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One of the best preserved and most decorated tombs in the Valley of the Kings is that of Seti I, adorned with hieroglyphics and colourful paintings on every passageway and chamber wall. In this first post on the Seti I tomb, we look at stunning photography by Sandro Vannini taken in the First Pillared Hall section of the tomb.
Years of archaeological excavations have damaged the tomb and as a result, it has now been closed to the public. That means the only way to enjoy the beauty of Tomb KV17 is through photography, and who better to send down there than world-class photographer Sandro Vannini! An expert in photography of some of Egypt's most valuable treasures, such as the Golden Mask of Tutankhamun, Sandro has mastered the art of capturing ancient artefacts at their best.
Heritage Key is working with Sandro to bring his photography online for you to enjoy, and be able to see the artefacts from the comfort of your own chair. You can also find out the latest news from the excavations of Seti I's tomb in a video with Dr. Zahi Hawass at the bottom of the page.
I just returned from Egypt and loved it (I like your photo at Abu Simbel!!) I’ve been searching on the internet for this toy that EVERYBODY had in the 50’s or 60’s, at least in the US (I’m in California). They were all different colors, like a white tomb with a red bed and a blue or white mummy that could jump out, about 2 inches long. I would like 20-30 of them, but would be thrilled with just one or 2. (I want to get them for my family as nostalgia for Xmas). Do you have any idea of where to get them? thanks a lot
A new entrance for Luxor Temple and the reopening of Howard Carter's dig house as a museum are the main events commemorating the 87th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, says Nevine El-Aref
Waset is the pattern of every city... Mankind came into being within it, to find every city in its true name."
These words uttered by an ancient Egyptian priest and recorded for posterity testify to the significance of Waset, the ancient name for Luxor. It means, literally, "the specter", and it houses what is today arguably the world's most amazing archaeological site.
Over the span of history its magical atmosphere has magnetised Egyptologists, historians and visitors and lured thousands of excavators to the Theban west bank. These erstwhile treasure hunters, later skilled archaeologists, tried to uncover the resting place of all those renowned Pharaohs and other royals who once ruled Egypt and helped establish the country's great ancient Egyptian civilisation.
To highlight Luxor's ancient history and new discoveries, and celebrate the anniversary of one of its greatest find, made on 4 November 1922, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) opened a new entrance to Luxor Temple, reopened Howard Carter's rest house with a view to developing it into an open air museum, and held an archaeological forum to discuss Carter's discovery and subsequent research on the Valley of the Kings.
Luxor, the City of Palaces, counts among the world's greatest open-air museum. If offers awe-inspiring monuments alongside more homely pleasures, riding a horse-drawn caleche along the Corniche, sailing a felucca across the Nile and even taking to the air in a hot-air balloon.
Haphazard development, though, has unfortunately compromised some of Luxor's charms. In response, Luxor City Council launched a comprehensive development plan three years ago, one of the aims of which is to pedestrianise the Corniche.
The 10-month Corniche Development Project has been designed by Ain Shams University's Faculty of Engineering and is being implemented by the army. It is budgeted at LE250 million, LE150 million provided by the Tourism Development Fund and the remaining LE100 million in the form of a European grant.
Samir Farag, head of Luxor City Council, explains that the project will be executed in three stages. The first, already completed, aimed at sprucing up the city's backstreets, enlarging and re- paving them and installing new lighting in order to facilitate the flow of traffic from the Corniche. The latter, says Farag, is to be left for pedestrians "to enjoy walking peacefully within the gates of Egypt's ancient history and enjoy looking at the vast Nile". Temples on the East Bank, he told Al-Ahram Weekly, will eventually front directly on the river, as the ancient Egyptians intended.
Before the tomb of King Tutankhamun was found, Egyptologists knew very little about this short-reigned king. Since the discovery of KV 62 in 1922, King Tut has become the most famous pharaoh, and there has been much debate about why he died so young.
It is not only at excavation sites that amazing artefacts can be discovered, but the archives of previous digs as well as the artefacts already in museums can still surprise us. Or what about the basement of the Cairo museum? Watch the video.
Egyptologists previously thought that it was most likely that Tutankhamun was the brother of Akhenaton, and the son of Amenhotep III. Now much more is known about the Amarna Period and the lives of Akhenaton and Tutankhamun. Through studying the reliefs and historical texts, it seems very unlikely that he could be the son of Amenhotep III. Tutankahmun was born in Amarna, so we now believe his mother was probably Kiya, an Egyptian princess and wife of Akhenaton, who likely died when she was giving birth to Tutankhamun.
Recently we CT scanned the mummy of King Tut to examine his life and death in depth and determine how he died. We found that he died at the age of 19, and that he was not murdered, as people have long speculated.
We all know the image of Anubis, we see it in every tomb but how many of these images are wrongly interpreted ? Listed as Anubis the jackal headed god but are we sure that is correct ?
In many Old and Middle Kingdom tombs at Saqqara and Beni Hassan especially those of Nobles, we see practically the same image in both hunting and domesticated form which cannot be a jackal. These are clearly hounds – canines of a very particular breed type depicted as hunters and companions. This middle-sized hound with prick ears and noble presence was the tjesm. Early settlers in the Nile valley in pre dynastic time showed prick eared canines hunting in their art and as the quality of art developed we see this hound in a clearer form, which is no trained or domesticated jackal.
The tjesm was such an important asset to the ancient Egyptian especially when he became a companion as well as a great hunter that it is inconceivable he was not represented as one of the major deities.
The Trismegistos project is pleased to announce the fourth volume in its series Trismegistos Online Publications: Amin Benaissa, Rural Settlement of the Oxyrhynchite Nome. A Papyrological Survey, Köln / Leuven 2009, 417 pp. This is a comprehensive and up-to-date gazetteer of the villages and hamlets of the Oxyrhynchite nome. It provides first a critically compiled list of the papyrological attestations of each settlement. In addition, it presents in summary form the information recoverable from the papyri about individual villages, such as their relative location, topographical features, religious institutions, and the officials, occupations and important landowners associated with them. This publication will be a useful resource to papyrologists studying and editing Oxyrhynchite documents as well as to scholars interested in the topography and rural society of Graeco-Roman Egypt.
This is the first instalment in the TOP-series which does not simply present data from the Trismegistos database in a more stable way for easier reference, but which adds information not previously available, linking to the database. We have adapted our publication policy in this sense and are now offering Trismegistos Online Publications as a peer-reviewed series aiming to provide freely downloadable pdf-documents with scholarly tools based upon or providing links to the Trismegistos database. Further information can be found on http://www.trismegistos.org/top.php, Trismegistos TOP where all volumes can be downloaded.
Jean-François Dumon and Alamanga have developed 'Aaou', an application for iPhone and iPodTouch which allows a quick translation of hieroglyphs. The iPhone app over 10,000 words or symbols to - depending on your iPhone settings - French or English. the translation in French / English of more than 10200 words and symbols and offers the possiblity of transliteration. 'Aaou' also allows you access through an index, to the uni/bi/triliterals as well as to an aide memory on the common hieroglyphs. The Aaou Hieroglyph Dictionary is priced at 4.99 euro and - of course - available via the iTunes app store.
For those of you who speak French, a short video presentation of the application can be found on Dumon's homepage.
Besides ensuring tourism and providing storylines for scores of feature films, the mystique of ancient Egypt also launched a specific sort of museum show that has become de rigueur for large institutions: the blockbuster. When the traveling exhibition Treasures of Tutankhamun came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979, it broke all the museum's previous attendance records and became famous enough to merit a spoof on Saturday Night Live.
Some of these treasures will return to New York City next April when the Discovery Times Square Exposition hosts Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. The exhibit, which features 50 artifacts from Tut's tomb as well as 80 from other royal pharaohs, will undoubtedly draw major attendance. But blockbusters like these are also expensive to mount--an obvious problem in this scaled-back economy that has hit museums particularly hard.
People were just as silly 4,000 thousand years ago as they are now, but they manifested it in different ways, of course, which is what makes it interesting. The Ancient Egyptians, for example, had a well-known obsession with how to get ahead in the afterlife, and the wealthier citizens and royalty poured a lot of money, time, and thought into the items that would go in the tomb with them.
Generally, museum exhibitions tend to concentrate on the flashier tomb accessories – golden death masks, jewels, and statues. But a new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, goes down a different, somewhat more modest road. The Secrets of Tomb 10a (don’t look for the prequel Tombs 1-10!), which opened Oct. 18, is an unusually comprehensive staging of what was in the tomb of Djehutynakht, a local governor from central Egypt, and his wife, Lady Djehutynakht, who died sometime during the Middle Kingdom (2040 BC – 1640 BC), around 4,000 years ago, and were buried at the necropolis of Deir el-Bersha.
“It’s unlike any Egyptian exhibition I can think of because, for one thing, 90% of the material is from one tomb,” says Denise Doxey, Curator, Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at MFA Boston. “So instead of having isolated bits of nice artwork without a context, this is very much focused on context.”
The AGO is banking on this exhibit to boost attendance which has been dwindling since it reopened last November after a year-long shut down due to a $276 million renovation.
Despite that renovation receiving critical acclaim and being designed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry, the gallery has seen only 700,000 people in the year since it opened, versus the usual one million annual visitors it used to get before the construction.
The gallery has struggled financially lately as well, and announced in March that it planned to lay off 100 employees, blaming the economy.
"What I can really hope is... that people will come, they'll be intrigued, they'll see out of the corner of their eye something else that grabs their attention and think to themselves 'I will come back,'" Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO told CTV Toronto.
The ancient Egyptian mummies, which alternately have fascinated and freaked out generations of school children and adults alike, will be feted Sunday on their 100th anniversary at the Albany Institute of History & Art.
Purchased in 1909 in Cairo by an Institute trustee and displayed at the Albany museum since then, the 3,000-year-old mummies have long been the most popular attractions among thousands of paintings and cultural objects on exhibit.
Of the 10,000 or visitors who come through the doors on Washington Avenue each year, most are drawn immediately to the third floor's ancient Egypt exhibit, where the very old bones are a timeless attraction for patrons of all ages.
"What we hear over and over from visitors is, 'I remember seeing the mummies as a kid,'" said Tammis Groft, deputy director for collections and exhibitions. "We've had people in their 80s come from across the country just to see the mummies they remembered as kids."
Temple Works, on Marshall Street, Holbeck, was built by John Marshall between 1836 and 1830 and was originally used as a flax mill.
The Grade-II listed building was based on the Temple of Edfu at Horus in Egypt, a design inspired by Marshall's interest in Egyptology.
But probably the building's most famous feature was the sheep which used to graze on the grass-covered roof.
The unusual farming method was used to retain humidity inside the mill, preventing the linen thread from becoming dried out and unmanageable.
The landmark was nominated by Aubrey Solomon, who said: "In the past years, it has been neglected – in fact, collapsing!
The Mr Nice author, hedonist and ex-drug smuggler seeks out and smokes the blue lilly near the Nile. . . .
A dead ringer for Colonel Gaddafi came up and shook our hands. “George, the sacred blue lily is once again growing in the Nile.”
Opening one of the many giant coffee-table books lying around Al Moudira’s complex of reading lounges and libraries, Ibrahim explained how the floral symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt were, respectively, the blue lily and the green papyrus. Coloured carvings of both flowers adorned the walls of tombs and temples, symbolising Egypt’s unity.
When the Romans conquered Egypt they introduced new breeds of fish into the Nile, which poisoned and wiped out the sacred blue lily. Ibrahim, after months of research and travelling, had returned from Eritrea, where the Nile has some of its beginnings, bringing with him a collection of precious sacred blue lilies. He had just successfully transplanted them into the Nile.
“In a few days you can try it, Howard. I hear you’re a master psychonaut.”
My time in Egypt was brief, and I felt the need to do some regular sightseeing and a crash course in Ancient Egyptian history, archaeology, culture and religion. A guide picked me up at 8 the following morning. Bahaa’s knowledge of all Egyptian matters would effortlessly fill a small library. We tore through temples and tombs to the accompaniment of his incessant recitation of fascinating facts.
“Howard, I must now take you to your quarters. I have wonderful news. The presidential suite on the Sun Boat III is available for your occupation.”
Delighted to discover that The Times still carried significant influence in Egypt, I climbed the gangway and shook the hand of the immaculately dressed Adel Fathy Abdel Hameed, in every way the model of a modern naval admiral. That night, white-gloved waiters brought the best food and wine while dervishes spun like tops and belly dancers seduced us to the borders of sleep.
There were calls for more coverage of different countries and regions, such as Canada, Eastern Europe, and Africa. We’ll tabulate those and compare the results to the world map in Eric Powell’s office. Eric, our deputy editor, tracks the geographic distribution of articles by hammering colored pins into his map using the plaster cast of a mammoth tooth—a primitive but effective method. Thanks for your help in spotting the holes in our coverage. We’ll try to address them.
A number of individuals called for more underwater stories, while the cheer “More Medieval!” was raised by some. We received detailed suggestions on the Caucuses and Hawaii. How archaeologists work—excavation procedures and scientific techniques—and bios of leading archaeologists were also mentioned.
There were objections to particular subjects. “I was disgusted by the ‘hippie’ dig. WHY did you do it at all?” “Pop occultism—much, much less. The world ends in 2012? Well, let’s hope the stories about it end first.” “More on discoveries and ongoing digs etc. Less of the legal fights over possession of stolen artifacts.”
Some people made general comments about the articles: “More depth in articles.” “Less ‘mysterious,’ more facts and explanations.” “Deeper explanation of implication of finds.” “More shorter articles. I would rather read ten 2-page articles than two 8-page articles.” Bumping up the illustrations—maps and diagrams—had several boosters. Criticisms included articles split up by ads and articles that start in the beginning of the magazine then “jump” to the back.
Almost two months in the project seemed doomed to failure. But just as things were coming to a close, Martinez' team hit gold. Tunnels were found, which would eventually reach a depth of 35m. They're still being cleaned today, after Dr Hawass granted Martinez another season to prove her claim. To date the team's biggest find has been a cemetery outside the temple, "which is the proof that in this area there is a royal tomb," Martinez says excitedly.
Martinez feels a sense of responsibility for finding Cleopatra, an ancient character long draped in romance and legend. "If there's a one per cent chance that the last queen of Egypt could be buried there, it is my duty to search for her." So far the team has unearthed a huge number of Greco-Roman artefacts, including coins with Cleopatra's head on them. Dr Hawass has already hailed the dig as a success, whatever its outcome: "If we discover the tomb...it will be the most important discovery of the 21st century. If we do not discover the tomb...we made major discoveries here, inside the temple and outside the temple."
Whereas Martinez, an attorney-turned-archaeologist who’s proud to proclaim that her work is part of a larger effort by a Dominican-Egyptian team, noted that she convinced the Supreme Council of Antiquities to let her look for Ptolemy’s Temple, near Alexandria, where she’s convinced she’ll come across one of Egypt’s most enduring secrets. “I know inside that I’m close to finding Cleopatra’s tomb.”
She said with Hawas’ support, she has found the largest mummy tomb uncovered so far and among the important sites found, she noted that of the Taposisirs Magna, or the temple of Osiris, and Isis, determined from the gathered evidence in Greek script, which she said reveal the link to Ptolemy.
The Austrian Archaeological mission from the Austrian Archaeological Centre in Egypt unearthed a fragment of a cuneiform seal impression dating to the last decades of the Babylonian Kingdom.
Culture Minister Farouk Hosni made the announcement today, adding that the seal impression was found inside a pit that cuts into layers of the Late Period in Tel El-Daba, an archaeological site in the Sharqiya governorate, 120 km north-east Cairo.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the seal impression bears the name of a top governmental official who lived during the old Babylonian era, during the reign of king Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).
“This is the second cuneiform seal impression of this type to be found,” Hawass pointed out, adding that the first example was unearthed last year inside the well of the palace of the Hyksos king Khayan (1653-1614 BC).
Dr. Manfred Bietak, the head of the Austrian mission, said that both seal impressions are of great archaeological importance, as they are the oldest to be found in Egypt. They are dated to 150 years before the cuneiform correspondence found in the capital of Akhenaten at Tel El-Amarna. “They are evidence that the Hyksos had foreign relations and extensive connections in the Near East that at this time reached southern Mesopotamia,” concluded Bietak.
Dr. Irene Forstner Muller, director of the mission, said that excavations carried out by the mission at aTel El-Daba can be dated back to 2006 when they found a palace dating to the middle of the Hyksos reign (1664-1565 BC). Inside it they unearthed a number of seals of a well known Hyksos king. The mission also found an old house with several rooms and yards along with a collection of round containers, animal bones and glasses.
The remains of a 5th Dynasty edifice were also found for the first time in this area, which houses a number of rooms, halls and yards that may have been used for administrative purposes.
An Austrian archaeological mission discovered the remains of a seal made of burnt clay with inscriptions in cuneiform, said Culture Minister Farouq Hosni.
The remains of the seal, found by the mission of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo and the Egyptology Institute of the University of Vienna, were unearthed during excavation works in the archaeological area of Tal El-Daba'a in al-Sharqiya governorate, 120 kilometres northeast Cairo
Zahi Hawas, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said the seal, dating back to the Babylonian era, namely the ruling time of King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), is the second of its kind to be discovered by the Austrian mission.
“The first seal is similar to this one. It had been discovered inside the palace of King Khayan of the Hyksos (1653-1614 BC), dating back the late Babylonian era,” said Hawas in statements.
Manfred Bietak, the Chief of the Austrian archaeological mission in Egypt, said the two seals are of paramount importance, being the most ancient Babylonian ones found in Egypt as they date back to 150 years before the discovery of similar seals inside the ancient archaeological city of Tal al-Amarna.
Bietak noted that the two seals also indicate that the Hyksos, known as the shepherd kings and had been notorious Asiatic invaders, had trade relations with the Far East that stretched to Babylonia.
Hammurabi is the sixth King of Babylon from 1792 BC to 1750 BC. He became the first king of the Babylonian Empire following the abdication of his father, Sin-Muballit, extending Babylon's control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighbouring kingdoms. Although his empire controlled all of Mesopotamia at the time of his death, his successors were unable to maintain his empire.
Hammurabi is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi's Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history.
These laws were written on a stone tablet standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters) that was found in 1901. Owing to his reputation in modern times as an ancient law-giver, Hammurabi's portrait is in many government buildings throughout the world.
The site of Giza is one of the most visited sites in Egypt. Everyone who comes to Egypt visits the great pyramids that dominate the landscape here. In the past, the site was crowded, cars were everywhere and also people selling camel and horse rides and souvenirs. We decided to make improvements to the site to make it more enjoyable to visit.
In order to eliminate the automobile traffic in Giza and the damage it does to the site, a new road is being constructed around the outside of the site. Two new entrances to the site are being built, where the cars and tour buses will park outside, and visitors will take new electric cars up to the monuments. One new entrance, off the Fayum Road, will be used by tourists and private vehicles. We are building a visitor center there, where people can learn about the pyramids before entering the site. Another entrance will be used by students and school groups, which will have an education center aimed at young people. Here the schoolchildren can learn about the history of Giza and experience the history of the site before seeing the monuments in person.
Each visitor center will have parking spaces for vehicles, so that all vehicles but the electric cars will be kept outside the site. From the visitor centers, electric cars will take the new roads to the monuments, making the site more pedestrian friendly, and enhancing the visit, as there will no longer be cars and buses coming through the middle of the site.
Inside the perimeter of the new ring road, there will be no new buildings built, and all existing buildings will be removed, to make the view better and protect the monuments from building projects. Also, we will keep all of the camels and horses outside this ring. Anyone who wants to ride a camel or a horse at Giza will be able to do so outside the road, with a beautiful view of the pyramids in front of them, while everyone near the pyramids will not be bothered. In this way, everyone will be able to enjoy the site.
This project is part of the site management program I am establishing in Egypt. Our ancient monuments are an important part of the cultural heritage of the world, and I want to ensure that they are preserved for future generations.
Quarries, often ignored, were a crucial part of Egypt. It was from these sites that the precious raw materials and minerals used in the construction of decorative monuments such as sculptures and obelisks was hewn thousands of years ago. Among the most prolific were the Quarries of Aswan, which yielded the red granite of Cleopatra’s Needles and many of the quality stones used in the construction of burial chambers, sarcophagi and columns in the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure at Giza.
A testimony to the site’s importance is the Unfinished Obelisk – a massive monolith partly-carved from the bedrock then abandoned – which still stands there. It’s the largest known obelisk in ancient history.
Surprisingly, major archeological investigations have only taken place in the last 20 years at the Quarries of Aswan, which had become covered-over with rubbish dumps and modern developments. They’ve yielded many important discoveries that reveal much about the importance of the site, the lives of the workers who toiled there and the techniques they used (see the video below for details of underwater excavations at Aswan).
CT scans of Egyptian mummies, some as much as 3,500 years old, shows evidence of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which is normally thought of as a disease caused by modern lifestyles, researchers said today. "Atherosclerosis is ubiquitous among modern-day humans and, despite differences in ancient and modern lifestyles, we found that it was rather common in ancient Egyptians of high socioeconomic status," said co-author Dr. Gregory Thomas, a cardiologist at UC Irvine. "The findings suggest that we may have to look beyond modern risk factors to fully understand the disease."
"Perhaps atherosclerosis is part of being human, as we are observing the footprint of the same disease process in people who lived thousands of years ago," added co-author Dr. Michael I. Miyamoto, a cardiologist at the UC San Diego School of Medicine."The possibility that humans throughout time might share the same predisposition to the development of certain afflictions was poignantly illustrated to us" by the study, presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando.
The study was conceived by Thomas after he read the nameplate of Pharoah Merenptah in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cario. The nameplate says that, when he died at age 60 in 1203 BC, Merenptah was plagued by atherosclerosis, arthritis and dental decay. Because atherosclerosis is characterized by calcium in plaques, Thomas reasoned that some evidence of the disease might still be present even after so long. He organized a team of cardiologists and Egyptologists who scanned a series of 20 mummies in the Egyptian Museum during the week of Feb. 8, 2009. The scanning was performed on a Siemens machine permanently installed at the museum.
Modern technology and ongoing research have unraveled mysteries about the two "Albany Mummies" that have been on display since 1909 at the Albany Institute of History and Art. To celebrate this 100 year milestone, the institute will be holding an event on November 22 featuring a talk by an Egyptologist and activities for children.
Samuel W. Brown, a member of Albany Institutes' board of directors a century ago, bought the two mummies in Cairo, Egypt and donated them to the museum. The female mummy is believed to be from around 1069 to 945 B.C. and died somewhere between the ages 35 to 45 years old. The male mummy is believed to be from 525 to 332 B.C or 305 to 30 B.C., based on trends for those time periods, and he died between the ages 55 to 65.
A unique feature of the male mummy is that he is unwrapped from his torso up. In the past it was not uncommon for mummies to be unwrapped by looters, said Peter Lacovara, senior curator of Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern art at Emory University. The main reason for unwrapping mummies was looking for jewelry, although, there are no real deterioration concerns about the body of an unwrapped mummy.
"As long they're in a museum environment, with stable temperatures and humidity, they'll last pretty well," said Lacovara. "The linen wrappings are actually more fragile than the bodies."
When the mummies first arrived at the institute it was believed that both mummies belonged in the coffins they were in, but this turned out to not be true.
One of the most unusual presentations on Egyptology that I’ve seen in awhile took place at the Egypt symposium in Toronto recently. Professor Emeritus Vincent Tobin, of St. Mary’s University, has been translating and analyzing Late Egyptian love poems, and finds that they reveal a rather risqué side to Egyptian life.
“The Egyptians were well aware of the more salacious aspects of love,” said Tobin. “For the Egyptians sexuality is part of human nature.”He read a number of examples to the audience, which offer a unique insight into the sex lives of the ancient Egyptians
Beverley Miles, a doctoral candidate at MacQuarie University in Australia, has been researching the relationship that dogs and humans had – during the time that the pyramids were built. She presented her results at an Egyptology symposium in Toronto a week ago - and they are not for those of a delicate disposition!
She’s found some pretty convincing evidence – in the form of three pieces of art – that dogs and humans shared a very close relationship.
Well, one artefact, pictured here, depicts a human male making mouth to muzzle contact with a dog. “These objects are highly unusual,” said Miles. “Such interactions are extraordinary in the light of the renowned conservatism of Ancient Egyptian society.”
Human to human contact is rare during this time, she explained, “much less between human and animal.”
So why are the humans getting so close to dogs?
Zahi Hawass regards the Rosetta Stone, like so much else, as stolen property languishing in exile. “We own that stone,” he told Al Jazeera, speaking as the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The British Museum does not agree — at least not yet. But never underestimate Dr. Hawass when it comes to this sort of custody dispute. He has prevailed so often in getting pieces returned to what he calls their “motherland” that museum curators are scrambling to appease him.
Last month, after Dr. Hawass suspended the Louvre’s excavation in Egypt, the museum promptly returned the ancient fresco fragments he sought. Then the Metropolitan Museum of Art made a pre-emptive display of its “appreciation” and “deep respect” by buying a piece of a shrine from a private collector so that it could be donated to Egypt.
Now an official from the Neues Museum in Berlin is headed to Egypt to discuss Dr. Hawass’s demand for its star attraction, a bust of Nefertiti.
These gestures may make immediate pragmatic sense for museum curators worried about getting excavation permits and avoiding legal problems. But is this trend ultimately good for archaeology?
Scientists and curators have generally supported the laws passed in recent decades giving countries ownership of ancient “cultural property” discovered within their borders. But these laws rest on a couple of highly debatable assumptions: that artifacts should remain in whatever country they were found, and that the best way to protect archaeological sites is to restrict the international trade in antiquities.
In some cases, it makes aesthetic or archaeological sense to keep artifacts grouped together where they were found, but it can also be risky to leave everything in one place, particularly if the country is in turmoil or can’t afford to excavate or guard all its treasures. After the Metropolitan Museum was pressured to hand over a collection called the Lydian Hoard, one of the most valuable pieces was stolen several years ago from its new home in Turkey.
Restricting the export of artifacts hasn’t ended their theft and looting any more than the war on drugs has ended narcotics smuggling. Instead, the restrictions promote the black market and discourage the kind of open research that would benefit everyone except criminals.
Legitimate dealers, museums and private collectors have a financial incentive to pay for expert excavation and analysis of artifacts, because that kind of documentation makes the objects more valuable. A nation could maintain a public registry of discoveries and require collectors to give scholars access to the artifacts, but that can be accomplished without making everything the property of the national government.
The timing of Dr. Hawass’s current offensive, as my colleague Michael Kimmelman reported, makes it look like retribution against the Westerners who helped prevent an Egyptian from becoming the leader of Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural agency. But whatever the particular motivation, there is no doubt that the cultural-property laws have turned archeological discoveries into political weapons.