Category Archives: EGYPT

Giant ram head statues found on ‘Avenue of Sphinxes’ in Egypt

Giant ram head statues found on ‘Avenue of Sphinxes’ in Egypt

Three giant statues of ram heads — at least one of which had a cobra on top — have been discovered south of Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egyptologists announced. 

Karnak Temple was built between roughly 4,000 and 2,000 years ago, and much of it is dedicated to Amun-Ra, a god associated with the sun and Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt (now the modern-day city of Luxor). The temple complex covers over 250 acres (100 hectares). 

On Oct. 11, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that three giant ram heads had been found by an Egyptian archaeological team south of a gateway built by the Ptolemies, a dynasty of pharaohs descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals that ruled Egypt between 305 B.C and 30 B.C. 

Giant ram head statues found on 'Avenue of Sphinxes' in Egypt
An entire avenue of the ram-headed statues connected Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple.
The ram’s head would have rested on a body (shown here). They are shaped a bit like a sphinx.

In ancient times, these ram heads were part of three larger statues that had the bodies of creatures that looked a bit like sphinxes.

The statues featured in a large avenue of ram-headed statues that went south, running for 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres) between Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple, Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the news site al-Monitor. 

This avenue is often called the “avenue of the sphinxes” and consisted of around 700 statues.

“An estimated 700 sphinxes lined the route between Karnak and Luxor temples and its magnificence can scarcely be imagined,” wrote Elizabeth Blyth, an independent scholar in her book “Karnak: Evolution of a Temple” (Routledge, 2006). While many of the surviving sphinxes date to the reign of Nectanebo I (380-362 B.C.) artwork suggests that the avenue existed at least as early as the 18th dynasty (1550-1295 B.C.), wrote Blyth. 

Avenue of the sphinxes or criosphinxes leading to the Karnak Temple Complex at Luxor, Egypt.

Egyptologists are in the process of conserving the ram heads and will put them back on statues showing the bodies of the creatures, Waziri said in the statement. 

READ ALSO: EGYPT’S SECRETS REVEALED: POSSIBLY A SECOND SPHINX & MYSTERIOUS HIDDEN CHAMBERS??

Archaeologists unearthed another discovery — the remains of a cobra statue — Waziri announced Oct. 17 on his Facebook page. This cobra statue would have originally been on top of one of the ram heads, so the conservation team plans to put it back on, Waziri said. 

The age of the statues is being investigated, but Waziri told Al-Monitor that the design of one of them suggests that it may date back to the reign of Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt between 1390 B.C and 1352 B.C.,

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s list of Egyptian rulers, and was the grandfather of King Tutankhamun. Excavation, analysis and conservation work is ongoing. 

World’s oldest ‘pet cemetery’ discovered in ancient Egypt

World’s oldest ‘pet cemetery’ discovered in ancient Egypt

World's oldest 'pet cemetery' discovered in ancient Egypt

A dig near the famous ancient Egyptian port city of Berenice has turned up a mysterious animal cemetery dating to the 1st century AD.

It emerged in the dunes to the northwest of the important ancient Red Sea port of Berenice, which saw traffic from far and wide, with ships coming from East Africa, Europe, and India.

Ninety per cent of the nearly 600 burial sites explored unearthed cats, though there were also dogs and macaque monkeys, a few of them definitely imported from outside Africa.

The find was published by a team led by Marta Osypinska, an archaeozoologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences, in the journal World Archaeology.

Several characteristics make this discovery uniquely mysterious. For one thing, none of the animals was mummified, as they are at other archaeological sites, such as temples. Here, too, there was a greater variety of species and funeral practices. Also, unlike at other burial sites, there were no humans among the beasts.

While the animals obviously had a special place in their society, the paper says, to think of them the way we think of pets today might not be quite right. These “companion animals,” as the researchers call them, probably played more of a utilitarian role than the pampered pets of today.

Still, the animals were definitely treated well in death.

They’re accompanied by craft objects like pottery that is thought to have protected them, and the creatures also have adornments like beaded necklaces made of stone, glass, and faience and shell. They were uniformly found in a sleep-like position.

Other experts second the conviction that the site is truly something new.

“It’s something completely different than what we see elsewhere,” Bea De Cupere, an archaeologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, who was not involved with the project, tells Atlas Obscura.

READ ALSO: GRAVES OF NEARLY 600 CATS AND DOGS IN ANCIENT EGYPT MAY BE THE WORLD’S OLDEST PET CEMETERY

“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of bones in my career, and maybe 10 cats,” she says.

According to her research, the ships that came and went in these ports usually had cats aboard for pest control, suggesting that these may have been partly working animals.

World’s First known case of a pregnant mummy discovered by researchers

World’s First known case of a pregnant mummy discovered by researchers

Researchers have discovered the world’s first-known pregnant mummy, dating from the first century in Egypt. The find was unexpected, as inscriptions on the mummy’s coffin suggested the remains inside belonged to a male priest, according to a new study.

World's First known case of a pregnant mummy discovered by researchers
A scientist makes a CT scan of a pregnant Egyptian mummy during research work in this undated handout photo

The mummy was donated to the University of Warsaw in Poland in 1826; only recently did archaeologists with the Warsaw Mummy Project conduct a detailed analysis of the mummy while studying the National Museum in Warsaw’s collection of animal and human mummies.

X-ray and CT scans of the mummy revealed that the remains inside belonged to a female and did not match the coffin and cartonnage case that was made for a male.

The mummy was obviously not the remains of a priest named Hor-Djehuty from ancient Thebes, whose name was inscribed onto the coffin, the researchers said. 

This handout picture made available by the “Warsaw Mummy Project” on April 29, 2021, shows X-ray images of the pregnant Egyptian mummy taken in 2015 at a medical centre in Otwock near Warsaw, Poland.

“It was a complete surprise because we were looking for ancient diseases or causes of deaths,” lead author Wojciech Ejsmond, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project said. “Also, we thought that this is a body [of] a priest.”

The mummy turned out to be the remains of a female who died when she was between 20 and 30 years of age and was about 6.5 to 7.5 months pregnant, based on the circumference of the fetus’s head.

A pregnant Egyptian mummy is pictured during research work in this undated handout photo.

“It’s the first such preserved case,” Ejsmond told Live Science in an email. There have previously been skeletons of pregnant women found, but no mummies with preserved soft tissue, he said.

The scans showed four mummified bundles — likely her lungs, liver, stomach with intestines, and heart — inside the female mummy. Those were extracted, embalmed and then placed back inside the mummy’s abdominal cavity, which was a customary practice in ancient Egypt. But the fetus had not been similarly removed from the uterus.

This handout picture made available by the “Warsaw Mummy Project” on April 29, 2021, shows X-ray images of the pregnant Egyptian mummy taken in 2015 at a medical centre in Otwock near Warsaw, Poland.

The researchers haven’t determined the sex of the fetus or why it was left in the womb. 

The researchers hypothesize that the fetus may have been thought of as “still an integral part of the body of its mother since it was not yet born,” according to the study.

A baby that didn’t yet have a name may not have been thought of as a distinctive individual, as ancient Egyptian beliefs held that naming was an important part of being human.

“Thus, its afterlife could only have happened if it had gone to the netherworld as part of its mother,” the authors wrote. Another hypothesis is that a fetus of that age would have been difficult to extract due to the thickness and hardness of the uterus, and so the people mummifying the mother may not have been able to extract the fetus without damaging her body or that of the fetus, they wrote.

The archaeologists are also not sure why this mummy was inside a male’s coffin; however, it’s thought that up to 10% of mummies are found in the “wrong” coffins, due to illegal excavations and looting, according to the study. What’s more, there was damage to the wrappings on the mummy’s neck, likely caused by robbers who may have stolen some amulets, according to the study.

The authors have called her the “Mysterious Lady of the National Museum in Warsaw” because there’s still much that’s unknown about her. “Her mummy represents a fine example of ancient Egyptian embalming skills, thus suggesting her high social standing,” the authors wrote. She was also buried with a “rich set” of amulets, according to the study.

It’s also not clear why she died. “High mortality during pregnancy and childbirth in those times is not a secret,” Ejsmond told Science in Poland. “Therefore, we believe that pregnancy could somehow contribute to the death of the young woman.”

The team now hopes to analyze small samples of blood that were preserved in the mummy’s soft tissues to try to figure out the cause of death.

This find “allows us to gather first-hand evidence” of prenatal health in ancient times, Ejsmond told Live Science. “We can make comparative studies with contemporary cases, look for traces of ancient medical procedures to study the history of medicine.”

Ancient religious ritual tools unearthed by Egyptian archaeologists

Ancient religious ritual tools unearthed by Egyptian archaeologists

Waziri stated this discovery is considered to be a major find in Egypt as it has the instruments that were utilised in conducting the daily religious rituals.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities released a statement on September 18, Saturday stating that the Egyptian archaeologists discovered some ancient ritual tools and equipment which were previously used in religious rites at a temple area in Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, north of Cairo, Egypt. 

As per Xinhua, Fragments of a limestone pillar which are built in the shape of the goddess Hathor, a bunch of faience incense burners, a pair of clay pots, a number of statuettes, a fully golden Udjat eye, and the remnants of golden scales were among the items which are unearthed. 

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri stated that this is considered to be a major find since it comprises the instruments that were really utilised in conducting the daily religious rites for goddess Hathor.

As per the Daily News Egypt website, these ancient ritual tools were most likely stashed behind a mound of stone blocks which is situated to the south of the goddess Wajit’s shrine.  

Other artefacts unearthed in the Pharaonic site

As per Ayman Ashmawy, the head of the ministry’s Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, they also discovered ivory reliefs portraying everyday life, which comprises women carrying services for rituals, there are carvings of plants, birds, and animals.

A large limestone horizontal structured lintel was even found in which hieroglyphic texts are inscribed and components of a painting of a king conducting religious practices in the temple.  

The archaeologists also unearthed and identified hieroglyphic writings with the names and titles of Ancient Egyptian rulers going back over 2,500 years.

Daily News Egypt further reports that the inscription of the names and titles consists of King Psamtik I‘s five titles, as well as the names of the two 26th dynasty rulers ‘Wah Ib Ra’ and ‘Ahmose II.

A big limestone well for holy water which was used for the rituals and a mud-brick bathtub structure were also unearthed, according to Hossam Ghoneim, director-general of Kafr el-Sheikh antiquities and leader of the archaeological mission. 

Mostafa stated Saqqara necropolis as a magnificent tomb 

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anany reopened King Djoser’s south tomb for tourists on September 13, Monday, marking a stunning milestone for the Saqqara necropolis.

According to Mostafa Waziri, the “magnificent” tomb, situated in the southern corner of the 3rd-century pharaoh, is the earliest stone structure from the “ancient world.” It’s worth noting that King Djoser founded Egypt’s Third Dynasty and built the groundwork for the world’s first pyramid, the step pyramid of Saqqara

The lid of the mummy’s coffin sports characteristic ancient Egyptian stylized facial features and informative hieroglyphics

Waziri addressed reporters at the opening ceremony by saying that the beautiful structure is the ancient world’s oldest stone structure, and it was termed the ‘Southern Tomb’ after its excavation by English archaeologist Cecil Mallaby Firth in the year 1928.  

They rebuild the faces of Egyptian mummies from their 2,000-year-old DNA

They rebuild the faces of Egyptian mummies from their 2,000-year-old DNA

Three ancient Egyptians’ faces have been brought to life using 2,000-year-old DNA. Scientists have used DNA dating back over 2,000 years to bring the faces of three ancient Egyptian males to life.

The trio of samples, estimated to be between 2,023 and 2,797 years old, is thought to be the first time contemporary procedures have been employed on the human DNA of this antiquity.

JK2134, who lived between 776 and 569 BC, JK2888, who lived around 97-2 BC, and JK2911, who lived between 769 and 560 BC, were the names given to the three.

A research team from Germany has collaborated with a US-based DNA technology company to generate a visual reconstruction of the faces of three ancient Egyptian mummies.

Parabon NanoLabs employed cutting-edge technology and a forensic artist to forecast the men’s appearance around the age of 25 to reveal the features of the ancient Egyptian mummies.

The mummies come from the Abusir el-Meleq, an ancient Nile hamlet. The researchers discovered that their origin was more similar to the modern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people than Egyptians.

They were described as having light brown complexions, dark hair and eyes, and no freckles.

“These results are highly consistent with Schuenemann et al’s conclusions that ‘ancient Egyptians shared more ancestry with Near Easterners than modern-day Egyptians, who received additional sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times and that they had an allele for lighter skin,” according to a press release from Parabon.

Before they were sequenced and “matched to the human reference genome,” raw data from three ancient Egyptian mummies was received from the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA). Each sample was subjected to enzymatic damage repair.

It was argued that the work was only possible because of biometric developments in the field of low-coverage imputation.

“Parabon has been the leader in forensic microarray analysis for years, and with the advent of this new imputation method, we can now handle even the most complex samples, ancient or forensic,” said Dr. Janet Cady, a Parabon bioinformaticist and WGS analyst who spearheaded the work.

Parabon used their “Snapshot DNA Phenotyping pipeline” on the three ancient mummy samples after the “imputation” stage. Snapshot, which was created to deal with missing data in difficult forensic cases, “predicted each mummy’s ancestry, colour, and face morphology,” according to the researchers. The men’s front and side profiles, as well as a facial heat map, were revealed by the three-dimensional “face morphology.”

“It’s fantastic to see,” said Dr. Ellen Greytak, Parabon’s director of bioinformatics. This is a condensed version of the information.

Archaeologists Discover 2200-Year-old Egyptian Shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea

Archaeologists Discover 2200-Year-old Egyptian Shipwreck in Mediterranean Sea

A Doomed ship that sank after it was hit by gigantic stone blocks following an earthquake 2,200 years ago has been found in Egypt. The wreck was discovered by archaeologists at the site of Thonis-Heracleion, a city that crashed into the water as a result of the megaquake.

Archaeologists Discover 2200-Year-old Egyptian Shipwreck in Mediterranean Sea
A ship that sank after it was clattered by falling stone blocks following a cataclysmic earthquake has been found in Egypt.

Scattered across a series of interlinked islands off Egypt’s northern coast, the metropolis was once the country’s gateway to the Mediterranean.

It was lost to a cataclysmic event towards the end of the second century BC that buried it under layers of sand and mud.

Thonis-Heracleion was rediscovered by underwater archaeologists in the early 2000s and expeditions continue to uncover rubble and artefacts.

Earlier this month, archaeologists announced the discovery of a galley and burial ground at the site beneath the Mediterranean Sea. The expedition was led by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology with help from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

They believe the ship plunged to the seafloor “after being hit by huge blocks from the famed temple of Amun”, according to the EIUA.

The ship sank after it was hit with ‘huge blocks’ from the temple of Amun, which slid into the ocean when the ancient city of Heracleion fell into the water

Located in the middle of the city and dedicated to the god of Amun, the massive temple was one of the dozens of buildings lost to the deadly quake.

The wreck was once a fast galley, a long and sleep vessel with large sails built to skim across the water at high speeds. It now lies beneath just over 16 feet (five metres) of clay and rubble from the temple, researchers said.

They located the ship used a new type of sonar technology.

“The finds of fast galleys from this period remain extremely rare,” said EIUA President Franck Goddio.

The team believe the warship was moored channel that flowed along the south side of the Temple of Amun.

When an earthquake struck the city, the hard clay it was built on began to behave more like a liquid, toppling buildings across the city.

Large stone blocks that tumbled from the temple likely crashed onto the boat, causing it to sink.

It’s not clear whether anyone was on board at the time. A burial ground containing various trinkets and other artefacts was also uncovered by researchers.

It was in use as far back as 2,400 years ago and contained elaborately decorated pottery and a gold amulet depicting Bes, an Egyptian god associated with childbirth and fertility.

A burial ground containing decorated pottery and other artefacts was also uncovered by researchers
A gold amulet depicting Bes, an Egyptian god associated with childbirth and fertility

2,200 Year Old Alexander the Great Statue Discovered in Alexandria

2,200 Year Old Alexander the Great Statue Discovered in Alexandria

The Ministry of Antiquities in Cairo has discovered a statue of Alexander the Great within an ancient “residential and commercial zone” in Alexandria that they believe was a trade centre in the region during the Ptolemaic period.

These pots were also found at the ancient Alexandria settlement and indicate that it was a major regional trade centre during the Ptolemaic period (305-30 BC).

The archaeologists made their discovery after 9 months of excavations.

The team discovered moulds for statues of Alexander the Great at the site as well as an alabaster bust of the iconic ancient leader. Also amongst these items were materials for creating amulets for warriors.

The new Alexander the Great statue, made of alabaster, was unearthed at a large dig in Alexandria, Egypt.

As they explored this area of Alexandria, known as the al-Shatby neighbourhood, “the mission found a large network of tunnel tanks painted in pink for storing rain, flood and groundwater to be used during the draught time” said Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt to the Xinhua news agency.

Waziri further explained the layout of the town: “it was composed of the main street and several branch roads that are all connected with a sanitation network.”

He believes that the area was active from the 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Waziri also noted that the team found an array of pottery pots, coins, plates, fishing tools, and rest houses for travellers.

A wealth of pottery artefacts has been unearthed at the site.

The ruins of the area’s buildings combined with the artefacts found there have led the team to believe that the town had a lively market that sold pots and had workshops for the construction of statues, amulets, and other items.

Amulets were unearthed at the site.

The fascinating Greek history behind the Egyptian city of Alexandria

The story of Hellenism in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, goes back more than two millennia and is marked by Alexander the Great’s placement of the first stone as part of the city’s first street in 331 BC.

Alexander III, the “Basileus of Macedon”, the “Hegemon of the Hellenic League”, the “Shahanshah” of Persia, the “Pharaoh” of Egypt and the “Lord of Asia” — better known as Alexander the Great — was one of the most significant figures in human history.

Born in Pella, in modern-day Central Macedonia, northern Greece, in 356 B.C., he was the son of Philip II, the King of Macedon and his wife, Olympias.

But Alexander was no royal place-holder. He became renowned at a very early age both for his military and political capabilities.

Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (the Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world); and its Necropolis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.

Alexandria was at one time the second-most powerful city of the ancient Mediterranean region, after Rome.

In modern times, Greeks began to settle in Alexandria again in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A new wave of immigration flooded Alexandria shortly after the Greek revolution of 1821, marking the beginning of the so-called European era of the city.

The mystery of ‘The Screaming Mummy’ is finally revealed, and it’s chilling

The mystery of ‘The Screaming Mummy’ is finally revealed, and it’s chilling

He’s back. Prince Pentawere, a man who tried (probably successfully) to murder his own father, Pharaoh Ramesses III, and later took his own life after he was put on trial, is now on public display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Pentawere’s mummy, popularly known as the “screaming mummy,” was not properly mummified. No embalming fluid was used, and his body was allowed to naturally mummify, with his mouth agape and his facial muscles strained in order to make it appear as if the mummy were screaming.

Whether he died screaming or whether he was made to look like that after death is unclear.

The “screaming mummy,” likely that of Prince Pentawere, a man who tried (likely successfully) to kill his own father pharaoh Ramesses III, is now on public display at the Egyptian Museum.

Those burying him then wrapped his body in sheepskin, a material the ancient Egyptians considered to be ritually impure.

Eventually, someone placed Pentawere’s mummy in a cache of other mummies in a tomb at Deir el-Bahari.

The prince can take solace in the fact that his assassination attempt appears to have been successful. In 2012, a team of scientists studying the mummy of Ramesses III (reign 1184-1155 B.C.) found that Ramesses III died after his throat was slashed, likely in the assassination attempt that Pentawere helped to orchestrate.

The scientists also performed genetic analysis, which confirmed that the “screaming mummy” was a son of Ramesses III. And, based on the mummy’s unusual burial treatment, the researchers confirmed that it is likely Pentawere’s mummy. 

To kill a pharaoh

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin, as modern-day scholars call it, is a manuscript that documents the trials that occurred after Pentawere’s apparently successful attempt at killing his father in 1155 B.C.

A group of butlers who remained loyal to Ramesses III — and his successor, Ramesses IV — oversaw the trial of a vast number of people who had allegedly aided Pentawere, condemning them to death or mutilation.

These conspirators included military and civil officials, women in the royal harem (where the murder of Ramesses III may have happened), and a number of men who were in charge of the royal harem.

Prince Pentawere was allegedly assisted by his mother, a woman named Tiye (no relation to King Tutankhamun), who was one of Ramesses III’s wives.

The judicial papyrus says that Prince Pentawere “was brought in because he had been in collusion with Tiye, his mother, when she had plotted the matters with the women of the harem” (translation by A. de Buck).

Pentawere “was placed before the butlers in order to be examined; they found him guilty; they left him where he was; he took his own life,” the papyrus says.

How exactly Pentawere killed himself is a matter of debate among scholars, with poisoning and hanging (or a combination of the two) generally regarded as being the most likely methods.

While the dead Pharaoh Ramesses III was initially buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, his mummy was moved after the robbery of his tomb. Interestingly, his mummy was dumped in the same mummy cache at Deir el-Bahari as Pentawere’s.

The mummies of the murdered father and his killer son rested together until the family of a man named Abd el-Rassul found the cache in the 19th century.

The screaming mummy is only being displayed temporarily. The display of the mummy has received widespread media attention and it is not clear how long it will be displayed.