A wooden statue of a king, a private offering chapel, a monumental building and remains of over 80 animal mummies found by a University of Toronto-led team in Abydos, Egypt reveal intriguing information about ritual activity associated with the great gods.
Professor Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations presented her team’s findings at a recent meeting of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities.
The wooden statue is one of very few existing royal wooden statues, and may represent the female king Hatshepsut. She was often portrayed as male in stone because the Egyptian pharaoh was understood to be son of the god Amon-Re (she was also known to dress as a man for the role). But this statue has a smaller waist and delicate jawline, acknowledging these aspects of her feminine physique.
It is believed to be from a ceremonial procession in which wooden statues of the royal ancestors (spirits of the kings) and gods were carried in boat-shaped shrines by priests from the temple of Osiris to his tomb. The procession was part of a festival celebrating the afterlife of the god Osiris.
Egyptians from all levels of society built chapels and monuments along the processional route as a way of ensuring their eternal participation in the festival and their identification with Osiris. Building too close to the route, however, was prohibited by the state and infringement carried the threat of the death penalty. The offering chapel they uncovered is believed to be that of an elite person, dates from about 1990 to 1650 BC and shows where the boundary to the route was.
“The offering chapel proves that people