Showing posts from February, 2018

Egypt's Golden Empire

Here's a cool set of videos from PBS called "Egypt's Golden Empire." It goes into detail about some of the really interesting pharaohs we talked about in class. It's worth checking out--Especially the segments on Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, King Tutankhamun, and Ramses the Great.

Akhenaten and Tutankhamun

One of the most interesting pharaohs ever to rule Egypt was named Amenhotep IV, who later renamed himself Akenaten. This pharaoh changed the Egyptian religion and the style of Egyptian art and even moved the capital city of the kingdom from Thebes to a brand new city he built called Amarna. For that reason, this time in history is called the "Amarna Period."

Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, were the center of the new religion. The Egyptian people were expected to worship the ATEN, or the visible rays of the sun.

Click here for an article about the search for Queen Nefertiti's tomb!

In the comments, can you describe any specific changes that Akhenaten put in place?

* Egyptian, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, 1349–1336 B.C.

    Height x width x depth: 51 x 105.5 x 5.2 cm (20 1/16 x 41 9/16 x 2 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
    Architectural elements

Accession Number
On view
    Egypt: New Kingdom - 210

Hatshepsut and Thutmose III

During the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom, two of the most important pharaohs were related, but hated one another. The first was Hatshepsut, one of the most powerful female rulers in history. The second was Thutmose III, her stepson who hated Hatshepsut for "stealing" his throne. If a student wanted to know more about either pharaoh, here are a few useful resources:

Information on Hatshepsut 

The Mummy of Queen Hatshepsut Found
Science Blog update about the identification of an unknown mummy as that of Hatshepsut

Video Tour of Hatshepsut Sculptures at the MET
A great exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

National Geographic's Hatshepsut links
Lots of articles, video clips, and good information about the female pharaoh

Dr. Zahi Hawass's description of Hatshepsut
Scroll down to the section that says "Who Was Hatshepsut?"

An Encyclopedia Britannica description of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri

Mortuary Temple of Hatshe…

The Rosetta Stone

No, not the computer program. The actual stone is one of the most important archaeological finds ever unearthed in Egypt. Without it, the ability to read and understand hieroglyphics might still be lost since the 4th or 5th century A.D. When Napoleon brought his conquering French troops to Egypt at the end of the 1700s A.D., he ordered them to build large forts, including in the northern city of Rosetta.

At Rosetta a number of troops unearthed a huge black granite tablet carved with the same message in three different languages: hieroglyphics, a cursive form of hieroglyphics called "demotic," and ancient Greek. A French translator, Jean Champollion, used his knowledge of both ancient Greek and the modern Coptic (Egyptian) language to translate the stone.

One important writing technique of the ancient Egyptians was the use of a cartouche, or an oval-shaped loop of rope drawn around the name of the pharaoh. In this case, the name of Pharaoh Ptolemy V frequently appears in car…

How Papyrus is Made and Scarab Beetles

Today in class we were talking about the papyrus plant and how Egyptians used it to create a durable way to record information--papyrus paper! In fact, the word "paper" comes from the word "papyrus."

Here's a quick video demonstrating the work it takes to go from plant to paper:

On an unrelated note, want to see a real scarab beetle in action?
Egyptians imagined that a divine scarab beetle rolled the sphere of the sun across the sky.

Egyptian Art: 4 Important Scenes

You will draw four scenes that are central to Egyptian religious beliefs. Each of the scenes would appear in tomb paintings, papyrus scrolls, wall carvings, and mummy coffins. You may fold your paper into four squares. Be sure to label each scene, and put your name on the back of the paper.

Scene 1: The Journey When a person died in ancient Egypt, their religious belief held that the soul of the person would cross the Nile River in a wooden barge. The Egyptians watched as the sun was "born" in the East and would "die" in the West. The Journey would be a voyage from the land of the living on the eastern side of the Nile, to the land of the dead on the western shore.

Often a god or goddess would be steering the barge with the dead person depicted as a passenger. The god Thoth, the scribe of the gods, appears as a large ibis bird in the picture below.

To recall this journey, the mummified corpse of the dead pharaoh would be loaded onto a real barge for the final journ…

Egyptian Art

There are certain elements that make the art of ancient Egypt unique. The Egyptians held as their number one goal to reflect order. Since the environment of Egypt is unpredictable, and the life of an ancient Egyptian was very dangerous, they wanted their culture to show the ability to control nature.

When you look at a piece of Egyptian artwork, analyze the following aspects:

1. Style (Body positions, colors, clothes, jewelry, etc.)
2. Theme (What is the picture showing)
3. Symbols (Including hieroglyphics)
4. Characters (Gods, pharaohs, regular people, enemies)
5. Purpose (Why was this art made?)
6. Message (What is the image trying to make you think?)

1. In this relief carving, the pharaoh Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great) smites his enemies.

2. The Narmer Palette is a decorative makeup case that is more for artistic purposes than for makeup.

2. This sketch shows more clearly the images of the Narmer Palette, one of the most important art pieces in all of Egyptian history.

3. This image …

Groundhog Day!

It is February 2, and that means that folks are looking to the groundhog to see if there will be six more weeks of winter. You can check out the most famous quadrupedal weatherman, Punxatawney Phil, out in western Pennsylvania or any number of imitators around North America (or celebrate Marmot Day in Alaska).

Even National Geographic has a story about the Groundhog Day tradition!

The origins of Groundhog Day date back to the earliest pagan rituals associated with the changing of the seasons. February 2 falls exactly between the first day of winter (the winter solstice) and the first day of spring (the vernal equinox), and so was very important to early astronomers.

In pre-Christian Europe the festivals surrounding Imbolc, the holiday marking the midpoint between winter and spring, often dealt with predicting the weather and checking for signs of spring, looking for hibernating animals to return or not. Later Christians incorporated the holiday of Candlemas to replace the pagan holid…

Focus On: Canopic Jars

Jars can hold all kinds of good stuff: cookies, jelly, fruit...human internal organs.

In ancient Egypt, important people would be mummified before being put into their tombs. Naturally, they'd need their "ba" to live in the afterlife, or their "ka"might have to wander the earth as a ghost forever. As part of the mummification process, the internal organs would be removed and prepared separately. From a cut in the side of the body, the priests would take out the liver, the lungs, the stomach, and the intestines. After being dried in natron (salt and baking soda), the organs would be placed in specially prepared jars called canopic jars.

The canopic jars would have been placed in a separate chamber of the tomb for the pharaoh's afterlife. Each canopic jar had the head of a different god, considered a protector  of that particular organ. The four gods are considered the Four Sons of Horus. Horus was the god associated with the pharaoh, and was himself a son o…

The Process of Mummification

We all know that the Egyptians are most well-known for mummifying their important dead. While it was a little different depending on the time period, with human bodies the process in essentially the same:
Wash the body of the dead pharaohMake an incision in the side of the bodyRemove the four major internal organs (liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines)The four organs are salted, dried, and placed in canopic jars separatelyA large hook is shoved up the nose and the brain is mushed upThe brain is then drained out the noseThe heart is left in the body for Anubis to weighNatron (salt and baking soda) is stuffed into the body, and around itThe body is left for 40 days to completely dry outThe salt is changed several timesAfter it is dried, the body is washed of all the natronResin (tree sap) is poured on the body to seal it Beginning with the fingers and toes, the body is wrapped in linen stripsMagic amulets and good luck charms are placed in the wrappingsThe body is draped in a shroudThe…