Welcome to 2022 and the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the final days of December.
Egypt’s archaeological mission, led by famed Egyptologist and former Antiquities Minister, Zahi Hawass, has resumed the hunt for Queen Nefertiti’s tomb in the west bank of Luxor after years of debate over her burial site.
Hawass believes Queen Nefertiti is resting in the Valley of the Kings in the west bank in Luxor. He said an Egyptian team has been formed to search for and excavate the tomb.
“The team of Egyptian archaeologists tasked with finding Nefertiti’s tomb was formed in 2017 and is an entirely Egyptian mission. This is the first time that an Egyptian mission leads the excavation works at the archaeological site of the Valley of the Kings, where foreign missions have always worked,” Hawass said.
Controversy and division over the whereabouts of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb have prevailed among archaeologists for years. In August 2015, Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, claimed Nefertiti may lie behind a wall within Tutankhamun’s tomb.
In October 2015, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities formed a scientific committee to hold an objective discussion in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor with Reeves, who said Nefertiti's tomb might be located behind the north wall of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities conducted a radar survey of Tutankhamun's tomb in November 2015, but it did not confirm what Reeves said.
In May 2018, the ministry dismissed Reeves’ theory about the tomb and said the months long geophysics studies by the team of researchers at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy ruled out any hidden rooms behind the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb. This means that Nefertiti’s tomb was not found.
Hawass said, “There is no scientific evidence proving the theory that Queen Nefertiti was buried inside Tutankhamun’s tomb. We believe that Nefertiti could be buried in the western valley, near to the tomb of King Amenhotep III.”
“There are still a lot of undiscovered secrets about ancient Egyptians in the area located between King Amenhotep III’s tomb and King Ay’s", Hawass added. Locating Nefertiti’s tomb would be “the most important archaeological discovery in the world, and even the discovery of the century", he said.
Hawass said in a lecture at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization on Dec. 8 about the recent archaeological discoveries that “evidences in the west bank (in Luxor) show that there are antiquities that match those found among the amulets belonging to King Tutankhamun, the son of Akhenaten, Nefertiti’s husband.”
Hussein Bassir, director of the Antiquities Museum at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told Al-Monitor, “Queen Nefertiti is the beautiful and smart wife of King Akhenaten. She supported him greatly and was one of the strongest supporters of the new religious call that he made to worship the new god Aten. She is one of the most famous queens of ancient Egypt and the lady of the Amarna period.”
He added, “There are some studies that indicate Queen Nefertiti co-reigned with her husband. Recent studies, however, stated that King Akhenaten ruled alone and that Nefertiti may have assumed power after his death. Too many mysteries and questions continue to surround this queen’s life in general.”
Egyptian historian and Egyptologist Bassam al-Shammaa told Al-Monitor by phone, “Finding Nefertiti's tomb in the west bank in Luxor is only possible if the mummies of Akhenaten and Nefertiti were moved from Amarna to Luxor in later eras.” He called on the ministry to expand the archaeological team searching for Nefertiti and to involve more scientists who specialize in hunting and locating tombs.
Commenting on the possible historical value of the discovery of Nefertiti's tomb, he said, “Finding Nefertiti’s mummy, and what’s in her tomb, by the Egyptian team, would be tantamount to the rewriting of history, particularly since that tomb has preoccupied everyone for hundreds of years."
Karnak Temples, recently witnessed the sun rising on its main axis, an event that commences the beginning of the winter season on December 10th of each year. The Karnak Temple had a great turnout of visitors from Egypt and foreigners from different countries who made sure to watch and record this unique event and take many photos.
Al-Aqasr Governorate organized a celebration for this occasion in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Antiquities; the Governor of Al-Aqasr, the Director of Security, a number of officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the executive leaders of the governorate, with several events taking place.
Mr. Mustafa Al-Sherh pointed out that the phenomenon of the sun is one of the unique phenomena that highlights the ancient Egyptian genius and its progress in astronomy, architecture and engineering through the ages.
(BA) organized a symposium to discuss the “Tutankhamun” novel, by the Russian writer Bakhish Babayev, at Al-Sinnari house in the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood in Cairo. The symposium was attended by the novel’s translator, Dr. Suhair Al-Mosada.
The novel revolves around the life of the boy king, Tutankhamun, the secret of his early death, as well as the discovery of his unique tomb, as it sheds light on one of the most important periods in the ancient Egypt history.
Dr. Al Mosadah is an Egyptian novelist, researcher and translator, and a member of the Egyptian Writers Union. She has a number of novels and received many awards, such as the ‘Excellence Award’ for her work on the Family Library Project in 1997.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities released the 88th volume of the Annals du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte (ASAE), which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ministry, the volume includes eight reports on work conducted at archaeological sites such as Kom El-Dikka, Elkab and Hagr Edfu, the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor, the Mortuary Temples of Thutmose III and Amenhotep III on the West Bank of Luxor, Giza and Heliopolis.
The volume also contains six articles on diverse topics, ranging from religion to philology, art and architecture, in addition to two book reviews.
ASAE 88 is dedicated to the late Egyptologist Attia Radwan, who passed away in 2012 after a long, illustrious career at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
In 2022 the Ministry will launch two special issues of the ASAE. The first one will be issued in commemoration of 200 years since the deciphering of the hieroglyphic script and the birth of Egyptology as a science. while the other will be issued in celebration of the centennial of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
The ASAE is the definitive source for the findings of archaeological excavations undertaken in Egypt, according to the AUC Press.
With his narrow chin, small nose and curly hair he physically resembles his father, said radiologist Sahar Saleem. Perhaps surprisingly for someone who lived about 3,500 years ago, he also has strikingly good teeth.
Saleem is talking about the mummified body of the pharaoh Amenhotep I, a warrior king who has been something of an enigma in that he is one of the few royal mummies not to be unwrapped in modern times.
Until now, that is. Saleem, a professor of radiology at the faculty of medicine at Cairo University, is part of a team which has successfully unwrapped Amenhotep I not physically but digitally.
The results, using 3D computed tomography (CT) scanning technology, are unprecedented and fascinating. They provide details about his appearance and the lavishness of the jewellery he was buried with.
“We show that Amenhotep I was approximately 35 years old when he died,” Saleem said. “He was approximately 169cm tall [5ft 6in], circumcised, and had good teeth. Within his wrappings, he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads.
“Amenhotep I seems to have physically resembled his father … he had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding upper teeth.”
Saleem is lead author of a study published on Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.
She said the fact his teeth were so good was testament to how “amazing” the mummification process was. “Mummified bodies were well preserved. Even the tiny bones inside the ears were preserved.
Amenhotep I was the second king of the 18th dynasty and ascended to the throne after the death of his father, Ahmose I. He ruled Egypt for about 21 years between roughly 1525 and 1504BC.
His name means “Amun is satisfied”. His throne name was Djeserkare – “Holy is the Soul of Re” – and he is seen as having a peaceful reign, which allowed him time to concentrate on administrative organisation and the building of temples. He may have co-reigned with his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari.
Egyptologists know from decoded hieroglyphics that Amenhotep was unwrapped by priests in the 11th century BC – during the 21st dynasty – in order to repair damage done by tomb robbers.
It had also been speculated that they unwrapped him in order to reuse royal burial equipment or steal ornaments. Saleem said their findings debunked those theories and showed the priests had the best of intentions.
The original tomb of Amenhotep I has never been found. He was discovered in 1881 at a site in Luxor where it is known officials of the 21st dynasty hid the mummies of kings and nobles in order to protect them from tomb robbers.
His home is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. He has not been unwrapped because of the “perfect” linen wrappings covered by garlands of delphiniums, Egyptian river hemp and safflowers, and the beauty of his painted burial mask.
When the coffin was first opened a preserved wasp was found, probably attracted by the smell of the garlands.
The research team has discovered Amenhotep’s brain is intact, unlike other kings including Tutankhamun and Ramses II.
Saleem said the project had been an exciting one, “like unwrapping a gift”.
The team had been hoping to find evidence of how Amenhotep died but that has proved elusive.
“We couldn’t find any wounds or disfigurement due to disease to justify the cause of death, except numerous mutilations post-mortem, presumably by grave robbers after his first burial,” said Saleem. “His entrails had been removed by his first mummifiers, but not his brain or heart.
“We show that at least for Amenhotep I, the priests of the 21st dynasty lovingly repaired the injuries inflicted by the tomb robbers, restored his mummy to its former glory, and preserved the magnificent jewellery and amulets in place.”
The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization announced the release of a Mobile Application for the museum, that can be accessed via Google Play and the App Store, as part of the NMEC’s agenda to implement the latest technologies to enhance the museum experience.
Dr. Ahmed Ghoneim, Managing Executive Director of the museum emphasized that the Mobile App aims at providing the ultimate guide to the Museum for visitors, as well as an in-depth information for those seeking more about the history of NMEC’s collections. In addition, the Mobile Application offers general museum information; including the option to purchase tickets, the hours of operation, as well as a list of the museum’s exhibits, with photos and descriptions of important artifacts in its collection. The Mobile Application also provides its users a self-guided tour of the museum building and its exhibition halls through the “Indoor Navigation” tool.
The monthly artefacts, as chosen by the public via social media feature:
The Royal Jewelry Museum showcases a box of gold cigars, colored mina, and a coral stone locked box.
Cairo International Airport Museum 2 has the head of a lady made out of pottery, showing off a hairstyle, from the Greek and Roman era.
The National Police Museum in the Citadel features a modern-day rescue pistol, made of wood and copper, which was used to seek assistance in cases of shipwreck.
The Luxor Museum displays a rectangular stele that represents Queen Hatshepsut in front of the God Amun.
This is just a small selection of the many other artefacts on display in all the museums countrywide.
And that’s it for this week.