False Door Tombstone and Array of Artifacts Unearthed in the City of Alexandria

False Door Tombstone and Array of Artifacts Unearthed in the City of Alexandria

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A team of Egyptian archaeologists has recently uncovered the remains of many Greco-Roman tombs, including a "distinguished" tombstone, in the eastern cemetery of the ancient city of Alexandria.

New Find is Part of a Hellenistic Cemetery

The new find was unearthed at the Al-Abd archaeological site in Alexandria and experts suggest that it’s a part of a Hellenistic cemetery which is located on the city's sea shore. The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery yesterday, highlighting the different types of artifacts discovered at the site. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stated that the archaeological team discovered several lamps adorned with scenes of ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman deities along with vessels. “But the most important item of this discovery is a very distinguished tombstone that was once used to close one of the cemetery's burial shaft,” he said via Ahram Online .

Tombstone with painted false door relief found at Al-Abd, Egypt (Ministry of Antiquities)

Waziri explained that the tombstone is adorned with scenes and inscriptions created from a mixture of sand and lime on a flat background representing the facade of an ancient Egyptian temple. The scenes portray a staircase leading to the entrance of the temple and two columns holding up the entrance’s roof. “The staircase leads to a set of double doors, one of which is half-open and bears a winged sun-disk decoration,” he told Ahram Online .

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Hellenistic Art and the Ptolemaic Dynasty

Hellenistic art is the art of the period in classical antiquity generally taken to begin with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and end with the conquest of the Greek world by the Romans, a process well underway by 146 BC, when the Greek mainland was taken, and essentially ending in 31 BC with the conquest of Ptolemaic Egypt following the Battle of Actium. A number of the best-known works of Greek sculpture belong to this period, including Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It follows the period of Classical Greek art, while the succeeding Greco-Roman art was very largely a continuation of Hellenistic trends.

For the first time, remarkable museums and great libraries were constructed, such as those at Alexandria and Pergamon. Hellenistic artists copied and adapted earlier styles, and also made great innovations. Representations of Greek gods took on new forms. The popular image of a nude Aphrodite, for example, reflects the increased secularization of traditional religion. Also prominent in Hellenistic art are representations of Dionysos, the god of wine and legendary conqueror of the East, as well as those of Hermes, the god of commerce. In strikingly tender depictions, Eros, the Greek personification of love, is portrayed as a young child.

Ptolemy I as Dionysus, 3 rd century BC. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Most of the Ptolemaic magical stele were connected with matters of health. They were commonly of limestone; the Greeks tended to use marble or bronze for private sculpture. The most striking change in depiction of figures is the range from idealizing to nearly grotesque realism in portrayal of men. Previously Egyptian depictions tended toward the idealistic but stiff, not with an attempt at likeness. Likeness was still not the goal of art under the Ptolemies. The influence of Greek sculpture under the Ptolemies was shown in its emphasis on the face more than in the past. Smiles suddenly appear. Toward the end of the Ptolemaic period, the headdress sometimes gives way to tousled hair.

One significant change in Ptolemaic art is the sudden re-appearance of women, who had been absent since about the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. Some of this must have been due to the importance of women, such as the series of Cleopatras, who acted as co-regents or sometimes occupied the throne by themselves. Although women were present in artwork, they were shown less realistically than men in this era. Even with the Greek influence on art, the notion of the individual portrait still had not supplanted Egyptian artistic norms during the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

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A decorated lamp recently found at the site. (Ministry of Antiquities)

Evolutionary Tomb Introduced the “False-Door” Idea

Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, focused on the importance of this tombstone since it introduced the method of a false door in order to deceive thieves and draw them away from the real door of the tomb. “The false-door idea was widespread in Ancient Egypt,” Dr. Ashmawy tells Ahram Online . The false door feature was also used as a supposed gateway between the physical and the spiritual realms. The spirits of the dead could return to the physical world to accept offerings.

Ultimately, local authorities informed that the newly discovered tombstone was found in a very bad condition but restoration works have already started in order to make it look great again.

Explorator 19.09

Thanks to Arthur Shippee, Dave Sowdon, Edward Rockstein, Kurt Theis,
John McMahon, Barnea Selavan, Joseph Lauer, Mike Ruggeri, Hernan Astudillo,
Bob Heuman, Frank MacKay, Mark Allen, Richard Campbell, Richard C. Griffiths,
and Ross W. Sargent for headses upses this week (as always hoping I have
left no one out).

Overviewish features about Lucy:

Pondering hobbits and homo floresiensis:

Not sure where to put this one … early humans liked to eat elephant heads apparently:

On use of poison arrow technology in Eastern Africa:

Concerns for cave art in Somalia:

… and a feature on how pyramids were built:

Photos from the Valley of the Kings:

Book reviewish thing on urban planning in ancient Egypt:

Interesting finds from Iraqi Kurdistan relating to the evolution of cities in Mesopotamia:

A pair of Israeli researchers are trying to force a rethink of domestication of agriculture in the area:

… while another study suggests farming was invented twice in the region:

The harbour of ancient Byblos may have been located … but it’s complicated:

Latest from Gath suggests Canaanites were sacrificing animals from Egypt:

Plans to dig at Turkey’s ‘little Venice’ (Apollonia):

Suggestion that Izmit might become Turkey’s ‘Second Ephesus’:

Remains of a monastery have been found in that underground city from Cappadocia (which was found in 2014):

Possible Roman-era burial from a dig in Yemiskapani:

Plenty of coverage of the beginning of the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (focus varies in these):

Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement regarding antiquities:

They’ve found more Roman-associated finds at a dig at Ipplepen which is causing a bit of a rethink of the extent of Roman influence:

A Roman cemetery, including child burials, is revealed in Lincoln:

… and more on recent finds from the associated shipwreck:

New concerns for the Villa of the Mysteries:

Feature on Hadrian and Antinous:

A Latin Immersion weekend:

Feature on the Sleeping Hermaphrodite:

Feature on an ancient poetic device:

On some Classical influence on the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episode:

A model of a Roman burial from Watton is on display:

More on naval bases in the Piraeus:

Hype for an upcoming dig at a VIking/’Gaelic’ site in the Outer Hebrides:

A medieval hunting lodge from New Forest:

Studying a 17th century Dutch shipwreck off Iceland:

Remains of a mosque-like structure near a shrine to Suleiman in Hungary:

Assorted metal detectorist finds:

Plans for a survey at Old Scatness:

Strange one: Britain is running out of space to store archaeological finds:

On kings and carparks in Reading:

Restoration of a 17th century fire engine associated with the Great Fire of London suggests it wasn’t very effective:

Latest attempt at figuring out how Stonehenge was built:

Feature on the ‘dancing mania’ in Aachen some 642 years bp:

Reburial for some 1400 years bp Bamburgh skeletons:

More on the development of wine in Georgia:

More on that 5000 years bp figurine from Skara Brae:

A 14th century hangi from Wairu Bar (NZ):

A Silla culture burial’s ‘long head’ is getting some attention:

Remains of a possible Buddhist monastery at Vadnagar:

Pondering the antiquity of Chennai:

China and Uzbekistan are cooperating on a dig:

The political side of Chinese archaeology:

More on LiDAR at Angkor Wat:

Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog:

New Zealand Archaeology eNews:

A pre-contact campsite near Kamloops:

Digging a portage site near the Lachine rapids:

Digging a Mississipian culture site near Beardstown (IL):

Looking for the first farmers in the Red River Valley:

Latest artifacts with a possible connection to the Lost Colony:

Revolutionary War items near Sandy Hook lighthouse:

Hidden burials from one of Houston’s earliest cemeteries:

Looking for secret tunnels beneath a South Bend church:

On reconstructing ancient houses:

There’s a Huron village buried in the heart of Toronto:

Revisiting the Calcium site for Native American artifacts:

Followup to the discovery of plenty of sites after floods in Alberta a few years ago:

Studying middens and the like in the Pacific Northwest:

The slavery connection to Jack Daniels:

Reburial of some slave remains:

Georgetown’s slave-owning history:

Latest in that Iowa pipeline dispute:

More on Michigan petroglyphs:

More on that 17th century shipwreck conservation thing in Texas:

… and again, humans (plus other factors) are being blamed for the demise of megafauna in South America:

A 200 years bp mikveh from Venezuela has been authenticated:

… while a Picasso fetched big bucks at auction:

Some Bloomsday-associated items:

Love letters from the Somme:

Feature on Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’:

… and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna:

… and a Degas with a really long title:

On Henry VIII as a Brexit pioneer:

All about Rosie the Riveter:

A ‘secret agent’ bought paintings to return them home:

Feature on assorted sea monsters:

On the history of the university:

On Emily Dickenson’s gardens:

On Muhammad Ali’s original name:

More on maps with north pointing up:

More indications of financial troubles at the Met:

Using LiDAR to map beer caves in Iowa:

Scanning some mummies in Spain:

Looking for sites with Cold War spy photos:

3d printing a 17th century shipwreck from Scotland:

More on LiDAR in Cambodia:

More on monumental platforms at Petra found with satellite technology:

Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog:

Latest Anonymous Swiss Collector Culture Crime News:

Questioning the provenance of Bible Museum items (already):

The BM seems to have tax problems:

anonymous swiss collector:

Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues:

Illicit Cultural Property:

Peru recovered a number of items from various countries this week:

Bolivia recovered some items from Germany:

On the cost of returning First Nations heritage:

Seeking the return of an Aboriginal shield:

… and another auction halted related to a different shield:

More on Israel returning sarcophagi lids to Egypt:

Raising funds for an Anglo Saxon hoard:

… and the one which should appear later today:

6th Rye Medieval Academic Conference (October 22):

Taygete Atlantis excavations blogs aggregator:
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