Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blog Update

Just a quick reminder that I'm off to Poland tomorrow and won't be back until mid next week. I will update the blog next Saturday, if I don't get the chance beforehand (I may me working away from home on Thursday and Friday). In the meantime, the joys of Stanstead Airport await me.

I'm taking the laptop, so I'll type up the Symposium notes and, if they make any sense at all when I get back, I'll put summaries of some of the lectures on one of my websites.

All the best

Hatshepsut on the radio and tv

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, is interviewed by telephone in this radio recording (preceded by an advert). It is not always easy to hear what Hawass is saying, due to a rather fuzzy line.

In what is being called the most important find in Egypt's Valley of the Kings since the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb, Discovery Channel's Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen exclusively reveals archaeological, forensic and scientific evidence identifying a 3,000-year-old mummy as Hatshepsut, Egypt's greatest female Pharaoh. . . . The film follows a team of top forensic experts and archaeologists led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, as they use the full range of forensic technology to identify Hatshepsut.

The investigative journey of Dr. Hawass and his team led them through the massive crypts beneath Egypt and into the depths of the Cairo Museum. Using knowledge of royal Egyptian mummification and clues from two known tombs linked to Hatshepsut, the team narrowed their search for Hatshepsut to just four mummies from thousands of unidentified corpses. Computed tomography (CT) scans allowed the scientists to link distinct physical traits of the Hatshepsut mummy to that of her ancestors.

If you are living in the U.S. a schedule for the show is displayed on the site. It is anyone's guess when it will come to other countries.

Egyptians not the first to domesticate cats

BBC News By Paul Rincon
Alright, so its a bit of a stretch to include this as Egyptology , but it does indicate that domesticated cats are now known in Cyprus before they first appear in Egypt.
The oldest known evidence of people keeping cats as pets may have been found by archaeologists.

The discovery of a cat buried with what could be its owner in a Neolithic grave on Cyprus suggests domestication of cats had begun 9,500 years ago. It was thought the Egyptians were first to domesticate cats, with the earliest evidence dating to 2,000-1,900 BC.

French researchers writing in Science magazine show that the process actually began much earlier than that. The evidence comes from the Neolithic, or late stone age, village of Shillourokambos on Cyprus, which was inhabited from the 9th to the 8th millennia BC.
See the above page for more details and photographs. For those of you who have not seen it, there is a link on the above BBC web page quoted above, takes you to a January 2007 article about the 2004 discovery of a mummified lion burial in a tomb in Saqqara Egypt.

Another cat-related article appears on the HealthDay website looks at the genetic structure of cats and suggests that modern domesticates have a single ancestor in the Near East:

Based largely on the archaeological record, some experts had speculated that the domestication of the cat occurred in separate places at separate times, giving rise to distinct lineages around the world. But the new gene study tells a different tale.

"All [domestic] cats are related to one another, and they all come from the same place, and that's the Near East" Driscoll said. Today's domestic cats probably all descend from the wild cat native to the area, Felis s. lybica.

Looking much farther back into the record, Driscoll and his colleagues also discovered that the various lineages of wild cat began branching off from a common ancestor, Felis silvestris, more than 100,000 years ago -- much earlier than was originally assumed.

Thanks to David Petersen for pointing it out to me. For more on at genome research at the NCI Laboratory of Genomic Diversity.

Travel: Luxor By Justin Marozzi
A description of Luxor by someone who has genuinely been bitten by the bug. It's not a long piece but it really does convey a sense both of the best of Luxor and the writer's passion for many of the sites and experiences that Luxor has to offer.
Human nature being what it is, the artisans tended to reserve their best work for their own tombs, rather than those of the kings. The tomb of Sennedjem, dating back almost 3,500 years, is one of the most exquisite, with family and funereal scenes in rich colour.

From the political and personal to the sky-soaringly spiritual, Karnak, no matter how many times you return over the years, always thrills, thrusting even the pyramids into a distant second place among Egypt's many wonders. Then there is the Islamic architectural wizardry at Oum al Dounia. You only have to enter the temple's fabled Hypostyle Hall to swoon in neck-craning disbelief at the magnificence of this forest of columns, grand enough to swallow up the sky.

Tutankhamun suffered from migraines?

Pointing to a photo of the remains of King Tutankhamun, John Shepherd offers his diagnosis: A severe overbite caused a sort of ripple effect in the king's body, leading to migraine headaches.. . . Shepherd has been trying to get copies of X-rays of King Tut for a closer look at the king's "dentoscape" - a term Shepherd uses describe the shape of one's teeth and surrounding area. Using the X-rays available now, Shepherd says the king's overbite would likely lead to migraine headaches.Were Tutankhamun his patient now, Shepherd would equalize the pressure around the jaws. That might mean polishing down some of the teeth or molding a nighttime mouthguard.

Occlusion - the way the upper and lower teeth fit - is the key to solving migraine suffering, he says. . . .Shepherd says trepanation might shed light on a mystery that has dogged archaeologists ever since a 1968 X-ray revealed a hole in the base of the boy king's skull. For a while, many thought the hole was the result of an ssassination attempt or some other form of foul play. Further study in 2005 laid those theories to rest.

Saturday Trivia

Game: Egypt Ball

For Immediate Release: Egypt Ball is a masterful combination of arcade and puzzle. Egypt Ball is an amazing adventure where the myths of Ancient Egypt will lead you through perilous dangers to achieve the great goal of restoring the long lost gifts of Amon-Ra, the King of Gods. Colorful, creatively laid out levels follow each other, and it is almost impossible to stop enjoying this game full of wonders and waiting for you toexplore them. Our updated and improved edition of Egypt Ball runs on Windows

Twain-Based Musical 'Grains of Sand'
Broadway World

A new musical, A Million Grains of Sand, opens on 24th July 2007 at The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, written by Northamptonshire writer, Gareth Peter Dicks. "Performed by Broadway School of Performing Arts, this powerful musical promises to be a thrilling and memorable new story of self discovery. Memorable music teamed with an exciting story and intriguing characters make this one of the hottest shows of the summer," state press notes.

"As the ancient sun rises on the new day, two children are born. One, the Princess of Egypt, the other born into poverty and violence. They grow up unaware of the other, until, in a chance meeting, their two worlds collide in a tale of drama, murder, mistaken identity and love. A meeting that could change the destiny of a nation!" "Based on Mark Twain's The Prince & The Pauper, this exciting new musical shapes its story on the sands of Ancient Egypt

Pyramid Bloxx Preview
IGN Wireless

Digital Chocolate's Tower Bloxx was one of the very best mobile titles of 2005 -- a smart, clever, and graceful puzzler that personified the one-button accessibility of the best casual games. Over eighteen months later, the Choc is finalizing the next game in the nascent Bloxx series Pyramid Bloxx. Set in ancient Egypt, Pyramid Bloxx takes the general concept of Tower Bloxx -- stacking and city-planning strategy -- and expands on it without making it so top-heavy with changes that the whole thing crumbles in the hands of fans.

Scorpion King 2?
Shock Til You Drop

Shock has been tipped off that Resident Evil: Extinction director Russell Mulcahy is moving from the arid locale of one sequel to another: Universal's The Scorpion King 2.The first film, a prequel to the studio's "Mummy" franchise, opened in 2002 to a $36 million three-day gross - it made a grand total of $91 million domestically by the time it ran its course.

Cult Camp Classics Volume 4: Historical Epics
DVD Talk

The first two films in the set, The Prodigal and Land of the Pharaohs were produced in the wake of The Robe and in the first couple of years of CinemaScope. Although released by MGM, The Colossus of Rhodes represents Italy at the height of its own epic renaissance . . . .

Few epics can compare with Land of the Pharaohs for pure spectacle and a sense of wonder about the ancient world. Hawks is clearly fascinated by the building of the pyramids, and also by the nature of the 'absolute power' wielded by a man like Cheops (Jack Hawkins). Pharaoh is a living god with an entire kingdom at his disposal. He can also direct the energies of an entire people to his personal wishes, which in the Egyptian society revolve around Death and the Afterlife. The whole nation will spend fifteen years or so building a theft-proof crypt to safeguard Cheops' corpse -- and his riches -- on their way to the next life. These are grand and universal themes -- power, greed and the desire to attain immortality.

Who could resist???

Friday, June 29, 2007

A call to save Luxor

Al Ahram Weekly
An important report published on Al Ahram Weekly - go to the page for the complete report.

Report: "Ongoing Development of the City of Luxor, Egypt"
Submitted to: UNESCO's International Heritage Committee and the International Union of Architects (UIA)
By: Society of Egyptian Architects (UIA Egyptian National Section) and the academic architecture community

The City of Luxor is now undergoing a wide-ranging programme of urban development. The city's local authority is simultaneously undertaking several projects in the historic areas of the Karnak Temple, the Luxor Temple, the Avenue of the Sphinxes, the Nobles' Tombs of the New Kingdom, and the new and old villages of Gourna on the West Bank. New streets have also opened, and public squares and market places are under renovation. A project for a large marina to house 200 cruise boat hotels and other tourist facilities in an area of about 500 acres, also on the West Bank, is now in the planning stage.

Hateshepsut mummy identified by DNA

It's just my luck that all this kicked off whilst I was away - my two inboxes are a complete nightmare. Anyway, as far as I can tell here are the best of the bunch. Thanks to Kat Newkirk who continues to keep me both moderately sane and on track.
Al Ahram Weekly by Nevine El-Aref
Nevine El-Aref provides a good update on the Hatshepsut situation, providing an overview of the confusion about the mummies and a summary of the findings. Here's an extract, but see the above detailed article for the full story. It's a good read.

"Last year, when Discovery Channel approached me about searching for the mummy of Hatshepsut, I did not think I would be able to make a definite identification but it would give me an opportunity to examine unidentified female mummies from the 18th Dynasty, which no one has studied as a group," SCA Secretary- General Zahi Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly. He pointed out that although there were many theories about the identities of these mummies none of them had been tested against the latest scientific technology.

"I had to depend on a team of skilled Egyptologists, radiologists, anatomists, pathologists and forensic expert," Hawass continues, "to examine these mummies, keeping in mind that they were moved quickly at night by the high priests of Amun who controlled the Theban necropolis during the Late Intermediate Period, and who wanted to hide and preserve the bodies of 18th,19th and 20th dynasty rulers. The priests might have stripped the mummies and the royal tombs of their most valuable treasures yet still they wanted to protect the royal remains from the tomb robbers who roamed the sacred hills of Thebes."

In their hurry, Hawass believes, mummies were misplaced or unidentified. Initially the royal mummies were rehoused in nearby tombs -- records show, for instance, that the mummy of Ramses II was originally moved to the tomb of his father Seti I and then later transferred to the Deir Al-Bahari Cache. "It is difficult to plot the routes followed by the mummies," says Hawass. In the process of moving the corpses and the confusion that ensued some, at least, were unidentified, while others were stripped of all identification. "The SCA initiated the CT-scan project in order to solve at least some of the mysteries that grew out of the relocating of mummies," says Hawass, "and Hatshepsut seemed a perfect place to start."

Click on the small image to see details of all three photographs.

The National Geographic (with videos and photographs)

A broken tooth has become the key to identifying the mummy of Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled ancient Egypt as both queen and king nearly 3,500 years ago.

For decades speculation has raged over which of two female mummies found in a simple tomb in Egypt was the remains of the gender-bending queen. Was she was the dainty, fine-boned mummy gathering dust in the attic of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo? (Related photos: treasures of the Egyptian Museum.) Or was she the bosomy matron left lying on the floor of a rough tomb 445 miles (720 kilometers) south of the Egyptian capital in the Valley of the Kings? (See a map
of Egypt

This morning authorities revealed that the larger, fleshy mummy is the real Hatshepsut. (See a video and a photo gallery of the Egyptian queen's discovery.) "We are 100 percent sure," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council on Antiquities.

There is more from Donald P. Ryan on the Egyptian Dreams forum too, with some points of clarification.

Other competent summaries of the identification at

CNN (with video)

An older National Geographic article may be worth looking at if you are interested in finding out more about Hatshepsut: Egyptian "Female King" Gets Royal Treatment.

The Coptic museum: A silent jewel

Al Ahram Weekly by Nadja Tomoum

The Coptic Museum,situated in the heart of Old Cairo,was built in 1910 by Marcus Simaika Pasha who devoted his life to the preservation and promotion of the Coptic heritage. With the support of the Coptic church, Simaika Pasha established the Coptic Museum at a historically significant location, among some of Cairo's oldest and most important churches. According to a Biblical narration, the holy family rested in this area on their flight from the Jewish King Herod. The journey of Joseph, Mary and the infant Christ to Egypt has greatly influenced the early spread of Christianity throughout the country.

The Coptic heritage is a rather silent treasure in comparison with the splendid artefacts from the time of the great Pharaohs, and yet it is not less important and interesting. Masses of tourists are guided daily through the Egyptian museum -- Egypt's first National Museum --, whereas the Coptic museum attracts the attention of the individual tourist who enjoys the medieval flair of Old Cairo and the unique charm of the Coptic museum.

See the above page for more.

If anyone is interested, I plonked a few photographs of the very beautiful Coptic monasteries of St Anthony and St Paul (Eastern Desert of Egypt) at

Preserving heritage value

Al Ahram Weekly by Salah Zaki

Lately, due to rising public awareness of the need to protect urban heritage, the Ministry of Culture cooperated with the Ministry of Housing in issuing Law #144 / 2006, which regulates demolition licenses and the conservation of buildings and structures of heritage value. Egypt's prime minister promptly ordered governors to create a list of buildings of heritage value in every region in Egypt.

The initial function of the Committee for Buildings and Areas of Heritage Value, or Central Heritage Committee, was to help set the norms and standards that define buildings to be conserved in Egypt. The term "sites of heritage value" includes gardens, but does not include archaeological structures that are considered monuments and hence the responsibility of the Supreme Council for Antiquities. The committee started by writing a manual to be used by governorates and local committees in the selection procedure. The National Centre for Urban Amelioration has signed protocols of cooperation with many governorates in this regard.

The future task of the Central Heritage Committee will be to offer technical assistance to governorates, both in the area of listing heritage value buildings as well as in pilot projects for conservation.

See the above page for more.
See the above page for the full story.

A Desert Taj Mahal

Al Ahram Weekly By Samir Raafat
An article about the accessibility of some of Egypt's wonderful buildings, using the the Heliopolois Palace Hotel, dating 1908-10, as a case study.
Heliopolis Palace Hotel turned into the Federation of Arab Republic's headquarters, Kasr Al-Ittihadiya, in 1972 and later into an executive presidential palace during Mubarak's rule.

More than half a century after Nasser's Free Officers vowed to turn this nation into a republic "by the people and for the people", its citizenry is as removed from the temples of power as they were millennia ago when Pharaohs ruled the land and high priests prohibited access to temples. Except for a very few halls in Abdeen, few Egyptian citizens have ever seen the gilded interiors of the former royal palaces of Tahra, Koubbeh and Ras Al-Tin. And unless plans to turn them into public historic sites ever surface, there is no chance they ever will.

Not so Kasr Al-Ittihadiya, now perhaps the most august and restricted of them all. While few others than national leaders and journalists can visit it these days, there are still some around who remember having frequented it as the Heliopolis Palace Hotel. . . .

Whether by divine or temporal intervention, the Palace Hotel was granted a new lease on life. Situated within earshot of where President Mubarak lives, the former hotel was given a thorough facelift in the 1980s and declared the headquarters of the new presidential administration. Once again, the Taj Mahal of the desert became the focus of international attention. So will we lesser mortals ever get a virtual gape at its eye- popping interiors? Don't hold your breath.

See the above page for the full story, and a lovely photograph.

Exhibition: Temples and Tombs North Carolina closing

There's a video accompanying this page, which gives a brief summary of the main features of the exhibition which is closing in early July.

The Pasha's street

Al Ahram Weekly by Soheir Hawas

A special feature calling for the restoration of Mohamed Ali Street

"Mohamed Ali" Street has a long history and a valuable heritage value that makes it deserving of commemoration and restoration. The historic, symbolic and urban values of this street and numerous others in Khedivian Cairo are of momentous importance to the preservation of our heritage. Decision makers should consider heritage streets and areas as top priorities in urban upgrade projects.

See the above page for full details

Movie review: 'Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs'


"Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs" (through February 2008 at the Museum of Science and Industry Omnimax) is an entertaining mix of science, travelogue of modern dig sites, CGI re-creations of ancient people constructing those sites and Victorian-era explorers seeking them. Egyptophiles will enjoy it. Preschool-age Egyptophiles at a recent screening seemed to get a little squirmy despite its 40-minute run time.

Christopher Lee has a perfect voice for narration and--before he wielded magic as "The Lord of the Rings'." Saruman, or a lightsaber as "Star Wars'." Count Dooku--he played the mummy Kharis in 1959's "The Mummy."

Scientists include Bob Brier, who created a modern mummy using ancient techniques and a body donated to science; Angelique Corthals, whose research into ancient DNA seeks to cure modern ills; and Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

See the above page for the full story

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Africa: It's Time to Return What Was Stolen by Muthoni Thang'wa, Nairobi

Who owns the past? There are efforts by some Kenyans to reinvent themselves and find value and meaning in a cosmopolitan world. In an effort to make peace with the past in Africa, there has been a call for repatriation of materials held in some of the largest museums in the world. In one of the most interesting debates going on in the world of heritage, the controversy pits mainly African, Asian and Middle East institutions against some of the most prestigious museums in Europe and America.

The debate is centred on materials that include human remains, art, jewellery and objects that are and have been held in the museums for a long time. Some of the articles are of great prestige and interest - the Egyptian mummies - while others are of outstanding monetary value such as gold pieces taken by the British in Kumasi in the then Gold Coast, present day Ghana, in 1874.

Africa is making great efforts to reinvent itself. It wants to understand and own her past and the material remains that are part of her long history of political aggression that has resulted in deprivation of cultural objects.
See the above page for the full story.

Applied Biosystems plans DNA lab in Egypt to study mummies

Applied Biosystems Group on Wednesday said it is establishing the first laboratory in Egypt dedicated to testing ancient DNA samples. The Foster City subsidiary of Applera Corp. (NYSE:ABI)said it is collaborating on the lab with the Discovery Channel and Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The laboratory, which is located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, began testing samples from ancient royal mummies from the 18th Dynasty in April as part of a project to identify the mummy of Hatshepsut, Egypt's most famous female pharaoh.

The primary purpose of the new DNA laboratory is to assist in the identification of this and other mummies that have been removed from their original tombs, and to clarify familial relationships within and between Egypt's ancient dynasties. This is the first time DNA testing has been used to try to identify an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.

See the above for more.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wenzel Jacob was removed Monday as head of one of Germany's main museums, he
Federal Art Gallery in Bonn, after auditors accused the museum of wasting money on forecourt concerts and flying in celebrity guests. The state and federal governments, who own the museum, resolved Monday to withdraw his appointment as artistic director with immediate effect and terminate his contract from the end of this year, officials in Berlin said. The Gallery stages mainly special exhibitions with borrowed works of art.

Since its 1992 opening, its triumphs have included exhibitions of treasures from the Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamun, the Aztecs, the Kremlin, the Vatican and the Guggenheim Collection.

A conversation with Zahi Hawass by Susan Hack

The secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass is the guardian of the country's incomparable wealth of monuments, a flamboyant showman whose many books and television documentaries have made him the most famous Egyptologist since Howard Carter. He spoke to Condé Nast Traveler's Susan Hack about the need to balance tourism and conservation, Americans' overreliance in package tours, and why he wants his country's treasures back.

Berlin museum entrance plans unveiled

British architect David Chipperfield unveiled Wednesday his controversial design for a grand modern entrance to the treasure houses on Berlin's Island of Museums.

From 2012, his James Simon Gallery will be the main gateway to the Pergamon Museum and an underground mall leading to three of the other four museums on the inner-city site between two arms of the Spree river. Last year 2 million visitors came to see Greek and Babylonian monuments indoors, the bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, European Old Masters and other treasures on the island. More come every year.

German conservationists had slammed the Chipperfield design, calling it an affront to the classical-style buildings.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blog Update - the next week or so.

Hi to all

This post is just to let you know that I am off to Wales tomorrow, back on Thursday, so the blog certainly won't be updated tomorrow or Wednesday, and probably not on Thursday either, because at some point that day I've got to go to Rugby to pick up a car.

I will update on Friday and Saturday, but I'm off to Poland for the Symposium on the Later Prehistory of North Eastern Africa at Poznan on Sunday 1st July, and won't be back until late Wednesday 4th. I may not have much time on Thursday and Friday to do the blog, either, due to work committments.

I'll try to update the blog in between other things, but normal service should be resumed on Saturday 7th July, if I can crawl out of bed after all that!
Apologies to those of you who have been alerted to this message about ten times - I am using it to TRY to sort of some of the line spacing problems - yet again!

All the best

Peter Ucko Obituary

The Independent (Neal Ascherson)

Peter John Ucko, archaeologist: born London 27 July 1938; Lecturer in Anthropology, University College London 1962-72, Director, Institute of Archaeology and Professor of Comparative Archaeology 1996-2006 (Emeritus); Principal, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies 1972-81; Professor of Archaeology, Southampton University 1981-96; died London 14 June 2007.

Peter Ucko was the most influential archaeologist of his time. Almost single-handed, he brought about a revolution which irrevocably changed the whole structure and outlook of international archaeology.

See the entire obituary on the above page.

Exhibition: Temples and Tombs

Fayetteville Observer (Melissa Clement)

I always like to see traveling exhibitions receiving new plaudits. Here's another enthusiastic reaction to Temples and Tombs. The page is taking quite a long time to load, but it gets there in the end. There's a rather nice photo of the statue of Nekhthorheb, kneeling. The exhibition is only at the North Carolina Museum of Art until 8th July, after which it goes to Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where it opens on the 8th September (with lots of events organized around it).

Ancient Egyptians loved life with such passion that they wanted to live forever. They packed their tombs with objects they believed would be necessary in the afterlife. On view at the North Carolina Museum of Art are 85 objects from 3,000 years of Egyptian history in “Temples and Tombs, Treasures of Egyptian Art from the British Museum.’’

I’ve visited Egypt up and down the Nile, seen the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in all it’s splendor, and exhibitions in this country. But I have never gotten the sense that the ancient Egyptians were actually living, breathing people who had to learn their crafts. It seemed more like they were born artists, craftsmen, warriors and godlike kings.

In this show, you see the grandeur of ancient Egypt, but also catch a glimpse of the the real, flesh and blood ancient Egyptians.

Exhibition: Tutankhamun a success in Philadelphia

Dallas News (Peter Neville-Hadley)

If it's well known that Philadelphia is Greek for "brotherly love," it's perhaps not yet common knowledge that Tutankhamun is Egyptian for "big business." But Philadelphians certainly know this. Such is their brotherly love for the renowned boy king who took the throne of Egypt in 1332 B.C. that more than 400,000 tickets were sold for the latest blockbuster exhibition, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," even before it opened in February at the city's Franklin Institute.

Philadelphia is treating this event as a golden opportunity to give itself over to a seven-month celebration of all things Egyptian. There's a supplementary exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Museum. Many restaurants offer Egyptian menu options, and there are hotel-ticket packages.

But not even all this promotion can outshine the glory of the objects on display.

See the above page for the full story.

Tourism: Jordanian Minister of Antiquities Meets Egyptian Delegation

Jordan News Agency

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Osama Al Dabbas today met with the Egyptian Tourist delegation, currently on a visit to Jordan to explore the Jordanian experiment in the tourism domain.During the meeting, Dabbas highlighted the importance of bilateral tourism and exchanging expertise in the fields of running and developing resorts, noting to a number of tourism investment projects in Aqaba Special Economic Zone.The delegation, comprising leaderships of the Egyptian Tourism Authority and a number of tourist agents, has toured a number of tourist locations in Jordan.

Tourism: Egypt Air Express

Just in case it is of any interest to visitors to Egypt:

EgyptAir subsidiary EgyptAir Express has begun a domestic service from Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada using three new Embraer 170 jets, reported the Al Ahram Weekly. The new carrier will expand this to Luxor, Borg El Arab and Marsa Matrouh from next month. Three more Embraer 170s are expected to arrive by September and EAE is looking at moving into regional markets such as Jeddah, Amman and Beirut.
This is the complete bulletin on the above page.

More re Tomb 99 discovery (Sennefer)

El Masla

I continue to have considereable doubts about the validity of this story, because I'm fairly convinced that it is a mix-up, a report of 5 year old news. However, for those of you who are interested, there are a few more details on the above site.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mystery bones from Bolton identified

Bolton Museums
For nearly a century an ancient Egyptian mystery has lain unsolved, but now the answer can at last be revealed.

Recently, staff at Bolton Museum have been attempting to identify a mystery bone
that came out of bundles of Egyptian linen from Qau el-Kabir. For 83 years the identity of the bones contained within the bundles has remained a mystery, but Tom Hardwick and David Craven, Egyptologist and Geologist respectively at olton Museum, recently decided to re-open the investigation, hoping to find an answer.

Images of the bone were sent to experts around the world, and several ideas were suggested. Eventually Dr Laura Bishop, Senior Lecturer in Palaeoanthropolgy at Liverpool John Moores University, and an expert in North African fossil animals, offered to come over and identify the bone in person.David and Laura spent a morning examining the bone, trying to settle on an identification. Eventually, after looking at reference texts and comparing the specimen to bones from the museum collections, they were both happy with their answer.The bone is the scaphoid, one of the bones of the wrist, from the left front leg of a large Antelope species, probably a Wildebeest; a species that would not have been present in Egypt as the time the bone was found and wrapped.

If you remember, there was a competition open to the public, which offered a prize to the individual who correctly identified the bones from photographs published on the Museum's site. Nobody guessed antelope, so the prize was given to the nearest guess - gazelle. See the above page for more about the bones and their context.

Forum: International Cultural Property Society
A new cultural heritage forum has been formed by to support the International Journal of Cultural Property (Cambridge University Press). The Discussion forums of the International Cultural Property Society has been set up as a source of cultural heritage news and events information, as well as a place in which to express opinions about cultural heritage issues such as art theft, repatriation, relations between source nationsand collectors/museums, illicit excavations, and the use of digitalization to increase access to cultural heritage.

Coptic Language's last survivors

Daily Star
As usual with the Daily Star, if you are using Firefox as a browser I recommend that you switch briefly to Explorer instead.
Considered an extinct language, the Coptic language is believed to exist only in the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Egypt. The ancient language that lost in prominence thanks largely to the Arab incursion into Egypt over 1300 years ago remains the spoken language of the church and only two families in Egypt.
Coptic is a combination of the ancient Egyptian languages Demotic, Hieroglyphic and Hieratic, and was the language used by the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt following the spread of Greek culture throughout much of the Near East. In essence, it is the language of the ancient Egyptians themselves. . . .
Coptic is the language of the first Christian church in history, and when the members of the two families that speak the colloquial form of Coptic die, it will be the first language of the early Christian churches to become extinct.

Book Reviews from Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.06.37
Christina Riggs, The Beautiful Burial in Roman Egypt: Art, Identity, and Funerary Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. xxiii, 334 . ISBN 978-0-19-927665-3. $150.00.
Reviewed by David Frankfurter, University of New Hampshire (

How Egyptian was Roman Egypt? The question has dominated quarters of Classics, Art History, and Ancient History for over a century. The perpetuation of classical Egyptian iconography on temples suggests a fundamental religious conservatism, while papyrological documentation reflects extensive Hellenism.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.06.36
Elizabeth Blyth, Karnak. Evolution of a Temple. London/New York: Routledge, 2006. Pp. 258. ISBN 0-415-40487-8. $46.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Peter C. Nadig, RWTH-Aachen (

Blyth's (hereafter B.) book is a very well written account of the history, development and function of the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak (Jpt-swt), one of the largest and surely most complex religious sites not only in ancient Egypt but the ancient world as a whole. It was founded in the Middle Kingdom about 4,000 years ago and parts of it were even in use for Christian worship after the closing of pagan cults under Theodosius I.

KMT - Summer Edition 2007
I could have sworn that I had posted the details of the Summer edition of KMT, but I cannot find them so here goes (possibly again). Thanks to EEF for the memory jobg

  • NEFER: The Woman in Ancient Egypt' by Lucy Gordan-Rastelli Blockbuster Show in Milan &Turin
  • 125 & STILL COUNTING by Aiden Dodson Work of the Egypt Exploration Society,1882-2007
  • EMBALMING CACHES IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS by Dylan Bickerstaffe - KV63 Is Not Unique, After All
  • KARNAK'S VANISHING MONUMENTby Dennis Forbes - Reliefs of the 3rd Intermediate/Late Period Chapel of Osiris Heqadjet Are Melting Away
  • MUMMIES: SECRETS OF THE PHARAOHS' by Bob Brier - Behind the Scenes of the Makingof an Imax Film
  • MYSTERY OF A SPHINX& FOUR PYRAMIDS IN OHIO by Earl L. Ertman - Analyzing an Egyptianizing "Modern" Relic

Weekly Websites

Ancient Egyptian Calligraphy - A beginner's guide to writing hierogplyphs
Lovely book, in PDF format, which gives you detailed guidelines on how to draw each hieroglyph, stroke by stroke. Wonderful for those who are calligraphilcally-challenged! It is a large document and it takes time for the page it load.
Blog sobre el Antiguo Egipto
Editado por Francisco J. Martín Valentín y Teresa Bedman
I've found another Egyptology blog, this time in Spanish, which is attached to the Tendencias 21 website (Revista electrónica de ciencia, tecnología, sociedad y cultura). It is organized under four sections, one of which features regular articles about Egyptian themes, in considerable detail. Two recent postings, to give you an idea, are La conjura de Tiy, la Gran Esposa Real de Amen-Hotep III and Nuevas informaciones producidas en el desarrollo del Proyecto Sen-en-Mut (TT353). If you speak Spanish this is well worth visiting.

Archaeological Site Photography: Egypt
Click on the map or use the drop-down menu to go to photographs, available for non-commercial use:

All of these Archaeological Site photographs were taken by either John or Peggy Sanders, and, with few exceptions, were recorded between 1973 and 1990. At that time John Sanders was the architect, surveyor, and cartographer for the Nippur expedition, the Oriental Institute's archaeological project in Iraq; Peggy Sanders was an independent artist and photographer also working for the Nippur Expedition.

With the cooperation of the Oriental Institute we are making these images available via the Institute's website for personal, not-for-profit use by students, scholars, and the public. Any such use must name "John and Peggy Sanders" as the original source for the material. All images are subject to copyright laws and are the property of John and Peggy Sanders.

Hatshepsut: Wicked Stepmother or Joan of Arc?
Joining Nefertiti in the spotlight this month, Hatshepsut is currently providing food for thought amongst people interested in the ancient Egyptian royalty. This article from the University of Chicago's Digital Archive is by Peter F. Dorman and takes an objective look at the myth of the female Pharaoh.

It is almost inevitable that historians, using the model of the brothers Grimm, have cast Queen Hatshepsut in the role of the wicked stepmother to the young King Tuthmose III. However difficult it is to assess the character of ancient royalty from the distant perspective of 34 centuries, half of the label is accurate: she was indeed his stepmother. The wickedness also seems to make perfect sense, in view of Hatshepsut's unprecedented act of apparent usurpation in donning the regalia of male pharaoh and stepping into the role of senior coregent while Tuthmose himself was too young to protest. For her presumption--and supposedly as an act of Tuthmose's long-nurturedrevenge--Hatshepsut was to pay the posthumous price of having her royal monuments attacked, with her kingly name and figure banished from her public memorials and from later king lists.

This is the kind of tale that makes history and its major figures come to life for the modern reader. Alas, while this scenario provides a stimulating read, new facts have come to light in the last 15 years which suggest that the real story is at once more prosaic and more complicated.

Global Egyptian Museum

At a rough estimate, over 2 million objects from ancient Egypt are kept in about 850 public collections, dispersed over 69 countries around the world. This website aims to collect them into a global virtual museum, which can be visited at any time, from any place. The Global Egyptian Museum is a long-term project, carried out under the aegis of the International Committee for Egyptology (CIPEG).

The Basic Mode, currently showcasing 1221 highlights, is geared to the interested public. A glossary of more than 400 items explains Egyptian terms and themes. Many objects are provided with audio comments and 3D-movies. The Advanced Mode, equiped with a powerfull search and data entry engine, opens up the full database - presently 11014 objects - to professionals and amateurs. Kids! offers
information for children at the age of 8-12 years in an interactive way.

Internet Archive articles on Egypt
The Internet Archive has freely accessible articles on Egypt available for download. This link shows the results of a search on "Egypt".

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Exhibition: More re Book of the Dead at the Fitzwilliam

A Passport to Ancient Egypt's Afterlife
I recommend that you don't try to look at this article in Firefox - but it loads perfectly in Explorer.

Xaar, one of the world's leading suppliers of inkjet modern printing technology, is sponsoring an exhibition of one of the finest examples of an ancient colored document in the world: “The Book of the Dead of Ramose” at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
The 3,000-year-old document is made up of papyrus sheets originally forming a 20m roll, and was unveiled on June 19. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to view one of the finest and most recently restored Egyptian Books of the Dead in existence. . . .
Until now its frail and fragmentary condition has prevented it from being seen by the public, but thanks to a major conservation program this exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view this unique and beautiful object for the first time in many centuries. The papyrus will now be on display for a short time only, in order to preserve the vivid colors, allowing visitors a rare insight into the Egyptian world of the dead.

The exhibition closes on 16th September 2007. Admission is free. Full details can be found on the Fitzwilliam Museum website.

More on ancient Kushite gold mine


There have been lots of stories picking up on this discovery, but none of them appear to have had anything new to say. Neither does this one, but it does have a very nice photograph of some of the stone tools used for the mining operation.

Online paper: Centro y periferia en el mundo antiguo

The Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente (CEHAO), Argentine Catholic University, has published a paper from Volume 1 of its electronic Monograph Series on its website, with later additions to follow as these become available: Centro y periferia en el mundo antiguo. El Negev y sus interacciones con Egipto, Asiria, y el Levante en la Edad del Hierro (1200-586 a.C.). By Juan Manuel Tebes. CEHAO Monograph Series Vol. 1, Buenos Aires, 2007. It is in Spanish, with maps, diagrams and photographs and is in PDF format. The "cover" photograph, an aeriel view of the Negev (which looks very like the Eastern Desert) is beautiful.

New Book: Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt

Details of a new publication have been posted on the British Academy's website: Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt – From Sargon of Agade to Saddam, edited by Hussein Harriet Crawford (Proceedings of the British Academy No. 126).

The manner in which government practices and personnel survive the disruption of regime change is an issue of great current relevance. These essays, covering more than four thousand years of history, discuss the continuity of administration and royal iconography in successful changes of regime in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Iran. The volume closes with a summary of the recent history of Iraq.

A contents listing with sample pages can be found on the British Academy website.

50-year saga to reclaim Egypt's 'Cecil Hotel'

Thanks to Tony Marson for forwarding this article, which offers a nostalgic look at the Cecil Hotel, which has been reclaimed by its former owners.

It took exactly half-a-century for the Metzger family to reclaim ownership of the Cecil Hotel, the illustrious palace overlooking Egypt's Mediterranean and immortalized in Lawrence Durrell's classic, The Alexandria Quartet. "I can't believe it, after all these years of lost hope," said Patricia Metzger, the British daughter-in-law to Albert Metzger who owned the Cecil and was kicked out of Egypt in 1957 "with only two suitcases." Albert Metzger came from a Jewish family in Alsace-Lorraine in eastern France. Born in Egypt, he was given one week by authorities to leave the hotel that his father founded in 1929 . . . .
Looking toward the Mediterranean Sea, the Cecil palace, which once attracted Alexandria's rich cosmopolitan elite, was nationalized by late president Gamal Abdel Nasser after Egypt's nationalist revolution in 1952. It is now an 86-room four-star hotel run by French company Accor. After marathon negotiations, an agreement was signed between the Egyptian government and the heirs to the once glistening palace, which in its heyday hosted the likes of Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill, British writer Lawrence Durrell, and the infamous Al Capone.

See the above page for the full story.

TV Review: Nefertiti's Odyssey

Nefertiti's Odyssey

Nefertiti is very much in the news at the moment. This short review describes a TV documentary which considers the background to the arrival of the Nefertiti bust in Berlin and work that has been carried out on it recently.

New mummy found?

Yahoo News
There are various oddities in this article. For a start Tomb 99 (Sennefer) is in the Valley of the Nobles (not the Valley of the Kings), and and the excavations lead by Cambridge University's Nigel Strudwick, and reported in detail on his excellent TT99 website, were completed some years ago (I believe in 2002). However, here's the news item anyway - see the Yahoo page above for the rest.

Archaeologists have discovered the 3,000-year-old mummy of a high priest to the god Amun in the southern city of Luxor, antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass told the official MENA news agency on Saturday.
The 18th Dynasty mummy of Sennefer was unearthed in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings -- one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world -- by a team from Britain's Cambridge University.

"The mummy was found in tomb 99 in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of Luxor," Hawass said. A high priest was considered to be the most important man after the king, performing duties, religious rituals and offerings on his behalf.
Other mummies were found during the excavation, including one with a brain tumour, a foetus, a female mummy wrapped in plaster and others which appeared to have suffered from arthritis, Hawass said.

Travel: Photo tour of Cairo


Some very nice photographs, mainly of pyramids, in and near Cairo.

More on Amazon longer than Nile

Scientific American

A second expedition set for September—the beginning of the dry season—will confirm whether water flows year-round, but such measurements are inherently subjective. "We take the longest, straightest tributary," explains Jennifer Runyon, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Board on Geographic Names. "We look at the [drainage] map, identify the longest one and we go with it. It may not have as much water in it. Or even be what the local people think of it."

In the case of the Mississippi, for example, the USGS considers the headwaters to be Lake Itasca in Minnesota—the straightest flow. Yet, if its longest tributary is taken into account—the Jefferson and Missouri rivers—the Mississippi becomes three times as long (though still not as long as either the Amazon or Nile).

Such subjective definitions make it impossible to definitively judge whether the Amazon or Nile is the world's longest river. But new technology, such as satellite mapping, does allow scientists to study such river systems in their entirety.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rosetta Stone requested for loan

The Art Newspaper

The Egyptian government has made a formal request to borrow the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum (BM). A letter was sent last month by Dr Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. . . . . Whether the loan is eventually granted is expected to depend on three main factors.
First, conservation, and whether the 1,680 pound stone could be at risk.

Secondly, if the Rosetta Stone can be lent in view of its iconic importance. It is probably the single most-visited object in the BM’s entire collection, attracting even more visitors than the Parthenon Marbles. The Rosetta Stone has been at the museum since 1802, and has only left the building twice—when it was evacuated during World War I and when it was lent to the Louvre for one month in 1972.

Finally, there will concerns over whether it would be prudent to lend to Cairo, because of possible pressure in Egypt to retain the stone or request its permanent return. After receiving advice on these points, the request will be considered by the BM trustees.

See the above page for more details.

Exhibition: More on Tutankhamun's cloth wrappings

Al Ahram Weekly

PRECIOUS amulets that once decorated the mummy of the boy king Tutankhamun are on special display at the Egyptian museum, Nevine El-Aref toured the new exhibit. The three-month exhibition hall on the ground floor of Cairo's Egyptian Museum is currently hosting the collection of splendid amulets once concealed within the cloth wrappings of the mummy of Tutankhamun.

The 12 layers of cloth wrapped around Tutankhamun's mummy originally enveloped 143 objects. On the neck alone were 20 amulets arranged in six groups, each separated from the next by several layers of wrappings. According to ancient Egyptian belief, such amulets were protective charms that through the power of magic helped ensure the dead's safe passage into the afterlife. By multiplying the layers of bandages, more and more amulets could be placed directly over any physical member. After the discovery of the tomb of the young Pharaoh by Howard Carter in 1922, the amulets and jewellery that decorated the mummy were removed
from the body and permanently exhibited at the museum.

Among Tutankhamun's mummy amulets are the chased gold falcon collar with small counterpoise, and the fine dagger and sheath which lay on top of the abdomen. There is also a beautiful cobra amulet. Among the objects on show at the exhibition are chains, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets, anklets, sheaths for fingers and toes,
pectorals and a large piece of jewellery worn on the chest.

See the above page for the full story, with photographs.

More on the tomb of Henu at Deir el Barsha

Al Ahram Weekly
A short extract is copied below, but see the article on the above page for full details of the tomb and its contents. There are three photos accompanying the article (click on the photograph on the above page or click here to see all three photographs).

Archaeologists from the Katholicke Universiteit Leuven working at the Middle-Kingdom (2066-1650 BC) tomb of Uky, a top government official, have discovered an intact tomb chamber, complete with funerary goods.

While removing the debris out of a rock-cut shaft found inside the chamber of Uky's tomb, the archaeologists came across a huge limestone block indicating that a major find was imminent, in line with the ancient Egyptian custom of blocking their burial chambers with such a barrier. Through a hole in the block, they could see what they described as a beautifully-carved wooden statue of a man with large, staring eyes. After only an hour the block had been removed, and the team discovered a small but intact chamber richly stuffed with well-preserved wooden objects and containing a decorated sarcophagus.

"Even though the burial took place more than 4,000 years ago, the colours on the painted objects are very fresh, and there was even no dust covering them," mission director Harco Williams said.

EGPZ 1.0 - New font set (beta version)

EGPZ website
Saqqara Technologies website

Saqqara Technologies have released the beta (trial) version of their new font set, which has been submitted to the World Wide Web committee for approval as a recognized font set, meeting the Committee's formal standards. The following summary is taken, complete, from the Introduction section on the Specification Page. For more details go to the EPGZ website.

EGPZ stands for EGyptian in the (Unicode) Private Zones. Unicode provides Private Zones for scripts or features of scripts that have not yet been incorporated in the formal Unicode Standard (currently at version 5.0). As of April 2007, a proposal to include 1063 Egyptian hieroglyphs - a basic 'Gardiner Set' in the Universal Character Set has been accepted by WG2 which means these should become available in a future version of the Unicode some years hence (see Unicode and Egyptian).

EGPZ was announced in 2005. Shortly afterwards, work recommenced on the formal standard and it made sense to defer publication of private zone specifications until matters were clearer. The existence of the upcoming formal standard implies some changes to the original conception of EGPZ and these are taken into account in the specifications below. The release of EGPZ 1.0 is now expected in 2007, following feedback from the user community.

EGPZ 1.0 specifies a set of over 3000 codepoints in the Unicode Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP). This includes equivalents to all 1063 hieroglyphs proposed for the formal standard with about 2000 additions, including distinct signs, variants, and combinations. A private zone approach is no substitute for the formal standard but brings considerable practical benefits in the short and medium terms. Unlike the situation with the formal standard, EGPZ compliant applications and data will be available for use in 2007.

The Beta EGPZ 1.0 Specifications are expected in July/August 2007 at which point the only changes should be error corrections and clarifications. Currently, the 1.0 release is expected in September, following the WG2 ballot on the ISO/Unicode proposal. Meanwhile a list of proposed code points is given and interested readers are encouraged to review the list of hieroglyphs and contact the author with any suggestions for additions or changes.
See EGPZ 1.0 Pre-Beta Specification (June 2007) [PDF,1.9M].

Suggestions for hieroglyphs to include in EGPZ 1.0. are being accepted until the end of June for inclusion in the Beta version. There are currently around 2000 signs (including combinations) in addition to the 1063 given in the formal Unicode proposal.

Travel: Alexandria

Al Ahram Weekly
This article, although its only connection to Egyptology is a passing reference to Alexander the Great is almost lyrical in its passion for Alexandria. It makes me want to pack my bags and go!

Today the small hotels and pensions off Raml Station afford the possibility, a very rare thing in Egypt, of clean affordable lodgings. Like much of downtown they also offer a glimpse of the city's faded grandeur, while having the advantage of overlooking the seashore -- Alexandria's famous Corniche. Such places thus give you the opportunity to view the city from above: the most fascinating perspective on the combination of colonial architecture, horse-drawn carts and automobiles that forms the substance of Alexandria's street life; from the seclusion of a small balcony: people watching. And then there are the insides of the buildings to take in: the arches, the stairways, the impossibly high ceilings; the modest balconies looking out onto the sea; the book racks reminiscent of Athens and the Art Nouveau decorations; wherever you look, some aspect of history or geography.
There are some lovely black and white photographs accompanying the site.

Book Review: Images of Egypt

A very short book review of Images Of Egypt by Sir Michael Weir by Caroline Hurry:

With sites sacred to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Pagans, Egypt has the power to send anyone's imagination back through time to the days of ancient Pharaohs, the necropolitan Valley of the Kings and the Pyramids of Giza. The vivid, full-colour images captured in this coffee-table book bring to life Egypt's fascinating history from the Great Sphinx to sun-baked stone statues, temples, mosques and monasteries . The living heart of modern Cairo highlights the stark contrast between international luxury hotels and the densely packed, overcrowded dwellings of the poor. It makes the perfect gift for visitors to Egypt and armchair travellers alike.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cairo Islamic Art Museum to Reopen

Prensa Latina

The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, Egypt, will re-open in December when the 15 million dollar restoration initiated four years ago will be concluded, Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni reported Monday. The museum will reopen before its inauguration ceremony, within two years of the Islamic antiquities exhibit halls in the Louvre, New York Metropolitan, Museumsinsel in Berlin, and in Qatar and United Arab Emirates museums.

Museum Director Mohamed Abas said "The new museum will contain a section with pieces from the different Islamic eras in Egypt, including the Ayyoubid, Fatimid, Turkish, Persian, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

The other collection will exhibit original art forms and tools from the Islamic dynasties of China, India, Iran, and Arabian countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Morocco, Abas added.

Mummy of Hatshepsut - Discussion

I don't usually post comments that are posted in any of the forums, because they become so easily lost both in time and space, but this one on the Egypt Dreams web forum may be of interest to visitors (and thanks to Kat Newkirk for bringing it to my atttention).

Donald Ryan discusses some of the evidence with respect to the identification of the mummy of Hatshepsut. Donald Ryan ( Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D., Division of Humanities, Pacific Lutheran University) rediscovered and documented KV 60 in the Valley of the Kings in 1989, and here he offers some clarifications on the discussion that has been taking place on that forum, including some history and the current state of play. His post is currently third from the bottom of the page.
The home page for the Egyptian Dreams web forum can be found here.

3500 year old tomb at Beni Suef

The State Information Service confirms an earlier report that a new cemetery has been found by a Spanish Mission at Beni Suef:

An ancient cemetery was discovered in the governorate of Beni Suef. The cemetery, discovered by a Spanish mission in the Ahnasia district, includes a cabin, votive room and grave. Sources said that the cemetery was engraved with red inscriptions portraying the owner of the cemetery while standing with the vessels of the seven holy oils behind. The sources added that the cabin had two fake doors and a table. The votive room is located at the eastern part of the cemetery with two tableaus inside, the sources added. A report was drawn up and would be submitted to Culture Minister Farouq Hosni for allocating funds for completing the excavations in the area and restoring the discovered pieces.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blogger formatting problems

I am having problems with the line spacing and various other formatting problems in Blogger at the moment (not just on my own blogs, but on Tony Cagle's ArchaeoBlog).

A perusal of the Blogger help facility confirms that this is not just me losing my mind, but a problem experienced by dozens of users of the service. It appears to have occurred at the same time as the implementation of an upgrade to the Blogger service.

At the moment there is nothing much I can do except for trying to minimize the problem as best I can by fiddling with the HTML (which doesn't help much), and occasionally banging my head on my desk (which doesn't help at all but makes me feel somewhat more in touch with reality than when attempting to reformat the same post for the three hundredth time).


New Gold Processing Centre on Middle Nile

Archaeologists Discover Gold Processing Center On The Nile

Archaeologists from the University of Chicago have discovered a gold processing center along the middle Nile, an installation that produced the precious metal sometime between 2000 and 1500 B.C. The center, along with a cemetery they discovered, documents extensive control by the first sub-Saharan kingdom, the kingdom of Kush. The team from the University's Oriental Institute found more than 55 grinding stones made of granite-like gneiss along the Nile at the site of Hosh el-Geruf, about 225 miles north of Khartoum, Sudan. The region was also known also known as Nubia in ancient times.Groups of similar grinding stones have been found on desert sites, mostly in Egypt, where they were used to grind ore to recover the precious metal. The ground ore was likely washed with water nearby to separate the gold flakes. . . .

The University of Chicago expedition is part of an international recovery project underway intended to find artifacts related to Kush and other civilizations that flourished in the area before archaeological sites are covered by a steadily rising Nile. The area is being flooded by Hamdab or Merowe Dam, located at the downstream end of the Fourth Cataract. The lake to be formed by this dam will flood about 100 miles of the Nile Valley in an area that had previously seen no archaeological work."Surveys suggest that there are as many as 2,500 archaeological sites to be investigated in the area. Fortunately, this is an international effort-teams from Sudan, England, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the United States have been working since 1996, with a large increase in the number of archaeologists working in the area since 2003," Emberling said.The area will probably be flooded next year, but the team hopes to return for another season of exploration.

Also on the LA Times website:

Archeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old gold-processing center along the middle Nile in Sudan that suggests the ancient kingdom of Kush was much larger than scholars previously believed and would have rivaled the domain of the Egyptians to the north.Kush, which was called Nubia by the Greeks, was the first urban civilization in sub-Saharan Africa.

The discovery of the gold center and a related graveyard is providing new information about the relationship between rulers in the capital city, Kerma, and its peripheral subjects, said archeologist Geoff Emberling of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, who is announcing the find today.

Believed to have flourished from about 2400 BC until the 2nd century AD, Kush "is gradually coming out of the shadow of Egypt," said archeologist Derek A. Welsby of the British Museum, who was not involved in the excavation. "We didn't know that Kush extended into the 4th Cataract zone" of the Nile, Welsby said, referring to the region where Emberling excavated

And on

New rock art found in Algeria

It's a very slow news day, so here's a piece that is broadly Saharan in terms of its interest, but has very little to do with Egypt directly. It's a very short article about rock art found in Algeria, from Reuters Africa.

Algeria, a treasure house of prehistoric Saharan art, has discovered more neolithic rock etchings in the desert from around 8,000 years ago showing cattle herds, a government newspaper reported Monday.El Moudjahid daily said local tour guide Hadj Brahim found about 40 images near the town of Bechar, about 800 km /500 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers.Prehistoric paintings are found in many parts of the Sahara, often portraying a garden-like environment of hunting and dancing in bright greens, yellows and reds at a time before desertification, which happened around 4,000 years ago.Algeria's best known drawings are in the southeast in the Tassili N'Ajjer mountains. The site of 15,000 images has been named world's finest prehistoric open-air art museum by UNESCO.
Despite a rich Saharan inheritance, Algeria remains off the beaten track for most tourists because of its politically unstable history and an undeveloped tourist sector.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile

The rescue archaeology being carried out in the fourth cataract area of the Nile, in advance of the completion of the Meroe Dam, is the somewhat demoralizing subject of this article on the above page (accompanied by maps and photographs). If you are asked for a username and password, enter egyptnews into both fields.

Scholars have come to learn that there was more to the culture of Kush than was previously suspected. From deciphered Egyptian documents and modern archaeological research, it is now known that for five centuries in the second millennium B.C., the kingdom of Kush flourished with the political and military prowess to maintain some control over a wide territory in Africa.

Kush’s governing success would seem to have been anomalous, or else conventional ideas about statehood rest too narrowly on the experiences of early civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt and China. How could a fairly complex state society exist without a writing system, an extensive bureaucracy or major urban centers, none of which Kush evidently had? Archaeologists are now finding some answers — at least intriguing insights — emerging in advance of rising Nile waters behind a new dam in northern Sudan. Hurried excavations are uncovering ancient settlements, cemeteries and gold-processing centers in regions previously unexplored . . . .

Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the university, said, “Until now, virtually all that we have known about Kush came from the historical records of their Egyptian neighbors and from limited explorations of monumental architecture at the Kushite capital city, Kerma.” To archaeologists, knowing that a virtually unexplored land of mystery is soon to be flooded has the same effect as Samuel Johnson ascribed to one facing the gallows in the morning. It concentrates the mind.

Over the last few years, archaeological teams from Britain, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sudan and the United States have raced to dig at sites that will soon be underwater. The teams were surprised to find hundreds of settlement ruins, cemeteries and examples of rock art that had never been studied. One of the most comprehensive salvage operations has been conducted by groups headed by Henryk Paner of the Gdansk Archaeological Museum in Poland, which surveyed 711 ancient sites in 2003 alone.
It is not merely the archaeology of the Kushite era that is being lost - many other periods of archaeological heritage will also be lost beneath the flood waters. Another article on Kush can be found on the National Geographic website.
Evidence of large-scale gold extraction in the ancient Nubian kingdom of Kush has been found along the Nile River, archaeologists will announce today (see pictures). The discovery is part of a race to save as many antiquities as possible before a dam inundates a hundred-mile (160-kilometer) stretch of the Nile in northern Sudan.

The School of Scribes at the Ramesseum

I found this overview of work carried out at the Ramessum by accident whilst looking up something for ArchaeoBlog, from the June 20007 Jurnal of CNRS. It provides a useful overview of some of the work that has been carried out at the Ramesseum, headed by Christian LeBlanc, since 1991, and is accompanied by some good photographs.

Pour l'égyptologue, la plus importante découverte de ces dernières années est sans nul doute l'école, aussi appelée « Maison de Vie », première du genre à être mise au jour. Les élèves devaient en être en priorité des enfants des fonctionnaires du temple et de notables, probablement peu nombreux, car d'autres institutions du même genre fonctionnaient à proximité, dans les autres « temples de millions d'années ». Située dans le secteur sud-est du complexe économico-administratif, elle couvre une superficie de près de sept cents mètres carrés et est constituée de trois unités indépendantes, comprenant chacune des salles et des cellules.

L'enseignement devait s'y faire en plein air, comme le suggèrent les nombreux ostraca (tessons de poteries ou éclats de calcaire servant de supports à l'écriture) retrouvés sur le parvis, ainsi que les trous dans le sol qui permettaient d'y dresser un vélum. Les archéologues ont même découvert dans cet espace des jeux qui devaient divertir les élèves après de longues heures consacrées à l'étude.

I'm a bit rushed off my feet today, but if I get time I'll come back and fling together a quick translation of this (unless someone else fancies doing it on my behalf!).

More on the new Al Arich, Sinai, museum

Another look at the new Al Arich museum.

The Museum of Al-Arich, located in the Egyptian city of the same name, was opened to visitors early this month. The museum took three years to build, at a cost of US$ 8 million. It brings together 2,000 pieces from different periods of Egyptian history, and also vestiges of the crossing of the Sinai by the Holy Family.

Egypt has a new museum to tell its millennial history. Early this month, the Egyptian city of Al-Arich, located in the Sinai Peninsula, opened a museum that brings together 2,000 items from the Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Byzantine, and Muslim periods. The official inauguration will take place in the following weeks. The Al-Arich Museum took three years to build, and its premises cost 45 million Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of US$ 8 million. Statues, busts, icons, coins, lanterns, and manuscripts from all periods of Egyptian history are now showcased at the site.

In the museum, modern techniques were adopted in order to highlight the value of the objects. "Our goal is not only to make a simple exhibit of the pieces. We want visitors to understand the culture linked to our heritage," says the director general at the Egyptian Authority for Regional Museums, Ahmed Charaf. The museum spans an area of 19,000 square metres, with indoor and outdoor sections. In the open air, in an arch-shaped garden, there is also an amphitheatre.

See the above page for more details

Exhibition: Book of the Dead at the Fitzwilliam

It's not often that I get to link to a site like Packaging Essentials, but this news item provides one of those occasions. The exhibition A passport to the Egyptian After-life: The Book of the Dead of Ramose at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (U.K.), sponsored by ink supplier Xaar, opens today, and runs until the 19th September 2007.

Visitors will have the rare opportunity to view one of the finest and most recently restored Egyptian Books of the Dead in existence."
One of the most striking features of the Ramose papyrus is the vibrancy of colours used in the painted scenes. It feels particularly appropriate that a company whose primary concern is with colour printing should be involved with this project." says Julie Dawson, co-curator of the exhibition and Senior Assistant Keeper (Conservation) in the Antiquities Department. "The technical expertise of the Egyptian artists who worked on this papyrus is outstandingly high. Xaar has provided invaluable sponsorship towards an exhibition that allows us to bring his beautiful document before the public after two years of conservation work," added Helen Strudwick, co-curator and Outreach Officer (Ancient Egypt).

The Book of the Dead of Ramose, a high official who lived in the 12th century BC, was discovered in 1921 by the eminent archaeologist Flinders Petrie in the entrance to a tomb at Sedment in Egypt. Its frail and fragmentary condition has prevented it from being seen ever since it was excavated more than 80 years ago. Thanks to a major conservation and investigation project at the Fitzwilliam Museum, the papyrus will now be on display for a short time only, in order to preserve the vivid colours, allowing visitors a rare insight into the Egyptian world of the dead.
There is more about the exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum's website at

Virtual exploration of Egypt's monuments

With a click of his computer mouse, Peter Janosi, a lecturer at the Institute of Egyptology in Vienna, analyzes ancient statues and decodes hieroglyphs unearthed
in the distant Giza Necropolis.

From the comfort of his study in Norwich, England, Colin Newton, a retired television repairman, explores rare Giza maps and expedition diaries in an effort to catalog all Old Kingdom tombs. Meanwhile, Laurel Flentye, an Egyptologist who specializes in art and archaeology, downloads excavation photos and roams inside subterranean chambers, zooming in on relief decorations in tombs around the Sphinx and Great Pyramid from her Cairo home.

They are virtual explorers, traveling through time and space via an online, interactive collection of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world -- the Old Kingdom Giza Necropolis, with its royal tombs, pyramids, temples, and other Egyptian monuments circa 2500 BC.

The Giza Archives Project, established by Boston's Museum of Fine Arts in January 2005, aims to become the world's central online repository for all archaeological activity at the necropolis, beginning with the major 20th-century excavations that were jointly funded by the museum and Harvard University.

There's a rather nice slide show of Giza to accompany the article.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Luxor Heritage Centre

Jane Akshar had written a page on her blog about the newly opened Luxor Heritage Centre, accompanied by photographs:

This building was recently opened by Susan Mubarak and is situated at the junction between the airport road and sphinx avenue. If fact it actually overlooks the Sphinx Avenue which was an added bonus when visiting.

Over three floors and built with a mixture of donations and government funding it is
a very impressive building. I was shown round by a member of the staff Mona, she spoke excellent English, and she and the rest of the staff could not do too much to show off their new building.

The Nile is not the world's longest river

I was going to save this for Saturday Trivia next weekend, but it is a very slow news day today, so here you have it: the Amazon is longer than the Nile.

IT IS the ultimate pub quiz question and has perplexed school children for generations. But now it appears there might be a definitive answer to the question: 'Which is the longest river in the world?' In geography classes, children all over the world learn that the Nile, in Africa, is the world's longest waterway.

However, scientists in Brazil are claiming to have established once and for all that the Amazon has snatched its title. The Amazon is widely recognised as the world's largest river by volume, but has been regarded as second in length to the River Nile in Egypt.

The revised claim follows an expedition to Peru that is said to have established a new starting point further south. It puts the Amazon at 6,800km (4,250 miles) compared
with the Nile's 6,695km.

I suspect that this is just the beginning of an ongoing discussion about how the rivers were measured, and how this impacts the validity of the results.

Book Review: Ancient Egyptian Literature by John L. Foster

There's a short review of the above book on the website by K. Kris Hirst, from which the following is a brief extract (Book details: John L. Foster (translator). 2001. Ancient Egyptian Literature. University of Texas Press, Austin. 229 pp; four appendices, including a chronology, a glossary, a list of hieroglyphic passages, a list of sources; and an index.):

I think I'll go home and lie very still

feigning terminal illness.

Then the neighbors will all troop over to stare,

my love, perhaps, among them.

How she'll smile while the specialists

snarl in their teeth!

She perfectly well knows what ails me

That love song, written in the Ramessid period of ancient Egypt (ca. 1292-1070 BC), is as fresh and funny as if it were written yesterday, rather than over three thousand years ago. This is but one of numerous poems brought to us over the centuries by John Foster, research associate at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. The poems are a selection from Foster's earlier comprehensive translations of Egyptian literature, and they have been collected from papyri (paper scrolls), ostraca (etched or painted ceramic sherds), and from the walls of temples, pyramids, and tombs.

See the above link for more.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sudan arrests 12 trying to smuggle mummies

Reuters Africa

Sudanese authorities have arrested 12 people accused of smuggling ancient antiquities including two entire mummies, a state news agency said on Saturday. "The police authorities in Nile state have thwarted an attempt to smuggle ancient artefacts," the state Sudanese Media Centre said. It gave no details of the age of the mummies.

Sudan, home of the ancient Nubian civilisation, has more pyramids than neighbouring Egypt, but little excavation is done on its archaeological sites.

Sometimes known as the "Black Pharaohs," Nubian kings ruled Egypt from roughly 760 B.C. to 660 B.C. Sudan's most viewed pyramids in Merowe in northern Sudan date from about 300 B.C.

Egypt has demanded museums around the world return its antiquities, which have been smuggled out over the centuries.

Few people visit Sudan's pyramids and ancient cities, situated mostly north of Khartoum along the river Nile.

Egypt verify artefacts seized by Police in San Francisco

The El Masla website reports an Egyptian delegation will carry out a number of procedures to determine whether certain artefacts were taken out of Egypt illegally. Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawas stated that he received a letter from the Egyptian embassy in Washington informeing him that the American Security Bodies in San Francisco had contacted Egypt concerning a collection of rare pharaonic pieces offered for auction. Zahi Hawas has confirmed that if the pieces were removed from Egypt illegally, Egypt will demand that the American authorities return them to Egypt trough diplomatic means.

The article says that (as usual), legal action, witholding archeaological rights and other sanctions are being bandied around in the event that the U.S. don't offer immediate co-operation with Egypt's demands.

One million tourists visited Egypt last April

Egyptian State Information Service

Close to 1.31 million tourists from all over the world visited Egypt last April, up by 12% compared to the same month a year earlier," said chairman of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics Abu-Bakr al-Gindi. European tourists to Egypt during last April hit 75.6% of total number of tourists followed by Middle Eastern tourists 12% and African tourist 3.6%. Some 149,000 Arab tourists visited Egypt during last April, with 15.6% increase versus April of 2006, al-Gindi noted. Tourist nights spent by Arab tourists accounted for 1.7 million nights, up by 35.5% against April 2006.

Spanish mission finds monumental tomb at Bani Suef

I'm not sure about this short piece on the Elmasla (Egyptian Tourism Society) website, but I'll try to find out more about it in the next few days.

The Spanish monumental mission found at Ahnasia, Bani Suef governorate an important monumental discovery. It is a huge monumental tomb that dates back to First Transitional era "around 3500 years ago". The tomb comprises an integrated funeral collection of a compartment, alms room and a tomb of a person called "Miro_Her_Ayb" who was serving as Secretary and Only friend to the King at that time.
See the above page for more.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rosetta Online Journal - Issue 02 2007
The Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham released the second issue of the online journal "Rosetta" which covers a wide scope of archaeology, history and classics subjects. The journal is free to view and Issue #02 is online now and contains, at the above address, a review by Stephen Gregory of David Wengrow's The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, c.10,000 to 2,650 BC. Here's an extract:

Perhaps the true value of this book is that it removes the modern myth that the political unification of ‘the Two Lands’ marked the birth of ‘eternal Egypt’; it rather describes the gradual emergence of a state which remained constantly in formation. While much of the evidence discussed is well known, Wengrow offers a substantially different interpretation and, by considering the psychological and philosophical aspects which underlie processes of social and political change, convincingly infers abstract concepts from the tangible remains so as to offer a wider perspective on the period of transition from Neolithic to Dynastic Periods.