Soon after Ramesses II's great temples were completed, disaster struck.Read More
It seems the Ramesseum may not be 100% Ramesses II.
“Of all Theban ruins,” wrote Amelia Edwards in the 19th century, “the Ramesseum is the most cheerful ... No walls enclose it. No towering pylons overshadow it. It stands high, and the air circulates freely ... There are not many Egyptian ruins in which one can talk and be merry ...”
One wonders if that was the impression the great Ramesses II had hoped for.
Ramesses was just a teenager when he ascended to the throne, king of the greatest empire on Earth, his beautiful wife, Nefertari, at his side.
As tradition demanded, his tomb, dug into the Valley of the Kings, was high on the priority list. Next came the Ramesseum, his grand royal worship temple.
However new evidence suggests that the Ramesseum isn't 100% Ramesses II. It seems that Ramesses, famous for passing off his predecessors’ grand efforts as his own, ‘borrowed’ at least one colossal feature of his temple.
Discover more in the new August / September issue of Nile Magazine.
I love this photo from the current issue of Nile.
Here we see local children carrying palm fronds among the empty sphinx pedestals outside the Tenth Pylon at Karnak Temple. The short avenue extends south towards the Temple of Mut.
The Karnak–Mut sphinxes bore rams’ heads, the ram being a sacred animal of Amun. However, the rams’ heads were actually later modifications to the statues.
The sphinxes originally sported human heads bearing the features of “renegade” king Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti. It seems that young King Tutankhamun had the heads lopped-off and replaced with rams’ heads as part of the Akhenaten backlash.
Photo: Jaap Jan Hemmes
Discover more about Karnak’s Avenues of Sphinxes in the current Nile Magazine; just 8 days left.
The Egyptians like to visit their tourist hot spots too, and sometimes you become a tourist attraction for them.
On this day, at the amazing Giza Plateau, a number of Egyptian visitors went home with photos of themselves posing with a blonde-haired Aussie kid (who also happens to be my son).
Dylan and I had been walking down the causeway running from Khafre's pyramid temple to the king's valley temple (situated next to the Great Sphinx), when this charming group of young Egyptians asked if they could have a photo taken with Dylan. A fun ending to a great day poking around the plateau.
From the current issue of Nile:
These reconstructed statues of Queen Hatshepsut as Osiris stand on the upper terrace of her royal worship temple at Deir el-Bahri at Luxor.
Osiris was god of the Underworld and was shown wrapped as a mummy, holding potent symbols of royalty.
By having herself depicted as Osiris, Hatshepsut hoped to share in his powers of resurrection.
Cats have lived at 10 Downing Street—the residence of the British Prime Minister—for hundreds of years. However, Larry the brown and white tabby rescue cat, is just the fourth to carry the official title 'Chief Mouser'.
That doesn't sound very Egyptian, so photographer, Jaap Jan Hemmes, has given us his equivalent title in ancient Egyptian: “Chief Mouser” becomes “Chief warrior [over] mice”, or, more simply, “Chief catcher of mice”
Despite the change in PM, Larry’s tenure as the “Chief Mouser” at Downing Street will continue under Theresa May. Larry was brought in by David Cameron to deal with a rodent problem in 2011, but actually belongs to a government civil servant and not the outgoing Prime Minister.
As leaders come and go, Larry the cat seems to be one of the most stable elements in the British Government right now.
Hieroglyphs: Jaap Jan Hemmes. Photo: Mark Large.
Coffins in ancient Egypt were often incomparable works of art. These stunning almond-shaped eyes are made of bronze and polished white and black stone, and come from Egypt’s Late Period, ca. 747-332 B.C.
Placing a face on a coffin or mummy mask connected the deceased with the divine afterlife and helped the ‘ba’ spirit recognise its body and returnto it each night after spending a carefree day in the sunshine.
These eyes are part of an exhibition at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, “Egypt: Land of Immortality”, showcasing how the ancient Egyptians prepared for the afterlife.
Don't miss out on your copy of the current Nile; just 16 days left.
Egypt's warrior queen, Ahhotep, was award these "Golden Flies of Valour" for her relentlessness on the battlefield.
"She has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels." These words praise Queen Ahhotep for her role in winning the war of liberation against the Hyksos.
If Ancient Egypt had an Independence Day, her heroine would be Queen Ahhotep, wife of the Theban king Seqenenre Tao II during the end of the 17th Dynasty. This was a time of civil war—the Second Intermediate Period. Foreign peoples—later called the Hyksos—had settled into the Delta region from West Asia and slowly broadened their influence and control. Eventually, the great city of Memphis fell under their control. Further south, in Thebes, Tao II declared his ruling family's independence from Hyksos rule and led a revolt against what they saw as foreign occupiers.
The war took a heavy personal toll on Ahhotep's family. First her husband, Tao II, and then her son, Kamose, were killed in the struggle. The queen's youngest son, Ahmose, was only around 10 years old when he inherited the throne, so Ahhotep stood in as regent to manage the country and coordinate the war effort.
Ahmose eventually took his place on the battlefield and drove the Hyksos across the desert and out of Egypt. Ahmose became the first ruler of a reunited Egypt—the New Kingdom.
It seems, however, that Ahmose couldn't have done it without Ahmose's leading role in the war. He recognised her efforts with the "Flies of Valour"—a distinction traditionally awarded for valour on the battlefield.
It is thought that the flies signify great relentlessness in attacking the enemy.
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This sphinx statue of Queen Hatshepsut graces the back cover of the current Nile Magazine.
Hatshepsut's statue comes from her graceful royal worship temple, nestled into a wide bay of cliffs at Deir el-Bahri, on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor.
The sphinx is very much a mix of brawn and beauty. In the lion's body we can see what were considered traditionally kingly traits—power and fearlessness. At the same time, the face is clearly a portrait of Hatshepsut, with the elegant features of all her statues: almond-shaped eyes under arched brows, a fine aquiline nose, and a small, smiling mouth.
This statue, restored after being smashed to pieces during the "Hatshepsut backlash" following her reign, is today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
After Hatshepsut's death, her stepson, King Thutmose III, ordered that this royal sphinx be destroyed. There was to be no trace left of what was seen as her illegitimate kingship.
Hatshepsut is famous for crowning herself 'king' and forcing Thutmose III to wait some 20 years before claiming his birthright, and ruling over Egypt as a proud independent king.
However, Hatshepsut has a reputation she probably doesn't deserve. And so does her stepson. It is likely that Hatshepsut had no choice but to become co-ruler, and Thutmose III no choice but to destroy her memory. Explore Sharon Hague's fresh take on Egypt's most successful female pharaoh in this month's issue of Nile.
How much would you love to have dinner at Abu Simbel?
Ramesses II (the Great) was one of the most prolific builders of ancient Egypt. Many of the greatest monuments on any tour of Egypt bear his stamp: Karnak and Luxor Temples, Abydos, Per-Ramesses in the Delta, the Ramesseum (his royal worship temple), and Abu Simbel.
While a number of his famous statues are likely to have been usurped from Amenhotep III (for example, the fallen colossus at the Ramesseum and the large granite statues in the Peristyle Courtyard at Luxor Temple), we can confidently say that Abu Simbel is all Ramesses.
It was built well beyond Egypt's traditional southern border, deep in Nubian territory, as a means of both glorifying the living god, and flexing his earthly influence over the people of Nubia—and the country's supplies of gold and copper.
One imagines that the Nubian princes that swept northwards some 500 years later would have paused at Abu Simbel and smiled; Egypt's glory was about to be theirs.
Who's up for some Monday fun?
Credit to Barbadian/American artist, Kolongi Brathwaite, for this brilliant image.