The research indicates that Howard Carter kept a few pieces which were bequeathed to the Met after his death in 1939. The artefacts are quite small and at the time it was not known that they were from the tomb itself.
Fifteen of the 19 pieces have the status of bits or samples, read a Supreme Council of Antiquities Press release.
The remaining four are of more significant art-historical interest and include a small bronze dog less than three-quarters of an inch in height and a small sphinx bracelet-element, acquired from Howard Carters niece, after they had been probated with his estate. They also include part of a handle and a broad collar accompanied by additional beads.
Going on display
If youre in New York City youll have an opportunity to see the objects first hand before they are returned to Egypt.
The objects will now go on display with the Tutankhamun exhibition at Times Square, where they will stay until January, 2011. They will then travel back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they will be shown for six months in the context of the Metropolitan Museums renowned Egyptian collection,” he said.
“Upon their return to Egypt in June 2011, they will be given a special place in the Tutankhamun galleries at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and then will move, with the rest of the Tut collection, to the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, scheduled to open in 2012.
Although it was part of the paid archaeological digging concession and customary for the people who discovered tombs in Egypt to be allowed to take some of the artefacts back to their home country, Carnarvon and Carter were not allowed to take anything from the glorious Tutankhamun treasures. The French administrators of Egyptian heritage at the time cited a loophole that this clause only applied to tombs that had not been previously discovered–and the anteroom of KV62 had been robbed in antiquity.
New research on a 2,400 year old star table shows that the Ancient Egyptians kept close tabs on the Big Dipper, monitoring changes in the constellations orientation throughout the course of an entire year.
The Big Dipper is composed of seven stars and is easily viewable in the northern hemisphere. Its shape looks like a ladle with a scoop attached. Ancient Egyptians represented it as an oxs foreleg.
If a personwere to observethe constellationat the exactsame time every night they would see it gradually move counter-clockwise each time they saw it.
Professor Sarah Symons, of McMaster University in Hamilton Canada, carried out the new research. She presented her results on Sunday at an Egyptology symposium in Toronto. The star table she analyzed is located inside the lid of a 2,400 year old granite sarcophagus, constructed in the shape of a bull, which is now in the Egyptian Museum. The table is, unique, though interesting, a very provocative astronomical object, she said.
Indeed the sarcophagus dates to the 30th dynasty, an important period in Egyptian history. It is the last point of time in antiquity where Egypt would be ruled by native born rulers. In 343 BC the Persians took over Egypt, defeating a pharaoh named Nectanebo II and forcing him to flee south into Nubia. The country would remain under Persian control until Alexander the Great captured it in 332 BC, inaugurating a long line of Greek, followed by Roman, rulers.
Monitoring the Big Dipper
Inside the sarcophagus there is an astronomical table, a section of which has rows that show the foreleg of an ox in a wide range of different positions. Its quite a jumble, Professor Symons said.
This section, although confusing to read, includes notation for the three Egyptian seasons, Akhet, Peret and Shemu. Each season is broken down into four months. It also has symbols representing the beginning, middle and end of the night although it isnt knownat what exact time thesepoints would have been set.
(Its) location throughout the course of the night, across the course of the year, was important for them to report.
Symons decided to focus on the orientation of the forelegs, re-drawing them as arrows. When she did this a pattern started to appear.In general the motion that it follows is the counter-clockwise motion that we would expect.
But there were problems. Over the course of a year the forelegs sometimes went the wrong way as if the stars had stopped obeying the rules of astronomy. She believes that this was a scribal error, caused by someone writing down the information in the wrong format.
When the observations were first made they were written on papyrus and the monthswereprobablyorganized intocolumns. On the other hand they were written in as rows on the sarcophagus.
What happens to our table if we just keep all the months together?And work with them as columns, she wondered.She found that the table hadfewer errorsand the information fell into place. Overall the motion is counter-clockwise throughout the year in general, she said.
An ancient record
This table, she said in an interview, it not made up of casual observations of the Big Dipper but looks more like a record of it. The Big Dipper’s location throughout the course of the night, across the course of the year, was important for them to report.
She added that this practice, of recording the orientation of the constellation, may have been going on for some time. We have only a fraction of the original astronomical documents, created by the Egyptians, she pointed out.
Why they created this year-long record is another matter. Although it would have been of help in timekeeping, Symons thinks that the main reason is probably ceremonial perhaps something to do with the bull shaped sarcophagus that it is found in. The star record would be bound up with temple ritual (and) mortuary ritual,” she said.
A new study shows that Tutankhamun, Egypts famous boy-king who died around the age of 18, suffered a massive crushing tearing injury to his chest that likely would have killed him.
X-rays and CT scans have previouslyshown that the pharaohs heart, chest wall, the front part of his sternum and adjacent ribs, are missing. In Ancient Egypt the heart was like the brain and removing it was something that was not done.
The heart, considered the seat of reason, emotion, memory and personality, was the only major organ intentionally left in the body, writes Dr. Robert Ritner in the book Ancient Egypt.
The new research was done by Dr. Benson Harer, a medical doctor with an Egyptology background, who was given access to nearly 1700 CT scan images of Tut that were taken by a team of Egyptian scientists in 2005. Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, gave permission for the work.
Zahi was very kind he let me get access to the entire database of all the CT scans, said Dr. Harer.
It has been suggested that tomb robbers, operating sometime between 1925 and 1968, may have stolen the heart and chest bones. The new research shows that while robbers stole some of Tuts jewellery they didnt take the body parts. Instead they were lost due to a massive chest injury Tut sustained while he was still alive.
This isnt the only medical problem Tut had. In 2005 a team of researchers reported that he had a broken leg and earlier this year an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that Tut suffered from malaria, something that may have contributed to his death.
Harers work was published in the journal Bulletin of the Egyptian Museum. It was also presented last spring at a conference organized by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). This Thursday Harer was in Canada, giving his findings at the University of Toronto.
Harer specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology, but also taught Egyptology as an adjunct professor at California State University at San Bernardino, up until his retirement.
1968 – The first X-rays
To understand what happened to Tuts chest we need to go back to 1968. In that year the first x-rays were done revealing that many of Tuts chest bones were missing. They also showed that jewellery, which had been on King Tut when an autopsy was done in 1925, were also gone. This means that robbers got to him sometime between those years.
Harers research indicates that while Tuts jewellery was certainly stolen, the chest bones were already long gone.
The CT scans show, in high-resolution, the edge of what is left of Tuts rib bones. Dr. Harer said that the ribs are very neatly cut and could not have been chopped off by modern day thieves. The ribs were cut by embalmers and not by robbers.
He added that if you try to cut through a 3,500 year old bone it is brittle, before you can saw up through it the pressure on the bone would crack a vast part and you would have jagged edges of the bone, he said.
These are neatly trimmed and the robbers are not going to take the time to try and do a tidy job.
More proof that Tut suffered a major chest injury is found in the technique that Tuts embalmers used to take out his intestines, liver and stomach.
Harer said that the embalmers used a transverse incision which was cut into Tut and went from his umbilicus (his navel), towards the spine. They took out the organs below the diaphragm, he said. However they did not go through the diaphragm to extract the lungs – the chest was gaping open, they could just lift them out directly.
Harer says he has never seen another royal mummy cutinto this way. Tut is the only upscale mummy I know that had a transverse incision.
Normally, for religious reasons, there would be a special amulet, an embalming plate, over the incision that the embalmer made.
However, in this case, there is none. Since the body already had a huge opening it would be pointless to suture the abdominal incision and protect, Harer wrote in his journal article.
Also Tut’s arms were crossed at his hips, not at his chest, as would normally be befitting a pharaoh.
Stuffing up Tut
Theres more evidence that Tut’s chest, including the skin, had been gouged away while he was still alive.
When the first autopsy on Tut was done in 1925, it revealed that he had been stuffed like a turkey, filled with what Howard Carter called a mass of linen and resin, now of rock-like hardness.
Harer says that the CT scans show that this material would have been packed from the chest down.
The chest was packed first, and as they did so, they pushed the flaccid diaphragm down they inverted it, said Dr. Harer. However the packing improved the appearance of Tuts chest, the packing restored the normal contour of the chest and then the beaded bib (with Tuts jewellery) was placed on top of it.
When Carter examined the bib he was impressed with how adherent it was. “It was so adherent that he couldnt successfully remove it, said Harer. Carter didn’t hesitate to remove other parts of Tut’s body, he actually hacked off the limbs in order to aid the autopsy.
Harer pointed out that if the bib had been put over Tut’s skin (rather than the packing material) he should have had no trouble with it. If that beaded bib had been placed over skin over the clavicle, the skin would have provided a plane in which the bib could have been easily removed.
Chased by Hippos – Watch towards the end of the video, where you’ll see a hippo ferociously attacking a boat.
What caused this injury?
One possibility that Dr. Harer ruled out is that of a chariot accident. If he fell from a speeding chariot going at top speed you would have what we call a tumbling injury hed go head over heels. He would break his neck. His back. His arms, legs. It wouldnt gouge a chunk out of his chest.
Instead, at his Toronto lecture, Harer brought up another, more exotic possibility – that Tut was killed by a hippo.
Its not as far out an idea as it sounds, hippos are aggressive, quick and territorial animals, and there is an artefact in Tuts tomb which appears to show him hunting one of them.
It would also explain why there is no account of Tuts death since being killed by a hippo would be a pretty embarrassing way for a pharaoh to die.
Hippos kill more people than any other animal, they are the most lethal animal in Africa (if not) the world, said Harer. The victim suffers massive tearing injury and can actually be cut in half. Medical reports indicate that even though they are running away from the hippo they typically suffer a frontal wound.
In Tuts case, if the hippo charged, his entourage may not have been able to get to him in time. If he did have a club foot (as a recent medical report suggests) it would make him the slowest person getting out of the way the easiest person for the hippo to get.
Tut may not have even been hunting a hippo. It may have been that he was fowling in the marsh, just got in the wrong area, and the hippo attacked him.
Still, it’s tempting to imagineTut trying to hunt a hippo. Despite his club foot and malaria, it’s enticing to believe that the teenage pharaoh decided to hunt one of the most dangerous animals in the world. If his goal was to increase his fame then he succeeded far beyond expectations, in death becoming the most famous Egyptian ruler who ever lived.
Dr Michel Baud of the Louvre Museum in Paris gave an interesting lecture last week about his excavations of a pyramid at Abu Roash. The monument was badly preserved and its stone had been quarried in Roman times, but the certain details, such as its apparent solar connections, were still discernable. Earlier, Vassil Dobrev stated that the pyramid may actually be a solar temple. However, Baud dismisses these claims…. Nearly 4,500 years ago, in the time of the Old Kingdom, the pharaoh Khufu built one of the greatest monuments on earth – the Great Pyramid. His pyramid was actually a complex of monuments at Giza. Using up 2.7 million cubic meters of stone, it incorporated three queens’ pyramids, a satellite pyramid and hundreds of mastaba tombs for his officials. At a height of nearly 147 meters it was the tallest human-made monument in the world – up until the construction of the Lincoln Cathedral in the 14th century AD.
A new study shows that Tutankhamun, Egypt’s famous “boy-king” who died around the age of 18, suffered a “massive crushing tearing injury to his chest” that likely would have killed him. X-rays and CT scans have previously shown that the pharaoh’s heart, chest wall, the front part of his sternum and adjacent ribs, are missing. In Ancient Egypt the heart was like the brain and removing it was something that was not done. “The heart, considered the seat of reason, emotion, memory and personality, was the only major organ intentionally left in the body,” writes Dr. Robert Ritner in the book Ancient Egypt.
So what is the argument for the hippo mauling theory?
New analysis of CT scans of 2003 shows that Tutankhamun was embalmed without his heart and anterior chest wall and confirms that these structures could not have been removed by either tomb robbers or Howard Carter, reads the lecture abstract.
The condition of the corpse must have dictated this radical and unique departure from the norms of the day. In a prior publication, Dr. Harer suggested that a crushing injury to the chest was the most likely explanation. Further study now indicates that a more likely cause for an extensive crushing and tearing injury might be the bite of a hippopotamus.
This explains why Tut was embalmed without his heart or chest wall.
The political and religious implications of death by hippo [a form taken by Seth] in the unstable post-Amarna Period would inhibit making this cause of death public. However, it would account for the extraordinary status of the corpse and its unique preparation for eternity.
The lecture by Dr. HarerthisWednesdayis only the start.
On Saturday there is a symposium on Amenhotep III, the 18th dynasty pharaoh who ruled more than 3,300 years ago. Its geared towards a general audience, but there is a cost see the Royal Ontario Museum’s website for details. Among the speakers is Dr. Catharine Roehrig who is conducting excavations at the pharaohs palace at Malkata.
Was the father of Egypts New Kingdom summarily executed?
More finds will be discussed Friday and Sunday at the free scholars colloquium. Fridays portion goes from 9am – 5 pmand is held at the Royal Ontario Museum, while Sundays goes from 1 pm 5 pm and is held at 5 Bancroft Avenue on the U of T campus.
At this symposium the death of another Egyptian leader, Seqenenre Tao II, is going to be called into question. Although Tao isnt nearly as well known as Tut, he plays an important role in Egyptian history.
He ruled during the 17th dynasty, a time nearly 3,500 years ago when parts of northern Egypt were occupied by the Hyksos, invaders from Asia. Tao ruled from the south and is credited with starting the final campaign to drive the Hyksos out. His son,Ahmose, would become the ruler of a united Egypt. Thismakes Tao, ina sense, the father of Egypt’s New Kingdom era.
Taos mummy was discovered more than 100 years ago and has extensive evidence of battle wounds. Gaston Maspero wrote backin the 19th century that:
“The most likely cause of Seqenenres death is ceremonial execution at the hands of an enemy commander, following a Theban defeat on the battlefield.
The appearance of his mummy proves that he died a violent death when about forty years of age. Two or three men, whether assassins or soldiers, must have surrounded and despatched him before help was available. A blow from an axe must have severed part of his left cheek, exposed the teeth, fractured the jaw, and sent him senseless to the ground; another blow must have seriously injured the skull, and a dagger or javelin has cut open the forehead on the right side, a little above the eye…
Ouch! That he died violently there is no question, but how exactly did this gory end happen? Was it on the field of battle with his troops?Was he assassinated while sleeping? Or did it happen some other way?
Dr. Garry Shaw believes that he was executed by the Hyksos after losing a battle against them. By combining all of the available evidence, it is argued that the most likely cause of Seqenenres death is ceremonial execution at the hands of an enemy commander, following a Theban defeat on the battlefield, he writes in his abstract.
That lecture will be given on Sunday at 3 pm.
Was an Old Kingdom fortress in the Sinai burnt to the ground?
Archaeologists have beenexploring the site of Ras Budran for nearly a decade. This Old Kingdom fortress, out in the Sinai desert, served as a buffer between Egypt and those crafty “Asiatics” whom they despised.
The most recent digs have yielded a host of interesting finds.
Long-term storage places under an awning, food processing, baking and consumption zones, potential beer production, copper and turquoise working areas, and other activity zones. The 2008 season in particular yielded some evidence for an earlier occupation at the fort, which may pre-date or date to the initial construction and occupation of the fort… writes Dr. Gregory Mumford of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The discoveries call into question the idea that the fortress was abandoned willingly around 4,200 years ago. It is increasingly uncertain now whether the fort was “abandoned” owing to its proximity to a stormier coastline than originally anticipated, or if a “destruction” is indeed indicated by the deep levels of burnt debris associated with broken in-situ pottery vessels (versus debris from cooking and baking activites), Dr. Mumford said.
Does this mean that there was an Egyptian last stand at this site? A final battle, perhaps, for control of part of the Sinai?
This talk takes place Sunday at 3:30 pm.
Deciphering a muddled star table
Dr. Sarah Symons is an Astronomy and Physics professor at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. Shes been analyzing an astronomical diagram found on a 30th dynasty (more than2,350 yearsago)bull sarcophagus. It contains a unique table depicting the changes in orientation of certain circumpolar stars over the course of the year. However, the table appears muddled, she says in her abstract.
This talk discusses what the table tells us about observational astronomy in the Late Period and offers a reconstruction of the original data showing that the tables disorder may not be random.
Acrobats from Burma, workers from Central or West Asia, and a mausoleum design inspired by work in the Middle East the Mauseoleum of Chinas First Emperor was a cosmopolitan place says Dr. Duan Qingbo, the man in charge of excavating it.
The mausoleum was created about 2,200 year ago and served as a tomb for Qin Shi Huang the first emperor of China. While the emperors tomb is largely unexcavated, archaeologists have found thousands of life-size terracotta figures nearby. Its believed that this army was created to serve the emperor in the afterlife.
Dr. Duan (Duan is his family name) discussed this idea at a lecture last Thursday at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto Canada. The museum is hosting a Terracotta Warriors exhibit until January 2, 2011. He doesnt speak English so his words were translated by Dr. Chen Shen, a museum curator and Chinese archaeology expert.
East meets West
Traditionally scholars have marked the 2nd century BC as the starting point of Chinas relationship with the west. The Silk Road was opened for trade at that time,opening upwhat would become a booming trade.
Now the evidence shows that the cultural exchange or influence from the western world begins as early as the time of the First Emperor, said Dr. Duan. In fact the emperors burial structure is probably inferenced from west.
The First Emperors Mausoleum uses a step up structure that allows the soul to escalate to the top. Duan pointed out that the Mausoleumat Halicarnassus in Turkey is quite similar, gradually rising up in levels and was built only 100 years before the First Emperors life.
The structure of this tomb mound is very similar to what we find inside the First Emperors tomb mound, said Duan. Also, on top of this structure (at Halicarnassus) theres a chariot driven by four horses, we all know that (at) the First Emperors tomb complex there also is a chariot with four horses, he said.
DNA Evidence and foreign bricks designs
A few years ago Dr. Duans team unearthed 120 skeletons of workers who were buried near the Mausoleum. Among the finds were three skulls that were definitely not Chinese. Theres three skulls that are different from the rest of them which represents the Mongolian type of people, he said through a translator. The nose protrude (is) very extensive.
The first time DNA tests were performed they indicated that the individuals were from west Eurasia probably like a white people, however the second DNA test showed they were more similar to Mongolian.
Duan has an idea as what these workers might have been used for. His team discovered that the Terracotta Warriors pits used an interlocking rectangular brick pattern that had not been used in China before the time of the First Emperor. This kind of bricks has never been found in China, it was the first time used in the Terracotta Warrior pits, he said. The style used in the Terracotta Army pits of these rectangular brick (is) probably also inference from West Asia.
This means that these foreigners may have served as skilled labour bringing knowledge of this technology from Central or West Asia allowing the First Emperors officials to implement it.
Acrobats & Terracotta Entertainers
Another discovery that adds weight to Dr. Duans theory is a pit of terracotta entertainers, including strongmen, wrestlers and acrobats.
The acrobats were created in a lifelike way with their carving conveying a sense of movement. One example, that is now on display in Toronto, has an index finger pointing up, indicating that the figure is trying to perform a balancing act.
Dr. Duan believes that the acrobats the terracotta figures are modelled on,were probably not from China. According to the way they perform we speculate they are not indigenous to central China, but probably come from the south probably Burma area. This is an idea that if proven true will add another ethnic layer to what appears to have already been an ancient cosmopolitan project.
A release says that out-of-country loan of Terracotta artefacts from China is unable to be extended beyond one year to Canada. As a result, the museums that planned to exhibit the artifacts during the second year of the tour, Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and the Royal BC Museum will be unable to do so. The exhibition will travel as planned to Montreals Museum of Fine Arts to a highly-anticipated opening in February 2011, as this scheduled stop is within the one-year time frame.
Concerns aboutartefact preservationwere given asthe main reason.
The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, Peoples Republic of China, however has confirmed a one-year limit on the travel of these artifacts to all future exhibitions around the world due to an increased focus on their long term preservation, said the release.
Thisbrings upthe question – whyweren’t the organizers aware of these concerns before the tour was launched?The release doesn’t say but no doubt theanswers will come outover the next week.
YouTube phenomenon Marina Orlova, a former teacher who presents facts with a slightly risqu twist, gives a lesson on the famous monument.
According to her bio she holds two degrees in philology (that’s historical linguistics), has just under 400,000 YouTube subscribers and yes she did teach high school, back in Russia. She uses the tag line intelligence is sexy.
To be fair to her, the video is informative and while her attire is – eye-catching – it isnt by any means pornographic.
A few facts on the Sphinx, some mentioned in her video and some which I have thrown in.
ONE The Sphinx was carved into the natural bedrock at the base of a causeway in Khafres pyramid complex.
TWOIts widely believed that the Sphinx was built by the pharaoh Khafre, who succeeded Djedefre as the leader of Egypt. As such it would have been built around 2500 BC.
FOUR No texts, which date from the time the Sphinx was built, survive to present day. This fact makes it hard to determine why a monument of this size was built.
FIVEMark Lehner points out that during the New Kingdom (more than 1,000 years after the Sphinx was constructed)Egyptiansregarded itas the image of the sun god, whether it was originally built with that intent is unknown.
NINE An incomplete temple was built in front of the Sphinxs paws.It may have been dedicated to the monument.
TENRestoration work on the Sphinxhas taken place at various timesover the past 3,500 years. The most recent work is being led by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. They are drilling under the Sphinx, to keep its paws dry (watchMark Lehner explain in thisvideo).
They have installed four replica artefacts, along with Braille markings, that peoplecan touch. These include a ding ritual vessel, a kneeling archer, a cavalry soldier and horse, and a dancer.
The kneeling archer is of particular interest. The example on display at the ROM has some surviving color – information that will presumably be included in Braille. His armor is also quite detailed as seen in this close-up shot.
Each of the warriors has a unique look (scholars believe they were modeled on real Qin Dynasty soldiers). Being able to touch the face of the replicas will give viewers a chance to better take in the details.
These touchable replicas are not the only accessibility features being used in this exhibit.
For those who are blind or with vision loss, tactile booklets are available for loan at no charge at the admission desk, as are large-print exhibition booklets. These publications feature Braille and large print, a tactile exhibition map and tactile graphics of numerous highlighted exhibition objects. Many graphics in the exhibition feature prominent, large font, the museum said in a press release.
For those who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafened, the exhibitions two mini-theatres are equipped with Acoustical containment. Neck loops are available for special paid-tours upon request. Further, the exhibitions numerous videos that include narration are captioned in both English and French.
Also, Podcasts pertaining to the exhibition or its series of lectures can be found on the ROMs website and are captioned in English.
The exhibition area itself is wheelchair accessible, with elevators, automatic doors and two accessible restrooms. Wheelchairs are also available for borrowing at the coast check on a first come first serve basis.The Terracotta Warriorshow at the Royal Ontario Museumuntil January 2, 2011.