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The History of Egypt - Burials

The History of Egypt - Burials

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In part three of Dr. David Neiman's lecture on ancient Egypt, Dr. Neiman traces the development of Egyptian culture and cites, as well as the great Egyptian historian, Manetho, who divided the history of Egypt into periods defined by dynasties.


Burial Sites Show How Nubians, Egyptians Integrated Communities Thousands of Years Ago

New bioarchaeological evidence shows that Nubians and Egyptians integrated into a community, and even married, in ancient Sudan, according to new research from a Purdue University anthropologist.

"There are not many archaeological sites that date to this time period, so we have not known what people were doing or what happened to these communities when the Egyptians withdrew," said Michele Buzon, an associate professor of anthropology, who is excavating Nubian burial sites in the Nile River Valley to better understand the relationship between Nubians and Egyptians during the New Kingdom Empire.

The findings are published in American Anthropologist, and this work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. Buzon also collaborated with Stuart Tyson Smith from the University of California, Santa Barbara, on this UCSB-Purdue led project. Antonio Simonetti from the University of Notre Dame also is a study co-author.

Michele Buzon, a Purdue University associate professor of anthropology, is excavating pyramid tombs in Tombos, Sudan to study Egyptian and Nubian cultures from thousands of years ago in the Nile River Valley. Image credit: Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke

Egyptians colonized the area in 1500 BCE to gain access to trade routes on the Nile River. This is known as the New Kingdom Empire, and most research focuses on the Egyptians and their legacy.

"It's been presumed that Nubians absorbed Egyptian cultural features because they had to, but we found cultural entanglement? That there was a new identity that combined aspects of their Nubian and Egyptian heritages. And based on biological and isotopic features, we believe they were interacting, intermarrying and eventually becoming a community of Egyptians and Nubians," said Buzon, who just returned from the excavation site.

During the New Kingdom Period, from about 1400-1050 BCE, Egyptians ruled Tombos in the Nile River Valley's Nubian Desert in the far north of Sudan. In about 1050 BCE, the Egyptians lost power during the Third Intermediate Period. At the end of this period, Nubia gained power again and defeated Egypt to rule as the 25th dynasty.

"We now have a sense of what happened when the New Kingdom Empire fell apart, and while there had been assumptions that Nubia didn't function very well without the Egyptian administration, the evidence from our site says otherwise," said Buzon, who has been working at this site since 2000, focusing on the burial features and skeletal health analysis. "We found that Tombos continued to be a prosperous community. We have the continuation of an Egyptian Nubian community that is successful even when Egypt is playing no political role there anymore."

Human remains and burial practices from 24 units were analyzed for this study.

The tombs, known as tumulus graves, show how the cultures merged. The tombs' physical structure, which are mounded, round graves with stones and a shaft underneath, reflect Nubian culture.

"They are Nubian in superstructure, but inside the tombs reflect Egyptian cultural features, such as the way the body is positioned," Buzon said. "Egyptians are buried in an extended position on their back with their arms and legs extended. Nubians are generally on their side with their arms and legs flexed. We found some that combine a mixture of traditions. For instance, bodies were placed on a wooden bed, a Nubian tradition, and then placed in an Egyptian pose in an Egyptian coffin."

Skeletal markers also supported that the two cultures merged.

"This community developed over a few hundred years and people living there were the descendants of that community that started with Egyptian immigrants and local Nubians," Buzon said.
"They weren't living separately at same site, but living together in the community."

Top image: Nubians bringing tribute to the Pharaoh, from the tomb of Huy. Photo Source: ( Exploring Africa )

Source: Purdue University. "Burial sites show how Nubians, Egyptians integrated communities thousands of years ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160518165301.htm

Ancient-Origins

This is the Ancient Origins team, and here is our mission: “To inspire open-minded learning about our past for the betterment of our future through the sharing of research, education, and knowledge”.


Who Were Cleopatra and Mark Antony?

Cleopatra’s history is a colorful one. She was Greek, but DNA evidence from her half-sister shows that she may have been African. Modern historians believe that she was Egyptian, probably because of her status as Egypt’s pharaoh. Long before she started her relationship with Mark Antony, Cleopatra was married to Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, both of whom were her brothers. She ruled Egypt alongside her brothers. She also had an affair with Julius Caesar with whom she bore a son.

Where Is the Tomb of Cleopatra, the Last Queen of Egypt

Mark Antony was a Roman general, a politician, and Caesar’s friend. He was part of the Second Triumvirate that ended the Roman Republic in 43 BCE. He was later become an enemy of Octavian, who was also a member of the Second Triumvirate. This hostile relationship is what caused Antony to be defeated by the Romans and eventually commit suicide in 30 BCE by stabbing himself with a sword in the abdomen.


The First Dynasty of Egypt

A wall sculpture from the interior of an ancient Egyptian pyramid at Saqqara. (Image: Akimov Konstantin/Shutterstock)

The First Kingdom of Egypt

Over 5000 years ago, Narmer was the first king of Egypt who united the villages up and down the Nile. Under his rule, Upper and Lower Egypt came together and formed the first nation in history. Naturally, a nation needs a central place where the bureaucracy takes place. Therefore, the capital was established at Memphis in the north of Egypt, roughly 15 miles from modern-day Cairo. Aha was the king who founded the first capital city at Memphis.

This is a transcript from the video series History of Ancient Egypt. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

The location of Memphis just south of Nile delta made it an ideal location for a capital. Potential invaders from the north would be seen as they traveled up the delta. (Image: Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock)

To understand why it was designated as the capital, you need to consider its strategic location. Egypt is surrounded by desert on its eastern and western borders, and crossing the desert requires a kind of organizational skill that no other nation had at the time. Therefore, the Egyptian kings were only concerned about an invasion from the water, by the nations on the other side of the Mediterranean. Establishing the capital at Memphis afforded them some time to prepare before the invaders were able to reach the gates.

Over the years, the name ‘Memphis’ gradually morphed into ‘Egypt’. Originally, the city was called Hikuptah. It was the place of the god Ptah. During the Greek invasion, the city was renamed to Aegyptos, which then became ‘Egypt’.

Burial Grounds in Abydos: Resting Place for the First Kings of Egypt

Until the 19 th century, not much was known about Narmer and the other kings of the First Dynasty of Egypt. There were only a few names but no monuments and no evidence to suggest that they existed. These included the earlier monarchs of the dynasty, such as Aha, Den, and Djer. However, eventually, excavations at the City of Abydos in the south of Egypt revealed that they had tombs.

It is interesting to note that the first kings were not buried at Memphis they were buried far away, at Abydos, in the south.

As the legend goes, after the god Osiris was murdered, his body was hacked to pieces and then reassembled by Isis, his wife. According to the myth, those pieces were put back together and buried at Abydos. Therefore, Abydos became a sacred city. From that day forward, everyone wanted to be buried in Abydos, believing that a burial place near Osiris would give them a chance to resurrect just like him.

During the early years of the dynasty, the burials were quite simple. In fact, the elaborate burial rituals that characterize Egyptian royalty began to form years later. The burial grounds were, essentially, large pits in the sand that were lined with mud bricks to prevent sand from coming in. The pharaohs were placed in these pits along with grave goods to take to the next life.

Flinders Petrie: A Curious Archaeologist

The burial grounds at Abydos were excavated in the late 19 th century by Sir Flinders Petrie, who is known for his Sequence Dating System based on pottery. Given his interest in knowledge, as opposed to treasure, Petrie excavated sites that did not interest others.

Archaeologist Flinders Petrie in action at Abydos, 1922. (Image: Unknown author/Public domain)

His efforts led to the discovery of the earliest burials of Egypt, called mastabas. Typically, in front of these little burial sites, a sizeable round-topped stone known as a stela was found. On such stelas, a serekh or a rectangular vignette containing a palace facade and the king’s name would be placed. Another distinguishing factor was the presence of a falcon standing on top of the stela, which indicated that the pharaoh was associated with Horus.

The excavation sites were replete with small treasures, which were often stolen by the diggers and sold on the antiquities market. In fact, this sort of thievery had become so common that certain excavators in the 19 th century only found large statues, but never small objects.

To overcome this problem, Petrie took an unorthodox approach: he paid his workmen for what they found. When anyone found a small object, perhaps gold, or just a beautiful bracelet, Petrie would pay the diggers a fair price for the item. This way, he was able to obtain all of the small objects on his digs.

This is a transcript from the video series History of Ancient Egypt. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

Discovering the Oldest Royal Jewelry in Egypt

At the tomb of King Djer in Abydos, Petrie’s workmen found a mummy’s arm with two gold bracelets on it. The arm was somehow stuck in a wall, perhaps as a result of a robbery that had gone awry many years ago.

One of the bracelets was made of gold and had several serekhs, which represented the king. In other words, it was a king’s bracelet. It was indeed the oldest piece of royal jewelry ever found, on the arm of Djer, one of the kings of the First Dynasty in Egypt.

To establish the monetary value of the bracelet, Petrie weighed it against English gold sovereigns, and he gave the workmen the gold sovereigns. This way, he was able to keep his diggers happy. The mummy’s arm, which was the oldest available relic of a pharaoh, was sent to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The curator, Brugsch, was very impressed with the jewelry, but rather surprisingly, he discarded the arm of King Djer. In his memoirs, Petrie recounted this incident, noting, “Sometimes a museum is a dangerous place.”

Burial of the First Kings of Egypt: An Unresolved Mystery

The burials at Abydos are significant in that they prove that these kings did indeed exist, and that their stories were not myths.

However, there are other mysteries surrounding the burials. There are two burials for each king. That is, each pharaoh has a grave in Abydos and another in Saqqara. The name Saqqara comes from the god’s name Sokar, who is one of the gods of the dead. ‘Sokar’ became ‘Saqqara’, ‘the place of Sokar’. Saqqara was used as an Old Kingdom burial site in the early part of Egyptian history for a long time.

Why did these kings have tombs both at Saqqara and Abydos? Clearly, one is a false burial, or what is known as a cenotaph. By having two monuments, the pharaoh is showing that he is the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, of the north and the south. Future pharaohs continued this practice.

Today, we are not entirely sure which burial was the real one for which pharaoh. Was it at Saqqara, or was it at Abydos?

Common Questions about the First Dynasty in Egypt

Memphis became the capital of Unified Egypt for strategic reasons . The only threat to Egypt was from across the Mediterranean. Memphis was slightly south of present-day Cairo , meaning that the Egyptians could have warning of an impending attack.

Abydos was sacred to Osiris . In Egyptian myth, Abydos is where Isis reassembled the hacked-up body of Osiris and buried it, and Osiris was resurrected. The Pharaohs were buried in Abydos , in the hope that they could also be resurrected.

Most tomb excavators did not pay their diggers for the things they found, but Flinders Petrie paid his workers the market value for everything they found. So, when a mummy’s arm with a gold bracelet on it was found by Petrie’s diggers, it was taken directly to Petrie. This led to Petrie discovering King Djer’s royal serekh on one of the bracelets, confirming that the legendary kings of Ancient Egypt really existed.

The First Dynasty Pharaohs were the earliest rulers of a unified Upper and Lower Egypt . By having two burial sites, one in Saqqara and one in Abydos, the pharaoh is demonstrating that he is ruler of both the north and the south .


50 ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt's Saqqara necropolis

Egypt has announced the discovery of a new trove of treasures at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, including an ancient funerary temple.

The tourism and antiquities ministry said the “major discoveries” made by a team of archaeologists headed by the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass also included more than 50 sarcophagi.

The wooden sarcophagi, which date back to the New Kingdom period – between the 16th and the 11th century BC – were found in 52 burial shafts at depths of 10 to 12 metres (40 feet).

Hawass said the funerary temple of Queen Naert, the wife of King Teti, as well as three warehouses made of bricks were also found on the site.

Saqqara, home to more than a dozen pyramids, ancient monasteries and animal burial sites, was a vast necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis that has become a Unesco world heritage site.

In November, Egypt announced the discovery of more than 100 intact sarcophagi, in the largest such find of the year.

A mummy dating back to the New Kingdom found at the funerary temple of Queen Naert. Photograph: Mohamed Hossam/EPA

The sealed wooden coffins, unveiled alongside statues of ancient deities, dated back more than 2,500 years and belonged to top officials of the Late period and the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt. At the time, the antiquities and tourism minister, Khaled al-Anani, predicted that “Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents”.

Hawass said the latest discoveries could shed new light on the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom. The find was made near the pyramid where King Teti, the first pharaoh of the sixth dynasty of the Old Kingdom, is buried.

Egypt hopes archaeological discoveries will spur tourism, a sector that has endured multiple shocks, from the 2011 uprisings to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Later this year, and after several delays, authorities hope to inaugurate a new museum – the Grand Egyptian Museum – at the Giza plateau.

There has been a flurry of excavations in recent years in Saqqara, home to the step pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest built in ancient Egypt.


110 ancient Egyptian tombs, including baby burials, found along Nile

Archaeologists have unearthed 110 ancient Egyptian tombs, many holding the remains of humans, including two babies inside pots, along the Nile Delta, the Egyptian antiquities ministry announced Tuesday (April 27).

The tombs were excavated at a site called Koum el-Khulgan, which is located about 93 miles (150 kilometers) northeast of Cairo. Of those tombs, 73 date back to between 5,500 and 5,000 years ago, a time when Egypt was in the process of unifying. During this time, hieroglyphics first appeared in Egypt and a central government would form &mdash one that would eventually be powerful enough to oversee the construction of pyramids.

Many of the 73 tombs were oval-shaped, with the human remains buried in a squatting position with the head facing toward the west, a direction where the ancient Egyptians believed the dead dwelled, the ministry said in the statement. Inside one of the tombs was the skeleton of a baby interred in a pot. The grave goods in these tombs mainly consisted of pottery vessels, including a bowl decorated with geometric shapes.

The other 37 tombs date to roughly 1640 B.C. to 1540 B.C., or between about 3,660 and 3,560 years ago, a time when the Hyksos, a group from Asia, ruled northern Egypt, the ministry said. These tombs tended to be rectangular in shape and held human remains placed inside in an extended position, the head also facing toward the west. One of these tombs also contained a baby buried inside a pot.

Silver rings had been buried with some of the human remains in these rectangular tombs inside one tomb, the team also found what appears to be a seal stone with a hieroglyphic inscription on it. Ancient Egyptian officials commonly placed such seals &mdash made by pressing a decorated stone into clay &mdashonto a document or other official object. The writing and drawings on the seal could identify which official created it.

The remains of ovens, brick buildings and amulets, including scarabs made from semi-precious stones, were also found at the site. Excavations and analysis of the site are ongoing.


Ancient Egyptian Mastabas

Mastaba tombs are low rectangular, flat-roofed constructions with distinctive sloping sides created from sun-dried mud brick or infrequently stones. Inside they feature a small number of rooms together with a main burial chamber underneath it. The actual burial chamber was reached via a deep vertical shaft below a flat-roofed stone structure.

Mastaba is an Arabic word meaning “bench” as their form resembles an oversized bench. The actual ancient Egyptian word used to describe these tombs was pr-djt, or “house for eternity.” Mastabas began to appear in the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-2700 BC) and continued to be built throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2700-2200 BC).

These mastaba tombs served as highly visible monuments to the prominent members of Egyptian nobility interred within their vaults. In keeping with later developments in burial fashion, the actual burial chambers for the mummified bodies were placed deep underground.

Early Mastabas

These early mastabas were intended for royalty and even pharaohs. However, after pyramids rose in popularity during the Fourth Dynasty (c. 2625-2510 BC) mastaba tombs were increasingly adopted for lesser royalty, including those queens who were not granted their own pyramid tomb, together with courtiers, high-status state officials and their families. Today, large numbers of mastaba tombs can be seen at the major ancient Egyptian burial sites of Abydos, Saqqara and Giza.

As with the pyramids, construction of these mastaba tombs was concentrated on the west bank of the Nile, which was viewed by ancient Egyptians as a symbol of death, in recognition of the sun sinking into the underworld.

Inside these tombs were brilliantly decorated and had a dedicated place for making offerings to the dead. The tomb’s walls were vibrantly decorated with scenes of the deceased and their daily activities. Thus the mastaba tombs were designed to ensure the deceased’s well being for all eternity.

Afterlife Beliefs Shaped Mastaba Tomb Design

During the period of the Old Kingdom, ancient Egyptians believed only the souls of their kings journeyed on to enjoy a divine afterlife with their gods. By contrast, the souls of Egyptian nobles and their families continued to inhabit their tomb. Thus they required nourishment in the firm of daily offerings of food and drink.

When an Egyptian died, their ka or life force or soul was set free. To encourage their soul to return to their body, the body was preserved and a statuette of the likeness of the deceased was interred in the tomb. Statuettes called slaves for the soul or shabti or shawabti also accompanied the deceased in the tombs to serve the deceased in their afterlife.

A false door was frequently carved on the interior wall of the tomb close to the entrance to the vertical shaft. An image of the deceased was often carved into this false door to encourage the soul to reenter the body. Similarly, the comfort and well being of the deceased was ensured by including storage chambers amply stocked with household furniture, equipment, food and liquid storage jars and vessels together with offerings of food and drink.

The walls of the mastaba tombs were often decorated with scenes showing extracts from the deceased’s routine daily activities.

Changing Construction Fashions

The construction style of the mastaba tombs evolved over time. The earliest mastaba tombs closely resembled homes and featured several rooms. Later mastaba designs incorporated stairways leading down into rooms carved out of the rock below the overhead structure. Finally, for additional protection mastabas further developed the burial shaft and positioned the body below the rooms overhead.

After the Old Kingdom waned, mastaba tombs gradually fell from favour and were quite rare by the time of the New Kingdom. Eventually, Egyptian royalty ceased being buried in mastaba tombs in preference for burials in more modern, and aesthetically pleasing burials in pyramids, rock-cut tombs and small pyramid chapels. These ultimately replaced the mastaba tomb design amongst the Egyptian nobility. Egyptians of more humble, non-royal backgrounds continued to be buried in mastaba tombs.

Eventually, the design of the mastaba tombs influenced the design and construction approach to altars, temples, the great pylons or entrance towers positioned outside major temples, Djoser’s step pyramid and of course the magnificent true pyramids.

Early mastaba examples are quite simple and architecturally straightforward. In later non-royal Old Kingdom mastaba tombs, what in previous layouts had been a rough niche carved into the side of the tomb now expanded into a shrine cut into the tomb incorporating a formal stela or tablet carved into a false door showing the deceased seated at a table laden with offerings. The false door was important as it allowed the deceased’s spirit to enter the burial chamber.

Why Did Ancient Egyptians Devote Their Time And Resources To Creating These Tombs?

In ancient Egypt, mastaba tombs and later pyramids served both funerary purposes and acted as shrines or temples. The ancient Egyptians believed that by performing religious ceremonies and sacred rites in mastaba tombs, the tombs provided a means of communicating with the departed spirits who were thought to be dwelling in the sky or the heavenly stars.

Mastabas and their pyramid offspring were mystically endowed in the minds of the ancient Egyptians with supernatural qualities, including forming the “Steps To Reach Heaven” and housing the material goods, food and drink offerings and servants needed to sustain a spirit on its journey through the afterlife.

Why Did They Construct Such Colossal Designs?

Ancient Egyptians considered that performing magical rituals in a mastaba enabled the spirits of the departed to flourish and rise to the sky, or heaven. Consequently, the use of such assemblies allowed them to receive and enjoy heavenly benefits as a reward for their loyalty and work effort done during their lives. A magnificent compensation as promised by their Pharaoh, who was believed to be a God on earth.

In addition, ancient Egyptians believed their Gods on earth would be able to reciprocate with other gods. This created a relationship that permitted them to acquire other worldly advantages. These concepts were taken at the time to be real, useful and necessary for the afterlife.

How Did The Mastaba’s Trapezoidal Structure Become The Foundation Of Ancient Egyptian Architectural Forms?

The mastaba is the structural precursor to the later pyramids. In constructing a pyramid, the ancient Egyptians, first lid down a mastaba-like structure, which acted as the bottom platform and included the pyramid’s total base footprint. They next proceeded to construct a second slightly small-scale mastaba-like structure over the first completed structure. The Egyptian builders then continued to build mastaba-like platforms, one on top of the other, until the pyramid’s desired height had been reached.

Djoser’s Step Pyramid The Ultimate Mastaba

Architecturally, mastabas preceded the first pyramid and much of the expertise developed in designing and building mastaba tombs formed the knowledge foundation for constructing the first pyramids.

The conceptual line from the mastaba tombs to the first pyramid is simple to detect. By simply stacking one slightly smaller mastaba directly on top of a larger preceding one led to the innovative and revolutionary design that is Djoser’s step pyramid. This process was repeated several times to create the initial pyramid-shaped monument.

Djoser’s vizier Imhotep designed the original step pyramid in the third millennium BC. The sloped sides of the iconic great pyramids at Giza were adopted directly from the blueprint of a mastaba tomb, although a pointed cap replaced the mastaba’s flat roof in the pyramid design.

Imhotep’s pyramid design modified the step pyramid by filling in the uneven outer sides of the pyramids with stones and then giving the pyramid a limestone outer shell creating the flat, sloping external surfaces.

This final design did way with the stair-like appearance of the step pyramid model. Thus, the mastaba tomb was the initial staging design, which progressed from the mastaba form to the step pyramid layout to the bent pyramids before finally adopting the now familiar triangle-shaped pyramids, which dominate the Giza plateau.

Reflecting On The Past

Consider for a moment, the inspired leap of imagination by Imhotep to transform the mastaba tomb design into the classical pyramid template that resulted in one of the Ancient Wonders of the World.

Header image courtesy: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


‘Most exciting find in Egypt’ 6,000-year-old breakthrough rewrites ancient history

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Ancient Mysteries: Expert reveals Egypt’s ‘most exciting find’

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Hierakonpolis, or "City of the Hawk," is the Greek name for the modern city of Kom el-Ahmar, which became the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt at the end of the prehistoric era, between 3200BC and 2686BC, but the earliest settlement may date back more than 6,000 years ago. The first evidence of its ruins were excavated towards the end of the 19th century by the English archaeologists James Quibell and Frederick Green who theorised the city had at least 5,000 and possibly as many as 10,000 inhabitants at its height. Since 2001, Dr Renee Friedman has led the efforts to learn more about Hierakonpolis, with her recent developments being documented in Channel 5&rsquos new series: &lsquoAncient Mysteries: Animals of Egypt&rsquos Underworld&rsquo.

Trending

But she revealed how experts discovered this vast area &ndash estimated to be around three miles squared &ndash was also hiding a number of bizarre burials that left experts scratching their heads.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Friedman said: &ldquoHierakonpolis is a very important site for the beginning of the Egyptian civilisation.

&ldquoIt has been known to be an important site for over 100 years, very important artefacts were found there in 1898.

&ldquoThen in the Seventies, we went back to the site to look around some more.

Egypt archaeologists made a breakthrough (Image: GETTY/C5)

Renee Friedman has been excavating the area for three decades (Image: C5)

&ldquoWe found this cemetery and began excavating it, but not only did we find human burials, we found these very strange animals that took us some time to figure out what they were.&rdquo

Dr Friedman went on to detail how the team plucked a treasure trove of ancient animal remains from burial tombs.

She added: &ldquoYou don&rsquot expect to find seven baboons in a grave and a wild cat and a hippopotamus buried along with humans.

&ldquoWe began again in the Nineties, and as we excavated, we found more and more animals.

&ldquoEvery time we found a human burial, we would find stranger and stranger animals.&rdquo

Remains of animals have been uncovered (Image: C5)

Related articles

Remarkably, Dr Friedman revealed to Express.co.uk that she now believes the ancient civilisation captured, cared for and showed off these exotic animals in what could be evidence of the world's first-ever zoo.

She said: &ldquoAlthough all these animals have obviously been buried, we see that they sustained injuries that were healed and had to be healed under human care.

&ldquoWe think they were in captivity for at least six weeks for the injuries to heal, but how much beyond that I can&rsquot say.

&ldquoSo these animals were kept on-site alive, I don&rsquot think the whole point was to actually bury them, I think it was to show them off.&rdquo

Dr Friedman believes keeping the animals in captivity was a show of power to the ancient Egyptians.

She continued: &ldquoTo have these animals would prove that the ruler of the site was very wealthy and powerful &ndash killing animals was easy, but actually bringing them back alive is a lot harder &ndash imagine an elephant, leopard or lion.

Scores of burials have been found (Image: C5)

Dr Friedman believes she has uncovered the world's first zoo (Image: C5)

&ldquoKeeping it alive is another skill too, we have a leopard, wild cattle, two elephants, hippopotami, crocodiles &ndash all these animals represent power.

&ldquoThese are animals they were afraid of, that caused chaos and by capturing them they showed control over them.&rdquo

During the series, which aired last week, narrator Mark Bazeley explained why this ancient settlement still gives archaeologists a huge opportunity to peek into a part of history scarcely documented.

He stated: &ldquoThe zoo from the dawn of history played an incredible role in shaping the Egyptian civilisation.

&ldquoBut Hierakonpolis has only just begun to reveal all of its secrets.

Animals are believed to have been kept captive (Image: C5)

Salima Ikram gave the find the highest praise (Image: C5)

&ldquoRenee Friedman&rsquos team have only excavated 20 percent of the area and the finds just keep on coming.

&ldquoHer findings are redefining everything scholars thought they knew about Egypt in the time before the pharaohs.&rdquo

Dr Friedman even found some new evidence while the cameras were rolling.

She said: &ldquoSo here, eroding outside of this tomb, is a baboon bone.

&ldquoThis is probably the elbow of one of the seven that were buried here.

The sites of ancient Egypt (Image: GETTY)

Related articles

&ldquoBecause these tombs were heavily plundered repeatedly, you find this explosion of bones around you and every so often one decides to reappear just like this.&rdquo

Renowned Egyptologist Salima Ikram said Dr Friedman&rsquos finds are shining a light on a forgotten part of Egypt&rsquos history.

She explained: &ldquoThe zoo is one of the most exciting finds that has been made in Egypt because it has all these animals there that were kept, in captivity, as such a core part of religious belief and had a major role to play in Egyptian ritual.

Catch up on Ancient Mysteries: Animals of Egypt&rsquos Underworld on My5 now.


Publisher's Summary

Africa may have given rise to the first human beings, and Egypt probably gave rise to the first great civilizations, which continue to fascinate modern societies across the globe nearly 5,000 years later.

From the Library and Lighthouse of Alexandria to the Great Pyramid at Giza, the ancient Egyptians produced several wonders of the world, revolutionized architecture and construction, created some of the world’s first systems of mathematics and medicine, and established language and art that spread across the known world. With world-famous leaders like King Tut and Cleopatra, it’s no wonder that today’s world has so many Egyptologists.

Given the abundance of funerary artifacts that have been found within the sands of Egypt, it sometimes seems as though the ancient Egyptians were more concerned with the matters of the afterlife than they were with matters of the life they experienced from day to day. This is underscored most prominently by the pyramids, which have captured the world’s imagination for centuries.

The pyramids of Egypt are such recognizable symbols of antiquity that for millennia, people have made assumptions about what they are and why they exist, without full consideration of the various meanings these ancient symbolic structures have had over the centuries. Generations have viewed them as symbols of a lost past, which in turn is often portrayed as a world full of romance and mystery. This verbal meaning has become associated with the structures through the tourism industry, where intrigue obviously boosts ticket sales. In fact, the Egyptian pyramids are so old that they were also drawing tourists even in ancient times. In antiquity, the Great Pyramid of Giza was listed as one of Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, and it is the only one still surviving today.


The History of Egypt - Burials - History

T he first royal tombs, called mastabas, were built at Abydos during the first and second dynasties. They were marked with a stele inscribed with the kings' names. The burial chambers were cut into the rock, lined with sun-baked bricks and faced with wooden boards that have long since disappeared. Beside the chambers were rooms containing jars, small objects, and offerings of food and drink. The tombs were surrounded by a large number of graves of women and dwarves. These people may have been servants of the kings who were sacrificed to serve them in their afterlife.

P yramids were built as royal burials until 1640 B.C. The most famous is the Great Pyramid at Giza. To prevent robbery, the kings, queens and nobles of the New Kingdom built their tombs in a remote valley west of the Theban capital known as the Valley of the Kings. The tombs of Egypt are one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. They are indeed a world treasure!

Mastabas
Pyramids
Valley of the Kings

YOUR COUNTRY. YOUR HISTORY.
YOUR MUSEUM.


Watch the video: Ancient Egyptian Burial Customs (December 2021).