Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pharaoh Hatshepsut's Mummy Positively Identified

Howard Carter was most famous for his discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. However, unbeknownst to him, he also was responsible for the discovery of one of Egypt’s most famous kings, the pharaoh Hatshepsut. In 1902 Howard Carter entered theTomb KV 60. The tomb itself had been robbed in antiquity. Little was left inside, aside from some mummified geese. However, there were two female mummies that remained in the tomb. One had the name Sitre-In, Hatshepsut’s wet nurse, written on it. The other female mummy was anonymous. Years later the mummy of Sitre-In was removed, but the anonymous mummy remained inside the tomb undisturbed until 1990. It was then that speculation about the mummy’s true identity began to circulate. A group of Egyptologists began to suspect that the anonymous mummy might indeed have been that of the famous female pharaoh Hatshepsut. They based their theory on the facts that the mummy had a bent left arm, often associated with royalty, and that it wore a wooden face piece, which may have been used to attach the false beard that the female pharaoh was often depicted wearing. Others adamantly refuted this theory, stating that the anonymous mummy was of an elderly, obese women, a description that did not match with the conventional picture of the female pharaoh. Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, undertook a scientific search for Hatshepsut last year. During the course of this process he examined and analyzed four female mummies, including the anonymous mummy from KV 60. Much of the team’s analysis hinged on a single molar sealed inside a box that was inscribed with Hatshepsut’s name. Teeth are similar to fingerprints, as the precise size of a person’s teeth is unique to that person. To the surprise of many of those involved, the tooth inside the inscribed box matched the anonymous mummy from KV 60 down to a fraction of millimeter. “Not only was the … lady from KV 60 missing a tooth, but the hole left behind and the type of tooth that was missing were an exact match for the loosened one in the box,” Dr. Hawass stated. This discovery provides scholars with new information for an examination of the history of this pharaoh. Hatshepsut’s mummy shows an obese woman between forty-five and sixty years old upon death. Aside from having poor dental health, the mummy shows that Hatshepsut suffered from cancer in the pelvic and spinal regions. Further DNA tests on the mummy will be conducted and compared with the DNA results from other members of the 18th Dynasty, including that of Hatshepsut’s grandmother, Ahmose-Nefertari. As the archaeological and forensic scientific fields continue to advance, we may look forward to future outstanding discoveries, rediscoveries, and new ways of expanding our knowledge of one of the greatest civilizations of all time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hatshepsut Bead and Cylinder Seal, RC 1114

With the recent identification of the mummy of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, this remarkable ruler has once again captured the public’s attention. She ruled for approximately twenty two years, first as Regent for her step-son Thutmose III, and later as co-pharaoh with him. Although a female pharaoh was unusual in ancient Egypt, it was not entirely unprecedented, as history includes among the female rulers of Egypt, Pharaoh Sobeknefru who had reigned as a king of the 12th Dynasty, and others. This would later occur again, most notably in the case of the last ruling pharaoh, Cleopatra VII. Scholars are still studying the records for evidence of additional women rulers in Egypt’s ancient past. It has long been known that women in general held higher status in Egypt than in the lands surrounding it. This included the ability to own property, have an equal voice in legal proceedings, and having control of the household industries which produced linen, bread, beer, and other items vital to Egypt’s economic life. The Hatshepsut Bead and Cylinder Seal in the Museum’s collection came to us from the Rustafjaell estate in 1989. The tiny and elegant piece stands 2.3 centimeters high, made from glazed steatite metal (soapstone), blue on the cylinder base with a gold colored bead surmounting the small column. It is currently displayed in our Religion and Kingship Gallery (C) in the Museum. The cylinder body is engraved with Hatshepsut’s royal cartouche with her Prename, “Marat Ka Re,” that is, “Truth is the Ka of Re.” The Cylinder could have been used as a signature seal, and also as an amulet, as the name of the Pharaoh was considered to have great power for such uses.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Henna Workshop

Henna is a potent natural dye that comes from the dried, crushed leaves of the henna shrub. It has been used for thousands of years and across many cultures in medicines, textiles, perfumes, and to paint designs on the body. Archaeological research indicates that henna was first used to stain the fingertips and toes of the mummified pharaohs, but many other peoples probably used henna as well, believing in its beauty and spiritual benefit. We know that the Egyptians hennaed their hair and nails to strengthen and condition, but it is difficult to know if they hennaed designs similar to other cultures, as henna designs fade in a couple of weeks. Tattooing, however, was practiced since the Middle Kingdom. Mummies of dancers have elaborate geometric patterns while musicians typically have the god Bes tattooed on their bodies, so one can speculate that henna was similarly used. Ancient Egyptian women also wore henna, perfumes, and cosmetics to honor Hathor, the goddess of beauty. It was believed that these materials painted on the body would transcend into spiritual means and Hathor’s presence and energy could be felt by the women of ancient Egypt. Henna could have also been used on the mummified pharaohs to help preserve them. Henna would have strengthened the bodies while also deterring fungal growth, making its use very practical. So, henna, with its many healing properties and connection with temple practices as well as everyday life, was spiritual as well as practical for the ancient Egyptians.

The Museum’s Henna Workshop details the history of henna and its various functions, as it expanded from ancient Egypt to other cultures. Instruction and application will follow the talk with designs to reflect the culture discussed. Join us the first Sunday of every month at 12:30 pm, to explore a new culture and discover how henna was used in the past and how we can use it today.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Modern Henna Formulas for Hair

Looking for an ancient hair coloring?

Try this formula featured in our Henna Workshops:

What do you need to mix a simple henna paste? Not much! You’ll need a container, a plastic spoon, henna powder, and lemon juice. Keep stirring and adding the sour liquid. Some henna needs a lot of liquid, some needs less, so there’s no way to say “add precisely THIS amount of liquid.” Add whatever sour liquid you want to use, a little bit at a time, stirring it in. When your henna paste is a little thinner than mashed potatoes, you’ve stirred in enough sour liquid for a start. Cover the henna paste with plastic wrap, press out all the air, and let it rest for a while. Mix ingredients to make a thick paste. Leave overnight in plastic baggie for dye release. Apply evenly to hair and leave in for 2-4 hours, wrapping hair if desired.


For light orange/red hair:
1 Tbsp henna
1 Tbsp Amla
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp apple juice
½ c. vanilla yogurt
120 grams henna
lemon juice
red tea (rooibos, or raspberry)
2 Tbsp ground cloves

For bright red hair:
100 grams henna
orange juice
slight dash of white vinegar
15 drops of tea tree oil
¼ c. paprika
100 grams henna
250 ml red wine
3 ½ capfuls tea tree oil
lemon rooibos tea
25 grams powdered pectin

For dark red hair:
100 grams henna
lemon juice
lavender water
strong black tea
100 grams henna
2 spoonfuls lemon juice
Madagascar red vanilla tea
1 capful dark green olive oil

For Dark Henna/Indigo hair:
Mix your favorite henna paste formula and set aside overnight. Mix indigo with water and set aside. Mix indigo and henna together and then apply to hair.

You can get other formulas like this by participating in our Henna Workshop the first Sunday of every month.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Volunteer of the Month: Lily Van Osdol

For the past two years, Lily Van Osdol has been a helpful and delightful asset as one of the volunteers at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. She has assisted with several museum events, including the 75th Anniversary, where she helped paint pillars for our exhibit; the Epagomenal Festival, where she assisted with public booths and children’s activities; as well as many outreach events where she has aided in promoting the Museum in our community. She also assists with our Cooking and Armband Workshop on Saturdays. In her spare time, you’ll usually find her playing the ancient Egyptian game Sent with some guests. Lily began volunteering for the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum because of her great interest in history and ancient cultures. Her favorite part of the Museum is our Mesopotamia Room, located in the Daily Life Gallery (B) in the Museum, where she enjoys exploring the ancient cultures of the Near East. We have been very fortunate to have Lily as a volunteer here at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum as her positive and hard working nature have added a delightful experience for both the Museum and its guests.

If you are interesting in becoming a volunteer at Rosicrucian Park, please call (408) 947.3683 or email: volunteers@egyptianmuseum.org.