Herodotus Returns

Two 4,300-year-old tombs discovered at Saqqara
July 9, 2010, 3:24 am
Filed under: Egypt | Tags: , , , ,

The false door of the unearthed tomb of Shendwas, ...

Two tombs of Old Kingdom ancient Egyptian royal scribes – a father and son – have been unearthed in Saqqara. The photos of the tomb paintings are remarkable. Forty-three-hundred years old and they look like they were painted yesterday. True time capsules. I saw some tombs in Luxor last year that were similar. The tomb of a royal scribe called Roy, in a necropolis called the Tombs of the Nobles was all but perfect. (see photo after excerpt).

The tomb includes two false doors with colorful paintings depicting the two people buried there, a father and a son who served as heads of the royal scribes, said Abdel-Hakim Karar, a top archaeologist at Saqqara.

“The colors of the false door are fresh as if it was painted yesterday,” Karar told reporters.

Humidity had destroyed the sarcophagus of the father, Shendwas, while the tomb of the son, Khonsu, was robbed in antiquity, he said.

Also insribed on the father’s false door was the name of Pepi II, whose 90-year reign is believed to be the longest of the pharaohs. The inscription dates the double tomb to the 6th dynasty, which marked the beginning of the decline of the Old Kingdom, also known as the age of pyramids.

Associated Press has some good coverage on the story, featuring beautiful photos and plenty of face time with Grand Wizard of Antiquity, Zahi Hawass.


2,000-year-old Ptolemaic statue found in Egypt
May 9, 2010, 9:24 am
Filed under: Egypt, Zahi Hawass | Tags: , ,

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a statue dating to the Ptolemaic period. Ringmaster Zahi Hawass is in true form, calling the  statue “among the most beautiful carvings in the ancient Egyptian style.” Hate to sound jaded, but it seems like everything Hawass touches garners hyperbole and superlative, while anything he does not discover (Cambyses’ army in November; cave system beneath Giza) is fraudulent or at least unremarkable. This makes me think of a story from a few months ago about Hawass announcing that he would to New York to deliver a speech about the repatriation of Egyptian artifacts from the Met. He gave the speech all right – right before reading from and signing copies of his new book about Cleopatra. He’s done extraordinary things to bring Egyptology and archaeology to the masses, but, ultimately, he’s out for himself.

An Egyptian-Dominican team made the discovery at the temple of Taposiris Magna, west of the coastal city of Alexandria, said a statement from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Alexandria was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt for 300 years, until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.

The statue’s height is 53 inches and its width at the shoulders is 22 inches.

Hawass said the statue could belong to King Ptolemy IV and represented the traditional shape of an ancient Egyptian king wearing collar and kilt.

More on the statue from The Telegraph.

Zahi Hawass announces that he will soon announce findings on King Tut’s DNA
February 2, 2010, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Egypt, Zahi Hawass | Tags: ,

The PT Barnum of Archaeology is at it again. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Secretary General of the Supreme COuncil of Antiquities, has announced that he will soon announce the results for his DNA test on King Tut.

One of the great remaining mysteries from ancient Egypt, the ancestry of the boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, may soon be solved, the country’s antiquities supremo hinted on Sunday.

Zahi Hawass told AFP he has scheduled a news conference for February 17 in the Cairo Museum.

The announcement will be “about the secrets of the family and the affiliation of Tutankhamun, based on the results of the scientific examination of the Tutankhamun mummy following DNA analysis,” Hawass said.

The tomb of the boy king, who reigned from the age of nine and died under as yet unknown circumstances at about 19, was unearthed by British archaeologists in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, causing an international sensation.

Egypt’s antiquities authorities said in August 2008 that they had taken DNA samples from Tutankhamun’s mummy and from two foetuses found in his tomb, to determine whether the still-born children had been fathered by the boy king.

Tutankhamun achieved worldwide fame because of the stunning funerary treasure found in his tomb, including an 11-kilo (24.2-pound) solid gold death mask encrusted with lapis lazuli and semi-precious stones.

Like his ancestry, the circumstances of Tutankhamun’s death remain a mystery. He is believed to have reigned from around 1333 BC to 1324 BC.

More recent news on ancient Egypt.