The Latest Discoveries in Egyptology (January-February 2018)

Every few months, the Nile Scribes bring you summaries of the latest news and discoveries in Egyptology, both from the field and the lab. We’ll introduce you to the newest archaeological finds or recently undusted manuscripts being rediscovered in museum collections, plus other new theories stirring in the Egyptological Zeitgeist. Already this year, archaeologists have discovered fragments from statues of Amenhotep III and Ramesses II, uncovered a new Late Period cemetery, and identified the earliest-known occupational layer at the site of Edfu.

Have you read our post about the Top Ten Discoveries of 2017?

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities publishes a very helpful round-up of recent discoveries, events, and projects in Egypt in an accessible PDF format. The latest issue was published in January 2018 (English or Arabic).

Fragment of Black granite statue of King Amenhotep III discovered in Sohag parking lot (January 8 – Egypt Independent)

Nile Scribes: Not long ago we heard about the discovery of King Richard III’s remains underneath a car park in Leicester, England. Egypt now has its own car park story as a fragment from a statue of Amenhetep III was recently discovered:

“The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of an artifact in a parking lot in Akhmim, Sohag governorate, during a drilling operation to develop the site. The ministry said in a statement on Monday that the archaeological committee, which was formed under the chairmanship of Gamal Abdel Nasser, confirmed that the piece found in the parking is an official historical artifact. The discovered piece is part of a black granite statue of King Amenhotep III from the Eighteenth Dynasty, said Abdel Nasser.”


Greco-roman false door from Alexandria (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
Greco-Roman false door from Alexandria (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

‘Distinguished’ Greco-Roman tombstone unearthed at Alexandria cemetery (January 9 – Egypt Independent)

NS: Excavations in al-Abd at a cemetery on the Alexandrian seashore have revealed several artefacts including a brightly painted “tomb stone” that probably functioned as a false door. The artefacts date mostly to Graeco-Roman times.

“An Egyptian archaeological mission has unearthed the remains of several Greco-Roman tombs, including a “distinguished” tombstone, in the eastern cemetery of the ancient city of Alexandria. The archaeologists made the finds at the Al-Abd site, which falls within the Hellenistic cemetery, located on Alexandria’s sea shore. Mostafa Waziri Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said that the remains include a collection of offering vessels, and lamps decorated with scenes of Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman deities.”


Sandstone statue of a seated man from Tell Edfu (Photo: Tell Edfu Project)
Sandstone statue of a seated man from Tell Edfu (Photo: Tell Edfu Project)

Archaeologists unveil two major discoveries in Upper Egypt’s Tell Edfu and Kom Ombo (January 11 – Ahram Online)

NS: The team from Chicago’s Oriental Institute has been actively working around the Temple of Horus at Edfu for several seasons exploring the ‘town’, which developed there before the Late Period Temple. In their recent season, they discovered an administrative complex dating to the Fifth Dynasty (2,435-2,306 BC). South of Edfu at Kom Ombo, an Egyptian mission also uncovered several artefacts on the western side of the temple including a stela.

“Egyptian and American archaeologists unveiled two new discoveries in Aswan, including a royal administrative complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Tel Edfu and a collection of artefacts in the Kom Ombo temple, according to a statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities. At the Tel Edfu archaeological site, a joint Egyptian-American archaeological mission with researchers from The University of Chicago has uncovered the late Fifth Dynasty (2498–2345 BCE) administrative complex. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, described the newly discovered complex as “the oldest archeological evidence to be found in Tel Edfu till now.”


Wooden coffin from Ptolemaic Period (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
Wooden coffin from Ptolemaic Period (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Three burial chambers engraved with hieroglyphics discovered in Giza (February 1 – Egypt Independent)

NS: Recent excavations near Abusir have uncovered several burial shafts with wooden coffin fragments, tools, and several mummies. One coffin fragment bears a cartouche of Ptolemy IV.

“Ashmawy explained that the first well leads to a small room containing two small rectangular coffins, made out of wood but in poor condition, with two small mummies likely to have been two birds. In addition to this, three spherical coils containing bowels of mummies were found, and 22 symbolic utensils modeled on Egyptian faience. Studies found that the lid of the first coffin was engraved with a cartouche of King Ptolemy IV, and the second coffin engraved with unclear Hieroglyphic writings.”


Visitors inside the Old Kingdom tomb of Hetpet (Photo: Agence France-Presse)
Visitors inside the Old Kingdom tomb of Hetpet (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

Egyptian Archaeologists Unearth A 4,400-Year-Old Tomb (February 4 – NPR)

NS: This find from Giza generated tremendous buzz in the Egyptological world and the scenes within the tomb are well-preserved with various representations of music, dance, and animals (e.g. monkeys). The tomb owner is a certain Hetpet, a priestess of Hathor, about whom we have known since the early 20th century.

“The tomb found near Cairo is adorned with well-preserved and rare wall paintings depicting the priestess, Hetpet, in a variety of scenes. Hetpet was a priestess to the goddess of fertility Hathor, who assisted women in childbirth. It was found during excavations near the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt’s antiquities ministry says. This site, in Giza’s western cemetery, housed officials from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, some of which have already been dug up since 1842. “We know of course that she was a high official and that she had a strong link with the royal palace,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, describing Hetpet on Saturday.”


Head of Napatan king Aspelta from Dangeil (Photo: J. Anderson)
Head of Napatan king Aspelta from Dangeil (Photo: J. Anderson)

Ancient Statue of Nubian King Found in Nile River Temple (February 20 – LiveScience)

NS: In a recent excavation at Dangeil in modern Sudan, archaeologists unearthed new fragments belonging to a statue of Kushite King Aspelta, which bore a hieroglyphic inscription confirming the identity of further pieces of the same statue discovered in 2008.

“Parts of a 2,600-year-old statue engraved with an Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription were discovered recently at the site of Dangeil in Sudan. Remains of a 2,600-year-old statue with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics has been discovered in a temple at Dangeil, an archaeological site along the Nile River in Sudan. Found in an ancient temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Amun, the statue depicts Aspelta, who was the ruler of the Kush kingdom between 593 B.C. and 568 B.C. Some of Aspelta’s predecessors had ruled Egypt, located to the north of Kush. Though Aspelta didn’t control Egypt, the inscription says (in translation) that he was “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and was “Beloved of Re’-Harakhty” (a form of the Egyptian sun god “Re”) and that Aspelta was “given all life, stability and dominion forever.”


26th Dynasty sarcophagi discovered in Minya (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

26th Dynasty cemetery uncovered in Egypt’s Minya (February 24 – Ahram Online)

NS: An Egyptian team resumed excavations at a cemetery about 6 km south of Tuna el-Gebel in late 2017. They came across several burial shafts that belonged to priests in the service of Thoth during the 26th Dynasty. These, in turn, contained a trove of artefacts including around 1,000 figurines and statuettes and 40 limestone sarcophagi.

“In the middle of the desert, six kilometres south of Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site, Egyptian and international media gathered to witness the announcement of a new discovery. Five showcases displaying the artefacts uncovered from burial sites in the cemetery were guarded by inspectors. Minister of Antiquities Kaled El-Enany, who was on site, announced the discovery of a 26th Dynasty cemetery that consists of a large number of burial shafts.”


Fragmented statue of Ramesses II from Aswan (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
Fragmented statue of Ramesses II from Aswan (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Ramses II sandstone colossus remains discovered in Aswan (February 27 – Luxor Times)

NS: Fragments of a huge statue of Ramesses II were discovered at Kom Ombo near Aswan. The king’s hands still bear some preserved paint.

“During the underground water project at Kom Ombo temple which started in September 2017, the Egyptian mission unearthed remains of a sandstone statue of Ramses II wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. The discovered parts show that the complete statue would be about 7 meters in height. Dr. Ayman Ashmawi (Head of Egyptian Antiquities sector) said “The work is still ongoing in search for the remaining parts of the statue hoping to find them to be able to re-erect it in the nearest time.


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