Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New dams set to wipe out centuries of history

The Independent (Chris Boulding)

On 13 June last year, Sudanese security forces opened fire on a demonstration against the plans. The facts about the incident are hard to obtain because journalists have been prevented from reporting it. But according to eyewitnesses, several thousand largely Nubian protesters set out to march towards the dam company's administrative HQ, and found themselves blocked by soldiers at a narrow ravine.

Video footage shot by a local cameraman shows tear gas being fired and the crowd running through groves of date palm trees towards the Nile. Without warning, local people say the soldiers fired live rounds straight into the crowd. There was panic. By the end of the day, four people had been killed, and more than 20 seriously wounded. And the local Nubian opposition to Khartoum's hydroelectric scheme had hardened into active political resistance. "In the name of God, we will not keep quiet, even for a moment," said Osman Ibrahim, a local leader of the campaign, who witnessed the events. "We will resist and resist until the last drop of blood in our veins."

Kajbar is about 300 miles north of Khartoum in the heart of Nubia, the ancient black African kingdom which at times rivalled the pharoahs for wealth and influence. The Kajbar dam is just one of up to four planned on the stretch of the Nile north of Khartoum, which will become the hub of Sudan's power supply.

The Merowe Dam Archaelogical Salvage Mission's work is detailed on a dedicated page on the British Museum website.

SL Temple of Amun

Second Life News

Article about a Second Life version of an Egyptian temple. Second Life is an online community which aims to create 3-D experiences.

Visitors can step back in time at the newly opened Temple of Amun ( ).

Tours are being offered every Saturday at 7 a.m. SLT by the Museum Director and real life Egyptologist, Jachmes Masala. The tour takes approximately 1 ½ hours and is packed with information.

A local god of Thebes, Amun rose to prominence during Egypt’s New Kingdom (1539 – 1295 BC). The temple complex at Karnak, located just north of present day Luxor, Egypt, underwent expansion and modification during the reign of Kings Amenophis III (1390-1352 BC) and Ramses II (1279-1213 BC). In the Roman period, the temple was used as a military garrison. The Temple of Amun in SL recreates the temple as it might have been during the time of Ramses II.

Statues of Ramses II stand guard over the entrance gate. A mural shows the battle of Qadesh, where Ramses II fought the Hittites. It is believed that this was the largest chariot battle fought, with over 5,000 chariots in use to support the foot solders.

X International Congress of Egyptologists

X International Congress of Egyptologists

Details for the Congress, which takes place in May, are now available online. Abstracts are now available in PDF format. Programme details, registration instructions and other useful information are also provided. Here are details of the keynote speakers:

Prof. Emer. Jan Assmann (Heidelberg)

Title: The "structure" of ancient Egyptian religion [Abstract]

Prof. Manfred Bietak (Vienna)

Title: The nature of the relationship between Egypt and the Minoan World in the Tuthmoside Period [ABSTRACT]

Prof. Christopher J. Eyre (Liverpool)

Title: Economy and society in Pharaonic Egypt [ABSTRACT]

Mr. Sabry Abdel Aziz (Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt; on behalf of Prof. Z. Hawass)

Title: Recent discoveries in Egypt [ABSTRACT]

Prof. Richard Jasnow (Johns Hopkins)

Title: From Alexandria to Rakotis: progress, prospects, and problems in the study of Greco-Egyptian literary interaction [ABSTRACT]

Prof. Emer. Geoffrey T. Martin (Cambridge)

Title: Re-excavating KV 57 (Horemheb) in the Valley of the Kings [ABSTRACT]

Review: Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell' Egitto greco-romano. Supplemento 4

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Jean A. Straus)

Sergio Daris, Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell' Egitto greco-romano. Supplemento 4 (2002-2005). Biblioteca degli "Studi di Egittologia e di Papirologia" - 5. Pisa-Roma: Fabrizio Serra, 2007.

En 1935, Aristide Calderini lance la publication d'un dictionnaire des noms géographiques et topographiques de l'Egypte gréco-romaine. Deux fascicules paraissent sous son seul nom: Volume I. Parte 1: "A - Halikarnasseus" (Le Caire, Società reale di geografia d'Egitto, 1935) et Volume I. Parte 2: "Halikarnassos - Aolph[" (Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1966). Après le décès de Calderini, Sergio Daris s'attelle à la tâche et mène l'entreprise à son terme: de 1973 à 1987, il édite quatre volumes (II-V) en treize fascicules (Milan, Cisalpina-Goliardica). Mais il n'en reste pas là. Dès 1988, il publie un volume de suppléments qui couvre les années 1935-1986 (Milan, Cisalpino-Goliardica). Deux autres volumes de suppléments relatifs aux années 1987-1993 et 1994-2001 suivent (Bonn, Habelt, 1996 et Pise, Giardini, 2003). Tous ces ouvrages portent les noms d'Aristide Calderini et de Sergio Daris. Pour le quatrième volume de suppléments, le nom d'Aristide Calderini disparaît. Il ne s'agit en aucun cas d'une usurpation, mais d'une démarche amplement justifiée. En effet, plus les années passaient, moins l'influence de l'héritage de Calderini se faisait sentir: Sergio Daris portait seul la responsabilité de ce véritable travail de bénédictin.

Le quatrième volume de suppléments est le fruit du dépouillement des publications sorties des presses entre 2002 et 2005. Comme pour les volumes précédents, l'auteur ne s'interdit toutefois pas d'introduire des corrections ou des informations complémentaires glanées dans des publications antérieures et, de temps à autre, postérieures (cf. Narmouthis, Bibl.: Eg. Arch. 28, 2006). Parfois, les modifications apportées sont telles qu'elles ont demandé la réécriture totale ou partielle de l'article concerné.

Online theses and research publications

There is never any telling whether sites like this will take off or not, but it is a good idea - one to keep an eye on and see how it develops.

Generally, MSc or PhD theses are read by few people. Sometimes a researcher in another country want to refer your thesis, but due to unavailability of the same, he/she can not read it. Here, I am trying to solve this issue by putting forward a blog exclusively for theses and other research publications.

You can re-publish abstract of your research papers, conference proceedings, or even full text of your thesis for better visibility, easy and FREE access for everybody at If you want, I can set up an account for you so that you will be able to upload your publications.

Daily Photo - Coptic frescos from the Nubia Museum

Frescos from Abdalla Nirqi Church, 10th Century A.D., Nubia now housed in the Nubia Museum in Aswan. If you're interested in Nubian church decoration there is an article on the subject on the Arkamani website: Observations on the system of Nubian church-decoration by Karel C. Innemee.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Review: Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt: From Sargon of Agade to Saddam Hussein

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Review by Gary Beckman)

Harriet Crawford (ed.), Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt: From Sargon of Agade to Saddam Hussein. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

One of the tasks of the historian is to elucidate change in past societies. Indeed, unless he or she is concerned with a temporally quite narrow slice of the past, consideration of change lies at the very heart of the historian's work. But, of course, change occurs (or better, may be observed) at different rates in various areas of any particular culture--in political leadership, ideological structures, economics, technologies, etc.

The task set by the organizers of the conference whose presentations form the basis of the volume here under review was to examine the continuities that might persist across political upheavals in states of the Old World. Convened in London in September 2004, the meeting was originally entitled "Steady States," but perhaps in light of the currency that the phrase "regime change" has achieved in the recent rhetorical armory of American foreign policy, it is these words that are featured in the book's ultimate title.

Contemporary concerns undoubtedly also led to the inclusion as an afterword of an essay not presented on the London program, Peter Sluglett's overview of regime change in Iraq. Of the pieces from the original roster, six deal with ancient Mesopotamia, four with pharaonic Egypt, and one each with early Islamic Iran and Egypt.

Lost Egypt exhibition blog

Lost Egypt

A blog charting the work that is going into a traveling exhibition called Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science.

We’re continuing to film interviews for the Lost Egypt exhibition. Two weeks ago we met with Dr. Tosha Dupras at WOSU@COSI.

Tosha is one of our project advisors, and has been with us since the beginning of Lost Egypt. She’s an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida, and she teaches human osteology (the study of human bones), and forensic anthropology. She works at a couple of different sites in Egypt: the Dakhleh Oasis Project, and more recently, Dayr al-Barsha. We had a great time interviewing her – it was fascinating to hear her talk about forensics and the bones she uncovers. She left for Egypt last week for another field season.

Desertification: How to stop the shifting sands


A slow news day so this is a more than a little off-topic but if you're interested in the Sahara it may be of interest.

Rapid population growth has put enormous pressure on agricultural systems that have been pushed towards unsustainable farming practices in order to cope with demand. In China livestock numbers have nearly doubled in the last 30 years, from around 200 million in the early 1970's, to 427 million in 2002.

As a result huge amount of marginal land has been taken in as pasture, overgrazed to the point of exhaustion, and now farmers are being forced to watch the topsoil literally blow away on the spring winds.

In Africa demand for water has shrunk Lake Chad by 95 percent since the 1960s, leaving only sand and scrub.

In Kazakhstan desertification has meant that nearly 50 percent of cropland has been abandoned since 1980.

The Sahara is advancing into Ghana and Nigeria at the rate of 3,510 square kilometers per year.

In Iran, fierce sandstorms are believed to have buried more than 100 villages in 2002.

But this is only expected to get worse. Across the world climate change is set to exacerbate problems where poor land use and population pressure is already putting an immense strain on finely balanced ecologies.

Daily Photo - Biddulph Grange

The gardens at Biddulph Grange (in Cheshire, U.K.) have all sorts of surprises - one of the features is a tiny Egyptian temple with a topiary pyramid on top, guarded by two very smug-looking sphinxes. Great fun.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What was Herodotus trying to tell us?

The New Yorker (Daniel Mendelsohn)

A very enjoyable six-page review of Herodotus. As it is almost impossible to read anything on ancient Egypt without stumbling into Herodotus I feel moderately justified in including this article in the blog. Here's an extract:

In Book 1, there are the exotic Massagetae, who were apparently strangers to the use, and abuse, of wine. (The Persians—like Odysseus with the Cyclops—get them drunk and then trounce them.) In Book 2 come the Egyptians, with their architectural immensities, their crocodiles, and their mummified pets, a nation whose curiosities are so numerous that the entire book is devoted to its history, culture, and monuments. In Book 3, the Persians come up against the Ethiopians, who (Herodotus has heard) are the tallest and most beautiful of all peoples. In Book 4, we get the mysterious, nomadic Scythians, who cannily use their lack of “civilization” to confound their would-be overlords: every time the Persians set up a fortified encampment, the Scythians simply pack up their portable dwellings and leave.

By the time of Darius’ reign, Persia had become something that had never been seen before: a multinational empire covering most of the known world, from India in the east to the Aegean Sea in the west and Egypt in the south. The real hero of Herodotus’ Histories, as grandiose, as admirable yet doomed, as any character you get in Greek tragedy, is Persia itself.

What gives this tale its unforgettable tone and character—what makes the narrative even more leisurely than the subject warrants—are those infamous, looping digressions: the endless asides, ranging in length from one line to an entire book (Egypt), about the flora and fauna, the lands and the customs and cultures, of the various peoples the Persian state tried to absorb. And within these digressions there are further digressions, an infinite regress of fascinating tidbits whose apparent value for “history” may be negligible but whose power to fascinate and charm is as strong today as it so clearly was for the author, whose narrative modus operandi often seems suspiciously like free association.

Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal Variation in North Africa

The American Journal of Human Genetics

A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in North Africa.
Barbara Arredi, Estella S. Poloni, Silvia Paracchini, Tatiana Zerjal, Dahmani M. Fathallah, Mohamed Makrelouf, Vincenzo L. Pascali, Andrea Novelletto, and Chris Tyler-Smith.

We have typed 275 men from five populations in Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt with a set of 119 binary markers and 15 microsatellites from the Y chromosome, and we have analyzed the results together with published data from Moroccan populations. North African Y-chromosomal diversity is geographically structured and fits the pattern expected under an isolation-by-distance model. Autocorrelation analyses reveal an east-west cline of genetic variation that extends into the Middle East and is compatible with a hypothesis of demic expansion. This expansion must have involved relatively small numbers of Y chromosomes to account for the reduction in gene diversity towards the West that accompanied the frequency increase of Y haplogroup E3b2, but gene flow must have been maintained to explain the observed pattern of isolation-by-distance. Since the estimates of the times to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCAs) of the most common haplogroups are quite recent, we suggest that the North African pattern of Y-chromosomal variation is largely of Neolithic origin. Thus, we propose that the Neolithic transition in this part of the world was accompanied by demic diffusion of Afro-Asiatic–speaking pastoralists from the Middle East.

Egypt to develop ecotourism and medical tourism to increase earnings

Yahoo! News

Egypt hopes to boost its tourism earnings by 26 percent to 12 billion dollars by 2011, the official MENA agency reported on Saturday.

According to a plan launched by Tourism Minister Zuheir Garana, Egypt hopes to welcome some 14 million tourists in 2011, requiring a capacity of 240,000 hotel rooms, compared with 11 million in 2007, MENA reported.

The minister said Egypt wants to attract private investors to fund the ambitious plan which also includes developing eco-tourism and medical tourism, limiting the government's role to supervision and planning.

Ecotourism and medical tourism are very interesting offshoots of the tourism industry. These and other off-shoots were the focus of a special issue of the magazine Third World Resurgence which, if you are interested, I have summarized and provided links to on another blog. I've checked and the articles are still available in MS Word format on the TWN website.

Tourism: Egypt's tops tourist destination in Mideast, North Africa

Egypt State Information Service

Egypt has become the top tourist destination among Middle East and North Africa countries and is the world's 24th most attractive tourist destination, according to a report by Minister of Tourism Zuhir Garana.

The report, which was forwarded to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, said that the Ministry of Tourism has drawn up an ambitious plan to increase tourist revenues to 12 billion Egyptian pounds by 2011, attract up to 14 million tourists and create some 1.2 million job opportunities.

The report said that tourist revenues constitute 11.3 percent of Egypt's GDP, 40 percent of Egypt's non-commodity exports and 19.3 percent of Egypt's earnings of foreign currency.

The new strategy is based on increasing Egypt's tourist potentials, honing its competitive edge, taping new markets and diversifying tourist destinations in addition to luring tourists to unconventional markets and improving services.

It showed that Egypt attracts 23 percent of tourists coming to the Middle East region, 1.2 percent of the size of international tourism, one percent of international tourist revenues.

In 2007, 11 million tourists visited Egypt, spending a total of 112 tourist nights and bringing to Egypt 9.5 billion dollars in earnings, the report said.

Requests for information

1) Does anyone have an electronic copy of following article that I could get hold of? Neville Langton, "Bast— The Cat Goddess," Antiquarian Quarterly, vol. I, no. 4, Dec. 1925, pp. 93-4.

2) TT39 - Jane Akshar posted an item a couple of weeks ago on her Luxor News Blog about talking to a member of the TT39 team who said that TT39 (Puimre) would shortly have its own website. Delays to website projects are fairly run of the mill, but it should be up any day now if the original estimates were correct. I've had a hunt around the Web but found nothing that looks as though it belongs to the Mexican mission. If you learn that the website has come to life please let me know and I'll post the address and let Jane know too, if she doesn't find the info first.

Many thanks

Off-topic request for information - Eritrea

I know that people who visit this blog have many archaeological interests that include a much broader area then Egypt. Does anyone have any information about rock art in Eritrea - in particular Karora. I've done the usual hunting around on the web but haven't found anything very much. A friend is visiting the area and would like to do some research in advance. Any pointers welcome!

New archaeological forum


A new forum for discussion in archaeology has been let loose on the world at the above address by Tony Cagle, who runs ArchaeoBlog. A number of categories have been set up to date, and the site will doubtless evolve as people begin to contribute. Anti-spam filters are in place and working well.

Daily Photo - Gebel el Ingleez, Bahariya

These are really just an excuse to post some pretty sky scenes again. However, the ruined building on the top of a hill in Bahariya was a First World War watchpost. It was manned by Captain Claud Williams and was built to watch for Sanussi activity in the area. Captain Williams also served with the Light Car Patrols which monitored the Western Desert in vehicles which were mind-numbingly primitive for the task that they performed. The Light Car Patrols were the model for the Long Range Desert Group which operated in Egypt, Libya and the Sudan, monitoring the desert, collecting intelligence and comitting acts of military piracy where appropriate.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Egypt's pyramids packed with seashells

Discovery News (Jennifer Viegas)

Many of Egypt's most famous monuments, such as the Sphinx and Cheops, contain hundreds of thousands of marine fossils, most of which are fully intact and preserved in the walls of the structures, according to a new study.

The study's authors suggest that the stones that make up the examined monuments at Giza plateau, Fayum and Abydos must have been carved out of natural stone since they reveal what chunks of the sea floor must have looked like over 4,000 years ago, when the buildings were erected.

"The observed random emplacement and strictly homogenous distribution of the fossil shells within the whole rock is in harmony with their initial in situ setting in a fluidal sea bottom environment," wrote Ioannis Liritzis and his colleagues from the University of the Aegean and the University of Athens.

The researchers analyzed the mineralogy, as well as the chemical makeup and structure, of small material samples chiseled from the Sphinx Temple, the Osirion Shaft, the Valley Temple, Cheops, Khefren, Osirion at Abydos, the Temple of Seti I at Abydos and Qasr el-Sagha at Fayum.

New Regents' Professors Appointed

The University of Arizona News

Professor Richard Wilkinson

Wilkinson, a professor in the departments of classics and Near Eastern Studies, is internationally renowned for his eight popular books on Egyptology, which have been translated into 19 languages.

He also is famous for his leadership of the UA Egyptian Expedition and his excavations in the Valley of the Kings, most notably of the mortuary temple of the 12th century B.C.E. Queen Tausert, one of the few Egyptian queens who ruled Egypt as pharaoh.

Wilkinson's numerous grants from institutions such as the Amarna Foundation, the American Research Center in Egypt and the Petty Foundation, along with his hugely successful books on Egypt, his 33 trend-setting articles and his consultancy to the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, have made him one of the 30 most important Egyptologists in the history of his field, according to a recent online survey.

Scholars gather in Seattle to discuss ancient Egypt

The Seattle Times

The patient, a woman, was clearly in distress, with persistent sores and pain so fierce it cut like a knife.

Dr. W. Benson Harer Jr., of Seattle, recognized the symptoms as "a very good indication of genital herpes." And he would have helped, barring one inescapable fact: He was a few thousand years too late.

Harer, an OB/gyn by profession and an amateur Egyptologist by passion, learned about the case from a centuries-old medical text written on papyrus.

His interest in sexually transmitted diseases in a long-ago civilization may be the ultimate proof that no aspect of ancient Egypt has gone unstudied, a fact that will be in evidence this weekend as 300-plus Egypt scholars gather from around the world.

In more than 100 different presentations beginning Friday at the downtown Grand Hyatt Seattle, researchers will present findings on everything Egypt, from customs and clothing to coins, dance, pyramids and more. The event is the 59th annual meeting of The American Research Center in Egypt, a nonprofit formed to facilitate American study in Egypt and to strengthen cultural ties between the countries.

Who owns Antiquity?

The Wall Street Journal (James Cuno)

For years, archaeologists have lobbied for national and international laws, treaties, and conventions to prohibit the international movement in antiquities. For many of these years, U.S. art museums that collect antiquities have opposed these attempts. The differences between archaeologists and U.S. art museums on this matter has spilled over into the public realm by way of reports in newspapers and magazines, public and university symposia, and specialist—even sensationalist —books on the topic.

At the center of the dispute is the question of unprovenanced antiquities. In conventional terms, an unprovenanced antiquity is one with modern gaps in its chain of ownership. As it pertains to the United States, since in most cases we are an importer of this kind of material, this means there is no evidence that the antiquity was exported in compliance with the export laws of its presumed country of origin (these are always modern laws, hence the qualifi cation above, modern gaps). Archaeologists argue that unprovenanced antiquities are almost always looted from archaeological sites or from what would become archaeological sites. But strictly speaking, since provenance is a matter of ownership and not archaeological status, and as some countries allow for the ownership of antiquities but not their export, it is possible to illegally export a legally owned, unprovenanced antiquity. (It would have to be either an excavated antiquity that could be legally owned, or a found or looted antiquity owned by someone, if not by its current owner, before the implementation of anti-looting laws.)

See the above page for the full story.

Daily Photo - More from Wadi el Hitan, Faiyum

More photos today from the Valley of the Whales. The first shows part of the trail with one of the many shelters where you can stand to read the information boards out of the direct heat. In the background the natural sandstone looks terrific. The second photograph shows different layers of geological activity in the different textures and colours. Third, all that remains of the tree trunk are the fossilized burrows of wood-consuming worm shaped molluscs wich preserve the shape of the tree. The penultimate photograph shows the preserved roots of a mangrove swamp. Finally, some of the many wind-sculpted sandstone remnants.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Egypt's sunken treasure moors in Madrid

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Egypt's ambassador to Spain, Yasser Murad, said that over the summer Matadero Madrid would be the setting of the Spanish stop of the "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" touring exhibition, which displays 489 remarkable artefacts excavated from beneath the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. The exhibition has already seen spectacular success in Germany and France with more than 1.5 million visitors.

"From 16 April to 28 September, the Spanish people can take a virtual dive to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea and explore the lost treasures of ancient Egypt," Murad said, adding that the Matador centre was the most suitable place in Madrid to host such an exhibition since the height of its galleries meant they could house the three towering, red granite colossi of a Ptolemaic king and queen and the Nile deity, Hapi, each of which is five metres tall.

"The aura of the Mediterranean Sea is everywhere apparent," Murad told Al-Ahram Weekly. The ancient towns which lie submerged under the sea are resurrected in the Matadero. With waves echoing on the audio system and the sparkling black floor reflecting the seabed, audio-visual technology and visual effects are used to invoke the ambiance from which the antiquities were retrieved and the stages of the underwater excavation. "Visitors are taken on an imaginary voyage through time and space back to the Ptolemaic, Byzantine, Coptic and early Islamic eras, when those cities were the main commercial centres of Egypt," Murad pointed out.

See the above page for the full story.

Faiyum monastery a prey to time

Egypt Daily Star News (David Stanford)

We are on our bellies now, crawling through silky-fine sand, watching the shadows for vipers and scorpions. Inches above our heads is a huge rock, the roof of a collapsed chamber, supported by walls cut from soft, rather crumbly sandstone.

Ahead of me, my companion switches on his head torch and lights up the chamber, revealing the object of our search. Around the walls, just below the ceiling is a layer of plaster, and on it some painted images, the heads of religious figures, saints or apostles perhaps. One bears a striking resemblance to traditional images of Jesus.

We take photographs until the sand causes my camera to seize up, and then return to the fresh air above.

My companion is Amir Milad, a desert guide of many years experience, and he has brought me to Deir Abu Lifa, an abandoned Coptic monastery in the Western Desert north of Fayoum. Dating back to the early days of Coptic Christianity, the monastery is cut into an outcrop of the Qatrani mountain; a remote place in which monks could lead the contemplative life safe from persecution by the Byzantine Eastern Roman rulers. The name points to the saint assumed to have founded it, Abu Lifa, also known as Abu Banukhm or St. Panoukhius.

See the above page for the full story.

Tourism: Potential for Sinai, post-terrorism

Al Ahram Weekly (Jailan Halawi)

The Sinai Peninsula is a major tourist attraction, generating close to half of the sector's revenues in Egypt. Hit by a spate of terrorist attacks beginning in 2004, the area has since cleared away the rubble and moved from strength to strength. Yet it still, South Sinai Governor Major General Mohamed Hani Metwalli tells Jailan Halawi in a wide-ranging interview, has masses of as yet unrealised potential.

Al Ahram Weekly (Jailan Halawi)

Jailan Halawi looks back at how the southern part of the peninsula evolved into a thriving tourist hub attracting millions of visitors a year

Exhibition: De Montebello Exhibit at The Met

Suite 101 (Stan Parchin)

Thanks to Stan for letting me know that in the above exhibition, for which details are provided on the above page, the Egyptian collection will be well represented:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will present The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions from October 24, 2008 to February 1, 2009 in its second-floor Tisch Galleries.

Stan's page also provides a useful reminder that the tomb of Tutankhamun will be closing on May 1st 2008 for restoration work which is expected to last for a year.

Charting the movements of the Nile


There is an article in the most recent issue of Geoarchaeology which may be of interest. Unfortunately articles are not free to view online, but the abstracts can be viewed and 24 hour access to the articles can be purchased if required.

Stratigraphic landscape analysis: Charting the Holocene movements of the Nile at Karnak through ancient Egyptian time

J. M. Bunbury , A. Graham , M. A. Hunter

Exhibitions in Prague

Prague Monitor

This article is mainly talking about the Grand Museum of Egypt in Cairo, but at least gives the title of the Prague exhibition in this piece:

The winning design of the Grand Egyptian Museum was seen by visitors to the Lichtenstejnsky palace in Prague's neighbourhood Kampa within the exhibition Uncovering Old Egypt held on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Czech Egyptology Institute Wednesday.

I had a quick look around on the Web yesterday but was unable to find out anything else about it. I had another look today and the Prague Heart of Europe website gives the exhibition a slightly different and more plausible name: Uncovering Ancient Egypt. It offers the following information:

The event is organized by the National Museum in cooperation with the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Institute (previously Czechoslovak) of Egyptology of the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University in Prague and in Cairo. (April 18 - 27, 2008; Lichtenstein Palace, U Sovových mlýnů 4/506, Prague 1-Kampa, open 10.00-17.00)

The same page says that there is another exhibition in Prague at the moment, at the National Museum

This exhibition recalls a journey to Egypt made by the prominent Czech photographer Karel Hájek in May 1958. Over 600 photographic negatives and positives have survived from this journey: they document in a unique way the rapid and profound changes which transformed Egypt into a modern state and society.

Daily Photo - Wadi el Hitan, Faiyum

Obedient to Fred's promptings, here's a short explanation of today's photos. Wadi el Hitan, the Valley of Whales, is located within the Faiyum Depression. It contains the fossilized remains of plants and sea creatures which lived here when the area was the shoreline of the ancient Tethys Sea. Plant remains indicated that the area was very much like modern mangroves. The most important of the fossils are the whales, which provide data about the transition of these mammals from land to sea and the evolution of modern whales. The site was made a Protected Area in 1983, and became a World Heritage Site in 2005. It is beautifully laid out and well explained with detailed information boards. The surrounding scenery is very beautiful too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mysterious church and palace from the beginning of the 1st millennium A.D. discovered in Sudan

Serwis Nauka w Polsce

At the beginning of this year, archaeologists from Warsaw University, headed by Dr Bogdan Żurawski discovered the remains of an Early Christian church and an even older palace. "During research in the area of Selib, a village located on the right bank of the Nile, between the 4th and 3rd cataract, the remains of a building erected on the plan of a huge rectangle were found. It soon turned out that this was one of the most unique churches found in the area of ancient Nubia, that is modern Sudan" - Dr Zuzanna Wygnańska, editor of "Archewieści Centrum Archeologii Śródziemnomorskiej" (Archaeo-new from the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology) informed. Thanks to geophysical research and aerial photographs made from a kite, it was possible to establish that a circular building eight metres in diameter made from red brick was adjacent to the main building.

"This is extremely interesting, as the only known buildings in Nubia to be built on the plan of a circle are ovens for baking bread, bricks and lime. All doubts as to whether the building was a church disappeared when a stone reliquary, fragment of altar construction and oil lamps were found" - Wygnańska noted.

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

Search for tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony

adnkronos international

Thanks very much to Pier for sending me this English version of yesterday's Spanish post on the same subject.

Archaeologists have revealed plans to uncover the 2000 year-old tomb of ancient Egypt's most famous lovers, Cleopatra and the Roman general Mark Antony later this year.

Zahi Hawass, prominent archaeologist and director of Egypt's superior council for antiquities announced a proposal to test the theory that the couple were buried together.

He discussed the project in Cairo at a media conference about the ancient pharaohs.

Hawass said that the remains of the legendary Egyptian queen and her Roman lover, Mark Antony, were inside a temple called Tabusiris Magna, 30 kilometres from the port city of Alexandria in northern Egypt.

Until recently access to the tomb has been hindered because it is under water, but archaeologists plan to drain the site so they can begin excavation in November.

Among the clues to suggest that the temple may contain Cleopatra's remains is the discovery of numerous coins with the face of the queen.

According to Hawas, Egyptologists have also uncovered a 120-metre-long underground tunnel with many rooms, some of which could contain more details about Cleopatra.

The case of the Merowe Dam in Sudan

BN Village (Prof. Manu Ampim)

Two-part posting which shows exerpts from a report which is available for purchase.

In August 2007, I visited the Sudan for two weeks to conduct field research near the Merowe Dam area in the country’s northern region. My mission was a mini-research survey to record and document the archaeological sites and villages that will be flooded when the dam is completed in the upcoming months. The Merowe Dam is being constructed near the Fourth Cataract and, once completed in 2008, will inundate one of the most significant archaeological regions in the world. This area was an extension of one of the important political centers of the powerful ancient African civilization of Kush, and it was part of an extensive trading network and centralized kingship 4,500 years ago. My other goal of this Sudanese tour was to visit the major temple and pyramid sites, from the capital area of Khartoum down to the northern region of Merowe.

Tourism: Chinese tourism market is promising

Egypt State Information Service

Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana met on Wednesday 23/4/2008 with visiting director of the China National Tourism Administration Shao Qiwei.

The meeting took up means to promote cooperation in the field of tourism and to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting Egypt.

In statements following the meeting, Garana said the Chinese tourism market is promising, adding that the number of Chinese tourists increased remarkably in 2007.

The Chinese official, for his part, hailed as distinguished Egyptian tourist destinations.

Tourism in Egypt has become multifaceted including new kinds such as therapeutic, safari, conference, diving and golf tourism, Shao said.

The Egyptian Tourism Ministry seeks to attract more Chinese tourists, Shao added.

Exhibition: Czech Egyptology exhibition in Prague

Prague Daily Monitor

A new exhibition at the Liechtenstein Palace presents the most precious ancient Egyptian artifacts discovered by Czech Egyptologists. Arranged by the Czech Egyptology Institute, the exhibition showcases various pieces that were found more than 20 years ago, when it was legal to take discovered artifacts out of Egypt, as well as color photographs and films depicting the atmosphere from excavation sites in Abusir, Egypt.

Travel: Daylight saving in Egypt 2008

Egypt State Information Service

Egypt will switch to daylight saving time at 12 a.m. Friday April 25.

Clocks will be adjusted forward one hour.

Daily Photo - More snapshots of modern Siwa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ancient grain borer reveals biblical pest control: study


An Israeli academic team says it has resolved the Biblical riddle of how Joseph the Dreamer preserved Egypt's vast, but unsealed grain stores against invading pests during the seven year drought and saved the country's inhabitants from mass starvation.

The secret lies in the burnt corpse of a 3,500 year old beetle found in a grain of wheat claim researchers (Kislev, Simhoni and Melamed) from the laboratory for archaeological botany in the Life Sciences Department at Bar Ilan University, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The beetle belongs to the highly destructive Rhyzopetha dominica species, commonly known as the Lesser Grain Borer, which invades wheat and barley stored in silos after it has been harvested in the field.

Each female Lesser Grain Borer lays between 300 and 500 eggs a month giving birth to thousands of insect larvae a year which bore into wheat or barley. The pest can eat up a silo within a very short time.

The insect originated in India where its larvae had once bored into trees. But several thousand years ago at the time of Joseph when the insect began its westward migration to Egypt and the Middle East, it changed its taste to wheat and barley.

12 Egyptian artifacts on display at Expo Zaragoza 2008

Egypt State Information Service

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has approved the display of 12 Egyptian artifacts at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 due in Spain June 14 for three months.

Minister of Industry and Trade Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed and the Egyptian Embassy in Madrid have asked the SCA to approve the display of the 12 antiques in the exhibition which will be inaugurated by the Spanish King and Queen.

Expo Zaragoza is an International Exposition organized by the B.I.E., the French abbreviation for the International Expositions Bureau (Bureau International des Expositions).

The Exposition has 140 pavilions.

The Expo Zaragoza 2008 site will host 4,529 different shows in 13 different venues during the 93 days of the event.

Added to this figure are more than 1,000 performances that comprise the participating countries' cultural programs.

Egyptian mummy on display at Mdina

Times of Malta

Heritage Malta this weekend will be exhibiting an Egyptian mummy at the National Museum of Natural History in Mdina. The mummy was brought to Malta, together with several other Egyptian artefacts, by Lord Grenfell who was Governor of Malta from 1899 to 1903. The artefacts form part of what is now known as the Grenfell Egyptian Collection.

The items in the collection were first displayed in Malta in 1901 in the newly set up Valletta Museum. The exhibition was organised to coincide with the royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Malta. The Egyptian artefacts were exhibited in one of the inner rooms of the building which was reserved for exhibits that do not form part of the history of the islands.

The exhibition was so successful that it developed into a permanent display, and in 1903 Grenfell was also instrumental in establishing a Committee of Management of the Museum, to manage the new museum, which was housed in the Industrial Hall of the headquarters of the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in Valletta, located at Palazzo Xara, just opposite St John's Co-Cathedral.

The Egyptian mummy and its wooden sarcophagus are of late 26th Dynasty.

Egipto buscará mediante un radar las tumbas de Cleopatra y Marco Antonio


If anyone needs a rough summary of the following let me know and I'll do it, but I'm a bit rushed right now.

Los arqueólogos utilizarán a partir de noviembre un radar para buscar, cerca de Alejandría, las tumbas de los amantes más famosos de la historia del Antiguo Egipto: la reina Cleopatra y el general romano Marco Antonio.

El secretario general del Consejo Superior de Antigüedades (CSA), Zahi Hawas, hizo el anuncio en una conferencia sobre los últimos descubrimientos arqueológicos en Egipto ante miembros del Rotary Club en El Cairo. La búsqueda de estas tumbas tiene lugar en la zona de Borg Al Arab, a unos 50 kilómetros al oeste de Alejandría (norte de Egipto), "ya que creemos que Cleopatra y Marco Antonio fueron enterrados en un templo allí", dijo Hawas.

En esa misma área, los arqueólogos han descubierto en los últimos meses un busto de Cleopatra, una estatua real sin cabeza, y 22 monedas con dibujos de la reina, que muestran su belleza. Además, han hallado un túnel subterráneo de 120 metros de largo que da acceso a varias habitaciones que "pueden esconder más secretos de Cleopatra", explicó Hawas.

A new angle on pyramids

The Boston Globe (Colin Nickerson)

It's a theory that gives indigestion to mainstream archeologists. Namely, that some of the immense blocks of Egypt's Great Pyramids might have been cast from synthetic material - the world's first concrete - not just carved whole from quarries and lugged into place by armies of toilers.

Such an innovation would have saved millions of man-hours of grunting and heaving in construction of the enigmatic edifices on the Giza Plateau.

"It could be they used less sweat and more smarts," said Linn W. Hobbs, professor of materials science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Maybe the ancient Egyptians didn't just leave us mysterious monuments and mummies. Maybe they invented concrete 2,000 years before the Romans started using it in their structures."

That's a notion that would dramatically change engineering history. It's long been believed that the Romans were the first to employ structural concrete in a big way, although the technology may have come from the Greeks.

A handful of determined materials scientists are carrying out experiments with crushed limestone and natural binding chemicals - stuff that would have been readily available to ancient Egyptians - designed to show that blocks on the upper reaches of the pyramids may have been cast in place from a slurry poured into wooden molds.

See the above for more.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2008

Chicago Journals

There are a number of Egyptology book reviews in the current JNES. The Table of Contents is on the above page.

Standardized taxi rates from airport to Luxor hotels

Luxor News (Jane Akshar)

Jane has posted about taxi charges officially recommended when going from Luxor airport to various Luxor hotels. Have a look at the above page for details. Obviously these may change over time.

Back online

Well it's not the same experience as driving a Ferrari 360 Spider (no fabulous roaring sound, no breeze blowing through my hair, no raw terror), but having the broadband back is very much like the difference between driving a moped and a seriously fast car. Thanks to BT Internet's support guys for helping me out in my hour of broadband need. Mucho, mucho happiness.

And sorry about the radically off-topic Ferrari reference - it was such a seriously fun car to get my paws on! I've always been a bit silly about fast cars :-) It looks tiny in photographs but it is a serious monster.

Still technically challenged

Apparently it's not a problem with my ISP (or so I'm told by a call centre operator who read from a script, almost incomprehensibly). I've changed broadband routers, and that's not the problem either. Next it's a matter of changing over all the cables and filters. No blogging today.

On the upside, I was given the opportunity of driving a Ferrari 360 Spider this morning - the biggest adrenalin rush in a long time! It's more like driving a fighter plane than a car.

Right, back to my cables.


Daily Photo - Snapshots of modern Siwa

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blog Update

My broadband connection is down today (I feel as though I've lost a limb). Blogging by dial-up is not a practical proposition, so hopefully the "technical difficulties" that my ISP is experiencing will be resolved by tomorrow. I can't complain - my broadband service only fails about once a year, and it has never gone down for this long before.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CSUSB museum secures future

San Bernardino Sun (Michael Sorba)

The home of the largest display of Egyptian artifacts west of the Mississippi River was recently awarded the American Association of Museums' highest recognition - accreditation.

The Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum at Cal State San Bernardino was awarded the distinction in March, which makes it one of only five museums in the Inland Empire and 775 in the nation to receive such recognition.

"The university's art museum displays a world-class collection long deserving of high recognition," said Eri Yasuhara, dean of the university's College of Arts and Letters. "Through the hard work and dedication of its staff and volunteers, the ... museum has risen to new heights as an invaluable cultural asset to our community."

The association is an organization that represents museum professionals and volunteers who work for and with museums. It also represents more than 3,000 museums nationwide.

Accreditation is an extensive process that examines all aspects of a museum's operations, a statement from Cal State said.

To earn accreditation, museums conduct a year of self-study and then undergo a three-day site visit by a team of peer reviewers. It typically takes three years for a museum to complete the process, the statement said.

Travel: Khawaja kwais (Anne Wood)

It is a slow news day so here's something a bit different. Even though this isn't strictly speaking Egyptology, it is certainly travel of a somewhat unconventional sort and it is very engaging. Over five pages Ann Wood describes her journey by barge from the source of the Nile in Uganda to the Mediterranean sea.

At the end of the day, I figured it was just as well that nobody had really understood.

After the umpteenth person had commented on my upcoming Nile cruise and the archaeological wonders I would see between Luxor and Aswan, it dawned on me that my actual plan, to follow the 6,000-kilometre length of the Nile River -- from its source in Uganda to its mouth at the Mediterranean Sea -- had not really registered.

Yes, I explained, I was intending to visit the Valley of the Kings and stop for high tea at the legendary Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. But to get there, I would first have to cross the vast African wetlands known as the Sudd by river barge.

Attempts to clarify my itinerary, which inevitably drew attention to the fact that most of my journey would be through Sudan where President Omar al-Bashir's regime has inflicted untold suffering and death on the indigenous tribes in Darfur (not to mention the 21-year war with the South that only ended in 2005), met with horrified expressions. Best, I thought, to reserve until my return mention of the fact that I would be one of the first tourists to ride a barge down the Nile River since the end (goodness, probably since the start) of the North-South civil war.

Travel: Cruising the Nile by felucca

The Star Online (Revathi Murugappan)

Instead of taking a five-star cruise on the Nile, try the felucca.

For a long time in the past, travelling in Egypt meant sailing the Nile since the world’s longest river was the main transport corridor. The river was the lifeblood of the country and the quickest way to move about.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and any holiday to Egypt is incomplete without a cruise on the Nile. Almost all cruise lines travel between Luxor and Aswan, stopping along the way at various temples to show tourists the archaeological richness of the country.

While there are many all-inclusive, five-star ships clamouring for passengers, this is not the only sailing option. If you’re game for an alternative river journey (read: budget travel), then jump into a felucca (sailboat).

Cheaper and more popular among independent travellers, the felucca sails as the wind dictates. The simple wooden boat uses one main sail made of cotton and allows you to be close to the water.

A fortnight ago, my cousin and I signed up for a 4D/3N felucca adventure beginning in Aswan and ending in Luxor, followed by a 10-hour train ride back to Cairo.

Exhibition: One Man's Egypt

Borough of Broxbourne

Broxbourne is in Hertfordshire, UK.

Amateur Archaeologist Lew Blake will be exhibiting his collection of Egyptian objects both ancient and modern. The exhibition will be opened by The Mayor of Broxbourne at Lowewood Museum on Saturday 3 May at 2.30pm. Lew has spent most of his life interested in ancient Egypt.

He has assisted on many archaeological excavations in Egypt. This exhibition features a variety of pieces from the modern tourist trinket, to the genuine ancient sacred artefact dating back thousands of years.

Lew has been fascinated by how the past of Egypt has been reproduced and presented for sale and display in our commercial world. This exhibition attempts to explore the contradiction of style between the two, the sacred past and the consumer present.

The exhibition continues until 31 May 2008, and admission is free; the museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm. For more information please contact Lowewood Museum on 01992 445596.

Lowewood Museum also has its own website.

Tourism: Egypt seeks to double tourist intake from India

Daily India (Sanjay Kumar)

Two ancient civilizations seeking new moorings and contact in the modern context.

How many people and what was the volume of trade between ancient Egypt and the Harrapan civilization is not certain, but what is certain is the number of Indian tourists visiting Egypt every year is almost 100,000.

If a plan presented by Egyptian Tourism Counsellor in India, Samy Mahmoud, is anything to go by, then Egypt is planning to double its tourist intake from India by 2010.

Exhibition: Tutankhamun back in the US

USA Today

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University announced it will open the exhibit at the Atlanta Civic Center from November through May 22, 2009. The exhibit will then move to the Indianapolis Children's Museum from June to October 2009.

Yesterday's Daily Photo - Temple of the Oracle

I have been asked to explain yesterday's set of photographs, so here's a short summary. The photos show Aghurmi and the Temple of the Oracle in Siwa Oasis.

The first photo (and the one on this post) shows Aghurmi, the ruined medieval town which grew up around the temple. The town was abandoned in the mid 1920s - the main surviving feature is the tower of a mosque which was in use until recently.

The temple, shown in the second photo, was built during the 26th Dynasty and was dedicated to Amun. The temple and its oracle (a physical representation of the god, which could be consulted) were famous throughout the Mediterranean during Greek and Roman times. An early visitor was Croesus of Lydia who consulted the Oracle at Siwa before his attack on Cyrus of Persia in 546BC. Herodotus tells a story of how the Persian pharaoh Cambyses II lost an entire army in the Western Desert, which he sent to destroy the Oracle. It was later visited by Alexander the Great from 332 to 323BC - which accounts for the fame of the site today. The second AD Greek writer Arrian claims that Alexander visited the Oracle in order to confirm that he was descended from the god Amun. Perhaps he felt, like Hatshepsut centuries before him, that being able to claim descent from a powerful Egyptian deity would reinforce his position as the leader of Egypt. His divine origins were apparently confirmed by a priest of the temple.

As you can see from the second photo, the walls of the temple survive, but the internal decoration has been damaged. If you click on the last three photos you will be able to make out some of the decoration that remains in the sanctuary. The first of the three shows the twin plumes of the god Amun. The main feature of the second image is the goddess Mut facing to the right and in the final photograph a lion-headed deity, perhaps Mahes, faces to the left.

Daily Photo - Cloudy sunset at Fatnas Island, Siwa

There's no good reason for these photos - they're just quite pretty!