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Behind the Legend: The great Norse seamen of their day—known as pugnacious warriors, intrepid explorers and skilled traders—sailed the globe, sometimes requiring ships to be removed from water and transported over land to more navigable seas. One method Vikings used to ensure a stalwart crew? Stone lifting. To earn respect, a Viking seafarer was required to lift a stone weighing more than 340 pounds.
Famous Feats: According to one famous legend, more than 1,000 years ago, Icelander Orm Storolfsson (a.k.a. “Orm Storolfsson the Strong,” presumably to squash any doubt) walked three steps with the mast of the Ormen Lange, a powerful longship, on his shoulders before allegedly breaking his back. The mast, said to span 11 yards long and weigh some 1,433 pounds, had to be lifted by 50 men onto his shoulders.
Fun Facts: Strongman competitor Hafthór Björnsson (known to “Game of Thrones” fans as “The Mountain”) unofficially broke Storolfsson’s millennium-old weightlifting record at the 2015 World’s Strongest Viking competition in Norway by carrying a 1,433-pound log on his back for five steps. The sport of strongman has important ties to Viking traditions: Roughly 200 years ago, Iceland’s Húsafell village became home to a 409-pound Viking lifting stone that played a prominent role in the 1992 World’s Strongest Man contest.
The Growth of Merit Ptah
Kwiecinski's interest in Merit Ptah (`beloved of god Ptah') was sparked after seeing her name in so many places.
"Merit Ptah was everywhere. In online posts about women in STEM, in computer games, in popular history books, there's even a crater on Venus named after her," he said. "And yet, with all these mentions, there was no proof that she really existed. It soon became clear that there had been no ancient Egyptian woman physician called Merit Ptah."
Digging deep into the historical record, Kwiecinski discovered a case of mistaken identity that took on a life of its own, fueled by those eager for an inspirational story.
Many of the accounts warn ‘not to be confused with the wife of Ramose the governor of Thebes,’ which is 18th dynasty of Egypt , shown here, but it seems that the name has been confused from the off. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
The aim of this paper is to examine the iconography of donkeys in Old Kingdom scenes executed in private tombs and how the ancient Egyptians utilized them in their farming community. Three categories of donkey usages can be specified: (1) Donkeys carrying loads (2) Donkeys threshing grain and (3) Donkeys carrying officials. The paper ends with a discussion see:king to evaluate the relationship between people and donkeys.
* I am thankful to Dr. C. Eyre, Professor at Liverpool University, for his suggestions and comments on this paper. My gratitude is towards Mr. Ahmed Mansour, Head of Ancient Egyptian Language Unit, Calligraphy Center, Bibliotheca Alexandrina. I am also indebted to my colleagues at Alexandria, Qatar & Helwan Universities. I value the benefit of the repeated discussions with Dr. Khaled Daoud (Oxford and Qatar Universities).
** To the donkey who has been always working in ultimate silence, who carried the wealth of Egypt on its burden patiently, from the dawn of the Ancient Egyptian civilization till now, I dedicate this work'. The Author.
1 Wb. I, 165, 6-11 R.O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford, 1962) 38 Sethe, Aeg. Les. 79 ,9 Urk. IV, 325, 5 E. Brunner-Traut, 'Esel', LA II 28-30.
2 Wb.I, 165, 12 Faulkner, Concise Dictionary, 38 Urk. IV, 1735, 18.
3 M.C. Betro, Hieroglyphics the Writings of Ancient Egypt (USA, 1996), 94.
4 For species of the donkey in ancient world see: D.J. Brewer, D.B. Redford and S. Redford, Domestic Plants and Animals: The Egyptian Origins (Warminster, 1994), 98-100 cf. J. Clutton-Brock, Domesticated Animals from Early Times (London, 1981), 91-6 A. Nibbi, 'Some remarks on ass and horse in Ancient Egypt and the absence of the mule', ZÄS 106 (1979), 148-150. Cf. Ph. Germonde, An Egyptian Bestiary: Animals in Life and Religion in the Land of the Pharaohs (London, 2001),62.
5 B. Midant-Reynes, The Prehistory of Egypt, From the First Egyptians to the First Pharaohs (Oxford, 1992), 124, 215 B.G. Trigger, B.J. Kemp, D. O'Connor and A.B. Lloyd, Ancient Egypt: A Social History (Cambridge, 1983), 17, 19.
6 Cf. S. Bokonyi, 'The animal remains of Maadi, Egypt: a preliminary report', in: M. Liverani, A. Palmieri and R. Peroni (eds), Studi di Paletnologia in onore di Salvatore M. Puglisi (Rome, 1985), 495-9 A. Gautier, 'fauna, domesticated', in: K.A. Baud and S.B. Shubert (eds), Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt (London, 1999), 301 I. Shaw and P. Nicholson, British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (London, 1995), 166.
7 P.F. Houlihan, The Animal World of the Pharaohs (London, 1996), 29 cf. Libyan palette in Cairo Museum JE 27434= CG 14238, Saleh and Sourouzian, Egyptian Museum Cairo, fig. 7a W.J. Darby, P. Ghalioungui and L. Grivetti, Food: The Gift of Osiris, I (London, 1977), 235. The introduction of the horse during the Second Intermediate Period probably decreased the donkey's utilization whereas evidence of the camel dating to the pre-dynastic and first Dynasty comes from camel bone remains discovered at Helwan by Zaki Saad, now preserved at the agriculture museum its usage was in the Greco-Roman period which presumably limited the donkey's role. See: Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt (London, 1996), 98 J. Janssen and J. Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals (Aylesbury, 1984), 38-48 E. Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians (Liverpool, 1997), 113.
8 In the tomb of Ny-m3't-r', in the lower register, an amazing variety of animals who are engaged in copulation, where two of these are un captioned copulating wild asses see: A.M. Roth, Giza Mastabas, vol. 6 A Cemetery of Palace Attendants (Boston, 2001), 132, pis. 95-7, 189. Cf. S. Ikram, 'Animal mating motifs in Egyptian funerary representations', GM 124 (1991), 51-68. For the curses (late New Kingdom) which refer to copulation with a donkey- the sexual disorder of the donkey see: S. Morschauser, Threat-Formulae in Ancient Egypt (Baltimore, 1991), 110-12, 133, 135.
9 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 95 Houlihan, Animal World, 29.
10 JdE 61467, M. Saleh and H. Sourouzian, Official Catalogue. The Egyptian Museum Cairo (Mainz, 1987), fig. 186.
11 A.M. Badawy, 'Die neue historische Stele Amenophis' II', ASAF 42 (1943), 12, pl. 1.
12 PM 112, 516 (185) Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, Medinet Habu, II, 1932, pls. 116, 130.
13 Time of Neuserre or later, PM III2, 173 (10) LD II, 51 K. Weeks, Mastabas of Cemetery G6000 (Boston, 1994), 46-50, fig. 39, pis. 23-25.
14 Mid to end of the Fifth Dynasty, PM 1112, 169 (1-2) LD II, 56 a Weeks, Mastabas of Cemetery G6000, fig 9.
15 Time of Unis (Wenis), PM III2, 88 (3) LD II, 73 (left) E. Brovarski, 'The Sendjemib Complex at Giza' I, in: L Égyptologie en 1979. Axes prioritaires de recherches. Tomes 1 et 2 (1982), 139-42, figs. 112-113, pls. 114 a-b.
16 Fifth Dynasty or later, PM III2, 207 (2) LD II, 9.
17 Fifth Dynasty-Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 209 (2) LD Erganz xxxii [lower] A. M. Badawy, The Tombs of Iteti, Sekhem'ankh-Ptah and Kaemnofret at Giza (California, 1976), fig 30, pl. 34.
18 Fifth Dynasty or Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 223-6 LD II, 80 [c, right] Junker, Giza, XI, fig 75, pls. XX, XXI.
19 Early Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 95 (3) LD II, 71 a H. Altenmüller, 'Das Grab des Hetepniptah (G 2430) auf dem Westfriedhof von Giza', SAK 9 (1981), fig 3 A. Badawy, The Tomb of Nyhetep-Ptah at Giza and the Tomb of Ankhma'hor at Saqqara (California, 1978), pl. 8.
20 Most likely date time of Neferirkara-Kakai, PM III2, 584 (8), east of the step pyramid of Saqqara B. van de Walle, La chapelle funéraire de Neferirtenef (Bruxelles, 1978), 58-60, pl. 12 B. van de Walle, 'le mastaba de Neferirtenef, BSFE 69 (1974), 12.
21 Mid Fifth Dynasty or later, PM III2, 491 (3) LD II, 47.
22 Mid Fifth Dynasty or later, PM III2, 454 (2) W.K. Simpson, The Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah in the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, 1976), 10-16, fig 7, pl. D, IX-XVI.
23 Fifth Dynasty or early Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 635 (3) C. Ziegler, Le Mastaba d'Akhethetep. Une chapelle funéraire de l'Ancien Empire (Paris, 1993), 126, 129.
24 PM V, 235 LD II, 106 b, 107.
25 PM IV, 188-9 N. de G. Davies, The Rock Tombs of Sheikh Said (London, 1901), pl. XVI.
26 PM IV, 254-5 A.M. Blackman, The Rock Tombs of Meir IV (London, 1914-53), pl. XIV right.
27 PM IV, 243-4 Davies, The Rock Tombs of Deir el Gebrawi 1, pl. XII.
28 They were also used in trade routes for transporting products as seashells and galena from Sinai and the Red Sea. See: Midant-Reynes, The Prehistory of Egypt, 124. The ancient Egyptians utilized donkeys for long-distance journeys to Sinai, Eastern desert and Oasis. Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians, 113. An inscription from Sinai mentions the use of 500 donkeys in an expedition where they might have carried water and supplies. See: Houlihan, Animal World, 32. In the autobiography of Harkhuf recorded on his tomb no. 8 at Aswan, in one of his voyages he mentioned a caravan consisting of 300 donkeys in which they were loaded with goods back to Egypt. For publication see: Urk. I, 120-131 for translation see: M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, A Book of Readings I: The Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom (Berkeley, 1973), 23, 26. The discovery of donkey skeletons at Maadi suggest their use in transporting products to Palestinian sites as Wadi Ghazzeh (site H) and Tel el Erani, and back to Egypt where Palestinian goods have been found at Maadi. See: Shaw and Nicholson, British Museum Dictionary, 166. Also, their duties extended in mining operations conveying gold and minerals from the mines. In quarries in Western desert, north-west of Toshka, a record of 1000 donkeys were engaged. See: Trigger et al., Ancient Egypt: A Social History, 123. An example of a letter No. 141. O. Gardiner 86, dating to the Ramesside Period, mentions 2,870 donkeys among the estate of Amun in the Delta agricultural estates had great number of donkeys employed in such duties, see: E. Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt (U.S.A, 1990), 118-9. An interesting letter dated to the Nineteenth Dynasty from Deir el Medina no. 204. O. DM 303, states the contact between the draftsman and his supervisor the Place of Truth scribe, he addresses him the text reads: 'If there is work, bring the donkey! And if there is fodder, bring the ox!', indicating the hard charge the donkey has to accomplish. Cf. translation after Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, 149. For a donkey hire contracts at Deir el Medina see: J. J. Janssen, 'B3kw from work to produce', SAK 20 (1993), 61-94 -most recent article on these by P. Grandet, 'Les anes de Sennefer (O.Ifao 10044)', BIFAO 103 (2003), 257-65. See: also Janssen, Donkeys at Deir el Medina (Leiden, 2005). Numerous donkeys joined the campaigns carrying provision and equipment required by the army. Evidence comes from reliefs depicting the camps of Ramesses II wars cf. PM II2, 433 (3,2). Medicinally, medical prescriptions ingredients included male donkey urine, testicle (Ber., 124), skull, car, dung (Eb., LXV, 460), blood (Eb., LXIII, 425), fat (Eb., XLVII, 249), liver (Eb., LXVI, 463), hoof (Eb., LXV, LXVI, 460, 468) and tooth (Eb., LXVI, 470). See: Houlihan, Animal World, 32. Evidence of eating the donkey meat is so far obscure. See: Darby, The Gift of Osiris I, 235.
29 Scenes of agriculture process illustrate a sequence of closely six connected activities. For summary of agriculture stages, see: Y. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs of the Old Kingdom Studies in Orientation and Scene Content (London, 1987), 158.
30 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 166.
31 LD II, 51 Cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 208.
32 In the tomb of K3-m-nfrt scene represent four men chasing four donkeys see:: L.D. Erganz xxxii [lower] in The tomb of ly-mry. The relief shows five men chasing five donkeys see:: LD II, 51 in the tomb of Wr-ir.n.i the scene shows six men running after six donkeys see: Davies, Sheikh Said, pl. XVI.
33 Tomb of Ḫw.ns shows three drovers following six donkeys see:: LD II, 106 b, 107.
35 Tomb of Sḫm-k3 [G 1029] at Giza see: W.K. Simpson, Mastabas of the Western Cemetery I (Boston, 1980), 1.
36 Cf. the chapel of Nfr-irt.n.f see: van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12 tomb of Wr-ir.n.i see:: Davies, Sheikh Said, pl. XVI tomb of Ḫw-ns see: LD II, 106 b, 107. Harpur stated that Old Kingdom minor figures seldom wore sandals except of the three previous cases. See:: Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 171 FN 125.
37 Davies, Sheikh Said, pl. XVI Simpson argued that the term sḥ3t means 'donkey pack (?)'. See: Simpson, Mastabas, 2. For instance in the tomb of 3ẖty-ḥttp the text informs us that 2500 donkeys are been driven back see: N. de G. Davies, The Mastaba of Ptahhetep and Akhethetep at Saqqareh (London, 1900), 13,
38 LD II, 51 Badawy, Iteti, fig. 30 a.
39 LD II, 106b, 107 cf. tomb of Wr-ir.n.i see: Davies, Sheikh Said, pi. XVI tomb of Hw-ns see:: LD II, 106 b, 107.
40 See: tomb of pḥn-wἰ-k3ἰLD II, 47.
41 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 158.
42 van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12.
43 Female donkeys are followed by young foals cf. LD II, 106b, 107.
44 Fixing bundles of sheaves into sacks is a preceding stage to donkeys' carrying loads. Cf. tomb of Mrrwk3 W. Wreszinski, Atlas zur altägyptischen Kulturgeschichte III (Leipzig, 1936), pl. 45-7.
45 Cf. van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12 LD II, 47 M.A. Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I (London, 1905), pl. XI LD II, 106 b, 107 Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36.
46 Nibbi suggested that such saddle was made of wood to be able to carry heavy cargo. See: A. Nibbi, 'The SṮT sign', JEA 64 (1978), 56-64.
47 Cf. J. Vandier, Manuel d'Archéologie Égyptienne VI (Paris, 1978), fig 63.
48 Cf. van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12 Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV
50 Davies, Mastaba of Ptahhetep and Akhethetep at Saqqareh, pl. VII.
51 Wreszinski, Atlas III, 49-50.
52 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI.
53 van de Walle, Neferirtenef pl. 12.
54 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas 1, pl. XI cf. discussion of Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 212-13 for suggestions of other sack forms see: Vandier, Manuel d'Archéologie Égyptienne VI, 129.
55 van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12 LD II, 106 b, 107 also see: Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 96 Nibbi mentioned that 'The British Army Manuel lays down the maximum weight that can be carried by an ass as 100 pounds, or approximately 50 kilograms, divided in to two parts, for a load on each side'. See: Nibbi, ZÄS 10 (1979), 155 and FN (54).
56 van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12.
60 LD II, 51 Vogelsang-Eastwood defines a kilt as 'a wrap around garment worn by men, which covers part of all the lower half of the body'. See: G. Vogelsang-Eastwood, Pharaonic Egyptian Clothing (Leiden, 1993), 53-4.
61 Murray, Saqqara Mistabas, pl. XI.
62 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 170-1.
63 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 170-1.
64 Cf. Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV right see: also Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 171.
65 Cf. discussion of Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 171-2.
66 Davies, Sheikh Said, pl. XVI.
67 Vandier, Manuel d'Archéologie Égyptienne VI, 151-3.
68 Vandier, Manuel d'Archéologie Égyptienne VI, 136-7, 146-9.
69 LD II, 106b, 107 Erganz xxiib cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 213.
71 Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV right.
72 Evidence comes from the tomb of 3ḫtἰ-ḥtp [D 64] at Saqqara see: Davies, Mastaba of Ptahhetep andAkhethetep at Saqqareh, 13, pl. VII Cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 220, FN 160.
73 A.M. Mossa und H. Altenmüller, Das Grab des Nianchchnum und Chnumhotep (Mainz am Rhein, 1977), 104, fig. 13.
74 Blackman, Meir IV, 38-9, pl. XIV right.
75 LD 11, 56 a Weeks, Mastabas of Cemetery G6000, 22, fig 9.
76 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 167 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 96 Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36.
77 Wb. III, 434 (14) Faulkner, Concise Dictionary, 221. Cf. Junker, Giza VI, 146.
78 PM III2, 88 (3) LD 11, 73 (left) Brovarski, The Senedjemib Complex, I, 139-142, figs 112-113, pls. 114a-b.
79 Late Fifth Dynasty PM III2, 162 (1) Junker, Giza III, fig 48.
81 PM III2, 225 (16)-(17) Junker, Giza XI, fig. 75, pls. XX, XXI.
82 PM 1112, 95 (3)LD II, 71a Altenmüller, SAK9 (1981), fig. 3 Badawy, Nyhetep-Ptah, pl. 18.
83 Sixth Dynasty, PM 1112, 96 (1) C. Fisher, The Minor Cemetery at Giza (Philadelphia, 1924), fig. 132, pl. 53.
84 PM III2, 584 (8) van de Walle, Neferirtenef, 60-62, pl.12 van de Walle, BSFE 69 (1974), 12.
85 PM III2, 491 (3) LD II, 47.
86 PM III2, 454 (2) Simpson, The Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah, 10-16, fig. 7, pl. D, IX-XVI.
87 Time of Djedkare-Isisi, PM III2, 597 (15) Murray, Saqqara Mastabas, I, 15 Hassan, Mastabas of Ny'nh-ppy and Others, 45-8, pls. XXXVII- XXXVIIXXXVIII.
88 Time of Isesi- Unis, PM III2, 635 (3) Ziegler, Mastaba d'Akhethetep, 135-137.
89 Fifth Dynasty or Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 447 (4) G.T. Martin, The Tomb of Hetepka and Other Reliefs and Inscriptions from the sacred Animal Necropolis North Saqqara 1964-1973 (London, 1979), pl. 10 .
90 Sixth Dynasty, PM III2, 512-515 Wreszinski, Atlas III, pl. 52 Badawy, Nyhetep-Ptah, 15-7, fig. 24, pls. 26-7 N. Kanawati and A. Hassan, The Teti Cemetery II The Tomb ofAnkhmahor (Warminster, 1997), 30-2, pl. 4, 37 a.
91 PM V, 235 LD 11, 106 b, 107.
92 Davies, Sheikh Said, pl. XVI.
93 PM IV, 254-5 Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV right.
94 Wreszinski, Atlas III, 49-50 Cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 166.
95 See: also the tomb of ppy-'nḫ-ḥri-ib Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV right.
96 Scenes also show oxen helping in the threshing process cf.LD II, 47, 71 a, 106.
97 LD II, 47 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI Davies, Sheikh Said, pi XVI Simpson, The Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah, pl. D, IX, XVI.
98 Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 210.
99 LD II, 47 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI Davies, Sheikh Said, pl XVI Simpson, The Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah, pl. D, IX, XVI.
101 For different phraseology see: for example van de Walle, Neferirtenef, pl. 12 Blackman, Meir IV, pl. XIV Junker, Giza XI, fig. 75 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI LD II, 47 Simpson, The Offering Chapel of Sekhem-ankh-Ptah, fig. 7, pl. D, IX-XVI Ziegler, Mastaba d'Akhethetep, 148-9.
102 A graffiti found at Serabit al-Khadim in Sinai, dated to the Twelfth Dynasty, shows Asiatic princes riding on the donkeys' backs. Cf. A.H. Gardiner, T.E. Peet and J. Cerny, The Inscriptions of Sinai I (London, 1955), pis. 37, 39, 44, 85. Also, an Asiatic prince is portrayed riding a donkey depicted on a scarab, dated to the Fifteenth Dynasty. Cf. Houlihan, Animal World, 31. For the matter of prestige's, Urk. IV, 1236, 3-5 – Gebel Barkal stela of Tuthmosis III, the defeated chiefs are allowed to ride away on donkeys, because the king has taken their horses from them. On the basis of a text in O. Cairo 25543 lines 4-5, Janssen stated that donkeys were employed in pulling chariots in rare occasions. See: J. Janssen, The Commodity Prices from the Ramesside Period (Leiden, 1975), 170 cf. argument of Nibbi in ZÄS 106 (1979), FN (61). Textual evidence dating to the New Kingdom alludes to chariots pulled by donkeys. See: Brewer, et al., Domestic Plants and Animals, 100.
103 PM III2, 255 (5) LD II, 43 (a) S. Hassan, Excavations at Giza, I (Cairo, 1932), 244-246, fig 104 L. Klebs, Die Reliefs des alten Reiches (2980-2475 v. Chr.) (Heidelberg, 1915), 29.
104 PM III2, 642 (11) Mossa und Altenmüller, Das Grab des Nianchchnum und Chnumhotep, pls. 42-3.
105 Cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 55.
106 Blackman, Meir IV, 38, pl. XIV. Cf. A.M. Roth, 'The practical economics of tomb-building in the Old Kingdom: a visit to the necropolis in a carrying chair', in: D.P. Silverman (ed.) For His Ka. Essays Offered in Memory of Klaus Baer (Chicago, 1994), 227-240.
107 Mossa und Altenmüller, Das Grab des Nianchchnum und Chnumhotep, 114, pl. 42. For Ḫnmw-ḥtp seated on a carrying chair over the back of two donkeys cf. Mossa und Altenmüller, Das Grab des Nianchchnum und Chnumhotep, 115, pl. 43.
108 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 97.
109 Gautier, in: Baud and Shubert (eds,), Encyclopedia, 301 Owing a great number of domesticated donkeys is viewed as bearing high measure of status in society. See: Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 96 they were shown counted in tribute and booty scenes indicating their value to the country cf. PM 112, 344 (10).
110 Houlihan, Animal World, 31 cf. Darby, The Gift of Osiris, I, 235.
111 Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36 also see: Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 97.
112 W.S. Smith, A History of Egyptian Sculpture and Painting in the Old Kingdom (London, 1946), 172.
113 There was no difference between the price of both genders. See:: Janssen Ramesside Period study of donkey prices in Commodity Prices, 165-79 cf. Nibbi, ZÄS 106 (1979), 154.
114 Ploughing is the process where animals, usually sheep, would stamp over see:ds, using their hooves, to immerse them on a soft land, to a reasonable profundity. See: Brunner-Traut, LA II (1977), 27 Brewer, et al., Domestic Plants and Animals, 100.
116 Cf. Klebs, alten Reiches, 51 L. Klebs, Die Relief und Malereiendes Mittleren Reiches (Heidelberg, 1922), 27.
117 A. Erman, Papyrus Lansing (Kobenhaven, 1925), 39.
118 Gautier, in: Baud and Shubert (eds,), Encyclopedia, 301.
119 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 95 Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36 Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians, 113.
120 Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians, 117-8
121 Dating to the Twelfth Dynasty, see: J. Champollion, Monuments de l'Egypte et de la Nubie (Paris, 1845), pl. CCCXCI.
122 Cf. Junker, Giza XI, fig 75 Cf. Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 207.
123 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI tomb of R'-wr Hassan, Excavations at Giza I, 33 fig 26.
125 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, 15.
126 Davies, Mastaba of Ptahhetep and Akhethetep at Saqqareh, 14.
127Museo Egizio, Turin cf. Houlihan, Animal World, pl. XIII.
128 168. O. Berlin 12398 translation after Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, 137.
129 Parallel spelt words indicate 'baton' or 'cudgel'.
130 Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, 170 (3).
131 Cf. Brewer, et al., Domestic Plants and Animals, 100 Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 37. For a possible example in a threshing context, dating to the Old Kingdom, of beating donkeys see: inscription in Fisher, Minor Cemetery at Giza, 100, pl. 53
132 Kanawati and Hassan, The Teti Cemetery at Saqqara II, pl. 77 (room I). In the story of the Eloquent Peasant, the peasant's donkeys were punished for eating grain in the field by being made to thresh. See:: Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 171.
133 For cattle-breeding scenes see: Weeks, Mastabas of Cemetery G6000, 41, fig. 33, pis. 17-25 Junker, Giza XI, fig. 93, pl. XXIV [b].
134 Foals are mentioned in contracts and illustrated in animal processions. See: Janssen and Janssen, Egyptian Household Animals, 36 Partridge, Transport in Ancient Egypt, 96 Representations of young animals date to the Fifth Dynasty see: Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs, 210. There existence in large number suggests a regular breeding system. See: Brewer, et al., Domestic Plants and Animals, 100.
135 Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. XI LD II,106b, 107.
136 Kanawati and Hassan, The Teti Cemetery at Saqqara II, pl. 77 (room I).
137 Nibbi, JEA 64, 57 Nibbi, ZÄS 106, 153.
138 P. Turin 1976 translation after Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, 137-8.
139 Brewer, et al., Domestic Plants and Animals, 100.
140 The Ancient Egyptians knew the donkeys' basic qualities, practices, feeding, growth, illness and reproduction. They kept them at Pens overnight away from wild animals or thieves. Examples are derived from Old Kingdom tomb scenes for example on the walls of the mastaba of Mrrwk3 five species of animals are shown eating from troughs and lower registers represent hyenas being fattening up. See: P. Duel et al., The Mastaba of Mereuka II (Chicago, 1938), pl. 153. Also a wooden model comes from the tomb of Mkt-r''t Deir el Bahari dated to the Eleventh Dynasty depict a pens where four cattle are feeding from a manger, in which the front two men force-feeding two cows. Cf. Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians, 1 10.
Nebamun hunting in the marshesNebamun is in a small boat, hunting birds with his wife, Hatshepsut and their young daughter in the marshes of the Nile. Scenes of leisure had already been a traditional part of tomb-chapel decorations for centuries and they show the tomb’s owner “enjoying himself and seeing beauty” in the afterlife, as the hieroglyphic caption here says. Fertile marshes were the place of rebirth and eroticism, making this more than a simple image of recreation. The huge striding figure of Nebamun dominates, forever happy and forever young, surrounded by the rich and teeming life of the marsh. Hunting not only supplied food, but represented Nebamun’s triumph over the forces of the chaos. The British Museum, London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. A tawny cat catches birds among the papyrus stems. Cats were family pets, but he is shown here because a cat could also represent the Sun-god hunting the enemies of the light and order. His unusual gilded eye hints at the religious meanings of this scene. The artists have filled every space with lively details. The marsh is full of lotus flowers and Plain Tiger butterflies. They are freely and delicately painted, suggesting the pattern and texture of their wings. The British Museum, London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. This is Nebamun his name means “My Lord is Amun”. The British Museum, London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. Nebamun’s wife, Hatshepsut, stands behind him. Note her elaborate headdress and dress. The British Museum, London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. Nebamun’s daughter sits on the boat below the figure of her father. She grips her father’s right leg with her right hand while her left hand holds a lotus flower. She is naked. Note her hair-style! The British Museum, London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin. Reconstruction of this wall scene. Drawing by C. Thorne and R. B. Parkinson. Photographs of other fragments courtesy of the Association of Egyptologique Reine Elizabeth, Brussels. The British Museum London. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin.
This is a double tomb situated among a group of mastabas on the west side of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Akhethotep was ‘Chief Justice and Vizier’, and ‘Overseer of the Pyramid Towns and Inspector of Priests of the Pyramid of Niuserre, Menkauhor and Djedkare-Isesi’. His son, Ptahhotep, whose tomb is an annex on the southern side of that of his father, was also named as ‘Chief Justice and Vizier’, ‘Inspector of Priests of the Pyramids of Menkauhor and Djedkare-Isesi’ and ‘Inspector of Wab-Priests of the Pyramid of Niuserre’. They held office during the reigns of Djedkare-Isesi and Unas at the end of Dynasty V.
The entrance to the tomb is on the northern side and consists of a portico with two pillars, leading into a corridor which was incompletely decorated. The damaged remains of the painted walls include scenes of agriculture and fowling, watched by Akhethotep and his eldest son Ptahhotep as a child.
The corridor leads into a large hall with four pillars and on the western wall of the hall, a narrow doorway takes us into the chapel of Akhethotep, which is an inverted T-shape. Here the deceased can be seen seated before several registers of scenes showing men bringing papyrus and birds, boatmen jousting, herdsmen and fishermen and men making boats from papyrus. Above the doorway there is a scene of the papyrus thicket, with flying birds. On the end wall (south) there are depictions of offering-bringers and butchers. Only guidelines were sketched onto the unfinished walls. On the western wall of the offering chapel is the false door of Akhethotep which is surrounded by three jambs. Although part of the top of the stela is missing, six images of the deceased can be seen on the lower part (three on each side). The offering chapel also led to a serdab.
On the south-western side of the four-pillared hall is the entrance, through a small vestibule to Ptahhotep’s portion of the tomb. Inside the chapel and partly above the doorway, Ptahhotep can be seen seated while his attendants perhaps bring along his favourite pets, dogs and a monkey. Before him are eight registers including men bringing offerings and paying their respects. There are musicians, including a harpist and a singer, dwarfs making jewellery and scenes of butchers.
On the left-hand wall (east) there are several registers of scenes which are often very unusual. They depict colourfully carved images of gathering papyrus, children playing games, hunting in the desert, building papyrus boats and making ropes, and trapping birds and fishing. Ptahhotep and his young son watch over these activities. Many animals are colourfully and realistically portrayed in this tomb – leopards and lions, hyenas, antelopes, desert animals and domestic animals and birds. There are even two porcupines, one of which is eating a cricket.
On the opposite wall (west) Ptahhotep has two false doors. The southern stela has a double jamb, is elaborately painted and the deceased is shown on the left side being carried in a sedan chair and on the right side seated in a kiosk. Lists of festivals are shown above the lintel. Between the false doors Ptahhotep, wearing an animal skin, is seated at a table and smelling a perfumed ointment jar. There are offering lists for the deceased and priests and offering-bringers. The northern false door is uninscribed.
Ptahhotep’s burial chamber contained an inscribed sarcophagus bearing his names and titles. Fragments from intrusive burials from Dynasties V and VI were also found in the tomb. His tomb-chapel is by far the most interesting part of this mastaba and its reliefs are very beautiful with well-preserved colours.
The tomb of Akhethotep and Ptahhotep is usually open to visitors on request. Photography is no longer allowed inside any of the tombs.
On the east bank of the Nile 23km north of Edfu is one of the oldest settlements of Upper Egypt. The ancient town of Nekheb was called Eleithyiaspolis in classical times and comprises of monuments spanning periods of Egyptian history from Predynastic through to Ptolemaic. El-Kab and its sister site of Hierakonpolis on the west bank of the river were the home of Nekbet, the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt.
Driving north along the road between Edfu and Esna the visitor comes first upon the huge mudbrick walls of the town enclosure, 12m thick, which still contain within them the ruins of temples, cemeteries and a sacred lake. The central temple is the oldest of the remains, with its origins possibly dating to the Early Dynastic Period. Of the two ruined structures remaining today, the Temple of Thoth was begun by Amenhotep II in Dynasty XVIII and enlarged by later New Kingdom pharaohs. A contiguous monument, a larger Temple of Nekhbet built during the Late Period, partly overlays the older structure and many blocks from the Middle and New Kingdoms have been re-used. It is difficult to make out the plan of monuments within the town site as the inside is very overgrown and confusing, but the remains of a birth-house and a small Roman temple can still be seen. One interesting feature is the drainage system which is exposed in front of the second pylon of the Nekhbet Temple.
A short distance away on the other side of the road are several rock-cut tombs, ranged on a terrace in the side of the cliff at the entrance to the Wadi Hellal. These are the burial places of New Kingdom officials of the region and are now open to visitors. The style of the early New Kingdom wall-paintings is similar to those of the nobles tombs from the same period at Thebes.
Tomb of Ahmose Pennekhbet (EK2)
Ahmose Pennekhbet was ‘Overseer of the Seal’ in early Dynasty XVIII. Biographical texts and portrayals of Ahmose with his son and other relatives can be seen around the door jambs.
Tomb of Paheri (EK3)
Paheri was a Mayor of Nekheb during Dynasty XVIII. The well-preserved paintings in his tomb show scenes of offerings at his funeral procession and agricultural scenes of daily life. In a niche in the rear wall is a statue of Paheri with his wife and mother.
Tomb of Setau (EK4)
Setau was a priest in the service of Nekhbet during the reign of Rameses III. On the outside wall of his tomb is a stela showing Setau and his wife adoring Re-Horakhty and Khepri. The paintings inside show the tomb-owner with his relatives in various offering scenes and a depiction of the Barque of Nekhbet with jubilee texts of Rameses III on the west wall.
Tomb of Ahmose, son of Ibana (EK5)
Ahmose in his biographical texts is described as ‘Captain of Sailors’ and was prominent in the wars of liberation against the Hyksos rulers when the southern princes laid siege to the town of Avaris in the Delta. The text tells of the favours Ahmose was granted for his part, including the award of the ‘gold of honour’ and tells that he was given four slaves by His Majesty from the booty he carried off. He was the Grandfather of Paheri (EK3) who is seen offering to him in the tomb. A separate burial chamber opens off to the east.
Tomb of Renni (EK7)
A mayor of Nekheb during the reign of Amenhotep I, Renni’s tomb depicts the usual agricultural scenes, banquet scenes and funeral procession. The remains of a statue of the tomb-owner flanked by two jackals can be see in a niche in the rear wall. The ceiling of this tomb is beautifully painted to represent the cloth roof of a tent or canopy.
There are also Middle Kingdom tombs at El-Kab which are presently inaccessible.
If you have time (and permission) to drive down the Wadi Hellal road which runs 4km west towards the desert, there are many other sites to visit. You will need to collect a guard with the keys to the monuments at the resthouse. At the entrance to the valley is a Ptolemaic rock-sanctuary dedicated to Seshmetet. Just to the southeast higher up the hillside, is a temple of Nekhbet consisting of two halls with Hathor columns and a rock-cut sanctuary. This was built by Rameses II, restored by Ptolemies VIII-X and has a stela of Rameses II cut into the façade. The reliefs inside the temple are not well-preserved, but the steps leading up to it and the courtyard have been recently restored. Back towards the road is a structure called locally el-Hammam (the bath), a square single roomed chapel dedicated to local gods and to the deified Rameses II by his Viceroy of Nubia, Setau (a different person to the owner of tomb EK4).
Further along the valley road is ‘Vulture Rock’, so-called because its shape seen at a certain angle (and with imagination) resembles the shape of a vulture. The faces of the rock are covered with petroglyphs and Old Kingdom inscriptions probably made by pilgrims passing this way on the ancient desert road. Several Old Kingdom kings are named on smooth panels cut into the rock, the earliest cartouche is that of Snofru. There are also Late Period primitive rock-carvings.
A little further on is a small temple dedicated to Hathor and Nekhbet, built by Tuthmose IV and Amenhotep III. The single chamber was apparently a way-station for the barque of Nekhbet when the statue of the goddess was brought to her desert valley. Quite a lot of colour still remains on the wall reliefs inside the temple, depicting Tuthmose IV and his son Amenhotep III. The building was restored in late antiquity and brightly painted scenes of rituals as well as the vulture goddess still can be seen. On the chapel façade is a text by Prince Khaemwaset, the son of Rameses II, announcing his father’s jubilee in year 42, as well as graffiti by other passing travellers.
There is also a destroyed temple built by Tuthmose III to the west of the nobles tombs, and Old Kingdom mastaba tombs of Kiamen and Nefershemem of Dynasty IV.
In December 2000 news was announced that Belgian archaeologists have discovered a small and mostly intact cemetery at El-Kab which has been dated to Dynasty II. The 35 graves, mostly belonging to infants, are reported to be circular stone structures sometimes arranged around natural boulders and 18-20m in diameter. This type of tomb has not been seen before in Egypt and they have been compared to Neolithic burial mounds in Europe. Although there is no evidence of wrapping or mummification, the largest tomb contained fragments of a pottery coffin. It is suggested that the new cemetery represents a ‘missing link’ between the Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic burial ground found within Elkab’s town walls and a recently discovered Third Dynasty mastaba.
During 2003 a team of conservators led by Vivian Davies of the British Museum, began work on the Dynasty XVII tomb of Sobeknakht, a governor of Nekheb. The cleaning process revealed an inscription of a previously unknown attack on Egypt by the Kingdom of Kush and their allies from Punt. The biographical text tells of the Kushite raid and subsequent counter-attack by the Egyptians. Egyptologists are regarding the text as one of the most significant inscriptions about Dynasty XVII military history found to date. Evidence corroborating these events have also recently been found in Sudan, where archaeologists discovered a vessel that was once in Sobeknakht’s tomb.
How to get there
El-Kab can be reached by road en route to Luxor from Aswan or combined with a trip to Edfu or Esna temples.
“Resurrection” Is a Worthy, Family-Friendly Offering for Holy Week
Every year, I go through a list of films and miniseries about the life of Christ that I want to watch, or avoid, to prepare for Holy Week and Easter. There are many options.
After all, cinematic depictions of the life of Christ are as old as film itself. Some of the earliest were the silent films Jesus Christ (1905) and From the Manger to the Cross (1912). Later, big technicolor spectacles like King of Kings (1961) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) were one expression of the life of Christ, with Pasolini’s stark, Marxism-infused The Gospel According to Matthew (1964) representing another. A few years later, hippie Jesus stories became the norm, with Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell—both from 1973, and both lacking Jesus’s bodily Resurrection at the end—as the best-known examples. In subsequent years, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) captured the conspiratorial spirit of post-orthodoxy, while Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) pushed back hard in the opposite direction, striving for a total authenticity designed to cut viewers to the heart with the Gospel.
And then there is television, with the very best depiction of the life of Christ remaining Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977), which I have watched every year during Lent since I was a child. Joining this tradition in recent years have been several offerings from producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, including The Bible (2013) for the History Channel, along with the subsequent film Son of God (2014), compiled with footage from the series.
On Easter Sunday in 2015, Downey and Burnett premiered the miniseries A.D. The Bible Continues for NBC, and from this larger work, they have created a new film, Resurrection, just in time for Easter this year. Resurrection will debut on the Discovery+ streaming service on March 27, and it is a worthy addition to the family-friendly stable of biblical movies that Catholics may be looking into for edification during Holy Week and beyond.
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly and written by Simon Block, Resurrection begins in medias res with Peter running away in fear, and then denying Jesus three times. We then move through a loose adaptation of John 18, with Jesus before Caiaphas, played by the recognizable British actor Richard Coyle, followed by Pontius Pilate, played by the veteran actor Vincent Regan. These two performers stand out among a large cast, along with Downton Abbey’s Kevin Doyle as Joseph of Arimathea.
The script progresses from the viewpoint of Christ’s confident accusers to the anxious disciples, and then the script flips. In one scene, Pilate’s wife tells her husband, “Killing him won’t be the end of them,” to which Pilate sneers, “It usually is, my darling.” In another scene, Caiaphas warns Joseph of Arimathea against doing anything to “create the appearance of fulfilling the prophecy of Isiah,” concluding “the Nazarene’s doctrine will decompose with his corpse.” Finally, Pilate is prophetic in his angry retort to Caiaphas, who begs for soldiers to guard the tomb and expose the lie of the Resurrection conspiracy theorists: “You underestimate the might of your Roman overlords.”
The film’s focus on the transformation of the disciples’ fear into faith is very well done, and the cast of the Apostles is quite rightly racially diverse. John, for example, is played by a black man, Babou Ceesay, and Mary Magdalene is played by the Zimbabwean actress, Chipo Chung. When the film later depicts the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we can really see the amazement of the “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), each hearing in his own language.
The empty-tomb scene poses the most important question of all to the audience, as Peter asks John, “Do you dare to believe?” John replies in profound simplicity, “Jesus is risen.” He then tells the rest of the gathering, “We found nothing. And everything.” Juan Pablo di Pace plays Jesus, whose few lines and relatively brief on-screen appearances draw greater attention to what is to come: his return to heaven, and his followers’ mission to the world in the face of the ruling elites’ continued opposition. Caiaphas laments, “Why won’t this business just end? Why couldn’t this Jesus just stay dead?” Pilate hopes brute force may do the trick: “If you cannot control a story, kill it.”
Centuries after Caiaphas and Pilate went to their own tombs, Resurrection stands in a long cinematic tradition that proves that the story of Christ cannot be killed. Unlike typical films about the death and Resurrection of Jesus, this film follows the biblical narrative up through Acts 4, just before the story would transition to Stephen, and then Saul. The Ascension scene is very campy, but the Pentecost scene is very well done, with computer-generated tongues of flame that intensify rather than cheapen what one imagines the event might really have been like. The audience gets just enough of a taste of the apostolic endeavors of Peter and John to think more deeply about how Christ’s abiding presence with his people, along with the fulfillment of his Great Commission, has unfolded ever since.
This year, as every year, Jesus of Nazareth will remain my go-to inspiration as I approach the cross and the empty tomb for another Holy Week and Triduum but I am glad to have another, easier option in Resurrection. And all Christians have Roma Downey and Mark Burnett to thank for their commitment to refreshing the greatest story ever told for new generations, and new media.
Offering Scene from the Tomb of Akhethetep - History
In China, as elsewhere, the earlier the period the more important archaeological evidence is to our understanding of what life was like. For periods before writing, surviving artifacts offer a crucial corrective to legend and myth. Moreover, even after writing was invented, for many centuries the types of texts that survive are very limited, so that there is still a great deal to learn from artifacts. Scientifically excavated objects can be placed more accurately in time and place than early texts, which often went through a process of accretion over time, with many passages added later.
Thousands of early archaeological sites have been excavated in China, most of them graves. Learning from this archaeological evidence is at least as difficult as learning from texts. The objects are silent--we must ask questions of them before they can tell us anything.
This unit contains summaries of five archaeological sites, ranging in date from about 2300 BC to 100 BC. The tombs selected for examination were all advanced for their time. Their occupants were members of the ruling class of the period, able to afford the highest standard of material comfort, technical excellence, and artistic embellishment then available.
An Ancient Egyptian Physician Cited As the 'First Woman Doctor' Likely Never Existed
Merit Ptah was an ancient Egyptian physician, often revered as the world's first female doctor. She was thought to live nearly 5,000 years ago. but she likely never existed, according to new findings.
"Merit Ptah was everywhere," from online posts about women in STEM and popular history books to computer games, Jakub Kwiecinski, a medical historian and instructor at the University of Colorado's School of Medicine, said in a UC statement. "And yet, with all these mentions, there was no proof that she really existed."
So Kwiecinski spent some time searching through literature, looking for any such proof. He traced the first mention of Merit Ptah to a 1938 book describing the history of women in medicine around the world, written by medical historian, doctor and activist Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead.
In her book, she identified the first woman doctor as Merit Ptah, and described how she lived during the fifth dynasty of Egypt's "Old Kingdom," or about 2730 B.C., and who was the mother of a high priest who was buried in the Valley of the Kings &mdash an area on the western bank of the Nile where many pharaohs and important Egyptian nobles were given elaborate burials.
Inside this high priest's tomb was a picture and tablet that described the high priest's mother, Merit Ptah, as "the Chief Physician," Hurd-Mead wrote. But the burial ground in the Valley of the Kings didn't exist until Egypt's New Kingdom (1539 B.C. to 1075 B.C.), around 1,000 years after Merit Ptah was thought to have lived. What's more, though "Merit Ptah as a name existed in the Old Kingdom," there is no record of that name linked to a physician in any list of ancient Egyptian healers, even controversial ones, Kwiecinski said.
Hurd-Mead herself owned a book that briefly mentioned, but didn't name, another ancient Egyptian healer who lived during the fifth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, according to the UC statement. From context, it was clear that that ancient Egyptian healer the book was referring to was a woman named Peseshet.
Peseshet became known from the 20th-century excavation of the tomb of her son Akhethetep, an Old Kingdom courier who was thought to have lived around 2400 B.C. His tomb, found in Giza (much farther north than the Valley of Kings), included a false door depicting his father and his mother and describing her as the "Overseer of Healer Women." Hurd-Mead likely confused Merit Ptah with Peseshet, Kwiecinski said.
"Unfortunately, Hurd-Mead in her own book accidentally mixed up the name of the ancient healer, as well as the date when she lived, and the location of the tomb," Kwiecinski said. "And so, from a misunderstood case of an authentic Egyptian woman healer, Peseshet, a seemingly earlier Merit Ptah, 'the first woman physician,' was born."
This ancient Egyptian healer's story shows how erroneous historical accounts can easily spread after being created in amateur historian circles, Kwiecinski wrote in the paper describing his study, which was published Nov. 22 in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. But it also shows how important role models have been for women entering science and medicine, he wrote.
"Even though Merit Ptah is not an authentic ancient Egyptian woman healer … she is a very real symbol of the 20th-century feministic struggle to write women back into the history books, and to open medicine and STEM to women," he said.