Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Egypt News: We have to thank the thieves.
I am hoping to include regular news updates from the wonderful world of Egyptology. I have loved ancient Egypt since I was 5 years old and my dad showed me the National Geographic magazine article about ancient Egypt that he treasured (by William Hayes, “Daily Life in Ancient Egypt,” National Geographic Magazine 80 (1941): 419-515. H. M. Herget’s 32 imaginary color paintings). I am amazed at how many people are also intrigued by this ancient land.
Here is an exciting news development from Saqqara:
Thieves unearth ancient tombs
SAQQARA, Egypt: Thieves led an Egyptian archaeological team to discover three tombs of dentists to the ancient kings, unveiled yesterday at the Saqqara pyramid complex south of Cairo.
"It seems for the first time that the ancient Egyptians made a cemetery to the dentist and they are buried in the shadow of the Step Pyramid," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said as he toured the site. About 4,200 years old, the tombs honour a chief dentist and two other dentists, who served the royal families. They show the ancient Egyptians "cared about the treatment of their teeth", Hawass said. He pointed out two hieroglyphs - an eye over a tusk, appearing frequently among the neat rows of symbols decorating the tombs' doors - that he said identify the men as dentists.
Thieves beat the archaeologists to the site of the new tombs, launching their own dig one summer night two months ago, before they were captured and jailed.
"We have to thank the thieves," Hawass said. They likely didn't notice a curse inscription just inside the prominent doorway to the chief dentist's tomb, which showed a crocodile and a snake, designed to ward off invaders.
There is additional backrodund information from a related article:
The tombs date back more than 4,000 years ago to the 5th Dynasty and were meant to honor a chief dentist and two others who treated the pharaohs and their families, Hawass said............
They depict the chief dentist and his family immersed in daily rituals — playing games, slaughtering animals and presenting offerings to the dead, including the standard 1,000 loaves of bread and 1,000 vases of beer.............
Although archaeologists have been exploring Egypt's ruins intensively for more than 150 years, Hawass believes only 30 percent of what lies hidden beneath the sands has been uncovered. Excavation continues .
My thoughts and notes on this:
a) The Tombs are Old Kingdom. Old Kingdom is the most ancient, and therefore the most obscure, of ancient Egyptian history. A find of noblemen, or even upper class health professionals, is truly exciting. The dentist tombs were built just after the Great Pyramid (which was 4th Dynasty), and before the decline of the Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate period.
b) The tomb of the dentists can tell s much about basic life in ancient Egypt. The more famous tombs of kings and queens focus on divine mythos. These newly discovered tombs offer more insight into daily living.
c) This site promises to offer much more news and exciting material!!!!