Tag: egypt

This Week in Research: Ritual Drunkenness in Ancient Egypt & the Brain’s GPS

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The ancient Egyptians did holidays right. For instance, the ritual dedicated to the cult of the lion goddess involved blackout levels of drinking, ritual drumbeats — oh, and sex.

Hopkins Archaeologists Hit the Jackpot

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A Hopkins grad student examines one of the skeletons uncovered during this year’s Hopkins in Egypt dig. Photo by James T. VanRensselaer.

The sad truth of archaeology is that it’s not that much like the movies; even after spending months digging in a site, you may turn up pottery fragments, bits of tools, and other exciting-enough artifacts — but nothing as truly dramatic as human remains. And, let’s face it, what every archaeologist wants to find is a human skeleton — ideally, a mummy. That’s why it’s such a big deal that the longstanding Johns Hopkins excavation in Luxor (which we told you about earlier this year) ended up discovering bodies this year… and lots of them.

Remember When the University of Maryland Mummified a Donated Body?

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Remember when you were in fourth grade and suddenly got obsessed with mummies? There were so many wonderful, gruesome details, like how they’d use an iron hook to scrape the brain out of the skull, and fill the body cavity with spices, myrrh, and palm wine. But for Egyptologist Bob Brier, that information just brought up more questions:  Did the embalmers drain the blood? How do you remove a brain through the nose? What kind of tools did the embalmers use? “I realized that the only way to answer such questions was to actually mummify a human cadaver,” Brier wrote in Archaeology magazine. So, back in 1994, Brier asked a bunch scientists from the University of Maryland to get him a body so they could perform the first human mummification in nearly 2000 years.

Follow Along With Johns Hopkins’ Indiana Jones Adventures in Egypt

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Some people spend their summer vacations lounging by the pool, catching up on Kim Kardashian’s latest exploits. Other people are a bit more… adventurous. This summer, as in years past, a group of intrepid undergrads and faculty from Johns Hopkins are living the Indiana Jones dream by excavating the Temple of Mut in Luxor, Egypt. My suggestion? Split the difference:  stay by the pool (don’t ever leave the pool), but read about the archaeological team’s exploits through their exciting daily newsletter. It’s almost as good as being there, and a whole lot less dusty.


A quick rundown on what’s happened so far:  last year, the team discovered a skeleton of a man who’d been bound and trussed before his execution — presumably a captive. (No word as to whether his vengeful ghost is haunting the excavation yet.) In previous years, they uncovered industrial areas for baking, brewing, and ceramic production. In 2006, the big news was a 3,400 year-old statue of Queen Tiy, a nearly-intact sculpture that Hopkins Egyptologist Betsy Bryan called “one of the true masterpieces of Egyptian art.”

The team maintains an extensive photo diary/blog, with images by Jay VanRennsselaer. Armchair archaeologists can follow along as the Hopkinites uncover skulls from juvenile burial sites, discuss Electrical Resistivity Tomography technologies, and do various archaeologist-y things like wrangling plumb bobs and gloating over finds including “an Egyptian blue object (not yet identified) with faience inlay naming Amenhotep III by prenomen, and nearby it a dark blue faience ring bezel of Akhenaten, also by prenomen!” Get your adventure-by-proxy here.

(All photos by Jay VanRensselaer.)

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