Monday, October 23, 2006

Old Kingdom tombs of dentists found in Saqqara
"The first cemetery of Pharaonic dentists has been unearthed by an Egyptian antiquities mission at the Saqqara pyramid complex south of the capital Cairo, the Egyptian official news agency MENA reported on Sunday.
The cemetery, built with bricks, dates back to the end of the fourth dynasty and the start of the fifth dynasty (more than 4,000 years ago), the mission's leader Zahi Hawas, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement.
The statement said that the cemetery consists of three tombs of the king's three dentists, a chief one and two others who used to live near the royal palace to care for the teeth of the king and the royal family." (
"Thieves led an Egyptian archaeological team to discover three tombs of dentists to the ancient kings, unveiled Sunday at the Saqqara pyramid complex south of Cairo. . . . About 4,200 years old, the tombs honor a chief dentist and two other dentists, who served the royal families. They show that the ancient Egyptians 'cared about the treatment of their teeth,' Hawass said. He pointed out two hieroglyphs, an eye over a tusk, appearing frequently among the neat rows of symbols decorating the tombs' doors, that he said identify the men as dentists.
Thieves beat the archaeologists to the site of the new tombs, launching their own dig one summer night two months ago, before they were captured and jailed. . . . They likely didn't notice a curse inscription just inside the prominent doorway to the chief dentist's tomb, which showed a crocodile and a snake, designed to ward off invaders."
"The pictorial letters also spell out the names of the chief dentist — Iy Mry — and the other two — Kem Msw and Sekhem Ka. Hawass said the men were not related but must have been partners or colleagues to have been buried together.
They depict the chief dentist and his family immersed in daily rituals — playing games, slaughtering animals and presenting offerings to the dead, including the standard 1,000 loaves of bread and 1,000 vases of beer. Just around the corner of the doorway is a false door, its face painstakingly inscribed with miniature hieroglyphics. A shallow basin was placed below it" (
This site has a photograph of part of the site (click on the photograph to see the bigger image). (
A photograph of the false portal surmounted by a lintel with a two-line inscription. (
A different photo is on the above page, this one showing some of the hieroglyphic inscriptions naming the dentists, accompanying a two-page article about the discovery. (
A round-up of all the best photos is at the above address (thanks Aayko - you're a star)

Also at: (

See the above web addresses for the rest of these stories.

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