Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weekly Websites

Freer Sackler Online Collection - Ancient Egyptian Art
Freer and Sackler Galleries

An excellent photo gallery of the Ancient Egyptian Art collection from the Freer and Sackler Galleries in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.. For those of us who haven't been lucky enough to visit Washington, the above page provides a good collection of over 100 very fine photographs to browse. You can change how many images show at any one time, and as usual click on the small image to see the expanded version.

If you are interested in faience or glass there are some excellent examples. I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the glass-work in the past, but these pages have shown me the error of my ways.

Diary of a Dig - Excavations at Fustat in 1971
SaudiAramco World
By Elizabeth Rodenbeck

A 1974 account of an excavation in Cairo by one of the team members. She gives a day by day account, which is very engaging and gives a very vivid impression of how the excavation operated. Here's here introduction to the site, which puts her dig diary into context:

South and east of modern Cairo, between the old Roman fortress called Babylon and a cemetery known as the City of the Dead, lies a square mile or so of utter desolation. Nothing grows, there is nothing green. In every direction stretch endless low gray mounds.

Unpromising? Perhaps. But those heaps of dirt are worth another look, for they are not just dirt. They are the rubbish dumps of Cairo, and have been for the last 800 years. Underneath them, sometimes as much as 18 feet down, lie the foundations and remains of a city that flowered 1,000 years ago, Fustat, City of the Tent, founded in the 7th century by the Muslim conquerors of Egypt.

For some 500 years after the Arab conquest of Egypt, Fustat flourished as a center of commerce and trade which extended east to China and west to Spain. In the 10th century, however, the Fatimids came to Egypt from Tunisia to found a city nearby: Cairo, soon to be the center of a new caliphate and a new empire.

Careers for Women in Ancient Egypt
BBC History

Thanks to David Petersen for sending me the link to this six-page overview of the role of women in ancient Egyptian society by Dr Joann Fletcher:

Whilst the concept of a career choice for women is a relatively modern phenomenon, the situation in ancient Egypt was rather different. For some three thousand years the women who lived on the banks of the Nile enjoyed a form of equality which has rarely been equalled.

In order to understand their relatively enlightened attitudes toward sexual equality, it is important to realise that the Egyptians viewed their universe as a complete duality of male and female. Giving balance and order to all things was the female deity Maat, symbol of cosmic harmony by whose rules the pharaoh must govern.

The EEF Guide to Internet Resources for Ancient Egyptian Texts
Egyptologists' Electronic Forum
Thanks to Michael Tilgner's recent email on EEF directing attention to this excellent resource - a useful reminder that is is there and freely available.

Sand accumulation and groundwater in the eastern Sahara (PDF format)
Episodes, Vol.21 No.3 1998
By Farouk el-Baz

Nearly all sand dune fields in the eastern Sahara are located within topographic depressions. The sand, mostly composed of quartz grains, occurs south of limestone plateaus that border the Mediterranean seacoast, over which the wind blows southward. The source of the sand is the “Nubian Sandstone,” which is exposed throughout the southern part of the eastern Sahara. Satellite images, particularly radar data, reveal that sand-covered, northward-trending courses of dry rivers end at the depressions. The sand appears to have been deposited, most likely in lake beds, during wet climates. Alternating dry climatic episodes resulted in sculpturing these deposits into sand dunes and sheets by southward flowing wind. The depressions must have hosted great volumes of surface water during the wet climates. Much of that water would have seeped into the underlying rock through primary and/or secondary porosity. It follows that areas of large accumulations of sand may host vast groundwater resources.

A Rebuttal to El-Baz
Episodes Vol 21, No.4 1998
By Rushdi Said

The great sand accumulations of the eastern Sahara have been the subject of a large number

of studies since the pioneering work of the early explorers of the Western Desert of Egypt and northern Sudan (Hassanein, Prince Kamaleldin Hussein, Newbold, Shaw, Ball, Beadnell, Clayton, Almasy, Bagnold and others of the early to mid years of the 20th century). The work of these early pioneers elucidated the distribution and geomorphology of these dune belts and helped to clarify the mechanics of their accumulation, a subject which was ably treated and summed up by Bagnold in 1941 in his classic “Physics of blown sand and desert dunes”. Much has been added to our understanding of these sand accumulations of the Western Desert of Egypt since these early works. The intensive programs of applied research which were carried out in the Western Desert of Egypt since the 1960’s after the search for mineral, oil and ground water reserves helped to lay down a solid foundation for the geology of that desert (for a review and bibliography the reader is referred to the compendium on the Geology of Egypt (1990) edited by the present author and written by a large number of scholars). In addition, the extensive work on the geomorphology and prehistory that was carried out in that desert during the same period brought to the fore a wealth of data on the stratigraphy and climatological history of the Quaternary of that desert (for a review and bibliography the reader is referred to the work of Wendorf and Schild, 1996 and in press).

All this information does not seem to have been of any relevance to El-Baz when he was searching for a source for the sand of the large dune belts of the eastern Sahara in the article recently published in Episodes, V.21, No.3 (1998), pp. 147–151.


Anonymous said...

Why do you think the KV55 item is very old? SCA doing DNA testing is
very new, not?

Andie said...

Quite so - I am clearly losing my marbles. I've re-posted the KV55 piece today.