I think that the most important aspect of Egyptian archaeology that we discussed in class is the pyramids. Besides being enormous feats of architectural genius for the time period, these structures offered a fairly steady time table with which to follow religious practices as well as pharaonic reigns. What they contain gives a clue to what was important to the people and also the royalty. The villages surrounding these pyramids that housed the workers who built it also gives a window into what life was like for the everyday Egyptian. The size and structure of a pyramid gives a hint as to how successful, wealthy, and powerful said ruler was. These structures have stood the test of time unlike any other and will continue to be a shining symbol for all to recognize the world that was and is Egypt.
I found the discussion of Nubian pyramids in Dr. Watrall’s lecture very intriguing. As Dr. Watrall stated, pyramids are considered to be the hallmark of Egypt and Egyptian culture, and that for the most part they were only built during the Old Kingdom. However, thousands of years later in the Kushite Kingdom of Nubia, pyramids were once again built as royal tombs.
There are numerous Kushite royal necropoli scattered throughout Upper Nubia (what is now the Republic of Sudan). And unlike the necropolis at Giza, there are hundreds of pyramids in Nubia built for both the Kushite royalty as well as the elites. For example, at the royal cemetery of el-Kurru there are 54 pyramids which were built between 750 BC and 300 BC. While these Kushite pyramids were not as large and grand as the Old Kingdom pyramids of Egypt, they served the same purpose–a burial place for the royals (and elites) and a site at which veneration of these individuals could occur.
What I found most interesting was the stylistic similarities between the Nubian and Egyptian pyramids. Although separated by over 2,000 years, the art, iconography, religious texts, and language were almost identical to those found in Old Kingdom pyramids. While it is clear that religious and iconographic traditions persisted for thousands of years in Egypt (and Nubia), it is difficult to comprehend such continuity. As Dr. Watrall said, however, the interactions between the Egyptians and Nubians fostered a system of acculturation over thousands of years. Additionally, the intermarriage of Egyptian and Kushite royal families certainly contributed to this continuity through time.
I think it is thought provoking that after thousands of years without pyramids the Nubians adopted and essentially “re-introduced” the building of these structures. I wonder why they chose to restore this form and style of burial rather than others that were introduced into Egypt at a later period?
After class I was talking to a friend about our Ancient Egypt Archaeology class and she mentioned an interesting discovery that I though I would share. The link to an article about this discovery is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-13522957.
Last year a United States Egyptologist, Dr. Sarah Parcak from the University of Alabama, used infrared satellite imaging to look at the region surrounding San El Hagar including Ancient Tanis. Infrared satellite imaging allows for denser soil to be visible. The ancient Egyptians used mud brick to build structures including their temples, houses and tombs. The mud brick is much denser than the surrounding soil, and allows for the structures to become visible.
Over 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements including 17 pyramids were found! After the imaging was analyzed, they performed initial excavations and confirmed some of the findings. These excavation validated the use of this technology. Dr. Parcak explained “these are just the sites [close to] the surface. There are many thousands of additional sites that the Nile has covered over with silt. This is just the beginning of this kind of work.” The archaeological team used the satellite imagery to focus their archaeological field work. Another benefit from this technology is that the Egyptian Government can use the images to protect the countries antiquities!
What I found most interesting about this article was that they were able to tell from the imagery that if the tombs were looted. It is amazing that they can tell from a satellite image if a archaeological site is looted. What I would like to know is what details of the imagery allowed them to determine if looting occurred. I wonder if it has to do with the density of the soils. When looters loosen the soil to reach the artifacts, that could change the density of the soil; maybe this is what they are seeing in the infrared images.
In our first class period, Ethan talked about the workers who build the pyramids. Also, that the biggest misconception about the workers was that they were not slaves. I really enjoyed learned about the process of building the pyramids in the Great Discoveries in Archaeology taught by Dr. Norder. I was taught in that class that the individuals who built the pyramids were actually volunteers from around Egypt who would rotate in shifts to create the monuments. I also learned that they created their own towns or cities close the construction of the pyramid. A topic that I would really love to learn about this semester is the archaeological evidence behind the discovery of who the workers are that built the pyramid.
Another topic that I found interesting during our assigned reading was the royals hunting. “In pharonic times many of these desert fauna were hunted for sport by royalty and nobles; hunting dogs similar to the greyhound were used for this.” I am interested in learning how it was discovered that dogs were used to hunt desert fauna. I am also curious to know if there is a ritual aspect behind the use of a dog with hunting. As a hunter myself, I will hunt birds with my dogs [Brittney Spaniels], but there is not a ritual that occurs. But when I go hunting for deer, we do not use any dogs. Why did the Egyptians use dogs to hunt for wild cattle, addax, antelope, etc.? Did the Egyptians who were not royal or noble members of society use hunting dogs to kill food that was needed to survive? How is it known that only royals used hunting dogs? Another question I have is if cats were used to hunt in any way. Is there any artwork that collaborates the idea of dogs being used to hunt desert fauna?