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. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.29.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Architecture Overview The golden age of the New Kingdom created huge prosperity for Egypt and allowed for[…]

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. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh /[…]

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[…]

Palaces in Ancient Egypt: Cities for Kings and Gods

Illustration of the ancient palace of Malkata The grandeur that early European explorers had come to expect in royal building programs seems to have been reserved for sacred space and funerary complexes. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction For early European explorers in Egypt, it was inconceivable that the massive monumental[…]

Noble Villas in New Kingdom Egypt

There were distinct differences between city and village (country) life, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Although, with exceptions at Amarna, there are few surviving traces of noble villas from the New Kingdom, we have some idea of how they must have looked[…]

Fortified Cities in Ancient Egypt

The Lion Temple Walls do seem to be a defining feature of many Egyptian settlements throughout the dynastic period. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool The origin of urbanism in Egypt includes the emergence of heavily defended walled settlements as major political and economic centres. The policy of providing enclosing walls for[…]

City and Regional Government in Ancient Egypt

Examining  the roles and duties of the court, temple and provincial officials as the backbone of ancient Egyptian administration. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction The administration of towns and cities in dynastic Egypt was part of a complex pattern of central and regional government whose functions, and officials, often overlapped.[…]

Volcanic Eruptions Could Have Spurred Revolts in Ancient Egypt

Harvest scene from the Ptolemaic tomb of Petosiris A study comparing eruptions and uprisings looks at how volcanoes meddle with annual Nile floods. By Jason Daley / 10.19.2017 ome of the most well-known characters in ancient Egyptian history were actually Macedonian. In particular, the Ptolemaic Kingdom, a dynasty founded after the death of Alexander the Great[…]

The Role of Ma’at in the Emergence of Law in Ancient Egypt

Examining the emergence of ancient Egyptian law out of religion and specifically arising from the concept of maat. By Dr. N.J. van Blerk Lecturer in Ancient Studies University of South Africa (UNISA) Abstract In this article, the emergence of ancient Egyptian law out of religion and specifically arising from the concept of maat is discussed, as well as the[…]

Living the Principles of Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian Religion

The limestone Pyramidion of Ramose, from the top of the tomb of the ‘Necropolis Scribe’. Scenes on all four sides depict the worship of the sun. From Deir-el-Demina, New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty, 1279-1213 BCE. (Egyptian Museum, Turin) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons During one’s life on Earth in ancient Egypt, one was expected to uphold the principle[…]

The History of Medicine in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome

Dated to the New Kingdom (c. 1570 – c. 1069 BCE), and specifically to c. 1200 BCE, the text is written in demotic script and is the oldest treatise on anorectal disease (affecting the anus and rectum) in history. / Photo by Ibolya Horvath, British Museum, Creative Commons The history of medicine is a long and distinguished one, as[…]