Tag Archives: 25th Dynasty

MAES Study Day 21/03/15: ‘The Power Behind the Throne’ – Key Personalities in Ancient Egyptian History

CG 42127 Amenhotep son of HapuManchester Ancient Egypt Society present their annual study day:

The Power Behind the Throne: Key Personalities in Ancient Egyptian History

Dr. Campbell Price, Colin Reader and Sarah Griffiths explore who really pulled the strings in the ancient Egyptian court, from the Old Kingdom through to the end of the Late Period. Find out more about the lives and times of some of the most famous ancient Egyptian celebrities such as Imhotep and Senenmut and meet some of the lesser known powerful personalities of the Pharaonic era.

The study day will be held at the Longfield Suite, Prestwich from 9:30am to 4:30pm, Saturday 21st March. There will be a raffle for charity, book auction to raise funds for MAES and a fun photo-spotting competition.
Tea / coffee / biscuits provided morning and afternoon. You need to make your own lunch arrangements, but there are lots of places in the shopping centre to buy / eat food.

Tickets are £30 you’ll also receive a free MAES folder (while stocks last). Speak to Gillian Cook, 298 Manor Avenue, Sale, Cheshire, M33 4NB (0161 976 1165)

There is a limit on numbers so please book early! Make Cheques payable to MAES.

Preliminary programme

9:30 Tea and coffee

10:00-10:30 Campbell Price – Introduction

10:30-11:30 Colin Reader – Old Kingdom: Imhotep

11:30- 11:50 Tea and coffee

11:50-12.50 Sarah Griffiths – Middle Kingdom personalities

12:50 – 13:00 Campbell  – summary

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 14:15 Auction / raffle / competition

14:15- 14: 45 Sarah – Early New Kingdom personalities

14:45 – 15:15 Campbell – New Kingdom continued: Royal master builders

15:15 – 15:30   Tea and coffee

15:30 – 16:30 Campbell – Late Period: The Gods Wives and their Staff & Admirals of the Fleet

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New light under old wrappings (I): Reinvestigating Asru

Inner coffin of Asru

Inner coffin of Asru

The mummy and coffins of Asru, an elite lady from 25th-26th Dynasty (c. 750-525 BC) Thebes, were among the earliest additions to what was to become the Manchester Museum collection when they were donated to the Manchester Natural History Society by William and Robert Garnett in 1825. She has already been unwrapped, probably at one of the fashionable ‘mummy unrollings’ of the period. In modern times, Asru proved to be the perfect patient when she was investigated by the Manchester Egyptian Mummy Project in the 1970s, because she had suffered from so many ailments – including arthritis, and parasitic infestations such as Strongyloides and Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia).

In 2012, in preparation for the re-opening of our Ancient Worlds galleries, all of the Museum’s 20 complete human mummies – including Asru – were scanned using the most up-to-date technology at the nearby Manchester Children’s hospital. The scans, conducted in collaboration with Professor of Radiology Judith Adams, featured on a number of TV reports but much of the new information derived did not become apparent until the scans had been properly and carefully analysed, sometimes taking months after the scanning session. PhD researcher Robert Loynes was instrumental, bringing his knowledge as a medical practitioner to the study of mummified remains.

Asru. Photo by Paul Cliff.

Asru. Photo by Paul Cliff.

The latest CT-scans confirmed Asru to have been an elderly woman for ancient Egypt, between 50 and 60 years of age at death. Interestingly, there was new evidence of arthritis in her neck, consistent with bearing a heavy weight over a prolonged period. Greater Manchester Police had established in the 1970s that, on the basis of her fingerprints, Asru’s hands and feet showed that she had lived a life of comparative ease. Perhaps what she carried on her head had a ritual rather than practical function?

Most interesting of all was the new information revealed about Asru’s mummification technique. CT-scans confirmed that, like many Egyptian mummies, Asru’s brain had been removed from the skull. Yet, rather than evidencing the standard method of extracting the brain through the nose, Asru’s ethmoid bone was found to be intact. Instead, transorbital excerebration had been performed: the removal of brain matter through the eye sockets. This is known in other cases but appears to have been extremely unusual.

Asru1

Asru’s outer coffin base. Photo by Paul Cliff.

Recently an opportunity also arose to examine Asru’s two coffins more closely, and to read the extensive inscriptions on them. These texts are mainly formulaic prayers for offerings and provide very little in the way of personal information. This is contrast to ideas held when mummies and coffins, like those of Asru, were arriving in the West; collectors believed that the texts were largely biographical and gave detailed accounts of the life of the coffins’ occupant. Such ‘biographies’ that were supplied in displays were often completely fictional, in an attempt to add interest and a humanising gloss to a curiosity. Thus, when Asru (read as ‘Asroni’) was first exhibited she was referred to as a ‘maid of honour in the court of the 20th(!) pharaoh’ – perhaps just because of the prestigious ‘look’ of her mummy and coffins.

Detail of Asru's outer coffin, giving genealogical information

Detail of Asru’s outer coffin, giving genealogical information

Asru’s own name means “Her arm against them”, probably a reference to the protective power of the goddess Mut, consort of the Theban god Amun. This apotropaic formulation is especially typical for non-royal names during the Late Period (c. 750-30 BC). Asru holds no titles and is in fact only ever designated ‘Lady of the House’ (= ‘married woman’) on her coffins. The title ‘temple singer’ may come from confusion with other female mummies in the collection or developed out of her false identity as a ‘handmaiden.’

Most excitingly of all, it has been possible to read the names of her parents. Asru’s mother is identified as the ‘Lady of the House’ Ta-di-amun (‘She whom Amun has given’) and her father was called Pa-kush (‘The Kushite’), a ‘document scribe of the southern region’.

Given that, based on the style of her coffins, Asru is likely to have lived and died at Thebes in the 25-26th Dynasty, this is of potentially great interest. Egypt was ruled by Kushite kings during the 25th Dynasty, who had a stronghold at Thebes. Might Asru’s father have been a part of their administration? If so, she may have been very important indeed. Such findings prove the value of reassessing evidence which may already seem well-known.

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Study Day 23/11/13: South Asasif Conservation Project in Context

southasasifStudy Day – Gateway to an artistic and cultural renaissance
South Asasif Conservation Project in context

Saturday 23rd November, Karanis Theatre, Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester
Cost is £30 / £25 for South Asasif Conservation Trust Friends/Patrons

Dr Elena Pischikova and Dr Campbell Price will be the principal speakers for this exciting study day which explores the process of artistic and cultural renaissance alongside political unification and the dawn of the Late Period. The day will focus on the case study of the tombs of the South Asasif necropolis in Thebes which provide an early example of what was to follow in Late Period tomb architecture, texts and decoration.

Programme

09.30 – Registration
10.00 – Welcome and Logistics (John Billman)
10.10 – South Asasif Conservation Project – Introduction, overview & latest results from 2012 & 2013 by Dr Elena Pischikova
11.30 – Break
12.00 – Chronological Context of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty by Dr Campbell Price
12.30 – South Asasif Conservation Project – anatomy of an excavation by John Billman
13.00 – Lunch (please make your own arrangements)
14.30 – Creating and Dedicating a Monument in Late Period Thebes by Dr Campbell Price
15.00 – Break
15.30 – Kushite art in Karakhamun and Karabasken – Inspiration, Style and Technique by Dr Elena Pischikova
16.30 – Close

Note : The above Study Day cost includes a voluntary gift-aidable donation of £15, if you do not wish to make this donation deduct £15pp

More information can be found at the Project website. Check out the South Asasif blog.

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MAES lecture, 8/4/13: Chris Naunton, “Regime Change in 25th Dynasty Thebes”

BM EA 1770

Sphinx of Taharqa. BM EA 1770.

The next Manchester Ancient Egypt Society lecture will be given by Dr. Chris Naunton, Director of the EES

Regime Change and the Administration of Thebes During the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty.

Monday 8th April, 7:30pm
Days Inn, Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3AL
All welcome

The Piye Stela suggests that the Nubian king of that name invaded Egypt and defeated a series of local, independent to re-establish central authority after a brief period when the country had become divided. In fact however there are good reasons to think that the country had been divided for some time and that the Kushites already had control of quite a bit of it, but never really had total control of the whole of the Two Lands. The study of the administration immediately beneath the level of King, and the titles held by important individuals in particular, can tell us a great deal about the processes involved and the reality behind the propaganda.

Dr Chris Naunton is Director of the Egypt Exploration Society. He studied Egyptology at the universities of Birmingham and Swansea and wrote his PhD thesis on regime change in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. He has excavated in the field at Abydos and in el-Asasif, Western Thebes but his research focuses now on the EES archives and the history of Egyptology. He is the presenter of the 2012 BBC film Flinders Petrie: ‘The Man Who Discovered Egypt’.

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