Friday, July 31, 2009

Mapping ancient Egyptian sites

Hundreds of viper trails covered the sand before them. The Egyptologists could only hope that the serpents themselves were long gone as they made their way off the ancient desert road towards the limestone cliffs.

First to reach the wall, Dr John Coleman Darnell of Yale University, was surprised to find the surface covered with rough hieroglyphic inscriptions in apparently random patterns. What did they mean?

His past experience in the field led Darnell to think the markings were graffiti. The wall was close enough to an ancient campsite to serve as the common latrine for drivers, merchants and guards. The inscriptions, over 500 counted so far, were the ancient equivalent of writing on the bathroom wall. Darnell was the first person to see that graffiti in possibly 5000 years.

Using standard archaeological methods to measure, record and interpret the inscriptions on this wall could be the work of an entire career, by itself. But Professor Darnell’s plan wasn’t to use conventional techniques in this survey. His team was packing a technological edge that would make quick work of this fascinating new find.

When most people think of Egypt, the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, Queen Cleopatra, King Ramses II and, of course, the boy king Tutankhamen, spring to mind. In the popular imagination, thanks to explorers like John Carter and classic films such as The Ten Commandments and Cleopatra, Egypt is renowned as an ancient land of mystery whose roots run back to the foundations of human civilisation. It is the Egyptologists who dedicate themselves to uncovering the hidden past of this glorious land.

An author of several books on Egyptology, including Tutankhamun’s Armies, with Colleen Manassa (J. Wiley and Sons, 2007), Professor Darnell is the co-director of the joint Thebian Desert Road Survey and Yale Toshka Desert Survey.

Darnell’s team is working in a harsh environment in the Western Desert, which lies to the west of the Nile in Egypt, Libya and north western Sudan. About 700,000 square km in area, the temperature can rise to over 40 degrees in the midday heat and drop towards zero at night.

See the above page for the full story.

Musée du Louvre Launches Online Database in English

Art Museum Journal (Stan Parchin)

Paris' Musée du Louvre announced today the launch of its first-ever English-language version of Atlas, its free-of-charge online collections database. Supported by €300,000 in grants raised by American Friends of the Louvre, it goes live tomorrow morning.

Some 22, 000 works of art, accompanied by high-resolution images and information about their specific locations within the museum, are now described in English on the Louvre's Web site.

Needless to say the Egyptian department has a presence in the database! See the above page for the full story.

Egyptian Grand Museum worthy of the Pharaohs

The National (Digby Lidstone)

It took about 20 years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, archaeologists believe. It will take about the same amount of time for the Grand Egyptian Museum to be completed.

Given the scale of the project, it is not entirely surprising. Conceived in 1992, the US$550 million (Dh2.02 billion) museum is an undertaking worthy of the Pharaohs: a vast, stone-roofed structure that will extend from the edge of the Giza plateau across an area the size of 11 football pitches. The museum will house more than 100,000 ancient artefacts, chief among which are the contents of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.

“Egypt’s heritage is very important for its tourism, and so although we have to protect it, we also have to sell it in some way,” says Professor Alaa al Din Shaheen, the dean of Cairo University’s faculty of archaeology and a member of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

With a project manager due to be announced this month, tendering due in September and a new opening date set for 2013, the museum project cannot come too soon for Cairo. Tourism is integral to the Egyptian economy, with receipts from visitors growing four-fold over the past decade to reach more than $11bn last year. The industry accounts for 11 per cent of Egypt’s GDP.

See the above page for the full story.

Teaching by learning first hand

The Times Tribune (Carl Keith Greene)

A memo from Corbin Superintendent Ed McNeel sent a pair of teachers from the city middle school on a trek along the Nile this summer.

Melissa Evans and Michele Anderson took the challenge — they applied for and received the grant that would take them to the land of camels, caravans and Cleopatra.

From June 26 to July 8, they and other teachers toured the Nile Valley in Egypt from Alexandria to near the border with Sudan, experiencing the historical and modern cultures of the nation.

The trip was paid for by a grant from the Fund for Teachers, a non-profit organization that seeks to enrich “the personal and professional growth of teachers” through first-hand experiences across the globe.

Evans explained that one of the criteria of the grant is that the teachers write a thematic unit that connects in some way to the subjects being taught in their classes. Evans teaches science and Anderson, mathematics.

And from the trip they brought back to share “lots of understanding and knowledge of their culture and the contributions they have made to the world,” said Anderson.

They also learned how Americans have misconceptions of the life of people in Egypt. And through that learning, the pair can help people to know that Egyptians, though different, are typical, peaceful Muslims and are not to be feared, but embraced.

“They were kind to us and we never had a reason to be afraid,” Evans said. “They are good, family-oriented people. Everyone in the family works. It’s a survival situation.”

She said by experiencing the trip, she and Anderson can help make Egypt more real for the students.

“You can read and read and know (about a place) but to experience it is different. What we wanted was an experience,” she said.

“There are not a lot of cultural experiences for the (school) children. To see it first hand and bring it back and share with the students can help them to understand a small piece of the rest of the world,” Anderson added.

The trek started in Cairo, literally across the street from the pyramids and Sphinx, the tombs of Egyptian kings.

See the above page for the full story.

Book Review: Ramesside Inscriptions. Translations. Vol. 5

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Review by Peter C. Nadig)

K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions. Translations. Vol. 5, Setnakht, Ramesses III and Contemporaries. Malden, Mass./Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. ISBN 9780631184317.

The Liverpudlian Egyptologist and emeritus Kenneth A. Kitchen is one of the leading authorities on the Ramesside Period, the 19th and 20th Dynasties of New Kingdom Egypt (ca. 1292- 1070 BC). His opus magnum is the Ramesside Inscriptions (KRI) in eight volumes -- a painstaking compilation of inscriptions, graffiti, papyri and ostraca.1 The original edition completed in 1990 after 21 years primarily renders the hieroglyphic text of these sources in Professor Kitchen's own hand. In recent years he has begun to add two supplemental series to the original edition: Series A: Translations and Series B: Annotations (RITANC). The latter is to provide a bibliography, introductions, and a compact commentary. Five out of seven volumes of the translation series and two of the annotation series have so far been published. The book under review is No. V in the translations series and concerns the rule of the early twentieth dynasty kings Setnakht (1187-1185 BC) and his son Ramesses III (1185-1154 BC).2 It covers all the texts in the original hieroglyphic edition in KRI V. Since a corresponding annotation volume is still in preparation, this book therefore does not contain any explanatory notes or commentary. Like in the original volume a lengthy table of content -- which also includes the source references -- precedes an abbreviations and sigla list as well a short preface. A brief introduction to this volume's theme has been added. The text has marginal references to the pages of the hieroglyphic edition. Due to its size the table of contents can only be rendered in a concise form below, yet it provides a fair glimpse of the immense variety of the texts covered here. At the end of the book detailed indexes list the sources in museums and collections, papyri, ostraca, graffiti and private tombs in western Thebes.

The bulk of these texts derive from the huge mortuary temple of Ramesses III in Medinet Habu in western Thebes, one of the best preserved buildings from that period. It fills more than half the book.

See the above page for the full story.

Book Review: Cleopatra The Great

Yorkshire Post (Chris Bond)

Cleopatra The Great, The Woman Behind the Legend by Joann Fletcher. Published in paperback by Hodder
MENTION the name Cleopatra to most people and it's likely to conjure images of a sultry Elizabeth Taylor draped over Richard Burton's Marc Antony, or Shakespeare's tragic queen who took her own life with an asp.

Hollywood and the Bard helped cement Cleopatra's legend as a femme fatale whose dangerous liaisons almost brought the Roman empire to its knees. But over the centuries fact and fiction have become blurred, something Joann Fletcher wanted to separate.

The Barnsley-born historian and archaeologist spent five years researching and writing Cleopatra The Great, The Woman Behind the Legend, in a bid to debunk some of the myths surrounding one of history's most iconic figures.

See the above page for the full story.

Book Review: Household and Family Religion in Antiquity

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by David Elton Gay)

John Bodel, Saul M. Olyan (ed.), Household and Family Religion in Antiquity. The Ancient World: Comparative Histories. Blackwell Pub. ISBN 9781405175791

Household and Family Religion in Antiquity is a volume of essays that grew out of a 2005 conference at Brown University. The purpose of the book and the conference, the editors explain in their introduction, is "to advance our understanding, both contextually and comparatively, of a distinct and widespread ancient religious phenomenon--household and family religion--within a number of discrete cultural and historical settings of Mediterranean and West Asian antiquity." (p. 1) To achieve this end the editors brought together a range of scholars to discuss "the phenomenon of household and family religion in a number of different cultural contexts: Second Millennium West Asia (Mesopotamia, Emar, Nuzi, Ugarit); First Millennium West Asia (including Israel); Egypt; Greece; and Rome." (p. 1)

On the positive side the essays, which range from relatively brief summaries like Barbara Lesko's "Household and Domestic Religion in Ancient Egypt" (pp. 197-209) to detailed surveys, like Rainer Albertz's "Family Religion in Ancient Israel" (pp. 89-112), are generally sound introductory statements of the current situation in their respective fields concerning the study of family and household religion. The essays all follow a similar format, which aids in making comparisons, and are accessible to both the non-specialist scholar and general reader. Though the editors do provide a comparative essay by way of conclusion, comparison is little used elsewhere: the primary focus of these essays is on case studies of the particular cultural group and time covered in the individual essay rather than on the comparative study of the materials.

That said, it must also be noted that the book could have been much more. The main problem with the book is its failure to address the previous literature on household and family religion.

See the above page for the full story.

Hawas opens three ancient mosques in Damietta governorate

Egypt State Information Service

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawas opened in Dammietta Monday three ancient mosques.

Restoration works on the three mosques began five years ago with a total cost of 57 million EGP.

The three mosques are Amr Bin Al-Ass which is considered the second mosque built in Egypt and Africa which was established but the high level of subterranean water resulted in the closure of the mosque for more than 30 years.

Photo - Overview of Taposiris Magna

A photograph showing a great overview of the site. Includes two links to other Taposiris Magna images. Click on the image below to go to the full-sized photograph.

Travel: Cairo an open air museum

Otago Daily Times (Morgan Hewland)

Cairo is a crazy city, where drivers make six lanes out of a four-lane road, spend more time looking in their mirrors than at the way ahead, and alert other drivers to their presence by a series of horn toots, one short, two long, and others each with their own meaning.

It is where the Nile resembles an open sewer in parts, and where handcarts, donkeys and fat-tailed sheep make other city roads look like farm tracks.

It is where the locals are experts in removing from the unsuspecting tourist his every last Egyptian pound, by any means possible.

And yet it is a wonderful, exciting city with enormous history, and where the Step Pyramid of King Zoser can be found, built some 5000 years ago, preceding those at Giza and the pyramid built by Cheops by many centuries.

See the above page for more.

Online publication: Excavation in Egypt at Tell el-Balamun

British Museum

The fourth volume in the series of final reports for this project is entitled Excavations at Tell el-Balamun 2003 – 2008. It is available to download here in PDF format. The file is low-resolution for on-screen viewing. Users who want to receive a high-resolution version suitable for printing should email:

Contents of the volume, Excavations at Tell el-Balamun 2003 – 2008:

* Preface
* Bibliography
* The Roman Street
* The subsidiary temple of Nekhtnebef (Temple B)
* Additional details of the excavation of Temple B
* A Brick temple of the Third Intermediate Period
* A barque-station of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (Temple E)
* Miscellaneous work, 2003-2006
* A brick platform of the Thirtieth Dynasty
* The magnetic survey (with T Herbich)

Download the full project report (7.6Mb)

Download cover for the project report (2.2Mb)

Results from earlier years, which may include previous work on some of the monuments included in the final volume, have been published as paper book editions through the British Museum Press and are listed at the foot of the Introduction page.

OFF TOPIC - Hadrian's Timber Wall

Theoretical Structural Archaeology (Geoff Carter)

I've been a fan of the above site for a long time. Geoff has been exploring Hadrian's Wall and has posted a fascinating piece about a vast timber wall which was apparently an earlier version of the later famous stone wall, now one of Britain's most desirable hikes.

Between Hadrian’s Wall and the ditch to north, archaeologists have found three lines of double postholes running parallel to the Wall, which may represent an early timber 'Wall', albeit temporary, comprising a box rampart and the ditch. This was almost certainly the largest structure timber ever built in this country, its full extent is not known for certain, but it was quite probably 117 km long, and would have required an estimated 2.5 million trees.

The evidence for these double postholes, often referred to as ‘cippi pits’, had been picked up in several excavations, and was compiled by Paul Bidwell of Tyne and Wear Museums (TWM) Archaeology, who were responsible for several of the excavations, [1]. His paper sought to set the evidence in the wider context of other Roman frontiers, and drew on Julius Caesar’s Account of the Gallic war, [De Bello Gallico],[2], particularly the siege of Alésia, in reaching his conclusion that these postholes represented ‘obstacles’ on the berm, probably sharpened wooden entanglements, similar to the ‘cippi’ referred to by Caesar. We shall return to these arguments, and Caesar, later, but it is clear that I consider term 'obstacles’ to be somewhat underselling this remarkable structure.

See the above for the full story. With lots of diagrams, photographs, maps, plans and illustrations.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge

The facade of the Temple of Ramesses II
Abu Simbel

Copyright Bob Partridge,
Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine, with my thanks

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No update re exploration of the Pyramid of Khufu

Thanks to everyone who has emailed asking if I've heard anything about the examination by robot of the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza which was supposed to take place on the 26th of this month. Unfortunately I'm in the same position as the rest of you - I've had no information on the subject. But I'll post something the moment I hear anything.

The original announcement that the invesitgation was to take place was posted on the Egypt State Information Service website (thanks to Brian Donovan for the link).

KV 5 Update

Theban Mapping Project (Kent Weeks)

Thanks very much to Kate Phizackerley's "News from the Valley of the Kings" blog for the information that Kent Weeks has published a brief 2009 update on the clearing of KV 5, the tomb of the sons of Ramesses II. It is available on the Theban Mapping Project website. If you're not familiar with the tomb it is worth looking at the page just to see the site plan - remarkable!

The same page has Weeks's article Developing a Management Plan For Egypt's Valley of the Kings (Summer 2008).

Funding for Egypt related projects from the EES

Egypt Exploration Society

The EES is advertising that funding is now available for successful applicants. See the following two links for details:
Excavations Fund 2009
Centenery Awards 2009

COSI's trip to Egypt

CMB Magazine

Egypt. It’s a place frozen in time, a land of magnificent monuments to humankind’s enduring accomplishments. Glamour, romance, mystery and grandeur set the tone for this country in northeast Africa. Pencil in majestic pyramids, the Sahara desert and the Nile, the longest river on Earth, and you have a destination unlike any other on our planet.
Egypt is known for the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings, but what lies still undiscovered? A group from Columbus was about to embark on a mission that forever changed their lives.

COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, has worked on an exhibit for the last five years called Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science about Egypt and archeology. A year ago they started asking, how can we convince people to care about what life was like more than 4,000 years ago? They ended up finding the answer to that question on the shores of the Nile.

Three COSI staff members, Kate Storm, Carli Lanfersiek and Josh Kessler, along with WOSU videographer Cindy Gaillard, traveled to Egypt to interview archeologists and Egyptologists. They also brought Egypt’s magical charm and secrets to life through video and photography. And who better to photograph the ancient architectural perfection than world-renowned Columbus-based architecture photographer Brad Feinknopf. This was a shoot unlike any other that Feinknopf encountered.

Travel: Enjoying Egypt during Ramadan

Jane Akshar's Luxor News blog

Ramadan in 2009 will start on Friday, the 21st of August and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 19th of September.

Ramadan is a great time to visit a Muslim country. don't forget Egypt isn't just about antiquities but also about the people and the culture. Over 80% of the population are Muslims the rest being Coptic Christians and even the most lax and laid back make a special effort during Ramadan

Effects on tourist visiting sites - none what so ever, drink what you like, eat what you like, smoke what you like. I think it is nice not to smoke in a car when the driver is fasting but actually I think it nice not to smoke in a car full stop. Some drivers are very macho about their fasting and like to show how strong willed they are.

Effects on tourist in hotels - none what so ever, often the Christian staff do day time and Muslims night so don't assume everyone you see is fasting

Availability of alcohol - reduced during Ramadan although this is generally sold by Christians it does stop during Ramadan and strict Muslims will not handle it. 5* hotels are not affected.

Effects on tourists non tourist sites, banks, etc these often keep different hours during Ramadan generally closing for Iftar (the sunset meal) so just remember to go early in the day.

See the above page for the rest of Jane's excellent advice.

Oriental Institute Museum Audio Guides

The Oriental Institute blog

The Oriental Institute has released a set of audio tours of the collections on display in the Museum.

You can download them ahead of time and play them on your own iPod as you walk through the Museum, or you can check out iPods at the Suq at no charge to members, and for a fee of $5.00 for non-members.

The first group of tours includes:

* Highlights of the Collection
* The Ancient Middle East in the Time of Tutankhamun
* A Kid's Tour of Ancient Egypt
* The Bible and the Ancient Middle East (coming soon)

Other tours are under development.

* Audio Tour Guide, in Adobe Portable Document Format (pdf)

See the above page for the active links.

What is a pharaoh and why not call him a king? (Diana Gainer)

The "Word Geek" generally prefers calling a spade a spade. But the ancient king of Egypt was called a pharaoh for a reason. Nobody else’s king was a pharaoh. This word comes from a real and actual Egyptian word. The English version comes from Latin Pharao by way of Greek, also Pharao (with a macron or long sign over the “o”), via Hebrew par’oh, which also had a long “o.” The Hebrew version came from the original Egyptian which was written without vowels, transcribed pr’3. The Word Geek realizes that the last letter looks like a number, but that’s more or less the conventional way of representing a throaty sound called a glottal stop, which English has in the middle of “uh-oh.” Egyptian had three different kinds of glottal stop, actually, with the apostrophe and the apparent number three representing two of them. Originally, there would’ve been some vowels around those four consonants, making them pronounceable, so that the word probably sounded a lot like the Hebrew word above.

Anyway, the Egyptian expression means “great house, big house.” The first bit, pr, means “house” and the part with the two glottal stops means “big” or “great.” Originally the phrase referred to the palace where the king lived. But eventually it became a metaphor for the fellow who lived in that big house. That’s a lot like Americans speaking of the President by saying the White House said or did thus and so.

See the above page for the full story.

Anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone

Philosophy of Science blog (David Petersen)

Thanks very much to David for letting me know that I had missed the anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone on 19th July :-) Never mind. Have a look at David's blog above for a summary of its discovery and significance. Here's an extract:

Today, 210 years ago the Rosetta Stone [196 BC] was discovered and Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion around 1822 began to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs based on comparative adjacent languages of Egyptian Demotic and classical Greek.
The Writer's Almanac

It was on this day in 1799 that French soldiers discovered a slab of rock — about 4 feet high and 2 and half feet wide, 11 inches thick and weighing 1,700 pounds, and containing some writing in three different languages — at a port town on Egypt's Mediterranean Coast.

What they found was the Rosetta Stone, and the three scripts were ancient Greek, demotic, and hieroglyphics. Scholars could read and understand the ancient Greek. The second script, demotic, was an Egyptian language that was spoken and written at the time that the Rosetta Stone was carved in 196 B.C. It shared similarities with Coptic Egyptian, which was spoken widely until the 17th century A.D. (not so long before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone), had a strong literary tradition, and used an adapted Greek alphabet for writing — all things that proved useful in understanding bits and pieces of the Demotic script.

But Egyptian hieroglyphics had been a "dead" language for nearly 2,000 years. All around Egypt there abounded pyramids and temples with thousands of hieroglyphic characters carved into the walls, but no one could figure out what the inscriptions meant.

The Rosetta Stone presented scholars with an opportunity to be able to decipher the hieroglyphic language. It took nearly a quarter century of steady scholarship to solve the puzzle.

You can never get near the thing at the British Museum. It is always surrounded by huge gaggles of tour groups with their tour leaders.

Book Review: In the Valley of the Kings

Washington News (Review by John M. Taylor)

Like many book reviews this is much more of a summary of the contents of the book than a commentary on the book's contents and quality.

In the Valley of the Kings: Howard Carter and the mystery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.
By Daniel Meyerson
Ballantine Books

Mariners sail wine-dark seas in search of new continents. Mountaineers climb forbidding heights because "they are there." But what prompts archaeologists to spend their lives digging in some of the world's least inviting areas, where failure and despair are far more prevalent than fortune and glory?

The answer is a complex one, and every contradiction was to be found in the career of Howard Carter, who gained fame when he discovered the fabulous tomb of Egypt's King Tut. Carter -- a nervous, driven workaholic -- is the subject of "In the Valley of the Kings," a short, insightful biography by Columbia University historian Daniel Meyerson. . . .

See the above page for the full story.

Interview: Five questions to the Mummy Doctor

Discovery Magazine

Pathologist Frank Rühli scaled back his medical practice in 2005 to pursue an obsession with mummies. Since then he has used advanced imaging to perform autopsies on the long-dead and has played a key role in investigating the mysterious deaths of famous mummies, from King Tut to Ötzi the Iceman. Rühli currently directs the Swiss Mummy Project and works at the Institute of Anatomy at University Hospital Zurich.

Why examine patients who have been dead for thousands of years?
I look at skeletons and mummies and try to find special cases of illness. It’s part of the desire to know more about diseases, including how and when they evolved.

When did you know you wanted to study ancient mummification?
Ever since I was 6 years old, I have been infatuated with ancient Egyptian culture. I even wrote my M.D. thesis on an Egyptian mummy. In 2005 the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities invited me to Cairo to analyze the CT scans of King Tut.

See the above page for the full story.

Exhibitions: CSI Ancient Egypt and I Want My Mummy

Wayne Independent

Four of the Wayne County Libraries, in association with The Outreach Lecture program of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, will host two programs called: “CSI: Ancient Egypt” and “I Want My Mummy”.

Described as exciting and family-friendly library programs, they will be held on July 29th and July 30th and presented by Dr. Stephen R. Phillips. The Outreach Lecture program is funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“CSI: Ancient Egypt” is essentially Forensics 101. In an effort to learn more about the physical aspects of humankind, both past and present, anthropologists developed methods and techniques to evaluate human skeletal remains, techniques that apply in modern forensic (criminal) investigations. Using cases from his own research, Dr. Phillips’ lecture introduces the audience to those scientific methods and techniques through digital images of actual human bones from ancient Egypt, some as old as the pyramids themselves. Participants will learn basic steps in determining a female from a male, younger from older, and what the bones can tell about the person. A highlight of the program is a re-examination of a possible 3,300 year-old murder case. The program is appropriate for middle school aged children through senior citizens.

“I Want My Mummy” is appropriate for children and teens age 6 and up.

See the above page for more.

New Book: La Tombe De Maia


La Tombe de Maia Mere Nourriciere du Roi Toutankhamon et Grande Du Harem
par Alain Zivie.

Photographies de Patrick Chapuis, Carole Fritz et Gilles Tosello, plans de Patrick Deleuze, relevés de William Schenck. 220 pages dont 100 d'illustrations (plans, dessins, photos).

Inaugurant une série intitulée Les tombes du Bubasteion à Saqqara, cette publication est consacrée à la tombe Bub. I.20, destinée à la dame Maïa, qui fut découverte à Saqqara en novembre 1996.

Avec cet ouvrage, Alain Zivie ne se contente pas de livrer à la communauté scientifique et à tous ceux qui se passionnent pour l’épisode amarnien et le règne de Toutankhamon, une nouvelle publication de référence claire et élégante, à l’image de ses précédents ouvrages. En effet, le « découvreur » de Maïa a également consacré ces années à comprendre qui fut ce personnage historique surgi de la nuit et de l’oubli, cette « grande dame » dont la féminité évidente et le charme sensuel, mais aussi le respect dont elle était entourée, transparaissait à travers toute la tombe. Une étude minutieuse des décors et des textes et une mise en perspective de l’hypogée dans son contexte lui ont ainsi progressivement permis de mener une réflexion originale et d’aboutir à des conclusions surprenantes touchant à l’identité de Maïa.

Caracara Edition vous offre la possibilité de commander directement l'ouvrage en vous faisant bénéficier de conditions privilégiées (prix en souscription : 50 euros, prix public : 65 euros).
Le bon de souscription est disponible ci-dessous.

Pour commander ce livre :

Exhibition: Egypte Quotidienne

Bibliothèque Municipale du Trocadéro

Thanks to Jean-Louis Pagès for letting me know that an exhibition for children is to be held in Paris, France from the 15th of September to the 18th of October. It will be held in a small public library, the Bibliothèque Municipale du Trocadéro.

The aim of the exhibition will be to depict everyday Egyptian life as it is lived today ("Egypte quotidienne") for kids visiting public french libraries, to give them the taste of what Egypt is like and to enable them to discover more about it.

Left Coast Summer Hardback Sale

Left Coast Press

Most of these are not relevant to Egyptology but some of them look at archaeological methodologies and ideas as a whole, which might be of interest to some of you. I've left the entire list as it was sent to me in case some of you have archaeological interests outside Egyptology.

This is one of those publisher problems that can be good for people like you. Because of the way our printers work, we must print a minimum quantity of books with library binding. Unfortunately, library purchases are rapidly shrinking below that minimum. So we end up with extra library copies sitting in our warehouse. What if we were to offer these to you at a 75% discount, making them even less expensive than if you were buying the paperback? The books don’t have a pretty cover, but the contents are identical and the library binding will survive a lot more office moves and coffee spills than the paperback.

If you’re interested, here are the rules:

-Offer available on WEB, FAX or PHONE ORDERS:
Phone 800 426-3797
Fax 520 621-8899

-Offer only available on orders placed through our US distributor, U Arizona Press, not our international distributors.
-You MUST put in the discount code L039 at checkout to receive the discount.
-Sale lasts until August 15, 2009.
-Limited quantities of these titles. Hardcover editions only.
-Contact us with any questions,
Mitch Allen, Publisher


Archaeology and Women: Ancient and Modern Issues (Hamilton, Whitehouse, Wright) 978-1-59874-223-7 hbk
Regular $79.00, Now $19.75

Archaeology Is a Brand! The Meaning of Archaeology in Contemporary Popular Culture (Holtorf) 978-1-59874-178-0 hbk
Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Archaeology Matters: Action Archaeology in the Modern World (Sabloff) 978-1-59874-088-2 hbk
Regular $79.00, Now $19.75

Archaeology of Religion: Cultures and their Beliefs in Worldwide Context (Steadman) 978-1-59874-153-7 hbk
Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Body and Image: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology 2 (Tilley)
978-1-59874-313-5 hbk
Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Envisioning Landscape: Situations and Standpoints in Archaeology and Heritage (Hicks, McAtackney, Fairclough) 978-1-59874-281-7 hbk
Regular $79.00, Now $19.75

Heads of State: Icons, Power, and Politics in the Ancient and Modern Andes (Arnold, Hastorf) 978-1-59874-170-4 hbk
Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Protecting Catalhoyuk: Memoir of an Archaeological Site Guard (Dural, Hodder) 978-1-59874-049-3 hbk Regular $79.00, Now $19.75

Rethinking Agriculture: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives (Denham, Iriarte, Vrydaghs) 978-1-598-74260-2 hbk
Regular $99.00, Now $24.75

Return to Alexandria: An Ethnography of Cultural Heritage Revivalism and Museum Memory (Butler) 978-1-59874-190-2 hbk Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Stone Worlds: Narrative and Reflexivity in Landscape Archaeology (Bender, Hamilton, Tilley) 978-1-59874-218-3 hbk
Regular $99.00, Now $24.75

Writing Archaeology:Telling Stories About the Past (Fagan) 978-1-59874-004-2
Regular $89.00, Now $22.25

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge

Facade of the temple of Ramesses II
Abu Simbel, Lake Nasser

Copyright Bob Partridge,
Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine, with my thanks

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alexandria - Looking for the queen

Global Arab Network (Edward Lewis)

Situated on a spit of land between the Mediterranean and Lake Mariout some 45km west of Alexandria, Taposiris Magna was renowned in antiquity for its temple, founded in the third century BC and dedicated to the cult of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, and his wife Isis. The name means the “great house of Osiris”. “This is undoubtedly a funerary temple. It is a grand temple, a temple that linked the dead to another world,” explains Dr Altalhawy. “This is not a common archaeological site; it is a very important one.”

Today, Taposiris Magna has been left behind as the surrounding area undergoes dramatic change. Vast Lego-like resorts line the coast. On the roadside near the temple, vendors sell watermelons, oblivious to the potential of what lies nearby. There are no signs or paths to the complex. Without specific directions or a knowledgeable driver, you could easily miss it. Yet it is precisely this isolation that has ensured Taposiris Magna’s preservation.

After the modest archaeological discoveries of downtown Alexandria, the temple of Osiris is an impressive sight. Within its towering white brick walls, several structures are identifiable, ranging from Ptolemaic chambers to Byzantine chapels. Heads of columns lie on the temple floor and an intricate water system of narrow channels surround a small sacred lake. Scattered everywhere are the unmistakable shapes of amphora bases or handles sticking out of the sand alongside countless shards of sun-bleached pottery.

“Everywhere we work, everywhere we dig we find something,” Dr Altalhawy says.

One of the team’s most important discoveries is a temple dedicated to Isis, the Egyptian deity with whom Cleopatra is closely associated.

See the above page for the full story.

Digital Information and Communication Technology Used in New Exhibition Organized by the Louvre

Art Daily

The "Louvre - DNP Museum Lab" is a joint project, begun by the Musée du Louvre and Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) in 2006, which seeks to offer new approaches to artworks. Three portraits of women from Roman-Egyptian antiquity (2nd century A.D.) will be on show for the final presentation in the first phase of this project. Alongside original works, multimedia mediation using digital information and communication technology will allow viewers to discover the specific features of these paintings, as well as of the portrait art developed by Egyptian artisans in the 2nd century A.D. at a time when three civilizations were coming together. The insights provided will enable visitors to gain an in-depth understanding of the works exhibited.

Artworks on display
The artworks that are displayed in this presentation are Ancient Egyptian portraits created in the 2nd century A.D. during the period of Roman domination. They belong to a group commonly known as "Fayum portraits". Painted on wood during the models' lifetimes, they were fixed to their mummies when they died. Around a thousand images of this type are known to exist to date, found buried among grave goods and protected by Egypt's dry climate; today they are among the oldest known examples of portraits painted on wood using the encaustic* technique. These works, the fruit of a hybridization of Egyptian funerary rites, the Greek technique of encaustic painting, and the Roman tradition of realistic portraits, reflect the cultural blend prevalent in Egypt at the time. Among the three works on display, the portrait known as "L'Européenne" is one of the major artworks in the Louvre's collection in the quality of its execution and the beauty of the woman's features.

See the above page for the full story.

There was once a man

Al Ahram Weekly (Jenny Jobbins)

It has recently been making something of a comeback, but generally speaking the performance art of storytelling has been on a slow decline ever since the invention of the printing press and the consequent rise in literacy enabled the average person to grow closer to the written word. Yet storytelling, the art of retelling an often well known and much loved poem, fable, cautionary tale, love story or heroic epic, has enthralled and entertained audiences in every corner of the globe since mankind first realised the profound power and consequence of imagination.

English folk and fairy tales begin with the words, "Once upon a time..." In ancient Egypt, a phrase commonly used was "There was once a man..." Egyptologists have discovered many of the stories, often written in poetic form, that were widely known in ancient Egypt. How, though, were these tales disseminated amongst a population of which few knew how to read?

Fortunately, history has bequeathed to us a rich literary heritage that includes not only the poems and stories themselves but also visual descriptions, most of them from coffin paintings and tomb models and reliefs, of private and public recitals. Most of these images -- but by no means all -- are of recitals being given by lector priests whose sacred words were suitable for the after world. The reciters were professionals, whether these lector priests reciting liturgical texts or entertainers called in to perform at public festivals or private banquets. Presumably many of them were the celebrities of their day, and like actors in our time they knew how to pull a crowd.

When and where were these recitals performed, and who made up the audience? R. B. Parkinson conjours the scene in his erudite and entertaining book Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories, published this Spring by Wiley-Blackwell and available through the American University in Cairo Press. Parkinson invites us to imagine a recital at the Middle Kingdom garrison town of Abu, on the edge of Lower Nubia, which is taking place at the palace of Sarenput, the mayor of the town and the "Confidant of the king".

See the above page for the full story.

Egyptology suffering in Israel

Israel currently has a great many professors of law and business administration, but very few professors of Egyptology. The few students who want to learn about hieroglyphics or the history of Pharaonic Egypt are often forced to make do with the single lecturer, at most, who specializes in this field at each university.

Because of the lack of students and faculty positions, Egyptology, Assyriology, classics and African studies are on the verge of disappearing from the world of academia here.

This week, the nation's universities announced a new initiative aimed at enabling "unpopular" fields of study to continue to exist in an era of budget cuts: four joint programs in which students will take classes from lecturers at several different universities.

Thus an Egyptology student would spend one semester, or one day a week, at Tel Aviv university, and the next he would go to Haifa University or the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The four programs are in ancient Near East languages and culture, Africa studies, Latin in the Middle Ages, and Jewish culture in the ancient world.

See the above page for the full story.

Egyptian Museum Celebrates 40 Years of Japanese Excavations in Egypt

Giza Archives Blog

With photos.

In recent years, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, under the direction of Dr. Wafaa el-Saddik, has mounted a number of important exhibitions highlighting the discoveries of foreign excavations working in Egypt. This month, it is the Japanese who are honored. Dr. Sakuji Yoshimura has worked in Egypt for forty years, and made many valuable contributions to our knowledge of ancient Egypt. On the blog page of SCA director Dr. Zahi Hawass, you will find a statue of a lion with the cartouche of Khufu. Dr. Yoshimura’s particular interest is Giza and the Great Pyramid. And the best may be yet to come, as his team has been entrusted with raising and restoring the second boat of Khufu.

See the above page for the full story.


Many thanks to Stan Parchin for forwarding details of his exciting new project: launched on July 25, 2009 and provides an online resource about museums, exhibitions, publications for art history professionals, students and enthusiasts.

July 25th 2009 marked the debut of, a web site devoted to information about museums, their permanent installations and special exhibitions as well as developments in the history of art and related disciplines.

Team AMJ's approach is unique among Internet resources in its interdisciplinary approach to world civilizations and their art. The Web site's staff is well-versed in the history, art and languages of various cultures across time. offers:
  • important news about museums, curators and their accomplishments;
  • profiles of museums, permanent installations and galleries;
  • expert previews and reviews of special exhibitions, books and catalogues;
  • reports about object restoration, conservation and repatriation;
  • in-depth descriptions of individual artworks;
  • recent developments in archaeology and Egyptology; and
  • bibliographies of current and classic scholarly literature.
Future articles include: a profile of Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum: a description of Egyptian artifacts at the British Museum; reviews of the exhibitions Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul and Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson; and a feature on Roman portrait sculpture.

Join us in our exciting exploration of world art.

Stan Parchin
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Interview: Unwrapping Brooklyn's mummies

Archaeology Magazine

On June 23, 2009, a team from the Brooklyn Museum supervised by Edward Bleiberg, curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art, and Lisa Burno, Head Objects Conservator, transported four mummies from Brooklyn to North Shore University Hospital for CT scans. Drs. Jessie Chusid, Amgad Makaryus, and Karen Lisk of North Shore volunteered their time and services to scan four of the oldest patients they had ever encountered. The mummies on board were from various periods dating from the Third Intermediate Period (1064-656 B.C.) to the Roman Period (30 B.C.-A.D. 395). The trip was smooth and the CT scans went without trouble. The scans produced vast amounts of data to be sorted and analyzed, but even immediate, preliminary readings of the scans revealed some very unusual discoveries. Pasebakhaemipet, a Theban "prince" of the 21st dynasty, had a reed in his throat (1070-945 B.C.). "Lady" Hor of the 22nd Dynasty was identified as a man after 70 years of misidentification (712-664 B.C.). Thothirdes also of the 22nd Dynasty had also been misidentified as a woman, while the fourth, an unnamed first-century Roman period mummy still had some brain left in him. Bleiberg discussed the Brooklyn Museum's fascinating mummies and their CT scans with ARCHAEOLOGY's Morgan Moroney. He described what's been learned so far and the future plans for the scans, while emphasizing the importance of non-intrusive mummy unwrappings, the open exchange of scholars, excavating in museum storerooms, and public outreach.

See the above page for the full story.

Book Review: Ramesside Inscriptions

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Review by Peter C. Nadig, Freie Universität Berlin)

K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions. Translations. Vol. 5, Setnakht, Ramesses III and Contemporaries. Malden, Mass./Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Pp. xxiv, 523. ISBN 9780631184317.

The Liverpudlian Egyptologist and emeritus Kenneth A. Kitchen is one of the leading authorities on the Ramesside Period, the 19th and 20th Dynasties of New Kingdom Egypt (ca. 1292- 1070 BC). His opus magnum is the Ramesside Inscriptions (KRI) in eight volumes -- a painstaking compilation of inscriptions, graffiti, papyri and ostraca.1 The original edition completed in 1990 after 21 years primarily renders the hieroglyphic text of these sources in Professor Kitchen's own hand. In recent years he has begun to add two supplemental series to the original edition: Series A: Translations and Series B: Annotations (RITANC). The latter is to provide a bibliography, introductions, and a compact commentary. Five out of seven volumes of the translation series and two of the annotation series have so far been published. The book under review is No. V in the translations series and concerns the rule of the early twentieth dynasty kings Setnakht (1187-1185 BC) and his son Ramesses III (1185-1154 BC).2 It covers all the texts in the original hieroglyphic edition in KRI V. Since a corresponding annotation volume is still in preparation, this book therefore does not contain any explanatory notes or commentary. Like in the original volume a lengthy table of content -- which also includes the source references -- precedes an abbreviations and sigla list as well a short preface. A brief introduction to this volume's theme has been added. The text has marginal references to the pages of the hieroglyphic edition. Due to its size the table of contents can only be rendered in a concise form below, yet it provides a fair glimpse of the immense variety of the texts covered here. At the end of the book detailed indexes list the sources in museums and collections, papyri, ostraca, graffiti and private tombs in western Thebes.

See the above page for the full story.

Magazine: Current World Archaeology, Egypt Special

Current World Archaeology

Many thanks to lovely Mark Morgan for sending me the following information.

The August/September issue of Current World Archaeology is devoted to Egypt. Over the years, some of the greatest discoveries in this extraordinary land have been made by members of the Egypt Exploration Society (EES).

We report from North Saqqara, where some of their most remarkable discoveries have been uncovered. Indeed, it is there, in the shadow of the Pyramid of King Djoser ( shown on the front cover), that they have found a cemetery dedicated not to mummified people but to mummified animals. Then, we travel across the country, wherever the EES has been at work: from deep,dark catacombs to remote, abandoned hill-tops, their members have been uncovering the secrets of this very ancient land.

EGYPT EXPLORATION SOCIETY: Celebrating 125 years of discovery.

THE TOMBS OF TUTANKHAM'S PEOPLE: Seeking Saqqara's New Kingdom tombs.

CULTS, CACHES AND CATACOMBS: The animal necropolis.

EGYPT'S LOST CITIES: The Delta Survey.

THE ROYAL CITY OF SAIS: Revealing the Delta's secrets.

READING HISTORY: The papyri of Oxyrhynchus.

Robinson Crusoe; Roman latrines; oldest calendar; SOS Bulgaria; in praise of Africa.

Latest on archaeological news, discoveries and scientific research.

News extra from Brian Fagan.

EGYPT: Editor of Ancient Egypt magazine, Bob Partridge, reflects how the country has changed over the 30 years he has been visiting.

ON SITES ONSIGHTS: On site at Luxor Temple.

LISTINGS: Exhibitions on Egypt from around the world; and an Egyptian themed photography competition .

Exhibition The Carnarvon Exhibition at Highclere Castle.
Books Abydos: Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris; The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt.

Tell-el-Amarna The city of Pharaoh Akhenaten explained.

To order your copy of Current World Archaeology, call us on 08456 44 77 07 or go to our website by clicking on and subscribe today

Senet - an ancient Egyptian game of the soul (Diana Gainer)

The ancient Egyptian Senet (snt in hieroglyphs, which means “passing”) is a game for two players, requiring a board with 3 rows of 10 squares each – sort of like a checkerboard cut off short. Each player tries to be the first to send his or her little “men” around all 30 squares and off the board. This is rather like the point of Parcheesi. The second – or last – across and off the board is not just a rotten egg, as we say in English, but doomed! Egyptians took this game very seriously indeed. More on that later.

Players each get 5 “men” (although originally they got 7). To be able to tell them apart, these playing pieces need to be different colors, theoretically black and white. However, the version the Word Geek purchased was made of wood and the “white” ones are not painted at all, which makes them a pale, woody color. The “black” ones are painted green. The Egyptians couldn’t distinguish between blue and green with their ancient language but they definitely had a separate word for “black,” a word they used to describe their own country, kmt, namely, “the black land.” The “great green,” on the other hand, was the Mediterranean Sea, not a land at all.

Anyway, there is a set path for these little “men,” half of which resemble the nondescript pawns of the average chess game and half of which are more like the castles but minus crenelation. They must go from top left, down 10 squares, then up the middle row of 10 squares, and then back down the 3rd row of 10 squares. This sort of back and forth path, when applied to reading or writing ancient texts, is called boustrophedon, from the Greek description of how the ox plows.

These playing pieces (and the human players) hope that they are heading to the Egyptian version of Paradise, unification with the sun, Mr. Ra or Re, because playing Senet is a way of deciding what will happen to the players’ soul (or souls, since people had 2 in those days) in the Land of the Dead. So, stay alert! You wouldn’t want to lose your ka (or ba).

See the above page for the full story.

Don't forget that you can play Senet online at Ben's All About Egypt website.

. .

Online article: Left-handed Kings?

Left-handed Kings? Observations on a Fragmentary Egyptian Sculpture, Nicholas Reeves. In Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honour of HS Smith (ed. A Leahy and J Tait) (London, 1999), pp. 249-254

The sculpture

The fragment of an Egyptian statue illustrated in figs. 1-3 was acquired in London over two decades ago and is now in private ownership. The original find-spot is reputed to have been Thebes. Sculpted in white limestone, now discoloured in places, the fragment measures 14.5 cm in height, 11.2 cm across and approximately 7.7 cm from front to back (2). The rear of the figure preserves the remains of a broad dorsal pillar 6 cm or more in width and originally 1.8 cm deep. The surface of the pillar is abraded, and it cannot now be established whether it ever carried an inscription.

The subject is a king, originally shown wearing the nemes-headcloth of which only the left-hand lappet now remains. The surface of this lappet is rather worn: relatively long and rounded, just covering the nipple and with its inner edge evidently running parallel to its (lost) counterpart (3), its stripes are indicated by a close-set series of rounded grooves (4). The lower edge of the fragment preserves the remains of a belt with linear (`Bandmuster`) decoration (5), traces of which are still visible on a small section behind the figure`s surviving (left) arm (fig. 3). A `loop` or `tab` which protrudes to the left of the navel (itself damaged) indicates that the kilt originally worn by the king was of the triangular-fronted variety. Evidently, therefore, the complete figure was represented standing, some 60 cm or more in height, with one foot advanced in the usual manner (6).

Apart from the nemes-lappet and vestiges of the kilt, the torso is naked and without accoutrement. Its surviving portions are sensitively carved, if somewhat restrained in matters of anatomical detail, with prominent pectoral muscles and a taut stomach.

See the above page for the entire article.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge

. .

Approaching Abu Simbel, Lake Nasser

Copyright Bob Partridge,
Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine, with my thanks

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hatshepsut in Berlin a fake?

Earth Times

An Egyptian bust acquired at vast expense by a Berlin museum over two decades ago may be a forgery, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday. The bust in brown granite of female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for 22 years, is one of the draws at the German capital's Egyptian Museum, and is only outshone by the limestone bust of exquisite Queen Nefertiti.

The magazine said scientists at the Technical University of Berlin had discovered the Hatshepsut stone was rich in the minerals magnesite and siderite.

No other bust from the Nile region was made of such rock, suggesting that the 16.5-centimetre-high figure might be a modern fake, according to the magazine.

Una de las obras más valiosas del Museo Egipcio de Berlín, la cabeza de la faraona Hatshepsut, podría ser una falsificación, según un informe realizado por la Universidad Técnica de Berlín, que con ello alimenta una sospecha que circula desde hace tiempo entre los círculos de expertos.

Según el citado documento, del que informa el semanario alemán "Der Spiegel" en su edición de mañana, hay muchos indicios que apuntan a que la escultura egipcia no es de "granito pardusco" como se describe en el catálogo sino de un material hasta ahora desconocido en esculturas del Nilo.

En las pruebas realizadas se ha hallado una sustancia que podría caracterizarse de "sintética", algo que en la industria de la construcción se utiliza como argamasa o gres calcáreo.

Hija de Tutmosis I, esposa de Tutmosis II y madrastra de Tutmosis III, Hatshepsut, cuyo nombre significa "la unidad de Amón delante de los nobles", fue la reina-faraón que gobernó durante más tiempo (1502-1482 a.c.) en el Antiguo Egipto.

Su momia fue descubierta hace tan sólo dos años en el tercer piso del Museo de Antigüedades Egipcias de El Cairo, donde fue identificada gracias al análisis de una muela.

Comparada tan sólo con Cleopatra, fue la primer mujer que reinó en el Nilo hace 3.500 años y bajo su reinado se construyeron cuatro de los obeliscos más altos de Egipto o el complejo de templos funerarios Deir-el-Bahari.


Asked for comment, Dieter Wildung, the recently retired director of the museum, said he had not been aware of the scientific study.

The museum reportedly paid 1 million marks (R5.9 million) to buy the statue in 1986 from Robin Symes of Britain but Wildung declined to confirm its price.

"The purchase was long before my time," said Wildung, who became head of the museum in 1989 and retired two weeks ago. He criticised the media for "sneakily" going public with the report without clearance from the museum.

Hatshepsut died in 1458 BC. The Berlin museum has been criticised by Cairo officials for refusing to give Nefertiti's bust, regarded as a national treasure, back to Egypt. -

See the above pages for more.

Investigations at Amheida

Live Science (Rob Goodier)

A trench that was cut through collapsed mud bricks and the compacted debris of buildings leveled centuries ago is revealing a dusty scene of roof-topped streets in ancient Amheida, a city marooned on an oasis deep in Egypt’s western desert.

The latest in a chain of archaeological discoveries in a site that dates back at least 5,000 years, the covered streets are a glimpse into rural life under the Egyptian sun.

At Amheida, archaeologists led by Roger Bagnall at New York University have sifted through the remains of a settlement far removed from the thoroughfares of the Nile Valley. The site is in the Dakhleh Oasis, 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Cairo and 185 miles (300 kilometers) from Luxor, a religious and political hub of ancient Egypt.

The archaeological work has yielded a treasure trove of art and writing. Through this rural lens, archaeologists are shifting their notions of education in ancient Egypt during the Greek and Roman empires. And they have noticed deep connections between powerful central governments and the outposts in the oases.

Bagnall described the latest discoveries at a conference in Manhattan last month.

See the above page for the full story.

Exhibition: Carnarvon, Highclere Castle, UK

Discovery Channel News (Rossella Lorenzi)

Lord Carnarvon, the man who funded the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun and died five months later in mysterious circumstances before he could actually see the mummy's face, was a superstitious man who wore the same lucky bow tie all his life.

Such anecdotes are part of a unique exhibition at Highclere Castle, home of the Carnarvon family since the architect of London's Houses of Parliament built it in the 1840s.

Rising in the Berkshire countryside south of Newbury, England, the castle kept many secrets on its own. For more than 60 years, its walls concealed an important chapter of the King Tut search: a cache of Egyptian antiquities, excavated by George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon and his colleague and employee, Howard Carter in the years leading up to the discovery of the treasure-filled tomb.

"My grandfather was superstitious and did not want to talk about Egypt, so he took the Egyptian collection out of sight. It remained hidden away in a cupboard between two rooms down below the cellars for some 65 years. We found it after his death in 1987," George, the current earl -- the eighth -- told Discovery News.

See the above page for the full story.

New Book: Oncology and Infectious Diseases in ancient Egypt

Heartfelt congratulations to Paula on the publication of her first book, which is available from various online suppliers.

Oncology and Infectious Diseases in ancient Egypt: The Ebers Papyrus? Treatise on Tumours 857-877 and the cases found in ancient Egyptian human material by Paula Veiga. Paperback, 100 Pages, published 2009. VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG. ISBN 9783639166835.

This is the result of previous information and more research done at Manchester in 2007-2008, at the KNH centre.

This work focuses on pathogenic elements found in the Ebers papyrus: a series of prescriptions that are believed to be the remains of a "book of tumours" which deals with what appear to have been benign ganglionic masses, polyps, sebaceous cysts, varicose veins and aneurysms. Discussion of this Treatise on Tumours (paragraphs 857-877) includes the previous probable identification of a disease, the analysis carried out to date by several Egyptologists, and my own interpretation which combines the linguistic approach adopted by these scholars in the past, and the medical observations of scientists in more recent years: in total we have descriptions of neoplasias versus swellings. This work also includes some references to the plants mentioned as treatments for the illnesses described in the 21 paragraphs of the Papyrus? last section on tumours (what it is now thought to be oncological concerns) taking into account the problem of translation, since some plants are still unidentified today.References are made to material evidence found in Egyptian mummies in several sites revealing the presence of a tumour.

About the Author
Researcher of ancient Egypt since 2002 with a 'previous life' on Tourism and Hotel Management.I learned also about ancient writings and peoples around Egypt. This present work on cancer in ancient Egypt acknowledges also the importance of what happens in Egypt today regarding health issues, allowing the possibility for preliminary conclusions.

Egyptian gallery at Putman Museum to be renovated

Quad-City Times

The Putnam Museum's most iconic gallery is about to undergo a renovation, and officials at the Davenport venue want the public's help in giving it a new name to go with the new look.

The Egyptian Gallery has housed two mummies since the 1960s and is slated to reopen Aug. 22 with several updated components, including new flooring, lighting and mummy cases, plus a touch-screen video monitor that features results from the CT scans of the mummies performed at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport two years ago.

Spellbound in Brooklyn

Archaeology Magazine (Morgan Moroney)

Egyptian magic was much more than hocus-pocus

Housed in a small gallery off the Brooklyn Museum's Egyptian wing is "Magic in Ancient Egypt: Image, Word, and Reality," an exhibition on view until October 8, 2009. Highlighting 20 objects from the museum's collection, it emphasizes how magic and religion, magic and science, even magic and health care, were inseparable in ancient Egypt. Despite its small stature and lack of videos or interactive computer displays, which sometimes overwhelm artifacts in exhibitions nowadays, "Magic" was an enjoyable presentation of a fascinating subject.

For the Egyptians magic, known as heqa, was neither scary nor strange, good nor evil, but a force present in nearly every aspect of their lives. For example, the exhibit examines the power of images. In the home, gods were worshiped as protective deities through depictions such as two representations on display here, both of the god Bes, guardian of children and pregnant women. One is an 18th Dynasty relief (1549-1298 B.C.), the other a Third Intermediate Period statue (1064-656 B.C). Magical amulets, such as an Eye of Horus (wadjet eye) on display, were worn for protection against evil and disease. Amulets were also wrapped in mummies to safeguard the deceased and heal incisions made by embalmers during mummification. The exhibit also presents an 18th Dynasty ancestral bust, an example of images of deceased family members kept in the home and in funerary chapels, and appealed to by the living for help in their daily lives.

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

New online articles at Francesco Raffaele's website

Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt (Francesco Raffaele)

Thanks to EEF for the information that Francesco has updated his website with some new articles.

Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, Dirk Huyge: "Rock art research in Egypt, 2000-2004", in: Paul G. Bahn, Nathalie Franklin, Matthias Strecker (eds), News of the World, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2008, 89-96. [PDF 600Kb]

Jean-Loïc Le Quellec: "Can one 'read' rock art? An Egyptian Example", in: Paul Taylor (ed.), Iconography without Texts, Warburg Institute (Warburg Institue Colloquia 12), London, 2008, 25-42. [PDF 900Kb]

Bernadette Menu: "La notion de MAÂT dans l'idéologie pharaonique et dans le droit égyptien", in: B. Anagnostou-Canas (ed.), Dire le droit: normes, juges, jurisconsultes. Actes du colloque International de l’Institut d’Histoire du Droit (Paris, 4 et 5 novembre 2004), Ed. Panthéon-Assas, Paris, 2006, 33-43 [PDF 590Kb]

Bernadette Menu: "Réflexions d'une historienne égyptologue", in: Transeuphratène 31, 2006, 95-100 [PDF 290Kb]

Bernadette Menu: "L'expérience historique au service de l'anthropologie du droit. L'exemple de l'égyptologie juridique", in: Cahiers d'anthropologie du droit, 2004/4, 289-94 [PDF 1,1Mb]

Gabor Takacs: "The Law of Belova in Work", in: Rocznik Orientalistyczny 51/2, 1998, 115-128 [PDF 3Mb]

L. Labridy, F. Silpa: "Aegyptio-Graphica V. Un pluriel archaïque sur un vase Decorated du Nagada IIC", in: Cahiers Caribéens d'Egyptologie 10, 2007, 43-47 [PDF 260Kb]

J.P. Gourdine: "Contribution de la biologie moléculaire du gène à l'étude du passé de l'humanité. Cas de l'Afrique ancienne et moderne", in: CCdE 9, 2006, 5-19 [PDF 320 Kb]

Oum Ndigi: "L'expression des cardinaux et des ordinaux en égyptien et en basaa", in: Discussions in Egyptology 33, 1995, 57-72 [PDF 540Kb]

Barbara Adams: "Decorated sherds from renewed excavations at Locality 6, Hierakonpolis", in: CCdE 3/4, 2002, 5-27 [PDF, 1200 Kb]

Alain Anselin: "Réflexions autour des noms égyptiens de l’oeil - à propos de découvertes archéologiques récentes dans le delta",
in: Apuntes de Egiptologia 3, 2007 [PDF, 569Kb]

Alessandro Suzzi Valli: "Chieftaincy oggi. Il caso del Ghana" (unp.) PDF (142Kb):

Alain Anselin: "Notes pour une lecture des inscriptions des Colosses de Min de Coptos", in: CCdE 2, 2001, 115-136 (PDF)

Stan Hendrickx: "Autruches et flamants - les oiseaux représentés sur la céramique prédynastique de la catégorie Decorated", in: CCdE 1, 2000, 21-52 (PDF)

Dmitry Proussakov: English Summaries of two of his monographies (orig. in russian)

Looking for undiscovered treasures

Earth Times

Excavations in Egypt could reveal numerous valuable treasures, a German expert said on Wednesday, ahead of an Egyptology conference taking place in the German city of Muenster at the weekend. "In Egypt there is a lot more in the ground than people think," said Erhart Graefe, the director of the Egyptology Institute at the University of Muenster.

In recent weeks alone, excavations in the Valley of the Kings revealed new graves, Graefe told the German Press Agency dpa.

The Egyptologist ruled out new discoveries on the scale of Tutankhamun, but said the Mediterranean Sea could hold significant finds.

"In recent years there have been big underwater operations," Graefe said. "There's a lot more to be found," the researcher added, referring in part to the sunken royal city near Alexandria.

See the above page for the full story.

Kent and Susan Weeks - Living on a Dahabiya

New York Times

Kent Weeks and his wife, Susan Weeks, spend most of their waking hours in a 130-room tomb called KV 5 in the legendary Valley of the Kings, the site of many tombs. And at the end of the work day, they come home to a place only slightly less unusual.

The couple lives on a 25-meter-long (85-foot-long) dahabiya, a houseboat moored along the banks of the Nile in this southern Egyptian city of around 400,000, known in ancient times as Thebes. Their closest neighbors are the mummies in the Mummification Museum next door.

“Archaeologists often live on boats because the sites are near the river,” said Dr. Weeks, 67, an Egyptologist. He captured worldwide headlines in 1995 with the announcement that KV 5 had been the burial chamber for the sons of Rameses II and sprawled deeper into the desert hillside than anyone had suspected.

The couple, who have lived in Egypt for much of the last 43 years, first lived on a dahabiya in the 1960s while working with the Unesco team trying to save historic sites after the construction of the Aswan Dam.

The boats, which resemble traditional Arab sailing vessels, became popular more than a century ago when as many as 450 were used for the tourist trade. Only four or five remain from the period and “this handful survived because they had metal hulls,” Dr. Weeks said. “The rest were sunk to get rid of vermin.”

See the above page for the full story.

Archaeologists or anthropologists wanted

Past Preservers

A new television series for the History Channel is seeking an Archaeology or Anthropology Expert/Professor AND several student Archaeology or Anthropology majors or recent graduates! (Please do NOT submit if you are only an enthusiast.)

This expert and the students will be a part of a small team that will travel to several digs in Egypt with the legendary Dr. Zahi Hawass. (If the expert and/or the students have experience in Egyptology even better, but this is not a requirement.)

This series will be the adventure of a lifetime! There is also pay to be negotiated. And the time commitment is roughly October 2009 through February 2010. We understand this may seem like a long time frame for some professionals and students, but it is an opportunity unlike any other!

If this sounds like you, please email Nigel Hetherington for the auditioning instructions and if you are not currently on the Past Preservers talent database, please send a current CV, including your date of birth, nationality, and mention of any previous experience working in the media, along with a photograph of you, to

Please note if you have applied previously to this appeal, you can reapply and your application will be considered again

Nigel J. Hetherington M.A
Owner & Founder

Past Preservers
UK Mobile: +44 (0) 798 250 4194
Egyptian Mobile: +20 (0) 10 346 1169
Belgium Mobile +32 470 561572
US Mobile: +1 347 334 9938

Skype ID: pastpreservers

Past Preservers Blog

Early photographs of Egypt

Don McCullin Selects

Thanks to David Petersen for this link, which shows some excellent early photographs of Egypt and elsewhere. The one on the right is a Francis Frith photograph of Kom Ombo.

On a recent visit to the National Media Museum, to coincide with the opening of a major exhibition of his work, Don made a personal selection of photographs from the museum's collection . . . revealing how these sites were recorded by earlier photographers such as Francis Frith and Maxime Du Camp.

New Book: Abusir XIII

Czech Institute of Egyptology

Abusir XIII. Abusir South 2: tomb complex of the vizier Qar, his sons Qar Junior and Senedjemib, and Iykai Hardbound, 364p. with many illus and b/w photos, 43 col pls. (Czech Institute of Egyptology 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-80-87025-21-5
ISBN-10: 80-87025-21-0

List of authors: Miroslav Barta, Ales Bezdek, Viktor Cerny, Salima Ikram, Petr Kocar, Roman Krivanek, Martina Kujanova, Petr Pokorny, Colin Reader, Zdenka Suvova, Petra Vlckova.

The current volume is the first of three planned publications dedicated to the 1995-2002 discovery of the Sixth Dynasty complex of the vizier Qar and his sons, officials who lived during the reigns of Teti - Pepy II. The report provides a full record of the tombs of the vizier Qar, his sons Qar Junior, Senedjemib and Tjenti, and Iykai. In addition, there are chapters on the geology and geophysical survey of Abusir South as well as the faunal, floral, and human remains discovered in the tombs.

The second volume will contain the full publication of the tomb complex of Inti with chapters on faunal remains and on the restoration of individual tombs belonging to the family. The final volume is to document numerous unique finds discovered during the excavation of the tombs, which together provide a great deal of information about the cemetery's development down to the First Intermediate Period.

This tomb complex provides a vast array of evidence with respect to architecture, decoration, tomb equipment, administrative titles and personal names. The fully preserved and decorated cult chapel of the vizier, his decorated burial chamber, and several groups of finds from individual burial chambers-among them hundreds of copper implements, imitations of foreign vessels, cult tools, copper vessels, etc. stand out as particularly important.

The current publication illuminates the lives of the ancient Egyptian administrative elite in Memphis at the end of the Old Kingdom. Their richly decorated tombs and lavish burial equipment demonstrate the care with which they approached the afterlife as well as their bold attempts to emulate the tomb complexes of even higher status elites. At the same time, faunal and floral remains provide new evidence on the depredation of the natural environment that contributed to the ultimate demise of the Old Kingdom state.

Sample, don't trample

The Scientist (Bob Grant)

Historical, archaeological, and paleontological artifacts are precious. And often preciously small: a 500-millimeter fossil fragment, 2 milligrams of charcoal from a prehistoric fire. Decoding the chemical composition of a material—especially things like bone, shell and teeth—can yield a wealth of information about the organism and time to which it belonged. But often studying something means dismantling it, and the thought of grinding some part of these tiny treasures into a fine powder for analysis makes museum curators cringe.

In a lab at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Conservation Institute in early spring, scientist Odile Madden fingers tortoise shell hair combs and samples of elephant tusks. She explains that one technique can differentiate between an object made out of ivory from an engendered elephant species and one made from cow horn, for example.

Raman spectroscopy can peer into the molecular interstices of many materials, fingerprinting their composition and the nature of their chemical bonds in great detail without harming the object it's probing. Other nondestructive techniques, such as infrared spectroscopy, analyze molecular structure with less resolution. "Infrared spectroscopy can tell you that you have a protein. It can't tell you if you have keratin, which is the protein of horns and hair and turtle shells," Madden says.

See the above page for the full story.

More re Birmingham mummy

Newspost Online

The murder mystery of a 1,700-year-old Graeco-Roman mummy has deepened, with CT scans revealing that a ‘metallic’ object stuck in its neck is in fact one of three or four fragments lodged in the base of the skull.

According to a report by Sky News, the 1,700-year-old mummy was scanned along with two other Egyptian mummies from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, in a quest for more information on the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The scans were arranged by Bob Loynes, previously an orthopaedic consultant at Mid-Staffs Hospital, UK, and a keen Egyptologist.

In the past, it has been necessary to unwrap mummies to carry out investigations, but this risky process can now be avoided.

“The opportunity to help with the further investigation of these mummies was a very exciting one for me,” Loynes said.

“The CT Scans have shown amazing details, which have produced as many questions as they have given answers,” he added.

Scans of the second mummy, that of Padimut, priest of the goddess Mut and probably of the 21st Dynasty (1085-935 BC), showed evidence of high quality mummification, including removal of the brain and plates in front of the eyes.

See the above page for the full story.

Tutankhamun's "other" name (Diana Gainer)

The Word Geek managed to see King Tut at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco this past weekend, thanks to her very generous sisters. A previous column discussed this former pharaoh’s main name, namely Tutankhamun (or Tutankhamen, if one prefers that spelling), and how it used to be Tutankhaten. This time around, the discussion will focus on his other name, the one he took when he ascended to the throne of Upper and Lower Egypt. This is the one which is written with a circle, a scarab beetle, three little prongs, and a large half circle with the flat part on top. Having been to the exhibit, the Word Geek is puzzled by this no longer and got to see it many times really big, so her bad eyesight is no longer a problem. Neither is her lack of access to her good Egyptian dictionary, which had previously caused her to read the last sign incorrectly.

This second name or throne name of Tut’s is Nebkheperure. The neb tidbit is that big half-circle which is written last due to its total lack of prestige. The kheper or hpr (and the “h” really ought to have a scoop beneath it) is the name of the dung beetle. That is to say, the scarab! He was a minion of the sun disk or else an avatar, depending on who is telling the story. The three little prongs are the “u” (or “w” if one wishes to be slightly more accurate), sometimes a sign of a plural, but perhaps not in this case, since there’s only one Tut. The circle at the beginning of this name was not supposed to have lines across it as depicted in an earlier version seen by the Word Geek, in which case it would be the same sound that the beetle’s name started with. No, it’s the sun god, Ra (or actually just the first letter with a superfluous vowel so it’s pronounceable, Re). It should ideally be a red circle with a dot in the middle, sort of a belly button. Since it’s a deity’s name, it gets to go first. And since the beetle is a deity’s minion, he gets to go in second place. But poor, old nb is nothing but perhaps an old basket and is thrown in last, even though it’s actually pronounced first. So it goes with the irregularity of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

See the above page for the full story.

Zerzura Club

Zerzura Club

Thanks to Giancarlo Negro for letting me know that the new website for the "Zerzura Club" is now online at the above address in Italian and English. Work is still in progress.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge

There are lots more posts to come, from the last couple of weeks, but I thought that that was probably enough for one day!

Facade of the temple of Nefertari and Ramesses II
Abu Simbel, Lake Nasser

Copyright Bob Partridge,
Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine, with my thanks

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blog updates

I have my father staying with me for the next week. I thought I'd find the time to update the blog but we seem to have filled every second of every waking day with plans, so it looks very unlikely that I'll get the chance to blog in the next few days. Apologies! I'll do some updates if I find a spare hour or two.

All the best

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Audio interview with Fred Wendorf

The Archaeology Channel

We are pleased to present an audio interview with Dr. Fred Wendorf, a principal figure in the history of American archaeology and for decades the leading researcher in the prehistory of northeastern Africa. This interview, titled Desert Days after the title of his recently published memoir, is the latest feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel

Dr. Wendorf came of age and began his career during a formative period in American archaeology. But after leaving his permanent mark on the development of archaeology in the American Southwest and the United States, he essentially founded the study of the prehistoric eastern Sahara, beginning with the Aswan Dam Project in the Nile River Valley. His life, nearly ended by a bullet on a WWII battlefield in Italy, has included an archaeological research career spanning six decades and an unsurpassed record of seminal contributions. His recently published book, Desert Days: My life as a Field Archaeologist, is a record not only of a life, but of an epoch in the history of archaeology on two continents.

Guided by Dr. Wendorf’s book, this interview covers a wide array of topics, including his role in the creation of the first truly large contract archaeology projects in the United States, his momentous and very fruitful decision to launch a field expedition in the Nile River Valley against the wishes and advice of others, and the contributions of his research toward the understanding of human cultural development. Personal anecdotes combine with long considered assessments to paint a genuine picture of his life and career and the era they have spanned.

You will need Real Player or Windows Media Player to play this interview.