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Funerary stele depicting toiletries, 175 CE, Acmonia (Phrygia, Turkey), marble. Made with CapturingReality.
On the upper left panel of the double door, the keyhole is clearly visible. The door jambs are decorated with stylized ivies rising from a vase, a symbol of Dionysian immortality. A comb, mirror and cabinet (unless it’s a diptychon, a wax tablet?) are depicted.
The epitaph above the lintel reads: “Euelpistos made [this tomb] for his mother and for his father”.
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I loved this lecture. It was quite different to anything I’ve heard at the NEAES before, and was thoroughly entertaining. This was the story of how a limestone Ptolemaic statue of an ordinary non-royal Ancient Egyptian woman came to part of the collection of the Montrose museum in Scotland, who the woman was, and who the donator was. It does make you think differently about museum artefacts. They are beautiful objects, but the often fascinating story behind them and how they came to be in that particular collection is rarely told. The Donator The first part of Dan’s story was about the donator, Dr James Burns. He was born in 1801 and died in 1862 and had a long list of grand titles to his name including Chevalier and Grand Prior of India. James Burns’ family was split between Ayrshire and Montrose. His father was Provost James Burns III. They lived in Burness House at Bow Butts. Robert Burns, the poet, was James’ first cousin twice removed. James went to school at Montrose Academy, which had been established by his grandfather. He became a doctor of medicine and worked at Guys Hospital in London for a time.
Family friend and radical MP Dr Joseph Hume helped James and his brother Alexander obtain a commission with the East India Company. In India, Alexander became a main player in international diplomacy and James became an assistant surgeon, being posted in the fortress at Bhuj. In the 1820s he was sent north to Sindh as a diplomatic envoy, to treat Mourad Ali, the son of the Chief Amir, who was ill. He prescribed Ali quinine, which was used to treat malaria. The family made James take it first to prove it was safe, and it made him ill. In 1834 James was granted six months sick leave. His journey back to Scotland, during which time he acquired the statue, actually took him three years!
The Montrose Abroath and Brechin Review newspaper published an account of James’ journey. In February 1834, he boarded a coal powered steamship called the Hugh Lindsay. He sailed across the Indian Ocean to Jeddah, where he passed through the Medina Gate. He then took a camel train from Suez to Cairo.
During his five days in Cairo, James visited factories and schools as well as the tourist stops. Inside the sarcophagus of Cheops/Khufu in the Great Pyramid of Giza, a drunken rendition of Auld Lang Syne by the Scottish party would have echoed around the small space.
James spent a day with Muhammad Ali Pasha, who was considering building a railway in Suez with English engineers.
A mystery remains about how James obtained the statue of Meramuniotes. The statue came from Luxor, but he never went there. Could it have been a diplomatic gift from the Pasha? (Members may remember we saw stones from the Great Pyramid which were given to George Elliott by Muhammad Ali Pasha and thus ended up in churches in West Rainton and Penshaw). Alternatively James could have purchased the statue at Cairon market.
James left Egypt via Alexandria, with Rev. Joseph Wolff, a missionary. He had a terrible journey to Crete, then continued to Malta, where he had to spend 20 days due to plague isolation. Eventually he got back to Montrose.
James Burns was an important person. He was the physician general for Bombay. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1835, having been nominated by lots of notable people including politicians and scientists. He was given an honorary law degree by the University of Glasgow. He was a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. King William gave him the title Chevalier. A painting was done of him. He had lunch with Princess Victoria.
James wrote a history of the Knights Templars, in which he linked the knights to Scotland for the first time. This book was the origin of the ideas in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’. Dan said Burns has a lot to answer for!!
We know from Montrose Museum’s accession record, that ‘Dr Jas. Burnes’ donated a marble statue from Thebes in 1837.
The subject of the statue
Meramuniotes lived around 250-200 BC. The statue has impeccable detail, depicting her hairstyle, her earrings and her pleated dress, knotted at the front. She holds two cloths in her hands. There is a long inscription in hieroglyphs on the reverse, which does not include her name. The first part of the inscription is an offering formula to the goddess Mut, Lady of Isheru. The precinct of Mut was next to the sacred lake of Isheru at Thebes.
The inscription tells us that the woman’s father was called Userkhons and her mother was called Nehemesratowy and that the subject of the statue was a musician, a sistrum (a percussion instrument that you shake) player in the temple of Amun-Ra.
Dan was able to work out the names of 19 members of the family tree over six generations, from other inscriptions and objects that mention the same people, plus two or three other family members alongside.
Bronze situlae (ritual buckets) in Cairo Museum, for example, has various family names on them including ‘Nehemesratowy and Meramuniotes, the sistrum player’.
There is a statue of her grandfather Ankhpakhered I in the Metropolitan Museum and a statue of her Great Uncle Horsaisis in Cairo Museum. The British Museum holds a stela possibly dedicated by her mother. Statues also exist of her brother Ankhpakhered II and her sons are mentioned on a piece in Turin museum.
The sandals that Meramuniotes wore at her funeral survive in another museum collection, as does an offering table from her tomb.
Meramuniotes thus came from a powerful family. Her mother, Nehemesratowy, was also a sistrum player in a temple.
This story is important because it explains how museum collections were brought about, by travellers collecting objects. Little was known about the statue until Dan’s research. She now stands in a brand new case in the museum, accompanied by new interpretation, made possible by Dan’s research carried out for the ‘Revealing Cultures’ project and ‘Discovering Ancient Egypt’ touring exhibition, and she has been cleaned and conserved.
The meaning behind Ancient Egypt’s iconic colossi were the subject of Daniel’s Durham University dissertation. Daniel says we are fascinated by these statues, but we don’t fully understand them. They need further study. There are six giant statues on the pylon of Luxor Temple. That at the far left is different to the other five, having crossed arms. Why? People said it had been wrongly restored. The 2016 Sunken Cities exhibition at the British Museum included several large statues. The finding of an enormous statue of Psamtik I at Heliopolis in 2018 captured the world and re-wrote history. Egyptologists did not know, until this find, that colossi were made during the 26th dynasty. It is posed in a traditional striding position, and is wearing a conventional crown, kilt and beard. In 2019 a sphynx of Ramesses II was found. Existing works on colossi include Anna Garnett’s book ‘The Colossal Statue of Ramesses II’ which focuses on one particular statue Lise Manniche’s book ‘The Akhenaten Colossi of Karnak’, which is a case study of a group of statues at one site and ‘Royal Statues in Eygpt 300 BC – AD 220: context and function’ by Elizabeth Brophy, which focuses on one period of time. There appears to be no detailed study of colossi in general.
Daniel told us that dictionary definitions of a colossus include ‘extremely large’ and ‘at least twice life size’.
Egyptian art has a religious focus. It was formulaic – made in accordance with strict rules and the law of scale. Large = important, hence pharaonic statues are bigger than statues of normal Egyptians.
There are four main types of colossi – seated, standing or striding, the sphinx and osiride (statue pillars). Daniel suggested that there is a possible fifth type – statues carved in-situ into natural rock outcrops or mountains, for example the Sphinx at Giza and at Jebel Barkal in Sudan, there is a mound that looks like a pharaoh’s crown with a snake attached to the front (uraeus).
At first, statues commonly flanked entrances, stood in front of pylons or in open courts. They were accessible to the public.
For example, there is a pre or early dynastic period statue in the Ashmolean Museum which is 4m high. It is a column-like ithyphallic figure which wears a sash around the waist. It could represent the god Min.
During the 4th dynasty Sneferu built sacred enclosures at the base of the pyramids, which featured monumental twin stelae inscribed with the name of the king. This too, Daniel argued, was an experiment towards the development of colossi.
The first seated colossus is of the 4th dynasty pharaoh Menkaure. He is wearing a shendyt kilt and crown and holds a bolt of cloth in his right fist. But this statue was inside a cult temple to the dead king. It was not accessible to the public.
The first sphinx was of 4th dynasty pharaoh Khafra and this too was located in a mortuary complex. His tail lies over his left haunch.
There were fewer colossi during the Middle Kingdom. Daniel explained that this was because there was no large-scale workforce available to create colossi while Egypt was divided and the rulers’ reigns were often too short for them to have had time to create colossi. But once the times of trouble had passed, the pharaohs wanted to display their power and legitimise their rule by harking back to older monuments, so colossi reappear.
There is an osiride pillar of Montuhotep II (11th dynasty) with crossed arms, flanking a funerary temple. A similar one exists of Senusret I (12th dynasty).
There is a seated colossus of Amenemhat II (12th dynasty), and colossal sphinxes which copy the position of the tail of the Khafra sphinx.
The form of colossi changed in the New Kingdom. Those of Amenhotep III no longer hold the bolt of cloth and the rest of the royal family are now depicted, indicating a change in status of royal women. The colossi of Akhenaten display a new non-typical body form, to contrast with statues associated with older cults. But the figures still wear old regalia and stand in the same position. Late New Kingdom colossi returned to conventional forms – such as those of Tutankhamun. Ramesses II made the widest use of colossi. He used all forms, re-used statues made for other pharaohs and put up a statue of his daughter. Ramesses III set up osiride at his mortuary temple at Karnak.
The later colossi are particularly interesting. The colossus of Tanwetamani (25th dynasty) was created, Daniel said, to legitimise his ruler as an incomer from Nubia.
Ptolemaic colossi are an amalgamation of Greco-Macedonian and Egyptian art. They tend to have rounder faces and bodies. An example outside Alexandria sports a Greek curly fringe. Another Hellenistic twist are the ram’s horns beneath the ears, which represent Amun. By this time colossi were not restricted to temples – there was a colossi at the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria. The last colossus was put up by Caesarian who shared the throne with Cleopatra.
Daniel’s concluded his talk by analysing the possible multiple functions of colossi, which lasted for over 3000 years, relatively unchanged in form. He suggested that they might have been vessels of the soul, through which the ka could visit earth. This is why they stand in mortuary temples. Did they project power? Emphasising the power of the king to maintain cosmic balance – hence the common depiction of the sema tawy motif, which represents the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Were they temple guardians, standing at the entrances and on avenues? Were the statues worshipped? – the Horbeit stela shows the butler of Ramesses II presenting offerings to statues of the king.
Mary Beard apparently says colossi were about self-reassurance – the pharaoh trying convince himself that he is divine. But Daniel asked why would he have self-doubt when he was in charge? The statues acted as proxies where the pharaoh could not be present in person. They were even like tourist attractions or places of pilgrimage – people gouged out pieces from the colossi at Coptos as souvenirs.
I enjoyed Daniel’s confidently presented talk immensely and next time I see a giant statue either in a museum, on the television or in a book, I shall ponder over its function beyond it being a beautiful work of art.
Dr Omran’s talk focused on his expert knowledge of a little-known group of tombs at Akhmim, which lies 500km south of Cairo on the east bank of the Nile. Akhmim has three necropolis’ – A, B and C. • A was the main necropolis during the late period and was still in use during the Greek/Roman period. Three Coptic monasteries stand on the hill. • B features 884 tombs on a mountain, of Old and Middle Kingdom date • Necropolis C, El-Salamuni, was the main necropolis during the Greek/Roman period, comprising rock-cut tombs and a temple built by King Ay and dedicated to Bel Mn (Bel being a Greek god and Mn being the local god of fertility). Previous excavations at El-Salamuni include that of Pococke 1737-1738, C. Schmidt in 1893, Jean Cledat in 1903 (recorded three tombs) and Von Bissing in 1897 and 1913 (recorded tomb C1). In 1913 Hermann Kess recorded the temple. In 1952 Neugebauer and Parker did some work. N. Kanawati visited tomb C1 in 1971, cleaned it and photographed it. Between 1977 and 1982 the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo carried out a quick survey of the tombs at necropolis’ A and B and an overview of necropolis C, but no description of the tombs.
Klaus Kuhlman divided the El-Salamuni tombs into four types:
• Group C1 comprises 29 undecorated Old Kingdom tombs
• Group C2 are shaft tombs of late and Ptolemaic periods
• Group C3 are Roman period façade tombs. They imitate an Egyptian portal, have a series of chambers with burial niches and ground beds for inhumations
• Group C4 are late Roman rectangular chamber tombs containing mass burials of heaped mummies on ground beds
A big new discovery came in 2012, when 9 tombs were found by the Akhmim Antiquities Office. Most of the new tombs have two chambers – an ante room and a burial room with three niches. Tomb F4 only had one chamber.
It is difficult to precisely date the tombs due to the lack of inscriptions, but they have to be 2nd or 3rd century BC and Roman or Ptolemaic. The funerary art is a mixture of Egyptian and Hellenistic – geometric squares in red and black, floral motifs, vases, vultures and hieroglyphs. Mummification was the main method of funerary rite, but inhumations had been placed on the ground beds in the ante rooms. There was no evidence of cremation. Were they built as private tombs but later used for family or the public? Sadly, the tombs have been looted because they have no doors on them and the villagers hide the entrances with debris and sand.
The team have re-investigated the famous tomb found by Von Bissing. It has beautiful decoration but is in bad condition. The walls are cracking and the ceilings could fall in. The tomb is full of debris again.
Dr Omran showed us an amazing 3D fly-through video showing the main themes of tomb decoration at El-Salamuni:
• floral motifs, garlands, festoons, trees, birds, animals and insects
• signs of the zodiac, planets and astronomical scenes, both Egyptian and Greek, such as six females carrying the sky
• funerary scenes, the afterlife, the judgement of the deceased and Osiris (Akhmim is linked to Abydos, where Osiris is the main god)
• geometric decoration in black, yellow and red rectangles - Hellenistic in style (orthostates). It is similar to that used in Roman villas and in tombs at Alexandria. The decoration imitates marble and alabaster.
The deceased are depicted in Hellenistic style but with Egyptian funerary iconography – such as symbols of Isis and her son Titus, Osiris and offering tables.
No intact mummies have been found thus far, nor any artefacts. Many mummies from the site are held by museums across the world.
Dr Omran’s project involved undertaking a complete topographic survey of the tombs on the mountain, documentation of the tombs, restoration of the decoration and site management – the plan is to open up the site to tourists. Photogrammetry has been used to reconstruct the motifs.
Today’s study day was all about power and continuity. Legitimising rule by harking back to the past and a reluctance to let old things go. This explains why these awe-inspiring Ptolemaic tombs include traditional Egyptian motifs in their decoration.
Dr. Papazian began by reminding us of what springs to almost everyone’s mind when we hear the word ‘pyramid’: the magnificent structures at Giza. Yet there are previous pyramids that he categorises as ‘provincial’, that is, they are outside Memphis. Seven such small step pyramids exist in the archaeological record and the important point about them is that are not funerary monuments. Early archaeologists dug beneath the foundations of these structures looking in vain for burials, and in the process weakened the foundations. The provincial pyramids are among the earliest stone monuments in Egypt, dating from a quite narrow time band around the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th dynasties, in the reigns of Huni and Sneferu. Architecturally, they are built with accretion layers, slanting like Djoser’s pyramid. They are sited at Elephantine, Edfu, Qula, Naqada, Abydos, Seila, and Zawyet-el-Meitin. All are built of limestone, except the one at Elephantine, which is of granite. The Abydos pyramid has mud-brick ramps that were added subsequently. So, if they are not tombs then what is their function? Dr. Papazian presented two possible theories: that they had some connection with the early organisation of the administrative districts, or that they were symbolic in some way, a manifestation of royal power, enabling worship of the royal ka. The former theory, that they represent territorial demarcation, has some merit, as they are sited at places where ancient boundaries would have been, but there is no evidence for any more than the seven listed above. A further interesting point is that all seven lie along a route marking entry points into the Western desert, suggesting that they could have had some official function as customs offices.
The second theory is that they were the focal points of the royal cult away from Memphis, and there is evidence to support this. Excavations at the Seila pyramid have revealed objects bearing the name of Sneferu, including a libation table, a roofing block and a stele. On the East side of the Edfu pyramid there is a possible emplacement for an altar. At Elephantine an inscription refers to ‘the diadem of Huni’ (from the end of the 3rd Dynasty). The Pharonic cult evolved through dynasties 1 to 6. During dynasties 1 and 2 the royal ka was worshipped at stand alone ka-foundations, evolving into the provincial pyramids that functioned to spread the worship of the king throughout Egypt. By dynasty 4 they were concentrated in the Memphite area and by dynasty 5 sun temples were built but still in the Memphite area, for example at Abu Ghurob. By dynasty 6 there was a redistribution of the royal cult into the provinces with royal ka-foundations in various temples: Tell Basta, Zawyet, Abydos, Kophos and El-Kab. .
Dr. Papazian is currently working on the excavations at the Abydos pyramid and finished his presentation by commenting on the encroachment of the modern town, and the need for conservation. This particular pyramid is valued by the local people, who see it as aiding fertility and leave offerings of children’s clothes around its base.
The third lecture of our Study Day was dedicated to the representations of women in Ancient Egypt, with a central question: why are women depicted in a different way than men and what is the function of it? Joanne started her talk by explaining that there are some common features in women images over the millennia: they are semi-naked, don’t have any detailed face or any legs but are represented with hair. She then showed us one of the earliest feminine representations, a fantastic ivory figurine from El-Badari, with what is very likely hair, breast and an emphasis on the pubic region – all traits that are extremely common later. Some figurines from Naqada show women represented as offering bearers, with baskets on their head, apparent breasts but no facial feature. These offering bearers are also commonly found in tombs during the Middle Kingdom and are associated with Isis and Nephthys. From the Old Kingdom, women are given some sexual characteristics. This association between women and offerings represent the food and sexual energy offered to the deceased, which allow him to begin his rebirth. In the Middle Kingdom, some fertility figurines also appear, inscribed with texts such as ‘May a birth be granted to your daughter’. Their number increases in the New Kingdom, especially in settlement sites like Deir el Medina, Gurob and Memphis, and it is believed they were objects used in everyday life.
Joanne then displayed some plaques and models, the size of the palm of a hand, made of clay. A very limited number show pregnant ladies, probably because pregnancy was considered a dangerous time that needn’t be represented. Little dots can be seen on some of the models, which are believed to be tattooing.
Another category of objects are the ladies on beds, with sometimes the form of the body incorporated in the bed, with a child, a mirror or a snake.
In the second part of her lecture, Joanne touched on the very interesting question of the function of these feminine representations. According to her, two groups can be distinguished: the plaques, models and hand modelled figurines, possibly used in medical or magical practice and belonging to an oral tradition, explaining why there isn’t any text recording their function. They could have been used by women, in a fertility context, and possibly also as love charms.
The second group is constituted of the bigger objects, stand-alone figurines, displayed and potentially linked to a household worship of the ancestors.
Women can be represented as nourishers or healers but also as protectors in the form of goddesses. To illustrate this, Joanne showed us the stunning representation of the goddess Nut in the tomb of Ramesses VI: a carrier, who protects and gives birth, or rebirth.
Women are also the stimulator of desire for the spark of creation, like Hathor who is the Hand of Atum, the Creator, and therefore have a role to play in maintaining the cosmic order.
I really enjoyed this very richly illustrated lecture which highlighted the preeminent role of the feminine representation throughout the history of Ancient Egypt and gave us the opportunity to see some wonderful Egyptian objects that create a link with the people and their very intimate believes, fears and hopes.
Seti I rose to power in the post-Amarna period. After the untimely death of Tutankhamun, who left no heir, power devolved to Ay then Horemheb, who also left no heir. In need of a successor, Horemheb named Sjuta, mentioned in the Amarna letters as being part of the chariotry division. Sjuta had a son called Ramose, whom Dr. Nielsen identifies as Rameses I, the first ruler of the 19th dynasty and the father of Seti I. Despite having a very short reign, Rameses I took much of the credit away from Horemheb for the restoration of Egypt. On his accession, Seti’s priority was foreign policy and he became an active campaigner. He toured Egypt’s vassal states to ensure their loyalty, defeating the Shasu Bedouin in Sinai, then the chiefs of Hammath and Yeonam. He took action against the Apiru and extracted tribute from Byblos and the Levantine coastal states. The tribute from Tyre took the form of cedar trees. A timber census in Memphis listed the stocks in terms of parts of ships, so Seti seems to have had a distinct purpose for the tribute. In year 3 of his reign he challenged the Hittites and forced the Amurru province to change its allegiance from the Hittites to Egypt. This enabled him to strike at Qadesh, but we have very little information about this particular campaign. It seems that the Hittites were slow to respond to Seti’s challenge, possibly because they were distracted by the break-up of the Mittani Empire. Or maybe Seti was just lucky!
In year 6 Seti defeated the Libyans, presenting us with a puzzle. Three factors seem to have governed Egypt’s foreign policy regarding a particular state: was it a potential threat? Did it have mineral resources? Was it on a route to somewhere else? Libya did not fulfil any of these so why did Seti campaign there? The most likely reason could be that he was planning a series of fortresses and needed to scare the inhabitants to ensure their co-operation. In year 8 he again attacked the Hittites, who underestimated him by sending an army of levied troops to be defeated. Seti’s 10th year saw the Irem rebellion, about which we have little information. The campaign, which focused on gaining control of the desert wells, may have been led by the Crown Prince, later Rameses II.
As a builder, Seti I was ambitious. He campaigned to acquire a variety of resources in terms of both materials and manpower. All these various resources went into a number of building projects, perhaps the most spectacular of which was the hypostyle hall at Karnak, with its 134 columns and battle reliefs showing Seti in action. At Abydos his memorial temple legitimises his reign. Its King List is heavily edited, basically just including anyone Seti wished to be associated with. In memory of his father he built a beautiful chapel with inscriptions that claim that the dynasty was ordained by the gods. The wording is somewhat emotional and may reflect possible guilt at the rather basic nature of his father’s tomb (KV16) in the Valley of the Kings.
Seti’s wife was Tuya, more visible during the reign of Seti’s son and successor Rameses II. Seti died in 1279 BCE aged around 39. The cause of his death is unclear but he suffered from arteriosclerosis, which can cause heart disease. His tomb (KV17) is impressive, Discovered by Belzoni, it is 140m long with well-preserved wall paintings. His body was discovered in the Deir-el-Bahri cache by Maspero.
Dr. Nielsen’s most recent publication is ‘Pharaoh Seti I: Father of Egyptian Greatness’- a truly apt tile.
This lecture was the last of the day and was given by a Durham University postgraduate student, Andrew King, who had done his MA thesis on the subject. Andrew began by describing Egyptian warfare. The army was state run and organised into battalions with names related to the gods such as ‘the battalion of Ptah’. They used specialised weapons and they made sure they had the better weapons than their enemies (for example eight-spoke chariots rather than four-spoke). There was a strict military hierarchy stretching down from the King. Andrew described the war-god Montu. The Ways of Horus was the name of the North-eastern frontier between the delta and the Levant. It was a road with forts, wells and granaries strung out along it that followed the coast. It was known since the Middle Kingdom being mentioned in Sinuhe. Details of its forts and layout can be found on Seti I’s reliefs at Karnak and in Papyrus Anastasi I. The area was hot, dry and sandy. It was not only a military road. It defined the frontier and was a show of strength. Andrew discussed whether the frontier was a barrier preventing movement or porous.
The main frontier town was Tjaru although this was also an important trade centre with many wine jars bearing the town’s name.
Andrew’s work has involved calculating what can be seen from one fort to another using GIS (geographical information system) software and showed us many maps to demonstrate. He noted that because a fort can be seen from the next it didn’t mean that the reverse was true.
He has been able to plot the likely locations of various forts mentioned in ancient texts whose sites are currently unknown using the assumption that each fort (or other structure) must have been able to signal its neighbour. This is, he believes, the information field archæologists need to find these forts.
Also he was able to show the control the Egyptians were able to have over the sea, by charting how much of the Mediterranean could be seen from the many strongholds. This demonstrates that Egypt was not just a land power but it was also a sea power. However the ports on the Ways of Horus still need to be sought by field archæologists.
This was an interesting lecture for those of a technical bent to finish the day off with and the lecturer’s pleasant style encouraged listening.
Carolyn began with an explanation of the history of the Egypt Centre at Swansea University. The collection derives from that of Sir Henry Wellcome whose idea for a museum of medicine got rather out of hand when he started collecting non-relevant items. On his death in 1936 the Trustees of his collection distributed it to various museums. In 1971 the Classics department at Swansea, and specifically professor Gwyn Griffiths, was contacted by the Petrie Museum who offered their collection to Swansea. Griffiths’ wife, Kate Bosse-Griffiths, was instrumental in organising this windfall. She unpacked and catalogued the items, and organised a display room, obtaining lottery funding in 1976, and in 1998 the Egypt Centre as it is today was opened with Carolyn as its first curator. She then developed this history into an explanation of how the Centre works, particularly its inter-disciplinary approach to Egyptology. For example, in conjunction with the Mathematics Department, an exhibition that included the Rhind Papyrus was staged. The Centre has close links with local schools and hosts a variety of Saturday activities for children, employing a diverse group of volunteers. Carolyn then went on to list some of her favourite objects from the collection of 5000, around a quarter of which are on display. These included:
• A jewelled collar, possibly from the Amarna period. This has been the subject of much discussion, as although the beads and the linen stringing are authentic, it isn’t possible to be sure that the stringing didn’t take place in modern times.
• Bob the dummy mummy. The Centre, as a matter of policy, does not display human remains so a dummy is used to explain to children the process of Mummification.
• A mummified ‘lump’, which, with the aid of a CT scan by the University’s Engineering department, was revealed to be that of a small cobra.
• A very small cartonnage coffin that a CAT scan showed contained a 12-week-old foetus. This shows the level of care that could be taken over the loss of a child in the ancient world.
• Various statues including one of Osiris, with a copper alloy coating that suggests a deliberate attempt to make it look decayed, and one of Sekhmet obtained from the London Theosophical society.
• A golden coffin depicting the ‘weighing of the heart scene’, with a birth brick being checked by Anubis.
• A fragment from a wall painting that may depict Akhenaten’s elbow.
• The base of an offering table apparently belonging to Paneb, the workman accused of murder and adultery according to the court records from Deir el Medina. (The Centre has produced T-shirts with ‘Paneb is Innocent’ on them!).
Carolyn’s lecture also covered clay bezels, stone heads, a sickle, shabtis and bed legs. She brought her entertaining lecture to a close with a statue of Anubis, originally in poor condition with plasticine ears, but now thankfully properly conserved, as befitting the god who serves as the Egypt Centre’s logo.
You can read more about the Centre on its website: http://www.egypt.swan.ac.uk/
What a fantastic lecture on a miserable Saturday afternoon in Durham! José talked us through the results of the project he’s been conducting since 2001 on the North end of the necropolis of Dra Abu el-Naga, in Thebes. The site has a strategic position, opposite the temple of Karnak, and is rich with high rank officials’ tombs. It was the first stop during the Feast of the Valley, seeing a processing going from Karnak to Deir el-Bahari. The site shows occupations from different periods, starting with tombs of the 18th Dynasty, reused at a later period, and going back to coffins from the 12th Dynasty. José’s Spanish and Egyptian team is not the first to excavate here. Indeed, Newberry published the results of his work at the start of the 20th century, providing many sketches that proved of much help when recreating scenes destroyed since. José started his lecture with the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11), overseer of the treasure under Hatshepsut, and brilliantly exposed the peculiarities of both the monument and the character. Djehuty built his tomb as a testimony of his knowledge of writing and religion: the facade of the tomb is famous for its large biographical inscription which mentions the expedition to Punt and is one of the first examples of outside decoration of the 18th Dynasty. The tomb also shows ancient forgotten rituals and the earliest version to be known of the chapter 151 of the Book of the Dead. Djehuty was never buried in the burial chamber so it didn’t suffer when the tomb was robbed, and this eggshell meant to protect the body was beautifully preserved.
The presentation then moved on to the tomb of Hery (TT12), one of the earliest to have funerary processions and decorations preserved. Exciting news: both tombs should open to the public in a couple of years!
I particularly enjoyed José showing us the variety of approaches the project requires, not only archaeological but also the archival work, using the notes of Champollion or Rossellini to reconstruct broken inscriptions.
In 2006, the modern town of Dra Abu-el-Naga was demolished, and José obtained the right to expand his site in exchange of cleaning the debris. A fascinating chase for the Prince Ahmose Sapair then began, with artefacts mentioning his name discovered on different areas of the site. José is convinced that Dra Abu-el-Naga was related to the cult of the kings, which would explain its importance and its reuse for animal mummies burials at a later stage.
José mentioned the curious custom of leaving a coffin unprotected on the ground, illustrated on the site. The court of Djehuty has also opened a new field of research with 500 years of stratigraphy to be studied to better understand the climate and the landscape of the necropolis.
In my opinion, the most impressive finding is the miniature garden uncovered in the court at the entrance of the tomb, with seeds and the trunk of a tree still preserved.
The site is full of promises and will help to retrace the development of the necropolis and understand the interaction between the different tombs.
I thoroughly enjoyed this extremely informative lecture, filled with funny anecdotes, and particularly appreciated the high-quality photographs José shared with us throughout. I would recommend checking the website http://www.excavacionegipto.com with a very interesting excavation journal and more fantastic pictures of the site and the objects found.
In today’s talk on perhaps the Manchester Museum’s most well-known exhibit, Dr Forshaw, of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, described various investigations into the twelfth-dynasty mummies of Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh, known as ‘The Two Brothers’. But were they brothers? He began in 1907 when they were discovered in a (rare) undisturbed tomb 250 miles south of Cairo. The entire assemblage from their tomb was transported to Manchester where, in a front of an audience of some 500 people, Margaret Murray unwrapped the mummies. She found that Nakht-ankh’s mummification was more carefully done than that of Khnum-nakht, suggesting that the latter’s death was unexpected. According to their coffin inscriptions they had the same mother, and, while the inscription gave no occupation for Nakht-ankh, his ‘brother’ was described as a wah-priest. Dr. Forshaw pointed out shocking aspects of this investigation: the unwrapping was a public spectacle and scraps of the wrappings were offered to the public, thus losing valuable academic knowledge. At the time, the lack of any form of radiography meant that the main investigative methods were visual. Thus, the team’s anatomist declared the mummies’ ages to be around 60 (Nakht-ankh) and 40 (Khnum-nakht) by examination of the degree of closure of their cranial sutures, not an accurate measure. He also highlighted a racial difference between the two based on the shape of their skulls. The faces on the coffin lids are different but there is no other evidence that coffin lid portraits represent the physical characteristics of the people inside. Influenced by the coffin inscriptions stating that Nakht-ankh was the ‘son of a prince’ and Khnum-nakht ‘the son of the son of a prince’, the team decided they were half-brothers with different fathers.
In 1979 Rosalie David’s team carried out a further investigation that established that the ‘brothers’ had sand pneumoconiosis, pleurisy and schistosomiasis (parasitic flatworms). Facial reconstruction showed physical differences and led to the suggestion that Nakht-ankh may have been adopted. DNA studies could throw light on the great puzzle of their relationship, so at this point Dr. Forshaw took us into the science of DNA. There are two types: mitochondrial, inherited entirely from the mother, and Y-DNA, inherited from the father. DNA analysis has been used in archaeology but there are two major problems with ancient DNA: it degrades over time, especially in hot climates, and the risk of contamination is high because of the techniques used to extract it. For example, the results of the detailed DNA study of 2007-9 carried out on Tutankhamun to establish his familial relationships have been challenged by scientists.
During the third investigation into the two brothers, Dr. Forshaw, a dentist by training, extracted DNA from the teeth of the skeletons. He used second-generation sequencing to read strands in the samples taken from the dentine of two molars from each skeleton. Mitochondrial DNA indicated a maternal relationship between the two ‘brothers’: they either had the same mother, or were related as cousins or uncle/nephew, but not as father and son. The Y-chromosome DNA confirmed that they had different fathers.
The debate over the precise relationship between the two men, and why they were buried together, continues but Dr. Forshaw’s study, the first of its kind, has indeed shed new light on a question that has puzzled Egyptologists since 1907.
Dr Gobeil became the director of this site in 2011. He told us that when he took it on, everyone said he was ‘doomed’, that this would mark the end of his career - because the site had already been excavated and was well understood. There was nothing left to learn. However, as Dr Gobeil explained to us in his fascinating lecture, he proved them wrong! Excavations, which are still ongoing, have thrown new light on the understanding of Deir el-Medina. The site lies 765km south of Cairo. It is on the west bank of the Nile across the river from Luxor. Deir el-Medina is the settlement of the craftsmen (mainly from the Levant) who decorated the royal tombs in the Valleys of the Queens and Kings. The working week was ten days, and the craftsmen had to carry with them all of their tools on the difficult journey through the mountains. The journey from the settlement (15 minutes to the Valley of the Queens, but 45 minutes to the Valley of the Kings) was too onerous to make every day so there was also a temporary village closer to their place of work, comprising around fifty houses with names carved in the rooms. French archaeologist Bernard Bruyere worked at Deir el-Medina from 1921 until 1951. He found 68 artisan’s houses and 7 phases of construction. The votive area contains 30 votive chapels. A big stone temple to Hathor was built over the earlier mudbrick chapels. In addition, the necropolis contains 491 tombs, 53 of which are decorated. Only 7 tombs are open to the public.
When he took over the site in 2011, Dr Gobeil had three aims – to restore and preserve the fragile mudbrick and dry-stone walls to write a site management programme and to study the 10 storerooms (tombs which had had metal doors added and which contained objects not studied by Bruyere).
Work on the village:
Up to 20% of the walls in the village had collapsed. Few workmen’s villages are known in Ancient Egypt and so there was an urgency to assess the condition of the buildings. The village buildings were excavated, cleaned (40cm of dust and sand lay on the floors) and restored using appropriate materials and archive photographs over a period of four months.
Thousands of objects were found during this conservation work. Bruyere had retrieved the stelae but left behind beads, small inscribed stones and stamped mudbricks.
A new accurate map and 3D model of the village has been created. It includes stone-by-stone drawings of the buildings.
Work on the votive chapels:
One of the chapels had been restored in 1934 but by 2011 was in poor condition. The outer walls were damaged, the internal wall divisions and the circular base for a zeer (a vessel to hold water) had gone.
The chapel took two months to restore. 150 objects were found on the floor including the head of a statue and many ostraca. One ostracon mentioned a cyclic feast. Another mentions the wrath of King Amenhotep I. There was a hole in one wall where the priest could hide. When the villagers came to see the oracle, the priest threw the god’s reply to them, hence the ostraca on the floor.
Another chapel has had a new roof installed and the wall paintings restored. A wooden floor and lighting were put in and the chapel was opened to the public in 2016.
D-Stretch software was used to identify the decoration on a shrine in chapel no.4. It is a painting of a child sat on a cushion, his finger held to his lips. There is a similar image on a stela in the Louvre. It represents Ramesses II and was set up on one of his jubilees to revive the eternal youth of his realm.
Work in the tombs:
Most of the tombs are in a terrible condition. The conservation work has included cleaning paintings and reattaching them to the wall and creating new plans and 3D models using photogrammetry. An un-finished sketch was found using D-Stretch software.
In the 1930s the human remains in the tombs were assessed but the excavators were mainly interested in those with amulets or writing on their wrappings. There is no budget to build a new storeroom for the human remains and so they have been moved to a dry tomb. A mixture of alcohol and water was used to kill the bacteria which had formed on them. The remains were then wrapped in acid free paper, numbered, tagged and boxed. This work was done by Anne Austin of the University of Stanford.
One of the most interesting discoveries was the torso of a female mummy which was decorated with tattoos depicting Wedjat eyes, baboons, nefer hieroglyphs, snakes and flowers. These are unusual as tattoos were usually geometric patterns. It has taken two years to study the designs using D-Stretch. There are two symmetrical lotus flowers at the bottom of her back and two cows with headdresses representing Hathor on her left arm. Was she a priestess of Hathor? a singer? a musician? The findings were published in 2016. http://www.deirelmedina.com/lenka/Tattoos.html In total ten tattooed bodies have been found. Tattoos include a lion smelling a lotus flower, a band of lotus flowers around the thighs and a belt with geometric motifs around the hips.
Tiny fragments of linen cloth were found in 2012 and 2014 remnants of decorated shrouds.
This structure is mentioned in documents but has never been identified on the ground. It was a guarded checkpoint where archives and tools were kept. Dr Gobeil aimed to find it.
In 2017 he got permission to investigate the north entrance and the so-called ‘Ramesside House’. The khetem was not found but Dr Gobeil has re-interpreted the house as the entrance Temple of Amun of Ramesses II from the Ramesside street. It has a central staircase with rooms to either side.
Excavations also revealed a large wall and a place to deliver water with two gutters, two basins and ceramic jars set in the ground. There is a similar structure at Amarna, where the basins were interpreted as providing drinking water for donkeys and the ceramic jars holding water for humans. A thick layer of straw served as the ‘parking area’ for the donkeys.
Following the course of the newly found Ramesside street may help with the future search for the elusive khetem.
I really enjoyed this lecture and it encouraged me to do further internet research on Deir el-Medina and the tattooed mummies.
Elena is a Marie Curie Fellow at Durham University. She talked to us about her research project on the 3rd intermediate period, which was a period of political turmoil. At the end of the New Kingdom there was a loss of unity, a weakening of the economy and political fragmentation. There was a large influx of people into Egypt from Libya and Nubia. Libyan mercenaries and chiefs acquired military power. In 945 BC Libyans became pharaohs at Tanis and Bubastis. The pharaohs placed their children in high priesthood. Tefnakht came from a family of priests. Despite his non-royal background, he rose to become a Chief of the Ma (ancient Egyptian abbreviation for the Meshwesh, who were a Libyan tribe) he was a prince of Sais he assumed the title ‘Great Chief of the West’ and founded the 24th dynasty. Tefnakht ruled from 727 to 715 BC. The 25th Dynasty or Nubian Dynasty was founded by Piankhy or Piye in 747 BC. He invaded and seized control of Lower Egypt around 735 BC and celebrated his campaigns on his Stele of Victory, which was found at Jebel Barkal in 1862. Piye’s son Taharqa defeated the Assyrians in 674 BC, but in 671 BC the Assyrian King Esarhaddon conquered Memphis and Taharqa retreated south. He soon regained control over Memphis, only to be defeated by Esarhaddon’s successor Ashurbanipal, and dying soon after. Taharqa’s successor Tantamani defeated Necho, the subject ruler installed by Ashurbanipal, and took Thebes. But in 663 BC the Assyrians sacked Thebes and chased Tantamani back to Nubia. An Egyptian ruler, Psamtik I was placed on the throne as a vassal of Ashurbanipal and he reunified the country and centralised the government within ten years.
The temples played an important role during this turbulent time. The temple personnel controlled local power and the provision of wealth and so the Assyrians and their relatives became high ranking priests. Making the priest titles hereditary was a strategy to keep control in a time of instability.
Osorkon II (pharaoh from 872-837 BC) moved the office of the High Priest of Ptah to Memphis to control people and economical power. He also appointed his son Nimlot C as the High Priest of Amun at Thebes.
Elena is studying new categories of priests using cult topographical manuals, which list the cities and priests, lakes, rivers and gods. These include the Manual of the Delta, Tanis Geographical Papyrus, Tebtynis Papyrus and the Great Geographic Text of Edfu. The Jean Yoyotte archives held by Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris documents as-yet unpublished priest titles. Elena’s next port-of-call will be to examine an archive in Brooklyn Museum.
Elena aims to find out who the priests were and understand their social position, their roles, their administration and their titles. She is studying the social network of individuals and their families.
During the 25th and 26th dynasties, ancient priest titles from the Old Kingdom were re-used for prestige. The titles were passed down from father to sons. A statue in the Pushkin Museum in Moskow lists five generations of one family (Basa I, Ankhor, Basa II, Padiamun and Basa III), many of which were priests. A coffin in the tomb of Pasheritaisu at Saqqarah lists the same family, including Basa III and his son Horsaaset.
Another family of priests is listed on two stelae in the Louvre, where the sons held the same offices as their father.
Questions remain for Elena to answer. Did the priest’s offices move round to avoid local corruption or to follow political power? Were the titles honorific rather than effective jobs? Did people hold these titles at the same time? Why was there a proliferation of titles during the 26th dynasty?
This was a great start to another fantastic study day. Sarah is the deputy editor of Ancient Egypt magazine. She began her talk by reminding us that when in use, the temples would have looked very different to how they do today. The wide-open courts would have been full of statues, every space would have been decorated, and the temples would have been gaudy with colour. Temples are still awe inspiring today, but they would have wowed in antiquity. For example, no expense was spared when the Temple of Montu at Karnak was built. It included a staggering 2800kg of gold, plus white gold, black copper, bronze and semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli. Temples were the machines that kept Egypt running – they brought order to chaos. They were ‘mansions of the gods’ or houses for a deceased king. They represent the body of a god and the site of original creation. They sustained life for the hereafter. Sarah went on to discuss the various locations and alignments of temples. Gebel Barkal was built on a sacred site, a natural mound where the gods were thought to reside. The Aswan temples were aligned to Sothis, Luxor is aligned with Karnak and Edfu is aligned with an earlier temple. Many temples have a solar alignment, so the sun illuminates the interior when it rises and sets.
Temples were also important economic centres. They required a large workforce and were built with the spoils of conquest and tribute. They were the setting of large public festivals. They were like mini cities with their own granaries, bakeries, sanatoriums etc.
Sarah then took us through a history of the development of temples. The earliest probable sacred spaces were in the prehistoric period (before 3200 BC). They were caves decorated with art depicting human figures.
The earliest manmade religious structure in Africa is at Nabta Playa where standing stones date to 6500 years ago. It has been s uggested that the stones represent a calendar or a sundial.
The first shrines were built in the Pre and Early Dynastic Period (5500 to 2686 BC), and were constructed of wooden posts and colourful reed matting. There was a per-wer type shrine at the cult centre of Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) or the City of the Hawk. The shape of the shrine resembles a falcon or a crouched animal.
The other type of shrine is known as a per-nu. Buto, an early dynastic capital of lower Egypt, has tombs built in the same shape. There are Early Dynastic Period temples at Coptos (for Min), Memphis (for Ptah) and at Elephantine (for Satet). There is Early Dynastic royal mortuary architecture similar to temples, at the necropolis of Umm El Qu’ab at Abydos.
Sarah showed us images of 11th and 12th dynasty temples such as the Temple of Metuhotep II at Deir el-Bahri and the White Chapel of Senusret I.
During the New Kingdom kings were trying to out-do one another and demonstrate power, propaganda, wealth and empire, by embellishing temples and holding bigger more impressive rituals and public processions. There was a processional way of sphinxes between Luxor and Karnak. Along the way there were way stations or kiosks where pilgrims could rest. Pharaohs chiselled away their predecessor’s decoration and cartouches in order to carve their own.
Sarah discussed the symbolism of temples. They represented the focal space between heaven and earth, human and divine, chaos and order and harmony and balance. The roof represented heaven and the floor represented the marsh, from which the primeval world emerged. Column bases often feature marsh plants like palms, lotus and papyrus. Some outer courts were designed to actually flood. The pylon represents two mountains and the sun rose in-between.
A typical temple layout might include enclosure walls which marked out the estate of the god and protected the temple from invasion. In front of the entrance there might be pairs of obelisks, or cedar wood flagpoles with coloured pennants, or colossal statues of the king and god combined.
The pylon acted as a gateway or threshold, leading into an open peristyle courtyard surrounded by a colonnade and filled with statues. This was the interface between the outer public area and inner sacred space.
The inner halls, with their hypostyle columns and jewelled bronze doors which were opened to let the sun and heaven inside, were dark, private and sacred.
The sacredness increases as you pass through the temple. The power centre of the temple was the Holy of Holies where the rituals took place. These inner sanctuaries were dark and intimate spaces where only kings and priests were allowed, the most holy place at the heart of the temple, with gold statues, a naos type shrine and offerings to the gods.
The inner chambers around the sanctuary held statues of visiting gods and were storerooms for equipment. Crypts under the floor held treasure.
We know from Dendera that stairs led up to the temple roof.
Houses of Life (per-ankh) held religious texts, temple accounts and correspondence. They were the centres of priestly learning, art, theology, astronomy and medicine.
All temples had a sacred lake where you could immerse yourself to be purified.
I think everyone enjoyed this talk particularly because it was so well illustrated. There were reconstruction drawings by Jean-Claude Golvin and R.H. Wilkinson, amazing photographs (particularly of Dendera Temple) and best of all video reconstructions and fly-throughs, which I shall enjoy watching again and again.
For the second lecture of the day, our very own Penny Wilson took us for a fascinating journey in the Egyptian religious mind. Penny started her talk by explaining the motive of the Wedjat-Eye, which is a combination of a human eye and a falcon eye. The twisted part underneath could be a representation of the optic nerve attached to the eyeball – another proof that the Egyptians were experts in human anatomy. Wedjat means which is ‘whole’ or ‘healthy’. The eye is an early protective motive on reliefs, stelae or amulets. On coffins from the Middle Kingdom, the eye has a practical function since it indicates where the head of the deceased lays and creates a portal through which the dead can see. The Wedjat-Eye has also a close link with the snake Nehebkaou ‘He who binds kas/food’, at the same time creator and destroyer. The Wedjat-Eye first appears in the Coffin Texts (CT VI 224) in relation with Horus and Seth’ power struggle. As Penny reminded us, the power of Horus is in his eyes, whereas Seth’s power is to be found in his testicles. Horus’ eye is taken away and given back to him.
The ritual of slaughtering the oryx/antelope is interesting in that regard because it is aimed at returning the power to the King. Yet, antelopes are known to have red eyes, like bleeding eyes, at some point in the year.
Thoth is closely linked to the Wedjat-Eye, and many statues are showing the lunar god holding the Eye. The symbol of the moon growing to be full again is here very clear. Furthermore, in the story of the contending of Horus and Seth, the moon disk is the child of Seth, rising on his head, and taken care of by Thoth.
However, the Eye has a destructive aspect too. The fiery Eye seeking blood, Sekhmet, links to the red eyes of the antelopes.
Finally, Penny pointed that the Wedjat-Eye has mathematical applications: its different parts create the Egyptian fractions. What is very intriguing is that all fractions only add up to 63/64. Penny then showed us a representation of a ritual on the Roman backwall of Kom Ombo with offerings coming from the different temples of Egypt to form the whole of Egypt. Ultimately, the Wedjat-Eye is Egypt and all its parts are the different towns, whereas the Nile is the Wedjat-Eye that goes through Egypt.
Penny finally came to this conclusion: the offering of the Wedjat-Eye enables the kingships of Horus/the King, protects him against his enemies (Seth) and restores the Eye, that is Egypt. The filling of the Eye at Edfu is a perfect illustration: it shows a list of gods, stones and plants. The Wedjat-Eye is an image of Egypt, under the King’s authority.
Penny ended her talk by referring to a famous pendant from Tutankhamun’s treasure that brings to life the ideology behind the concept of the Wedjat-Eye: a representation of the cosmos with the Heavens, the sky and the Earth. Filling the Wedjat-Eye metaphorically assures the completeness of Egypt.
I particularly enjoyed this fantastic lecture because it demonstrated how, in the Egyptian religion, different concepts and believes overlap and can explain rituals which at first seem obscure. Furthermore, the observation of nature is always a key element when it comes to explain the Egyptian myths.
Building on the lectures by Sarah and Penny, Ken focused on the issue of access to temples for the people rather than the priesthood, looking at the evidence for when access was allowed and to what parts of the temple structure. This evidence comes several sources including the rekhyt rebus, an emblem of a lapwing with human hands that represents the citizens of the lower classes. Ken began with a reminder of the names for temples. The basic word in pr (house), along with ḥwt-ntr (mansion of the gods) and ḥwt nt ḥḥw m-rnpwt (mansion of millions of years). The design of the temples represented the cosmos: a pylon leading to an open courtyard that would be full of statues, then a roofed hypostyle hall leading to the inner sanctuary. The rooms of the temple became smaller and darker as one went in, with the roof getting lower and the floor higher. Ordinary people would be allowed access as far as the open courtyard but the rest was for the priesthood only. Ken described the successive areas of a typical temple, including the outside areas. Gouges made by pilgrims on the exterior walls are often hard to date, but they are evidence of people taking dust from the walls, believing it to have magical properties. There may also be graffiti made by scribes, wab-priests and artisans. The outside areas also had small temples, as at Karnak, where people could make offerings. Postholes around the walls indicate the existence of wooden shrines around the figures carved on the walls. Doorways were also popular places for worship, for example, the ‘People’s Gate’ at Luxor. In the courtyards, caches of statues have been found buried underground, evidence of access granted to the ordinary people, the rekhyt people. The letters of Djehutimose also mention taking children into the courtyard. However, evidence for access by the rekhyt people to the hypostyle hall is rare, and texts indicate that that the inner sanctuaries were off-limits. In terms of timing, access was allowed during festivals, as these were public events.
In the remainder of the lecture Ken talked about the rekhyt rebus. This is made up of a lapwing with human hands, a neb basket, a star and a cartouche of the Pharaoh. In total its meaning is ‘all the rekhyt people adore the Pharaoh’. But what has this to do with temple access? It has been argued from evidence on the ‘People’s Gate’ at Luxor that the rebus gave access permission, but Ken challenges this. For example, all the hypostyle columns at Karnak apart from the central group have the rebus. Ken has found seven examples from the New Kingdom and Graeco-Roman period where the rebus is in the inner sanctuary, all on friezes and doorways, so this cannot indicate accessibility.
In conclusion, Ken argued for a new interpretation of access by the rekhyt people, that they are a part of the reciprocal arrangement between the people, the Pharaoh and the gods they are part of ma’at. If we take away the people, there is no Pharaoh and if there is no Pharaoh, there are no gods.
Sarah’s lecture followed on from her earlier lecture ‘Origin and Development of Cult Temples in Egypt’ The lecture covered major New Kingdom and Ptolemaic temples in Lower Egypt Luxor Temple, Great Aten temple in Amarna, Seti I Temple in Abydos, Dendera, Edfu and Karnak. The lecture consisted of tours of the major cult temples using fly through videos. It began with Luxor Temple which was begun under the reign of Amenhotep III with additions from Hatshepsut (which were later destroyed) and Ramesses II who built on a large scale. The temple was built for Amun of the Opet which was a form of Amun that Amun-Ra at Karnak Temple visited during the Opet festival. The court built by Ramesses II angles slightly so it is more in line with Karnak Temple and contains triple shrines for the divine triad: Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The temple became a military camp during the Roman Period evidenced by Roman reliefs unearthed. A fly through video was shown of a reconstructed Luxor Temple and surrounding area, the video allowed the viewer a clearer understanding of how the structure would have looked with roofs and brightly coloured paint. The next stop on our temple journey was Amarna and the Small and Great Aten temples, the fly through video again was a reconstruction constructed by Jean-Claude Golvin of the temples based on the remains of the buildings excavated at the site. The video showed a more clean and sophisticated temple in comparison to Luxor as well reconstructed city which truly gave an understanding of the size of the Great Aten temple.
From Amarna we continued to Seti I temple at Abydos, Seti I died before the temple was complete and the project was taken on by his heir Ramesses II who made changes to the temple reliefs. Seti I used raised relief where Ramesses used sunken, Ramesses also included images of himself and his children even though he states within the text he was finishing the temple for his father.
The temple is unique in that it has an L-shape, this is due to the location of the Osireion behind the temple, the design was deliberate as it is believed Seti built the Osireion which is situated behind the Osiris inner chapels of the temple. There was no fly through video for this temple but we were given a brief overlook if the different inner chapels using photographs.
Before being shown the Ptolemaic Temples a brief introduction was given into this period of history starting with the Alexander the Great invasion which lead to the Macedonian Greeks who became Pharaohs. The new Pharaohs brought a mixture of styles which in turn gave complicated and confusing imagery, as well as building new temples they also repaired temples already present.
The most distinctive features of this period is the Mammisis or Bath House, independent structures within temple complex and iconography which celebrates the rituals of the marriage and birth of their offspring which is symbolically related to the New Kingdom birth scenes.
The first Ptolemaic temple we shown was Dendera Temple which is still has its roof which also has a kiosk. The temple consists of a hypostyle Hall and 12 chapels which include shrines for Hathor’s Sistrum and Menat Collar, the rear temple wall has the only known image of Cleopatra. In recent years there has been a large restoration project at Dendera which included removing the soot in the Hypostyle Hall, images of the work was shown which has uncovered original paint.
There are also several kiosks from the Roman period outside the mudbrick enclosure wall which surrounds the temple complex. A gateway of Domitian and Trajan is built into this mudbrick wall which leads to the large open courtyard.
The next temple was the Edfu Temple which took 95 years to construct, there is evidence of New Kingdom structures but the temple today was constructed during the Ptolemaic period. It is a standard temple layout and incorporates a shrine of Nectanebo II. The story of the construction of the temple is told on the walls of the temple itself along with the temple foundation ritual. We were shown a literal ‘Run Through’ video, although it was entertaining watching an individual running through the temple it was not as informative as the ‘Fly Through’ videos.
Last temple was Karnak, which is actually a complex of temples rather than a singular one. Karnak consists of 3 precincts- Montu, Mut and Amun. A quick run through of the temples and chapels along with the layout was given before a brief overview. A video of Karnak was shown which showed the temple phase-by-phase which gave a better understanding of this large structure grew over time. Some of the additions in the video were hard to see as they small and some of it could be a bit confusing as there were individual structures which seemed to have no connection to the complex, of course this could be due to knowledge has the video is based on the evidence found.
The video was followed by a quick look in pictures of the 2 different axis, East/West and North/South, which was colour coded to show what was built at what time.
The lecture ended with the decline and fall of temples, the start of the decline is seen in the Roman period with the increased popularity of Christianity. Images of David Roberts paintings were shown to give an image of the state of the temples when Egyptology was born.
The lecture was fun and engaging as well as thought provoking as seeing these temples it is easy to forgot that they have been developed, altered or simply replaced.
South Italian and Attic Use of Isolated Heads
The earliest appearance of the heads on South Italian vases coincides with the period during which South Italian vase painting began to diverge from Athenian models and adapt to local conventions, about 410–400 b.c. 3 The size of a vase often determined whether the isolated head painted on it would play a primary or secondary role. Until 340 b.c. , heads usually occurred as the primary decoration on smaller vases, such as the Metropolitan Museum’s kantharos (drinking cup with high handles) attributed to the Painter of Bari 5981 (fig. 2) after this date, the motif served as the main decoration on larger vases as well. The frontal female head emerging from a flower and surrounded by spiraling tendrils on the Museum’s kantharos is similar to heads appearing as secondary decoration on larger vases, exemplified by two works in the Museum’s collection: the Apulian volute-krater attributed to the Baltimore Painter (fig. 3a,b) and the Campanian neck-amphora by the Pilos Head Group (figs. 4a,b). The use of the motif as secondary decoration began between about 380 and 370 b.c. , when isolated heads appeared nearly simultaneously in all five South Italian wares. Heads were applied to the various shapes within each ware, although not with equal frequency in all wares: they are most common in Apulia and Campania. 4 fig. 2.
Apulian red-figure kantharos attributed to the Painter of Bari 5981. Greek, South Italian, ca. 325–300 b.c. Terracotta, H. with handles 11 in. (27.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1021.233). Obverse showing a female head emerging from a flower
Apulian red-figure volute-krater attributed to the Baltimore Painter. Greek, South Italian, ca. 330–310 b.c. Terracotta, H. with handles 31 in. (78.7 cm), H. to rim 26¾ in. (68 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Mrs. James J. Rorimer Gift, 1969 (69.11.7). Obverse showing, on the neck, a head with Phrygian cap on the body, the Judgment of Paris above Athena and Pan among Trojans
Reverse of fig. 3a, showing a woman in a naiskos surrounded by women and youths
Campanian neck-amphora attributed to the Pilos Head Group. Greek, South Italian, ca. 350–325 b.c. Terracotta, H. 11 in. (27.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Accession (X.21.19). Obverse showing a young warrior seated on an altar facing a bearded warrior on the neck, the head of a youth wearing a pilos
Reverse of fig. 4a, showing a seated youth holding a spear on the neck, a female head
On Athenian vases, isolated heads are often carefully identified by inscription or attribute. For example, on a black-figure lip-cup in Copenhagen attributed to the Epitimos Painter (figs. 5a,b), two isolated heads occur, each one centered between the two handles, on opposite sides. 5 One is the bust of Athena, recognizable by her Attic helmet, upraised spear, and shield decorated with a protruding snake. The reverse shows the bust of a male warrior, his face largely obscured by his Corinthian helmet. He too is poised to release his spear and carries a shield with a three-dimensional ornament, a satyr head. The retrograde inscription on his helmet’s crest, ENKELAΔOΣ, identifies him as the giant Enkelados, Athena’s opponent in the Gigantomachy. The inscription demonstrates the vase painter’s concern that the specific subject be clearly recognized. The practice of identifying heads of mythological figures continued into fifth-century Athenian red-figure vase painting, such as on the numerous squat lekythoi (oil flasks) of the Achilles Painter’s workshop, about 450–425 b.c. , which are contemporary with the earliest South Italian red-figure vases. For example, on a piece in Munich (fig. 6), Hermes is recognized by his kerykeion (herald’s staff ), his wide-brimmed hat slung behind him, and his cloak pinned at the shoulder, sartorial details associated with travelers in Greek art. figs. 5a,b.
Attic black-figure lip-cup by the Epitimos Painter. Greek, ca. 550–540 b.c. Terracotta, H. 7⅝ in. (19.4 cm), Diam. 11¾ in. (29.8 cm). National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen (13966). Obverse showing the head of Athena reverse showing the head of Enkelados
Attic red-figure squat lekythos attributed to the Achilles Painter or his workshop. Greek, ca. 450–425 b.c. Terracotta, preserved H. 3½ in. (9 cm). Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich (7505)
In contrast, few isolated heads on South Italian vases can be readily identified by today’s viewers. Just one South Italian head is inscribed: the frontal, polos-crowned female head on the neck of a volute-krater in the British Museum is labeled Aura (figs. 7a, b) 6 and few South Italian heads have distinguishing attributes. The only mythological figures recognizable among South Italian heads are Pan and Dionysos, found on a small number of Apulian and Paestan vases, and satyrs of various ages, such as the one on a bell-krater in the Museum’s collection (fig. 8), which occur in all South Italian wares except those from Sicily. 7 fig. 7a.
Apulian red-figure volute-krater by the Iliupersis Painter. Greek, South Italian, ca. 370–350 b.c. Terracotta, H. 23⅝ in. (59.9 cm). British Museum, London (F 277). The abduction of Persephone by Hades, with Hermes and Hekate
Detail of fig. 7a showing the head of Aura
Campanian red-figure bell-krater attributed to the Painter of Oxford 1945.73. Greek, South Italian, ca. 360–330 b.c. Terracotta, H. 7½ in. (19.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1941 (41.162.263). Obverse showing the head of a satyr in profile
The overwhelming majority of heads are female, usually with the hair pulled up and contained in a headdress, and nearly always wearing jewelry—necklaces, earrings, and diadems of various forms. Isolated female heads are indistinguishable from the heads of their full-length counterparts, both mortal and divine, on South Italian vases, making specific identification virtually impossible. 8 Compare, for instance, three examples in the Museum’s collection: the typical female head on an Apulian skyphos (deep drinking cup) (fig. 9) the head of Athena on a volute-krater by the Capodimonte Painter (fig. 10) and the heads of the mortal women surrounding the grave monuments on a loutrophoros (ceremonial vase for water) attributed to the Metope Painter (figs. 11a, b). Even when traditional indicators of divine status are present—a nimbus, for example, or the polos crown worn by Aura—they are too indeterminate to afford precise identifications. 9 Furthermore, their rare occurrence does little to illuminate the identity of the attribute-less majority. fig. 9.
Apulian red-figure skyphos. Greek, South Italian, ca. 325–300 b.c. Terracotta, H. 7½ in. (19.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of L. P. di Cesnola, 1876 (76.12.15). Obverse showing a female head in profile
Detail of Apulian red-figure volute-krater by the Capodimonte Painter. Greek, South Italian, ca. 320–310 b.c. Terracotta, H. without handles 36 in. (91.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1956 (56.171.63). Seated Athena holding a helmet
Apulian red-figure loutrophoros attributed to the Metope Painter. Greek, South Italian, ca. 350–325 b.c. Terracotta, H. 34¾ in. (88.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Bernard and Audrey Aronson Charitable Trust Gift, in memory of her beloved husband, Bernard Aronson, 1995 (1995.45.1). Obverse showing statues of a woman and an attendant in a naiskos flanked by women and youths. On the shoulder, Eros with alabastron and mirror
Reverse of fig. 11a showing the statue of a woman in a naiskos flanked by youths and women. On the shoulder, a female head emerges from a flower surrounded by tendrils and palmettes.
Other types of heads, such as those of youths and mature males, likewise lack identifying attributes (see fig. 4a). Heads flanked by outstretched wings or wearing Phrygian caps are usually ambiguous in gender, leading to a variety of interpretations. Particularly popular in Apulia, winged heads, like that on the neck of the Lucanian nestoris (two-handled jar) (fig. 12), often wear the same headdresses and jewelry as female heads. While it would be logical to identify them as Nike, they also resemble Eros, a more frequent full-length figure in South Italian vase painting and often represented in a highly effeminate guise, as seen on the interior of the Apulian patera (libation bowl) (fig. 13). 10 The Phrygian cap is found repeatedly on isolated heads on Apulian vases, such as the one on the obverse shoulder of a second Metope Painter loutrophoros in the Museum’s collection (figs. 14a, b). 11 If female, the heads probably represent Amazons, although they may depict Artemis Bendis. 12 If male, they might represent Arimasps, a mythological race from the far north, or the mythological figures Orpheus, Adonis, or Paris. The identification of heads wearing Phrygian caps flanked by wings, a motif not seen in mainland Greek art, remains elusive. 13 fig. 12.
Lucanian red-figure nestoris by the Painter of New York 52.11.2. Greek, South Italian, ca. 360–350 b.c. Terracotta, H. with handles 15 in. (38.1 cm), H. without handles 14 in. (34.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.11.2). On the body, a standing youth offering a bird to a seated woman on the neck, a head in profile flanked by wings
Apulian red-figure knob-handled patera attributed to the Menzies Group. Greek, South Italian, ca. 330–320 b.c. Terracotta, H. 3½ in. (8.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase by subscription, 1896 (96.18.55). Eros, seated, holding up a mirror
Apulian red-figure loutrophoros attributed to the Metope Painter. Greek, South Italian, ca. 350–325 b.c. Terracotta, H. 32¾ in. (83.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Bernard and Audrey Aronson Charitable Trust Gift, in memory of her beloved husband, Bernard Aronson, 1995 (1995.45.2). Obverse showing, on the shoulder, a head with Phrygian cap on the body, a woman and attendant in a naiskos
Reverse of fig. 14a. On the shoulder, a female head on the body, a woman with a fan in a naiskos surrounded by women and youths
South Italian vase-painters frequently inscribed the names of full-length figures and provided them with defining attributes in mythological scenes. The seemingly intentional ambiguity of the isolated heads is therefore striking. Most scholars associate the heads with divinities, tentatively identifying various female heads, for example, as Aphrodite, Hera Eileithyia, and Persephone. Others see no religious connection, arguing that the heads functioned purely as decoration or as models of human comeliness. 14 Perhaps the meaning of isolated heads on vases in southern Italy and Sicily was so obvious to their intended users that explicit identification was deemed unnecessary. Unfortunately, no ancient literary or epigraphic sources survive that might explain the widespread significance of these motifs, requiring modern viewers to glean the heads’ meaning exclusively from the vases themselves.
Past efforts to identify the heads have focused solely on Greek mythology, ignoring the fact that, while South Italian vases were produced in Greek settlements, most with known provenance come from areas that were not under Greek political control during the fourth century b.c. —among them, Cumae, Capua, and Paestum. Despite growing hostilities between Greek settlements and neighboring Italic groups such as the Lucani and Brutii, Hellenic products were in high demand in indigenous settlements and former Greek cities, and Greeks actively sought out these markets. 15 In Apulia, Italic demand for painted vases became so great that by the mid-fourth century b.c. , South Italian workshops were established in Daunian and Peucetian communities such as Ruvo, Ceglie del Campo, and Canosa. 16 Given the wide range of cultures commissioning South Italian vases, the heads’ vague identity was perhaps intentional, allowing for various interpretations by viewers with disparate ethnic and religious affiliations. A Greek in Taranto might have read a female head quite differently from a Daunian in Ruvo, but the same image could have had significance to both.
In Attic vase painting, isolated heads are often a key component in anodos scenes, images presenting the rising of a deity from the chthonic realm (underworld). The ascending figure, usually female, is represented either with a truncated body or simply as an oversized head and neck, like the figure of Aphrodite on a hydria (water jar) in Brussels (fig. 15). 17 The anodos of a god is rarely depicted, but when it occurs, the deity involved is usually Dionysos. 18 Full-length figures typically witness these epiphanies and may facilitate the upward movement of the ascending deities by breaking up the soil, as the satyrs do on the Brussels hydria. 19 fig. 15.
Attic red-figure hydria by the Herakles Painter. Greek, ca. 370 b.c. Terracotta, H. (restored) 13⅞ in. (35.3 cm), Diam. 13¾ in. (35.1 cm). Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels (R 286). Female head flanked by Erotes and satyrs holding pickaxes
Often such images are associated with the return of Persephone to her mother, Demeter, as described in the “Homeric Hymn to Demeter.” This narrative is depicted on the Museum’s bell-krater by the Persephone Painter on the obverse, the young goddess emerges from a fissure in the earth in the presence of Demeter, Hekate, and Hermes (fig. 16). 20 Other anodos scenes represent the creation of Pandora. On a volute-krater in the Ashmolean Museum, the rising protagonist is labeled as Pandora, and the bearded male figure reaching out to her is inscribed as Epimetheus (fig. 17). 21 fig. 16.
Attic red-figure bell-krater attributed to the Persephone Painter. Greek, ca. 440 b.c. Terracotta, H. 16⅛ in. (41 cm) Diam. of mouth 17⅞ in. (45.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1928 (28.57.23). Obverse showing Persephone rising from the underworld, with Hekate, in the presence of Hermes and Demeter
Attic red-figure volute-krater attributed to the workshop of Polygnotos. Greek, ca. 450 b.c. Terracotta, H. 19 in. (48.2 cm), Diam. 13⅞ in. (35.2 cm). Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford (G 275). The creation of Pandora
When inscriptions or clear attributes are lacking, the full-length figures may help to identify the rising individual the presence of Erotes, winged gods of love, as on the Brussels hydria, implies the appearance of chthonic Aphrodite. 22 In Athenian vase painting of the second and third quarters of the fourth century b.c. , anodos scenes containing heads flanked by full-length figures, usually women and youths or Erotes, appear increasingly on vessels of many shapes: pelikai, hydriai, stemless cups, lekanides, pyxides, kylixes, and kraters. 23 The discovery of these vases predominantly around the Black Sea and in modern-day Libya suggests that they had a particular appeal in colonial settings where Greek and native beliefs intermingled.
While isolated heads repeatedly play a narrative role in anodos scenes on Attic vases, parallel iconography in South Italian vase painting is very rare. 24 Fewer than forty isolated heads out of the thousands of extant South Italian examples are accompanied by full-length figures, and these occur only on Apulian vases. Flanked generally by Erotes, the heads emerge from flowers. This composition has no parallel in Attic vase painting, nor is it explained in surviving ancient literature. 25 Thus, Apulian heads in the presence of figures are not part of any known narrative or mimetic ritual associated with a mythological event.
Heads in South Italian vase-painting emerge from blossoms or acanthus leaf calyxes and are typically placed within vegetal frames of varying complexity, ranging from simple, stylized scrolls to lushly spiraling, flowering tendrils, as seen on the shoulders of the Museum’s loutrophoroi by the Metope Painter (see figs. 11, 14). Eyes frequently gaze upward, and the head itself may be upturned. 26 Occasionally a hand, either empty or holding an object, appears next to the face, implying a body out of the viewer’s sight (fig. 18). 27 Objects were sometimes painted in the field around isolated heads. While certain among them, such as rosettes, could be decorative fill, most are items carried by women, nude youths, and Eros in funerary scenes, and thus have a cultic function and significance. They include thyrsoi (staffs of fennel and ivy carried by the followers of Dionysos), incense burners, cross-bar torches, ivy, and—most frequently—libation bowls. 28 Even altars appear, usually at the eye level of the head. 29 fig. 18.
Apulian red-figure plate by the Painter of Vatican Z 3. Greek, South Italian, ca. 340–320 b.c. Terracotta, Diam. 8½ in. (21.6 cm.). Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (182636). A hand beside the female head holds up the mirror
Phrygian Funerary Stele Depicting Toiletries - History
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SUMMARY Yazıdere (Seyitgazi). A rural sanctuary of Zeus in the territory of Nakoleia in north. more SUMMARY
Yazıdere (Seyitgazi). A rural sanctuary of Zeus in the territory of Nakoleia in northwest Phrygia
Numerous offerings are known from northwest Phrygia. They belong to the Roman Imperial period (2nd. and 3rd. c. AD) and mainly represent dedications of the rural population to Zeus, who was worshipped through various cults. The texts provide clear evidence that Zeus, the weather god, was revered in these regions as a fertility god. This is by no means an unexpected find, since one deals with a rural society in which a weather god was also responsible for the climate. Phrygia was in antiquity a huge agricultural area. This book focuses on a rural sanctuary of Zeus in northwest Phrygia, where the dedications were found.
The sanctuary is located in the area of Beygir Tokadı, 2.5 km north of the village of Yazıdere and some 9.5 km northeast of Seyitgazi/Nakoleia. The museum of Eskişehir conducted a 15 - day rescue-excavation there in 1979. In the ruins which were disturbed by the illegal excavations, a largely damaged building was discovered. In the ruins 120 small dedicatory stelae were found the building was identified as a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus. Numerous miniature architectonic elements, pottery sherds and 11 coins were also found in the building. They were taken to the museum of Seyitgazi, where the earlier finds from the site are also deposited. Although the museum's report of 1979 demanded from the Turkish authorities that archaeologists start excavations at the site, nothing was done. The sanctuary belongs to the territory of the village of Nakoleia and today, it has been completely destroyed. In the author's book on this sanctuary, all the finds from the sanctuary are studied, ie. 230 mostly fragmentary dedications, 22 miniature architectonic elements and 11 coins (for a preliminary report of this book, with a summary in German, see Akyürek Şahin, Yazıdere).
The dedications are on small stelae, mostly 30-50 cms. high, made from a local kind of limestone or marble. There are, however, some small altars and one statue base. The stelae have pediments and acroteria, but no cones. The shafts carry inscriptions relief representations of a vessel or an eagle are very rare. The inscriptions showing that this was a rural sanctuary of Zeus are very short and they always indicate a dedicatory character. Primarily two epithets of the god are used in these inscriptions: Zeus Limnenos and Zeus Bronton. 59 offerings are dedicated to Zeus Limnenos, 24 to Zeus Bronton. There are some offerings to Zeus with no specific epithet. Only one offering is dedicated to Zeus Patroos. The rest of the inscriptions are very fragmentary. One can therefore conclude that Zeus Limnenos and Zeus Bronton were the main deities worshipped at this sanctuary. The sanctuary, however, has to date been ascribed to Meter Tieiobeudene by scholars, cf. Ricl, Rural Sanctuaries, p. 78 fn. 3 and p. 95 fn. 122. In fact the above mentioned stele (supra Chp. V no. 3 p. 150) was not found in Yazıdere, but in the centre of Seyitgazi according to the inventory notes of the museum on this subject see supra fn. 25.
The dedications to Zeus Bronton from this sanctuary are not studied in this book, but are published elsewhere by the author, see Akyürek Şahin, Yeni Adaklar, p. 110-118, no. 34-57.
This is the first attestation of Zeus Limnenos in inscriptions. The epithet seems to stem from a toponym which may have been connected with a lake. There is only one, very poorly preserved inscription where "Limnenos" may appear as an ethnic name. This site should be sought for in the vicinity of the sanctuary, on the terrritory of Nakoleia. Zeus Limnenos was also a god of fertility. Conversely, the cult of Zeus Bronton is well attested for northwest Phrygia from hundreds of dedications. As his epithet suggests, he was primarily a god of the sky and of lightning. His origin can be traced back to the Hittite period. A close study on both the dedicatory inscriptions and the cult itself shows that he was also regarded as a god of fertility and that he was worshipped by the rural inhabitants. The peasants believed that he not only brought rain, but also protected the produce, animals, and even the inhabitants themselves and their families from every kind of danger and took care of their wellbeing and health. Consequently, the great number of the dedications to him (more than 300 pieces) is not suprising. The areas of Dorylaion and Nakoleia in northwest Phrygia were the most important cult centres of Zeus Bronton. The cult however also spread towards the north and north-west.
The Zeus sanctuary of Beygir Tokadı was in use, as the inscriptions and coins suggest, between the 1st. half of the 3rd. c. AD and the 1st. half of the 4th. c. AD. The ethnic names in the dedicatory inscriptions suggest that the sanctuary was frequented by worshippers from various rural communities.
In addition to the finds from this local sanctuary, some other stelae in the museum were also included in the study (Chp. V no. 1-41). They mainly consist of votive stelae, including a few grave stelae and four inscriptions dating from the Christian Period.
Santa Maria in Campitelli
The final church that I am going to talk about is known both as Santa Maria in Campitelli or Santa Maria in Portico. It was built in response to the plague of 1656. The pope during this plague, Pope Alexander VII, took a vow to the icon St. Maria in Portico to commission a church should the plague abait. These types of vows occurred so often that churches built as a result as commonly known now as “Plague Churches.” Well, the plague eventually did abait, and so Alexander fulfilled his promise and laid the foundation stone on September 29, 1660.
Above the doorway, you can see the inscription “S.P.Q.R. VOTVM S. ALEXAN. VII. P. M. S. MARIAE IN PORTICV A. FVNDAM. POS. A. M. DC. LXV.” Now, it has been a while since my last college Latin class, but S.P.Q.R. (an acronym that you will see all over Rome) means Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, or in English, “The Senate and People of Rome.” “VOTVM S.” also appears quite regularly in ancient inscriptions, albeit in another form (“V.S.L.M.”). Votum translates as a vow, thus referring to Pope Alexander’s vow to build the Church, and the “S” is an abbreviation of the Latin verb solvit, meaning “to fulfill.” The next three are easier: “Alexan. VII. P. M.” translates as Alexander VII, Pontifex Maximus “S. Mariae in Porticv” means Santa Maria in Portico and “A Fundam.” is an abbreviation for the latin phrase “a fundamenta,” translated into english as “from foundations.” “Pos.” is the abbreviation for “posuit,” translated roughly as “put” or “laid.” Finally, “A. M. DC. LXV.” refers to the date, Anno 1000 (M) 600 (DC) 65 (LXV), or 1665, the date the façade was completed.
|S.P.Q.R.||The Senate and People of Rome|
|VOTVM S.||Fulfilled Vow|
|Alexand. VII. P. M.||Alexander VII, Pontifex Maximus|
|S. Mariae in Porticv||Santa Maria in Portico|
|A. FVNDAM. POS.||Laid from Foundations|
|A. M. DC. LXV.||In the Year 1665|
After putting it all together, the inscription means In the Year 1665, The Senate and People of Rome fulfilled Pope Alexander VII’s vow to rebuild Santa Maria in Portico from its foundations (the church was built atop the site of a prior church dedicated to Mary).
The altar tabernacle was designed by Giovanni Antonio de Rossi to contain the aforementioned icon.
The icon is a typical Byzantine work, with Mary holding Jesus against a blue background between two oak leaves. Allegedly, the icon is linked to a 6th century event, when St. Galla had a vision of a couplet stating, “Hic est illa piae Genitricis Imago Mariae quae discubenti Gallae patuit metuenti,” meaning, “This is the image of Mary Mother of God revealed to Galla, humble and fearful, while serving the poor.” The image in possession of the church is probably a reproduction of a more ancient painting.
Marian devotion looms large in Roman culture, especially as she has been linked to the Port (Porto/Portico), which is typically a place of welcome and shelter, alluding to the security of the womb.
Another fun fact about this church: Henry Stuart, Duke of York, became the cardinal deacon of the church in 1747, and he and his father James Stuart (“the Old Pretender“), instituted the Perpetual Prayer, mandating that every Saturday, a mass would be celebrated with the singing of the Litanies to the Virgin to beg her to return the Church of England to the Catholic faith. Obviously, this prayer was less than successful as the Church of England has remained Anglican to this day.
CREWS Display: Coffin Fragment with Egyptian Hieroglyphs
The object we are looking at this week from our special display at the Fitzwilliam Museum is a fragment of an Egyptian coffin from the early Middle Kingdom (c. 2055 — c. 1985 BCE), possibly from Asyut. The coffin fragment is painted with yellow earth on the outside, but inscribed with hieroglyphs on the inside.
The early Middle Kingdom brought a return to stability for Egypt after a period of chaos following the collapse of the Old Kingdom. Nevertheless this was a period in which authority in Egypt was relatively decentralized, with local officials and important personages buried in their own rock-cut tombs which had their own painted decoration. Previously, in the Old Kingdom, such tombs had been the preserve of royalty. With the demise of royal authority, however, these practices had disseminated down the social scale.
It was typical of this period to inscribe the inside of the deceased’s coffin with so-called ‘Coffin Texts’. These texts are the equivalent of the ‘Pyramid Texts’ which are inscribed on the walls of the Old Kingdom pyramids for the kings that contained them. You can see a complete contemporary example here:
Map of the netherworld from the coffin of Gua, from Deir el-Bersha, Egypt. 12th Dynasty, 1985-1795 BCΕ. Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coffin_of_Gua.jpg.
You might be wondering why the texts are written on the *inside* of the coffin, and not on the outside, as we might expect. Texts of this kind, consisting of liturgies used during the burial service, were intended to be read by the deceased when she rose from the dead and went to the afterlife. This may surprise many people today, since in our society we are not used to thinking in terms of sentient beings existing beyond the limits of this life. However, in the ancient world, and in many parts of the world today, this is in fact a perfectly natural way to think, and it therefore makes sense to write texts not only for the living, but also for the dead, as well, for that matter, as the divine.
Outside of a contemporary Middle Kingdom (12th dynasty) coffin, belonging to a certain Ameny. Image from https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/557549.
In a previous post we have examined how the hieroglyphic writing system functioned at the level of characters and words. This text gives us a chance to look at how hieroglyphs can be used to make sentences. The current text is obviously fragmentary, and therefore cannot be read in its entirety, but it is sufficient to see how several aspects of the writing system functioned.
Firstly, we can see that the characters are painted on, rather than incised. Accordingly, the form of the characters used is rather more cursive than those which you might have in your mind from monumental inscriptions. Cursive hieroglyphs were the preferred form for rendering various kinds of funerary texts, including Coffin Texts.
Stela from First Intermediate Period, with incised (i.e. non-cursive) hieroglyphs. From the Fitzwilliam’s collection, image from here.
The hieroglyphs in our text are written in both red and blue, in columns, which are separated from one another by vertical black lines. This is the way that hieroglyphs were written historically. However, not long after this, texts would start to be written in horizontal lines, a habit that we continue in our own writing system.
Although the text is written in vertical lines, within each column the ordering is right to left. How can this be, when each line is only one character long? Well, we can tell the intended direction of reading because Egyptian hieroglyphs have the possibility of being written facing one way or another. Consider the following column:
You can see that each of the characters with left-right asymmetry are facing to the right. This is perhaps clearer in the following transcription:
However, it would have been perfectly valid to write the same sequence of characters with each character facing the other way:
Both sequences mean the same thing, but hieroglyphics were versatile and could be written both right-to-left and left-to-right. As it happens, right-to-left was the default order, and the only ordering used for the related fully cursive script known as ‘hieratic’. This is, furthermore, the order that was inherited by the West Semitic abjad scripts (discussed by Philip in another recent post). However, this is a good reminder that the ordering of letters and direction of writing was not so fixed in the ancient world as we might consider it today. My colleague Pippa, and director of the project, has written about so-called boustrophedon writing in Greek here too.
If you would like to read more about Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, you can try these sources:
Davies, W. V. 1987. Egyptian Hieroglyphs. London: British Museum Publications for the Trustees of the British Museum.
Grajetzki, Wolfram. 2013. ‘Middle Kingdom’ in Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craig B. Champion, Andrew Erskine and Sabine R. Huebner (eds.) The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Blackwell. pp. 4490-4494.
In addition, you can also explore the British Museum’s tomb-chapel of Nebamun in 3D here.
The Cultural Center of the Fountation of the Hellenic World, Hellenic Cosmos is a new place of interactive presentations of the greek history and culture. Through exhibitions and events at the state-of-the-art virtual reality theater, Hellenic Cosmos brings to life images of ancient Greece and the world.
The «Dome» is the new Virtual Reality Theater. It is a building of high architectural aesthetics, with unique technology infrastructure, which houses the digital collections ΙΜΕ. The «Dome» looks like a planetarium with physical and morphological characteristics. The spherical outer shape of the “Dome” refers to a heavenly body that rotates. It gives a higher sense, attributed to many processes, like the successive rings which encircle the outer cell of the construction and the special lightning that makes everything stand apart.
The «Dome» becomes the symbol of the «Hellenic Cosmos» and levels–up Pireos street. The projections are interactive, controlled by the guest, not static at all. It is a unique experience in delving deep into the virtual world, which is known for its instant response, flexibility, originality and liveliness.
Hellenic Cosmos is located at 254 Pireos street.
(103) P.Oxy 43 Nighwatchmen's report - 2 churches
- [JBL] P.Oxy. 43 is a list of Oxyrhynchite watchmen on the verso of an account dated 295 C.E., recording streets and public buildings, including a north church (col. 1, line 10) and a south church (col. 3, line 19), with streets named after each.
- Early Hittite Period (2000-1750 BC)
- Assyrian Colonies Period (1950 -1750 BC)
- Old Hittite Kingdom (1750-1450 BC)
- Hittite Empire (1450-1200 BC)
- Neo-Hittite city-states (1200-700 BC)
- The Early Hittite Period (2000-1750 BC)
- [Editor: We may have had two churches 295 CE: but were they christian?]