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Abydos Dynasty Revisited: Archaeological Evidence of Forgotten Pharaoh

Ancient Egypt is tempting and fascinating. Mummies, pyramids, and sacramental rites and rituals of the ancient Egyptians have been luring many generations of historians and scientists for centuries. It might seem that humankind knows almost everything about ancient civilization; nevertheless, archeologists continue to make discoveries and unlock the secrets of history. After carefully researching the fresh articles related to the finding of Ancient Egypt, I chose the one about recent archaeological excavation, which proves the existence of the long-forgotten dynasty. Besides, it is connected to the material we have recently studied, i.e., the third chapter, which explores the world of ancient Egyptians. The article appeared originally on the website TheGuardian.com on 22 January 2014.

It tells about the remains of the Abydos Dynasty that reigned Upper Egypt from 1650 to 1550 BC. The diggings took place in the ancient town of Abydos, which is located 300 miles away from the capital Cairo. At first, archeologists found the sarcophagus of the ancient pharaoh Senebkay, more than 3600 years old, with the mummy inside. According to historical sources, he ruled briefly in the 1600s BC. Later, the archeologists managed to find the tomb of the pharaoh and the gravesite of his royal dynasty. There have been many speculations and debates about whether this particular dynasty reigned; this discovery is of great significance, as it confirms that the Abydos Dynasty indeed existed.

The head archeologist of the excavation, Josef Wegner, pointed out that this digging unveils the political designs of that time. “Before, we only had fragmentary evidence that there may be a separate kingdom that coexisted between the two rival kingdoms of north and south” (Patrick Kingsley).

The author mentions that the first archeologist who claimed that the dynasty governed in the second intermediate period was Kim Ryholt from Denmark. He adduced reasons in favor of his point of view in 1997. However, having no real proof, the theory did not gain popularity among fellow experts in the field of Egyptology. After this digging had proved to be successful, Ryholt shared his glee with the press:” I’m happy and excited… This is one of the rare instances where we can examine the physical remains of a ruler and say something about what they looked like” (Patrick Kingsley).

Currently, about twenty tombs have been found where the Abydos Dynasty royals were buried. Josef Wegner told the press, “We had just thought there would be a handful of king’s tombs. Now we’re looking at probably 20 pharaohs” (Patrick Kingsley). He mentioned that the grave where the pharaoh rested was ruined. Prowlers of Ancient Egypt damaged it and stole some pieces of decoration. The archeologist also expressed the idea that “The crude nature of Senebkay’s tomb may indicate his dynasty’s lack of financial clout… Some of the tomb’s contents may have even been stolen or “cannibalized” from older pharaohs’ burial grounds” (Patrick Kingsley).

Later, Wegner and his team of experts from the University of Pennsylvania started cooperating with Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry. Through common efforts, they managed to put together the remains of Senebkay’s skeleton, though the jawbone of the ruler is missing. It was established that the pharaoh passed away in his late forties and was about 5ft 10 tall.

This discovery gives a better insight into the understanding of the political system that existed in Ancient Egypt. It allows Egyptologists to reconsider previously understudied periods of history. It also will provide an opportunity to study the way of living customs and traditions that prevailed in those times, ultimately influencing the field of Humanities.

📎 References:

1. Kingsley, Patrick. “Archaeologists Find Remains of Previously Unknown Pharaoh in Egypt.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. 23 January 2014. Web. 09 June 2014.
2. “Penn Museum – Giant Sarcophagus Leads Penn Museum Team in Egypt to the Tomb of a Previously Unknown Pharaoh.” Penn Museum – Giant Sarcophagus Leads Penn Museum Team in Egypt to the Tomb of a Previously Unknown Pharaoh. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

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