Posts Tagged With: Art history

Tut’s Tasty Treat

As October comes to a close and autumn settles in, many children are focused on just one thing: Halloween. They dream of costumes and of bringing home their favorite candies (mine being the classic Hershey’s kiss).  Thinking of candy, I began to wonder: what sweet treats did the Ancient Egyptians enjoy?

The answer came in a care package from my parents. Inside I found a box of tea in a flavor that I had never encountered before (those who are close to me understand the shock factor): A Yogi tea labeled “Egyptian Licorice”.

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The description on the box detailed how “The great kings of Egypt treasured licorice root for its natural sweetness, rich flavor and restorative properties.” Could it be true? Of all things, LICORICE is a treasure?

Manuscripts dating to 360 AD have been found discussing the use of licorice to treat skin diseases, coughs, and eye ailments. There is even record of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar endorsing the benefits of eating licorice, Caesar using the plant as a treatment for his epilepsy.  Napoleon was also an avid supporter of licorice, which he was said to find “soothing” during battle. It is said that he supposedly ate so much that his teeth turned black. (Never fear, the amount found in today’s candies will not leave you looking like you were cast as Imhotep in “The Mummy”)

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But what IS licorice? Technically speaking, licorice is considered a weed. It grows to around 4 ft high and sprouts purplish flowers. The plant’s botanical name, Glycyrrhiza glabra, comes from the Greek word meaning “sweet root”, and the plant is grown in hot, dry locations.

Licorice in Ancient Egypt is described as being used as a medicinal cure for ailments such as stomach and liver problems,” said Dr. Mohamed Nafady, an expert in alternative medicine, who practices herbal medicine.  There is further hieroglyphic record of licorice being in a popular men’s beverage up to the time of the writing of the bible!

Perhaps the best evidence of licorice use in Ancient Egypt came during the discovery of the tomb of the Great Pharaoh Tutankhamun, “King Tut”.  Licorice was found in copious amounts in the tomb, amid his jewelry, gold, and other treasures. The sweet drink created from licorice, called “Mai Sus” was considered to be so precious to the young pharaoh that a large quantity was buried with him so he could enjoy it on his journey into eternity.

So as you trick or treat this Halloween, pick up a cup of “Mai Sus” and make a toast to your favorite Mummy, King Tut!

Citations:

http://www.yogiproducts.com/products/details/egyptian-licorice/

http://www.licoriceinternational.com/licorice/pc/About-Licorice-d25.htm

http://www.licorice.org/Health___History/History/history.htm

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Another King in Memphis

As I moved in to my new apartment just off The University of Memphis Campus before the start of my Senior Year, I decided to take my mom on a tour of the beautiful campus and immediately knew where our first stop would be.

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After crossing the road from Central Parking Lot to the main campus, every student is greeted by none other than Ramses the Second.

The 50-ton statue is amazing and impressive–much like the pharaoh himself. Ramses was the third pharaoh in the 19th dynasty and reigned for 67 years. The historical record proclaims him a fierce warrior, learned architect, and the husband of one of the greatest royal wives, Nefertari.  Ramses is depicted in stone at multiple locations throughout Egypt fighting in his chariot in the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites. He is highly praised for his architectural achievements, which include the Ramesseum, Pi-Ramesse  and six buildings in Nubia, two of which reside at the great temple of Abu Simbel. Since building could only be done in prosperous, peaceful times, the high quantity of architectural projects is particularly impressive and attests not only to this pharaoh’s talent as an architect, but also to his skills as the leader of the Two Lands.

But where did this statue come from?

Naturally, it all ties back to my fantastic school, The University of Memphis (Go Tigers!).  In 1987, after the hard work of Dr. Carol Crown to recruit Dr. Frita Reed, which led to the foundation of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archeology at the U of M, a traveling exhibit was brought to the pyramid entitled Ramses The Great. The exhibit included over 73 artifacts, including a large, but deteriorating statue of—you guessed it—the Great Pharaoh. The City of Memphis promised the Egyptian government that the statue would be restored and, in turn, the Egyptian Government allowed the production of a replica of the statue–the first authorized reproduction of an Ancient Egyptian Artifact outside of Egypt! The new Statue was placed facing East, towards the rising sun, and was seen by over 730,000 people that visited the traveling exhibit during its 4-month stay at the Civic Center Plaza.

When the Memphis pyramid was leased to Bass Pro Shop in August 2011, it was decided that the statue would move to the University of Memphis, where it now stands as a symbol of not only the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, but as an embodiment of the eternal connection between the two cities of Memphis, TN and Memphis, Egypt.

In the not-to-distant future, I hope to post a picture of me standing next to the original statue in Memphis, Egypt…stay tuned!

 

 

Citations:

http://thelastpageblog.com/pages-writing-samples/memphis-to-memphis/

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/egypt/ig/Ancient-Egypt/Ramses-II.htm

http://www.memphis.edu/update/jan12/ramesses.php

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Egyptologist Envy

When I first began considering Egyptology as a career, I looked to current Egyptologists for inspiration. Of course I imagined my days being lived out much like Evelyn O’Connell’s in The Mummy movie series—working within a fantastic museum and making amazing discoveries, all while looking camera-ready fabulous.  Unfortunately, after two seconds of conversation with someone actually working in the field of Egyptology, my dreams of galavanting down the Nile with Brendan Fraser were quickly dashed.

Swallowing my tears, I began searching for a more realistic idol for my Egyptology career. I had many options to choose from among the greats of female Archaeologists/Egyptologists, Amelia Edwards, Margaret Murray, and Lady Hilda Petrie to name a few. With a more modern-day inspiration in mind, I finally uncovered the one who showed me that all of my Egyptological dreams are possible—all while looking even MORE fabulous than Evelyn O’Connell.

That being said…

Hello Friend.  My name is Melissa Pankuch and I have intense Egyptologist Envy of Kara Cooney.

 

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( courtesy of karacooney.com)

Dr. Kara Cooney is currently an Assistant Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA.  Among her many accomplishments rank a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Johns Hopkins University in 2002, archaeological excavations in the craftsmen’s village of Deir el Medina, the royal temple site at Dahshur, and multiple Theban tombs, not to mention her past teaching positions at Stanford and Howard University. In 2005, she was the co-curator Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the Los Angeles County Museum. In all honesty, I could continue to spout of Dr. Cooney’s accomplishments, but then I would sound a bit like the Eloquent Peasant. J

So, putting aside her numerous international adventures, countless publications, and extensive curating expertise, why do I have such extreme Egyptologist Envy of Dr. Kara Cooney?

Simply put, she has been able to balance the pursuit of her dreams, the demands of a busy career, and the raising of a family—a feat that deserves great praise. And along with this balancing act, she manages to look fabulous on screen (in her archaeology series Out Of Egypt, created with her husband Neil Crawford, presently airing on Planet Green and Netflix) and off screen.

So here’s to you, Kara Cooney. For allowing an aspiring Egyptologists like myself to believe that dreams of being the next Evelyn O’Connell may not be all that impossible. 

 

 

Want to learn more about Dr. Cooney? Check out her website http://www.karacooney.com/ and like her page on facebook

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Eye on the Needle: The Fight to Save an Iconic Egyptian Monument

While scouring the internet for current Egyptology news, I came across a campaign that desperately needs our help.
“Eye on the Needle” is a documentary created by Dr. Paul Harrison, a graduate of University College London, and his team. The video (which is currently in the filming stage) features ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’, an Ancient Egyptian Obelisk that sits on London’s Embankment. The documentary will follow Dr. Harrison as he reveals the history of ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’, recounts how it came to London, and discusses the conditions that are putting the monument in danger. Many modern technologies, such as vehicles, are generating pollution that is causing gradual erosion of the needle, which, over time, is causing the precious hieroglyphs on its face to begin fading.
This film will hopefully spark crucial conversations about conservation and preservation strategies for all Ancient Egyptian obelisks and monuments.
Not convinced? Check out this video by the team:

There are only 12 DAYS left in the campaign, and they are in desperate need of your support! Whether you can give a monetary donation (and receive rewards like a t-shirt, personal tours of the British Museum, and even days on the film set) or simply spread the word on social media, Please take the time to help save this unique and irreplaceable Egyptian Monument.

To support the campaign, check out its campaign page on facebook ‘Eye on the Needle Campaign’, follow on twitter @eyeontheneedle, and support here: http://www.sponsume.com/project/eye-needle941818_112839192259619_1780023929_n

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