Guardian Feline

Digs & Discoveries May/June 2020

(EIMAWA Egyptian-Italian Missione at West Aswan - Università degli Studi di Milano)

For more than 1,000 years, Egyptians buried their dead at the Aswan necropolis, on the banks of the Nile. In one tomb, which contained as many as 30 bodies, a joint Italian-Egyptian team recently noticed a painted leopard’s face peering at them from the soil. The painting, which may once have decorated the lid of a sarcophagus, is in an extremely delicate state of preservation, making it difficult to remove. Now the researchers have digitally reconstructed the face of the painted feline, which accompanied one ancient Egyptian’s journey to the afterlife around 2,100 years ago. “We understood that the very fragile piece of wood could be restored and returned back to its original splendor,” says University of Milan archaeologist Patrizia Piacentini. “For the moment, the restoration is only virtual, but we hope to get the same results with an actual restoration.” In ancient Egypt, the leopard was a symbol of power and strength. Egyptologists believe the painted animal’s face would have been positioned directly above the deceased’s head to provide guidance and protection in the afterlife.

  • Artifacts May/June 2020

    Torah Shield and Pointer

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    (Courtesy Michał Wojenka/Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology)
  • Around the World May/June 2020


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    (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Digs & Discoveries May/June 2020

    The Parthenon by Any Other Name?

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    (Jason Urbanus)
  • Features May/June 2020

    A Path to Freedom

    At a Union Army camp in Kentucky, enslaved men, women, and children struggled for their lives and fought to be free

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    (Left to right: Courtesy Ron Coddington/; University of Kentucky Special Collections, Lexington, KY; Library of Congress)