Thursday, June 30, 2005

Understanding Museums - the Example of the Petrie

The following was originally an email, sent by Jan Picton of the Petrie Museum to the EEF forum, and reproduced here with her kind permission. It is a very important perspective on the role of museums, the responsible management of museum collections, and their role in communicating their contents to wide audiences. Jan's very pertinent email reads as follows:

"I recently posted some information about tunics in the Petrie Museum and the online availability of all (or most) of the Petrie objects. I received the following comment that I would like to take this opportunity to follow up on list since I think it's a view that many people may share.

"I really liked the old "cramped" museum. To me that is what a working museum should be. I shall have mixed feelings when I see the new and improved space I have heard about."

I could say the easy thing - that a 21st century world class museum and collection deserves fitting surroundings - which they do. Or I could say that Petrie himself would have been appalled at the conditions his collection is kept in. He fought for Egyptology to be taken seriously at UCL and for his collection to be used as a publicly accessible teaching collection.

Post WW2 bombing it was housed in its current 'temporary' position. The roof leaks in 13 places, we don't have enough room for the objects, and every time an object is conserved and remounted it takes up more space and there's nowhere for it to go. Eighty per cent of the objects are not on public view and we want them to be. Staff work in dreadfully cramped conditions - our outstanding curator, Stephen Quirke, shares an office the size of a cupboard with the kitchen sink!

Yes, the old museum has 'charm' - I walked in on my first day as a mature student ten years ago and never really left - but it should be regarded as an international scandal. Our new space would have proper study and teaching facilities, it would have its own conservation lab, 100 per cent of the objects will be on display or in visible, accessible storage. Finally, there will be surroundings to do justice to the collection and to the staff who work so hard to make it accessible to the world.

But you may not have to worry - unless we raise another six million pounds by Christmas, it won't happen. It may not equal world poverty in the greater scheme of things but it will be a real tragedy.

Sorry for the passion, but it hit an over-stretched nerve! If anyone wants to know more about it, email me

Best wishes

Jan Picton
Secretary, Friends of the Petrie Museum
H.R.A. Institute of Archaeology, UCL".

Obviously, the Petrie is looking for donations for this much-needed facility. Anyone who would like to contribute to the new museum appeal should contact Sally Macdonald at the Petrie Museum: - all donations will be very gratefully received! The Petrie collection is a fabulous resource and deserves premises that truly make the most of its wonderful contents.
You can find out more about the Petrie Museum by clicking here, and by their excellent resource the Digital Egypt by clicking here.

Dental Problems in Ancient Egypt
You will either need to be a paying subscriber to see more of this New Scientist article, or pick up a copy of the print edition. I am a New Scientist subscriber, and it is a good article, so worth looking out for the magazine itself. "Amenhotep III was one of ancient Egypt's greatest pharaohs. His rule was a golden age, when the Egyptian empire was powerful, peaceful and fabulously wealthy. He built palaces and temples and raised statues to the gods. He wanted to be remembered. And he is, but probably not the way he intended. More than 3000 years after he died, Amenhotep is famous for his terrible teeth. X-rays of the pharaoh's mummy reveal a gruesome set. Amenhotep must have endured years of pain. His teeth gave him hell - every mouthful was agony, every meal an ordeal. So why didn't he see a dentist?"

Al Sakakini Palace transformed into medical museum

"Two years ago, the SCA decided to turn Al Sakakini Palace into a museum for the history of medicine and pharmacology. It was only this year that the decision was put into effect.Although the display catalogue of the museum has already been prepared, studies are still underway to examine the strength of the palace foundations since the building is constructed on clay, just as is the case with many Islamic structures. The palace was also damaged by the l992 earthquake. If the outcome of these studies is positive, restoration will start immediately. . . . . The museum will relate the history of medicine from the time of the ancient Egyptians up until now. It will include a collection from the Islamic museum that consists of surgical tools, scales that were used to weigh drugs, perfumes and ointment, two manuscripts by the great historian Abdul Salam Al Husseini, and rare medical prescriptions". The Medical Museum will also contain collections from more recent times. See the article for more.

Exhibitions due to close shortly in Barcelona
Two exhibitions in the Egyptology Museum of Barcelona (Museu Egipci de Barcelona), for anyone going over there in the near future, are due to close on July 10th, so if you get the chance to go, now is the time. The main site is written in Catalan, but these exhibition pages are written in Castillian (Spanish). The two exhibitions are
  • Tutankhamon: Imágenes de un tesoro bajo el desierto egipcio (Images of a treasure beneath the Egyptian desert): "A Harry Burton, fotógrafo del equipo de Carter, le debemos miles de imágenes de la tumba. Entre ellas, para la creación de la exposición, se han seleccionado 65 fotografías, cuyos originales se sometieron a las más modernas tecnologías digitales" (Very roughly translated as: To Harry Burton, phogotrapher on Carter's team, we owe thousands of images of the tomb. 65 photographs have been chosen from the total collection for this exhbition, which have been digitally upgraded).
  • Joyas De Faraones: Tesoros de magia, poder y belleza (jewells of the Pharaohs: Treasures of magic, power and beauty).

See the site for more information (in Spanish and Catalan). Barcelona is a terrific city - if you get the chance to go there and to see these exhbitions at the same time, I will be seriously envious!

Archaeological Sites in Egypt - Websites

The following is a list of the archaeolgical sites currently listed on my Egyptology Portal, in alphabetical order, together with URLs for the sites concerned. On the site itself I have a paragraph of description covering each. However, this is just a simple listing, posted in order to ask for assistance - if anyone knows of any other official online publications of archaeological sites in Egypt, please let me know so that I can update my records.

Abusir - Archaeological Season 2003-2004


Amheida, Dakhleh Oasis

Amarna - Capital City of Ancient Egypt

Dakhleh Oasis Project (Monash University)

Dashur North Expedition

Deir al-Barsha

Djehuty Tomb Excavation

El Hosh Rock Art

Giza Plateau Mapping Project

Giza Archives Project

Giza - Mark Lehrner Excavation Project

The Tomb of Harwa

Hierakonpolis Online

Hierakonpolis @ Archaeology Magazine

Kafr Hassan Dawood

Karnak - Temple Precinct of Mut (Dig Diary)

The Spatial Structure of Kom el-Hisn

Kom Firin

Malqata South

North Kharga Oasis Project

Meidum Pyramid - Architectural Study


Saqqara Online

Saqqara - Unis and Teti Cemeteries

Saqqara Risk Map

Tomb of Senneferi, Valley of the Nobles

SEPE - Southern Sinai and Eastern Delta

Campaigns at Shenhur

Sikait Emerald Mine Excavations

Tell Abqa’in

Tell el-Balamun

Tell el-Ginn

Tell Ibrahim Awad

The Theban Mapping Project

Valley of the Kings- Amarna Royal Tombs Project

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sarcophagus dating to Ramesses II found (UPDATED)

The SCA have apparently announced the discovery of a giant granite sarcophagus dating to dating to the the reign of Ramesses II in Saqqara. I haven't managed to track down the original SCA statement yet, but the following summarize the main points of interest of the find - although, as usual, please see the individual articles for more information. If anyone finds an item with a photo, please post a comment or email me. Thanks.
According to this short article, "The sarcophagus which belonged to a top official who served under Pharaoh Ramses II, is decorated with colored paintings and hieroglyphic inscriptions as well as the titled carried by the man such as 'the general supervisor of the royal stables'. The sarcophagus dates back to the period between 1304 and 1237 BC. Egyptian archaeologists found the sarcophagus in the Haram Onas cemetery near the Sakara pyramids, some 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of Cairo. The ministry said human bones and skulls as well as 100 figurines, a blue talisman and two pottery containers were also found in the cemetery".
"A sarcophagus of more than 3,200 years old has been discovered by a mission of Cairo University's Faculty of Archaeology in Saqqara, southwest of Cairo . . . . the big sarcophagus dating back to the reign of King Ramses II (1279-1213 BC) was made of rosy granite, bearing hieroglyphic signs and different titles of the deceased".
"The sarcophagus, the council statement said, was discovered by an excavation team from Cairo University. A council spokesperson said no skeleton was found in the sarcophagus. However, a collection of human bones and skulls were excavated near eight burial pits also discovered in a 16 square metre tomb."An amulet featuring goddess Nephtis and god Osiris, an alabaster quadrilateral star and a small scarab bearing the name of god Amun Re were also found," the statement said"

7th Egyptological Tempeltagung, Leuven.

The following announcement has been made by Tempeltagung organizers at Leuven:

Dear Colleagues,
From September 28 until October 1, the 7th Egyptological Tempeltagung will be organized in Leuven. This year's topic is "Structuring Religion". You will find the program of the conference and the abstracts on our website .
We ask you to distribute it as much as possible to your colleagues and students.
Because of the organisation of our visit to the Egyptian temple in the Antwerp Zoo on Friday afternoon, we insist that you announce your presence either with the form you can find on our website or by sending an email with the corresponding information to .
For further information, please consult our website:

Yours sincerely,
Harco Willems - René Preys

René Preys
KULeuven - Letteren
Blijde Inkomststraat 21
3000 Leuven
+ 32 16 32 49 64

Nesperennub to go on tour

"The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is working to bring a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy to town in spring 2006, in hopes of renewing the wave of tourism generated by the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, Exploreum director Mike Sullivan said Monday. Nesperennub, the mummified former priest of Karnak, is currently housed at the British Museum in London, and starting in mid-September will embark on a tour that includes stops in Houston, Tokyo and possibly Mobile". For those of you who, like me, are somewhat hazy on U.S. geography, the Exploreum is located in Mobile, south Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico. See the article for more information.

“Nefertiti Queen of the Nile” halted due to controversy
This article, posted on the Al Bawaba website is something I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else, but it claims that "Dr. Zahi Hawas, head of the Egyptian Antiquity Commission, has announced that he will not allow the filming of “Nefertiti Queen of the Nile” to commence in Egypt". The film was/is to be based on the Ahmad Othman book "Nefertiti and Akhnaton". According to the article, Dr Hawass's view is that "Othman’s book states that Akhenaton is the prophet Moses (Peace Be Upon Him) and Tahutmus III is the prophet Jacob (Peace Be Upon Him), which if true, would make all Egyptian Pharaohs of Jewish decent. Jewish scholars have used this point to argue that their great ancestors are the roots of the Pharaonic civilization." See the article for more about the controversy and about both the author's and film makers' response to Hawass's statements.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Mansoor-Amarna Collection

As a direct consequence of the previous article re the Amarna Princess sculpture currently being sold on Ebay, I went to have a hunt around on the Web to find out more about the Mansoor collection mentioned in the auction house Press Release. For those of you who are interested, here is a small selection of links on the subject. The collection consisted 106 limestone sculptures and fragments, dating from circa 1350 B.C., representing Queen Nefertiti, King Akhenaten, and their family. It seems that in the past, the collection has not been without its fair share of controversy.

The official website for the collection can be found at the address below. As well as descritpions and images of the collection, it provides papers of scientific studies in favour and against the authenticity of the collection, and a history of the collection:

A fascinating history of all the arguments for and against is provided by the following article by Edmond Mansoor, from 1971, in English in spite of the paper's title "Je cherche un homme":
An article by Gianfranco Nolli in June 1986 (at that time curator of the collection), defending the collection against speculation that "attemtps to descredit the authenticity of the Mansoor-Amarna collection."

An entire online book dedicated to the controversy by Mansoor family member Christine Mansoor can be found at:

Amarna Princess Head For Sale
"A rare Mansoor portrait sculpture of an 18th dynasty Amarna Princess [ca 1363-1364 B.C.] goes live on eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace. . . . This princess head is in nearly perfect condition, the facial features and entire head are unblemished, the neck with a break, but repaired. The head is a complete sculpture unto itself, it was made in antiquity as a finished piece in the manner of a stopper to be inserted into the body of a statue." It is a truly lovely looking piece. See the above press release for more details and a link to the Ebay auction page (as of today zero bids). It seems a bit strange that it should be selling on Ebay rather than through a more traditional auction house that is used to handling rare works of art. They claim to have documentation backing up its authenticity in "an era when many antiquities are of dubious origins". I actually received an email from the auction house notifying me of the sale - and I dare say it would be very nice to be able to afford something this wonderful, but in my opinion it belongs in a museum for all to enjoy.

Microprobe makeover for museum's mummy,7204,15746901%5E15321%5E%5Enbv%5E15306,00.html
"THE CSIRO has teamed up with the National Gallery of Victoria to reconstruct and conserve the last resting place of a teenage Egyptian priestess who died around 700BC.The coffin lid, one of the first major Egyptian antiquities to arrive in Australia, is in a fragile state. About 60 per cent of the wood, and even more of its painted surface, are lost, but the original bright colours on the remaining pieces survive under layers of dirt – gallery officials think. . . . CSIRO scientist Deborah Lau said the agency would use a CSIRO-enhanced microprobe to examine microscopic pieces of paint flakes to check the distribution and identity of the pigment, checking whether the outer layers have changed from the original". See the article for more about the mummy and the technique.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hawass attends Nubia museum committee meeting in Paris
"The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Secretary-General Zahi Hawwas heads to Paris today to attend the meeting of 15th session of the executive committee for Nubia museum in Aswan and the civilization museum in Fustat 'ancient Cairo'. The meeting will be held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, according to Hawass. Hawwas pointed out that the committee will discuss what have been implemented of construction works for setting up the civilization museum". This is the full Egyptian State Information Service article.

More on the Mummy Pesed
"Last week, Pesed was taken to College Fields MRI in Neshannock, Lawrence County, for a CT scan, during which computers produced images of half-millimeter-thick slices of her entire body.
The 2,500 images will allow Philadelphia forensic artist Frank Bender to sculpt the bust, a process that could take weeks . . . . Researchers have already pieced together some biographical details about the woman, who was mummified between 300 and 220 B.C. CT scans and X-rays conducted in August 2001 revealed that Pesed was a 55- to 65-year-old woman who had osteoporosis at the time of her death. They also revealed abscesses along her jaw, which could indicate that she had an infection that could have led to malnutrition or death". The scans should reveal more about an amulet hidden under the wrappings. See the article for more.

More on the Sappho Love Poem,6109,1513491,00.html?gusrc=rss
"The poem which is now her fourth to survive had a tortuous and not unromantic discovery. It was found in the cartonnage of an Egyptian mummy, the flexible layer of fibre or papyrus which was moulded while wet into a plaster-like surface around the irregular parts of a mummified wrapped body, so that motifs could be painted on. Last year two scholars, Michael Gronewald and Robert Daniel, announced that a recovered papyrus in the archives of Cologne University had been identified as part of a roll containing poems by Sappho. Researchers realised that parts of one poem corresponded with fragments found in 1922 in one of the great treasure troves of modern classical scholarship - the ancient rubbish tips of the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus". Many more details can be found on the above Guardian Unlimited web page.
Thanks to AKE for the pointer the the Times Literary Supplemement website which contains further details, and an extract from the poem: "We have a poem of twelve lines, made up of six two-line stanzas. The last eight lines are virtually complete. The first four are still lacking two or three words each at their beginnings. But we can make out the sentence structure and restore the sense of what is lost, if not the exact words. Here is the poem in my own restoration and translation. The words in square brackets are supplied by conjecture. "[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts [be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre: [but my once tender] body old age now [has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark; my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me, that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns. This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do? Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way. Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn, love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end, handsome and young then, yet in time grey age o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."

Ancient Egyptians Loved Their Dead Animals
Thanks to David Meadows's "Explorator" for the above article on the Discover Magazine website: "As part of an exhibit on mummified animals, Sabin has been analyzing the relatively few specimens that have survived. He found that skeletons of wrapped cats were much larger than those of modern house cats. “It could be that these cats were being bred to be larger to make more impressive and better-selling mummies,” says Sabin. If so, it might even suggest that cats were first domesticated to be sacrificed". See the article for a short discussion of what may have been a thriving market in mummified animals.
To sign up for the Explorator's monthly news email on world-wide archaeolgoical topics, go to:

Sunday, June 26, 2005

2600 Year Old Love Poem
"A love poem written 2,600 years ago by Sappho, the female poet of ancient Greece, was published for the first time since it was rediscovered last year. The 12-line poem, only the fourth to have been recovered, was found on papyrus wrapped around an Egyptian mummy. Some of the verse fragments on the crumbling Cologne material matched parts of lines already identified as Sappho's on a papyrus discovered in 1922." See this very short item for a little more detail about the poem.

Interactive Abydos and the Faiyum Portraits

This is really only "news" if you haven't yet found the Berger Foundation's "World Art Treasures" website, or if you haven't seen its latest updates. The site aims to bring world art to life vie the Internet, and includes a number of areas dedicated to Egypt. To see more about what this site aims to achieve see their introduction:
Specific pages of interest are as follows:

This page is dedicated to the temple of Seti I at Abydos, and leads you on an interactive guided tour of the temple. At every stage (and you must start at stage 1 for it to work), there is a photograph of the temple area, and a plan with more red blobs for you to click on, which zoom into more photographic details. The experience is described on the site as follows: "Pilgrimage to Abydos looks to the Internet as a means of allowing visitors to relive the pilgrimage taken some 3000 years ago by Pharaoh Seti I to build a temple bearing his name at Abydos, one of the meccas of ancient Egypt - a pilgrimage that Jacques-Edouard Berger himself accomplished numerous times, as described in his book "Pierres d'Egypte" (Stones of Egypt). The challenge of this digital approach is that of reconstituting the itinerary of a pilgrim not only in abstract and intellectual terms but, still more, one could say "spiritually" and "existentially": The trip is divided into successive stages leading from the first open-sky room all the way to the secret shrine inhabited by Osiris, Isis and Horus. In other words, the "pilgrims" visiting the site are invited to rediscover the process of being initiated, not only through words and images but by being subjected to an inner experience mirroring their virtual stage-by-stage screen trip".

The site's current home page at has a feature on the Faiyum Portraits - with six very fine ones shown at the top of the page. Click on any one of them to zoom in and see each of them in greater detail - they are lovely. More information about the portraits can be found on this site at:

There are also a series of lectures presented on the site, in French, on a number of Egyptological subjects. I've only just been made aware of this site, so I haven't had a chance to investigate them yet. Each one shows how long each part of each lecture will take. They are linked to from the home page.

I'll add it to my Egyptology Portal so that it can be easily found again.

Egyptian-style building in Leeds to be renovated
An Egyptian-style building in Leeds may be rennovated as part of a plan to create a new urban development project. "London-based SJS Property Management wants to invest £180m to transform the Egyptian-style Temple Works building in Holbeck and surrounding land . . . . The building would be reborn as what the developers call a "cultural retail" centre – a mix of shops and more highbrow attractions such as art and sculpture – following a trend already established in Europe. Temple Works is a Grade I listed former flax mill built between 1836 and 1840. It was based on the Temple of Horus at Edfu, reflecting a craze for ancient Egypt which swept Europe in the first half of the 19th century". There is a photograph of the building on the above page, showing how sadly it has deteriorated. See the article for more.

EEF News Digest
The latest news from Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum (EEF) should be online later today at the above address. The EEF News page is particularly strong on exhibitions, digital publications and lectures, thanks to contributors from around the world.

Journal of African Archaeology - July Issue
I may have announced this before, although I can't locate the posting, but the latest issue of the Journal of African Archaeology, to be released in July, has the following paper about prehistoric Egypt (see the above URL for a full listing of all papers in the July JAA): D. Usai: Early Holocene Seasonal Movements between the Desert and the Nile Valley. Details from the Lithic Industry of some Khartoum Variant and some Nabta/Kiseiba Sites. Also of interest to those interested in the prehistoric occupation of Egypt and the Sahara is the following: R. Castelli, M. Cremaschi, M.C. Gatto, M. Liverani & L. Mori. A Preliminary Report of Excavations in Fewet, Libyan Sahara

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Sandcastles Sculptures of Ancient Egypt,,10295-1667010,00.html
A little weekend trivia for you, proving how resilient the British sense of humour truly is. "The town with possibly the pebbliest beach in Britain is to host a sand sculpture festival this summer. Ten thousand tons of special sand will be shipped from the Netherlands and deposited in Brighton Marina so that 60 artists from all over the world can recreate the wonders of Ancient Egypt. Organisers are confident that the sculptures, made purely from sand and water, will remain intact whichever way the wind blows, up to force 7. The highlight of the festival, which runs from July 14 to September 11, will be a 50ft-high pyramid. Sphinxes, mummies, temples, Rameses II and Tutankhamun himself will all be depicted. See the article for opening hours and prices".

Replica of Tomb of Tuthmosis III

An exact replica of the tomb of Tuthmosis III will form the centrepiece for an exhibition in Edinburgh (UK) entitled Immortal Pharaoh: The Tomb of Tuthmosis III, at the City Arts Centre. "The replica of the burial chamber, the original of which was discovered in 1898 halfway up a cliff-face in the Valley of the Kings, comes from a detailed laser copy made by Madrid-based company Factum Arte. The walls of the chamber contain a complete depiction of the Amduat the oldest Egyptian book of the netherworld which chronicles the pharaoh's 12-hour journey to the afterlife". The exhibition will also contain artefacts from the Museum of Antiquities in Basel in Switzerland and the Kestener Museum in Hanover, which will span the entire history of ancient Egyptian history, and will feature a 30 minute long film showing Dr Eric Hornung. See the article for more.

Ancient Egypt Magazine - Book Reviews
Book reviews from the June/July edition are available online at the above address. Not all the books are new releases, but the reviews are still very welcome. Books reviewed by appropriate reviewers are:
  • Sphinx: History of a Monument, by Christiane Zivie-Coche. Reviewed by geologist Colin Reader
  • A Traveler’s Guide to the Geology of Egypt, by Bonnie M. Sampsell. Reviewed by AE Editorial Assistant, Peter Robinson
  • The Beetle, by Richard Marsh. Reviewed by AE contributer Alison Millerman
  • Gods and Men in Egypt3000 BCE to 395 CE by Francoise Dunand and Christiane Zivie-Coche. Reviewed by doctoral student Vicky Gashe
  • Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, by Alessandro Bongioanni
  • Abu Simbel, Aswan and the Nubian Temples by Marco Zecchi
  • Tales From Ancient Egypt, by Joyce Tyldesley. Reviewed by AE Editorial Assistant, Victor Blunden

SIS Statement about the Grand Museum

The Egyptian State Information Service has released a statement about the new museum planned for the Giza Plateau. The enitre item is quoted here: " Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said the Grand Egyptian Museum, to be built at the Pyramid9 area in Giza governorate, is the biggest cultural project of the 21st century. At a press conference held at the museum's site, Hosni said the first stage of the project has already started, adding that most of the world organisations concerned have contributed to it. The press conference was attended by a delegation of the Japanese government, the international designing team, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawas, director of the project Mohammed Ghoneim and Secretary of the project's technical committee Yasser Mensour. Hosni said the museum will house the biggest collection of artifacts. He added that the Egyptian and Japanese sides are about to agree on all details on the financing of the project. After an agreement is reached, an international tender for building the museum's main building will be announced, he said. The Japanese government has initially agreed on allocating a US$ 40 million grant and a US$ 275 million loan to contribute to the project. Hawas, on his part, said the museum will be built on a 117 feddan area with an initial cost of US$ 550 million. The museum will be financed by the council and a Japanese loan and two grants, he said. He added the construction of the restoration centre will take 15 months and will contain specialised labs and storage areas".
Some projections of what it might look like are contained at:

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tutankhamun Exhbition - Overview
An intelligent and up to date overview of the Tutankhamun exhibition, bringing together the most important pieces of information about the exhibition's layout, contents and impact.

Tales from the crypt
" 'My major interest is not in funerary archaeology,' says Hope, who began his study of ancient Egyptian settlements in 1974 and continued investigations at two excavations in Dakhleh Oasis, in the Egyptian Sahara and about 450 kilometres west of the Nile, after settling in Australia five years later. He has explored temples, homes, administrative buildings and cemeteries at the remains of a village at Ismant el-Kharab occupied from the Ptolemaic period (332 to 30BC) to the end of the fourth century and Mutel-Kharab, the ancient capital where the Temple of Seth, Lord of the Oasis, stood from at least the end of the New Kingdom (1550 to 1069 BC)".
This combines a feature on British Egyptologist Colin Hope, who is based in Melbourne, with a summary of the travelling exhibition from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, featuring Keku's mummy.

Round-up of items re Egypt's Grand Museum
A plethora of articles have arrived re the official unveiling of Egypt's new Grand Museum. See the above link for a round-up of links.

Tutankhamun's Tomb - the Untold Story
"There are many versions of the discovery and many articles have been written about the so-called "curse of the Pharaohs", but few references concern what actually went on behind the scenes: how Carter and his aristocratic British sponsor Lord Carnarvon insulted Egyptian government officials; how the tomb was officially closed for many years and Carter banned from working on the necropolis; or that the then antiquities law, tabled by Auguste Mariette in the reign of the Khedive Ismail and under which the discoverer and his sponsor were entitled to half of any objects found during an excavation, was re-tabled". See the Al Ahram Weekly article for more.

Follow-up to Egyptian Glass paper
Thanks to the EEF newsletter for this follow-up to the Egyptian Glass article - it contains some more details, a rather good map, and some photographs. You will need to click on the Next link at the bottom of the first page to see the rest of this two-page article. The EEF newsletter will be published online on Sunday, when I'll post the URL.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Grand Museum of Egypt
"The unveiling on Wednesday was the latest step in the government's ambitious $500 million project for the Grand Museum of Egypt, which is intended to gather in one spot at the foot of the Great Pyramids some 100,000 artefacts, many of which have been sitting in warehouses for decades with no room to display them". Apart from the fact of the unveiling, I'm not sure whether there's anything new in this AlJazeera article about the new museum planned to house Egypt's most important collections, but it is the most recent article that I've seen and there's a preview of part of the interior that I've not noticed before.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Archaeology Magazine - July/August

Apart from three reviews (which may be quite old, but I don't recall seeing before), Archaeology Magazine has no features this month about Egypt, although their website still features their "Tut Watch" and "Hierakonpolis Interactive Dig" pages. The first review is of the TV programme The Search for Eternal Egypt, which premiered on the History Channel, Sunday, June 12, 7 pm ET/PT. The web address for the review is at:
The second review looks at the novel The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips, published at:
The third review is of a new archaeology series, the first two episodes of which are based in Egypt. Entitled "Digging for the Truth" , the programme doesn't debut on the History Channel until January, but begins with two one-hour episodes, the first looking at the mummy of Nerertiti and the second at who built the pyramids. The website is at:

Hawass on Egyptian Projects for 2005 and 2006.
"Years 2005 and 2006 are very important for archaeology. We will find out what is behind the secret doors blocking the shaft inside the Pyramids. We will reveal what is hidden inside the tomb of Seti I, who we believe has his tomb kept intact within the chamber. We are going to do more CT scans on famous mummies like Nefertiti, Hatchepsut and others. Until now, we have unearthed only 30 percent of our monuments; 70 percent has yet to be excavated. Imagine this. Just before I left Cairo last week, the great temple of Ramses II was found under a house in Heliopolis, downtown which shows that continuously ancient Egypt is revealing itself for us to rewrite the history of a glorious past of our country and a world to whom ancient Egyptian history truly belongs". There's lot more about the Tutankhamun too, exhibition of course, but there is also a hint about a forthcoming touring exhibition focusing on Queens Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut. See the article for more.

Scanning for answers to mummy's mysteries
A female mummy named Pesed from the Akhmim region of Egypt, and currently resident at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence County, is the latest to go under the scanner: "Scientists hope to find out more about the 2,300-year-old mummy after CT scans are performed on her tonight at College Fields MRI in Neshannock . . . . Pesed once was thought to be the young, single daughter of an Egyptian priest, but CT scans and X-rays in August 2001 unmasked her as a 55- to 65-year-old woman who was suffering from osteoporosis at the time of her death. She was mummified between 300 and 220 B.C. ". See the article for more. I'll try and follow up on the story after she has been scanned.

Egyptology Portal Updated
I have updated my Egyptology Portal - every link has been checked, some have been updated, some have been added and a really sad number have been removed because the links are broken. I will try and find some of them again, in case they have moved, but not immediately. Unfortunately, a number of them were from the Predynastic page - which along with the Geology page is one of the pages that could least afford to lose good content. I have added several new links to the "sites" page.

Help requested: I am going to update the entire Portal site, which is looking a bit sparse, over the next few weeks. Please, if you have any sites from any period and in any of the site's categories that you can recommend, send me the links - I would like to make this a far more useful resource than it is at present. Similarly, if you have ideas for different categories or other changes, let me know. Please email me at:

Hibis Restoration (Kharga Oasis)
The Late Period site of Hibis in Kharga Oasis, which has been under scaffolding for years, and is one of the few sites with significant Persian input, is going to be moved 500m from its current location due to groundwater damage, possibly caused by local irrigation. A company from Wales (UK) called Cintec International has been chosen to do the work required: "The company is using a system which it says will leave no visible change to the temple's outward appearance. Cintec has work on 10 mosques and maqaads, or pillared rooms, in historic parts of the Egyptian capital Cairo . . . . The Cintec system involves injecting a special cement grout into a steel "anchor" section in a mesh fabric sleeve. The flexible sleeve expands and moulds itself into the shape and spaces within the walls to support the building. ". See the article for more. Thanks to Jimmy Dunn for forwarding this item to me.

Petrie Museum - Present and Future,11711,1505969,00.html
As anyone who has read this blog regularly will know, I am a great fan of the Petrie Museum (and one of the Friends of the Petrie). So it is always great to see them getting a bit of publicity. The UK broadsheet The Guardian did a very short feature on it last week (thanks again, Tia) reporting that the museum's exhibits only display 5% of 81,000 items in less than perfect conditions, but that there are new premises planned. See the article for a few more details.

Details of the new museum can be found at the Petrie's website at the following address under the "The Petrie Museum" link (navigate to the "Planning the New Museum" link). The new museum will be called the Panopticon, and its opening is planned for 2008.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dendera in 1823
As Marco from the Travellers In Egypt website promised, the site has been updated with a new item. This is from Scenes and Impressions in Egypt and Italy by Moyle Sherer, 1824: "On the 22d [March, 1823] we brought-to near Dendera. This temple is in a most perfect state; has a magnificent, portico, a noble cornice, and twenty-four large Isis-headed columns, a strange sort of capital: there are four faces on each; and they are marked as those of Isis, by the ears of the cow. On the roof of this portico you fancy, and delight to fancy, that you trace the zodiac. The signs Leo, Sagittarius, and Taurus, struck me as finely and boldly executed. There is a staircase to the roof of this temple, or rather leading to apartments near it, remarkably commodious. The steps are so very low that the priests might carry up and down the weighty paraphernalia of sacrifice, and even animals might easily be led up. On either side, the wall is quite covered with figures of priests in relief, carrying banners, sacred arks, and vessels for the offerings. In one of the small dark chambers above, I remarked a sphinx, that is, in head and attitude, but having the limbs behind also human." See the full article for lots more of the same - terrific stuff.

Dig Diary: Excavations at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut
"Since 1976, the Brooklyn Museum has been carrying out archaeological work at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut . . . at South Karnak . . . . The Museum’s team, which has shared the site with an expedition from Johns Hopkins University since 2001, continues to explore how the Mut Precinct grew and what its inscriptions reveal about ancient Egyptian religion and life. Both expeditions are also devoted to the conservation and restoration of the site’s monuments". This page has the 2005 Dig Diary of the excavations at the Temple of Mut (famous for its astonishing quantities of statues of Sakhmet), with some terrific photos.

Lake Nasser - Potential for Underwater Archaeology
Thanks to Tia for sending me the above link. This 7-page paper (in PDF format) discusses opportunities for investigating archaeological sites submerged under Lake Nasser.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Egypt's Other Pasts
An article looking at Egypt beyond the Pharaohs, and the way in which the Tutankhamun discovery slanted the world's view on Egyptian heritage: "A huge refurbishment of the old mosques in historic Cairo and the opening of the newly redone Coptic Museum has brought fresh interest in these cultures".

New York Times - Online Tutankhamun
"The New York Times has devoted a part of its internet site to the exhibition of Tut's objects. This exhibition was classified as a culture and arts page in the internet newspaper, in which some special objects related to the golden Pharoe are displayed. The internet newspaper also pointed out the mass appeal and mass profits rendered by the so far 8 million visitors to Los Angels".

An Egyptian State Iinformation Service item about the New York Times's online feature regarding the Tutankhamun exhbition. There is a super photograph from the original excavation, and links to more information, including a slide show of some of the items in the exhibition.

The 18th Dynasty Context of the Tutankhamun Exhibition
Like others, I am finding the whole Tutankhamun somewhat overexposed, and there is an awful lot of repetitio, so I am only pointing out those items which appear to offer something different.

The above article is very similar to many others, but does offer an insight that I haven't so far stumbled across elsewhere: "One unusual effect of the exhibition is that, at least subliminally, it seems to undermine its promotional presuppositions. By not allowing the more elaborate pieces to travel and by choosing some of the more intimate objects to display and adding about 70 objects from the 18th dynasty to suggest a broader context, the Egyptian government shifted, perhaps unwittingly, the perspective: Tut, instead of being the climax of the exhibition, as he is meant to be, becomes something lesser, an epilogue, or even a bit of a puzzle." See this International Herald Tribune article for more.

Another Article about Zahi Hawass,0,7640422.story?coll=cl-home-more-channels
In yet another article focusing on Zahi Hawass, as he attends the opening of the latest leg of the Tutankhamun exhibition, entitled Eternal Egypt Is His Business: "Now, some Westerners are grumbling about his policies — especially in England, where his 2003 call for the return of the iconic Rosetta Stone caused alarm. But many are applauding too. Hawass requires archeologists to concentrate on conserving what they've found, rather than digging for new discoveries. And in a field where some love digging more than writing, he insists that finds be published within five years. Otherwise, permit-holders lose the right to keep digging. The result — less glamour, more desk work, more expense — has not endeared Hawass to everyone, and his outsized ego makes him an easy target. But experts say that speedy publication expands knowledge and that conservation is a must". This is just one paragraph in a much longer feature - see the article for more.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum News

The latest news from EEF is online at the above address. The EEF News page is particularly strong on exhibitions, digital publications and lectures, thanks to contributors from around the world. This week’s edition is huge, reflecting numerous activities and a large amount of information currently available.

Forthcoming Session of the World Heritage Committee
"The 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee will be held in Durban, South Africa from 10 to 17 July 2005. The World Heritage Committee consists of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, elected by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention . . . . The essential functions of the Committee are to: (i) identify, on the basis of nominations submitted by States Parties, cultural and natural properties of outstanding universal value which are to be protected under the Convention and to list those properties on the World Heritage List; (ii) monitor the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, in liaison with the States Parties; decide which properties included in the World Heritage List are to be inscribed on or removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger; and decide whether a property may be deleted from the World Heritage List; and (iii) examine requests for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund."

Egypt is one of the current members of the Comittee. To see which Egyptian sites are listed on the World Heritage List, go to:

To find out more about the World Heritage List and its purpose, go to:

More on Egyptian Glassmaking
More details about the Egyptian Glass Making paper published in the academic journal Science, with photographs: "This discovery settles a more-than-century-old debate over whether ancient Egyptians manufactured raw glass themselves or imported it from Mesopotamia".

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ancient Egypt Magazine Contents and Online Book Reviews

You can read book reviews online at
Those reviewed online are:
  • Alexander the Great, son of the Gods, by Alan Fildes and Joann Fletcher (Review by Tony Judd)
  • Travellers Graffiti from Egypt and the Sudan, Part III, by Roger O. De Keersmaeker
  • The Egyptian Book of Life - A True Translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, by Ramses Seleem (Review by Vicky Gashe)
  • Miss Brocklehurst o the Nile: Diary of a Victorian Traveller in Egypt
Below, please find listed the contents for the latest edition of Ancient Egypt Magazine:
  • The Thrice-Buried Queen: Dylan Bickerstaffe investigates the story of a Queen re-buried under unusual circumstances.
  • Digging in a Museum: Wolfram Grajetzki examines the Second Intermediate Period burial of Senebhenaef.
  • The Island of Elephantine: AE visits the monuments on the Island of Elephantine, a site of strategic importance throughout Egypt’s long history.
  • "... but where did they live?": Peter Phillips looks at the most important of places to individuals throughout history – their homes.
  • The Mummy of Tutankhamun: AE brings you the full report from the Supreme Council of Antiquities, following the recent CT scan of Tutankhamun’s Mummy.
  • Ancient Egypt on the Small Screen: A review of recent television documentaries on ancient Egypt.
  • New Lakes and Very Old Bones: AE looks at a new site for touists in the Fayoum, which includes an area where the fossilised skeletons of whales can be seen.
  • Holiday Competition Results: We give you the answers and name the winners.
  • Cairo’s oldest and largest mosque- the Mosque of Ibn Tulun: Recently restored, the Ibn Tulun Mosque is a haven for mind, body and spirit in the heart of Old Cairo.
  • News of the Friends of the Petrie Museum
  • A Stab in the Back: Joan Rees tells a tale of rivalry between Egyptologist Amelia Edwards and her cousin Matilda Betham-Edwards.
  • Archive Image: Medinet Habu

Interactive Photo-Montage of Giza Plateau
This site, a brilliant resource, was updated on June 1st with the following zoomable and informative photo-montage of the Giza Plateau pyramids and cemeteries. Sorry that it took me 17 days to find it! You will need some plug-ins installed, but the site gives full details. It is a fascinating way to see Giza without your own hot-air balloon. Have a look at the page for more.

300,000 Tickets for King Tut in LA
Over 300,000 tickets have already been sold for the Tutankhamun exhibition in its current location at LACMA in Los Angeles, according to the Egyptian State Information Service.

Tour Egypt - New Blogs Launched
Tour Egypt's featured article today features their new blogs, including this Egyptology News Blog, a Luxor News Blog, a blog about the roll-out of an Egyptian wedding. I agreed to participate by publishing the Egyptology News Blog because I found the whole idea very exciting - it is sometimes difficult to obtain timely or insightful information about Egypt, and the this initiative hopes to aggregate news as a central resource. I have become an avid reader of all the blogs. See the article for more details.
A number of people have asked me about the future of this blog now that I am updating the Tour Egypt blog - just to let you know that this site will definately continue to operate as it always has done. I know that the archives on this site are accessed just as often as the new topics, and it is always useful to have back-up, so so I will continue to run both of the blogs in tandem.

Ancient Egypt Magazine - Printing Problem
The following warning appeared on the Ancient Egypt Magazine website this morning:
"Note: A handful of our subscribers have received copies of the latest issue of the magazine with some pages missing and others duplicated. This is due to a printing error beyond our control. We aplogise for this, and ask that anyone who received a faulty copy to contact us on 0161-872 3319 or email and we will immediately replace it". For those of you dialling from outside the UK that number should read +44161 872 3319.

The Day's Round-Up of Tutankhamun Stuff

This is by no means an exhaustive collection of what's available, because there are simply far too many Tutankhamun features to list - I've simply listed some of the potentially more interesting:

Some videos about the exhbition which may be worth a look are at:,0,564938.story?coll=cl-home-top-blurb-right
The following has some lovely photos and a couple of audio files which may be of interest:
An audio file looking at the cost of holding the Tutankhamun exhibition is at:
King Tut's skin colour a subject for controversy:,1413,211~23523~2921859,00.html and at,,2-13-1443_1722254,00.html

If you really want to trawl through a full collection of articles, have a look at this long listing (on this very long URL!):

Friday, June 17, 2005

Amheida 2005 Excavation Report Online
This is a lovely and highly informative page with plans, photographs and detailed descriptions: “During the 2005 season, a much enlarged team continued conservation and excavation work on the late Roman house (Area 2.1), began the excavation of the site of the Temple of Thoth (Area 4.1), and excavated part of a less wealthy house in Area 1.3. In addition, several types of survey were carried out for future planning and for a more complete view of the ancient city”. See the above page for much more information, and to get a real feel for the excavations being carried out at Amheida by Columbia University since 2004, following field surveys carried out in 2001 and 2002. You can download the page as a PDF as well.

More secrets from Karnak
As usual, Nevine El-Aref does justice to a new discovery in a detailed and articulate feature in Al Ahram Weekly: "Last week, during the annual inspection tour carried out by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to check on the latest achievements of the French Egyptian mission at Karnak Temple, one part of a rare limestone dyad (pair statue) of the 13th- Dynasty Pharaoh Neferhotep I was announced. After being buried for nearly 3,600 years in the temple ruins, the statue of Neferhotep, whose name means "beautiful and good", was uncovered by archaeologists from the Centre Franco-Egyptien D'Étude des Temples de Karnak (CFEETK) in a niche 1.5m below the foundation pit of Hatshepsut's obelisk at the Wadjyt hall". See the article for more on the subject of the statue and Karnak.

SCA implements water control projects
"The rise of subterranean water is a source of chronic headache for archaeologists in Egypt. With most sites across the country endangered by rising water levels, officials were forced to work out plans to reduce the already gathered water or, in the worst cases, to dismantle the monument and reconstruct it on higher ground. On the recommendation of Subterranean Water Research Institute studies, the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) is currently supervising the implementation of such projects in several Upper Egyptian sites". See the full article for more.

Early Egyptian Glass Making
"Experts say they've uncovered one of the earliest glass-making sites in ancient Egypt.
Evidence at the site in the eastern Nile Delta indicates that glass was made out of raw materials there as early as 1250 B-C. Artisans reportedly used finely crushed quartz powder that was melted with other materials inside ceramic crucibles. Those containers were then broken to get the glass out. The glass ingots then would have been sent to other workshops where they were re-melted and worked into objects. Most of this glass was red. The finding adds evidence that primary glass production was carried out at this location. The British and German researchers' findings appear in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science". This is the full article - see the journal Science for more, if you have access to it either online or in the print version. The online version (available by subscription only) is at:
A National Geographic article on the subject, with a photo of a glass mould is at
Other preview articles on the same subject can be found by clicking here.

Book Review - Salima Ikram's Divine Creatures
Tony Cagle's Archaeoblog not only links to a review on the Egypt Today website about Salima Ikram's most recent book, "Divine Creatures", but has some really nice photographs from the field. To go direct to the review see the Egypt Today website, at

Travellers in Egypt Website - Status Update
The Travellers in Egypt website has not been updated for a month due to the absense of its owner who has been a way for a spell. However, Marco is now back and will be posting new updates to the site in the near future - I will update the site with information about new articles when they are posted.

The Great Pyramid – Precision Engineering
"The real challenge the Great Pyramid still poses to us in the opening decade of the Third Millennium is the physical plant itself. Theorists have gone on endlessly speculating about how it was built and the metaphysical, cultural and religious significance and/or symbolism behind its construction. Though several authors have offered tantalising possibilities, none have been conclusively proven". An article listing the main puzzles surrounding the engineering of the Great Pyramid. If offers no solutions, but simply states some of the issues that engineers should consider when speculating on how it was built. Other articles on the same page look at engineering issues at Mohenjo Daro and in Sumeria.

The Spatial Structure of Kom el-Hisn
The online version of Tony Cagle's dissertation, completed as part of his PhD submission: "The nature of Old Kingdom settlement patterns is poorly understood due to a lack of well-excavated sites of a variety of sizes and locations. Most of our knowledge of Old Kingdom settlement function comes from epigraphic sources and a few excavations of towns located next to and servicing temple and mortuary complexes. Consequently, there is little data regarding the ways in which the bulk of the population interacted economically. Some have suggested that rural towns and villages were largely self-sufficient in basic goods and services, articulating with the central authority through taxes and corvee labor requirements. Others argue that many settlements were directly administered by agents of the king and court and were dependent on and integrated into the national economy. Resolution of this issue has been hampered by a lack of well-excavated settlements of a variety of sizes and spatial distribution. The purpose of this research is to investigate in detail the spatial structure of a single site, Kom el-Hisn, located in the Delta region". Okay, so Tony is an online friend of mine, but this is a great piece of work - if you are interested in the Old Kingdom, take a look.

Roman walls unearthed in Luxor
"Segments of Roman walls surrounding Luxor and Karnak temples have been discovered, announced the Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni. He added that the two walls were built by the Romans early in the second century when Luxor temple was turned into a Roman army camp. Commenting on the subject, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, stated that blocks of sandstone were uncovered during cleaning operations. Egyptian archaeologists went on to discover a ground surface built from red stone, thus dating it back to the Greek era". This is the complete article from the State Information Service.

Zahi Hawass Dig Days
This isn't actually strictly speaking archaeology or Egyptology, but for those of you who might be interested, this is Hawass's description of the U.S's Laura Bush's visits to Egypt, and her visit to Giza with Hawass as her guide.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Happiest Pharaoh
A rather nice article about the irony of Tutankhamun being the world's most famous pharaoh because of the glories of his tomb- rather than some of his more illustrious predecessors and those that followed him - including Ramesses II, Hatshepsut and others who are famous for their remarkable achievements during their lifestimes.

The Egyptian - Audio Book Review (Fiction)
The above link contains a review of Mika Waltari's historical novel The Egyptian, describing it as a grand immersion into an epic tale in the time of Amenhotep, Tutankhamun and Nefertiti".
Lasting for 22 hours and 18 minutes, it is available from Audio Connoisseur either as MP3 CD or download. It became a best-seller when it was released in the 1940s. "The main character and narrator is Sinuhe, who rises from humble beginnings to become surgeon to the pharaohs. His medical adventures, from dentistry to horrifyingly primitive brain surgery, are worth the ride all by themselves. Sinuhe is seduced by the green-eyed Nefernefernefer, betrays his parents, travels abroad to obtain military information for the ruthless Horemheb, and has several tragic love affairs". See the article for more.

MacPlay released Luxor computer game
For those of you who crave a rather more hands-on and interactive approach to Ancient Egypt :-) "As addictive as it is exciting, Luxor is an action-puzzle game that takes you on a thrilling adventure across the lands of Ancient Egypt. The mysterious goddess, Isis, has enlisted you to battle Set and his evil minions". The game has 88 levels and can be purchased from the MacPlay website. See the article for more.

Melbourne Museum Exhibition

"The exhibition Mummies: Ancient Egypt and the Afterlife will run at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton from Friday week to October 2. Keku and her elaborately inscribed coffins form the centrepiece of the exhibition, which will include mummified human heads, hands and feet, animal mummies and six different sarcophagi. Spells, amulets and ancient linen bandages collected from tombs also feature". See the article for more details and a photograph of the lovely mummy of Keku.
More on the exhibition and a rather better photograph are at:

Review of Tutankhamun Exhbition Book,0,2725392.story?coll=sfla-features-books
This article reviews the book that accompanies the Exhbition book authored by Zahi Hawass, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs (price $35.00). This is an interestingly forthright review, concluding that "It hardly matters that the reading is snooze-worthy, because most of the people who buy Tutankhamun will more likely than not spend hours pouring over its photographs. It's a coffeetable book. It's designed for visual, not mental, titillation". The reviewer, Emma Trelles, gives a detailed explanation of why she has come to this conclusion. However, she is also highly complimentary about the photography, done by Egypt veteran Kenneth Garrett, which she says "bridges Egypt's ancient past with its daily beauty, and reminds us that history is an ongoing affair". Nice to see his name in print. Have a look at the article for more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Email addresses of Egyptologists
Updated in May 2005, this is a list of Egyptologists' email addresses presented on Egyptologist Nigel Strudwick's innovative website. See the webpage above for details of how the listing has been compiled.

Abusir and Saqqara in the year 2005
"In June 2005 the Czech Institute of Egyptology of the Charles University, Prague organizes the second international symposium on the region of Abusir, Saqqara and Dahshur. The widespread acclaim of both the initial symposium and the publication of Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2000 brought to light the need to provide in regular intervals a forum for the international group of scholars active in the pyramid fields and cemeteries of Abusir, Saqqara and Dahshur".

This, the second symposium, takes place five years after the first one and again offers an opportunity for the exchange of information about research in this region of Egypt, and for communication about it to the public in general.

It is hoped that every five years this symposium about Abusir, Saqqara and Dahshur will become a recurring traditions.

The second symposium will take place at the Charles University in Prague from Monday June 27th until Friday July 1st 2005. There is an impressive list of presenters and papers - see the website for more.

Tut's bling is the golden ticket this summer
Yet more on the travelling Tutankhamun exhibitions: "Over twice the size of Tut one, this is the first time most of the exhibits 114 treasures have ever left home. Though his celebrated mask remains in Egypt, visitors will cast their eyes on Tutankhamen's golden crown, the gilded wood coffin that held his organs, and the smiling mask of Queen Tuyu, the boy king's great-grandmother. 'What this exhibition does is present material from Tut's tomb. But it also presents material from tombs of pharaohs who preceded him. So you can actually see in a more meaningful context [objects from] the 18th dynasty,' says David Foster, project administrator for the Field Museum".
There are also two videos - one about the touring exhibition, but the other is an MSN video of Kent Weeks giving a guided tour of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Be warned - both of them are preceded by a short video clip of advertising for a breath freshener.

A response to the King Tut facial reconstruction

A very short article on the Contra Costa Times website's Letters Page. This is buried in the middle of a page, and the URL doesn't seem to work very consistently so I have reproduced the full letter here:

"Deceitful propaganda:

The recent artistic recreation of King Tut's head is a deceitful travesty of Egyptology. Forensic artists who recreate faces of historic personalities are accustomed to identifying anonymous murder victims when only skeletal evidence is available. The best forensic artists are amazingly accurate and their recreations often match well with murder victims' photographs. Therefore, those artists are credible and valuable when called on to recreate ancient historic figures.

However, in such cases, the artist's credibility is maintained only if the historic figure remains anonymous to the artist. This eliminates the tendency for prejudice. Two years ago, such credibility remained intact when the first recreation of Tut was done, because that artist didn't know his subject's identify. The face he sculpted, based on provided data, looked decidedly Negroid; similar to all ancient sculptures made of Tut when he was alive. The most recent recreation of Tut, ordered by Zahi Hawass, Egypt's secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, looked more like an Arab. That recreation was the result of a team of artists; some of them knew who the subject was. That taints the process and reeks of a set-up. Obviously, the recent recreation of Tut is not scholarship. It's propaganda".
(By Frederick Franklin, Richmond)

Current State of Tourism in Egypt
“Egypt’s Central Bank said Tuesday the number of tourists who visited Egypt in March increased by 26 percent compared to the same period last year. The bank said in a statement 827,000 tourists visited in March, compared with 656,000 last year. The statement did not identify the nationalities of the tourists or reveal the amount of money they spent.However, the number of tourists is expected to decrease after three foreigners were killed in bombing attacks that targeted tourist areas in Cairo in April. Tourism is a main source of foreign currency in addition to remittances by Egyptian expatriates, oil sales and tolls from the Suez Canal. Tourism revenue was calculated at $6.5 billion in 2004″.

Tutankhamun Exhibition Opening in Los Angeles
The Tutankhamun exhibition currently touring the USA is opening in Los Angeles on 16th June on the next leg of its tour, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). See below for prices etc:

Tutankhamun Tomb Robberies
The latest Tour Egypt featured article is about the tomb robberies that took place in the tomb of Tutankhamun before its discovery by Howard Carter. Although it is often discussed as though the tomb was intact, it had in fact been targeted by tomb robbers who removed a number of items - possibly in two separate incursions. See the feature for more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Luxor News Blog

A new blog has been launched on the Tour Egypt website, which has news about Luxor, posted by a Luxor resident. It has massively helpful information about things like whether or not Nefertari's tomb is currently open (or when it will be), plans for a makeover of the West Bank, and the opening of a new Luxor airport. The blog has not being going for long, but promises to be very useful to those of us planning visits to the area. Other news blogs are also going to be developed on the site. For more see:

Harrogate Vase - Update

An absolutely massive "thank you" to Dr Stephen Buckley for letting me know what is happening with the Harrogate Vase.

The Harrogate Vase, for those of you have not been following this blog, is a Naqada II vase currently residing in a UK museum, for which I have formed a particular interest (no accounting for people's interests!). It has a unique depiction of a burial - a contracted figure on a boat. The boat is fairly typical, but the burial painting is unique to this vase and the vase has therefore been regarded with some suspicion in the past, as a possible fake. It was announced several weeks ago that the vase would undergo tests - and then nothing! No news followed. I couldn't wait any longer so I emailed Dr Buckley, not expecting a reply, but he has been generous enough to get back to me with a detailed response.

So the news is that the vase itself seems typically Naqada II in the type of decoration (apart from the dead figure) and stylistic organization, and in the composition of the fabric of the vase itself. The big question lies in whether or not the dead figure was painted in later to make it a more alluring proposition for sale. At the moment this is still unanswered - Dr Buckley is analysing miniscule samples and is taking the time to set things up properly. There is still a lot of scepticism, but hopefully the testing of the pigment will prove things one way or another. Dr Buckley may well wish to publish his findings, so the results may have to wait until his paper is published, but if he decides to provide information before that time I'll update the blog.

Who Was King Tutankhamun?
The latest Tour Egypt featured story coincides with the Tutankhamun tour of the U.S. It is entitled Who Was King Tut? and looks at his parentage, his royal names, and his reign.

Ancient Egypt Magazine June/July Issue
The Ancient Egypt Magazine says that the new edition is now out, but there is still no detailed contents listing. I'll try and pick one up tomorrow and post an update.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Yet another article about Zahi Hawass
In an article entitled The Show-Biz Pharaoh of Egypt's Antiquities, the New York Times looks at some of the controversies surrounding Zahi Hawass, quoting a number of opinions and citing the recent Sunday Times feature. Here's a taster, but go to the two-page article (click for the second page at the bottom of the first page) for the full article: "There is not so much mystery to Dr. Hawass as there is controversy and debate. In the three years he has held his post, Dr. Hawass has upended the established order in Egyptian archaeology, instituting changes in preservation and conservation and securing a law that allowed the Tut treasures to leave the country. But he has stirred up enemies in the process, including opponents at home who consider him too close to the Americans and others in Europe who claim that he is quick to cut down those who cast a shadow over his media dominance".

Land Reclamation Project
For those keeping tabs on land reclamation projects, some of which have hidden or destroyed a rich prehistoric past, this article talking about plans to reclaim land for agricultural purposes along the Nile and in the Western Desert. The government is "considering a plan to develop 400 village communities in the Western Desert close to the old governorates. This scheme would reduce the overcrowding in the older towns and villages and cut emigration to the capital". The idea is to extend land near to existing villages, effectively widening the agricultural potential of the Nile, from Borg el-Arab on the north coast to Aswan in the south, and on the west side of the Cairo-Alexandria desert road. There is nothing in the article about the archaeology of these areas, but I am sure that if there is a threat, this will eventually come to light.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Burial Place of Alexander
An article entitled Them bones: is Alexander the Great buried in Venice? may be of interest to those who believe that Alexander is buried in Egypt (or elsewhere, for that matter): "If a British historian is right, Italians in Venice have spent the last 400 years or so praying to conqueror Alexander the Great instead of city patron St. Mark". See this fairly short item for a few more details.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Tutankhamun on TV

The National Geographic Channel is running a new show tomorrow: "Tut Resurrected in a world premiere tomorrow at 6pm on National Geographic Channel (Astro Channel 52). The two-hour special, airing in conjunction with the channel’s “Pharaohs Week”, follows leading archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass and a team of international scientists as they examine King Tut to find out what caused his death more than 3,000 years ago". See the article for more.

An Interview with Zahi Hawass
"Archaeologist and Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass is credited with such major discoveries as the tombs of Giza and the Saqqara Pyramids. As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence he recently helped to reopen the tomb of Tutankhamun so that the mummy could undergo a CT scan to determine the cause of death for a National Geographic Channel documentary. He recently talked with 'Taipei Times' staff reporter Gavin Phipps about the world's fascination with ancient Egypt and the curse of the pharaohs". See the above URL to see the full interview.

The King of Egyptology
"Love him or hate him, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities secretary-general Dr Zahi Hawass, the man who reigns supreme over Egyptology, is a hero. JOAN LAU writes. HERE are three things you probably don’t know about Cairo (well, at least I didn’t!): it’s really cold in April (I thought Egypt is desert-hot and was really taken aback to step out of the airport into a freezing night... stupid me. The only consolation? I was not the only one who thought that.), the Nile is really blue and Dr Zahi Hawass is really a god (well, it felt that way to me... more on that later)". See the New Straits Times article for more.

Friday, June 10, 2005

More on the Abingdon Museum Thefts
This has some details about the theft, and a set of photos of the items that were stolen.

KMT - summer Edition
The Egyptology magazine KMT's webpage has been updated with a contents list for the new edition of KMT. For those of you in the UK having difficulties getting hold of it, I have found the best source to be Borders (book store).

by Zahi Hawass
"Tutankhamun & the Golden Age of the Pharaohs"begins its U.S. run in Los Angeles
By Dennis Forbes
The historical Tutankhamen from his monuments
by Megan Shockro
The Bowers Museum presents treasures from the British Museum
by Peter Lacovara
Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum ofEgyptian Archaeology, University College, London
by Lucy Gordon-Rastelli
Leipzig University's Antiquities Collections
by Victor V. Solken & Valdimar M .Larchenko
Egyptianizing architecture on the banks of theNeva River

King Tut Exhibit Outrages Activists
"African-American activists criticized the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for allowing a King Tut exhibition at the county Museum of Art, saying that renderings of the boy king as white are inaccurate . . . . Among the installations are three busts of Tut II reconstructed from the boy king's mummified corpse. All of the busts, fashioned by three groups of researchers, show Tut as a caucasoid North African. That representation led to Tuesday's protest by about a dozen speakers, who asked that the busts be removed from the exhibit". See the article for more.

L'Homme Egyptien
"Do you have pretty feet? If you were thinking of posing for a statue, this would be a pertinent question. Are your feet shapely enough to be immortalized in stone? The ancient Egyptians produced statues by the bargeload, yet their feet were probably no more beautiful than yours or mine. Luckily for sculptors of the day, there was a ready way around the natural irregularities of human anatomy: the standardized foot". This article is about the exhibition of ancient Egyptian art from the Louvre currently touring Japan, which started its journey at the Nagoya City Museum.

Leave the mummy's boy alone
An article that challenges the value of the work recently carried out on Tutanhkamun: "It's time to stop tampering with Tut. Let him be. All that scientific effort and ingenuity could go elsewhere. Conjuring useful rain over southern Australia would be a good start. Besides, do we need more relics when our PM is close to 66 and the Rolling Stones have just announced another world tour? And don't forget that everyone's favourite mummy, the Queen, will be here for the Commonwealth Games. No matter how gentle the handling, how white the gloves of the CT technicians, the indignities Tut has endured recently amount to desecration of the dead. I hope that all those responsible have signed Tit For Tut forms authorising scientists 3000 years hence to dig them up, do some slicing and dicing, and hook them up to some whizzbang computer equipment. Let's see how good they look in their close-ups". See the article for more.

Tutankhamun Interactive
Thanks to Kevin LaCroix (Homo Insapiens) for pointing out this crop of articles on the ABC News website inspired by the touring exhbition currently showing in the U.S. There are some excellent photos, which can be scrolled through, an "interactive" tomb (click on the map of the tomb to see some of the articles found in those chambers), and a couple of articles about the exhibition and the history of the find (you will need to click on the "next" prompts at the bottom of each article, as each item is spread over more than one page).

Al-Fostat Museum Construction
"Minister of Culture Dr. Farouq Hosni confirmed that work is going on to establish Civilization Museum at Al-Fostat saying that the museum establishments will end in 6 months to be followed by preparing the museum from inside". More details about the museum are contained within the article.

Faiyum Portraits on Display

"Dr. Zahi Hawwas has opened an exhibition in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square showing a number of Fayyoum portraits. The exhibition is set to go on display for two months. It includes 12 portraits and 7 busts considered of major significance". The portraits are not exclusively from the Faiyum - but they are known as the Faiyoum portraits because that is where the first ones were found.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Stolen Relics to Return
"Some of Egypt's stolen antiquities might be returned. Switzerland has recently become party to an international agreement on the prevention of antiquity smuggling. The agreement would give the Egyptians a carte blanche to demand a return of their country's monuments which had been smuggled to Switzerland in the past. Local antiquities' experts are blithe". The article goes on to quote Zahi Hawass and explain the reasons why Switzerland has become important in a consideration of the return of smuggled items.