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Unpublished- The Secret of Meryneith's Tomb
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:39 am 
Pharaoh
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Last night I went to a lecture at the Will's building in Bristol, which was entitled “The Tomb of Meryneith and its surroundings at Saqqara. Quite inconspicuous I though. However, the lecture was to prove not just expectedly fascinating, but also to reveal as of yet unpublished information regarding the substructure of the tomb.

Anyway, nervously clutching my ledger and pen, I entered the building and took a left up the large stone stairs, and took a seat (which I had had to carry there from a storeroom- the lecture had been overbooked!). The speaker was Dr. Maarten Raven (pronounced Rar-vern) of the Leiden University. He had spent the last five years excavating to the east of the tombs of Horemheb and Maya at Saqqara. What follows is (in note form) is the general gist of the lecture. I was unable to write down everything, and that would fill several pages, so here are the key points:

In the 1800s, Lepsius the German scholar had spent several weeks at Saqqara, but was largely unimpressed by what he saw. He saw the Step Pyramid with part of its complex, and he saw the Serapeaum, but he did not see much else. Lepsius felt that there must be a huge quantity of archaeological material still buried in the sand- waiting to be found. The following year he arranged a dig to arranged in the Saqqara area and in a few years he uncovered the Saqqara tomb of Maya (Tutankhamun’s treasurer). Lepsius marked this on his map, but the tomb was covered over once more by the sands of time.

Dr. Maarten Raven was on an expedition as an honorary student to try to find once more the tomb of Maya, which had been marked on Lepsius’ map. In their search however, they found the tomb of General Horemheb. It took them nearly five years to finally find the Tomb of Maya, which they found in 1963. The Leiden Museum wished to continue excavations to the east of these tombs, as they suspected that there would probably be many more tombs to find. The Supreme Council of Antiquities (that name always strikes me as though it were something out of ‘Star Wars’) however refused, on the pretence that it would not be worthwhile. It took Dr. Maarten Raven until 1997 to get a permit to begin excavations, but eventually he managed to persuade the council to allow him to excavate.

In 2000, when digging began Raven’s team found promising signs. Firstly a mud brick wall emerged from the sands, but the most alarming sign was a stone slab with the incription, “hotep-di-nesw-en-pa-Aten’”. “An offering which the King gives to the Aten!”. This was amazing, as it meant that nearby there must be constructions that dated to the Amarna Period. Gradually as they took away more of the dirt many stelae were unearthed that read “to the highest of seers to the Aten” (i.e the high priest of the Aten). Eventually names appeared at the very bottom of the slabs as they unearthed them. As they reached the ground level of the tomb they could read the name of this priest: Meryneith (pronounced Merry-neeth to settle any disputes).

The tomb was in total 36m long. All of the tomb that I refer to, unless stated was above the ground, a sort of courtyard with peristyle halls and large open spaces. Only later did the Leiden team enter the lower tomb- more on that later. These sorts of tomb were constructed from west to east, so that the most important parts could be finished as quickly as possible before its future owner died. This meant that Raven could work out that the oldest parts of the tomb would be at the western end of the tomb. At the far western ends of the tomb, Meryneith is called Meryneith, however, when Akhenaten chose Aten as the sole god, Meryneith’s name was changed. At the central part of the tomb can be seen the disk of the Aten incised over the lozenge shape on Neith. Then when the old gods were reinstated, the tomb architects had the nightmare of going back around the tomb and re-cutting the Neith lozenges! Meryneith (or Meryre) still remained as the Seer to the Aten though. This was because Tutankhamun and Ay, whilst passing decrees to reinstate the old pantheon, did not eradicate the Aten. All gods need temples and all temples need ‘Highest Seers’. So Meryneith was still ‘Highest Seer to the Aten’. This sort of hilarious changing and re-changing of names can be seen everywhere in the tomb.

Image
The tomb of Meryneith

In one of the western ‘chapels’ of the tomb, a fantastic statue of Meryneith and his wife Aniuya was uncovered. It is similar in style to that of the one of Rahotep and Nofret- and this was surprising. The style of statue was much older than the time of Meryneith, and he believes that it may have been intended for somebody else. The inscriptions to the Aten were clearly inscribed much later. One of the ways that Raven dated the reliefs in the tomb was not only by whether they show the characteristics of Amarna art or not- but by whether they are in sunk or raised relief. Generally during the Amarna period (even though some of the art in the tomb, the earliest is done in Amarna style before Akhenaten moved to Amarna) art is sunken relief, as this was quicker to incise, and Akhenaten was in a hurry. Before and after the Amarna period, reliefs are raised, and this showed wealth as it was an incredibly time consuming way of doing reliefs. Furthermore, less mature Amarna art usually shows small figures, whilst more mature Amarna art generally shows larger figures.

The registers of the upper tomb showed Meryneith inspecting workers counting grain, as well as men making pots and pans from metal. Two sculptors are shown making a sculpture of a Pharoah wearing the pchent and names headcloth. The king has a bulbous lip and crooked nose- it can only be Akhenaten. Many other scenes show the deceased having offerings presented before them. The jewel in the crown however, is a scene showing the launching of an Egyptian barge. An equal has never been found anywhere. Several levels of deck can be seen with men tugging at ropes to release the ship using some sort of A-frame. Undoubtedly this relief will prove priceless to both naval historians and Egyptologists. At the booths at either end of the ship Akhenaten can be seen, but his image has been scrubbed away at. Wreaths of flowers are being thrown to the boat, and people are waving- only Amarna art could show such movement.

The story of the effacing of names gets even stranger, as at the very eastern (newest) end of the tomb the inscription changed once more. The tomb is for a different person! The name eludes me, but Horem-? probably took the tomb from Meryneith at some point. Raven’s team were confused. Why would a disciple of Ra-Horakhety take the tomb of the Highest Seer to the Aten? They wanted answers, so in the middle of 2002 they secretly (against the Supreme Council’s wishes) entered the burial shaft of the tomb.

It was clear to see that somebody had ‘forced’ the shaft to fit onto the tomb above. The shaft suddenly got thinner, before hitting the ground tens of metres below ground level. Under the tomb lay a huge labyrinth of corridors. Meyneith had evidently stuck his tomb onto a pre-existing burial shaft! The substructure itself had been largely extended in the late period, but even more mysteriously the team found hundreds of First and Second Dynasty containers and psuedo-vessels (blocks shaped like vessels that would function in the afterlife).

Image
The substructure of the tomb, showing additional shafts

Image
The Psuedo-vessels found in the tomb

Image
The interior of the substructure

Once more, Raven also found other shafts leading up to as yet unexcavated tombs (see picture). There are at least five more shafts that could lead to even greater remains! Raven seemed to have no idea why this was done, but it appears that the tomb is of a similar layout to that of the Princes of King Unas I, whose pyramid lies nearby. These tombs of the Princes have mastabas above, and Raven suspected that by digging below the level of the ground-level tomb he would find a mastaba. By digging several metres alongside the tomb of Meryneith, Raven found the remains of what may have been an Archaic mastaba.

Raven believes that the unexcavated parts of the underground labyrinth may contain further information regarding the princes of King Unas. He is returning to Bristol in a year to share his finds. The tomb is currently being restored, and should be open to visit in about three years.

For some additional, but out of date info visit: http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/saqqara/Ex ... lTomb.html


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 7:10 am 
Pharaoh
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You've done a masterful job of reporting the lecture by Dr. Raven. Congratulations! It's a very intriguing story, and more is yet to be told. Further excavation will help explain the older tomb.
I'm confused, though. I seem to recall a few years ago, Geoffry Martin had a book published, I think it was titled "Discovering the Memphis Tombs" in which he documented the discovery of the tombs of Maya and Horemheb. Did Martin and Raven work together on that--and is it the same excavation that Raven spoke of in his lecture? I don't recall Martin saying that he was on a joint expedition with Raven, but the similarity of the discription of the two tombs is remarkable.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 7:47 am 
Pharaoh
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Location: Valle d'Aosta- Italy
ciao!
I just finished reading and think it's really interesting. I wish to ask if I can translate it into italian for our site. I wait for your answer before doing it. Many will find it of great interest!!
Don't tell me no! :wink:
Ciaociao


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 10:26 am 
Pharaoh
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When Raven helped to discover (or should I say re-discover) the tombs of Maya and Horemheb he was only an honarary student- he did not lead the expedition. The expedition itself was led by Dr. Geoffrey Martin of Toronto. That is why you probably didn't find Raven mentioned a great deal, as he had not his P.h.d by that point. Some information can be found online at the following address, as well as other places.

http://www.rnw.nl/culture/html/maya000630.html

Maatkara, I would be honoured to have you translate my article- so long as you accredit me as its author, and put a link to the original at KingTutOne.

CiaoCiao! Andare avanti, mio amico! (I do hope that made sense!)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:55 am 
Pharaoh
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Oh sisisisisisi!!!
.....I am obliged to put your name as the real author....and....it would not be credible that I could be it!! :roll:
Anyway, I would not do that without your personal permission, even if, of course, everybody can be able to do it 8)
How can I say? Mr Psusennes I wrote this article :shock: ???ahahahah!
I was joking!I think it's ok, everybody has nick name!
ehm....and I'll try to translate the best I can!
Thanx! :)
Ciao ciao!


P.s. Andare avanti, means "to go on", and mio amico "my friend!" :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 1:52 pm 
Pharaoh
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You're welcome- Mr. Maatkara. I can probably read and write Hieroglyphs far better than I can write Italian!

Peri si! Do it man! (literally 'you go, my man')


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 3:24 pm 
Pharaoh
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Joined:Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:04 am
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Location: Valle d'Aosta- Italy
Well.....I am a WOMAN!!!...(and what a woman!!)...(and Maatkara was a woman as well!!)
The fact that you can read and write better hierogliphs than italian is one of the reasons why I like your posts!!! :wink:
Be my dictionary!
nfr sdjm....n k3-k!


P.s. I'm still working on the translation....but I guess tomorrow everybody here will want to know more about that!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 3:59 am 
Pharaoh
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I! iw.k m st! Oh! You are (as) a woman!

I apologise gravely! I now realise that you imply Hatshepsut when you say 'Maat-ka-re'! I was thinking of Asa- the 5th Dynasty Pharaoh who was also called 'Maat-Ka-Re'. He was Unas' successor, and also had the Praenomen 'the ka of ra is true'. Amenemhat III also had the name 'Maat-ka-re'. I am sorry. I know now.
Oh- and thank you for saying 'nfr sdjm....n k3-k!' I understand what you mean ('beautiful to hear...for your soul'?) but I would say a few things though:

a) word order in Egyptian is as follows:
verb, subject (and its adjective), object (and its adjective) then adverb.
b) 'n' means 'to' or 'for', and makes little sense in this context.

I would have said: 'sdjm khrk...iw.f nfr' To hear your voice...it (he) is beautiful! (I am so modest!).
It is nice to talk to somebody who is learning hieroglyphs as well as me. No one ever seems to go onto the 'hieroglyphs' thread on KingTutOne. Anyway, I hope the translation goes well!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 5:31 am 
Pharaoh
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Location: Valle d'Aosta- Italy
OOOoooohhh wonderfullllll!!!!
Now I know for "sdjm khrk...iw f nfr....even if I didn't have the chance to hear your voice yet, but " n kha k" found it in the book of Jacq....should mean something like "prosit!".... :roll:

I'm trying to study by myself using the Gardiner.....I don't have so much time to dedicate, but I really love it!

The translation is going fine....I'm doing it while working(even today!), I think before this evening it will be ready! :)

and...yes, iw i m st! (correct?)
tell me more....


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:22 am 
Pharaoh
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Location: Valle d'Aosta- Italy
Ciao Psusennes I!
I did it! I translated your article, you can find it at
community.egittologia.net
under "novità"
I think they're gonna kill me!!!.....or love me to death!...I don't know :roll:
Have a look and tell me....
Ciao ciao


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:45 pm 
Pharaoh
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"iw.i m st" sounds correct. Well done! By the way, 'En ka-ek' means 'to your ka', and is (apparently) a way of toasting somebody (like prosit)- I found it one the internet at: http://www.fortunecity.de/kraftwerk/alb ... nchin.html
It probably isn't right though- as they have put it in a cartouche (!!). Gardiner's Grammar really is the only way to learn hieroglyphs. Which lesson are you up to?

Also, you said "uno studente dell’Università di Bristol"- I wish I was! It'll be a good four years until I am at University- I just attend the lectures as a member of the Brisol Egyptological Society. Anyway, thank you for translating the article.

Any more thoughts about the discovery itself?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 2:40 pm 
Pharaoh
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Posts:705
Location: Valle d'Aosta- Italy
ehm....I'M so sorry!! in your profile it is said that you are a student...and so I...well...I'll correct it! Promise!
About the Gardiner...welll...ehm...let's say at the beginning....lesson 5! :(
but i'm sure that with your help I'll go faster! :wink:
Sometimes I try to change exercise and try to transliterate other texts, also in order to prove what I have done.....

For the lecture, I just had few pms, but it's holiday here, tomorrow as well....maybe tomorrow evening...I'll keep you informed about that! :wink:
A couple of them like it. Yesterday , there have been a congress and Zahi Hawass was one of the partecipant. There were something like 800 people. It was organized by the guys of the site egittologia.net Unfortunately it was in Latina, near Rome, too far and expensive for me now and I could not go, but I'm trying to arrange something like that here (without Hawass, of course!!)....I'm also looking for some egyptologist who wish to join us!
Do you have an e-mail?
If not, I won't mind....mine is on the profile...
As soon as I have something about the lecture I'll let you know!
Good night!....STUDENT! :wink:
ciao


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 7:59 pm 
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If I was acting as a Mod I could say Back on Subject;) As a fellow member, I have to say that this thread has been very entertaining and also reveled some great sources! I love you guys!
PS~maatkara~ There are mostly guys here.. so we should keep it a secret;)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 1:45 am 
Pharaoh
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(thanx Mary!)ssshht! it's a secret! :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 4:33 am 
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:wink: Pssst...make a new topic on that stuff, girls.


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