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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunrise at Minya.

Jay is up very early and from his room balcony at the Nefertiti hotel he takes this beautiful sunrise at Minya. Now we head off to Tuna el Gebel.

The group at Tuna el Gebel. Stairs to the catacombs.

Tuna el Gebel is a cemetery associated with Thoth whose home region of Hermopolis (modern Ashmunein) is very nearby. Here from the latest pharaonic eras is preserved a catacomb where ibises and some baboons sacred to Thoth were dedicated to the god, following mummification on the site. Each animal might contain the god’s essence and thus perhaps act on behalf of the offerer. The sacredness of the ibis mummies (despite their ubiquitousness) has been demonstrated by researchers who documented the presence of worms and other foodstuffs placed in the mummy gullets before wrapping. Marching off to see the ibis catacombs we soon descend the stairs. Unfortunately photos being prohibited within, you must imagine for yourselves.

Maggie, Meredith and Gaultier.

Maggie and Meredith have their picture taken outside by Gaultier and then we continue to the 30th Dynasty tomb chapel of Petosiris, certainly one of the great artistic highlight of Egypt’s long and remarkable history. We can only show you here the outside (but check out our archives for January 8, 2006), where the traditional shrine-like panel shows the priest Petosiris offering before Thoth. To the right on the exterior you see him libating before Horus son of Isis and below this before Nepthys. Petosiris entirely substitutes himself for the king in these scenes, having built for himself a small temple. In the enclosed front court the remarkable relief styles combine pharaonic Egyptian and Hellenic forms in two manners, while inside the chapel the traditional is again combined with a composite style.

Tomb chapel of Petosiris.
Relief panel.  Relief panel.

Looking at the water wheel.

Sean, Sheri, Maggie, and Hannah gaze down at the Roman water wheel (sakia) that lifted water here in antiquity. It is still well preserved and well protected under the ground.

The water wheel.

The Red Monastery.
The Red Monastery. Our next stop is the Red Monastery, one of the oldest in the world. Darcy is the American Research Center in Egypt Project manager for the restorations and research at the Red Monastery and has kindly arranged for a visit for us, although they are still working there. She briefly told us that the building dates back to the fifth century A.D. and then took us in to see the remarkable painting preservation within.
Group at the Red Monastery.
Dome painting, Red Monastery.
Close view of dome painting. Most of the paintings belong to the Late Antique era, 5th to 7th centuries A.D. and some to the later medieval period. At least four stages of Late Antique have been identified, and Darcy noted that the project Director Betsy Bolman has particularly indicated that its styles were changing as rapidly as those in such well known locations as Ravenna. This means that the Red Monastery was a major sacred center and well-funded at the time. Here are some of the beautiful paintings that you can also see on the ARCE website [ and].
Wall painting, Red Monastery.
Wall paintings, Red Monastery.
Wall paintings, Red Monastery.


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