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The Great Pyramid on the Giza plateau at the apex of the Nile delta is one of the oldest and largest and yet perhaps the most enigmatic manmade structure in recorded history. Egyptologists have determined that it was commissioned by the pharaoh Khufu in the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom to be his royal tomb. Figure 1 shows a vertical cross section indicating the main passages and chambers. However, within these passages and chambers are many elements of construction that are difficult to explain within the context of a royal tomb. This article focuses on one such enigma: the set of three massive granite blocks that plug the lower end of the Ascending Passage.
The 2011 Ancient World Tours Conference was held at UCL, London over the weekend of 3rd and 4th September and focused on Amarna. The authors attended and offer this overview of the conference. Over the next ten days or so, we shall also be publishing detailed reviews of about half of the sessions in the Magazine section of Egyptological (and will formally become part of the next edition).
Animals were a ritually charged symbol of life, lavishly represented in Egypt’s literature, arts, and crafts. They were believed to be creatures of the gods with the ability to communicate directly with a range of deities. Indeed, animal vocalisation was perceived as a secret language understood by the gods. The prominence of animals within Egyptian elite culture however, did not result in the animal loving traditions which exist today. Animal necropolises throughout Egypt bear witness to the fact that many creatures, including those we now value as domestic pets, were routinely strangled mummified and presented as votive offerings to gods with which the animals were associated.
In Part 1 of this series I presented three guiding ideas of Egyptian religion: order (maat), duality (polarity, balance), and magic (heka). In this part I speculate briefly on how it all began and then we will see how the ancient Egyptians explained cosmogony (the creation of the universe) and deified the principles of Creation and order on Earth.
By Brian Alm
One of the many fabulous items in the jewellery collection from the tomb of Tutankhamen is a breast ornament. A highly decorative piece in the form of a winged scarab, dating to around 1330 BCE, it is currently on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (JE 61884; Burton Photo No. P1133; Carter No. 267d). Adorned with silver, semi-precious stones and glass paste, all set into gold, the eye-catching centrepiece is a semi-translucent green scarab. Remarkable for its beauty, the pectoral has the added interest of scientific and archaeological mysteries that have yet to be completely unraveled.
The early explorers of Egypt, often associated with ideas of adventure, discovery and buried treasure, fascinate many people interested in the earliest days of Egyptology. No name elicits a stronger, and often negative reaction from scholars than that of Giovanni Belzoni, who explored Egypt in the early 1800s. Belzoni has often been depicted as a villain, an irresponsible treasure hunter who destroyed valuable antiquities as he blazed through Egypt in a search for gold. It is this image of Belzoni that forms many people’s preconceptions.
By Garry Beuk
Consisting of eight chapters, the main attraction of The Lost Tombs of Saqqara is the exceptional beauty of the photographs. For those unfamiliar with the site, Saqqara is a vast, sprawling necropolis to the south of Cairo. It was used from the Early Dynastic period onwards for royal and elite burials, and is best known for the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt’s earliest pyramid, and its other Old Kingdom pyramids and beautifully decorated mastaba tombs. This book takes the reader into the New Kingdom area of Saqqara.
As described in the overview of the 2011 AWT Conference co-authored with Andrea Byrnes, the closing keynote lecture was delivered by Stephen Cross. His lecture created a buzz in the room and that has continued since Andrea Byrnes and I first posted about it on our respective blogs. In this account of his lecture, I shall present the theory as described by Cross: this is intended as reportage not as as detailed critique, although obviously a certain level of commentary is included.
Book Review: History of Ancient Egypt: Neolithic Period ot the Early Dynastic Period including Menes, Narmer, Hieroglyphs, Thinis and More.
By Andrea Byrnes. Published on Egyptological, 9th September 2011 History of Ancient Egypt: Neolithic Period ot the Early Dynastic Period including Menes, Narmer, Hieroglyphs, Thinis and More. Edited by Grace Windsor ISBN 9-781241314675 This is a self-published book, one in a series about Ancient Egypt, widely available on online book stores. Before I […]
The SACE Ancient World Summer School “Beginner and Intermediate Hieroglyphs” course ran for a week in August this year. Three of those attending the course offered to write up a summary of their experiences on the course. With different backgrounds and levels of confidence they have provided an insight into their perceptions on the value and challenges of the course. Our thanks to them for sharing their thoughts.