Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coffin of Sepi

Egyptian priests compiled funerary and ritual texts to assist the deceased during the

journey in the underworld.

The priests intended to provide the deceased with information about the journey of the sun and about the creatures and demons living in the underworld.

These texts further instructed the deceased on how to overcome all the difficulties and obstacles that would endanger the journey through the underworld. By overcoming these obstacles the deceased could achieve resurrection.

In the Old Kingdom, the so-called pyramid texts were written on the walls of the burial chambers in the pyramids. These texts were later developed into the "Coffin Texts" during the Middle Kingdom and were enhanced with illustrations of the underworld and the offering items. The coffin of Sepi provides an example of these texts.

In the New Kingdom, the Book of the Dead, another major development, portrayed the same ideas regarding the hereafter

Eternal Egypt

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Famous Egyptian Women

A few queens became sole rulers in Egypt in ancient times

This normally occurred after the death of their husbands, while their sons or stepsons were still underage.

In these instances, the queens took over as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt," which, according to tradition, was not tolerated by the ancient Egyptians.

Their names and deeds were mostly erased from both memories and monuments. Their reigns usually marked a change in the dynasty or ruling family.

These famous female rulers were Neith-iqeret or Nitocris, Sobek-nefru, Hatshepsut, and Ta-wesert. Neith-iqeret, or Nitocris, might have been a widow of the last king of the Sixth Dynasty. She ruled for a very short time.

Sobek-nefru ruled after the death of her husband, Amenemhat the Fourth, at the end of the Twelfth Dynasty.

Hatshepsut was the greatest female ruler in the history of Egypt. She became ruler after the early death of her husband, Tuthmosis the Second, in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Hatshepsut ruled for about 20 years, first together with her very young stepson, Tuthmosis the Third, as co-regent, then alone.

Ta-wesert was the widow of Seti the Second, the last king of the Nineteenth Dynasty

Ptolemaic Queens' Influence on Their Husbands

During the Ptolemaic period, women of the ruling class were equal to their husbands in all ways and played a large role in public affairs. They would sponsor expeditions and supply all the expeditions' needs with funding from their husbands.

Women built temples, founded cities, led armies, and owned castles and forts. They sometimes took the position of king or ruled as absolute equals to the king. These queens developed the same interest their husbands had in education. A woman like Arsinoe the Second, Ptolemy the Second's wife, was beautiful and very powerful. She naturally had an impact on all those who surrounded her, especially her brother, who was also her husband, to the extent that he was called Philadelphus, or "lover of his sister."

Arsinoe was mainly responsible for her husband's foreign policy. People and messengers from other cities would seek her counsel. It was probably based on his wife's advice that Ptolemy the Second sent an expedition to Rome requesting friendship. Arsinoe's death ended the Ptolemaic expansion since she had control over the middle Greek countries and because Ptolemy could not resist her influence. When she died, he named the Al-Faiyum province after her, which became known as Arsinoe Province after it was reformed.

Notable Mothers of Sultans

Although very little information is available to us about the upbringing of a sultan's children, we learn from stories such as One Thousand and One Nights that it is obvious that mothers were extremely loving and protective of their children. Mothers were constantly trying to spare them from their fathers' punishments by hiding their mistakes. Mothers might even murder anyone who threatened the lives of their sons.

During the Ayyubid period, the mother of Nur al-Din helped her son escape the wrath of his father Al-Malik al-Adil, who swore to cut off his hands as a punishment for drinking alcohol.

Historians mention that Al-Khatun, the daughter of Baraka Khan, poisoned Prince Belik when she overheard his plan to prevent her son from becoming Sultan of Egypt.

The mother of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un is said to have escaped from the Egyptian territories with her son for fear of plots to get rid of him in order that another could take the throne.

Another example is that of Khawand Zeinab, daughter of Khasbak. She chose to leave the Citadel Palace and join her two sons, Al-Muayyed Ahmed and Muhamad, in prison. She nursed Ahmed until his death and then requested the permission of Sultan Khashqadam to take his body to Cairo to bury him next to his father Al-Ashraf Inal.

As for Khawand Aslabay, mother of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qaitbay, upon learning of a threat on her son's life from his uncle Konsowah, she made them vow loyalty to each other.

Another historical story is that of Anook, son of Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. When Anook fell in love with a singer named Zahra, his mother, Khawand Toghay, helped him. When his father the Sultan found out, he vowed to kill Anook, but Al-Nasir Mohammad's wife, Khawand Toghay stopped him.

The great respect and privileges that mothers enjoyed at the time is repeated in several historical Mamluk sources.

An example of this great love is the amazing building Al-Ashraf Shaaban built in honor of his mother, Umm al-Sultan Shaaban.

Famous Muslim Women

Many historical writings indicate that Muslim women were involved in both religious and intellectual life.

Numerous women specialized in grammar, poetry, and the Prophet's sayings.

One example is Fatma, daughter of Abbas Shikha of Rebat (convent) Al-Baghdadia, named "The Lady of her times" by the historian Al-Makrizi, who described her as having great intellect and wisdom.

Other women were known by reciting the Prophet's sayings from the Bukhari book in gatherings that took place at the Citadel.

Many intellectuals of the Mamluk period were taught and certified by famous women, Muslim scholars at the time. A historian named Al-Sakhawy describes how many students crowded to listen to Anas, daughter of Abd Al-Karim. In his book, "The Golden Light in the Elite of the Ninth Century," he includes over a thousand biographies about women that lived during that century (Ninth Century Hijri, Fifteenth Century AD).

Before that, during the Wallah age, Sayeda Nafisa, a descendant of the Prophet, gave religious lessons in her house and was a great woman loved by the Egyptian population.

One of the most famous women of Egyptian Islamic history is Lady Meskah, a slave to Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. She raised him and played a major role in the social life of the time. Lady Meskah established a mosque and taught Islamic knowledge and wisdom in the area of Sayeda Zeinab.

Lady Khawand Toghay was a slave to Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. He freed her and made her his wife. She was a great beauty and a kind-hearted woman who attended to all her slaves' needs. She was the mother of Prince Anook and her greatness continued even after the death of Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un. Khawand Toghay built a khanqa, a monastery or Sufi convent. This khanqa, had houses linked to it where Sufis lived and received their education. She arranged the presence of a prayer reader at her son's grave. She also donated money so that bread could be given to the poor.

Another famous woman of the Mamluk period is Khawand Baraka, mother of Sultan Shaaban and wife of Prince Iljay Al-Yusufi. She enjoyed greatness and high status. The school of Umm al-Sultan Shaaban, which was built for her, is a great building with a public fountain which is located near the Citadel. She also arranged for lessons of the Shafii and Hanafi religious rites to be taught there. She was buried there along with her son Al-Ashraf Shaaban.

Eternal Egypt

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kom Ushim (Karanis) Museum

King Senusert the First was the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty. His reign was during a time when literature and craftsmanship were at their peak. It was a period of affluence and a remarkable time for mineral wealth, gold, and the fine jewelry produced with this abundance.

Considerable efforts were made to procure amethyst, turquoise, and copper for both jewelry and sculptures. But it was also a time of great stability and development.

Senusert the First built his pyramid and funerary temple at Lisht, near Faiyum. This was the new residence that he made after Thebes was abandoned. Many statues of him were found there.

He built an elegant bark-station, or shrine, for Amun-Re at Karnak. It depicts marvelous reliefs showing the king's relationships with the Theban deities.

Faiyum is the earliest known agricultural area in the world, located in the western desert, about 90 kilometers or 56 miles southwest of Cairo.

This oasis was developed by the kings of the Middle Kingdom who started great irrigation and cultivation projects at this site. Its water level was 85 meters or 279 feet higher than today and the Nile regularly flooded through the low mountains.

Kom Ushim, near ancient Karanis, boasts of a small museum. Many artifacts found within the Fayium region are housed in this museum. Displays include delicate glassware and pottery, as well as female heads that are thought to have been used to model hairstyles.

The museum also exhibits two of the famous "Faiyum Portraits" (others can be seen in the Cairo Museum). Toward the end of the Greco-Roman period, these personal portraits were painted on wood or linen and were used to cover the face of the mummy. The faces are always serious and have very large dark and staring eyes. They are often portrayed in the prime of life.

The portraits, which greatly influenced Coptic art in Egypt, provide a link between the art of the ancient Egyptians and later portraiture during the Middle Ages.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Thuya and her husband Yuya came originally from Akhmim. They were the parents of the Great Royal Wife, Queen Tiye, the wife of Amenhotep the Third.

Thuya had many titles such as the Chanteress of Amun and Supervisor of The Dresses in The Royal Palace