Sunday, September 30, 2007

Exhibition: More re Louvre in Atlanta

International Herald Tribune

The larger show focuses on the riches the Louvre gathered from Napoleon's conquests and through its own excavations in the Middle East, which started in the 19th century and, in some places, still continue.

From ancient Mesopotamia comes one of the oldest objects in the exhibits, a two-foot-(60-centimeter)tall statue of a local prince that dates to 2,120 B.C. A brightly painted papyrus covered in hieroglyphs from 1075-715 B.C. brings to life the Egyptian kingdoms.

See the above page for more.

Weekly Websites

New York Times (Michael Slackman)
Thanks to Kat for this piece, which combines an account of travel in the desert with the story of how the guide who lead that particular tour came to be a desert tour guide, and what that kind of life is like. If you are asked to log in, type egyptnews in both fields.

THE police were looking for five cars along a lonely stretch of desert road and, well, here were five cars. The license plates did not match the ones they were looking for, but there were five cars — so the police detained the convoy.

“Egypt really is a logic-free zone,” said Amr Shannon, the desert guide whose five-car caravan was released after an officer finally acknowledged the obvious.

The point here is not to embarrass the police at the checkpoint. It is, instead, to illustrate one of the first pieces of advice Mr. Shannon gives before taking tourists to some of the most beautiful and isolated destinations ranging across Egypt’s desert landscape.

After more than three decades of introducing thousands of tourists to the thrill of Egypt’s unique and sprawling deserts, Mr. Shannon is planning to retire in the fall. Equal parts adventurer and philosopher — Indiana Jones meets Yoda — he is now helping to teach a new generation of guides not just to showcase Egypt’s natural beauty but also to behave as a life coach. Guides must know when to intervene (when the tires are buried deep in sand, for example) and when to fade into the background, so guests can experience the buzzing silence of the open desert.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Medics check up mummies in Mannheim, Germany

Earth Times
An exhibition of 70 mummies from round the globe is to open Sunday at a German museum, complete with three- dimensional X-ray pictures to reveal probable causes of death. The bodies, some naturally mummified and other embalmed, were given computer tomography (CT) scans by university hospital doctors to reveal symptoms of tuberculosis, arthritic joints and tumours. The Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in the south-western city of Mannheim says the show, till March 24, is the biggest ever devoted to ancient preserved bodies and follows the chilling discovery that the museum had 19 mummies in its own store. The museum had lost track of several of the mummies, which were wrapped in brown paper or packed in cartons 100 years ago, and wrongly assumed they had been destroyed by Second World War bombs. The rest of the exhibits have been borrowed from science institutes and other museums.
See the above page for more - but be warned, it is a bit grizzly and it has met with some very negative critcism.

Saturday Trivia

Pyramids in Brazilian Cartoons (Isaura Daniel)
ANBA - Brazil-Arab News Agency
Pyramids, Sphinxes and pharaohs. These and other elements of Ancient Egypt are included in cartoons and caricatures published in the Brazilian press. This is what the research by Karine Lima, a history student at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) shows. She started research on the matter around two years ago, and it will become the work concluding her bachelor's degree.
There's an excellent cartoon on the page showing Dom Pedro II as a sphinx, published by Ilustrada magazine in 1871.

Self-Made Pharaoh
New York Times
If you are asked for a username and password, type egyptnews in both fields.

WHO is LordPharaoh ImHotepAmonRa?

It is a question that has likely occurred to anyone who has used the sweet-smelling balm Egyptian Magic to soothe everything from minor burns to itchy scalp.

The mouthful of a name, which is written on jars of this pale-yellow unguent, refers to its maker, a debonair 62-year-old man who changed his name to make it sound, well, Egyptian.

An American Student in London

Annie's British Blog

I am not sure why, but this blog really appealed to me. Annie is a student from New York who has come to London to study archaeology at the Institute of Archeaology at UCL. My only excuse for squeezing it into the blog is that one of her courses is Egyptian Archaeology.

Annie's perspective on London and Londoners is wholly endearing. As one who grew up overseas and came face to face with London at the age of 16, I can relate to some of her thoughts. Here's her blog post entitled "Orientation Situation", which has her response to Londoners in general and the mummified Jeremy Bentham in particular - and I have to say, whether you're American or not, you have to be a bit unusual if you don't find him a bit disturbing! I am very much looking forward to her insights into the workings of the Institute when she starts there full time.

So the past two days have been all about getting used to this country. In case I didn't mention it before, I was in a group of about 80 American study abroad kids; we were all staying at the St. Giles Hotel near Heathrow airport. For yesterday and most of today, we went from lecture to lecture, learning about various aspects of London culture. We learned about Londoners in general, safety in the city, academics in the UK, and about UCL (my new school).

Here are some of the things I learned:
About Londoners: They usually wear black or gray clothes because the weather is so depressing. They are a quiet, shy group of people, and they can be easily embarrassed. Onceyou embarrass a Brit, they won't be friends with you again. They believe Americans on the whole are too loud and bossy.
About safety: Britain was described repeatedly as a nation full or 'petty thieves'. I have to be careful I am not pickpocketed.
Academics in the UK: The professor doesn't lead you by the hand; you have to do alot of outside work. I'm ready for the challenge.
About UCL: UCL was the third university organized in England(after Oxford and Cambridge) and it was the first university that had no religious affiliation. The founder and premier philosopher of the school was a man named Jeremy Bentham. When he died, he gave his body to the university to be mummified. His body, dressed in his favorite clothes, still sits in the university library (although his head is made of wax; his real one fell off). I actually saw Jeremy today, and I found it sort of disturbing. All of the UC Lorientation leaders I met felt compelled to bring up Mr. Bentham; they found it to be really funny.

Some of my own observations: On the whole, the Brits seem to be very friendly. Food is not so great; today I was given a free sandwich that had tuna fish, whole corn kernels and mayo in it...bleeaaaargh.

Weather is pretty gray and it sprinkles occasionally from time to time. Everything is expensive.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More re new disoveries at Luxor Temple

National Geographic

Two page article following up on the new parts of the Temple of Luxor that have been revealed during the restoration of the mosque built into the side of it, with some new details and a different photograph:

The previously concealed architectural elements reveal well-preserved hieroglyphics and unique scenes depicting the powerful pharaoh.

The discovery is likely to touch a nerve among religious leaders, because the newly exposed reliefs contain representations of humans and animals, which are forbidden inside mosques, the experts said.

The mosque was erected as a shrine to Muslim saint Abul Haggag in the 13th century A.D. on the site of an earlier Christian church, which was itself built on top of the ancient temple, the archaeologists explained.

The discovery was made during repair work on the mosque after a fire damaged part of the structure in June.

"To do this project of restoration, [workers] had to reclean and reopen many things, and this is when the scenes were found, and they are really unique," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

See the above page for the full story.

Neues Museum to house Egyptology collection in 2009


The British architect David Chipperfield is either blazing a restoration trail or sabotaging old buildings, depending on which Berliner you listen to.

He is rebuilding a part of Germany's equivalent of the Louvre -- the war-damaged Museum Island complex. Chipperfield's project, the Neues Museum, is the third of five museums to be renovated, and will house Berlin's Egyptian collection, including the 14th century B.C. bust of Queen Nefertiti. It will cost 233 million euros ($329 million) to complete and won't open until 2009. Berliners got a preview in an open house from Sept. 22-24.

The Neues Museum was left to decay after suffering bomb damage in World War II. Chipperfield, 53, is conserving everything that remained without replicating what was destroyed. He is filling in the gaps with a sparse, contemporary style and modern materials -- a blend that has won both friends and foes.

See the above page for more about the museum project.

Exhibition: More re Isis y la Serpiente Emplumada
There's not much more information about this intriguing exhibition available, but the above page has some details about the source of the artefacts:

En el caso de las colecciones egipcias que conformarán Isis y La Serpiente Emplumada -detalló Ortiz Lanz- provendrán de los museos de E Cairo; el Grecorromano de Alejandría; de la Momificación en Luxor; de Asuán en Nubia y de Karnak. “Una de las coincidencias afortunadas para nuestro país es que el Museo Grecorromano de Alejandría se encuentra cerrado temporalmente por reestructuración y por tal motivo, prestará 15 de sus mejores piezas que de otra manera no podrían salir”, señaló.

The ancient Egyptian artefacts that form part of the exhibition come from Cairo, the Graeco-Roman museum of Alexandria, the Mumification Museum at Luxor, and from Aswan in Nubia and Karnak. 15 of the finest pieces were only available because the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria has been temporararily closed for rennovation.

There's a lovely photograph of a golden head of Hathor. Around 200 items in the exhibition come from Mexico and 150 from Egypt.

Terra Magazine

Isis es una de las divinidades más relevantes del Egipto faraónico, símbolo de la fertilidad y del conocimiento, y Quetzalcóatl, el dios principal del México prehispánico, representa todo lo bueno y lo sabio, es creador y dador de vida. Las antiguas civilizaciones de México y Egipto, que nunca se conocieron y vivieron a cientos de miles de kilómetros de distancia, ambas poseyeron divinidades en forma de serpientes, construyeron pirámides y crearon un calendario de 365 días.

Esta es la primera vez que Egipto manda una exhibición de antigüedades a México, y no solo a México, sino a toda Latinoamérica.

This basically says:

Isis is one of the most important deities of Pharaonic Egypt, symbolizing fertility and knowledge, Quetzalcoatl is the main god of prehispanic Mexico, representing goodness and knowledge, the creator and giver of life. The ancient civilizations of Mexico and Egypt, who never knew each other and lived hundreds of thousands of kilometers apart, each possessed deities in the form of serpents, built pyramids and created 365 day calenders.
It is the first time that Egypt has sent an exhibition of antiquities to Mexico, and not only Mexico but to all of Latin America.

There's a different photograph on this page, this time of the painted coffin of Isis, Wife of Kabekehent.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The amazing Golden Ratio

Al Ahram Weekly (Assem Deif)

Historians trace the Golden Ratio back to Euclid, yet it appears that even before him it was governing the dimensions of monuments in ancient Egypt. The most pronounced of these is the Great Pyramid. The dimensions of the inner triangle (the so-called "Egyptian triangle") of Khufu's Pyramid, for instance, in Royal cubits (one cubit equalling roughly 0.524 metres), are (220c, 280c, 356c) i.e. in the ratios 1 : sqrt(Phi) : Phi. That the foregoing relation is not a matter of coincidence is discussed elsewhere. However, the Great Pyramid is not the only structure from ancient Egypt that complies with constants like Pi or Phi; Schwaller De Lubicz, who studied the temples of Upper Egypt from 1937 to 1952, collected massive amounts of evidence to show that the Egyptians used the Golden Ratio in many ways both in the architecture of their temples and in their drawings. So whereas, prior to De Lubicz's research, the discovery of the "golden rule" was generally credited to the Greeks (although some historians denied this), the findings of such Egyptologists as De Lubicz and Fliders Petrie produced irrefutable proof that the Egyptians had a mathematical understanding of these constants, the ratios, not the symbol, 1000 earlier. Petrie, for example, noticed that the dimensions of many Egyptian tombs, especially those of a parallelepiped structure, adhered to the ratios 1 : Phi : Phi square. The same ratio also appears in a grid surrounding a human body depicted in the royal tomb of Amenhotep III in the Valley of the Kings.

See the above page for the full story.

More than you bargained for

Sometimes a little overseas purchase can lead to big trouble. Sallie Brady explains the complicated international laws that govern what you can and cannot buy abroad

When retired surgeon and archaeology buff Dr. Joel Teplinsky bought $2,000 worth of bronze figurines, stone oil lamps, and coins from a shop in Lebanon, he had no idea his purchase would land him and his adult daughter, Aimee, in jail. But a few days later, when the two entered Egypt on their trip through the Middle East, they were charged with smuggling antiquities and were put behind bars. They were released a day later, only after they had pled their innocence before a special prosecutor.

Although Teplinsky had no idea he might be breaking the law, Egyptian authorities charged him with defying a UNESCO Convention that prohibits the ownership and transport of cultural property. With no export permits or proof of provenance for the objects, Teplinsky could not prove that he wasn't violating the treaty. Even if Teplinsky had made it home to Los Angeles with his treasures, there's a good chance his booty would have been confiscated by U.S. customs officers at LAX, since the United States, like Egypt, is a keen enforcer of that UNESCO Convention.

See the above page for the full story.

Interview: The Rosetta Stone

702 ABC Sydney

An audio interview about the Rosetta Stone with Dr Karin Sowada, a former curator of the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney, in MP3 or RealPlayer formats. This is an informative item about the Rosetta Stone for those who have only a hazy understanding of this artefact, and is well worth listening to.

Daily Photo: More from the tomb of Urirenptah

More photos from the Old Kingdom (Dynasty V) mastaba tomb of Urirenptah, now in the British Museum, London (U.K.). These images are from the end wall of the tomb, and show the bringing of provisions. The inscribed lintel is from elsewhere within the same tomb.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Polish atomic physicists study Egyptian frescoes


Thousands of years ago, Egyptians knew many complicated methods of producing dyes. They used them to create many magnificent frescoes, which cover the walls of temples, royal palaces and tombs. Time and atmospheric factors have caused the paintings to lose their initial colours. The chemical reactions have modified the chemical content of the pigment. Thus, the colours we see today, are very distant from the pieces created by their ancient painters.

This is why scientists, with the help of modern knowledge, are looking for ways of recreating these processes to restore the creations of the Egyptian masters and craftsmen to their former glory. According to Dr Marek Pawłowski the spokesman for Andrzej Sołtan Institute for Nuclear Studies in Świerk, this study is a bit like a fascinating detective adventure.

Modern atomic physics provides a valuable research tool. Samples of the plaster covered in ancient dyes are radiated with beams of speeding protons, so that through analysing the radiation emitted from the radiated sample it is possible to establish its chemical and particle content. This way, one can collect the “pieces of the puzzle”, which tell us, what the initial colour of the painting was.

For the past few weeks, a scholarship holder of the Egyptian government – Shaaban Abd El Aal is running research on the ancient dyes, under the eye of Prof. Andrzej Turos. He is applying Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE), which means that characteristic X radiation, emitted from atoms as a result of ionisation of the inner atom layers, is registered on the beam of protons from the electrostatic Van de Graaff accelerator. The energy of the registered radiation provides information on the type of particles, while the intensity indicates its concentration in a given sample.

“Work on this has only started and it is difficult to predict its results. However, we have very high hopes” – Pawłowski explained.

New ways to combat looters

Times Online (Ben Mcintyre)
Numerous attempts have been made to stamp out the trade in stolen artefacts, and a number of prominent curators and dealers have recently been prosecuted for handling stolen goods. But still the market for looted antiquities expands, fed by a growing demand from the Middle East, Japan and China. Where once a rich man might adorn his palace with tiger skins and the heads of rare rhino, collectors now bag shards of Sumerian pottery and Buddhist carvings, trophy art to demonstrate wealth and sophistication.

The comparison between big game hunting and the hunt for smuggled artefacts is apt, for archaeologists are turning to the lessons of wildlife conservation in their efforts to protect the world’s most threatened sites. The answer to the plague of looting may lie with the endangered elephant.

Looters of ancient sites are operating in precisely the same way as poachers hunting elephant, rhino or apes: ivory, rhino horn and bush meat attain their value by a combination of illegality and rarity. One solution may be to treat ancient sites as, in effect, protected wildlife preserves, which visitors pay to visit just as they pay to see rare animals in their natural surroundings.

See the above page for the full story.

New Journal: Heritage Management

Heritage Management
Left Coast Press have announced the launch of a new global journal edited by Kelley Hays-Gilpin and Edward Bridge (about whom full details can be found on the above page). It is introduced on the above page as follows:

Heritage Management is a global, peer-reviewed journal that provides a venue for using scholarly, professional, and indigenous knowledge to address broader societal concerns about managing cultural heritage. We address issues of resource management, cultural preservation and revitalization, education, legal/legislative developments, public archaeology, and ethics. The journal presents an engaging forum for those who work with governmental and tribal agencies, museums, private CRM firms, indigenous communities, and colleges and universities. It facilitates a multivocal arena for disseminating and critically discussing cultural heritage management issues collaboratively among professionals and stakeholders. Heritage Management will include peer-reviewed research on policy, legislation, ethics, and methods in heritage management and will showcase exemplary projects and models of public interpretation and interaction. A peer-reviewed Forum section presents position statements and responses on key current issues. The journal also includes reviews of books, web pages, exhibits, and resources in various media.

The web page still needs tweeking a bit - there's only a holding image for the journal cover, there is no indication of what the first issue will include, and if you click on the "Read Journal Online" button it takes you to the Journal of Museum Education, but these are minor things which I daresay will be sorted out soon.

To see pricing you need to complete the three-field subscription form which will produce the right price for the type of subscription you require.

More re Previously unrecorded part of Tutankhamun treasures

Egypt State Information Service

An Egyptian archaeological mission managed to find a previously undiscovered part of Tutankhamun treasures.

The new discovered part was left by Howard Carter who discovered Tutankhamun tomb near the burial chamber at the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Upper Egypt.

Dr. Zahi Hawwas, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) said the discovery was carried out by a number of Egyptian archaeologists.

Moreover, Farouq Hosni, Minister of Culture, said the newly discovered items included 20 clay pots and cartridges carrying the name of king Tutankhamun.

Measures are underway for hosting "Tutankhamun and the golden age exhibition" in London, an Egyptian archaeological source said.

The source said the exhibition is scheduled to open in London on November 15.

The sources, accompanying the exhibition, which will last till August 30, 2008, told MENA that 132,000 tickets were sold in preparation of the event and 134 others were reserved for watching the treasures of the young king.

The treasures were previously displayed in the United Kingdom in 1972 and they attracted around 1.7 million visitors.

Tutankhamun was the king of Egypt during the XVIII Dynasty. His tomb was found almost intact by Howard Carter in 1922.

Hawass says that Tutankhamun was not black

Egyptian antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass insisted Tuesday that Tutankhamun was not black despite calls by US black activists to recognise the boy king's dark skin colour.

"Tutankhamun was not black, and the portrayal of ancient Egyptian civilisation as black has no element of truth to it," Hawass told reporters.

"Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa," he said, quoted by the official MENA news agency.

Hawass said he was responding to several demonstrations in Philadelphia after a lecture he gave there on September 6 where he defended his theory.

Protestors also claimed images of King Tut were altered to show him with lighter skin at the "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibit which leaves Philadelphia for London on September 30.

The exhibition sparked an uproar when it kicked off in Los Angeles in June 2005 when black activists demanded that a bust of the boy king be removed because the statue portrays him as white.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are discussions going on about this topic elsewhere. Two of these are:
- Responses to an earlier post on this blog
- Why Cleopatra was definately not black on the Topix website

There is also a PDF version of an article by Frank Yurco entitled Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White? previously published in the September/October 1989 issue of BAR Magazine (thanks to Kat for this reference).

Travel: Experiencing Egypt

World Hum (Chris Vourlias)

A better than average travelogue by a freelance writer ("Chris Vourlias is a freelance writer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He was last spotted on the coast of Kenya, losing dhow races and searching for free WiFi"). This has a different slant from most travel articles and is very much about sensations and experiences of small chunks of Egypt, rather than listing the features of key monuments - in fact ancient Egypt is only very vaguely touched upon. I particularly liked the description of the camel market.

Captain Mohamed has promised us the spectacle of the biggest camel market in Egypt, a riot of Arabian bargain-hunting in the dusty no-man’s land north of Aswan. It’s a chance to see something different after two lazy afternoons drifting along the Nile. He’s moored the felucca between two wooden fishing boats and flagged down a passing truck, which belches a few discouraging puffs of exhaust before wheezing down the road.

At the market men in turbans haggle hard; the camels look on, nonplussed and serene in a way that only camels can be. A guide points out the choicest ones: their humps proud, their flanks padded with muscular flesh. We watch a few get loaded onto flat-bed trucks. They wail and moan and hold their ground; a couple of guys take running starts and slam into their haunches. One gruff buyer punches a fine-looking steed in the neck, winding up for roundhouses that could floor a heavyweight. There’s a murmur of approval as the beast finally gives in, its legs roughly taken out from under it. Nearby old men sit Indian-style in the shade, drinking mint tea and lazily swatting away the flies.

We stop for supplies in a busy town nearby—an anonymous place of poured-concrete shops and women doing brisk business in their flapping chadors.

One personal whinge - my lifelong amibition to read a travel item about the Nile which doesn't quote the Herodotus “the gift of the Nile” phrase remains to be fulfilled :-)

Travel: How to get from Cairo to Alexandria

Times Online Travel Clinic
The Times Online has launched a new travel clinic, and yesterday's query was "How to get from Cairo to Alexandria?". This was answered by Sunday Times travel expert Richard Green:

The 136 miles between the capital and Alexandria is one of the busiest routes in the country, plied by buses, trains and despite the relatively short distance - and flights too.

However, the most sensible and comfortable way to enjoy the journey is by train. There are more than a dozen trains per day in each direction, but you should plumb for one of the three Turbini services. These French built trains are reliable and take just over two hours. A ticket costs just £5 each way in first class air-conditioned carriages.

The Espani (Spanish) trains cost the same as the Turbini, but stop at three stations en route, or there are the slower Francese (French) services, which are suburban-type trains that make a lot of stops. For the extra punishment on the slower trains, you'll save about £1 on the fare.

See the above page for more. My own personal experience of travelling by train in Egypt (from Cairo to Ismalia) was very enjoyable, but I wouldn't have wanted to tackle purchasing tickets in Ramesses Station in Cairo without my travelling companion, who actually knew what he was doing.

Travel book review: Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff

World Hum (Julia Ross)

At the outset of her new book, Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff, Rosemary Mahoney assures us she has no desire to die. She simply wants to row 120 miles down the world’s longest river, an unaccompanied Western woman gliding along the coffee-colored current, alone with flamingos and minarets. But the Nile isn’t just any river; local police will never allow her passage, she is told, and Egyptian fishermen might become “crazy” at the sight of a foreign woman adrift.

A year earlier, 58 tourists had been killed in a terrorist attack at Luxor’s Temple of Hatshepsut; this was no time for a foreigner to go it alone.

Thankfully, the Rhode Island-based writer isn’t easily thrown. Mahoney’s chronicle of her 1998 rowboat journey is an engaging and thoughtful travel memoir by a woman who decides to take on the Islam-West divide by way of a river and ends up turning gender and cultural biases upside down.

See the above for the full review.

Blog Updates - Thursday to Sunday

Hi to all

Just to let you know that I am off to Wales until Sunday. If the dial-up connection is any more efficient than it has been on previous occasions I will update the blog - otherwise it will be done on Sunday night or Monday morning, and will be backdated as usual.

I will also be somewhat technology-deprived for two weeks from mid October (I will post the exact dates nearer the time).

If anyone out there is mad enough to want to take over during my occasional absences, I would welcome you with open arms. It's a fairly straight forward format, as you can see - I post extracts from longer articles in block quote, and link back to them so that visitors can go to the original page to read more if they want to.

Kind regards


Daily Photo: Luxor, Avenue of the Sphinxes

The Avenue of Sphinxes at the Temple of Luxor is a processional path that once extended all the way to Karnak Temple,, roughly parallel to the Nile, and there are moves today to reinstate it along its entire original path. The Avenue existed during the reign of Hatshepsut, and was used during the Opet Festival.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More re recent discoveries in the tomb of Tutankahmun

Zahi Hawass has provided an update on the recent story regarding discoveries of artefacts in the tomb of Tutankhamun, which were not included on the official inventory, describing the contents of baskets and vessels which were found.

Reuters Africa
Egyptian archaeologists working in the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun have found baskets and intact clay pots apparently overlooked when the tomb was cleared out in the 1920s, the government said on Monday.

The 20 clay pots, sealed with Tutankhamun's name, probably contain seeds and the remains of drinks, a government statement said, quoting chief government archaeologist Zahi Hawass.

One of the baskets contains dried fruit and eight others hold almost 60 small limestone plaques also inscribed with Tutankhamun's name in the traditional cartouche format.


A team of Egyptian archaeologists, led by antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass, made the disovery in the Valley of the Kings in the ancient city of Thebes, the modern-day Luxor, in southern Egypt.

"The eight baskets contained large quantities of doum fruits, which have been well preserved," Hawass said in a statement.

The fruit baskets are each 50cm (nearly 20 inches) high, the antiquities department said.

The sweet orange-red fruit, also known as the gingerbread fruit, comes from the Doum Palm, a native of southern Egypt, and was traditionally offered at funerals.

Twenty pear-shaped containers, one metre (three feet) in height and bearing Tutankhamun's official seal were also discovered.

Both articles are brief, but see the above for more.

More re Farouk Hosni nomination for UNESCO

Egypt State Information Service

Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif, stressed on 22/9/2007 the government support for candidature of the Culture Minister Farouk Hosni for the post of Director-General of UNESCO, and the necessary efforts for the various ministries to coordinate the international and Arab efforts to support this candidature.

The Spokesman of the cabinet, Magdy Rady, added that Dr. Ahmed Nazif received a report from Minister Farouk Hosni over achievements of the Ministry in the framework of following up carrying out the electoral programme of the President Mubarak, regarding activities of the culture sector, which includes 5 axis: translation of specialized books, considering the physical dimensions and restoration of archaeological sites, the development of tourist destinations, artistic fields development and the development and establishment of museums.

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has urged Arabs to rally behind one candidate to head UNESCO.

"I respect Morocco's decision to nominate a candidate for the post," Hosni said.

"If Morocco is really serious about nominating its representative to the UN cultural organization, then let's wait for voting on the post," he added.

"But I hoped that Arabs would have stand united so that the prestigious post would go to one of them," he said.

Hosni said the competition must be fair.

Hosni hailed Oman's withdrawal of its candidate for the unity of Arabs.

"But to my mind, Egypt's heavyweight stature and President Hosni Mubarak's prestige are the main guarantee to secure the post," he said.

The Arab League has not picked a candidate and left both Egypt and Morocco pressing ahead with their nominations.

Exhibtion: Egypt in Mexico

Reuters Africa

Billed as the world's largest temporary archeological showcase, Mexican archeologists have brought treasures from ancient Egypt to display alongside the great indigenous civilizations of Mexico for the first time.

The exhibition, which boasts a five-tonne, 3,000-year-old sculpture of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II and stone carvings from Mexican pyramid Chichen Itza, aims to show many of the similarities of two complex worlds both conquered by Europeans in invasions 1,500 years apart.

"There are huge cultural parallels between ancient Egypt and Mexico in religion, astronomy, architecture and the arts. They deserve to be appreciated together," said exhibition organizer Gina Ulloa, who spent almost three years preparing the 35,520 square-feet (3,300 meter-square) display.

The exhibition opened in Monterey last weekend. According to the Monterrey Forum 2007 website The exhibition is called Isis and the Plumed Serpent. Ancient Egypt / Pre-Hispanic Mexico, and is showing at the Exhibition Center of Parque Fundidora (originally called Nave Lewis), as part of a programme of events in the Universal Forum of Monterrey Culture 2007 initiative.

I've tried to find a website for the museum, and am probably just having a thick day, but the closest I could get was the site for the park in which the museum is located, and I can't find a reference to the museum in it. If anyone has better information, please let me know - it would be nice to see some photographs of the exhibition.

Book Review: Religion in the Roman Empire

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Review by Benedetta Bessi, John Cabot University)

James B. Rives, Religion in the Roman Empire. Blackwell Ancient Religions, 2. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007. Pp. 237.

The Table of Contents indicates that there is an Egyptian section within Chapter 2, Regional Religious Traditions of the Empire:

Chapter Two, "Regional Religious Traditions of the Empire", contains a quick survey of the religious practices in the various areas of the Roman Empire (Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Italy). For each of them the author first briefly presents the historical events which led them into the Romans' sphere of influence and then describes the peculiarities of local divinities and their cult. A summarizing paragraph reflects on the dynamic tensions between uniformity and diversity, particularization and generalization, continuity and change which were so important in shaping the religious phenomenon in the Greco-Roman world.

See the above page for the full review.

Exhibition: The Louvre in Atlanta

Louvre Atlanta Home Page
Be warned - as soon as you click on the above hyperlink, it launches a video interview accompanied by background music. I was still half asleep when I clicked on it, and I nearly jumped out of my skin.

The website is the home page of the Louvre Atlanta project - a series of exhibitions taking place over a three year period, now moving into year two.

Louvre Atlanta continues this fall with The Louvre and the Ancient World. Showcasing more than 130 treasured Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Greco-Roman antiquities from the Louvre, the exhibition examines the growth of these collections under Napoleon, the discoveries and decipherment of hieroglyphics and cuneiform, and the Louvre's leading role in excavating the cradle of civilization at the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century.

A special installation highlights the colossal, ten-foot-long Tiber—one of the largest sculptures in the Louvre's collections. The Eye of Josephine, opening concurrently, reassembles more than 60 Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities that were installed by the Empress Josephine at Malmaison, her residence located on the outskirts of Paris.

The interview on the home page is between Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Musée du Louvre, and Michael E. Shapiro, the Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia (where the exhibition is taking place). Each page loads a different video.

Thanks very much to Chris Townsend for pointing me to the page.

Daily Photo: Ramesseum

The mortuary temple of Ramesses II on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor, named "The Ramesseum" by Jean-Francois Champollion.
Click on the photograph to see the full sized photograph.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mexican President inaugurates Egyptian antiques exhibition

Egypt State Information Service

Mexican President Felipe Calderon inaugurated Saturday 22/9/2007 an exhibition of Egyptian antiques, the first in Latin America, with senior officials taking part.

Ali Hossam Eddin El-Hefni, the Egyptian Ambassador in Mexico, received the guests as they came in.

A member of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Dr. Ali Radwan gave a speech, conveying President Hosni Mubarak's best regards to Calderon.

It is an honour to hold this exhibition in Mexico, which Radwan described as a "friendly" country.

The SCA member gave senior Mexico officials, including Mr and Mrs Calderon, a tour around the place and talked about the displayed objects. As many as 144 pieces are shown in the Egyptian exhibition, Radwan said, that the showcased items covered 3000 years of ancient history and belonged to 28 different dynasties.

The Mexican media also underlined the significance of the event, opening just after an international cultural forum kicked off. Talking about how it has become an international cultural city, Radwan was quoted as having said that a message of peace and security ought to come from Monterrey to the whole world.

Monterrey will host the Egyptian exhibition for four months, before it goes to Mexico City in February 2008.

Why King Tut's ethnicity is such a complex issue

Philadelphia Inquirer (Steven Barnes)

The author raises the issue of why the exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs has resulted in protestors saying that the organizers have downplayed the role of black Africa in Egypt's past. It is impossible to take extracts from this narrative to try to convey the overall message of the article, but here's a flavour of it:

The King Tut Action Committee of Philadelphia declared that the Franklin Institute had "knowingly misrepresented the young African king and African history, culture and heritage to over a million visitors." . . . .

Of course, asking, "Was Tut black?" raises the uneasy issue of what "black" is, of how much racial heritage constitutes "blackness." The Egyptians built their four millennia of culture in northern Africa and down the Nile, so the idea that they were a blend of genetics from (what we now call) Europe, the Near East, and sub-Saharan Africa is hardly absurd.

This subject always generates responses, and for anyone who has a close interest in the subject of ancient Egyptian ethnicity, you might want to have a look at an earlier post on the subject, which has now generated twenty comments by people offering very different opinions on the subject. If you want to join that conversation, please keep it civil! I have had to filter out a few posts, which were unacceptable due to the way in which they were phrased. Unfortunately, you will find that most of the people who posted are "Anonymous".

You will also find a much more long-standing and extensive conversation on the subject of Why Cleopatra was definately not black on the Topix website. I have only had the quickest look at this, and there iappears to be a fairly standard mixture of interesting /thoughtful and thoroughly silly posts - so visit at your own risk :-)

Book Review: A History of the Ancient Near East

Scholia Reviews ns 16 (2007) 38.
(Review by Jan P. Stronk, Ancient History, University of Amsterdam.)

M. Van De Mieroop, A History of the Ancient Near East, ca 3000-323 BC. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell, 2007[2]. Blackwell History of the Ancient World. Pp. xxii + 341, incl. 34 figures, 3 charts, and 21 maps.

Van De Mieroop discusses various aspects of the civilizations present at different times in the Ancient Near East, based upon sound research. Perhaps hard to notice is the inclusion in this edition of further research, compared to the first edition, occasionally leading to new insights. If the first edition was already by far the best choice for a relatively simple introduction to the history of the Ancient Near East for the English-speaking world -- certainly for the period until the rise of the Achaemenid Empire -- this certainly is the case for this edition. . . . Each chapter is, moreover, written by (a) specialist author(s), who provide(s) every chapter with a generally succinct, sometimes (as in the case of the El Amarna letters) a somewhat more elaborate introduction into the period and its main events and/or the nature of the texts. . . .

Another feature that strikes the eye is the fact that, although the Amarna-archive of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten provides some (excellently translated!) texts for this volume, further Egyptian texts are absent. That the Egyptian texts were written in a different writing system is true, but the same goes for the texts in Aramaic or Hebrew which are treated in this volume. That Egyptology is a discipline in its own right is true, but so is, for example, Hittitology.

See the above page for the complete review

Review: Audio version of The Cairo Trilogy

The Observer (Review by Rachel Redford)
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. Full-cast production starring Omar Sharif Download at In three parts, 57mins/£3.60 each.

This is a Sony award-winning production of the late Naguib Mahfouz's saga set in Cairo from 1917 to 1953, during the rise of nationalism and the beginnings of Islamic fundamentalism. A patriarchal family, a mirror of Egypt itself, has monstrous father al-Sayyid Ahmad at its head. His sons rail against the tyrannical love and tradition in the family and ally themselves to the dangerous upheaval outside. Recorded in Cairo and crammed with the tumultuous sounds and voices of a city in crisis, the dramatisation is brilliant. Its brightest star is the plangent, soulful voice of Omar Sharif as al-Sayyid Ahmad.

Daily Photo: Modern Luxor

Click on the small photo to see the full sized image.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Luxor Temple discovery - photograph

Gulf Times
There's nothing new reported in this short piece, but it does have the only photograph that either Kat or I have seen of the new discovery at Luxor Temple. Click on the above link to go to the photograph.

Interview with Dr. Gawdat Gabra

Thanks to Howard Middleton-Jones for sending me the link to his interview with the Coptologist Dr. Gawdat Gabra in Munster Germany, posted on the Coptic Research site. Please click on the photograph on the above page to watch the streamed video - this will open a new window. If you are using Firefox and it fails to load, try it in Explorer instead.

Dr. Gawdat Gabra is an independent scholar specializing in Coptic studies, and former director of the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1985). He is also a member of the board of the Society of Coptic Archaeology and chief editor for the St. Mark Foundation for Coptic History Studies. More details about Dr Gabra can be found on the above site at

The Coptic Research site is an ongoing research project which aims to provide useful links and articles on Coptic archaeology, art and history.

More re plans to illuminate the Citadel in Cairo

Egypt State Information Service

Culture Ministry plans to use state-of-the-art technology to illuminate the Citadel (Al-Qalaa).

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said Friday they will employ a group of Italian experts for the purpose. They will undertake the implementation of the project under the supervision of Misr Company for Sound and Light, he added.

The Minister also said the project would take around 18 months adding that costs were expected to amount to L.E. 10 million.

Photography at the Fitzwilliam Museum (UK)

Fitzwilliam Museum Home Page
This will have only a very localized relevance to people visiting musums in the U.K., but I thought it might be of use to some. I recently emailed the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (U.K.) to ask whether they permitted photography for non-commercial purposes, and their answer came back yesterday.

Photography is not permitted in any of the galleries, although scholars and students may write to the Museum Adminsitration with a request to take photographs for their private study or research. Such requests are passed for approval to the Keeper of the collection and it is therefore essential to be clear about the object(s) in question (ideally by accession number, but certainly by gallery and description). Private photography has to be arranged outside public opening hours, so the opportunities are restricted.

There are a number of online exhibitions which show artefacts held in the museum's Egyptology collections.

The museum does have a photography department which can supply thousands of photographs,for a fee (the price list is online, in PDF format - for details see the Photography Department pages. Images are also available via the Bridgeman Art Library. The Bridgeman does have a search engine for images.

Daily Photo Archive

I was asked yesterday if my blog has an archive for the daily photos, which it doesn't.

However, I have now added a hyperlink to the Links list so that when you click the Daily Photo link (third one down at the moment), you will find that all of the daily photos appear without any other posts. This is simply a link to a search result address, but it does the same job.

When you reach the end of the photographs shown on any page, clicking on the "Older Posts" link will take you to the next set of earlier Daily Photos.

In an ideal world you should be able to click on any of the photographs to see the larger image, but it only works on some photographs. It's a case of trying it to see what happens. Sorry about that but I have failed to find a solution so far.


Weekly Websites

Today was supposed to be a specialy edition of WW, dedicated to museum databases. However, I was somewhat inundated not only with links to databases and search engines but also online galleries and non-museum related databases and related resources. Instead of adding them here in the form of the world's longest post, I will assemble them on a web page on one of my other sites and link to it from the Links section on this blog. I'll post when I've done it. So this week is just the usual round up of places I've been visiting during the week.

The Sea Peoples and Egypt:Conflicting perspectives in the past 50 Years of Egyptology

Since the latter half of the previous century, a vast amount of research has been directed toward the ‘Sea Peoples’ phenomenon, ranging from strict adherence to literal interpretations of Egyptian texts to liberal theories about invincible Sicilian pirates and adventurers. Each of the perspectives on this matter, (un)fortunately, contains its merits and its incongruities. That is, they all share a common truth while, simultaneously, a degree of misinformation. To what extent these widely varying perspectives are the result of a particular culture (our own) or whether there exists a universal truth to which all (or none) of the theories discussed herein may claim, is called into question. The debate can be broadly broken down into two schools of thought, which serve both as critiques and stimuli for each other: (1) those who believe that the ‘Sea Peoples’ were a local phenomenon (Nibbi) and, (2) those who argue for a large scale migration and a close link between the dissolution of the Hittite Empire, Mycenaean palaces, mass destruction along the Levantian coast, and the repulsion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ from Egypt in the Late Bronze Age (Sanders, Redford, Tubb, Oren, et al.). By contrasting these various theories, perhaps scholars may arrive at a more plausible “truth” on the matter.

Castello Sforzesco Egyptology Collection, Milan

Thanks very much to Pierfranco Dotti for this link to the web pages dedicated to the Egyptology collection at the Castello Sforzesco. Housed in the subterranean area beneath the Ducal Courtyard, the Egyptian section of the Archaeological Museum offers a rich overview of ancient Egypt, organizing its collection into themes. There is a virtual tour of the collection on the above page.

Noreen Doyle's Egyptomania
Egiptomania is a web site founded to promote the examination and appreciation of the varied aspects of Egyptomania. Such examination may be scholarly or popular in approach, but it must be responsible. This will include extensive on-site bibliographies, links to web sites treating such subjects, articles (either original or reprint) featured on the pages of, a "virtual museum" of related visual material, a guide to Egyptian Revival monuments viewable by the public, and, it is hoped, conferences and traditional media publications.
For a definition of "Egyptomania" see the above page. Noreen Doyle is a writer, editor and consultant with degrees in Egyptology and nautical archaeology, whose home page can be found here.

Poznan Museum Obelisk

A detailed description of the obelisk in Poznan Museum in Poland. The page also looks at general aspects of obelisks, including their construction, transporation, how they were erected and their symbolism.

The Pyramids of Egypt

A website dedicated to lovely photographs of Egypt's pyramids, with descriptions and facts listed. Use the main menu to go to an area and then use the links in the left hand navigation bar to navigate to individual pyramids.

Expedition to Sais

Last updated in 2006, this website contains an introduction, excavation reports for every season at Sais since 1997, plus a photo gallery. Sais is int he wesbtern Egyptian Delta at the village of Sa el-Hagar. Recent excavations under the direction of Penny Wilson from Durham University have uncovered levels dating to the Neolithic period. Here's an extract from the Introduction:

Egyptologists don't know very much about the delta part of Egypt and about cities and how they were organised. They don’t like such gaps, so they go and try to fill them in. Manfred Bietak has been working hard in the Eastern delta for the last thirty years and has made some very important discoveries about ancient Egypt and its towns. There is still a gap in the west however.

We want to understand how cities could come to be important and the kind of factors which mean it was possible. We can understand some of the individuals who made things happen, such as Psamtek I and Amasis, but we would also like to know how the River Nile affected a city's fortunes, how the Egyptian focus on the west may have influenced the eventual founding of Alexandria, how the city of Sais developed from 3000 BC onward as a cult centre, the way in which Sais worked as a pilgrimage centre, the types of industries and trading which happened there, how the royal obsession with the past affected ordinary people, the forms of Saite pottery, the shape and plans of the temples, the location of the city's harbours, settlements, canals and so on.
See the above page for complete details.

Daily Photo: More from Medinet Madi

Avenue of sphinxes and lions leading to the Middle Kingdom temple of Medinet Madi. In fact, the avenue in its current form dates to the Graeco-Roman period. You can click on the photograph to see the full-sized image, if required.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More re new disoveries at Luxor Temple

Egypt State Information Service

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has announced the discovery of columns, stepping stones and inscriptions of the Luxor Temple inside the Abul Haggag Al-Oksori mosque.

Hosni said archaeologists happened on the finding as they were restoring the mosque, which were burnt recently.

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said the artifacts date back to the era of King Ramses II.

The inscriptions and drawings included one featuring King Ramses II presenting two obelisks to god Amon.

India eNews

SCA secretary general Zahi Hawas confirmed that the newly discovered collection, which revealed an important part of the history of Luxor Temple, dates back to the reign of King Ramses II in the nineteenth Dynasty from 1,304 B.C. to 1,237 B.C.

According to the SCA statement, among the most important reliefs were those featuring Ramses II while offering god Amun Re'two obelisks to be installed at the temples front facade, one of which is now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Another relief shows three statues of Ramses II wearing his formal suit and white crown, while the other one shows a type of ancient Egyptian writing known as iconography.

Mubarak to inaugurate cultural projects in Old Cairo

State Information Service

President Hosni Mubarak will inaugurate a number of cultural projects in Old Cairo area early next year, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said.

The President is expected to inaugurate the Islamic Art Museum, the Egyptian Textile Museum and the development projects on Al-Moez Ledinellah al-Fatimi street, Hosni told reporters Tuesday during a tour of Old Cairo accompanied by Cairo Governor Abdel-Azim Wazeer to get acquainted with the latest developments in the restoration project of Al-Sultan Barquq Mosque and the Egyptian Textile Museum.

See the above page for more.

Durham Fair "Mummy Roadshow"

The Middletown Press

The "Mummy Roadshow" has been added to the Discovery Center's schedule and is an exciting addition to the fair's many presentations.

Quinnipiac University professors Ronald Beckett and Jerry Conlogue - executive directors of Quinnipiac's Bioanthropology Research Institute in Hamden - will be sharing their experiences and knowledge of mummies with fair-goers this year. "It's an interesting subject - science in action. It's also a connection with the old sideshow tents from fairs gone by," said Beckett, a respiratory care professor and chairman of cardiopulmonary sciences and diagnostic imaging at Quinnipiac.

Beckett has used endoscopic techniques to help gather information that can determine a mummy's sex, age and cause of death. Conlogue, an associate professor of diagnostic imaging, says he is excited to bring the show to the Durham Fair. "Both (Beckett) and I feel it is important to get kids interested in science. Mummies seem to be a sure-fire way to get their attention."

The roadshow takes place at Durham Fair in Durham, Connecticut (U.S.)

Saturday Trivia

The Mummy Official Blog
Rob Cohen
The third in the Mummy saga has moved away from Egypt this time, relocating to China. For those interested in following the lead up to the movie, see director Rob Cohen's official blog:

Today concludes our seventh week of shooting out of a scheduled eighteen. I’m in a set we call “the ruins” which is the destroyed foundation of a farm settlement in a Himalayan mountain pass shooting three distinct love scenes: Brendan and Maria, Luke and Isabella, and John Hannah and a yak called Geraldine (not really a love scene, only kidding.) The wind and snow are pummeling the set and it looks cold, very cold but the illusion is ruined when the clapstick guy marks the shot in a T-shirt. It’s an effective illusion, but all Hollywood films are an illusion.

Death on The Nile game sells 10 million copies
Business Times Online

Agatha Christie has found a new lease of life as a video game heroine, with the “Queen of crime novelists” holding her own alongside sector stalwarts Lara Croft and Princess Zelda.

Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile, released as an internet download, has become one of the top ten games played on personal computers, the most popular platform for video games, figures released today show.

The title, based on the 1937 book in which Hercule Poirot unravels a murder onboard an Egyptian river cruise, has been downloaded 10 million times since April.

Mini Abu Simbel sculpted from sand
Two-time world champion in sand sculpting, Karen Fralich, has made a miniature version of Abu Simbel, using 25 tons of sand, for the Science Museum of Virginia (SMV) to launch a series of Egypt-themed activities. There's a picture of the model on the above page. The SMV home page is at:

Young Cleopatra begins shoot
Screen Daily

UK film, TV and theatre company Stagescreen Productions begins shooting The Young Cleopatra, the first in a series of historical features, in Egypt on November 4.

The shoot will take place at the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC), a partner in the project, and on locations in Alexandria and around the Nile.

The $3m film, billed as the story of how " young Cleopatra, Princess of Egypt, fights for her life, discovers love, and emerges as a goddess", is directed by Richard Platt. DoP Ken Brinsly will work with a largely Egyptian crew.

The EMPC has sales rights for the Arab world, and a 25% share in world rights outside the UK and Australia.

"We could shoot anything in Egypt," said Stagescreen founder and producer Jeffrey Taylor, who is now casting in London for the lead roles. "If you're looking for exotic locations, it's the place, and it's inexpensive."

See the above for more.

Daily Photo: Medinet Madi, Faiyum

The Middle Kingdom site of Medinet Madi is a remarkably pretty site in the desert area of the Faiyum depression. It was established by Amenemhat III, built in a pale yellow limestone, and is dedicated to Sobek, Renenutet (wife to Sobek and responsible for the success of the harvest) and Horus. The Middle Kingdom temple is immediately adjacent to the Graeco-Roman site Narmouthis, of which more on another day, and was rennovated in the New Kingdom and extended in the Graeco-Roman period.

In the first photograph, note that the small white blob in the sand in the foreground to the centre- right is the carved head in the second photograph.

Click on the photograph if you want to see the full sized image.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New discoveries at Luxor Temple

Monsters and Critics
I have not noticed this piece on the Monsters and Critics website echoed anywhere else, but the source quoted is the Deutsche Presse Agentur (German Press Agency) which has accurately reported other news items re Egyptology, so here it is:

A collection of new kingdom pillars, lintels and reliefs were accidentally found by Egyptian restorers from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny said Thursday.

The monuments were discovered within the internal walls of Abul Haggag El Loxory mosque, built on top of the open court of Luxor temple during restoration operations, Farouk added.

SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawas said the collection dated back to the reign of King Ramses II.

Among the most important reliefs were those featuring Ramses II while offering god Amun Re' two obelisks to be installed at the temples front facade. One of the obelisks is now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

The second relief shows three statues of Ramses II wearing his formal suit and white crown and another shows a type of ancient Egyptian writing known as iconography.

More re objections to Cairo Financial Centre

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)
It is always nice to see Nevine El-Aref's name pop up at the head of an article discussing a subject that has been somewhat vaguely reported elsewhere. On this page she looks at the background to the current arguments about the half built Cairo Financial and Tourist Centre, which is located controversially close to the Salaheddin Citadel, and she lists some of the (latest) conditions imposed by UNESCO for its completion. There is an artist's impression on the above page of what the CFTC complex may look like on completion.

Director of the World Heritage Centre (WHC) Francesco Bandarin presented UNESCO's final report on the impact of the project on the integrity of the site of the citadel this week.

After receiving the report, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced that after taking into consideration a range of expert opinions the CFTC scheme would be modified in such a way as to minimise its visual encroachment on the citadel.

See the above page for the full story.

New Discoveries in the Abusir Pyramid Field

Archaeogate Egittologia (by Miroslav Verner)

A ten page bilingual overview of the newest archaeological discoveries at Abusir, by site director Miroslav Verner. The above link takes you to the introduction. Click on the page numbers at the bottom left, or the links in the main contents listing, to navigate between the pages. All pages are written first in Italian and then English.

The Introduction by the Archaeogate staff introduces the report and its context. The Foreward gives details of previous work at Abusir. The rest of the report gives an in depth view of each pyramid in turn (Raneferef, Khentkaus II, Shepsekare, Lespius's Pyramids XXIV and XXV, and Sahure's causeway). Finally, there is a short bibliography.

This is an excellent overview of Abusir - my sincere thanks to both Miroslav Verner and Archaeogate for making it available. Here's a short extract from the Sahure Causeway page (page 9).
In the mid 1990s, Zahi Hawass began, as a part of a reconstruction project, to clean the remains of the causeway in Sahure's pyramid complex. Very soon, the loader removing masses of sand hit a big limestone block covered with scenes and inscriptions in fine low relief. The work by means of the loader was immediately stopped and a team of archaeologists, directed at first by Zahi Hawass and subsequently by his assistant Tarek el-Awadi, began to examine carefully the area around the causeway.

The discovery of the block was a great surprise because by that time an opinion prevailed that the causeway had already been excavated by L. Borchardt. The work around the causeway goes on and so far 13 blocks from the upper part of the causeway decorated with historically and artistically invaluable inscriptions and scenes. Some of the scenes and inscriptions have already been published, for instance the emaciated beduins, the sport scenes, the dragging of a pyramidion, the offering scenes, etc.

All the hitherto discovered inscriptions and scenes will be published in two monographs in the near future, one by Tarek el-Awadi and the second by Mohammad Ismail – both of them now my post-graduate students.With the permission of the two cited Egyptian colleagues, let me inform you that among the so far unpublished scenes are long lists of Sahure's funerary domains in Upper and Lower Egypt, the return of an expedition from Punt, Sahure treating palm trees imported from Punt, Sahure fishing in the Nile, etc.

Of a special historical importance is a scene of Sahure's family surrounding the king in the garden of his palace Wtjs-nfrw-Sahw-ra "Extolled-is-Sahure's-beauty". The scene definitely confirms that Sahure's consort was queen Neferetnebty and his mother Userkaf's consort Neferhetepes.

See the above link for the full selection. There's a super satellite photograph of Abusir (particularly when you use the zoom tool to zoom out) at:

Archaeogate also has a copy of the summary of survey work carried out at Saqqara Step Pyramid by the Latvian Scientific Mission, which was posted on this blog earlier this month. It is in a rather more digestible format than the blog format permits, with all the images on one page, available as thumbnails. Click here to go to that page on the Archaeogate website.

Aj-en-Aton y el misterio de la KV 55

Egiptología (Francisco J. Martín Valentín)

This article is far too long for me to translate, but if you read Spanish, you have an interest in the Amarna period in general and tomb KV55 in particular, then have a look at the above page, where the Egiptología blog has been updated with a new article called Aj-en-Aton y el misterio de la KV 55. Here's a short extract from the opening paragraphs:

Actualmente hay quien defiende que la ‘amarnología' ha tomado carta de naturaleza dentro del campo de la ‘egiptología' como una parte casi independiente de esta ciencia histórica. Los datos ofrecidos por la KV 55 resultan ser muy importantes dentro de los que se poseen para esclarecer el periodo amárnico en el momento de su extinción.

El herético de la ciudad del Horizonte El faraón Ua-en-Ra, Aj-en-Aton, había finalizado su atormentada vida en medio de una gran polvareda histórica que empañaría y oscurecería los últimos años de la gloriosa dinastía XVIII. Después de la clamorosa desaparición del rey hereje, el universo Amárnico se desplomó en enormes pedazos que, como el derrumbe de un confuso y babélico edificio, engulló entre sus escombros para la historia a todos los personajes que habían protagonizado aquellos angustiosos tiempos.

See the above page for the complete article.