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Can Stellarium help us find the Mnevis Bull burial site?

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Joined: 14 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:04 am    Post subject: Can Stellarium help us find the Mnevis Bull burial site? Reply with quote

People have been traipsing through Amarna for like 300 years and the burial ground of the Mnevis Bull has apparently never been found. Perhaps we might use a new tool to expand the search.

Davies 1908 - Earlier Proclamation wrote:
If I die in any town of the north, south, west, Orient in the multitude of years, I will be brought and my burial made in Akhetaton. If the great Queen Neferteit who lives, die in any town of north, south, west, or Orient, in the [multitude of years, she shall be brought] and buried in Akhetaton. If the King's daughter Meritaton die in any city of north, south, west, or Orient, in the multitude of years, she shall be brought and buried in Akhetaton. And the sepulchre of Mreu (Mnevis) shall be made in the Orient mountain of Akhetaton, [and he shall be buried] therein.

We will use Stellarium for this exercise. If you wish to follow along, download the program...it is open-source. The precision under the default setting is good for the years 1999 BC to 3000 AD. This is the same standard used by other prominent entities, as you can see below.


We will use the Great Aten Temple to help us find a place to look but, first, we need to calibrate Stellarium to the spring equinox in 1350BC.

First, the closest location listed in Stellarium is Dayr Mawas...just across the river and slightly to the south of the Great Aten Temple. It is close enough that the view of the sky will be the same.

Date & Time:

For the time, Stellarium uses your system time as the default. You can manually set it for whatever you want but it's a pain in the rear. It is easier to just add the time difference between you and Egypt to the time it is showing you, which is your own time of day. In my case, Egypt is 6 hours ahead of me, so if it says midnight, I know it's actually 6am in Egypt. The view of the sky is not affected by this so it doesn't really make any difference. You will see what I mean below.

For the date, Stellarium will not allow you to type a negative sign. Display the date/time window and double-click the year. Type "1" and then use the down arrow to get "-1"...click in the year field again and add 350 making it -1350. The particular year in the 1300s that you use won't make much difference as the sky doesn't change very much over a person's lifetime.

Now, the current equinox (just past) rises due east:

Trying to use the same date in 1350 BC will show the effect of the precession of the equinoxes:

~April 3rd is a more appropriate equinox date for 1350 BC, as shown:

Now that we're calibrated to the equinox, how do we know where to find a good place to look? First, we need to know how far the sun moves along the horizon. Luckily, a friendly physics professor has already calculated this measurement from the Great Aten Temple for us...click here to get your copy! The sun spends 1/4 of the year travelling 13.4 degrees north of due east and then 1/4 year travelling back south to due east for the fall equinox. The other half of the year is spent south of due east. There is a chart in the paper displaying this graphically. The professor also shows you how to calculate this yourself.

However, I will simply use a protractor to verify her calculation with a measurement:

That looks good to me. Now, we need an idea of where to look. Here, you can see I've drawn a diagonal axis across the temple. The southwest corner of the wall was reconstructed with the line using the diagram on page 7 of this publication from the Amarna Project. The foundations for the front pylons are still visible so it was a simple matter to place the line.

You can also see the protractor showing the line is at a 6.34 degree angle from due east:

Now, how long does it take for the sun to travel 6.34 degrees to reach our alignment? Given that it takes 1/4 of a year to travel 13.4 degrees, the math to determine what we want to know is rather simple. It's found by using a simple ratio.

Our math:

From a celestial standpoint, the week just prior to our alignment is actually rather eventful.

First, we find the sun disk making a pretty picture between the horns of Taurus, the celestial bull...very similar to the way it's depicted in AE art, wouldn't you say? Of course, the stars are lost in the glare of the sun, but I'm sure the AEs were well aware that the stars were there. After all, the Age of Taurus lasted from ~4000 BC to ~1700 BC, which means the spring equinox rose within the Taurus constellation during that entire time. It's probably not an accident that bull cults became very prominent during that period over much of the world, including Egypt. Egyptian constellations are really not well attested generally but it's ridiculous to think they did not know of this constellation, especially considering that the sun appeared between the horns exactly on the equinox during the formative years of Egyptian history before travelling across the constellation and finally into Aries around 1700 BC.

The Celestial Bull:

But, we also have another celestial event this week. This is also the week when we lose Sirius in the glare of the sun. The star will return in July, rising just before dawn to mark the beginning of the new year.

Sirius lost in the glare (marked by the target):

Now, lets see what we have at 43 days past the equinox (add 6 hours and it's May 16th). Most of Taurus was visible when it rose just before the sun this morning. It has been reborn and will not be lost in the sun's glare again for almost a year. Additionally, the target marks the Pleiades open cluster (or the 7 Sisters/Hathors). This has also just exited the sun's glare for it's new season of visibility. In terms of agriculture, this could also be a sign to rush completion of the harvest as the Nile's inundation will be starting in a few weeks...really, at any time as the exact date of its onset varied over a span of like 80 days from year to year.

Now, has that diagonal axis given us an interesting place we might look? Indeed it has, about 7 kilometers away...and I am not making this up folks! I have given you the tools to go look this up yourself. I wonder what the results of a magnetic scan of the sand settled in the bottom might reveal...if anyone ever decides it might be a good idea to go take a look at that thing. I mean really, if it hasn't been found in like 300 years, maybe it's time to go look in another spot.


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