Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A spell written in hieroglyphs, but spelling out words in Semitic, is shown on this page, together with another summary of Professor Steiner's work. "Although written in Egyptian characters, the texts turned out to be composed in the Semitic language spoken by the Canaanites in the third millennium B.C.E., a very archaic form of the languages later known as Phoenician and Hebrew. The Canaanite priests of the ancient city of Byblos, in present-day Lebanon, provided these texts to the kings of Egypt."
Experts say most of the items are from the Neolithic period, but some may be up to one million years old. The artefacts are thought to have been taken from archaeological sites on the edge of the Sahara desert. The 669 items - 601 stones and 68 bracelets - were confiscated on 19 January at Charles de Gaulle airport and included axe heads, flintstones and stone rings. Most of the artefacts date from a few thousand years BC. But others are from the Acheulean period, between one million years and 200,000 years old, and from the Middle Stone Age (200,000 years BC to 20,000 years BC)."
For more details about KV17, see the Seti I page on Osirisnet at:
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Don't forget that last week's EEF News Digest is 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.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The best preserved stele, which has fallen out of its niche, was found face-down in the sand. Carved on this stele was the cartouche of King Amenemhat III, who ruled in about 1800 BC. The hieroglyphic text below a scene of the King making an offering to the god Min concerns two expeditions led by officials Nebsu and Amenhotep to Punt and Bia-Punt."
Keeper of the Griffith Institute Archive, Jaromir Malek, has announced that another batch of paper impressions has been made available on the Griffith Institute's website. They are impressions from Theban tomb TT 106 (Paser, of the reigns of Sethos I and Ramesses II) and from the Valley of the Kings tomb KV 17 (Sethos I) in the mid-19th century. A site plan accompanies the black and white images. As always, they are lovely. Click on the thumbnail image to see it in detail.
But the Egyptian government is adamant that they are doing the right thing. And by the beginning of February 2007, most of the Old Gurna homes will have been demolished and excavations will have started."
Sunday, January 28, 2007
"This reference collection of archaeological sites in the Egyptian Nile Delta was adopted by the Society in 1997. The original core of the information was collected by Jeffrey Spencer over many years, later supplemented with contributions from others, acknowleged below. The purpose of the Society's Delta Survey was to assess the current condition of the lesser-known archaeological sites in Lower Egypt, initially by visual inspection, and to combine the results with information from published and unpublished sources. Well-known sites and those which have been the subject of extensive excavation are not considered a priority for this project since they are well-documented in other sources of reference. They have been simply listed without extensive comment, with linked pages of bibliography. The data is presented here in the form web-pages containing an alphabetical listing of sites, although the records are also maintained as a searchable database".
Resources and roads in the Eastern Desert
Picturs of Mons Porphyrites
A Middle Palaeolithic site with blade technology at Al Tiwayrat, Qena, Upper Egypt
Vermeersch, Philip Van Peer & Veerle Rots 2005
Coptic Monastery Database Project
Thanks very much to Howard Middleton-Jones for sending me the link for the Coptic Monastery Database project: "Premise - To develop a fully multi-media database of the Coptic monasteries of Egypt, producing a fully searchable and interactive catalogue of the monastic sites. By developing such a database, which will include full text descriptions, photographs and video, the end result would be an ideal and important tool for retrieval of archaeological records and for Coptic research in general."
Saturday, January 27, 2007
The KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology in the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Egyptian Medicinal Plant Conservation Project in St Katherine's, Sinai, have formed a partnership to research Egyptian pharmacy in the times of the pharaohs.
The 'Pharmacy in Ancient Egypt' collaboration, which is funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, will compare modern plant species common to the Sinai region with the remains of ancient plants found in tombs."
Mammalian erythrocyte preservation in a 3500-year-old Egyptian pot by Ella Louise Sutherland, Andrew P. Giże, Rosalie David and Steven Caldwell
The abstract is as follows:
TRADE AND NOMADS: THE COMMERCIAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE NEGEV, EDOM AND THE MEDITERRANEAN IN THE LATE IRON AGE by Juan Manuel Tebes (pp. 45-62).
THE CERAMICS OF TEL 'ERANI, LAYER C by Yuval Yekutieli (pp.
CORPUS OF EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES IN SERBIA: ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS
by Branislav Andelkovic and Emily Teeter (pp. 253-264)
Friday, January 26, 2007
Yet, looking at the Egyptians' stunning monuments, as well as a civilisation that spanned three millennia, one might expect to find a similar element of grandeur in their sciences -- especially in mathematics and astronomy. How did they configure the manpower and materials needed to build more than 90 pyramids? It is obvious that to calculate the vast amount of computations they needed, the ancient Egyptians reached a fairly advanced mathematical knowledge."
Now the question is, who was this individual?"
The work will become more critical, the closer it gets to the temple.
I put phootgraphs from my November 2006 trip to the Monasteries of St Anthony and St Paul on the site below:
So what makes this archaeological site peculiar? Several other reasons besides the location. Though it has been debatable for some time, scholars have agreed that it belongs to the Middle Kingdom. However, the purpose of the edifice is not known, or whether it is a temple or a palace. Containing a number of small rooms, perhaps shrines, as well as a blind room with no entrance, the whole of the building is left bare without a single inscription or decoration. Qasr Al-Sagha is a job never completed. "
The Faiyum Depression has archaeology dating back to the Palaeolithic, with Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic sites being of particular interest. Gertrude Caton-Thompson and Elinor Wright-Gardiner excavated here in the 1920s, publishing their finds in The Desert Faiyum in 1932, revealing details of extenisve Neolithic occupations in the Qasr el-Sagha area, and providing data about one of the earliest sites in Egypt where domesticated plants were cultivated. If it is of any interest, I've put more information about the prehistoric and Predynastic sites in the Faiyum and Cairo areas at the following site:
"The Ministry of Environment has declared El-Dababiya district of Qena a nature reserve. Of all Egyptian reserve areas, El-Dababiya is the 27th. 'This area in Upper Egypt is in fact a world-level geological beau-ideal,' Minister Maged George said in statements Wednesday 24/1/2007.
Not just that, El-Dababiya is a true time measure that can, through its old substrata, be used to accurately determine the age of the Earth. Nature reserves are actually unique environmental phenomena that must from environmental tourism."
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Backers of the new tour hoped that the absence of the sarcophagus would not discourage real fans of Tut this time around, and by and large that has proved true. Al though the'76 tour garnered 8 million paying visitors and set records for a traveling exhibition, "The Golden Age of the Pharaohs" has already attracted more than a million viewers in both Chicago and Los Angeles, a good 200,000 more visitors apiece than either venue expected. That will not break the record of the first Tut tour, but it will more than achieve the financial goals of the new project."
Although the doctors are not precisely sure why this condition occurred, they suggest that it may possibly be due to a stone that fell on Dr. Hawass' head during a recent excavation.
Dr. Hawass has advised that he does not take phone calls at the Institute. He wants his friends and fans to know that he deeply appreciates their concern, but to please not inundate Bascom Palmer with these thoughtful calls.
Continuing news of Dr. Hawass' recovery will be available from his website at: http://guardians.net/hawass."
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The phrases, interspersed throughout religious texts in Egyptian characters in the underground chambers of a pyramid south of Cairo, stumped Egyptian experts for about a century, until the Semitic connection was found.
In 2002 one of the Egyptologists e-mailed the undeciphered part of the inscription to Richard Steiner, a professor of Semitic languages at Yeshiva University in New York. Steiner discovered that the phrases are the transcription of a language used by Canaanites at some point in the period from 25th to the 30th centuries B.C."
The passages, which were meant to protect royal mummies against poisonous snakes, were written in hieroglyphic characters, but Steiner discovered that they were composed in the Semitic language spoken by the Canaanites in the third millennium BCE, an archaic form of the languages later known as Phoenician and Hebrew.
The Canaanite priests of the ancient city of Byblos, in present-day Lebanon, provided these texts to the kings of Egypt. "
Video to accompany the Tutankhamun exhibition as it is being set up in Philadelphia. The video particularly features the so-called mannequin. The exhibition opens at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on February 3rd 2007.
The Petrie collection in London has some excellent prehistoric and Predynastic collections, as well as a good collection of small but fine pieces from the Amarna period, as well as a myriad of other artefacts. If you're visiting London then this collection is well worth a detour. See the website at:
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
"The pieces in the puzzle of the mummified Egyptian cat have finally come together - or at least the pieces of the puss have. X-rays have revealed that the two mummified parcels, belonging to the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, contained the two halves of a cat.
The contents of one package had been unknown before yesterday's examination at a veterinary clinic, while those in the other were confirmed as a cat's upper portion.
But the art gallery's registrar Anne Rowland said the discovery of what was beneath the layers of linen cloth prompted more questions than answers."
There's a little more on the subject, including a photograph, at the following address on the same site:
See the following URL for the Cummer Museum, where the exhibition Temples and Tombs is also currently showing:
In 2005, 8.6 million tourists visited Egypt, which was a record according to the minister.
He recalled that over the past 10 years Egypt has received an average of 6.5 million tourists annually, but the 8.6 million was an upward trend from 2002.
Tourists visiting Egypt in 2006 came mainly from the United Kingdom (1.033 million), Russia (998,000), Germany (966,000), Italy (786,000), Libya (443,000), Saudi Arabia (388,000), France (372,000), Palestine (228,000), USA (228,100) and the Netherlands (210,500)."
Monday, January 22, 2007
In statements, George said the reserve in the New Valley area of el-Gelf el-Kebir enjoys a distinguished geographic position and teems with a wealth of cultural and environmental heritage.
The area is on the Owainat Mountain linking Egypt, Libya and Sudan; therefore it can help open new scopes for cooperation among the three nations, according to the minister.
There is a project aiming to protect bio-diversity in the area through development, the minister said.
Some 24 existing and potential nature reserves, covering about 10 percent of Egypt's area, according to a presidential decree in 2001. By 2017, nature reserves are expected to spread across around 17 per cent of Egypt."
Gilf Kebir is stuffed full of fascinating prehistoric archaeology, including rock art, and is associated with some fairly hair raising stories from more recent times. To see more about this stunning area (geography, history and exploration, rock art and archaeology), see Andras Zboray's website:
The research appeared in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Boats of Egypt before the Old Kingdom
Steve Vinson's 1987 M.A. Dissertation. Takes a while to load, and there over 300 pages: "The origin and development of planked boats in Pre- and Early Dynastic Egypt is explored through an examination of representational art, the Preynastic environment, the development of tools and woodworking and direct archaeological evidence for boats including boat burials and surviving fragments. The use and range of early boats are examined through the archaeological evidence for trade within and beyond the Nile Valley".
The website for the Tell el-Dab'a site. The site has now been positively identified as Avaris, capital of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate period. It is quite a small site but there are some very fine diagrams and photographs, as well as a good history and a bibliography.
Photographing the Mestekawi Cave's rock art
Slideshow of photographs from the Mestekawi Cave's rock paintings in the Gilf Kebir.
Ancient Egyptian Language (AEL)
Saturday, January 20, 2007
According to Dziennik Polski, the scientists were intrigued by some unusual structures, which resembled craters formed after meteorites hit the ground. They noticed them when analysing satellite pictures of areas north of the great pyramids in Giza. . . .The aim of the expedition was also to study the geoglyphics, i.e. gigantic pictures on the ground. Located east of Cairo, they form two several-kilometre-long curved lines, which almost meet in one point. On satellite pictures, they look like a huge drawing of a scarab."
"The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, known for antiquities scholarship, is using mapping software and spy-satellite photos to unravel the mysteries of how people lived, traveled and built civilizations. The results could reveal findings as diverse as an ancient Egyptian settlement flooded by a dam, the routes explorers took to settle in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, and why Iraq is considered the cradle of civilization. . . . The project, called the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes or CAMEL, uses geographical information systems (GIS), the same mapping technology as Google Earth, to pinpoint details of ancient sites and even date their origins. That's possible because GIS encompasses data and trends analysis, and the ability to look at the results on two- and three-dimensional maps. . . . The project is unique in archeology because it aims to keep ancient sites intact, rather than to disturb them by excavation."
See the above page for the full feature.
The Oriental Institute page dedicated to CAMEL is at:
The soul takes the shape of a bird, sometimes a plump creature with a human head, sometimes a stylised swoop of wings; you have to guard it closely but it can fly about, always returning to its body. If its body is not available it will try to find another, a living body, and will make it ill. Similarly dangerous is a body whose soul is lost.
Just as the sun rises in the east and sails in a barge across the sky to its setting, so the dead travel to the Beautiful West, and end up in the heaven of the Field of Reeds. If they are good, or lucky. But first they have to journey through the underworld and face its god Osiris."
The writing — whether in hieroglyphics or not — is on the wall: Egypt is hot.
With a strong permanent Egyptian collection but sometimes-weak attendance figures, the Brooklyn Museum hopes to tap into the world’s hunger for Egyptian icons by opening a new exhibit, Ancient Egyptian Magic: Manipulating Image, Word and Reality."
The museum's web page for the exhibition is at:
Friday, January 19, 2007
A detailed account of Mubarak's visit to Luxor, with information about some of the projects that he was taken to see. A very useful summary for anyone interested in the development of culture and heritage in the Luxor area: "President Mubarak began his visit with a tour of the town's east bank. He first inaugurated the Mubarak Historical Centre, which has been established by the Luxor Supreme City Council (LSCC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to display Egypt's cultural and natural heritage from the ancient Egyptian times right through the Coptic and Islamic eras. The centre is a smaller version of the CULTNAT, Institute's Smart Village in Cairo which, since its establishment six years ago, has devoted itself to the documentation of Egypt's heritage. The centre in Luxor demonstrates Egypt's historical span through the screening of a two-hour-long "Culturama", which displays a variety of cultural exhibitions and activities, using state-of- the-art technology on a 180-degree interactive screen. Records of Egypt's architectural, natural, archaeological and folkloric heritages are also on show."
See the above page for the rest of the account.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Here is how it works:
1. Buy a copy of James P. Allen's Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, since this is the book we are using as a textbook.
You will need the book to participate in the study group, because that's what we do--go over the material and do the lessons together as a study group.
2. Send me a first and a last name (I ask this of everyone as a prerequisite to make sure folks are serious, and I also need some way of keeping track of over 200 people --you may always elect to use only your first name for list correspondence.
3. I will then send you an invitation to join GlyphStudy--assuming you are not a member already ( : this is the list where we do all the basic level chit chat about studying, and resources and homework procedures--please accept the invitation.
4. Volunteer as a Homework Volunteer--this is essential to our success as study group.
If you have been wanting to get started on your studies, or got left behind for any reason the last time --now is your chance to jump in and make the new section a success.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Many were completely rock-out and had a stone facade in front of a low cliff face; others were freestanding mastabas of limestone and mud brick. The artifacts and statuary in these tombs was of higher quality than those from the lower cemetery, and the inscriptions told us that the people buried here were of higher status than those below, holding titles such as “Inspector of Dragging Stones,” “Inspector of the Craftsmen,” “Inspector of the Sculptors,” “Chief of the Estates,” “Overseer of the Linen,” “Overseer of the Tomb Makers,” “Overseer of the Harbor,” and even “Overseer of the Side of the Pyramid.” The most important title found here was “Director of the King’s Work.” I believe these are the tombs of the artisans who designed and decorated the pyramid complexes and the administrators who oversaw their construction. Based on the pottery, names, and titles found in this cemetery, my conclusion is that it was begun as early as the reign of Khufu and continued in use through the end of Dynasty 5, from about 2589 to 2345 BC. "
Monday, January 15, 2007
More about St Catherine's Monastery can also be found at the site on the following page:
"While colder regions have enjoyed warmer winters this year, fueling fears of global warming, Egypt will be entering the first of many cold spells Fawzy Ghoneimy, Director-General of the Center for Analysis and Forecasting told The Daily Star Egypt.
December has been an unusually cold month and January will likely see temperatures dip closer towards freezing. The highest temperatures recorded this January so far have been 16° while the low has been hovering at 6°.
Ghoneimy said Egypt's temperatures are affected by air masses coming from central and Eastern Europe, as well as the distribution of pressure. . . . He expects a further three to four cold waves every month until the end of winter, Mar. 22."
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Garranah said figures to be released Sunday would show that tourist arrivals held up in 2006 despite a devastating April suicide bombing in the Red Sea resort of Dahab that killed 20 people including several foreign holidaymakers. A record 9.81 million tourists added 7.6 billion dollars to Egypt's economy last year, the minister said.
But he said Egypt could not afford to rest on its laurels as the figures fell below target, largely because of what he described as poor human resources.
Many tourists complained of being harassed by touts and leave the country with a bitter taste vowing never to return, he said, adding that this was causing greater harm to the industry than the spate of bombings that have rocked Sinai resorts since 2004."
A copy of the current VOK masterplan is at:
French Mission Reports
A short personal account of a study day by the Egypt Exploration Society: The Heavens on Earth: Astronomy and Ancient Egypt at UCL's School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Griffith Institute Squeezes made in Theban tomb TT 57
Sudan Electronic Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology (Arkamani)
Saturday, January 13, 2007
"It was February 1999, and Carlo Bergmann had spent five days wandering through the desert with just his camels for company. His eyes were sore from the dust and from scanning the ground in front of him. Then he spotted them - two shards of pottery lying in the sand. They didn't look like much, but Bergmann knew at once what they meant. This one-time Ford motor company management trainee with no formal archaeological training had discovered an ancient trail that had eluded professional Egyptologists for almost a century. Here was a key piece in the puzzle surrounding the origins of the great civilisation of the pharaohs.
Eight years on, and amazing discoveries by Bergmann and a small band of researchers in the desert west of the river Nile are forcing Egyptologists to reconsider the origins of this ancient civilisation. . . . It now seems clear that the culture, technology, religion, economy and possibly even the hieroglyphic text of the pharaohs had roots not in the valley but in the desert far to the west."
The 2005/2006 season summary, which shows images of the water-mountain symbols, can be found at:
Jane Akshar has been updating her blog, as usual, with some excellent information about current activities in Luxor. See the following web pages:
Mummification Museum Lecture - Marriage Stele of Ramses II - Charles van Siclen
Mummification Museum Lecture - TT148 TT233 - Dr Boyo Ockinga
Amenhotep II Temple
So preoccupied with death were the Egyptians that we tend to think of them as morbid. But death is the source of all paradox, and it may be that the more you love life the more preoccupied you become with death. The Egyptians, I wager, loved life.
Journey to the Afterlife, the exhibition of Egyptian antiquities from the Louvre at the National Gallery in Canberra, is a marvellous show. A genuine blockbuster (never before have I seen such queues at the NGA), it manages to avoid seeming ditsy or soulless in the manner of so many blockbusters. It does not try to cower us into veneration with pyramids, temples and sphinxes. Instead, it tells a story. The story is tightly focused, sometimes arcane but never less than fascinating."
Journey to the Afterlife: Egyptian Antiquities from the Louvre is showing at:
Friday, January 12, 2007
Life is getting back to normal, and I have updated the blog with backdated articles - sorry it has been so long, and there is probably still more to come when I have finished trawling through everything.
Thanks so much to the following for helping out HUGELY by emailing news updates whilst I was away:
- Kat Newkirk
- Chris Townsend
- Paula Veiga
- Mark Morgan
All the very best, with a big belated New Year hug to everyone
Nevine el-Aref provides more information about the Twentieth Dynasty stela found at Karnak last year: "For more than three centuries, since historians and Egyptologists began to write the first history in modern times of the 20th dynasty of Ancient Egypt, compiled from hieroglyphic texts drawn on papyri or engraved on tombs and temple walls, the history of the dynasty has remained virtually unchanged. However, this is archaeology, and in archaeology nothing can be said to be fixed. A newly-unearthed stela in the avenue lined with ram-headed sphinxes that once connected the temples of Luxor and Karnak, along which official and religious processions passed for centuries, has thrown further light on this ancient era.
The new information not only illustrates the growing power of the priesthood during the New Kingdom, but also changes some concepts of the 20th dynasty, especially the facts and figures relating to its founder, the Pharaoh Setnakhte."
See the above page for the full story
Thursday, January 11, 2007
As symbols of the early power of kings and their roles in the cosmic order, these mysterious funerary centers are considered ancestral in purpose to the classic pyramids of Giza.
The last and largest of the cult centers — the only major one still standing in clearly recognizable form — was erected for King Khasekhemwy, who ruled in the second dynasty around 2780 B.C.
Known today as Shunet el-Zebib, the roughly one hectare, or 2-acre, enclosure stands on a desert plain at Abydos, about 500 kilometers, or 300 miles, south of Cairo near the burial grounds of early Egyptian rulers.
Now, in an ambitious effort to preserve this ruin, archaeologists, engineers and teams of artisans and laborers are shoring up the walls and gates of Shunet el-Zebib, ravaged by time and the elements and in danger of imminent collapse.
See the above page for full details.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
A. Gautier & W. Van Neer
Review of D. Phillipson. African Archaeology (3rd Edition)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
A new book, Egyptian Revival Jewelry & Design by Dale Reeves Nicholls, with Shelly Foote and Robin Allison (Schiffer), provides a comprehensive picture and history of the phenomenon, displaying a wide selection of the objects themselves, each thoroughly described and given a current market value."