Archaeologists find 4,500-year-old statue of little known Egyptian king

Archaeologists find 4,500-year-old statue of little known Egyptian king

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A broken statue with the name of King Sahure, a pharaoh who ruled nearly 4,500 years ago, has been excavated in Egypt by Belgian archaeologists. Little is known of King Sahure, who reigned during the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty.

The find is “of great significance and importance,” said the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities , particularly as there are only two other intact statues that exist of Sahure. The team of Belgian archaeologists intend to continue excavating in the area with the aim of finding other artifacts pertaining to Sahure.

The other two known statues of Sahure still intact are on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

King Sahure’s name was engraved on the bottom part of a broken statue unearthed by Belgian archaeologists. (Photo by Egyptian Antiquities Ministry)

Gneiss statue of Sahure and a nome god in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (Photo by Keith Schengili-Roberts / Wikimedia Commons )

The Ministry of Antiquities said it believes the base, which measures 21cm (8.3 inches) is the bottom half of a larger statue of King Sahure seated on a throne, which probably measured around 70cm (27.6 inch) in height.

The statue was excavated in Egypt’s governate of Aswan, about 580 km (360 miles) south of Cairo. Aswan is the ancient city of Swenett, which in antiquity was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt facing the south.

Sahure’s name means ‘He who is close to Re’. Re, also spelt Ra, was considered to be the god of the sun and a creator god. He ruled for 12 years and was the second king of the Fifth Dynasty. Egyptologists believe he was the first son of Queen Khentkaues. Another of her sons is also believed to have ruled Egypt.

Sahure had the first pyramid complex at Abusir. Many reliefs at the complex are well-done, says Tour Egypt , but it marks the decline in size and quality of pyramids. He also is thought to have built a sun temple but the location of it is not known.

Most foreign relations during the reign of Sahure were economic, rather than combative. In one scene, we find great ships with Egyptians and Asiatics on board. They are returning, we believe, from the port of Byblos in Lebanon with huge cedar trees. For this, we have collaborating evidence in the form of his name on a piece of thin, gold stamped to a chair, as well as other evidence of 5th Dynasty king's cartouches found in Lebanon on stone vessels. Other scenes in his temple depict what we are told are Syrian bears. We also have the first documented expedition to the land of Punt, which apparently yielded a quantity of myrrh, along with malachite and electrum, and because of this, Sahure is often credited with establishing an Egyptian navy. There is also scenes of a raid into Libya which yielded various livestock and showed the king smiting the local chieftains. The Palermo Stone also collaborates some of these events.—Tour Egypt.

Earlier in April 2015, German and Egyptian archaeologists excavating an ancient mud brick temple site in Cairo unearthed part of a chapel used by a pharaoh who came much later than Sahure. Pharaoh Nectanbebo 1 of the 30 th Dynasty of 380 to 340 BC built the chapel in the capital of Heliopolis. The praying area in the temple “consists of carved basalt blocks in addition to a part of a royal statue carrying a cartouche of King Merineptah,” said the Antiquities Ministry. The cartouche shows a song of King Rameses II making an offering to a god. The temple finding is rare in the vicinity of Cairo because stone building materials from ancient structures were used in later projects, in 12 th century AD in Islamic Cairo.

Featured Image: The ruins of Sahure’s pyramid ( Photo by John Bodsworth /Wikimedia Commons)

By Mark Miller

    5 Most Mysteriously Cursed Archaeological Discoveries Ever Made

    These ancient artifacts are said to bring bad luck, dire illness and even death.

    T he recent destruction of ancient monuments and relics at the hands of religious radicals has reinvigorated support for the controversial practice of removing historical artifacts from their native lands to be guarded and showcased in faraway museums. But no matter the motive, disturbing buried and forgotten remnants of long-gone humanity will always be tainted with dread and discomfort. This is due to the so-called curses that are said to affect numerous archaeological discoveries throughout recent history.

    Of the many historical artifacts and remains claimed to be under the spell of a curse, the most ancient and interesting are cataloged below.

    1. Tomb of King Tut

    There is no more famous case of an allegedly cursed archeological discovery than that of Howard Carter’s 1922 unearthing of the 3200-year-old tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, popularly known as King Tut. Though stories of Tut’s curse affecting individuals associated with the tomb’s discovery are tenuous at best, they are grounded in the widespread belief in a “Curse of the Pharaohs” said to affect every ancient Egyptian burial site. Several curses written in hieroglyphs have been documented at the sites of Old Kingdom tombs, but a “mummy’s curse” didn’t enter popular culture until the 19th-century.

    Most scholars credit an early 19th-century female novelist named Jane C. Loudon as being the source of this modern association between Egyptian tombs and curses. Loudon’s 1827 book entitled The Mummy! Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century is an early example of speculative science fiction inspired in part by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein published a decade earlier.

    Related: 5 of the World’s Most Cursed and Haunted Objects

    2. Maori Warrior Masks

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    The Maori people are the native sons and daughters of New Zealand. Starting in the late-18th century the colonizing British Empire seized numerous artifacts and objects of great cultural significance to the Maori for display in museums.

    Among these artifacts are a collection of warrior masks which Maori culture dictates should not be seen, approached, or touched by pregnant women or those menstruating for fear of misfortune. The belief in this curse is so strong that museums actively advertise this warning when putting the masks on display , an act which proves controversial on its own.

    Related: 21 People Share Their Scariest Encounters with the Supernatural

    3. Karun Treasure

    Also known as both the Croesus Treasure and Lydian Hoard, the Karun Treasure is no stranger to controversy. The 363-piece collection dated to the Iron Age was returned to its native Turkey after a lengthy legal battle with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2006 it was discovered many of the pieces on display were in fact fakes and an international hunt for the original pieces was launched for the next six years.

    All the while stories of the collection being affected by a curse continued to come out of the artifacts’ native Usak region of Turkey. It’s alleged that the men who originally looted the treasure and illegally sold it abroad were all affected by great misfortune, including the mysterious deaths of three sons of one, and the violent murder of another.

    4. Goddess of Death

    This alleged curse surrounds a five-thousand-year-old limestone statue unearthed in the Cyprus village of Lempa in the mid-19th century. Currently, in the collection of the Cyprus Ministry of the Interior, the “ Women from Lemb ” figurine is believed to represent a fertility goddess lost to ancient history.

    According to a legend repeated numerous times across the Internet (but not anywhere else) the string of original owners of the unearthed figurine all met tragic and oftentimes violent ends. The mark of death placed upon those who possess the statue is said to affect family members as well, making this an especially lethal curse if true.

    Related: Haunted Hollywood: The 10 Most Cursed Movies of all Time

    5. Otzi the Iceman

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    The oldest natural mummy ever discovered in Europe, Otzi “the Iceman” lived approximately 5,300 years ago in what is now present-day northern Italy. Exact details surrounding his death remain unclear but one thing is for certain, Otzi died from a blow to the back of the head.

    The “C urse of Otzi ” is said to have affected many of the individuals directly involved with his discovery and removal. The first so-called victim was the forensic pathologist who picked Otzi up with his bare hands to place the remains in a bag for transport. He later died in a car crash en route to present new findings related to the discovery. The mountaineer who guided this pathologist was himself caught in a fatal avalanche several months later. One of the two hikers to have initially spotted the mummy was found dead from an apparent fall during a later hike in the Alps. His body was discovered frozen face-down, just like Otzi. The list goes on, but statistically speaking it’s a minute amount of the total number of people who worked on or around Otzi over the years.

    This article was first published on The Ghost Diaries

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    3,500-year-old ‘lost city’ unearthed in Egypt

    A massive 3,500-year-old settlement founded by Tutankhamun’s grandfather has been unearthed in the most significant discovery since the boy king’s tomb.

    The ancient pharaonic city, known as Aten, was constructed by King Amenhotep III, who ruled around 1390 BC, and was later used by King Tutankhamun.

    The settlement, discovered in Luxor, is the largest ancient city to be discovered in Egypt, and is complete with neighborhoods, streets and a security system.

    Excavations uncovered bakeries, workshops and burials of animals and humans, along with jewelry, pots and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep III.

    The team initially set out to discover Tutankhamun’s Mortuary Temple, where the young king was mummified and received status rites, but they stumbled upon something far greater.

    Within just weeks of digging, they uncovered mud brick formations in every direction, Egyptian mission director Zahi Hawass said in a statement. ‘Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it,’ Hawass continued.

    Archaeologists unearthed the well-preserved city that had nearly complete walls and rooms filled with tools used in daily life along with rings, scarabs, colored pottery vessels and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep’s cartouche, Luxor Times shared on Facebook.

    The city’s streets are flanked by houses … some of their walls are up to three meters high,’ Hawass said.

    Luxor is famously known for its oldest and most ancient Egyptian sites, along with being home to the Valley of Kings.

    This area was once called the ‘Great Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaoh,’ as a number of mummies and massive structures have been discovered in Luxor since the 1800s.

    Betsy Brian, Professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University in Baltimore USA, said ‘The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun’.

    The discovery of the Lost City, not only will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the Ancient Egyptians at the time where the Empire was at his wealthiest but will help us shed light on one of history’s greatest mystery: why did Akhenaten & Nefertiti decide to move to Amarna.’

    The city sits between Rameses III’s temple at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III’s temple at Memnon.

    Excavations began September in 2020 and within weeks, archaeologists uncovered formations made of mud bricks.

    After more digging, archaeologists unearthed the site of the large, well-preserved city with almost complete walls, and rooms filled with tools once used by the city’s inhabitants.

    The first goal of the mission was to date the settlement, which was done using hieroglyphic inscriptions found on clay caps of wine vessels. ‘Historical references tell us the settlement consisted of three royal palaces of King Amenhotep III, as well as the Empire’s administrative and industrial center,’ archaeologists shared in a statement.

    They unearthed the well-preserved city that had almost complete walls and rooms filled with tools of daily life along with rings, scarabs, colored pottery vessels and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep’s cartouche.

    Most of the sandy landscape was cleared from the area in just seven months, which showed neighborhoods with different facilities.

    There was a bakery in the southern part of the city, with a kitchen complete with ovens and storage pottery.

    From its size, we can state the kitchen was catering a very large number of workers and employees,’ archaeologists explained.

    The team is still working on a second part of Aten and although partially covered, they believe it is the administrative and residential district, with larger and well-arranged units.

    This area is surrounded by a zigzag wall and has only a single access point that leads to internal corridors and residential areas.

    The single entrance makes us think it was some sort of security, with the ability to control entry and exit to enclosed areas, researchers shared.

    Zigzag walls are one of the rare architectural elements in ancient Egyptian architecture, mainly used towards the end of the 18th Dynasty.

    The third area appears to be workshops were located that constructed the mud bricks used to build the massive city.

    A number of bricks still litter the landscape that bear seals of King Amenhotep III and others with inscriptions that can be read: ‘gm pa Aton’ that can be translated as ‘The domain of the dazzling Aten’, this is the name of a temple built by King Akhenaten at Karnak, who was King Tutankhamun’s father.

    In this part of the site, experts also uncovered large casting molds for making amulets and delicate, decorative objects.

    This is further evidence of the extensive activity in the city to produce decorations for both temples and tombs,’ archaeologists said. ‘All over the excavated areas, the mission has found many tools used in some sort of industrial activity like spinning and weaving.”

    Metal and glass-making slag has also been unearthed, but the main area of such activity has yet to be discovered.’

    Along with structural elements, there are also burials found inside the city’s walls.

    Two animal burials were unearthed of either a cow or bull, along with remains of a person found with their arms stretched to the side and tattered rope wrapped around their knees.

    As history goes, one year after this pot was made, the city was abandoned and the capital relocated to Amarna. But was it? And why? And was the city repopulated again when Tutankhamun returned to Thebes,‘ said the team in a statement. ‘Only further excavations of the area will reveal what truly happened 3500 years ago. To the north of the settlement a large cemetery was uncovered, the extent of which has yet to be determined.

    Tutankhamun’s successor, King Ay, built his temple on a site which was later adjoined on its southern side by Rameses III’s temple at Medinet Habu.

    Egyptologists believe Ay’s temple may formerly have belonged to Tutankhamun as two colossal statues of the young king were found there. The northern part of the temple is still under the sands.

    Amenhotep III inherited an empire that stretched from the Euphrates to Sudan, archaeologists say, and died around 1354 BC.

    He ruled for nearly four decades, a reign known for its opulence and the grandeur of its monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon — two massive stone statues near Luxor that represent him and his wife.

    The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,’ the team’s statement said.

    Bryan said the city ‘will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the Ancient Egyptians at the time where the Empire was at his wealthiest‘.

    The team said they were optimistic that further important finds would be revealed, noting they had discovered groups of tombs reached through ‘stairs carved into the rock’, a similar construction to those found in the Valley of the Kings.

    The mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures,’ the statement added.

    25 Most Shocking Archaeological Discoveries In History

    From ancient computers to massive underground armies, gruesome corpses to undecipherable manuscripts, these 25 archaeological discoveries will make you wonder how complex, bizarre and to some extent horrifying our past used to be.

    Nevertheless, our history, through these discoveries, is also truly amazing.

    1. Ancient Chemical Warfare

    Archaeologist Robert du Mesnil du Buisson came across some tunnel warfare that had been dug under the city as he was searching beneath the ruins of an ancient Roman/Persian battlefield in 1933. In the tunnels, he found the bodies of 19 Roman soldiers who seemingly died trying to escape desperately from something and a body of a Persian soldier clutching his chest. Apparently, when the Romans heard the Persians digging their walls, they started to dig a tunnel of their own with the idea of dropping in on the Persians from above. The problem was that the Persians heard it and set a trap. As soon as the Roman soldiers dropped through they were met with burning sulfur and bitumen.

    It’s been known for years that the Aztecs hosted numerous bloody sacrificial festivals. But in 2004, a grisly discovery made outside of modern day Mexico City shed some light on just how horrific the rituals could get. That’s when they found a number of decapitated and mutilated bodies of both humans and animals.

    A couple of years ago, several archaeologists were searching through sewers beneath a Roman/Byzantine bathhouse in Israel when they came across something terrifying – baby bones, lots of baby bones. For reason(s) still unknown, someone in the bathhouse above apparently felt compelled to dispose hundreds of babies in the sewer below.

    Also known as the stone spheres of Costa Rica, Diquis Spheres are believed to be carved around the turn of the millennium. Several speculations surround the spheres and what they may have been used for. But until now no one is completely sure what the strange spheres are designed for.

    The Rosetta Stone has been one of archaeology’s greatest discoveries to date. Discovered in 1799 by a French soldier sifting through the Egyptian sand, the stone serves as the primary source for modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. It’s actually the fragment of a larger stone which contained a decree issued by King Ptolemy V around 200 BC . The decree is inscribed in 3 languages – Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek.

    The vast Terracotta army was discovered buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Apparently, the intention was for the soldiers to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

    Leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) may not be contagious but its victims suffer extreme disfigurement, pushing them to live on the fringes of society. This skeleton, often cited as the first leper, was found buried just outside the city limits.

    It’s not entirely uncommon for mummified bodies to be discovered in bogs. But one, now known as the Grauballe Man, somehow stood out from the rest. Not only is his body amazingly preserved with his hair and fingernails still intact, it is also possible to reconstruct his demise from the information found around and on his body. Judging from a large wound wrapping around his neck from ear to ear, a plausible conclusion was that he was sacrificed, probably in an attempt to turn a better harvest.

    9. The Screaming Mummies

    Every once in a while archaeologists would discover mummies that seem to have truly been screaming at their death, most probably due to some sort of ritual torture. The one shown here is “Unknown Man E” who was found in 1886 by Gaston Masparo. Unlike modern burials, the Egyptians didn’t take into account the fact that if you don’t strap the chin to the skull, it will fall open in a permanent, terrifying scream.

    10. The Venetian Vampire

    These days, a stake to the heart might be the most surefire method to “slay a vampire”, but hundreds of years ago, that was not considered sufficient. Their solution? Brick through the mouth. Think about it, cramming a vampire’s face full of cement would keep him from sucking blood, right? The skull you’re looking at here was found by archaeologists in a mass grave just outside Venice.

    Since its discovery at the turn of the 20th century, the series of low stone walls in the Negev desert has puzzled scientists for years. In some places. the stones were nicknamed “kites” due to their appearance from the air. Recently, it was determined that the walls were actually used by hunters to funnel large animals into pens or off of cliffs where they could easily be slaughtered.

    The Acambaro figures were hundreds of little figures that resemble both humans and dinosaurs. For a while, their discovery led some people to believe that the anceints were better archaeologists than previously thought. Athough most of the scientific community has recently agreed that the Acambaro figures were part of an elaborate hoax, their discovery did create a bit of a stir.

    In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trenches in a field he bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık. In 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. What they found has been generally agreed upon to be the ancient city of Troy, a city well-known to history, legend, and archaeology.

    14. Antikythera Mechanism

    The Antikythera Mechanism is a 2000 year old device that was discovered in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera around the turn of the 20th century. Since then, the device has often been touted as the world’s first scientific calculator. It is equipped with gears that can precisely measure the position of the moon, sun, and planets simply by inputting a date.

    During the mid 1930’s, several plain-looking jars were discovered near Baghdad, Iraq. No one really paid attention to them until a German museum curator published a paper claiming that the jars may have been used as galvanic cells, or batteries. It may have been a far-fetched conclusion at first but even the Mythbusters got on board and confirmed the idea was a good possibility.

    Much like the Rosetta Stone, the Dead Sea Scrolls are also among the major archaeological finds of the last century. The scrolls contain the earliest known surviving copies of biblical documents dating all the way back to 150 BC.

    The Gobekli Tepe is an ancient settlement that was discovered in 1994. Although at first glance it may seem like nothing more than a bunch of rocks, it is actually one of the oldest examples of complex/monumental architecture in the world. Gobekli Tepe was constructed 9,000 years ago, predating the pyramids by thousands of years.

    18. Headless Vikings of Dorset

    While workers was digging a railroad in Dorset, they came across a small contingent of headless viking warriors buried in the ground. Archaeologists initially thought that maybe some villagers had survived a raid and exacted their revenge. However, upon closer inspection, things got a little less clear. The beheading looked too clean and seemed to have been done from the front rather than the back. Until now, they are still not sure what happened.

    In 1986, an expedition was digging deeper into the cave system of Mount Owen in New Zealand when it came across a huge claw. It was surprisingly well preserved that it almost seemed like whatever specie it belonged to had just died recently. Upon closer inspection, it was determined that the claw belonged to an Upland Moa, a huge prehestoric bird that apparently came with a nasty set of claws.

    The Nazca Lines in Nazca Desert in southern Peru was discovered in the early 1900’s. The series of ancient geoglyphs can only be seen entirely from above. Numerous explanations ranging from UFO’s to technically advanced ancient civilization surround its discovery. However, the most probable explanation is that the Nazca people were excellent surveyors. But the nagging question as to why they would construct such enormous geoglyphs remains unanswered to this day.

    Piri Reis Map dates to the early 1500’s. It shows the coastlines of Africa, Europe, and South America with unbelievable precision. The map was constructed by general and cartographer Piri Reis, hence the name.

    Thousands of miles off of the Chilean coast in the South Pacific, Rapa Nui, popularly known as Easter Island, is considered to be one of the most isolated places in the world. The most baffling thing about the island are the enormous stone heads that has intrigued humanity throughout the years.

    This walled complex is located just outside of Cusco, Peru and is part of what used to be the capital of the Inca Empire. The craziest part about Sacsayhuaman lies in the details of its construction. The rock slabs fit together so tightly that it’s impossible to slide even a strand of hair between them. It serves as a lasting testament to the precision of ancient Incan architecture.

    24. The Tomb of Sunken Skulls

    The Tomb of Sunken Skulls was a shocking discovery made by archaeologists while excavating a dry lake bed in Motala, Sweden. The skulls they found had stakes driven directly through their craniums. And if that wasn’t horrifying enough, one of the skulls even had pieces of the other skulls crammed up inside it. Whatever happened there 8,000 years ago definitely wasn’t pretty… at all.

    25. Voynich Manuscript

    The Voynich Manuscript is known as the “world’s most mysterious manuscript”. This piece of literature has been dated back to the early 15th century Italy. Most of its pages is filled with what seems to be herbal recipes. However, not one of the plants mentioned in the manuscript match known species and the language remains undecipherable.

    Scanning Mummies

    This mummy is only one of the mummified bodies that has been scanned through the Warsaw Mummy Project . According to the project website, the goal is to "thoroughly examine human and animal mummies from ancient Egypt at the National Museum in Warsaw."

    By using advanced technology, such as x-ray and CT scanning, the researchers say they are able to gain more insight into what life was like in ancient Egypt, as well as the age, cause of death, diseases, standard of living, and even stress levels during life of the mummies they examine.

    • Bizarre Methods of Baby Detection: A Short History of the Pregnancy Test
    • Mystery wrapped in linen: Unraveling the story of Hatason, a 3,200-year-old Egyptian mummy

    Dinosaurs weren't cold blooded . or warm blooded, either

    The word "dinosaur" means "terrible lizard," and it's not because dinosaurs liked to hang around in bars late at night and use cheesy pickup lines on girl dinosaurs. It's because people thought they were big lizards.

    When the first dinosaur fossils were discovered in the 1600s, no one really knew what to think. According to the BBC, 17th-century museum keeper Robert Plot identified one fossil as the thigh bone of a huge human, proof that giants once walked the Earth. One hundred years later, another guy came along and gave Plot's fossil the unfortunate Latin name Scrotum humanum, which you'd understand if you looked at Plot's original illustration of his find. Incidentally, in the 1990s two British scientists had to beg the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to permanently erase the name from the list of official dinosaurs, which has absolutely nothing to do with this story but was too good to leave out.

    By the 1850s, scientists knew that dinosaurs weren't gigantic humans or terrifyingly large scrotums, but they couldn't imagine them any other way than stocky and low to the ground like iguanas. And with that assumption came another one: dinosaurs were lizards, so they were cold-blooded. In 2014 that someone finally decided to research the question — a team of biologists used a formula of growth rate, body temperature, and size to conclude that dinosaurs must have been somewhere in between. They couldn't exactly regulate their body temperature, but they weren't lumbering and sluggish, either.

    The Horrible History of The Tower of London

    Little Ease’s tale starts with a jailbreak from London’s Tower. In 1534, a man and woman on the Tower’s exterior grounds rushed past a line of cottages. They had almost reached the gateway to Tower Hill and the city of London, not far beyond it, when a group of yeomen warders on night watch appeared in their path.

    In response, the young couple turned toward each other, in what seemed a lover’s embrace. But something about the man caught the attention of a yeoman warder. He held his lantern higher and within seconds recognized the pair. The man was a colleague, fellow yeoman warder, John Bawd, and the woman was Alice Tankerville, a condemned thief, and prisoner.

    So ended the Tower’s first known escape attempt by a woman. But Alice’s accomplice and admirer, the guard John Bawd, was destined to enter the Tower record books too: he is the first known occupant of a peculiar torture cell used during the reigns of the Tudors and early Stuarts. Beefeaters

    The windowless cell measured 4 square feet (1.2 meters) and bore the faintly prim name of Little Ease. Its effect was simple. The prisoner within it could not stand nor sit nor lie down but was forced to crouch over, in increasing agony, until freed from the suffocating, dark space.

    In 1215 England outlawed torture through the passage of Magna Carta, except by royal warrant. The first king to authorize it, and he did so reluctantly, was Edward II.

    He submitted to intense pressure from the Pope to follow the lead of the king of France and demolish the Order of the Knights Templar, part of a tradition begun during the Crusades.

    King Philip IV of France, jealous of the Templars’ wealth and power, had charged them with heresy, obscene rituals, idolatry, and other offenses. The French knights denied all and were duly tortured. Some who broke down and “confessed” was released all who denied wrongdoing were burned at the stake. Tower of London at sunset, England, Famous Place, International Landmark

    Once Edward II ordered the imprisonment of members of the English chapter, French monks arrived in London bearing their instruments of torture. In 1311 the Knights Templar “were questioned and examined in the presence of notaries while suffering under the torments of the rack” within the Tower of London as well as the prisons of Aldgate, Ludgate, Newgate, and Bishopsgate, according to The History of the Knights Templar, the Temple Church, and the Temple, by Charles G. Addison. And so the Tower—principally a royal residence, military stronghold, armory, and menagerie up until that time—was baptized in torture.

    Did the instruments remain after the Knights Templars were crushed, to be used on other prisoners? We cannot be certain, although there is no record of it. The next mention of a rack within the Tower is a startling one—an unsavory nobleman made Constable of the Tower pushed for one to be installed. John Holland, third duke of Exeter, arranged for a rack to be brought into the Tower. It is not known if men were stretched upon it or if it was merely used to frighten. In any case, this rack is known to history as the Duke of Exeter’s Daughter.

    It was in the 16th century that prisoners were unquestionably tortured in the Tower of London. The royal family rarely used the fortress on the Thames as a residence more and more, it’s stone buildings contained, prisoners.

    And while the Tudor monarchs seem glittering successes to us now, in their own time they were beset by insecurities: rebellions, conspiracies and other threats both domestic and foreign. There was a willingness at the top of the government to override the law to obtain certain ends. This created a perfect storm for torture.

    “It was during the time of the Tudors that the use of torture reached its height,” wrote historian L.A. Parry in his 1933 book The History of Torture in England. “Under Henry VIII it was frequently employed it was only used in a small number of cases in the reigns of Edward VI and of Mary. It was whilst Elizabeth sat on the throne that it was made use of more than in any other period of history.”

    Yeoman Warder John Bawd admitted he had planned the escape of Alice Tankerville “for the love and affection he bore her.” Unmoved, the Lieutenant of the Tower ordered Bawd into Little Ease, where he crouched, in growing agony. Ariel view of the Tower of London

    The lovers were condemned to horrible deaths for trying to escape. According to a letter in the State Papers of Lord Lisle, written on March 28, Alice Tankerville was “hanged in chains at low water mark upon the Thames on Tuesday. John Bawd is in Little Ease cell in the Tower and is to be racked and hanged.”

    Little Ease, Tower of London

    Today no one knows exactly where Little Ease was located. One theory: in the dungeon of the White Tower. Another: in the basement of the old Flint Tower. No visitor sees it today it was torn down or walled up long ago. Besides Little Ease, the most-used torture devices were the rack, the manacles, and a horrific creation called the Scavenger’s Daughter. For many prisoners, solitary confinement, repeated interrogation, and the threat of physical pain were enough to make them tell their tormentors anything they wanted to know.

    Often the victims ended up in the Tower for religious reasons. Anne Askew was tortured and killed for her Protestant beliefs Edmund Campion for his Catholic ones. But the crimes varied. “The majority of the prisoners were charged with high treason, but murder, robbery, embezzling the Queen’s plate, and failure to carry out proclamations against state players were among the offenses,” wrote Parry.

    The monarch did not need to sign off on torture requests, although sometimes he or she did. Elizabeth I personally directed that torture be used on the members of the Babington Conspiracy, a group that plotted to depose her and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. But usually, these initiatives went through the Privy Council or tapped the powers of the Star Chamber. It is believed that in some cases, permission was never sought at all.

    Over and over, names pop up in state papers of those confined to Little Ease: “On 3 May 1555: Stephen Happes, for his lewd behavior and obstinacy, committed this day to the Tower to remain in Little Ease for two or three days till he may be further examined.”

    “10 January 1591: Richard Topcliffe is to take part in an examination in the Tower of George Beesley, seminary priest, and Robert Humberson, his companion. And if you shall see good cause by their obstinate refusal to declare the truth of such things as shall be laid to their charge in Her Majesty’s behalf, then shall you by authority hereof commit them to the prison called Little Ease or to such other ordinary place of punishment as hath been accustomed to be used in those cases, and to certify proceedings from time to time.” Guy Fawkes in Ordsall Cave

    After the death of Elizabeth and succession of James, I came to the most famous prisoner of them all to be held in Little Ease, Guy Fawkes. Charged with plotting to blow up the king and Parliament, Fawkes was subjected to both manacles and rack to obtain his confession and the names of his fellow conspirators. After he had told his questioners everything they asked, Fawkes was still shackled hand and foot in Little Ease and left there, though no one knows how long.

    And after that final burst of savagery, Little Ease was no more. A House of Commons committee reported the same year as Fawkes’ execution that the room was “disused.” In 1640, during the reign of Charles I, torture was abolished forever there would be no more forcing prisoners to crouch for days in dark airless rooms, no more rack or hanging from chains. And so, mercifully, closed one of the darkest chapters in England’s history.

    This 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers

    According to experts, a Roman goblet could be a 1,600-year-old example of nanotechnology.

    The mysterious Lycurgus Cup is made of dichroic glass and appears green when lit from the front and turns blood-red when lit from behind.

    The Romans may have first come across the colorful potential of nanoparticles by accident, but they seem to have perfected it.

    The chalice, which is on display at The British Museum, London, uses similar techniques to ‘modern’ nanotechnology – the manipulation of materials on an atomic and molecular scale – which scientists believe could be used for everything from diagnosing diseases to identifying bioharzards at airports.

    Scientists only solved the mystery of the colour-changing chalice in 1990, after being baffled by its behaviour for decades, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

    After putting broken fragments of glass under a microscope, scientists found the Romans had impregnated it with particles of sliver and gold, which they ground down to tiny proportions – around 50 nanometres in diameter – a thousand times smaller than a grain of salt.

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    The precise amount of metals has lead experts to hail the Romans as ‘nanotechnology pioneers’ who really knew what they were doing.

    The mysterious Lycurgus Cup is made of dichroic glass and appears green when lit from the front (pictured) and turns bright red when a light is shone on it from behind and scientists have only recently found out why. The chalice uses similar techniques to ‘modern’ nanotechnology

    Archaeologist Ian Freestone, of University College London, who researched the cup and its unusual optical properties, called its construction an ‘amazing feat’.

    The cup appears to change colour as when light hits it as the flecks of metals’ electrons vibrate in ways that seem to change the colour, depending on where the observer is looking at it.

    The chalice was used to hold drink on special occasions and experts believe that when it was filled, the behaviour of the vibrating electrons changed, as well as it’s colour.

    Gang Logan Liu, an engineer and nanotechnology expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told the publication: ‘The Romans knew how to make and use nano-particles for beautiful art.’

    Of course scientists could not investigate the effects of the one-of-a-kind cup by filling it with liquid.

    Instead, they reportedly imprinted billions of little wells onto a piece of plastic the size of a postage stamp and sprayed them with gold and silver nano-particles to essentially re-create the special configuration of the cup.

    The scientists then poured different liquids into the wells to note the effect they had.

    Archaeologist Ian Freestone, of UCL called the cup’s construction an ‘amazing feat’. The chalice appears to change colour as when light hits it, the flecks of metals’ electrons vibrate in ways that seem to change the colour, depending on where the observer is looking at it. Here the goblet appears red as it is lit from the inside

    When they filled a well with water it turned the surface light blue, while pouring oil inside turned it bright red.

    While the experiment may help archaeologists understand how the chalice works, it could also aid scientists in developing devices to detect pathogens in saliva or urine samples, or by identifying liquids terrorists might try and smuggle onto airplanes.

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    The Lycurgus Cup dates from the 4th Century AD and was probably made in Rome.

    It shows a scene from a Greek story, where bad tempered king Lycurgus is being trapped by vines as a punishment for his latest outburst of anger.

    The cup is the only complete example of ‘dichroic’ glass, which changes colour from green to red when light shines through it.

    It is also one of the best examples of a ‘cage-cup’ from the time that is made from a solid block of glass that has been carefully carved away until the cup and the figures standing out on it are left. Sections of the figures are almost standing free and connected only by ‘bridges’ to the surface of the vessel.

    The scene on the cup depicts an episode from the myth of Lycurgus, a king of the Thracians ruling at around 800 BC.

    The story goes that the moody king attacked Dionysos and one of his female followers called Ambrosia who called out to mother earth and was transformed into a vine. In response to the king’s bad treatment of Dionysos, she coiled herself around the king to hold him captive, while Dionysos and two friends torment him.

    Historians believe the myth could have been chosen to elude to a contemporary political event the defeat of the emperor Licinius by Constantine in AD 324.

    History travels along 'Roads of Arabia'

    2 of 7 The traveling exhibit "Roads of Arabia," which makes its final U.S. stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, features treasures from the past, including a variety of funerary masks. National Museum, Riyadh Show More Show Less

    3 of 7 From the traveling exhibit "Roads of Arabia," which makes its final U.S. stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Dec 19-March 9: Head of a Man, Qaryat al-Faw, Saudi Arabia, 1st century BC?2nd century AD, cast bronze, Department of Archaeology Museum, King Saud University, Riyadh No032_119F13 002 King Saud University, Riyadh Show More Show Less

    4 of 7 From the traveling exhibit "Roads of Arabia," which makes its final U.S. stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Dec 19-March 9: Anthropomorphic Stele, near al-Ula, Mada?in Saleh, Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 4th millennium BC, sandstone, National Museum, Riyadh No100_996 003 National Museum, Riyadh Show More Show Less

    From the traveling exhibit "Roads of Arabia," which makes its final U.S. stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Dec 19-March 9: A Funerary Stele, Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 5thÂ?𔃂th century BC, sandstone, Tayma Museum A 1782

    6 of 7 Head of a Lihyanite Dynasty Statue, Tayma, Saudi Arabia Tayma Museum Show More Show Less

    7 of 7 Anthropomorphic stele, El-Maakir, Qaryat al-Kaafa, near Ha'il, Saudi Arabia National Museum, Riyadh Show More Show Less

    These three kings are wearing only loincloths.

    But at about 9 feet tall, if you imagine some missing legs, they don't need fancy robes to impress.

    The trio of colossal red sandstone statue fragments takes up residence in Cullinan Hall at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this week, lording over the traveling exhibit "Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

    Believed to represent Lihyanite rulers of the ancient city of al-Ula in the northwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula, the statues date to the third and fourth centuries B.C.E. (The museum has adopted the all-inclusive "Before the Common Era" to signify the period of time often referred to as B.C., or "Before Christ.")

    That dates them well before the Bible's Magi would have traveled to Bethlehem bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh but their shape suggests another kind of exchange that excites archaeologists and art historians.

    "They're Egyptian in size, scale and their upright posture, but Hellenistic in their muscular form," said Frances Marzio, the museum's curator of antiquities. Like other, much-smaller objects on display, the big statues are evidence of diverse cultures along ancient trade routes where ideas from the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa were absorbed and shared.

    "Roads of Arabia" caused a stir when it premiered at Paris' Louvre in 2010 because it offers a peek of little-known worlds dating from prehistoric eras to the dawn of modern time. None of the objects had been seen outside Saudi Arabia until then.

    When: Opens Thursday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 12:15-7 p.m. Sundays, through March 9

    Where: Law Building, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet

    Unlike the familiar sites of Egypt that have been explored since the 19th century, most of these finds are much more recent, recovered in the past 40 years by archaeologists working for Saudi Arabia's Department of Antiquities and Museums. Since it was established in 1972, that group has identified more than 10,000 archaeological sites in the kingdom.

    Among them are tantalizing fragments of legendary, vanished societies whose cities are only known through ancient texts as well as slightly more tangible evidence of great centers of commerce buried under shifting sands.

    The American tour of "Roads of Arabia" launched last year at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and also has traveled through Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

    It features about 320 objects from more than 10 of the largest, most spectacular excavations - including sites at Qaryat Al-Faw, about 435 miles southwest of Riyadh Tayma and Al-Ula (also called Dedan) in the northwest corner of the peninsula and Thaj, near the east coast.

    While million-year-old arrowheads offer evidence of prehistoric life, goods made from the eighth to first centuries B.C.E. are more mysterious. That's when immense caravans roamed the network of incense roads, carrying frankincense from the peninsula's southern tip. The prized commodity was made from the sap of the thorny Boswellia sacra tree, which grew exclusively in what is now Yemen and Oman.

    Among the most haunting objects are several anthropomorphic stele, cemetery monuments in simple human shapes carved in sandstone, that date to the fourth millennium B.C.E.

    Later-period goods include incense burners and altars, small statues with Egyptian and Roman influences (the first-century bronze "Head of a Man" has a Roman curls and a deeply indented face Picasso would have loved), inscribed plaques in a variety of languages, carved vessels of chlorite, handsomely shaped glazed pottery, fragile blown-glass vessels and ornate earrings in the shape of bells.

    Among the most fascinating and beautiful artifacts are a gold funerary mask, gold glove and exquisite, gem-encrusted jewelry recovered from the tomb of a young girl in Thaj, which researchers speculate may be the lost kingdom of Gerrha.

    Marzio finds them especially poignant. "I think about how much she must have been loved, given these very valuable things to make her comfortable in the afterlife," she said.

    Decorative flourishes become ever more complex in goods made after the seventh century, when Islamic pilgrims forged trails to the new spiritual center of Mecca. But Marzio may be more enamored with a grouping of 18 tombstones, from the ninth to 12th centuries, of pilgrims who died en route.

    "They're the most moving things you've ever seen," she said. "They're not just physically beautiful. The different types of calligraphy, translated, show that these pilgrims came from as far away as Spain, Iran, Syria and Asia and from all walks of life. There's a perfumer, a father-daughter pair, a judge, an imam. It's a tribute to humanity."

    The Houston presentation should be dramatic, given the high ceilings of Cullinan Hall. "It's a challenging space and like none other this exhibit has been shown in," Marzio said.

    She's divided the ancient and Islamic portions of the exhibit with scrims hung from the ceiling, placing the "cemetery" at the center. "I'm attracted to burials. I think not about death but about how much the survivors loved the people who died," she added.

    She's placed the exhibit's final section - which explores the history of archaeology in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia - in an adjacent gallery.

    Greek geographer Strabo wrote about the area, as did Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (he was especially interested in frankincense), Marzio said, "but we didn't have physical evidence until the archaeological tradition began after the establishment of the kingdom in 1932."

    That work continues, and it's respected.

    A small, rather unspectacular-looking fragment of a stone effigy is one of the most recent discoveries, added to the exhibit last year. Dating to about 7000 B.C.E., it depicts a horse with a bridle a detail that makes it the earliest proof of the animals' domestication.

    "It was found by a camel breeder who was digging a pond on his land. He unearthed a cache of stone animals, saw that it was important, loaded it into his Jeep and took it to the museum in Riyadh. It affirms my belief in humanity," Marzio said.

    10 Best Egyptian Antiquities to See in the Louvre

    Le Louvre has one of the major collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. With the objects in the reserves, in contains no less than 55 000 objects!

    You can also consider the iconic pyramid of Le Louvre as a tribute to this civilization: the pyramid is the same shape than the Kheops’ pyramid and about 10 times smaller. A bit isolated from the others collections of Le Louvre, it is worthy to dedicate a special visit to this department spread on several floors.

    Contrary to what many people assume, this collection is not the result of any robbery. Napoleon Bonaparte did steal a lot of things when he was in Egypt between 1798 and 1801. But these objects were themselves taken by the British who defeated his army and are now exhibited in the British Museum.

    The collection of Le Louvre is linked to the deciphering of the hieroglyphics by a French scholar Jean-François Champollion. It decided the king Charles X to buy some collections and to appoint Champollion at the head of the new department in 1827.

    The objects brought later are the results of scientific excavations allowed by the Egyptian government or are coming from diplomatic gifts.

    Unlike the others collections of Le Louvre, the department is not centered on art but on the history of the civilization. Remarkably, this culture and society was preserved with only relatively small changes throughout three millenniums, despite foreign invasions and influences.

    Let’s discover these antiquities and learn on the way about this fascinating civilization!

    1. Mummy of a man

    Mummy of a man by Zubro. Sourced from Wikipedia

    Let’s start by the main attraction of the Egyptian department: the mummy!

    This mummy is one of the best preserved in the world. It is from the Ptolemaic period in the third century BC.

    After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his general who created greek independant kingdoms. Egypt, who had recently passed from the Persian Empire to the Macedonian empire, came under the rule of Ptolemy and his descendants: the last one was the queen Cleopatra.

    Even if the Greeks put themselves on top of the Egyptian society and kept many of their Greek customs, most of the old culture was kept in the country, including the rite of mummification.

    This mummification was for the priviledged and its quality often depended on the richness of the deceased. It served as an additional guarantee of survival in the afterlife.

    The process of mummification is known thanks to the Greek historian Herodotus who described it in the fifth century BC.

    First, the decaying parts of the body like the brain and the visceras were removed, mummified and placed in jars. Then the body was filled with aromatics. After this, the body would be covered with natron, that is the carbonate of sodium. Protective amulets were finally put among the wrappings.

    2. The sarcophagus box of Ramesses III

    Sarcophagus box of Ramesses III by Greudin. Sourced from Wikipedia

    Ramesses III, the last great king of the period called the New Empire, ruled between 1186 and his assassination in 1154.

    This granite box was originally painted in blue. The mummy inside was also found but is in the Cairo Museum while the top of the box is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in England.

    On both sides, the sisters Isis and Nephtys protected the deceased.

    A text in hieroglyphics and some illustrations relate the travel of the solar god, Ra, that was central to the Egyptian mythology.

    Every night, Ra disappears in the west in his bark. He has to move through the 12 gates of the underworld, a reference to the twelve hours of the night. Others gods and some blessed help him fight his enemies, especially the snake of chaos, Apophis. After his triumph, Ra reappears every morning in the east.

    3. The Seated Scribe

    The seated scribe, sourced from Wikipedia

    This 4 500 years old statue is one of the most fascinating. It is probably due to its captivating eyes, inlaid with white magnesite and rock crystal. The delicacy of the hands is also remarkable.

    The scribe is represented sitting cross-legged with a kilt serving as a support. His hand contains a roll of papyrus. He is portrayed at work, which is quite unusual for an Egyptian statue.

    This statue is famous but the character who was represented is unknown. The base containing his name and title is missing. It was discovered in 1850 in the site of Saqqara that has been pillaged and damaged. We can only guess from his belly that he was well-fed and probably an important official or civil servant.

    The scribes played a key role in Egyptian civilization. They had to go through a lot of training to master the hieroglyphics: these sacred signs were 750 at the beginning but their number increased up to 7 000. One scribe, Imhotep, builder of the necropolis of Saqqara, was even made divine long after his death and worshiped.

    4. The Great Sphinx of Tanis

    The Great Sphinx of Tanis by Ning J, sourced from flickr

    This pink granite sphinx is dated from around 1750 BC. However it bears the marks of several pharaohs and especially the famous Ramesses II (1304-1213) and his son Merenptah (1269-1203).

    You can see in his chest a cartouche, that is an oval loop encircling the name of the pharaoh in hieroglyphics. It was common for the rulers to rewrite their name on these symbolic statues. It is not to be understood as a dishonest appropriation since Egyptians believed in a continuity between the pharaohs.

    The sphinx, hybrid creature between a man and a lion was a living image of the pharaoh, in a terrifying shape, ready to leap on the enemies of Egypt. That is why you can see some of the royal attributes like the goatee. It was positioned, alone or in group, at the entrances of the temples.

    5. Statue of Nakhthorheb

    Nakhthorheb praying, sourced from Wikipedia

    Here is the statue of a privileged man. Nakhthorheb had his statue positioned in a temple of the god Thot, the god of writing. It means that as an important dignitary he was under the protection of the god.

    Nakhthorheb lived in the 5th century BC, towards the end of the Egyptian civilization. After a period of foreign invasions, the Egyptian elite wanted to go back to its roots, searching to retrieve the power and glory of the past.

    This quest can be seen in the statue as it is an imitation of the traditional Egyptian style. The sculptor wanted to convey simplicity with this soft smile. Nakhthorheb is shown in an attitude of reverence, kneeled with his hands flat on his thighs.

    Like for the other statues in the Egyptian temples, the priests would regularly presented food to this statue.

    6. The zodiac at Dendera

    The Dendera zodiac by Chatsam. Sourced from Wikipedia

    This sandstone slab gives us a symbolic representation of the sky as it was visible in 50 BC.

    The intention of the sculptors was to represent a night skyscape in the ceiling of a chapel in the temple of the goddess Hathor at Dendera. The vault of heaven is represented by this disc supported by 4 women and 36 falcon-headed spirits symbolizing the 360 days of the Egyptian year.

    Remarquably, the signs of the zodiac visible within the disc are usually represented the same way as today. It seems that the Egyptian cultural elements were mingled with the astronomical theories of the Greeks that ruled the country at this time.

    The discovery of the zodiac in 1798, during the expedition of Napoleon, sparked a big controversy. Some estimated that this object, along with others, might date back to 3 000 BC. This was incompatible with the world view of the Catholic church that considered the year 2 348 BC as the date of the creation of the earth.

    An abbot forbid to study this zodiac and threaten to excommuniate those who would not obey. The estimation of the age of the zodiac was wrong but it was the beginning of a heated debate that lasted the whole XIXth century.

    7. Bust of Akhenaton

    Bust of Akhenaton by Rama. Sourced from Wikipedia

    This is a statue of a very unique pharaoh: Amenophis IV, who changed his name into Akhenaton.

    The pharaoh is represented in a traditional position called the Osirian position: standing, arms crossed on his chest holding the royal scepters. But his features are unusual. Contrary to his predecessors, he is not represented like a muscular athlete. He seems frailer, some said androgynous, with also an elongated face.

    These changes in the style were ordered by Akhenaton himself. It is called the Armanian style. There might be a religious message behind. Some also supposed that it represents in a realistic way the features of the pharaoh who might have suffered from physical deformations.

    There is still some mystery behind the story of Akhenaton and his spouse, gifted with a legendary beauty, Nefertiti.

    Akhenaton, who ruled between 1372 and 1355 BC, imposed some changes on the Egyptian religion. The Sun god, Amon-Rê, was made the main god, maybe the unique one, under the name of Aton. The pharaoh was the living image of Aton and his unique interlocutor. This bust was part of a sculpted pillar in the new temple of Aton.

    These changes were abolished as soon as the pharaoh died to go back to the old polytheism. There was a will to forget his memory. Later, his tomb was even desecrated under official orders, to prevent him access to the afterlife.

    8. Statue of the chancellor Nakhti

    head of the chancellor Nakhti by Rama. Sourced from Wikipedia

    This expressive statue is coming from one the rare tomb that escaped pillagers. The tomb of Nakhti, high-official who lived around 1900 BC was found in Assiout.

    In his offering chapel and burial chambers there was many objects, some visible in le Louvre, including this life-size statue.

    The stone of the necropolis was too friable to be carved. That is why the sculptor used a single trunk of acacia. A thin layer of colored stucco was added to make him more life-like.

    9. The little figurines like the god Thot as a baboon

    Statue of the god Thot by Rama. Sourced from Wikipedia

    In the Egyptian temples, there was some workshops where craftsmen produced a lot of little figurines. They represented gods using a wide variety of materials, often precious one. Here, this statue is made of siliceous faïence, gold and silver. These figurines were offered by Egyptians to their gods. In this case by a man called Horhetep.

    Here we have the god Thot: wise, knowledgeable, he was considered the inventor of hieroglyphics, and as such was the patron god of the scribes. Assistant of the other gods, he would register their decisions.

    He was usually represented with the body of a man and the head of an ibis. However, he could be represented as a monkey, like in the figurine represented here. As he measures time, marked by the phases of the moon, he wears a crescent moon on his head.

    You have many other figurines to discover in the Louvre. I particularly appreciate the blue hippopotamus.

    10. The European woman from the Fayoum

    Portrait of the European woman, sourced from Wikipedia

    We finish with an art piece that dates long after the end of the time of the pharaohs. Here is a portrait from the third century AD, during the Roman domination of Egypt. It shows an intermingling between old Egyptian traditions and Greco-Roman art.

    This kind of portrait was made to be attached to a mummy. The piece of wood was carved to fit the body of the mummified person. The features and the social status of this woman had to be identifiable for the afterlife. It is not certain whether it represented her at the age where she died or before.

    Even if the painting was integrated to an Egyptian rite, the technique and style of the naturalistic painted portrait is Greco-Roman. It seems, from her light skin, that this woman was herself European, maybe one of the many Greeks that settled in the country from the third century BC.

    I find this portrait captivating by their realism. For reasons I could not explain, I find it much more lifelike than most paintings or statues. I can feel a connection with this woman despite she belonged to a seemingly very distant and different civilization.

    This overview is just a start. When visiting the rooms where these art pieces are, you are given some context, with sometimes the other pieces found in the room. The rooms of some temples are even reconstituted in Le Louvre.

    I recommand to take a guide to discover it. It is much nicer than to spend five minutes reading the panels in every room. It is better that you precise before the tour that you want to see the Egyptian department, as it is a bit isolated from the other highlights and not all the tour guides know this department well.

    Pay attention when you choose the date of your visit: the whole museum is closed on Tuesday and the Egyptian department is closed on Friday.

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    Mathieu got to experience all the sides of Paris: born in the island of Notre-Dame, he was a student in the Left Bank and is currently living in the Right Bank. He is a history teacher and a certified guide in Paris. His passion is history and he loves to live it by walking in old areas, looking at traces and clues of the past.

    Watch the video: Pharaonic princes 4,500-year-old tomb found near Cairo (July 2022).


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    2. Zulushakar

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    3. Dam

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