Category Archives: AFRICA

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

Greco-Roman Era Tomb Found in Upper Egypt

A rock-cut tomb dating back to the late Pharaonic Graeco-Roman period has been discovered by Egyptian-Italian archeological mission working in the Aga Khan Mausoleum area in Aswan.

Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that the mission found inside the tomb parts of a painted wooden coffin.

Also discovered were fragments of another coffin adorned with a complete text that includes the name of the owner, identified as Tjt, and an invocation to the gods of the First Cataract; Khnum, Satet and Anuket, as well as Hapy, the Nile god.

Ayman Ashmawy, the head of the antiquities ministry’s ancient Egypt  department, told Ahram Online that the tomb consists of a stairway partly flanked by sculpted blocks leading to the funerary chambers.

The entrance was sealed by a stone wall found in its original place over the stairway.

Patrizia Piacentini, the head of the mission, said that the mission also found many amphorae and offering vases, as well as a funerary structure containing 4 mummies and food vessels.

Also found were 2 mummies, likely of a mother and her child, still covered by painted cartonnage.

A round-topped coffin was excavated from the rock floor. In the main room were around 30 mummies, including young children who were deposited in a long lateral niche.“

Leaning against the north wall of the room was an amazing intact stretcher made of palm wood and linen strips, used by the people who deposited the mummies in the tomb,” Piacentini told Ahram Online .

At the entrance of the room were vessels containing bitumen for mummification, white cartonnage ready to be painted and a lamp.

On the right and left sides of the door, many beautiful colored and gilded cartonnages, fragments of funerary masks painted with gold and a well preserved statuette of the Ba-bird, representing the soul of the deceased, still presenting all the details of the decoration have been found.

The mission has mapped around 300 tombs dating from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, located in the area surrounding the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, on the west bank of the Nile in Aswan.

Burials of Africans slaves found at the old rubbish dump in Portugal

Burials of Africans slaves found at the old rubbish dump in Portugal

Adult female skeleton found at Valle da Gafaria, Portugal, suggests a careless burial.
Adult female skeleton found at Valle da Gafaria, Portugal, suggests a careless burial.

Portuguese explorers such as Henry the Navigator started sailing to Africa in the early 15th century, bringing both goods and enslaved people back.

A new archeological study of more than 150 skeletons dumped in Lagos, Portugal, reveals that there were no proper burials given to many of the enslaved Africans and that several of them may even have been tied to death.

The skeletons come from the site of Valle da Gafaria, which was located outside the Medieval walls of the port city of Lagos along the southwest coast of Portugal. Used between the Fifteenth and Seventeenth centuries as a dumping ground, the site also offered up remains of imported ceramics, butchered animal bones, and a few African style ornaments.

When the human skeletons were first analyzed, their shape and unique dental style suggested that they might have been of African origin, and subsequently, genetic analysis confirmed ancestry with Bantu – speaking populations of South Africa. Due to the archaeological and historical information, it is likely that all of these people were enslaved.

In a new research article published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Maria Teresa Ferreira, Catarina Coelho, and Sofia Wasterlain of the University of Coimbra dug further into the bone data in order to understand how the 158 enslaved Africans came to be buried in a trash pit in Lagos.

Specifically, they investigated the position of each burial, whether or not the burial was made with care, and whether they could identify any evidence that the person’s body had been bound.

Adult female from Valle da Gafaria whose positioning suggests she may have been tied up for burial.
Adult female from Valle da Gafaria whose positioning suggests she may have been tied up for burial.

The Medieval Catholic concern with burial meant that the church was important in handling deaths in Portugal. A body would be ferried to the church in a funeral procession, and a grave would be chosen as close to a religious building as possible.

Elites and nobles were usually buried in an area protected by walls, while more marginal people were located outside. Those people who were further stigmatized by disease, condemned, or otherwise considered not to be deserving of care would be placed far outside sacred spaces.

Enslaved occupants of Medieval Portugal would not necessarily have been prevented from a proper burial. Many were baptized on arrival to Portugal and therefore had a right to a Christian funeral if the slave owner decided to do so.

However, due to the poor conditions aboard the ships, many people arrived so weakened that they died without being baptized. “In such cases,” Ferreira and colleagues explain, “as their humanity was not recognized, the corpses were treated as animal remains: summarily buried in any free field or dumped in the garbage.”

More than half of the people “seemed to have been buried without care,” Ferreira and colleagues note. “Moreover, six individuals showed evidence of having been tied when inhumed.” This suggests that several people had been tied up has intrigued other scholars, although it is unclear from the published research whether the bound limbs were related to the people’s enslaved status or to a more functional method of disposing of bodies.

Biological anthropologist Tim Thompson at Teesside University praised the “sound research” but also told me that “it is difficult to truly assess the examples of tied individuals because there are so few, and no figures are presented.” He suggests that comparing “the anatomical positioning with examples from modern mass graves would allow for deeper analysis. There are many examples of binding and blindfolding in these modern mass violence settings, along with disrespectful deposition of bodies.”

Ellen Chapman, a bioarchaeologist and cultural resources specialist at Cultural Heritage Partners, also told me that she looks forward to further work on this site and this collection of skeletons because “this site is an incredibly disturbing one, and one that clearly illustrates the pervasive mistreatment of enslaved people by the architects of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

In particular, Chapman notes that “this skeletal collection is indicative of the high mortality associated with slave ships and the Middle Passage.” Thompson adds that “this work has the potential to contribute to our understanding of both ancient and modern forced slavery contexts.”

In the end, Ferreira and colleagues conclude that “Valle da Gafaria’s osteological collection is extremely important for slavery studies. Not only are there few cemeteries of enslaved people in the world, but also, Lagos is the oldest sample to be discovered and studied in the world.”

Source: archaeologynewsnetwork

Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old mummy at forgotten cemetery

Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old mummy at forgotten cemetery

Egypt unveiled a high priest’s 2,500-year – old mummy at an ancient southern cemetery in Cairo.

Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and a team from Egypt opened three 26th Dynasty sealed sarcophagi.

One contained the well-preserved mummy of a powerful priest, wrapped in linen and decorated with a golden figure depicting Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess.

The remains of the second mummy found at the site. This person would have been a singer in a temple dedicated to the god Thoth

The remains of the second mummy found at the site. This person would have been a singer in a temple dedicated to the god Thoth

The team also opened two other sarcophagi, one containing a female mummy decorated with blue beads and another with a father in a family tomb.

The finds were revealed live on air on the Discovery Channel on Sunday.

At the burial site in Minya province, the team also found a rare wax head.

“I never discovered in the late period anything like this,” Hawass said.

The wax head of the high priest
The wax head of the high priest

Egyptian archaeologists discovered the site a year and a half ago and the excavation is continuing.”

I really believe that this site needs excavation maybe for the coming 50 years,”

Hawass told Reuters a day before the sarcophagi were opened. He expects more tombs to be found there.

In 1927, a huge limestone sarcophagus was found in the area and placed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but the site was then forgotten, Hawass said.

But two years ago an unauthorized digger was found at the site and stopped, he said. That’s what alerted archaeologists and excavation began.

Source: archaeologynewsnetwork

4000 Years Ago in Egypt, Dozens of Men Who Died Of Terrible Wounds Were Mummified and Entombed Together in the Cliffs Near Luxor

4000 Years Ago in Egypt, Dozens of Men Who Died Of Terrible Wounds Were Mummified and Entombed Together in the Cliffs Near Luxor

In Egypt more than 4,000 years ago, in the cliffs near Luxor, dozens of men who died of terrible wounds were mummified and buried together.

Mass burials were exceptionally rare in ancient Egypt — so why did all these mummies end up in the same place? Recently, archaeologists visited the mysterious Tomb of the Warriors in Deir el Bahari, Egypt; the tomb had been sealed after its discovery in 1923.

After analyzing evidence from the tomb and other sites in Egypt, they pieced together the story of a desperate and bloody chapter in Egypt’s history at the close of the Old Kingdom, around 2150 B.C.

Their findings, presented in the PBS documentary “Secrets of the Dead: Egypt’s Darkest Hour,” paint a grim picture of civil unrest that sparked bloody battles between regional governors about 4,200 years ago.

One of those skirmishes may have ended the lives of 60 men whose bodies were mummified in the mass burial, PBS representatives said in a statement.

Archaeologist Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, investigated the mummies with a camera crew in late September 2018, with the cooperation of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the assistance of local experts, Davina Bristow, documentary producer, and the director.

From the tomb’s entrance, a maze of tunnels branched out about 200 feet (61 meters) into the cliff; chambers were filled with mummified body parts and piles of bandages that had once been wrapped around the corpses but had come unraveled, Ikram discovered. The bodies all seemed to belong to men, and many showed signs of severe trauma.

Skulls were broken or pierced — probably the result of projectiles or weapons — and arrows were embedded in many of the bodies, suggesting the men were soldiers who died in battle. One of the mummies was even wearing a protective gauntlet on its arm, such as those worn by archers, according to Ikram.

Archaeologist Salima Ikram examines an image of a skull from the mass burial.
Archaeologist Salima Ikram examines an image of a skull from the mass burial.

These people have died bloody, fearsome deaths,” Ikram said. And evidence from elsewhere in Egypt suggests that they died during a period of extreme social upheaval.

A kingdom’s collapse some of those clues lay in the tomb of the pharaoh Pepi II, whose 90-year reign had just ended, Philippe Collombert, an Egyptologist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, told archaeology-world in an email.

Pepi II’s burial tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, was ornate and spectacular; it was built during his youth, which suggests that the kingdom at that time was secure with no signs of civil collapse, Collombert said.

However, Pepi II’s tomb was looted soon after he was buried. Such a profoundly sacrilegious act could only have taken place if Egyptians had already begun to reject the godlike stature of the pharaoh, and if the central government was no longer in control, Collombert explained.

Hieroglyphs in Pepi II's pyramid in Saqarra, Egypt contain ritual text for the pharaoh's rebirth in the afterlife.
Hieroglyphs in Pepi II’s pyramid in Saqarra, Egypt contain ritual text for the pharaoh’s rebirth in the afterlife.

As Pepi II’s influence waned toward the end of his rule and local governors became more and more powerful, their burial chambers became bigger and more lavish.

One governor’s tomb, built in the Qubbet el Hawa necropolis after Pepi II’s death, contained inscriptions that hinted at the conflict emerging between political factions, describing social disruption, civil war and lack of control by a single administration, Antonio Morales, an Egyptologist at the University of Alcalá in Madrid, Spain, said in the documentary. And famine caused by drought may have accelerated this social collapse, according to Morales.

Another inscription in the governor’s tomb noted that “the southern country is dying of hunger so every man was eating his own children” and “the whole country has become like a starving locust,” Morales said.

Together, starvation and unrest could have laid the groundwork for a frenzied battle that left 60 men dead on the ground — and then mummified in the same tomb, Ikram said.”Secrets of the Dead: Egypt’s Darkest Hour” aired last night (April 3) on PBS and is now available to stream on the PBS website and on PBS apps.

Two Ancient Egyptian Kingdom Tombs Opened in Luxor, Egypt

Two Ancient Egyptian Kingdom Tombs Opened in Luxor, Egypt

Two tombs of unidentified officials dated to Egypt’s New Kingdom era have been opened at Luxor’s Draa Abul-Naglaa necropolis years after they were initially discovered by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp in the 1990s.

The opening of the tombs was announced at an international conference attended by the governor of Luxor, the minister of social solidarity, the director-general of the International Monetary Fund, members of the international media, foreign ambassadors, members of parliament, and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany.

“It is a very important discovery because both tombs contain very rich funerary collections, and one of them has a very distinguished painted statue of a lady in the Osirian shape,” with this most recent discovery being the third Draa Abul-Naga alone.

“It seems that our ancient Egyptian ancestors are bestowing their blessing on Egypt’s economy as these discoveries are good promotion for the country and its tourism industry,” El-Enany told Ahram Online.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and head of the Egyptian excavation mission, explains that both tombs were given special numbers by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp in the 1990s.

The first tomb, named “Kampp 161,” was never excavated, while excavation work on the second, “Kampp 150,” was undertaken by archaeologist Kampp short of entering the tomb itself.

The tombs had been left untouched until excavation started during the recent archaeological season.

Most of the items discovered in Kampala 161 are fragments of wooden coffins.

The most notable discoveries are a large wooden mask that was originally a part of a coffin, a small painted wooden mask, a fragment of a gilded wooden mask in poor condition, four legs of wooden chairs that were among the deceased’s funerary equipment, as well as the lower part of a wooden Osirian shaped coffin decorated with a scene of goddess Isis lifting up her hands.

“The owner of Kampp 150 is not yet known, but there are two possible candidates,” Waziri told Ahram Online.

He said that the first possibility is that the tomb belongs to a person named Djehuty Mes, as this name is engraved on one of the walls.

The second possibility is that the owner could be the scribe “Maati,” as his name and the name of his wife “Mehi” are inscribed on 50 funerary cones found in the tomb’s rectangular chamber.

The tomb has only one inscription on one of its northern pillars. It shows a scene with a seated man offering food to four oxen, with the first kneeling in front of the man, who is giving it herbs. The scene also depicts five people making funerary furniture.

The entrance of the long hall is inscribed with hieroglyphic text with the name of “Djehuty Mes.” The ceiling of the chamber is inscribed with hieroglyphic inscriptions and the cartouche of King Thutmose I.

The objects uncovered inside include 100 funerary cones, painted wooden masks, a collection of 450 statues carved in different materials such as clay, wood and faience, and a small box in the shape of a wooden coffin with a lid.

The box was probably used for storing an Ushabti figurine 17 cm tall and 6 cm large. Also found was a collection of clay vessels of different shapes and sizes, as well as a mummy wrapped in linen with its hands on its chest in the Osirian formStudies, suggest that the mummy, which was found inside the long chamber, could be of a top official or another powerful person.