Excavated by Dr David George Hogarth, the mummy of a man named Ankhef was discovered in Asyut, Egypt.
Ancient Asyut was the capital of the Thirteenth Nome of Upper, c. 3100 B.C, on the western bank of the Nile. The two most prominent gods of ancient Egyptian Asyut were Anubis and Wepwawet, both funerary deities who appeared in canine form.
Within excavated chambers of the adjacent rocks, mummies of wolves have been found, confirming the origin of its name, as well as a tradition preserved by Diodorus Siculus, to the effect that an Ethiopian army, invading Egypt, was repelled beyond the city of Elephantine by packs of wolves.
Osiris was worshipped under the symbol of a wolf at Lycopolis. According to a myth, he had come “from the shades” as a wolf to aid Isis and Horus in their combat with Typhon. Other ancient Egyptian monuments discovered in Asyut include; the Asyut necropolis (west of the modern city), tombs which date to dynasties Nine, Ten and Twelve, and the Ramessid tombs of Siese and Amenhotep.
The name of the city of Asyut, is derived from early Egyptian Zawty (Z3JW.TJ) (late Egyptian, Səyáwt), which was adopted into the Coptic as Syowt “ⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩⲧ”, which means “Guardian” of the northern approach of Upper Egypt. In Graeco-Roman Egypt, it was called Lycopolis or Lykopolis, “wolf city”.
Ankhef was discovered in Asyut and dates from between the 11th-12th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom c. 2000-1980 B.C.
The mummified remains of Ankhef to this day lay within his painted wooden coffin, which is adorned with hieroglyphic funerary spells decorated in blue.
According to the British Museum, Ankhef’s mummy is in a rather poor state. His head, chest and abdomen are reported to be “completely disorganised”, with a dislocated jaw that is described as “edentulous”, which means “lacking teeth”.
Ankhef’s mummy also has several of his teeth scattered throughout the rest of his body, two at his pelvis and one near to the upper chest. Ankhef’s ribs are disarticulated. He is also showing signs of osteoarthritis upon his left hip.
X-Ray scans revealed that sadly, Ankhef’s mummy has no visible amulets upon his person. Amulets would be precious stone tokens to help guard the deceased and provide him with prayers and prosperity upon his journey towards and through the Afterlife. They could also be placed upon the deceased or within the deceased’s body during the mummification process, if an organ is missing or damaged. Such amulets would come in many forms, sometimes tiny figures of gods, or icons such as the human heart.
Why does Ankhef have facial hair?
Although it is believed generally that Egyptians were clean-shaven, archaeological evidence is somewhat altering that view as royal mummies with hair have been discovered, and depictions of men with beards and moustaches have also been found. Although that is not to say Egyptians were not usually clean-shaven.
It is known that the priesthood were very particular about cleanliness, removing facial and hair upon the head. However, it must be noted that the idea of an entirely clean-shaven king is not entirely true; also, Old Kingdom kings have been depicted with pencil moustaches, and these two Middle Kingdom depictions of bearded men do suggest that a lack of facial hair was not absolute. A depiction of New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty King, Seti I, has been discovered showing the king with a stubbled face, which has been suggested to show the king in mourning.
Other masks resembling this mummy mask of Ankhef have been discovered in Asyut and they all date from the same period. One actually belonging to a High Official, currently on display at The Walters Art Museum. 78.4.
Mummy of Ankhef
Middle Kingdom, 11th-12th Dynasty, c. 2000-1980 B.C.
British Museum. EA46631