Wednesday, May 31, 2006

KV63 update

Infant coffin photos
The KV63 website has been updated with a "Breaking News" piece showing photos of a 42cm long infant coffin made of pink gold-leaf and found in the youth coffin. This is the best source of photos for the find, but there are a couple more details covering it in the following press release: (
The Archeology magazine website has also been updated (30th May) with some of the new photos of the infant sized coffin:

What about those pillows? (New York Times)
An article summarizing the current state of affairs at KV63, highlighting some of the questions yet to be answered: "After three months of painstaking work since the February discovery, with five of the coffins opened, no mummies have been found. So there is a chance that this is not a tomb at all, but rather a cache for used embalming materials.
But there is one big coffin left to open — the most tantalizing one, sealed, wedged into the back of the space and supported by pillows at its head and feet, with the kind of care that could suggest that someone important is inside.
The American Egyptologists who are working here plan to open it, hoping not only to see a mummy but to solve the many mysteries of the new find. They may also shatter a long-held belief that there is nothing important left to find in the Valley of the Kings."
See the above page for the full story, with photos, maps and a high quality slideshow. If you need a username and password use egyptnews in both fields.

Discovery Channel interactive map updated (Discovery Channel)
The interactive map at the above address has been updated with information about one of the jar seals, and about the golden coffin.

Thanks very much to Carolin Johanson for pointing me to some of these pages (keep up the good work Carolin!)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Time Magazine and Discovery Channel

Thanks to David Meadows for his Explorator newsletter, which this week provided the above link to a collection of Time Magazine's most recently covered features. Entitled "World of the Pharaohs" it also features some of their archived Egyptology articles.

The Time Magazine page, above, also contains a link to the Discovery Channel's dedicated KV63 section at:
The Discovery site also includes a rather nice interactive map of KV63, which will be updated again after June 4th:

PalArch Foundation changes
PalArch's Journal on the archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology (ISSN 1567-214X) will see some important changes. The October issue of the Newsletter will present the new procedures, and more information on the changes will be published in the July and October 2006 Newsletters. Some of the changes are summarized below.

1) From now on, the Journal as well as the Newsletter will be entirely free to download: back issues will be sent by mail as pdf attachment upon request in the same way as with our book reviews.

2) One of the big problems with electronic publishing is digital preservation (long-term archiving of digital content) and practical permanent access. Many may not know that much research is done by institutes such as the Dutch National Library, often in cooperation with large publishers (Elsevier) and computer companies such as IBM. The PalArch Foundation is addressing these issues by cooperating with the Dutch National Library in order to assure our authors and readers permanent access to data. Read more on this and related topics at

3) The PalArch Foundation decided to change the policy and will accept also papers on the history of Egypt beyond the Arab Conquest.

Finally, the upcoming issue (1 July 2006) contains the two final contributions on the (peer reviewed) discussion of the (re)dating of the Sphinx by Vandecruys and Reader.

Nesperennub at the Exploreum (
I am sure that most readers have seen all the articles about the mummy Nesperennub, but for anyone new visitors, there's a summary of the Mummy: The Inside Story exhibition currently hosted at the Exploreum in Mobile (U.S.): "See the dates on the displays and you might wonder how many hundreds of generations of people have lived and died between now and the years 1069-747 B.C.It was sometime during this era that Nesperennub lived in Egypt, working at a complex of temples that covered 50 football fields. Here we are in the year 2006, so sure of our expertise and proud of our modern ways, but even 1,000 years before Christ, the Egyptians had developed valuable skills. Their knack for embalming made Nesperennub one of the best preserved bodies in history."

More on white wine in tomb of Tutankhamun

The USA Today website is featuring an article fromthe latest edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science (volume 33, issue 8): "King Tut's most elaborate grave goods are on a nationwide tour, currently at Chicago's Field Museum until next year. Not on the tour are 26 two-handle wine amphorae found inside the tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. Carter found 12 of them intact but with their seals broken. Like any good wine cellar's contents, each one bore information about the wine it contained, including name, year, vineyard and vintner. But not the wine's color. Today the containers are kept at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The Spanish study authors examined the amphora and report that six more contain dried remnants of wine. With museum permission, they subjected residue samples to an intensive chemical analysis, ("liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry in tandem mode" for any lab aficionados) looking for two markers of red wine, tartaric acid and syringic acid.
Of the six jars, five contained white wine, the researchers conclude."
See the above article for more details.

The abstract for the paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science itself can be found at: (
Full contents listing for all issues can be found at:

Toutankhamon Magazine
Thanks to Francois Tonic for the information that the most recent issue of Toutankhamon Magazine is now avaible (French only). The contents are as follows:

Les grandes reines de l'Égypte ancienne
Sésostris III, le pharaon par excellence
Introduction à l'écriture méroïtique par Claude Rilly (chargé de recherches au CNRS)
L'hémi-spéos de Derr par Benoît Lurson
La recherche du tombe d'Alexandre le Grand
Les armes dans l'Égypte ancienne
Découverte L'ïle de Séhel
Figures de la fertilité : les concubines du mort
L'esclavage en Égypte ancienne
Les matériaux de construction
AventurierHoward Carter, l'ombre de Toutankhamon
Destination Hurgada

The next issue (#28) will be published in July 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006

KV63 website updated

I don't know how I came to miss this, because I check the site every morning, but there is a posting dated 23rd May on the KV63 website which I haven't previously picked up on. Details include more information about the contents of some of the coffins: " Coffin G, the youth coffin, contains several high quality pillows layered on top, just beneath the lid. These ‘pillows’ are finely stitched and stuffed with a ‘down’ material. Textile specialist, Elise Van Rooij from Holland, arrived on Friday to examine the pillows along with textiles found from Coffin B. She will photograph, study, and analyze the pillows before they are removed, hopefully in the next week or so." See the above page for more details.
There are also promises of reports and photographs which will added to the site soon.

Thanks very much to Carolin Johansson who pointed out that new photographs have been added to the site, which are now spread over two different web pages, the second page containing photographs exclusively from April and May 2006:

Kom El-Shuqafa catacombs

Travel guide Zahraa Adel Awed has updated his Alexandria News blog with a short introduction to the catacombs, and has provided links to a three part article about them which have some excellent plans, diagrams and photographs: "The catacombs of Kom El-Shuqafa which date from the second century A.D. are unique both for their plan and for their decoration which is a mixture of Egyptian and Greco-Roman elements. Excavation in the site started in 1892 but catacombs were not found until 1900 when by mere chance the falling of donkey drawing a cart in a pit led to their discovery of Kom El-Shuqafa which date from the second century A.D."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Farewell to Ramesses

"On Friday 25 August, at 6am, when Cairo traffic is at its quietest, the colossus of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II will begin its journey from outside Bab Al-Hadid train station to its new home at the site of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau. The decision was announced two days ago by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni. Delaying the move until the completion of the museum's first phase would, he said, leave the statue exposed to unacceptable levels of threat given that the square is scheduled for massive redevelopment by the Cairo Governorate. Hosni added that archaeological, geological, architectural and geophysical studies have now been completed and a special storehouse is under construction to house the statue until the GEM's first phase is complete."
See the above page for the full story, and two photos - one of the statue in its current location and a lovely sepia photograph of the statue presumably when it was first moved.

Valley of the Kings visitor centre

Jane Akshar has been talking to Nigel Hetherington about plans for the Valley of the Kings, including the new visitor centre, which is nearing completion, and improved road and transportation facilities. See the posting on Janes Luxor News Blog, above, for more, and don't forget to page down to see the comments posted by visitors to the blog.

More on Tutankhamun exhibition

The dark side of King Tut
An article looking at some of the darker aspects of the Eighteenth Dynasty, which the author detects beneath the glitter and beauty of the artefacts: "the fabled wealth and advanced culture of ancient Egypt were largely fueled by centuries of imperialist military policy, cutthroat domestic politics, cruel subjugation of enemies and mass enslavement of prisoners of war. Moreover, the existence of the Tut artifacts today is the result of a state religion that combined a major death fixation with an intense materialism that led the elite to pack up their worldliest goods for the trip to the afterlife, complete with forced labor by servants. . . . .To stroll through the exhibit -- which has been beefed up with dozens of additional objects from the tombs of Tut's royal ancestors -- is to be regularly treated, if you look closely enough, to the unselfconscious trumpeting of official brutality."

Protest outside Tutankhamun exhibit (Chicago Tribune)
"Under the shadow of immense gold banners heralding the opening of the King Tut exhibit, dozens of Coptic Orthodox Church members from across the Chicago area gathered Thursday outside the Field Museum to protest religious discrimination against fellow Christians in Egypt."
See the above article for the full story.

Experiencing the Great Pyramid
A feature on the Financial Times website about the Great Pyramid of Giza: "Life and death were addressed explicitly in the art of the pharaohs. The granite slab was the final resting place of Pharaoh Khufu, or Cheops, who reigned for about 23 years in the 26th century BC. He, like many non-Greeks, got a bad press from Herodotus, who charged him with prostituting his daughter to finance the building of his pyramid.
The truth, we think, is less dramatic. The Great Pyramid was built by free citizens, performing a kind of community service for the Pharaoh during the summer, when the Nile flooded. We don’t quite know how they managed to build it, but we marvel today at the drive and ingenuity required to complete the project, and at its sheer ambition. Scholars who accompanied Napoleon calculated, in typically French fashion, that the material used in the three pyramids of Giza would have served to surround the whole of France with a 3m-high wall: a heady mix of wonderment and paranoia."

Zahi Hawass on KV63

Zahi Hawass's Dig Days column pulls no punches again this week: "Before the discovery of KV 63, the Valley of the Kings had been silent for 83 years, three months and six days since the magical day when Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the golden boy-king Tutankhamun. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun gave birth to the so-called curse of the Pharaoh. One of the curses attributed to the discovery of Tutankhamun was the dismissal of Howard Carter. He was expelled from Egypt by Marcos Pasha Hana, the minister of education who was in charge of antiquities; because he did not open the tomb for Egyptian dignitaries and prevented the press from visiting the tomb. The tomb of King Tutankhamun was huge, and many curses followed its discovery.
However the KV 63 find is a relatively small discovery and therefore only small curses have occurred, such as the fight between the two fine Egyptologists Otto Schaden and Lorilei Cocoran. They both want to be director of the excavation. They even argue over who can give interviews."
See the above page for more.

Coptic Studies

Desert Fathers
An article looking at the Coptic monasteries and, in particular, the fate of the manuscripts of Deir Al-Surian: "Syrian monks had always frequented Wadi Al-Natrun ever since the fourth century. By the 17th century, only Coptic monks inhabited the monastery, caring for the library, the paintings, and the invaluable manuscripts. Forty of these ancient texts were acquired by Pope Clement IX between 1715-1735. These documents are safely kept today in the Vatican Library. A century later, (1839-1851), the British Museum of London procured 500 Syrian manuscripts of religious, philosophical and literary context. Lord Curzon and other Britons purchased a considerable quantity of these documents which inspired intense research in the Syriac language and culture. Despite the numerous losses, the monastery of the Syrians still retains rare works in art and history, and religious manuscripts of "inestimable scholarly value". Now they are threatened by decay. After 1,500 years, time has ravaged the priceless treasures. They need a serious rejuvenating process to bring them back to their original status. To study, survey, restore and preserve this unique heritage for future generations, time, effort dedication, and above all, funds are needed."

Encounter: Gawdat Gabra
This week's Encounter column on Al Ahram Weekly is focused on Gawdat Gabra: "The chief editor of the St Mark Foundation for Coptic History Studies, active participant at International Congresses on Coptology, and author of several books on Coptic history and monasticism". He was also, at the request of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, a key participant in the development of the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Book Review: The Coptic Tapestry Albums

" The Coptic Tapestry Albums and the Archaeologist of Antino‘, Albert Gayet, is the lengthy title of a new book by Nancy Arthur Hoskins, who has researched Coptic collections in more than 50 museums around the world and who has produced a book that is a delight to handle and read. Here, at last, is a publication on Coptic textiles that is well-researched and illustrated with photographs in vibrant colour, along with detailed line drawings of weaving techniques and ancient weavers at the loom . . . . This beautifully bound and produced publication will delight historians, weavers, archaeologists and the lay public alike. It has been selected as one of the best textile books of 2004 by the Textile Society of America. Hoskins, Nancy Arthur (2004) The Coptic Tapestry Albums: and the Archaeologist of Antino‘, the University of Washington Press, Seattle."
See the above page for the full review.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


A three page article on the MSNBC website about KV63 and the knowledge that has been accumulated so far, including extracts from a recent interview with Otto Schaden: "Five of KV-63's coffins are known to contain mummification materials rather than royalty, and Dodson said the two coffins yet to be opened are likely to hold more of the same. Expedition leader Otto Schaden, left, and Egyptian chief of antiquities Zahi Hawass stand in front of the hole that opens into a newly discovered chamber in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. But even if no actual mummies are found, the items within KV-63 will shed new light on the materials and rituals involved in making the mummies, he said. And, he added,'the fact that a previously unknown tomb has turned up [in the Valley of the Kings] suggests that there's still some mileage in that area.' Schaden, meanwhile, says there's lots of mileage left even in KV-63. He's particularly interested in those two as-yet-unopened coffins — as well as seals and inscriptions that could tell who the chamber and the mummification materials were meant for. According to the Discovery Channel, one seal appears to bear a reference to 'pa-aten' — which is part of a name used by the mysterious Ankhesenamun.
See the above website for full details.

Update: The Exelon sarcophagus

Further to yesterday's posting about the Excelon boss who upset Zahi Hawass by keeping an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus in his office: "A Chicago executive who found himself in unexpectedly hot water over antiquities this week defused a potentially sensitive international incident Thursday by offering to relinquish possession of an ancient Egyptian coffin. Exelon CEO John Rowe, an amateur historian, has long kept a 2,600-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus in his office, bought in 1998 from a Chicago antiquities dealer. But he came under sudden attack for this Wednesday at a preview event for "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," the blockbuster King Tut exhibit opening today at the Field Museum, of which Exelon is a major sponsor."
See the above page for the full story.

Theorising about the Great Pyramid (New York Times)
A two-page article looking at one man's latest theories about the Great Pyramid and how it was built: "People in search of themselves often look to great challenges: running a marathon, climbing a mountain or learning a new language. Mr. Houdin selected the pyramids as his vehicle for personal reflection, as the salve for his midlife crisis. His was an analytical venture, a quest to explain what appears impossible to prove, at least given the current public record: exactly how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids using about 2.5 million stones, each weighing at least several tons. Now, eight years later, he is ready to present his findings, one step at a time, and in doing so will be remembered either as the man who unlocked the secrets of ancient brilliance or as a bit of an eccentric who merely indulged his imagination." He envisages an internal ramp and a counterweight system, but accepts that he may be proved wrong on both counts. Zahi Hawass has apparently both repudiated the theories and said that there is merit in considering them. See the above pages for the full story.
If you are asked for a username and password use egyptnews in both fields.

Travel: The Western Desert

It is always good to see the Western Desert being featured in travel stories, for a change. This article describes the highlights of a family's trip to the Egyptian Western Desert, picking out some of their more memorable moments: "We merely dipped our toes into that vast sea of sand, so to speak, but it was such an exhilarating experience that I have difficulty picking out the highlights of our five-day desert trek. Most times I chose our night of desert camping, awed by chalk-white rock formations that seem more appropriate to the moon's terrain than to Earth. Some days it's our family's early morning ride with 34 camels, accompanied only by two Egyptian boys taking the herd to the day's pasture. Other times it's our three-hour hike through the Old City of Mut, a labyrinth of dusty lanes and mud-brick homes that dates to the Roman era - and a village that, except for the occasional satellite dish bringing the modern convenience of television, seems to have changed little over the centuries."
See the above page for the entire account.

Exhibition: Tutankhamun opens in Chicago

It cannot possibly have missed anyone's attention that Tutankhamun exhibition opened yesterday at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History on the latest leg of its travels. Over 200,000 tickets have already been sold. The exhibition is due to run there until the 1st January 2007. For anyone contemplating a visit, the above website has some tips for making the visit as painless/enjoyable as possible. The museum website has a dedicated section to the exhibition at:

Saturday Trivia

TV Movie: The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (
There's been quite a bit of hype on various sites about this TV movie, of which the above site is just one example, including an interview with the movie's star: "On Saturday at 8 pm/ET, Hallmark Channel sends onetime Starship Trooper Casper Van Dien to contend with The Curse of King Tut's Tomb, as his maverick archeaologist races a ruthless rival (The Mummy's Jonathan Hyde) to find the boy king's untold riches. Sound a bit familiar? spoke with Van Dien about his bid to prove he's Harrison Ford-tough, his famous lineage and the secrets to a successful royal romance."
At least one reviewer (Linda Stasi on the New York Post) doesn't much like it:
She describes it as "an original TV movie so bad, it will keep you in more stitches than a mummy's shroud. It's all the brainchild/fault of the Hallmark Halmis - the father/son team who produce these bazillion-dollar, disastrously lousy movies over and over. This time, however, they've beaten their own record and made possibly the worst TV movie since Tut walked the earth. Let's start with the obvious: There is not one grain of truth in the whole "adventure" yarn. Not one." I am now absolutely dying to see it!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

University returns artefacts (
"The University of Tubingen in Germany has agreed to return to Egypt five fragments of a relief removed in the last century from the Temple of Pharaoh Seti I, Culture Minister Faruq Hosni said. The fragments, which were cut out of the walls of the 19th dynasty (1307-1196 BC) pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, are to be handed over next month, the minister said in a statement. The university made its decision 'voluntarily' and agreed to return the artefacts 'without any conditions,' said the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawas. The fragments are to be restored to their original resting place at the tomb, which is currently closed to the public because of the damage. Archaeologists say the tomb, discovered by Giovanni Battista Belzoni in 1817, used to be one of the most decorated in the Valley of the Kings, which also ensured that it was plundered more than any other in the area. Many artefacts removed from the site, sometimes referred to as Belzoni's tomb, are currently on display in museums around the world, including a sarcophagus in the Sir John Soane Museum in London."
See the above page for the full story.

Exhibition: Unveiling Tutankhamun in Chicago (
This page appears to be available without the usual compulsary registration. It covers the official unveiling of the Tutankhamun exhibiton in Chicago on Wednesday, which was attended by Zahi Hawass amongst other dignitaries. As well as covering the sarcophagus issue mention below, there is information about the background funding and organization of the exhibition and the expected income that it is expected to generate: "The tour appears to be every bit as much a juggernaut as the version that traveled the U.S. in the 1970s, including a four-month stay at the Field in 1977. That's saying a lot, as the previous show may be the most successful and most fondly remembered temporary exhibit in U.S. museum history. Officials said Wednesday that they expect at least a million people will pay the hefty entrance fee--$25 for adults--to see the exhibit before it leaves the Field on Jan. 1. The expected turnout is crucial to Hawass' antiquities council, which authorized the tour to raise money to conserve its monumental ruins and build new museums."
See the above two-page article for the full story.

Two new exhibitions in Chicago
Thanks for the EEF News Digest (email version) for the above feature on the Oriental Institute website. Running from 23th May 2006 until 31st December 31 2006, are two new exhibitions at the Oriental Institute Museum.
The first is Wonderful Things! The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun; The Harry Burton Photographs consisting of 50 of the most exciting images documented by photographer Harry Burton, who took more than fourteen-hundred large format black and white images of the excavation as it progressed, and the artefacts that emerged.
The second of the two exhibitions that opened earlier this week is The Ancient Near East in the Time of Tutankhamun: "This exhibit presents special labeling of the permanent galleries devoted to ancient Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Palestine, highlighting objects that are contemporary with Tutankhamun (ca. 1325 B.C.), to give the visitor a broader appreciation of the era."
The Oriental Institute Museum's website can be found at:

Corporate sarcophagus irks Hawass (
Thanks very much to the U.S. graduate student who sent me links to the following minor controversy which blew up at a Chicago media preview: "A major U.S. sponsor of a traveling exhibit of Egyptian King Tutankhamen artifacts has been criticized for keeping a sarcophagus in its headquarters. The incident happened Wednesday at Chicago`s Field Museum during a media preview of 'Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,' which opens to the public Friday. During remarks from one of the show`s national sponsors, Randy Mehrberg, executive vice president of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., said he was standing in for CEO John Rowe, and that Rowe was such a fan of antiquities, he had a 2,600-year-old sarcophagus in his office. That infuriated Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt`s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Chicago Tribune reported. 'I don`t think this is right,' Hawass said. 'An artifact like this is not supposed to be in an office or a home, but in a museum. How can he sponsor an exhibit like King Tut and keep an artifact like this in his office?' An Exelon spokeswoman told the Tribune the sarcophagus 'is something John owns personally and it was acquired in a legal manner.' " This is the entire piece on the Monsters and Critics website, but more details can be found at the Chicago Tribune site (free subscription required):

Architects try to revive pharaonic style (
Reactions for and against a modern building designed with Pharaonic Egypt in mind: "Adorned with lotus and papyrus columns, Egypt's top courthouse evokes the pharaonic temples of the country's ancient past. The Supreme Constitutional Court, built in 2000, marked the most prominent attempt in decades to revive the pharaonic style in Egypt. On the east bank of the Nile south of Cairo, the court has inspired more attempts to imitate the ancient. The government has erected a series of neo-pharaonic buildings, the style apparently striking a chord with officials. Builders are putting the finishing touches to the gold-rimmed tops of columns decorating a government building on one of Cairo's main roads." For anyone who cannot access the article, a number of architects have expressed disaproval of the new building because it is both cliched and out of touch with modern ideas, whilst both Zahi Hawass and Salima Ikram have given it the thumbs up.
The above link will not display in my preferred browser, Mozilla Firefox, but it's fine in IE6. That's always the case with the pages.

New book: Guide to Karnak's Temple of Amun
Thanks to François Tonic for emailing to announce that his new book has been published (in French only): Guide du grand temple d'Amon de Karnak. The book has 196 pages and includes 160 photos and maps, and is in A5 format. Chapters include: 1st pylon; 1st court; Sanctuary; Akh-menou; East temple; Temple of Ptah; Museum; Sacred lake; 7th to 10th pylons; Temple of Khonsou.
For more information see the above web page.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Queen's mummy arrives in Cairo (Egypt State Information Service)
This somewhat confusing and very brief item is featured today on the Egypt State Information Service: "The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut arrived at Cairo Airport yesterday. The mummy, which was brought from Luxor under the supervision of a committee from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), was discovered in the Valley of Kings at Luxor. The queen's mummy will be transferred to the Egyptian Museum in down-town Cairo."
I've posted the item because it's there, but to be honest I really have no idea what to make of it, because as far as I know, the most recent news on the subject of the mummy of Hatshepsut was that she was found in the basement of the Cairo museum - also report on the State Information Service website at:

Exhibition: Tutankhamun

No surprises that the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs exhibition, which opens at the Field Museum in Chicago on Friday, is being widely featured this week. There's really not much to add to previous postings about the exhibition, but for anyone who has missed out to date, the above page has a description of what to expect: "The exhibition begins in a small room as dark as a tomb, lit only by sconces. A brief movie sets the scene for what lies ahead. You learn how British archeologist Howard Carter found the tomb in 1922 and how Tut ruled after a period of great change in ancient Egypt. After the movie, a curtain is supposed to whoosh open to reveal a large black granite statue of King Tut, but on the day we previewed the exhibition, the curtain wasn't working.The exhibit quickly creates a sense of drama. In one room, you walk onto a golden marble floor imported from Egypt and suddenly you're in a temple, complete with massive columns."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yesterday's blog update

Apologies for the fact that the blog was not updated yesterday - I had problems with my Internet access.
Kind regards

Excavation of submerged Roman city (
"The Egyptian authorities have given the go ahead for the underwater exploration of what appears to be a Roman city submerged in the Mediterranean, Egypt's top archaeologist said on Monday. Zahi Hawass said in a statement that an excavation team had found the ruins of the Roman city 35 km (20 miles) east of the Suez Canal on Egypt's north coast.
Archaeologists had found buildings, bathrooms, ruins of a Roman fortress, ancient coins, bronze vases and pieces of pottery that all date back to the Roman era, the statement said. Egypt's Roman era lasted from 30 BC to 337 AD. The excavation team also found four bridges that belonged to a submerged castle, part of which had been discovered on the Mediterranean coastline in 1910. The statement said evidence indicated that part of the site was on the coast and part of it submerged in the sea. The area marked Egypt's eastern border during the Roman era."
This is the complete news item on the Reuters website.

Book review: Alexander's Lovers
"Just published, Alexander’s Lovers is the second book by Andrew Chugg, the author of The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great. It presents an exploration of Alexander’s character through the mirror of the lives of the people with whom he pursued romantic relationships, including his friend Hephaistion, his queen Roxane, his mistress Barsine and Bagoas the Eunuch. It incorporates much new research and tells a more complete version of their biographies than has previously been published. The German scholar, Ulrich Wilcken, wrote that the issue of Alexander’s personality is the hardest problem in history. Alexander’s Lovers takes a novel approach to this challenge by investigating the King’s character through the mirror of the lives of his lovers."
See the above page for more.

CAT Scan of Philadelphia mummy

A mummy from Akmim, which was X-rayed many years ago and was thought as a result to be a young girl, has now been subjected to a CAT scan, which has revealed new information:
The location of the mummy's original X-rays is unknown, but in any event, they would pale in comparison to a CAT scan. The machine uses the same kind of radiation, but is far more sophisticated - the visual equivalent of peeling away the layers of an onion.
The machine takes hundreds of pictures, capturing one narrow "slice" of the patient at a time. The slices, measuring six-tenths of a millimeter, are then compiled to produce a high-resolution three-dimensional image of the patient. The machine is turned on, and almost immediately a ghostly white image reveals the body, her arms at her sides, her fingertips touching at the waist.
The other Akhmim mummies scanned to date - seven out of an eventual 20 or more - have their arms crossed. . . . The iliac crest, the top of the pelvic bone that many people mistakenly identify as their hip bone, has fused. This means the girl is perhaps not a girl at all - she is at least in her late teens. Yet her pelvis does not appear to have undergone the radical change that occurs when women give birth."
For the full story, which follows the scan from the complications of releasing the mummy from its display through to a summary of the information so far revealed, see the above page.

Filming the source of the Nile
Thanks very much to Geoffrey Tassie from the Egypt Cultural Heritage Organization (ECHO) for the following story, which charts the journey of a documentary film crew to the source of the Nile in 1964: "In June 1964, I and my four-man Egyptian film crew set out from Cairo to capture on film the very last Nile flood that would come to Egypt. From the moment the flood began in Ethiopia, we followed its progress for 3200 kilometers (2000 mi). This had never been done before, and the CinemaScope feature documentary we produced, 'Fountains of the Sun,' became the only filmed record ever made of this momentous event. We left an Egypt blistering in the summer sun, every city, town and village anxiously awaiting the last flood of all. In the sultry heat of Aswan, thousands of sweating workers toiled day and night, hurrying to complete six giant tunnels in time to carry the coming flood safely past the unfinished Aswan High Dam."
Originally in pages 24-33 of the May/June 2006 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

KV63 documentary
More details about the Discovery Channel's documentary on KV63, which will be aired on June 4th: " For the first time ever audiences will descend down a narrow shaft beneath desert sands to enter a world untouched, and watch as Discovery Channel exclusively reveals the most significant find discovered in the Valley of the Kings in more than 80 years. Located less than 50 feet from the tomb of King Tutankhamun (KV62), the Discovery Quest expedition team of world-renowned archaeologists excavate and explore this new cache (KV63), unearthing coffins and delicate artifacts, sifting through intricate inscriptions and discovering unprecedented treasures when EGYPT'S NEW TOMB REVEALED premieres on Sunday, June 4 at 9 PM ET/PT."
See the above page for the full press release.

Exhibition: Art of the Mediterranean World extended
"The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s exhibition Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World: Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, has been extended to June 4. The 204 works displayed span a period from predynastic times in Egypt 6000 years ago to the Roman late imperial period about 350 A.D. Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World: Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome was originally designed by the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1995. Last year was shown at the Museum of Art at Brigham Young University, Utah."

The exhibition details are online at:

Monday, May 22, 2006

KV63 update
A very short posting from Bill Wilson, the KV63 website's webmaster, says that the Discovery Channel has announced that on June 4, 2006 at 9:00p.m. EST they will be airing a special feature about the site entitled Seven Coffins.
He also hopes to update the site in the next few days with new information and photographs.

Development of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Plans for development of the waterfront area around the Alexandria library have been announced: "Emaar Misr for Development S.A.E., a subsidiary of the UAE-based Emaar Properties and Artoc Group for Investment and Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Alexandrina Bibliotheca (Alexandria Library) for a waterfront redevelopment project. Following the success of the inauguration of the new Alexandria Library in 2002 on the eastern harbour of Alexandria – almost exactly where the ancient Library of Alexandria stood, the redevelopment project aims to provide a spectrum of facilities on ‘Kouta Land’ on the west of the library, within a general vision for the whole area around the library and the entire historic old east harbour area."
See the above page for the full story.

Travel: A view from the Nile (part 2) (
Second of a two part travel item charting a trip to Egypt. In this installment, the writer, Barry Pollack, travels to Philae, Edfu, and Luxor (the Temple of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Karnak), and provides short descriptions of each site: "The Temple of Isis on the Island of Philae was built as a place of worship in the fourth century B.C. by the Ptolemy pharaohs. Its entrance façade is made up of two massive towers with grand bas reliefs of the pharaohs and gods, and hieroglyphic descriptions of their exploits. You pass through a portal to a long courtyard with a colonnade, then into columned halls adorned with pictographs and hieroglyphics. I found it especially remarkable that each column had its own unique capital — that special design at the top of a column. These walls, columns and ceilings were once painted in vivid colors. Today, all is sand-colored. But the enchantment and spiritual nature of Philae is timeless."
See the full story above. For the first installment see:

EEF News Digest
Last week's EEF News Digest is now available online at the above address, for all the latest information about exhibitions, conferences, lectures and new online and print publications, grants awards and fellowships, new websites, courses and trips, plus a round up of last week's main news items.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Museums and controversial antiquities (Business Week)
A useful overview of the current state of play following the recent spate of claims by countries who believe that they have the right to demand the repatriation of antiquities currently held by foreign museums. The obvious and most recent example of this from Egypt is the St Louis mask, but there have been high profile cases brought by both Italy and Greece which have helped to bring the matter to the attention of the wider public. The focus here is mainly on the nature of regulation in the U.S., where most of the recent controversies have been taken place: "Claims are likely to proliferate as so-called source nations such as Egypt, Yemen, Greece, Turkey, China, Guatemala, and Peru are emboldened by Italy's success with the Met -- and museum directors are chastened by the associated bad PR and potential lawsuits. . . .The likely result of all the controversy: a cleanup of the U.S. antiquities trade, which its critics contend has been all too willing to turn a blind eye to questionable activities. . . . Several dealers in the U.S. and Europe have already been charged with, or convicted of, crimes. But the broader aim of the source nations is to cut off the market for stolen antiquities by shaming big U.S. museums and collectors into tightening their acquisitions standards, something European institutions such as the British Museum have already done".
See the above article for the full story.

Saving Deir al-Surian manuscripts
I'm not sure whether this is just a broken link, or whether this one-liner is the entire story on the new Egyptian Gazette website - I suspect the former. But at the moment, the entire piece on the page reads as follows: "A gathering of antiquities' experts and lovers, as well as officials from the British Embassy, last week tried to find a way to save the ancient manuscripts in the library of Deir al-Surian (al-Surian Monastery) at Wadi al-Natroun".
It may be worth checking the link on the above page later on to see if it is changed so that it leads to further details.
If anyone knows where Saturday's Egyptian Mail now resides, I'd be grateful for the link.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Event: Egyptian Week

A short piece about the sarcophagus and mummy of Isiuret, the main attraction of Egyptian Week, being held in Como in Italy: "The 'Egyptian Week' event is back in Como, from 23 to 28 May, displaying items and artefacts at the Archaeological Museum "Paolo Giovio", donated by collector Alfonso Garovaglio. The collection consists of almost 1000 pieces, the most outstanding one being a sarcophagus dating back to the 9th century BC, which still holds a mummy, a priestess of god Amon, Isiuret. The casket of priestess Isiuret, with the mummy inside, was donated in 1819 by Khediveh of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, to Mr Baldassarre Valerio."
See the above page for more about Isiuret.

Travel: Visiting Cairo

A travel item describing in brief what Cairo is like, what to see in the city, where to eat, what sort of night life is available, where to shop, and (if you are based in the UK) how to get there. There are no surprises in the What To See part of the piece, which naturally points visitors to the pyramids and the museum, but it does recommend a visit to Heliopolis, which I can't recall seeing in other travel items about Cairo: "Nearby Heliopolis is worth a visit, too. Built in the early 20th century as a "garden city" for European diplomats and businessmen, it has broad avenues, parks and graceful villas. Cairo's ubiquitous sprawl is gradually swallowing up Heliopolis, but it is still a pleasant shady place to wander on a sweltering afternoon."

Saturday Trivia

There's only one piece of trivia today. This is to be found in a meteorology piece about the constellation Coma Berenices, and contains the piece of trivia knowledge that Coma Berenices is the only constellation named after a real person, and supplies the story: "Coma Berenices is the only constellation named after an actual person. Queen Berenices was the wife of Ptolemy III, a famous Egyptian pharaoh who lived around 200 B.C. According to the story, Pharaoh was leading his troops into a fierce war. Queen Berenices was a devoted spouse and prayed for his safe return. She was so desperate to see him again she promised to cut off her beautiful hair if her husband returned safe and sound. So, about a year later, when Ptolemy returned victorious, the queen cut off all of her hair and dedicated it to the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. But just days later, some souvenir-seeking scoundrels swiped Berenices' hair from the temple."
The rest of the myth can be found on the above page.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More on Sunken Treasures exhibition

Nevine El-Aref takes a look at the Sunken Treasures exhibition in Berlin, and describes the background to the discoveries, the content and presentation of the exhibition and its impact on the city: "The exhibition has stolen the spotlight from the 2006 World Cup Championship which will be held in Germany in June. The streets of Berlin, its shops, airport, train stations, buses and hotels are plastered with posters of granite colossi of the goddess Isis, the Nile god Hapi, Ptolemaic royal figures and the head of Caesarion, Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, found half-buried in the seabed. Magazine covers show divers face to face with monuments beneath the waves, while photographs of objects from Napoleon's sunken fleet dominate the front pages of newspapers. Berlin, it sometimes feels, has been cast beneath the spell of sunken treasure. Even the German Der Spiegel magazine has launched a special issue on the exhibition and the efforts of the IEASM to raise such magnificent artefacts from the seabed.",1518,415677,00.html
A cheerful and detailed two-part item on the Spiegel Online website, in English, which offers some insights into what the exhibition reveals about ancient Egypt, providing a useful summary of Ptolemaic history: " Treasure hunter Franck Goddio has spent years bringing the sunken city of Alexandria to the surface. The results of his labors, now premiering in Berlin, reveal incest, fratricide and iniquity. And breathtaking beauty. It's a good thing that the Martin Gropius Building has such high ceilings. It'll need them. The exhibit at the Berlin museum includes 15-ton statues sculpted from rose-colored granite that have spent millennia on the ocean floor."
There is also a very fine photo gallery showing items as they were recovered from the sea:

Tutankhamun exhibition in Chicago (Chicago Tribune)
An article looking at the work that is going into making the Chicago leg of the exhibition work smoothly. The focus is mainly on the work of the McMillan Group, whose team have tailored the exhibition to suit each new venue: "Working with the show's lead curator, the McMillans devised a master plan for an exhibition of about 15,000 square feet that could hold up to 800 people an hour. The Field is devoting 16,000 square feet on its main floor to Tut and is setting capacity at 550 an hour.Having designed exhibits for such locales as the Disney theme parks, the couple have experience dealing with throngs."

There is also a short piece on the State Information Service website looking at the returns expected from the exhibition ($20 million at the end of the 2 year tour):

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New light on ancient Egyptian colonialism
An article in Current Anthropology about the Nubian site Tombos sheds new light on the nature of the relationship between pharaonic Egypt and its Nubian colony: "In approximately 1550 B.C., Egypt conquered its southern neighbor, ancient Nubia, and secured control of valuable trade routes. But rather than excluding the colonized people from management of the region, new evidence from an archaeological site on the Nile reveals that Egyptian immigrants shared administrative responsibilities for ruling this large province with native Nubians." The conclusions are based largely on burial remains from the site.
See the above site for a short summary of the article. The citation for the CA article itself is: Michele R. Buzon. "The Relationship between Biological and Ethnic Identity in New Kingdom Nubia: A Case Study from Tombos." Current Anthropology 47:3.

More on the Bosnian pyramids (
I'm by no means sure that this blog is right the place to cover this item, but as a number of people have already emailed me about it, I thought I'd start adding the more informed of the news items covering the Bosnian pyramids, about which the archaeological community is sharply divided. The IOL website has quite an informative feature on the subject at the moment: "An Egyptian geologist who has joined Bosnian researchers unearthing what are thought to be Europe's first pyramids believes they bear similar hallmarks to the ancient structures in his homeland, an official said on Wednesday. Aly Abd Alla Barakat, of the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority, believes large stone blocks found near Sarajevo were man-made and polished in the same way as the pyramids of Giza, said the Bosnian Pyramid Foundation's Mario Gerussi".

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stockholm challenge 2006 (Egypt State Information Service)
Good news from the State Information Service: "Alexandria Library managed to reach the finals of the Stockholm Challenge 2006 via its project on digitisation of Description de l'Egypte.
The Stockholm Challenge is a well established global networking programme for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurs for over ten years. It continues to be a leader in demonstrating how information technology can improve living conditions and increase economic growth in all parts of the world. One of the main features of the Stockholm Challenge is the ICT prize, the Stockholm Challenge Award, which has attracted over 3,000 projects over the years.
The valuable collection of Description De lEgypte containing text and images related to antiquities, natural history, and the modern states of Egypt, has been fully digitized, digitally restored, and integrated on a virtual browser with the objective of preserving it and making it publicly available."
See the above page for the full story.

Update: St Louis Mask

Thanks very much indeed to professional Arabic-English translator Eric Mueller for this email, and the translation of the above article on the Saudi-based Islammemo website. Eric, I am truly grateful to you for taking the time.
Archaeological crisis between Egypt and US Museum. Islammemo. Monday, 15 May 2006, 6:50pm Mecca time.
An archaeological crisis has erupted between the American St. Louis Museum and the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt after the museum refused to return an Egyptian mask that was preserved for 50years to Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, the General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt told Islammemo that "Egypt has decided to inform Interpol, the International Police Agency, that the American museum has refused to return the archaeological artifact," which he described as "unique," to Egypt. "In addition it has been decided to inform the Egyptian Public Prosecutor to take the necessary legal measures against the museum in order to secure the return of
the unique artifact to Egypt," Hawass said.
Dr. Hawass went on: "The artifact is the mask of a woman from pharaonic Egypt dating to the beginning of the XIX Dynasty. It disappeared from the Egyptian Museum after its discovery in the 1950s and was recently discovered by chance when put on display in the St. Louis Museum. Egypt gave the museum a month to return the artifact, but the institution refused to
do so. After the expiry of the grace period legal measures will be taken against the museum without further consultations."
Dr. Hawass added that the mask, which is covered in solid gold, is in an excellent state of preservation and belonged to a lady named Ka Nefer Nefer. She appears wearing a wig from which hang down four locks of braided hair. Around the head is a band covered with gold leaf from which hangs a lotus blossom, a flower famous among the pharaonic Egyptians.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities has succeed in recovering more than 400 various ancient artifacts from several western countries, the most outstanding of which was the mummy believed to be that of Ramses I, recovered from the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, three years ago.
The story is also covered very usefully on the Kansas City Star, where the dispute has been put into the context of Egypt's policies, the role of Hawass as Secretary General of the SCA, and the full background to the St Louis Mask is explained: "Questionable art acquisitions have been in the news recently. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was pressured to return a large Greek vase to Italy, where it had been excavated. Italian authorities also brought a case against the J. Paul Getty Museum’s curator of antiquities. Jennifer Stoffel, spokeswoman for the St. Louis Art Museum, said it was not fair to lump the Nefer mask controversy in with other fights over antiquities. 'Not only are their histories unique,' she said, 'but the histories of their ownership are also unique. “Our director has often said that if it’s a stolen object, we cannot keep it here. But we don’t have enough evidence to make that decision.' As arguably the oldest treasure house of art and antiquities, Egypt has suffered more than most.

A visit to the Cairo Museum
An account of an official visit to the Cairo Museum by Nigerian dignitaries, tied in with an account of what the museum reveals about the mummification process: "The story of mummification in Egpyt which is a form of embalment of dead bodies is beyond the ordinary. The Ministry for Manpower and Labour Affairs in Egypt, which was the host of the 4th Ordinary session of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission of African Union, had organised a tour of special historical places for the Ministers and the last point of call was the museum."

Travel: A view from the Nile (
A two-part day by day account of travelling from the U.S. to Cairo and then taking a cruise up the Nile from Aswan via Abu Simbel: "Aswan appeared much cleaner and more prosperous than Cairo. While still very poor by Western standards, there were some nice parks, tolerable roads and clearly the town was booming with tourist traffic. Dozens of cruise ships sat at the riverfront." See the above page for the first part of the story. The second part will appear next week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Today's Update

Apologies, but due to other engagements today the blog will not be updated until tomorrow, when I will catch up with all the latest news, including Zahi Hawass's most recent response in the St Louis Mask dispute (courtesy of a very welcome contribution from Eric Mueller).
Kind regards

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tutankhamun online,,1774854,00.html
An update about the work of the Griffith Institute in Oxford, who have already published some of the original notes and diary extracts from the Tutankhamun excavation: "It was the most famous archaeological find of all time, but still it holds secrets that have yet to be unravelled. Now Oxford scholars are preparing to post the notes, diaries, drawings and photographs from the 1922 excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamun on the internet in an attempt to study it completely." See the above site for more details.

For the existing archive on the Griffiths Institute website see:

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunken Treasures video

Just casting a Sunday morning eye over the BBC website, and I noticed that the News site has a video feature about the Sunken Treasures exhbition currently showing in Berlin. There is some very good video footage of the exhibition, and Franck Goddio is interviewed.
For those without audio/video, still pictures are also available on the website at:

Egyptian map leads to gold
"Centamin Egypt will produce its first gold bar next year, Egyptian Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister, Sameh Fahmy, told Bloomberg. The company was encouraged to explore for gold at the Sukari mining lease site by a 3,000 year old map thought to have been drawn by King Seti, outlining possible gold sites and now housed in Milan. The 160 sqkm area has proven reserves of 6m ounces of gold, worth more than $4bn."
This is the complete item on the website.

EEF News Digest
Last week's EEF News Digest will be online later today at the above address for all the latest information about exhibitions, conferences, lectures and new online and print publications, grants awards and fellowships, new websites, courses and trips, plus a round up of last week's main news items.

Abzu updated
Abzu has been updated again. To find material which has been added recently, you can follow the "View items recently added to ABZU" link on the above page, where entries remain visible for a month.
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 at
This blog gives a listing of everything added to the database since September 30 2005 (920 items).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ongoing dispute over St Louis Mask (
The Saint Louis Art Museum will keep a 3,200-year-old mummy mask, unless it sees more proof it belongs to Egypt. The museum will not meet a May 15 deadline set by Egyptian antiquities authorities to return the mask, museum director Brent Benjamin said yesterday. (
Benjamin has said the museum exercised due diligence in 1998 at the time of the acquisition to determine whether the mask had been legally exported from Egypt.He said Friday that the museum independently verified the mask's known provenance, or history of ownership; that it contacted the Art Loss Register and Interpol to see if the mask had been reported missing, lost or stolen; and that it consulted with Mohammed Saleh, then director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, to ensure that the pending purchase was appropriate.Hawass has not specified what action he would take if the Monday deadline were not met.

Also covered on the Washington Post:

Mubarak and Koehler open Sunken Treasures (Egypt State Information Service)
"President Hosni Mubarak and his German counterpart Hoerst Koehler opened in Berlin on Thursday Egypt's Sunken Treasures exhibition. The opening was attended by various top officials, public I figures and personalities interested in Egyptology. Mrs. Mubarak, Mrs. Koehler and Higher Council of Antiquities Chairman Zahi Hawas were present at the inauguration ceremony. Some 489 breathtaking artifacts retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria are being exhibited in 18 halls and more than 100 display cases. "

Saturday Trivia

Tutankhamun Trivia
"f you're planning on taking part, here is some Tut trivia that will help you better understand the show: "A king's ransom: The Egyptian government sent the precious artifacts on tour as a way to raise money for its own museums. So, Field visitors must shell out $25 to view the exhibit. In 1977, a Tut viewing only cost $1.50. Artistic license: The bust, which travels with a security team, isn't an exact likeness of the Boy King. The sculptor apparently performed a little plastic surgery for the afterlife and corrected the pharaoh's buck teeth and recessed chin." See the above page for more in a smiliar vein.

Pharaoh’s resuscitated
"A $9 million facelift has Pharaoh's Lost Kingdom Adventure Park roaring again.Backed by a pair of new partners, Aryana Group and Braswells, the amusement park in Redlands off Interstate 10 has banked that its new make-over can attract the interest of youth and adults through its Egyptian-oriented gates . . . . The ancient Egyptian theme park was built for $26 million and opened in June, 1996. It was able to attract to the 18-acre area an estimated 1 million people at one time to its various water slides, amusement rides and concession stands. Modeled after the Giza area in ancient Egypt with its splendid pyramids, temples and walkways, the park has competed with other amusement parks in the area such as the two in Ontario, another in Riverside and Raging Waters in San Dimas that provided stiff competition."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Underwater archaeology exhibition update

Al Ahram Weekly has a feature by Nevine El-Aref about the underwater archaeology exhibition, which will open shortly in Berlin:
"The exhibition is divided thematically. Among the objects on show are three giant pink granite colossi featuring the Nile god Hapi, the statue of a Ptolemaic king and unidentified Egyptian queen dressed as Isis, a customs stelae from Heracleion with inscriptions in hieroglyphs and Greek, a black granite sphinx representing Ptolemy XII, father of the more famous Cleopatra, a head of Serapis and the Naos of the Decades, a black granite shrine covered with figures and hieroglyphic texts relating to the ancient calendar.
Pots and pans, knives, forks, bottles and plates are exhibited alongside navigational instruments, cannons, swords and guns from Napoleon's fleet, sunk by Nelson during the naval Battle of Abu Qir in 1798. Golden rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets are also displayed."
See the above URL for the full story.

In addition, many thanks to Alain Guilleux for the following links:
the website of the Berlin exhibition can be found at:

And the website of Franck Goddio can be found at

Travel: The Gilf Kebir

An article about the scenery and rock art of the Gilf Kebir: "Rock art is the oldest form of art left by the human race. While few countries are blessed with samples of such art, Egypt enjoys a handful of them. Al-Gilf Al-Kebir was home to groups of hunter-gatherers, who lived, as their name suggests, on hunting animals and gathering fruits and vegetables. When Al-Gilf Al-Kebir was still an inhabitable place, hunter-gatherers roamed the area, and in addition to their daily routine they painted and carved some of the most spectacular pieces of art in the whole world." A visit to the Gilf Kebir is one of my dreams - one day, when I win the lottery :-)

Preserving history - Garden City

An article that looks at the risks to historic buildings in Egypt, using Garden City as a case study: "To date, laws and regulations defining a historic building or landmark remain equivocal, which makes it all the easier for developers to pursue their mission to fill up the city with concrete structures. Moreover, the absence of a Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) is translated into the accelerated disappearance of historic neighborhoods and sites across the nation. Which is why many are demanding that our government-appointed city mayors actively intervene to preserve our historic neighborhoods. Take the neighborhood of Garden City, for example, or what's left of it."
See the above page for the full story.

More on Alexandria lead data

This is very much old news, but for anyone who has missed it previously, the Discovery Channel's website has provided some good coverage of the use of lead in sediments to identify different periods of occupation in Alexandria: "Traces of pollutant lead found in harbor sediments have revealed that Alexander the Great did not found the Egyptian city of Alexandria – he just rebranded it. One of antiquity’s most opulent economic and cultural centers, Alexandria is named after the Macedonian emperor Alexander the Great, who was believed to have ordered its construction on the western branch of the Nile River in 331 B.C. But new geochemical data, published by Alain Véron from the Paul Cézanne University in Aix-en-Provence, France, and colleagues in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters, revealed that this part of the Nile was settled 4,500 years ago, more than two millennia before Alexander's arrival."
This is a rather more coherent version than one or two of the previous articles that were produced when the results of the research were first announced - see the above page for details.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hierakonpolis 2006
The Interactive Dig section on the Archaeology Magazine website has been updated with the latest from Hierakonpolis: "Technical difficulties kept us from providing timely updates from the field this year, but they did not prevent us from completing a busy and successful January-March season of exploration and conservation that took us to just about every part of this vast site. We continued to fix the Fort, revisited the tomb of the elephant, investigated a surprising discovery at the Middle Kingdom tombs and, closer to home, found some remarkable new things in our own storerooms, and much more."
See the above page for the 2006 season report.

Rescuing Cairo's Lost Heritage

If you are interested in Cairo's past, don't miss this article, which not only discusses past and present conservation projects but also offers a concise summary of Cairo's history: "Cairo is truly a unique city, and the thousand-year-old historic area (which actually consists of several separate neighborhoods) is one of the world's few surviving medieval cities left intact. Many cities in the Arab world, such as Damascus and Baghdad, have repeatedly been ransacked by invading armies, leaving them stripped of their original layout and structures. By contrast, historic Cairo retains many of the same streets and buildings added to the city during the course of the last millennium. A modern day traveler can find many of the same monuments and landmarks as those mentioned in writings by medieval historians, such as Ibn al-Batuta and al-Maqrizi."

Exhibition: Underwater Egyptology

"The lost world of Cleopatra’s palaces has been dug out of the muddy Mediterranean sea bed by a man dubbed the Underwater Indiana Jones. The results of Franck Goddio’s excavations, comprising 500 priceless finds that shed light on 1,500 years of ancient history, will be put on public view today for the first time. President Mubarak of Egypt will open the exhibition in Berlin, and it will later transfer to Paris and London and eventually to a specially prepared site in Egypt."
For full details about the exhibition see the above page on The Times website.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

KV63 Update

The KV63 website has been updated with some more news: "Coffin G (the Youth Coffin) was bought up successfully. The coffin appears very solid and in good condition (no termite damage). The coffin does possess a very exquisite painted face. Of particular interest is the resin-coated underside of the lid, this is indeed unusual, and possibly points to an effort to conceal decoration and/or text. Lid fragments, a side panel, and the mask from Coffin B were also removed from the chamber this week."
See the KV63 website for some details of the contents of Coffin B, and extracts from the Archaeology magazine article about KV63.

The full Archaeology article is now available on the KV63 website at the following address under the Archaeology Institute of America link:
Alternatively, it can also be found on the Archaeological magazine website at:

Tutankhamun: 170,000 advance tickets sold
"Officials at Chicago's Field Museum say they've already sold 170-thousand advance tickets to the exhibit Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. It opens May 26th and runs through January First. Today, workers put the first artifact into place."
See the brief post on the above page for the rest of the item.

More on world antiquities trade issues (New York Times)
More about the problems in the museum world regarding the aquisition of ancient artefacts: "Archaeologists and museum directors gathered in Manhattan this week to try to find common ground on the collecting of ancient art, an issue that has pitted museums and scholars against each other and raised concerns about the illegal trade in antiquities."
See the above article for the rest of the brief story. If you need a log-in, use egyptnews in both fields.

More on the finding of Tutankhamun's lost part,,2-2165774,00.html
I'll probably still find the odd article from the few days when I was away, and this is one of them: "An ancient riddle of the sands has been solved by modern hospital technology. The mummified remains of King Tutankhamun have been found to be, let us say, intact. When a team from Liverpool University X-rayed the body in 1968, about 3,300 years after the 19-year-old king’s death, they could find no sign of his penis. There was speculation that it had been stolen and sold to a private collector. There are people who do collect such things. But Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, discovered the missing member using a hospital CT scanner during a recent study of the remains." The Times article for more.

This has been reported in a number of places, including The Guardian, including Tutankhamun Re-membered (sigh):,,1769834,00.html
"It's an old story: archaeologist unearths Egyptian mummy, mummy's penis goes missing, new technology arrives and locates the errant organ, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities sits back with a satisfied smile on its face."

Minerva - May/June Issue

The latest issue of Minerva (Volume 17, Number 3) is out, and features three articles on ancient Egypt:
- Spectacular Turin: The Reopening of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities — Dalu Jones
- Life & Death in Ancient Egypt: The Contribution of Modern Science — Rosalie David
- Surveying the Via Nova Hadriana: The Emperor Hadrian’s Desert Highway in Egypt — Steven E. Sidebotham & Ronald E. Zitterkopf

There's also an article on the Getty/Met situation:
- The Trials & Tribulations of The Getty & The Met — Jerome M. Eisenberg

I haven't managed to get hold of a copy of the magazine yet, but there are a couple of other non-Egypt articles that also look potentially good.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Egypt’s tourism will bounce back

The tourism industry in Egypt will bounce back within weeks, following the explosions in Dahab on April 24, according to the Egyptian Tourism Minister, Zoheir Garannah, in an exclusive interview with Middle East Economic Digest (MEED).
'We are confident in our product and that people will continue to travel here. The main impression that the attacks left was one of people’s solidarity,' said Garannah.
The minister referred to the tourism industry’s increasing resilience: Egypt took two years to recover after the massacre in Luxor in 1997, and six months to bounce back after the Sharm El Sheikh attack in July 2005.
See the above page for the full story.

Photos from Karnak's Temple of Mut
Jane Akshar has been out and about with her camera again, and has updated her Luxor News Blog with photographs taken yesterday of the Temple of Mut, which is currently closed to the general public. There's a particularly fine representation of Bes.

Egyptian Museum
An article suggesting how to make the most of a visit to Cairo's Egyptian Museum: "Unlike tourists with their crammed itineraries — who will undoubtedly emerge from the Egyptian Museum stunned, overwhelmed and unable to process the incomprehensibly vast collection of treasures on display within the enormous building — we Cairenes can take our time to savor the treats squirreled away within the museum’s walls. A plan is essential: The Egyptian Museum houses a staggering collection of over 100,000 objects, too many to absorb in a lifetime, let alone in a single trip. While some displays are well-marked (generally in Arabic and English, occasionally in French), the signage is erratic and you often won’t know what you’re looking at unless you’ve educated yourself beforehand. Decide in advance what you want out of your visit — a broad introduction to Egyptology or a focused look at a particular feature".
See the above article for more. I need my Official Nitpicker to confirm this, but I have a horrible feeling that I've posted this before. However, a quick search hasn't revealed it on the blog - but apologies if it is a duplication.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Giza's camel touts

An article that takes a close look at the camel touts who work the Giza plateau, describing the business from the point of view of one camel tout: "Every half hour or so, a policeman spurs his snoozing steed into action, and lollops around the pyramid's base, chasing the touts away. The touts' camels reel and totter on their huge, two-toed feet, before breaking into an ungainly sprint as they disappear behind the nearest sandbank in a cloud of dust. Minutes later, they reappear and it all begins again. These touts are as much a part of the history of the pyramids as the limestone blocks themselves. As long as there have been tourists, they've been here. It's a profession handed down from father to son, and despite being feared or loathed by many visitors, most, like Wallid el-Kerim, love their work. Easygoing Mr. Kerim, born and bred in the backstreets of Giza, is one of those for whom the job is a family heirloom."
A fascinating insight - see the above web page for the entire article.

Tutankhamun audio tours (
An article about the audio tour that accompanies the Tutankhamun exhibition. "The Tut audio tour includes brief but informative interviews with Zahi Hawass, the secretarygeneral of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, as well as commentary by David Silverman, the national exhibit curator. But the real star, after Tut himself, is Sharif. Much of the information from the audio tour also is contained on interpretive signs accompanying the artifacts. But reading the dry facts can’t compare to listening to Sharif, who comes across like a beloved uncle from Cairo, one who knows his way around a bazaar, desert or royal tomb." The article also looks at audio tours from other exibitions. See the above page for the full story.

Zahi Hawass at The Frist

Zahi Hawass is to speak at The Frist: " The world of ancient Egypt will come to life as internationally renowned archaeologist and Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass presents Recent Discoveries in Egypt on Thursday, June 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s James K. Polk Theater. Dr. Hawass will cover topics including compelling information about recent finds near the pyramids at Giza and in the Valley of the Golden Mummies and the discovery of a new pyramid at Saqqara. This one-night-only engagement is organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in conjunction with the exhibition The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt, featuring the largest group of antiquities ever offered on loan from the Egyptian government for exhibit in North America."

More about the Quest exhibition can be found at:
More about the Frist Center can be found at:

More re Nesperennub at the Exploreum (
Another review of Mummy- The Inside Story, the touring exhibition currently at the Gulf Coast's Exploreum which focuses on the 2800 year old priest Nesperennub, whose mummy was examined and analysed using exclusively non-invasive methods: "This exhibit, like the title suggests, lets visitors get personal. At the start of their visit, guests enter a small theater inside the exhibit hall, to watch, in 3-D, a 'virtual' unwrapping of Nesperennub's mummy and a historical reconstruction of how he lived as a priest from the temple of Khon in ancient Egypt's religious complex at Karnak. . . . The rest of the exhibit includes more than 90 Egyptian funerary objects, including the colorful coffin and sarcophagus of Nesperennub, a reconstruction of how he may have looked, and display panels of Egyptian life and the mummification process."
The exhibition closes on July 31st 2006, and will then travel to Asia where it will continue to tour.
See the above page for the entire story.

Howard Carter gouache

"A painting by Egyptologist Howard Carter is to be sold after being discovered at a charity antiques valuation event in Mid Wales. The gouache by Carter (1874-1939), who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, is of Queen Senseneb from Derel Bahari and is valued at up to £3,000. Signed by Carter and dated 1897, the painting was discovered by Halls Fine Art's William Lacey in Barmouth during a valuation event."
See the rest of the brief story at the above site.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Exhibition: Land of the Pharaohs (ic Liverpool)
"Did daily life in Ancient Egypt involve rush hour panics to get to the pyramid building site, or protests over asses being exploited for their milk? Those questions may be answered at Land of the Pharaohs, a new exhibition at the Atkinson Art Gallery beginning Monday, May 15.
The interactive display will show how people lived, and what they did to help them through everyday life, as well as the afterlife when it approached. Museums from across the North West have donated exhibits to the display, complementing the Atkinson's existing collection. Land of the Pharoahs runs until Saturday, July 22. Admission is free."

The Atkinson Art Gallery is located in Southport, in northwest England - the gallery's website can be found at:

Buying ancient art (
"Buying ancient treasures today is fraught with risks. Apart from fakes or stolen goods, many ancient artworks have been smuggled from archaeological sites and are being claimed by various governments. So if you dread the knock on your door in the dead of night by the Interpol, make sure you buy from legit sources, like Rupert Wace Gallery at Old Bond Street, London. . . . Ancient Egyptian art is perennially popular, especially those from the Old Kingdom (2500BCE) to the late Dynastic Period (664-332BCE)."
See the above page for the full story.

EEF News Digest

As usual, the EEF News Digest can be found every Sunday on the above web page, providing an invaluable round up of all the latest news and events in Egyptology.

Egypt tourism expects 10% growth (
"The industry is growing at such a rate that is seems set to break the 2005 record of 85 million tourist nights spent throughout the country's 170,000 hotel rooms. A number of factors are contributing to the fast-paced growth of Egypt's tourism sector, which is valued at 11 per cent of the total Egyptian economy, making it the second largest industry and the second largest employer. These include a range of exciting new attractions, in addition to the industry-wide shift to year-round tourism."
See the above page for the full story.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Away for the weekend

I am away for the weekend, and may have trouble finding an Internet connection. If I can't get a connection, I'll update the site on Tuesday morning.
All the very best.

Tutankhamun in Chicago

Somewhat inevitably, there is bound to be a whole plethora of articles in anticipation of the opening of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs, which is due to open in Chicago on May 26th. This article looks at the background to the discovery of the tomb, the previous Tutankhamun travelling exhibition, some of the history of the young king, and talks about the artefacts that are being displayed:
"A wooden bust shows the king as a young and very human figure, while exquisite gilded statuettes portray him as the ruler of all Egypt. A small shrine of wood covered in gold and silver is engraved with tender scenes of Tutankhamun and his young wife. And most poignant of all is a child-size throne of ebony and ivory inset with gold.
Though less well known, the treasures from other royal tombs are equally spectacular, especially those from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuya, believed to be Tut's great-grandparents. . . . Tutankhamun tells the fascinating story of Egypt's 18th dynasty, the golden age of the pharaohs. It was the height of Egyptian culture, wealth, and power: the empire extended from Libya to Gaza, from Syria to Sudan; art and literature flourished, and architecture and technology advanced. But Tut was born into an era of great cultural upheaval."
See the full article on the above page.

Details of the exhbition's Chicago venue are at:

New museum in Rosetta (State Information Service)
"In the coming few days, the Rosetta National museum will be inaugurated. It will be one of the most impressive museums in Egypt, enjoying a wonderful location near the River Nile. The museum is surrounded by about 50 beautiful old houses. In fact the Rosetta National Museum is located in Arab Kulli House, which is being comprehensively developed and restored. The Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary-General Zahi Hawass stated that, in collaboration with the Rosetta (Rashid) City Council, two feddans of land have been annexed to Arab Kulli House, where a park and a centre for visitors will be created."
See the above page for the full story.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Conserving East Bank temples

Sherine Nasr, reporting on the work by various project teams including USAID, to conserve a number of archaeological monuments on Luxor's east bank, including important plans to lower the water table: "Since 1999, extensive sub-soil surveys and ground water detection have been conducted to help develop a technical solution for ground water mitigation by using drilling, pumping and computer simulation, and an implementation plan has been suggested. USAID is contributing LE40 million to cover construction costs and the local costs for the construction supervision."
See the above page on the Al Ahram Weekly website for the entire story.