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Content written by anand balaji

anand balaji's pictureAnand N. Balaji is an independent researcher who has studied various facets of ancient Egypt and is especially interested in the Amarna era. Read More...

Scene on the north wall in KV62 shows King Aye as sem priest, performing the “Opening of the Mouth” ritual on the mummy of Tutankhamun; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: Their Role and Impact in Funerary Contexts—Part I

The office of sem or setem priest of Ptah, the patron god of the craftsmen in Memphis, Lower Egypt, was a prestigious one. Considered a sacred feline with a connection to the Heliopolitan cult via...
Detail from the side of a seat of a group sculpture shows a baboon holding a cosmetic pot or kohl eyeliner; design by Anand Balaji

Primates of Ancient Egypt: The Bizarre and Satirical Monkeys of Amarna—Part II

Baboons and monkeys were an inalienable part of the religious and artistic landscape in ancient Egypt. A wealth of depictions of these animals exists in varied media spanning all dynasties. But it is...
Detail from one of the canopic jars of Padiouf, a priest of Amun, shows the face of the god Hapy; design by Anand Balaj

Primates of Ancient Egypt: The Deification and Importance of Baboons and Monkeys—Part I

The ancient Egyptians populated their vast pantheon of gods and goddesses with an incredible menagerie of animals and birds. These deities served as protectors, law-givers, healers, patrons of the...
Gilded leopard head found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62); design by Anand Balaji

The Felines of Tutankhamun: Leopards, a Symbol of Royalty and Divinity—Part II

Beginning with one of the earliest feline deities, Mafdet, the ancient Egyptian pantheon grew steadily as the years passed to include a wide range of creatures, both big and small – furry and...
Resin-stained wooden leopard found in the tomb of King Amenhotep II (KV35); design by Anand Balaji

The Felines of Tutankhamun: Leopard Changes its Spots to turn Black Panther?—Part I

The modest sepulcher of Pharaoh Tutankhamun was crammed to the brim with all manner of treasures produced in different shapes, sizes and materials. These objects can be clearly divided into two...
Head from a red granite statue of Amenhotep III wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt found at Karnak; side panel of one of the Colossi of Memnon shows a relief of Hapy, the Nile god, and a sculpture of Queen Tiye; design by Anand Balaji

Amenhotep III, The Man and his Monuments: Age of Empire and Architecture –Part II

With the empire witnessing an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity, Amenhotep III embarked on a grand building project that spanned the length and breadth of Egypt. The monuments he commissioned...
Detail from the outermost shrine of Tutankhamun showing a seated deity; design by Anand Balaji

KV62, Designed to Confound: Wealth of Mysteries in the Curious Tomb of Tutankhamun—Part II

Egyptological scholars are divided over whether a right-hand turn to the burial chamber in an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb signifies that it belonged to a female pharaoh. With this feature present in the...
The entrance to KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, in the Valley of the Kings; design by Anand Balaji

KV62, Designed to Confound: Was Tutankhamun’s Tomb built for a Female Pharaoh?—Part I

One of the greatest enigmas in all of Egyptology is the location of the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti, a powerful royal personage of the late Eighteenth Dynasty. Barring pieces of a votive...
The Great Sun Court of Amenhotep III at Luxor Temple; and detail of a calcite statue shows Amenhotep III with a solar form of the crocodile god Sobek, likely Sobek-Horus; design by Anand Balaji

Amenhotep III, the Man and his Monuments: Sparkling Glories of the Magnificent One – Part I

Few pharaohs in ancient Egyptian history could hold a candle to the stupendous achievements of Amenhotep III in various spheres. Everything that this daring king touched turned to gold. Be it...
This painted limestone relief originally depicted Kiya, but was later recarved to portray Meritaten; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Merja Attia, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen); Deriv.

Quest for the Greatly Beloved Kiya: Eternal ‘Goodly Child of the Living Aten’—Part II

Not only does Akhenaten, the man and ruler, pose a conundrum to Egyptologists; but his entire family is shrouded in mystery too. Prime among them is Kiya, his obscure wife, who seems to have...
One of the four elegant canopic jar stoppers made of Egyptian alabaster that was discovered in a niche in Tomb 55; design by Anand Balaji

Quest for the Greatly Beloved Kiya: Her Mysterious Origins and Role in Court—Part I

Kiya, a secondary wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten is one of the most shadowy royals of the Amarna Period. Virtually nothing is known about her origin or the reasons for her disappearance. All that is...
Foreigners accompany a triumphal procession of the King; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); Deriv.

Echoes of Eternal Egyptian Art: Effulgence and Beyond at Amarna—Part II

Egypt witnessed religious and cultural upheaval on an unimaginable scale when Pharaoh Akhenaten assumed the reins of power and declared the Aten as the supreme god. One of the noteworthy...
 “Litany of Ra” scene in the tomb of King Merenptah (KV8), Valley of the Kings, Luxor; design by Anand Balaji

Echoes of Eternal Egyptian Art: Masters of Form and Finesse—Part I

The ancient Egyptians were pioneers of various forms of art and architecture. Down the millennia, the world has been left awestruck by the design and purpose of their grandiose monuments, their...
An overall view of the central Valley of the Kings.

Pharaohs and Flash Floods: Was Tutankhamun’s Tomb Saved by an Act of Nature?

The death of Pharaoh Akhenaten in Regnal Year 17 was a powerful body-blow to the promotion of his fledgling religion, Atenism. Evacuated from their original communal crypt at Amarna, the royal dead...
Detail of the Berlin bust of Nefertiti; and the latest 3D sculpture of the queen based on the mummy of the Younger Lady; design by Anand Balaji

Religion and Magic in Amarna: A World of Confusion in Akhetaten—Part II

The population that inhabited Akhenaten’s brand new city, Akhetaten, in Middle Egypt was ill at ease with the massive religious uncertainty their monarch had unleashed. A question mark hung over not...
As an amulet, the popular Wedjat eye symbolized health and protection; design by Anand Balaji

Religion and Magic in Amarna: Battling Forces from Different Realms—Part I

The ancient Egyptians held magical practices in high esteem and used it for a variety of purposes in almost every sphere of life. Their worldview was not restricted to that which occurred on earth,...

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