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Secrets of Ancient Egyptian mummification materials revealed

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A new study, published in the journal Nature, has revealed the types of materials used in Ancient Egyptian mummification.

Back in 2016, archaeologists discovered an embalming workshop at the Saqqara Necropolis, located in the Giza Governorate, Egypt.

Saqqara contains ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty, numerous pyramids, including the Pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb, and a number of mastaba tombs.

The workshop, which dates from 664 to 525 BC during the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, contained 2,500-year-old labelled pots, used for storing plant and animal extracts that were used in the mummification process.

A chemical analysis by researchers from the University of Tübingen, working in collaboration with the National Research Centre laboratory in Giza, has identified botanical resins within the pots, some of which originate from as far away as Southeast Asia.

They used gas chromatography–mass spectrometry which has revealed the pot extracts, including juniper bushes, cypress trees, cedar trees, all of which grows in the eastern Mediterranean region. The study also found extracts of bitumen from the Dead Sea, and animal fats and beeswax which was likely sourced locally.

Interestingly, the team found traces of a resin called elemi which is sourced from Canarium trees that grow in rainforests in Asia and Africa, and dammar from the Shorea trees found in southern India, Sri Lanka and southeast Asia.

Carl Heron, an archaeological scientist at the British Museum told Nature: “Egypt was resource poor in terms of many resinous substances, so many were procured or traded from distant lands.”

The process in which these materials were applied is yet to be determined, and the study has led to new questions about the ancient trade routes that connected Ancient Egypt to the locations where the resins where sourced.

Ancient Egyptian embalmers had a sophisticated understanding of the raw materials’ properties, the authors say. Pots contained complex mixtures of ingredients that, in some cases, had been carefully heated or distilled. Many of the resins had antimicrobial properties — one bowl containing elemi and animal fat was inscribed “to make his odour pleasant” — or characteristics that promoted preservation.

Nature

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This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

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Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

The discovery was made at Smallhythe Place, a late 15th or early 16th century property managed by the National Trust near Tenterden in Kent, England.

Prior to the decline of the port and shipyard at Smallhythe during the 16th century, the local community played a crucial role in the shipbuilding industry, crafting vessels for notable figures, including members of royalty.

As part of a project funded by several UK institutions, over 60 volunteers from the National Trust participated in the excavation, along with professional archaeologists, students, and members of the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group.

The excavation has revealed traces of a Roman settlement that was occupied between the 1st and 3rd centuries, including an incredibly rare figurine made of pipeclay that depicts the god, Mercury.

Mercury was a major god in the Roman pantheon and was associated with financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves. He also served as the guide of souls to the underworld and was the messenger of the gods.

According to a press announcement by the National Trust: “This complete figurine probably would have depicted Mercury standing, either draped with a chlamys (a short cloak), or naked, holding a caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes).”

The team also unearthed thousands of artefacts, providing evidence of the evolution of Smallhythe Place from a Georgian farm to a midden dump, a shipbuilding site, and a brickworks.

The National Trust said: “To support our investigations, we received grants from the National Trust’s Inclusive Archaeology, Robert Kiln and the Roman Research Funds and from the Royal Archaeological Institute. During 2023, our project has received funding from the Society of Antiquaries and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust.”

Header Image Credit : James Dobson

Sources : National Trust – Exploring Smallhythe Place: Archaeological Investigations by the River Rother

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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