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Archaeologists discover Ancient Egyptian tombs and mummification workshops

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In a press conference by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, has announced the discovery of mummification workshops and decorated tombs at Saqqara in the Giza Governorate, Egypt.

Saqqara served as the necropolis for Ancient Egyptian royalty and their extended family during the Old Kingdom period. During the New Kingdom from the 18th Dynasty onward, the necropolis was used by many high-status officials from Memphis.

The mummification workshops have been described as “the largest and most complete”, for which the team found one that was used for embalming people, and the other for animals. Both workshops date from the end of the XXX dynasty (between 380 BC–343 BC) and the beginning of the Ptolemaic era.

The Ancient Egyptians saw the preservation of the body after death as an important step to immortality and living well in the afterlife. Within the Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul, the “ka”, which represented vitality, leaves the body once the person dies. Only if the body is embalmed in a specific fashion will the “ka” return to the deceased body, and rebirth will take place.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

To attain eternal life and gain an audience with Osiris, the deceased was mummified in different fashions (depending on cost) to preserve the body. This allowed the soul to reunite with its physical form and find joy in the realm beyond.

The embalming workshop for people is a rectangular building constructed using mudbricks, consisting of several chambers containing beds that measure 2 metres long, by one metre in width. Archaeologists also found a number of ceramics, tools, ritual vessels, and a large amount of linen and black resin used during the embalming process.

The workshop for embalming animals is also a rectangular mud brick construction, which is divided into several chambers and halls with a central entrance lined with a limestone floor. Excavations found numerous ceramic vessels and animal remains, in addition to specialised tools for animal embalming.

Professor Sabri Farag, Director General of the Saqqara Antiquities Area, also announced in the press conference the discovery of two tombs. The first belonged to an official from the 5th Dynasty (around 2400 BC) who was called “Ni-Hesbast-Pa”, who held important religious and administrative titles such as Grand Overseer of the South and Priest of the gods, Horus and Maat.

The second tomb belonged to a person from the 18th Dynasty (around 1400 BC) who was called “Menjebu”. This individual held the title of Priest of the goddess Qadesh, a foreign deity of Canaanite origin from the Syrian region who was worshiped in the city of Qadesh.

Among the artefacts found during excavations are a group of stone statues of a person named “Ni Su Hanu” and his wife, as well as wooden and stone statues portraying an individual named “Shepseskaf”. Also uncovered are Osiris statuettes, fragments of clay seals, parts of a shroud, a human-shaped polychrome wooden coffin from the end of the New Kingdom, and various ceramics, some of which contain ancient Egyptian cheese (goat cheese) from 600 BC.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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Archaeology

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

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

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Archaeology

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

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Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.

According to the researchers, the structure holds important religious significance, suggesting it might have been erected to venerate Blessed Irmgard (also known as Irmengard), the daughter of King Louis the German and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.

During the mid-9th century, Irmgard was appointed the first abbess of Frauenwörth Abbey, who restored the decaying premises and founded a Benedictine convent for nuns. Because of her royal ancestry, she had the right to wear a thin golden hoop resembling a crown, often depicted on paintings and frescoes with her image.

Following her death in 866, Irmgard was venerated and her head reliquary was translated to Seeon Abbey in 1004. She was officially beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and a celebratory ceremony in 2003 saw her relics reunified.

A recent geophysical study to locate the demolished remains of the Church of Saint Martin has revealed the imprint of a Romanesque structure completely absent from all historical text and contemporary maps.

Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

The structure is buried at a depth of 1 metre and measures 19 metres in diameter. The GPR results reveal the floor plan of an octagonal central building with an ambulatory formed by eight supports and four arrange in a cross shape.

Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation notes that religious structures with pre-Romanesque or Romanesque architecture, particularly those with sacral significance, are exceedingly uncommon north of the Alps. Such edifices are often perceived as imitations of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

According to the researchers, the structure was likely built during the construction of the new monastery and Romanesque abbey church (of which the gatehouse and bell tower survive to this day) to venerate Irmgard as a destination for pilgrims

Header Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

Sources : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

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

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