logo-forums3When you visit museums in the principal cities around the world, you see all sorts of artifacts from many cultures and epochs. A sizable portion of these objects were taken out of their original context by legal and not so legal means. Early archaeology involved the legendary tomb raider and their bosses looting national treasures as a result of military expeditions, principally by European powers that today own and display these objects as a matter of imperial pride.

The time has come for the legitimacy of possession of objects pillaged from their original countries to be put into question.

Egypt has made a formal request for the return of five objects it considers essential to its national heritage. The objects in question are the Rosetta Stone, now in the British Museum in London, the bust of Nefertiti in the Altes Museum in Berlin, the statue of Great Pyramid architect Hemiunnu in the Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum in Hilesheim, the Dendera Temple Zodiac in the Louvre in Paris, and the bust of Kephren pyramid builder Ankhaf in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The question of the return of stolen and looted art to their original countries is not an easy one. On the one hand, museums in places like London, Paris and New York are regarded as better equipped to preserve these ancient artifacts. They also promote scientific research and contribute greatly to the value of these objects by allowing millions of visitors to see them every year. In fact, economic considerations weigh heavily against the return of an object of immense touristic attraction like the Bust of Nefertiti. Another point to consider is that many of these archaeological treasures belong to extinct civilizations not represented by the people or government presently occupying that location.

Egypt has made strong advances toward the conservation of its national treasures, including state-of-the-art technology and modern structural facilities. The country can raise enormous resources to improve its archaeological site research and restoration efforts by the boost in tourism these highly cherished treasures will assuredly signify to the Egyptian economy. A possible compromise is to declare these cultural artifacts the patrimony of its country of origin, but to keep them on loan at museums in Europe and the United States.

The components of property include possession, beneficial interest and the right to transfer ownership (usus, fructus and abusus as per Roman law).

As of now, objects such as the Rosetta Stone are under full property of the museums that possess them.

Possible solutions might include but are not limited to the following options: 1.) Mutual property where decisions pertaining possession, beneficial interests and right to dispose of an ancient artifact must be agreed upon by both parties. 2.) Present museum keeps the object but shares with the country of origin the beneficial interests produced by museum visits and publishing rights. 3.) A transfer of ownership to the country of origin but keeping the ancient artifact in the present museum as a long term or permanent loan.

Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970

Article 7 The States Parties to this Convention undertake:

(a) To take the necessary measures, consistent with national legislation, to prevent museums and similar institutions within their territories from acquiring cultural property originating in another State Party which has been illegally exported after entry into force of this Convention, in the States concerned. Whenever possible, to inform a State of origin Party to this Convention of an offer of such cultural property illegally removed from that State after the entry into force of this Convention in both States;

(b) (i) to prohibit the import of cultural property stolen from a museum or a religious or secular public monument or similar institution in another State Party to this Convention after the entry into force of this Convention for the States concerned, provided that such property is documented as appertaining to the inventory of that institution;

(ii) at the request of the State Party of origin, to take appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property imported after the entry into force of this Convention in both States concerned, provided, however, that the requesting State shall pay just compensation to an innocent purchaser or to a person who has valid title to that property. Requests for recovery and return shall be made through diplomatic offices. The requesting Party shall furnish, at its expense, the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return. The Parties shall impose no customs duties or other charges upon cultural property returned pursuant to this Article. All expenses incident to the return and delivery of the cultural property shall be borne by the requesting Party.

Source: UNESCO

egypt-lego-sphinx Egyptomania is the term that best describes the western fascination with ancient Egyptian culture and history.

To the western imagination, ancient Egypt is often seen as an out of this world civilization. For centuries, the notion that religion, science, arts, agriculture and architecture developed in Africa long before Europe, has conjured up ideas of alien travelers from outer space or even a highly advanced civilization from this planet, traces of which has completely vanished and are only manifested through esoteric means, landing in Egypt during prehistory to reveal the secrets of the Pyramids and the Sphinx to supposedly backward African people.

To the Greeks of the Hellenistic era, Egypt was already an old culture whose origins were unknown and imbued in legend. Herodotus saw ancient Greek religious rites and mythical animals like the phoenix as originating in Egypt.

After the Arab conquest, Middle Age Europe lost contact with Egypt, its only source of information being the biblical accounts, which had little to do with actual historical investigations. In the Bible, Egypt is depicted as a land of idolaters and enslavers, with the Pharaoh portrayed as a tyrannical oppressor of the Jews.

By the time of the Renaissance, the desire for knowledge, hindered by lack of facts, created a wave of speculation that pictured Ancient Egyptian civilization as a source of western mysticism and occult wisdom, which could be somehow interpreted by the readings of the Tarot. Attempts were made to decipher and interpret Egyptian hieroglyphs as mystical writings containing kabbalistic, Hermetic and other hidden sacred doctrines. A perception that Egyptian monuments, notably the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, could somehow embody the coded secrets of long forgotten ancient knowledge increased during the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th Century with the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians.

When Napoleon, in Alexandrian fashion, set up to conquer Egypt in 1797, a sudden burst of popular interest in all things Egyptian spread across Europe, and the term Egyptomania was coined. The Age of Romanticism embraced the distant, both in space and time. Egypt became the perfect scenario for artistic imagery, a remote vast desert land scarcely populated by exotic people amidst monumental ruins half covered in the sand of times at the banks of a mystical river whose unexplored source was deep in the heart of a primitive continent. Egypt suddenly had an aesthetic impact on literature, art and music. Paintings such as “The Rest in the Flight to Egypt”, sonnets like Shelley’s Ozymandias, and grandiose operatic productions like Verdi’s Aida are inspired on this romantic vision of Egypt.

Western Architecture was also affected by Egyptomania in what is known as the Egyptian Revival. Plush mausoleums in the Egyptian style flourished in European and American cemeteries, influenced by the notion of ancient Egyptian culture as obsessed with the cult of the dead. Numerous obelisks were uprooted from their original context to be replanted on the most unfamiliar places, including the Vatican and New York’s Central Park. The obelisk as a symbol of power in its purest form was employed to commemorate George Washington. James Lick, a self-made California millionaire of the 19th Century, wanted for his tomb a huge pyramid built on a whole square of San Francisco. Luckily for him, this project was never carried out.

The Art Deco movement of the early 20th Century relies on many decorative elements derived from ancient Egyptian architecture. It was precisely at this time that two iconic Egyptian figures emerged. Nefertiti became an ideal of feminine beauty after her painted limestone bust, currently in Berlin, was unearthed at its sculptor workshop in Amarna in 1912. This amazing discovery was followed ten years later by an even greater discovery, the unspoiled tomb of Tutankhamen, filled with spectacular treasures of gold and jewelry.

It was to be expected that the new film art form would follow in the previous artistic manifestations of Egyptomania. Two well known spectacular cinematic productions feature ancient Egypt as a lavish civilization of gold palaces, diamond studded dresses and polished marble floors. These are Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1956), starring Charlton Heston and Yul Bryneer, and “Cleopatra” (1963), starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. The movie Stargate and recent versions of The Mummy continue to influence people’s fanciful perception of ancient Egypt as an alien powerful force that needs to be tamed by western technological superiority.The event was hyped by the media with the infamous “Curse of the Mummy”, which has been effectively exploited by Hollywood, from “The Mummy” starring Boris Karloff to today’s “special effects” versions, all featuring them as fearful reanimated monsters playing on the American fascination for the living dead and on their anxieties about revenge by those they have dominated. Egyptian mummies had been a favorite collector item of Europeans, whose imperial concept of guardians of civilization gave them the “right” to retrieve all kinds of antiquities they could bring back to Europe for museums, research and private collections.

hangarooEgypt has been branded to American and western culture in advertising, cartoons, products and games. Today, the fascination for Egypt and all things Egyptian still exists. The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas is a contemporary example of the enduring impact of Egyptian imagery. So is the pyramid of glass and steel in front of the Louvre. And many different exhibitions in museums all over the world demonstrate people’s continued interest in ancient Egypt.

DeMilleTenCommandmentsDespite its many inaccuracies, “The Ten Commandments” does contain some correct interpretations of Ancient Egyptian beliefs, such as the obliteration of a name as the worst punishment for any Egyptian:

“Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet. Stricken from every pylon and obelisk of Egypt. Let the name of Moses be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of man, for all time.”

Pharaoh Seti also recites a real ancient Egyptian prayer – “I protected the helpless, I nourished the orphan…”.

The hieroglyphic inscriptions on the temple facades and the sphinxes are genuine words and not mere decoration.

From Wikipedia: * Although Rameses II and Seti I were historical figures, Rameses’ wife’s name was Nefertari, not “Nefretiri”, as in the film, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that she was a cunning wife infatuated by another man.

* The place of the “Throne Princess” was real, and was designed to ensure legitimacy as well as symbolizing the presence of the Goddess Isis in the royal lineage. Ancient Egyptians traced heritage through the maternal, not the paternal line; the royal line of succession was through the women.

* An Egyptian wall painting was also the source for the lively dance performed by a circle of young women at Seti’s birthday gala. Their movements and costumes are based on art from the Tomb of the Sixth Dynasty Grand Vizier Mehu.

* The expression “the son of your body” for a biological offspring is based on inscriptions found in Mehu’s tomb.

Ancient Egypt has not only given us the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. The beauty treatments and procedures that many of us are enjoying nowadays are in fact inspired or derived from the practices of the old Egyptian civilization.

It is not really surprising that Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony found Egypt as an interesting and intoxicating place. Although much of the perceptions of beauty that these two men had were influenced by their desire for the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, it is safe to say that both Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar also found all Egyptians amazing because of their penchant for proper hygiene and beauty. Furthermore, women in Egypt were not the only ones who were concerned about the way they look and smell. Egyptian guys also fuss as much when it comes to their appearance.

In fact, scientists found that bath oils and other beauty implements were used as payment or wages, even to the lowliest of laborers. Moreover, cosmetics and other beauty-related products or ingredients, and not food, were the primary reason why ancient Egypt engaged in foreign trade. Here are some the beauty secrets from Ancient Egypt that can still be practiced even today.

Milk Bath You must have heard of how AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acid, is important in exfoliating your skin. In fact, if you look at the ingredients of many skin products sold in the market today, you will realize that majority of them contain AHA. Queen Cleopatra, the epitome of beauty even up to the present, used AHA through milk baths to keep her skin soft and smooth as ever. It is a common misconception that AHA is a synthetic ingredient. In reality, however, this substance is naturally found in milk and other citrus fruits.

Since it would be quite wasteful (and expensive) to put gallons of full cream milk on your tub everyday, you can reap benefits of AHA in different ways. Surely there are bath soaps, bubble baths and lotions that contain milk to help you achieve the same effect as the milk bath enjoyed by Queen Cleopatra during the old days.

Honey Mask Did you know that when mummies where excavated and examined, experts found that one food substance used on the bodies to keep them unspoiled was honey? In fact, many scientists believe that honey is one of the reasons why mummies of Egypt were preserved well.

Honey is not only beneficial in the embalming process. In fact, people who are alive and healthy can also make use of it to keep a clear and smooth skin. Since honey is a humectant, it can attract and maintain water, keeping your skin well-hydrated. You can use honey for your face, skin and hair. Just make sure that you rinse your face and body a few minutes after you put honey because you don’t want to stain your sheets. Moreover, always go for pure natural honey, otherwise ants and other insects will feast on you because of the sugar content found in low-quality honey.

Myrrh If there is one substance that kept Egyptians, particularly those in the highest social strata, smelling fresh and clean, it is myrrh. This fragrant oil was prized because it has to be imported from other places. Egyptians used myrrh as an incense and oil to disinfect their bodies or clothing and to make their breaths smell good.

Botanical Oils Researches have discovered that people during this time used over 21 aromatic oils to protect their skin from the scorching sun, keep them from smelling bad, and treat skin problems like stretch marks, wrinkles and probably even cellulite. But since it would be hard to secure the same recipes for lotions and creams at present, it would be better for us to just stick to the lotions and creams that are available now.

What you can copy from the Egyptians is their diligence and regular application of these lotions and creams. Incidentally, if you have problems with cellulite, you may want to regularly apply an anti-cellulite cream, such as Celrase, to help minimize the appearance of dimples on your skin. For more information, visit http://www.celrase.com.

About the Author: Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine. http://www.thearticleinsiders.com.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/skin-care-articles/ancient-egypts-beauty-secrets-revealed-458542.html

Perfume was at the centre of aesthetics and therapeutics for both men and women in Ancient Egypt. Although the techniques used are mostly unrecorded, historians look to the literature of Greek and Roman writers and relief paintings and artefacts to determine the production, fashions and uses of perfume in this fascinating era.

The act of making perfume was considered an art form in Ancient Egypt. The craftsperson was considered to be an artist and the profession was open to women as well as men. The perfume making process of extraction can be determined by reliefs on the walls of tombs in Petosiris. These show that perfume making had an overseer, workers who completed the extraction and a professional tester who completed rigorous testing using the sense of smell.

The reliefs also pictorially detail two extraction processes. The first process shown was an ancient mechanical extraction process which was similar to wine production. This required a large bag and two staffs which were used as a press. The second was a form of chemical extraction with the assistance of heat and soaking in alcohol. The processes are early versions of modern perfume extraction techniques that have only really advanced in terms of equipment available and synthetic ingredients.

The reliefs also show red berries poured from a container, which details the nature of the products used to extract different scents. The ingredients used in perfume were usually plant in origin such as henna and cinnamon. The ancient natural philosopher, Pliny the Elder, records floral scents such as iris, bitter almond and lilies in his Natural History as being used in abundance. Myrrh which is a resin from shrubs and other aromatic woods were used. Animal fats such as musk are also recorded as being used in some perfumes. Some Egyptian recipes are still in existence though they are difficult to replicate.

However, the Egyptians had typically exotic tastes, and in addition to home grown essences, they also imported aromatics such as ladanum from Arabia and East Africa, galbanum from Persia, and the coveted frankincense due to unsuccessful attempts to grow it in Egyptian climes. The fact that ingredients were imported even in ancient times shows the importance of perfume. The imported varieties were expensive and initially reserved for the use of the gods or export only.

Excavated reliefs show that from ancient times the blend and quantity of perfume was as important as how long the scent would last. Perfume was a major export material in ancient times with various countries battling to produce the highest quality. Susinum was a particular favourite, and the competitive nature shows that in ancient times, some form of uniformity and standard was expected. Pliny the Elder described an Egyptian perfume that retained its scent after 8 years, and the ancient Greek botanist, Dioscorides, agreed that Egyptian perfume was far superior to that made by other civilisations.

Egyptian perfumes were usually named after the town of production or the main ingredient. Storage was in glass or stone vessels, with alabaster being the most coveted. The decoration was ornate and often bejewelled, with packaging reflecting modern day requirements of functionality and attractiveness. Perfume was burnt as incense, as named in documents from the reign of Thutmose III which detail different varieties such as green incense and white incense. Perfume was worn for aesthetic reasons, in the form of oil based liquid infusions, or wax and fat for creams and salves. This suggests there was also a medicinal purpose recognised.

Perfume was mainly for the elite classes until the golden age. It was used by kings who were believed to be of divine descent as it was believed that the gods favoured perfume. High officials were anointed with perfume when they were appointed to office to call the favour of the gods.

Incense was used to hide the smell of animal sacrifice during ceremonies. Balms were seen as medicinal as perfume was thought to repel demons and win the favour of the gods. Perfume was also an important part of death and burial rites. Bodies were perfumed during mummification as it was believed the soul would visit the gods and so perfume would repel demons. Interestingly, 3300 years after Tutankhamen death, scent could still be detected in his tomb.

Roberto Sedycias IT Consultant for www.PoloMercantil.com.br

NefertariRamses the Great had a total of eight Royal Wives, but no doubt Nefertari was her most beloved. Nefer means beautiful in ancient Egyptian, and she is thus portrayed in all statues and painted reliefs. Crowned by Isis and Hathor, an equal in the company of the great deities of Egypt, she is presented to us as a beautiful deified mortal, her delicate body draped in the finest sheer linen, rich jewelry, wide gold collar and bracelets, wearing the two long feathers over the vulture headdress of gold, her soft pale facial features accentuated by makeup and framed by her abundant dark hair.

No other royal wife had a temple dedicated to her or had been represented in equal stature to a pharaoh. As the Great Temple of Abu Simbel is dedicated to Ramses II and the god Re-Herakhty, the small temple is dedicated to Nefertari and the goddess Hathor. The temple facade vhas six statues, each 33 feet high, four of them representing the king and two belonging to the queen. The fact that a man so self-centered as Ramses would have allow Nefertari to be depicted as being equal in size to him clearly indicates his love if not veneration for her.

Nefertari married Ramses II, then fifteen years old, at age thirteen. None of her sons became pharaoh, due to the extreme length of her husband’s reign. She’s is not mentioned in connection with the King’s First Jubilee in the year 30 of his reign and it seems likely that she was already dead by the 25th year. Isetnofret became the pharaoh’s principal wife and mother of Ramses’s successor, Merenptah, his 13th son.

If Ramses the Second had many royal epithets, so did his Great Wife – “Lady of the Two Lands”, “Great of Praise”, “Sweet of Love” “Lady of Charm” and Nefertari Merit-en-Mut, meaning “The Lovely One, Beloved of Mut.”

QV66 is the largest and most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens. Poor quality limestone prevented the workmen from carving directly into the rock walls. Instead, a thick layer of plaster was applied, carved and then painted. The paintings depict Nefertari’s journey after death to the afterlife, guided by various spirits and deities, including Isis, Re, Hathor, Anubis and Osiris. There is a pleasant scene of Nefertari playing the game of Senet. No space is left blank in this vividly colored tomb and yet, the whole scheme is so perfectly balanced, the scale so well proportioned, that we feel comfortably at peace in this wondrously beautiful place.The tomb of Nefertari

The tomb was discovered in 1904 by italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli. It had suffered so much deterioration due to salt deposits under the plaster surface that a major effort was needed to repair it. In 1986, the Ministry of Culture, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the Getty Conservation Institute set to the task of saving the Tomb of Nefertari, using the most advanced scientific and artistic restoration practices. The work consisted, in summary, of reinforcing the plaster surface to its limestone base by the removal of salt deposits and the application of acrylic adhesive. Fallen pieces were carefully put together and reattached to the wall. Finally, the missing areas were repainted using very thin vertical lines of watercolor pigment that would blend at the normal viewing distance, but indicate to future restorers the work that has been previously done.

The tomb of Nefertari was finally opened to the public in 1995. It has since been closed periodically for observation and maintenance. Consider yourself lucky if you ever get to visit this site. Thierry Benderitter has created and published the most comprehensive virtual reality tour of the Tomb of Nefertari, QV66, on his site Osiris.net.

bust-of-nefertitiEver since the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, this beautiful limestone portrait has been regarded as one of the greatest art masterpieces in the world. It was found in the atelier of the famed ancient Egyptian sculptor Thutmose at Tel el Amarna, by the German expedition of 1912. Chief archaeologist Ludwig Borchard was so awed by its stunning beauty, that he devised a scheme to smuggle the piece out of Egypt.

Every archaeological discovery had in those days to be brought before the Egyptian Antiquities Authority for inventory and distribution between Egypt and the archaeological expedition. This committee supervised the split between the objects that stayed in Egypt and those that were allowed to leave the country. Gustave Lefébvre, then inspector of the Antiquities Inspectorate in Asyut, Middle Egypt, where Amarna is located, was responsible for the divisions of the finds and, not trained as Egyptologist, settled for a simple 50/50 division where objects made of plaster would go to the Germans. It seems that Borchardt, already aware of the value of the limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, rushed the division negotiation, listed the figure as “bust of painted plaster of a princess of the royal family” (italics ours), and presented severely cropped photographs of the object to Lefébvre, who let the precious artifact go.

“Suddenly we had the most alive Egyptian artwork in our hands,” Borchardt wrote in his diary, “You cannot describe it with words. You can only see it.”

The bust of Queen Nefertiti was put on exhibit in Berlin’s Egyptian Museum in 1923, eleven years after its discovery. The Egyptian government has since made attempts to have the bust returned, but Germany has so far refused. Even Hitler felt in love with the non arian Egyptian lady, and announced that it would remain in Germany forever.

Nefertiti has been in Germany for nine decades. Visitors come from all over the world to admire her eternal beauty. Hopefully, in the near future, she will return to her homeland and the new Grand Egyptian Museum. Almost a century after the amazing discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, the meaning of her name still holds the promise of her return: “The Beautiful One has Come”.

lady-tjepuThere appears to be no distinction between male and female rights in Ancient Egypt. Women had a unique position in comparison to other ancient societies. They could buy, sell and inherit land, the most valuable commodity of Ancient Egypt’s slavery-feudal economic system. Women could initiate legal proceedings on their own right, act as witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants. Female rights in Ancient Egypt also included drafting civil contracts such as marriage, divorce and purchasing property. A wife was entitled to one third of the property upon her husband’s death, and she could decide the beneficiaries of the other two thirds.

As regards to legal status, women were not treated as male property, in sharp contrast to contemporary neighboring societies, including Greece, were women were required to obtain permission from a father, husband or other male to acquire property or be represented in court. A free woman, not having the status of a slave by particular circumstances such as debt, could not be sold or given away.

Ancient Egyptian culture ranked status and privileges according to social position. What we know about female rights in Ancient Egypt is derived from documents pertaining to women of the upper classes. Peasant women often worked as servants to the wealthy. Occupations included wet nurses, midwives, musicians, singers, dancers, domestic duties such as baking, beer preparation and other similar chores. Professional mourners were hired at funerals. It was possible to some degree to rise up in Ancient Egypt social structure, and females of all classes could become priestesses.

Women also enjoyed the status given to their husbands or family relations, and played particular importance in protecting the privileges that came with special titles. Women of the royal family and their attendants held many titles. The pharaoh’s principal wife was called “God’s Wife” and “Great Royal Wife”. The daughters of the pharaoh were never given in exchange for foreign princesses.

Private life of Ancient Egyptian women

No written document has been found so far that gives a hint as to what kind of ceremony was held, if any, when a man and a woman became husband and wife. It is generally believed that a couple simply started living together. Marriage was an important institution, though, and everyone was expected to marry and establish a family. Monogamy was the general rule, with the exception of the royal family, principally to assure dynasty continuity. Female rights in Ancient Egypt included divorce and remarriage. Reasons for divorce were wife’s adultery and childlessness, but couples could separate at will.

Pregnancy was very important for Ancient Egypt women, and so was contraception. Doctors (priests) performed all kinds of tests to determine whether a woman was pregnant or not. The earliest recorded pregnancy test comes from an ancient Egyptian medical training papyrus from around 1350 B.C. The woman who thinks she may be pregnant urinates on wheat and barley whole grains/seeds.

“If the barley seeds sprout or grow, it means a male child will be born. If the wheat sprouts and thrives, it means a female child will arrive in a few months. If the barley and wheat grains never sprout and grow when a woman urinates on the grain seeds, the woman is not pregnant and therefore, will not give birth this time around.”

Scientists have tested this ancient Egyptian medicinal folklore and found it to be 70 percent accurate. The reason why it works is because the urine of pregnant women contains a high level of estrogen that may help the grains to sprout.

A well known method for contracepcion was the use of crocodile dung on the vagina as spermicide.

Ancient Egyptian women are well known for their special care to appearance and beauty. Many cosmetics, perfumes and unguents were invented or first used in Ancient Egypt, although the use of these were not exclusive to the female gender. Good hygiene required shaving body hair, including the head to prevent lice infestation. Tomb paintings of the New Kingdom often depict scenery where elite women are displaying intricately tressed wigs and semitransparent body tight clothes, while dancers and servants appear almost nude.

The Papyrus of Ani is the most remarkable example of the ancient egyptian Book of the Dead, while the so called Book of the Dead is the most well known written document of ancient egyptian civilization.

An important part of ancient Egypt funeral practices, the Book of the Dead is the common name for ancient Egyptian funerary texts known as The Book of Coming (or Going) Forth By Day. The name “Book of the Dead” was the invention of the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, who published a selection of the texts in 1842.

The earliest known versions date from the 16th century BC during the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1580 BC 1350 BC). It partly incorporated two previous collections of Egyptian religious literature, known as the Coffin Texts (ca. 2000 BC) and the Pyramid Texts (ca. 2600 BC-2300 BC), both of which were eventually superseded by the Book of the Dead.

The text was initially carved on the exterior of the deceased person’s sarcophagus, but was later written on papyrus now known as scrolls and buried inside the sarcophagus with the deceased, presumably so that it would be both portable and close at hand.

The ancient egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells, charms, papyrus ani egyptian book dead deitiespasswords, numbers and magical formulae for the use of the deceased in the afterlife. They were intended to guide the dead through the various trials that they would encounter before reaching the underworld. Knowledge of the appropriate spells was considered essential to achieving triumph after death. These spells describe many of the basic tenets of ancient Egypt myths, and give us an insight of ancient Egypt religious beliefs and worshipping practices.

Egyptians compiled an individualized book for each person at their death. The Papyrus of Ani, an ancient Egypt scribe from the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom, is one of the most beautiful and complete funerary text scroll. His book is a papyrus manuscript written in cursive hieroglyphs. It contains pictures showing the tests to which the Ka of Ani would be subjected. The most important was the weighing of the heart of the dead person against Maat, or Truth.

The Papyrus of Ani depicts important ancient Egypt gods and goddesses, including Anubis, Thoth, Isis, Nepthys, Horus and Osiris, as well as many lesser known deities with which the Ka of the deceased has to contend in order to be accepted in the realm of Osiris.

It was purchased in 1888 by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge for the collection of the British Museum where it remains today. Before shipping the manuscript to England, Budge controversially cut the 78 foot scroll into 37 sheets of nearly equal size. He damaged the scroll’s integrity at a time when technology had not yet allowed the pieces to be put back together.

abydos-seti-temple-hall I got asked a question by a guest who stayed at Flats in Luxor. We were looking at the temple of Hatshepsut which you can see from the balcony. It was perfectly answered by an essay I had to do and he suggested I share it. What are the differences and similarities between a cult temple and a royal mortuary temple of the New Kingdom?

Introduction It is surprising that the terminology used by Egyptologists for many years to describe the temples is actually quite difficult to define. This seems to be a recognised problem. There are also slight variations on these terms such as divine instead of cult and memorial instead of mortuary. Should they even be used?

The ancient Egyptians refer to the two varieties of temple differently, “Mansion of Millions of Years” (Hwt-n t-HH-m-mp.wt), for mortuary temples and “Mansion of the God” (hwt-nTr) for the cult temple, but without defining what is actually meant by the terms. Traditional differentiations such as mortuary temples being situated on the west bank and cult temples on the east don’t help, as there are examples of both on the opposite sides. Some kings also built more than one temple of each type on a different side of the river. For example, Tuthmosis III built a Temple of Millions of years at Karnak, on the East Bank, the so called Festival Hall. He also built on the West Bank in the northern Assasif. This temple is also called a Temple of a Million of Years. He also built at Deir el Bahri and dedicated that temple to Amun, so that is an example of a cult temple on the West Bank.

To use the area devoted to the royal mortuary cult as a definition as to whether the temple is a mortuary temple is also problematic. Can the Gurna temple of Seti I seriously be called a mortuary temple when the royal cult is a tiny part off the back of the building which is reached by exiting the temple proper and going down the side to the back on the southern wall, whereas the main temple has chapels to Osiris, Ptah, Amun, Mut and Khonsu as well as a sun altar which are so much bigger and more prominent? Then there are temples like the Seti I temple at Abydos which, although it does have a chapel dedicated to Seti I, it also has numerous other chapels, which precludes us from saying that if the temple has a chapel to the king, no matter what size, that makes it a mortuary temple. The temple at Abydos is a very special cult temple to Osiris. Consequently, actually defining what is a mortuary or cult temple is fraught with difficulties.

Thankfully for the purposes of this essay other sources are more willing to come down on one side of the fence. The cult temple is the easiest for us to understand for it is the place where a particular god or gods resided and where cultic activities took place, which we might term worship. The mortuary temple, in contrast, was the royal version of the mortuary chapels attached to private tombs, and its most basic purpose was to provide offerings for the use of the dead king and to ensure his beneficial survival in the afterlife. So for our purposes we can take this simplified definition. Indeed the very first mortuary temple built by Hatshepsut was built on the eastern side of the monument surrounding the tomb mimicking the Old Kingdom mortuary temple on the side of a pyramid. It was just that her structure was the rather large natural mountain.

Background It wasn’t until the New Kingdom that temples were built of stone. Our knowledge of what preceded them or how the design came about is necessarily slim as their predecessors do not survive. Barry Kemp suggests that temple history and design can be categorized as Early Formal, Mature Formal and Late Formal. The temples of the New Kingdom come into the Mature Formal category. It is probable that the layout was similar to earlier temples; there must have always been a special sacred area where the statue of the god resided. This was at a higher level than the rest of the area and the later design of slightly ascending floor level copies this.

Design It seems as though the overall plan was loosely defined and the selection of, and number of elements, courtyard, hall and sanctuary, was a matter of personal choice. The mortuary temple used these same elements, open courtyard, hypostyle halls, sanctuary, in the same order making the cult temple the inspiration for the mortuary temple. The temple did not only consist of the temple proper but all the ancillary buildings, gardens, storage, workshops and housing. So both secular and divine requirements could be met. Processional ways, although outside the temple boundaries are an important part of the overall design, where God met the people even if he was hidden in the barque shrine. The temple precinct overall design was also not rigid, although various elements are generally incorporated. For example although it has been diligently searched for, no sacred lake or well has been found at the Ramasseum. So each king would select or emphasis elements he favoured.

As well as following the pattern of a house, the temple also followed the design of the world around them. Ceilings are covered in stars, columns take the form of papyrus and lotus and maybe that the undulating walls may have been built to mimic the waters of Nun and that the pylons represent the hieroglyph for the horizon. Orientation is generally East to West although there are occasional exceptions like Luxor temple. This meant that the sun would rise and set between the pylons.

The external decoration of the temple shows what the king wanted people to know about him and the internal what he wanted the gods to know about him. The front of the pylon often shows warlike scenes. The king smiting his enemies is a common theme and carries the hidden meaning of the king subduing external chaos in his role of upholder of Maat. The pylons at Karnak have many examples of this. Another common scene is the king being heroic and warlike in a chariot firing arrows against enemies. Various gods accompany the scenes, often the God of the cult temple, a recording God like Thoth or Seshat or an alternative warlike God like Neith or Sekhmet. Often there is a list of captive towns and this would have added a propaganda advantage.

Within the temple the king would be shown making offerings to the gods, both the god of the temple and other gods in the pantheon. At one and the same time the king is showing reverence for the gods and the gods would be rewarding the king for this act of devotion. Important events in the king’s life are often recorded. For example the coronation of the king, examples are at Medinet Habu and Karnak.


The function of a cult temple was to provide a hidden place for the statue of the god and a place of theatre. The temple was a possible site(s) of a Heb Seb or coronation celebration but most importantly it was the house of the god, where he/she resided, where offerings were received, incense burnt, specific clothing worn, dances performed and the god revitalised. Cult temples could be at a national or local level, national ones could host functions like the coronation of the king or his Heb Seb festival.

It was also important for the king to be seen to build temples. The king had to be seen to be offering to the gods in perpetuity.

Our use of the word priest carries much baggage from our own culture. For example it implies pastoral care of the congregation, teaching the theology and rites of passage such as christenings. These were not aspects of the role of an Egyptian priest. He was a servant to the god and his role was to serve the god. Just like a servant in an ordinary house.

Comparison What are the differences and similarities between a mortuary temple and a cult temple? A mortuary temple has a chapel for the benefit of the king and the royal ka. This mortuary temple is the place for offerings and the temple itself is based cult temples. This does not have to be the prime or only function of the temple but can be restricted to a small part of the temple like that of Seti I. The design however is the same for both temples. selecting one or more of the various elements from all the possible ones for both temple complex and the actual building.

There are also other, less important differences as well. Rather than god related heads to the sphinxes, such as ram headed sphinxes at Karnak and Luxor temples there are jackal headed sphinxes. Merenptah and Ramses II had dozens of these at their temples and there are still examples on site. There is often a temple palace attached to a mortuary temple. This was not where the king lived but merely a summer house or picnic hut used during ceremonies held at the temple as there were no kitchens.

So it is the function that is different in the two types of temple, not the design, location or elements and this function can be limited to a small part of the temple.

A good example of a mortuary temple is the temple of Seti I. The gateway of the first pylon is made from limestone and is decorated. It has two open courtyards with a possible roofed colonnade leading to a portico with three entrances. To the left or southern side of the first courtyard is a small temple palace. It has two entrances and in the middle there is a pillared hall with a flight of steps leading to a window of appearances. These windows allowed the king to appear to selected individuals surrounded by scenes showing power and majesty, often to present costly rewards such as collars of gold.

The second courtyard is at a higher level than the first courtyard and is the Heb Seb courtyard. This courtyard is surrounded by a wall. The right (most northern) entrance leads to an open area with an altar used for the worship of the sun. The central entrance leads to a hypostyle hall with a number of side rooms. Side chapels show the king offering or having libations poured over him.

This then leads to 5 chapels dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu, the Theban triad, with the addition of chapels to Osiris and Ptah. These chapels are decorated with pictures of the barque shrine and the king making offerings to it. Above the entrances are pictures of the god to whom the chapel is dedicated. The central area was decorated with two goddesses suckling the king and many scenes to celebrate the ‘Beautiful Feast of the Valley’. Seti’s temple would have been the first stop on the west bank in this important festival. The King is invariably shown bowing, kneeling or inclined before the gods. The temple lines up with Karnak temple and from the hill behind the temple the first pylon is clearly visible. The hill surmounting the Valley of the Kings dominates the temple.

The left hand or southern entrance leads to a chapel dedicated to Ramses I, who never had time to build his own mortuary temple. To the rear of this sub temple are some fine false doors. Exiting the chapel at the side and going to the back behind the false doors of the Ramses I temple area there is a further chapel for the royal mortuary cult. This is the part that makes it different to a cult temple; there was a specific area where offerings could be made to the king who was buried in the Valley of the Kings. The entrance halls are interconnected. The sanctuary floor is higher than those preceding it and the roof is lower, the smallest, darkest place. The roof of the temple has footprints carved into the floor so this must have had some significance.

The temple of Khonsu at Karnak is an excellent example of a cult temple as the design is cohesive, being executed by a limited number of kings; Ramses III, IV and XII. When there are a lot of kings involved in the design, like at Karnak, the design is harder to see as there are so many additions and reworking. The Ptolemaic gateway should be ignored as it is outside the time period.

The temple is connected to both the Temple of Mut and Luxor temple by an avenue of sphinxes leading to a pylon. The axis is south/north which is probably dictated by the need to line up with Luxor temple via the Avenue of Sphinxes. A similar axial alteration was made at Luxor temple by Ramses II,

This avenue would have hosted the processions between the various temples and provided an opportunity for the populace to see the barque containing the statue of the god. Inside the pylon is a staircase leading to the top and several ‘windows’ can be seen at the top.

Behind the pylon there is just one open courtyard with a roofed colonnade, the columns are closed papyrus bud capitals. A set of steps lead to the hypostyle hall, which is lit by clelestory windows and contains examples of open papyrus capitals. The columns support a higher central roof with closed bud capitals which support the side roof. The clelestory windows are built in to the side wall between the high central roof and the side roofs. The temple further ascends until the area of the barque shrine and ambulatory around it. As the temple floor ascends, the roof level descends. Leading off, in the south east corner, is a stairway leading to the roof which has a chapel. There are side rooms and at the back in the smallest, darkest place, the sanctuary.

The interior decoration is of the king making offerings to a selection of gods and barques of the gods, not just to Khonsu. Only the ambulatory and inner chapels were decorated by kings of the New Kingdom, principally Ramses III and Ramses IV. The Theban triad dominate but the other moon god, Thoth is also present. Khonsu is shown both as a falcon headed god with a moon crescent and a young boy with a forelock of youth and moon insignia.

There are also important iconic images like the king receiving libations and unification of the two lands. The outside of the pylon is not decorated but if finished would have no doubt show the king smiting his enemies or a similar warlike portrayal. The temple would have had a number of statues and there are still some remaining including a baboon which is associated with moon and sun gods.

Conclusion In conclusion there is no or little difference in design or decoration between a mortuary and cult temple, just the function. Elements such as pylons, courtyards, sanctuaries could appear in both.

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Jane Akshar Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jane_Akshar

Wrap it up

“Mummy” comes from the Persian word “mummiya”, meaning tar, pitch or any black sticky substance.

mummy-coffinAncient Egypt mummies are the earliest examples of the science of embalming, perfected and practiced by ancient Egypt priests since the first dynasties. Ancient egyptians were keen observers of all natural processes. The dry climate and other geographical conditions in ancient Egypt provide an environment where a body can get mummified naturally by desiccation. Egyptians recreated this natural process by the use of natron, a salt compound in which they immersed the body for a period of fifty days.

Mummification was an intricate combination of ritual and science, and became a significant aspect of ancient Egypt funeral practices and religion, not only for the pharaoh and nobles, but for the general population. Of course, only the privileged social classes could afford the best and most elaborate funeral.

video mummification hawassThe preparation of ancient Egypt mummies involved great care and expense. The priests wore masks representing Anubis, the god of embalming. The internal organs of the deceased, except the heart, thought to be the seat of intelligence, and necessary for the weighing against the feather of Maat at the Hall of Truth, were removed, mummified and placed in containers known as canopic jars. Curiously, the brain was discarded. The brain tissue was removed through the nostrils using a special surgical instrument.

After the body had thoroughly dried down in natron to hair, skin and bones, it was filled back to shape with sawdust, resins and linens saturated with essential oils.

The final step is how we identify ancient Egypt mummies from the embalming procedures of other cultures. The entire body of the mummy was tightly wrapped in layers of linen, with careful attention to each finger and toe. During this process, amulets and jewelry were placed between the layers of linen, and their particular powers awakened by magic medicine and prayers. A scarab beetle amulet was placed over the heart. Finally, the mummy was ready to embark on its final journey across the Nile.

The University of Manchester in the UK has a Center for Biomedical Egyptology where they study ancient Egyptian mummy tissue, applying modern techniques such as endoscopy, radiology, histology and DNA research to determine what medicinal plants were used in Ancient Egypt. They also study what diseases affected the ancient Egyptians and how this knowledge can help in the cure and prevention of modern illnesses.

I’ll take it

cat mummyNot only did ancient Egyptians believe in an afterlife, but that it was possible to bring along your material goods, too. That’s one reason why we know so much about this fascinating civilization. All sorts of personal belongings have been discovered in tombs, including ancient Egypt utensils, furniture and jewelry.

We can distinguish the social structures of ancient Egypt by how luxurious these tombs were once. ushabtiFavorite domestic animals, cats for example, were mummified and buried with the owner. Ancient Egypt mummies of rich people were buried with a stack of small mummy figures called ushabti, servants meant to be awakened by a special prayer inscribed in them so they could perform manual labors for the deceased in the realm of Osiris.