Friday, March 31, 2006

Fayoum's ancient quarry under threat

Al Ahram Weekly is featuring the risk to one of Egypt's ancient stone quarrying areas (one of two such quarries known from the Faiyum Depression) which also contains the world's oldest known road and the quarrymen's village: "The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), in response to a request to draw up a management plan for the protection and preservation of the quarries in the northern Fayoum, is now looking into the possibility of asking UNESCO to incorporate Widan Al-Faras within the Wadi Al-Rayan Protected Area. This spring, a survey of the ancient quarries at Widan Al-Faras carried out as part of the Quarry Scapes Project will be continued with the aim of assessing the risks to the site and developing practical and methodological guidelines for its conservation. . . . The ancient basalt quarries of Widan Al-Faras (Ears of the Horse), so named after two hills which stand as a prominent geological feature at Gabal Qatrani, lie in the north of Fayoum about 80km southwest of Cairo. Not only do they form the best preserved ancient geological landscape from ancient Egypt, but this is also the oldest and most extensively-used basalt outcrop. There are no known archaeologically preserved equivalents anywhere else in the world. Widan Al-Faras offers invaluable information about the totality of ancient stone technology and the living conditions of those who worked in the stone industry at a very early stage in the history of human civilisation, about 4,500 years ago."
See the full story on the above page, which gives details about the quarry and its uses, as well as the ongoing survey work.

New Kingdom discovery near Luxor

The discovery of a 34 metre "hall" located in a rock cut tomb near Luxor has been announced by the SCA: "The Egyptian-Spanish team discovered the hall at Zira Abu al-Naga on the west bank of the Nile, as it was excavating the tomb site, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawas, said on Thursday.They believe the tomb belonged to an official responsible for temple and tomb decorations during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut in the 18th dynasty (1580-1314 BC), Hawas said. . . . The antiquities chief said that the 34-metre-long hall, which opens into the tomb area, was one of the longest such rooms unearthed to date.He added that the team found inscriptions on its walls and scenes that explain religious rituals practised by ancient Egyptians and show how they dug tombs."
See the brief article on the above page.

A slightly different version appears on today's Egyptian Gazette:
"An Egyptian-Spanish archaeological team, operating on the West Bank in Luxor, have discovered a room housing the tomb of the foreman responsible for decorating all the temples and palaces in the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor) in the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (1502 - 1482 BC). The discovery, announced by Culture Minister Farouq Hosni, also includes a collection of wooden and clay artifacts. According to Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, this important discovery sheds light on the design of the buildings that housed tombs in the 18th Dynasty. "The building is 34 metres long and there are many drawings carved on the walls, as well as the words of sermons Ancient Egyptians listened to at the time," he explained, adding that the finds will displayed in the Luxor Museum."

Is it all loot? (New York Times)
After a whole spate of articles about antiquities and the role of museums in establishing provenance, things have died down a little, but here's an interview on the subject from the New York Times: "On March 6, at the New School in New York, Michael Kimmelman, The Times's chief art critic, moderated a discussion about antiquities and their provenance. He opened by delving into the topic of the Euphronios krater, a 2,500-year-old Greek bowl that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently agreed to return to Italy. Here are excerpts, edited for clarity, from the conversation."
If you need a username and password, type egyptnews in both fields.

Exhibition design at the Bowers (
An article about exhibit designer Paul Johnson, who designs and puts together exhibitions at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, California: "The 4,000-pound stone sarcophagus lid from Egypt was one of Paul Johnson's recent challenges. He's the longtime director of exhibit design and fabrication at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, and he had to figure out how to move and lift the ancient lid – on loan from the British Museum – without hurting anyone."

Zahi Hawass - Dig Days
The occasional "Dig Days" column on the Al Ahram Weekly website by Zahi Hawass this week features his meetings with, and impressions of his friend and colleague Refaat Rozeik: "Several years ago I went to the Egyptian Museum and met its then director, Mamdouh El-Damati. I met a man in his office, a short man with dark skin named Refaat who spoke English with a saidi (Upper Egyptian) accent. After several minutes of conversation, I realised that he was super smart. I understood he had spent most of his life in Cambridge, England, and had married a charming English lady, Ashley, with whom he has a daughter and a son. El-Damati told me that Refaat supplied the museum with computers and other essentials needed for day-to-day activities. He had even sponsored the visits of several curators to the British Museum."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Amheida: Director's Report 2006 (
The Roman period site of Amheida lies to the south of the modern Dakhleh Oasis town of El Qasr. Poart of the Dakhleh Oasis Project, the work at Amheida is carried out by Columbia University. After preliminary surveys in 2001 and 2002, excavations began in 2004 and 2005, when three main areas were investigated. In 2006, excavation at these areas, together with conservation work, has continued. The Director's Report is a comprehensive summary of the 2006 field work and post excavation work, looking at the site of Amheida. Although details are available on the above page in HTML format, the best format is the PDF version, which can be dowloaded from the above page. Both versions have photographs (in the PDF they appear at the end of the 49 page document). Previous season reports are also on the site, as well as images, maps and drawings, a database, information about the local community, and much more. This is one of the most comprehensive and well maintained excavation/fieldwork websites around, and is well worth a visit.

CT Scan on Australian Museum mummy (
A short article about routine maintenance leading to CT scans on the prize piece in the Australian Museum's Egytpolgoy collection - a mummy donated to the museum over a century ago. Although the images on the front of the mummy depict a female, a previous X-ray had suggested that the remains under the bandages were male. However, the doubts have now been resolved: "She might be shrivelled, with just five teeth, but she was all woman - and 300 years older than expected. Patched up and dressed in a nylon bodystocking, the mummy was yesterday returned to her coffin."

New Egyptian tourist board website (
"The Egyptian tourist board has launched its new website to show-off the many attractions the north African country has to offer. Visitors to the new site will be able to gather information on Egypt, such as its ancient structures, beaches and holiday resorts, before going on or booking their holiday. When it comes to Egypt, the immediate thought that springs to mind is that of the Sphinx and pyramids. While there is much of ancient Egypt to explore, there are plenty of attractions in the country's beaches, nightlife and sporting facilities."
To see the Egyptian tourist board's new website, go to

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

St Louis Mask

"The St Louis Mask issue is still alive and in dispute: " Egypt threatened Tuesday to take legal action against a US museum unless it returns an ancient mask in its collection that the authorities claim was stolen from a warehouse years ago.The St Louis Art Museum has a week to turn over the 19th dynasty (1307-1196 BC) mask of Ka-nefer-nefer or face legal action, according to Zahi Hawas, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)."

Picture of the Day
The website has a lovely photograph as their "picture of the day", showing a sepia photo of an Egyptian-style pavillion which was erected as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition, San Francisco, 1894.

More re Hatshepsut exhibition (The Journal News)
More about the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, again drawing together aspects of her reign and aspects of the exhibition: "The subject of an elegant and enlightening exhibit opening today at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for two decades (circa 1479-1458 B.C.) during the 18th Dynasty. She wasn't Egypt's first female ruler, nor was she most famously the last. That distinction belongs to the accomplished Cleopatra, who nonetheless drove Egypt into the controlling arms of Rome. But, says Arnold — the Lila Acheson Wallace chairman of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art — Hatshepsut was the most important female pharaoh, presiding over a period of political stability and artistic creativity more than 1,000 years after the pyramids were built. In this, Arnold says, Hatshepsut was similar to Elizabeth I, an analogy that is apt in other ways."
See the above web page for more.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ramesses II mark found at Trojan site

"Greek archaeologists have unearthed the remains of an ancient palace associated with Ajax the Great, a legendary warrior-king cited by Homer as a key participant in the Trojan War . . . . Among the discoveries were part of a Cyprus-made bronze talent, an ancient heavy unit of coinage, and a rare piece of armour stamped with the royal mark of Ramesses II the Great, an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 13th century BC."
The Mycenaen period palace is dated to the 13th century BC, and has been found on the island of Salamis, to the west of Athens. See the above item on the IOL website for more details about the discovery.

New York denies neglect of obelisk (
"The New York Parks Department rejects claims by an Egyptian official that the city is neglecting the 3,700-year-old Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park and refuses to address his demand to give the obelisk back. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council on Antiquities, wrote to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to protest the city's care of the 71-foot obelisk, a gift from Egypt to the U.S. 126 years ago, the state-run Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar reported. Hawass, who has waged a campaign since 2002 to recover Egyptian antiquities abroad, said weather is damaging the monument and the city should give it back, the newspaper said."
See the above page for the entire story .

More re Hatshepsut exhibition (The New Yorker)
Another review which combines some details about the exhibition with some information about Hatshepsut and anicent Egypt: "With a broad face, large-featured but for a dainty chin, Hatshepsut is no Nefertiti. Even in colossal statuary, she’s more pleasant-looking than anything else—a woman whose appearance, except for over-the-top eye makeup, would startle no one in a Midwestern mall. The more formidable mien of Senenmut suggests that Hatshepsut was one to impose her will by cat’s paw."

Exhibition to mark the eclipse
Zahi Hawass has announced that the Minister of Culture, Farouq Hosni, has agreed to organise an archaeological exhibition to mark tomorrow's solar eclipse which will be visible in el-Sallum. The exhibition, which will be located in el-Sallum, will consist of 60 replica antiquities, including a sundial.

Travel Item: Cairo

"The most intriguing aspect of the pyramid is the entry passage into its inner chambers. This is a task many people including myself found challenging. Anyone who is 6 feet tall like me will definitely run a sweat while trying to maneuver the way up the internal chambers of the pyramid. The entrance is about 1 meter square. This does not end there; I then realize that this is actually a stair case passage rising at an angle. Have you ever tried climbing up a stair case in a crouch position? Imagine climbing stairs that the whole passage is 1 meter square. To make matters worse, it is summer time and the temperatures outside is around 35 degrees Celsius."
See the above page for the full story.

Happy Birthday to this Blog

I recently noticed that the blog has been going for two years this month, and its two year anniversary is actually today.

I thought I would take the opportunity to thank all my visitors for taking the time out to come to the site, and to say a very big thank you to those who email me on a regular basis both with news items and general chat - much appreciated.

All the very best

Monday, March 27, 2006

More on the Bolton "Amarna" forgery

"Inspected by the British Museum and sold through Christie’s, the Amarna Princess was one of only three known examples of the period. The reason for the knock-down price? Its mysterious owners wanted the piece to remain in Bolton. But a police inquiry now suggests that the alabaster sculpture has less to do with Ancient Egypt and more to do with Bolton circa 2003."
See the full story on The Times website, above.


For those hoping for more information about the Egypt State Information Service announcement that the mummy of Hatshepsut has been found in the Cairo Museum, I have found no further information on the subject so far. There is a lot of speculation about which of the known mummies held in the Cairo Museum it might be, but there has been no further official announcement. The following is a short profile of Hatshepsut, timed for the transfer of the Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharoah exhibition to the New York Met, which opens tomorrow: (
"The 18th Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut surely wins the prize for gutsiest cross-dresser of all time, if only because she played for the highest stakes. Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for two decades (from 1479 to 1458 BC), which makes her the first major female head of state - the first one we know about, anyway. While women could be leaders in ancient Egypt, a pharaoh was by definition male. So Hatshepsut had to invent a hybrid gender, presenting a challenge to the sculptors charged with translating her flesh into stone. Hatshepsut's fluid identity is the focus of a captivating and opportune exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum that focuses both on the fruitful period of her reign and on shifting representations of the woman herself."
See the full story on the above web page.

For more information about the exhibition itself, see the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's website:

Latest Issue of EEF News

The EEF weekly newsletter is now online at the above address, with up to date information about conferences, lectures and seminars, digitized publications, exhibitions, book releases, grants and scholarships, and lots more.

The tomb of Ped-Isisby
Zahi Hawass, still focused on Bahariya, talking about work at the tomb of Ped-Isisby:

"The next area we began to clear was northeast of the tomb of Djed-Khonsu-efankh. To our surprise, this work revealed the tomb of Ped-Isis, father of Djed-Khonsu-efankh.This is one of the oldest tombs here. It was built in the same style as the tomb of Naesa, with the burial chamber continuing an anthropoid sarcophagus and an inner chamber. Unfortunately, the entrance to the tomb had been completely destroyed because it was used as sewer by one of the houses above. We even found sewage inside the sarcophagus.
The water from the houses above has also destroyed the beautiful scenes that had once adorned the walls. Most of them had come away from the walls and we found pieces on the ground. However, these fragments do give us a small glimpse of how beautiful these scenes must have been. Fakhry believed that Ped-Isis had also been the governor of Bahariya after his father, Ped-Amun.
The anthropoid sarcophagus found in the tomb was crafted from local sandstone, and measured seven feet three inches long. Depicted on the sarcophagus is Ped-Isis with a priestly beard. This tells us that he was also a high priest of Amun-Re. The lid of the sarcophagus had been broken into three pieces and the mummy was almost completely deteriorated. When he cleaned the sarcophagus we found six wadjet-eyes of varying sizes, an amethyst scarab, four turquoise djed-pillar amulets and five carnelian amulets in different shapes.
But the biggest surprise was that we found approximately thirty shawabtis to the right of the sarcophagus that had been incorrectly carved. Each measured an inch high and inscribed on them it read: 'The Osiris, Ped-Isis, born of Amun-Itieb.' This is a mistake in the carving, for it should read: 'The Osiris, Ped-Isis, born of Ped-Amun and not Amun-Itieb.' "

(Copied here in full due to the lack of archive on the Egyptian Gazette website)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mummy of Hatshepsut found (Egypt State Information Service)
"The true mummy of ancient Egyptian queen Hatshepsut was discovered in the third floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Secretary General of Supreme Council for Antiquities Zahi Hawwas revealed on Thursday. The mummy was missing among thousands of artifacts lying in the museum, he said during his lecture at the New York-based Metropolitan Museum of Arts.
He said for decades archaeologists believed that a mummy found in Luxor was that of the Egyptian queen. It was a streak of luck, he said, to find this mummy."

USAID funding for Luxor (Egypt State Information Service)
"The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated $ 40 million to restore and develop Luxor's Western Bank. The project will be carried out in cooperation with the (SCA) Supreme Council for Antiquities, SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawwas told reporters on the sidelines of the Hatshepsut Exhibition in the New York-based Metropolitan Museum of Arts said that the aid will be mainly used to restore the Valley of Kings and Queens. Hawwas said that an international centre for tourists will be set up to brief them on the ancient history of Egypt. 'It will be established outside the monuments area,' he noted. The USAID has allocated $ 5 million to restore and develop Luxor's Eastern Bank."

Egyptian sunken monuments on EU tour (Egypt State Information Service)
"Egyptian sunken monuments recently retrieved will tour a number of European cities according to an agreement signed between the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the European Institute for Sunken Archaeology in Alexandria. Berlin and Paris will receive the Egyptian monuments between May 2006 and March 2007. Head of the institute Frack Goddio told MENA he requested an extension of the exhibition to visit two other European cities. The artifacts to be on display were selected by a joint Egyptian-European committee of specialists, he added. For his part, SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawwas said that the project for retrieving sunken monuments has so far succeeded in reclaiming some 400 antiquities dating back to the reign of Cleopatra VII."

Mummy analysis project
This page will be up for the next week, on the Egyptian Mail website. There's an introductory parapgraph about Tutankhamun and the value of the treasures from that and other tombs, and then some information about the project to analyze a number of mummies in Egypt: " 'The project to examine the ancient mummies consists of four stages," says Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The first stage involves examining the photographs of the five mummies discovered in the Valley of the Kings. Then the second stage in September will witness 10,000 'ordinary' [i.e. non-royal] mummies being transferred to el-Fostat [in Old Cairo] for treatment. In the third stage, we're going to study the golden mummies discovered in Bahariya Oasis. The fourth stage of this exclusively Egyptian project will involvefurther study of the royal mummies,' Hawass adds. Clearly, the local authorities are taking great care of these priceless treasures, an irreplaceable part of Egypt's rich heritage."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday Trivia

Pharaoh's Fury (Korea Times)
"Lotte World executive describes as 'a multi-motion dark ride', a course that takes you through some three or four minutes of journey to find the inside of a pharaoh’s tomb, or a pyramid.
Named 'Pharaoh’s Fury,' the ride opened last December after 10 years of preparation . . . . As a result, the facility takes up a considerable space in the Adventure section with its conspicuous Egyptian-style architectures. . . . The ride itself is modeled after a journey taken by Howard Carter, a deceased Egyptologist, while also taking motive from an expedition team searching for pharaoh’s golden scepter. On a jeep-shaped vehicle, passengers pass by a burning cave and collapsing temple as well as gigantic crocodiles, cobras and fireballs. The bust of pharaoh also does not miss out on his ominous speech as the ride enters his room. . . .After finishing the ride, there is the Revelation of Pharaoh, a kind of a fortune-telling service, to give the final dose of the Egyptian feel."
See the full story on the above page.

Luxor - Amun Rising (
Return to the glory, adventure and addictive fun of Ancient Egypt in Luxor - Amun Rising. In the sequel to the runaway hit action-puzzle game, you must defeat rebellious Princes before they overthrow the Pharaoh and plunge the Two Lands into chaos! Return to the ancient lands of Luxor and once again save the day.

Blog Updates - 25th to 29th March

Just a quick note to say that the blog will be updated only intermittently over the next few days. Apologies, and be assured that normal service will be resumed on the 30th.

Kind regards

What's new in Abzu

The latest from Chuck Jones, posted recently to EEF:

"To find material newly added to Abzu, you can follow the "View items recently added to ABZU" link at: entries stay there for a month from the date they are entered. Alternatively you can make use of the RSS feed from the same page, or you can read the blog constructed from the RSS feed: What's New in Abzu blog
I have added more than 200 entries since the middle of February, with an emphasis on travellers.

In addition, I suppose it is possible that some of you did not hear of the closing of the ANE list
in mid-February, and the establishement of a successor list: ANE-2
( the moderatorship of Trudy S. Kawami, N. P.
Lemche, Marc Cooper, Robert Whiting, Charles E. Jones, and Jeffrey B. Gibson. All members of ETANA-Abzu-News are welcome to join ANE-2 503 addreses are subscribed to ETANA-Abzu-News"
-Chuck Jones-

Friday, March 24, 2006

Surface evidence

The long-held but untested belief that the Dakhleh Oasis town of Al-Qasr was built on the site of a Roman citadel has been confirmed with the discovery, by accident, of a piece of wall that has always been visible to archaeologists walking past it, but was unrecognized: " What caught his eye was an outcrop of what had always been thought -- if any thought was given to it at all -- to be an outcrop of dried mud beneath a disused mosque on the edge of the old town. One morning this February Leemhuis was walking past the "rock" when he noticed that the sun caught a distinct line that appeared to be a course of brickwork. He called in the project's chief restorer, Rizq Abdel-Hay Ahmed, and local inspector Affaf Saad Hussein, and together they examined it more closely. Under the veneer of sun-baked mud they could distinguish several such courses. Far from being hardened earth this was mud-brick, and, moreover, the size of the bricks -- each 8x16x33 cms -- corresponded exactly to bricks in other Roman fortresses in the Western Desert. Since then other experts, including Roger Bagnold of Columbia University -- who has also walked past it many times -- have agreed the wall is Roman."
The article goes on to describe not only this find, but to discuss other work that has been carried out by the Qasr Dakhla Project (part of the Dakhla Oasis Project) in Al-Qasr. A welcome insight into the varied and valuable activities of one archaeological project team. See the above web page for the entire article.

More on the Sun Temple of Matariya

A summary both of the recent find of the sun temple at Heliopolis, and of other discoveries in the area, plus details of a new open air museum currently under construction to display the remains of a number of tombs, including the 26th Dynasty (Saite) tomb of Panehsy: " While the mud brick chapel disappeared, the burial chamber remains intact. It is composed of a vaulted limestone room, whose frescos feature the sky goddess Nut, while beautiful vignettes and spells from the Book of the Dead decorate its walls."

Thanks very much to my ace Official Nitpicker, Chris Townsend, for pointing out that this was an old article, still featuring on the Al Ahram Weekly website, which I had already featured previously. Apologies for that! My mind must have been wandering somewhere else when I posted it.

ARTP website updated

The latest installment in the ARTP's work in the area of KV63 from 1998 to 2002. The fifth installment takes up from the team's conclusion that there might be undiscovered layers in the Theban necropolis (see end of installment 4): "For ARTP’s 2000 season the decision was taken to test this hypothesis by means of radar. The equipment employed was a custom-built 400 MHz system designed by our Japanese radar specialist, Hirokatsu Watanabe (Terra Information Co Ltd, Yokohama). A difficult technology to use because of the multiple reflections which tend to be generated, radar proved surprisingly accurate in the dry Valley terrain once calibrated to the site and its output correctly analysed." See the full account on the above page. The account is accompanied by a photo of ARTP's 2000 radar survey in progress immediately above KV63, together with radar sections showing the tomb shaft.

Rushdi Said: The Desert Dream

A profile of one of the greatest contributors to the understanding of Egypt's geological past, the context within which Egyptian prehistory unfolded: "Rushdi Said, 86, is more than a celebrated geologist -- one of Egypt's best known. During the reign of both late presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar El-Sadat, he was, even more significantly, a leading public figure, notably the head of the National Mining Organisation, later the Egyptian Geological and Survey Authority, the body responsible for surveying Egyptian deserts for mineral deposits. He has written a handful of books: The Geology of Egypt , The River Nile Geology , Hydrology and Utilisation -- attempts to reconstruct the history of the River Nile from its origins to its present, but also to ascertain the amount of water carried by the river during the course of its history . . . . For decades he has been a strong advocate of saving the Nile Valley from further degradation and opening up new frontiers for population settlement in the desert."
See the entire profile on the above page.

LE28m to restore Coptic Museum
President Hosni Mubarak is due to inaugurate the recently renovated Coptic Museum, part of the Religious Complex at Old Cairo, within the next few days. The Museum has been overhauled and restored by the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). 'The Coptic Museum is one of the most important museums in Egypt, as well as internationally. It contains many unique antiquities dating back to early Coptic times. The restoration work was done by top Egyptian and Italian archaeologists,' stressed Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni.SCA Chairman Zahi Hawass said that the old building has been completely restored, including the walls, ceilings, doors and windows. 'A number of new glass displays have been added, with state-of-the-art lighting and security. Meanwhile, restoration work on the new building of the Museum, which opened in 1947, is currently underway.' It consists of 17 showrooms and is linked to the old building by an interior passageway, which is very convenient for visitors," he explained, adding that the inaugural ceremony will include the screening of a documentary about the history of the Museum and an exhibition of rare photos. There will also be a book containing the names everyone involved in the restoration. The upgrading of the Coptic Museum, founded by Morqos Pasha in 1908, has hit LE28 million, including better security in the showrooms; improving the gardens surrounding it and the creation of a data centre and lab for restoration work."

Cross camel owners bring Cairo to a halt

"Traffic came to a standstill and the streets were blocked on Wednesday in a protest that saw 400 camels and horses clog the Cairo avenue leading to the Egyptian pyramids. Camel and horse owners who make money offering pyramid visitors rides on their animals took to the streets to protest being chased out of the tourist site by the tourism police."
See the full story on the IOL website, above.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ancient brewery and wooden statues (A.N.D.)
"A Polish archeological excavation team have unearthed the biggest brewery used by ancient Egyptians in the Nile Delta before the first monarch ever ruled the country, Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouq Hosny has announced today The site discovered in Tall al-Farkha in the northern province of Dakahliya on March 8 dates back to around 3,500 BC, a period known as Naqada II D and C, the minister said.
The Polish archeologists, who have been working in the area since 1998, also discovered a cemetery with 33 graves belonging to middle and lower class ancient Egyptians. The head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that the Polish mission also discovered a deposit of 65 items inside a small pottery jar dating back to the beginning of the 1st Dynasty. The items are mainly hippopotamus ivory figurines shaped as humans, animals, boats and game pieces. Miniature stones and faience vases were also among the deposited items.
The mission also found golden foils used in covering two wooden statues whose lengths ranged between 35 and 70 cm, believed to have been the oldest of such a type. The statues, representing standing naked men, have not been recovered, except for eyes that were inlaid with Lapis Lazuli."
Archeologists in Egypt have unearthed two 5,000-year-old wooden statues, complete with gold wrapping paper, believed to be the oldest such artefacts ever found, the team said Wednesday. The statues, which depict two nude men with precious stones around their eyes, were found by a Polish team in the northern Nile Delta region of Daqahliya, said a statement by chief archaeologist Krzysztof Cialowicz. The effigies are believed to date from Egypt's predynastic era (3,700-3,200 BC), before Egypt started to unify under the pharaohs.
See the above article for the full story.

Also on the IOL website at:

Hathsepsut opens in New York

A useful overview of the exhibition and the historical context: "The Metropolitan Museum of Art's enormous, glorious show Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh begins in the Great Hall with the Met's own colossal pink granite Sphinx of Hatshepsut (c. 1472-58 B.C.E.). One of the great pleasures of this exhibition, other than the fact that the show celebrates, for the first time, one of the greatest and least understood periods of Egyptian art, is that it frees up sculptures that can sometimes feel cramped in the museum's well-endowed yet overcrowded Egyptian galleries. Sphinx of Hatshepsut, like many other Met masterpieces included in the exhibition, has never looked better out of situ."
See the above web page for the entire article.

Turin's Museo Egizio
"The daily pleasures and challenges of the Ancient Egyptians are brought back to life in a new show at Turin's Egyptology Museum. The exhibition centres on the lives of a wealthy couple, an 11th Dynasty (2,000 BC) King's Treasurer called Iti and his wife Neferu - but also evokes the existence of more common people. The burial chamber of Iti's tomb, excavated in 1911 by Turin archaeologists, includes alabaster and terracotta vessels and a bronze mirror belonging to Neferu .It also has beautifully detailed pictures of ritual and daily life .Through a new display, visitors can 'see' the couple in their house and fields, along the River Nile and in the surrounding desert. Moving out from the tomb, the show presents objects of daily life to give an idea of the rhythm of Egyptian existence 4,000 years ago."
See the above for more informtion.

The Turin museum's webiste (Museo Egizio) is under construction, but can be found at:

Mubarak invited to open exhibition (State Information Service)
"The Chicago-based Field Museum has invited President Hosni Mubarak to open the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition in mid May, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said on Tuesday 23/3/2006 at a press conference in the New York-based Metropolitan Museum of Arts. He added that Egyptian fairs in the United States helped increase the number of American tourists in Egypt. He said fair revenues over the past three years reached up to EP86 million from 18 Egyptian fairs hosted by the US and Europe."
See the above web page for the full item.

Restoration of historic Greek cathedral

"A Greek Orthodox cathedral that has been the center of the Greek community of Alexandria, Egypt, for 150 years will reopen its doors on April 2 after major restoration works, the foundation created by legendary Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis said Wednesday. Consecrated in 1856, the Church of the Annunciation underwent a two-year restoration process starting in 2002 that cost $600,000."
See the above article for full details.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

TT178 details online (OsirisNet)
Thanks to Thierry Benderitter the OsirisNet website has been updated with an entirely new version of the tomb of Neferrenpet-Kenro, TT178, with many new photographs and the addition of enhanced text. Some of the images are thumbnails, which can be clicked to see a much bigger version of the image. The TT178 page can be found at the above URL.

Next installment on the ARTP website
The website of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project has been updated with another installment. Here's a short sample: "Within the space of a few weeks in 1998 ARTP had made an astonishing discovery: that the entire central area of the Valley beneath the modern tourist areas remained completely undisturbed. This was a revelation of the greatest possible significance, since it implied the survival of a priceless stratigraphy not just at a single point but across the Valley as a whole. This stratigraphy, properly excavated, recorded and read, has the potential to permit a fuller understanding than Egyptologists could ever have dared hope for - of the processes of siting, quarrying and stocking the tombs, of planning and administering the workmen’s village which occupied the site in antiquity, and of concealing, robbing and subsequently dismantling the burials and their furnishings at the start of the first millennium BC."

Archaeology Magazine March/April

The March/April edition of Archaeology is now available. A full contents list is available at the above address. Egyptian features include three interviews available online, also from the above address:
- Rock The Oasis - Salmia Ikram discusses recent finds of Western Desert rock art
- KV63 - A look at the new tomb. An interview with Roxanne Wilson

There's still a detailed abstract on the site, of Bob Brier's The Mystery of Unknown Man E, one of the mummies of kings and queens found in a cache at Deir el-Bahri, near the Valley of the Kings, whose unusual mummy led to decades of speculation about his identity.

There's also an interview with Malcolm Bell, Vice President of the Archaeological Institute of America, entitled Spinning A Tale, which looks at the impact of the Italian case against the Getty upon Museum acquisition procedures. There is also an online feature entitled The Trial in Rome which looks specifically at the latest state of play regarding the trial.

Short interview re KV63
A short interview with Carter Lupton, Curator of Ancient History at the Milwaukee Public Museum, who was one of a few researchers allowed to visit KV63 in Luxor. Lupton was in Egypt carrying out CT Scans of mummies in the Cairo Museum. See the interview for more details.

More on Amarna forgery (Manchester Evening Times)
Another article revealing that the alabaster princess in Bolton Museum and Art Gallery (U.K.) is a forgery, and that a small number of items have been removed from the British Museum, as well, in connection with the investigation being held by the Metropolitan Police's Arts and Antiquities Unit.

Great Pyramid orientation

Just on the offchance that these are of interest to anyone, I was looking up details in the size and orientation of the Great Pyramid in answer to a query on one of the email lists, and found the two following sites, which might be useful:
Determination of the Exact Size and Orientation of the Great Pyramid of Giza, by J.H. Cole B.A., (Cantab), F.R.G.S.. Survey of Egypt Paper no.39, Government Press Cairo.
A table including Petrie's originally hand written corrections to data about the courses of the Great Pyramid in Petrie's The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh: "Two original copies of the book were compared to resolve numbers of poor legibility. Corrections which have been incorporated are described in the annotations at the bottom of the table, as are other observations of note. For convenience, annotated courses are indicated by an asterisk following the course number. The column presenting course thickness variation for all four corners has been estimated from the thickness graphs of Plate 8. All other thickness values have been computed from the course levels." See the above URLs for the full explanation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Amarna statue found to be fake (
"A statue of an Egyptian princess, thought to be 3,300 years old and worth £1million, has been exposed as a fake. The Amarna Princess was supposed to be Tutankhamun's sister and had been hailed by the art world as of "great significance". It was bought for £440,000 three years ago, mostly with taxpayers' money. Hundreds of visitors went each day to see the sculpture of Queen Nefertiti's daughter at Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Greater Manchester. The 52cm-high piece had been removed from display yesterday."
See the rest of this brief article on the above web page.

Also on the BBC News website:


The annually held Current Research in Archeaology conference is coming up, located this year in Oxford, UK on the 6th to the 8th April. Thanks to Maria for letting me know that the website will be updated at the end of the week with the full programme and abstracts. I'll post when it is done. For those of you wondering when the Predynastic section is planned to be held, it will probably be on the Saturday, but watch the website for confirmation.

Toutankhamon Magazine
The latest issue of Toutankhamon Magazine is now avaible (French only), featuring a special edition on Cairo. The cover image and details of subscription etc are on the website, above. The contents are as follows:
-L'antique Memphis
-Les Grandes Pyramides
-De Babylone d'Egypte à Al-Qahira
-Masr al qadima
-Mari Girgis
-Les souks du Caire
-Un Caire toujours Fatimide
-Le Caire, une métropole méconnue
-Au coeur du cimetière nord
-La villa Emapin
-Le Caire pharaonique (le musée égyptiens)
-Les monuments au Caire et aux alentours
-Une carte du Caire (le centre)
-Les bonnes adresses et le Caire pratique
-Abousis le mastaba de Ptahshepsès
-Abou Roach
-En route vers le Fayoum
-Le Delta
-Les couleurs en Égypte ancienne

Monday, March 20, 2006

600 visitors daily to see Nespenerennub (
An article rounding up the main arts attractions in Alabama, U.S.. The writer says that the Nesperennub exhibition is currently averaging more than 600 visitors a day, and that the Exploreum's director W. Michael Sullivan, is hoping for a final attendance figure of around 100,000.

ARTP website updated
The ARTP website continues to be updated by Nick Reeves, this time with ongoing postings about the ARTP's work in the KV63 area, before the concession was reassigned, together with details about what the ARTP was hoping to uncover.

Hatshepsut in New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Hatshepsut exhibition Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh opens next week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, running from the 28th March through to July 9th: "In this exhibition, the Metropolitan’s own extensive holdings of objects excavated by the Museum’s Egyptian Expedition in the 1920s and 1930s will be supplemented by loans from other American and European museums, as well as by select loans from Cairo."
See the above page for details.

TT320 Lecture
"TT320 a Re-examination by Prof. Dr. Erhart Graefe. In 1891 one of the saddest events in Egyptology happened when the cache tomb of TT320 was cleared in 48 hours. No photos were taken, no notes and as a consequence much knowledge has been lost. The purpose of the German/Russian Mission was to try and get a clearer plan of the tomb."
See Jane Akshar's Luxor News Blog for the full account.

The Golden Tomb
The regular column by Zahi Hawass on the Egyptian Gazette website:
"After the discovery of the tomb of Djed-Khonsu-efankh, my adventures were far from over. A break in the shaft leading from his tomb brought us to a room full of sand and a second sealed chamber. About a foot in, I glimpsed the head and an alabaster sarcophagus. As I pushed forward, the wire of the lamp snapped, and I got a shock that knocked me unconscious.
A few minutes later, I opened my eyes and saw my assistants looking down at me and asking, 'What happened? Are you all right?' I stood up and told them that I was OK and said 'If I had died, this would have made the headlines in all the papers: Curse of the Pharaohs Strikes Again!' But, I could not believe that I was safe, for the next few hours I continued to feel the electricity shaking my body.
The tomb belonged to Naesa II, wife of Djed-Khonsu-efankh. Inside we discovered 239 shawabtis and 103 pieces of gold. We named this tomb the Golden Tomb. Unfortunately, tomb robbers had damaged Naesa's mummy, but we ascertained she was four and half feet tall, and lived to old age. Her sarcophagus, like that of her husband's, was surrounded with hematite powder. It completely blocked my ears and gave me an ear infection, although I was not aware of it. I returned to Cairo for my son Karim's graduation from college and also attended a party arranged by the American University Press in Cairo for their authors. Mark Linz, the head of the press, asked me to give a speech.
As Mark introduced me, I became dizzy and fell. I could not get up nor answer, but I could hear everyone talking. I was afraid I would die!
Mark and his assistant called an ambulance. By the time they arrived, I had recovered a little. The ambulance took me to the emergency room, and they found nothing wrong with me. I went home, but continued to feel dizzy. Finally they discovered I had an ear infection and put me on antibiotics. A week later, I was better."

Exhibition of Egyptian replicas in Seoul (Korea Times)
"A crowded Seoul theme park is not usually a place for getting in touch with ancient Egyptian culture, but Lotte World in southern Seoul is making an exception. Visitors look at replicas of artifacts from ancient civilization in Egypt in the exhibition hall at Lotte World in southern Seoul. /Korea Times Since late February, the Adventure section of the spacious theme park in Chamsil has been holding an exhibition featuring some 100 replicas of artifacts from ancient civilization in Egypt in the third floor of Rainbow Plaza. . . . The exhibition is aimed at providing viewers with a chance to get to know the history of the ancient civilization and perhaps to understand its link to modern Egypt."
See the above page for more.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The power of the ancient Egyptian priest

An item looking at the role of priests and the purpose of amulets. This article should be up for the rest of the week, but will change next Saturday:
"In ancient Egypt, amulets might be carried, used in necklaces, bracelets, rings, or even small statues. They were often placed among a mummy's bandages to ensure the deceased a safe, healthy and productive afterlife. Egyptian amulets functioned in a number of ways. Symbols and deities generally conferred the powers they represented. Small models that represented known objects, such as headrests or arms and legs, served to ensure those items were made available to the individual or that a specific need could be addressed. Magic contained in an amulet could be understood not only from its shape. Material, colour, rarity, the grouping of several forms, and words said or ingredients rubbed over the amulet could all be the source for magic that granted the possessor's wish".
See the above page for the full story.

Travel: Golf and monuments

A golfing holiday to Cairo with some day trips included as optional extras, including all of Luxor in eight hours, after a 3.30am start in Cairo: "Ah yes, you're here for golf, but Luxor pushed it totally out of mind. This trip is an optional extra but is something that should not be missed. And you don't have to be an archaeological nut to enjoy it."
See the above for a review of golf courses, with some day trips thrown in.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hairstyles of Cleopatra
"Egyptian queen Cleopatra used her hairstyles in calculated ways to enhance her power and fame, according to a book published recently by a Yale art history and classics professor. Statues, coins and other existing depictions of the queen suggest Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.) wore at least three hairstyles, according to Diana Kleiner. The first, a "traveling" do that mimicked the hair of a Macedonian Greek queen, involved sectioning the hair into curls, which were then often pulled away from the face and gathered into a bun at the back. The next was a coiffure resembling a melon, and the third was the regal Cleopatra in her royal Egyptian headdress, complete with a rearing cobra made of precious metal. Cleopatra did not invent any of these styles, but she used them to her advantage, Kleiner indicated in her book 'Cleopatra and Rome'."
See the complete two-page story on the Discovery Channel website, which is accompanied by a fabulous photo of Lilly Langtree as Cleopatra (click on it to see a better quality image).

Also at the address below, this time with a picture of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Saturday Trivia

Loki - RPG
An interview with one of the creators of the RPG game Loki, from French-based Cyanide Studios, which is based on ancient Egypt: "Seth is back in town ! He's returned from the land of the dead where he had been banished by the gods of ancient Egypt. However, he no longer has any close allies in the Egyptian pantheon that would allow him to seek his true rank. Yet, he still has a desire to become ruler of the gods and nothing will get in his way. Even the idea of transgressing an age old prohibition and cross into a different mythology. With his evil forces behind him, he sweeps through three mythologies in search of powerful allies who will back up his thirst for vengeance and power. Chaos is everywhere and the end of time approaches .....". If, like me, you're wondering what an RPG game is, it is a Role Playing Game. To see what the game looks like go to (it doesn't look very Egyptian to me, and the ship looks like something out of Pirates of the Carribean, but that's just me).

The Mummy 3
Oded Fehr (the actor who played Ardeth Bay in the first two Mummy movies) talking about the script for the third in the series: "Fraser and Weisz’s characters return, but with their grown-up son, to help fight off the bandaged baddie. It’s set in 1940, several years after the events of the first two films, with a new Mummy, China's first uber-Emperor Qin Shihuang, bringing on the pain." Apparently the only original characters to be included in the new script are Fraser and Weisz, althouth there's no mention of whether or not they have been successfully signed.

Egyptologists to visit Bosnian pyramid
An organization called the Archaeological Park: the Bosnian Pyramid of Sun Foundation has invited pyramid experts from Egypt to visit the archaeological site in Visokolater this year. The Dr Shafia Bedir and Dr Ali Abdallah Berekat will visit the pyramid and spend four weeks with the Bosnian pyramid project team to review the site. The pyramid is quite unlike the ones built in Egypt - judging by photographs, it was apparently achieved by modifying the existing landscape. To see a photo of it, an artist's impression of what it may have looked like in its heyday, and for more details, see the following URL. On the website, the main investigator says that evidence of covering stones and tunnels have been found:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blog glitches

Apologies to anyone who experienced problems using the blog over the last 15 minutes or so - I was having difficulties publishing articles, and this caused some odd things to appear on the blog on a couple of occasions. All seems to be back to normal, and the usual day's updates are below.
Kind regards

IVth Central European Conference of Young Egyptologists
It is a pleasure to publicise the above conference, with year being held in Budapest from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September 2006. See full details on the website, above, but here's an extract: "The aim of the conference series initiated in 1999 is to provide opportunity for the region’s doctoral students and young colleagues to present their work and discuss the current state of Egyptological research in these countries. It is also an excellent occasion for reports and presentations about excavation projects pursued in Egypt. Papers are invited on any aspect of Egyptology (archaeology, history, religion, language, literature, museology, etc.) Moreover, as the conference is dedicated to the memory of our professor Ernö Gaál, the topics related to his study field are extremely welcome. The presentations are planned to last 30 minutes (20 minutes talk followed by 10 minutes discussion)."

Afterwards their intention is to compile and publish a proceedings volume of the papers presented at the conference.

UPDATE: Thanks very much to everyone who emailed/posted to let me know that I had typed in December instead of September. As Carolin said - it would have made for the world's longest Egyptology confererence!

KV63 blog updated

Sharon Nichols is back in Egypt and has updated her blog. Here's an extract, but see the blog for her latest news: "When we were going through the jar contents, I did get a chance to learn another excavation skill: registration. This season, we'll be removing things from the tomb, opening jars, etc - but basically labling, bagging, conserving, and storing. At some point in the future, we'll have a 'study season,' at which time we'll actually study what we found. Of course, we all have theories right now - but logical conclusions can only happen when all the information has been collected and processed. So, last week, I helped the other registrars (Betty and Roxanne) with registering the contents of the jars. And it's a lot of work!"
Nice to have her back.

Brewing processes reproduced

Thanks to the EEF newsletter (which will be uploaded on Sunday) for highlighting the following article in PDF format, entitled Two Ancient Egyptian Mural Paintings", from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, Technical Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 4 . 2005 . pp. 273-282 (799 kB):
"We attempted the faithful reproduction of the brewing processes depicted on the mural paintings in the tombs of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep of the Old Kingdom and in the tomb of Kenamun of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt using a common pathway. After multiple reproductions, we succeeded in brewing stable beer using both of the above processes. Surprisingly, the two processes were proven to be completely different."
See the above URL for the abstract and article (10 pages).

Saving the Sphinx, again
A piece on the Al Ahram Weekly website about the latest restoration work on the Sphinx: "The Giza Plateau was a hive of activity yesterday, reports Nevine El-Aref. In addition to the usual tourists roaming around the monuments, a group of Egyptian workmen, together with restorers and Egyptologists, were busy at work at the foot of the Sphinx, installing iron scaffolding around the body of the statue barely eight years after the decade-long project to restore it ended in 1998." The work, according to Zahi Hawass, will include re-casing of sections damaged by air pollution and erosion and reinforcing weak points in the Sphninx's chest and neck. See the above URL for the full piece, which includes a short review of some of the previous restoration work, including efforts during the Pharaonic period.

Cuba's only mummy
Thanks to EEF for their excellent newsletter, in which I found the following item which I had previously missed (in Spanish), looking at Cuba's only known Egyptian mummy, purchased in 1912:

Tal vez "Emilio Bacardí se rascó la cabeza e inquirió a su esposa, Doña Elvira Cape, cómo llevar a casa el “souvenir” que acababan de comprar en aquella tienda de antigüedades. . . . lo que es hoy la mayor atracción del más longevo de los museos cubanos: la única momia egipcia de que se tiene referencia en el país y en el área del Caribe. . . . Lo modesto del decorado y la técnica empleada en la confección del sarcófago que la acompaña, parecen dejar claro que no se trataba de una reina ni un personaje de la alta aristocracia, sino de una mujer de clase media."
See the full article above.

Rough translation: Perhaps Emilio Bacardi scratched his head and asked his wife how they were going to take home the souvenir that they had just purchased from that antiquities shop, which is now the major attraction of the most longstanding of the Cuban museums: the only known Egyptian mummy in Cuba and the Carribean area. . . . The modesty of both the decoration and the skill employed in the manufacture of the sarcophagus imply that this was not a queen or a member of the high aristocracy, but a middle class lady. She probably dates to the Ptolemaic period.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The latest on KV 63

Lecture Report by Roy W. Hopper
First posted to EEF, and copied here with the very kind permission of author Roy W. Hopper, this psoting summarizes some of the key points in an account given by KV63 team member Dr Lorelei:

"Dr. Lorelei Corcoran, director of the IEAA at The University of Memphis just gave a presentation at 3:00 P.M. CST at the FedEx Institute of Technology on campus. Here are just a few bits of information I'd like to share with the list members.

The overhang on the shaft of KV 63 has been compared and found similar to two Eighteenth Dynasty private tombs, thereby dating the construction to the later half of the Eighteenth Dynasty (Note: Dr. Corcoran did not specify, but Yuya and Tuya is once such tomb
with an overhang-RWH).

A photo was shown of the foot holds in the shaft used by the ancient workers to climb down the shaft and/or used for beams for lowering the objects in KV 63.

Of the 28 jars in KV 63, at least 5 examined so far. The first examined was full of mud, chaff, and pottery. The second was full of natron, the third with a mixture of pottery vessels. The remainder were filled with materials similar to the first two. Dr. Corcoran identifiedthe jars and contents as similar to those from KV 54, the Tutankhamun embalming cache.

There are seven coffins in the tomb, but no indications to prove a recent statement that 5 or all were filled with embalming refuse. The only one examined, or at least examined before Dr. Corcoran returned to the USA, was the yellow faced coffin present in the foreground of the news images of KV 63. While being conserved of termite damage, it was found to have contained pot sherds, cloth, and at least three large pottery vessels-no human remains. The other six will have to await further details from the KV 10/KV 63 mission. "

Again, many thanks to Roy W. Hopper for permission to reproduce his posting here.

KV63 - not a tomb
Also on the subject of KV63, the following web page contains repeated information about Zahi Hawass's short announcement that KV63 is not a tomb but an embalming room - with a response by Salima Ikram.

Discovery Channel have exclusive rights to film KV63
"Dr. Zahi Hawass, Head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has signed an agreement giving Discovery Channel exclusive documentary television rights to the newly discovery KV63 tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Dr. Hawass has granted permission for news organizations to film and photograph, while Discovery Channel retains the only worldwide documentary television rights. Effective immediately, Discovery Channel will chronicle each phase of the team of University of Memphis archaeologists as they explore KV63, culminating in a documentary to air on Discovery Channel in the US in early summer 2006."
See the above page for more details.

Japanese grant for archaeological mission

"The Embassy of Japan extends a grant amounting to 82,148 dollars for the construction of an exhibition hall with a storehouse for cultural properties excavated from ruins in Sinai Peninsula, according to a press release from the embassy in Cairo. The Archaeological Mission of the Middle Eastern Culture Centre in Japan has been carrying out the Archaeological research of the cultural properties excavated from ruins in Sinai Peninsula such as Wadi al Tur, Mt Naqus, Raya and al Kilani from more than 20 years. Among the objects unearthed at al Kilani were 4000 fragments of manuscripts. The work is throwing new light on early Islam, its development of social and commercial networks, and its relation with Christian, Coptic and Byzantine cultures. Through this grant aid, it is expected that these important cultural properties will be well exhibited in order to attract more visitors and enhance the understanding about the history of Sinai Peninsula and its importance."
See the above URL for further details.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Facelift for Giza Sphinx

"The Great Sphinx of Giza, one of the most famous monuments of Pharaonic Egypt, is to get a facelift, the Egyptian ministry of culture said on Tuesday. Restoration work on the noseless creature undertaken by the High Council for Antiquities is to focus on the beast's neck and chest, rendered fragile by the erosion of desert winds. Egyptian antiquities boss Zahi Hawas said the last restoration work on the half-man half-lion statue was carried out in 1996."
See the rest of this brief article on the above web page.

KV63 team members in Memphis (
A chatty piece about KV63 from the points of view of Professor Lorelei Corcoran and Sharon Nichols, two of the KV63 team who have just returned to Memphis: "Back in Memphis for the first time since the find, Nichols and Corcoran spoke Monday at the UofM Art Museum about the discovery that won the Institute international publicity. Punching through slides that showed the area in the Valley of Kings where the discovery was made -- there's the cornerstone that betrayed the site, the shaft leading three stories down, the crevice that was the top of the door, the stones that protected the entrance and finally the vault itself -- Corcoran remembered the moment when she and Nichols and their team became the first to enter the tomb since it was sealed sometime in the 1,500 to 1,800 years before. 'You'd think you'd have this feeling of wanting to rush inside, but we didn't,' Corcoran said. 'We felt very awed. It was a very solemn moment, and we almost felt very hesitant to go inside.' "
Those who enjoyed Sharon's blog, will be pleased to know that Corcoran describes her as a "lucky charm". According to the acticle, both are returning to Egypt next week.
See the above page for more.

Also covered, but more briefly at the following page:

More on the Sekhmet statues (National Geographic)
A fairly short National Geographic summary of the discovery of hte Sekhmet statues at the Temple of Amenhotep III.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

KV63 - a mummy workshop?

Also covered by Yahoo! News at
A short statement from Zahi Hawass on the above site suggests that KV63 may not have been a tomb or a cachette as previously proposed, but was in fact a manufacturing area: " 'This ... is not a tomb for nobles or relatives of a king, as had been thought upon its discovery, but rather it is a room for mummification,' Hawass said in a statement." Five of the coffins seem to have been used as storage containers for mummification equipment, and the contents of the vessels are also consistent with that interpretation. Otto Schaden on his website has detailed the contents of six of the vessels as including: "natron, wood, seeds, carbon, assorted pottery and small animal bones." (

This would not be without precedent, as KV54 was used as an embalming cachette - see the Theban Mapping Project website for details about KV54:

Dr Schaden also goes on to explain that items are being stabilized and transferred to KV-10 prior to their removal.

Thanks very much to Carolin Johansson, Chris Towsend, Jen Mason and Aayko Eyma for forwarding me the articles. Much appreciated!

Carter painting found in Mid Wales

"A painting by famous Egyptologist Howard Carter is to be valued after it turned up at a charity antiques event in Mid Wales. The gouache by Carter (1874-1939), who famously discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, is of Queen Senseneb. Signed by Carter and dated 1897, it was discovered at Halls Fine Art’s version of the Antiques Roadshow, in Barmouth."

More re Sekhmet Statues (Middle East Times)
This has a rather nice photo of some of the statues.
This link claims to have a video report - I add it on the offchance that someone else may be able to get it to work, even though it defied my efforts. You will need IE6, Windows Media Player 10 and Flash 7.

Coptic Museum to reopen soon

"The renovations at the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo continue. They are a major project that will make the museum one of the best in the world. The exhibitions and display halls are being overhauled and the museum will reopen next month. The Coptic Museum contains precious Coptic monuments dating back many centuries. It also contains precious stones, metals, icons and manuscripts that tell us a lot about religion in Egypt before the dawn of Islam. 'The museum, located near Mari Girgis Underground Station, was constructed by Markos Pasha Semeika in 1910, in order to house the antiquities he'd collected from old churches and monasteries,' says Mohamed Abdel-Fattah, head of the Museums Sector, adding that Semeika built an extension in 1950, comprising 17 halls for displaying 15,000 antiquities. 'The museum also contains many paintings and precious icon, as well as agricultural implements and medical instruments,' Abdel-Fattah added, noting that Semeika decided to build this museum in Old Cairo near the Amr Ibn el-Aas Mosque, the Ben Ezra Synagogue and a number of Orthodox churches, representing the three heavenly religions." (Hassan Saadallah, Egyptian Gazette)

The cost of sabbaticals in the US (Wood TV)
A short article looking at the cost and value of paid sabbaticals in the US (not just Egyptology or archaeology): "According to a Detroit News article Sunday, at Michigan's 13 publicly funded universities, more than 500 faculty members took paid sabbaticals that in total cost more than $23 million. Grand Valley State University topped that list, having the highest percentage of faculty on sabbaticals in 2005 . . . . Simply put, McLogan says, 'An Egyptologist needs to go to Egypt every so often to stay current, and usually a sabbatical is the technique used to allow that professor to be able to keep current in their field. It makes them better teachers; it makes them better scholars; and it helps our students.' "
See the above page for more.

Monday, March 13, 2006

17 more Sekhmet statues found

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has announced that the team working at the Temple of Amun III at Luxor have unearthed another 17 statues of the goddess sekhmet, following on from their recent find of six statues last week: "The life-sized statues of the goddess, who has the head of a lioness and the body of a woman, were found when the team was doing restoration work on the temple of Amenhotep III, on the west river bank of Luxor, Hosni said in a statement from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)." There have been no statements about what sort of condition that statues are in.
Although usually described as a goddess of war, Sekhmet was quite a complex personality. To learn more about the different aspects of the goddess see this page by Caroline Seawright:

Updated: Thanks to ASADE and the Amanuense list for the news that there are photos at: (Antena 3 - Spanish language article)

CT Scan of a mummy in Syracuse
Brief piece about scanning a mummy named Hen - "An Egyptian mummy was taken to a Syracuse hospital by ambulance for a C-T scan.The 2-thousand-year-old mummy, called Hen, usually is on display at the Cazenovia Library. Radiologist E-Mark Levinsohn and Crouse Hospital agreed to provide their services to help the library find out when and how the mummy died." The results of the scan have not yet been analysed. Strangely for a news site, this piece does not appear to be dated, but I can't recall seeing it before, so I am assuming that it is recent.

Discovery of Djed-Khonsu-efankh - Part 5
Zahi Hawass completes his story of the discovery of the tomb of the Governor of Bahariya, on the Egyptian Gazette website: "The five hours we spent inside this tomb cannot be described. It was a true adventure in archaeology. They were among the best five years of my life.It was very hot inside the chamber and the workers began to chant and I began to chant with them, 'Hela hob, hela bob, hela hob,' (an Arabic phrase to help with the rhythm).We all pushed and lid began to move. At that moment, I thought about how this sarcophagus had lain here undisturbed for 2500 year.I wanted to examine the lid and see if it was intact. I bent down, sweat was dripping into my eyes and the dust drifted into my ears, but I did not care. I peered in with my flashlight and Mahmoud asked me 'What do you see?' I replied with excitement, 'It seems that the sarcophagus is intact and has never been opened before!' A moment later, I saw everyone's faces turn to stone. There was a small hole, not made recently. It seemed to have been opened in the Roman Period. Surely the ancient robbers would not have been able to steal everything. I can smell gold in the room, and I always say that my nose can smell what comes from the past.So, we continued moving the lid. Again, I heard the words 'Hela hob, hela hob, hela bob,' like thunder in my ears, which were now full of dust and yellow powder. Finally the lid moved two feet and we could see a spotted alabaster inner sarcophagus inside. Everyone screamed with joy. Inside the alabaster sarcophagus we found a third coffin made of wood and within the wooden coffin was the mummy of the governor.Around the mummy we collected twenty-two amulets, eight of gold, others of faience and amethyst. They were all in the forms of gods and goddesses. We also found two canopic jars, charcoal left by the Roman thieves, and an amphora they had used to raise the lid.After this discovery, I am determined to find the tombs of his brother, father, and mother."
Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 can be found on this blog as follows:

More re Wadi Gawasis (Daytona Beach News Journal Online)
"They used ships that were 60 to 70 feet long, made of massive cedar planks they probably collected in Lebanon or Syria, carried to Egypt in smaller boats, then hauled across 90 miles of desert using people and probably donkeys, Ward said in a telephone interview. There, what would have been a 'military-royal-industrial shipyard,' the pieces were assembled and the ships set sail for 1,000 miles or more. John Baines, an Egyptologist at Oxford University, told the Boston University Bridge newspaper the discovery is 'exciting' and could help debunk assumptions that the Egyptians didn't do a lot of long-distance travel."
I don't think that there's anything new in this article, except perhaps the Baines quote, but see the above page for the full story.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Census known in Egypt since 3340 BC (Egypt State Information Service)
"Head of the Central Authority for Public Mobilization and Statistics , Brigidaire General Abu Bakr al Gendi announced that Egypt is one of the first world countries to know census. This is ensured by papyrus manuscripts , ancient monuments in Pharaonic temples, marking that the first census in Egypt was carried out in 3340 BC and in 3050 BC. A census also took place in the era of Hesham Abdel Malek ben Marwan in the year 600 AD including the number of population , their ages and residences. In modern ages, another census was made in 1800AD under the auspices of the French campaign."
This is the entire piece on the State Information Service website

Improving transparency of acquisitions in the US (Yahoo! News)
"To improve the transparency of acquisitions, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) released new guidelines last month on loans of antiquities and ancient art. The guidelines, among other things, say loans should conform to US laws, while lenders should provide evidence of a work of art's provenance history and museums must be prepared to undertake additional inquiries if appropriate. The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) applauded the effort but still saw 'shortcomings' in the new guidelines, saying that they failed to require that acquisitions comply with the laws of the country of origin."
See the full story on the above URL.

Zahi Hawass report in HORUS

Thanks to Greg Reeder for forwarding extracts from Zahi Hawass's latest report in the HORUS in-flight magazine of EgyptAir, March/April 2006, pages 19-21. Unfortunately there's no online version, but in an article called The Search for Nefertiti continues in the Valley of the Kings Hawass describes how he was notified of the discovery of the shaft leading to KV63, and that the decision to make an announcment was deferred until something more was known about the contents of the shaft and what it lead to. He also discusses the issue of the concession having been formerly under the supervision of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project. The article is well worth a read if you find yourself flying on EgyptAir before April!
Here's a short quote from the article: "This year, before they began their season, Drs. Schaden and Corcoran came to me and we discussed together the future of this shaft. Their team began at the beginning of January to dig, removing sand and stone rubble. At the end of January, I went to the Valley of the Kings to visit their work. Dr. Schaden showed me that the architectural style of the shaft is 18th Dynasty, the era when Tutankhamun was king. There had been Dynasty 19 debris above it, which means that it may have been visible to those who came in that period. On the other hand, the 19th Dynasty teams may have covered the shaft without noticing it. It is most likely in either case that no one saw it after the 19th Dynasty."

Breakages at the Fitzwilliam (The Telegraph)
An article highlighting the dangers of accidental damage to items held in the care of museums, and the costs involved in cases where insurance is not taken out against individual items: "Things seemed bad enough when a loose shoelace sent Nick Flynn tumbling down a staircase at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The ensuing crashlanding smashed three 300-year-old Qing Dynasty Chinese vases, (estimated value, when not in smithereens, £100,000). Now documents obtained by this newspaper reveal that the museum will receive nothing in compensation for the smashed vases because it failed to get them insured . . . . In 1999 an Egyptian sarcophagus lid which had survived more than two millennia met its match in the form of a French teenager on a school exchange trip. Attendants caught the 15-year-old trying to hide the three fragments detached by his attempt to lift it. The limestone lid, also uninsured and estimated to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, needed extensive repair and was removed from the premises for three years." Wolfram Grajetzki is quoted as saying that these damages occur far more often than might be believed, and Robert Read, fine arts underwriter for Hiscox plc, an insurer of international art collections is quoted saying that most British museums do not insure their collections.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hawass visits Luxor
Jane's been chatting to Zahi Hawass (and there's a photo to prove it!): "Yesterday Dr Zahi Hawass visited several places in Luxor to observe progress. One of which of course was KV63. He started at Karnak and spent about an hour there and then came over to the West Bank." See Jane's report, above, including a comment by Hawass re the first two coffins. There are some excellent photographs to accompany her piece.

Sudan honours retired anthropologist
"The Sudan government presented William Adams, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kentucky, with Sudan’s highest civilian decoration.Adams was awarded the Order of the Two Niles medal from the president and governing council of the Republic of Sudan in recognition of his ongoing work and contributions to Sudan and its people. He and his wife, Nettie Kesseler Adams, have spent more than 25 years researching in the field and writing about the archaeology and history of parts of Sudan."
See the above page for more.

Gottinger Miszellen no. 208
Thanks to EEF for the information that the latest edition of GM is out. The website, however, has not been updated yet. Table of Contents:

  • Peust, C.: Nochmals Kopf-Hieroglyphe p.7
  • Castillos, J.J.: The Place of Hierakonpolis in the Egyptian Predynastic p. 9
  • Engsheden, A.: Zenon, è vero? Zur Lesung eines frühptolemäischen Personennamens p.13
  • Fitzenreiter, M.: Zum Phänomen der isolierten Speisetischtafel in der 4. Dynastie p.19
    Hofer, P.: Die Schlacht van Qadesh im Lichte eines modernen. militärischen Führungsverfahrens p. 29
  • Martinez, J.: Ein Schwert aus der ersten Hälfte der 18. Dynastie p. 51
  • Merletti, F.: Francesco Salvolini and J-F Champollion's Autograph Manuscripts: New Elements in a Controversial Issue p. 57
  • Priskin, G.: The Egyptian Heritage in the Ancient Measurements of the Earth p. 75
  • Schenkel, W.: Ramses, Thutmosis und Henry Salt p. 89
  • Seidlmayer, St.: Zum Verständnis der "Liste van Grabbeigaben" von der Qubbet el-Hawa p.95
  • Graefe, E.: Die öffentlich zugänglichen Datenbanken des Instituts für Ägyptologie und Koptologie der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster p.105

Amateur speculation re KV63

A comment posted in response to an earlier link to the online pages of Georgeos Diaz-Montexano questioned the qualifications of the writer, but since the Diaz-Montexano describes himself as an amateur Egyptologist, and follows his ideas with clear reasoning and explanatory photos, I see no reason not to include his speculations, which might be of interest and are anyway quite fun. His latest online thoughts include the possible presence of a pharaonic cartouche on one of the tomb's vessels: "The exaustive analysis of the photos has also allowed to appreciate what it seems imprint of a real seal or 'pharaonic cartouche' on one of the jars. Georgeos Diaz thinks that the pharaonic seal finding is highly probable in some of the jars, that could help to identify to the individuals or at least the historical time with a greater approach."
This has translation-engine written all over it, but you get the gist. If you speak spanish and want to read more, the second URL is by far the better bet.
He also suggests that the join lines along coffin of the child indicate that it is a secondary burial, and that the lack of canopic jars could be explained by use of the vessels in the tomb as alternatives to canopic jars. All harmless speculation, some thoughts more plausible than others, and the actual story will come out in time as Dr Schaden's team find out more.

Saturday Trivia

Discovering Tutankhamun - the movie
"Paramount Pictures has acquired the pitch King Tut from screenwriter Neil Crawford for studio-based Lorenzo di Bonaventura to produce, says Variety. The story is described as an action-adventure/romance film, loosely based on Howard Carter's discovery of King Tut's treasures in 1922 Egypt.At the studio, the project is being overseen by production co-president Brad Weston and executive Dan Levine."
This is the full item on the Coming Soon website. For anyone wanting to find out more about this from the Variety website, you will need to subscribe to the site to access the story.

Downloadable PC Game: Mosaic: Tomb of Mystery
"Reflexive is proud to announce the release of its newest PC game Mosaic: Tomb of Mystery. This spellbinding new puzzler from Reflexive Entertainment takes players back in time to Ancient Egypt and the world of the Pharaohs. Working their way up through Egyptian society, players explore the Catacombs of King Tut and piece together ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs as they uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of King Tut in a stunning mystery-puzzle adventure. . . . .With over 300 Ancient Hieroglyphs for players to decrypt, unique Power-Ups to unearth, and a murder-mystery plot to decipher, Mosaic: Tomb of Mystery is a fun and mesmerizing blend of puzzle-pieced excitement and intense game play that will appeal to players of all ages. Further information as well as game downloads can be found at and through Reflexive Arcade at"

Friday, March 10, 2006

KV63 lecture by Otto Schaden

Jane to the rescue! Otto Schaden's lecture at the Mummification Museum in Luxor yesterday has been captured by Jane Akshar on her blog, above:
"The reason for the confusion over the number of coffins was because 5 were all they could see from the doorway but once they got inside they saw 2 more. So there are 7 coffins, 4 are in a really bad state of repair. Most are covered in black resin and there are not inscription visible. There is significant termite damage.
The first 2 coffins are open and there are no signs of mummies, they appear to be filled with odds and ends, natron bandages however some of the other coffins are closed and their contents are unknown at present.
The identity of the coffins is totally unknown, it is possible they were added to over a series of time, it might be an embalmers cache or an important family all options are open at this time.
The conservators are at work trying to stabilise the first 2 coffins and as yet the team can not look at the others until these are out of the way."

There is lots of new information captured by Jane from the lecture. See the above URL for her complete notes. Huge thanks to Jane for getting these notes online so promptly.

Whose mask is it, anyway?

A detailed and intriguing article about the Louis Mask, and the controversy of who owns it - the St Louis Art Museum, or the Egyptian State: "According to records held by the antiquities department the funerary mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer was discovered in 1952 by Egyptologist Zakariya Goneim while he was excavating the area of the unfinished Step Pyramid of the Third- Dynasty ruler Sekhemkhet on the Saqqara necropolis. Along with many other finds from the excavation the mask was placed in the so-called Sekhemkhet magazine, which was situated to the south of the pyramid of Unas. This and all the contents of the magazine were the property of the Egyptian Antiquities Authority, now SCA . . . . A trawl through the museum's documents, however, has produced no evidence that the splendid mask ever entered the Egyptian Museum. Moreover, it was found that several of the other objects discovered by Goneim that had been sent immediately to the museum were stored unregistered until 1972 . . . . Although the story of Ka-Nefer-Nefer's discovery is well known, its means of exit from Egypt remains a perplexing mystery."
See the above website for the full story.

Interview with Dr Otto Schaden
Exerpts from an interview with the director of the team that found KV63, on the Egypt Today website:
"Egypt Today: How does it feel to have stumbled upon such an important discovery after having been looking for something else for so long?
Otto Schaden: First off, we didn’t stumble — we were not even searching for it! [laughs] What we were doing is excavating these workmen’s huts. In doing so, we had decided that we would not just do the tops of the huts, we would check underneath. What I didn’t want was for someone to come by 10 or 20 years later and say, 'Boy, were they stupid for missing this!'. "