Listen and Learn: Exploring the Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Tombs

Egyptologists unearth the world’s richest seam of ancient archaeology. Presentation by Channel 4 Documentaries The first royal tombs, called mastabas, were built at Abydos during the first and second dynasties. They were marked with a stele inscribed with the kings’ names. The burial chambers were cut into the rock, lined with sun-baked bricks and faced[…]

A Brief Visual Guide to Ancient Egyptian Gods

Even today, the gods of Egypt loom large in the imagination, and are easily recognized by their iconic features. By Arienne King Introduction This image gallery is a visual guide to the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. It includes depictions of many of Egypt’s more iconic and widely worshipped deities, along with brief descriptions of their[…]

Nebu: Gold in Ancient Egypt

Ancient texts report the vast quantities of statuary of gold, silver, bronze, and other metals. By Deborah SchorschConservatorMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York Egypt is a land rich in gold, and ancient miners employing traditional methods were thorough in their exploitation of economically feasible sources. In addition to the resources of the Eastern Desert, Egypt[…]

A History of the Ancient Nile River

The Nile was held up to the ancient people as the source of all life in Egypt. By Dr. Joshua J. MarkProfessor of PhilosophyMarist College Introduction The world’s longest river, located in Egypt, the Nile flows 4,132 miles (6,650 kilometres) northward to the Mediterranean Sea (a very unusual direction for a river to take). It was considered the source of life by the[…]

A Scientific Population History of Ancient Egypt

Scholars have reviewed the available skulls and skeletal evidence on the ancient Egyptians to draw some conclusions. Introduction Egypt has a long and involved demographic history. This is partly due to the territory’s geographical location at the crossroads of several major cultural areas: North Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, Egypt has experienced several invasions during its[…]

A 3,000-Year-Old ‘Lost Golden City’ Discovered in Egypt

It has been called the most important discovery since tomb of Tutankhamun and a window into the ancient world. Archaeologists hailed the discovery of “the largest” ancient city found in Egypt, buried under sand for millennia, which experts said was one of the most important finds since unearthing Tutankhamun’s tomb. Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced[…]

The Ancient Meroitic Period of the Kingdom of Kush

The sculpture and architecture of the period shows much influence from the Greek and the Greco-Roman world. By The British Museum Ancient Sudan: The Meroitic Period (c.300 B.C.E.–350 C.E.) The Meroitic period, the later phase of rule by the Kushite kings, is named after the royal burial ground at Meroe. In the third century B.C.E. the[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Nubia and the Kingdom of Kush

The Kushites were expelled from Egypt by the Assyrians, but their kingdom flourished in Sudan for another thousand years. By The British Museum Introduction The first settlers in northern Sudan date back 300,000 years. It is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African kingdom, the kingdom of Kush (about 2500–1500 B.C.E.). This culture produced some of[…]

Ancient Egyptian Coptic Textiles

The dry conditions of Egypt helped preserve these delicate fabrics. What Is Coptic? The modern term “Copt” derives from a corruption of the ancient Greek aigyptos via Arabic qibt, meaning “Egyptian.” This is a reference to native Egyptians as opposed to Greek and Roman settlers. The Coptic period (or Byzantine period) began with the division[…]

Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy

The main metals used in ancient Egypt were copper, gold, silver, and iron. Metallurgy is the science of separating metals from their ores, and it developed quite recently, considering the length of human history. Ancient Egyptians were neither the inventors of metallurgy, nor the most innovative in its development.[1] Yet metals, especially gold, had a[…]

Egyptologists’ Notebooks: An Interview with Chris Naunton

How European scholars, archaeologists, and Egyptologists explored an ancient culture. Dr. Chris NauntonHistorian and Egyptologist Introduction “The idea of a kind of intact tomb, at a certain moment where the archaeologist breaks through the door and lifts up a lamp to reveal the glint of gold everywhere. That’s become the defining moment for archaeology.” What[…]

The Ancient Egyptian Afterlife and the ‘Feather of Truth’

After death, one was guided through the Hall of Two Truths where the heart was weighed against a feather. Introduction Is it possible to have a heart that is lighter than a feather? To the ancient Egyptians it was not only possible but highly desirable. The after-life of the ancient Egyptians was known as the[…]

Balance and the Law in Ancient Egypt

What made a judgment legal and binding was how closely a legal decision aligned with ma’at. Introduction Egyptian law was based on the central cultural value of ma’at (harmony and balance) which was the foundation for the entire civilization. Ma’at was established at the beginning of time by the gods when the earth and universe[…]

Baking Bread in Ancient Egypt

A few experimental archaeologists are reclaiming recipes from ancient societies. By Keridwen Cornelius Around 2000 B.C., a baker in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes captured yeast from the air and kneaded it into a triangle of dough. The baked bread was then buried in a dedication ceremony beneath the temple of Pharaoh Mentuhotep II[…]

The Rise of the State in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian culture began long before there was an Egyptian state. Introduction Ancient Egypt is known for many things that immediately come to mind: pyramids, large temples, and the life-giving Nile River are the three most apparent, and of course, there are hundreds of other features that made the early civilization among the most important[…]

Meet an Ushabti, an Ancient Egyptian Statuette Made for the Afterlife

What we know about this figure discovered in Neferibresaneith’s tomb. What’s an Ushtabi? Ushabtis are figurines that were designed to be placed in someone’s tomb. Ushabtis look like human figures that have been mummified, usually with their arms crossed over their chest. Some, like the Getty’s ushabti, were very carefully made, with detailed features, while[…]

What Is the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead?

These texts developed from spells that were first inscribed on scarabs and coffins at the end of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period. “Book of the Dead” is a modern term to describe a series of ancient Egyptian funerary spells that helped the deceased find their way to the afterlife in order to become united with the[…]

Cleopatra: ‘Queen of the Nile’

As the last Ptolemaic heir of Alexander the Great, she remained committed to his policy of cultural fusion. Introduction Cleopatra VII Philopator (January, 69 B.C.E. – August 12, 30 B.C.E.) was queen of Ancient Egypt, the last member of the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty and hence the last Greek ruler of Egypt. Although many other Egyptian[…]

Comparing Egyptian and Incan Mummification Processes

Both the Egyptian and Inca cultures treated their deceased differently based on social hierarchy within the culture. By Emma J. Williams Abstract This two-year research project was carried out as part of SUNY Potsdam’s Presidential Scholars program which allows undergraduates to conduct independent research. The project employs controlled laboratory experiments to compare desiccation rates in[…]

Ancient Egyptian Words for Towns and Cities

The Abbott Papyrus from ancient Thebes / British Museum The Egyptians used a variety of terms to refer to their settlements. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool The Egyptians used a variety of terms to refer to their settlements. Like our own terms (‘city’, ‘town’, ‘village’) they are useful in suggesting[…]

The Art and Architecture of New Kingdom Egypt, c.1570-1069 BCE

Pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall from the Precinct of Amun-Re / Photo by Kurohito, Wikimedia Commons The New Kingdom is known as the golden age of ancient Egyptian history. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Architecture Overview The golden age of the New Kingdom created huge prosperity for Egypt and allowed for the proliferation of monumental architecture.[…]

The Art and Architecture of Middle Kingdom Egypt, c.2055-1650 BCE

The Temple of Isis at Philae, with pylonsand an enclosed court on the left and the inner building at right / Photo by Marc Ryckaert, Wikimedia Commons The Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1650 BCE) was marked by the reunification of Egypt following a period of weak pharaonic power and civil war called the First Intermediate. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate[…]

Towns and Houses in Middle and New Kingdom Egypt

A small number of sites, especially from the Middle and New Kingdoms, provide us with extraordinary amounts of evidence for the settlement archaeology of ancient Egypt. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Middle Kingdom Introduction A small number of sites, especially from the Middle and New Kingdoms, provide us with extraordinary[…]

The Location of Cities in Ancient Egypt

The location of towns and cities in ancient Egypt was dictated by two principal factors. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction The location of towns and cities in ancient Egypt was dictated by two principal factors; the behaviour of the Nile and the wishes of the king. Royal influence on[…]

Temples and Cities in Ancient Egypt

The temple of Hathor and Nefertari, also known as the Small Temple, dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II’s chief consort, Nefertari, at Abu Simbel / Photo by Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons A close relationship with particular deities was an important aspect of regional identity in pharaonic Egypt. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology[…]

Building the City in Ancient Egypt

Ruins of ancient Thebes A team of four men could produce 3,000 mudbricks per day. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction Egypt, more particularly the Nile Valley between Aswan and Cairo, is blessed with a cornucopia of constructional resources. An ancient Egyptian who made the (sometimes very short) stroll from the[…]