Mummies and other news

Editor’s note: as of this week, Egyptologist Arianna Sacco will be summarizing noteworthy recent news related to the ancient world. A new blog post will be published every Sunday here on the Ancient History Magazine blog. If you have any tips, you can send those to Josho directly via email or via the contact form on this website.

You probably heard before of the news that some researchers claim there is another burial chamber hidden behind the tomb of Tutankhamun, with suggestions that it might be the burial place of Nefertiti. So far, there has been little in the way of serious research, but the latest news says that Egypt has approved the use of non-invasive radar to look for more proof.

In Portugal, research has revealed the first radiological outline of a kidney in an Egyptian mummy. The provenance of the mummy, a male named Irtieru, has been lost (it was perhaps originally looted and sold via the antiquities trade), but it dates back to around 800 BC. The researchers claim that the kidney shows signs of what might be renal tuberculosis. If correct, “this would be the oldest recorded case of this disease.”

Archaeological discoveries continue to be made out in the desert in Sudan. The remains of no less than sixteen pyramids, with tombs underneath, have been discovered near the ancient town of Gematon. The largest pyramid measured around 10m on each side and would have been around 13m in height. The pyramids are approximately two thousand years old, when the kingdom of Kush flourished in Sudan. The discovery was made by a team from the British Museum.

Excavations have been ongoing at Gordium, the capital city of the Phrygians. As part of an outreach programme, members of the Gordion Cultural Heritage Education project have been blogging about the site. You can read the most recent blog post or have a look at the series as a whole.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem has discovered a rare three-thousand-year-old seal, which they claim dates back to the period of the biblical kings David and Solomon (tenth century BC). The seal was discovered by a ten-year-old boy, one of more than 170,000 volunteers (!) who took part in the project.

In Upper Galilee, an ancient mikveh has been discovered. Normally, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) is considered typical of Jewish populations, but this one had a cross on its wall, suggesting, as always, that realities were often more complex than we imagine.

Turmoil in the Middle East has caused almost unprecedented levels of human suffering. Regarding the damage to cultural heritage in Syria, archaeological sites are now being looted “on an industrial scale”. This has caused widespread destruction of sites, with objects finding their way into the Antiquities trade. When it comes to ancient objects, play it safe and don’t buy anything that you might see offered on either internet sites or shops: you might inadvertently be contributing to the upheavals and to further destruction of cultural heritage.

Picture credit: thumbnail for this post taken from this article on the kidneys in an Egyptian mummy.

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