Lecture: Update in Egyptology

On October 26, 2016 Dr. Mostafa Waziri and Salah El Masekh will present a lecture in our Wortham Gian Screen Theater. Titled Update in Egyptology the lecture will discuss some of the most exciting discoveries being made right now in Egypt. The lecture will discuss several discoveries at the ancient temple complex of Karnak, and will also touch on a controversial topic in Egyptology: the search for Queen Nerfertiti’s lost mummy.

Do you recall the Temples of Karnak and Luxor? Even though most of us have never been there, we can instantly conjure an image of great pillars and sphinx-lined avenues baking in the hot sun, as the cool Nile washes past not far away. It is a classic image of Egypt, embedded in all our minds after countless re-watchings of adventure films and one documentary after another about the site appearing on the History, Discovery, National Geographic Channels, and PBS as well, or course. 

Well it looks like the collective memories of the world regarding that famous site may no longer be complete, as Egyptian archaeologists have recently unearthed several new features around the complex that may help us understand how these important ceremonial centers functioned in Ancient Egypt. 

It turns out that the spectacular ” Avenue of the Sphinxes” is much longer than everyone thought. Hundreds of nearly identical statues have been discovered along what was once an ancient roadway connecting the temples of Karnak and Luxor. 


A new temple has been unearthed in the vicinity of the Temple Complex at Karnak. The newly discovered structure was devoted to Amon Re, like many of the other temples at the site were.  Amon was kind of like the “Patron God” of the ancient city of Thebes, where the complex is located. Amon Re is the combination of the gods Amon and Re, basically a  “super god”. As Thebes was an important spiritual and political center for much of Egyptian history,  Pharohs would build Temples on the site as a symbol of devotion to the powerful God, and also as a show of power and wealth. They would usually try to one-up their predecessors and sometimes even destroyed the constructions of former kings in order to build their “improved” version on the site.

The title given to Amon Re in the recently unearthed temple is ” The One Who Hears The Petitions (Prayers)”. As Amun was a very important diety in Ancient Egypt for a very long time, many Pharohs championed his Temple and his name. But to each Pharoh Amon represented something slightly different. The character and title of the god changed sometimes to suit the character of the different kings who worshiped him. The newly discovered Temple may add to our knowledge of the rich history and mythology surrounding one of ancient Egypt’s most holy sites. New research on the structure, as well as a statue of Remeses II discovered within it, will be presented in the lecture.


Another interesting discovery that will be discussed is the Roman baths dating to the second century BC that were unearthed in front of the Karnak temple complex in 2006. The baths are a fascinating example of the fusion of Greco-Roman and Egyptian style in architecture and culture that began with Alexander the Great’s Conquest of Egypt in 332 BC and continued for the better part of the next nine hundred years. Mosaic images of dolphins, a very exotic sight in sweltering Upper Egypt, mingle with Tilapia, a native Egyptian fish, and floral designs based on plants introduced from the East before the days of Alexander.



The site features two circles of “hip-bathtubs” whose lazy-boy-esque appearance have attracted the lens of many a photographer, but beyond that the site is teaching archaeologists a lot about the evolution of Hellenistic baths in Ancient Egypt. It’s unique system of heating water includes features unlike any found in other parts of Egypt, or the Greek world. In the words of the renowned Egyptian archaeologist Salah El Mesekh, who manages the site, “these baths teach us more about how the Romans spent their free time- their social time”.  The lecture will also discuss a Roman Era winery recently unearthed.

Tomb Tut head

Last, but definitely not least, the lecture will address the flurry of debate surrounding the theory that Queen Nefertiti’s lost mummy may be hidden  behind one of the walls within King Tut’s tomb. Our Curator of Egyptology, Dr. Tom Hardwicke recently wrote a blog featuring his take on the issue. Dr. Waziri and El Masekh will discuss the evidence behind this theory and the feasibility of excavating to determine if there is indeed something there.

Be sure to check out Update in Egyptology A lecture on new discoveries in Egypt this Wednesday, October 26, 2016 starting at 6:30pm!


HMNS Weekly Happenings

Spirits and Skeletons!

Sponsored by Audi Central Houston

Calling all ghosts and ghouls, monsters and mummies, witches and werewolves: Houston’s favorite Halloween party — the one and only Spirits & Skeletons — is back at HMNS! With the entire Museum open you can shake your stuff with a stegosaurus, grab a drink with a skink and get spellbound by bewitching gems, all to live music and your favorite hits played by The Space Rockers with fantastic food trucks parked right outside. Whether you go with scary and spooky or fab and kooky — dress up, party the night away at HMNS and we’ll put a spell on you!


Lecture – Future Humans by Scott Solomon

evolution astronaut

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12

Drawing on fields from genomics to medicine and the study of our microbiome, evolutionary biologist Dr. Scott Solomon draws on the explosion of discoveries in recent years to examine the future evolution of our species. But how will modernization—including longer lifespans, changing diets, global travel and widespread use of medicine and contraceptives—affect our evolutionary future? Surprising insights, on topics ranging from the rise of online dating and Cesarean sections to the spread of diseases such as HIV and Ebola, suggest that we are entering a new phase in human evolutionary history—one that makes the future less predictable and more interesting than ever before.


Solomon of Rice University will present an entertaining review of the latest evidence of human evolution in modern times. Join us at HMNS this evening which is the book launch event for the new book is “Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Baker Institute’s Civic Scientist Program.


Lecture – Update in Egyptology by Mostafa Waziri and Salah El-Masekh


Wednesday, October 25, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $27, Members $19

In the Valley of the Kings recent excavations and CT scanning by Japanese investigators on the Tomb of King Tut have revealed evidence of another burial chamber next to the tomb of king. Dr. Mostafa Waziri will overview the extensive work by international teams at the site and also explain the theory that this is the tomb of the famed queen Nefertiti, Tutankhamun’s mother.


Reflecting the whims and ideas of many architects and kings over 2,000 years, the colorful history of the Temples of Karnak—the largest temple complex ever built—will be told through examining old and new excavations. Salah El-Masekh’s extensive research brings a new understanding to the function of the temple complex. El-Masekh will also discuss the most recent excavations at Karnak, including a public Roman bath and harbor that is said was used for the boat of the god Amun for traveling across the Nile to bless the souls of the pharaohs who were buried on the west bank.


Both of these distinguished speakers are with the Egyptian Antiquities Authority. Mostafa Waziri is director of excavations at the Valley of the Kings. Salah El-Masekh’s is director of excavations at the Karnak temple complex.


And be sure to check out these events happening at HMNS Sugarland!


Museum of Madness and Mayhem Haunted House – ages 15 and up only.
Friday, October 21st and Friday October 28th, 7- 11 pm  

Keep checking this page for ghoulish details as they emerge.

Universal symbol for a dead pirate.

Universal symbol for a dead pirate.

Any zombie apocalypse expert knows that prisons are a prime spot to take refuge…if you dare! Don’t miss our new take on the scary side of science as we present Fort Bend’s only teen/adult haunted house, on two consecutive Friday nights. Step into the darkened museum after hours to experience the Museum of Madness and Mayhem Haunted House, presented in collaboration with Houston Zombie Walk. This interactive haunted house features zombies, strolling characters, Wilbur’s Mine of Madness, the Dollhouse of Death, Night of the Living Dead, and the Paleontology Hall of Horror exhibits.  Join us for bone chilling fun at Sugar Land’s only adult haunt – ages 15 and up only


Magical Maze and Goose Bumps Haunted House  – Family Event
Saturday, October 22nd and Saturday, October 29th, 10 a.m. to Noon  

Sugar Land 118

Bring the whole family for Spooky Saturdays at HMNS Sugar Land! Explore our magical Butterfly Garden Maze where you can play the pumpkin toss game, snap a photo, get your face painted and do a little early trick or treating. Calling all witches, ghosts and ghouls, will your costume be the one that rules? Be sure to wear your best costume for the Grand Costume Parade – we’ll have prizes to be won! Don’t forget to visit the family friendly Goose Bumps Haunted House too, it’s fun for monsters of all ages. New tricks and treats await around each corner for every pirate and princess – it’ll be a boo bash to remember!


HMNS Weekly Happenings

Lecture – Archaeological Legacy of Poverty Point by Diana Greenlee

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

A remarkable earthworks complex that was built and occupied by American Indians from about 1700 to 1100 BCE in what is today northeast Louisiana is designated Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Some archaeologists refer to Poverty Point as the “New York City” of its day because it was so huge, sophisticated and out-of-character compared to everything else going on at that time. Trading hub, engineering marvel, monument to ingenuity—the original configuration included five earthen mounds; six nested, c-shaped, earthen ridges that served as the habitation area; and a flat interior plaza.

Although it is not the oldest or the largest mound complex in North America, it stands out as something special—a singularity—because of its scale and design, and because the people here lived by hunting, fishing and gathering wild foods. Also, because there was no naturally occurring rock at the site, tons of stone for tools and other objects were brought in over distances up to 800 miles. At Poverty Point, we can glimpse a reflection of humanity that no longer exists.

This program is co-sponsored by Fort Bend Archeological Society and Houston Archeological Society.

October 4, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12


Coming Soon!

Lecture – Deep Life: The Hunt for Hidden Biology of Earth, Mars, and Beyond by Tullis Onstot

Photo by NASA

Photo by NASA

Taking us to the absolute limits of life–the biotic fringe–where scientists hope to discover the very origins of life itself, Dr. Tullis Onstott of Princeton University will explain how geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system by going to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth’s crust. The recent discoveries of exotic subsurface life forms are helping understand the possibilities of life in the Universe. Book signing following lecture.

October 12, 2016 at 6:30pm 

Tickets $18, Members $12

Lecture – Houston and the Civil Rights Movement by Rev. William Lawson



On the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, Reverend William Lawson and his wife Audrey founded Houston’s Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church in their home in 1962 while he was serving as Professor of Bible at the new Texas Southern University. Join Rev. Lawson in conversation with his daughter Melanie Lawson for special evening recounting key moments in his campaign for civil liberties, including organizing Houstonians to travel to the March on Washington and his friendship and working relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

October 17th, at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12


Dr. Van Der Sanden Talks About Bog Bodies



Since our new special exhibit Mummies of the World has officially opened for all to come and see, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of blogs about the different kinds of mummies featured in the exhibit.

Oh yes, not all mummies are the same. In fact, not all are created on purpose! Although the Ancient Egyptians and a few other cultures around the world mummified their dead in preparation for the afterlife, the bog bodies of Northern Europe were not “prepared” at all.

The most famous bog bodies (aka “bog mummies”) have been found in places like Ireland, Denmark and Germany, and were mummified by completely natural processes. Some of them may have been simply buried by family and friends, others may have been executed or even sacrificed to Celtic of Irish Deities,  but all were sunk into the moist, air-tight depths of the local bogs.

The air-tight qualities of the thick, mossy material that make up bogs are part of the reason that the bodies are so well preserved. Without oxygen, bacteria can’t survive to do its dirty business of decomposing dead plant and animal material.

In the cold, acidic, anaerobic environment of a bog, not much other than moss can grow. Sphagnum moss is an important part of the makeup of Northern European bogs. As the moss continues to grow, older layers are buried beneath the surface and die. This dead moss does not decompose in the anaerobic environment of the bog, though. Instead, it is compressed deeper and deeper under the surface of the bog until it becomes peat. During this transformative process, chemicals are released that seem to have a further effect on the preservation of the body. The acidity of these chemicals help to stop the growth of bacteria. Tannins are one type of chemical released during this process. These acids are used in the production of leather (you may have also heard the term thrown around in discussions of wine), and in the bog they may help to preserve the soft tissue.

Bog bodies offer a rare opportunity for researchers too peer into the past and examine the bodies of a culture that did not traditionally preserve the bodies of their dead, and so left relatively small number of well preserved remains to be examined by scientists. 

So when you think of mummies, don’t just think of cultures like the Ancient Egyptians, or even those in South America that artificially mummified their dead. Sometimes nature does all the work. Here at HMNS we have even have mummified dinosaurs on display in our Hall of Paleontology!