Sunday, 28 February 2016

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts brings Pompeii back to Life

Girl Attaching a Peplum Statue
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is bringing Pompeii back to life, from February 6 to September 5, 2016, in the largest exhibition ever to be presented in Quebec on this iconic Roman city. A small port on the Sarno River, Pompeii had thrived as a Roman colony for over two centuries. Its inhabitants had no recollection of Mount Vesuvius’s previous eruptions, which dated to the seventh century B.C.

On August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted, spewing a gigantic cloud of molten rock and pulverized pumice some thirty kilometres into the air. Tons of pumice, rocks and ashes rained down on Pompeii, piling up on the streets and collapsing roofs and walls.

Although the eruption had caught the inhabitants completely by surprise, most of them managed to escape. Only those who took shelter indoors were doomed. Paradoxically, the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius contributed to preserving much of Pompeii, which remained relatively undisturbed under metres of ashes for centuries.

Dog from the House of Orpheus
The Montreal presentation of Pompeii immerses visitors in the daily life of this Roman town before the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Tutankhamun: Hidden chambers inside tomb could hold treasure

Secret chambers discovered inside the tomb of ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun may be hiding a treasure trove, Egypt's Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, has claimed. He said that Egypt will make a formal announcement about the contents of the chambers in April.

British archaeologist Dr Nicolas Reeves had hinted at the presence of a secret passageway within the tomb of Tutankhamun or King Tut, in August 2015.

In November Egypt's antiquities ministry declared that there could be many hidden chambers inside the tomb.

Infrared thermography showed differences in the temperatures registered on different parts of the northern wall of the tomb. Reeves speculated that the tomb of King Tut was not ready when he died unexpectedly at 19 in 1323 B.C. and he was buried in a rush in what was originally the tomb of Nefertiti, who had died 10 years earlier.

Reeves’s claim about Nefertiti being the occupant of the secret crypt left experts skeptical. A mummy found in 1898 by archaeologist Victor Loret in tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings may be Nefertiti. Inscriptions, and later genetic analyses identified the mummy as the mother of Tutankhamun. DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten. His mother was confirmed to be one of Akhenaten's sisters or cousin, most likely Nefertiti.

Canoptic jar of Kiya, a secondary wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten
The hidden chamber may contain the mummy of Kiya, a wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Other possibilities include the elusive pharaoh Smenkhkare, or queen Meritaton, the full or half sister of Tutankhamun. It's also possible that nothing at all will be found. The discovery of treasure within the hidden chambers of King Tut's tomb would be a "Big Bang of 21st century" according to Zaazou.

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Friday, 26 February 2016

7-year-old Israeli Boy Finds 3,400-year-old Canaanite Figurine

A seven-year-old boy found a beautifully preserved 3,400-year-old female figurine at the Canaanite archaeological site of Tel Rehov. The well-preserved carved form of a naked woman, featuring a narrow waist and apparently an ornate hairdo was turned it over to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists are mixed as to whether the figurine is an idol of a fertility goddess, such as Astarte, or depicts a living woman of the time. The figurine is from the late Bronze period of 13 to 15 centuries BCE and from the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs.
Tel Rehov is the location of the largest ancient Canaanite and Israelite site in the Beth-Shean Valley and one of the largest sites in the Holy Land.

Excavations at Tel Rehov revealed successive occupational layers from the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great

Field Museum’s current exhibition is housed in a monumental, landmark building that resembles a temple from ancient Greece.

The venerable Chicago treasure house showcases rare artifacts culled from 21 Greek museums in The Greeks – Agamemnon to Alexander the Great, an exhibition running through April 10, 2016.
"Take an extraordinary journey through more than 5,000 years of Greek culture, from the Neolithic era to the age of Alexander the Great. Featuring over 500 exquisite artifacts — many that have never been exhibited outside Greece — from 21 Greek museums, this is the most comprehensive exhibition on Ancient Greece to tour North America in a generation."

Many of the 500-plus priceless objects have never been displayed outside of Greece.

Alexander, at left, charges Darius III, Shahanshah (“King of Kings”) of Persia at right, who is fleeing.
The Mask of Agamemnon was discovered at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann. The funeral mask, crafted in gold, and was found over the face of a body located in a burial shaft. Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of Agamemnon, but the mask is from 1550–1500 BC, earlier than the life of Agamemnon.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

3,000-year-old fingerprints found on ancient Egyptian coffin

Researchers at a British museum found fingerprints on the underside of an ancient Egyptian priest’s coffin, believed to have been left by craftsmen who moved the lid before its varnish dried more than 3,000 years ago.

The intricate wooden coffin was part of a set made for Nespawershefyt, a priest who rose to the high station of supervisor for craftsmen’s workshops and scribes at the great temple of Amun-Re at Karnak — the major temple complex. He died around 1,000 BC.

A painting of a gazelle, taken from a 4,000-year-old fragment from an Egytian coffin, which shows the artist used fingertips to dab the paint on the hide, making it look textured.
The Nespawershefyt coffin set was one of the first donations to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1822 and has routinely been on display, so no one noticed the fingerprints under the coffin lid until 2005, when museum staff started examining the collection. They announced the discovery ahead of an exhibition that opened this week on Egyptian funerary art and practices.

The Nespawershefyt set — “one of the finest coffin sets of its type in the world” — is made up of three layers. A “mummy board” envelopes the body, then goes inside an inner coffin, which in turn fits into an outer coffin.