Assyrian Agricultural Technology

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on Gates of Nineveh: An Experiment in Blogging Assyriology:
Assyria is famous primarily for its military innovations. Siege warfare, cavalry, and the integration and methodical organization of warfare were all advanced considerably by the Assyrian state in its…

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The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present): Call for Papers (submission deadline 15 June 2014)

Papyrus on which segments of the Book of the Dead are written, together with drawings - here, Osiris overseeing the crucial act of weighing the heart of the deceased.  Source - Wikipedia

Papyrus on which segments of the Book of the Dead are written, together with drawings – here, Osiris overseeing the crucial act of weighing the heart of the deceased. Source – Wikipedia

Would be interesting to consider a similar conference – however, one that features the occurrence of papyri and their possible impact on both culture and politics. Here, I would focus on the Nile Valley and up into the Ptolemaic period.

Background you may want to check out – 

 

The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present): Workshop

Ertegun House, University of Oxford, 4 – 5 December 2014

The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present) is a two-day interdisciplinary workshop organised by doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in conjunction with the English Faculty’s Postcolonial Writing and Theory Seminar, the Oxford Centre for Global History and the University of Oxford’s Ertegun Graduate Programme in the Humanities, to be held on the 4th and 5th of December 2014 at Ertegun House, Oxford.

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The Mouse becomes Vizier in Ancient Egypt

For your weekend enjoyment, here is a blog that I have revised about what happens when a mouse becomes vizier to the king in Ancient Egypt. It is a lovely tale, humorous, but also a story that emphasizes the importance of justice.

The text was apparently used in scribal classes when teaching ancient Egyptian. Please enjoy!

A mouse-god being carried by jackal-priests.  Source -  H Ollermann Turin DelM

A mouse-god being carried by jackal-priests. Source – H Ollermann Turin Probably from Deir el-Medina. 

DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

Revised 23 May 2014
 

Examples of  hieroglypthic (top) and the same text in hieratic (bottom).  Source - www.schillerinstitute.orgExamples of hieroglyphic (top) and the same text in hieratic (bottom). Source –               http://www.schillerinstitute.org

Tales of mice and cats, such as the following, were popular in ancient Egypt, They were generally written in Middle Egyptian hieratic, a cursive form of hieroglyphic, and are excellent texts for aspiring scribes (or, as I was in the past, a student of hieratic in Egyptology classes).

 

Cartoons of cats and mice were as popular as were the fanciful stories about them, and appeared throughout Egyptian history. The portion of an ostracon that appears in the above header image is probably from the workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina, near ancient Thebes. It shows a mouse sipping beer out of a large container, through a bent straw, while being attended by a cat. A few other examples appear in this fanciful text:

 
In the kingdom of the animals…

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Gift of a Shrew and Their Role in Graeco-Roman Egypt

Shrews were important creatures in ancient Egypt, seen as key ingredients for certain magical spells, discussed in this blog. Picture source - Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter sun reshafim

Shrews  and other small creatures were important in ancient Egypt, seen as key ingredients for certain magical spells that are discussed in the referenced blog. Picture source – Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter sun reshafim

This morning I was awakened by Bébé-Cat gifting me with a little shrew that was dead.  Not the most enjoyable way to start the day.

However, this reminded me of a blog that I wrote a couple of years ago about rats here in Burundi and the important role of shrews in Ancient Egypt, which I have now revised and provide a link, below, for your enjoyment.

The shrew (or related fellow) shown here, who is fabricating the sun, seems to be a potent fellow.

 

 

Bébé-Cat after a hard day of work.  He is an unrepentant sun-worshiper – not potent, however, like the fellow above.

Bébé

 

Now, please go on to the following link – and enjoy!

Rats and Related Creatures – Now, and in Graeco-Roman Egypt

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The Beautiful Coptic Murals in the Monastery of Surian in Egypt Revealed

Very interesting blog on the cleaning of Coptic murals at the monastery of Surian, Wadi al-Natrun, Egypt, with a video on work to clean and preserve the murals that contains a Coptic chant – very nice. Wadi al-Natrun, a large depression located to the west of Cairo, contains some of the most interesting of Egypt’s monasteries and earlier pharaonic remains.

Cleaning and refurbishing at the monastery of Dayr al- Surian, Egypt.  Source - DeirAlSurianConservationProject FB

Cleaning and refurbishing at the monastery of Dayr al- Surian, Egypt. Source – DeirAlSurianConservationProject FB

ON COPTIC NATIONALISM في القومية القبطية

deir al surianOne of the beautiful murals revealed at Deir Al-Surian in Wadi Al-Natrun in Egypt

I would like to draw your attention to this important project of restoration by the Levantine Foundation. Start with this video:

Then visit the conservation project on Facebook and enjoy.

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Net Dresses in Ancient Egypt and Elsewhere – Then and Now

Beadnet dresses seem to have been common in ancient Egypt.  They are generally  made of several compounds (e.g., beads and shells), examples being found in the 21st Dynasty (1069-747 BC), as seen on the line drawing of a coffin painting of the Priestess Iwesemhesetmwt, which is shown in the above heading.  The practice of making or depicting  beadnet dresses continued for hundreds of years, as seen on a small, painted sarcophagi dated ca. 600 BC., discussed later in this blog.

This entry is especially for Karen Resta and her daughter Kristen Bateman, who has recently designed and made a lovely net dress combining several materials – a dress that is very much in keeping with dress style aficionados – both modern and Ancient Egyptian.  Adding historical depth to one/s couture enriches both understanding and value of the final product.  Tremendously.  Here is Kristen’s design –

Net dress designed by Kristen, via Karen Resta.

Net dress designed by Kristen Bateman containing several materials, via Karen Resta.

Now, on to the historical depth part –

Reconstructed beadnet dress,Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu, 2551–2528 B.C. .  Source - Giza, tomb G 7440 Z. 1927: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1927: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.

Reconstructed beadnet dress,Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu, 2551–2528 B.C. . Source – Giza, tomb G 7440 Z. 1927: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1927: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.  Accession No.  27.1548.1

Depictions of women in Egyptian art occasionally feature garments decorated with an overall lozenge pattern. This design is believed to represent beadwork, which was either sewn onto a linen dress or worked into a separate net worn over the linen.

This beadnet dress is the earliest surviving example of such a garment. It has been painstakingly reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of King Khufu.

Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, permitting an accurate reconstruction. The color of the beads has faded, but the beadnet was originally blue and blue green in imitation of lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Source – Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Beadnet Dress

Another beadnet dress of the Old Kingdom, it was excavated by by Guy Brunton at Qau, Upper Egypt, in 1923-24 and now resides in the museum of University College London, where information on the dress states that –

Beadnet dress now in the museum of University College London.  Source - UCL

Beadnet dress now in the museum of University College London. Source – Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London

The dress may have been worn for dancing in Dynasty 5 (c. 2400 BC). Each of the 127 shells around the fringe are plugged with a small stone so that it would have emitted a rattling sound when the wearer moved. When it was being conserved, it was thought to fit a girl of about 12 and to be worn naked.  

Guy Brunton commented that the dress reminds us of the story of King Sneferu going on a sailing trip on the palace lake, recorded on a papyrus dating from around 1800 BC. The King gets twenty young women to row a boat and, to relieve his boredom, orders:

“Let there be brought to me twenty women with the shapeliest bodies, breasts and braids, who have not yet given birth. And let there be brought to me 20 nets. Give those nets to these women in place of their clothes!”

Directions are given on the UCL site for making a similar beadnet dress, which contains both beads and shells (reference below) –

How to make a bead-net dress
By Janet Johnstone

Fabric
Beads (cylinder beads 1.5 to 3cm long and round beads)
Shells drilled with holes for threading (optional)
Strong polyester thread natural or cream and a long needle

See this link for the rest of the instructions and accompanying graphs.

Small mummy case of the 26th Dnyasty, ca. 600 BC.  Source - Swansia Egypt Center.

Small mummy case of the 26th Dynasty, ca. 600 BC. Source – Swansea Egypt Center.

Important to note – that linen dresses could be worn below net dresses in ancient Egypt.  This would enhance warmth during the winter cool months as well as (perhaps) rendering the dress more conservative.  Kristen/s net dress could also be modelled with a sheer shift underneath, perhaps of a contrasting color.

In addition to actual beadnet dresses in ancient Egypt, drawings of beaded costumes were painted on mummy coffins.  Examples of two ladies who seem to be wearing net dresses appear in the drawing at the very top of the blog.

Another example – the little wooden coffin shown to the left, now in the Swansea Museum, contains a foetus that is dated to the 26th Dynasty, ca. 600 BC.  It is decorated with what appears to be a beadnet dress – approximately 2000 years after the two museum examples pictured above.  So dressing in net remained the vogue for many centuries in Egypt.

The baby-mummy has recently been scanned and shown to contain a small foetus, a touching end to the near-life of an ancient infant.  The case was collected by Sir Henry Wellcome who, as commonly was the case during the era of Egyptomania and related artifact collecting in the 19th Century, did not provide the item with a provenance – with a place of origin, which helps enormously in determining just who was the child, to whom, and so forth.

(In fact, he may have purchased it locally from a dealer who himself was not knowledgeable of the items origin.  This unfortunate practice of  context-free artifact-collecting continued into the 20th Century and unhappily continues today.)

Interesting to note, the hieroglyphs on the little coffin are nonsense, having no meaning, but this was not an unusual practice and perhaps was employed in the less expensive coffins.

Here is pictured the recent scanning of the little mummy from Swansea, wearing her net dress –

Baby Mummy being scanned.  Source - Swansea Egypt Centre.

Baby Mummy wearing a net dress, who is being scanned. Source – Swansea Egypt Centre.

 Moral of the tale – I hope that Kristen will continue her lovely design work – both imaginatively and with historical depth.  Imaginative couture is so often historically grounded – being multidimensional, not just a simple paste-up.  Wearers of her items will surly appreciate purchasing an item that is described as being in a long and famous tradition – whether it is from Ancient Egyptian net dresses or another tradition.

 

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Coffee Customs in Eastern Sudan and Egypt: The Beja Tribes and a Recipe

I have just updated the following blog on Coffee Culture among the Beja Clans of the Red Sea Hills of Egypt – a ceremony that has also been part of history and culture in the Middle East and North Africa.  A recipe of the drink and the ceremony is included.  Enjoy!

DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

Revised 14 May 2014

Beja merchants at the Red Sea market town of Shalaeen.  Source - Wikipedia Beja merchants at the Red Sea market town of Shalaeen. The Red Sea Hills can be seen in the background.  Source – Wikipedia

Coffee culture is a central part of both social and political life of the Beja, as it is in many other areas of the Middle East and North Africa.   The original blog, from which this section is extracted, can be found here: Coffee Rituals, Camel Shins & Ostrich Brochettes: The Beja Tribes of Eastern Sudan & Egypt – Part II

Background:
For several years in the early 1980’s I managed a livestock-health project working with several of the Bisharin –or Beja – tribal lineages that are located in the Red Sea Hills of Southeastern Egypt and Northeastern Sudan:

Beja tribal area; our work was primarily in the Hala’ib Triangle next to the Red Sea. The triangle is the disputed area between Sudan and Egypt, now…

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