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How does tomb robbery fit with their religion?
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Chrismackint
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By painting them as more laid back could explain the re-using of burial equipment by others and the gov initiated melting down of the ancestors treasures, perhaps even tomb robbery?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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By painting them as more laid back could explain the re-using of burial equipment by others and the gov initiated melting down of the ancestors treasures, perhaps even tomb robbery?


I think the Theban high priests of the early Third Intermediate Period had another excuse in mind. This is the most convincing explanation I've personally read, anyway. With the breakdown of the state apparatus Egypt could no longer guarantee the saftey of its royal necropoli. While the Libyans began to rule the north the high priests of the south were setting themselves up as pharaohs unto themselves, but they needed the wealth of gold and semi-precious stones for their treasuries. The altruistic version is, they went in to remove those kings and their burial equipment that still remained in the tombs so as to keep them safe from invaders. They depositied the mummies of the great rulers of the recent past in various caches, such as the famous DB320, while at the same time stripping away nearly anything and everything of value. What a wonderful opportunity it was, after all!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I discovered that religious thinking was changing from the 18th dynasty to the 20th and that by the 20th they would have the pharohs tomb left open so priests could come in and do ritual activities for the deceased king....
could explain some of the robbery.

Apparantly not all egyptologists agree on the extent and nature of the divinity of the living pharoah. They all agree though, that the king achieved divine status at death.

Although after reading this thread and discovering how the majority of people were poor and couldn't read or write and lived very simply compared to the few elite people, i personally have trouble believing they thought the pharoah was anymore divine in death than in life.Simply because if they had no hope for an afterlife why would they believe their ruler was divine if he couldn't assure them an afterlife?

I mean can you imagine how people today would react if 95% of them lived in poor conditions and couldn't read or write and were controlled by 5% very rich people who told them what to do constantly and spend massive amounts of money on building projecs for their king who thought he was a living god? lol sounds absurd when you put it like that. Kind of like the cults of the north korean leader.

Satirical cartoons of the pharoh and even mocking him in writing in one instance calling him "the old general" all show to me anyway that the average person and even the elite probably didn't see him as any more divine than the average person.Apparantly they saw him as semi-divine with super human attributes given to him by the gods(Horus) at the corination.Apparantly the sun god resided inside the Pharoh apon his coronation-so any divinity he recieved or super human powers he had came from the gods and not his individual personage.

I find AE society very hypocritical-we get all these rich people who are ultra religious believing in the afterlife-and then we get the average person who doesn't have any hope for an afterlife just left out in the cold with no hope whatsoever.I used to be amazed by the AE but with this realisation i find it very hard to understand what they were on about at all.....their whole society existed solely for the few rich people at the top while the rest of the people were just left to try and survive as best they could....where is the divine order of maat in that?
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kat
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackont wrote:

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I find AE society very hypocritical-we get all these rich people who are ultra religious believing in the afterlife-and then we get the average person who doesn't have any hope for an afterlife just left out in the cold with no hope whatsoever.I used to be amazed by the AE but with this realisation i find it very hard to understand what they were on about at all.....their whole society existed solely for the few rich people at the top while the rest of the people were just left to try and survive as best they could....where is the divine order of maat in that?


As you said at the top of your post, values changed in AE. While it's true that in the begining, an afterlife was reserved for the king, this did change. By the pyramid age, the afterlife was expanded for the queen and other family members, high officials, nobility, etc. This then trickled down to the middle class and finally to the lower classes.

In the cemetaries at Tell Basta even the poorest ppl's graves have some amulets on the bodies, as well as grave goods as provisions for the afterlife. This shows that even the poorest ppl had an expectation of some kind of afterlife, possibly patterned on the one the upper classes could look forward to.

Then, you also need to consider the 'art' in AE tombs- these were magical in nature, pictures to show what goods, etc. were to be in the tomb owner's afterlife. This art included ppl! Frequently 'peasants', but if the art was a representation of what the tomb owner expected in the afterlife, then that afterlife had to include the lower class ppl that were depicted too!

I'll give you a virtual lollypop if you can punch holes in my logic! Smile
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Chrismackint
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lol

thanks for explaining it in such an easy manner....so the afterlife was first reserved only for the king and then trickled down slowly through society through the ages?

AE unlike other cultures never seemed to be constant in it's beliefs and traditions-they always seemed to be changing and it's really hard to define what is normal for AE. You know what i mean?

I understand your logic kat-it's just amazing to me how many tombs were robbed and how much was spent on massive religious building projects-and nothing given back to the people.

Although i can understand how people who to us seem to come from poorer and worse off conditions than the rich AE are actually in fact happy living just as they were and content with their lives...so i guess the average peasent in AE was happy just as they were, i guess simply because they didn't know any different.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just realised i totally missed your point-by depicting peasents in their tombs the elite were ensuring the peasents a place in the afterlife....amazing....so they did, to which extent we do not know, have some sort of expectation for the afterlife....

I've noticed how where ever the Pharoah had his tomb/pyramid built, the elite and peasants tombs were located close by-so perhaps the reason so much emphasis was put on the Pharoah's afterlife was becasue if he didn't make it into the afterlife then the people were doomed, so maybe by being located close by to their rulers tomb the "common" people were ensuring they would not get lost in the afterlife?

All just speculation i know but it still doesn't explain the vast amounts of tomb robbery in a country that believed as strongly in it's religion as the AE. If depicting peasants on tomb walls ensured their place in the next world then you would think they would be content and not go robbing the tombs of their rich masters?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:
If depicting peasants on tomb walls ensured their place in the next world then you would think they would be content and not go robbing the tombs of their rich masters?

I'm sure not everyone did steal from tombs, but often when it did occur to any great extent, it was during times of weakness. Whether the weakness was from a king that was bad at ruling, or foreign invasions onto their land, or even many years of poor harvests, is irrelevant, it still brought about the same outcome. Which was a country that became poorer, and therefore, more desperate.
Tomb robberies wouldn't have been as frequent during times of prosperity, as many royal tombs were periodically checked, and disturbance of a tomb would have been dealt with immmediately. When Egypt was going through bad times, though, the king in question likely wouldn't have had the free time - more importantly the spare money - to keep his ancestors tombs in check.
I don't personally believe that the tomb robberies that occurred, show any real evidence for lack of religion amongst the commoners. In fact, the reality is that robbers sometimes set fire to objects in a tomb, this to me shows fear. I know it was also done to extract gold etc from objects, but why do all that in a pitch-black tomb?? I do think the majority would have worried that they might be angering their gods (obviously not all people feared the gods, I'm sure that - like in most cultures - there would've been many that did not believe in the gods at all), but they were more worried about the here and now to care, when their own families were going hungry etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:

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All just speculation i know but it still doesn't explain the vast amounts of tomb robbery in a country that believed as strongly in it's religion as the AE. If depicting peasants on tomb walls ensured their place in the next world then you would think they would be content and not go robbing the tombs of their rich masters?


But not ALL the robberies occurred during the Pharaonic period! Some occured after the Arab (Islamic) conquest of Egypt, some occuured during the early excavations. Some of the early excavatores (Belzoni et al) were little more than tomb robbers themselves you know. And these ppl didn't have the sensebilities that the AE did, so they most likely didn't view their disturbances as desecrations, much less robbery.

In AE, when tomb robbers were caught, punishment was swift and brutal.

Beyond re-closing Tut's tomb, there is at least one bit of speculation that many of the faience pieces were hasty replacements for the expensive gold.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kat wrote:
But not ALL the robberies occurred during the Pharaonic period!...Some of the early excavatores (Belzoni et al) were little more than tomb robbers themselves you know. And these ppl didn't have the sensebilities that the AE did, so they most likely didn't view their disturbances as desecrations, much less robbery.

But obviously many of the robberies did occur during the pharaonic period; in some cases, not too long after interrment. These robberies would've been dealt with immediately, granted, but robberies that occurred during times of strife would undoubtedly, have on occasion, gone unnoticed.
Comparing excavators like Belzoni to robbers, is very extreme, in my opinion. Their intentions were in the right place; it seems silly to say that they did a bad job in their excavations; what's done is done. Take Kent Weeks excavation of KV5, for example, it's one of the most meticulously excavated tombs, he takes - what seems to modern minds - all precautions; excavating everything with a fine tooth comb, and documenting all finds well. But even though that is the case, I'd bet in a hundred years or so time, people will be scoffing at his ideas and methods, calling today's archaeologists vandals and worse. It is the way of the world, as new techniques progress people will laugh at the old methods and those that used them.
As far as I know Belzoni (your example) excavated in Egypt, in hopes that he could take his findings back to Britain to enrich the collection at the British Museum; this was how it worked in those days, and was a very noble cause, very far from being a robber! It reminds me of my example that I wrote about on the first page of this thread; that of Djutmose and Butehamun whom restored tombs and looked after the deceased kings re-wrapping them and re-locating them to safer grounds. Some people would consider them and their teams robbers too, as they often removed jewels and gold from them on behalf of pharaoh, but to me, removing those items is what certainly kept them safe for us of the future. And, again was done with good intentions.

Kat, you wrote that "these ppl didn't have the sensebilities that the AE did." To what are you referring here?? What sensibilities? Idea
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess it depends how you look at it. Belzoni was one of the most colorful and interesting characters in his time, and he brought beautiful things back to Britain to be protected and viewed in museums. Some argue that it was best that he did so because many native Egyptians were robbing the tombs and selling to people like Belzoni because they were so poor--so, better in a museum than melted down or secreted away by someone unscrupulous. On the other hand, there are those who remind us of the Egyptians working for the Antiquities Service who worked very hard to protect the artifacts and keep them in their homeland, where they could be enjoyed there.

When someone today argues that artifacts are better off in the museums of the developed world, they are branded racist. At least Belzoni was recognized by the Egyptian government as a legitimate excavator, even though his methods left a lot to be desired. You could call him an archaeologist or tomb robber--you'd be right on both counts.

Now, Sir Wallace Budge, as much of a scholar as he was, was indeed an unscrupulous tomb robber. Despised by the Egyptian and French authorities, Budge generally stole what he dug up or bought from native Egyptian thieves the things they had taken out of tombs. At the same time he enriched the collections of the British Museum.

It's easy for us to frown upon the methods of early archaeologists. On that score I agree with Daughter_Of_SETI. Most of them made little to no attempt to record and document their excavations, which is why so many of the pieces in museum collections all over the world have dubious origins. They weren't all of the level of excellence of Flinders Petrie, Howard Carter, or Radcliffe Emerson. Razz

However, I rather doubt archaeologists of the future will frown too much upon the likes of Kent Weeks, Otto Schaden, Mark Lehner, or Salima Ikram. Archaeology of today and archaeology of 1920 are two completely different things. A multivaried scientific approach is brought to the effort, and everything is recorded and documented to the Nth degree. And oftentimes, areas are left unexcavated so that the more advanced sciences of the future can deal with them. Further, in present times in Egypt the scale of excavation is much reduced; instead, serious efforts are being brought to bear on the conservation and preservation of important sites, many of which are suffering greatly under the changing climate and environment of modern Egypt.

In the future I think it will be more the case of an archaeologist saying something like, "Boy, I can't believe they got by back then without [this or that future tool or method] and somehow managed to do what they did."

There is a book I have to recommend, which I've recommended in ED forums numerous times throughout my time here: Brian Fagan's The *** of the Nile. This is the perfect book to read if you want a clear and precise view of how Westerners have expoited and abused Egypt throughout the years, and of how the relatively modern leaders of Egypt are guilty of their own fair share of deplorable negligence and destruction.

Quote:
But obviously many of the robberies did occur during the pharaonic period; in some cases, not too long after interrment.


Personally I believe most tombs were picked clean in ancient times. And I would agree with you that it took place soon after burial, within at most a generation or two. Of course I can't produce facts or figures to support this claim--well, no one can--but I'd bet that even by Hellenistic times most of the tombs of which we of today are aware, were already robbed. Many people, I think, underestimate just how rampant and prolific tomb robbing was throughout dynastic times, particularly during the strife and turmoil of the three Intermediate Periods.
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Chrismackint
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Beyond re-closing Tut's tomb, there is at least one bit of speculation that many of the faience pieces were hasty replacements for the expensive gold.


kat do you mean the reason tuts coffins and mask are inlaid with faience was to conserve gold?

I'm really interested in this please tell me more Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:

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Kat, you wrote that "these ppl didn't have the sensebilities that the AE did." To what are you referring here?? What sensibilities?


As Kmt-Sesh pointed out, calling early excavators 'tomb robbers' does depend on your point of view. The early excavators did not consider themselves to be tomb robbers, although most went digging hoping for gold. That museums benefitted is an after-the-fact justification for the thrill of discovery, and the hopes of finding gold.

But the AE took their tombs seriously- it was their effort to ensure a place in the afterlife. Early excavators were deeply condesending in the way they expressed opinions about the 'primitive' religious beliefs of the AE. AFAIK, Breasted was the _first_ Egyptologist who took the AE on their own terms (his book _Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt_ is a landmark!), not making snide comments about the unenlightened, poor pagan savages who believed in _________ (fill in the blank.)

I guess it does depend on your POV.

BTW, Kent Weeks is not a tomb robber in my mind- he's not only handling all artifacts with respect, but also treating the bits and pieces of human remains with respect. And he is planning on leaving whole rooms of his massive tomb uncleared so the better techniques of the future will have virgin territory.

Oh, and the present native Egyptians are also very disrespectful of their own past- many of the temple sanctuaries reek of urine and worse!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:

Quote:
kat do you mean the reason tuts coffins and mask are inlaid with faience was to conserve gold?

I'm really interested in this please tell me more


Tut's tomb was entered twice in antiquity- two tunnels with different kinds of fill.

The chests that are often beautiful works of art in their own right had lists of the contents, so we have a good idea of what was missing. Which included lots of ritual vessels which would have been made of precious metals. These were replaced with faience ritual vessels. (Think of the beautiful ritual vessels found in the Tell Basta Treasure, found in 1906. Anneke posted a link to this somewwhere around here.)

Now, lots of ppl think of faience as 'cheap' as in ancient plastic junk, but in its own way, faience was also a luxury item by dint of the labor and knowledge needed to create it. But it still wasn't as valuable as gold or silver. The show catalog _Gifts of the Nile_ from the big faience show a few years back terms faience as a sacred thing because it shines, reflecting the light.

The faience inlays in Tut's mask, etc. are part of the original design AFAIK. I believe this because the ancient robbers didn't get as far as his coffin.

Besides gold and other things we modern ppl understand to be valuable, the ancient thieves also scooped perfumes and ointments from the cumbersome alabaster containers that were hard to transport. Because there was no refrigeration or chemical preservatives, these would have become rancid and so modern archaeologists think unguents were some of the first things that were looted.

Boy, wind me up and let me talk! Sorry. Embarassed
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's amazing how tuts tomb was robbed but still managed to survive intact to quite a large extent. Must have been Horemhabs thourough military attitude to stamping out criminality in society and restoring order to his country that was the reason for tuts tomb surviving-i guess he must have completely wiped out that gang of criminals-because none ever came back or were able to tell others about tuts tomb.....it's almost ironic, someone like Horemhab who is a military type helping to preserve something from the amarna era, which people like Horemheb and AE in general veiwed as their lowest hour.

I'm glad Horemheb was able to catch the theives out and deal with them accordingly-thanks to him tuts treasure survived Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Oh, and the present native Egyptians are also very disrespectful of their own past- many of the temple sanctuaries reek of urine and worse!


That's horrible to hear...even Luxor and Karnak and the big famous temples? I thought the regulations would have been stricter for that...but I thought that 'damage' was due to some of the more disrespectful tourists, not the natives? If it is the natives as you say...well, that's a very sad thing to hear that they really don't care about their history, and makes me wonder if those claims that they 'respect their past' is just tourist-fodder. I know, that sounds very cynical and I really didn't want to think such things...but that thought just flicked into my mind right now. (Although I'm sure a lot of Egyptian archeologists are against all this disrespect of history, not least You-Know-Who.)
Also reminds me of a comment in Kevin's Luxor blog, where he said something about very recent modern day grafitti on the painted reliefs in the Valley of the Kings tombs that were still open.

Quote:
Besides gold and other things we modern ppl understand to be valuable, the ancient thieves also scooped perfumes and ointments from the cumbersome alabaster containers that were hard to transport. Because there was no refrigeration or chemical preservatives, these would have become rancid and so modern archaeologists think unguents were some of the first things that were looted.


I actually remember reading something about Carter and co discovering a jar of perfume in Tut's tomb that apparently still retained it's pleasant scent (I find that hard to believe though...can a pleasant fragrance last for thousands of years? Wouldn't things start to smell pretty putrid after that amount of time, or lose their scent altogether?) and apparently they did some chemical tests on the perfume and discovered what it was made of (a base of animal fat with frankincense and something else that I can't remember). But if Tut's smellies were nicked back then, maybe it wasn't from Tut's tomb?
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