Sunday, February 11, 2007

Weekly Websites (
The following article is available without subscription or payment on the above page.
Portable EDXRF analysis of a mud brick necropolis enclosure: evidence of work organization, El Hibeh, Middle Egypt by Virginia L. Emery and Maury Morgenstein
Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 111-122
The Abstract will give you some idea of the contents:
"The geochemical and sedimentological compositions of mud brick from a feature called the Square Enclosure in the eastern desert necropolis of the ancient town site of El Hibeh, Egypt, were investigated along with surface sediments from the local Nile floodplain for the purpose of establishing possible sources of the mud brick. Geochemical examination was undertaken with a portable EDXRF spectrometer; a field portable sedimentological laboratory was used to collect grain size, mineralogy, and strength analysis data. Results of the analyses produced evidence of work organization relating to the construction of the Square Enclosure. This discovery is the first archaeological evidence of work organization from the mud brick of ancient Egyptian structures and provides a valuable contribution to our knowledge of ancient Egyptian work organizational practices."
An interactive map which provides translations of the Pyramid texts from the Old Kingdom Pyramid of Unas, in Saqqara. Click on the diagram to see photographs of the interior, and click on the photographs to see translations of the text.

Get A Trowel
Archaeological supplies online - a site that is evolving all the time and offering an excellent service for field archaeologists. In their own words:
"We are a small collective of amateur archaeologists who decided to set up a website whereby diggers could quite simply, get a trowel. In the past, we have been frustrated at how difficult this can be and as the trowel is such an essential part of trench excavating, we thought we would do our bit to help out! We're expanding our range! Since forming at the beginning of 2006, customers have been keen to inform us that other archaeological products are in short supply. Therefore, we aim to make the purchasing of archaeological products as simple as possible. In the coming months we hope to supply almost all of the equipment archaeologists would need on a dig."

Gilf Kebir
Continuting my virtual love-affair with a place I have yet to visit, I dug up this old article on The Independent website (May 2005): "You either love the desert or you hate it. Those who love it invent all sorts of reasons for continually returning: geology, wildlife, finding stone tools, or in my case, looking for rock art. But all that is just an alibi, and rather a flimsy one. The real motivation is the desert itself, a place where lack of noise, clutter and useless information offers much-needed therapy in a world full of those things. The best desert is the one with the least in it. Then, what it does have hits you with the full intensity of revelation.
The Gilf Kebir ("big plateau"), tucked into the western corner of the Egyptian Sahara, is a good place to start. It is the driest place on earth: not by measured rainfall (because there is so little rain that it is hard to measure accurately), but by density of wells and water sources. In an area the size of Switzerland, there are none. Nor are there any for several hundred kilometres in each direction from the plateau's edge. In photographs it looks like a 1950s idea of Mars: all different shades of red; strange, conical hills; a kind of haze in the distance; deep, waterless canyons; the planet's surface covered in frost-cracked fragments of rock.
Thousands of years earlier, it was not so dry. We know this because of the abundance of stone tools, rock paintings and engravings its ancient inhabitants left behind. Others had been there before, but not a huge number: the threshold of exclusivity remained. So did the danger."
See the above page for the full story.

Modern day Tutankhamun scarab curse (
Many thanks to Brannon Small for sending me this link to another article from the archives, nicely timed to coincide with the Tutankhamun opening in Philly. A South African woman, owner of a piece of jewellery believed stolen from the tomb of King Tutankhamen, has asked the government in Cairo for help in breaking King Tut's curse after two members of her family suffered untimely deaths.In a letter to the ministry of culture, the owner of an antique scarab attributed the tragedies that befell her and a previous owner of the artefact to the so-called curse, a ministry official told the Cairo daily Al Akhbar."
I love the curse stories. Mark Rose from Archaeology Magazine is currently collecting "theories of the Giza pyramid" stories, and that should make for good reading too.

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