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Cursus on Arran

23 January 2021

The Scotsman also has news of the unexpected discovery of a cursus monument, a kilometer in length, found on the Isle of Arran – see www.scotsman.com/heritage-and-retro/heritage/new-stone-age-discovery-of-… … the cursus monument is better known from southern Britain, and from lowland locations rather than upland ones. The cursus at Stonehenge springs to mind. More and more of these are being found by the use of LiDAR, and this one is no exception. The banks are very often quite low as they have been denuded by the weather over several thousand years. Presumably this may amount to further  evidence of the spread of megalithic culture along the Atlantic seaboard. The link suggests they may have served some kind of ritual purpose – involving fire it would seem. Some of the posts were burnt purposely in what is thought to have been some kind of rite. In fact, the cursus may have been created in order to burn it down, and one  thinks of the vitrified forts which may have had a later but similar role. The cursus consists of a long line of timber posts forming a long rectangular enclosure, possibly involving a processional walk way.

Over at https://phys.org/news/2021-01-egypt-unveils-ancient-funerary-temple.html …. we have more new discoveries from ancient Egypt – at the necropolis at Saqqara, south of Cairo. These tombs were associated with the ancient city of Memphis it is thought, and some of the finds are dated back to the Old Kingdom period. A thrteen foot long copy of the Book of the Dead was also found. These are a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld, we are told. Some of the burial shafts were 40 feet deep, enough to deter your average back garden tomb robber but no doubt not all of them.

Gary sent in a link on the same subject – at www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-unearth-50-more-sarcoph… … a cache of treasures, including more than 50 wooden sarcophagi, and a funerary temple dedicated to an Old Kingdom queen with a 13 foot long scroll of the Book of the Dead, has been uncovered at Saqqara, a vast burial ground south of Cairo. Zahi Hawass and colleagues discovered the coffins which appear to date to the New Kingdom period, rather than the Old Kingdom. Paintings of ancient gods and excerpts from the Book of the Dead, were found in the burial shafts. The site stands close to the pyramid of King Tet, first king of the 6th dynasty, who lived in late 3rd millennium BC. Tet's wife, Queen Naert, occupied the main tomb. Excavations at the necropolis have unearthed tombs from a long period of Egyptian history, including from the Greek era, as well as the New Kingdom, and now, apparently the Old Kingdom. This link is quite interesting as we may wonder why so many burials over such a long period were constructed at the same location. One rationale is that they were  more recent followers of a TYet worshipping cult form after the pharaoh's death. Experts are suggesting the cult lasted over 1000 years, which does seem quite remarkable.What was so significant about King Tet. Do we know. As far as chronology is concerned he follows on the collapse of the pyramid building dynasty 5, and dynasty 6 asppears contmporary with the Akkadian period when indeed strange goings on occurred. Dynasty 5 also ended in an abrupt manner and was followed by the so called First Intermediate Period, when Egypt was in turmoil. Again, for unknown reasons. The link provides images and a list of finds from wooden masks toi statues and shrines of gods such as Anubis. Gary is somewhat sceptical of the 1000 year long cult of King Tet but until the full facts revealed by the excavation are published we can't really tell what was going on. It is perhaps a bit of a cliche to say the ancient Egyptians were extraordinarily conservative as far as mythology and religious belief was concerned. Australian Aborigines and other peoples appear to have preserved knowledge of long ago events over an extraordinarily long time and it feasible the Egyptians were also inclined to do so. We can only wonder  what it was that was being remembered and how King Tet might have been involved.

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