I am in Denver on November 14-17 to co-chair a panel discussion on the Treasure of Queen Ahhotep with Gianluca Miniaci at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The Ahhotep discovery was one of the most significant finds in Near Eastern Archaeology. A gilded coffin and a trove of magnificent jewels and objects belonging to a queen named Ahhotep was discovered at Dra Abu el-Naga, in Western Thebes by Auguste Mariette in 1859. Many of the objects associated with the burial bore the names of Kings Ahmose and Kamose of the end of the Second Intermediate Period and the beginning of the New Kingdom and reflected the influence of the Aegean and of Nubia.
Queen Ahmose played a significant role in Egyptian history as recorded in an inscription from Karnak, which named her as “…The princess, the king’s mother, the noblewoman who knows things and takes care of Egypt. She looked after its soldiers and protected them. She brought back its fugitives and gathered its dissidents together. She pacified Upper Egypt and expelled its rebels…”
The treasure caused a sensation when it was exhibited in Paris in 1867 at the International Exhibition and helped Mariette convince the government of Egypt that a national museum should be built. Despite its importance, the treasure has never been fully published and much new research on the various aspects of the find have not been collected into a combined study. The talks featured in the ASOR symposium are:
The Treasure of Queen Ahhotep in Context: Archaeology, Identity, Politics
University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy, Italy
The treasure of queen Ahhotep is one of the most acclaimed discoveries in archeology of the Nineteenth century: a gilded coffin and a trove of magnificent jewels and precious objects belonging to a queen named Ahhotep was discovered in a tomb at Dra Abu el Naga (Western Thebes – modern Luxor, Egypt) by Auguste Mariette in 1859. However, most of the information concerning this treasure and its owner still remain enigmatic: the archaeological context and the location of the tomb –now lost–, the identity of the queen, her political role in the reunification of Egypt during the Hyksos experience, the influence of Aegeans and of Nubians on the rise to power of this woman. The paper aims at providing a more complete and accurate framework for understanding the international relations at the turn of the Middle Bronze Age (1550 B.C.) in Egypt/Nubia and the Mediterranean.
The Treasure of Ahhotep and contemporary Egyptian and Nubian Material Culture
Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund, Albany, New York, USA
The burial of Ahhotep was replete with objects reflecting remarkably cosmopolitan influences as well as material typical of the Nile Valley in the Second Intermediate Period. This includes not only objects know from Egypt but also the neighboring cultures of Nubia, particularly the Kerma Culture. The treasure of Ahhotep illustrates the importance of Nubian cultural influence at the outset of the New Kingdom and is paralleled by other finds such as the Qurna burial group now in the National Museums of Scotland. The purely Egyptian objects in the burial are also paralleled not only by contemporary burials but also by votive deposits indicating the rather unique importance placed on Ahhotep as evidenced by this extraordinary treasure.
The Aegean and Egypt at the Turn of the Middle Bronze Age: Economic Exchange, Diplomatic Interaction, and the Movement of Ideas
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The purpose of this paper is to review the nature of exchange and contact between Egypt and the Aegean in the 16th century B.C. and to consider the Aegean and Aegeanizing elements present in Ahhotep’s tomb in the wider context of cultural and economic interaction in the Middle Bronze Age Mediterranean. The paper will begin with an overview of the evidence for Aegean-Egyptian relations in the 16th century, especially focusing on the current understanding of the scale and context of these relationships and the role of merchants and craftsmen as intermediaries and conduits of interaction between regional elites. I then present an analysis of the deposition of Egyptian artifacts in Aegean contexts roughly contemporary to the Ahhotep Treasure. The nature of these contexts suggests that Egyptian objects were often used in the Aegean for ritual or superstitious purposes consistent with their normal function in Egyptian society. I argue that the deposition of Egyptian and Egyptianizing objects in such contexts indicates that the movement of people and ideas, not only objects, contributed to the development of shared motifs and styles in Bronze Age Aegean material culture. In light of this information, I consider whether Ahhotep’s funerary goods might suggest that the queen was not only a consumer of Aegeanizing objects, but was also a cosmopolitan individual in meaningful ways encompassing belief, action, and systems of understanding the world.
The Aegeanizing Elements from the Tomb Group of Ahhotep
Beth Ann Judas
Independent Research Scholar, Philadelphia, PA, USA
This paper will explore the Bronze Age Aegean artistic influences found on various items from the tomb of Queen Ahhotep, and will focus on two of the weapons placed in the tomb as grave goods. The most famous pieces, which demonstrate Aegean artistic influence, are the axe of Ahmose and the inlaid dagger that date from the late Second Intermediate Period to the very early 18th Dynasty. These items also bridge the dates of Bronze Age Aegean goods that have been excavated at Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Egyptian sites, and are key examples for the study of interconnections between Egypt and her Aegean neighbors.
Ahhotep’s Silver Ship Model Reconsidered
The Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas & University, College Station, TX, USA
The tomb of Ahhotep contained two metal ship models, one of gold, the other of silver, found together with a single four-wheeled carriage. These models are anomalous in three manners: A) Egypt did not have a tradition of metal ship models: Ahhotep’s models are unique in this regard; B) these are the only ship models known from the entire Second Intermediate Period, and C) the models are intended for display on a wheeled wagon: the only other Egyptian example of this phenomenon is the foreign-inspired Gurob ship-cart model. The gold model represents a typical papyriform Nile vessel type. Ahhotep’s silver ship model, however, finds its closest parallels with a contemporaneous Minoan/Cycladic vessel, crewed by ten rowers, exemplified by the rowed ship in the Miniature Frieze from the West House in Akrotiri on Thera. This conclusion is further supported by a demonstrably long tradition of metal ship models in the Aegean. The silver model may be a copy of an actual ship or of a model of a ship. The most probable explanation for the ship models and the carriage appearing in Ahhotep’s tomb is that they represent items of booty captured by either Kamose or Ahmose during their battles against Hyksos Avaris (Tell el Daba) and subsequently interred with their mother. If so, this would indicate a Minoan presence at that site during the XVIIth Dynasty.
Our symposium at this year’s ASOR meeting will be followed up by both scholarly and popular publications.