Deep Purple: Dyeing Egyptian Textiles

Daniel Soliman The oldest preserved textiles from Egypt, woven in linen, date back to around 2900 BCE. Because it is difficult to dye linen, the Egyptians preferred their linen clothing bright white and sometimes translucent. Colours were used sparsely to decorate clothes, mostly with black, blue, red, yellow and green dyes. Influenced by Greek andContinue reading “Deep Purple: Dyeing Egyptian Textiles”

Caring for Cows in Ancient Egypt

Jennifer Cromwell Tomb scenes and models show how important cattle were in ancient Egypt. From birthing to butchery, we see the experiences and uses of cattle. Not only did they provide food (for the living and the dead, as well as the gods) and leather, they were also essential for agriculture. We see them depictedContinue reading “Caring for Cows in Ancient Egypt”

A Brief Account of Marriage

Jennifer Cromwell Marriage in Egyptian villages was a pretty informal affair. Few legal documents were written concerning marriage, and few texts discuss particulars – unless something goes wrong. The most important aspect of marriage was cohabitation. Early periods of Egyptian history refer to the entering and leaving of houses, while Coptic texts typically refer to spousesContinue reading “A Brief Account of Marriage”

Kittens for Bastet

Jennifer Cromwell and Luigi Prada On 20th April, either 202 or 178 BCE, an embalmer named Onnophris wrote to Machatas, an official (epistates) in the village of Tanis in the Fayum semi-oasis, concerning kittens he had donated to the cat-goddess Bastet (also known by her Greek name of Boubastis), or at least had intended toContinue reading “Kittens for Bastet”

Facing the Dead? Framing Mummy Panels from Hawara

Campbell Price Among the most popular objects in many museum archaeology displays, the lifelike mummy panel portraits from Graeco-Roman Egypt hold a special place in the history of representing the human face. Manchester Museum’s first international touring exhibition, ‘Golden Mummies of Egypt’, offers a chance to re-examine the museum’s important collection of 10 mummy panelContinue reading “Facing the Dead? Framing Mummy Panels from Hawara”

Law and the Art of Bookroll Maintenance

Mark de Kreij In 133 CE Herakleides-Valerius, inhabitant of Antinoupolis, which had only recently been founded, put his signature to a brief document renouncing his father Herakleides’ inheritance. He came to his decision because his father had become embroiled in a protracted dispute over the state of the public archives of the Fayum. By thisContinue reading “Law and the Art of Bookroll Maintenance”

Spell to Attract a Woman

Jennifer Cromwell “For a woman’s love: a really effective charm.You should write these things on a tin sheet.” So begins the text of a Coptic magical spell from the 6th/7th century. The things that should be written on the tin sheet are magical signs, drawn on the papyrus for reference and to be copied out whenContinue reading “Spell to Attract a Woman”

The Powers of Hell: A Deadly Curse from Medieval Egypt

Korshi Dosoo Somewhere in Upper Egypt, around the tenth century CE, someone wanted to destroy a man named Haron. They took a pair of rib bones from a large animal, perhaps a cow or a camel, still wet with gristle, and they wrote a curse three times, on both sides of one rib, and oneContinue reading “The Powers of Hell: A Deadly Curse from Medieval Egypt”

A Stingy Boss and a Lack of Beer

Jennifer Cromwell Deir el-Medina in western Thebes was home to a community of skilled workers, who were responsible for constructing and decorating the royal tombs of the period, in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. One draftsman from the village, Prehotep, perhaps after a particularly hard shift, just wanted toContinue reading “A Stingy Boss and a Lack of Beer”

Death Declarations: The Bureaucracy of Death in Roman Egypt

Jennifer Cromwell In year 7 of the reign of Emperor Claudius, a widow Tapapeis daughter of Pasis submitted a declaration of the death of her husband Abeis son of Horos. In accordance with Roman law, she acts with a male guardian, her relative Adrastos. “To the royal secretary Hermaios from Tapapeis, daughter of Pasis, actingContinue reading “Death Declarations: The Bureaucracy of Death in Roman Egypt”