2012/08/10

Egyptian Coffins

 Ancient Egyptian Coffins

 The coffin is the container in which the deceased body is put before burial and it is the nearest thing to the body of the deceased.

Two kinds of coffins are known in ancient Egypt: rectangular and anthropoid.

When coffins 1st appeared, they were rectangular in shape and were made out of wood. In the beginning they were short chest to contain the contracted burials, but after mummification was practiced bodies were extended and put in full-length coffins. Rectangular coffins were called by the ancient Egyptians: qrsu (qrst is used generally for ‘burial’).

Anthropoid coffins came in use in the Middle Kingdom but became dominant in the 17th dynasty. They were made out of stone or wood or cartonnage. The ancient Egyptian name was: suht (the same word is also used for shrouds).

Tutankhamun coffins in Cairo museum


From the 17th Dynasty the anthropoid coffins were decorated with a specific kind of decoration which is called the Rishi decoration, the word (Rishi) ® came from the Arabic word meaning feather. It represented the feathers of the Ba bird or goddess Isis stretching her wings to protect her husband Osiris.

As for inscriptions, coffins had simple inscriptions of just a horizontal line then 4 vertical lines were added. Sometimes a pair of eyes was placed to link the deceased with the outer world.

Later on, coloured coffins came into fashion such as white coffins with polychrome decorations, black coffins with yellow decorations or yellow coffins decorated with bright colours, all accompanied by extensive texts and funerary scenes (vignettes).

From the 25th/26th dynasties, there are examples showing coffins supported by a back pillar and standing on a pedestal to make it easier to perform the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony. 


Howard Carter

Howard Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamun's tomb


 It may simply have been the luck of the draw, but no one has probably favored the interests of Egyptology, and even the world's archaeological focus on Egypt more than Howard Carter. His discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun has inspired almost a century of Hollywood movies, books and media attention for the greatest of all the museums in this life we ​​call Egypt.
While Howard Carter discovered the tomb of a pharaoh almost intact may be lucky, it was the result of a career devoted to Egyptology and the culmination of consistent exploration.


Howard Carter
Howard Carter


Howard Carter was born May 9, 1874 in the small town of Kensington, London, England. His father, an artist named Samuel John Carter, who drew portraits (mostly animal) for local landowners, Howard trained in the fundamentals of drawing and painting. He was the youngest son Samuel Carter. But Howard Carter developed an interest in early Egypt, so when he was 17, under the influence of Lady Amherst, a family acquaintance, he sailed for Alexandria, Egypt. It would be his first trip outside of England, and he hoped to work with the Egyptian Exploration Fund as a tracer. Tracers copied drawings and inscriptions on paper for further study.His first assignment came in Bani Hassan, where he was responsible for recording and copying the scenes of the walls of tombs of the princes of Middle Egypt.  

They say he has worked diligently throughout the day, and slept with bats in the tombs at night.It was edited by William Flinders Petrie that Carter grew up on his own as an archaeologist. Considered one of the best in the field archaeologists of that time, Petrie really did not believe that Carter would never have become a good shovel. However, Carter could have best teacher at this point in time. A el Amrna, Carter proved wrong Petrie unearthing several important discoveries. During this training period, Carter has also worked under Gaston Maspero, who later became the Director of Antiquities.


After being designated as the artist digs the principle of Egyptian Exploration Fund at Deir el-Bahari, led by Edouard Naville, The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Carter honed his drawing skills and strengthen his excavations and restoration. Her admirable efforts on the project led to his appointment by the Director of Antiquities, at age 25, as the first Inspector General of Monuments for Upper Egypt. This was obviously an important area of ​​Egypt which included the former zone of Thebes. He became responsible for the supervision and control throughout the archeology of the Upper Nile Valley. 


 It is interesting to note that during this time, he built the first electric lights in the Valley of the Kings (in different tombs) and the temples of Abu Simbel.Unfortunately, he was forced to resign from the Antiquities in 1905. An incident between Egyptian guards archaeological site of Saqqara and a few drunken French tourists. When tourists have become violent, Carter allowed the guards to defend. Tourists have protested several senior officials, including the Egyptian Consul General Lord Cromer. Cromer called for Carter to make a formal apology, but Carter refused, and was relieved of his post and re-post in Tanta, a place with very little archaeological involvement. Carter had little choice but to leave the service.

After resigning from the Antiquities Service, he spent the next four years as a watercolor painter and antique dealer. However, the search for private funding for the excavation, Carter became the supervisor of the excavations for the fifth Lord Carnarvon (George Herbert). While the First World War delayed the work of Howard Carter in 1914, Lord Carnarvon had one of the most valuable collections of Egyptian artifacts in private hands. He eventually discovered six tombs in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank in Luxor. But Carter has become somewhat obsessed with finding the tomb of a pharaoh Tutankhamun relatively unknown named, and year after year, tried in vain to the lost tomb of Pharaoh.


In fact, Lord Carnarvon was becoming frustrated by the efforts of Carter, and in 1922 issued an ultimatum to the Egyptologist that this would be his final season of funding. Sure of his eventual success, 1 November 1922, Carter began digging for his final season and three days later revealed the stairs to the tomb of Tutankhamun. After digging into the plaster blocks from the grave, to 16 hours on November 26, 1922, Howard Carter crossed and made one of the most amazing discoveries of the 20th century. It will take ten years just to catalog the objects in that it falls, which are currently in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, if they are intended to be moved in the near future.

Lord Carnarvon
 Meanwhile, Lord Carnarvon died in Cairo of pneumonia. This sent the tabloids into a frenzy already. The hype about the mummy's curse set the media on the fire, and to the chagrin of Carter, he began receiving letters from spiritualists around the world. Legend has it that in 1929 eleven people connected with the discovery of the tomb had died, including two family members Lord Carnarvon and Carter's personal secretary, Richard Bethell.  

This would reproduce movies mummy until the end of the century, the twentieth century and beyond.After his discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, Howard Carter retired from active field work. He began collecting Egyptian antiquities himself, and became a moderate success. He could often be found at the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor, mostly kept to himself. He returned to Kensington, England, in 1939, and died March 2 this year at the age of 65.

Lord Carnarvon

 Lord Carnarvon and his life
 

Lord Carnarvon, before his death, was more than a financial partner in the silence the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun. If it was not for him, Howard Carter would not only lacked the financing and the concession to excavate in the Valley of the Kings, he also lacked the political clout to what was, in the 1900s a very publicly visible. The English Earl of Carnarvon, apparently did not grow up with a fascination for Egyptology. Instead, he fell into it like many others of his time.

 Lord Carnarvon

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was born in his family home, Highclere Castle, near Newbury in England June 26, 1866. He succeeded in the title in 1890 and Carnarvon married Almina Victoria Maria Alexandra Wombell. Lord Carnarvon interests first appear as horse racing and sports infant. Although he considered himself a careful "driver", it certainly has been the acceleration, a habit that led him before the magistrates on different more than once. A report in "The Coach", describes how, "like lightning," he hissed pedestrians and cyclists at terrifying speeds increased up to 20 mph. Then, in 1901, while in Germany, he suffered a car accident that changed his life. Although saved from death, he was left horribly low, a condition that would make it more vulnerable to climate change in English cold and wet. Thus, he started the winter abroad, visiting Egypt for the first time in 1903.


Cairo seems perfectly suited to his delicate health condition, but he also thought it was a bit dull. Then he took Egyptology as a hobby to help pass the winter days, not realizing at the time how he would come to dominate his life, and besides, his future renown. He quickly rose in the Winter Palace in Luxor, where he could oversee the excavation of a small concession that he had been given based on a request of Lord Cromer, in the area of ​​Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, a Site ungrateful attributed to it in an attempt to cool its ambitions archaeological enthusiasts.
Thus, in the days before all of our modern entertainment, he sat in his large wire cage, protected against flies and dust, look at his work of men, sometimes joined by his wife "dressed for a garden party rather than the desert, with shop patent leather high-heeled shoes and a good deal of jewelry flashing in the sunlight. "This effort has resulted in little reward after six weeks of frantic search, except for a mummified cat , still contained in its cat-shaped wooden coffin.


It's not much enthusiasm squash Lord Carnarvon to Egyptology, but this first experience in the excavation convince him that more expertise was needed. Consultation Lord Cromer, who in turn did some research of Maspero, it was suggested that he meets a young Howard Carter, who apparently hit it well Lord Carnarvon. Lord Carnarvon was in need of a scientist, and Howard Carter needed a donor for his work. Carnarvon Thebes extended its concession and even asked permission to work in Aswan. "I thought I would have two strings that I'm not sure I'll get my wife to stay another two months in Luxor," he writes, and later he added: "If I get what I want, I put a scientist because I do not have time to learn all the required data ".


However, this first season with Howard Carter was confined to the West Bank of Luxor (ancient Thebes). Although small excavation centered on "Gurneh" was a huge success. Carter has managed to transform not only into the grave with Tetiky, an early 18th dynasty mayor of Thebes, but another grave containing two wooden shelves. Of these, the most important was inscribed on one side with the precepts of Ptahhotep, a set of instructions for moral guidance. The other side was inscribed with the text to record the early stages of the expulsion of the Hyksos by King Kames 17th Dynasty.


The following years have been as successful. Carter, under the patronage of Lord Carnarvon, discovered the whole series of important private tombs dating from the Late Middle Kingdom in the early New Kingdom, and two "lost" the temple of Queen Hatshepsut and Ramses IV. Unfortunately, the success of this work has given them the opportunity to extend the concessions in the Delta, where they would miss their chance. While still digs in Luxor, Lord Carnarvon and his entourage, including some fifty workers, rose to Sakha (Xois old), but work had to be abandoned after more than a month "because the number of cobras and cerastes (horned viper) that plagued the entire region ".


The following year, the team turned their attention to another site of Tell el-Delta Balamun. There they had some success, the discovery of a treasure of silver jewelry Greco-Roman, but otherwise, the work was irrelevant. However, the association between Carnarvon and Carter continued. They had from the beginning, had the ultimate goal of working in the New Kingdom royal necropolis known as the Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, this was a concession then owned by Theodore Davis, who was more like. However, they needed additional recognition to be considered for this contract, which came in the form of the discovery of the tomb of Amenhotep I. It was a grave can the people of Luxor had been plundered secretly for some time, and was first flown during antiquity. 


 However, this mass grave, prepared for the pharaoh and his mother, Ahmose-Nofretiri, still contained a number of grave goods. Carter clearance of the tomb revealed a mass of fragments of vessels entered, a big heart scarab of blue frit and a collection of fragments of the Third Intermediate Period burials, which were introduced in the grave at a later date. He was the first royal tomb at Carnarvon, and it would strengthen his interest in Egyptian archeology.
A few months before his death Feb. 23, 1915, Theodore Davis abandoned his valley of the concession of the king, believing it to be exhausted, which gave Carter and Carnarvon chance for which they had been longing. 


 They abandoned their work plans in Hawara and the Pyramid of Amenemhat III complex and by February 8th, 1915, Carter was at work on the tomb of Amenhotep III in the Valley of the Kings. This choice was Carnarvon, influenced by the acquisition by Carter on the antiquities market of Luxor in 1912 of three thin plates carnelian wristband that appeared to have once adorned the king's mummy. Carnarvon assume that the grave could produce other items of artistic interest.



Indeed, Carter managed to recover a large number of broken debris, although the tomb had been dismantled in ancient times. He found four of the top five foundation deposits, and the clearance of the room is well, well inside the tomb discovered fragments of serpentine, calcite shabtis, ceramic and wood, broken vases, pieces of a beautiful blue faience pectoral ornament, the quantities of beads, sequins and amulets, and a corner of a bracelet blue faience plate of the same series that began Carnarvon and Carter on their research.


Unfortunately, World War I took its balance sheet in Egypt. Carnarvon was stranded in Egypt during this period, clean energy and Carter were increasingly diverted to the war effort as a diplomatic courier. However, in 1917, Carter was able to start working in the Valley of the Kings for good, with an emphasis on finding the elusive tomb of Tutankhamun. However, while thousands of tons of limestone blocks were removed from various sites, it was a moment of disappointment after disappointment for Carter and Carnarvon, which would tax the patience of the donor.


Costs were really starting to get to Lord Carnarvon, and by the end of a dark season 1921-1922, his enthusiasm was waning. Just as he hated to admit it, it seemed that Carnarvon Davis was right to his observation that the Valley of the Kings had been exhausted in an archaeological site. Carter was summoned to Hieghclere to receive the bad news that has been abandoned Carnarvon. Carter had been expected as much, and he appealed for support from his pocket a final cleaning of the work season. Everything would still find belong to Carnarvon, as holder of the concession. Impressed by the commitment of Carter, Lord Carnarvon sold, even agreed to finance last season.


Carter believes the next season began perhaps with some optimism, all that changed on 4 November 1922, just three days after what he must have thought would be his last season with Carnarvon. He discovered the top of a staircase below that at the end of the day reveal 12 steps and the top of a block of plaster, marked on any surface with its large oval tablets. Carter could not read the name on seals, but bite his tongue, he ordered the staircase to be reused the next day and ran the now famous telegram to Carnarvon, who was still in England.
 
Carnarvon was in Egypt with her daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, about two weeks later and work began in earnest on November 24 falls. After the staircase has been completely erased and extent of the door could be seen plastered, it was clear that Carter had indeed discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen. Initially, their enthusiasm was tempered somewhat in the upper left block signs of re-closure, suggesting that the tomb had been found in antiquity.  


They began by cleaning the descending passage, which also showed signs of the effort of a thief. By 16:00 in the afternoon of November 26, the hall was cleared and the team found a second door, even when faced with plaster, placed on the oval joints, and closed at the top left. Not knowing what was behind that door, Carter made a small hole in it and inserted a candle to test fetid gases. He then looked into the void beyond, reports:

"At first I saw nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flash, but now that my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room slowly emerging mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the flicker of gold ". Unfortunately, Lord Carnarvon would not live long enough to enjoy much of its success. After the official opening of the burial chamber of the tomb and all the excitement that surrounded him, Lord Carnarvon went to Aswan on February 28 for a few days off. About this time he was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito, he inadvertently opened during shaving. Despite treatment of the wound, he was infected and he was soon the fever. He allowed his daughter to limit bed rest, which seemed to help, two days later he was back. However, he fell back almost immediately, and arrangements were made for him to be moved to the Continental-Savoy, Cairo.  


Now, he contracted pneumonia, which was to say an end. There was enough time for Lady Carnarvon, accompanied by her husband's doctor, Dr. Johnson, to arrive by plane in a Puss Moth from England, soon to be joined by their son, Lord Porchester. But on the morning of 5 April it was all over. Carter records in his diary that, "Poor Ld. C. died during the first hours of the morning ". One of the most famous discoveries ever found in Egypt was not all that Lord Carnarvon left behind when he died. Early on, Carter came up with a business proposal that involves the Carnarvon pocket and added a little spice to their adventures. According to the successor of Carnarvon,

"... Carter suggested that some of the costs of labor could be covered by the purchase of antiques in the bazaar in Cairo and elsewhere, to sell them to collectors at a handsome profit. Carter proved very adept at this work and I. .. heard many cases, a good that way. "
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum both benefited from this arrangement, if the system may or may not have ever made much profit. For one thing, "s salary appears to have been very good for its time, and secondly, much of their" stock "seems to have passed directly into the collection of Lord Carnarvon own. Carnarvon taste for Egyptian art is developing rapidly, and at the time of his death, what started as a random assortment of songs just bought and searched Ranked as one of the finest private collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world.


When Carter listed the items in November 1924, they had some 1218 objects or object groups. Under the terms of his will, antiques, his wife must choose to get rid of, should be offered to the nation, and therefore the British Museum for £ 20,000, which was far below their real value. If the British Museum refused them, he suggested that they are offered at the Metropolitan Museum in New York at a price to be negotiated and set by Carter. Lady Carnarvon was reluctant to offer the collection to the nation at a reduced price, but did it anyway, giving the director of the British Museum until 16 pm the same day for payment. Of course, they could not meet this deadline, if then offered the collection to the Metropolitan for $ 145,000, which they quickly snapped up.


In addition, Lord Carnarvon left mummy's curse. Several weeks before the death of Lord Carnarvon, popular attention has focused on a warning by the novelist Marie Corelli as "the most terrible punishment follows any rash intruder into a sealed tomb." Of course, this warning would not have attention to long-lined if it had not been for the death of Lord Carnarvon. The public has chosen to ignore the fact that Lord Carnarvon was not healthy, and that, indeed, his annual pilgrimage to the Egypt was the main reason. About this time a number of other people, even if sometimes far have been identified with the tomb also died, rumors became rife. In reality, most of those who were the closer to the excavation has lived a long, often rewarding, but of course, the curse continues to inspire the magic of cinema, even now.