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Detail of a talatat block from Amarna supposedly shows Kiya with her unnamed daughter. It is also suggested that this is Nefertiti and Meritaten; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum, New York); Deriv.

Was Meritaten the Ephemeral Ankhkheperure? Discovering the True Identity of Amarna’s Female Pharaoh – Part I

During the final years of the Atenist heresy, an obscure ruler came to the throne of Egypt. No one is certain about the identity of this person - especially if it was a man or a woman. Akhenaten’s...
Enormous headless Osiride sculptures of Pharaoh Ramesses III stand in the colonnade of the king's Barque Chapel south of the second pylon at Karnak Temple; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Anand Balaji); Deriv.

Ramesses III and the Harem Conspiracy: Kingship Saved as Brutal Coup Backfires Miserably – Part II

Even though Pharaoh Ramesses III had been the master of all that he surveyed – striking awe in the hearts of his enemies and earning admiration among his subjects – the glory days were drawing to a...
Remains of the Hypostyle Hall in the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu; design by Anand Balaji

Ramesses III and the Harem Conspiracy: Diabolic Plot to Kill the Living Horus Unfolds – Part I

The collapse of the Late Bronze Age world brought chaos to the shores of ancient Egypt. Vibrant trade and tributes from Near Eastern lands had all but ceased after the Sea Peoples decimated those...
A small statue of goddess Nephthys guards the golden canopic shrine of Tutankhamun; and detail from the north wall of KV62.

When the Falcon Had Flown: Evidence of Approximate Order in Burial Paraphernalia – Part II

A great deal of ritualistic activity was involved in the burial of royals in the ‘Valley of the Kings’. This apart, stocking their tombs with everything that they would need in the Afterlife was...
This collage shows the Valley of the Kings, statuettes of funerary deities and the Antechamber of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

When the Falcon Had Flown: Understanding the Process of Stocking Pharaonic Tombs – Part I

Given their overwhelming belief in the Afterlife, did ancient Egyptian royalty organize their tombs in advance of their eventual demise; or were preparations made post mortem? Although we do not...
Painted limestone relief from the Memphite tomb of Horemheb shows him with the uraeus on his brow; it was added after he became pharaoh; design by Anand Balaji

The Rage of Horemheb: Traditionalism for the Greater Glory of the Egyptian State – Part II

Horemheb was no run-of-the-mill general, but a true nationalist at heart. The demise of King Aye was a watershed moment, insofar as getting the country back on track wholeheartedly was concerned...
Fragmentary scene, originally from the second courtyard of his Saqqaran tomb, shows Horemheb wearing the Gold of Honor given by Tutankhamun; design by Anand Balaji

The Rage of Horemheb: Hurried End of Akhenaten, Aye and Atenism – Part I

Barely four years after the death of Nebkheperure Tutankhamun in 1323 BC, the powerful ruling family was overthrown by Horemheb, a general and one-time non-royal crown prince; ending the Thutmosid...
The entrance stairway of 16 steps viewed from the point where Howard Carter uncovered the first sealed doorway

Robbing Tutankhamun: Greed for Gold, Linen, Cosmetics and the Good Life—Part II

Against all odds, Tutankhamun’s tomb survived the ravages of time; when the magnificent burial places of his predecessors and successors were ransacked in antiquity, and their treasures stolen...
This artist’s impression shows Tutankhamun’s tomb in the process of being stocked in antiquity. The entire exercise seems to have been a rushed affair as Howard Carter noted.

Robbing Tutankhamun: Ransacking the Royals and Decline in Tomb Security – Part 1

Pharaohs built lavish sepulchers equipped with all manner of security arrangements that were aimed at misleading tomb robbers. However, more often than not, the elaborate ploys of esteemed architects...
The ‘mourning scene’ on the East wall in the Royal Tomb at El-Amarna (TA 26B - Chamber gamma). Akhenaten is shown leading the royal family in grieving the death of Princess Meketaten, their second daughter, who stands inside a pavilion associated with childbirth. Julian Tuffs.

Challenges of Infant Mortality in Ancient Egypt: Amulets, Spells and the Divine—Part II

Among all the perils that the ancient Egyptians battled through their use of religion and magic, none came close to the poignant and desperate prayers they made to save the lives of their offspring...
Mother Love: Detail from a relief shows Pharaoh Seti I as a child sitting on the lap of goddess Isis. Her right arm is resting on his back while she gently caresses his face with her left hand. This scene can be found on the western wall of the Second Hypostyle Hall. Temple of Seti I, Abydos.

Challenges of Infant Mortality in Ancient Egypt: Disease, Death and Deliverance - Part I

Family came first in ancient Egypt. Be it the royal household or the commoner on the street, the bond between parents and their children was considered sacred. Right through the Old Kingdom period...
A stele from Heliopolis shows Akhenaten worshipping the Aten; design by Anand Balaji

Horemheb the Usurper: Monumental Oversight in a Project of Utter Destruction —Part II

(Read Part 1) By all counts, Horemheb was not only forced to remain subservient until the death of his immediate predecessor, Pharaoh Aye – a vizier-turned-ruler – but had faced a challenger in...
A limestone sculpture from the Temple of Amun in Thebes depicts Horemheb standing beside the state god; design by Anand Balaji

Horemheb the Usurper: Magical Potency and the Rough Road to the Throne—Part I

Usurpation of monuments and funerary goods occurred over much of ancient Egyptian history. Quite a few Pharaohs and nobles indulged in this practice—and far from our modern notion of greedy monarchs...
Bronze statuette of the funerary deity, Wepwawet; design by Anand Balaji

Wepwawet, Lord of Abydos and Champion of Royalty: Jubilees, Worship and Resurrection—Part II

From being a god with militaristic overtones, in time, Wepwawet was hailed as the ‘Lord of the Necropolis’, a role he acquired from Osiris, at his cult centers in Abydos and later Asyut too. A...
Coffin lid dating from the Late Period flanked by two depictions of Wepwawet; design by Anand Balaji

Wepwawet, Lord of Abydos and Champion of Royalty: Origin, Myth and Divinity—Part I

The ancient Egyptians not only worshipped animals they admired but also those that they feared greatly. As a result, their pantheon consisted of innumerable feathered and furry creatures – each a...
Relief of a funeral procession from the tomb of Merymery in Saqqara; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: In the Service of King and Country—Part II

An appointee of the Pharaoh himself, the role of the sem priest carried immense political and religious weightage. In many ways, this class of priest served as the bridge between the ruler and the...

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