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Mysterious “Black Goo” Of Egyptian Burials Demystified

Mysterious “Black Goo” Of Egyptian Burials Demystified


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Dr Kate Fulcher is a Research Assistant in the British Museum's Department of Scientific Research, and she led the new research project searching for answers as to what this “black goo” used in Egyptian burials is, and what it might reveal about ancient Egyptian funerary practices and rituals.

An article on the British Museum’s website opens by describing the burial of Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh, an ancient Egyptian high priest who served as the “Opener of the Doors of Heaven” at the Temple of Amun at Karnak almost 3,000 years ago. This title means he was the gatekeeper of the temple sanctuary shrine in which the cult image of the god resided and according to Dodson and Hilton’s 2004 book The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh was wrapped in linen cloths, mummified and buried in Deir el-Bahari , a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Egyptian Nile, opposite the city of Luxor.

Technicolor Black

The high priest’s face was covered in gold leaf and his mummy case was painted in bright colors before it was placed into its coffin, then carried to the tomb. British Museum scientists describe “several liters of warm black goo” being poured all over the mummy case, cementing it into the coffin before the lid was placed, allowing the priest to journey into the underworld in a ‘hermetically-sealed' container (see what I did there?).

Mummy of Djedkhonsiufankh. The mummy, when acquired, was in a gilded cartonnage mummy-case and wooden coffin with a gilded face and inlaid glass (© The Trustees of the British Museum / CC BY NC-SA 4.0 )

Black Goo Depended On Imported Plant Materials

The mysterious ‘black goo’ has been found in a number of ancient Egyptian burials but now over 100 samples from twelve coffins and mummy cases, dating to the 22nd Dynasty (c. 900–750 BC), have been chemically analyzed in the British Museum science labs located beneath the museum in London. The method of analysis in this instance was Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry in which vaporized goo samples were forced into a mass spectrometer which separates them according to their mass to charge ratio, revealing the types and amount of molecules present in the samples.

Testing determined the goo was a composition of “plant oils, animal fats, tree resins, beeswax and bitumen (crude oil)” and the museum scientists think other materials may have been present in the goo but that they have vanished over the last 3,000 years.

The researchers said that some of these ingredients “only naturally occur outside of Egypt,” indicating they had been imported and they said the two tree resins were from conifer trees and pistacia, the later of which grows around the Mediterranean, from Greece to Western Asia.

  • Over 20,000 Have Petitioned to Drink the ‘Pharaoh Punch’ of the Black Sarcophagus
  • Sarcophagus of Egyptian High Priest Unearthed with Hieroglyphic Inscriptions and Scenes of Offerings
  • Coffin Pieced Together Reveals Egyptian Princess Face

The wooden coffin was also covered in black goo. (© The Trustees of the British Museum / CC BY NC-SA 4.0 )

Examining the bitumen biomarkers in the goo samples revealed it had been imported from the Dead Sea , which the researchers says makes sense because ancient Greek texts refer to “solid blocks of bitumen floating to the surface of the Dead Sea” and they record sailors rowing out to collect it for selling in Egypt.

Spiritual Goo For The Elites That Could Afford it

What then was this mysterious black goo’s practical purpose, or spiritual meaning? The museum scientists are currently unclear about this but they say previous analyses of mummification balms shows it was made of the same ingredients as the black goo. This means it was applied at different points in the burial process, from the ritual preparation of the dead body to when it was poured onto the mummy cases and coffins. And the researchers suggest the color of the goo, black, represented the dead taking on a form of Osiris, the god death and rebirth known as “the black one.” What’s more, according to the museum scientists black is also the color associated with the alluvial silt deposited on the banks of the River Nile after the annual flood receded which was believed to be “inherently magical and regenerative.”

The scientists’ study also demonstrated that black goo was reserved for the burial of social elites which is apparent in that most of the earliest goo samples were found in royal burials, for example, Tutankhamun’s innermost gold coffin was cemented into the middle coffin with “bucketfulls of black goo”. Examples of the use of black goo are more common in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069 BC–c. 664 BC), which the researchers think either relates to changes in funerary practices, or perhaps because more recovered coffins from this time are in good states of preservation.


The Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs

Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were considered to be both divine deities as well as mortal rulers. Throughout the 30+ dynasties in ancient Egyptian history, it is speculated that some 170 or more rulers reigned over the great land of Egypt during a three thousand year time span. The throne of Egypt was primarily intended to be succeeded from father to son, however in many cases this line of kingship was interrupted by murder, mayhem and mysterious disappearances.

Pharaohs were the god kings of ancient Egypt who ruled between 3150 B.C. and 30 B.C. (when Rome conquered Egypt). Each time a new family took control of the throne, a new kingdom began in the history of this fascinating nation. While rulers often intermarried with daughters, granddaughters, sisters and brothers to keep the throne within the family the throne still managed to shift hands multiple times creating a dynamic and complex pharonic history.

Thirty-one Dynasties ruled from the Early Dynastic Period to the Ptolemaic Period. Scholars also include a Dynasty 0 but any kings from this period are not well represented in the archaeological record. Some Dynasties ruled at the same time in different areas of Egypt during the intermediate periods.


Egyptian Tomb KV55: Description

KV55 is a relatively small royal tomb, its total length is only 27.61 meters. It is located next to KV6, the tomb of Ramses IX , above KV7 (of Ramses II) and near KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Its entrance is open in the rock, heading east. It leads to a system of stairs that lead to a slightly sloping corridor and the burial chamber.

On the south side of this chamber there is passage to a small antechamber, and red masonry markings on the east wall indicate the planning of another room, which had it been built would have matched the layout of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Although the walls of the tomb are laid out in plaster, which is unusual for a royal tomb, they are not decorated. A drawing on an ostracon found by Lyla Pinch Brock in 1993, has been interpreted as the plan of the tomb, suggesting that its original entrance had been enlarged, corroborated by the marks found on the walls of the tomb.

The place was altered in antiquity, and therefore it is difficult to interpret. Evidence from the tomb complicates its attribution.

The door seals bore Tutankhamun’s name, evidently from the time its tenant was buried a second time the canopic jars found in the tomb are similar to those of Akhenaten’s secondary wife, Kiya the broken shrine, whose panels are distributed throughout the chamber, bear the name and representations of Akhenaten‘s mother, Queen Tiye.

Akhenaten’s name appears in a series of “magical bricks” found in the tomb, as well as that of his father, Amenhotep III, and his daughter and wife.

All these data are reminiscent of the main figures of the Amarna period, hence the popular name of the tomb: the Amarna cache.

It is thought that the tomb was initially designed for the burial of some nobleman or official, using it later for a royal burial, as later happened with the tomb of Tutankhamun.

One of the four Egyptian alabaster canopic jars found in KV55, depicting what is thought to be the likeness of Queen Kiya


The Early Pyramids

From the beginning of the Dynastic Era (2950 B.C.), royal tombs were carved into rock and covered with flat-roofed rectangular structures known as “mastabas,” which were precursors to the pyramids. The oldest known pyramid in Egypt was built around 2630 B.C. at Saqqara, for the third dynasty’s King Djoser. Known as the Step Pyramid, it began as a traditional mastaba but grew into something much more ambitious. As the story goes, the pyramid’s architect was Imhotep, a priest and healer who some 1,400 years later would be deified as the patron saint of scribes and physicians. Over the course of Djoser’s nearly 20-year reign, pyramid builders assembled six stepped layers of stone (as opposed to mud-brick, like most earlier tombs) that eventually reached a height of 204 feet (62 meters) it was the tallest building of its time. The Step Pyramid was surrounded by a complex of courtyards, temples and shrines where Djoser could enjoy his afterlife.

After Djoser, the stepped pyramid became the norm for royal burials, although none of those planned by his dynastic successors were completed (probably due to their relatively short reigns). The earliest tomb constructed as a “true” (smooth-sided, not stepped) pyramid was the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, one of three burial structures built for the first king of the fourth dynasty, Sneferu (2613-2589 B.C.) It was named for the color of the limestone blocks used to construct the pyramid’s core.


Scientists have revealed that a ‘black Goo’ used by ancient Egyptians to cover mummy cases was a mixture of animal fat, tree resin, beesWax and crude oil from the Dead Sea. This bizarre treatment from the 19th to 22nd dynasty, between 1,300 and 750 BC, was given to several mummies.

Mummy case and coffin of Djedkhonsiufankh. Egyptian, 22nd Dynasty (945–720 BC)

One of them was name of Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh, who was a sun-god Amun priest, was mummified, wrapped in fine linens and sewn into his case after he died nearly 3,000 years ago.

The material was applied with elaborate and brightly colored painting, and a shiny gold leaf was placed over his face, before it was put inside a large wooden coffin.

Then the jet-black gloop was poured over him, obscuring the expensive paintwork and the glow of gold forever. The British Museum now analyzes the black substance and sheds light on its purpose.

Mummy case with gilded face (cleaned in the 1970s) containing the mummified body
of a young girl called Tjayasetimu. The mummy case has been covered in black
goo. Egyptian, c. 900 BC
An example of another coffin with ‘black goo’. Coffin of Padihorpakhered,
Milk-bearer of Amun. Egyptian, 22nd Dysnasty (945–720 BC)

As many as 100 samples of the ‘black goo’ were taken and vaporised in a process called Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry. They were then pushed through a very thin and long tube to separate the molecules, and placed into a mass spectrometer so they could be sorted by mass.

Pictured above is analysis of the ‘black goo’. Samples were broken up and then separated by mass to establish what was present

“We discovered that the goo is made of a combination of plant oil, animal fat, tree resin, beeswax and bitumen – which is solid crude oil,” said Dr Kate Fulcher, Research assistant in the Museum’s department of Scientific research.

“The exact ingredients vary from one coffin to the next, but the goo was always made from some of these.” She also said it’s possible there could be other materials in the black substance, but these can no longer be detected as they have degraded.

The goo has also been found applied to just the face of mummies, boxes containing shabtis and wooden figurines such as a baboons. Tutankhamun’s tomb also contained figurines covered in a hardened black liquid, although these have not been analysed.

Seated wooden figure with the head in the form of a turtle, from the tomb of Ramesses I
or Seti I. The black goo was analysed 20 years ago and found to be made from
pistacia tree resin. Egyptian, 19th Dynasty (1292 BC–1189 BC)
Wooden figure of a baboon that has been covered in black goo.
Egyptian, 18th Dynasty (1549/1550–1292 BC)

It is thought Egyptians used the fluid due to its black colour – which symbolised rebirth and regeneration through the God Osiris. “Osiris was called ‘the black one’ in various funerary texts and is often depicted with black skin and in the guise of a mummified body,” said Dr Fulcher.

“Black is also the colour associated with the alluvial silt deposited on the banks of the River Nile after the annual flood receded.” “It could, therefore, be reasoned that the practice of coating coffins in black goo links the coffin to regeneration associated with Osiris.”

The fluid also had the effect of fastening one coffin firmly inside another, although it is unclear whether this was meant to also help put off tomb robbers. Evidence suggests that the substance may not have been available for everyone, and was instead restricted to the social elites.

Bucketfulls of the substance were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, since cleaned off, and it is found most commonly on mummies from the Third Intermediate Period (1069 to 664 BC). But Dr Fulcher suggested this may only be because Egyptoligists have recovered more coffins from this time period.

Kite photograph facing west across the ancient town at Amara West towards Ernetta Island

Excavations at Amara West, Sudan, have also revealed ‘black goo’ inside a tomb dated to 1100 BC. This is the first time it has been recorded in the region, then known as Nubia, which was under Egyptian control from 1548 to 1086 BC.

The bitumen used had also travelled from the Dead Sea, some 1,500 miles away, evidencing an ancient trade in the substance. It was found on broken pottery fragments, a coffin fragment and bits of linen that may have been used to wrap up a mummy.

Egypt sought to rule in the area due to its large gold deposits. The British Museum carried out the excavation with the support of the National Corporation for Antiques and Museums in Sudan. It was funded by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project.

Scans of Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh sealed coffin revealed the body was still inside and had not sustained significant damage.

There were no obvious fractures to the skull, and the mouth remains closed, said the British Museum. His abdomen had been entirely filled with what appeared to be a mixture of sand, sawdust and resin during the mummification process, and his hands had been placed over the genital area.

The black goo discovered at the site at Amara West

The legs also showed no fractures, dislocations or lines of arrested growth. A winged pectoral jewel, small amulet and scarab statue had also been placed onto the chest, while a ring with a scarab beetle has been identified between the thighs. It is thought that the priest may have been in extreme pain before his death, as the spine shows gross osteo-arthritic changes.


Spiritual Goo For The Elites That Could Afford it

What then was this mysterious black goo&rsquos practical purpose, or spiritual meaning? The museum scientists are currently unclear about this but they say previous analyses of mummification balms shows it was made of the same ingredients as the black goo. This means it was applied at different points in the burial process, from the ritual preparation of the dead body to when it was poured onto the mummy cases and coffins. And the researchers suggest the color of the goo, black, represented the dead taking on a form of Osiris, the god death and rebirth known as &ldquothe black one.&rdquo What&rsquos more, according to the museum scientists black is also the color associated with the alluvial silt deposited on the banks of the River Nile after the annual flood receded which was believed to be &ldquoinherently magical and regenerative.&rdquo

The scientists&rsquo study also demonstrated that black goo was reserved for the burial of social elites which is apparent in that most of the earliest goo samples were found in royal burials, for example, Tutankhamun &rsquo s innermost gold coffin was cemented into the middle coffin with &ldquobucketfulls of black goo&rdquo. Examples of the use of black goo are more common in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069 BC&ndashc. 664 BC), which the researchers think either relates to changes in funerary practices, or perhaps because more recovered coffins from this time are in good states of preservation.

  • Top image: The black go used in Egyptian burials has been analyzed. Source:©The Trustees of the British Museum /CC BY-NC- SA 4.0


TUTANKHAMUN’S PENIS WAS FULLY ERECT WHEN HE WAS MUMMIFIED SO HE WOULD LOOK LIKE A GOD IN THE AFTERLIFE

A new study suggests that King Tutankhamun of Egypt was uniquely embalmed, including having his penis mummified at a 90-degree angle, in an effort to combat a religious revolution unleashed by his father.

In Egypt’s Valley of the Kings the Pharaoh was buried without a hearth (or a replacement artifact known as a heart scarab) his penis was mummified erect, and his mummy and coffins were covered in a thick layer of black liquid that appears to have resulted in the boy-king catching fire.

In recent years, these anomalies have attracted attention in both scholars and the press, and a new paper in the journal Études et Travaux by Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, proposes a reason why they, and other Tutankhamun burial anomalies, exist.

A digital representation of what Tutankhamun may have looked like

The mummified erect penis and other burial anomalies were not accidents during embalming, Ikram suggests, but rather deliberate attempts to make the king appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld, in as literal a way as possible. The erect penis evokes Osiris’ regenerative powers the black liquid made Tutankhamun’s skin color resemble that of Osiris, and the lost heart recalled the story of the god being cut to pieces by his brother Seth and his heart buried.

Making the king appear as Osiris may have helped to undo a religious revolution brought about by Akhenaten, a pharaoh widely believed to be Tutankhamun’s father, Ikram said.

Akhenaten had tried to focus Egyptian religion around the worship of the Aten, the sun disc, going so far as to destroy images of other gods. Tutankhamun was trying to undo these changes and return Egypt back to its traditional religion with its mix of gods. Ikram cautions that her idea is speculative, but, if correct, it would help explain some of the mysteries surrounding Tutankhamun’s mummification and burial.

Tutankhamun’s erect penis

Tutankhamun’s mummified penis eventually broke off from his body after the mummy was discovered, at one point leading to media speculation that it had been stolen. Ikram has yet to encounter another Egyptian mummy buried with an erection. “As far as I know, no other mummy has been found thus far with an erect penis,” she told BBC in an email.

The imagery of King Tutankhamun’s erect penis has a connection to the god Osiris, Ikram said. “The erect penis evokes Osiris at his most powerfully regenerative moment, and is a feature of ‘corn-mummies,’ the quintessential symbols of rebirth and resurrection,” she writes in her paper. Corn-mummies were nonhuman artificial mummies created in later periods in honor of Osiris. They were made of a mix of materials, including grain.

Tut on fire

Evidence revealed in a recent documentary suggests that literally Tutankhamun’s mummy went up in flames, something apparently brought about by a large number of black oils and resins applied to his body.

The embalmers applied an abnormally large amount of this black goo like material to Tutankhamun’s body for the time period in which he lived and they also applied it to the pharaoh’s coffins. In October 1925, Howard Carter, an archaeologist who led the team that discovered the tomb in 1922, wrote, “the most part of the detail is hidden by a black lustrous coating due to pouring over the coffin a libation of great quantity.”

Archaeologist Howard Carter examining the third mummy-shaped sarcophagus, 1922, vintage photograph This is what Tutankhamun looked like when the mummy’s bandages were unraveled

Using large amounts of this black liquid, which turned King Tut’s skin a blackish color, may have been a deliberate attempt to depict the pharaoh, as literally as possible, as Osiris.

“The mass of oils and resins applied to Tutankhamun’s body might also allude to the black color associated with Osiris as lord of the land of Egypt, dark with the rich soil of the inundation, and the source of fertility and regeneration,” Ikram writes in the paper.

A missing heart

Another mysterious anomaly is the absence of the pharaoh’s heart and lack of a heart scarab to serve as a replacement. “This organ was a key component for the successful resurrection of the body,” Ikram wrote, noting that in Egyptian mythology, the heart was said to be weighed against the feather representing the god Maat to determine if one was worthy of resurrection.

The absence of Tutankhamun’s heart or heart scarab does not appear to be the result of theft, she noted, but, instead, maybe an allusion to a famous story in the legend of Osiris when his body was cut apart by his brother Seth and the god’s heart was buried.

A cut typically used to remove a mummy’s internal organs was unusually “brutal” and large on King Tut, Ikram noted, another allusion, perhaps, to Seth’s butchery of Osiris. Other pieces of evidence also point to Osiris. For instance, the burial chamber’s north wall shows King Tut as Osiris through its decoration.

“Tutankhamun is shown as a fully-fledged Osiris — not simply a wrapped mummy,” Ikram noted. “This representation of the king as Osiris is unique in the Valley of the Kings: Other tombs show the king being embraced by Osiris or offering to him.”

Full circle

In a sense, Ikram’s idea, if it is correct (Ikram is careful to note that her idea is speculative), brings the investigation of Tutankhamun’s mummy full circle. It was Carter who first noted the pharaoh was being depicted as Osiris.

“Perhaps Carter’s emphasis in his notes during the unwrapping and examination of the mummy is more correct than even he thought: the king was indeed being shown as Osiris, more than was usual in royal burials,” Ikram writes in her paper. Tutankhamun, and/or those who embalmed him, may have been pressured to do this in reaction to the failed religious revolution attempted by his father.

“One can speculate that at this delicate historical/religious time, it was thought that the usual modes for the transformation of the king were not sufficient, and so the priest-embalmers prepared the body in such a way so as to literally emphasize the divinity of the king and his identification with Osiris,” Ikram writes.


5 The First City Was Violent

Catalhoyuk in Turkey is viewed by many as one of the world&rsquos first cities. Around 8,000 people crowded together during the peak of its occupation, and in 2019, archaeologists found that the close living conditions were a vector for disease and violence.

The study combed through 25 years&rsquo worth of research done on the 32-acre site. More specifically, they reviewed the remains of 742 citizens. People lived there for around 1,000 years (7100 BC to 5950 BC). At one point, houses became so closely stacked that going home meant climbing through the roof. [6]

The skeletons dating to Catalhoyuk&rsquos highest population days showed an increase in violence. Women suffered more brutal blows to the head and skull fractures. The researchers felt that the switch from foraging to farming and then living in cramped conditions with disease outbreaks and people everywhere turned tempers more vicious.


Cemetery Symbolism: What Do Those Mysterious Momuments Mean?

When Queen Victoria lost her husband, Prince Albert, she entered a period of deep mourning which lasted the rest of her life. She also boosted a trend of mourning culture which would reach into every aspect of Victorian life.

Queen Victoria in black mourning dress

Say what you will about Victorians, but they sure knew how to design a gravestone. In comparison, modern cemeteries with their uniform headstones, and height regulations look a bit boring and “same-y.” But to the Victorians, death was a part of life. Mourning the loss of a loved one was a public affair, and it affected everything from their style of dress, to the stationery used for correspondence, to elaborate viewings, funerals, and finally, grave markers.

Talking about death was much more accepted socially, but a person couldn’t always sit by the side of their loved one’s grave to tell their sad story to people passing by. Instead, Victorians developed an unspoken language, and incorporated it into their memorial artwork. A lot could be communicated through imagery. Was the person young? Religious? A veteran? Wealthy? Did they die as the result of violence? All these questions could be answered with a glance.

This weekend, fans of cemeteries and Victoriana in general will have a great chance to experience Laurel Hill as a sculpture garden on the Sacred Stonework tour. Although whether you can make it out to visit us on Saturday or not, the next time you come to our peaceful necropolis, be sure to look for examples of the following symbolism, then impress your friends with your ability to interpret the language of death.

Anchors – In some cases, the anchor may be a straightforward nod to seamanship, or Naval service, but in other cases, an anchor is a disguised Christian cross. Laurel Hill is a non-denominational cemetery, not ascribing to any particular faith. It’s possible that some people wanted to show their faith in less overt ways here.

Angels – Messengers from god, angels signify a divine or heavenly presence. They may indicate that the deceased was a very religious person, or they may be there in the hopes that they will help point the soul towards heaven.

Broken Pillar – Pillars usually symbolize a good, long life, but when they are intentionally sculpted to appear broken or unfinished, it means a life has been cut short. Often used to mark the graves of young people, or the graves of murder victims.

Catholic Cross – “IHS” is what’s known as a christogram, or an abbreviation of the name of Christ. It’s technically abbreviating the Greek characters: IHΣΟΥΣ. “IHS” is meant to reference the Greek letters iota, eta, and sigma, or the first three letters of Christ’s name in Greek.

Celtic Cross – This cross appears as a standard Christian cross, with a circle around the place where the beams meet. The circle is meant to symbolize eternity. Celtic crosses often have what’s known as “knotwork” carved into them. Knots in Celtic culture symbolize resurrection and everlasting life.

Cherubs – Thee childlike angels sometimes mark the graves of children.

Book – Denotes learning, education, or spiritual study. Books are often open, showing that reading and study was an important part of this person’s life. The book pictured here sits atop the grave of a noted spiritualist medium.

Egyptian Symbolism – In the early 20 th century, there was a renewed interest in all things Egypt, thanks largely to the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. This style of architecture and sculpture is collectively known as “Egyptian Revival.” Many Egyptian symbols represent the afterlife.

Growing Things (plants) – Flowers and funerals have gone hand in hand for thousands of years. Each type of flower may have its own meaning. For example, lilies represent the resurrection, poppies represent sleep and rest, and roses represent youth, love, and beauty.

Inverted Torch – An inverted torch symbolizes death, but note that the torch is still burning. This is an image meant to depict life after death.

Lions and Oak Leaves – Strength, stability, endurance, and protection. Both of these symbols also have Christian connotations, as the cross from the crucifixion was believed to be made from oak, and the lion is symbolic of the Christian god’s power.

Masonic Symbols – The compass and set-square are a very recognizable symbol of the Freemasons, and it represents both spirituality and lawfulness. Laurel Hill has 17 Grand Masters of the Freemasons buried here.

Obelisks – Another Egyptian symbol, the obelisk can represent eternal life, heaven, or even the rays of the sun shining down forever on the deceased. Certainly, the Washington Monument (dedicated in 1885) influenced many Victorians. The tallest obelisk in the cemetery belongs to former Philadelphia mayor, Edwin Fitler. It is 55 feet tall, and therefore a 1/10 th scale replica of the Washington Monument.

Shrouded Things – You will see many draped objects in the cemetery. The shroud is a general symbol of mourning, but it may also symbolize a parting of the veil between this world and the next. Drapery was also an outward expression of mourning in Victorian times, as heavy black fabric would be draped throughout the homes of those in mourning.

Sword – Swords almost always symbolize a military career.

Unopened Bud – Flowers which have not yet had a chance to bloom often adorn the graves of children. This especially sad symbol can be found in many Victorian cemeteries.

Upward Pointing Figure – Eternal reward, or a spirit headed heavenward.

Urns – Although urns are used today to contain cremated remains, hardly any cremations were done in the Victorian era. Urns were used as a general funerary symbol to show mourning.

Weeping Figure – A general display of grief and mourning. The weeping figure can sometimes symbolize an untimely or early death.

Winged Face – A depiction of the soul of the deceased. This monument to William Warner shows a winged face escaping a tomb.

Wreath – As a circle with no beginning and no end, wreaths can represent eternity. An evergreen wreath represents everlasting life.

Do you have a favorite grave symbol? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Saturday’s tour is just one of many we offer here. To keep on top of all the events in our cemetery, be sure to sign up for our mailing list.


Tutankhamun’s penis was fully ERECT when he was mummified so he would look like a god in the afterlife

A new study suggests that King Tutankhamun of Egypt was uniquely embalmed in an effort to combat a revolution unleashed by his father, including his 90-degree penile mummifying.

In the King’s Valley, the Pharaoh was buried with no fire his penis was erectly mummified and its mummy and coffins were covered in a thick layer of black fluid that appears to have led to the boy-king capturing fire.

In recent years, both scholars and the press have been aware of these anomalies and a new journal published by Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, Études et Travaux, offers the reasons why they exist and other burial anomalies in Tutankhamun.

A digital representation of what Tutankhamun may have looked like

The mummified erect penis and other burial anomalies were not accidents during embalming, Ikram suggests, but rather deliberate attempts to make the king appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld, in as literal a way as possible. The erect penis evokes Osiris’ regenerative powers the black liquid made Tutankhamun’s skin color resemble that of Osiris, and the lost heart recalled the story of the god being cut to pieces by his brother Seth and his heart buried.

Making the king appear as Osiris may have helped to undo a religious revolution brought about by Akhenaten, a pharaoh widely believed to be Tutankhamun’s father, Ikram said.

Akhenaten had tried to focus Egyptian religion around the worship of the Aten, the sun disc, going so far as to destroy images of other gods. Tutankhamun was trying to undo these changes and return Egypt back to its traditional religion with its mix of gods. Ikram cautions that her idea is speculative, but, if correct, it would help explain some of the mysteries surrounding Tutankhamun’s mummification and burial.

Tutankhamun’s erect penis

Tutankhamun’s mummified penis eventually broke off from his body after the mummy was discovered, at one point leading to media speculation that it had been stolen. Ikram has yet to encounter another Egyptian mummy buried with an erection. “As far as I know, no other mummy has been found thus far with an erect penis,” she told BBC in an email.

The imagery of King Tutankhamun’s erect penis has a connection to the god Osiris, Ikram said. “The erect penis evokes Osiris at his most powerfully regenerative moment, and is a feature of ‘corn-mummies,’ the quintessential symbols of rebirth and resurrection,” she writes in her paper. Corn-mummies were nonhuman artificial mummies created in later periods in honor of Osiris. They were made of a mix of materials, including grain.

Tut on fire

Evidence revealed in a recent documentary suggests that literally Tutankhamun’s mummy went up in flames, something apparently brought about by a large number of black oils and resins applied to his body.

The embalmers applied an abnormally large amount of this black goo like material to Tutankhamun’s body for the time period in which he lived and they also applied it to the pharaoh’s coffins. In October 1925, Howard Carter, an archaeologist who led the team that discovered the tomb in 1922, wrote, “the most part of the detail is hidden by a black lustrous coating due to pouring over the coffin a libation of great quantity.” Archaeologist Howard Carter examining the third mummy-shaped sarcophagus, 1922, vintage photograph This is what Tutankhamun looked like when the mummy’s bandages were unraveled

Using large amounts of this black liquid, which turned King Tut’s skin a blackish color, may have been a deliberate attempt to depict the pharaoh, as literally as possible, as Osiris.

“The mass of oils and resins applied to Tutankhamun’s body might also allude to the black color associated with Osiris as lord of the land of Egypt, dark with the rich soil of the inundation, and the source of fertility and regeneration,” Ikram writes in the paper.

A missing heart

Another mysterious anomaly is the absence of the pharaoh’s heart and lack of a heart scarab to serve as a replacement. “This organ was a key component for the successful resurrection of the body,” Ikram wrote, noting that in Egyptian mythology, the heart was said to be weighed against the feather representing the god Maat to determine if one was worthy of resurrection.

The absence of Tutankhamun’s heart or heart scarab does not appear to be the result of theft, she noted, but, instead, maybe an allusion to a famous story in the legend of Osiris when his body was cut apart by his brother Seth and the god’s heart was buried.

A cut typically used to remove a mummy’s internal organs was unusually “brutal” and large on King Tut, Ikram noted, another allusion, perhaps, to Seth’s butchery of Osiris. Other pieces of evidence also point to Osiris. For instance, the burial chamber’s north wall shows King Tut as Osiris through its decoration.

“Tutankhamun is shown as a fully-fledged Osiris — not simply a wrapped mummy,” Ikram noted. “This representation of the king as Osiris is unique in the Valley of the Kings: Other tombs show the king being embraced by Osiris or offering to him.”

Full circle

In a sense, Ikram’s idea, if it is correct (Ikram is careful to note that her idea is speculative), brings the investigation of Tutankhamun’s mummy full circle. It was Carter who first noted the pharaoh was being depicted as Osiris.

“Perhaps Carter’s emphasis in his notes during the unwrapping and examination of the mummy is more correct than even he thought: the king was indeed being shown as Osiris, more than was usual in royal burials,” Ikram writes in her paper. Tutankhamun, and/or those who embalmed him, may have been pressured to do this in reaction to the failed religious revolution attempted by his father.

“One can speculate that at this delicate historical/religious time, it was thought that the usual modes for the transformation of the king were not sufficient, and so the priest-embalmers prepared the body in such a way so as to literally emphasize the divinity of the king and his identification with Osiris,” Ikram writes.


Watch the video: Top 10 Mysterious Things Found In Egypt (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Grayson

    What's in my name for you, you appreciate the volume of the chest. And the forest is so mysterious, and the tears are so thoughtful. Everyone has the right to the left. "Blue runs - the car is swinging ..." Every woman deserves sex, but not every woman - twice

  2. Seanlaoch

    What the right words ... super, great thought

  3. Wolfrick

    Exactly what is necessary.

  4. Tedric

    Thanks to the author, keep making us happy!

  5. Guerin

    I must tell you you were misled.



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