Colloque : In Sickness and in Health: The Healing Arts in Ancient Egypt

13 octobre 2021 par Équipe ENiM [TheChamp-Sharing]
6 et 7 novembre 2021 (en ligne)

This year the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities’ Annual Symposium will be on the theme of Ancient Egyptian Medicine.

The Symposium day will be held on Saturday, November 6, starting at 9:00 EST. Admission includes two days of Scholars’ Colloquium presentations on Friday the 5th and Sunday the 7th of November, starting at 9:00 EST. Due to the uncertainties that continue to surround travel in these times of Covid, we are again planning to hold the event virtually.

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Symposium 2021 Abstracts of Papers


Presented in Order of Presentation: Timing May Vary



9:05 – 9:35       Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s Morning Toilette in Karnak

Prof. Arlette David, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology

Dr. Robert Verginieux, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, C.N.R.S.

Among the sandstone talatat, Akhenaten’s standard building blocks (c. 52 x 26 x 22 cm) from Karnak, there are several intriguing series, carved shortly before the King’s move to Akhetaten (Amarna), describing Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s toilette assisted by male shaved-head attendants. The blocks were extracted from the Ninth Pylon of Karnak and pertain to a monument built in East Karnak during the first part of Amenhotep IV/ Akhenaten’s reign (c. 1350 B.C.), the RwD mnw n Itn r nHH ‘Enduring is the monument of/for Aten forever.’ We have recently reconstructed intriguing protoamarnian scenes depicting the purification, offering, and theogamy rituals of Akhenaten and Nefertiti and completed some earlier assemblages related to these series. Parts of the original sequences of these royal activities can be reconstructed based on their close affinity with the traditional Daily Temple Ritual performed on the statues of Amun and Mut in Karnak preserved on Dynasty 22 papyri Berlin ÄM 3014, 3053, and 3055. Akhenaten’s role as divine substitute, solar son, and Aten’s personification led to the adaptation of the traditional divine cult, normally performed on a statue, for the living King. In non-equivocal similarity to the Theban cult for Amun-Ra in his temple, the sequence and essence of the ritual phases performed on the cultic statue were transferred, with minor changes, to the cult of the living Akhenaten and Nefertiti.


9:35 – 10:05     A School Exercise from Ancient Egypt Featuring a New Didactic Method

Judith Jurjens, PhD Candidate, Leiden University, Netherlands

In this paper I will argue that an ostracon from the British Museum (BM EA 65597) does not contain three hands, as suggested by the editor, but two. Consequently, the ostracon contains not three, but two excerpts of The Teaching of Khety, also known as The Satire of the Trades. The excerpt on the recto is written in a small, neat hand, the one on the verso is written by an inexperienced scribe. The ostracon clearly is a school exercise. A teacher wrote a chapter of Khety on the recto, then ordered his student to continue the text on the verso, presumably by heart. This didactic method has not been seen before, although there are examples of ostraca where a student copied a teacher’s model.


10:05 – 10:35   Mummy Masks from Sedment: A Study on the Earliest Cartonnages of the 20th Upper Egyptian Nome

Anita Kriener, German Archaeological Institute, Cairo; Freie Universitat Berlin

Mummy masks have become a trademark of Ancient Egypt in modern reception. They are an expression of the funerary culture and were found in numerous burials from the Old Kingdom to the Graeco-Roman era. While the later objects are in large numbers in collections all over the world, the early masks are rather sparsely represented, mainly due to their poor state of preservation. Nevertheless, studying the origins and development of the earliest mummy masks is important for understanding how they could become a mass-produced funerary item by the time of the Middle Kingdom.

In my contribution I will therefore concentrate on the mummy masks before this period and have a closer look at the objects from the First Intermediate Period and the early Middle Kingdom. Sedment will be taken as example, because it is a collective name for several ancient villages and their cemeteries stretching along the Nile for about 5 km between the modern villages of Sedment el-Gebel and Mayana. Approximately 2500 tombs from pharaonic times were found in these cemeteries, starting in the Early Dynastic Period. 500 of these date into the First Intermediate Period or the early Middle Kingdom and therefore make Sedment an ideal area to study the funerary culture of this time. The rather well-documented cemeteries make it possible to not only to research the iconography and the production techniques of the masks themselves, but also to compare their distribution, the social status of the owner and the tomb equipment associated with the masks.


10:45- 11:15   The Thebaid: From Temple to Church?

Ariadna Guimerà Martínez, PhD Researcher, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Cairo

The story of religion in Late Roman Egypt was dominated by the triumph of Christianity at expense of pagan religion. Generally studied in binary terms, the decline of the old gods of Egypt had its own dynamic away from the orthodox Church. Indeed, there were material signs that all was not well with the Egyptian paganism before Christians had achieved the religious control of the Empire. The Thebaid is an excellent example of that.

Since the middle of the third century, the hieroglyphic and Greek texts on the walls of temples showed a very low-quality work. For thousands of years, pharaohs had recorded their involvement to the conservation and embellishment of temples as a sign of wealthy cultic activity. This legacy continued under the Roman Empire but at a speedily declining rate. At Deir el-Medina there is nothing later than Domitian; at Philae of Caracalla; at Esna of Decius. So, it is difficult to not consider that the imperial support for decoration of Egyptian temples dropped after Tiberius, shrank after Hadrian and faded away with Constantine.

The presentation will give an overview of the sunset of institutional Egyptian and Graeco-Roman religion through the study of the pagan temples in the Thebaid and how this was related to the outset of Coptic Church. Furthermore, through the historical analysis the abandonment, destruction and Christianization of pagan temples will be reconsidered, with special regard to the new archaeological perspectives for its study.


11:15 – 11:45   Butchery, flint knives and Old Kingdom cattle offerings

Eleuterio Abreu DeSousa, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia; and Haskell Greenfield, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba

This study examines the role of cattle in animal offerings in Egyptian religion and the relationship with bifacial flint knives during the Old Kingdom. Butchery scenes are commonly depicted in offering scenes in tombs from the Old Kingdom and cattle play a significant part in daily life and religion. In many of these scenes, flint knives are used for animal butchery, and new scientific data suggests that bifacial knives were the chosen tool type for the slaughter of cattle.

In this paper, we discuss the complex relationship between animal butchery, cattle, and types of flint in both quotidian and religious contexts from ancient Egypt.


1:00 – 1:30       Abstract Markers: The Egyptian Idiomatic Expression of Abstraction

Edson Poiato Filho, Phd candidate, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier. Archéologie des Sociétés Méditerranées (ASM)

Many languages have “abstract markers” as tools to express concepts. These morphological or syntagmatic features point out the abstract meaning of the word or locution. For instance, the English suffix -ness (e.g. darkness), the French -té (e.g. beauté “beauty”) or the Chinese 性 xìng (e.g.: 科学性 kēxuéxìng “scientificity”). The Egyptian abstract markers are attested throughout texts from all language stages (Old Egyptian to Coptic): bw as in bw-nfr “perfection”, s.t as in s.t-rd “rank”, sp– as in sp-mʿr “success” or ⲙⲛⲧ as in ⲙⲛⲧ-ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ “divinity”. Their literary purpose evolved along the Egyptian History. They were employed as signs of literacy and social ranking in the tombs of Old and Middle Kingdom and as tools for translating foreign concepts in the Hellenistic period. This communication aims to be an overview of this linguistic phenomenon that is one of the longest-standing lexical production strategies ever seen. Through a set of Egyptian texts, we will discuss the most important implications of abstract markers in literature.


1:30 – 2:00       The King’s Brother, Kariben: An examination of Stela AMUM 1981.1.42

Sarah Schellinger, Ohio State University and Ed Meltzer, Pacifica Graduate Institute

Since its discovery within the southern pyramid field at Meroe in 1922, the stela of Kariben has received little attention. Upon publication in 1950 by Dows Dunham, the stela was described as having “six lines of incised corrupt Egyptian hieroglyphs” (380) and was subsequently left unstudied. The stela is now housed in the Art Museum at the University of Memphis. This paper will discuss recent attempts to translate the inscription on the stela and postulate potential reasons for the irregularities in the text. We will make suggestions regarding both Egyptian phraseology and personal names in the text. This paper will also examine Kariben’s role within the Kushite royal family and how his stela fits into the broader context of Nubian elite burials.


2:10 – 2:40       The Ancient Egyptian Friendship Code: How to behave as a friend

Anaïs Montoto Soto, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier – Archéologie des Sociétés Méditerranées (ASM)

The modern and occidental perception of friendship can be perceived as clear and understandable to all: it is a notion that is often associated with loyalty, love, patience and mutual comprehension. Was the ancient Egyptian view of friendship the same as ours? Did friends adopt the same behaviour with one another that characterises our own relations?

The word we can translate as “friend” in Egyptian is ḫnms(w), found in documents from the Old to the New Kingdom, mostly on funerary monuments such as stelae or in literary texts, but also in some other types of documents, although in much rarer occurrences. Only a few works have analysed the word ḫnms(w), mostly on Middle Kingdom stelae. These documents led us to the conclusion that the notion of friendship cannot be studied from our modern vision but should be analysed within an emic perspective. In this regard, adding literary texts to the debate allow us, through a renewed information, to explore this relationship in further details.

Funerary monuments manifest a degree of hierarchy concerning this relationship, even if the so-called “friend” is generally represented iconographically with or after the family. That fact is also noticed in some literary texts such as the Instruction of Ptahhotep or the Prophecies of Neferty. Other literary texts such as The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant or some other instructions clarify some aspects of the interaction between friends in Ancient Egypt as affection, generosity and reciprocity.

Basing our presentation on various sources, we will define how ancient Egyptians behaved as friends, the ways in which they had to act to maintain this relationship, as well as the aims of this “friendship”.


2:40 – 3:10       A Fresh Look at the Egyptian Celestial Diagrams

Yosra Ibrahim, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz

Celestial Diagram is a term denoting a set of decorative illustrations and iconographic motifs that can depict a variety of stellar elements such as planets, constellations, stellar deities and stars. Such representations occur on different contexts, decorations and objects, for example on temple and tomb ceilings, water clocks, coffins and sarcophagi lids. With the introduction of the elaborate celestial picture in the tomb of Sennmut (TT353), the celestial diagram became a common decorative motif among the tombs of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs of the 19th and 20th dynasties as well as a number of elite society members from the Late Period onwards. While the celestial diagram is bound to a set of specific stellar illustrations, each diagram has its own unique character which usually results in several alterations in terms of content, general configuration, as well as the way figures were conventionally depicted throughout different time periods.

Classically, the celestial diagram has been studied from a technical perspective, i.e. paying attention to the decan lists and identifying the constellations and depicted planets. However, the iconography, change and alteration of elements over time has been quite neglected in the field of Egyptology and needs to be included in the study of ancient Egyptian iconography and decorative motifs. Such changes are quite clear in the depiction of the constellation of the leg of the bull on the northern panel as well as the clusters depicted on the southern panel. Over time, some elements were added such as the incorporation of the Ramesside star clock, as well as the addition of some of the signs from the zodiac. The celestial diagrams are considered a unique source of information regarding the ancient Egyptian conceptualisation of the night sky. Furthermore, they can be also considered as visual documents testifying to how the ancient Egyptians visualised the night sky, recognised astronomical phenomenon, and associated Steller elements to their own beliefs. This presentation will commence with an overview of the components of the celestial diagrams and then highlight certain modifications and changes in the sky representations, in order to better understand this decorative tradition and how it developed across different time periods.


3:20- 3:50        Group writing as text-making technique

Joseph Cross, University of Chicago, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

The exact nature of group writing, used predominantly for loanwords and foreign names, but also for native Egyptian words, is still debated. The highest level of scrutiny concerns whether Egyptian scribes denoted vowels in addition to consonants, against the norm of the traditional orthography, which represented the consonantal skeleton only. Despite concerted effort since the late 19th century, no straightforward, wide-scale system of vocalization appears to be derivable from the evidence. In this paper, I wish to contribute to the ongoing discussion about group writing from a different perspective, namely by focusing exclusively on the small but important corpus of transcribed Northwest Semitic texts found in Egyptian documents. Five texts in this corpus date to the New Kingdom, when Egyptian scribes were involved in the administration of Levantine territories under the Egyptian empire, and are written in group writing. I will argue that they are a unique set of evidence for studying this technique, because we can reconstruct with some certainty the process of text creation as well as the context of use or performance for these documents. We are thus able to consider more concretely the phonetic or enunciative aspect of group writing, both from the perspective of a scribe hearing, assimilating, or even inventing a stretch of coherent and utterable Northwest Semitic text, as well as from that of a scroll-user and practitioner who, for different reasons, needs to read and, likely, declaim an authentic stretch of the same. This situation is markedly different from that of the widespread use of group writing for individual words.

After undertaking a full grammatological description of group writing found in Northwest Semitic texts, discussing any relevant differences in comparison with the practice found elsewhere, I will demonstrate how scribes took advantage of the unique visual and semiotic affordances of both the standard orthography and of group writing to create unique, hybrid texts. I will conclude the paper by considering ways in which the Northwest Semitic texts in group writing can contribute to the study of group writing in general.


3:50 – 4:20       Hatshepsut, Nubia and a Lost Prince

Gayle Gibson, Departmental Associate, Royal Ontario Museum

In the 2007 Winter edition of the SSEA Newsletter, Dr. Tim Kendall discussed the evidence for Hatshepsut’s earliest presence and activity in Kush. Dr. Kendall proposed that Thutmosis I had in fact appointed his daughter as his successor after the death of her elder brother, Crown Prince Amenmose. The ceremony, Dr. Kendall suggested, had taken place at Gebel Barkal in Sudan, rather than at Luxor.

In this preliminary paper, I’d like to extend Dr. Kendall’s arguments. Recent studies of the Royal Mummies offer a tantalizing possible identification for the lost prince, Amenmose. On-going excavations at Kerma, moreover, have enriched our understanding of the role Nubia played in shaping Hatshepsut’s reign. I will argue that the foundation of Luxor Temple, and the development of the Amun cult during the early Eighteenth Dynasty had their origins in Hatshepsut’s experiences as an eye-witness and participant in Thutmosis I’s expedition into Nubia.




11:00 – 11:30   Medical aspects of scorpion incantations in Ancient Egypt

Susanne Beck, Institute for the Studies of the Ancient Near East/Department for Egyptology (IANES), University of Tübingen

Christian Komposch, Institute of Animal Ecology and Landscape Planning (OEKOTEAM)

North Africa and the Middle East are regions with the presence of both highly venomous snakes and scorpions. Still nowadays, despite health care and the use of antivenoms, the number of people killed worldwide by these ‘venomous animals’ are 50.000 (Serpentes) and 5.000 (Scorpiones) per year respectively. Therefore, the presented paper deals with the medical aspects of scorpion incantations. In the magical-medical spells against scorpions, usually three specific historiolae are used: there is either an allusion to the episode of Horus as a child hiding in the Nile Delta who was endangered by a venomous animal, Horus as an adult stung by his unruly bride, or Ra envenomed by an animal Isis created. In any case, the historiolae are used to heal the patient with sympathetic magic.

Besides the allusions to the well-known myths, the incantations include typical scorpion behaviour, such as morphology, e.g. ‘long on back, numerous on segments’ (p Chester Beatty VII, spell 2), distribution, e.g. ‘A scorpion has stung her on a lonely path’ (Metternich stela, spell 3), or activeness, e.g. ‘Horus was stung in the evening, at night’ (pLeiden I 349, spell 3).

Apart from the typical behaviour, the incantations describe the scorpion venoms’ toxic effects, e.g. ‘Concerning his two lips: <they> quivered, all his (body) parts tremble’ (pCGT 54051) or ‘His body is weary. His heart is weak.’ (Metternich stela, spell 14), etc. Additionally, the paper addresses the question why snakes and scorpions are often named together in the spells with a comparison between the two taxa and their

venoms to discuss the ancient Egyptian category ‘venomous animal’.


11:30 – 12:00   Asking Food and Drink to Heal Sick Persons: Brief Evidence from Coptic Ostraca

Sohair Ahmed, Associate Professor, Ain Shams University, Cairo

In Christian Egypt and after the Arab conquest, we find many Coptic ostraca that mention sick people; sometimes they mentioned their sickness and other times mentioned only that he/she is ill. The Coptic patients are mentioned in texts as weak, suffering and hopeless or even pessimistic.

For healing, we find some patients asking only for the prayers from the ecclesiastical fathers, and others asking the blessing of saints, while some patients asked certain kinds of food and drink. There were kinds of food and drink used in medical recipes from Dynastic period and still used by Copts like: onions, honey and wine, and new plants known from Greco-Roman period. Some kinds of food and drink were used as medical recipes. They were not only taken by mouth but also as eye drops, ointments and poultices. And there were some cooked or salted meals associated with healing in Coptic texts; some sick Monks were permitted to eat certain kinds of food only when they felt sick.


1:00 – 2:00       POSTER PRESENTATIONS (20 MIN. EACH)

1:00 – 1:20       Le haut clergé d’Amon à Karnak à la XVIIIe Dynastie: premier état sur l’origine, l’essor et les stratégies sociales

Noémie Fathy, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier – Archéologie des Sociétés Méditerranées (ASM)

Le haut clergé d’Amon apparaît pour la première fois dans l’histoire de l’Égypte à l’avènement de la XVIIIdynastie. Cette élite cléricale est constituée d’un grand prêtre, le ḥm-nṯr tp(y) n(y) Jmn « premier prophète d’Amon » et des hauts prêtres, c’est-à-dire le deuxième, troisième et quatrième prophète d’Amon. La création de cette fonction est due au pharaon fondateur de cette dynastie, Ahmosis.

Le dieu Amon semble être crée ex nihilo par les souverains de la XIdynastie, c’est un dieu propre à la région thébaine. Son apparition est à l’origine de nombreux changement qui placent la ville de Thèbes et le temple de Karnak au centre du pouvoir politique et religieux. Amon devient la divinité tutélaire du royaume, liée à la transmission de la royauté favorisant ainsi l’impulsion de son culte. Son clergé, et plus particulièrement ses grands prêtres et hauts prêtres, exerce une influence religieuse et politique déterminante à côté des rois et des vizirs, sur toute la société́ égyptienne.

C’est véritablement sous le règne de la reine pharaon Hatchepsout que le haut clergé d’Amon connait une impulsion et étend son champ d’influence sur l’État. Les titulatures détenues par l’élite cléricale en sont révélatrices. L’étude de ce haut clergé conduit à aborder la question de la transmission de la fonction ainsi que la création de « réseaux » entre élites. Par ailleurs, l’examen porté sur les généalogies de ces individus met en évidence l’émergence de grandes familles aristocratiques au sein de la société. Ainsi, la question des femmes et plus particulièrement des mères et du rôle qu’elles jouent dans l’accès au grand sacerdoce sera abordé́.

Cette session de posters permettra d’obtenir de façon succincte une vision du fonctionnement de cette élite cléricale à la XVIIIdynastie. Les modes d’acquisition et la répartition des fonctions seront présentés à l’aide de support schématiques. L’utilisation d’arbres généalogiques permettra de mettre en évidence les stratégies sociales et les liens étroits qui se crées entre les élites.


1:20 – 1:40       Tomb of Amenmose in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna: Condition Survey & Future Actions

Maria Belén Castro, National University of La Plata, Institute of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences

Myriam Hara, National University of La Plata, Historical Archive

Theban Tomb 318 is located at the bottom of the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna and belongs to the “stonemason of Amun” named Amenmose, who lived during Thutmose III’s, or maybe Hatshepsut’s reigns. The original access to the tomb is currently covered. Therefore, the access is through the door of the surrounding tomb TT129, and then by a small hole. Amenmose Project has developed fieldwork at the site from 2020 with the purpose of contributing to the conservation and study of the funerary monument. With the permission of the Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Project develops interdisciplinary research lines based on Egyptology, Conservation, and Archaeology.

This poster aims to present the work carried out by the conservation team during the first season. Since there are no documented previous interventions nor an active conservation plan, the main goals have been to evaluate the general condition of the tomb and mitigate its deterioration. Work involved the identification of the prime concerns and the diagnosis of the monument’s decay, including the recognition of the factors that may have influenced it. A Condition Survey was made, which collected and documented information about the damage of the indoor walls of the tomb and contributed to identify disturbing and disruptive processes that affected the monument. Based on this examination it was possible to single out methods to stabilize it.

During the 2020 season, it was confirmed that the decoration of the tomb of Amenmose consists mostly of painted scenes, as well as carved scenes and inscriptions. In general, the monument is in a good condition, although specific damage may be highlighted. This presentation will address it, together with a proposal of a future conservation plan.


1:40 – 2:00       War and Emotions in the Iconography of the Old Kingdom

Augusto Gayubas, Universidad de Buenos Aires /CONICET, Argentina

A well-known 20th-century painting by H. M. Herget, published in National Geographic Magazine (1941), recreates the scene of the subjugation of the enemy depicted on the Narmer Palette (ca. 3000 BCE), although set against a more obvious –to our eyes– background of battle. If we observe the figures that stand out for their closeness to the viewer’s gaze, it will become noticeable that their respective body postures convey the drama of the actions or states they denote. But something no less important is also noticeable: the expressiveness of the faces. Indeed, one of the most striking differences to be found between the ancient iconography and Herget’s painting is that, in the latter, the faces are charged with emotion, whereas in the palette, neither the king, nor the officials, nor even the enemies, reveal any emotion in their faces. The palette’s message of war, violence and domination is –one might say– explicit, but the emotions we would look for in the features of the faces are absent. This is an issue that transcends Narmer’s times and characterises, in general, the iconography produced by the Egyptian elites throughout Pharaonic history. This is not to say that the figures often depicted never show emotions. Rather, although faces are not usually the locus of emotions, other elements such as bodily gestures, as well as related textual captions, can convey messages that researchers are able to associate with the realm of emotions.

The aim of this brief presentation is to illustrate this issue by looking at the war-related iconography of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2686-2181 BCE), consisting of rock-carvings and blocks from royal mortuary complexes with reliefs of combatants and the capture and/or execution of enemies, as well as wall paintings depicting the attack on fortifications found in the tombs of high-ranking officials. In such images we will recognise traces of emotions on the bodies of enemies. Such an approach does not imply the assumption of a “realistic” intention behind the images, but instead the possibility of inferring from them a certain conception of the Old Kingdom elites regarding the close relationship


2:10 – 2:40       Back to Roots: Iconography of Ancient Egyptian Animals’ Dystocia in Relation to Modern Veterinary Practices

Noura Seada, Doctoral candidate at Helwan University, Assistant lecturer at October 6 University

The ancient Egyptians were interested in depicting their animals in art. One of these frequent themes on walls was calving, either the natural delivery or the dystocia. Usually in normal birth there is no need for the herdsmen interference to assist, but in cases of delayed or difficult birth they require significant human assistance for the sake of the mother cow and calf safety. These iconographies are the earliest documents of veterinary medicine and they bear witness that the ancient Egyptians had advanced knowledge of the anatomy of animals and were concerned for the animals’ health.

This paper is an attempt to interpret those depictions of cows experiencing difficult births whether anterior and posterior presentations, to identify the most common causes behind it, as well as finally to observe the most effective procedures were performed with caution by the ancient Egyptian to minimize the stress, accelerate the delivery and avoid calf losses and cow mortality soon after delivery.

From the surviving representations, it turns out that many of the ancient Egyptian highly professional treatments and practices are still used to help their animals today and have not changed much. People nowadays encounter animal dystocia without being fully aware of its long history until we look closely at the ancient Egyptian art to see the roots of these modern practices.

Ancient Egyptians were skillful in doing everything in their power and capacity to protect the calf and the cow during delivery. All of that was confirmed by both written and drawn evidence as these scenes were often accompanied with magical spells and hand gestures in order to facilitate the delivery and overcome its pain.


2:40 – 3:10       Village Healing: A Prosopography of Medical Practitioners in Deir el-Medina

Bianca Grier  University of Toronto

In the village of Deir el-Medina (18th – 20th Dynasties, New Kingdom, about 1549 – 1077 BC) near the necropolis of Thebes on the West bank of the Nile housed the royal tomb builders.

Many surviving sources found at this site contain official records: lists of goods, wages and personnel. Other sources include a wealth of manuscripts created by the villagers revealing aspects of everyday life that not only include wages but also various benefits that were provided by the Pharaoh. These documents also reveal a varied medical culture and the many practitioners attested in the village who healed and cared for workers and their families.

Using these manuscripts, this paper will provide a prosopography of over twenty medical practitioners, living in the village from the 19th to the 20th dynasties. At different times, physicians (swnw, a title given to a non-specialist or general healer), scorpion charmers (xrp-sr.t, a title given to a healer with some religious overtones), wise women (tA rxt) and nurses or wet-nurses (mnat and Mna.t-nxt.ti) lived in the village. These healers all represent different aspects of the ancient Egyptian medical tradition and the medical care that was available to those outside the pharaohs’ courts.


3:20 – 3:50       Arm and Leg Position in Egyptian Mummies: A large scale comparative approach

Andrew Nelson, University of Western Ontario

Gray (1972) provided a comprehensive treatment of arm/hand position in Egyptian mummies based on 111 individuals. His conclusions were that all Dynastic mummies (emphasis in original) have their arms in an extended position, that many Ptolemaic mummies have their arms in the crossed-pectoral position and that Roman mummies reverted to the extended arm position. This paper presents a reassessment of those conclusions using published and primary sources.

Results from 53 published (Loynes 2014) and 60+ primary datasets from the IMPACT database (Nelson & Wade 2015) indicate that the extended position (hand on outer thighs) does dominate through the Dynastic period, but it is also common in Ptolemaic and Roman times. Extended arm position with hands on the inner thighs/pubis appears in the New Kingdom and persists to the Roman Period. Cross-pectoral position appears in the Royal Mummies of the New Kingdom and in commoner mummies in the late 3rd Intermediate Period. Thus, the picture of changing arm position is one of increasing variability with the passage of time.

Leg position is something that is rarely discussed, but we present information that suggests that the positioning of the legs was patterned and depended in part on the age of the individual.


3:50 – 4:20       Further information on Tutankhamun’s Embalming and Cause of Death

W. Benson Harer Jr., Independent Researcher

Additional analysis of the Computerized Tomography (CT) scans done in 2005 provide compelling evidence that King Tutankhamun was embalmed without his heart and much of the anterior chest wall. This extraordinary departure from the norm for embalming New Kingdom royalty is best explained by the fact that those tissues just were not available to the embalmers.

Because the chest was already open the embalmers stuffed it first with resin-soaked linen which pushed the elastic limp diaphragm down into the abdominal cavity. The CTs show the diaphragm was pushed so low that it blocked entry to the abdomen through the incision which had been used to extract the abdominal contents. The pelvis was never packed.

The standard is to see two separate packings for chest and abdomen, but in his case we see the mummy has only a single large bolus of packing These findings cannot have resulted from desecration by tomb robbers. I believe these CTs are so clear that one need not be expert in anatomy, medicine, or imaging to understand them.

A brief discussion will explore how such a corpse might have been created by man or beast. Evidence will be shown of a modern assault by a hippo that ripped out the heart of a woman tourist in Zimbabwe with similar result.