Mummy Monday: Kha

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

Life

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

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

Tomb Discovery

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

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

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

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

Tomb

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

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

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

Burial Assemblage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coffins

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

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

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

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

Mummy

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

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

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

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

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

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

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

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

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

Entrance of permanent exhibition in Turin – Hans Ollermann

Deir el Medina western cemetery – Kenka Peacock

Stela of Kha and Merit – Su Bayfield

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

Wooden door of the tomb – Hans Ollerman

Objects found in tomb in Turin – Su Bayfield

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

Bronze bowl – Hans Ollerman

Coffins of Kha and Merit – Hans Ollerman

Cubit rule and scribal palettes – Hans Ollerman

Wooden grinders – Su Bayfield

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

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

Shabtis – Dik van Bommel

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

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

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

Protractor thing? – Flickr (Hans Olldermann)

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

Mummy Monday: Lady Rai

For this week’s Mummy Monday let’s look at another mummy found in the Deir el-Bahri cache, who may be one of the “most perfect examples of embalming…from the time of the early 18th Dynasty.” Let me introduce you to Lady Rai!

Life

Lady Rai was an ancient Egyptian woman from the early 18th Dynasty. Little is known about her life, but she served as a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. We have no evidence of her parentage, but she was no doubt from some elite family as she was most likely buried in the elite burials in Deir el-Bahri and Thebes.

Tomb and Burial in DB320

Lady Rai’s original tomb is not known, but it was most likely looted in antiquity, which is why she was reburied in the cache in Deir el-Bahri. She was originally buried in two coffins, but it seems her outer coffin is all that was preserved. But Rai’s body was not found inside it.

It was common for the priests of the Third Intermediate Period to mix up coffins and the mummies in these caches. That is why many of the mummies have small linen dockets, which are just labels made from linen, which help identify the mummy. Lady Rai’s outer coffin (CG 61004) was used for the burial of Ahmose-Inhapi. The coffin’s gilding had been almost entirely removed, along with the eye inlays. But the robbers who stripped the coffin, who were probably the restorers, preserved the symbolic figure of Isis and Nephthys at the foot.

Lady Rai’s mummy was found in a 19th-20th Dynasty coffin (CG 61022) which was originally belonged to “a servant in the Palace of Truth,” named Paheripedjet. This title indicates that the original owner worked in Deir el-Medina, but it is unclear where this man’s body is currently.

The only personal belongings of Lady Rai that have been found was a single barrel-shaped carnelian bead on her right wrist. This is just a fraction of what Rai’s jewelry was before.

Mummy

As I mentioned previously, G. Elliot Smith called Lady Rai’s mummy one of the most perfect examples of 18th Dynasty embalming and “the least unlovely” of the existing female mummies. Smith unwrapped the mummy on June 26th, 1909. Rai was a slim woman only about 4 foot 11 inches. She was estimated to be about 30 or 40 years old when she died around 1530 B.C.E.

The mummy’s face and body had been thinly coated with resin mixed with sand. There was an embalming incision in the traditional position on the left side of the body, which was covered with a fusiform embalming plate, which was common for mummies of the 18th Dynasty. The body was carefully wrapped in linen bandages. Some of these bandages were inscribed with her name, which helped identify her.

Her scalp retained abundant amounts of what appears to be her own hair, not a wig, which would have been more common. This was styled in tightly plaited groups of braids down to her chest. Rai’s teeth only had slight wear. In 2009, the mummy was CAT scanned, which revealed that she had a diseased aortic arch and thus the oldest known mummy with evidence of atherosclerosis.

Sources

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Early18.htm

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

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/17A.htm

Image Sources

Lady Rai profile – Wikimedia Commons (G. Elliot Smith)

Back of Lady Rai – http://www3.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_page.pl?DPI=100&callnum=DT57.C2_vol59&object=134

Mummy and Coffin – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Early18.htm

Mummy Monday: Siptah

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

Life

Siptah’s full name was Akhenre Setpenre Spitah or Merenptah Siptah. His father’s identity is not actually known, but a couple of pharaohs have been suggested. Mainly, Seti II, Amenmesse, and Merenptah have been suggested. His mother is also unknown but could be Tiaa, the wife of Seti II, or a woman named Sutailja/Shoteraja. The evidence for the latter is according to a relief in the Louvre (E 26901). It has also been implied that she may have been the king’s Canaanite concubine because her name is Canaanite.

We do know that he was not originally the crown prince but probably succeeded the throne as a child after the death of Seti II. His accession date occurred on 1 Peret, Day 2, which is around December.

Reign

He ruled for only about six years as a young man, as he was only ten or eleven when he took the throne. One of the king’s chancellors was named Bay, and he was instrumental in installing Siptah on the throne, though he fell out of favor with the king and was executed in Siptah’s 5th year. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the rest of his reign.

Siptah most likely died in the middle of the second month of Akhet, as his burial dates to the 22nd day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was recorded on an ostraca found in Deir el-Medina and mentions that the Vizier Hori visited the workmen close to the burial.

Tomb

Pharaoh Siptah was originally buried in KV47, but his mummy was reburied in the KV35 cache with many other royals from the New Kingdom.

KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).

KV47 is in the southwest branch of the southwest wadi of the Valley of the Kings. It consists of three gently slopped corridors (B, C, D) followed by a chamber (E), a pillared chamber (F), two subsequent corridors (G, H), and a chamber (I). This last chamber leads through a passage with abandoned lateral cuttings for a burial chamber (J1) and the actual unfinished burial chamber (J2).

In total, the tomb seems to have been unfinished. The cutting of chamber J1 was halted after the workmen cut into the side chamber (Ja) of KV32, the tomb of Tia’a. The workers were also forced to abandon the chamber and create a second burial chamber, chamber J2. The burial chamber contains a granite sarcophagus.

Much of the history of this tomb is not clear as the king’s cartouches had been removed and then later restored. Only the first corridors and chamber were plastered and decorated with scenes from the Litany of Ra (corridors B and C), Book of the Dead (corridor C), Imydwat (corridor D), representations of the deceased with Ra-Horakhty (corridor B), the sun disk on the horizon (gate B) and winged figures of Ma’at (gate B, gate D).

The tomb was of course looted sometime after the burial and then reused in the Third Intermediate Period. The tomb was discovered on December 18th, 1905 by Edward R. Ayrton. Theodore M. Davies then published an account of the site’s discovery and excavation in 1908, but that was after the excavations were stopped in 1907 due to safety fears. Harry Burton also returned in 1912 to dig further.

To see some more photos, check out this link!

Mummy

As I mentioned previously the mummy of Siptah was found not in KV47 but KV35, which was a royal mummy cache that I have talked about previously. Siptah’s body was found in side chamber Jb. It was found in a replacement coffin (CG 61038), which may have originally belonged to a woman as all the inscriptions had been adzed off and it was reinscribed for Siptah. He was also found beneath a shroud that had been placed there by the Third Intermediate Period priests. The shroud has a hieratic inscription, but it is very faded. Some of the original bandages have a few painted lines and hieroglyphs texts.

Siptah appeared to be around the age of sixteen when he died. He was about 1.6 meters tall and had curly reddish-brown hair. But his body had been badly damaged by the original tomb robbers. The right cheek and front teeth had been broken off and were missing. His ears had also been broken off. His right arm was fractured, the right hand had been detached. Interestingly, there was an attempt made to repair this broken forearm with wooden splints and linen. Finally, the body wall had been broken through, probably in search of a heart scarab and other valuables.

The cheeks have been filled out with linen packing and his body cavity had been filled with dried lichen instead of the usual resin-soaked bandages. The embalming wound had been sewn shut with a strip of linen. There is also an unusual crescent-shaped band of black paint across Siptah’s forehead, the significance of which is unknown.

Siptah had a clubbed foot, which could have been from polio or cerebral palsy. No objects were found among Siptah’s wrappings, but there is an impression of a pectoral ornament left in the thick dried resin which coated the mummy’s chest. There is also some gold foil impressed into the resin covering Siptah’s right elbow, which may have been left by a gilded staff originally held in the mummy’s left hand.

Sources

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

Siptah – Wikimedia Commons (John D. Croft)

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

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

Tomb painting – Wikimedia Commons (John D. Croft)

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

Sarcophagus of Siptah – Wikimedia Commons (Neithsabes)

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

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

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

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

Mummy Monday: Princess Ahmose

This week we are looking at another mummy found in the Valley of the Queens, who might have been the first person buried in this valley. Her name was Princess Ahmose, daughter of the 17th Dynasty pharaoh Sequenenre Tao!

Life

The name Ahmose means “Child of the Moon” and was a common name in the Late Second Intermediate Period and the early New Kingdom. Today we are talking about Princess Ahmose, the only known daughter of Pharaoh Sequenenre Tao and his sister/wife Sitdjehuti. Ahmose was the half-sister of Pharaoh Kamose, Pharaoh Ahmose I, and Queen Ahmose Nefertari, both of whom she outlived.

During her life she was given the titles of King’s Daughter and King’s Sister, indicating that she lived throughout her brother’s reign. It is estimated that she died during the rule of Thutmose I (who was her great-nephew) in the 18th dynasty when she was in her 40s.

Tomb

Ahmose’s tomb, QV47, is thought to be the earliest in the Valley of the Queens, which a nearby valley to the Valley of the Kings. This was a fairly simple tomb consisting of one chamber and a burial shaft, which are typical of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens. It is technically located in a subsidiary valley named the Valley of Prince Ahmose.

The tomb was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli during excavations in the valley from 1903 to 1905. The tomb was most likely pillaged in antiquity. The tomb contains some evidence of reuse from the Roman period, as well as evidence of modern flooding and bats.

Burial Goods

Although the tomb was looted in antiquity, enough material has been found to support a theory of a rich burial for the princess. The tomb has been cleared multiple times and objects were found every time. First, it was cleared by the Italian mission, which is when the mummy was originally found. Fragments of a wooden sarcophagus, fragments of the Book of the Dead, and leather sandals were also found.

In 1984, the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) re-excavated the tomb and found much more. They found a small cutting of human hair, inscribed shrouds, a wax seal, fragments of dyed leather, decorated wood, a fragment of a female figurine, and a fragment of a mummy. And finally, in October 2008, one more piece of a mummy was found in the tomb.

Supposedly there were almost remains of a canopic chest, though no remains of the jar. The inscription on the shroud and the fragments of the Book of the Dead (S.5051-S.5065) is what helped archaeologists identify the tomb as Ahmose’s and connect her with her father and mother. At the time of the excavation, this was the oldest Book of the Dead that had been found. It was written on linen and there are fragments of 20 different chapters.

Mummy

Her mummy (S.5050) and the majority of the other burial goods are all located in the Egyptian Museum in Turin because Schiaparelli discovered it. Unfortunately, there is very little information about the mummy. Ahmose probably died in her 40s, possibly from heart disease. She was also a relatively tall person for her advanced age.

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

Image Sources

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Khruner

Hieroglyphs – Wikipedia

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

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

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

Mummy Monday: Maatkare Mutemhat

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

Life

Name of Maatkare Mutemhat

Maatkare Mutemhat lived during the early Third Intermediate Period in the 21st Dynasty. She was the daughter of the High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem I. He was also the defacto ruled of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE and proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was Duathathor-Henuttawy, a daughter of Ramesses XI, the last ruler of the 20th Dynasty.

Maatkare Mutemhat is the throne name of Queen Hatshepsut. She was depicted as a young girl in the Luxor Temple, along with her sisters Henuttawy (B) and Mutnedjmet. She is also depicted as a high priestess on the façade of the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak and on a statue, which is now in Marseille, France. During her father’s reign as pharaoh, Maatkare received the title of Divine Adoratrice, God’s Wife of Amun. She was first God’s wife to take on the praenomen of Divine Adoratrice, which used to only be for pharaohs. With this title, Maakare was considered the female head of the priesthood of Amun at Karnak, and therefore she had almost the same status as a queen. Her titles from the Khonsu Temple are listed below:

  • r-p’t(t),w ‘rt hsw’t, hmt-ntr n ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-sw’t, s’t-nsw n kt. f, nbt t’wy
    • Hereditary princess, great of favors, God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s bodily daughter, Lady of the Two Lands
  • hmt-ntrn ‘Imn m ‘Ipt-swt, s’t-nsw n (ht.f), nbt t’wy
    • God’s Wife of Amun in Karnak, king’s (bodily) daughter, Lady of the Two Lands

Her family was well endowed because of her father. Her brother later became pharaoh, Psusennes I, one sister became queen, and three other brothers held the title of High Priest of Amun in succession. After her death, Maatkare’s position was given to her niece, Henuttawy (D).

Reburial

Her original burial place is unknown, but it could be presumed that it was somewhere in the Theban necropolis. Her coffin, mummy, and some shabtis were found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320), which I have talked about several times on this blog. Along with several members of the royal family from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (see Nodjmet, Sqenenre Tao, and Unknown Man E), many of Maatkare’s family members were also buried here. Her father, Pinedjem I, her mother, Duathathor-Hunuttawy, and her brother, Masaharta. Her other family members were buried in tomb MMA60 in Deir el-Bahri.

Burial Goods

Because this was a reburial, there weren’t too many funerary goods that were attributed to Maatkare. At least three shabtis were found inscribed for her. One is in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (US39863), one is at the Pelizaeus Museum in Germany (5485), and another is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.194.2405). A funerary papyrus has also been found but was not originally found in the tomb. It was probably stolen by the Abd el-Rassul family, who originally discovered DB320 and then sold many of the objects on the antiquities market. The papyrus is now located in Cairo.

One interesting object that was found in her coffin with the mummy was a small, wrapped package. At first, archaeologists believed that it was the mummy of a small baby, possibly stillborn. This would have been strange because, in her position as God’s Wife of Amun, Maatkare was supposed to be celibate. Finally, when the package was x-rayed, it was revealed to be the mummy of a female hamadryas baboon, either a pet of hers or it was placed there for a ritual purpose.

Small mummified baboon found with Maatkare

Coffins

She was found within two coffins both of which are located in the Cairo Museum (CG 61028; JE 26200). The outer coffin shows signs of minor damage as a gilded right hand is missing and some of the decoration on the forehead has been removed. The three distinct holes indicate that it may have been a golden vulture head flanked by two uraeus serpents. These would have completed the gilded vulture headdress that the coffin was wearing. These symbols were reserved for exceptionally important individuals in her time.

The coffin also depicts a fantastically detailed wig with small braids carved into the wood. The clenched fists that are both on the outer and inner coffin were symbols of masculine power and were normally reserved for the coffins of high-status males. Female coffins typically had outstretched fingers, indicating that this choice was a bold statement of social status.

The inner coffin and coffin board were much less preserved. The hands and faces have been completely removed. These are both elaborately decorated similarly to the outer coffin lid. You can also see that the inside of the bottom of the inner coffin is decorated with a large winged goddess.

The pattern of damage seems to have been done on two separate occasions. The first set of thieves had probably only targeted the inner coffin and the coffin board for petty pilfering. These could have been members of the burial party because if they only damaged the inner coffin and coffin board, they could cover their tracks with the outer coffin lid. Sometime later, someone removed her headpiece and the one gilded hand from the outer coffin. Or these could have fallen off while moving the mummy to DB320.

Mummy

The mummy of Maatkare Mutemhat (CG 61088) had been disturbed before it was buried in DB320. G. Elliot Smith examined the mummy in June of 1909 and found extensive damage. The shroud of the mummy had been torn from the forehead to the pelvis as well as the right arm wrapping. This was all done in an attempt to find valuables.

Her left forearm was broken, and her hand had been badly damaged, both of them been broken off. You can see below, that on her right hand there were three gold and silver rings on the thumb which were not stolen by thieves. Her body was internally packed with fat, possibly butter, mixed with soda, and molded into the shape of a woman. This included the face.

Maatkare’s face was stuffed to present a life-like appearance. Although we have many examples of these practices, she may have been the earliest example. The wrappings on the face were also painted yellow ochre in an attempt to get a realistic skin tone. She also has two glass eyes that were placed in the wrappings. Her dark hair is still visible around the wrappings. Apparently, her nails had been tied with string to prevent them from falling off.

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

A leather thong was found around her head that probably held an amulet, which is now missing. X-rays reveal that there is a gold plate covering the embalming incision on her side.

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

Images

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

Her hieroglyphs are on the Wikipedia page

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

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

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

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

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

Women Crush Wednesday: Henut Taui

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is mostly known for a recent study on the mummy. Let’s talk about one of the “Cocaine Mummies,” Henut Taui.

Life

Henut Taui, also known as Henuttaui or Henuttawy, was an ancient Egyptian priestess during the 21st Dynasty. Her name means “Lady of the Two Lands,” which was typically a title of a Queen. She was a priestess and chantress in the Temple of Amun at Thebes. There is virtually nothing known about this mummy. She was most likely buried in Deir el-Bahri or somewhere else in the Theban necropolis.

Unfortunately, the Munich Museum does not have an online accessible collection database, so I am not even sure if this coffin is that of Henut Taui

The mummy and sarcophagus became the property of the king of Bavaria, likely Ludwig I. He later donated it to the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst in Munich (ÄS 57). Her coffin was once located at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon, but it is now in Munich too.

Presence of Cocaine

Svetlana Balabanova

In 1992, German toxicologist Svetlana Balabanova discovered traces of cocaine, hashish, and nicotine on Henut Taui’s hair, as well as on the hair of several other mummies in the museum. This is very significant because the only source of cocaine and nicotine had been considered to be the cocoa and tobacco plants that are native to the Americas. Before this discovery, these plants were not thought to be in Africa.

Seven mummies were tested, including Henut Taui. The other mummies are of an unknown origin and some of them were only detached heads. The museum in Munich has a policy to not display human remains so none of these mummies are on display. They are also not allowed to be filmed or shown on TV, which is why I am sorry there is a serious lack of images in this post.

Some, who believe that there was contact between the Pre-Columbian people and the ancient Egyptians, took this result as evidence of their theories. This became very controversial, especially because two successive studies failed to reproduce Balabanova’s results.

There is also the possibility that these were “fake” mummies, which were common in the 19th century as the tourism in Egypt increased. But all these mummies claim to be authentic.

Balabanova has stuck to her results and even gone to test more mummies. She tested 134 bodies from Sudan and although they came from a later period, 1/3 of them tested positive for nicotine and cocaine. She has further tested about 3000 samples from 3700 BCE to 1100 AD. Because of the results, she has determined that there must have been a tobacco plant native to Africa, Europe, or Asia, which is now extinct.

I believe this is an image of the mummy of Henut Taui, though I am not 100% sure as photos are severely lacking

Now, the alternate theory to this entire study is that was modern contamination. But to keep the mystery going, there is apparently evidence of tobacco found on the linens and within the mummy of Ramesses II. So, honestly, who knows?

This is a lengthy YouTube video about the mummy and the discovery of cocaine on the mummy.

Sources

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

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

https://jiveturkeythebook.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/85/

https://faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/mummy.htm

https://michael-chen-mg2n.squarespace.com/news/2017/7/19/mystery-of-the-cocaine-mummies

https://www.gaia.com/article/the-cocaine-mummies-henut-tauis-ancient-global-trade-network

https://blog.cansfordlabs.co.uk/hair-testing-cocaine-mummies-real-or-fake

https://www.paulwagner.com/the-cocaine-mummies-henut-taui/

Images

Name in Hieroglyphs – Wikipedia page

Face of Mummy – Mummipedia

Dr. Svelta Balabanova – https://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/egyptian-mummies-0011354

Mummy Monday: Amenhotep II

Why don’t we talk about another famous royal, whose tomb we have mentioned several times? This week let’s talk about Amenhotep II, the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

Life

Amenhotep II was born to Pharaoh Thutmose III and his minor wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. He was born and raised in Memphis, instead of the traditional capital of Thebes. As a prince, he oversaw the deliveries of wood sent to the dockyard of Peru-nufe in Memphis. He was also made a Setem, which is a high priest over Lower Egypt. Amenhotep II left many inscriptions touting his athletic skills while he was the leader of the army. He claims to have been able to shoot an arrow through a copper target one palm thick and to row his ship faster and farther than two hundred members of the navy could row theirs.

Now Amenhotep II was not the firstborn of the Thutmose III. He had an elder brother named Amenemhat, but he and his mother died between Years 24 and 35 of Thutmose III, which prompted the king to remarry and have more children.

Life as Pharaoh

Amenhotep II rose to the throne around 1427 BCE, on the first day of the fourth month of Akhet. This was days after his father’s death, which indicates that they might have been in a coregency together. He was probably around 18 years old when he became the pharaoh as indicated by his great Sphinx stela,

“Now his Majesty appeared as king as a fine youth after he had become ‘well developed’, and had completed eighteen years in his strength and bravery.”

He married a woman named Tiaa, with whom he had as many as ten sons and one daughter. His eldest son and heir was Thutmose IV. Princes Amenhotep, Webensenu, Amenemopet, and Nejem are clearly attested, which Princes Amenemhat, Kaemwaset, Aakheperure, and Princess Iaret are possible children.

Besides Tiaa, Amenhotep II did not record the names of his other wives. Some Egyptologists have theorized that he felt the women had become too powerful under titles such as God’s Wife of Amun. They point at the fact that he participated in his father’s removal of Hatshepsut’s name from her monuments and the destruction of her image. Amenhotep II may have continued to destroy her images in his co-regency with his father, but not during his reign. But he may have still harbored his father’s concern that another woman would sit on the throne.

Amenhotep II took his first campaign in his 3rd regnal year, where he was attacked by the host of Qatna, but he did emerge victoriously. He also apparently killed 7 rebel princes at Kadesh, who were then hung upside down on the prow of his ship and then hung on the walls of Thebes and Napata.

Death

Amenhotep II died after 26 of his reign. Although the dates of his reign indicate that he was about 52 when he died, his mummy reveals that he was closer to 40 years old.

He constructed a tomb in the Valley of the Kings KV35, which I will talk about below, and a mortuary temple at the edge of the cultivation in the Theban necropolis, but it was destroyed in ancient times.

Tomb

I know we have talked about KV35 several times already, but I will mainly focus on the tomb as it was when Amenhotep II had it built.

The tomb is in the shape of a dog’s leg, which means it turns at a 90-degree angle. This is a typical layout of tombs of the 18th dynasty. Upon entering the tomb, there are two sets of stairways and two corridors before the well shaft. This is decorated with images of the King performing ritual acts before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor.

After the tomb takes a 90-degree angle, there is a pillared vestibule and another wide flight of stairs. There is one small annex off of this first vestibule. This leads to a third corridor and a large six-pillared room. The burial chamber is just past the last set of pillars.

The burial chamber is a rectangular shape and divided into upper and lower pillared sections. The lower part held the sarcophagus of the king which was made of red quartzite. There are also four annexes off of this chamber. The walls of the burial chamber are decorated with a frieze and scenes from the Amduat, which is one of the many different Egyptian funerary texts. The pillars are decorated with the king before Osiris, Anubis, and Hathor. As with many tombs from this period, the ceiling is blue and covered in stars.

Although the tomb had been plundered in antiquity and then reopened to place the cache, some items from Amenhotep II’s burial were still found. These included a papyrus with extracts from the Book of Caverns, emblems in wood, a broken Osiris bed, at least one large wooden funerary couch, a large wooden figure of a serpent, a large wooden Sekhmet figure for the king’s son Webensenu, a life-size cow head statues, faience vases, a resin-coated wooden panther, 30 empty storage jars, and many miniature wooden coffins.

As we know, KV35 was used as a mummy cache in the Third Intermediate Period for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Those found in the tomb are listed below:

  • Queen Tiye (The Elder Lady)
  • A prince, either Webensenu or Thutmose
  • The Younger Lady
  • Unknown woman D
  • Two skulls were found in the well and an anonymous arm
  • The Mummy on the Boat

These mummies were discovered in March of 1898 by Victor Loret.

Mummy

When the mummy was originally found, there were garlands of mimosa flowers around his neck. The mummy had also been rewrapped and given a shroud by the priests of the Third Intermediate Period. Unfortunately, in 1901 when the tomb was plundered by modern robbers, the mummy was taken from the tomb and exposed from the waist up. Howard Carter was able to track down the robbers, using, among other clues, the imprints of their feet in the dust of the tomb. The mummy was then returned to the sarcophagus. Up until 1928, the mummy of Amenhotep II was still found in the quartzite sarcophagus before it was transferred to the Cairo Museum (CG61069).

After the 1901 plundering, the mummy was severely damaged. The head and right leg were separated from the body, the front abdominal wall was missing, and the spine was broken as well. There were also distinctive patterns of ossification along the vertebrae, which is a degenerative type of arthritis seen in people aged 60 years and older. His skin was covered in raised nodules, which were also found on the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III. This could have been from disease or by a reaction of the embalming materials with the skin. Amenhotep II’s teeth were worn but in good condition.

He was probably 6 foot tall in life and he had graying hair and a bald spot on the back of his head.  There were impressions of jewelry found in the resin which had been used in the embalming process. Finally, there was a large bow, which was broken or cut in two was found with the mummy.

Sources

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KV35

http://www.narmer.pl/kv/kv35en.htm

http://www.narmer.pl/dyn/18en.htm#7         

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

https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/le/mummy-amenhotep-ii

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

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

Images

Head of Amenhotep II at the Brooklyn Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Keith Schengili-Roberts)

Head of Amenhotep II at the State Museum of Egyptian Art, Munich – Wikimedia Commons (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP (Glasg))

Head of Amenhotep II at the Louvre – Wikimedia Commons (Rama)

Stela from Elephantine, now on display at the Kunthistorisches Museum, Vienna, recording Amenhotep II’s successful campaign against Syria – Wikimedia Commons (Captmondo)

Amenhotep II shown at the Temple of Amada, Lake Nasser, Egypt – Wikimedia Commons (Dennis Jarvis)

Image of tomb, tomb plan, mummy – http://www.narmer.pl/kv/kv35en.htm

Wooden cow head and image of sarcophagus – http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/amenophist.htm

Black and white photo of the sarcophagus – https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/le/mummy-amenhotep-ii

Mummy – https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Amenhotep_II

Mummy and sarcophagus, and objects found in the tomb – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages1/Aeighteen.htm

Pictures of the tomb – https://ib205.tripod.com/kv35_cache.html

Pictures of the tomb – https://alchetron.com/KV35

Mummy Monday: The Mummy on the Boat

This Mummy Monday I am starting with a special request to look at the mysterious Mummy on the Boat from KV 35.

This is a pretty interesting case because we don’t really know the identity of this mummy. So I am first going to describe the discovery, provenance, and theories, and then the mummy itself.

Discovery of the Mummy on the Boat

The Mummy on the Boat was found in KV35, in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was originally for Pharaoh Amenhotep II and it later became a cache burial for many of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom during the Third Intermediate Period. He was found in Antechamber F, which was a distance from the original burial chamber and the side chambers where the other mummies in the cache were found.

Victor Loret, the Egyptologist who discovered the cache in 1889, described the mummy as a “horrible sight…all black and hideous, its grimacing face turning towards me and looking at me…” The mummy had obviously been pillaged, which I will describe later. There was a small partly unwrapped bundle next to the mummy, which may have been a mummified animal or a bundle of wrappings.

The mummy was found leaning on top of a large funerary boat, which is not a typical burial technique. The remainder of this antechamber was mostly empty.

Shortly after the cache was placed in KV35, thieves entered and plundered the tomb again. This was most likely when the mummy was first plundered as the thieves tried to remove him from the boat, but the arms and feet were broken off.

When the cache was found by Loret, the Mummy on the Boat had not been scheduled for removal from the tomb along with the other burials, but had been moved from his original positions and placed out of the way when Antechamber F was used to store the other mummies in their large shipping crates.

Model Boat of Amenhotep II One of several models from the tomb of Amenhotep II, this example represents a river-going vessel. Scenes on it portray the pharaoh as a sphinx trampling enemies, and representations of deities and amulets serve as protection for the king in the Afterlife. Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep II 1426Ð1400 BCE PHOTO CREDIT: McMillan Group

Three years after the discovery of the tomb on November 24, 1901, modern thieves also broke into the tomb and stole the wooden funerary boat. During this time, the mummy was smashed to pieces on the floor. The funerary boat was later acquired by the Cairo Museum from a local dealer (which I believe is pictured in the photo above), but the remains of the mummy are now lost. Howard Carter wrote, “the boat in the Antechamber had been stolen; the mummy that was upon it, was lying on the floor and had been smashed to pieces.”

The images below are the only images of the mummy. There is a possibility that the pieces were swept out of the tomb or are in some sort of box in the Cairo Museum.

Theories of the Identity of the Mummy

There are two main possible candidates for the identity of the mummy, along with an alternative theory.

Prince Webensenu

The first theory is that the Mummy on the Boat was Prince Webensenu, son of Pharaoh Amenhotep II. The prince’s shabtis and a canopic jar have been found in KV35, which implies that the prince’s body was buried in his father’s tomb. The prince predeceased his father and was probably buried in KV35 before his father was. But he probably would have been buried in one of the side chambers to the burial chamber, rather than in Antechamber F. His burial would have gotten in the way of any of the subsequent burial, so this is quite unlikely.

He possibly could have been buried somewhere else in the Valley and then moved into KV35 at the time of his father’s burial. But again, it would have been logical to bury him in the side chamber.

Prince Webensenu or Prince Thutmose?

To add to the confusion of all of this, another mummy was found in the KV35 cache that had also been attributed to Prince Webensenu. This is the mummy of a young boy, maybe 11 years old. But this mummy has also been identified as Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III, so we really don’t have a clue.

Pharaoh Sethankte

The other popular option for the identity of the Mummy on the Boat is Pharaoh Sethnakhte, founder of the 20th Dynasty. His father was one of the sons of Ramesses II and he ascended the throne after the death of Queen Taweseret. But he died shortly after he ascended the throne and may have even been originally buried in Queen Taweseret’s tomb KV14.

His coffin basin and lid were found in KV35, in side chamber Jb, as they were reused by the mummies of Merenptah and Unknown Woman D. Fragments of his cartonnage were also found in the main burial chamber. It is theorized that his mummy was placed with the other cached mummies in side chamber Jb, which of course leads to the confusion of why the mummy was found in Antechamber F.

Again, it seems very unlikely that anyone would move a mummy up from the burial chamber to antechamber F, or purposefully separate one mummy into room F. The usual explanation is that the tomb robbers removed the mummy from chamber J, dragged it across the chamber, and then up into antechamber F so they could strip it of its wrappings and valuables.

But the position of the mummy on the model boat does not also appear accidental. The body seems to have been carefully positioned. The robbers may have found the mummy already in place on top of the boat and removed the wrappings there. And the reason they didn’t remove it from the boat because the oils and resin in the wrappings had stuck it to the boat, which would have made its removal a time-consuming chore.

The last theory is that this mummy is a private individual from a period later than the recorded official inspection of KV35. At the beginning of the 22nd Dynasty, there were many intrusive burials. This could explain why it was found in chamber F and the unusual positioning on top of the wooden model boat.

The Mummy on the Boat

When Loret found the mummy, he said that the legs and arms were bound. Loret thought that it may have been a sacrificial victim or a thief slain by tomb guardians or fellow thieves. The bandages had already been torn off entirely, except for those tangled around the mummy’s abdomen and upper thighs, which made Loret think that the mummy had been bound.

The mummy is of a male with long dark hair. There was a hole in the sternum and a smaller hole in the skull. The left-arm had been broken off while the right arm appears to be disconnected. The left arm and the disconnected right foot are visible on the chamber floor next to the mummy. The fingers were individually wrapped. The remaining skin of the torso and face appears to be thoroughly perforated by tiny holes, maybe by insects. There is also possible evidence of an embalmers incision on the left side of the lower abdomen.

Sources

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/UnidentifiedandMissing.htm

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

http://www.narmer.pl/dyn/20en.htm#1

https://tim-theegyptians.blogspot.com/2012/06/mummy-on-boat.html

Image Sources

Images of the mummy – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/UnidentifiedandMissing.htm

Cartouche and face – http://www.narmer.pl/dyn/20en.htm#1

Antechamber F – https://the-ancient-pharaohs.blogspot.com/2017/02/kv35-tomb-of-amenhotep-ii-part-19.html

Unidentified Boy from KV35 – Mummipedia

Victor Loret discovering the tomb and funerary boat – https://www.egyptianhistorypodcast.com/2597-2/

Mummy Monday: Asru

This week let’s talk about an elite lady from the 25th and 26th dynasties. Her name is Asru and she is currently located at the Manchester Museum in the United Kingdom (1777.a-c)!

Life

Asru’s name meant “Her arm against them,” which is probably a reference to the protective power of the goddess Mut, consort of the Theban god Amun. Her mother was Lady of the House Ta-di-Amun, or “She whom Amun has given,” and her father was called Pa-Kush, or “The Kushite,” who was a document scribe of the southern region. Although her father’s name sounds a bit odd, the 25th dynasty was actually ruled by Kushite kings, coming from the southern nation of Kush (also called Nubia).

Asru herself only had one title as Lady of the House, which means that she was a married woman. She has been previously misidentified as a temple singer or handmaiden, which are pretty common titles women carried in Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of her husband or if they had any children.

Facial reconstruction of Asru from the 1970s

Asru probably died when she was between 50 and 60 years old, which was a considerable age for an Ancient Egyptian. A reconstruction of her face was made in the 1970s by Richard Neave.

Provenance

Asru and her sarcophagus were among the earliest additions to the Manchester Museum collection after being donated to the Manchester National History Society by William and Robert Garnett in 1825. The mummy had been previously unwrapped before donation, no doubt at a Victorian Unwrapping party (check on my Fun Fact Friday page to learn more about those).

She was examined as part of the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s and scanned in 2012 in preparation for the reopening of the gallery. The 2012 examination was led by Professors Rosalie David and Judith Adams. I’ll put all the results below!

Sarcophagus

Asru was buried in two coffins. The outer coffin depicts Asru with a stripped wig and large broad collar. There are a winged sun-disk and depictions of the Asru being brought before the gods while her heart is being weighed.

The inner coffin depicts Asru with a vulture headdress and another broad collar. Below there is a winged figure of the sky goddess Nut and another depiction of her heart being weighed. Further down there is also a depiction of Asru’a Ba, depicted as a human-headed bird, hovering over her mummy lying on a bed.

Both coffins are covered in formulaic offering spells that mention her parents.

Mummy

As I mentioned earlier, Asru was anywhere from 50 to 60 years old at her death and her mummy was previously unwrapped. Through these examinations and scans, multiple medical problems have been determined.

Asru suffered from arthritis and parasitic infections called Strongyloidiasis (also known as threadworm) and Schistosomiasis (also known as Snail Fever or Bilharzia). Her arthritis was in her neck and may have been caused by bearing a heavy weight over a prolonged period of time. It has been speculated that she may have carried something on her head that had a ritual function.

The infections would have given her anemia, a cough, stomach aches, and diarrhea. She also had a slipped disc in her back and a hydatid cyst in her lung, the latter caused by the parasites.

When her mummy was scanned, it was discovered that her brain had been removed from her skull, but the ethmoid bone, which is the bone separating the nasal cavity and the brain, was found intact. Her brain was most likely removed through the eye socket, which is not unknown, but unusual.

Asru’s mummy being scanned in 2012

Interestingly as part of the examination, Asru’s fingerprints and toeprints were taken by the Greater Manchester Police. This showed none of the wear and tear that most ordinary Egyptians would have expected. This supports the theory that she was from the upper class and never worked a hard labor job.

Sources

https://egyptmanchester.wordpress.com/tag/asru/

https://egyptmanchester.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/curators-diary-30612-ct-scanning-asru-and-a-crocodile-mummy/

http://www.teachinghistory100.org/objects/about_the_object/egyptian_mummy_and_coffins

http://www.ancient-egypt.co.uk/manchester/pages/asru%203.htm

http://harbour.man.ac.uk/mmcustom/Display.php?irn=153165&QueryPage=%2Fmmcustom%2FEgyptQuery.php

Image Sources

Coffin and Mummy – Manchester Museum Blog

Reconstruction statue and mummy face – Ancient Egypt.co.uk

Women Crush Wednesday: Sha-Amun-en-su

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is a little sad, but I wanted to include her to keep her memory alive. Let’s talk about Sha-Amun-en-su, an Ancient Egyptian mummy lost in the fire at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro.

Life

Sha-Amun-en-su, meaning “The fertile Fields of Amun,” was an Egyptian priestess and singer who lived in Thebes during the 22nd Dynasty. She was probably born around 800 B.C.E. into a wealthy family. She was probably not born into nobility, but her family was wealthy enough for her to be selected and prepared to work in a temple at an early age.

Sha-Amun-en-su belonged to the main group of priestly singers within the temple complex, called a Heset. They conducted ceremonial duties and ritualistic functions by helping the God’s Wife of Amun. This tradition lasted in Thebes between the 9th and 6th centuries B.C.E.

Interestingly, the Heset were not obliged to live permanently in the temple. Many of them only went to the temple when there were ceremonies. But the women had to obey strict codes of conduct. One of the rules was that they had to stay chaste. They didn’t necessarily have to be virgins, but they were considered extremely pure.

It was also common for an older singer to adopt a younger trainee as their tutor. There is a possibly that Sha-Amun-en-su had an adoptive daughter as there is another sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for a singer named Merset-Amun. She is labeled as “the daughter of Sha-Amun-en-su, singer of the shrine of Amun.”

She most likely died around the age of 50 years old, but her death could not be determined as her mummy was never unwrapped.

Provenance

There is no record of the date or exact archaeological site where the coffin was found, but it is more than likely from Thebes based on the style of the coffin and that she was a priestess at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes. It originally was in the Egyptian Khedivate collection, which was the rulers of Egypt while it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II visited Egypt for a second time. Dom Pedro II was an amateur Egyptologist and enthusiast. Khedive Ismail Pasha gifted the sarcophagus and the mummy to the emperor, who in return gave him a book.

An image from Dom Pedro II’s trip to Egypt in 1876

The mummy was brought back to Rio de Janeiro and was one of the featured items displayed in the Palace of São Cristóvão. The mummy was part of his private collection and on display in his study. At one point, the sarcophagus was damaged by a storm. It was knocked down by the wind and crashed into the one of the windows in his office. It’s left side was broken, but later restored. There was also a rumor that Dom Pedro II would talk to the mummy while in his study alone.

Because of the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889, the mummy became a part of the Egyptian collection at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, the curator of the Egyptian collection in the National Museum, Antonio Brancaglion Jr. said in regard to the importance and uniqueness of the sarcophagus,

“If you have a mummy, you have a mummy. If you have not, you won’t get one anymore. If we lose it, we will never get anything else remotely similar. We have to keep it to the end.”

An image of the National Museum ablaze on September 2nd, 2018

This quote is especially sad, considering that the tragic end of the National Museum on September 2nd, 2018, where the entire museum burned. Almost the entire collection of the museum was lost.

Recovery Efforts

After the fire there have been multiple recovery efforts to help re-establish the National Museum. Via Google Arts and Culture, you can do an entire virtual tour of the museum pre-fire, which you can view here.

Some of the objects recovered from the fire (note that many of them are stone, which is well preserved in a fire).

Over 300 Egyptian related items have been salvaged from the fire. One of them is the heart scarab of Sha-Amun-en-su, which had never been previously seen because the mummy was never unwrapped. It had been picked up on previous CT scans that I’ll talk about below. But here is a 3D scan of the heart scarab!

This artist did a series of photographs and sculptures for an exhibition titled Museum of Ashes, where he took ashes from the National Museum and recreated some of the lost works, including Sha-Amun-en-su. You can read an interview with him here and see the exhibition pieces here.

And finally there had been multiple contests for artists to recreate something that was lost in the fire. Two artists chose to recreate the face of Sha-Amun-en-su. One is by Gislaine Avila, and the other was by user Rodrigo Avila.

Sarcophagus

The sarcophagus of Sha-Amun-en-su is carved in polychrome stuccoed wood. Its decoration had references to the Heliopolitan theology. The head of the sarcophagus has a blue headdress with a yellow vulture headdress and red ribbons. There is then an image of the goddess Nut and a ram-headed bird with wings outstretched. There are also two uraeus serpents with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and the four sons of Horus.

There was also a representation of the singer’s Ba, which was a part of the Egyptian concept of the soul. On the back of the sarcophagus was a djed pillar which was a sign of stability associated with Osiris.

The first band bore the inscription,

“An offering that the king makes [to] Osiris, Chief of the West, great God, Lord of Abydos – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine [of Ammon], Sha-Amun-en-su “.

The name of Sha-Amun-en-su and her titles

And the second line of hieroglyphs reads,

 “An offering that the king makes [to] Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, Lord of the [shrine] Shetayet – made for [?] The Singer of the Shrine of Ammon, Sha-Amun-en-su”.[4]

Mummy

Again, all examinations of the mummy have been made without opening the casket as it had never been unwrapped.

The mummy’s throat was covered in resin-coated bandages. This may indicate that the mummifying priests were protecting a zone seen as vital for a singer with ritualistic functions so that she could use her voice in the afterlife. This was also done to a mummy of an singer of Amun at the University of Chicago, Meresamun. This may indicate that this was a special procedure for the mummies of women who were charge of chanting hymns and songs.

CT scans of Sha-Amun-en-su

The mummy otherwise appears in good condition with no trauma or injuries. Sha-Amun-en-su kept all of her teeth except one. She also went under a 3D laser scan by Jorge Lopes from Tri-dimensional Experimentation Nucleus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. This scan allows for the construction of a small scale replica of her skeleton.

Several amulets were identified in her wrappings. One was the heart scarab that I mentioned previously. It is made out a oval green stone that was previously set in gold (which probably melted in the fire). This was placed on the heart of the mummy so that it could replace her heart which was removed.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sha-Amun-en-su

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Sha-Amun-em-su

https://artsandculture.google.com/streetview/the-sarcophagus-of-sha-amun-en-su/bQFRFDBrFqrXnw?hl=en&sv_lng=-43.22620415620449&sv_lat=-22.90580314721926&sv_h=301.26589544240363&sv_p=-27.748126633175573&sv_pid=t9CdnSQBuW0iLU_rTtrESA&sv_z=1

https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/gislaineavila/sha-amun-en-su/

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/v1zLbD

https://anba.com.br/en/brazil-natl-museum-reclaims-its-expertise-in-egyptology/

https://www.zbrushcentral.com/t/sha-amun-en-su-topia-contest/216421

Image Sources

Profile of Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Gian Cornachini

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke

Inscription of her name and title – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown author

Sarcophagus – Wikimedia Commons – Museu Nacional

X-ray and CT scan, picture of Dom Pedro in Egypt – https://revistapesquisa.fapesp.br/en/emperors-favorite-final-act/

Picture of display – https://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2018/09/04/Mummy-of-Ancient-Egypt-singer-engulfed-in-Rio-de-Janeiro-museum-fire

Coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Dornicke                       

Image of fire – https://blog.hmns.org/2018/09/what-the-loss-of-the-museu-nacional-in-rio-de-janeiros-collections-means-to-the-world/

Some of the artifact recovered – https://anba.com.br/en/rio-national-museum-egyptian-items-now-viewable-online/