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Cheers! Archaeologists Discover Ceremonial Cup from the Dynasty of the Black Pharaohs


A team of scientists, composed of members of the Tenerife University of La Laguna and in charge of carrying out an archaeological mission in Luxor, have recently discovered a ceremonial cup from the 25th dynasty, also known as Dynasty of the Black Pharaohs.

Led by Miguel Angel Molinero, Professor of Prehistory, Archaeology, and Ancient History at the university, researchers never suspected that on this fourth campaign on Egyptian soil, they were to rediscover the cup which confirms that the tomb TT209 in Luxor belongs to the 25th (Kushite) dynasty , of Nubian origin .

Luxor is a town built on the ruins of ancient Thebes, capital of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt. Situated on the east bank of the Nile River is the city of the great temples of ancient Egypt and the famous necropolis of the West Bank, where pharaohs and nobles were buried, now called the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.

Night shot from outside the Temple of Luxor. ( Wikimedia Commons )

The Tomb of Nisemro

The excavations in the tomb, which may have belonged to a former senior Egyptian official named Nisemro, were completed from June 12 until July 24. The newspaper El Mundo reported that the entrance to the tomb of Nisemro was blocked by rubble from the demolition in 2007 by several illegal construction activities, thus some of the context was also lost. In addition, over the centuries the floods have left large amounts of sediment in the tomb’s interior, with the consequent moisture and the problem that this poses to the conservation of archaeological remains. Nonetheless, the tomb was eventually located by archaeologists in 2012 thanks to the reports written by researchers of the early twentieth century and plans from the 1960s.

  • Pre-dynastic tomb sheds light on Egyptian life before Pharaohs
  • The Crowns of the Pharaohs
  • New Egypt discovery could change chronology of the Pharaohs and beliefs about Amenhotep III and IV
  • Rosetta-style engraving lauding Cleopatra I and two Ptolemaic Pharaohs unearthed in Egypt

"The door was open for the new campaign. The reliefs of Nisemro, seem proud of having acted as protectors of the enclosure from the doorposts," said archaeologists to the newspaper 20 Minutes . They also told the newspaper that the tomb was completely covered with sediment.

In that sediment they even found the tracks and traces left on the grave from the Egyptologists who preceded them as well as looters who visited the tomb over the centuries. The archaeologists told 20 Minutes : "First, we would like to identify the stratigraphic evidence left in the passage. However, we do not hope to see much of anything because we recognize its consequences: the gap left by the theft of a relief, for example." They have also reported that among the materials found inside there were several Ptolemaic floral containers which were used to identify the reuse of the tomb for ceremonial use.

Entrance to the Nisemro tomb in Luxor. (Photo: eldiario.es/canariasahora)

The ceramic pieces found by the Spanish archaeologists show motifs and stylized lotus leaves of aquatic Nile plants, corresponding to a particular model that developed from the mid-third century to late second century BC. These discoveries led the team to state : "We are confident that the tomb is from the Kushite Dynasty. The owner's title has only one parallel - in a Nubian official from the beginning of the 25th dynasty. We also just found remains of material culture that are attributable to that dynasty."

In late June archeologists also found physical evidence of a funeral ritual with numerous ceramic containers. They do not believe that they were used in everyday life, but instead correspond to ceremonial activities.

One of the most important artifacts they have found was a cup, since it is the first full object found in the tomb that may be attributed to the 25th dynasty. For the Spanish archaeologists at the site it was “as valuable as the grail.”

Ruins of the Temple of Amun of Jebel Barkal, the main religious center of the 25th dynasty or Kushite Dynasty. ( Wikimedia Commons )

The time the ceremony took place does not seem to correspond to the time of the burial as the chronology of the ceramics suggests that there is at least 400 years between the construction of the tomb TT 209 and the ceramics from the ceremony. "Each room gives us unexpected images of life and death in the past. Surely we can expect some surprises when we return to work," said the Egyptologists at the end of the current season of excavations.

A lot of sediment remains in the tomb chambers, but the archaeologists predict that next season may be a "transit route to new discoveries" despite the cleanup they will have to begin their work with.

Featured image: Photograph of the ceremonial cup known as "the holy grail of Luxor." (Photo: EFE / 20 Minutes )

This article was first published in Spanish at https://www.ancient-origins.es/ and has been translated with permission.

By: Mariló TA


Akhenaten

Akhenaten (pronounced / ˌ æ k ə ˈ n ɑː t ən / ), [8] also spelled Echnaton, [9] Akhenaton, [3] Ikhnaton, [2] and Khuenaten [10] [11] (Ancient Egyptian: ꜣḫ-n-jtn, reconstructed Medio-Late Egyptian pronunciation /ˈʔuːχəʔ nə ˈjaːtəj/, meaning "Effective for the Aten"), was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh reigning c. 1353–1336 [3] or 1351–1334 BC, [4] the tenth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Before the fifth year of his reign, he was known as Amenhotep IV (Ancient Egyptian: jmn-ḥtp, meaning "Amun is satisfied", Hellenized as Amenophis IV).

As a pharaoh, Akhenaten is noted for abandoning Egypt's traditional polytheism and introducing Atenism, or worship centered around Aten. The views of Egyptologists differ as to whether Atenism should be considered as a form of absolute monotheism, or whether it was monolatry, syncretism, or henotheism. [12] [13] This culture shift away from traditional religion was not widely accepted. After his death, Akhenaten's monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from lists of rulers compiled by later pharaohs. [14] Traditional religious practice was gradually restored, notably under his close successor Tutankhamun, who changed his name from Tutankhaten early in his reign. [15] When some dozen years later, rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors and referred to Akhenaten as "the enemy" or "that criminal" in archival records. [16] [17]

Akhenaten was all but lost to history until the late 19th century discovery of Amarna, or Akhetaten, the new capital city he built for the worship of Aten. [18] Furthermore, in 1907, a mummy that could be Akhenaten's was unearthed from the tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings by Edward R. Ayrton. Genetic testing has determined that the man buried in KV55 was Tutankhamun's father, [19] but its identification as Akhenaten has since been questioned. [6] [7] [20] [21] [22]

Akhenaten's rediscovery and Flinders Petrie's early excavations at Amarna sparked great public interest in the pharaoh and his queen Nefertiti. He has been described as "enigmatic", "mysterious", "revolutionary", "the greatest idealist of the world", and "the first individual in history", but also as a "heretic", "fanatic", "possibly insane", and "mad". [12] [23] [24] [25] [26] The interest comes from his connection with Tutankhamun, the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish.


Contents

The Nile has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. [8] The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled agricultural economy and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. [9] Nomadic modern human hunter-gatherers began living in the Nile valley through the end of the Middle Pleistocene some 120,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became increasingly hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.

Predynastic period

In Predynastic and Early Dynastic times, the Egyptian climate was much less arid than it is today. Large regions of Egypt were covered in treed savanna and traversed by herds of grazing ungulates. Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, and this is also the period when many animals were first domesticated. [10]

By about 5500 BC, small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and animal husbandry, and identifiable by their pottery and personal items, such as combs, bracelets, and beads. The largest of these early cultures in upper (Southern) Egypt was the Badarian culture, which probably originated in the Western Desert it was known for its high-quality ceramics, stone tools, and its use of copper. [11]

The Badari was followed by the Naqada culture: the Amratian (Naqada I), the Gerzeh (Naqada II), and Semainean (Naqada III). [12] [ page needed ] These brought a number of technological improvements. As early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. [13] In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the Near East, particularly Canaan and the Byblos coast. [14] Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. [15] Establishing a power center at Nekhen (in Greek, Hierakonpolis), and later at Abydos, Naqada III leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the Nile. [16] They also traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, and the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East to the east, initiating a period of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations. [17] [ when? ]

The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, and jewelry made of gold, lapis, and ivory. They also developed a ceramic glaze known as faience, which was used well into the Roman Period to decorate cups, amulets, and figurines. [18] During the last predynastic phase, the Naqada culture began using written symbols that eventually were developed into a full system of hieroglyphs for writing the ancient Egyptian language. [19]

Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150–2686 BC)

The Early Dynastic Period was approximately contemporary to the early Sumerian-Akkadian civilisation of Mesopotamia and of ancient Elam. The third-century BC Egyptian priest Manetho grouped the long line of kings from Menes to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today. He began his official history with the king named "Meni" (or Menes in Greek), who was believed to have united the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. [20]

The transition to a unified state happened more gradually than ancient Egyptian writers represented, and there is no contemporary record of Menes. Some scholars now believe, however, that the mythical Menes may have been the king Narmer, who is depicted wearing royal regalia on the ceremonial Narmer Palette, in a symbolic act of unification. [22] In the Early Dynastic Period, which began about 3000 BC, the first of the Dynastic kings solidified control over lower Egypt by establishing a capital at Memphis, from which he could control the labour force and agriculture of the fertile delta region, as well as the lucrative and critical trade routes to the Levant. The increasing power and wealth of the kings during the early dynastic period was reflected in their elaborate mastaba tombs and mortuary cult structures at Abydos, which were used to celebrate the deified king after his death. [23] The strong institution of kingship developed by the kings served to legitimize state control over the land, labour, and resources that were essential to the survival and growth of ancient Egyptian civilization. [24]

Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC)

Major advances in architecture, art, and technology were made during the Old Kingdom, fueled by the increased agricultural productivity and resulting population, made possible by a well-developed central administration. [25] Some of ancient Egypt's crowning achievements, the Giza pyramids and Great Sphinx, were constructed during the Old Kingdom. Under the direction of the vizier, state officials collected taxes, coordinated irrigation projects to improve crop yield, drafted peasants to work on construction projects, and established a justice system to maintain peace and order. [26]

With the rising importance of central administration in Egypt, a new class of educated scribes and officials arose who were granted estates by the king in payment for their services. Kings also made land grants to their mortuary cults and local temples, to ensure that these institutions had the resources to worship the king after his death. Scholars believe that five centuries of these practices slowly eroded the economic vitality of Egypt, and that the economy could no longer afford to support a large centralized administration. [27] As the power of the kings diminished, regional governors called nomarchs began to challenge the supremacy of the office of king. This, coupled with severe droughts between 2200 and 2150 BC, [28] is believed to have caused the country to enter the 140-year period of famine and strife known as the First Intermediate Period. [29]

First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BC)

After Egypt's central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars. Yet despite difficult problems, local leaders, owing no tribute to the king, used their new-found independence to establish a thriving culture in the provinces. Once in control of their own resources, the provinces became economically richer—which was demonstrated by larger and better burials among all social classes. [30] In bursts of creativity, provincial artisans adopted and adapted cultural motifs formerly restricted to the royalty of the Old Kingdom, and scribes developed literary styles that expressed the optimism and originality of the period. [31]

Free from their loyalties to the king, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and political power. By 2160 BC, rulers in Herakleopolis controlled Lower Egypt in the north, while a rival clan based in Thebes, the Intef family, took control of Upper Egypt in the south. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable. Around 2055 BC the northern Theban forces under Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II finally defeated the Herakleopolitan rulers, reuniting the Two Lands. They inaugurated a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the Middle Kingdom. [32]

Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)

The kings of the Middle Kingdom restored the country's stability and prosperity, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. [33] Mentuhotep II and his Eleventh Dynasty successors ruled from Thebes, but the vizier Amenemhat I, upon assuming the kingship at the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty around 1985 BC, shifted the kingdom's capital to the city of Itjtawy, located in Faiyum. [34] From Itjtawy, the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty undertook a far-sighted land reclamation and irrigation scheme to increase agricultural output in the region. Moreover, the military reconquered territory in Nubia that was rich in quarries and gold mines, while laborers built a defensive structure in the Eastern Delta, called the "Walls of the Ruler", to defend against foreign attack. [35]

With the kings having secured the country militarily and politically and with vast agricultural and mineral wealth at their disposal, the nation's population, arts, and religion flourished. In contrast to elitist Old Kingdom attitudes towards the gods, the Middle Kingdom displayed an increase in expressions of personal piety. [36] Middle Kingdom literature featured sophisticated themes and characters written in a confident, eloquent style. [31] The relief and portrait sculpture of the period captured subtle, individual details that reached new heights of technical sophistication. [37]

The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III, allowed Semitic-speaking Canaanite settlers from the Near East into the Delta region to provide a sufficient labour force for his especially active mining and building campaigns. These ambitious building and mining activities, however, combined with severe Nile floods later in his reign, strained the economy and precipitated the slow decline into the Second Intermediate Period during the later Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties. During this decline, the Canaanite settlers began to assume greater control of the Delta region, eventually coming to power in Egypt as the Hyksos. [38]

Second Intermediate Period (1674–1549 BC) and the Hyksos

Around 1785 BC, as the power of the Middle Kingdom kings weakened, a Western Asian people called the Hyksos, who had already settled in the Delta, seized control of Egypt and established their capital at Avaris, forcing the former central government to retreat to Thebes. The king was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. [39] The Hyksos ("foreign rulers") retained Egyptian models of government and identified as kings, thereby integrating Egyptian elements into their culture. They and other invaders introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot. [40]

After retreating south, the native Theban kings found themselves trapped between the Canaanite Hyksos ruling the north and the Hyksos' Nubian allies, the Kushites, to the south. After years of vassalage, Thebes gathered enough strength to challenge the Hyksos in a conflict that lasted more than 30 years, until 1555 BC. [39] The kings Seqenenre Tao II and Kamose were ultimately able to defeat the Nubians to the south of Egypt, but failed to defeat the Hyksos. That task fell to Kamose's successor, Ahmose I, who successfully waged a series of campaigns that permanently eradicated the Hyksos' presence in Egypt. He established a new dynasty and, in the New Kingdom that followed, the military became a central priority for the kings, who sought to expand Egypt's borders and attempted to gain mastery of the Near East. [41]

New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)

The New Kingdom pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity by securing their borders and strengthening diplomatic ties with their neighbours, including the Mitanni Empire, Assyria, and Canaan. Military campaigns waged under Tuthmosis I and his grandson Tuthmosis III extended the influence of the pharaohs to the largest empire Egypt had ever seen. Beginning with Merneptah the rulers of Egypt adopted the title of pharaoh.

Between their reigns, Hatshepsut, a queen who established herself as pharaoh, launched many building projects, including restoration of temples damaged by the Hyksos, and sent trading expeditions to Punt and the Sinai. [42] When Tuthmosis III died in 1425 BC, Egypt had an empire extending from Niya in north west Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubia, cementing loyalties and opening access to critical imports such as bronze and wood. [43]

The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god Amun, whose growing cult was based in Karnak. They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The Karnak temple is the largest Egyptian temple ever built. [44]

Around 1350 BC, the stability of the New Kingdom was threatened when Amenhotep IV ascended the throne and instituted a series of radical and chaotic reforms. Changing his name to Akhenaten, he touted the previously obscure sun deity Aten as the supreme deity, suppressed the worship of most other deities, and moved the capital to the new city of Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna). [45] He was devoted to his new religion and artistic style. After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned and the traditional religious order restored. The subsequent pharaohs, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb, worked to erase all mention of Akhenaten's heresy, now known as the Amarna Period. [46]

Around 1279 BC, Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, ascended the throne, and went on to build more temples, erect more statues and obelisks, and sire more children than any other pharaoh in history. [a] A bold military leader, Ramesses II led his army against the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh (in modern Syria) and, after fighting to a stalemate, finally agreed to the first recorded peace treaty, around 1258 BC. [47]

Egypt's wealth, however, made it a tempting target for invasion, particularly by the Libyan Berbers to the west, and the Sea Peoples, a conjectured confederation of seafarers from the Aegean Sea. [b] Initially, the military was able to repel these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control of its remaining territories in southern Canaan, much of it falling to the Assyrians. The effects of external threats were exacerbated by internal problems such as corruption, tomb robbery, and civil unrest. After regaining their power, the high priests at the temple of Amun in Thebes accumulated vast tracts of land and wealth, and their expanded power splintered the country during the Third Intermediate Period. [48]

Third Intermediate Period (1069–653 BC)

Following the death of Ramesses XI in 1078 BC, Smendes assumed authority over the northern part of Egypt, ruling from the city of Tanis. The south was effectively controlled by the High Priests of Amun at Thebes, who recognized Smendes in name only. [49] During this time, Libyans had been settling in the western delta, and chieftains of these settlers began increasing their autonomy. Libyan princes took control of the delta under Shoshenq I in 945 BC, founding the so-called Libyan or Bubastite dynasty that would rule for some 200 years. Shoshenq also gained control of southern Egypt by placing his family members in important priestly positions. Libyan control began to erode as a rival dynasty in the delta arose in Leontopolis, and Kushites threatened from the south.

Around 727 BC the Kushite king Piye invaded northward, seizing control of Thebes and eventually the Delta, which established the 25th Dynasty. [51] During the 25th Dynasty, Pharaoh Taharqa created an empire nearly as large as the New Kingdom's. Twenty-fifth Dynasty pharaohs built, or restored, temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal. [52] During this period, the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the Middle Kingdom. [53] [54] [55]

Egypt's far-reaching prestige declined considerably toward the end of the Third Intermediate Period. Its foreign allies had fallen under the Assyrian sphere of influence, and by 700 BC war between the two states became inevitable. Between 671 and 667 BC the Assyrians began the Assyrian conquest of Egypt. The reigns of both Taharqa and his successor, Tanutamun, were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians, against whom Egypt enjoyed several victories. Ultimately, the Assyrians pushed the Kushites back into Nubia, occupied Memphis, and sacked the temples of Thebes. [57]

Late Period (653–332 BC)

The Assyrians left control of Egypt to a series of vassals who became known as the Saite kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. By 653 BC, the Saite king Psamtik I was able to oust the Assyrians with the help of Greek mercenaries, who were recruited to form Egypt's first navy. Greek influence expanded greatly as the city-state of Naukratis became the home of Greeks in the Nile Delta. The Saite kings based in the new capital of Sais witnessed a brief but spirited resurgence in the economy and culture, but in 525 BC, the powerful Persians, led by Cambyses II, began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh Psamtik III at the Battle of Pelusium. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from Iran, leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. A few successful revolts against the Persians marked the 5th century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians. [58]

Following its annexation by Persia, Egypt was joined with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This first period of Persian rule over Egypt, also known as the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty, ended in 402 BC, when Egypt regained independence under a series of native dynasties. The last of these dynasties, the Thirtieth, proved to be the last native royal house of ancient Egypt, ending with the kingship of Nectanebo II. A brief restoration of Persian rule, sometimes known as the Thirty-First Dynasty, began in 343 BC, but shortly after, in 332 BC, the Persian ruler Mazaces handed Egypt over to Alexander the Great without a fight. [59]

Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC)

In 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt with little resistance from the Persians and was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer. The administration established by Alexander's successors, the Macedonian Ptolemaic Kingdom, was based on an Egyptian model and based in the new capital city of Alexandria. The city showcased the power and prestige of Hellenistic rule, and became a seat of learning and culture, centered at the famous Library of Alexandria. [60] The Lighthouse of Alexandria lit the way for the many ships that kept trade flowing through the city—as the Ptolemies made commerce and revenue-generating enterprises, such as papyrus manufacturing, their top priority. [61]

Hellenistic culture did not supplant native Egyptian culture, as the Ptolemies supported time-honored traditions in an effort to secure the loyalty of the populace. They built new temples in Egyptian style, supported traditional cults, and portrayed themselves as pharaohs. Some traditions merged, as Greek and Egyptian gods were syncretized into composite deities, such as Serapis, and classical Greek forms of sculpture influenced traditional Egyptian motifs. Despite their efforts to appease the Egyptians, the Ptolemies were challenged by native rebellion, bitter family rivalries, and the powerful mob of Alexandria that formed after the death of Ptolemy IV. [62] In addition, as Rome relied more heavily on imports of grain from Egypt, the Romans took great interest in the political situation in the country. Continued Egyptian revolts, ambitious politicians, and powerful opponents from the Near East made this situation unstable, leading Rome to send forces to secure the country as a province of its empire. [63]

Roman period (30 BC – AD 641)

Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC, following the defeat of Marc Antony and Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII by Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) in the Battle of Actium. The Romans relied heavily on grain shipments from Egypt, and the Roman army, under the control of a prefect appointed by the Emperor, quelled rebellions, strictly enforced the collection of heavy taxes, and prevented attacks by bandits, which had become a notorious problem during the period. [64] Alexandria became an increasingly important center on the trade route with the orient, as exotic luxuries were in high demand in Rome. [65]

Although the Romans had a more hostile attitude than the Greeks towards the Egyptians, some traditions such as mummification and worship of the traditional gods continued. [66] The art of mummy portraiture flourished, and some Roman emperors had themselves depicted as pharaohs, though not to the extent that the Ptolemies had. The former lived outside Egypt and did not perform the ceremonial functions of Egyptian kingship. Local administration became Roman in style and closed to native Egyptians. [66]

From the mid-first century AD, Christianity took root in Egypt and it was originally seen as another cult that could be accepted. However, it was an uncompromising religion that sought to win converts from Egyptian Religion and Greco-Roman religion and threatened popular religious traditions. This led to the persecution of converts to Christianity, culminating in the great purges of Diocletian starting in 303, but eventually Christianity won out. [67] In 391 the Christian Emperor Theodosius introduced legislation that banned pagan rites and closed temples. [68] Alexandria became the scene of great anti-pagan riots with public and private religious imagery destroyed. [69] As a consequence, Egypt's native religious culture was continually in decline. While the native population continued to speak their language, the ability to read hieroglyphic writing slowly disappeared as the role of the Egyptian temple priests and priestesses diminished. The temples themselves were sometimes converted to churches or abandoned to the desert. [70]

In the fourth century, as the Roman Empire divided, Egypt found itself in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople. In the waning years of the Empire, Egypt fell to the Sasanian Persian army in the Sasanian conquest of Egypt (618–628). It was then recaptured by the Roman Emperor Heraclius (629–639), and was finally captured by Muslim Rashidun army in 639–641, ending Roman rule.

Administration and commerce

The pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, at least in theory, wielded complete control of the land and its resources. The king was the supreme military commander and head of the government, who relied on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs. In charge of the administration was his second in command, the vizier, who acted as the king's representative and coordinated land surveys, the treasury, building projects, the legal system, and the archives. [71] At a regional level, the country was divided into as many as 42 administrative regions called nomes each governed by a nomarch, who was accountable to the vizier for his jurisdiction. The temples formed the backbone of the economy. Not only were they places of worship, but were also responsible for collecting and storing the kingdom's wealth in a system of granaries and treasuries administered by overseers, who redistributed grain and goods. [72]

Social status

Egyptian society was highly stratified, and social status was expressly displayed. Farmers made up the bulk of the population, but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land. [77] Farmers were also subject to a labor tax and were required to work on irrigation or construction projects in a corvée system. [78] Artists and craftsmen were of higher status than farmers, but they were also under state control, working in the shops attached to the temples and paid directly from the state treasury. Scribes and officials formed the upper class in ancient Egypt, known as the "white kilt class" in reference to the bleached linen garments that served as a mark of their rank. [79] The upper class prominently displayed their social status in art and literature. Below the nobility were the priests, physicians, and engineers with specialized training in their field. It is unclear whether slavery as understood today existed in ancient Egypt, there is difference of opinions among authors. [80]

The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes, as essentially equal under the law, and even the lowliest peasant was entitled to petition the vizier and his court for redress. [81] Although slaves were mostly used as indentured servants, they were able to buy and sell their servitude, work their way to freedom or nobility, and were usually treated by doctors in the workplace. [82] Both men and women had the right to own and sell property, make contracts, marry and divorce, receive inheritance, and pursue legal disputes in court. Married couples could own property jointly and protect themselves from divorce by agreeing to marriage contracts, which stipulated the financial obligations of the husband to his wife and children should the marriage end. Compared with their counterparts in ancient Greece, Rome, and even more modern places around the world, ancient Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices, legal rights, and opportunities for achievement. Women such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII even became pharaohs, while others wielded power as Divine Wives of Amun. Despite these freedoms, ancient Egyptian women did not often take part in official roles in the administration, aside from the royal high priestesses, apparently served only secondary roles in the temples (not much data for many dynasties), and were not so likely to be as educated as men. [81]

Legal system

The head of the legal system was officially the pharaoh, who was responsible for enacting laws, delivering justice, and maintaining law and order, a concept the ancient Egyptians referred to as Ma'at. [71] Although no legal codes from ancient Egypt survive, court documents show that Egyptian law was based on a common-sense view of right and wrong that emphasized reaching agreements and resolving conflicts rather than strictly adhering to a complicated set of statutes. [81] Local councils of elders, known as Kenbet in the New Kingdom, were responsible for ruling in court cases involving small claims and minor disputes. [71] More serious cases involving murder, major land transactions, and tomb robbery were referred to the Great Kenbet, over which the vizier or pharaoh presided. Plaintiffs and defendants were expected to represent themselves and were required to swear an oath that they had told the truth. In some cases, the state took on both the role of prosecutor and judge, and it could torture the accused with beatings to obtain a confession and the names of any co-conspirators. Whether the charges were trivial or serious, court scribes documented the complaint, testimony, and verdict of the case for future reference. [83]

Punishment for minor crimes involved either imposition of fines, beatings, facial mutilation, or exile, depending on the severity of the offense. Serious crimes such as murder and tomb robbery were punished by execution, carried out by decapitation, drowning, or impaling the criminal on a stake. Punishment could also be extended to the criminal's family. [71] Beginning in the New Kingdom, oracles played a major role in the legal system, dispensing justice in both civil and criminal cases. The procedure was to ask the god a "yes" or "no" question concerning the right or wrong of an issue. The god, carried by a number of priests, rendered judgement by choosing one or the other, moving forward or backward, or pointing to one of the answers written on a piece of papyrus or an ostracon. [84]

Agriculture

A combination of favorable geographical features contributed to the success of ancient Egyptian culture, the most important of which was the rich fertile soil resulting from annual inundations of the Nile River. The ancient Egyptians were thus able to produce an abundance of food, allowing the population to devote more time and resources to cultural, technological, and artistic pursuits. Land management was crucial in ancient Egypt because taxes were assessed based on the amount of land a person owned. [85]

Farming in Egypt was dependent on the cycle of the Nile River. The Egyptians recognized three seasons: Akhet (flooding), Peret (planting), and Shemu (harvesting). The flooding season lasted from June to September, depositing on the river's banks a layer of mineral-rich silt ideal for growing crops. After the floodwaters had receded, the growing season lasted from October to February. Farmers plowed and planted seeds in the fields, which were irrigated with ditches and canals. Egypt received little rainfall, so farmers relied on the Nile to water their crops. [86] From March to May, farmers used sickles to harvest their crops, which were then threshed with a flail to separate the straw from the grain. Winnowing removed the chaff from the grain, and the grain was then ground into flour, brewed to make beer, or stored for later use. [87]

The ancient Egyptians cultivated emmer and barley, and several other cereal grains, all of which were used to make the two main food staples of bread and beer. [88] Flax plants, uprooted before they started flowering, were grown for the fibers of their stems. These fibers were split along their length and spun into thread, which was used to weave sheets of linen and to make clothing. Papyrus growing on the banks of the Nile River was used to make paper. Vegetables and fruits were grown in garden plots, close to habitations and on higher ground, and had to be watered by hand. Vegetables included leeks, garlic, melons, squashes, pulses, lettuce, and other crops, in addition to grapes that were made into wine. [89]

Animals

The Egyptians believed that a balanced relationship between people and animals was an essential element of the cosmic order thus humans, animals and plants were believed to be members of a single whole. [90] Animals, both domesticated and wild, were therefore a critical source of spirituality, companionship, and sustenance to the ancient Egyptians. Cattle were the most important livestock the administration collected taxes on livestock in regular censuses, and the size of a herd reflected the prestige and importance of the estate or temple that owned them. In addition to cattle, the ancient Egyptians kept sheep, goats, and pigs. Poultry, such as ducks, geese, and pigeons, were captured in nets and bred on farms, where they were force-fed with dough to fatten them. [91] The Nile provided a plentiful source of fish. Bees were also domesticated from at least the Old Kingdom, and provided both honey and wax. [92]

The ancient Egyptians used donkeys and oxen as beasts of burden, and they were responsible for plowing the fields and trampling seed into the soil. The slaughter of a fattened ox was also a central part of an offering ritual. Horses were introduced by the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period. Camels, although known from the New Kingdom, were not used as beasts of burden until the Late Period. There is also evidence to suggest that elephants were briefly utilized in the Late Period but largely abandoned due to lack of grazing land. [91] Cats, dogs, and monkeys were common family pets, while more exotic pets imported from the heart of Africa, such as Sub-Saharan African lions, [93] were reserved for royalty. Herodotus observed that the Egyptians were the only people to keep their animals with them in their houses. [90] During the Late Period, the worship of the gods in their animal form was extremely popular, such as the cat goddess Bastet and the ibis god Thoth, and these animals were kept in large numbers for the purpose of ritual sacrifice. [94]

Natural resources

Egypt is rich in building and decorative stone, copper and lead ores, gold, and semiprecious stones. These natural resources allowed the ancient Egyptians to build monuments, sculpt statues, make tools, and fashion jewelry. [95] Embalmers used salts from the Wadi Natrun for mummification, which also provided the gypsum needed to make plaster. [96] Ore-bearing rock formations were found in distant, inhospitable wadis in the Eastern Desert and the Sinai, requiring large, state-controlled expeditions to obtain natural resources found there. There were extensive gold mines in Nubia, and one of the first maps known is of a gold mine in this region. The Wadi Hammamat was a notable source of granite, greywacke, and gold. Flint was the first mineral collected and used to make tools, and flint handaxes are the earliest pieces of evidence of habitation in the Nile valley. Nodules of the mineral were carefully flaked to make blades and arrowheads of moderate hardness and durability even after copper was adopted for this purpose. [97] Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use minerals such as sulfur as cosmetic substances. [98]

The Egyptians worked deposits of the lead ore galena at Gebel Rosas to make net sinkers, plumb bobs, and small figurines. Copper was the most important metal for toolmaking in ancient Egypt and was smelted in furnaces from malachite ore mined in the Sinai. [99] Workers collected gold by washing the nuggets out of sediment in alluvial deposits, or by the more labor-intensive process of grinding and washing gold-bearing quartzite. Iron deposits found in upper Egypt were utilized in the Late Period. [100] High-quality building stones were abundant in Egypt the ancient Egyptians quarried limestone all along the Nile valley, granite from Aswan, and basalt and sandstone from the wadis of the Eastern Desert. Deposits of decorative stones such as porphyry, greywacke, alabaster, and carnelian dotted the Eastern Desert and were collected even before the First Dynasty. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, miners worked deposits of emeralds in Wadi Sikait and amethyst in Wadi el-Hudi. [101]

Trade

The ancient Egyptians engaged in trade with their foreign neighbors to obtain rare, exotic goods not found in Egypt. In the Predynastic Period, they established trade with Nubia to obtain gold and incense. They also established trade with Palestine, as evidenced by Palestinian-style oil jugs found in the burials of the First Dynasty pharaohs. [102] An Egyptian colony stationed in southern Canaan dates to slightly before the First Dynasty. [103] Narmer had Egyptian pottery produced in Canaan and exported back to Egypt. [104] [105]

By the Second Dynasty at latest, ancient Egyptian trade with Byblos yielded a critical source of quality timber not found in Egypt. By the Fifth Dynasty, trade with Punt provided gold, aromatic resins, ebony, ivory, and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons. [106] Egypt relied on trade with Anatolia for essential quantities of tin as well as supplementary supplies of copper, both metals being necessary for the manufacture of bronze. The ancient Egyptians prized the blue stone lapis lazuli, which had to be imported from far-away Afghanistan. Egypt's Mediterranean trade partners also included Greece and Crete, which provided, among other goods, supplies of olive oil. [107]

Historical development

The Egyptian language is a northern Afro-Asiatic language closely related to the Berber and Semitic languages. [108] It has the second longest known history of any language (after Sumerian), having been written from c. 3200 BC to the Middle Ages and remaining as a spoken language for longer. The phases of ancient Egyptian are Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian (Classical Egyptian), Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic. [109] Egyptian writings do not show dialect differences before Coptic, but it was probably spoken in regional dialects around Memphis and later Thebes. [110]

Ancient Egyptian was a synthetic language, but it became more analytic later on. Late Egyptian developed prefixal definite and indefinite articles, which replaced the older inflectional suffixes. There was a change from the older verb–subject–object word order to subject–verb–object. [111] The Egyptian hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts were eventually replaced by the more phonetic Coptic alphabet. Coptic is still used in the liturgy of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, and traces of it are found in modern Egyptian Arabic. [112]

Sounds and grammar

Ancient Egyptian has 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asiatic languages. These include pharyngeal and emphatic consonants, voiced and voiceless stops, voiceless fricatives and voiced and voiceless affricates. It has three long and three short vowels, which expanded in Late Egyptian to about nine. [113] The basic word in Egyptian, similar to Semitic and Berber, is a triliteral or biliteral root of consonants and semiconsonants. Suffixes are added to form words. The verb conjugation corresponds to the person. For example, the triconsonantal skeleton S-Ḏ-M is the semantic core of the word 'hear' its basic conjugation is sḏm, 'he hears'. If the subject is a noun, suffixes are not added to the verb: [114] sḏm ḥmt, 'the woman hears'.

Writing

Hieroglyphic writing dates from c. 3000 BC, and is composed of hundreds of symbols. A hieroglyph can represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinative and the same symbol can serve different purposes in different contexts. Hieroglyphs were a formal script, used on stone monuments and in tombs, that could be as detailed as individual works of art. In day-to-day writing, scribes used a cursive form of writing, called hieratic, which was quicker and easier. While formal hieroglyphs may be read in rows or columns in either direction (though typically written from right to left), hieratic was always written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows. A new form of writing, Demotic, became the prevalent writing style, and it is this form of writing—along with formal hieroglyphs—that accompany the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone. [120]

Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet started to be used alongside the Demotic script. Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with the addition of some Demotic signs. [121] Although formal hieroglyphs were used in a ceremonial role until the fourth century, towards the end only a small handful of priests could still read them. As the traditional religious establishments were disbanded, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was mostly lost. Attempts to decipher them date to the Byzantine [122] and Islamic periods in Egypt, [123] but only in the 1820s, after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and years of research by Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion, were hieroglyphs substantially deciphered. [124]

Literature

Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. It was primarily an occupation of the scribes, who worked out of the Per Ankh institution or the House of Life. The latter comprised offices, libraries (called House of Books), laboratories and observatories. [125] Some of the best-known pieces of ancient Egyptian literature, such as the Pyramid and Coffin Texts, were written in Classical Egyptian, which continued to be the language of writing until about 1300 BC. Late Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom onward and is represented in Ramesside administrative documents, love poetry and tales, as well as in Demotic and Coptic texts. During this period, the tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni. The genre known as Sebayt ("instructions") was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles the Ipuwer papyrus, a poem of lamentations describing natural disasters and social upheaval, is a famous example.

The Story of Sinuhe, written in Middle Egyptian, might be the classic of Egyptian literature. [126] Also written at this time was the Westcar Papyrus, a set of stories told to Khufu by his sons relating the marvels performed by priests. [127] The Instruction of Amenemope is considered a masterpiece of Near Eastern literature. [128] Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the vernacular language was more often employed to write popular pieces like the Story of Wenamun and the Instruction of Any. The former tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt. From about 700 BC, narrative stories and instructions, such as the popular Instructions of Onchsheshonqy, as well as personal and business documents were written in the demotic script and phase of Egyptian. Many stories written in demotic during the Greco-Roman period were set in previous historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by great pharaohs such as Ramesses II. [129]

Daily life

Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mudbrick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling grain and a small oven for baking the bread. [130] Ceramics served as household wares for the storage, preparation, transport, and consumption of food, drink, and raw materials. Walls were painted white and could be covered with dyed linen wall hangings. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture. [131]

The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from animal fat and chalk. Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness perfumes and aromatic ointments covered bad odors and soothed skin. [132] Clothing was made from simple linen sheets that were bleached white, and both men and women of the upper classes wore wigs, jewelry, and cosmetics. Children went without clothing until maturity, at about age 12, and at this age males were circumcised and had their heads shaved. Mothers were responsible for taking care of the children, while the father provided the family's income. [133]

Music and dance were popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Early instruments included flutes and harps, while instruments similar to trumpets, oboes, and pipes developed later and became popular. In the New Kingdom, the Egyptians played on bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and imported lutes and lyres from Asia. [134] The sistrum was a rattle-like musical instrument that was especially important in religious ceremonies.

The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of leisure activities, including games and music. Senet, a board game where pieces moved according to random chance, was particularly popular from the earliest times another similar game was mehen, which had a circular gaming board. “Hounds and Jackals” also known as 58 holes is another example of board games played in ancient Egypt. The first complete set of this game was discovered from a Theban tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat IV that dates to the 13th Dynasty. [136] Juggling and ball games were popular with children, and wrestling is also documented in a tomb at Beni Hasan. [137] The wealthy members of ancient Egyptian society enjoyed hunting, fishing, and boating as well.

The excavation of the workers' village of Deir el-Medina has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, which spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organization, social interactions, and working and living conditions of a community have been studied in such detail. [138]

Cuisine

Egyptian cuisine remained remarkably stable over time indeed, the cuisine of modern Egypt retains some striking similarities to the cuisine of the ancients. The staple diet consisted of bread and beer, supplemented with vegetables such as onions and garlic, and fruit such as dates and figs. Wine and meat were enjoyed by all on feast days while the upper classes indulged on a more regular basis. Fish, meat, and fowl could be salted or dried, and could be cooked in stews or roasted on a grill. [139]

Architecture

The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: the Great Pyramids of Giza and the temples at Thebes. Building projects were organized and funded by the state for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to reinforce the wide-ranging power of the pharaoh. The ancient Egyptians were skilled builders using only simple but effective tools and sighting instruments, architects could build large stone structures with great accuracy and precision that is still envied today. [140]

The domestic dwellings of elite and ordinary Egyptians alike were constructed from perishable materials such as mudbricks and wood, and have not survived. Peasants lived in simple homes, while the palaces of the elite and the pharaoh were more elaborate structures. A few surviving New Kingdom palaces, such as those in Malkata and Amarna, show richly decorated walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities and geometric designs. [141] Important structures such as temples and tombs that were intended to last forever were constructed of stone instead of mudbricks. The architectural elements used in the world's first large-scale stone building, Djoser's mortuary complex, include post and lintel supports in the papyrus and lotus motif.

The earliest preserved ancient Egyptian temples, such as those at Giza, consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns. In the New Kingdom, architects added the pylon, the open courtyard, and the enclosed hypostyle hall to the front of the temple's sanctuary, a style that was standard until the Greco-Roman period. [142] The earliest and most popular tomb architecture in the Old Kingdom was the mastaba, a flat-roofed rectangular structure of mudbrick or stone built over an underground burial chamber. The step pyramid of Djoser is a series of stone mastabas stacked on top of each other. Pyramids were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but most later rulers abandoned them in favor of less conspicuous rock-cut tombs. [143] The use of the pyramid form continued in private tomb chapels of the New Kingdom and in the royal pyramids of Nubia. [144]

Model of a household porch and garden, c. 1981–1975 BC

The Temple of Dendur, completed by 10 BC, made of aeolian sandstone, temple proper: height: 6.4 m, width: 6.4 m length: 12.5 m, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

The well preserved Temple of Isis from Philae is an example of Egyptian architecture and architectural sculpture

Illustration of various types of capitals, drawn by the Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius

The ancient Egyptians produced art to serve functional purposes. For over 3500 years, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, following a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change. [145] These artistic standards—simple lines, shapes, and flat areas of color combined with the characteristic flat projection of figures with no indication of spatial depth—created a sense of order and balance within a composition. Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. The Narmer Palette, for example, displays figures that can also be read as hieroglyphs. [146] Because of the rigid rules that governed its highly stylized and symbolic appearance, ancient Egyptian art served its political and religious purposes with precision and clarity. [147]

Ancient Egyptian artisans used stone as a medium for carving statues and fine reliefs, but used wood as a cheap and easily carved substitute. Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores (red and yellow ochres), copper ores (blue and green), soot or charcoal (black), and limestone (white). Paints could be mixed with gum arabic as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed. [148]

Pharaohs used reliefs to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes. Common citizens had access to pieces of funerary art, such as shabti statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in the afterlife. [149] During the Middle Kingdom, wooden or clay models depicting scenes from everyday life became popular additions to the tomb. In an attempt to duplicate the activities of the living in the afterlife, these models show laborers, houses, boats, and even military formations that are scale representations of the ideal ancient Egyptian afterlife. [150]

Despite the homogeneity of ancient Egyptian art, the styles of particular times and places sometimes reflected changing cultural or political attitudes. After the invasion of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period, Minoan-style frescoes were found in Avaris. [151] The most striking example of a politically driven change in artistic forms comes from the Amarna Period, where figures were radically altered to conform to Akhenaten's revolutionary religious ideas. [152] This style, known as Amarna art, was quickly abandoned after Akhenaten's death and replaced by the traditional forms. [153]

Egyptian tomb models as funerary goods. Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Kneeling portrait statue of Amenemhat holding a stele with an inscription c. 1500 BC limestone Egyptian Museum of Berlin (Germany)

Fresco which depicts Nebamun hunting birds 1350 BC paint on plaster 98 × 83 cm British Museum (London)

Portrait head of pharaoh Hatshepsut or Thutmose III 1480–1425 BC most probably granite height: 16.5 cm Egyptian Museum of Berlin

Falcon box with wrapped contents 332–30 BC painted and gilded wood, linen, resin and feathers 58.5 × 24.9 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Religious beliefs

Beliefs in the divine and in the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilization from its inception pharaonic rule was based on the divine right of kings. The Egyptian pantheon was populated by gods who had supernatural powers and were called on for help or protection. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent, and Egyptians believed they had to be appeased with offerings and prayers. The structure of this pantheon changed continually as new deities were promoted in the hierarchy, but priests made no effort to organize the diverse and sometimes conflicting myths and stories into a coherent system. [154] These various conceptions of divinity were not considered contradictory but rather layers in the multiple facets of reality. [155]

Gods were worshiped in cult temples administered by priests acting on the king's behalf. At the center of the temple was the cult statue in a shrine. Temples were not places of public worship or congregation, and only on select feast days and celebrations was a shrine carrying the statue of the god brought out for public worship. Normally, the god's domain was sealed off from the outside world and was only accessible to temple officials. Common citizens could worship private statues in their homes, and amulets offered protection against the forces of chaos. [156] After the New Kingdom, the pharaoh's role as a spiritual intermediary was de-emphasized as religious customs shifted to direct worship of the gods. As a result, priests developed a system of oracles to communicate the will of the gods directly to the people. [157]

The Egyptians believed that every human being was composed of physical and spiritual parts or aspects. In addition to the body, each person had a šwt (shadow), a ba (personality or soul), a ka (life-force), and a name. [158] The heart, rather than the brain, was considered the seat of thoughts and emotions. After death, the spiritual aspects were released from the body and could move at will, but they required the physical remains (or a substitute, such as a statue) as a permanent home. The ultimate goal of the deceased was to rejoin his ka and ba and become one of the "blessed dead", living on as an akh, or "effective one". For this to happen, the deceased had to be judged worthy in a trial, in which the heart was weighed against a "feather of truth." If deemed worthy, the deceased could continue their existence on earth in spiritual form. [159] If they were not deemed worthy, their heart was eaten by Ammit the Devourer and they were erased from the Universe.

Burial customs

The ancient Egyptians maintained an elaborate set of burial customs that they believed were necessary to ensure immortality after death. These customs involved preserving the body by mummification, performing burial ceremonies, and interring with the body goods the deceased would use in the afterlife. [149] Before the Old Kingdom, bodies buried in desert pits were naturally preserved by desiccation. The arid, desert conditions were a boon throughout the history of ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not afford the elaborate burial preparations available to the elite. Wealthier Egyptians began to bury their dead in stone tombs and use artificial mummification, which involved removing the internal organs, wrapping the body in linen, and burying it in a rectangular stone sarcophagus or wooden coffin. Beginning in the Fourth Dynasty, some parts were preserved separately in canopic jars. [160]

By the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had perfected the art of mummification the best technique took 70 days and involved removing the internal organs, removing the brain through the nose, and desiccating the body in a mixture of salts called natron. The body was then wrapped in linen with protective amulets inserted between layers and placed in a decorated anthropoid coffin. Mummies of the Late Period were also placed in painted cartonnage mummy cases. Actual preservation practices declined during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, while greater emphasis was placed on the outer appearance of the mummy, which was decorated. [161]

Wealthy Egyptians were buried with larger quantities of luxury items, but all burials, regardless of social status, included goods for the deceased. Funerary texts were often included in the grave, and, beginning in the New Kingdom, so were shabti statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife. [162] Rituals in which the deceased was magically re-animated accompanied burials. After burial, living relatives were expected to occasionally bring food to the tomb and recite prayers on behalf of the deceased. [163]

The ancient Egyptian military was responsible for defending Egypt against foreign invasion, and for maintaining Egypt's domination in the ancient Near East. The military protected mining expeditions to the Sinai during the Old Kingdom and fought civil wars during the First and Second Intermediate Periods. The military was responsible for maintaining fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found at the city of Buhen on the way to Nubia. Forts also were constructed to serve as military bases, such as the fortress at Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the Levant. In the New Kingdom, a series of pharaohs used the standing Egyptian army to attack and conquer Kush and parts of the Levant. [164]

Typical military equipment included bows and arrows, spears, and round-topped shields made by stretching animal skin over a wooden frame. In the New Kingdom, the military began using chariots that had earlier been introduced by the Hyksos invaders. Weapons and armor continued to improve after the adoption of bronze: shields were now made from solid wood with a bronze buckle, spears were tipped with a bronze point, and the khopesh was adopted from Asiatic soldiers. [165] The pharaoh was usually depicted in art and literature riding at the head of the army it has been suggested that at least a few pharaohs, such as Seqenenre Tao II and his sons, did do so. [166] However, it has also been argued that "kings of this period did not personally act as frontline war leaders, fighting alongside their troops." [167] Soldiers were recruited from the general population, but during, and especially after, the New Kingdom, mercenaries from Nubia, Kush, and Libya were hired to fight for Egypt. [168]

Technology

In technology, medicine, and mathematics, ancient Egypt achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication. Traditional empiricism, as evidenced by the Edwin Smith and Ebers papyri (c. 1600 BC), is first credited to Egypt. The Egyptians created their own alphabet and decimal system.

Faience and glass

Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had developed a glassy material known as faience, which they treated as a type of artificial semi-precious stone. Faience is a non-clay ceramic made of silica, small amounts of lime and soda, and a colorant, typically copper. [169] The material was used to make beads, tiles, figurines, and small wares. Several methods can be used to create faience, but typically production involved application of the powdered materials in the form of a paste over a clay core, which was then fired. By a related technique, the ancient Egyptians produced a pigment known as Egyptian blue, also called blue frit, which is produced by fusing (or sintering) silica, copper, lime, and an alkali such as natron. The product can be ground up and used as a pigment. [170]

The ancient Egyptians could fabricate a wide variety of objects from glass with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently. [171] It is also unclear whether they made their own raw glass or merely imported pre-made ingots, which they melted and finished. However, they did have technical expertise in making objects, as well as adding trace elements to control the color of the finished glass. A range of colors could be produced, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and white, and the glass could be made either transparent or opaque. [172]

Medicine

The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians stemmed directly from their environment. Living and working close to the Nile brought hazards from malaria and debilitating schistosomiasis parasites, which caused liver and intestinal damage. Dangerous wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos were also a common threat. The lifelong labors of farming and building put stress on the spine and joints, and traumatic injuries from construction and warfare all took a significant toll on the body. The grit and sand from stone-ground flour abraded teeth, leaving them susceptible to abscesses (though caries were rare). [173]

The diets of the wealthy were rich in sugars, which promoted periodontal disease. [174] Despite the flattering physiques portrayed on tomb walls, the overweight mummies of many of the upper class show the effects of a life of overindulgence. [175] Adult life expectancy was about 35 for men and 30 for women, but reaching adulthood was difficult as about one-third of the population died in infancy. [c]

Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned in the ancient Near East for their healing skills, and some, such as Imhotep, remained famous long after their deaths. [176] Herodotus remarked that there was a high degree of specialization among Egyptian physicians, with some treating only the head or the stomach, while others were eye-doctors and dentists. [177] Training of physicians took place at the Per Ankh or "House of Life" institution, most notably those headquartered in Per-Bastet during the New Kingdom and at Abydos and Saïs in the Late period. Medical papyri show empirical knowledge of anatomy, injuries, and practical treatments. [178]

Wounds were treated by bandaging with raw meat, white linen, sutures, nets, pads, and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection, [179] while opium, thyme, and belladona were used to relieve pain. The earliest records of burn treatment describe burn dressings that use the milk from mothers of male babies. Prayers were made to the goddess Isis. Moldy bread, honey, and copper salts were also used to prevent infection from dirt in burns. [180] Garlic and onions were used regularly to promote good health and were thought to relieve asthma symptoms. Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set broken bones, and amputated diseased limbs, but they recognized that some injuries were so serious that they could only make the patient comfortable until death occurred. [181]

Maritime technology

Early Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood into a ship hull and had mastered advanced forms of shipbuilding as early as 3000 BC. The Archaeological Institute of America reports that the oldest planked ships known are the Abydos boats. [5] A group of 14 discovered ships in Abydos were constructed of wooden planks "sewn" together. Discovered by Egyptologist David O'Connor of New York University, [182] woven straps were found to have been used to lash the planks together, [5] and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams. [5] Because the ships are all buried together and near a mortuary belonging to Pharaoh Khasekhemwy, originally they were all thought to have belonged to him, but one of the 14 ships dates to 3000 BC, and the associated pottery jars buried with the vessels also suggest earlier dating. The ship dating to 3000 BC was 75 feet (23 m) long and is now thought to perhaps have belonged to an earlier pharaoh, perhaps one as early as Hor-Aha. [182]

Early Egyptians also knew how to assemble planks of wood with treenails to fasten them together, using pitch for caulking the seams. The "Khufu ship", a 43.6-metre (143 ft) vessel sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza in the Fourth Dynasty around 2500 BC, is a full-size surviving example that may have filled the symbolic function of a solar barque. Early Egyptians also knew how to fasten the planks of this ship together with mortise and tenon joints. [5]

Large seagoing ships are known to have been heavily used by the Egyptians in their trade with the city states of the eastern Mediterranean, especially Byblos (on the coast of modern-day Lebanon), and in several expeditions down the Red Sea to the Land of Punt. In fact one of the earliest Egyptian words for a seagoing ship is a "Byblos Ship", which originally defined a class of Egyptian seagoing ships used on the Byblos run however, by the end of the Old Kingdom, the term had come to include large seagoing ships, whatever their destination. [183]

In 2011, archaeologists from Italy, the United States, and Egypt excavating a dried-up lagoon known as Mersa Gawasis have unearthed traces of an ancient harbor that once launched early voyages like Hatshepsut's Punt expedition onto the open ocean. Some of the site's most evocative evidence for the ancient Egyptians' seafaring prowess include large ship timbers and hundreds of feet of ropes, made from papyrus, coiled in huge bundles. [184] In 2013 a team of Franco-Egyptian archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest port, dating back about 4500 years, from the time of King Cheops on the Red Sea coast near Wadi el-Jarf (about 110 miles south of Suez). [185]

In 1977, an ancient north–south canal dating to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt was discovered extending from Lake Timsah to the Ballah Lakes. [186] It was dated to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt by extrapolating dates of ancient sites constructed along its course. [186] [d]

Mathematics

The earliest attested examples of mathematical calculations date to the predynastic Naqada period, and show a fully developed numeral system. [e] The importance of mathematics to an educated Egyptian is suggested by a New Kingdom fictional letter in which the writer proposes a scholarly competition between himself and another scribe regarding everyday calculation tasks such as accounting of land, labor, and grain. [188] Texts such as the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus show that the ancient Egyptians could perform the four basic mathematical operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—use fractions, calculate the areas of rectangles, triangles, and circles and compute the volumes of boxes, columns and pyramids. They understood basic concepts of algebra and geometry, and could solve simple sets of simultaneous equations. [189]

Mathematical notation was decimal, and based on hieroglyphic signs for each power of ten up to one million. Each of these could be written as many times as necessary to add up to the desired number so to write the number eighty or eight hundred, the symbol for ten or one hundred was written eight times respectively. [190] Because their methods of calculation could not handle most fractions with a numerator greater than one, they had to write fractions as the sum of several fractions. For example, they resolved the fraction two-fifths into the sum of one-third + one-fifteenth. Standard tables of values facilitated this. [191] Some common fractions, however, were written with a special glyph—the equivalent of the modern two-thirds is shown on the right. [192]

Ancient Egyptian mathematicians knew the Pythagorean theorem as an empirical formula. They were aware, for example, that a triangle had a right angle opposite the hypotenuse when its sides were in a 3–4–5 ratio. [193] They were able to estimate the area of a circle by subtracting one-ninth from its diameter and squaring the result:

a reasonable approximation of the formula πr 2 . [194]

The golden ratio seems to be reflected in many Egyptian constructions, including the pyramids, but its use may have been an unintended consequence of the ancient Egyptian practice of combining the use of knotted ropes with an intuitive sense of proportion and harmony. [195]

Estimates of the size of the population range from 1-1.5 million in the 3rd millennium BCE to possibly 2-3 million by the 1st millennium BCE, before growing significantly towards the end of that millennium. [196]

A team led by Johannes Krause managed the first reliable sequencing of the genomes of 90 mummified individuals in 2017 from northern Egypt (buried near modern-day Cairo), which constituted "the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods." Whilst not conclusive, because of the non-exhaustive time frame (New Kingdom to Roman period) and restricted location that the mummies represent, their study nevertheless showed that these ancient Egyptians "closely resembled ancient and modern Near Eastern populations, especially those in the Levant, and had almost no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa. What's more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers—including Nubians, Greeks, and Romans—conquered the empire." Later, however, something did alter the genomes of Egyptians. Some 15% to 20% of modern Egyptians' DNA reflects sub-Saharan ancestry, but the ancient mummies had only 6–15% sub-Saharan DNA. [197] They called for additional research to be undertaken. Other genetic studies show much greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry in the current-day populations of southern as opposed to northern Egypt, [198] and anticipate that mummies from southern Egypt would contain greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry than Lower Egyptian mummies.

The culture and monuments of ancient Egypt have left a lasting legacy on the world. Egyptian civilization significantly influenced the Kingdom of Kush and Meroë with both adopting Egyptian religious and architectural norms (hundreds of pyramids (6–30 meters high) were built in Egypt/Sudan), as well as using Egyptian writing as the basis of the Meroitic script. [199] Meroitic is the oldest written language in Africa, other than Egyptian, and was used from the 2nd century BC until the early 5th century AD. [199] : 62–65 The cult of the goddess Isis, for example, became popular in the Roman Empire, as obelisks and other relics were transported back to Rome. [200] The Romans also imported building materials from Egypt to erect Egyptian-style structures. Early historians such as Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus studied and wrote about the land, which Romans came to view as a place of mystery. [201]

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Egyptian pagan culture was in decline after the rise of Christianity and later Islam, but interest in Egyptian antiquity continued in the writings of medieval scholars such as Dhul-Nun al-Misri and al-Maqrizi. [202] In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European travelers and tourists brought back antiquities and wrote stories of their journeys, leading to a wave of Egyptomania across Europe. This renewed interest sent collectors to Egypt, who took, purchased, or were given many important antiquities. [203] Napoleon arranged the first studies in Egyptology when he brought some 150 scientists and artists to study and document Egypt's natural history, which was published in the Description de l'Égypte. [204]

In the 20th century, the Egyptian Government and archaeologists alike recognized the importance of cultural respect and integrity in excavations. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly Supreme Council of Antiquities) now approves and oversees all excavations, which are aimed at finding information rather than treasure. The council also supervises museums and monument reconstruction programs designed to preserve the historical legacy of Egypt.

Frontispiece of Description de l'Égypte, published in 38 volumes between 1809 and 1829.


Archaeologists Find 3,000-Year-Old Ceremonial Room Belonging To Ramses II

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An Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered in a neighborhood east of Cairo a ceremonial room which dates back at least 3,000 years, belonging to Pharaoh Ramses II.

Experts say the ceremonial room is extremely well preserved.

Ramses II was the third pharaoh of the XIX Dynasty of Egypt, and governed about 66 years, from 1279 BC to 1213 BC.

Image Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Ramses II is one of the most famous pharaohs to ever rule over Egypt, mostly thanks to a large number of vestiges that remain of his long reign. He is credited with expanding ancient Egypt’s borders to modern-day Syria and Sudan.

Egyptologist Mamdouh al Damaty explained that within the ceremonial room, the Pharaoh sat on a massive throne, placed in a special position at an elevated location.

The archaeologist said the structure was probably used in celebrations and for public gatherings.

Archaeological excavations, carried out in the Matariya neighborhood, experts also discovered the remains of a brick wall, clay pots and stone tablets with hieroglyphics and inscriptions, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reported.

The discovery has special meaning mostly because the ceremonial room is connected to Ramses II.

Image Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom. His successors and later Egyptians referred to him as the “Great Ancestor”.

Egypt has given the world a lot to talk about in terms of archaeology and history.

The country’s Ministry of Antiquity frequently announces new archaeological discoveries, in hopes that this will spur interest in the country’s ancient treasures, reviving tourism, which was devastated by political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

2018 has been a very productive year for Egyptian archaeology.

Egypt announced the discovery of two underground Sphinx statues. The most recent Sphinx was discovered at the Kom Ombo Temple Near Aswan .

Also, the Egyptian Ministry ofAntiqutys revealed earlier this year they had excavated a 7,000-year-old city, predating both the Pharaohs and Pyramids .

The Ministry of Antiquities explained that the ancient city “offers a unique opportunity to shed light on the prehistoric communities that lived in the Nile Delta before the reign of the first Pharaonic dynasty.”

The settlement is believed to date back to around 5,000 BCE, which means that it effectively predates the construction of the famous pyramids at Giza by at least 2,500 years.

According to Sarah Parcak , an American archaeologist, Egyptologist, and remote sensing expert, less than one percent of Ancient Egypt has been excavated and explored.

I guess that the land of the Pyramids and Pharaohs holds many secrets that archaeologists will eventually explore in the near future as they race against time and a country that is plagued by political turmoil and modern urbanization.


Cleopatra was smarter than she was beautiful

Pretty much every modern and semi-modern depiction of Cleopatra tells us she was stunningly beautiful, which frankly does seem sort of incompatible with the whole generations of incest thing, but maybe it was a fluke. Then in February 2007 a coin was unearthed bearing a portrait of Cleopatra, which appears to confirm that the queen was actually rather ordinary-looking. The fact that ancient historians didn't say much about her looks also suggests she was no Elizabeth Taylor, but the more important point is that it really doesn't matter. Life of Antony, written by Plutarch in 75 A.D., made the following observation about Cleopatra: "Her actual beauty . was not so remarkable that none could be compared with her, or that no one could see her without being struck by it, but the contact of her presence . was irresistible. . The character that attended all she said or did was something bewitching."

According to Ancient Origins, Cleopatra wasn't just a shrewd diplomat, she was also a student of mathematics, medicine, alchemy, economics, history, geography, and pretty much every general education subject you probably detested in college (except maybe alchemy, which they mostly don't teach anymore). She also spoke nine languages, beating anyone who's ever run the White House. (The last multilingual president was Franklin Roosevelt, who was elected in 1932 and spoke French and German.)


Ancient Egyptian Dancing

Not much is known about dancing in ancient Egypt, although there are depictions of dancing during the enthronement of a new king. There do not appear to be any depictions of men and women dancing to music together in ancient Egypt and their form of dance may have had Nubian influences. This type of dance became popular in Rome and parts of the Sudan still dance in this manner today.

It appears that dances in ancient Egypt were similar to modern ballet, meant to be expressive, and some appeared to include gymnastics. On special occasions, female servants or harem members were chosen to dance slow, elegant steps which more than likely alternated with acrobatic movements. Dancing was also part of the religious celebrations of the time.

Click here to learn more about Dancing in Ancient Egypt


Contents

The origins of wine predate written records, and modern archaeology is still uncertain about the details of the first cultivation of wild grapevines. It has been hypothesized that early humans climbed trees to pick berries, liked their sugary flavor, and then began collecting them. After a few days with fermentation setting in, juice at the bottom of any container would begin producing low-alcohol wine. According to this theory, things changed around 10,000–8000 BC with the transition from a nomadic to a sedentism style of living, which led to agriculture and wine domestication. [19]

Wild grapes grow in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the northern Levant, coastal and southeastern Turkey, and northern Iran. The fermenting of strains of this wild Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris (the ancestor of the modern wine grape, V. vinifera) would have become easier following the development of pottery during the later Neolithic, c. 11,000 BC. The earliest discovered evidence, however, dates from several millennia later.

The earliest archaeological evidence of wine fermentation found has been at sites in China ( c. 7000 BC), [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [20] [21] Georgia ( c. 6000 BC), [22] [23] [24] [25] Iran ( c. 5000 BC), [8] [26] Greece ( c. 4500 BC), and Sicily ( c. 4000 BC). [9] The earliest evidence of steady production of wine has been found in Armenia ( c. 4100 BC). [27] [28] [29] [30] The Iranian jars contained a form of retsina, using turpentine pine resin to more effectively seal and preserve the wine and is the earliest firm evidence of wine production to date. [27] [28] [29] [30] Production spread to other sites in Greater Iran and Greek Macedonia by c. 4500 BC. The Greek site is notable for the recovery at the site of the remnants of crushed grapes. [31]

Armenia: Areni-1 winery Edit

The oldest-known winery was discovered in the "Areni-1" cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Dated to c. 4100 BC, the site contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups. [32] [33] [34] [35] Archaeologists also found V. vinifera seeds and vines. Commenting on the importance of the find, McGovern said, "The fact that winemaking was already so well developed in 4000 BC suggests that the technology probably goes back much earlier." [35] [36]

The seeds were from Vitis vinifera, a grape still used to make wine. [30] The cave remains date to about 4000 BC. This is 900 years before the earliest comparable wine remains, found in Egyptian tombs. [37] [38]

The fame of Persian wine has been well known in ancient times. The carvings on the Audience Hall, known as Apadana Palace, in Persepolis, demonstrate soldiers of subjected nations by the Persian Empire bringing gifts to the Persian king.

Domesticated grapes were abundant in the Near East from the beginning of the early Bronze Age, starting in 3200 BC. There is also increasingly abundant evidence for winemaking in Sumer and Egypt in the 3rd millennium BC. [39]

Legends of discovery Edit

There are many etiological myths told about the first cultivation of the grapevine and fermentation of wine.

The Biblical Book of Genesis first mentions the production of wine by Noah following the Great Flood.

Greek mythology placed the childhood of Dionysus and his discovery of viticulture at Mount Nysa but had him teach the practice to the peoples of central Anatolia. Because of this, he was rewarded to become a god of wine.

In Persian legend, King Jamshid banished a lady of his harem, causing her to become despondent and contemplate suicide. Going to the king's warehouse, the woman sought out a jar marked "poison" containing the remnants of the grapes that had spoiled and were now deemed undrinkable. After drinking the fermented wine, she found her spirits lifted. She took her discovery to the king, who became so enamored of his new drink that he not only accepted the woman back but also decreed that all grapes grown in Persepolis would be devoted to winemaking. [40]

Ancient China Edit

According to the latest research scholars stated: "Following the definition of the CNCCEF, China has been viewed as “New New World” in the world wine map, despite the fact that grape growing and wine making in China date back to between 7000BCE and 9000BCE. Winemaking technology and wine culture are rooted in Chinese history and the definition of “New New World” is a misnomer that imparts a Euro centric bias onto wine history and ignores fact." [10] Furthermore, the history of Chinese grape wine has been confirmed and proven to date back 9000 years (7000 BC), [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [20] including "the earliest attested use" of wild grapes in wine as well as "earliest chemically confirmed alcoholic beverage in the world", according to Adjunct Professor of Anthropology Patrick McGovern, the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. [20] Professor McGovern continued: "The Jiahu discovery illustrates how you should never give up hope in finding chemical evidence for a fermented beverage from the Palaeolithic period. Research very often has big surprises in store. You might think, as I did too, that the grape wines of Hajji Firuz, the Caucasus, and eastern Anatolia would prove to be the earliest alcoholic beverages in the world, coming from the so-called "Cradle of Civilization" in the Near East as they do. But then I was invited to go to China on the other side of Asia, and came back with samples that proved to be even earlier–from around 7000 BC." [20] Furthermore, other scholarly research has stated that: "There is also evidence for various types of alcoholic beverage production, including rice and grape wine, beer, and various liquors including baijiu in China, ca. 7000 B.C." [13] Additionally, Professor Hames' research stated: "The earliest wine, or fermented liquor, came from China, predating Middle Eastern alcohol by a few thousand years. Archeologists have found pottery shards showing remnants of rice and grape wine dating back to 7000 BCE in Jiahu village in Henan province." [14]

Archaeologists have discovered production from native "mountain grapes" like V. thunbergii [41] and V. filifolia [42] during the 1st millennium BC. [43] Production of beer had largely disappeared by the time of the Han dynasty, in favor of stronger drinks fermented from millet, rice, and other grains. Although these huangjiu have frequently been translated as "wine", they are typically 20% ABV and considered quite distinct from grape wine ( 葡萄酒 ) within China.

During the 2nd century BC, Zhang Qian's exploration of the Western Regions (modern Xinjiang) reached the Hellenistic successor states of Alexander's empire: Dayuan, Bactria, and the Indo-Greek Kingdom. These had brought viticulture into Central Asia and trade permitted the first wine produced from V. vinifera grapes to be introduced to China. [42] [44] [45]

Wine was imported again when trade with the west was restored under the Tang dynasty, but it remained mostly imperial fare and it was not until the Song that its consumption spread among the gentry. [45] Marco Polo's 14th-century account noted the continuing preference for rice wines continuing in Yuan China. [45]

Ancient Egypt Edit

Wine played an important role in ancient Egyptian ceremonial life. A thriving royal winemaking industry was established in the Nile Delta following the introduction of grape cultivation from the Levant to Egypt c. 3000 BC. The industry was most likely the result of trade between Egypt and Canaan during the early Bronze Age, commencing from at least the 27th-century BC Third Dynasty, the beginning of the Old Kingdom period. Winemaking scenes on tomb walls, and the offering lists that accompanied them, included wine that was definitely produced in the delta vineyards. By the end of the Old Kingdom, five distinct wines, probably all produced in the Delta, constituted a canonical set of provisions for the afterlife.

Wine in ancient Egypt was predominantly red. Due to its resemblance to blood, much superstition surrounded wine-drinking in Egyptian culture. Shedeh, the most precious drink in ancient Egypt, is now known to have been a red wine and not fermented from pomegranates as previously thought. [46] Plutarch's Moralia relates that, prior to Psammetichus I, the pharaohs did not drink wine nor offer it to the gods "thinking it to be the blood of those who had once battled against the gods and from whom, when they had fallen and had become commingled with the earth, they believed vines to have sprung". This was considered to be the reason why drunkenness "drives men out of their senses and crazes them, inasmuch as they are then filled with the blood of their forebears". [47]

Residue from five clay amphoras in Tutankhamun's tomb, however, have been shown to be that of white wine, so it was at least available to the Egyptians through trade if not produced domestically. [48]

Phoenicia Edit

As recipients of winemaking knowledge from areas to the east, the Phoenicians were instrumental in distributing wine, wine grapes, and winemaking technology throughout the Mediterranean region through their extensive trade network. Their use of amphoras for transporting wine was widely adopted and Phoenician-distributed grape varieties were important in the development of the wine industries of Rome and Greece.

The only Carthaginian recipe to survive the Punic Wars was one by Mago for passum, a raisin wine that later became popular in Rome as well.

Ancient Greece Edit

Much of modern wine culture derives from the practices of the ancient Greeks. The vine preceded both the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures. [16] [31] Many of the grapes grown in modern Greece are grown there exclusively and are similar or identical to the varieties grown in ancient times. Indeed, the most popular modern Greek wine, a strongly aromatic white called retsina, is thought to be a carryover from the ancient practice of lining the wine jugs with tree resin, imparting a distinct flavor to the drink.

The "Feast of the Wine" (Me-tu-wo Ne-wo) was a festival in Mycenaean Greece celebrating the "Month of the New Wine". [49] [50] [51] Several ancient sources, such as the Roman Pliny the Elder, describe the ancient Greek method of using partly dehydrated gypsum before fermentation and some type of lime after, in order to reduce the acidity of the wine. The Greek Theophrastus provides the oldest known description of this aspect of Greek winemaking. [52] [53]

In Homeric mythology, wine is usually served in "mixing bowls" rather than consumed in an undiluted state. Dionysus, the Greek god of revelry and wine—frequently referred to in the works of Homer and Aesop—was sometimes given the epithet Acratophorus, "giver of unmixed wine". [54] [55] Homer frequently refers to the "wine-dark sea" ( οἶνωψ πόντος , oīnōps póntos): in lack of a name for the color blue, the Greeks would simply refer to red wine's color.

The earliest reference to a named wine is from the 7th-century BC lyrical poet Alcman, who praises Dénthis, a wine from the western foothills of Mount Taygetus in Messenia, as anthosmías ("flowery-scented"). Chian was credited as the first red wine, although it was known to the Greeks as "black wine". [56] [57] Coan was mixed with sea water and famously salty [58] Pramnian or Lesbian wine was a famous export as well. Aristotle mentions Lemnian wine, which was probably the same as the modern-day Lemnió varietal, a red wine with a bouquet of oregano and thyme. If so, this makes Lemnió the oldest known varietal still in cultivation.

For Greece, alcohol such as wine had not fully developed into the rich ‘cash crop’ that it would eventually become toward the peak of its reign. However, as the emphasis of viticulture increased with economic demand so did the consumption of alcohol during the years to come. The Greeks embraced the production aspect as a way to expand and create economic growth throughout the region. Greek wine was widely known and exported throughout the Mediterranean, as amphoras with Greek styling and art have been found throughout the area. The Greeks may have even been involved in the first appearance of wine in ancient Egypt. [59] They introduced the V. vinifera vine to [60] and made wine in their numerous colonies in modern-day Italy, [61] Sicily, [62] southern France, [63] and Spain. [60]

Ancient Persia Edit

Herodotus, writing about the culture of the ancient Persians (in particular, those of Pontus) writes that they were "very fond" of wine and drank it in large quantities. [64]

Roman Empire Edit

The Roman Empire had an immense impact on the development of viticulture and oenology. Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet and winemaking became a precise business. Virtually all of the major wine-producing regions of Western Europe today were established during the Roman Imperial era. During the Roman Empire, social norms began to shift as the production of alcohol increased. Further evidence suggests that widespread drunkenness and true alcoholism among the Romans began in the first century BC and reached its height in the first century AD. [65] Viniculture expanded so much that by AD c. 92 the emperor Domitian was forced to pass the first wine laws on record, banning the planting of any new vineyards in Italy and uprooting half of the vineyards in the provinces in order to increase the production of the necessary but less profitable grain. (The measure was widely ignored but remained on the books until its 280 repeal by Probus. [66] )

Winemaking technology improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire, though technologies from the Bronze Age continued to be used alongside newer innovations. [67] [15] Vitruvius noted how wine storage rooms were specially built facing north, "since that quarter is never subject to change but is always constant and unshifting", [68] and special smokehouses (fumaria) were developed to speed or mimic aging. Many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were developed. Barrels (invented by the Gauls) and glass bottles (invented by the Syrians) began to compete with terracotta amphoras for storing and shipping wine. The Romans also created a precursor to today's appellation systems, as certain regions gained reputations for their fine wines. The most famous was the white Falernian from the Latian–Campanian border, principally because of its high (

15%) alcohol content. The Romans recognized three appellations: Caucinian Falernian from the highest slopes, Faustian Falernian from the center (named for its one-time owner Faustus Cornelius Sulla, son of the dictator), and generic Falernian from the lower slopes and plain. The esteemed vintages grew in value as they aged, and each region produced different varieties as well: dry, sweet, and light. Other famous wines were the sweet Alban from the Alban Hills and the Caecuban beloved by Horace and extirpated by Nero. Pliny cautioned that such 'first-growth' wines not be smoked in a fumarium like lesser vintages. [69] Pliny and others also named vinum Hadrianum as one of the most rated wines, along with Praetutian from Ancona on the Adriatic, Mamertine from Messina in Sicily, Rhaetic from Verona, and a few others. [70]

Wine, perhaps mixed with herbs and minerals, was assumed to serve medicinal purposes. During Roman times, the upper classes might dissolve pearls in wine for better health. Cleopatra created her own legend by promising Antony she would "drink the value of a province" in one cup of wine, after which she drank an expensive pearl with a cup of the beverage. [53] Pliny relates that, after the ascension of Augustus, Setinum became the imperial wine because it did not cause him indigestion. [71] When the Western Roman Empire fell during the 5th century, Europe entered a period of invasions and social turmoil, with the Roman Catholic Church as the only stable social structure. Through the Church, grape growing and winemaking technology, essential for the Mass, were preserved. [72]

Over the course of the later Empire, wine production gradually shifted to the east as Roman infrastructure and influence in the western regions gradually diminished. Production in Asia Minor, the Aegean and the Near East flourished through Late Antiquity and the Byzantine era. [15]

The oldest surviving bottle still containing liquid wine, the Speyer wine bottle, belonged to a Roman nobleman and it is dated at 325 or 350 AD. [73] [74]

Medieval Middle East Edit

Lebanon is among the oldest sites of wine production in the world. [75] The Israelite Hosea (780–725 BC) is said to have urged his followers to return to Yahweh so that "they will blossom as the vine, [and] their fragrance will be like the wine of Lebanon". [76] The Phoenicians of its coastal strip were instrumental in spreading wine and viticulture throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times.

However, in the Arabian peninsula, wine was traded by Aramaic merchants, as the climate was not well-suited to the growing of vines. Many other types of fermented drinks, however, were produced in the 5th and 6th centuries, including date and honey wines.

The Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries brought many territories under Muslim control. Alcoholic drinks were prohibited by law, but the production of alcohol, wine in particular, seems to have thrived. Wine was a subject for many poets, even under Islamic rule, and many khalifas used to drink alcoholic beverages during their social and private meetings. Egyptian Jews leased vineyards from the Fatimid and Mamluk governments, produced wine for sacramental and medicinal use, and traded wine throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

Christian monasteries in the Levant and Iraq often cultivated grapevines they then distributed their vintages in taverns located on monastery grounds. Zoroastrians in Persia and Central Asia also engaged in the production of wine. Though not much is known about their wine trade, they did become known for their taverns. Wine in general found an industrial use in the medieval Middle East as feedstock after advances in distillation by Muslim alchemists allowed for the production of relatively pure ethanol, which was used in the perfume industry. Wine was also for the first time distilled into brandy during this period.

Medieval Europe Edit

It has been one of history's cruel ironies that the [Christian medieval] blood libel—accusations against Jews using the blood of murdered gentile children for the making of wine and matzot—became the false pretext for numerous pogroms. And due to the danger, those who live in a place where blood libels occur are halachically exempted from using [kosher] red wine, lest it be seized as "evidence" against them.

In the Middle Ages, wine was the common drink of all social classes in the south, where grapes were cultivated. In the north and east, where few if any grapes were grown, beer and ale were the usual beverages of both commoners and nobility. Wine was exported to the northern regions, but because of its relatively high expense was seldom consumed by the lower classes. Since wine was necessary, however, for the celebration of the Catholic Mass, assuring a supply was crucial. The Benedictine monks became one of the largest producers of wine in France and Germany, followed closely by the Cistercians. Other orders, such as the Carthusians, the Templars, and the Carmelites, are also notable both historically and in modern times as wine producers. The Benedictines owned vineyards in Champagne (Dom Perignon was a Benedictine monk), Burgundy, and Bordeaux in France, and in the Rheingau and Franconia in Germany. In 1435 Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, a wealthy member of the Holy Roman high nobility near Frankfurt, was the first to plant Riesling, the most important German grape. The nearby winemaking monks made it into an industry, producing enough wine to ship all over Europe for secular use. In Portugal, a country with one of the oldest wine traditions, the first appellation system in the world was created.

A housewife of the merchant class or a servant in a noble household would have served wine at every meal, and had a selection of reds and whites alike. Home recipes for meads from this period are still in existence, along with recipes for spicing and masking flavors in wines, including the simple act of adding a small amount of honey. As wines were kept in barrels, they were not extensively aged, and thus drunk quite young. To offset the effects of heavy alcohol consumption, wine was frequently watered down at a ratio of four or five parts water to one of wine.

One medieval application of wine was the use of snake-stones (banded agate resembling the figural rings on a snake) dissolved in wine as a remedy for snake bites, which shows an early understanding of the effects of alcohol on the central nervous system in such situations. [53]

Jofroi of Waterford, a 13th-century Dominican, wrote a catalogue of all the known wines and ales of Europe, describing them with great relish and recommending them to academics and counsellors. Rashi, a medieval French rabbi called the "father" of all subsequent commentaries on the Talmud and the Tanakh, [78] earned his living as a vintner.

Spread and development in the Americas Edit

European grape varieties were first brought to what is now Mexico by the first Spanish conquistadors to provide the necessities of the Catholic Holy Eucharist. Planted at Spanish missions, one variety came to be known as the Mission grape and is still planted today in small amounts. Succeeding waves of immigrants imported French, Italian and German grapes, although wine from those native to the Americas (whose flavors can be distinctly different) is also produced. Mexico became the most important wine producer starting in the 16th century, to the extent that its output began to affect Spanish commercial production. In this competitive climate, the Spanish king sent an executive order to halt Mexico's production of wines and the planting of vineyards.

During the devastating phylloxera blight in late 19th-century Europe, it was found that Native American vines were immune to the pest. French-American hybrid grapes were developed and saw some use in Europe, but more important was the practice of grafting European grapevines to American rootstocks to protect vineyards from the insect. The practice continues to this day wherever phylloxera is present.

Today, wine in the Americas is often associated with Argentina, California and Chile all of which produce a wide variety of wines, from inexpensive jug wines to high-quality varietals and proprietary blends. Most of the wine production in the Americas is based on Old World grape varieties, and wine-growing regions there have often "adopted" grapes that have become particularly closely identified with them. California's Zinfandel (from Croatia and Southern Italy), Argentina's Malbec, and Chile's Carmenère (both from France) are well-known examples.

Until the latter half of the 20th century, American wine was generally viewed as inferior to that of Europe. However, with the surprisingly favorable American showing at the Paris Wine tasting of 1976, New World wine began to garner respect in the land of wine's origins.

Developments in Europe Edit

In the late 19th century, the phylloxera louse brought widespread destruction to grapevines, wine production, and those whose livelihoods depended on them far-reaching repercussions included the loss of many indigenous varieties. Lessons learned from the infestation led to the positive transformation of Europe's wine industry. Bad vineyards were uprooted and their land turned to better uses. Some of France's best butter and cheese, for example, is now made from cows that graze on Charentais soil, which was previously covered with vines. Cuvées were also standardized, important in creating certain wines as they are known today Champagne and Bordeaux finally achieved the grape mixes that now define them. In the Balkans, where phylloxera had had little impact, the local varieties survived. However, the uneven transition from Ottoman rule has meant only gradual transformation in many vineyards. It is only in recent times that local varieties have gained recognition beyond "mass-market" wines like retsina.

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa Edit

In the context of wine, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries without a wine tradition are considered New World producers. Wine production began in the Cape Province of what is now South Africa in the 1680s as a business for supplying ships. Australia's First Fleet (1788) brought cuttings of vines from South Africa, although initial plantings failed and the first successful vineyards were established in the early 19th century. Until quite late in the 20th century, the product of these countries was not well known outside their small export markets. For example, Australia exported mainly to the United Kingdom New Zealand retained most of its wine for domestic consumption, and South Africa exported to the Kings of Europe. However, with the increase in mechanization and scientific advances in winemaking, these countries became known for high-quality wine. A notable exception to the foregoing is that the Cape Province was the largest exporter of wine to Europe in the 18th century.


Tutankhamun's tomb could contain two hidden rooms: Secret doors may lead to his mother's burial chamber, claims study

Tutankhamun's tomb may contain two hidden chambers, Egypt's antiquities minister said this week.

Mamdouh Eldamaty said scratching and markings on the northern and western walls are strikingly similar to those found by Howard Carter on the entrance of King Tut’s tomb.

The announcement lends support to a new theory that a queen may be buried in the walls of the 3,300 year-old pharaonic mausoleum.

Scans of the north wall of King Tutankhamun's burial chamber have revealed features beneath the intricately decorated plaster (left) a researcher believes may be a hidden door, possibly to the burial chamber of Nefertiti. He claims faults in the rock (highlighted right) are characteristic of a door being cut and bricked up

THE GHOST DOORS

After analysing high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun's grave complex in the Valley of the Kings, Dr Nicholas Reeves spotted what appeared to be a secret entrance.

He uncovered the 'ghosts' of two portals that tomb builders blocked up, one of which is believed to be a storage room.

The other, on the north side of Tutankhamun's tomb, contains 'the undisturbed burial of the tomb's original owner - Nefertiti', Dr Reeves argued.

El-Damaty was visiting Luxor with British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves.

'This indicates that the western and northern walls of Tutankhamun's tomb could hide two burial chambers,' minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Egyptian state press.

Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the results of the radar scans will be announced on November 4, the same day Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered.

Dr Reeves recently suggested that Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally the tomb of Queen Nefertiti.

He said high-resolution images of what is known as King Tut's tomb 'revealed several very interesting features which look not at all natural.

They feature like very straight lines which are 90 degrees to the ground, positioned so as to correspond with other features within the tomb.'

These features are difficult to capture with the naked eye, he said.

Reeves said the plastered walls could conceal two unexplored doorways, one of which perhaps leads to Nefertiti's tomb.

He also argues that the design of the tomb suggests it was built for a queen, rather than a king.

'I agree with him that there's probably something behind the walls,' el-Damaty said.

Dr Nicholas Reeves claims to have found evidence for the bricked up entrances to two additional chambers to Tutankhamun's tomb. These include the burial chamber for Queen Nefertiti, who Dr Reeves claims was the boy-kings co-regent and may even have been his mother, and new hidden storage room, as shown above

Dr Reeves claims he made the discovery after analysing high-resolution radar scans of the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb complex, which was uncovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings

But he said if anyone is buried there it is likely Kia, believed by some Egyptologists to be King Tut's mother.

Nefertiti, who was famed for her beauty and was the subject of a famous 3,300 year-old bust, was the primary wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who introduced an early form of monotheism.

Akhenaten was succeeded by a pharaoh referred to as Smenkhare and then Tut, who is widely believed to have been Akhenaten's son.

Reeves argues that Smenkhare is actually Nefertiti.

'Nefertiti disappears. according to the latest inscriptions just being found,' said Reeves, explaining his theory inside King Tut's tomb.

'I think that Nefertiti didn't disappear, she simply changed her name.'

After Nefertiti died, Tut was responsible for burying her, and then when he died someone decided to extend the tomb, Reeves suggested.

'I think since Nefertiti had been buried a decade before, they remembered that tomb was there and they thought, well, perhaps we can extend it,' he said.

Dr Reeves describes how he uncovered the 'ghosts' of two portals that tomb builders blocked up (shown in yellow on the right). One, he says, is a storage room, and the other the tomb of Nefertiti (bust pictured left)

Tutankhamun's tomb may contain two hidden chambers, Egypt's antiquities minister said. A policeman takes a selfie at the Amenhotep II tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt

WERE KING TUTANKHAMUN'S PARENTS ALSO COUSINS?

The complex family arrangements of Tutankhamun has been one of the great mysteries surrounding the young king.

While his father was known to have been Pharaoh Akhenaten, the identity of his mother has been far more elusive.

DNA testing has shown that Queen Tiye, whose mummy is pictured above, was the grandmother of the Egyptian Boy King Tutankhamun

In 2010 DNA testing confirmed a mummy found in the tomb of Amenhotep II was Queen Tiye, the chief wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Pharaoh Akhenanten, and Tutankhamun's grandmother.

A third mummy, thought to be one of Pharaoh Akhenaten wives, was found to be a likely candidate as Tutankhamun's mother, but DNA evidence showed it was Akhenaten's sister.

Later analysis in 2013 suggested Nefertiti, Akhenaten's chief wife, was Tutankhamun's mother.

However, the work by Marc Gabolde, a French archaeologist, has suggested Nefertiti was also Akhenaten's cousin.

This incestuous parentage may also help to explain some of the malformations that scientists have discovered afflicted Tutankhamun.

He suffered a deformed foot, a slightly cleft palate and mild curvature of the spine.

However, his claims have been disputed by other Egyptologists, including Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

His team's research suggests that Tut's mother was, like Akhenaten, the daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

Hawass added that there is 'no evidence' in archaeology or philology to indicate that Nefertiti was the daughter of Amenhotep III.

Any discovery would provide more information about this turbulent time in ancient Egypt.

'Akhenaten's family is full of secrets and historical issues that have yet to be resolved,' el-Damaty said.

Last week, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry granted preliminary approval for the use of a non-invasive radar to prove the theory.

A security clearance for the radar's use will probably be obtained within a month allowing the scans to go ahead, said Mouchira Moussa, media consultant to Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty.

'It's not going to cause any damage to the monument,' Moussa said.

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tut's tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings in 1922 - intact and packed with antiquities including Tut's world-famous golden mask.

In his paper, Reeves claims high-resolution images of King Tut's tomb include lines underneath plastered surfaces of painted walls, showing there could be two unexplored doorways, one of which could potentially lead to Nefertiti's tomb.

The Japanese radar, which will be operated by an expert who will accompany the equipment from Japan for the inspection once the final approval is granted, will look beyond the walls that Reeves says may be leading into the suspected tomb and the other chamber, Moussa said.

'If it is Nefertiti's, this would be very massive.'

Dr Nicholas Reeves, an English archaeologist at the University of Arizona, last month shocked the world after analysing high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun's grave.

He described how he uncovered the 'ghosts' of two portals that tomb builders blocked up, one of which is believed to be a storage room.

The tomb of King Tut is displayed in a glass case at the Valley of the Kings in Luxo. British Egyptologist's theory that a queen may be buried in the walls of the 3,300 year-old pharaonic mausoleum

Pictured is the the decorated north wall of Tutankhamen's burial chamber, behind which Dr Reeves believes is another, more lavish burial chamber belonging to Nefertiti

Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist affiliated with the Egyptian expedition at the University of Arizona, left, arrives at the Horemheb tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt

In 2010 geneticists used DNA tests to examine the parentage of Tutankhamun and suggested it might be the mummy above, known as the Younger Lady, who was the boy-king's mother. Other experts have claimed, however, that Nefertiti was a cousin of King Tut's father and may have been the boy's mother

The other, on the north side of Tutankhamun's tomb, contains 'the undisturbed burial of the tomb's original owner - Nefertiti', Dr Reeves argued.

If Dr Reeves is correct, the hidden tomb could be far more magnificent than anything found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

He believes it is her tomb due to its position positioned to the right of the entrance shaft, which is far more typical of Egyptian queens rather than kings.

The small size of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, given his standing in the Egyptian history, has baffled experts for years and Dr Reeves' theory could suggest that it was built as an addition to an existing tomb - his mother's.

Egyptian laborers work at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. If Dr Reeves is correct, the hidden tomb could be far more magnificent than anything found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber

A HISTORY OF QUEEN NEFERTITI AND WHY HASN'T HER TOMB BEEN FOUND?

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti - or Queen Nefertiti - was the wife and 'chief consort' of King Akhenaten, an Eyptian Pharoah during 14th century BC, one of the wealthiest era in Ancient Egypt (bust pictured)

She was the most beautiful queen ancient Egypt ever laid eyes on. She was the stepmother, and perhaps even the mother, of Tutankhamun, the boy-pharaoh of Egypt.

Still, today, the 3,300-year-old sculpture of her face, in the Neues Museum in Berlin, has the power to bewitch, with her almond eyes, high cheekbones and chiselled jaw.

Even her name, Nefertiti, is enchanting. Her full name, Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, means 'Beautiful are the Beauties of Aten, the Beautiful One has come'. Her power and charms in 14th-century BC Egypt were so great that she collected a hatful of nicknames, too – from Lady Of All Women, to Great Of Praises, to Sweet Of Love.

Despite her epic beauty, she remained a model of fidelity to her husband, the Pharaoh Akhenaten. The same could not be said of Akhenaten, who had his wicked way with a series of royal escorts, including, some say, his own daughters.

Nefertiti was Egypt's most influential, and most beautiful, queen, who ruled at the height of the country's power, in the years of the late 18th Dynasty.

Yes, Cleopatra is more famous, but she ruled Egypt in its declining years, in the first century BC. After her death, Egypt became just another province of the Roman Empire.

Nefertiti lived during the richest period in ancient Egypt's history – from around 1370BC to 1330BC, a time when Greece, let alone Rome, was centuries away from the peaks of its magnificent civilisation. As well as marrying a pharaoh, she was probably born the daughter of another pharaoh, as well as possibly ruling alongside Tutankhamun.

There is even a suggestion that she ruled Egypt alone after her husband's death. So from cradle to grave she ruled the roost. Thus her other nicknames: Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Lady of The Two Lands.

Nefertiti and Akhenaten had six daughters, although it is thought that Tutankhamun was not her son. DNA analysis has indicated that Akhenaten fathered Tutankhamun with one of his own sisters – the first indication of his penchant for regal incest.

He is thought to have fathered another pharaoh with yet another wife, who is named in various inscriptions. The list of consorts didn't end there. Among his other conquests are two noblewomen.

On top of that, it is even suggested that he slept with one of his six daughters. The jury is out on that one, although he probably did install one of them in the ceremonial – if not necessarily sexual – role of Great Royal Wife.

Despite all her husband's rumoured lovers, Nefertiti's name lives on as his loveliest, and most important, wife. Again and again, her beauty and power were depicted in temple images. Sometimes – like Prince Philip with the Queen – she is shown walking behind her husband. But she's also often shown on her own, in positions of pharaoh-like power.

In one limestone sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, she is seen hitting a female enemy over the head on her royal barge.

She is power and beauty combined – Margaret Thatcher meets Princess Diana. In another sculpture, now in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, her slim, lissom body is depicted in all its glory, leaving little to the imagination. Still, today, the bright red of her lips and the kohl-black edges of those almond eyes smoulder across the passage of a hundred generations.

Together, Akhenaten and Nefertiti blazed a trail across Egypt, building spectacular temples. In Karnak, the pharaoh erected one temple, the Mansion of the Benben, to his beloved, stunning wife.

But it wasn't enough just to build temples. The royal couple's devotion to the god Aten – representing the disc of the sun – was so great that they created a whole new capital in his honour at Amarna, a city on the banks of the Nile.

They built the new city from scratch, putting up two temples to Aten and a pair of royal palaces. It was like the Queen and Prince Philip deciding to up sticks from Windsor Castle tomorrow and building a new royal palace in the middle of Cumbria.

Here, too, in Amarna, images of the lovely Nefertiti abound, sporting her distinctive, tall crown. She and her pharaoh are also shown receiving great piles of jewels and gold from their subject people.

They ruled over a civilisation of astonishing sophistication. Among the discoveries are the Amarna Letters, more than 350 tablets excavated in the late 19th century, with 99 of them now in the British Museum. They tell the tale of a great nation with a highly developed diplomatic service. There are also rare chunks of poetry, parables and similes in the Amarna Letters. One striking line reads: 'For the lack of a cultivator, my field is like a woman without a husband.'

Nefertiti is thought to have lost her own cultivator – her husband –around 1336BC it is then she may have reigned over Egypt alone.

Her own death is shrouded in mystery. She is reckoned to have died about six years after her husband, possibly from the plague that struck Egypt at that time.

In 1331BC, Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun and moved the Egyptian capital to Thebes, where he died in 1323BC.

Today, Thebes is Luxor, home to the Valley of the Kings, burial place of Tutankhamun and, just possibly, Queen Nefertiti. So did she go back to Thebes with him – or did he take her body there? Or was she buried in the old capital of Amarna, where that marvellous bust of her was discovered in 1912?

For 3,300 years, the answer has been lost beneath the swirling sands of Egypt. If Dr Reeves is allowed to look behind the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb, we might uncover the fate of the most beautiful, betrayed wife in ancient history.

Tutankhamun's burial chamber is the same size as an antechamber, rather than a tomb fit for an Egyptian King, for example.

Dr Reeve said the richness of the furnishings crammed into Tutankhamun's four small chambers as 'overwhelming'.

This image shows a computer reconstruction created using the skull of a mummy found in an earlier tomb. It bears a resemblance to Nefertiti

The majority of Egyptologists have taken this at face value, he said many of the objects there appear to have been taken from predecessor kings and adapted for the boy-king's use.

The opening of what is believed to have been Nefertiti's tomb is decorated with religious scenes, perhaps in a ritual to provide protection to the chamber behind it, he said.

'Only one female royal of the late 18th Dynasty is known to have received such honours, and that is Nefertiti', Dr Reeves writes.

If Dr Reeves' theory is correct, it may resolve a number of oddities about Tutankhamun's burial chamber that have long baffled researchers.

For instance, the treasures found within seem to have been placed there in a rush, and are largely second-hand.

'The implications are extraordinary,' he wrote.

'If digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era store room to the west [but] that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of Pharaoh Akhenaten.'

Joyce Tyldesley, senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Manchester, told The Times that Dr Reeves's hypothesis may prove correct.


Pyramid of the Sun

The most famous single pyramid in Latin America is the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, Mexico. The Teotihuacán was one of the most dominant societies in Mesoamerica their namesake capital, located northeast of today’s Mexico City, had a population of 100,000 to 200,000 during the fifth and sixth centuries. According to Aztec tradition, the sun and the moon, as well as the rest of the universe, traced their origins to Teotihuacán. More temples have been discovered there than in any other Mesoamerican city.

The Teotihuacán built the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon between A.D. 1 and 250. Like many Mesoamerican pyramids, each was constructed around a core of rubble held in place by retaining walls. The walls were then faced with adobe bricks, and then covered with limestone. The base of the Pyramid of the Sun measures 730 feet per side, with five stepped terraces reaching a height of some 200 feet. Its massive size rivals that of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza. Within the current pyramid is another, earlier pyramid structure of almost the same size. In 1971, archaeologists discovered a cave underneath the Pyramid of the Sun, leading to a chamber in the shape of a four-leaf clover. Artifacts found in the cave indicated the room’s use as a shrine, long before the pyramid itself was built.

The Pyramid of the Moon, though similar, was built on a smaller scale it sits at the north end of the city’s main axis, called the Avenue of the Dead. Teotihuacán also contains a smaller stepped, stone-covered temple-pyramid called the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (an early form of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl). It was dedicated around A.D. 200, and evidence has been found of some 200 individuals who were sacrificed in the ceremony to honor it. Teotihuacán declined between the seventh and 10th centuries and was eventually abandoned.


Watch the video: PBS National Geographic Rise of the Black Pharaohs 720p HDTV x264 AAC MVGroup org (January 2022).