Month: February 2015

Senebkay, first Pharaoh to die in Battle

In collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities, a University of Pennsylvania team discovered new evidence on the life and death of pharaoh Senebkay, founder of the 16th Dynasty of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt. The pharaoh’s skeleton’s forensic analysis performed by researchers directed by Dr. Josef Wegner indicated that the reason behind the death of this king was due to a number of wounds received during a fierce battle from multiple assailants or an ambush. The skeleton was found by the Pennsylvania mission in 2014 inside the King’s tomb in Abydos, Suhag Governorate, declared Dr. Eldamaty, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities.

Taposiris Magna Stele: Another Rosetta Stone

The SCA Archaeological Mission in collaboration with the Catholic University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) working at the Taposiris Magna site succeeded in discovering a limestone stele inscribed with Hieroglyphic and Demotic inscriptions. The Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Eldamaty stated that the discovered stele contains 20 Hieroglyphic lines with royal cartouches of king “Ptolomy V” whom the stele was inscribed during the seventh year of his reign. Cartouches of Ptolomy’s wife and sister, Queen “Cleopatra I”, his father, King “Ptolomy IV” and his wife “Arsinoe III” also appear. The Demotic inscriptions that lie at the bottom of the stele consist of five lines of a text that seem to be a translation and a copy of the previous Hieroglyphic lines. Eldamaty added that the stele is a 105 cm. length, 65 cm. width and 18 cm. thick. A Significant Discovery The Antiquities Minister stressed that the importance of this discovery lies in the different scripts forming it, resembling the Rosetta Stone which was inscribed in the ninth year of king “Ptolomy V” ‘s reign which means two years …

The Divine Gift of Writing

The gods were responsible for teaching humans how to write. Without their divine involvement, it would have been impossible for us, imperfect mortals, to develop such a valuable and powerful skill. This, and other similar explanations, was the way that most ancient societies accounted for the existence of writing. Itzamná, the Mayan god and ruler of heaven, was the inventor of writing in Mesoamerica, just like Odin in Norse mythology was the god who invented the runes. Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and scribe of the gods, was responsible for the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury), related to the Egyptian Thoth by some Greeks, was the creator of the Greek alphabet. Even those Greeks who had a more rational explanation for the origin of the alphabet relied on a legendary figure who although was no god, was still mythical: Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes according to Greek folklore (Herodotus, 5.58). 

Finding the hidden Naram-Sin rock relief in Iraq

I was chatting with my uncle about the archaeological reliefs in the Governorate of Sulaymaniyah. The Governorate is part of Iraqi Kurdistan and is about 400 km north-west of Baghdad. He said that he saw a relief in the year 1985 on a top of a mountain, south-west of the city of Sulaymaniyah. The name of the relief, as the local villagers call it, is Naram-Sin (Arabic: نارام سين ; Kurdish: نيرام سن). This happens to also be the name Sargon the Great‘s grandson; Naram-Sin of Akkad (reigned 2261-2224 BCE). Interesting! Ok, let’s go. I drove my car and in about 2 hours, I reached the area my uncle had talked about (there is a road from the main street up to the top of the mountain, which was made by the local government). After that, I had to use my feet. From the top of the mountain, I descended down into a valley-like crevice. It is not that dangerous if you are familiar with hiking. Finally, there you are! The dead silence of the mountain top, together …

The Punic-Roman Temple of Antas, Sardinia

Nestled in the middle of the Iglesiente mountains in the southwestern part of Sardinia, the ruins of the Punic–Roman Temple of Antas offer visitors a truly majestic sight. After lying abandoned for centuries, the temple was discovered in 1838 and extensively restored in 1967. Most impressively, the original Ionic columns were excavated and re-erected. The present visible structure dates to the 3rd century AD on a floor-plan from the Augustan age.

Attila, the Scourge of God

The Creative Assembly has produced a short documentary on Attila the Hun to celebrate the launch of their latest historical computer game, Total War: ATTILA (also read our interview with the game’s lead designer). This seven minute film summarizes the life of Attila, his achievements, his cruel reputation, and his legacy. The documentary mixes narrative by Dr. Paul Harrison with 3D footage and historical reenactors.   Continue reading for more videos and background information on the game Total War: ATTILA.

Treasures Of The Lost Dhow

One of the most important discoveries in marine archaeological history occurred in 1998, just off Indonesia’s Belitung Island in the western Java Sea: A 1,200-year-old Arabian dhow with an astounding cargo of gold, silver, ceramic artifacts, coins, and tangible personal effects. The ship’s hold contained some 57,000 pieces in total and yet no human remains. The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route, now on show at the newly opened Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, explores the movement of cross-cultural exchange, trade, and technology between the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 CE) and Tang dynasty China (618-907 CE) through the prism of an ancient shipwreck.In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Mr. John Vollmer, Guest Curator for the Aga Khan Museum’s presentation of this exhibition, about the importance of the objects in this exhibition and what the exhibition means to the recently opened museum.