Women Crush Wednesday: Hilda Petrie

For this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite females in Egyptology, Hilda Petrie! And happy belated International Women’s Day!!

Early Life

Hilda Mary Isabel Urlin was born in 1871 in Dublin as the youngest of five children to Richard Denny Urlin and Mary Elizabeth Addis Urlin. They were an English couple who were long-time residents in Ireland, but they moved back to London when Hilda was four years old. She was educated by a governess along with other children of a similar age.

Hilda was known for preferring the countryside to the city and took many bicycling expeditions with her friends. She did also enjoy the museums and galleries that the city had. Interestingly, Hilda did sit for a painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Henry Holiday in his studio in Hampstead.

Holiday, Henry; Aspasia on the Pnyx; Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/aspasia-on-the-pnyx-123266

She studied at King’s College for Women where she took courses in geology and in facsimile drawing, both of which would help in her archaeological career.

Married Life

When Hilda was 25 years old, she was introduced by Henry Holiday to William Flinders Petrie. This was originally a professional introduction as Petrie needed to employ an artist with copying skills for his archaeological digs. Their relationship progressed quickly and they were married on November 26, 1896. They actually left for Egypt the day after their wedding, skipping their wedding breakfast.

They had two children together, John in 1907, and Ann in 1909. John Petrie later became a mathematician, who gave his name to the Petrie Polygon. While the family lived in London, they lived in Hampstead. Hilda typically went with Petrie for every field season except for the years when their children were young.

Archaeological Career

Although Hilda had no archaeological experience, she proved herself vital to many of the expeditions. On their initial “honeymoon” trip, Hila and Flinders traveled to Cairo and Giza first. While in Giza, Hilda chose to climb the Great Pyramid of Giza without her cumbersome skirt, so she was pretty much in her underwear.

Personally, my favorite image of her

They held excavations at the Temple of Dendera, north of Luxor. During this dig, Hilda worked in one of the deep shafts of the tomb that was being excavated, climbing down a rope ladder to copy scenes and inscriptions. She apparently spent several days lying on the ground to copy some 20,000 hieroglyphs on one large sarcophagus. She also drew profiles of the pots, beads, scarabs, and other small finds for the excavation reports. This was her most common task on Petrie’s excavations, while Petrie himself took care of the domestic side.

In 1898, they excavated the cemetery sites of Abediyeh and Hu. Hilda was responsible for surveying the site, identify the shapes of pots, slates, and flints based on the Naqada examples, and writing the grave number on all of the finds. Petrie noted at the beginning of the excavation report,

“My wife was with me all the time, helping in the surveying, cataloging, and marking of the objects, and also drawing all the tomb plans here published.”

In 1902 when they worked at Abydos, Hilda was given control of excavation and worked with Margaret Murray and Miss Hansard. They attempted a difficult and hazardous excavation after the discovery the previous year of what appeared to be the approach to a huge underground tomb discovered in an area at the back of the temple of Seti I. The excavation area was in constant danger of caving in, and the work was ultimately abandoned.

In 1902 when they worked at Abydos, Hilda was given control of excavation and worked with Margaret Murray and Miss Hansard. They attempted a difficult and hazardous excavation after the discovery the previous year of what appeared to be the approach to a huge underground tomb discovered in an area at the back of the temple of Seti I. The excavation area was in constant danger of caving in, and the work was ultimately abandoned.

In 1904, she worked in Ehnadya, and in 1905, she remained at Saqqara to copy reliefs in some of the Old Kingdom tombs.

In 1905, Petrie founded the British School of Archaeology in Europe and Hilda helped as a secretary. She raised funds and recruited new subscribers by writing to the wealthy. She also oversaw their publications and gave public lectures in London and the UK.

In 1913, she rejoined Petrie at Kafr Ammar and recorded three painted 12th Dynasty tombs in Riqqeh. This task was also very dangerous, but she published a chapter within the final report for this excavation season.

During and after WWI

Most excavation efforts were halted during the two world wars. During WWI, she turned her attention to several women’s organizations, including her fundraising expertise as Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Women’s Hospital. She was later awarded the Serbian Order of St. Sava.

Most excavation efforts were halted during the two world wars. During WWI, she turned her attention to several women’s organizations, including her fundraising expertise as Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Women’s Hospital. She was later awarded the Serbian Order of St. Sava.

Excavations resumed in 1919, and Hilda excavated a Coptic hermit’s cell in the Western hills at Abydos in 1921. By 1926, Petrie had moved on from Egypt and became mainly excavating Palestine and Jerusalem. This was following the restrictions placed on excavating bodies in Egypt and the exportations of antiquities after the discovery of King Tut in 1922.

Hilda arrived in Gaza in November 1926 where she supervised, registered, and paid excavation workers. In 1931, they excavated Tell el-Ajull. In 1933, Flinders and Hilda moved to Jerusalem, where they also excavated Sheikh Soweyd between 1935 and 1937.

Later Life

Flinders Petrie died in 1942. For a few years, Hilda lived at the American School of Palestine while editing her husband’s papers, which she had determined to send to the newly formed library of the Department of Antiquities in Khartoum.

Hilda Petrie and Margaret Murray

Hilda returned to England in 1947 where she wound up affairs at the British School of Archaeology. She was also able to publish the tomb reliefs from Saqqara that she had copied in 1905. Hilda Petrie died of a stroke in University College Hospital in 1957.

Sources

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

https://trowelblazers.com/hilda-petrie/

https://egyptartefacts.griffith.ox.ac.uk/people/hilda-petrie

Image Sources

Flinders and Hilda – Wikimedia Commons (http://www.egyptorigins.org/petriepics.html)

Her digging – https://trowelblazers.com/hilda-petrie/

Hilda and Margaret Murray – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Hilda&last=Petrie

Some Pictures of Hilda and Flinders in Palestine – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259561969_Publicising_Petrie_Financing_Fieldwork_in_British_Mandate_Palestine_1926-1938

Flinders Petrie’s diary recording “H. to suffrage meeting” on July 25 1913 – https://historyofarchaeologyioa.weebly.com/notes/category/hilda-petrie

Henry Holiday Painting “Aspasia on the Pnyx” – https://storiesfromthemuseumfloor.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/hilda-and-flinders-a-reluctant-romance/

Hilda recording a wall – https://storiesfromthemuseumfloor.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/hilda-and-flinders-a-reluctant-romance/

Hilda and her daughter? – https://alchetron.com/Hilda-Petrie

Flinders and Hilda – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/485474034832631135/

Flinders and Hilda in front of car in Syria in 1934 – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/485474034832631135/

Flinders in the 1880s – https://www.thecollector.com/flinders-petrie-archeologist/

Hilda at Abydos in 1903 – https://ucldigitalpress.co.uk/Book/Article/73/97/5456/

Flinders and Hilda at Qau 1938 – Flickr (UCL News)

Hilda in December 1898 on a Horse – http://framingarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2009/08/image-10-hilda-petrie-on-horseback.html

Women Crush Wednesday: Bertha Porter

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

Early Life

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

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

Life as a Reference Writer

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

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

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

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

The only image I could find of Bertha Porter

Porter and Moss

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

A physical copy of the editions of Porter and Moss

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

You can download the entire series here.

Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images

Image of Bertha Porter – Griffith Institute

Image of Books – Historical.ha.com

Image of front of the book – AbeBooks

Image of Rosalind Moss – Jstor

Image of the Dictionary of National Biography – Wikimedia Commons

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

Women Crush Wednesday: Myrtle Broome

For Women Crush Wednesday, this Egyptologist was more renowned for her illustration work of Egyptian sites. This week we are talking about Myrtle Broome.

Early Life

Myrtle Florence Broome was born on February 22, 1888, in Muswell Hill, London to Eleanor Slater and Washington Herbert Broome. Her father was a music and book publisher. She received her art training at a school in Bushey, which was founded by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

Career in Egypt

In 1927, she was invited to participate in a project in Egypt by the British School of Archaeology. Here they copied tomb inscriptions at Qua-El-Kebi. Apparently, on this trip, she was smitten by the attentions of a local police officer. When he invited her to his family home, the visit was a disaster and Myrtle admitted, “it would never have worked.”

The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos (complete in 4 vols.) [INCLUDING 231 PLATES] by Calverley, Amice; Myrtle F. Broome; Alan H. Gardiner (ed.)

In 1929, she returned to Egypt as an artist with the Canadian epigrapher Amice Calverley, who was hired by the Egypt Exploration Society to copy the wall scenes in the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, starting in 1927. A year later, the project was fully funded by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller after they visited the site. The Oriental Institute in Chicago was also involved.

Calverley became the director of the project and hired Myrtle as her assistant. The pair of them did eight seasons together. They were responsible for all the paintings and replications. They also used large photographs to record the reliefs and later penciled over them to become more accurate. The reproductions were mainly watercolor paintings, as black and white photographs were the only ones available during this time. These were published in four volumes with colored plates between 1933 and 1958.

Painting of Amice Calverley and their car

During the projects, Myrtle and Calverley lived in a mudbrick house near the temple with two local servants. They were both actively involved in the life of the village, participating in feasts and ceremonies and often providing medical assistance to the villagers. They also traveled throughout Egypt, taking trains and often driving through the desert in a Jowett car they named Joey. Myrtle’s impressions of Egypt are noted in her letters and illustrations that she sent back to her parents. These archives are kept at the Griffith Institute in Oxford.

Their last season in 1938 and their fifth volume was interrupted because of WWII and it, unfortunately, has yet to be published.

Later Life

Myrtle retired from Egyptology in 1937. She also returned to England because her father was ill. During this time she continued to paint several watercolors of Egyptian villages and the surrounding landscape. She may have become a designer and a craft worker who designed for Liberty, a luxury department store in London. And she also went into business with her father with their business “Designed and Workers in Metal and Enamel.”

Her family home in Bushey is listed with Historic England, which is the government group that protects cultural institutions in the UK. Myrtle has created multiple painted panels and decorations throughout the home. It is now the Bushey Museum, which houses over 70 of her paintings, some of which you can see here and here.

The Bushey Museum, which was Mrytle Broome’s family home

Myrtle Broome died on January 27th, 1978.

Publications

  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1933. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume I: the chapels of Osiris, Isis and Horus. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1935. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume II: the chapels of Amen-Rē’, Rē’-Ḥarakhti, Ptaḥ, and King Sethos. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1938. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume III: the Osiris complex. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1958. The temple of King Sethos I at Abydos, Volume IV: the second hypostyle hall. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.

Sources

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

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Broome_Myrtle%20Florence.pdf

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Myrtle%20Florence&last=Broome

Image Sources

Self Portrait – Wikimedia Commons – WP:NFCC#4

Paintings from the Temple of Seti I – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/42986/amice-calverley-myrtle-f-broome-alan-h-gardiner/the-temple-of-king-sethos-i-at-abydos-complete-in-4-vols-including-231-plates

The Gulf of Suez – https://en.wahooart.com/@@/AQULXT-Myrtle-Broome-The-Gulf-of-Suez

Photo of her – https://archive.griffith.ox.ac.uk/index.php/broome-correspondence

Bushy Museum – https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/14461427.bushey-artist-gets-egypt-bug/

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/

Women Crush Wednesday: Grace Mary Crowfoot

This week’s Women Crush Wednesday is another contemporary woman who was a pioneer in the study of archaeological textiles, otherwise called a Grand Dame of Archaeological Textiles. Although she worked with a wide range of ancient and modern textiles from North Africa, Europe, and the British Isles, she also worked on a very important piece that belonged to one of the most famous Egyptian kings. Meet Grace Mary Crowfoot, nicknamed Molly!

Early Life

Grace Mary Hood was born in Lincolnshire England in 1879 to Sinclair Frankland Hood of Nettleham Hall, and his wife Grace. She was the eldest of six children, two girls, and four boys. Their family were “landed gentry,” meaning they were part of a British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income or at least had a country estate.

Her grandfather Reverend William Frankland Hood collected Egyptian antiquities, which were displayed in a wing added to the main building of Nettleham Hall. Because of her family’s interests, they were able to put her in contact with many early archaeologists, including the illustrious William Flinders Petrie. Grace later became lifelong friends with Hilda Petrie.

She attended a finishing school in Paris when she was younger and was expected to attend Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford. But she did not attend as her mother discouraged it. As Grace was determined to make a useful contribution to society, she trained to become a professional midwife in 1908 at Clapham Maternity Hospital in London. This would prove very useful in her later years.

Her earliest archaeological experience was from 1908-1909. While on vacation in Italy with her family she was able to excavate the prehistoric remains in a cave at Tana Bertrand above San Remo on the Italian riviera. On this excavation, she found over 300 beads and signs of early occupation. These excavations were not published until 1926.

Life in Egypt

John Winter Crowfoot on the right

In 1909, Grace married John Winter Crowfoot, who she had met years before in Lincoln. He at the time was the Assistant Director of Education in Sudan, so she joined him in Cairo. While living in Egypt, their eldest daughters Dorothy, Joan, and Elisabeth were born.

Grace with her daughter Dorothy in 1911

During this period of her life, she began to study different plants in North Africa. She created several botanical volumes that contained photographs and line drawings of the wild plants. Many of these drawings are now located in Kew Gardens in London.

During WWI in 1916, she sent her daughters to England while she and her husband moved to Khartoum, Sudan. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is where the White Nile and the Blue Nile meet to form the Nile.) Her husband was in charge of both education, as the Director of Gordon College (today Khartoum University), and antiquities in the area. Grace quickly immersed herself in the lives of the local women in a village called Omdurman.

Here is where she took up spinning and weaving. She became proficient on the looms that the Sudanese women used. Grace would later publish two papers on weaving and these looms. At the request of Flinders Petrie, she compared these weaving methods with an Ancient Egyptian model weaver that had been discovered in an 11th dynasty tomb. She found that the techniques and equipment had changed little since ancient times.

Throughout this time in Sudan, Grace was also collecting several locally made handicrafts, a few of which are in the British Museum’s collection as seen below.

By learning the locals’ handicrafts, she also got to know the Sudanese women and understanding their lives. She was introduced to the local tradition of Female Genital Mutilation, which at the time took its most severe form in Sudan. She was very cautious about how the locals would see an outsider intervening, so she founded the Midwives Training School in the early 1920s. They were able to train local midwives, improve conditions of childbirth, and at the same time try and tackle FGM.

Grace riding a camel in Nubia, 1917.

Following the birth of her fourth daughter, Diana, and the end of WWI, she and her husband returned to England and their three older daughters, where they leased a house in Geldeston, Norfolk. This would be their family home for the next 60 years.

All four of her brothers died during and after WWI and Grace was deeply affected. She became a passionate supporter of the League of Nations Union.

Life in Palestine

In 1926, Grace’s husband was offered the Directorship of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Here he ran major excavations at Samaria-Sebaste in 1931-2 and 1935, the Jerusalem Ophel in 1927, and early Christian churches in Jerash in 1928-1930. Grace was in charge of living and feeding arrangements on-site for the archaeologists. Both of them were admired for their diplomatic and organizational skills in the smooth running of these expeditions. Grace was among the authors and editors for the final three volumes on the excavation on Samaria-Sebaste.

While living in Jerusalem, she gathered folk tales with her friend Louise Baldensperger. They then produced From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of plants in Palestine (1932). This was an early work of ethnobotany.

Retirement

Grace and her husband returned to England in the mid-1930s, in time to see their two eldest daughters married and the arrival of the first of 12 grandchildren.

Grace and her four daughters

A quick note on her absolutely talented children. Her daughter Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a renowned chemist who won the 1964 Noble Prize for Chemistry. Joan Crowfoot Payne followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an Egyptologist and curator at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. After a short career in acting, Elisabeth Crowfoot helped her mother study archaeological textiles and also became a Grande Dame. Her last daughter, Diana Crowfoot became a geographer.

She took an interest in village activities by setting up a local branch of Girl Guides, serving as a wartime secretary of the New Village Produce Association, and post-war chairwoman of its Labor Party. She also attended the House of Commons in 1949 when questions were raised about the continued prevalence of FGM in Sudan. She informed them about her experience with the subject and told them that an outright ban would just drive the practice underground and undo the two decades of work that the Midwives’ School had done.

Her Work with Archaeological Textiles

Based on her knowledge of weaving, Grace slowly became an expert on Archaeological Textiles and she consulted on a variety of pieces discovered. She also made reproductions of Egyptian finds of Flinders Petrie and other pieces for the British Museum. Her daughter Elisabeth helped her examine and analyze numerous textile samples from a variety of excavations.

Grace published short reports about textiles from the nearby Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. She was invited in 1949 to examine the linen wrappings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and she published two articles about this in 1951 and 1955. You can learn more about these linens here.

She also reconstructed a sword harness that was found in an excavation in Taplow (1883,1214.17a-e). The fabric had not been preserved, but she was able to reconstruct the weave based on the pressure point left by the tread on the gold wire that was preserved. This reconstruction is in the British Museum (1955,1012.1a-b).

Finally, in 1942, she published an article on the Tunic of Tutankhamun. As part of this, she rewove various of the applied bands from the garment in order to see how they were made. One of these pieces is on display in the Textile Museum in Leiden. Download her article and another article about the textiles found in King Tut’s tomb.

Through her work, she trained a generation of textile archaeologists included Audrey Henshall and her daughter Elisabeth (as seen in the photo on the left in 1921). She helped establish a new field of study, ensuring that textile remnants found at any site were henceforth preserved for analysis, instead of being cleared from the metal and other objects to which they remained attached.

During her last few years, she was often bed-ridden as she battled childhood tuberculosis and then leukemia. She died in 1957 and is buried next to the tower of the parish church of St. Michael and All Saints in Geldeston.

You can read these two articles about her life and her contribution to the study of the Sudan.

Grace’s Collections

As I mentioned previously many of her drawings of the flora of North Africa and the Middle East are in Kew Gardens in London, and some of her textile pieces she collected in the Sudan and Palestine are in the British Museum.

Her unpublished papers and photos relating to her time in Egypt, Sudan, and Palestine are held in the Sudan Archives at Durham University Library and the Palestine Exploration Fund Archives in London. More papers along with her collection of textiles and spinning and weaving implements are now held in the Textile Research Center in Leiden, Netherlands.

Publications

  • Botany
    • Some desert flowers collected near Cairo (1914). 35 plates.
    • Flowering Plants of the Northern and Central Sudan (1928), 163 line drawings.
    • From Cedar to Hyssop: A study in the folklore of Plants in Palestine (1932). 76 plates.
    • The text of From Cedar to Hyssop (1932) is now available online.
    • Some Palestine Flowers: 64 line drawings (1933)
  • Textiles, other crafts and folk-tales
    • North Africa and Middle East
      • Models of Egyptian Looms (1921)
      • A tablet woven band, from Qau el Kebir (1924). From 6th-century A.D. wrapping of a Coptic body.
      • Methods of hand spinning in Egypt and the Sudan (1931). Earlier versions of this text were published in Sudan Notes and Records, issues 3 (1920) and 4 (1921).
      • Pots, ancient and modern (1932)
      • Ramallah embroidery (1935)
      • Samaria-Sebaste 2: Early Ivories (1938)
      • The tunic of Tut’ankhamun, (1942)
      • Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1865 to present, online
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, Primitive Weaving I: Plaiting and finger-weaving (1943)
      • Handicrafts in Palestine, 2: Jerusalem hammock cradles and Hebron rugs (1944)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—I (1951)
      • Folk Tales of Artas—II (1952)
      • The linen textiles (1955). Description and analysis of the linen wrappers from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • Europe and British Isles
      • Anglo Saxon Tablet Weaving (1952)
      • Textiles, Basketry and Mats (1954). Entry in History of Technology.
      • The braids (1956). Tablet-woven braids from the vestments of St Cuthbert at Durham.
      • The textiles (1983). Finds from Sutton Hoo ship burial by Elisabeth Crowfoot, expanding on earlier joint publications in 1951-2 by her mother and herself.

Sources

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

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Grace&last=Crowfoot

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/about-us/archive/past-exhibitions?id=286

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc/index.php/en/89-research/trc-projects/285-the-crowfoot-collection

https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/people-and-functions/authors-scholars-and-activists/crowfoot-grace-1877-1957

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-31

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-47

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-38

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1981-28-41-a-b

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1955-1012-1-b

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1955-1012-1-a

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1883-1214-17-b

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

Image Sources

Photo of her – Courtesy of John Crowfoot (her grandson) https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/people-and-functions/authors-scholars-and-activists/crowfoot-grace-1877-1957

More photos – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Grace&last=Crowfoot

Family photo – Short Biography pdf

Hand Spinning and Woolcombing book – Abe Books.com

Methods of Hand Spinning in Egypt and the Sudan – Amazon

John Crowfoot with Sudanese notables – Wikimedia Commons – John Crowfoot

Her replica of Anglo-Saxon textiles, relics of St. Cuthbert – https://durhamcathedral.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/shattering-perceptions-archaeology-1/

Possible recreation of the Tunic (At the Swedish Textile Museum)- https://www.reddit.com/r/ancientegypt/comments/ird3rm/syrian_tunic_of_tutankhamun_worn_by_him_as_an/

Images of the tunic – PDF

Women Crush Wednesday: Mayet

This week we are going to talk about a child buried in the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II in Deir el-Bahri. Her relationship to the king is not entirely known, but her name was Mayet, meaning “The Cat.”

Life

Mayet (alternatively spelled Miiut or Miit) probably lived during the rule of Mentuhotep II from 2061 to 2010 B.C.E. in the Middle Kingdom. Her relationship to the royal family is not known, but since she was buried within the mortuary temple, it can be assumed that she was a close family member to Mentuhotep II.

It is generally assumed that she was a young daughter of the king who died unexpectedly, but the Brooklyn Museum cites that she was a wife of the King. This is unlikely as she was probably around five years old when she died, which would be extraordinarily young for the wife of a king. As I said her name means “the cat,” and her name is written with the hieroglyph of a cat!

Burial

Map of the series of tombs in the back of the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II. Mayet’s tomb is the first on the right.

Her burial was found intact in the back of a columned structure in the center of the complex. Here there were six burials with shrines, which were discovered in 1921 by the American expedition by Herbert Eustis Winlock. Five of the burials belong to other royal women with the titles of King’s Wives. These were Ashait, Henhenet, Kawit, Kemsit, and Sadeh. Unfortunately, Mayet’s burial did not contain any titles, not even King’s Daughter, which leads to confusion about her relationship with the royal family.

Check out this article about the discovery of the tombs of these Queen’s and Mayet’s tomb!

Her coffins were found at the bottom of Pit 18. She was buried in three coffins, one made of limestone and two wooden coffins. The outer limestone coffin was inscribed with a simple offering formula. It was also much bigger than required, which suggests that it was not originally made for her small size. This implies an unexpected death and the use of someone else’s coffin. The stone sarcophagus was seemingly left in the tomb in Deir el-Bahri.

The outer wooden coffin is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 26.3.9a-b). This coffin has several offering spells on each of its sides and a pair of magical eyes on one side, which would allow the deceased to see when priests made offerings to them.

The inner coffin (and preseumably her body?) is located in the Brooklyn Museum (52.127a-b) and made of cypress and fig wood. It is also inscribed with a simple offering spell and decorated with a pair of magical eyes on one side. There is also evidence that the names within the offering spells had been altered to spell Mayet’s name. This is direct evidence of the use of someone else’s coffin.

Direct evidence of the removal of a name to replace with Mayet’s name

Within the wooden coffin, the body of the girl was found wrapped in linen and adorned with a mummy mask. The embalmers added substantial padding to her feet and her head to make the mummy look longer and fit within the adult size coffin. It is unclear if the body is currently with the inner coffin in the Brooklyn Museum, as I could not locate any pictures of the mummy or the mummy mask.

Check out these awesome 3D models of her coffin by Indiana University!

Linen

There are several linen markers found within the coffin, which are located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (22.3.4-22.38). These are short inscriptions written in ink on the corners of large sheets of linen. Some mention the names or titles of high officials, to whose estate the linen may have belonged to or who were possibly overseeing its acquisition or production. Other marks say nfr meaning good, which refers to the quality of the fabric.

One inscription (Above, 22.3.7), which came from a sheet of linen (22.3.6) that was laid inside her coffin, mentions the steward Henenu, who may have been the same person depicted on a different stela at the MET (26.3.21a,b).

Some of the linen padding found in the coffin MET 26.3.14

There is evidence that the tomb was robbed in antiquity, but the looters did not open the sarcophagus. This is lucky because there are several beautiful necklaces found on the mummy. All of her jewelry are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Jewelry

Five necklaces were found around the neck of the mummy. Her necklaces are some of the finest jewelry that survives from this period. The drilled stone beads are very tiny, making this a technically brilliant manufacture. The necklaces are made out of beads (22.3323) and amulets (22.3.324), carnelian (22.3.321), and gold (22.3.320 and 22.3.322).

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayet_(ancient_Egypt)

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

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/3575

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544147

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/590944

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544145

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544146

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544144

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/552232

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545320

Image Sources

Inner coffin – Wikimedia Commons – Unknown Author

Inner coffin -Brooklyn Museum

Necklaces – MET

Image of mummy in coffin – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/43305/h-e-winlock/excavations-at-dier-el-bahri-1911-1931

Excavation Images – Bulletin of the MET 1921

Women Crush Wednesday: Merneith

After taking about the first confirmed female pharaoh of Egypt, Sobekneferu, I also wanted to mention some earlier women who may have ruled Egypt. So let’s talk about Mereneith from the 1st Dynasty!

Life

Merneith (also known as Meritneith or Meryt-Neith) was a consort or queen during the 1st Dynasty of Egypt. Her name means “Beloved of Neith.” She may have been the daughter of Pharaoh Djer, which would have made her the granddaughter of the first pharaoh of a unified Egypt, Narmer. She was probably married to Pharaoh Djet and mother of Pharaoh Den, as indicated by a clay seal found in the tomb of Den, labeled “King’s Mother, Mereneith.”

She is believed to have ruled after the death of Djet sometime around 2950 B.C.E., although her title is still debated. It is possible that her son Den was two young to rule, so she may have ruled as regent for her son until he was old enough. But is she ruled in her own right, then she may have actually been the first female pharaoh of Egypt, or the second, if an earlier queen Neithhotep ruled in her own right. Her name is not recorded in any ancient king lists.

Merneith’s name can be seen on the far right. The vulture and the plant with shoots is the world for mother, while the three signs below it, spell her name.

She is known from only a select number of artifacts, none of which contain any depictions of her. Her name was found on a cylinder seal from the tomb of her son Den. This seal contains all the Horus names of kings from the 1st dynasty. Mereneith is mentioned here with her title, King’s Mother. Some objects were found with her name in the tomb of King Djer in Umm el-Qa’ab.

Reconstruction of the tomb of Mereneith in Abydos

In an unpresecedneted move, Mereneith may have built two sperate tombs for herself. First we will talk about her confirmed tomb in Abydos and then I will talk about her possible tomb in Saqqara.

Tomb in Abydos

Mereneith’s tomb in Abydos is located in the Umm el-Qa’ab cemetery, particularly in the 1st Dynasty royal cemetery. Her tomb is the strongest evidence that she was a ruler of ancient Egypt, because it is in the middle of the other royal tombs. She is buried in Tomb Y, which is close to the tombs of Djet and Den. Flinders Petrie discovered the tomb in 1900, and he believed that it belonged to a previously unknown male pharaoh. Two stela with her names were found outside this tomb

The tomb is only slightly smaller in scale to the other tombs at 16.5 meters by 14 meters. It was shown to contain a large underground chamber, lined with mud bricks. The actual burial chamber was dug deeper than rooms surrounding it. There were 8 storage rooms that were filled with pottery. This neck of a Levantine jug (UC 17421) which was found is currently at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. A schist bowl was also found labeled as “that which is from Mereneith’s treasury,” which confirms it was an offering from the royal treasury and not her personal property. A solar boat was found in or near her tomb, which would allow her to travel with the sun diety in the afterlife.

The tomb was surrounded by rows of small satellite burials, with at least 40 subsidiary graves for servants. During this period, servants were sacrificed to be buried with their king so that they could assist the ruler in the afterlife. This was significantly less than at her husband and her son’s tombs.

The Levantine jug handle found in the tomb of Merenneith in Abydos located in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (UC 17421)

Tomb in Saqqara

Reconstruction of the supposed tomb of Mereneith in Saqqara

Her name has also been found on inscribed stone vessels and seal impressions in a tomb in Saqqara, Mastaba S3503. This has lead some to believe that this is another tomb of Mereneith. It is 41 meters long and 16 meters wide. The exterior was decorated like a place façade, with nine niches on the long sides and three niches on the short sides. There were 23 chambers on the ground floor, with 20 subsidiary tombs arranged around the structure. Some have speculated that this tomb has features of some of the funerary structures of the 3rd dynasty. Behind the palace façade there is the base of a stepped structure.

Below the ground level there was a large burial chamber in the middle of the building with four side chambers. Although it was probably robbed in ancient times, multiple items were still found in their original locations. There was a large sarcophagus in the center, of which only a few wooden planks were found. They did contain the remains of a skeleton, but they could not be determined to be a man or a woman. Bowls and vessels were found in the remains of a chest, some of which were inscribed with the name of Mereneith. North of the sarcophagus, poles were found which were probably intended for a canopy or tent. There was also a cylinder seal found with her name inside a royal serekh. Interestingly, this serekh had an image of the goddess Neith rather than the typical Horus falcon on top of it.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.

The only evidence that this tomb does not belong to Mereneith is the tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab. While it is extremely unique that a pharaoh of the 1st dynasty would have two tombs, the presence of one tomb shouldn’t be the evidence against another tomb.

Sources

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastaba_S3503

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

https://www.livius.org/articles/person/merneith/

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydostomby.html

https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/queenmereneith/

http://www.ancient-egypt.org/who-is-who/m/merneith/tomb-y-at-umm-el-qaab.html

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

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydosforts2.html

Photo Sources

Detail of the tomb stela, Egyptian Museum Cairo (JE 34450) – Wikimedia Commons (Juan R. Lazaro)

Cemetery B, Umm el-Qa’ab – Wikimedia Commons (Jolle~commonswiki)

Plan of the main chamber of the tomb – Wikimedia Commons (Josiane d’Este-Curry)

Funerary enclosure – https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/abydos/abydosforts2.html

Levantine jug – Petrie Museum (UC 17421)

Full stela – Ancient Egypt Fandom (Tomrowley)

Reconstruction of the tomb – http://www.ancient-egypt.org/who-is-who/m/merneith/tomb-y-at-umm-el-qaab.html

Reconstructions of Saqqara tombs – https://www.courses.psu.edu/art_h/art_h201_ejw3/egypt.html

Seal impression from the tomb of Den – http://xoomer.virgilio.it/francescoraf/hesyra/merneith.html

Royal Tombs of Abydos – Wikimedia Commons (PLstrom)

Women Crush Wednesday: Sattjeni

This week’s Woman Crush Wednesday is a female powerhouse in the noble family of the governors of Elephantine in the Middle Kingdom. Her tomb was found only a few years ago near the tombs of her family. Her name was Sattjeni.

Life

Sattjeni (or Sattjeni V to Egyptologists) was the daughter of one governor, wife of another governor, and mother of two governors. Although her family was not explicitly royal, her family practiced royal strategies to hold onto their governing power. They ranked just below the pharaoh’s royal family, but their roles were appointed by the king rather than hereditary. But because Aswan was so far away from the capital in Thebes, a mini-dynasty rose up during this time, keeping the rule within the family. Her family believed that they descended from the god Khnum, who is one of the oldest Egyptian deities. He is depicted as the god of the source of the Nile River and the divine potter, who created all people.

Family Tree of Sattjeni V’s family

She was the second daughter of Sarenput II and had two known siblings. Her brother Ankhu died shortly after their father and there was no other male successor. So Sattjeni and her sister Gaut-Ankhuet technically had the rights of the rule in Elephantine.

The funerary mask of Heqaib III, son of Sattjeni V

Her sister married a man named Heqaib, who became Heqaib II when he became governor. By marrying the daughter of the last governor, it would solidify his rule as governor. They did have a son named Heqaib-Ankh, but Gaut-Ankhuet died soon after, so Sattjeni married her sister’s widower. They had at least two children, Heqaib III and Ameny-Seneb, both of which would become governor of Elephantine, after their step-brother, Heqaib-Ankh.

After her husband died, Sattjeni did marry an official named Dedu-Amen, who may have been of Nubian descent. They had two more sons, Sarenput (after her father) and Amenemhat (after the pharaoh).

Discovery of her Burial

Her burial was found in tomb QH34aa in 2016 in the necropolis at Qubbet el-Hawa across the Nile from Aswan in Upper Egypt by a team from the University of Jaén in Spain, with excavation leader Alejandro Jiménez Serrano.

The series of tombs in Qubbet el-Hawa that belonged to family members of Sattjeni V. She was buried in QH34aa.

Qubbet el-Hawa is one of the most important nonroyal necropolises in Egypt. There are a great quantity and quality of biographical inscriptions in the funerary complexes. It was mainly used to bury the highest officials of the nearby town of Elephantine as this was the capital of the southernmost province of Egypt from 2200 to 1775 B.C.E. These governors are buried together with their relatives, while members of their courts were buried in smaller and less decorated tombs. There are about 100 tombs, with only 80 being completely cleared.

Tomb QH34aa was a small tomb next to the larger QH33 tomb where Hequaib III, Ameny- Seneb, and their half-brother Sarenput were buried. Outside the western wall of the burial chamber of Heqaib III, a votive bowl was found. It once contained a food offering to honor the deaceased. The bowl was inscribed with Sattjeni’s name and title as the Daughter of the Governor in hieratic. It may have been placed here by Sattjeni for the burial of her son.

Archaeological drawing on QH34aa with Sattjeni buried in the double coffin highlighted in blue. I could not find any information about the other body shown here.

The upper part of a chamber of QH34aa was discovered in 2013 and this was most likely a tomb quarried in the Byzantine period (5th century C.E.). It was originally thought that this area was disturbed as there was a Christian prayer painted by the Coptics on the walls.

But the end of the chamber was actually the beginning of a shaft. The shaft was not fully excavated in 2016. A small hole was found in the wall of the burial chamber and through it, archaeologists could see hieroglyphs on the coffin.

Burial and Mummy

Inner coffin of Sattjeni V

Sattjeni was buried in two coffins made of cedar wood imported from Lebanon. The outer coffin had almost completely degraded, but the inner coffin is in excellent condition. The inner coffin was decorated with hieroglyphs and the double Eye of Horus or the Wadjet, which would help protect her soul both in the tomb and in the afterlife. The body would typically be laid on the side so that the face lined up with the eyes. They believed that the deceased could “see” through these eyes and look at the offerings laid out for them. Her mummy was found with its painted mask largely intact.

*There is an image featuring the bones of Sattjeni below*

Her mummy was not that well preserved but she was most likely around 30 years old when she died. But researchers have found remains of a gynecological treatment carried out on Sattjeni. Between her legs, which were originally bandaged, a ceramic bowl with burned remains was found. She had suffered a traumatic injury to her pelvis sometime during her later life. But it is important to note that this injury, which was possibly a fall, did not kill her.

These treatments were described in contemporary medical papyri, but until now no evidence had been found that they were actually carried out. Roast meat, herbs, or rancid milk may have been used in the cup. The presence of the cup in the burial indicates that it was supposed to continue to heal her or at least alleviate her pain in the afterlife.

Feel free to read the article below about Sattjeni, but note that it was written after the discovery of the inscribed bowl, but before the discovery of her tomb.

Sources

https://www.livescience.com/54955-sattjeni-tomb-reveals-ancient-egyptian-elite.html

https://www.livescience.com/54952-photos-egyptian-coffin-holds-lady-sattjeni.html

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

https://historythings.com/sattjeni-a-royal-discovery/

http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com/2016/07/a-leading-lady-in-elephantine-on-nile.html

http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com/2016/08/a-leading-lady-in-elephantine-on-nile.html

http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com/2017/10/lady-sattjeni-v-of-elephantine-once-more.html

https://tv6.news/they-find-remains-of-a-gynecological-remedy-applied-to-an-egyptian-woman-named-sattjeni-in-the-year-1800-bc/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8961247/Gynaecology-ancient-Egypt-REVEALED.html

Photo Sources

Photo of inner coffin, mask, and view of tomb shaft – Alejandro Jiménez Serrano

Photo of a piece of her coffin – https://www.facebook.com/Ministry-of-Antiquities-336764893195328/photos/pcb.495697640635385/495697503968732

Hieroglyphs, bowl, coffin – Judith Weingarten

Women Crush Wednesday: Margaret Murray

This Women Crush Wednesday let’s talk about another woman who helped build the British Egyptological community. Her name was Margaret Murray.

Early Life

Margaret Alice Murray was born on July 13th, 1863 in Calcutta, India, which at the time was a major military city in British India. Her parents were James and Margaret Murray and she had an older sister named Mary. Her family were part of the wealthy British elite as her father managed paper mills in Seramproe and was a member of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. Her mother had come to India as a missionary and believed in being a service to others, something her daughters took to heart.

She travelled back and forth between India and Britain several times throughout her young life. In 1870, she and her sister were sent to England to live with their uncle John, who was a vicar. The girls never had any formal education, but their uncle did teach them when they lived with him. Though, he held a very misogynistic point of view, which did not settle well with Margaret. Her interest in archaeology also began during this time, as her uncle would take her to see many local monuments.

In 1873, their mother took the girls to Bonn, Germany. Here the girls learned German, which would later help Margaret a great deal. They returned to Calcutta in 1875 for two years before moving back to England. By 1880, the whole family was back in Calcutta and 17-year-old Margaret became a nurse at the Calcutta General Hospital, though her father disapproved. He believed that women should not have work outside the house, so he only let his daughter be a nurse for three months. By 1887, Margaret moved to England and became a social worker, helping local underprivileged people. She apparently had attempted to become a nurse but was refused because she was considered too short! (She was less than five feet tall.) Margaret later moved in with her father and lived with him until his death in 1891.

Life at University College London

University College London

While visiting her sister and brother-in-law in Madras (now Chennai), India in 1893, her sister saw an advertisement for an Egyptology course. This course was going to be at the newly established Egyptology Department at University College London (created by Amelia Edwards) and taught by Flinders Petrie, an already popular Egyptologist and archaeologist. Mary was always the more academically inclined of the two sisters and would have loved to take the course. But she was newly married with a baby living in India. So she insisted that Margaret should do it.

And Margaret did.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in January 1894 at UCL. Here she took classes on the ancient Egyptian languages by Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Walter Ewing Crum and soon got to know Flinders Petrie. He recognized her talent and passion and she became his copyist and illustrator for his books. He encouraged her to write her first research paper, “The Descent of Property in the Early Periods of Egyptian History,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in 1895. She essentially became Petrie’s assistant.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in January 1894 at UCL. Here she took classes on the ancient Egyptian languages by Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Walter Ewing Crum and soon got to know Flinders Petrie. He recognized her talent and passion and she became his copyist and illustrator for his books. He encouraged her to write her first research paper, “The Descent of Property in the Early Periods of Egyptian History,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in 1895. She essentially became Petrie’s assistant.

Although it seems that Margaret never technically graduated from UCL (although this was the first British university to grant degrees to women), she began to teach Egyptology courses in 1896, only two years after starting! She was appointed as a junior lecturer in 1898 and would go on to teach courses on Ancient Egyptian history, religion, and language. She referred to her students as “The Gang,” who compromised of several future Egyptologists including, Reginald Engelbach, Georgina Aitken, Guy Brunton, and Myrtle Broome. During this time, she also taught evening Egyptology courses at the British Museum.

During the 1902-1903 field season, Margaret joined Petrie and his wife, Hilda Petrie, on their excavations at Abydos. During the winter months when Petrie would excavate in Egypt, she was typically in charge of running the department at UCL. But this year, she joined as a site nurse, but Petrie quickly taught her excavation methods and she was given a senior position. During this season, she helped uncover the Osireion, which was a temple devoted to Osiris by Pharaoh Seti I. She published her site report in 1904 (The Osireion at Abydos)and it was considered groundbreaking.

Margaret returned to Egypt during the 1903-1904 field season where they excavated the Saqqara cemetery. Technically, she did not have permission to excavate here (which is essential today in archaeology and Egyptology), so she worked on tombs that had already been excavated. She transcribed the inscriptions of ten of these tombs and published her results (Saqqara Mastabas) in two parts in 1905 and 1937.

Throughout her career she was invited by several museums to help advise them on their Egyptological collections. She catalogued artefacts owned by the Dublin National Museum, the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the Manchester Museum. She also donated some items to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which you can read more about here.

*There is an image of human remains below*

She is well respected at the Manchester Museum, as Margaret unwrapped one of their mummies. (This practice is of course not done anymore for a variety of ethical and conservation reasons.) She unwrapped the mummy of Khnum-Nakht, who was one of the mummies found in the “Tomb of the Two Brothers,” to an audience of about 500. She took an interdisciplinary approach to this unwrapping, which was adopted by later Egyptologists and called “The Manchester Method.” Margaret was the first women to ever publicly unwrap a mummy. To learn more about the recent discoveries regarding these two mummies, click here.

The coffins of “The Two Brothers”

Besides her academic achievements, Margaret was also dedicated to public education. She recognized that solid scholarship could be mixed with Egyptomania. She did multiple lecture series throughout her career. She was also pleased with the increased public interest in Egyptology following Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut.

Her Feminist Activism

A bust of Margaret Murray in UCL’s Institute of Archaeology’s Library

Margret took an active role in the feminist movement in the early 1900s. She volunteered, donated, and took part in feminist demonstrations, protests, and marches. She was a member of the Pankhursts’ Women Social and Political Union and attended several marches including the Mud March of 1907 and the Women’s Coronation Procession of 1911. Many of her larger actions were concealed from her colleagues in order to retain her image in the male world of academia.

But she successfully campaigned for UCL to open a common room for women, as women were not allowed in the men’s common room. This room was later named after her, although now the room has been converted to an office. Margaret demanded better and more equal facilities and working conditions for the female students and staff at the University.

Her Folklore Research

During WWI, when excavations in Egypt were postponed, Margaret first worked as a nurse in France, before moving to Glastonbury to rest. Here she became interested in the local folklore, in particular the stories of the Holy Grail. She also became interested in the history of European witchcraft.

She began to publish articles and books on witchcraft. Her most popular was The Witch Cult in Western Europe. Based on her research, she believed that there was an ancient pre-Christian religion dating to the Paleolithic period that secretly continued in Europe. These followers worshiped a female deity, before a male horned god was worshiped and eventually represented the Devil.

She began to publish articles and books on witchcraft. Her most popular was The Witch Cult in Western Europe. Based on her research, she believed that there was an ancient pre-Christian religion dating to the Paleolithic period that secretly continued in Europe. These followers worshiped a female deity, before a male horned god was worshiped and eventually represented the Devil.

On a pop culture level, her books were quite popular. But scholars’ have since discredited her work. Much of her work was based on confessions from women in Scotland accused of witchcraft in the 16th and 17th century. These sources are not that reliable considered they may have confessed under threat of torture and Margaret based her thesis on the belief that the secret religion had continued from pagan times. Critics have also said that she used questionable methodology, poor sourcing, and selective quoting.

Regardless of this evidence, her work influenced Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, which is the modern Pagan religion, along with many other Wicca pioneers. Her theories may have also influenced or derived the use of terms, concepts, and phrases such as “Old Religion,” “coven,” and “Horned God.” Read this article to learn more about if we should completely dismiss her theories of witchcraft.

Later Life

After WWI ended, Margaret returned to UCL in London. She also carried out two more archaeological digs on the islands of Malta and Menorca.

She was made assistant professor at UCL in 1924 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1927 for her work in Egyptology. Although she could have retired from teaching in 1927, she was reappointed each year until 1935, because she was such a popular lecturer. She also assisted Petrie and his wife on excavations in Palestine and Jordan in the 1930s.

After her retirement from UCL, she continued her interest in public education. She taught adult education classes on ancient Egyptian history and religion in the City Library Institute. Her general public book on Egyptian history, The Splendour that was Egypt, was published in 1949.

Margaret Murray and Hilda Petrie in their old age

Continuing her love of folklore, Margaret was elected the president of the Folklore Society in 1953, after joining it in 1927. She was 90 years old!

Margaret Murray being interviewed by the BBC in 1960

“I’ve been an archaeologist most of my life and now I’m a piece of archaeology myself.”

Quoted in The New Scientist, November 1961, when she was 96

In May 1962, Margaret moved to the Queen Victoria Memoiral Hospital for the last 18 months of her life. She published two more books during this time, The Genesis of Religion and My First Hundred Years, her autobiography.

A photo from her 100th birthday party

For her 100th birthday, two birthday celebrations were held; one in Ayot St. Lawerence and another at UCL. Her colleagues, former students, doctors, and friends attended and there was even a cake in the shape of the Egyptian hieroglyph for the number 100.

Four months later, apparently still planning future projects, Margaret Murray died on November 13th, 1963.

Check out these two articles about her life as an Egyptologist and a recipe for meat curry she gave another archaeologist.

Please enjoy this little comic about her life, created by Gabriel Moshenska.

Sources

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

https://trowelblazers.com/margaret-murray-2/

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/margaret-murray-mother-egyptology-grandmother-wicca-or-fairy-godmother-007832

https://storiesfromthemuseumfloor.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/margaret-murray/

https://www.fembio.org/english/biography.php/woman/biography/margaret-murray/

Photo Sources

Unwrapping Mummy – Manchester Museum (Trowelblazer)

Cartoon – Trowelblazers (Gabriel Moshenska 2014)

Bust at UCL library – Wikimedia Commons (Midnightblueowl)

Photograph of her with book – National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG x42538)

Painting of Margaret Murray – Winifred Brunton (her former student) in 1917; currently in the UCL Art Museum

Photo of her on her 100th birthday – UCL Records

Photo when she received her doctorate in 1933 – Petrie Museum https://www.vice.com/en/article/xye9yk/the-forgotten-egyptologist-and-first-wave-feminist-who-invented-wicca

The witch-cult in Western Europe – Amazon

The two Brother’s mummy – https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/ancient-dna-results-end-4000-year-old-egyptian-mummy-mystery-in-manchester/

Her being interviewed by the BBC in 1960 – Wikimedia Commons (Petrie Museum)

Flinders Petrie – https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/03/how-alternative-egyptology-and-scientific-archaeology-were-born-on-the-giza-plateau/3/

Hilda Petrie – Trowelblazers

Margaret Murray and Hilda Petrie – https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Hilda&last=Petrie