Tag: Egyptology

Famous But Forgotten

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(This is a slightly modified version of an article which first appeared in Egypt Today.)

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Karnak Temple from the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

As dusk settles over modern Luxor, and from the very top of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, it is possible—as it was in antiquity—to make out the outline of the great temple of Karnak across the Nile.

Look down from that vantage point, on a line towards the modern visitors’ center, and you will also see a rather unprepossessing low square of wall—unlabeled and ignored by the passing tourists and local people alike.

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The location of the Bab el-Gasus at Deir El-Bahari

Peering inside this enclosure—known as Bab el-Gasus (‘the gate of the priests’)—is not very enlightening, yet this is the entrance to the last resting place of 153 priests and priestesses who served the god Amun in that temple across the river during the 21st Dynasty (around 1070–945 BC). (more…)

Resurrection in Alexandria

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All images from Resurrection in Alexandria (AUC Press)

As Europeans rediscovered Alexandria in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, they were often disappointed by what they found. Neither time, nor nature, nor politics had been kind to the city that had been the jewel of the Mediterranean.

By the 4th century, the Alexandrian library had ceased to function. At the end of the 14th century, what little remained of the Pharos had tumbled into the sea.

The sea had taken its toll elsewhere too. The earthquake of 1303 dealt the city a fatal blow, and, through subsidence, important sections of the ancient city now lie under several meters of seawater. (more…)

Wadi al-Sebua Antiqued

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Wadi al-Sebua (‘The Valley of the Lions’) lies on the west coast of Lake Nasser—the man-made lake created between 1958 and 1970 by the damming of the Nile at Aswan in Upper Egypt—and about 140 kilometers south of the dam.
There were originally two 18th dynasty, New Kingdom temples associated with the site: One built by Amenhotep III and restored by Rameses II (reigned 1279-1212 B.C.); and another speos (or ‘cave’) temple built by Rameses II.
The temple of Amenhotep—dedicated to a Nubian version of the god Horus, and later to the god Amun—was not saved from the rising waters of the lake, but the temple of Rameses, seen in the distance here, was moved about 4 kilometers west of its original position between 1961 and 1965.

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Dendera Temple Antiqued

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The complex of temples at Dendera (ancient ‘Iunet’ or ’Tantere’) lie close to the Nile about five kilometers south of Qena, and on the opposite bank (though because of the bend in the river the main temple, unusually, faces north).
The site is enclosed by a mud brick wall, covers around 40,000 square meters, and is dominated by the magnificent Greco-Roman Temple of Hathor shown here—the best preserved example of a temple from the era. (more…)

Abu Simbel Antiqued

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The story of the salvaging of the temples at Abu Simbel is well-known. To save the site from drowning under Lake Nasser—behind the Aswan Dam—the entire site was cut up into large blocks between 1964 and 1968 and reassembled at a spot 65 meters higher than the lake surface..

The Great Temple at Abu Simbel is a masterpiece of ancient engineering which probably took around 20 years to carve into the rock face, and was completed c. 1265 BC in the 24th regnal year of Rameses II. (more…)

The Great Temple, Abydos

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The celebrated nineteenth dynasty pharaoh, Seti I, reigned from around 1290 to 1279 BC, and is memorialized in a temple slightly to the south of the ancient burial ground of Old Kingdom pharaohs at Abydos in Egypt. (more…)

The Terrific Mr Mummific

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A few months ago, in my Egypt Today column, I described the ways in which museum curators and archaeologists are bringing together a number of scientific techniques in order to delve deeper, and more meaningfully, into the real lives of individuals who were mummified in ancient Egypt (see http://egypttoday.com/blog/2016/10/02/unraveling-the-private-lives-of-mummies/)

While many specialists feel increasingly uncomfortable about the public display of mummies, in the context of the growing worldwide interest in Egyptology, we recognize that the display of mummies will remain, well, a fact of life. (more…)

St. Peter’s Obelisk

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Re-erecting an obelisk

The ancient Egyptian obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Square, Rome, was placed there in 1586, though it had been brought to Rome much earlier by the Emperor Caligula. Re-erecting the Aswan red granite obelisk—25.5 metres high—took the efforts of 900 men working 44 winches, 140 horses, and 0 aliens. (more…)

The Geology of Egypt

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The Geology of Egypt (AUC Press)

There are few sights as spectacular as sunrise in the White Desert of Egypt. The early light catches the wind-carved chalk formations and begins to play tricks on the mind. Indeed, some of the shapes are so reminiscent of figures from ancient Egyptian mythology, such as the sphinx, that it lends credence to the theory that these shapes left an indelible print on those nomadic peoples who passed through the emerging Western Desert on their way to found a brilliant civilization along the banks of the Nile. (more…)