Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ka Statue of King Auib-Re-Hor

This wooden structure is a magnificent, well-preserved masterpiece. It depicts the Ka statue of King Auib-Re-Hor, which is clearly marked by the Ka hieroglyphic sign as two upraised arms topping the head. The Ka, or guardian spirit, had to survive in the statue to keep its owner alive.

The statue, found within its accompanying naos, or shrine, was covered with a fine layer of painted stucco. The king is sculpted wearing a three-part long wig, leaving the ears exposed. He wears a long, curved divine beard.

It is noteworthy that the sculptor successfully modeled the inlaid eyes to lend a lifelike appearance to this expressive face. The eyes are inlaid with rock crystal and quartz.

It seems that the Ka statue once held a scepter in its right hand and a staff in its left hand. The statue of the king was fixed to a wooden panel that could be taken out of the naos.

Dimensions: Height 170 cm Length 77 cm Width 27 cmEternal Egypt

Friday, November 19, 2010

Topics: Religion and Spirituality

Since the prehistoric age, Egyptians believed that all aspects of life were controlled by supernatural powers. One important religious concept was the creation of the universe. For the Egyptians, creation was essentially an act of generation, represented by the yearly flooding of the Nile River. Each day was also considered a repetition of the act of creation. As the sun, represented by Atum, traveled across the sky to rise and set and begin the cycle again, so the Egyptians felt assured that the created order of their world was eternal and ongoing.

Unlike modern religions, which are based on a set of theological principles, the ancient Egyptian religion was concerned with interactions between people and their gods, the ethics of dealing with others, and the performance of spiritual duties. The universe was believed to work according to a strict eternal law, Ma’at, which means Right or Balance. For the Egyptian, the universe functioned with predictability and regularity. In the moral sphere, purity was rewarded and sin was punished. Man had to subdue his desires and actions to that law in order to live a good life so that society would be on the right track.

Some deities were worshiped countrywide and others were worshiped in certain regions. The worship of a number of gods was a distinguishing feature of the ancient Egyptian religion until the reign of Akhenaten. Akhenaten unified all the gods in the image of one single god, which he named Aten, the sun god. This god was depicted as a solar disk, sometimes with wings or with life-giving hands on rays. After Akhenaten's death, the Egyptians returned to their previous religious traditions.

In the Greek era, Ptolemy the First introduced Serapis to Egypt so that both Egyptians and Greeks would have a supreme deity in common. Serapis was a composite of several Egyptian and Hellenistic deities, especially Osiris and the bull Apis. The official trinity of the Ptolemaic period was Serapis, Isis, and Harpocrates. The temple of Serapis was constructed in Koum Al-Dekka in Alexandria and his legacy lasted well into the Roman period. The Roman Empire's policy of religious tolerance paved the way for ancient religions to mix with each other. Isis, for example, was worshiped throughout the Roman Empire.

The history of Christianity in Egypt dates back to the beginnings of Christianity itself. Many Christians hold that Christianity was brought to Egypt by the Apostle Saint Mark in the early part of the first century AD. Important Christian manuscripts, the oldest of which date back to the second century AD, have been found, such as the papers of the Bible of Saint John and a Christian Bible. Although Christianity was readily embraced by many, the Roman emperors persecuted Christianity until the reign of Emperor Galenus. Nevertheless, Christians went on worshiping in secret and had various unofficial schools. The reign of Emperor Constantine was the real birth of Christianity, as it was then declared the official religion of the Roman Empire.

By the fourth century AD, Egypt had contributed to Christian literature, including biographies of the heroes and martyrs. Many groups and schools emerged with different religious concepts, mainly about the nature of Jesus, which led to a great controversy. That controversy reached its climax when the Orthodox Church of Alexandria separated from the Roman Church. Most of the Egyptian Christians follow the Orthodox Church.

The spread of Islam in Egypt was totally different from that of Christianity. Islam came into Egypt after its diffusion into all parts of the Arab Peninsula and the completion of its basic beliefs. Those who follow Islam believe the Qur'an is the final revealed Word of God that provides a complete guide for human behavior. Its text was revealed directly to the prophet Muhammad, who is revered by Muslims as the last of God’s prophets, but he is not worshiped. However, the richest contribution of Egypt to the Islamic religion was the Sufi movement, which emerged in Egypt at the end of the second century AH (eighth century AD). A Sufi is a mystic, meaning the practitioner has a greater awareness and lives on a higher plane than which we normally live.

Eternal Egypt

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Museum of Islamic Art

The idea of constructing the Museum of Islamic Art was in 1869, prior to the establishment of the Committee of Arab Antiquities. It began with a collection of Islamic antiques housed in the courtyard of the Mosque of Al-Hakim, which became crowded and the collection had to be moved to the present premises on Port Said Street (formerly Al Khalig Al Misry) on Ahmad Maher Square. The Eastern part of the premises is known as the House (Dar) of Arab Antiquities, while the Western part is known as the Sultanic Library (Book House).

The Museum entirely faces Historic Cairo. It has two entrances; one on the north-eastern side and the other the south-eastern side. A beautiful garden with a fountain once led to the first entrance but was later removed. The entrance on Port Said Street features a very luxurious facade, rich with decorations and recesses inspired by Islamic architecture in Egypt from various periods. The Museum is a two-story building; the first floor comprises the exhibition halls and the second floor comprises the general stores. The basement contains a store connected with the Restoration Section.

The Museum is considered one of the greatest in the world with its exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world. It houses more than 102,000 objects. The Museum carries out archaeological excavations in the Fustat Area and has organized a number of National and International Exhibitions.

Eternal Egypt

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mummification and the Afterlife

The Egyptians had such a love for life that it was important for them to continue that enjoyment even after death.

Elaborate burials were a part of the acceptance of death. The Egyptians were not preoccupied with death, but they did spend much time preparing for the time when their life on this earth would cease and they would enter the afterlife.

The Egyptians believed that the mummy housed the soul and the Ka, Ba, and Akh. The goal in the Underworld is to live in one's Ka, as this holds the physical resemblance to the deceased. Therefore, the ancient Egyptians developed the process of mummification to keep the body in a good state and to preserve its physical features so that the soul might identify it, for the destruction of the body would have meant also the decay of the soul.

The more elaborate burials were reserved for royalty and their families, priests, and other high-ranking officials. Even those people who were not able to afford the most elaborate burial, valued their family members enough to give the most basic mummification.

The actual mummification process took approximately 70 days. The body of the deceased was cleaned and purified to begin the journey into the afterlife. The next step involved removing the inner organs. In order to dry out the organs and prevent decay, they were placed in natron, a type of desert salt used for drying.

The organs were wrapped in linen strips and placed in canopic jars. The body cavity was then stuffed with additional natron. The embalmers never removed the heart of the deceased; it was believed that the heart was the central point of being and intelligence. Then the brain and surrounding tissue were removed with extreme care.

The potential to disfigure the face during the process of removing the brain made this part of the mummification process extremely important. However, the brain was not saved, as the Egyptians considered it an unimportant part of the body.

The body was then covered in natron to remove the moisture. This allowed the body to slowly dry out and retain much of its shape.

The actual drying of the body took approximately 40 days. The natron was then removed and the body was washed. The corpse was wrapped in hundreds of yards of linen. Each finger and toe was wrapped individually and then the entire hand and foot.

During the process of wrapping the mummy, good luck charms, words of wisdom, and prayers were placed within the layers of the wrappings. It was also common for a mask, or likeness, of the deceased to be placed upon the mummy's face between layers of head wrappings. Throughout this process, the mummy was coated with resin and the wrapping resumed. Finally, the mummy was wrapped in a shroud or cloth.

When the mummy was completed and ready for burial, the ceremony and rituals began. The priests would use a special instrument to touch parts of the body to open it for the afterlife. This ritual is called the "Opening of the Mouth." The instrument enabled the priest in opening the senses of the dead and, the ceremony allowed the dead person to eat and speak in the afterlife.

The Egyptians believed that this ritual released the Ba and Ka to travel into the afterlife. When all the rituals were complete, the mummy was sealed within the coffin, placed in the burial chamber, and the tomb was blocked.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Meritamun is the fourth daughter of Ramesses the Second by his beautiful wife Nefertari. After the death of her mother, Meritamun held the title of the Great Royal Wife. She was also a priestess of the goddess Hathor.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Parts of Tutankhamun's Senet Game

Games, toys and sports were indications of leisure in ancient Egypt because, during the three months of the inundation, Egyptian peasants, had plenty of leisure time with no work.

These game pieces, found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, were used in one of the most popular games played by peasants as well as kings in Egypt. This was the Senet game; Senet means "passing." It was played by two persons on a board divided into squares, each player had an equal number of pieces and moves were determined by the four sticks called "throw-sticks" or by these two knuckle-bones called "astragals."

The Senet game was not only found in tombs but was also depicted in wall paintings in private tomb chapels. The pictures show the deceased playing the game with a partner. It is not clear whether it was regarded simply as entertainment or as a symbolic contest intended to replicate the journey through the netherworld.

Source / Eternal Egypt

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Aten, like all Heliopolitan deities, was a sun god. By the beginning of the New Kingdom, the cult of the Heliopolitan gods became increasingly influential. It reached its highest degree under the reign of Akhenaten, who neglected all the traditional cults of Egypt to honor only one god. Aten was represented as a sun disk with rays ending with human hands that gave the signs of life and prosperity to the royal family. The temple of Aten at el-Amarna, the capital of Akhenaten, or at Karnak, did not have a roof to allow the sun's rays to penetrate inside it. After the death of Akhenaten, Aten was returned to his normal place as one of the pantheon of the Egyptian gods.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Amenhotep the Third

Amenhotep the Third was the son of Tuthmosis the Fourth by a secondary wife named Mutemwia. After two years as king, he married a non-royal young woman called Tiye, who had great influence on her husband.

Amenhotep The Third was unquestionably involved with international diplomatic efforts, which led to increased foreign trade. During his reign, we find a marked increase in the amount of Egyptian materials found on the Greek mainland.

Furthermore, Egyptian art reached its highest glory as a result of the peace that existed at that time. Amenhotep the Third built a number of very elegant monuments, such as the temple of Luxor and the funerary temple on the west bank of Thebes, from which only the Colossi of Memnon remains. He also had two temples built in the Sudan.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Museum of Archeology in Tanta

The Governorate of Al Gharbiya is known for its ancient history; for it was here that a number of ancient Egyptian capitals were established. This governorate had an important role in the history of Egypt throughout the different ages, due to its strategic location in the middle of the Delta. No wonder that the Egyptian Government, represented by the Ministry of Recognition (now the Ministry of Education), and the local council of Tanta city chose the year 1913 AD for the establishment of a Museum of Archeology in this city. The municipality building was chosen to be the location of the museum. However, very soon the museum was shut down and its content were put in storage. It reopened in 1935, and was closed for a second time. In 1980, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, now (the Supreme Council of Antiquities), prepared the present museum. It was opened to the public on 29 October 1990 AD. The museum is on five floors; antiquities are exhibited on the first four floors, while the fifth floor contains the administration department, storage facilities, and a conference room. At the main entrance to the Museum, there is a souvenir shop. Within the Museum there are artistic and architectural pieces that represent Egypt's civilization from the time of ancient Egypt, through the Greco-Roman, and Coptic and finally the Islamic periods. The museum cannot be considered as just a local museum, because it also contains important pieces from places outside the Governorate of Gharbiya.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seated Statues of Rahotep and Nofret

Rahotep might have been a son of King Senefru and thus, a brother of King Khufu. He held the titles of High Priest of Ra at Heliopolis, General of the Army, and Chief of Constructions.

He is seen here wearing a short kilt, short hair, a fine mustache, and a heart-shaped amulet around his neck.

Rahotep's wife, Nofret, is described as "the one acquainted to the king." She is seen wearing a shoulder-length wig, decorated with a floral diadem and a broad collar. Her natural hair can be seen under the wig.

We recognize the distinction in the skin coloring of the two statues: reddish brown for the man and cream wash for the woman. This was an artistic convention followed throughout ancient Egyptian history. The colors are well preserved and the faces have realistic expressions.

The torchlight reflecting on the inlaid eyes of these two statues caused the workmen who first gazed at them to be afraid.

Dimensions:  Height 121 cm  Length 69 cm  Width 51 cm

Friday, February 5, 2010

Head of a Leopard from a Ceremonial Dress

This leopard head once decorated a garment that imitated the animal's skin through the use of silver stars in place of spots.

This representation can be traced to the ancient concept of the leopard as a symbolic representation of the sky.

The leopard skin was a distinctive garment of the Sem priest who was charged with revitalizing the mummified body of the pharaoh in the ritual known as "Opening the Mouth."

Dimensions:  Height 13 cm