Tag Archives: Ancient Egypt

The Roundup #57

The Trump Twitter Wars are establishing themselves as part of cultural lore, now that women and Alec Baldwin are firing back. And I learned today for the first time about the Nemi Ships.  Holy gods!

Otherwise, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Don’t forget to always clean your bodies, and your plates. Evidence from Lapa do Santo in Brazil suggest that people not only defleshed bodies before burial, but they may also have cannibalized them nearly 10,000 years ago.

A network of smugglers has been exposed and several items repatriated from the US to Egypt following work by US Immigration and Customs.

Bitumen from the Sutton Hoo site appears to have originated near the Dead Sea, suggesting that trade was more extensive than previously thought.

A pair of mummified legs likely belonged to Queen Nefertari, wife of Pharaoh Rameses II, have been identified in Italy. Still wondering where the rest of of her is, though…

Earthenworks discovered on the Japanese island of Kyushu may show evidence of an invasion during the 7th century from Korea.

A theatre in the Roman province of Thrace (modern Bulgaria, near Plovdiv) appears to be older than originally thought following the discovery of an inscription near the site dating to the reign of the Emperor Domitian.

From the Smithsonian:

A remarkable video feature on the restoration of a 17th century map found shoved up a chimney in Aberdeen.

A more detailed article on the recently discovered site outside Abydos in Egypt.

The Roundup #43

It’s been a crazy week in North America. A hate crime perpetrated in Orlando, Florida followed by a 15 hour long filibuster in the US Senate to demand better gun control laws; a suspected shooter at the University of Toronto St. George campus on the Monday morning following; the suspended disqualification of the Russian national football team at the UEFA championship; and the actual disqualification of the Russian track and field team from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

I bet everyone’s in the mood to read something else, anything else. So here’s this week’s roundup! Enjoy!

From History Today:

A feature on Aristotle by Edith Hall.

A piece on the Holy Lance, the source of the final mark of the stigmata, and another of those relics that inspire confidence at all costs.

From the Smithsonian:

Excavations are underway at Piraeus, the port of Athens, at the sites of the three military harbours that were active around the time of the Persian Wars in the early 5th century BC.

From Archaeology.org:

What is now being called the Gaulcross Hoard of silver artefacts has been discovered in a farmer’s field in Scotland where, nearly 200 years earlier, other silver artefacts had already been found.

The ongoing battle against illegal or illicit antiquities trading continues, this time in Israel with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

My love of neolithic figurines continues with the rediscovery of this little gem, the Skara Brae Buddo, first discovered in the 1860s in the Orkneys and lost to museum storage until recently.

A rather large hunk of butter has been unearthed from a bog in Ireland.

The paintings at the cave site in Chauvet appear to be older than originally believed, by a few thousand years.

The site of the Bear River Massacre has been identified in Idaho where, in 1863, Americans shot and killed hundreds of Northwestern Shoshone.

Some rather fascinating bronze arrows and quivers have been found at a site in Oman, and archaeologists suggest that they may have been offerings to a god of war.

Conservators have begun restoring the solar boat discovered in the Great Pyramid of Khufu in 1954.

And ongoing work in southern Russia has yielded remarkably finely crafted gold artefacts in what was originally thought to be a routine excavation of a kurgan.

The Roundup #41

In typical fashion, I got distracted by the world these last few days, as I sorted out my life (as much of it as I felt was necessary, at any rate), and enjoyed the first hot days of summer here in Toronto (feels like the first time I’ve been warm in eight months, suggesting a rather neat affinity to Sam McGee, if I do say so myself).

My favourite bit of news has to be these Roman tablets from Britain, possibly the oldest ever recovered, including the first known reference to London, and first known dated document, which are going on display in London.

So here’s my roundup from the last three weeks. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Cave art has been found nearly 1,000 feet down in Basque country in Spain, including what looks like an image of a bison pierced with a lot of spears.

Crappy weather does more than make me miserable; it may have been responsible for the withdrawal of the Mongols from Europe in the 13th century.

The history of language – a favourite topic of mine – has further notes, as a cuneiform tablet from the first century AD is so far the most recent example of a written language whose spoken counterpart appears to have died out hundreds of years earlier.

I feel like I’ve seen this argument somewhere before, but here’s a neat bit of work out of Australia on the similarities between horns from southern India and those from the ancient Mediterranean.

An archaeologist’s dream – a site containing such a myriad of artefacts that it’s a never ending processing of cataloguing and interpretation – this site in southern Mexico includes a carved human jaw bone. Fascinating!

And I may have already posted this, but it’s worth a second look: a rich shipwreck has been discovered in the old harbour of Caesarea.

From the CBC:

King Tut’s ceremonial dagger appears to be made of meteorite. Because it’s good to be the king.

From The Atlantic:

Modern archaeology gets meta as researchers have discovered jewellery hidden in the false bottom of a cup left behind at Auschwitz.

And from History Today:

Considerations on the use of the phrase ‘dark ages’ in British history, particularly as it relates to the remarkable site of Tintagel in Cornwall, long believed to be where the mythical King Arthur was conceived after Merlin magicked Uther Pendragon inside the castle and into the lady Ygraine’s bed.

The Roundup #40

Not much going on this week, or rather not much getting reported on. But that could have a wide variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with the fact that the Toronto Raptors just made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (no, seriously, it didn’t).

Enough beating about the bush. Here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

The Muscogee Creek people of Florida are working to restore their cultural traditions to their lives.

Evidence of female human sacrifice from Peru further indicates the ‘great cultural upheaval’ that was going on at the time.

Possibly the world’s oldest axe has been discovered in Australia.

A New Jersey family may have found the site where Washington and his troops camped after crossing the Delaware during the American Revolutionary War.

And a small Egyptian sarcophagus from the 6th century BC contains the remains of a fetus approximately 18 weeks old.

From the Guardian:

From artefacts discovered in a sink hole in Florida, archaeologists are reexamining the history of native peoples in Pre-Columbian America.

The Roundup #29

Appallingly belated, I know, but it’s something that I seem to do once in a while. Switchin’ it up, ‘n shit, eh? So here’s last week’s roundup!

From Archaeology.org:

Three late Roman tombs have been discovered in Bulgaria’s Valley of the Thracian Kings (so called to distinguish it from Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, I presume.

The need to regularly cleaning your pots is not a new thing; however, evidence from Japan shows it wasn’t practiced with the same hypochondriac-style fervour as it is now.

In Egypt, you do get rewarded for your work, as the recently discovered tomb of Senusret I’s stamp bearer attests.

I am endlessly fascinated by very, very old figurines, such as this carving of a woman from 15th to 13th century BCE Canaan. There is something awe-inspiring about the eternal desire in human beings to recreate or represent themselves.

More intriguing finds from Yorkshire, this time a mesolithic pendant in shale.

And a birchbark letter from the 14th or 15th century has been found at a site near the Kremlin in Moscow.

From the British Museum:

The Watlington Hoard from 870 AD has been declared treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996.

From Oregon State University:

What is considered a near-perfect blue pigment, long the desire of peoples throughout history, has been licensed by chemists at the university to be used to colour plastics and other manufactured items. Among other things, the colour is so stable that it does not fade in oil or water.

From Doha News:

Workers excavating areas for the Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium have unearthed stones that are 20-30 million years old.

From Biblical Archaeology:

More on ancient figurines, this feature discusses the enigmatic Judaean pillar figurines originally discovered at sites from ancient Judah more than a century ago.

And a hiker in the Galilee accidentally discovered an Egyptian scarab that is 3,500 years old.


The Roundup #26

Again, I’ve been remiss and did not post my weekly roundup last weekend. Partly due to my mother’s birthday at the end of the month and partly due to the appalling regularity with which I’m suffering migraines this winter in Toronto, I was nowhere near my computer.

So here – yet again – is a consolidated list from the past two weeks of all the interesting bits of news from the archaeological world.

From Archaeology.org:

A tomb has been discovered in Pompeii that dates to before the Roman people took over the town from the Samnites and includes grave goods for a middle-aged woman including beautiful – and intact – vases.

A study of cat remains in China from the fourth millenium BC suggests that the animals were domesticated there much earlier than originally believed.

A specific type of clay from British Columbia in Canada – and long used for medicinal purposes among the area’s indigenous peoples – has been found to counteract otherwise antibiotic-resistant infections.

A 60-foot-long boat has been discovered in the necropolis at Abusir in Egypt by members of the Czech Institute for Archaeology.

Research into the socio-cultural practices of homo heidelbergensis show that these hominid groups existed in close family groups and were able to construct tools considered much more complex than previously thought.

A nearly intact section of Roman painted wall panelling has been discovered near Lime Street in London by archaeologists from the Museum of London. The Smithsonian has also reported on this here.

An Egyptian seal has been discovered by a hiker near the Lower Galilee region of Israel.

And excavations have revealed an underground church in Cappadoccia in Turkey containing some beautiful and very unique frescoes. Work will continue in the spring after the seasonal humidity returns to acceptable levels.

From the New York Times:

A light show intended to demonstrate the colours used to paint the Temple of Dendur is currently on at the Met in New York.

From ASI:

A great read: the archaeological history of the Wendat to 1651.

From the Smithsonian:

A summary of the appalling, botched repair job of the death mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The Eternity of the Night Sky – Egyptian Blue and the World it Creates

A recent article in the Smithsonian online about Egyptian blue, considered the first artificial pigment, and used in Egypt until the end of the Roman period, got me thinking. In particular, it was the phrase that this particular pigment, called hsbd-iryt in Ancient Egyptian, was used to give colour to the night sky.

Like many cultures, the phases of the moon, and the regular progression of day to night, allegories of life and death, and the cycle of life in evidence throughout the alluvial plain of the Nile took on divine meaning for the people who lived there. As such, and as part of the paintings and text that adorned their tombs, the Ancient Eygptians’ choice of an artificial pigment – as opposed to the albeit expensive but naturally occurring lapis lazuli – to create the unique and changeable blue colour for the night sky is intriguing. Were the resources of the earthly world insufficient to display this intoxicating realm? Was the desire to recreate this world as carefully as possible what caused artists to strive for something more alchemical?

I was up in cottage country recently for a few glorious days of peaceful, not-city living, and one night my partner and I lay on our backs on the dock, staring up at the starry, starry night and listening to the calm of the lake all around us. The natural world was more than intoxicating; it was invigorating, live-giving. And the eternity of the night sky holds as much sway now as it did all those thousands of years ago, when artists found a way to illustrate it for all of time.