The Meaning of Wine in Egyptian Tombs

The Meaning of Wine in Egyptian Tombs

The find of Tutankhamuns tomb is significant in its being one of a few intact royal tombs to have been discovered in Egypt thus far Many of the artifacts in the tomb were spectacular but the three amphorae found in Tutankhamuns burial chamber raised many questions Maria Rosa GuaschJans article looks at the amphorae found within the tomb and attempts to answer some of the questions surrounding them Using inscriptions found in the tomb as well as residue analysis GuaschJan is able to identify the wines and argue for their symbolic meaning in the context of not only Tutankhamuns era but wine in general throughout Egyptian history This paper will provide a summary of the article The meaning of wine in Egyptian tombs the three amphorae from Tutankhamuns burial chamber as well as identify the problem in trying to solve the claim This paper will also identify the methods used to solve the claim as well as state how this article might be useful to others with related research

According to the article upon discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun 23 amphorae were found placed within the annexe chamber of the tomb Within the burial chamber itself 3 more amphorae were discovered appearing to have been intentionally placed towards the west east and south of Tutankhamuns sarcophagus This find therefore caused the author to ask why were these wine jars not stored in the annexe chamber with the rest of the wine but placed instead in the burial chamber Does the position of the three wine jars have any meaning Along with this the author notes that no amphora was found on the northern side of the chamber As a result GuachJan identifies the purpose of this article as being to use the residue to identify the nature of the wine that had been in the amphorae and investigate their symbolism in the context of what is known1 in Egyptian mythology

According to Howard Carter there were signs of intruders in the tomb but little damage was actually done to the tomb Although the seals on the wine jars had been broken the amphorae were found to have had residue wine left inside Along with residue hieratic inscriptions on the jars showed differences in the vintage origin and production of the wines This evidence may be used to identify signs of trade and distribution in Egyptian society Using chromatography mass spectrometry it was determined that a white wine was present in the eastern amphorae a red wine in the western amphorae and a red grape wine with elaborate preparation marked shedeh was present in the southern amphorae According to GuachJan the shedeh was a much appreciated beverage with a high value and as a result GuachJan is led to ask Was this for symbolic reasons

In order to answer the many questions GuaschJan explores the historical background of wine in ancient Egypt According to the author large quantities of storage jars were found in Egyptian tombs at Abydos and Saqqara and were interpreted to be for the sustenance of the deceased in the afterlife2 as funerary offerings to the spirit of the dead Tombs dating to the Middle Kingdom depict offerings of wine made to the dead and placed in front of the tombs false door from which the buried person was supposed to emerge thus showing evidence of a belief in resurrection GuachJan further states that in ancient Egypt wine was mainly consumed by the royal family and the upper classes and served as an offering to the gods by the pharaoh or priests in a daily temple ritual In order to further understand the ancient Egyptian behaviour the author ventures to understand the symbolism of wine in ancient Egypt GuachJan employs cognitive archaeology in order to understand the Egyptian behaviour and attitude towards wine By looking at cosmology and ancient Egyptian mythology this understanding becomes more fervent According to ancient Egyptian mythology the god Osiris was known as being the lord of wine The grape harvests coincided with the Nile flood and the red colour of the Nile and as a result3 grap

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