Ancient sarcophagus belonging to singer of god Amun unearthed in Luxor
A team of Spanish archaeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus during the recent restorations of the tomb of Amenhotep Huy, ruler of Lower Nubia Kush under king Tutankhamun, located at Qurnet Marej in Luxor, Egypt. The sarcophagus is inscribed with hieroglyphics indicating that it belongs to a singer in the temple of Amun.
According to Ahram Online, the sarcophagus is well-preserved and still has the mummy inside. The Director of the team of experts Francisco Martin Valentin told EFE that the discovery is important because it is now rare to find a mummy inside a sarcophagus due to theft and looting.
The sarcophagus dates to the Third Intermediate Period (900 – 100 BC), an era characterized by political instability and marked by division of the state for much of the period, and conquest and rule by foreigners. The coffin is carved from wood and covered with plaster, which is painted with scenes depicting different ancient Egyptian gods, including Thoth, Anubis, Osiris, Isis, and the four sons of Horus. Inside, the mummy is wrapped in linen and the face is covered with a mask. There is also a religious necklace found on the chest and a wig decorated with a flower crown on the head.
“It has a unique style that was common during the reign of the 21th dynasty,” Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online.
The newly-unearthed sarcophagus found in Qurnet Marej in Luxor, Egypt. Credit: Ahram Online
Abdel Hakim Karrar antiquities director general in Upper Egypt, told Ahram Online that hieroglyphic text engraved on the sarcophagus identifies the mummy as “Amun’s singer”. This suggests the mummy may be female as it was women that usually held the role of singer within temples, while men played instruments in rituals held outside the temple.
In ‘The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt’, Emily Teeter writes that “women from elite families, served in the temple, playing music for the god as the priests laid offerings and purifications before the deity.” She adds that such singers were usually trained by their mothers, “and often several generations of women from a single family worked as temple singer”.
Sometimes young children also served as temple singers, as evidenced by the discovery of Tjayasetimu, a seven-year-old girl found in a beautifully decorated sarcophagus that also identified her as a singer in the temple of Amun. Tjayasetimu had been wrapped in painted bandages, her face covered with a delicate veil and hidden by a golden mask, and she had been placed in a gilded sarcophagus.
The mummy of Tjayasetimu. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum.
Although the name of the singer just unearthed in Luxor has not yet been revealed, archaeologists are currently studying the sarcophagus and hieroglyphics for information regarding her name and identity.
Featured image: The newly-unearthed sarcophagus found in Qurnet Marej in Luxor, Egypt. Credit: Ahram Online