From Gamhoud to the World (Conclusion)

I underestimated the length of Kamal’s article when I started translating it. However, if you managed to soldier through it, you probably had a few questions. Here were some that I’ll be pursuing:

Gamhoud coffins in Budapest, by Heidi Konkanten

Gamhoud coffins in Budapest, by Heidi Konkanten

  • What does the fish above the mummy on one of the coffins signify? Is Kamal correct in thinking that it’s a reference to the myth where Osiris’ phallus is eaten by an Oxyrhhinchus fish?
  • Did they have mulberry, peppermint, and myrtle in Ancient Egypt? What species were they?
  • Why would a sieve be placed in a burial?
  • Who is the God Af? Is this an outdated term?
  • Kamal says the goddess on the breast/belly of each coffin is Neith, but in one case it’s Nut. Is it really consistent? Is it ever Neith?
  • Where are the Gamhoud coffins and other artifacts today?

Thanks to recent scholarship, we can partially answer the last question. We know a lot about two of the coffins that went to Krakow, and several of the pieces that went to Budapest. Of the majority of the coffins, which stayed in Cairo, there has not, to my knowledge, been much published. I admit to not having looked very hard for publications on the coffins in Vienna. If anyone has any info on publication of Gamhoud coffins/artifacts from either of these places, let me know.

The Coffins that Went to Krakow

  • Szymańska, Hana and Krzysztof, Babraj (Eds.) Mummy: Results of the Interdisciplinary Examination of the Egyptian Mummy of Aset-iri-Khet-es from the Archaeological Museum in Krakow. Krakow: Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2001.
  • The "tasteful" coloring on the coffin of Aset-iri-khet-es. Photo by Kea Johnston

    Tasteful color choice on the coffin of Aset-iri-khet-es. Photo by Kea Johnston

    Though the coffin of Aset-iri-khet-es wasn’t mentioned in Kamal’s report, it was one of the coffins that was given to Krakow as part of the division of finds from the excavation. Aset-iri’s mummy was in poor condition, and had to be removed from the coffin in order to conserve the coffin. After much debate, it was decided to unwrap the mummy in order to rewrap her in new bandages and place her in her restored coffin. (Szymanska 2001, 20) This report meticulously details the unwrapping of Aset-iri’s mummy and the restoration of her coffin. The construction of the coffin is covered, as are a medical examination of the priestess’ mummy. A chapter is devoted to the unusual linen and wood amulets placed within the wrappings, and even to the insects found in the bandages. This book is everything a publication of a funerary assemblage ought to be, and I think Aset-iri-khet-es herself would enjoy it.

  • Szymańska, Hana and Krzysztof Babraj. The Gods of Ancient Egypt. Krakow: Archaeological Museum in Krakow. 2000.

    This museum catalog goes with the exhibition of the same name at the Archaeological

    2013-05-16 06.36.37

    Kamal does not note the beautiful paintings of Isis/the Lady of the West which adorn the bottoms of some of these coffins, like that of Aset-iri-khet-es. Photo by Kea Johnston.

    Museum Krakow. It provides beautiful color pictures of the Aset-iri-khet-es’ coffin and cartonnage as well as pictures of a second of the three coffins from Gamhoud that went to Krakow. The book also features some coffins that the authors suspect originate from the nearby site of el-Hiba.

  • imaginelabs. wmm_mak_as_2438. Sketchfab. Online, Accessed 12/10/2015

    3d Model of Aset-iri-khet-es’ mummy, coffin and cartonnage. I wish the textures had a slightly higher resolution, but you can zoom and pan and adjust the lights.

  • Johnston, Kea. Krakow Museum of Archaeology. Flickr. Online, Accessed 12/10/2015
    One of the coffins from Gamhoud that was not published in "The Gods of Ancient Egypt"? Picture by Kea Johnston

    One of the coffins from Gamhoud that was not published in “The Gods of Ancient Egypt”? Picture by Kea Johnston

    Yes, I’m going to plug my own flickr feed here. Shameless.  I think I might have a picture of the third coffin–the one that’s not in the museum catalog.  I also have a lot of pictures of the Hibeh coffins, Aset-iri-khet-es and the anonymous coffin that is in the museum catalog.


  • Vörös, Gyõzõ. Sharuna-Gamhud. Budapest: Egypt Excavation Society of Hungary.2008.

    This book is mostly about Fulöp Back, the expedition’s sponsor, and his family. It covers the excavations in Sharuna in more detail than it does the finds at Gamhud because the author is interested in ancient Egyptian architecture and Smolenski found remnants of a Ptolemaic Temple at Sharuna. However, it does have colored pictures of some of the small items from the Gamhud excavation that remained in Back’s private collection–a rolled-up papyrus, a mummy mask and a canopic jar are among these.  Aside from the coffins that went to the aforementioned museums, several made their

    way into private hands via Back himself, and are today either in private collections or in a handful of smaller central European museums. One was sold by the Cairo museum and is now in the Burgdorf Ethnographic Museum in Switzerland (p 132).

  • Györy, Hedvig. The Story of the Gamhud Excavations. in  Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists. Ed. Jean-Paul Goyon and Christine Cardin. Vol. 1. OLA:150.  Dudley, MA: Uitgeverij Peeters. 2007., p 907-917.

    This article describes some of the coffins in Budapest (though it mentions that Budapest received many other items from the site as well), attempting to categorize them by Kamal’s system (the three types listed at the beginning of part two of this series), with limited success. Györy tries to track down the other coffins in the group,

    Detail from a coffin in Budapest. Photo by Heidi Kontkanen.

    Detail from a coffin in Budapest. Photo by Heidi Kontkanen.

    giving the interesting detail that one of the coffins that went into a private collection is now also in the care of the Polish Academy of Sciences (p 909, citing Sílwa). She works with the Cairo museum to rediscover the coffins from the excavation which were not recorded as having come from Gamhoud. She adds that the site was excavated again in a Survey of Middle Egypt done by Tübingen University (Not published). The results from this excavation are apparently in the Ashmunein Magazine (p 216).  It was again surveyed by the Egyptian government in the late eighties, which found that due to the rising water tables, the ancient tombs had collapsed and anything that remained had been destroyed (p 217).  The site is now under cultivation.

  • Györy, Hedvig. Antiquities from Gamhud. KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt Vol. 9 No. 1. 1996. p 27-30.

    Short article about an exhibition of the Gamhoud coffins at the National Museum, Budapest. The information it contains is all in the previous source, but the pictures are in color. There is also a color picture of the qsr.t style box-coffin in the collection, a type which was not mentioned by Kamal, but of which there are several partial examples in Budapest. (Györy, 2007: 914)

  • Kontkanen, Heidi. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Flickr. Online, Accessed 12/13/2015.
    Another coffin from Gamhoud in Budapest. Photo by Heidi Kontkanen.

    Another coffin from Gamhoud in Budapest. Photo by Heidi Kontkanen.

    Kontkanen has some excellent pictures of Egyptian collections around the world. Her pictures from Budapest focuses heavily on the Gamhoud coffins and show many details that can’t be appreciated by simply reading Kamal.


  • Schreiber, Gábor. The Burial Ensemble of Tasenet from Gamhud and the Ptolemaic Coffin Style in Northern Middle Egypt. in “Art and Society: Ancient and Modern Contexts of Egyptian Art” ed. Katalin Kóthay. Budapest: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. 2012. p 257-263.

    A publication of the coffin of Tasenet in Cairo, which was found by Kamal at Gamhoud. Gives a new translation of the texts–Shreiber notes that the cartonnage of  Tasenet features a rare prayer to Isis and speculates that this may be the result of contact between Greek and Egyptian cultures in Northern Middle Egypt, as the Greeks particularly identified with Isis.

  • Kóthay, Katalin. The Gamhud Artisans. in “Art and Society: Ancient and Modern Contexts of Egyptian Art” ed. Katalin Kóthay. Budapest: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. 2012. p 235-257.

    I haven’t read this one yet because I just found it while perusing the table of contents for the previous collection.

…and if I continue to read every new thing I find as a prerequisite to clicking “publish” on this article, it will never go out the door. So, the Perfect being the enemy of the Good, I’m going to call it here and go have lunch.



This entry was posted in Excavations of the Past, Gamhoud, General, Ptolemaic Coffins. Bookmark the permalink.

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