Digging up Egypt's Treasures

The ten most significant discoveries in the past 20 years

(Eric Jaffe)

(Continued from page 2)

8. Statue of Queen Tiy
Discovered: 2006
Dates to: circa 1360 B.C.
Place: South Karnak

Placing a larger-than-life-sized statue of Queen Tiy in a temple dedicated to the fierce goddess Mut conveyed a strong image: this was a woman of great importance, a ruler who wanted to associate herself with the punishing aspects of the gods and their ability to put things right again.

It must have worked, because several hundred years later, another Egyptian queen, Henttawy, had her name inscribed on the beautiful statue, hoping no doubt to benefit from such a powerful association.

Images of Tiy found prior to the statue's discovery had shown her with her husband, Akhenaten. The depiction of Tiy standing solo implies that she had some authority in the cult of Mut and suggests that other queens might have been more active members of this cult than previously thought. The statue now resides in the Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

9. Red Sea Ship
Discovered: 2004
Dates to: 2000-1800 B.C.
Place: Wadi Gawasis

Cedar timbers and steering oars found in caves near the Red Sea shed light on Egypt's ancient trading activities. Limestone tablets found near the site's entrance described trips to Punt and Bia-Punt, two mysterious places in the ancient world that have yet to be positively located. Since a cartouche, an object with the seal of King Amenemhat III, was also found at the site, Egyptologists speculate that he ordered the expeditions around 1800 B.C., perhaps to get myrrh, the valuable, aromatic plant resin used in incense.

10. Confirmation of Queen Hatshepsut's Mummy
Discovered: June 2007
Dates to: 1478-1458 B.C.
Place: Cairo

The remains of the enigmatic Egyptian Museum in Cairo scanned the tooth, held inside a box inscribed with the queen's name. They then compared the scan to a gap in the mouth of a mummy long believed to be Hatshepsut; the tooth matched the gap within a fraction of a millimeter.

Robin T. Reid, a freelance writer and editor in Baltimore, Maryland, has written about fossils recently discovered in Kenya.


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