Friday, June 30, 2006

A Tomb under hanging Rock (
"An increasing number of traces indicate that on a rock shelf above the temple of Hatshepsut is a tomb belonging to a Pharaoh from the 21st dynasty – says Prof. Andrzej Niwiński of the Institute of Archaeology at Warsaw University. If this hypothesis proves right, Polish archaeologists are a step away from a great find. However, there is one obstacle in the way of solving the mystery – a 1000 ton rock hanging over the precipice.
Prof. Niwiński is heading the work on the Rock Archaeological Expedition run by Warsaw University in collaboration with the Ain Shams University in Cairo. The area of research is a 100 m tall rock wall on the back of the temple of Hatshepsut, which is being reconstructed by Polish archaeologists."
See the above article for the full story.

More on opening of Coptic Museum

"Mogamaa Al-Adian, Old Cairo's religious compound, is finally free of the roar of trucks and lorries that have blocked the entrance to the Coptic Museum for three years now. And the museum itself, with its limestone façade loosely based on the Al-Aqmar Mosque, has finally opened its doors to visitors in an area the attractions of which include the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas, the Hanging Church and the Synagogue of Beni-Ezra.
On Monday President Hosni Mubarak formally opened the museum during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and scores of Egyptian ministers and senior government officials. The president was guided through the museum's 26 galleries, containing 13,000 items, by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Supreme Council of Antiquities' Secretary-General Zahi Hawass."
See more in the above article by Nevine El-Aref.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

£13,000 paid for Howard Carter painting

"A painting of an Egyptian queen by Howard Carter, the man who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, has sold at auction for £13,000. The watercolour was left to owner Barbara Rampton 15 years ago but she did not realise its significance until she took it to a charity valuation. The 1897 work had been hanging in a holiday cottage near Barmouth.
Carter, who died in 1939, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in 1922.
His painting of Queen Senseneb began with an estimate of £3,000 but was soon contested by five telephone bidders. It eventually sold to a specialist art dealer in London."
See the above page for the full story.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mural returned by Germany

"Germany is to hand over sections of an ancient Egyptian mural to an Egyptian delegation Monday. 'The delegation from the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) will receive five sections of a mural painting stolen from the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of Kings near Luxor,' said Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said yesterday 25/6/2006. SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawass hailed the move by Egyptology Institute affiliated to the University of Tuebingen. The section of the mural will be restored to their original place in the tomb, Hawass added."

Student finds unknown tomb

Thanks very much to Ingeborg Waanders - not only for emailing the above link (from 23rd June), but also for the translation of the page from Dutch to English, below:
"Een student botanische archeologie uit Groningen, Jeroen van Rooij, is tijdens een studiereis in Egypte per ongeluk op een nog onbekende graftombe gestuit.
De tombe is vermoedelijk van een vermogende Egyptenaar uit de tijd van de achttiende dynastie, rond 1400 voor Christus, meldde Van Rooij vrijdag vanuit Egypte."
A Dutch student in botanical archaeology accidentally found an unknown tomb while on a study trip in Egypt.
The tomb presumably belonged to a wealthy Egyptian from around 1400 BC. The student found the tomb making a trip through the desert, while taking a stop at the bottom of a small hill. When van Rooij climbed the hill he found four deep pits on the summit. One of the pits turned out to lead into a large tomb.
Van Rooij and his party entered the tomb with the alerted Egyptian authorities. The tomb contained eight chambers, two of them large. Valuable relics weren't found, as the tomb was robbed in antiquity, presumably during the economic crisis in the 21st dynasty. Van Rooij describes the find as a "bizarre, but wonderful experience".

Mubarak inaugurates refurbished Coptic Museum

"In his address during the opening ceremony, Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said the Coptic Museum is one of Egypt's most important museums as it houses a huge collection of artefacts dating to the Coptic era.
President Mubarak watched a documentary on the restoration of the museum and the methods of display of 1,300 items in 26 halls. Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawass said during a tour of the museum by the President that the restoration project included the addition of a new hall devoted to the history of churches in Old Cairo. A hall for temporary exhibitions has also been built, Hawass added. The restoration project, which was carried out by a group of Egyptian experts, began in 2003, Hawass said.
. . . . President Mubarak heard a presentation by Ezzat Naguib, director general for restoration works on the Coptic Museum on manuscripts in the museum. The manuscripts, of which some date back to the 4th century AD, including 13 bibles and several exhibits obtained from monasteries in Egypt. . . . Head of the icons section Mervat Megalli briefed President Mubarak on the icon exhibits that range between 300 and 600 years old. Most of the icons are of the Virgin Mary, Christ and a number of saints."
See the above page for full details - please note that the page will be changing shortly.

Increase in Jordanian tourists to Egypt

"Jordanian visitors to Egypt increased 4.5 percent to 50,514 in the first five months of this year, reflecting the strong cultural ties and increased business and leisure opportunities. Egypt’s traditional Pyramids-and-museums profile is broadening as more modern shopping malls, entertainment venues and luxury, internationally acclaimed hotels and resorts shoot up across the country."
See the above page for more details.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blog updates

Apologies for the late posting of the weekend's news - I had to go away unexpectedly.

At the same time, my Internet access is going to be interrupted from Wednesday this week, through to Tuesday next week, and it may be impossible to update the site during that period. Apologies if this turns out to be the case.

Kind regards

Tut's necklace shaped by fireball (
"Scientists believe they have solved the mystery surrounding a piece of rare natural glass at the centre of an elaborate necklace found among the treasures of Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh.
They think a fragile meteorite broke up as it entered the atmosphere, producing a fireball with temperatures over 1800C that turned the desert sand and rock into molten lava that became glass when it cooled.
Experts have puzzled over the origin of the yellow-green glass -- carved into the shape of a scarab beetle -- since it was excavated in 1922 from the tomb of the teenage king, who died about 1323BC.
It is generally agreed the glass came from an area called the Great Sand Sea, but there has been uncertainty over how it was formed because there is no crater to back up the idea of a meteorite. Now it is thought the meteorite responsible was not intact but made up of loose rubble."
See the above page for the full article.

Also covered at:

Scarcophagi found near Giza pyramids
"The head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities says Egyptian archaeologists have found two ancient sarcophagi close to the pyramids. Council chief Zahi Hawass says the sarcophagi are about 2,500-years-old - dating back to the late 26th dynasty. He says they have been found about one kilometre south of the Giza pyramids. . . . The sarcophagus is painted red, blue and green and bears the name of its owner, Neb Ra Khatow, and ritual incantations to the gods.
The second sarcophagus has a more human form and was found inside the first."
See the brief article, above, for more details.

Also covered in brief at:

Discovery Channel - more on KV63 (
Discovery are advertising a follow-up to their first KV63 feature: "Egypt's New Tomb: Opening the Coffin is the second program following the astonishing discoveries being made by archaeologist Dr. Otto Schaden in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. This special follows the on-going action as the excavation of KV 63 reaches its climax."
I've read it three times and failed to find a date for when it is being aired, although I know it MUST be there - I'm just having one of those days today! However, the KV63 website says that it is being aired in the USA on July 9, 2006, 9:00 -10:00 pm ET. See the above page for more about the programme.

There is a lovely photograph of one of the coffins at:

Museum scans mummies for clues to past (
"Two mummies from the Milwaukee Public Museum have received computerized tomography, or CT, scans to help determine how they lived and died. The scans will produce three-dimensional images of the mummies that also will help researchers visualize what they looked like and build sculptures of their faces. The scans, performed Friday, are part of a larger effort by the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium to gather images of mummies collected from the Akhmim site in Egypt."
See the brief article above for more details.

Also covered at:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Update re the Getty negotiations

For those of you following the Getty situation, this page provides an update on the ongoing negotiations between the Italian government and the Getty museum re repatriating items smuggled illegally out of Italy: "The director of the J. Paul Getty Museum met with Italian officials in Rome on Monday to discuss a possible deal to return artifacts the Italians claim were illegally smuggled out of the country, but it remained unclear whether the two sides would reach an agreement soon." (
A very short item also appeared on "The J. Paul Getty Trust has agreed to return several ancient artifacts to Italy in exchange for loans of other works and joint exhibitions. The trust and the Italian Ministry of Culture expect to reach a final agreement 'in the early summer,' according to a joint statement released on the Business Wire."

More on 'Le Déscription' at the Dahesh (
"The Dahesh Museum has a show devoted to 'Le Déscription', Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt, that includes many engravings and two rare complete editions. The "Déscription" is a folio-sized series of 13 volumes of engravings, many of them beautifully color-printed, and 10 volumes of text assembled by 167 scientists, engineers, economists, mathematicians, botanists, zoologists, artists and scholars who accompanied the 40,000 or so French troops.
While the civilian savants were in Egypt, they kick-started the scientific study of ancient cultures, sort of inventing modern archeology -- not to mention finding the Rosetta Stone, thereby making the translation of hieroglyphics possible."
See the above page for the full story.

KV63: A Mystery Fit For A Pharaoh
Thanks very much to Aayko Eyma for the above link to a four page article about KV63, on the website, introducing the find, describing its recent history and summarizing the current state of play at the site: "Schaden's newly opened chamber is KV-63. Unlike Tut's, it contains neither gold statues and funerary furniture nor, as of early June, the mummified body of a long-dead Pharaoh. Despite the coffins, this probably isn't even a gravesite. Still, the discovery, announced in February, was trumpeted worldwide, because most archaeologists had long ago given up hope of finding significant discoveries in the valley. More remarkably, the artifacts appear to have been undisturbed for more than three millennia, not since one of Egypt's most fascinating periods—just after the death of the heretic king Akhenaten, who, unlike his predecessors, worshiped a single deity, the sun god Aten."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Animal behaviour in ancient Egypt

And another one from EEF. This is a report about research being carried out on animal depictions from ancient Egypt: "Linda Evans is a research assistant at Macquarie University's animal behaviour laboratory. In addition to a passion for animals, she is also passionate about archaeology and her PhD study at the Australian Centre for Egyptology has enabled her to combine these two interests.Evans is currently writing her thesis after eight and a half years' part-time work examining 8208 images of animals in 291 tombs and tomb fragments from cemeteries from the Old Kingdom period at Giza and Saqqara."
See the rest of the article for more.

The tomb of Neferhotep

Another item courtesy of EEF:
"Desde 1999 un grupo de egiptólogos argentinos . . . trabaja en Luxor, en la tumba perteneciente a Neferhotep, un funcionario muy importante en la época del rey que sucedió a Tutankamón; como este monarca reinó por sólo cuatro años, hay poca documentación sobre la época."
Roughly translated as: Since 1999 a group of Argentinian Egyptologists have worked in Luxor in the tomb of Neferhotep, an important official during the reign of the king who succeeded Tutankhamun. As this king reined for only four years there is very little documentation about his reign.
A book entitled “Imágenes a preservar en la tumba de Neferhotep” has been published recently by the team: "[Violeta] Pereyra dijo que el libro registra todo lo que se ha hecho desde 1999 -año en que ella recibió la autorización del Consejo de Antigüedades de Egipto para ingresar a la tumba- hasta la actualidad."
Roughly translated as: Violeta Pereyra siad that the book listed everything that had been done since 1999 - the year in which she received authrization from the Supreme Council of Antiquities to enter the tomb - until the present.

Loss of Curators' Power

Thanks to the EEF News Digest for the following. A two-page article looking at how the Brooklyn Museum has restructured its management teams to raise efficiencies: "The Brooklyn Museum, which built a sleek new glass entrance two years ago and is trying to reinvent itself after years of declining attendance, is planning a shakeup of its staff that has angered several curators and drawn criticism from other museums. Beginning next month, the museum will do away with traditional departments like Egyptian art, African art and European painting and instead create two "teams," one for collections and one for exhibitions. Arnold L. Lehman, the museum's director, said in an interview that the changes were intended to make the museum's relatively small curatorial staff more efficient and to encourage curators to exchange ideas more freely."
If you need a username and password, enter egyptnews in both fields.

Saturday Trivia - Tutankhamun

Chocolate Tut (
"In honor of the Field Museum's Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs exhibit, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers created a 400-pound chocolate statue of King Tut. Currently on display in the lobby, the culinary masterpiece is being auctioned for charity. The 120-hour culinary labor of love, created by executive pastry chef Omar Martinez, is made of dark chocolate covertures with 55 percent cocoa content and the chocolate statue is trimmed with 12 ounces of 14K edible gold dust."

Reincarnated Tut
"Helen Reddy's memoir The Woman I Am may have trouble finding an American audience. The Australian vocalist burst upon the American scene in the mid-1970s when her song 'I Am Woman' became an international feminist anthem. Unfortunately, by 1980, that white-hot career essentially ended, and few Americans under the age of 40 will now recognize her name. But no American will have trouble reading her memoir; I haven't seen a prose style like Reddy's since my fourth-grade subscription to The Weekly Reader expired. . . . Things really get interesting in The Woman I Am when Reddy delves into her own personal spiritual search and her belief in reincarnation. Along the way, she informs the reader that Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was the reincarnation of Richard III; and that Elvis Presley was the reincarnation of King Tutankhamen."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Book Review: The BM Concise Introduction - Ancient Egypt

"T G H James's The British Museum Concise Introduction: ANCIENT EGYPT has now been published in a paperback edition which makes for a concise yet comprehensive and up-to-date survey which is easy to handle, writes Jill Kamil. . . . It takes a scholar like T G H James, retired keeper of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan in the British Museum, with his long and intimate association with Egypt and Egyptian monuments, to produce a work of this calibre. James has witnessed a remarkable growth in popular interest in Egypt during that time, and he has, in addition, what all too few scholars possess -- a talent for writing a text that is interesting and which makes for easy browsing."
See the above page for the complete review.

Luxor news

Jane Akshar has updated her Luxor News blog with the news that Susan and Donald Redford are currently excavating at different locations in Luxor. She adds that apart from these excavations and KV63, most teams have abandoned field work for the season.

The sabil of Mohamed Ali

"The sabil of Mohamed Ali remains closed four years after it was restored and a permanent exhibition installed in the conserved building. Jill Kamil asks why . . . . But no alternative date has been set, and the sabil remains closed four years after completion.
Al-Ahram Weekly is drawing attention to this restored and conserved building because it is not alone in representing a historic building saved from certain oblivion and then disused -- or should one say not yet used for the purpose for which it was intended.
The sabil is of special historical importance because it was built by a man of foreign origin and humble background whose long rule profoundly changed Egypt and its people; because its opulent carved- marble decoration marked a turning point in Cairo's architecture; and because the permanent exhibition, in the spacious hall of the upper floor -- which outlines Mohamed Ali's career and achievements as well as the brief life of his son Tusun -- was designed for the general public."
See the above article for the full story.

Zahi Hawass Dig Days: VOK part IV

Zahi Hawass talking about investigating the tunnel in the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings: "I shall never forget the adventure I had in the tunnel of the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I in the Valley of the Kings. I first thought about entering this tunnel two years ago. On the day that I first entered I took with me a very thick rope. I tied one end of the rope to the entrance and used it to guide me into the dark tunnel. I would also need the rope on my way out, because it slopes downwards and it would therefore be difficult to climb out. I took with me a flashlight and a metre stick. When I began to explore the tunnel, I found that for the first few metres it was easy to walk but then it became more difficult. The tunnel was very narrow, with cracks on the ceiling and stone rubble blocking my path. When I had gone about 175 feet I decided to turn back and continue investigating the tunnel on a later occasion."
See the above page for the full story."

Forthcoming titles from the AUC

The above page lists a set of publications to be released from June 2006 to January 2007 by the American University in Cairo Press. There is a good mixture of titles and topics, including Egyptology, Coptic studies, Islamic art, and natural history.

Egyptology websites suitable for young visitors

A number of websites have been featured by The Hindu as a good lauch pad for younger people interested in ancient Egypt. Go to the above page to see the sites recommended in the Young World column.

Oxbow Books - Summer 2006 (Correction)
Thanks very much to Paula Veiga for pointing out that I had provided the wrong address for Oxbow books in an earlier posting. The above URL will take you to their home page, from where you can go to either their US or UK site. Apologies for any confusion.

Conference of Precession and Ancient Knowledge
CPAK is back on October 13-15, 2006 at the University of California, Irvine, where the keynote speaker will be Graham Hancock: "The purpose of the conference is to foster dialog among experts in a wide range of fields to illuminate the ties between, mythology, modern science and our ancestral knowledge of the stars. . . . CPAK 2006 is the third annual gathering of this unique group of scholars in the fields of archaeology, astronomy, and alternative history. Hancock will open the conference by examining ancient structures on a global scale from the Great Pyramid in Egypt and the ruins of Peru, to submerged evidence of past civilizations off our coasts." See the above page for the entire press release.
For more information about CPAK, go to

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mummy fraud discovered after 2,000 years

Guardian Unlimited article about the results of CT scans on a number of mummies, carried out prior to the reopening this month of the Egyptian Galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge: "Analysis continues after the mummies were run through a CT scanner and other tests, but the preliminary results are startling. The two baby crocodile shaped mummies were originally sold to worshippers at the temple at Hawara, to be buried in ritual pits as an offering to the god Sobek. There was clearly a history of problems with the animal sellers: a pharaonic decree a century earlier had ordered that each mummy should contain the body of one animal.
The museum's kitten mummy did indeed hold a very small cat, and there was a sacred ibis within the spectacularly elaborate wrappings of another. The crocodiles however were spectacularly lacking in crocodile: one held a minute vertebra, the other a handful of straw, rags and mud without a scrap of any animal content at all."

KMT Summer 2006

Thanks very much Greg Reeder, who pointed out that the latest edition of KMT magazine is now available, and that the contents listing, together with the front and back cover images, are provided at the above website. The main contents are summarized below (and it is nice to see that it looks as though some light may be shed on the Hatshepsut mummy question):

WHAT'S NEW UNDER THE SUN? Special Report on Luxor 2006 by Dennis Forbes
MYSTERY TOMB FOUND IN THE VOK by Dennis Forbes - A Preliminary Account ofKV63's Surprising Discovery
NEW HATSHEPSUT, NEFERURE RELIEFS Now on View at Karnak by Dennis Forbes
QUEST FOR HATSHEPSUT'S MUMMY by Zahi Hawass - Could She be the Lady in the Attic of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo?
EGYPT ON THE DANUBE by Lucy Gordon-Rastelli - The Egyptian Collection of Vienna's Kunsthistoriches Museum
NAPOLEON ON THE NILE Exhibition at the Dahesh Museum of Art by Bob Briar
THE ARISTEIA OF RAMESES II by Omar Zuhdi - Analysis of the Kadesh 'Poem'
ALIENS IN EGYPT by Kenneth D. Ostrand - Foreign Gods in the Egyptian Pantheon

Boom in US tourism to Egypt

"Americans continue to visit Egypt in numbers not seen since record-setting 2000, according to new statistics released by the Egyptian Tourism Authority. The trend continued in May 2006 when 18,935 Americans visited Egypt, a 16.3 percent increase over the same period in 2005.
Egypt has continued to experience double-digit growth, over 2005, from American tourists, the Egyptian Tourism Authority reported today. In 2006, 98,388 Americans have visited Egypt, an extraordinary increase of 20.9 percent over last year's 81,398 for the same period."
See the above page (bright yellow, be warned!) for the full story, which speculates that the Egypt-based exhibitions touring the States may be one reason why American interest in Egypt is currently high.
Also covered on:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Book of Isaiah under the sands of Egypt (
"The archaeological mystery has been solved! The latest research shows that the manuscript found by Polish archaeologists in the village of Gourna (Sheikh abd el-Gourna) near Luxor in Upper Egypt contains the entire biblical book of Isaiah in the Coptic translation. “This is the first complete translation of this book in Coptic” – says Prof. Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo of the Institute of Archaeology at Warsaw University."
See the above page for the full story.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No news!

Just a quick note to say that I'm not being lazy, but I really have been unable to find any Egyptology news to report today!

So, instead, this is off-topic, but in the absence of anything else, and just for those of you who are interested in the origins of agriculture, there's quite a nice Near Eastern prehistoric find reported from Gilgal (near Jericho) this week. 11,000 year old wild oat and wild barley grains have been found, which researchers Weiss, Kislev and Hartmann (from Bar-Ilan University) argue are the first signs of deliberate cultivation in the area:
11,000 year old grain shakes up beliefs on beginnings of agriculture (Jerusalem Post)
"Until now, the general assumption has been that agriculture was begun by a single line of human efforts in one specific area. But the BIU researchers found a much more complicated effort undertaken by different human populations in different regions, drawing a completely new picture of the origins of agriculture.
Agriculture, the BIU researchers suggest, originated through human manipulations of wild plants - sometimes involving the same species - that took place in various spatially and temporally distinct communities. Moreover, some of these occasions were found to be much earlier than previously thought possible."
See the above article for the rest of the summary of the findings. It was derived from the magazine Science - for access to Science online (subscription or pay per view), go to:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Statue attack fuels fears (
A disturbing account describing a recent attack on three statues in Cairo: "A religiously motivated attack on statues at a museum in Cairo has sparked outcry in Egypt and fuelled fears that the country is veering towards an Islamic state.
The attack on three artworks, by a black-clad and veiled woman screaming,'Infidels, infidels!' followed a fatwa issued by the Grand Mufti of Cairo, Ali Gomaa, which banned all decorative statues of living beings. . . . It led to furious criticism of the mufti from Egyptian liberals. In a televised debate with the mufti after the attack, one poet raged that 'the prevalent religious discourse in the country encourages terror'. Although the ancient treasures of Egypt have been protected under Islam so far, an increasing extremism in the country could make statues such as the quartzite head of Nefertiti, the colossus of Amenhotep, and the golden death mask of Tutankhamen possible targets in future."
See the complete article on the above page for the full account.

Egyptology Radio in Spain

If you have a passable understanding of spoken Spanish, I can recommend the above website - a weekly Egyptology radio programme called Paseando con los Faraones (Walking with the Pharaohs), the brainchild of Manuel Abeledo Tascón. An hour long programme is broadcast on a weekly basis, available in Spain only via the radio station Top Cantabria FM, the next one of which goes out on the 21st June (see the above page for details). However, the great news for Internet users is that extracts from previous editions are available as Quick Time recordings on the website, under different categories. Complete downloads of the entire previous month's programmes cannot be downloaded from the website, but can be requested via email:
Best of luck to Manuel with his truly innovative project.

Slow negotiations between Italy and the Getty (
For those of you following the important negotiations taking place, world wide, over the repatriation of items which were removed under dubious circumstances from their country of origin, there's a review on the above site about the current state of play between Italy and the Getty Museum: "One by one, museums in dispute with the Italian government over looted antiquities are reaching agreement. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art signed a deal in February, and talks with Princeton University are said to be well advanced.Alone stands the J. Paul Getty Museum, whose exceedingly complicated negotiations with Rome have been plagued by delays and shown little progress. Two factors continue to dog the talks, which are scheduled to resume this month: the sheer volume of material that the Italians want the Getty to return, including some of the museum's most prized possessions, and the criminal prosecution of former Getty antiquities curator Marion True."
See the above page for the entire story.

More on the Bosnian pyramids (
I'm still not sure that I should be covering this story on this site, but still - it's a very slow news day today, and a number of visitors to the site have expressed interest, so here goes with the latest news. This article, from the UK's Telegraph broadsheet gives one of the sceptical views of the situation:
"It has spawned a T-shirt, souvenir and hotel industry, drawn thousands of visitors and volunteers every weekend, and become a rare symbol of national unity in a country riven by ruinous sectarian war. Last week, it won the backing of Unesco, the world's foremost educational and cultural body. There is just one thing missing from Bosnia's so-called Pyramid of the Sun, acclaimed by some as the most important archaeological discovery in Europe for more than a century - a pyramid.
Despite the fact that Semir Osmanagic, who claims to have discovered it, has no formal archaeological training and believes, among other things, that the South American Mayans descended from visitors from outer space, more people apparently want to believe his theory that Bosnia is home to giant pyramids than to debunk it."
See the above page for the rest of the story.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Archive: Discovery of Khufu satellite pyramid

A new anecdote by Zahi Hawass on the Egyptian Gazette website, reproduced here in full due to the lack of archive on the site.
"At the southeast corner of the Great Pyramid was a large mound of sand. In 1991, I told my assistant to begin clearing this so that we could see what was underneath and we found a pyramid! I was thrilled. Petrie had excavated in this area in 1881; the American archaeologist George Reisner had been here in the early 1900s; and Selim Hassan had done further clearance in 1940. So we had expectations of finding anything new, especially something as important as a pyramid.
When I examined the newly discovered monument, I saw that it had a square base, the typical shape for a pyramid; its position, at the southeast corner of the upper pyramid complex, identified it immediately as Khufu's missing satellite pyramid.The satellite pyramid is an important element of the Old Kingdom pyramid complex, but its function is still subject to debate. Some scholars think it was a symbolic burial place for the ka, or spirit double, of the king; others think it was for the burial of the king's placenta, canopic jars, or crowns; and still others believe it was a solar symbol. I believe that it might have been connected with the Sed Festival, a celebration whose exact meaning is still uncertain. It is often called the royal jubilee, as it was generally celebrated for the first time after thirty years of rule. Some historians think it reconfirmed the king as ruler, guaranteed his royal power, or renewed his life and his strength. I believe the festival was held by the king to commemorate his victories and announce that he had finished all that the gods had asked him to do.The pyramid complexes of Khufu's immediate predecessors and successors all have satellite pyramids south of their main pyramids. In pyramid complexes during the rest of the Old Kingdom, the satellite pyramid is typically placed at the southeast corner of the pyramid enclosure. The fact that Khufu did not have a satellite pyramid was always a mystery, and this new find fills a major gap in our knowledge of the development of the pyramid complex."

New publications

Some new Egyptology-related publications are available, as follows:

Wengrow, David
The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North East Africa, 10,000 to 2650 BC
ISBN: 0521543746
Cambridge World Archaeology

Petrovich, Doug
Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus-Pharaoh
The Master's Seminary Journal 2006, 81-110

Oxbow's new catalogue, Book News, is out with new and forthcoming titles for Summer 2006 (porices in UKP and USD):

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.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Karnak Development Project revisited

"Problems surrounding the Karnak Development Project still seem unsolved despite the reported approval of all concerned. Nevine El-Aref investigates the continuing controversy - The mood at this year's annual meeting in Luxor between the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the French mission of the Centre Franco-Egyptien D'Étude des Temples de Karnak (CFEETK) was tense despite a friendly veneer. Some observers have reported that the planned Karnak Development Project drawn up by the SCA in collaboration with the Luxor City Council (LCC) was the cause of the underlying ill feeling, especially since part of the project's plan involves the demolition of the French mission's residential compound and the 19th-century-dig house of French Egyptologist George Legrain."

Exhibition: Napoleon on the Nile

A new exhibition at Dahesh Museum of Art in New York, Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists and the Rediscovery of Egypt, looks at the most outstanding result of Napoleon's brief conquest of Egypt - the staggering Description de l'Égypte. Accompanying the 55,000 strong military force to Egypt were over 150 engineers, economists, mathematicians, zoologists, botanists, archeologists, translators, journalists, and artists, the so-called savants, whose role was to capture Egypt on paper. This two-page article explains the Description and its history, and talks through some of the exhibits in detail: "The pull between past glories and present realities is palpable. At Edfu, François-Charles Cécile stuck to the facts, showing the temple interior half filled with sand and the Arabs living near its rafters. At Dendera, Edmé Jomard and Gaspard-Antoine Chabrol, both engineers, rendered an elevation of a monumental squared arch as it might have looked in its prime, with a vast Pharaonic army marching through it, straight toward us. As the soldiers pass through the arch and turn left, they become flat and overlapping, as in Egyptian reliefs."
This is one of those exhibitions I would really love to see. See the above 2-page article for the full story - there's a lovely representation of the Ramesseum on the first page. If you need a username and password, type egyptnews into both fields.

The exhibition runs from June 8 – September 3, 2006. The home page for the Dahesh Museum of Art is at:
The exhibition home page on the site is at:
And there's a podcast with Egyptologist Dr Bob Brier talking about the Description at:
(You'll need the Quick Time plug-in)

There's a Wikipedia entry on the Description at:

Art Museums Wrestle With Ownership Issue (
Another in a long line of recent articles about the challenges facing museums wishing to aquire antiquities for their collections, and the efforts of governments to repatriate items which, in some cases, should not have been left the country of origin in the first place: "The issue of provenance _ or the history of an artwork's ownership _ has never before been a more debated topic among archeologists and attorneys, collectors and curators, museum directors and donors, nations and cultural groups.
It's occurring as the Metropolitan Museum of Art agrees to return ancient objects to Italy, a former American antiquities curator faces charges of knowingly buying stolen artifacts and museums continue to address claims about artwork stolen by Nazis up to 70 years ago. . . .
Emboldened by Italy, such countries as Peru, Egypt and Turkey are becoming more aggressive in demanding that American museums return disputed items.
Egypt _ led by Zahi Hawass, the country's charismatic and often controversial chief archaeologist _ is particularly pushing the case of a 3,200-year-old funerary mask of a mummy depicting a young lady, which it said disappeared from the Egyptian Museum."
See the above article for the full story.

St. Paul Monastery opens after renovation (
"The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has re-opened St. Paul Monastery for visits by Egyptian and foreign tourists after three-year renovation works.
Founded in the 4th century in the shape of a fort among the high hills near the Red Sea, St. Paul Monastery houses four churches and a library, said SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawwas.
St. Anthony Monastery, near to St. Paul, was dedicated to the founder and godfather of priesthood St Anthony, the earliest hermit in the world, said director of Islamic and Coptic Monuments Department at SCA Abdullah Kamel."

CT scan to locate Hatshepsut?

"The Supreme Council of Antiquities is using CT scans to examine two mummies found by Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1903 in Luxor's Valley of the Kings, in a bid to ascertain whether one of them is that of Queen Hatshepsut."
The link to the page where this daily changing column is supposed to be held has been broken since I found the Egyptian Gazette's new location, so this tantalizing header paragraph is all the information that is available.

Saturday Trivia

The world has been sadly short of archaeological trivia recently, but here's are some bits of forthcoming "virtual" wizadry from the world of technology, that might interest and/or amuse:

Virtual archaeology on the move (
"An Italian-led research project is developing a service that allows visitors to use their camera-equipped 3G mobile telephones to get a personalised multimedia guide to archaeological sites and museums. A tour of a big outdoor cultural site can sometimes be a frustrating experience if objects are not easily located, identified or placed in historical context. The Agamemnon project is working on an interactive multimedia system that provides relevant text, videos, speech and pictures with 3D reconstructions, to visitors' mobile telephones."

Virtual historical worlds
"Computer technology brings ancient worlds to life, but archaeologists debate whether it resembles long-ago reality or reality TV. Jeffrey Clark, Ph.D., director of the Archaeology Technologies Laboratory at North Dakota State University, Fargo, notes the technology that creates such virtual worlds allows people to explore historical locations in a unique way. At the same time, virtual models of past places and the artifacts found there may portray facts bolstered with assumptions. Clark’s comments are among those featured in the article “Digital Digs” in a recent issue of Nature."
See the above article for the full story. Details of the Nature issue which contains the paper upon which the article is based can be found at:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Discoveries in Theban Tomb 39

Thanks very much to the EEF News Digest for another great edition, and for the following news item, summarizing the discoveries of the Mexican team excavating TT39 in the 2006 season. The tomb, which has not been investigated since 1920, belonged to Pui-Em-Ra, a priest under the reign of Hatshepsut:
"Luego de tres semanas de trabajo, 11 especialistas mexicanos concluyeron la segunda temporada de exploración de la Tumba Tebana 39, en Egipto, en la que lograron clasificar 108 de las casi 500 piedras -con escritura o pintura- encontradas en el lugar.
En esta segunda exploración de la misión mexicana, también se hallaron restos de momia, conos funerarios, fragmentos de Ushabti (figurillas funerarias), y una variedad de fragmentos de cerámica."
In rough summary, after three weeks of work 11 Mexican specialists concluded their second season of work at TT39. They catalogued 108 of a total of nearly 500 pieces which were painted or written upon. They also found funerary cones, fragments of ushabtis and a variety of ceramic fragments.
See the rest of the article at the above page. The story is also covered, with a photograph of the tomb exterior at:
(the EEF news digest will appear online on Sunday at this address):

Archaeology Magazine July/August
The new edition of Archaeology is now available, and the website has been updated with some online content too, of which the following may be of interest. See the following URLs for the full accounts.

Review: Napoleon on Madison
"On July 1, 1798, Bonaparte, just 29 years old, arrived off the coast of Egypt. With the young general were some 55,000 troops and another, much smaller group of scholars, engineers, and scientists, collectively known as the savants. As a military expedition, it was a disaster, and Napoleon himself secretly sailed back to France little more than a year later, abandoning his army, which was stranded when Nelson annihilated the French fleet. The expedition's saving grace and enduring legacy was the contribution of the 160 or so savants, whose research and investigations were published in the monumental Description de l'Égypte. This 23-volume compendium is the focus of Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt, a new exhibition at the Dahesh Museum of Art in New York.

Summary: Bosnian pyramid
An article summarizing in brief the main claims and counter claims about the so-called Bosnian pyramids, together with a short analysis of the background of the researcher heading the excavations: "So, who is Semir Osmanagic? According to the press--the BBC and AP among others--he's a Bosnian archaeologist who's spent 15 years researching pyramids in the Western Hemisphere. But Osmanagic is no archaeologist. He's a Houston-based metalwork contractor who holds Sarajevo University degrees in economics and political science. His 15 years of "independent research" have resulted in publications like The World of the Maya, which claims the Maya were descendants of aliens from the Pleiades by way of Atlantis."

Interview: Exposing the Culture Thieves
An interview with Peter Watson, co-author with Cecilia Todeschini of The Medici Conspiracy, and an investigator into the illicit antiquities and art trade, mainly in Italy. The most interesting feature of the interview is the final paragraph, in which Watson provides a short 5-point list of measures that he advises should be adopted immediately in the interests of safeguarding antiquities from further dispersal.

Travel: Visiting Aswan
A very nicely written and helpfully descriptive travel article about visiting Aswan, focusing on key monuments like Philae and Abu Simbel, as well as more local activities like a visit to the souq, and not forgetting the High Dam itself. The Nubian Museum, so often forgotten by travel writers, is also described: " We visited the Nubian Museum in the morning. The drowning of Nubia happened rather rapidly so the collection is small. The displays are beautifully presented and range from 6000 BC pottery bowls to exquisite 25th dynasty sculpture and statues. The displays of traditional Nubian housing and explanations of their communal thinking, property rights and marriage rituals record traditions slowly being lost as displaced Nubians assimilate with Egyptian society. There is a fascinating photographic exhibition and additional display recording the UNESCO rescue project. The gardens are magnificent, tranquil and a tourist policeman offered to share his seat in the shade with us."
See the above article for the full story.

The Hall of Ma'at
An article on the Archaeology website, looking at one group of people's attempts to counter pseudo-archaeological arguments by using Internet technology to provide a forum for reasoned discussion: "The website takes its name from Ma'at, the ancient Egyptian principle of justice and balance, and according to its homepage aims to 'provide a well-reasoned case for the mainstream version of ancient history.' Its primary features are a collection of articles dealing with such topics as the weathering of the Sphinx and the age of Antarctic ice, as well as a lively message board where, according to site owner Reece, 'the mainstream proponents, the numerologists, the conspiracy theorists, the fence sitters, and all the others commingle and share thoughts on history.' What makes the story behind Ma'at so compelling is that its day-to-day operation relies almost entirely upon a group of archaeology nonspecialists."
The Hall of Ma'at website is a lively and welcoming discussion group - see their site for more information.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hieroglyphs in Spain

Thanks very much to Tony Cagle's ArchaeoBlog for pointing out the English language version of this story. Egyptian hieroglyphs, drawn on Roman stone and ceramic, have been found at the site of Iruña-Veleia in northern Spain, dating to the third century AD (almost 500 years after they had begun to fall out of use in Egypt itself). The Spanish site also shown below has some good photographs. (
"A 57-square metre room was found in that town, sealed as in a 'time capsule with its contents untouched,' and inside there were feeding remains and fragments of different recipients and other tools that had been used for writing. The Egypt expert of the University of Barcelona Montserrat Rius has explained that some Latin inscriptions refer to the ancient Egyptian history and its divinities, and has noted there are also hieroglyphic inscriptions 'with a perfect layout' that make experts think they were taught to children." (
Los trozos cerámicos están datados también en el siglo III. Esa escritura de los faraones se había dejado de utilizar en Egipto casi 500 años antes. En Veleia se mimaba la escritura de jeroglíficos. O, al menos, se dedicaba algo de tiempo a trazar tan complejos símbolos a mano alzada. Pero, sobre todo, se hacía casi 500 años después de que empezara a olvidarse la correcta lectura de esa escritura en su lugar de origen, a orillas del Nilo."
The full details, with images, can be found on the above website (in Spanish).

For more about the site of Iruña-Veleia in English, see:
(If you like to see Flash used really well, and you have Flash 8 installed, click on the Location link - nice to see Flash being used to do something useful).

UK supports Egypt's grand museum

"The British government agreed Tuesday to support Egypt's Great National Museum to be built on 117 feddans along the Cairo- Alexandria desert road. Visiting British Secretary of Media, Culture and Sport Tessa Jowell said Britain must be proud to take part in this unique cultural project."
This is the entire bulletin on the State Information Service website.

Sedentism in prehistoric North Africa (
The latest issue of World Archaeology (Volume 38, Number 2, June 2006) focuses on sedentism, and contains one article relevant to Egyptian prehistory: Semi-permanent foragers in semi-arid environments of North Africa by Elena A. A. Garcea: "Early Holocene foragers in North Africa provide unique responses to adaptational patterns of non-agricultural societies and they can offer intriguing answers to questions regarding relationships between sedentism, economy and sociocultural complexity. Three points are of major relevance for understanding late foragers in North Africa: first, fishing, sustained by reduced mobility, was a common practice at sites located along perennial rivers, such as the Nile, or seasonal watercourses (wadis); second, the successive shift to a food-producing economy implied the acquisition of nomadic pastoralism; third, agriculture has never been a feasible economic practice in desert and peri-desert environments."
The full paper can be purchased online, but the abstract is free of charge at the above address.

Hawass kicks up a dust storm

Article looking at both the positive and negative impressions made by teh SCA's Zahi Hawass: "Since Hawass became director of Egypt's 34,000-member Supreme Council of Antiquities in 2002, many Egyptologists agree that the feisty 59-year-old archaeologist has done more than anyone yet to bring Egyptian civilization to the world stage, appearing on cable television, writing newspaper articles, traveling the world giving lectures and launching exhibits of Egyptian treasures. . . . Hawass' critics, however, say his celebrity has turned him into an autocrat who rules the Supreme Council as if it were his personal fiefdom."
See the above page for the full story.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A moment of truth for all in antiquities

An article on The Art Newspaper website looking at the problem of museum aquisition of poorly documented antiquities, and how both source and receiving countries might change their attitudes to address the current issues: "In a new climate of respect for the rule of law on the part of museums, the source countries might on their side consider the truth of their current situation. The reality is that, despite tough protective legislation, even involving the death penalty in some countries, the world’s buried history is being lost at a faster rate than ever before, partly through organised looting, as with the tombaroli in Italy, but much more through economic development."
See the above page for the full story.

Request for Nefertiti bust loan

A very brief item mentioning the request by Zahi Hawass for the loan of the Nefertiti bust, currently resident in Berlin: "Zahi Hawas, director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, had the idea of at least getting the work on loan in case Germany did not accept to return it. There would be a signed agreement to return the work after a defined period. Next November will be the centennial of the foundation of the German Institute of Archeology, which would be a good place to make the agreement effective. So far the Egyptian Museum in Berlin has not responded."
See the above page for the rest of the story.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Artifact removed from NY auction (
"A 4000-year-old Egyptian alabaster container shaped like a duck and used for a funeral offering has been withdrawn from auction because it may be stolen property, Christie's auction house said on Monday. The Old Kingdom alabaster offering vessel dating from 2575 to 2134 BC was expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000 before it was withdrawn from the sale, according to the Christie's online catalog for its June 16 sale of antiquities in New York."

Conference on stolen artefacts to be organized

"EGYPT will start making arrangements later in the year for an international conference to urge for the recovery of stolen antiquities, according to a senior official. 'We will contact countries such as China, Greece, Mexico and Syria that boast of unique antiquities in order to agree on an international campaign for the recovery of their stolen artifacts,' Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) told The Gazette."
See the rest of the brief article for the rest of the bulletin.

The Scribe's Palette newsletter

The latest edition of The Scribe's Palette (the newsletter of the Egyptian Study Society) is now available in PDF format at the above address. Archives from The Ostracon include some selected articles from the Society's formal publication, and can be found at:

Travel: Getting good views of Luxor

Jane Akshar looks at the alternative ways of obtaining good views over the town of Luxor on her Luxor News Blog - by ballon, by donkey, or on foot. The posting is accompanied as usual by some very fine photographs.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Exhibition: Hygiene and Beauty in Siena (
"Visitors to Siena this weekend will be able to compare their own efforts to keep young, healthy and beautiful with those used by the ancient Egyptians. A show opening here Saturday highlights the hugely important role that cleanliness and good looks - helped along by cosmetics - played in the life of the Egyptian civilization. Rich people would usually wash or bathe before dressing and women used to massage themselves with perfumed oil. Both men and women used cosmetics including lip colours, eyeshades and face powder. The exhibition is entitled ‘Igiene e bellezza nell’ antico Egitto’ (Hygiene and Beauty in Ancient Egypt) and it runs at Siena’s Santa Maria dela Scala complex until September 17."
See the above page for further details.

More bits on Quest For Immortality (
There's nothing very new to set this review of the exhibition apart from the previous ones, although it's a nice summary, with comments from museum staff, but it does have a useful "If you go" side column with details of opening hours, prices, and the special events that are being offered to compliment the exhibition.

The Frist's own website, which was down on the previous occasions when I checked it recently, is back up and running, with a special section dedicated to the exhibition at:
Amongst other pages, a rather nice feature is a listing of all the artefacts being displayed:

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, June 11, 2006

KV63 website updated

Some more details of excavation work at KV63 have been posted on the official website: "Coffin ‘E’ (against the back wall of the chamber) has already received some conservation work. Resin-covered bands of texts are visible stretching across the torso, and extending midline towards the footboard. Intense conservation measures will be utilized to preserve these precious bands of texts in hopes of discovering names or cartouches. In the interim, we areconsidering x-raying (and other non-intrusive tools) this particular coffin and the infant coffin to determine contents and aid the team in formulating a timetable for examination."
See the above page for more details, together with an initial report on the "pillows" that have been found, photographs of which can be seen at:
Thanks very much to Carolin Johansson for pointing out the updates.

Karnak facelift approved
Nevine El-Aref describes the dipsutes surrounding plans for Karnak Temple, which have now apparently been resolved. The purpose of the project "is to curtail infringements on the archaeological site and clear a site for the excavation of the ancient harbour and canal that once connected the temple to the Nile. The plan, furthermore, involves the planting of new trees and not the uprooting of those already in situ. Bazaars located along the temple walls will be relocated along the Corniche, in the site occupied by the Luxor Stadium, which will also house an underground commercial development as well as a visitors' centre. A memorabilia hall is also planned, commemorating the French archaeologists who worked in Karnak, including Auguste Mariette, Maspero and George Legrain."

More on Quest For Immortality

A section by section review of the Quest exhibition currently showing at the Frist, a summary of the accompanying mummification display, and a look at some of the thinking and organization that went into the creation and presentation of the exhibition. The overview is accompanied by photographs - one of the full-scale re-creation of the burial chamber of Thutmose III, and others of some of the artefacts on display.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Distant Dakhla

Jill Kamil reports on the fifth Dakhla Oasis Project conference: "Treasures from the Roman period have been transported for exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in conjunction with the fifth conference of the Dakhla Oasis Project (DOP), which opened last Saturday. It was fitting introduction to an international gathering, at which presentations related to current fieldwork revealed how dramatically our knowledge of life in the oasis has increased in recent years."

An African kingdom on the Nile

There are two articles by Jill Kamil, on the Al Ahram Weekly website this week, about Nubia:
"In a lecture at the Canadian Institute of Archaeology in Cairo last month, Krzys Grzymski of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) described the use of modern technology to uncover the origins and topography, history and development of Meroe, an African kingdom which developed along the upper reaches of the Nile about 200km north of Khartoum between 800 BC and 350 AD."
"To appreciate the significance of this African kingdom, which once controlled important trade routes from central Africa to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and in the third century BC held sway over the Nile to within reach of Aswan, it is important to note that Egyptologists tend to regard Lower Nubia as Egyptian territory, virtually an extension of Egypt."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ancient Egypt Magazine - June/July

Thanks very much to Bob Partridge, Editor of "Ancient Egypt" magazine for the contents listing of the June/July issue of “Ancient Egypt” magazine, which is now out.

Contents of this issue include:

Tomb KV 63 in the Valley of the Kings: University of Memphis team member Roxanne Wilson gives the fullest-yet account of the work in the clearance of the tomb in this second of a series of articles. There will be a further update in the next issue.

Ancient Egyptian Wine: Maria Rosa Guasch Jane investigates the ingredients of wine from the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

Belzoni’s Sarcophagi: Explorer and adventurer Giovanni Belzoni was an avid collector of Egyptian Antiquities and size was no object. Dylan Bickerstaffe tell the story of his collection of sarcophagi, including two royal examples.

Friends of Nekhen News: The third of our reports on the important and revealing work being done at Hierakonpolis. This article looks at the oldest standing mud-brick monument in the world and the recent efforts to conserve and understand the structure.

Ancient Egypt in Zagreb: A report on a little known Egyptological collection in Croatia.
Visiting Middle Egypt: Some advice to travellers from Anne Eglintine.

Byzantine Egypt: Sean McLachlan tells how ancient Egyptian ideas are reflected in early Christianity in Egypt, which wads a melting-pot of ideas and beliefs in the Late Roman and Byzantine Periods.

Book Reviews:

The Midnight Sun-the death and Rebirth of God in Ancient Egypt, by Alan F. Alford.

Statuettes funeraires Egyptiennes du department des Monnaies, Medals et Antiquities, by Jacques F. and Liliane Aubert.

The Hyksos Period in Egypt, by Charlotte Booth.

The Art of Death in Graeco Roman Egypt, by Judith Corbelli.

Plus details of many other “books received” and rare and out of print books on CDRom from Yare Egyptology.

Regular Features includes:

News from Egypt, from Egyptian Egyptologist Ayman Wahby Taher, with more pages allocated to the latest news and images from Egypt.

Egyptology Society details and full listing of forthcoming lectures and event in the UK from June until August.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Exhibition: The Quest for Immortality (
A review of the exhibition The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt, opening at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts on Friday: "The exhibition is divided into six themes: the New Kingdom, the Reign of Thutmose III, Tombs of Nobles, Royal Tombs, the Realm of the Gods, and the Tomb of Thutmose III and the Amduat (a funerary text, reserved only for pharaohs or those favored by the noble class). The half dozen sections feature a myriad of artifacts such as massive stone carvings of gods and pharaohs, painted coffins, tomb furnishings, gold masks, jewelry, canopic jars that once contained internal organs and obelisk fragments. The pieces themselves are revealing vignettes into ancient Egyptian culture."
See the above page for the full story, including comments by museum curatorial staff.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Searching for the argun palm

A New Scientist article about the search for the argun palm tree whose fruits are known from tombs, but which seemed to have vanished from Egypt: "When Giuseppe Passalacqua went to Egypt in the 1820s his plan was to do a bit of horse-trading. He soon discovered a more lucrative line of work - excavating ancient tombs and selling off their contents. While Passalacqua found many priceless treasures, unlike most tomb-robbers he also made off with the more mundane. If something could be carried off, it was - right down to the dried-up offerings left to feed the ancients in the afterlife. Among these were some strange shrivelled fruits that have posed a series of puzzles ever since. They came from some sort of palm tree, but not one anyone recognised. Had the tree vanished along with the pharaohs?"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Water damage to Nile monuments

An article looking at dangers to Egyptian monuments - from the recent Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa fatwa to the damage caused to Luxor sites by irrigation: "The tourist industry is Egypt’s largest source of private employment and is one of the country’s largest sources of revenue. Terrorist attacks, fluctuations in the world economy and general unrest in parts of the Middle East all affect the industry to some extent. But the greatest threat to many of Egypt’s antiquities and the industry built around them may not be from misinterpreted fatwas or extremist’s bombs, but from an icon as Egyptian as the Great Pyramids of Giza: the Nile. . . . Much of the groundwater and its greatly increased salinity levels come from an unexpected side effect of regulating the flow of the Nile. Even though the river maintains a constant high level, the end of the traditional flood season means that man-made irrigation is now necessary even on the flood-plain. In addition to the new irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers have contributed to the erosion of the ancient columns."
See the above page for more.

News from Karnak (Egypt State Information Service)
Zahi Hawass has announced that heritage management work will carried out at Karnak by an Egyptian-French team, to protect the monuments from protential damage from tourism: "The project will include specific lanes for tourists to head off any damage to the monuments, Hawwas told reporters after a meeting of an Egyptian-French committee implementing the project. He added that bazaars, parking lots and cafeterias will be built a distance form the temple to serve tourists without affecting the temple. Hawwas said part of the 50 million-pound budget will be paid in compensation for affected families."
At the same time, Hawass has announced that a nearby quay will be excavated: "Hawwas further said that an Egyptian-French expedition will embark on excavation of a port on the River Nile near Karnak. He told reporters during a tour of the upper Egyptian city of Luxor that ancient Egyptians used the quay to transfer stones from one place to another."
See the page above for the rest of this very brief piece.

More re the St Louis Mask

There's nothing new in this short piece, but if you want a recap about the current state of play between the St Louis Art Museum and the SCA, this provides a quick summary.

Museum update
The Egypt Today website has two short features on their Culture 101 page, above, re the establishment of two new museums in Egypt.

New museum in Hurghada
"Hurghada will soon be home to a the first national museum on the Red Sea coast, the Ministry of Culture announced last month, saying the facility will house antiquities discovered in the Eastern Desert. Located on the water’s edge to encompass submerged monuments as well, the 22,000-square-meter facility will have four display halls, artists’ studios and performance spaces. The museum will give tourists heading to Hurghada from abroad the chance to sample the complete spectrum of Egyptian history — from Pharaonic through Islamic eras — at one destination."

Grand Egyptian Museum to open in 2011?
"The government of Japan last month finalized a $300 million loan to Egypt for the construction of the new Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau. Japan’s ambassador to Cairo and Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga inked the loan agreement at a public signing ceremony. The Ministry of Culture had initially said that construction of the GEM should wrap up by the end of 2009, but the only building block now in place is the foundation stone set by President Hosni Mubarak in 2002.
Farouk Abdel Salam, first undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, says that construction will start soon, adding that he expects the GEM to be ready for its first guests in 2011. "

Hawass on the Great Pyramid
In a similar type of concept to the Dig Days column that appears on the Al Ahram Weekly website, Egypt Today has started a feature entitled "From the notebook of Dr Zahi Hawass" this month: "In the first of his regular columns, Egypt’s foremost archeologist wonders what lies beyond the secret doors of the Great Pyramid of Giza."

Bosnian pyramid update

"Bosnia's mystery pyramid will now be probed and inspected by a team of experts from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization."
See the brief post above for a few more details.
The same report has also been posted at:

Monday, June 05, 2006

KV63 updates (
This article quotes an interview with Otto Schaden about some of the recent and future work at the site: " The team hopes to get a portable X-ray machine and scanner to the site within "a week or so" to peer into the last two, made brittle by ravaging termites, the team's leader, Dr. Otto Schaden, said in a phone interview from Luxor, Egypt". Schaden also says that the time remaining for the completion of the excavation cannot be predicted with any accuracy.
Unfortunately I don't have access to the Discovery Channel, but the KV63 feature aired last night, and the Discovery website has been updated with some video out-takes showing scenes from the excavation.
If anyone sees a review of the programme, I would be grateful for the link/s.

'Tut' is all show, no art (Chicago Tribune)
An interesting piece on the Chicago Tribune website which takes a critical look at the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs exhibition, raising questions about the information value of such blockbusters in general, and questioning why they must emphasise the "romantic" nature of the find, rather offering explanations of the artefacts: "We get stagecraft — walls painted sand or black to resemble desert and tomb, sconces with cutout hieroglyphs, an avenue of columns — enhanced by projections, animations, photo-murals, lightboxes, even pseudo-Egyptian music. We also get enough objects from before the time of Tut to see how radical his predecessor Akhenaten was and how the conservative Tut sought to return to earlier forms and values. Everything is presented, however, in relation to his short life — Tut died at 19 — as if that, his riches, and the ancient Egyptian view of death make stronger connections with us than the impact of the finest objects.Would fewer people come to the show if, in addition to the 'story of [Tut's] royal ancestors,' some of the labels told more about the objects' making than their function or conjectural owner? Back in 1977, as now, there seems to have been the assumption that only simple, non-artistic narratives would keep the turnstiles clicking because any audience large in number would automatically recoil from two or three lines unfolding in parallel."

Climate change in the prehistoric Sahara
This article summarizes and includes extracts from a book about the impacts of climate change - The Last Generation by Fred Pearce, published by Transworld . The write-up also offers a brief overview of what the Sahara was like following the end of the last ice age, after 13,000 years ago, when the desert could sustain human and animal life, and sites like Nabta Playa were occupied: "Jon Foley of the University of Wisconsin found that a reduction in Holocene summer sun sufficient to reduce temperatures by just 0.4C would have cut rainfall across the Sahara by a quarter, and by much more in the furthest interior. He says that once a region such as the Sahara becomes dry and brown it requires exceptional rains to trigger a regreening. Beyond a certain point - such as that reached 5,500 years ago - virtually no amount of extra rain is likely to be enough. Lack of vegetation "acts to lock in and reinforce the drought.
The people of the Sahara couldn't have known if the droughts were permanent. But as the desert asserted control, and waterways dried up, they had to leave. Lakeside settlements near the Sudanese border in Egypt were all abandoned at about the same time."
See the above page for the full review".

Happy birthday to the Luxor News blog
Best wishes and congratulations to Jane Akshar, whose Luxor News blog has been running for a year. Keep up the good work! Jane has updated the blog with some of the key items that have appeared on the site in the last year.

Ancient dinar discovered (Egypt State Information Service)
"Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said Friday June 2nd that a research mission has discovered the remnants of a two-room house dating back to the era of Salaheddin El-Ayoubi and a single golden dinar of the same age in Al-Shaboul district of Daqahliya governorate. . . . Old as it is, the coin gains its importance being of the Ayoubi age when minting gold money was a rarity."
See the above page for the rest of the short bulletin.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

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.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

KV63 Video

A video entitled Unearthing the Golden Coffin shows Otto Schaden and team finding the miniature golden mummy. There's no new information, but it does show an exciting moment at the excavation. It is preceded by an irritating but short advert.

Tomb of Nefersekheru online at Osirisnet
Thierry Benderitter has announced that, thanks to Jon Hirst, details of the tomb of Nefersekheru TT296 are now on line. The four-page section is lavishly illustrated with photographs, plans and drawings. I particularly like the diagrammatic plans of the friezes - in some cases clicking on an area of the frieze will bring up a photograph. In most cases the thumbanil photos can be clicked on to show a larger image. This small tomb is open to the public, so these pages might provide a useful reference to anyone travelling to Luxor.

Exhibition: Egyptian papyrus in Bulgaria

"An exhibition showing ancient Egyptian papyri opened in Sofia's National Library. The eternal charm of Egyptian papyri is organised by the Egyptian Embassy in response to the active interest of Bulgarians towards the history of this ancient civilisation. . . .The Sofia exhibition, to stay open until June 20, unveils to its visitors various papyrus portraits dating from the pharaoh epoch and depictions of legends and religion of ancient Egyptians."
See the short article on the above page for the full story.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Issues surrounding the Nefertiti bust.

Nevine El-Aref talking about the request, made by Zahi Hawass, to lend Egypt the famous Nefertiti bust, currently on permanent display in Berlin, for a three month period: "Hawass asked the German government to offer the famous bust to Egypt on a three-month loan so that it could go on show at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the German Archeological Institute in Egypt in November 2006. In return, Hawass pledged that the SCA would offer another statue on loan to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin for the three months while Nefertiti was in Egypt. Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly that the SCA was willing to provide the Germans with all the guarantees required to assure the return of the bust after the completion of the exhibition."
Berlin has so far declined to return the bust on either a temporary or permanent basis. The article puts the request into the general context of the history of the Nefertiti bust and previous requests by the SCA for its return. It also looks, in brief, at other repatriation cases. See the above page for the full story.

KV63 - Speculation (
Speculation about the contents of the unopened coffin: "It has been 84 years since Egypt's famed Valley of the Kings revealed its last great riches – the fabulous gold of Tutankhamen's tomb. Now archaeologists believe they have stumbled across one final secret: The mummified remains of the boy king's widow buried 3000 years ago. In a mysterious shaft less than 15m from Tutankhamen's burial ground, US archaeologists found seven coffins. They believe one they have not yet been able to open may contain the remains of Queen Ankhesenpaaten. . . . Ankhesenpaaten's link to the tomb was further underlined when a coffin seal was found with part of her name on it."

Laser cleaning tomb of Neferhotep

"If only Neferhotep could see it: 3 300 years after his death, a researcher enters his tomb, directs a beam of light at the wall, and the accumulated dirt of millennia comes off with no trouble at all! Dr. Michael Panzner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden is the first scientist to use a laser for cleaning an Egyptian tomb. Adorned with wall paintings, stone sculptures and reliefs, the tomb was once that of the senior scribe Neferhotep, who served in the temple of the god Amun."
See the above page for the full story.

German President honours Egyptian archaeologist (Egypt State Information Service)
"German President Horst Koehler has conferred Merit on illustrious Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Ali Radwan, Professor of Antiquities at Cairo University.
Radwan was granted the medal for his contribution in enhancing cultural cooperation between Egypt and Germany.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas, in statements to MENA, lauded Radwan's efforts and described him as the doyen of Arab and Egyptian archaeologists.
He added that the council has recently held a reception in honour of Radwan on the occasion marking the issuance of the first three volumes on archaeology.
The German embassy in Cairo will host a function on Thursday on this occasion during which the German Ambassador will decorate the veteran Egyptian archaeologist."
This is the complete item on the State Information Service website

Travel: A week in Egypt

A travel article describing a holiday to Cairo, taking in the Western Desert. It looks mainly at the authors attempts to reconcile, the ancient and on the modern, and at how Egypt lived up to her expectations: "And that's just the thing: if there's one thing about this crazy country, it's that new and old are entwined and concomitant, and the contradictions are ultimately redeemed in the flux and fervency of each generation of life.In one moment, I stare out over the Nile, contemplating the bushels of bulrushes that line the banks — Moses' first and reeded savior. And then, looking up, my face is aglow with an enormous florescent-yellow TGIFriday's sign, which is itself flanked on both sides by Pepsi-Cola billboards and advertisements beseeching tourists to participate in "belly dancing aerobics." In one moment I'm awed by the Sphinx, its paws shiny with the erosion of thousands of years, and the next I'm seated in a 5th-floor Pizza Hut."
See the above article for the full story.

Zahi Hawass on the Valley of the Kings

Zahi Hawass's Dig Days column looks, this week, at the changing role of Egyptians in the recovery of their own heritage. He points out that while in the past the contribution of Egyptians was as members of foreign missions, there are now Egyptian-led teams working on sites: "The young Egyptian archaeologists were working with the foreign missions. This made me mad! I wondered why we could not do our own work. Later, I found out that we needed an excellent education. Education in all aspects of Egyptology is extremely important. For example, it is essential to know the best excavation techniques so as to carry out the best excavations and produce good publications. This is what encouraged me to leave Egypt and study for seven years on a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. The result of education is clear, because for the first time the leaders of Egypt's antiquities are Egyptian. Egyptians are now on an equal playing field with our foreign colleagues and we all work together for the benefit of the monuments."
See the above article for the full story, which is part IV of a set of installments, all looking at the Valley of the Kings.

Prehistoric tombs in Sinai

This is a frustratingly brief piece, but I will try to find some more information: "An archaeological mission belonging to the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) announced the discovery of 36 tombs dating back to the pre-history era. Dr. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary-General of SCA said that the mission unearthed the tombs during an archaeological survey in Ain Hadra and Abul Rdeis, central Sinai."

Zahi Hawass profile

There is a short piece on the Al Ahram Weekly website this week, complimenting SCA figurehead Zahi Hawass, and highlighting his attempts to repatriate key artefacts: " His burning mission of late has been the retrieval of some of Egypt's precious monuments, scattered around the world. With a burning flame within, he flies from city to city, capital to capital, shaking his finger, raising his voice, lecturing to sympathizers about returning our monuments, in adherence to the 1972 international law, stipulating that property removed after that date, must be returned to its home country. Some have been kindly returned, but Hawass wants more. He wants the bust of Nefertiti from Berlin, the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum, and the Zodiac from the Louvre. He cannot have them back. Thereby, the eternal note of sadness in his quest."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More on the KV63 gold coffin
Another report about the tiny golden coffin found at KV63: "The archaeologists discovered seven coffins; there are no mummies in the first five they have opened, but there is one big surprise.
When they first peered into one of the coffins, they found a layer of six pillows, all of which were almost perfectly preserved in the vacuum-packed tomb after more than 3,000 years. At least one of the pillows contained hieroglyphic markings reading, 'life, stability, and power.' But as the team carefully removed them, they noticed a much smaller coffin buried inside.
As lead archaeologist Otto Schaden picked it up, the light of a torch caught a glimmer of gold.
'Everybody burst into applause,' says Anthony Geffen, producer of the Discovery Channel's Egypt's New Tomb Revealed, who was present for the discovery May 24. 'Everyone's (usually) very reserved in the world of archaeology.'
Schaden, an Egyptologist for the University of Memphis in Tennessee, cradled the coffin like a child as others broke into tears.
See the above page for the full story.

Thanks very much to Crew Creative Media for their invitation to use photographs associated with the Discovery Channel's above-mentioned programme.
The official Discovery press release was linked to yesterday: (