Title with 

By John Smith posted July 20, 2016

Lecture archive


Thoths female consorts 

Dr. Mervat Nasser

Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt 

Dr Judith Corbelli

Dealing with the Devil : Satan in the texts of the Apophthegmata Patrum

Dr Glenn Godenho

Auctions and X-rays; Animal Mummies in Liverpool

Dr Ashley Cooke 

Did Hatshepsut Inherit Dier el-Bahri ?

Claire Ollett

From Ancient Egypt to ‘Bridgerton’: The influence of Thomas Hope

Dr Gina Muskett

Feline Friends: Divine and Domestic Cats in Ancient Egypt

Jo Backhouse

Gospel of Jesus' wife 

Dr Paula Tutty 

mummy bands of the captain of Amun, Mery?

Dr Ashley Cooke

Dogs in Ancient Egypt: Mans’ Best Friend

Dr Joanne Backhouse

Saqqara-Secrets in the Sand

Colin Reader

Medicine and Healing Practices in Ancient Egypt 

Dr Roger Forshaw 

Music in ancient Egypt 

Dr. Heidi Köpp-Junk

Auctions and X-rays; Animal Mummies in Liverpool
Dr Ashley Cooke

December 2023

Dr Cooke, in his role as Senior Curator at Liverpool World Museum, has been looking at the animal mummies in the collection and, specifically, at what is inside them.

The first experimental x-ray of one these mummies took place many years ago and was of a bird, but the first serious programme x-raying the collection did not begin until 1995 and included both birds and animals. Later, in 2008 the museum began a comprehensive programme, not only x-raying for research but also to see what each mummy actually contained, avoiding any need to unwrap them and destroy the bandaging whilst doing so.

The vast majority of these animal mummies were produced for the cults of different gods associated with a variety of animals and birds. Each god could be represented with an animal head on a human body as one of its manifestations; for example Anubis shown with the head of a jackal and the body of a man. These cults appointed special groups of priests to conduct ceremonies in the god’s honour and in some cases to look after cult animals as representatives of the god. This continued well into the Christian era, especially in North Saqqara, where 750,000 to 1 million animal mummies have been found on the north side of the cemetery alone.

Up to 8 million mummies of dogs have been discovered in dog catacombs as offerings to Anubis, mostly donated by pilgrims. This was very advantageous to the local and national economy as these pilgrims would buy their offerings, usually bred for this purpose by the cult priests locally, and would need supplies for themselves as well. The pilgrims would expect to gain blessings from the cult priests or a message via an oracle. The best sources of information about this practice are written sources from the sides of coffins and mummy jars.

The x-rays discovered that things were not always quite what might have been expected. They showed that frequently there wasn’t always one complete animal in each bundle or vessel. They were often messy with one or more partial skeletons, incomplete bits and pieces and sometimes no bits of bone at all. X-rays not only stop the need to unwrap these bundles, so preserving the sometimes complex wrappings, but also show clearly what is inside quickly and cleanly. One such bundle showed it contained an incomplete ibis with a layer of air produced after settlement. Another contained a bird, missing a leg and part of a rib cage and a third, a tiny part of a ram inside a framework constructed to create the correct shape, probably to represent Amun. The Joseph Mayer collection included a mummy bought from Joseph Sands, which was labelled as an embalmed serpent, but this actually turned out to be just a bundle of linen strips that had been misidentified.

Cat mummies tended typically to be formed in a long cylindrical shape with a cat-shaped head, wrapped geometrically and sometimes with a cartonnage mask with ears, a nose, cheeks and maybe a collar attached. In 2004 Nature Magazine identified wax and paint on the linen on one such mummy. X-rays can identify how these cats were manipulated to create the required shape before wrapping. There were a number of techniques; limbs removed, stuffing added or kittens filled out to represent an adult cat. Sometimes if no head remains it is hard to identify whether it is indeed a cat or a bird. X- rays solve this problem.

Crocodiles were mummified as gifts for Sobek and kept as objects of veneration at his cult centres and again, his priests would benefit economically from offerings from pilgrims to his temples. On being x-rayed in the 1995 research programme at Liverpool, some examples were found to have smaller mummified crocodiles standing on the backs of the larger ones. Interestingly two mummified mongooses were identified using x-rays, probably offered to the solar god, Atum or Horus.

In 1890, the Moss Steamship Company brought 28 tons of mummified animals to the UK for the bodies to be crushed and used as fertiliser and for the linen wrappings to go to the paper manufacturing industry. They filled two full ships and were to be auctioned as a job lot, but the second shipload ended up being auctioned off separately because of the enormous interest generated. The public was allowed to buy individual items at vastly inflated prices. National interest was piqued when the cat-like mummies were said to be a representative of the goddess Pakhet (she who scratches), who was later associated with the Greek goddess Artemis. The cat mummies sent to Liverpool were said to be less attractive than those sold in London; some of the finest examples of these are now displayed in the British Museum.

180,000 mummified cats landed in Liverpool were crushed and used as fertiliser. Gascon Maspero called this a tragedy as more could have been learned about these cults and these offerings. Many show fractures, especially of the neck and the cats had had an average lifespan of only two years. This suggests a mass breeding programme for the sole purpose of killing them as offerings; the thousands mummied in this way were certainly not kept as pets. The same applies to the other animals and birds mummified in such vast quantities.

Dealing with the Devil : Satan in the texts of the Apophthegmata Patrum
Dr Glenn Godenho

November 2023

Dr Godenho described the Coptic language as “the last blast of the hieroglyphic language” and it is the Egyptian language written out in Greek letters; he teaches Coptic at the University of Liverpool. Unlike hieroglyphs Coptic is written including vowels and each Greek letter represents a definite sound. The content of the early texts is Christian, from the initial period when Christians were taking over traditional Egyptian religious sites and it was during this time that the languages became linked together. Some of the teaching texts he uses incorporate an address to Coptic saints and martyrs.

The perception of the devil/Satan changes over time. As seen by Christians at this very early time period he is based on the figure from the Old Testament. In the book of Job he is the Agent of God working for him on Earth, but his role changes as the gospels are written; for example, in the temptation in the desert, where he has transformed into an enemy of God. He becomes a fallen angel who corrupts humanity, especially in the Apocrypha (those books not included in the final version of the New Testament), tempting man to do evil. During the Middle Ages, from the 6th to the 16th centuries, the devil becomes more powerful as the ruler of his own kingdom, Hell. Events such as the Black Death are seen to be a personification of his power. During the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, these events were explained using science rather than religious belief.

The Apophthegmata Patrum is a collection of Christian prayers and sayings from the 4th and 5th centuries AD written in Greek, Latin, Syrian and Coptic by early Christian fathers/mothers who decided to become hermits and live in isolation in the deserts, rather like early monks and nuns. They were organised into three types of writings :

Alphabetic - collected into groups using the names of the monks (mostly Greek) who wrote them.

Systematic – anonymous and organised by theme.

Systematic collection – arranged by theme and mostly Coptic translations.

The very early Christians liked to give the impression that they were solitary but in truth they often lived in communities either full or part time. These were not monasteries as we know them, but rather single cell communities meeting for communal prayer and worship. At this time there were no illustrations of the devil.

Dr. Godenho used AP#181, dated 30-319AD, as an example of one of these early accounts of the devil. He focused on Apa Macarius, who is described as an unpleasant individual, previously having been a rapist and a smuggler. Others were also portrayed as thieves and murderers. Macarius goes to church, listens to the teachings and is converted. He chooses to live outside the main monastic complex as a hermit. In AP#181, the start of the story describes how Apa (father) Macarius lived the life of a hermit in a great desert quite alone. He is described as “withdrawing in that place, below him another desert with many brothers in it”. Apa Macarius sees Satan approaching in human form, wearing a disguise and hoping to stroll right past him. Macarius asks him where he is going and Satan replies saying that he is going to tempt the brothers in the community below and has alcohol to corrupt them. Macarius makes no attempt to stop him and acts like an Egyptian high official by saying little. Later Satan returns and Macarius asks what happened. Satan says no brother was accepting of temptation, all refused the drink. When Macarius says to him “you have no friends”, Satan responds “one brother…Theopentus” and then he moves on. On another occasion Macarius was out walking when he encountered the devil again. Satan wants to kill him but Macarius reminds him that he himself can do everything that Satan can do, with ease. Satan admits that the one thing he cannot do is humble himself, so he cannot prevail over Macarius. Next Macarius goes off to see Theopentus. The brothers of the community come out waving palms to greet him and the elders welcome him. He goes to talk to Theopentus, knowing he has been tempted and fallen. Theopentus says he is well, thanks to his prayers, but is worried about this visit as he is ashamed to speak. Macarius tells him that even as an elder for so many years he is still tempted and asked how Theopentus fasts; his reply is till sunset (as in Ramadan today). Macarius advises him to fast till evening and then recite scriptures like an ascetic and to always look up to God if you have a bad thought as he will never fail help you. He reminds Theopentus that the palms used in greetings are a symbol of work and making them into baskets equals busy hands with no time for evil deeds or thoughts, squeezing temptation out.

The Apophthegmata shows Satan in the text as an unreasonable human being, not our current day notion of a Hollywood villain. There is no clear idea of Hell. His role is to tempt humanity away from God. Macarius tells people to fast, keep busy and to think good thoughts to stop Satan from winning them over. By personalising Satan and turning him into a real figure, this begins the process of demonising him into the figure that appears in the Middle Ages. This changes again during the Enlightenment when the vision of Satan is internalised rather than being externalised as a real figure, and he becomes an independent force opposing, though subordinate to, God.

The first dealings with the devil saw Satan in his early guise as an externalised being who planted thoughts and temptations into people and was most likely seen as a kind of wily trickster, not yet as the super powerful being that comes about later in the Middle Ages.

St Macarius the Great - The Monastery of St. Macarius the Great (stmacariusmonastery.org)

Mummy Portraits
from Roman Egypt 
Dr Judith Corbelli

October 2023

Dr Corbelli delivered a fascinating and richly illustrated lecture about the Greco-Roman mummy portraits, setting them in their context time-wise and giving a summary of their acquisition/excavation and arrival in museums in Europe and further afield, starting from the 17th Century. She explained how details such as the hairstyles and jewellery could identify them to a specific period and how the differing shapes of the boards could place them geographically. Judith detailed the different painting techniques and how the standard of the work deteriorated after about 130AD. She addressed the thorny issue of whether the paintings were created just for the burial or made beforehand and explained the different stages of the funeral rites. It was an exceedingly interesting lecture enjoyed by one and all. 

Thoth and his female consorts
Dr Mervat Nassar

September 2023

Thoth and his Female Consorts : Seshat, Ma’at and Nehmetawy.

Dr Nassar explained that the importance of Thoth connected to her research into Hermopolis was because one of his titles was Master of Hermopolis. The first month of the Egyptian calendar was named after him and he was said, amongst all of his other aspects, to be the creator of the calendar, the counter of days and the moon god. Most information about him comes from Greek translations of earlier works. Marsilio Ficino subsequently translating the Corpus Hermeticum into Latin in the 15th century sets down that he was the greatest of philosophers and Thoth is credited as being the scribe of the gods.

His attributes were :

1….scribe of the gods

2….keeper of knowledge

3….knows art

4….inventor of the calendar

5….counter of days

6….moon god

7….seat of memory

8….giver of sight and insight

9…..restorer of eyes

10….creator of harmony


12….Lord of Hermopolis

13….master of alchemy

14….the transformer.

An impressive list of attributes that emphasise the importance of Thoth in the family of gods.

Dr Nassar explained that he is important because of his ability to mediate between both sides in an argument with insight. In the contentions of Seth and Horus he is able to recognise that the land needs both good and evil; they are two sides of the same coin. On the Day of Judgment, where he records the verdict, if he sees that the soul is telling the truth then it is allowed to pass into the afterlife.

It is claimed that Thoth wrote many works, all translated into Greek. Dr Nassar quotes Ficino as saying of the Corpus Hermeticum ‘wise words, although written by my decaying hand remain imperishable through me’ suggesting yesterday comes back to us in writing, a shared act which links past and present. This perhaps explains why many prayers have been found linking Thoth to memory and to observation; necessary for someone who judges the destination of the soul after death. One such prayer goes ‘Hail to you moon - Thoth, who relates what was forgotten and remembers fleeting moments.’

Thoth is the only god to have 3 consorts. Seshat is the consort related to writing. Her name means ‘she who is a scribe; mistress of letters’. She is in charge of recording time and the movements of the stars as well as looking after libraries, builders and destiny as keeper of the Divine plan. She and Thoth keep the records of each pharaoh’s name and the length of each reign guaranteeing his name is protected forever. Another function they fulfil is the stretching of the cord ritual, a pre-building task performed by her and the pharaoh in which a cord is stretched out to link and mark the four corners on a site, aligning them to the stars.

The second consort of Thoth was Ma’at. Her roles were more general rather than specific. She guarded truth, justice, cosmic harmony, order, balance and proportion. An important aspect of this was the weighing of the heart against the feather of Ma’at at judgement after death. Her 42 divine principles of Ma’at were used to find the balance between the scales. The most important of these were : I have not cursed, I have not ignored truth, I have not made anyone cry, I have not acted with haste, I have not been arrogant, I have not been angry, I have not exaggerated words when speaking, I have not polluted water and I have not caused sorrow without reason. Along with Thoth, she created Hermopolis, the city of joy where it was pleasant to live and where the followers of Thoth made written records of his numerous attributes and writings. A political system was created that adhered to the values of Ma’at; harmony, balance and justice. Equally important were reciprocity, mutuality and social connection - to act, listen, speak and think for, to and of each other. Ma’at was also responsible for maintaining the cosmic order; creating order out of chaos by healing the universe with Thoth as ‘the one who changes turmoil into peace’. This, for example, happens when the eye Horus lost during the fight with Seth is replaced, reestablishing completeness and harmony. According to Greek translations the harmonious birth of the cosmos, designed by Ma’at, took place at Hermopolis, the city of Thoth. The first day of the new year was the 11th September. There were 30 days in a month and a week had 10 days.

The third consort was Nehmetawy who was also connected to Hermopolis. She is little known, but seems to have been a popularised version of Hathor, wearing a sistrum crown or headdress and known as ‘she who retrieves what was lost and embraces those in need’.

Dr Nasser sees the three consorts as multifunctional deities with each one having different characteristics. Thoth had so many different functions and this may be why he, amongst all the gods, had 3 consorts; unusual amongst the standard family groups of deities.

Dr Nassar talked about how these three deities inspired her to build New Hermopolis- an organic farm/retreat/cultural space. Her aim is to develop a neglected part of Egypt and to encourage harmony between people today. The New Hermopolis mission statement is ‘to create harmony between man and self and between humans and nature’ and full details about her project can be found on www.newhermopolis.org

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife
Dr Paula Tutty

August 2023

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife : the papyrus forgery that changed the face of modern academia.

Dr Tutty explained how this extraordinary story came about, partly due to the growing influence of social media in all aspects of our lives.

At the International Coptic Conference in September 2012 Professor Karen King, from the University of Harvard, presented the theory that Jesus had had a wife based on a small, previously unknown, piece of papyrus, from a secret apocryphal (from the Greek ‘to hide away’) gospel.

Dr Tutty showed how, by 380AD, the present format of the New Testament Gospels had been accepted, others Gospel writings discarded or deemed unacceptable, being incomplete or incompatible with the view of what was considered suitable and expected from ‘The Son of God‘. Those which were included in the accepted and present version of the New Testament were regarded as appropriate; those excluded were considered to be ‘made up’ and hearsay. These latter Gospels were often focused on his life and family rather than on his disciples and ministry, even if they were written in Greek, translated into Latin, or Egyptian (demotic script).

By the third century AD Coptic began to be used in Christian liturgy though Greek remained the official language. It had developed from the Egyptian language spoken by ordinary people and written down using Greek letters. In this context Coptic began to be used instead of Greek in the late third century AD, replacing it in religious texts, letters, prayers, documents and accounts and it is still used in the Coptic Church in Egypt today. It was the first Christian Church to be established there and today 10% of Egyptians are Christian. Since the 11th century AD Arabic has been the national language of Egypt but Coptic is still used in Church liturgy.

Many of the apocryphal Gospels written in Coptic were translated into Greek, Latin, Armenian, Syriac and even Irish. Many lost much in translation; dates, places, people were changed as often their stories were spread by word of mouth before being written down. This telling of the stories made them very popular. One example is The Gospel of Judas, which said that Jesus secretly told Judas to betray him as part of his plan. Another was The Gospel of Mary of which several fragments have been found, including the most complex in the Berlin Codex, written in Coptic. It tells of Mary passing on Jesus’ ideas on the journey of the soul to heaven.

Dr Tutty went on to show how Professor King (who initially became interested in 2009 in the role of women in the early Church) at the 2012 International Coptic Conference revealed a small section of a previously unknown Coptic text. She interpreted it as a fragment of a larger text showing Jesus talking about a woman (Mary) as his wife. Before delivering her paper at the conference she had already primed the national press on this revolutionary discovery, creating a media explosion of dramatic front page news.

So, how was she able to make such a radical statement? Papyrology, the study of ancient papyri is a very niche area of expertise; at the time of the conference only about 300 scholars considered themselves as experts and most concentrated on those written in Greek. The differences in spelling, written style, names, destinations, facts and dates in papyri supposedly telling the same story causes problems in determining reliability as many are incomplete, hard to read and often have physical holes in them, making them hard to date or pin to a specific geographical area. The quality of the calligraphy depended on the scribe and had a significant impact on its value as a reliable source. For example The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is written in a very crude style and it is impossible to decide if a brush or pen was used or where or when it was produced. Professor King wrote an article for the Harvard Theological Review and gave it the title of The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. She was not a papyrologist and did not wait for feedback from the conference. This was at the beginning of the growth of social media as a tool for debate and now used as a platform for spreading untested and unproven theories. The heated debate over the papyrus fragment started on the day she addressed the conference and still continues today on Facebook, blogs etc, both critical and supportive.

Other academics began to note problems. Professor Francis Watson (University of Durham) spotted that individual phrases seemed to be lifted directly from The Gospel of Thomas. Another scholar compared the two and observed that The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife follows The Gospel of Thomas almost line by line and just changes he to she. Naturally Professor King claimed these similarities were a coincidence and her papyrus was not a fake. She produced scientific evidence to show that the papyrus is from the right period, the 6th to 7th Century AD, and uses the right sort of ink.

In The Gospel of Thomas women are seen as incomplete men, suggesting women cannot play an important role in the early church. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to be seen as a man to become a disciple. Professor King argued that in The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife it is different and despite being a woman, as his wife Mary Magdalene was worthy of becoming a disciple. This is still being discussed today. Questions were obviously asked about this papyrus’s provenance, but Professor King would not give specific details, because apparently the owner did not want publicity; perhaps due to the nature of how it was obtained. In earlier times it was acceptable to take relics to Europe or the USA, either bought, given as part payment or gifts for funding excavations. Nowadays it is simply not allowed and particularly since the 2011 Egyptian revolution and subsequent looting, the provenance of newly emerging artefacts has become increasingly important with institutions, journalists and other interested parties asking probing questions about the source of such objects. Professor King claimed her fragment was brought from Egypt in the 1960s so was not an illegal purchase and stated that Egyptologist Peter Monro had authenticated it. He though, had had dealings with a Walter Fritz, who had studied Egyptology but had limited Coptic skills. In an article from 2015 it is claimed that Fritz faked it on an original strip of papyrus using ink made to an original recipe and sent it to Professor King. It seems he had issues with the Catholic Church so was possibly trying to undermine its historic beliefs and authority. Eventually she had to issue a statement admitting it was a fake and her argument was completely discredited. In 2020 a book was published called “A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” by Ariel Sahar, published by Double Day Books and debates on various aspects are still ongoing.

It should be remembered that the practice of selling fake papyrus is not new. Constantine Simonides infamously sold many fakes to collectors. The Gospel of Judas (Codex Tchacos) was found in the 1970s in Egypt, possibly in a tomb, and was stolen or smuggled to Europe after being stored in a freezer for safekeeping. It ended up in a museum in Switzerland. Stolen antiquities are still a problem today. Now efforts are being made to make provenance more transparent. Many items today are digitised to make identification easier and papyrologists search eBay and push sellers for more precise information about an object’s provenance when they offer it for sale. This close questioning can incur some measure of danger, however, including death threats in some cases.

The question has to be asked - why did someone of Professor King’s standing fall for this scam? Possibly academic pressure, which relies so heavily on funding was an issue; scholars need original ideas and news-making successes to obtain funding for their departments.

Or she could have fallen victim to her own wishes, Professor King wanted to find a role for women in the early Church and this could have affected her judgement.

This type of controversy shows the crucial importance of accurate provenance and establishing it fully before you speak out.

Feline Friends:
Divine and Domestic Cats
in Ancient Egypt
Dr Jo Backhouse 

July 2023

Feline Friends; Divine and Domestic Cats in Ancient Egypt.

In Britain, cats have only been regarded as pets since Victorian times. Joanne described how whilst delivering Zoom lectures during the Covid lockdowns, she regularly saw cats crossing viewers’ screens on camera and it made her think about how they were regarded in Ancient Egypt.

She considered the various species of cat, their interactions with humans, links with various goddesses and links to the netherworld.

The first species she considered was the Felis chaus (swamp or jungle cat), which has no spots or stripes, is monotone and undomesticated. It was found in Ancient Egypt, as seen in a drawing by Howard Carter copied from the tomb of Khnumhotep (Middle Kingdom) at Beni Hassan. She also looked at the African wild cat, which has longer legs and stripes (tomb of Nakhtamun) referred to as “the great cat who appears in the image of Ra”. This cat is often depicted defeating the great serpent, especially at night, symbolically killing the arch enemy of Ra the sun god. This species is almost identical to Felis serval, the wild cat seen in Egypt today.

At the Elite Cemetery at Hierakonpolis, there is evidence of cat burials. In tomb 12 (c3700BC) an African wild cat skeleton with a healed fracture, showing it had been held in captivity for at least 4 to 6 weeks, has been found. Another burial of two cats (one male, one female) and four unrelated kittens has been excavated. They were found buried together and were probably killed intentionally in a similar way to pre-dynastic dog burials, which were located at the edge of cemeteries, possibly as guardians.

Cats might have been buried to dispose of vermin, protecting the deceased, as shown in the tomb of Baqet III at Beni Hassan, where a cat is shown killing an enormous rat……pest control now and in the afterlife. A 12th Dynasty painted quartz statue of a cat ready to pounce and other small faience statues were found placed in various tombs. An ivory wand, now in the British Museum, has a feline figure carved on it (Middle Kingdom) and would have been used to draw a safe space on the ground around women and children to protect them. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (15th Dynasty) has houses and numerous cats referred to in one problem. This places cats in a domestic context so at this point it seems that cats were kept to control mice and snakes. Wild cats could have been observed sneaking into fields and granaries and people, now living in settlements, could see the rewards of a mutually beneficial relationship. In the Dream Manual Qenhirkhopeshef shows cats are used to protect grain and in the Ebers Papyrus we are told to put cat grease on everything to prevent mice infestations.

A striped cat can be seen in the tomb of Menna (reign of Thutmosis IV/Amenhotep III), probably sent into the marshes to flush out birds for the hunters to catch. This could mean it is domesticated and part of the family. In tomb paintings cats are often shown under the chair of the tomb owner especially if the owner is a woman and portrayed as being at home. In the tomb of Ipuy (TT217, Deir el-Medina) a cat under his wife’s chair is shown wearing a collar and earring and Ipuy has a kitten on his knee. In the tomb of May (TT130) the cat has a collar and lead. Royal pictures are similar. There is a cat with Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III in the tomb of her brother Anen. They are often paired with a monkey, also often kept as pets. There is a cat shown under the throne of Sitamun, daughter of Queen Tiye. The cat belonging to Thutmosis, eldest son of Amenhotep III was buried in a sarcophagus with everything a cat needed in the afterlife, including his own carved offering table and a necklace.

Cats and mice are shown on many ostraca with their roles reversed to portray a topsy- turvy world; cats waiting on mice, cats as offenders and mice as judges. In the Turin Erotic Papyrus, mice are shown attacking a cat citadel with one portrayed as the pharaoh smiting cat enemies. This might be part of a song or story cycle.

Some cat figures excavated by Petrie were dedicated to Hathor, perhaps temple cats, many having both spots and stripes…….domesticated or pest control? Part of a vase found at Amarna, shows a cat associated with Hathor dedicated to her parents by Sitamun. Many mirrors have cats included on them. These are all high status items associated with the lady of the house or with Hathor, mistress of The Two Lands. A stela (in Turin) from Deir el-Medina describes ‘the good and faithful cat - grant life, prosperity and health’.

Two cats together could represent Isis and Nephthys. The goddess Bastet is described as the Mother of the King in the Pyramid Texts and as the Eye of Ra, her father. She was regarded as the protector of the royal house and a symbol of fertility with kittens at her feet, but also was represented as the ferocious god of war, her dress mimicking fur…..like a cat or lion. Her worship was centred at Per-Bastet. The Tell Basta Hoard, found in 1905, discovered whilst digging a railway has items showing her with a lion head, illustrating the myth where Ra wants his daughter who is on a killing spree amongst humanity to stop, so floods the land with red wine to look like blood. She drinks, gets drunk, stops killing and returns home. This clearly links Bastet and cats to the divine……and to the Festival of Drunkenness. A Roman temple at Dakar in Nubia shows Thoth trying to get her to return to her position as protector of her father, Ra and she is often referred to as ‘The great cat of Ra, who dwells at Heliopolis’. The fertile aspect of her persona is emphasised when she is shown with kittens or cubs as mother of and fierce protector of the young.

Thousands of mummified cats have been discovered, created as offerings to the gods. Many are very elaborately wrapped in linen strips and some even painted. These are often called skittles because of their shape…but not all contain cats. Some are mostly cat bits and stuffing, made to fool the pilgrims who buy them to place in catacombs as offerings to the gods. These cats were specially bred for this purpose.

Joanne concluded that the evidence demonstrates that the domestication of cats took place relatively early in Egyptian history and developed as a mutually beneficial cooperation. From this developed the present day relationship……cats as pampered pets.

Did Hatshepsut Inherit
Deir el-Bahari?
Claire Ollett

June 2023

Claire explained how her interest in this question began after attending an academic conference in Prague, which led her to begin to research this topic. The site is now named from the monastery built near the original temple and is a stunning location with the temple fitting into the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal peak behind it is a significant part of its siting there. Its building has always been credited to Hatshepsut, who had statues showing her as female but with male royal attributes, such as wearing a nemes headdress. She is shown as the only child of the Great Royal Wife, Ahmose and Thutmosis I. Her father’s heir though was her half-brother, the son of a secondary wife, as only males could become the Pharaoh. Following the custom and practice of the time, Hatshepsut married her half-brother and became his Great Royal Wife.

Thutmosis II died young leaving a daughter from Hatshepsut and a toddler, the crown prince (Thutmosis III) from a secondary wife. Hatshepsut became the prince’s regent as he was too young to rule independently. She slowly began to take over his position as ruler and soon became co-ruler with him, she taking place as the dominant figure. She began to assert herself, starting by initiating the Opet festival and modifying the Theban landscape, building the obelisk and the 8th pylon at Karnak and establishing the north-west axis there to perhaps extend it to Luxor Temple. Her Chapel Rouge at Karnak was dismantled later in ancient times and used as infill inside the 3rd pylon. Work was carried out on the Temple of Mut, including the Temple of Drunkenness – a state for communication with the gods, as well as the creation of a square of four temples linked by processional ways. This remodelled the whole sacred landscape. She then decided to concentrate on working at Deir-el-Bahari.

Claire then went on to look at…..

1….investigating mechanics and communications strategies.

2….examining programmes of royal self-presentation.

3….developments reflective of meaning intended to be shown.

4….motivations of choices made by her.

In order to do this, she looked at…

1….What did she do?

2….Who did she communicate with?

3….What image did she want to present….to people, to gods?

4….what were her reasons?

She decided that the most likely reason for the work done at Deir el Bahari was political. As she was not the legitimate heir, being a woman, and despite being the only child of the Great Royal Wife, she needed to put herself forward as not only the heir to Thutmosis I but also her link with the god Amun, who she claimed was her “real” father, her mother being magically impregnated by him. She would need the support of the court and priests to retain power as Thutmosis III reached adulthood. So, how did she do this? She combined architectural, iconographic and textual statements together to make her right to power clear. The buildings, links with the gods and wall carvings were intended to make a clear statement about her position within Egypt.

The question remains….who started building at Deir-el-Bahari? If it was Thutmosis I this would strengthen her position as his daughter from the direct royal line. Some archaeologists believe that KV20, probably initially the tomb of Thutmosis I, was taken over by Hatshepsut and then contained two sarcophagi named for him and his daughter, strengthening a family link. This theory is not universally accepted. KV 38 was originally thought to be her tomb but Claire believes that it was KV20 and she had her father’s sarcophagus and body moved there to emphasise her family ties. This might be so as KV 20 is situated directly behind the temple through the mountain and some think a physical link could have been planned. Why then does this argument fall down? For a start, the tunnels of KV 20 curve not by design to link with Hatshepsut’s temple, but because of weak rock so there is no physical link and no possibility of one. Also texts written during her life and from the Beautiful Festival of the Valley show that the temple was designed to be a for the royal cult and not a funerary temple. Another factor is that there is a chapel dedicated to Thutmosis I at Deir el Bahari and it is unusual to have a chapel dedicated to someone else in one’s own temple The link lies with Hatshepsut herself, Claire maintains, who derived her legitimacy from her father Thutmosis I and emphasised it to strengthen her claim to the throne by giving him a cult base in the afterlife.

Another point she considered was, was it founded by Thutmosis II? This argument was based on architectural studies centred around the upper terrace. It has been suggested that the upper levels were constructed from the top downwards to the lower level. This seems to makes little sense, but the two sections are quite separately constructed. Looking at the north wall it can be seen that alterations were made during the construction process. There is evidence of a door being bricked up and wall niches on the back west side were not part of the original plan but cut in later. The original plans were more like Montuhotep’s temple nearby but were redrawn extensively as construction progressed.

It cannot be denied that many changes took place, but was the upper terrace built first?. Claire consulted Colin Reader, a structural geologist, who concluded that this was unlikely. He thinks that the lower terrace was built first and the rock dug out of the mountain used in the upper terrace. However, there are no foundation deposits/offerings bearing Hatshepsut’s name on the upper terrace to help identify the builder. There is clear evidence that she changed her own plan as she went along. Originally there was to be a smaller middle courtyard to accommodate a temple built by Amenhotep I which was instead dismantled. The sanctuary was also changed, being dismantled and rebuilt to allow a shaft to be built in to illuminate the statues of the gods with sunlight. A suggestion has been made that a hypostyle hall was originally planned with an open court and altar, foundations for which have been found. This changed to an open sun court. Although no foundation deposits from her reign were found on the upper terrace, a pit was found by the western walls it on the south side and the deposits may have been removed during subsequent building works. It is estimated that probably some 114 inscriptions bearing her name were carved on the upper courtyard and in the Hathor Chapel. In the lower area these were removed and not replaced. Both Hatshepsut and Thutmosis I are represented in the temple though. Thutmosis III inserted his father’s (Thutmosis II) name into inscriptions to strengthen his own claim to the throne. The names of Thutmosis II and Thutmosis III were added to the building at Deir el Bahari to underline the male line of descent and to show that the reign of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh, was an aberration not the norm.

So, did she build it or inherit it? Claire believes that the numerous alterations show evidence of developments in theological thinking, political or personal motivation, together with a builder’s consolidation of control given the changes which needed to be made for a successful completion of the construction and that the temple complex was designed to her plan during her reign, but altered when necessary. After her death her successor claimed it to nullify her position as a female ruler.

From Ancient Egypt to ‘Bridgerton’: The influence of Thomas Hope’s ‘Grand Tour’ to Egypt on Regency taste and style 

Dr Gina Muskett


May 2023

Dr Muskett began by saying how delighted she was to be able to talk about Thomas Hope and Netflix’s Bridgerton in the same sentence. Her interest had been piqued by Bridgerton’s designer saying how his designs for the series had been influenced by Thomas Hope. She explained the lecture would concentrate on four areas: Thomas Hope’s European and Ottoman Grand Tours, the Egyptian artefacts he owned, how these were displayed and his influence on Bridgerton.
So, who were the grand tourists? …..rich young men from mostly aristocratic families who had a classical education and an interest in art who went to improve their knowledge of art and architecture and to bring back souvenirs. These trips gave employment to artists and scholars, also classicists who would accompany and advise them. They usually travelled over the Alps via Paris to Italy, especially to Rome, then once excavations started, to Pompeii. During French Revolution and Napoleon’s campaigns, between 1789 and 1815, it was unsafe to follow the grand tour in Europe, so instead many young men travelled through the Ottoman Empire, including Thomas Hope. A studio portrait from 1795 shows him in a local costume from there. He probably went eastwards to avoid the French army as it advanced into Italy. The velvet suit embroidered in gold braid featured in the portrait was later donated to the National Portrait Gallery by a descendant. He also travelled with Richard Dawkins and Robert Woods to Baalbek and Palmyra and the museum at Athens. The next stops were Constantinople, Athens again, and the Aegean islands, which were visited during May 1797, then Cairo in the October of that year. He travelled again with the two companions who might have contributed to the drawings made at this time, these being ‘Boats on the Nile’ and ‘Villages on the Nile.
In 1795 Hope and his family returned to London from Amsterdam and in 1799 he bought a house in Duchess Street designed by Robert Adams, to which he added a sculpture gallery to house his collection of souvenirs. In 1804 he held a public exhibition of his own collection to which he had added objects bought from other collectors including the Duke of St. Albans. These purchases included some Egyptian objects, such as a porphyry foot; third to fourth century AD and now in the Welcome Collection. Two items displayed were purchased from Sir William Hamilton, one being a figurine of Isis (late Roman) costing £21 and the other a basalt lion statuette. Unfortunately many of the objects bought had no provenance so cannot be traced back to their source as many had been bought by private collectors on the black market.
In 1807, Hope bought Deepdale, a house in Surrey, from where he published an influential book, “Household Furniture and Interior Decoration”, which was very influential during the Regency Period. In 1917 many of these objects were sold off in the Hope Heirloom sale, some now displayed in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. At Deepdale some of his ideas were incorporated into the interior and exterior décor. In 1814 an Egyptian style temple was built in the garden with two large statues at the entrance and an exhibition room furnished with many of his pieces…grouped for their looks not matching by period. The publication of his book coincided with a massive growth of interest in all things Egyptian, from jewellery to paintings to furniture, following the campaigns in Egypt during the Napoleonic War and the excavations that followed and the beginnings of the deciphering of hieroglyphs after the arrival of the Rosetta Stone in London. It became the height of fashion to incorporate Egyptian styles into everyday objects. At his first house in Duchess Street an Egyptian room was constructed, with walls and furniture painted in yellow, green, black and gold in the Egyptian style, and partially reconstructed at the V & A Museum in 2008 to accommodate the ‘Thomas Hope, Regency Designer’ exhibition showcasing his work. The furniture he designed used colourful and flamboyant designs, reliefs and motifs based on Egyptian examples found in museums and in his own collection and the rooms were decorated with clocks, vases and even chair and table legs in the Egyptian style.
The sets designed for Bridgerton by William Hughes Jones were directly influenced by those of Thomas Hope in his book and show the same “bling” and “over the top” attitude to décor shown in the homes of the nouveau rich families portrayed in Bridgerton. Many of the objects are copies of objects found in and lifted directly from the pages of Hope’s book, showing how important his designs were during the Regency period, in which Bridgerton is set. His influence can be clearly seen in the objects shown throughout the series as we watch it.
Dr. Muskett concluded by reminding us that it is worthwhile visiting the Lady Lever Art Gallery where some of the objects collected by Thomas Hope during his life are displayed.

Music in ancient Egypt and its beginnings 

Dr Heidi Köpp-Junk

Latest research in music archaeology
(lecture included live music)

April 2023

Dr. Heidi Köpp-Junk began by saying that throughout Ancient Egyptian history there were many references to music. She explained she would present music from the earliest periods onwards and would show the development of instruments and music by looking at reproductions of various examples.
Firstly she provided an overview of Ancient Egyptian music, describing its beginnings as being connected to temples and continuing thus… examples being chanters and chantresses of a god or the gods. By the 4th and 5th Dynasties musicians are shown in tomb paintings and are often playing a flute. Some are even known by name; a chantress, Iti, and a harpist, Hekenu, are the oldest duo yet identified in a tomb at Saqqara from the 5th Dynasty. Women musicians usually wore linen dresses as shown in the tomb of Nebamun, sometimes with a girdle and collar. Dancers, however, were frequently naked, wearing a disc in their hair plait. Performers were usually not the composers, songwriters or lyricists meaning that four different people were involved in each musical piece. Female musicians, e.g. chantresses of Amun often travelled between events.

The instruments used included :-
Aerophones…..flute, clarinet, trumpet
Ideophones……..clapper, sistrum, menat necklace, cymbal, rattle
Membranophones………barrel drums and frame drums
Chordophones……..harp, lute, lyre
Aerophones are seen from very early in Egyptian history and an excellent example was discovered dating to 2500 BCE in the mastaba of the flute player Ipi at Dahshur, though there are many examples throughout the ancient Egyptian period. The double and single oboe or clarinet are shown along with trumpets used by the military. Two examples of these trumpets were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb and there is a recording of someone playing one on YouTube.
Ideophones were simple instruments. Clappers were usually bone or ivory. Sistra, often with the head of Hathor carved on them, were made of metal or faience and were shaken to make a noise. Handclapping was taught by the priests. Many examples of the menat necklace have been found; they were made of strings of small beads, like a necklace with a pectoral style handle and were designed to be shaken like a rattle, but could also be worn as a collar, with the handle forming a counterpose. From the earliest periods onwards, rattles were made of wood, faience or clay and filled with small beads, seeds or dried berries. Most of these simple instruments are still used in some form or another.
Membranophones were played by hand not using sticks. There were double-skinned barrel drums and single skin drums, which looked like a tambourine and could be used in religious ceremonies.

Chordophones were more complex instruments. Harpists were often depicted as blind. Examples of lyres have been found in wall paintings and carvings, for example in the tomb of Khnumhotep (Middle Kingdom) at Beni Hasan. A wooden soundboard formed the base with strings fixed to a horizontal rod on the front. Vertical rods were decorated with animal or bird heads or flowers. There was no real pitch so such instruments might sound off-key to our modern ears. Similar examples are also found in Mesopotamia. Lutes were played sitting or standing up as they came in two sizes and could even be played whilst walking. The back of the sound box was made of wood, leather or turtle shell.

The earliest music was not invented by the Egyptians. A 43,000 year old flute made from the thigh bone of a bear and 3 flutes (35,000 years old) have been found in the Alps. A 20,000 year old mammoth shoulder blade percussion instrument was found in the Ukraine. Using experimental archaeology these early instruments can be reconstructed and tried out. In Egypt, Hans Hickmann suggests that clapping on the body and strung rattles were the earliest types of music making, but of course there is no conclusive evidence. Examples of sistra, shell whistles, bull roarers, clay flutes and long flutes have been found from the predynastic period….clay rattles from 4600 to 4100 BCE are exhibited in the Egyptian Museum. Pictures of clappers on pots from this period have been found along with ivory wands. On the Hierakonpolis Two Dogs Palette, from the 4th millennium BCE, animal figures are seen dancing to a musician performing. There are clay pipes and whistles in the Petrie Museum.
Early evidence of hand clapping and singing can be found on pots and on a stela dated to Dynasty 1 from 2800 BC at Saqqara.
Dr. Köpp-Junk described how it is possible to produce replicas of ancient Egyptian instruments using tools that would have been similar to those available at the time they were originally made. She demonstrated delightfully for us how the instruments would have been played and regaled us with several pieces. Probably music would have been slow to accompany religious singing or chanting. No positively identifiable musical texts have been found, although Papyrus 589, 2nd Century AD may be music as it had dots/crosses in red and black colouration and could have been chanted.
In conclusion, the earliest evidence for music comes from clappers, flutes, rattles and drums followed by evidence of the ongoing development of more advanced musical instruments in tomb paintings and carvings and on stelae found across Ancient Egypt. These were used, along with singing and chanting for religious rituals, festivals and ceremonies rather than for pure entertainment, judging by the evidence in stone and on images. Music was an important part of religious life.

Medicine and Healing Practices in Ancient Egypt

Dr Roger Forshaw

March 2023

The word medicine would have been an alien concept in ancient Egypt but they would have understood healing. They divided illness into 3 areas….congenital, acquired and deficiency.
The earliest ideas were that illnesses were magical in origin. Disease demons travelled on a breeze and entered the body during breathing. Their excrement damaged the host body so purging was the most common cure, for example using the Ricinus plant (castor oil). Some early healers have been identified, including an individual of the 3rd Dynasty who was a dentist/doctor who used conventional (for the time) medicine and another who understood irregularities of the pulse.
Many were Lectors, often priests of Sekhmet, who carried out ritual healing, chanting from healing chants on papyrus. Wise women were involved in detecting illnesses caused by bad spirits, and there is evidence of such women in the 18th Dynasty at Deir-el-Medina. Evidence of medical practices have been found on human remains during excavations but care has to be taken when examining as, for example, skulls in the KNH Centre, Manchester could show marks made by disease or by sand blowing. The KNH uses many methods to examine such specimens, including radiology, histology, dental studies, gas chromatography and facial reconstruction.
It is possible to get clues about illnesses in Ancient Egypt by looking at artistic sources; statues, stelae and wall carvings. A good example is Akhenaten, and another is Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple, where the Queen of Punt is shown looking as if she suffered from elephantiasis. Other carvings show club feet, which may be examples of polio and peculiar features, as in Akhenaten’s case. An unrealistically high number of dwarfs are shown, especially in royal and noble families. Of course we have no idea how accurate these are. There is textual evidence found in Homer, Pliny the Elder and Herodotus, who all spoke highly of Egyptian medicine. Some of the Ostraca found at Deir-el-Medina and in archives like the Amarna letters include examples of medical practices as well. Medical papyri have been found that highlight remedies for various diseases but these are usually incomplete. The Ebers Papyrus dating from around 1550 BC contains over 800 remedies for various diseases. The Berlin papyrus (1200 BC), London and Leiden papyri contain more. 482 of the remedies in the Ebers papyrus deal with trauma….burns, fractures, animal bites and warfare related injuries. Treatment is described as follows:
Day 1, cover with black mud(minerals)
Day 2, cover with excrement (antibiotic)
Day 3, resin (acacia) barley dough.
Day 4, wax, legume paste, oil.
Day 5, carob, red ochre, copper, iron oxide.
273 skeletons were looked at from the 1st Archaeological survey of Nubia. Of the males 44% of workers displayed fractures, as did 21% of officials. 90% of arm fractures had healed well so knowledge of setting bones can be seen. In the Edwin Smith papyrus from about 1500BC a dislocated jawbone is described as preventing the mouth from closing. A procedure for manipulating the jaw using thumbs to return it to the correct position is described….. and still in use today. Dr. Forshaw described his own experience from 1960 with a chin wound in A & E, where he checked the bone then stitched up and covered a chin wound on a young Leeds United supporter in exactly the same way as described in a papyrus…..except that he used an antibiotic whereas the Egyptians used meat on the first day and oil each day after. The point he made was that Egyptian healers understood the structure of facial muscles and treated facial injuries accordingly showing a detailed knowledge of anatomy.
Minor ailments are also described…the Ebers papyrus suggests using a hot toddy for treating a common cold. Another treatment is date wine, then rubbing the nose with dates, an incantation, followed by putting a mix of milk and fragrant gum in the nose. For a cough, herbs, spices, honey, carob and dates were prescribed. For a headache, the skull of a catfish fried in oil was massaged into the head……massage is still used today.
There is evidence of cardiovascular disease in many Ancient Egyptians and today 18 million die from it each year. Heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure are major concerns. The Egyptian diet was likely to cause this illness…..goose was a common meat, bread was enriched with fat, milk and eggs were consumed and cakes with animal fat. Salt intake was high as it was a major form of preserving food. Rameses II’s mummy show signs of calcification of the arteries as does that of Asru, a female mummy at Manchester Museum. Other mummies have been scanned and show evidence of heart disease. There is evidence of TB in many mummies and leprosy has also been identified. Malaria has also been found in mummies but there is no reference to it in any of the papyri. It is said to have been identified in the mummies of Tutankhamen’s family but this is disputed.
Diseases of the eye are rarely shown in Egyptian art but evidence is that they were treated with ointment or by putting raw liver on the infected eye. Cloudiness, possibly meaning cataracts, was treated by rubbing crocodile dung into it.
There was no clear distinction between magic and medicine. Drugs and ointments were administered whilst incantations were chanted so they could work together as it was believed this would enhance effectiveness.
Alcohol, both beer and wine, were commonly drunk by all social classes. Beer made up part of the rations issued to workers and both are shown in banquet and ceremonial scenes. The Precepts of Ani, from the New Kingdom, show the dangers of over drinking. We don’t know how much of a problem that was but there is no evidence of cirrhosis in any of the mummies examined. Snake bites must have been common. One papyrus lists 38 species of snakes and describes their habits, symptoms, mortality rates and the name of the god/goddess linked to each. Treatments include drugs and medical incantations. Different areas had different treatments, either or a combination of:-incisions, bandage over medication (often natron), herbal poultice (onions, salt, beer), emetics to cause vomiting, fumigation and magical incantations
Dr. Forshaw concluded by pointing out that Ancient Egyptian healers were in advance of their time. They had the 1st dentist, 1st medical vocabulary, 1st medical texts, 1st surgical treatise, 1st drug therapists and invented splints, bandages, sutures and disposable syringes.

Saqqara-Secrets in the Sand

Colin Reader

February 2023

Colin began his lecture by saying he would be looking at elements of Saqqara often overlooked and pointed out that, as he is not an academic, he is less restricted in his approach since it is his hobby and so he can give an alternative view to others.
He described Saqqara, dominated by the step pyramid built by Djoser and looked at by him from a geologist’s perspective. He saw the landscape as two elevated dry plateaux, a north and a west plateau, divided by a wadi (a former watercourse). All the major structures were clustered around the southern end of the wadi where there was some vegetation. The wadi would have provided a safe passage through Kemet…the black land…..to these structures. Paved ways were put in later to provide access to these buildings, firstly using black mud symbolic of Kemet but later replaced with basalt. The general view is that Saqqara was the necropolis for the new capital of Memphis, but Colin decided to consider his ideas on this further and worked with the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project concession focussed on the wadi. The objective was to carry out large scale investigations of the area to look for hidden unexcavated deposits around Gisr al-Mudir.
Geophysics discovered many finds and much material. When Colin established that the initial mastaba that became the Step Pyramid was not in fact visible from the Nile Valley, the importance of the wadi came more into focus. The changes to the original plan were probably to make the structure bigger so that it would be more visible from Memphis.
Originally, during the Pre-Dynastic period there was nothing in this area so it would be an ideal site for a necropolis for Memphis. During the 1st Dynasty, a row of mud brick mastabas was built as large tombs for noblemen and senior officials on the edge of the plateau overlooking Memphis and the Nile Valley. Some burials excavated in the 1940’s were thought to be paupers burials. Since being re-excavated, they are now thought to include all social groups, and considered to be part of a cult centred at Saqqara in the wadi.
During the 2nd and 3rd Dynasties more tombs were constructed at the top of the plateau stretching westwards towards the wadi, which then became more important. Much excavation work has been undertaken here by a Japanese team. On the other side of the wadi more remains have been found, the most important being a stone based structure from the 3rd Dynasty, facing south across the wadi. Colin believes that this structure emphasises the importance of this green black mud area.
Just south of the step pyramid is a small wadi running east to west. Hotepsekhemwy, Raneb and Ninetjer (2nd Dynasty) set up a new royal necropolis here moving from Abydos. This was discovered by archaeologists in 1903, entirely underground. Many finds were made, including clay seals. These 3 tombs confirm the importance of the wadi, perhaps as a processional way recreating some elements found at the necropolis at Abydos.
Looking at Gisr al-Mudir, a huge area, found underground, shows primitive stone blocks, using little if any mortar. The western wall has no holding wall and is filled with gravel and small bits of rocks. The southern wall is built on a ridge, enhancing a natural feature. The eastern wall is a solid masonry wall whilst the northern wall is the only true masonry wall so there is no uniform method of construction. Instead the evidence of late 2nd Dynasty pots found near the north wall and a 1st Dynasty mud brick pavement in front of the southern wall suggest that it was built at different times showing improvements in technique and style.
This enclosure is similar to those at Abydos. The Step Pyramid sits within a dry wall enclosure, offset to the south…..the entrance side perhaps? It has underground galleries with artefacts from the 2nd Dynasty uncovered, including 2 alabaster offering tables. The western massif galleries are similar to those in the tomb of Hotepsekhemwy, set out in straight, orderly lines, 5 to 6 metres below ground level. The southern arm of the dry wall was excavated in the 1940s and a trench was found before excavations stopped. It seems to be related to the tombs of Hotepsekhemwy, Raneb and Ninetjer; perhaps a dry moat.
We can see some common features. Both have underground galleries, reaching 25 metres deep during the 3rd Dynasty, when masons seem to be more accomplished. During the 1st and 2nd Dynasties, the digging stops on reaching a hard limestone layer at about 5 to 10 metres deep. During the 3rd Dynasty, Horus becomes more important and possibly the 25 metre deep trenches were dug as a theological barrier against 2nd Dynasty heretics who were still following Seth.
The question remains …..why did Saqqara grow in importance? Was it because of the presence of the Abusir Wadi or the Nile Valley, or the new capital at Memphis?

If you want to read more about this topic, Colin has a new book published “A gift of Geology, Ancient Egyptian Landscapes and Monuments” available on Amazon.

Dogs in Ancient Egypt: Mans’ Best Friend

Dr Joanne Backhouse

January 2023

Dr Backhouse began by posing the question “did the ancient Egyptians have any social relationships with animals and, if so, how did they interact with them?”
Firstly, she looked at evidence for a close relationship with dogs - man’s best friend. She found that the earliest real evidence of animals kept as pets confirmed that they were in fact dogs. During the Pre-Dynastic period, a plate, dated to around 3800BC shows dogs wearing collars, who therefore must have been domesticated and were probably used for either hunting or, during wars, to attack the enemy or alternatively to guard camps. Pre-Dynastic depictions of dogs are found frequently in rock art, especially in the Eastern Desert and are a common feature in hunting scenes. One very early sand burial of a child, not mummified but surrounded by dogs, has been found at one of the oases.
Dogs, both leashed and unleashed, are later shown depicted on palettes, for example the Two Dog palette found at Hierakonpolis which shows dogs symbolically controlling chaos, carved about 3300 BC. Images of the hunt at the base of the palette show human control of and interaction with dogs. On the back of the palette are shown animals and a man/god figure wearing a mask. At Gebel-al-Arak a beautifully carved handle of a dagger with a flint blade from about 3500-3200BC has been found showing dogs wearing collars with an image of a “master of animals” - a non-Egyptian motif! Whilst on the back is an image of dogs controlling chaos again.
A figure of a dog/jackal in greywacke, found in tomb 226 at El-Ahaiwa could be associated with Anubis/Osiris and linked to rebirth. These are probably the beginnings of the practice of burying these as grave goods. At Naga ed Deir a burial was found with a dog/jackal skeleton, possibly a pet or guardian.
71 dog burials were found at the Hierakonpolis elite cemetery. As no grave goods were interred it’s unlikely that these were pets, more probably they were included for protection or as hunting dogs in the afterlife.
At the Western cemetery at Giza, Pharoah had an inscription carved ordering a tomb to be made for his dog, Abuwtiyuw, and increasingly dogs are seen sitting under the chair of the king during ceremonies and under mainly male tomb owners’ chairs. Interestingly the names of 70 to 80 dogs are known. In the Theban tomb of User (TT21) a reference is made to “his favourite Trusty”—a hunting dog or pet? On the stela of Intef II is shown his favourite dog being buried with him at Thebes.
A game featuring hounds and jackals, similar to our modern snakes and ladders, was found in a Middle Kingdom pit tomb. An ivory running figure of a hound with a moveable mouth might be a high status toy; part of a hunting scene. A 20th Dynasty ostracon found by Howard Carter dating from 1186–1070BC shows a king with a hound killing a lion similar to the image of an ostrich hunt belonging to Tutankhamen (242, Carter’s numbering). A dog collar belonging to Maiherperi, Fan Bearer to the Right of the King was found in his tomb KV36. Near the tomb of Amenhotep II, a mummy of a dog was found in a “pet cemetery” suggesting a pet burial and a mummified monkey was also found buried in the Valley of the Kings.
During the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD millions of dogs were buried in catacombs, for example, an estimated 8 million at Saqqara, probably raised in puppy farms and left as votive offerings to the gods. Some mummies are elaborate and look like dogs but do not necessarily containing complete dogs.
Though other animals and birds have been found mummified, especially at Saqqara, these were offerings to the gods and did not live their lives in close proximity to people. Dogs seem to have developed the closest relationship with their owners/keepers as can be seen from their appearance in carvings, tomb paintings and stelae. Even to ancient Egyptians dogs were, as they are today, man’s best friend.


Dr Ashley Cooke
Presidental Lecture Dec 2022
The mummy bands of the captain of Amun, Mery

Dr. Cooke described this lecture as part of a work in progress, which he is engaged in at World Museum, Liverpool.
The fragments in question formed part of the Joseph Mayer Collection and consist of strips of painted papyrus glued onto a backing card. The papyrus is painted with a blue background and red outlines to the hieroglyphs and borders, which themselves are painted yellow. Little work has been done on these before now.
Each one is 43mm wide and many of the fragments are glued together. On 4 of the fragments is the name of someone called Mery, captain of Amun, which means beloved and his title refers to the captain of the barque that carried the god Amun, an important official role.
Its provenance is unknown and was donated by Joseph Mayer from his personal collection. He bought much of his collection from Joseph Sams including quite a number of pieces of papyrus, many of which were still rolled up. He also bought objects from diplomats who brought items back from Egypt; sadly few records were kept so there is little provenance for many of these objects. In 1867 his complete collection was donated to the museum in Liverpool.
In 1873 Charles Gatty began keeping records of these items and in 1877 he recruited Samuel Birch from the British Museum to assist him in creating and publishing a catalogue, which mentions the Mery papyrus fragments.
In 1909-10 Percy Newberry, the first Brunner Professor of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, created a formal card index of about 5000 objects, assisted by Meta Williams.
The pieces of papyrus were reassembled (though not all in the right order!) and at least 3 strips were found to contain prayers and spells.
The tomb of Yuya and Tuya (KV46), the parents of Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III, was excavated in 1905 by James Quibell who spotted similarities in the bands laid over these coffins. The Liverpool fragments resembled them…..a central band with 3 transverse bands at right angles. The central one asked Nut to protect the mummies and raise them to the stars around her so they would not die. The prayer hoped the dead, identified with Osiris, would be protected by Nut and reflects similar exhortations seen inside the lids of 11th and 12th Dynasty rectangular coffins. There is also a variation of the Nut prayer on the top of the lid of some early anthropoid coffins.
Dr. Cooke reminded us that this is a work in progress and he would be continuing his research in 2023, but that pictures of these bands can be found on the World Museum, Liverpool website.