days later to continue packing at personal risk.

In April 1941, the college was hit again and water from the fireman hoses seeped into the basements where the cases were in standing water. The artifacts were then unpacked, conserved, and repacked. Finally, the 14 tonnes of cases and crates were transferred by July 1943. She did this mostly on her own, sometimes with some help from college porters or former students. And if you can believe it Violette lost her own flat and most of her belongings during the Blitz in 1940.

Later Life and Recognition

After the war, when the collection was returned, Violette continued to preserve the collection and teach at the university until 1954. If you could believe it, this was an honorary volunteer position, and she never received a single penny for her work.

I could not find much more information, let alone photos, of her, but she did die in 1965.

In general, she did not have any recognition for her efforts. Rosalind Janssen dedicated her book, The First Hundred Years: Egyptology at University College London 1892-1992, to the memory of Violette LaFleur. Her work was once recognized in 1951 by Sir David Pye, the Provost of UCL at the Fellow’s dinner. There was a wish for a permanent record to her be made at the Petrie Museum, but no record was made.

Sources

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

https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2021/02/25/violette-lafleur-bombs-boxes-and-one-brave-lady/

Image Sources

Violette Lafleur in her conservation – https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/mu

Cartoon of her – https://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/news/extraordinary-stories-behind-petrie-museum

seums/2021/02/25/violette-lafleur-bombs-boxes-and-one-brave-lady/

Petrie Museum – https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Petrie_Museum_of_Egyptian_Archaeology

Jeremy Bentham – https://medium.com/the-philosophers-stone/what-utilitarian-jeremy-bentham-intended-for-his-body-after-death-971d641c781d

Stanstead Bury – https://www.historichouses.org/house/stanstead-bury/tours/

Mummy Monday: Nesshou

This week let me introduce you to Nesshou, a priest from the Ptolemaic Period. He is currently located at the Musee d’Yverdon les Bains in Switzerland and has the most complete funerary collection in all of Switzerland.

Life

Nesshou was born sometime during the Ptolemaic Period, presumably in the city of Akhmin. His father’s name was Nes-Min and was a Sema-priest to the god Min. His mother was named Isis-weret who was a Mistress of the House and Musician of the God Min.

Nesshou’s name (which can also be written as Nes-Shou or Nes-Shu) means “Belonging of Shu.” Shu is the god of the Air and father of Nut, Goddess of the Sky, and Geb, God of the Earth.

Nesshou took the same job as his father which was a Sema-priest of the God Min. A Sema priest is someone who takes care of the clothing of the god. In most temples, there was a large statue of the god that would have been clothed every morning.

Provenance

The mummy was donated by Edwin Simond-Bey. He was an Australian who moved to Alexandria, Egypt when he was a child. His family was originally from Yverdon, Switzerland and that is where Edwin completed school. When he returned to Egypt, he was working for the Land Mortgage Company of Egypt. Edwin also took part in many excavations and left many of his finds to a museum in Alexandria.

Because of his contributions, in 1869 the khedive Taufiq awarded him the title of Bey and gifted him the mummy and its sarcophagus. Now typically these mummies that were gifted to royals, nobles, and collectors have little to no provenance. This mummy however was excavated in Akhmin by Gaston Maspero and his team in 1885.

Within the same year, Edwin donated the mummy to his hometown of Yverdon (MY/3775). It was opened in Town Hall on July 11th, 1869. About 80 people attended including many ladies wearing hats.

The collection at the museum was expanded in 1983 and 1993. It now contains about 204 pieces. The exhibit mainly focuses on the mummy. Unfortunately, just a few days before this post, the mummy was taken off of the display. It was taken down mostly for ethical reasons, as the mummy is mostly unwrapped. But it also needs to be heavily conserved.

Coffin

The mummy was found in an anthropoid coffin made of wood. It was then stuccoed and painted in bright colors. The lower part of the lid has a spell of Nut. This is where the goddess symbolically becomes the divine mother of the deceased and is asked to lay down upon him keeping away all evil spirits.

You can read more about the decorations on the coffin in this article below.

The mummy was wrapped in what could have been 11 yards of papyrus with the Book of the Dead written on it. It originally consisted of 13 layers of papyrus. Much of this papyrus was damaged after it was unwrapped. Some pieces were reassembled and put under glass plates.

Within these wrappings were 14 amulets. 4 of these were removed during the unwrapping. They are made out of faience and gilded wood.

The mummy also had a cartonnage mummy mask and other cartonnage elements.

Mummy

Nesshou was about 50 years old when he died. He had a couple of medical problems, but nothing that could tell us how he died. He has osteoarthritis in his right shoulder and arteriosclerosis in both knees. The condition in his knees would be very painful like gout, so Nesshou would probably be in a lot of pain in his last few years.

He, like many ancient Egyptian mummies, had pretty bad abrasions on his teeth. There were deep carious lesions that could have caused a severe infection around the roots of an upper molar.

Sources

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

https://www.swissmummyproject.uzh.ch/en/research-1/swissmummies/neshou.html

https://news.in-24.com/news/21602.html

https://news.in-24.com/lifestyle/art/81913.html

http://rheumatologe.blogspot.com/2012/02/chondrocalcinosis.html

http://www.musee-yverdon-region.ch/musee.php?include=collections&lng=en#egypte

https://www.swissmummyproject.uzh.ch/en/research-1/dentalproject.html

http://www.egyptologyforum.org/THOE/Heritage_of_Egypt_3.pdf

Image Sources

Mummy in case – Mummipedia

Mummy in CT – University of Zurich

Mummy and sarcophagus – https://news.in-24.com/news/21602.html

Mummy, x-rays, and museum – https://switzerlandroadways.blogspot.com/2010/06/yverdon-les-bains-castle-baths-mummies.html

Museum – https://news.in-24.com/lifestyle/art/81913.html

X-ray of knees – http://rheumatologe.blogspot.com/2012/02/chondrocalcinosis.html

Mummy – Flickr (strobel zsuzsi)

Nesshou’s teeth – https://www.swissmummyproject.uzh.ch/en/research-1/dentalproject.html

Women Crush Wednesday: Goddess Nut

This week let’s talk about my favorite goddess Nut! She was the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, and the universe.

Names and Epithets

Nut’s name means “Sky” in ancient Egyptian and uses the hieroglyph determinative for the sky. It can also be transcribed as Nunut, Nent, or Nuit. With any ancient Egyptian word, the pronunciation of her name is uncertain because vowels were omitted from its writing.

Like many gods, Nut had several epithets. She was the Coverer of the Sky, She who Protects, She who Bore the Gods, and She who Holds a Thousand Stars.

Description

Nut is depicted in several ways, but the most common is as a dark blue nude woman covered with white or yellow stars. Often she depicted arching over the Earth with only her fingers and toes touching land. When she was depicted as a woman, she has a water-pot hieroglyph (which is pronounced nw or nu) over her head.

She could also be depicted as a cow, sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling piglets who represent the stars.

Origin Story

Nut’s birth is dictated in the Heliopolitan creation story. Tefnut is a personification of moisture, mated with Shu, which is a personification of the air. They gave birth to Nut and her brother Geb, who is the god of the Earth.

This is unique in that most ancient civilizations have a Father Sky and a Mother Earth, but in the case of Ancient Egyptian mythology, Nut is the Sky Mother and Geb is the Earth Father.

Myths

Nut is absolutely vital in Egyptian mythology because she birthed the gods that we know and love.

According to the myth, Ra was the second god to rule the world and he decreed that Nut shall not give birth any day of the year. At the time, the year was only made up of 360 days. Nut obviously didn’t like this because it meant that she wouldn’t be able to be with her husband Geb. So she came up with a plan with Thoth, the god of wisdom.

Nut decided to gamble with the Khonsu, god of the Moon. His light rivaled Ra so Nut thought she could use that to advantage. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Nut some of his moonlight. Apparently, he was not a very good gambler and lost several times. Eventually, Nut had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since those days were not technically part of the year, Nut could have all her children.

Nut then gave birth to four children: Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. In some versions of the myth (typically the ones from Graeco-Roman times) Horus is added to this list of children. Typical Egyptian myths have Horus as the son of Osiris and Isis.

Ra was of course furious about this, so he separated Nut and Geb for eternity. Their father Shu, who again is the personification of the Air, was meant to separate them. Shu is often depicted standing on Geb and holding up Nut.

Role in Egyptian Life

Nut’s chief cult center was located at Heliopolis but the Egyptians also worshiped Nut at Memphis as a healing goddess at a shrine called the House of Nut. She has been associated with the goddess Hathor at Dendera, but she has no known temple built exclusively for her.

“I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.”

In Egyptian life, Nut was the goddess of the sky and a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife. During the day, the heavenly bodies such as the Sun and the Moon would make their way across her body. At dusk, they would be swallowed pass through her belly at the night to be reborn at dawn. Her fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points, north, south, east, and west.

“O my Mother Nut, stretch Yourself over me, that I may be placed among the imperishable stars which are in You, and that I may not die.”

She was a barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos. Because of this, she was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the deceased. The ceilings of tombs were also painted dark blue with stars.

“Hail, thou Sycamore Tree of the Goddess Nut! Give me of the water and of the air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace.”

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. The ladder was called maqet and a symbol of it was placed in tombs to protect the deceased and invoke the aid of the diety of the dead.

There was also a collection of Egyptian astronomical texts called the Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars or otherwise called the Book of Nut. It talks about various other sky and earth deities.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_(goddess)

https://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/nut.html

https://www.gods-and-goddesses.com/egyptian/nut/

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nut/

Image Sources

Nut supported by Geb on the Greenfield Papyrus – Wikimedia Commons (British Museum)

Nut as a cow – Wikimedia Commons (The Gods of the Egyptians by Budge)

Nut on the coffin of Pedusiri at the Milwaukee Art Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Jonathunder)

Nut swallows the Sun in the tomb of Rameses VI – Wikimedia Commons (Hans Bernhard)

Nut – Wikimedia Commons (A. Parrot)

Nut on Pectoral – Flickr (-alice-)

Nut with Geb – https://willendorf.org/category/egyptian-goddess-nut

Nut in the Book of the Dead of Djedkhonsuiesfankh – https://goddess-pages.co.uk/nut-galactic-goddess-ancient-egypt/

Mummy Mondays: McGill Female Mummy

This week let’s talk about a female Theban mummy that is located at McGill University. This mummy is unnamed, but she has proven to be very interesting!

Life

This woman lived about 1,700 years ago, c. 300 B.C.E. during the Roman occupation of Egypt. Although the Romans had ruled in Egypt for quite some time, some Egyptian traditions were still in place, such as mummification.

Nonetheless, her or her family chose to mummify her. Unfortunately, we do not have any information about who she was in life. We know that she was anywhere from 30 to 50 years old and about 5 foot 3. We can also presume that she lived and was buried in Thebes, but this is still not clear.

The coffin that she was presented in turned out to not be hers. It was dedicated to a man name Tjaoneferamun, who was a sedjem ash priest and a cult servant of the divine votaress of Amun.

Provenance

James Ferrier was a businessman who purchased this mummy on his family trip to Egypt in the mid-1800s. James, his wife Mary, his son Robert, and his daughter Margaret arrived in Alexandria in 1858 and traveled up the Nile on a dabhiyah boat called the Gazelle. This month-long trip took them through the Rosetta branch in the Delta down to Philae, close to Aswan. Most of their touristy trips were saved for the trip back down the Nile.

James probably obtained this mummy from a local dealer in Thebes on February 19th, 1859, along with several other items. They left shortly after to travel the Holy Land.

Late that year, James’ older son, James Ferrier Jr., approached the Natural History Society of Montreal with a list of 100 artifacts that his father had collected in Egypt. These included:

One female mummy with coffin, one male mummy, two mummified heads, four mummified hands, one mummified foot, two mummified ibises, one mummified hawk, and four small mummified crocodiles

They were accepted by the museum. Although we do not have records of it, the female Theban mummy was probably publicly unwrapped. At the least, this is where her head and feet were unwrapped.

The Natural History Society went defunct in 1925, much of Ferrier’s collection was transferred to the Redpath Museum at McGill University. The female Theban mummy that I will talk about here is RM 2717. The Redpath Museum also has a male Theban mummy and a female mummy from the Fayum region.

Mummy

The mummy has been x-rayed and scanned several times since it arrived at the Redpath Museum. As I mentioned before the mummy is of a 30 to 50-year-old woman, 5’3”. The mummy lies on a wooden board, wrapped almost haphazardly with cords crisscrossing over her body. And again, the head and feet were unwrapped at some point.

The mummy was originally found with short white hair, which may point to her being on the older side of her estimated age range. She also had several dental problems, including missing several teeth.

After she was scanned in 2011, it was discovered that her brain was left in her skull, but her other organs were removed. Though her organs were removed through her perineum rather than her abdomen. Her heart was also removed.

Two metal plaques were found on her body, one on her sternum and one on her abdomen. The plaque on her sternum was probably to represent her heart. And the other plaque was probably to “heal” the area where organs were typically removed during mummification. These plaques may have been decorated, but it was unclear from the scans.

Facial Reconstruction

Facial reconstructions were created of all three mummies at the Redpath Museum in 2013. Each of the skulls was 3D printed based on the CT scans. Each to approximately 10 hours to print. Tissue depth markers were then added to help the forensic artists to reconstruct the heads. Forensic artist Victoria Lywood created the heads.

Watch this video to learn more about the mummies at the Redpath Museum!

Sources

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

https://www.livescience.com/44607-photos-ancient-egyptian-mummy.html

Image Sources

Mummy – Mummipedia

Photos of the Mummy and the Redpath Museum – https://www.livescience.com/44607-photos-ancient-egyptian-mummy.html

Old Photos of the Mummy – McGill Mummy article

Women Crush Wednesday: Cleopatra III

This week we are traveling back to the last period of Ancient Egypt, the Ptolemaic Period. I would like to introduce you to Cleopatra III, whose life was full of political turmoil.

Early Life

Cleopatra III was born around 160 BCE, most likely in Alexandria where the Ptolemaic kings ruled from. Her mother was Cleopatra II, and her father was Ptolemy VI. She had possibly four siblings: Ptolemy Eupator, Cleopatra Thea, Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator, and possibly a sister named Berenice.

Here is a short background of what occurred within the ruling family before Cleopatra III’s birth. Be careful, there are a lot of identical names involved.

Cleopatra III’s uncle, Ptolemy VIII ruled together with his siblings (and Cleopatra’s parents), Cleopatra II, and Ptolemy VI from 170 to 164 BCE. Her uncle then expelled her parents from the throne and Egypt. But he was forced to abdicate in 163, and Cleopatra III’s parents ruled until 145 BCE.

This was when her father died from injuries sustained when falling off his horse during battle. Cleopatra III had at least one brother, but it seems like he was not chosen to be the heir, or he had already died at this point. And you’ll never guess who takes the throne now? Cleopatra III? Sadly, no.

It was her uncle Ptolemy VIII, again.

Married Life

Now even those the Ptolemaic pharaohs were all of Greek origin, the arranged marriages of siblings were still done. So, Ptolemy VIII married his sister and Cleopatra III’s mother, Queen Cleopatra II, probably to solidify the throne.

But in an interesting turn of events, he also married his niece/stepdaughter, Cleopatra III. This was probably done because Cleopatra II was too old to have any more children. Cleopatra III and Ptolemy VIII were married in 139 BCE.

She had five children with him, all of which went on to rule different kingdoms. We’ll talk about her two sons Ptolemy IX Soter and Ptolemy X Alexander shortly. She had three daughters, Tryphaena, who married the Seleucid king Antiochus VII Grypus, Cleopatra IV, who married her brother Ptolemy IX (though she later divorced him and married the Seleucid King Antiochus IX Cyzienus), and Cleopatra Selene, who married her brothers Ptolemy IX and possibly Ptolemy X (then later married three Seleucid Kings Anthichus VIII, IX, and X).

It seems that Cleopatra III’s relationship with her mother was not great, as their first recorded quarrel was in 140/139. During this time, there was also an unsuccessful coup by an influential courtier named Galestes. Cleopatra III and her husband attempted to seek support from the native population to strengthen their position, but Cleopatra II rebelled against the king in 132 BCE.

This was a full-blown civil war between Cleopatra III’s mother and husband, and it is unclear who she sided with. While her mother controlled Alexandria, Cleopatra III and her husband fled to Cyrus in 132 BCE. He was able to return in 130 to regain control and she returned three years later when the civil war died down.

A full image of the wall relief seen above. Depicting Cleopatra II, Cleopatra III, and their husband Ptolemy VIII recieving the blessings of Horus. From the Temple of Kom Ombo.

And then somehow, Cleopatra II rejoined them as joint ruled in 124 BCE. Honestly, I don’t know.

Later Life

Ptolemy VIII died in 116 BCE and again Cleopatra III was allowed to jointly rule with one of her sons. Surprisingly, she skipped over her first son, Ptolemy XI (who was 14 at the time), and wanted to rule with her second son, Ptolemy X. But apparently, the Alexandrines didn’t like this and forced her to rule with her first son. Her second son was sent to Cyrus as an honorary general.

I have a feeling her mother influenced her decision because even after all the coups, Cleopatra II was still jointly ruling with her daughter and her grandson until she died in 116 or 117.

I honestly feel very bad for this family because it just seems like the family dynamics are all out of whack. Get ready for the craziest part of this rollercoaster.

In October 110, Cleopatra III expelled her first son and placed her second son as her co-ruler. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long and Ptolemy IX was soon back on the throne in February 109. Ptolemy X attempted this again in March 108 and again in October 107.

This last coup seemed to stick as Cleopatra III defeated Ptolemy IX in 102. Ptolemy X served as the annual priest of Alexander the Great. During this time, Cleopatra III tried to gain more support from the native Egyptians by presenting herself as the goddesses Maat and Isis.

Unfortunately, there were still tensions within the royal family, as according to the Latin historian Justin, Cleopatra was murdered by Ptolemy X, after he discovered her plans to kill him. This most likely happened sometime in 101 BCE, as she disappears from records in late 101. Her son marries his niece Berenice III and continues as the sole ruler.

Names

When ruling, her Horus name was Nebtaoui Kenekhet, meaning Lady of the Two Lands, Mighty Bull. Depending on who she was ruling with, she was known by different names.

Her Horus Name

While married to Ptolemy VIII and ruling with her son Ptolemy X, she was known as Cleopatra Euergetis. When ruling with her son Ptolemy IX, she was known as Cleopatra Philmetor Soteira. And according to Strabo, she was known as Kokke when discussed in relation to her son Ptolemy X.

Sources

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

https://www.livius.org/articles/person/cleopatra-iii/

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA612

http://www.instonebrewer.com/TyndaleSites/Egypt/ptolemies/cleopatra_iii.htm

Images Sources

Cleopatra III at Kom Ombo – Wikimedia Commons

Statue at the Leiden Museum of Cleopatra II or III – https://www.livius.org/pictures/a/greek-portraits/cleopatra-ii-or-iii/

Statue at the Louvre of Cleopatra II or III – https://www.livius.org/pictures/a/greek-portraits/cleopatra-ii-or-iii-as-isis/

Hieroglyphs – Wikimedia Commons

Family Tree – http://www.instonebrewer.com/TyndaleSites/Egypt/ptolemies/cleopatra_iii.htm

Stela, British Museum – British Museum Catalog

Bust with an earring at Stuttgart Museum – https://www.livius.org/pictures/a/greek-portraits/cleopatra-iii/

Bust – https://www.pba-auctions.com/lot/10456/2145353?npp=10000&

Bust of Cleopatra II or Cleopatra III at the Walters Art Gallery – https://art.thewalters.org/detail/24043/head-of-a-queen-perhaps-cleopatra-ii-or-cleopatra-iii/