Wooden Statue, Animal Mummies Found in Abydos, Egypt

Posted on March 13, 2012

A wooden statue of a king, a private offering chapel, a monumental building and remains of over 80 animal mummies were found by a University of Toronto-led team in Abydos, Egypt. The wooden statue is one of very few existing royal wooden statues. The researchers say it may represent the female king Hatshepsut. The dig was conducted in Egypt in June and July 2011. Professor Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations presented her team's findings at a recent meeting of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities.

You can see photos of the animal mummies, offering chapel and funerary figurines found at the dig site here.

Hatshepsut was often portrayed as male in stone because the Egyptian pharaoh was believed to be son of the god Amon-Re (she was also known to dress as a man for the role). The wooden statue has a smaller waist and delicate jawline. It is believed to be from a ceremonial procession in which wooden statues of the royal ancestors and gods were carried in boat-shaped shrines by priests from the temple of Osiris to his tomb.

Egyptians from all levels of society built chapels and monuments along the processional route as a way to ensure their eternal participation in the festival and their identification with Osiris. Building too close to the route was prohibited by the state and infringement carried the threat of the death penalty. The offering chapel the researchers uncovered is believed to be that of an elite person. It dates from about 1990 - 1650 BC. The offering chapel shows where the boundary to the route was and the archaeologists believe it indicates elites were able to build monuments right next to the processional route.

Professor Pouls Wegner says, "The offering chapel proves that people - probably elites - were able to build monuments right next to the processional route in the Middle Kingdom, and that at least one such chapel was allowed to stand in this increasingly densely built-up area and continued to receive offerings even 800 years after its initial construction."

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