Monday, June 30, 2008

Syria unearths 2,300-year-old pharaonic engraving


Syrian archaeologists have unearthed a hieroglyph close to Damascus which dates back to the pharaonic period around 1,300 years BC, the official SANA news agency reported on Saturday.

"The antiquities department has discovered a hieroglyph on the outskirts of Damascus, 25 kilometres (15 miles) east (of the capital), engraved into a basalt stone slab (measuring) 70 by 50 cm (28 by 20 inches)," SANA said.

"This type of slab was quite widespread during the era of the Pharaohs, who used it to mark a special occasion," department head Mahmud Hammud said, adding text on the stone dated back to the reign of Pharaoh Rameses II, between 1,290 and 1,224 years BC.

The slab shows the leg of the king and behind it, the foot of the Egyptian god Amon. Amon's name figures in the text below the engraving although the date is illegible.

A similar engraving which dates from the same period was discovered several years ago in Al-Kiswah region near the capital and is on display at the Damascus national museum.

The Sirius lore

Al Ahram Weekly (Assem Deif)

Thanks to Mohamed Amin for letting me know that the above article has been posted.

To the earliest Egyptians, Sirius/Sothis was the home of departed souls. Assem Deif shows how the triad Osiris-Isis-Nephthys affected other cultures:

The place is the Isis-Hathor Temple of Denderah, where the priests hasten along the columned aisle to witness an important event. The principal temple is dedicated to Hathor, whereas a small adjacent one is dedicated to Isis in which a statue of the goddess is located at the end of the aisle.

It is a little before 5am on 22 July, 700 BC, the summer solstice; the priests wait to watch Sirius rise and its rays penetrate the temple to fall on Isis's gem. As they arrive the sun is still below the horizon, and they gaze impatiently for the apparent heliacal rising of the Dog Star. For the priests already knew that the appearance of Sepdet lasts only for a brief moment before Ra brightens the sky.

When the star begins to flicker low on the horizon it marks the beginning of a New Year in Ancient Egypt. The festivities will soon begin. The Egyptians referred to the heliacal rising and its associated festival as prt spdt, "the going forth of Sepdet". The star hid for 70 days, and now it has returned from the duat (underworld) to bring welfare to the land and to allow its people to bury their dead.

See the above page for more.

More re painted coffins

Monsters and Critics

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered painted wooden coffins that date to the era of Ramses II (1279-1212 BC), Egypt's antiquities chief said Thursday.

'These coffins were found in tombs of senior officials near Saqqara,' and some of them dated to the sixth century BC, said Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Head of the archaeological team, Ola al-Ogeizi, said several statues representing the owners of the coffins were also found in the tombs, indicating that more than one person was to be buried in each tomb.

State Information Service

A group of colored wooden sarcophagi of the ancient Egyptian Late Period, the 6th century BC, have been unearthed, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said on Thursday 26/6/2008.

"The sarcophagi, of some priests and senior employees, were discovered during the Cairo University's Archaeology College mission in the area of Saqqara near the upward path leading to the pyramid of King Unas," said Hosni.

Unas (also Wenis, Oenas, Unis, or Ounas) was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and one of the rulers of the Old Kingdom. His reign has been dated as falling between 2375 BC and 2345 BC. Unas is believed to have had two queens, Khenut and Nebit, based on their burials near his tomb. With his death, the Fifth Dynasty came to an end.

Zahi Hawwas, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said the mission found colored vessels for intestines, a wooden box and remains of the colored wooden sarcophagus of Maie, a writer from the era of King Ramses II of the 19th Dynasty (1304-1237 BC).

Mapping Djoser's Step Pyramid

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

I have a horrid impression that this has article already been posted on the blog, but a search through both Ben's posts and mine has failed to discover an exact duplicate. So here it is, and apologies if you've seen it before.

Sunrise at Saqqara, and all is well on the necropolis. It is, as usual, silent, peaceful and still out here in the desert. Last Tuesday, however, the serenity and divinity were broken by the arrival of an American-Japanese scientific mission to carry out a laser scanning survey of Djoser's Step Pyramid. At the footsteps of the pyramid were gathered dozens of people, from scientists to technicians, archaeologists and restorers to workmen, all there to witness the first ever endeavour to document, in detail, the present condition of the great and distinctive monument using a high-tech laser device in an attempt to create a virtual three-dimensional model of Egypt's oldest pyramid complex.

Carried on the backs of three professional climbers as they grappled to descend all four faces of the pyramid's six gigantic steps, the Zoser Scanner, a device created specially for the purpose, records data at the exceedingly fast rate of 40,000 points per second using infrared signals to gather coordinates and elevations of thousands of points on the monument.

"It is an archaeological salvage project," Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told Al-Ahram Weekly. He explained that such a project would not only provide a detailed map of the Step Pyramid but would also create a virtual three-dimensional model of it, which in its turn will be a valuable reference for architects, restorers and archaeologists involved in the restoration of the pyramid and for the continual monitoring of its condition.

See the above page for the full story.

Museum entrance to be transformed into an Egyptian tomb

Gadsden Times (Ashley Hopkinson)

The rear entryway of the Gadsden Museum of Art and History is being transformed into an Egyptian tomb.

Artist Kevin Keenan is volunteering his services to the project, which will showcase the museum’s exhibit on how Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb.

The large display of columns lined with hieroglyphics already is attracting the attention of many residents, Keenan said, but the project is not scheduled to be finished until August or September.

Keenan, a former naval electronic warfare officer of 21 years, said that he’s been doing art seriously for only a year but has always enjoyed it.

“I’ve been doing artwork my whole life, as long as I could put a crayon in my hand and write on the wall,” Keenan said. “I’ve always loved art and appreciated it. I’ve had a talent for it, but I’ve never done anything about it.”

Until now, that is.

In preparation for doing the museum entrance, Keenan did 10 sketches and smaller paintings for director Steve Temple to review.

Book Review: War in Ancient Egypt

Scholia Reviews (Sakkie Cornelius)

Anthony J. Spalinger, War in Ancient Egypt: The New Kingdom. Ancient World at War. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

During the period of the New Kingdom (ca. 1500-1100 BCE) Egypt ruled the east and its armies marched into Canaan, but also into Kush (Nubia) in the south. Egypt developed a standing, professional army. In this book Anthony Spalinger, a well-known Egyptologist at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, introduces us to the Egyptian war machine under the war pharaohs of dynasty 18 and the Ramesside dynasty. In the volume Companion to the Ancient Near East he has already written a chapter on this aspect of the history Egypt.

There are other books on war in Egypt, going back to Wolf, the relevant parts in General Yigael Yadin’s Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands, and more recently Ian Shaw’s little book in the Shire Egyptology series, Partridge’s Fighting Pharaohsâ and McDermot’s well-illustrated overview, to mention only a few. Spalinger does not deal with the weapons of warfare in detail, but the focus (and therefore the strong point and the greatest contribution of the book) is on the socio-political aspects of warfare; the military classes and logistics (following the method of the German military historian Hans Delbr, cf. p. xiii), showing how the military was organised, fed, and equipped, which made the Egyptian war machine so effective and creating a world power. The sources analysed and discussed include texts, iconography, and artefacts. Spalinger is also well acquainted with the German and even the Russian literature on the topic. Of great value to classicists are the many comparisons made, for example, to the way in which the armies of Alexander the Great were organised, again with regard to logistics.

Each chapter has an excursus (printed in grey) which gives more information on logistical matters and other issues, and deals with the important literature in which such matters are discussed, followed by notes which also include references to the literature. At the back is a general bibliography and an index (of names, but also authors and concepts such as chariots and horses).

See the above page for the complete review.

5,000-year-old culture has much to intrigue modern-day tourists

Deseret News (Wade Jewkes)

The number-one attraction in Egypt is the Great Pyramids, but there is much more to see in this country where recorded history dates back more than 5,000 years, and the pharaohs shaped their legacies by erecting temples and monuments that ooze with inscriptions marking their quest for the afterlife.

Tombs were stocked with writings and symbols indicating life would continue, but they were also stuffed with treasures that were believed somehow would go with the departed. Unfortunately, most golden valuables have been plundered to the point where modern-day archaeologists are happy to find the former because very little of the latter remains — having long since been lifted by the tomb raiders.

So, if your intrigue runs to culture study and what motivated this civilization, there is much to be found from the fertile valley of the Nile to the desolate Valley of the Kings. If you are fascinated by riches and wealth, well, there is that, too.

See the above three-page story for more.

Nigel Strudwick's "Egyptology Resources" - web address change

Thanks to Nigel Strudwick for the information that the Egyptology Resources website address has changed slightly. The Newton Institute which hosts the Egyptology Resources and the TT99 web sites has dropped the "cam" element from its URL. This means that the URL should now read:

For the time being the old address is being redirected automatically, but the re-direct will eventually cease to function.

Book Review: Dame Kathleen Kenyon

Archaeology Magazine (Review by Hana Koriech)

I've shoe-horned this review into the blog mainly because it interested me, but if you want to hear the most tenuous of excuses the review says that Kenyon's initial inspiration was Gertrude Caton-Thompson, who is a particular heroine of mine. Caton-Thompson is probably best known for her work at Great Zimbawe but she did truly pioneering work in Egypt, uncovering its prehistory in the Faiyum Depression, Kharga Oasis and the area around el Badari. Kathleen Kenyon, of course, is one of the most famous figures of Near Eastern archaeology and her work is legendary. There's a short biography of her on Wikipedia.

Miriam C. Davis Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land, published by Left Coast Press, Inc.

No archaeologist would ever confess to not knowing the name of Kathleen Kenyon, whose legacy includes excavating the ancient city of Jericho, and whose other accomplishments and influences on the discipline of archaeology are countless. Miriam C. Davis's book Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land is a lively biography of "the most influential woman archaeologist of the 20th century," while providing both detailed insights into many of archaeology's most significant developments and fun anecdotes of excavations in that period.

Kathleen Kenyon was eldest daughter of the prominent biblical scholar and British Museum director Sir Frederick Kenyon, who was also connected to the Institute of Archaeology, the Palestinian Exploration Fund, the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, and the British Academy. Surrounded by and associating with those of high social standing, and undoubtedly abundant with social connections, Kenyon ran in what Davis describes as "elevated circles." However, as the biography makes clear, it was more K's (as she was later known as) strong character of "determination" and "hard-headedness" than her social circles that determined her great successes in the field and elsewhere.

Kenyon first realized her passion for archaeology after joining Gertrude Caton-Thompson on the 1929 famous all-woman excavation of Great Zimbabwe as a photographer, at the suggestion of College Principle Margery Fry, despite K having "no intention of becoming an archaeologist."

See the above page for the full story.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blog Update

Hello to everyone

Thanks HUGELY to Ben Morales-Correa for doing such a fantastic job whilst I was soaking up the sun and sights in Italy. You would not believe how much it has lightened my load to know that, thanks to Ben's work, I don't have to backdate the site for the past week. It is a task which takes me an absolute age to do. I can't begin to say how grateful I am.

As usual my thanks also go to fabulous Kat Newkirk for the ongoing emails with news items.

I managed to track down three of Rome's obelisks. I didn't dare sort out my entire visit to Rome around possible obelisk sightings because the friend with whom I was traveling would have murdered me. But I will update the blog at some point with the obelisk photographs. I do wonder why Bernini thought that an elephant was a suitable stand for one of the obelisks. It is a truly wonderful elephant, but a slightly bizarre stand for the stark severity of the small obelisk which sits upon it.

I'll be updating the blog again as from tomorrow. As I said previously, Ben is more than welcome to add posts to this site, so hopefully we won't have seen the last of him here, but don't forget that you can visit his blog Egypt Then and Now.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lowe Art Museum shows "Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries" from the Petrie Museum

Art Knowledge News

Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology,University College, London, is on view at the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, from June 28th through November 2nd, 2008. The major traveling exhibition tells the story of British pioneer and archaeologist, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) and his exploration of ancient Egyptian civilization. Petrie, known as the Father of Egyptian Archaeology for his innovations and contributions to the field, excavated in Egypt for well over half a century. Excavating Egypt features 221 of Petrie's most significant finds - many never before seen by the public.

Hundreds of the Petrie Museum’s most important and spectacular objects, excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie from dozens of sites, provide a unique insight into how people lived and died in the Nile Valley. Selections include decorative art from the palace-city of the “heretic pharaoh” Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti, gold mummy masks, funerary trappings, jewelry, sculpture, and objects of daily life. Enhancing this exhibit is the Duaneteref coffin from the Bolton Museums, UK from the Bolton Museums, Archive and Aquarium in Lancashire, United Kingdom.

The exhibition also draws upon the wealth of archival material in the Petrie Museum to illustrate for the modern audience the early days of Egyptology. Photographs, excavation notes, and personal journals will bring to life the science of archaeology during its infancy, seen through the eyes of one of its greatest pioneers. Objects from the Petrie Museum’s collections will demonstrate Petrie’s innovative (for his era) archaeological methods.

See the above link for more information.

Friday, June 27, 2008

EES conference a great success!


The Egypt Exploration Society Annual Conference was held in the Brunei Gallery and Suite at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on the weekend of 22-23 June 2008. The title of the conference was ‘The Kingdom of Osiris: aspects of funerary archaeology’ and EES members and guests heard talks on a wide-range of topics from Dr Alice Stevenson, Prof Harco Willems, Dr Marleen De Meyer, Prof Geoffrey Martin, Dr Martin Bommas, Dr John Taylor, Dr Aidan Dodson, Mr Chris Naunton, Prof Rosalie David and Ms Caroline Simpson.

The Society’s Vice-Chair, Dr Paul Nicholson, chaired the conference, which was attended by over 130 members and guests, some of whom had travelled to London for the conference from as far afield as Switzerland, Belgium and the USA. The comment forms completed by members at the end of the event were overwhelmingly positive:

‘Very coherent group of lectures which complemented each other well in the chosen theme’

‘Superb weekend, well organised & managed, all speakers great stuff’

‘Excellent day and speakers’

‘A very interesting conference. The topics were well chosen and complemented each other’

‘The organisation of the 2 days and the attitude of the speakers was perfect. The staff at SOAS are very helpful and friendly. Congrats all round to the Doughty Mews team’

‘Excellent conference – really enjoyed the weekend’

‘Excellent speakers and lectures – thank you!’

Members also made suggestions (including possible topics) for future events which will be taken into consideration when these are planned. The Society is very grateful to all the speakers for their participation, and to the staff at SOAS for ensuring the success of the event.

Forthcoming EES events include a lecture by Francesco Tiradritti on the Tomb of Harwa (11 July - TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE) and study days on Deir el Medina (25 Oct) and ancient Egyptian technology (13 Dec). Please contact the Society for details:, +44 (0)20 7242 1880,

Unholy thefts


Thefts from Islamic monuments in the Darb Al-Ahmar area have highlighted the problem of security at Cairo's historic mosques.

Inlaid wooden panels from the minbars of Ganim Al-Bahlawan and Altinbuga Al-Maridani mosques have been stolen, and a marble relief from the Blue Mosque. Thieves were also caught red handed, attempting to make off with a magnificent ironwork grill window from the sabil kuttab of Rokaya Dudu.

"It's a terrible loss," says Gamal Abdel-Rehim, professor of Islamic monuments at Cairo University's Faculty of Archaeology. The minbar of Ganim Al-Bahlawan was among the most important in any of Cairo's monumental mosques.

"Securing archaeological sites is the responsibility of the authority to which the site is affiliated," said Abdel-Khaleq Mokhtar, director of monuments in south Cairo.

Abdel-Khaleq says the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has repeatedly requested that the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) tighten security at mosques or else hand over responsibility to the SCA. "Currently the role of the SCA is to restore mosques and then hand them back to the Awqaf. The SCA then makes only periodic checks on the buildings' archaeological features."

Sheikh Kamal Abdel-Nasser, director of Awqaf in Cairo, argues that the SCA is shirking its responsibilities. "Why does the SCA refuse to admit responsibility for their own security shortcomings and seek, instead, to blame the mosque guards?" he asks.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, will hold a meeting next week with the head of the Awqaf to draw up a security plan for archaeological mosques.

See the above link for more information.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Egypt archaeologists find ancient painted coffins

Yahoo! News

A team of Egyptian archaeologists have discovered several painted wooden coffins, including some dating back to the 13th century BC rule of pharaoh Ramses II.

"These coffins were found in the tombs of senior officials of the 18th and 19th dynasties," near Saqqara, Zahi Hawass, the director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Thursday.

"Some coloured unopened coffins dating back to the sixth century BC were found as well as some coffins dating back to the time of Ramses II," who ruled from 1279 to 1213 BC, he said.

See above link for more information.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tickets go on sale for Dallas King Tut exhibit

The Earth Times

Following the success of the first U.S. tour, which drew nearly 4 million visitors and broke records at each of the four museums it visited from June 2005 through September 2007, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" will return from its current London engagement to open at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) on October 3, 2008. The exhibition will remain on view through May 17, 2009.

Proceeds generated from the world tour are being used to help preserve Egypt's treasures, including the construction of a new museum in Cairo where antiquities will be housed.

When the Tutankhamun exhibition opens at the Dallas Museum of Art, "Harry Burton Photographs" will be shown together with the exhibition for the first time. On view September 14, 2008, through May 17, 2009, this photography exhibit will feature more than 40 original prints from Harry Burton, the photographer who accompanied explorer Howard Carter on the now famous Tutankhamun expedition and documented the moment-by-moment discovery of King Tut's untouched tomb.

Additionally, "Mummies 3D: Secrets of the Pharaohs," a 22-minute 3D movie adventure that follows researchers and explorers as they piece together the archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies, will be shown in the Museum's Horchow Auditorium.

The exhibition is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust, a global financial services firm, is the presenting sponsor of the encore tour, and American Airlines, the world's largest airline, is the official airline of the exhibition. The Dallas engagement is presented in partnership with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

See the above link for more information.

King Tut "authentic reproductions" go to Las Vegas museum

Las Vegas Sun

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum, a private, non-profit institution dedicated to educating children and families in the natural sciences, today announced that it is receiving a donation of "authentic reproductions" from the Tomb and Museum of King Tutankhamen at Luxor. The King Tut Museum at Luxor Las Vegas, that is.

The gift, valued at $3 million, was made possible by MGM Mirage and Luxor President and COO Felix Rappaport, and includes the guardian statues, King Tut's sarcophagus and an array of statues, vases, beds, baskets and pottery. The 17-year-old Natural History Museum will store the items until an expansion is completed to permanently display the exhibit.

"This is the largest gift we've ever received and we're incredibly honored to be given these treasures, which were precisely recreated and reproduced by artisans using the same tools and original 3,300-year-old methods," said Marilyn Gillespie, executive director of the LVNHM in a press announcement today.

See the above link for more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Egypt, Spain to use underwater robot to search for ancient Egyptian sarcophagus

An underwater robot will be used to search for the sarcophagus of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure of more than 4,500 years ago off the Spanish coasts, the Egyptian MENA news agency reported on Saturday.

Egyptian and Spanish archeologists will launch the search in the historical city of Cartagena at the depths of the sea with the help of the hi-tech equipped robot, Egyptian Secretary General of Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities, Zahi Hawwas, was quoted by MENA as saying.

The merchant ship Beatrice carrying the sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian king along with other antiquities sank off Cartagena in the early 19th century en route from Egypt to Britain, where some scientific studies were supposed to be conducted on them, Hawwas said.

Egypt and Spain will cooperate in a joint venture to locate the sarcophagus of Menkaure, the 5th king of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt who ruled from 2,551 BC to 2,523 BC.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First phase of Aksum Obelisk re-installation successfully completed


Not exactly an Ancient Egypt news, but the report is about an obelisk stolen by the Italian government of Mussolini pre World War II, its return in 2005 and its final reinstallation in its original location after 70 years.

The first phase of the re-installation works of the Aksum Obelisk, also known as Stele 2, in its original location at the World Heritage site in Aksum, Ethiopia was completed on 12 June 2008. The first of three blocks of the stele, which stands 24.3 metres high and weighs 152 tons, was successfully and smoothly mounted.

The Aksum Obelisk re-installation project, conducted by UNESCO contractor Croci Associati, is using an innovative high-technology approach, and its implementation represents a technical feat of colossal scale. The project has been prepared to ensure a zero-risk approach for the monument and the surrounding site. The successful mounting of the first block is an extremely important step confirming the soundness of the project's complex design as well as the skills of the UNESCO contractors, the construction company Lattanzi and the supervision team (Croci Associati, SPC Engineering, and MH Engineering).

The remaining two blocks will be reinstalled from 16 to 31 July 2008, one year after the start of this exceptional project.

The inauguration ceremony will take place on September 10th, the last day of the Ethiopian millennium celebrations. Photos and a press kit are available for more detailed information.

From a previous report:

The Aksum Obelisk was transported (looted) to Rome by the troops of Mussolini in 1937 and returned by the Italian Government in April 2005. Weighing 150 tons and 24 meters high, the obelisk was cut into three pieces and transported to Aksum, near its original location.

The obelisk is around 1,700 years old and has become a symbol of the Ethiopian people's identity. The significance of its return after 68 years, and the technical feat of transporting the obelisk and re-erecting it on site are on a par with other historic UNESCO projects, such as Abu Simbel, where entire Egyptian temples were removed from their original location to protect them from rising water due to the construction of the Aswan dam.

The total budget for the project is USD$2,833,985, funded by the Italian Government who also financed the transportation of the obelisk and the related studies undertaken by UNESCO in collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities and experts.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Art Deco Exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere

National Gallery of Victoria website

This winter (28 June to 5 October 2008) 2008, the National Gallery of Victoria is the exclusive Australian venue for a major exhibition of the celebrated and popular style, Art Deco. The exhibition is the most popular program ever mounted at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which houses one of the world’s great collections of Art Deco, comprising over 300 works and covering all artistic media from painting to photography, fashion to film and architecture to jewellery. Spanning the boom of the roaring Twenties and the Depression–ridden 1930s, Art Deco came to epitomize all the glamour, opulence and hedonism of the Jazz age. It was the era of the flapper girl, the luxury ocean liner, the Hollywood film and the skyscraper.

The Australian

This short extract is about how Art Deco was influenced by ancient Egyptian Art, especially after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen.

Art Deco emerged in the years before 1914 in many of the cities that had embraced Art Nouveau and its development accelerated in the aftermath of World War I. It drew life from many sources: the art of ancient civilisations and the avant-garde, the exoticism of the Ballets Russes, the motifs of French tradition and the imagery of the machine age. By the early '20s Art Deco had come to represent the fast and new, the exotic and the sensual. It was a style shaped in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, by "all the nervous energy stored up and unexpended in the war". And although its creators tended to avoid social idealism, the style clearly reflected the tensions of wider cultural politics. Figuration became central to Art Deco practice and reclining nudes, dancing maenads or huntresses could be seen on everything from textile and poster designs to moulded glass and ceramic vessels. While Art Deco was a deeply eclectic style and designers drew from many sources, none gave the style its distinct flavour more than the use of the exotic. The arts of Africa and the East proved a rich source for both forms and materials, while recent archeological discoveries fuelled a romantic fascination with the ancient cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Meso-America.

The archeological discovery that gripped the public imagination most profoundly was that of the tomb of the boy-pharaoh, Tutankhamen. In November 1922 archeologist Howard Carter uncovered an undisturbed tomb in the Valley of Kings near Luxor, one of the most important discoveries in archeological history. Funerary goods included spectacular jewellery, chariots, furniture, alabaster vessels and the fantastic gold mask and mummy cases.

These objects sparked enormous popular interest in all things Egyptian. It was, however, not so much the specific forms of the Tutankhamen pieces that were incorporated into Art Deco design but, rather, generic Egyptian imagery such as lotus flowers and buds, scarabs and hieroglyphics. The pylon and the pyramid were particularly popular motifs and appeared in many forms of decorative arts from bookbinding to jewellery.

Egypt: Pushing for Better Tourism


Egypt is overhauling its tourism industry in a bid to bring more foreign and domestic investment to the sector.

A draft bill amendment, approved by the Egyptian parliament in June 2008, will change aspects of law 38, 1977, which regulates tourism companies. The changes include allowing foreign tourism companies to operate in the country as long as they have a minimum capital amount of LE3m ($560,000). The amendment also raises the minimum capital requirement to establish a tourism operator from LE100,000 ($18,700) to LE2m ($373,700).

Adla Ragab, economic advisor for the ministry of tourism, believes the recent measures will have a positive impact on the industry, helping to create a more competitive and professional sector. "The increase in capital will help to differentiate long term operators and those adding quality to the industry from those that are not serious about investing in tourism in the country," she told OBG.

The tourism sector is an essential part of the Egyptian economy. It employs 13% of the country's workforce and accounts directly and indirectly for 11.3% of Egypt's gross domestic product (GDP), according to the fifth Egyptian Competitiveness Report, released in 2008. It is also a big foreign currency earner for Egypt, bringing in 19.3% of foreign exchange. The government expects this figure to rise by 26% to $12bn by 2011. The report also pointed out that every LE1 invested in the sector brings in LE4 in foreign currency.

See the above page for more.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice

I'm off to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the Heliacal Rising of Sirius and the beginning of a new year in the Ancient Egyptian calendar. I'll be back tomorrow with more news.

How many are your deeds, though hidden from sight. O sole God without equal!
You made the Earth as You desired, You alone. With people, cattle, and all creatures.
With everything upon Earth that walks on legs, and all that is on high and flies with its wings.
The foreign lands of Syria and Nubia, and the land of Egypt,
You set everybody in his place and supply their needs.
They all have their food and their lifetimes are counted.
Tongues differ in speech, their characters as well.
Their skins are distinct, for You distinguished the peoples.
You made the Nile in the Netherworld. You bring it up when You will,
to keep those of Egypt alive, for You have created them for yourself.
Lord of All who toils for them. Lord of All Lands who shines for them.
O Aten of daytime, great in glory! All distant lands, You make them live.
You made a heavenly Nile descend for them. With waves beating on the mountains like the sea,
to drench their fields and their towns. How excellent are your ways, O Lord of Eternity!
The Nile from heaven for foreign peoples and all land-creatures that walk on legs.
For Egypt the Nile from the Duat.

If you want to celebrate along read the entire Great Hymn to Aten here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Coils of Ancient Egyptian Rope Found in Cave

Discovery News

The ancient Egyptian's secret to making the strongest of all rigging ropes lies in a tangle of cord coils in a cave found in a hand-hewn cave at the ancient Red Sea port of Marsa Gawasis, 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of Safaga.

Discovered three years ago by archaeologists Rodolfo Fattovich of the Oriental Studies University of Naples and Kathryn Bard of Boston University, the ropes offer an unprecedented look at seafaring activities in ancient Egypt.

"The cave is really spectacular. Over 30 coils of ropes lie on the ground as if they had just been left there. Amazingly, these ropes were stored in the same way as nowadays sailors store their shipping cords -- just coiling and tighting them in the middle," archaeologist and rope analyst Andre Veldmeijer told Discovery News.

"Each cord is about 30 meters (98 feet) long and is very thick. No doubt these ropes were made for strong, heavy duties, Veldmeijer said. The theory is supported by the fact that the estimated length of the Egyptian ships is about 10 meters (33 feet) shorter than the ropes' lengths. This shows that sailors had five meters (16 feet) at both ends to tie the ropes.

The researchers believe they are the well-preserved riggings from an Egyptian seafaring expedition to the fabled Land of Punt (around present-day Somalia), in the 12th Dynasty, almost 4,000 years ago. The most famous expedition to the mysterious and exotic Land of Punt was conducted during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut and is described in bas-relief inscriptions in her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri.

They are still puzzling over the material the ancient Egyptians used to make such a strong cordage.

Archaeologists have also found remains of ship timbers, anchors, expedition equipment, cargo boxes and pottery.

See the above link for more information and a video.

More re: Ancient Egyptian administrative building, silos unearthed in Edfu


When grain was currency
"Ancient Egyptian administration is mainly known from texts, but the full understanding of the institutions involved and their role with towns and cities has been so far difficult to grasp because of the lack of archaeological evidence with which textual data needs to be combined," says Nadine Moller, assistant professor at the Oriental Institute of Chicago University and head of the archaeological mission in Tel Edfu. At Tel Edfu, Moller says, the mission has uncovered what is considered to be a downtown centre, a community located half way between the modern city of Aswan and Luxor. Tel Edfu was also a rare example where almost 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history are still preserved in the stratigraphy of a single mound.

"These monuments were found at the core of the ancient community as grain was a form of currency at that time, while the silos functioned as a sort of bank as well as a food source," Moller said, adding that the size of both the silos and administration buildings shows that the community was apparently a prosperous urban centre.

"Grain, which was usually barley or emmer wheat, was used as food and medium of exchange. One form of payment was the monthly ration of grain," Moller said.

The columned hall was the place where the scribes would possibly do the accounting, the opening and sealing of the containers, and receive letters.

The period when the administrative centre was in use is the time in history when Egypt lost its political unity and a small kingdom developed in Thebes which controlled most of Upper Egypt. During this period one can see an increase in connections between the provincial elite, such as the family of the governor, to the royal family at Thebes who were keen on strengthening bonds through marriage or by awarding important offices to these people.

See the above link for more

Palatial museum for Assiut


The exquisite, early 20th-century residential palace of Alexan Pasha will soon be converted into the Assiut National Museum, Nevine El-Aref reports.

The Alexan Pasha Palace stands on the Nile Corniche in Assiut, its faded decorative façades waiting for restoration. With a budget of LE18,181,000, the palace is now on Egypt's antiquities list almost a century after its construction.

Alexan Pasha built his splendid palace on the bank of the Nile in 1910, creating a garden on just a feddan around his new residence in Upper Egypt. The palace originally had three floors; the first two for Alexan's family and the top floor for the servants. The first floor has two large rooms; the eastern one being the reception hall, furnished with a number of salons in different colours, decorative motifs and styles and with European oil paintings hanging on the walls and a number of showcases filled with small European-style antiques. The second hall at the western end of the house was used as the dining room, and holds three sets of tables and chairs and three cupboards laden with silver pieces. The room was connected to a fully-equipped kitchen, and next to it an office, a bathroom and two bedrooms complete with beds and cupboards. The dining room also has an adjoining reception area and a billiard room. The second floor has a number of bed and drawing rooms.

In 1995, owing to the exquisite and unique architectural features of the house, the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) put the palace on Egypt's antiquities list, but the lack of money delayed all work on restoring the palace until 2004.

See the above link for more.

Unbroken story of human progress


Book Review: A History of Egypt: From earliest times to the present, Jason Thompson, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2008. pp383, 2 maps, 80 b/w photos

Here's an extract from Jill Kamil 's review:

With his new book, Jason Thompson attempts the ambitious task of covering the entire span of Egyptian history from its earliest settlers to the present day. This is the first major work of its kind, and it succeeds triumphantly. Never before has any individual tried to provide a comprehensive coverage of Egyptian history from predynastic settlements through the pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras, followed by the Ottoman Turks, the birth of modern Egypt, mid- nineteenth-century Egypt, the British occupation and the parliamentary era through to Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak.

A History of Egypt is a remarkable work of synthesis, cohesion, and understanding. "Egypt," he writes in his Preface, "is the most written-about land in the world, an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers and interest for readers -- but they almost invariably concentrate on one particular period, as if hermetically sealed from each other. Yet few if any lands have as many threads of continuity running throughout their entire historical experience as Egypt. While the country has changed almost beyond recognition, one is repeatedly confronted by the paradox -- indeed the outright contradiction -- that many aspects of Egyptian culture have remained recognisably the same and can be documented across the millennia."

On his vast canvas Thompson's oversights, if there are any, are trivial and not worth mentioning. What is worthy of note is that Egyptian history can be treated as a whole, and that, by drawing on historical scholarship as well as his own research, Thompson has written a one- volume narrative of the extraordinarily long course of human history by the Nile.

A History of Egypt is an important book, a distinguished work of scholarship and of understanding. It provides an engaging one-volume narrative of the extraordinarily long course of human history, tracing how Egypt emerged from predynastic kingdoms, through pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine, Coptic, mediaeval Islamic, and Ottoman eras, to its nation-state status in the 21st century.

Let me add that the book is timely. The National Museum of Egyptian History on the pyramid plateau at Giza is well on its way to completion, and it, too, will cover under one roof the whole span of Egyptian history from the most ancient past to the present.

See the above link for the full review.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ancient Christian "Holy Wine" Factory Found in Egypt

National Geographic

Two wine presses found in Egypt were likely part of the area's earliest winery, producing holy wine for export to Christians abroad.

Egyptian archaeologists discovered the two presses with large crosses carved across them near St. Catherine's Monastery, a sixth-century A.D. complex near Mount Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula. Although the presses have not yet been conclusively dated, archaeologists believe the tools were made between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D. Several gold coins picturing the Roman Emperor Valens, who ruled from A.D. 364 to 378, were also found near the presses. The wine presses could date to the same period, archaeologists say. Similar coins have been found in Lebanon and Syria—the areas of origin for many of the grape varieties used for wine in ancient Egypt.

The wine made near Sinai was stored in the amphorae, standard vessels of the time for shipping wine, olive oil, grain, fish, and other items. It would have been considered to be from a holy site and used in religious ceremonies—such as the Christian Eucharist—at St. Catherine's Monastery and abroad. Early Christians likely managed to grow grapevines and palm trees at the winery site because—at more than 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) above sea level—it would have been cooler than the surrounding desert.

The wine presses have 4-foot-square (1.2-meter-square) basins, where monks would have used their feet to smash grapes. A hole at one end of each press likely fed into a lower basin, which caught the pressed juice. The structures are similar to presses used by ancient Egyptians, beginning as early as 3,000 B.C., when pharaohs started a royal winemaking industry in the fertile Nile Delta.

There is no evidence, however, that ancient Egyptians produced wine in this part of the Sinai Peninsula.

See the above link for more

Ancient Egyptian administrative building, silos unearthed in Edfu

Egypt State Information Service

A US archaeological team has unearthed an ancient Egyptian administrative building and silos dating back to the 17th dynasty, in the Upper Egyptian town of Edfu," said Egypt's Antiquities Department Tuesday17/6/2008.

Sixteen wooden columns were found in the hall and show that it might be part of a governor's palace, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said.

Pottery and seals dating back to the 13th dynasty were discovered in the hall. The seals found inside the hall are decorated with spiral patterns and hieroglyphic symbols including ankh sign, said head of the American Chicago University's mission Nadine Moeller.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Battle of "Berrow"

Atlantic Productions will turn the sand dunes of Berrow Beach into a desert location to recreate a chariot scene from an ancient battle involving Ramses the Great.

The filming is for a National Geographic programme about the famous Battle of Kadesh, a military engagement that resulted in a draw and produced as a result the first peace treaty between two nations.

Berrow Beach, in England's South West, is a six mile length of beach with sand dunes and firm sand, the second longest stretch of sand in Europe. The southern end of the beach will be cordoned off during the filming, June 25th and June 26th.

Web Site Following Archaeologists to the Bottom of Mut Temple's Sacred Lake


Egyptologist Betsy Bryan and her team of graduate students, artists, conservators and photographers expand their investigation of Luxor's Mut Temple this summer, turning their attention to the temple's Sacred Lake.

With new posts appearing daily through mid-July, visitors to "Hopkins in Egypt Today" at will find photos of Bryan and her colleagues working on site in Luxor. In collaboration with the American Research Center in Egypt, which also supports Johns Hopkins' work inside the temple proper, Bryan will excavate on the northeast arm of the lake after ARCE's engineers have drained the lake. Excavation will proceed from the region of an ancient stone dock in a swath around 20 meters in breadth down into the basin of the drained lake. Any materials found in the lake bed will be conserved and desalinated near the bank of the lake before being transferred to a protected environment. The primary goal of this brief dig is to develop procedures for more extensive excavation of the lake next year. The lake will be refilled with less saline water after the work is completed in July and will be drained again next winter when the dig resumes.

The goal of the "Hopkins in Egypt Today" Web site is to educate visitors by showing them the elements of archaeological work in progress. The daily photos and detailed captions emphasize not only discoveries, but the teamwork among Bryan, her colleagues, students and their "gufti," the local crew members who are trained in archaeology. That teamwork is essential to a successful dig, Bryan said. The Web site typically garners more than 50,000 hits every winter, when the dig ordinarily is active.

See the above link for more

So you want to be an Egyptologist?

Well, one thing for sure, it's not the tomb raiding, treasure looting and torch scorching career of the Indiana Jones Hollywood series.

Eugene Cruz-Uribe and Nigel Strudwick have put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the subject: How to be an Egyptologist. Here are some highlights:

Studying an ancient language like Greek or Latin will give you practice in grammar and working with complex languages. But as important are modern languages, as they give you wide access to the scholarly publications about Egypt. My estimate is that of this literature, about 40% is in English, 40% in German and 20% in French, although this will vary widely for certain areas of the subject.

For historical reasons, presumably the Western domination of Egyptology, there is very little material in Arabic, other than that which is written for domestic consumption in Egypt. Where Arabic is of course useful is for working in the field, but the sort of Arabic taught at universities isn't always the best for that. Most Egyptologists tend to learn spoken Arabic on digs backed up by conversational classes at home.

Modern tourism in Egypt is both a boon and a bane. The money is great for the Egyptian economy, but the wear and tear on the monuments can be hurtful for preservation of the monuments.

Very few schools offer a specific major in Egyptology for undergraduates. It is most usual at American universities that you can major in Near Eastern Studies or Near Eastern Civilisations. At other institutions you may have to major in History or Classics and get a variety of Egyptian courses as chance may have it. In the US most Egyptology training is done at the graduate level leading to a PhD degree.

There are very few jobs available throughout the world, normally in universities and museums, which usually only become available when someone somewhere retires.

If you are looking into Egyptology to get rich, forget it. It won’t happen. If on the other hand you are passionate about Egyptology and are willing to work long years to finish the program with only small chances of getting a full time job at a University, then by all means follow your passion.

Read more at the link above.

Vincent has posted a video in his Talking Pyramids blog where Dr. Kara Cooney explains what it is to be an Egyptologist.

Pyramids discovered in Silicon Valley

The Inquirer

This is another news editorial on "The Lost Pyramid", a sensational mega-documentary the History Channel is about to air. Using computer technology, they uncover and recreate a supposed fourth pyramid, taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

THE OBSESSION OF historical documentary makers to come up with new things to show off their swish computer graphics is getting out of hand, according to Newsweek.

The History Channel is about to release a sensational story about a "Lost Pyramid" of Giza that it is found which is taller than the Great Pyramid but had been lost below the desert sands. The show will include some flash computer graphics of what the lost Pyramid would have been like.

The only problem is that is neither lost, taller than the Great Pyramid, in Giza, nor indeed even a Pyramid.

See the above page for more.
The Newsweek article: TV's Not-So-Great Pyramid

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Introducing Ben Morales-Correa

I am proud, relieved and phenomenally grateful to welcome Ben Morales-Correa as the blog's second author whilst I'm in Italy and also at any other time, now or in the future, that he feels like adding a few words.

This is by no means his first contribution to my efforts - he has sent me photos for the Daily Photo slot, made one of my own photographs into Photoshop artwork, and I've linked to some of his posts on his own blog in the past . And he even likes flamenco. What more can I ask for?

I've taken the photograph above from the profile on Ben's blog so that you can see who is doing all the work. Ben is a fine artist, web developer and ancient Egypt enthusiast from Puerto Rico. He paints in both abstract and figurative styles. Samples are at:

He also has a Photoshop tutorial site at

And of course Ben is an Egyptology enthusiast - someone who has not studied Egyptology at college level, but for whom the subject is a passion. As I mentioned above Ben has his own website and blog at He says that the blog is essentially a travel to Egypt website that brings more information about ancient Egypt than the other Egypt tour oriented sites, but which is much less focused on the academic or encyclopedic subjects of Egyptology sites. His objective is to make visitors enjoy their Egypt vacation to their fullest by first knowing about its history, achievements, its magnificent monuments and exquisite art. He calls it, evocatively, "Egyptology for the rest of us". You can see his full profile on his blog.

This is actually a massive weight off my mind. It's just a small blog but I really hate to leave it dead in the water whenever I go away. I've become rather fond of it over the years. As you can probably tell, I am a very, very happy woman right now!

Kat is going to assist Ben with the task, as she always helps me.

Best wishes to all of you, and HUGE thanks to Ben and Kat.


Blog Update

I am struggling horribly this week, so I think that it will be best if I just give up pretending that I will find the time to update the blog, and leave it until I come back from Italy. The truly kind offer of help has come in from another blogger to take over in my absence. If we can get things sorted out on time, administratively speaking, I will introduce him properly before I go. Help at last!!
All the best, Andie

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick blog update

Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday and this morning - been a bit busy. I am going up to town today to meet a friend to combine two of my favourite subjects - archaeology chat and website-building chat. After that I thought I'd see what the queues are like at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition.

I'll update the blog this evening when I get back.

Whilst I'm at it, I should mention that I am off to Italy for a few days on Friday and won't be updating the blog for around a week as from Thursday. As usual, if anyone out there feels like taking over the job whilst I'm away, feel free to volunteer!

A quick off-topic question to the European travellers amongst you - does anyone know how widely Visa Electron is accepted by bank cashpoint machines in Europe? I've acquired a Travel Money Card from the post office (a combination between a prepaid credit card and a traveller's cheque), and I have traveller's cheques too, but it would be quite helpful to know if the card is going to be usable in places like Rome, Siena and Venice. Thanks. I'll try to drag my non-Egyptological friend to see the Rome obelisk, so hopefully I'll bring back some pics.

Finally, I received a few complaints that an article I linked to on Al Ahram Weekly was unavailable. Unfortunately there was nothing that I could do about it because the fault was not with the link that I posted but with the entire Al Ahram site - the entire website was down for days. It seems to be back up and running but is hideously slow. When I get in this evening I will repost last week's Al Ahram stories together with any new ones.

Cheers to all

Saturday, June 14, 2008

OsirisNet updated with mastaba of Merefnebef

OsirisNet (English)
OsirisNet (French)

Thanks very much to Thierry Benderitter for letting me know that the OsirisNet website has been updated with the fabulous Old Kingdom mastaba of Merefnebef, which is located in Saqqara. As far as I know this is the only place where you can see the full details of tomb online. As the site is very fragile and will remain closed to the public, this is a wonderful opportunity to have a glimpse inside the tomb.

The pages were compiled with the permission and assistance of Professor Karol Myśliwiec from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (Warsaw), whose team excavated the site. It says alot about the good reputation of the OsirisNet venture that the permission was so readily given. The screen grab was taken from the OsirisNet site (you can click on it to go to the English version of the mastaba web pages).

The mastaba of Merefnebef, is an exceptional monument in terms of its state of conservation and the freshness of its decoration. Merefnebef was a vizier of the Sixth Dynasty, and the changes to his tomb reflect changes to both political and family circumstances.

As usual there are maps, diagrams, extensive descriptions, translations of hieroglyphic inscriptions and some wonderful photographs (click on thumbnails to see big images - this wasn't working in Firefox but it worked perfectly in MS Explorer). Six web pages of solid enjoyment.

There's an interview with Professor Karol Myśliwiec about the tomb, in PDF format, from Academia.

Egypt’s First Laboratory for Ancient DNA Analysis


Applied Biosystems, an Applera Corporation business, is collborating with the Discovery Channel and Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities to establish the first laboratory in Egypt dedicated to testing ancient DNA samples.

The laboratory, which is located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, began testing samples from ancient royal mummies from the 18th Dynasty in April as part of a project to identify the mummy of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s most famous female pharaoh.The initial findings will be revealed in a two-hour documentary titled "Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen", which premiers Sunday, July 15 on the Discovery Channel.

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

“By providing this technology to Egypt, Applied Biosystems is helping to advance science and bring our dead pharaohs back to life,” said Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. “A basement that was once a maze of artifacts is now a cutting-edge scientific lab, the first of its kind dedicated to revealing the mysteries of our mummies.”

See the above page for more.

A wake-up call for the antiquities market

International Herald Tribune (Souren Melikian )

Curators and collectors who track sculpture from Ancient Egypt, Etruscan bronzes from present-day Tuscany, or Hellenistic sculpture from around the Mediterranean and further afield in Iran, would be well advised to ponder their next move with utmost care.

The days when you could buy anything without bothering to find out how this major statue of a seated woman in imperial drapes or that marvelous bronze figure of an animal came to tumble onto the market are over. The latest evidence that a new stage has been reached was a policy advisory issued by the U.S. Association of Art Museum Directors. Its gist, The New York Times reported last week, is that museums "normally should not acquire a work unless solid proof exists that the object was outside its country of probable modern discovery before 1970, or was legally exported from its probable country of modern discovery after 1970."

As the overwhelming majority of objects knocking about the art market come from countries that do not permit the export of antiquities, the U.S. museums advisory amounts to underwriting, if only unofficially, the 1970 Unesco convention banning the acquisition of objects illicitly dug up.

This will not stop overnight the illicit traffic in antiquities. But it is a heavy blow dealt to the antiquities trade because it makes it that much less tempting to museums and wealthy donors alike to acquire objects of ill-defined provenance.

See the above two-page article for the full story. There is a photograph on the page of an absolutely wonderful snake sculpture from Egypt, which is so perfect that it makes me go weak at the knees. From the Jéquier collection, it sold for $338,500 at Christie's. The Swiss Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier died in 1946. The IHT says that extraordinary prices were achieved for some of the items from his collection precisely because they did not raise provenance questions (although it doesn't actually say how Jéquier himself established provenance).

Titanic discoverer to search for lost sarcophagus

Times Online (Thomas Catan)

A thankfully coherent version of the recent stories saying that the Supreme Council of Antiquities want to look for the sarcophagus of Menkaure somewhere off the coast of Spain.

Built from polished blue basalt to transport the king's earthly remains to the next world, the elaborately decorated vessel lay hidden inside the third-largest of Giza's renowned Pyramids for more than 4,000 years. In 1837 the British colonel Richard William Howard Vyse blasted his way into Menkaure's sepulchral chamber using gunpowder and discovered the stone casket.

The mummy was missing by that time — ancient Arabic graffiti indicated that the colonel was not the first to find the chamber — and he realised that his discovery could open the way for a new generation of grave robbers. “As the sarcophagus would have been destroyed had it remained in the Pyramid,” he noted in his diaries, “I resolved to send it to the British Museum.”

In a twist worthy of an Indiana Jones film, the sarcophagus was lost again the following year before it could reach British shores. The merchant ship Beatrice, which was carrying it and other antiquities found by the archaeologist, sank while sailing from Malta to Gibraltar — reportedly off the coast of Spain, near Alicante.

Now the Egyptian Government wants to recover it with the aid of underwater robots. Zahi Hawass, who heads Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, told Spanish journalists that he was seeking financing from the National Geographic Society for the search.

To locate the Beatrice he has lined up the services of Robert Ballard, who found the Titanic using high-tech submersibles. . . .

“It's going to be very challenging to find something of that sort,” said John Baines, Professor of Egyptology at Oxford University. “Looking for something in the open Atlantic, which is nearly what this amounts to, strikes me as being a hopeless case.”

See the above page for the full story.

Daily Photo - More views of Aswan, past and present

Thanks again to George Mutter for sending me these photographs, offering contrasts between Aswan as in 1906 and 2006. They are great. The first pair show camels in the forecourt of the Old Cataract Hotel (look closely at the modern one!). The latter pair are a view from the Old Cataract looking south down the Nile towards the First Cataract.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A documentary film of Djoser Pyramid to be a reference to all archaeologists

"Egypt plans to make a documentary film of Pyrmaid of Djoser, Egypt's first step pyramid, using a three-dimensional technique to be a reference to all archaeologists," Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said Monday9/6/2008.

The film will display a perspective image of the pyrmaid, located in Sakkara, to help archaeologists know the exact condition of each step and stone pieces, the Minister said. The four-week project will be carried out by the Supreme Council of Antiquities in cooperation with a Japanese-American mission, Hosni said.

The project comes as part of celebrations of making 2008 the Year of Science between Japan and Egypt.

The pyrmaid was built during the Old Kingdom's 3rd Dynasty. The pyramid is 254 feet tall, with six steps.

The Step Pyramid is said to have been built for Netjerikhet Djoser, the 2nd King of Egypt's 3rd Dynasty, by that master architect and ancient Egyptian legend, Imhotep.

Djoser's tomb is located deep beneath the pyramid. The pyrmaid was excavated in 1934 by Jean-Philippe Lauer who found a mummified left foot, believed to be all that is left of Djoser.

Dovecotes, Tradition and National Identity in Egypt

Iconoclasm (Troels Myrup Kristensen)

Dovecotes are not only an omnipresent part of many Egyptian landscapes. They are also very much part of the national identity of modern Egypt, as seen for example in the above portrait of Mubarak in the Abdine Palace in Cairo. It shows a contemplative president surrounded by symbols of the modern Egyptian nation-state: airforce, industry, agriculture, Mahmoud Mokhtar’s sculpture Egypt’s Renaissance, pyramid, mosque, Coptic church, the Nile and a pair of dovecotes.

Dovecotes are used to raise pigeons (hammam). They are often built on the upper stories of houses but frequently they are also of the stand-alone, tower-like variety. There is a great number of different sizes and types. The continuity of the tradition of raising pigeons in dovecotes is nowhere more apparent than in the Fayum.

See the above for the full story, which includes photographs of some of the dovecotes including an example from Roman Karanis.

Brooklyn Museum Egypt Lantern Slides

Egypt Then and Now (Ben Morales-Correa)

In 1849, the Philadelphia daguerreotypists William and Frederick Langenheim introduced the lantern slide: a transparent image on glass that could be projected, in magnified form, onto a surface using a “magic lantern,” or sciopticon. This new technology expanded the uses of photography, allowing photographic images to be viewed by a large audience. With lantern slides, museum curators and educators could illustrate their lectures, letting audience members see detailed studies of objects and sites from around the world.

The Brooklyn Museum’s lantern slide collection was started by the Museum’s curator of fine arts, William Henry Goodyear, in the late nineteenth century.

See the above page for the full story, together with a link to the fabulous flickr slideshow of some of the lantern slides (hover the cursor over the image and then click on the "i" symbol to see details of each slide's subject matter. Excellent.

Exhibition: Beyond Babylon

Suite 101 (Stan parchin)

Thanks to Stan Parchin for sending me the above link.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is the sole venue for Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C. On view from November 18, 2008 to March 15, 2009, the exhibition features works of ancient art from Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Thrace, Anatolia, the Caucasus, mainland Greece and Iran.

Some 350 objects in this landmark presentation, derived from palaces, temples, tombs and a shipwreck, describe the unusual movement of people, artworks and luxury goods across the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (ca. 2000-1200 B.C.).

See the above page for Stan's overview.

New Book: Los Primeros Reyes y la Unificacion de Egipto

University of Jaen (in PDF format)

Thanks to Geoffrey Tassie for bringing my attention to a new book just published on state formation by Alejandro Jimenez Serrano: Los Primeros Reyes y la Unificacion de Egipto, Universidad de Jaen. It translates as The first kings and the unification of Egypt. It is written in Spanish and pulls together many of his articles, based largely on his doctoral research.

One of Alejandro's areas of specialization is analysis of early serekhs, and there is an entire section dedicated to this subject in the book.

The table of contents and the bibliography are available in PDF format at the above address, and here is the descriptive text from the cover of the book.

En la presente obra se profundiza en los numerosos aspectos de la primera realeza egipcia, e la que se sentaron las bases de uno de los estados centralizados más antiguos de la historia de la humanidad. Para ello, se estudian con detalle los diferentes elementos que los más antiguos gobernantes del Valle del Nilo desarrollaron para presentarse tanto en la esfera divina como en la humana. A partir de este análisis, se propone una reconstrucción histórica y cronológica de la unificación de Egipto.

Alejandro Jiménez Serrano (1974) Profesor Contratado Doctor en el Área de Historia Antigua de la Universidad de Jaén, Doctor en Humanidades por la Universidad de Jaén y MPHil, (Egyptology) por el University Collage London (2002). Ha publicado diferentes libros y artículos en España y en el extranjero entre los que destacan Royal Festivals in the Late Predynastic Period and the First Dyansty (Oxford 2002) y La Piedra de Palermo: Traducción y contextualización histórica (Madrid 2004). Actualmente dirige un proyecto de investigación en la necrópolis faraónica de Qubbet el-Hawa (Assuán, Egipto).

Conference: Primo Convegno Napoletano di Egittologia

Thanks to Francesco Raffaele for letting me know that an international congress of Egyptology will be held next week in Naples, Italy. The Primo Convegno Napoletano di Egittologia will take place in Palazzo Reale, Sala Rari (Biblioteca Nazionale) on June 18th-20th 2008.

The conference has been organized by ANSE, of which Francesco is one of the founding members, together with Dr. Ilaria Incordino, Dr. Massimiliano Nuzzolo and Dr. Giuseppe Lebro. The aim is to promote new studies and discoveries in Egyptology.

The ANSE website currently shows the programme for the conference on a dedicated page. In a few days all 23 conference abstracts, which are in English and Italian, will be added as a single PDF file to the same page. A publication will be issued with the complete papers in 2009.

It's nice to see a healthy smattering of Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic stuff in there. Nothing earlier though.

More reviews of Cuno's Who Own's Antiquity?

Here's a round-up of some of some of the reviews of James Cuno's book Who Owns Antiquity? It is a completely random selection.

Archaeology Magazine (Roger Atwood)

Wall Street Journal (Eric Ormsby)

New York Times (Edward Rothstein)
If you are asked for a username and password enter egyptnews in both fields

Chicago Sun Times - Interview with James Cuno. Also on the International Herald Tribune.

CultureGrrl (Lee Rosenbaum)
(Thanks to Kwame Opoku for sending me the above link)

New Statesman (Robin Simon)

Time Magazine - Interview with James Cuno, different from that mentioned above (Richard Lacayo)

Artknows (Tom Flynn)

Chicago Reader (Deanna Isaacs)

Travel: Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express Online

I mentioned this online application developed by Adobe briefly a few weeks ago. It is an image editing programme which is potentially very useful for anyone like me who finds themselves working or on holiday in Egypt with a vast set of digital photographs which could really do with being backed up. It also offers people who are away from home the opportunity not only to share their photographs with friends back home, but to edit them in advance.

One of the few magazines which I read regularly is Photoshop Creative. The most recent issue has included a review of Photoshop Express, which is an online and free of charge version of one of the most powerful image editing programmes available. In summary, the review says that the beta site has been a phenomental succes with 60,000 people creating public web albums within the first month. In response to users' feedback the team behind the online application have added the following new features:
  • A "Save As" function
  • Integration with
  • Extension of video capabilities
It is aimed at everyone from the complete novice to experienced users. There are lots of features, and the functionality is more or less self explanatory and clearly presented. Preview features are available for most of the functionality (which is really useful), and it is still under development using the feedback from those currently using the application.

Registration is free of charge, and you don't actually have to register to "test drive" the app. You will, however, need Flash 9 installed.

Photography Exhibition: Ten Years of Photography in Egypt (modern Egypt)

Egypt Daily Star News (Laura Kasinof)

Coptic priests, Bedouin women, and a blue-tinted photo of famous belly dancer Dina’s renowned tummy — these are some of the subjects of the latest photography exhibition on display at the German Embassy in Zamalek.

“Ten Years of Photography in Egypt,” an exhibition by German artist Claudia Wiens, opened last Monday, featuring 25 photographs — in color as well as black and white.

The featured photographs do not share a unifying theme; rather, their subjects cover an array of settings and feature people from all walks of life within Egyptian society: the wealthy and the poor, from Cairo and from rural areas.

When asked about the message she wanted to convey to her audience with her work, Wiens said, “My approach, especially in Egypt, is to show normal, daily life. In the big media, there is always a focus on war, terrorism, fundamentalism, suppressed women — all these stereotypes.”

The exhibition is part of the embassy’s 18-month-long efforts to promote cultural and artistic exchange between Egypt and Germany by presenting works of artists from both countries.

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Daily Photo - Aswan past and present

My sincere thanks to George Mutter for sending me these photographs of Aswan today and in the past. The old photographs were taken in 1906, exactly 100 years before the modern photographs. As George says, the juxtaposition is rather nice. The photos were copied from an unpublished photograph album. There will be another set tomorrow.

I particularly like the first pair, which show the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. It goes to show how much greenery can grow in 100 years! And just look at the swimming pool area in 1906.

The second one just compares Nile cruisers, the latter being a Cook's steamer. I bet that they didn't have the cruise ship traffic jams in the early 1900s that you can see today!

I am always on the look-out for photographs for the blog, so if you have any for which you own the copyright (or have the copyright holder's permission to use), and would like to share with other visitors to the blog, please do send me a set. I am particularly on the look out for slightly more unusual locations or scenes, or photographs taken in museums, but anything Egyptological would do nicely.