Wednesday, November 16, 2011
During the eighteenth session of the General Assembly the World Heritage Convention, which took place during the General Conference of UNESCO from 7- 9 November, Egypt and Jordan concluded their four-year-long membership of the World Heritage Committee (WHC). Algeria and Qatar, meanwhile, have taken become members.
This piece of news has created brouhaha in public opinion in Egypt, as many wrongly thought that Egypt was removed from the Committee for its deficiency in protecting its heritage.
“This is totally wrong,” said Mustafa Amin, secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). He told Ahram Online that, in fact, Egypt and Jordan ended their membership according to UNESCO’s convention and not because of their inefficiency in protecting their heritage sites.
Thanks to the Safe Corner blog for this item.
According to 1490 respondents from 136 countries, a survey conducted between June and September by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) reveals that museum collections the world over suffer from “major” or “drastic” lack of space, bad management, theft, pest infestation, etc. A note at the bottom of the report says: "As a little over 25% of the replies came from North America, these results were analyzed individually and compared to the rest of the world. There was found to be no significant difference in the numbers. This confirms that the results shown here represent the situation of the museums surveyed in all countries.” “Most importantly, we have confirmation that this is not a developed vs. developing country issue: all countries find themselves in the same situation.” Mr. Gaël de Guichen, Special Advisor to the Director General of ICCROM, concludes.
General Director of the Temple of Abu Simbel Ahmed Saleh said the tourism movement to the temple returned to normal after two days of discomfiture today November 15.
It should be mentioned the governorate of Aswan witnessed trouble the past few days. The temple therefore did not receive any tourists before 4:00 P.M. during that time.
The Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies is fully peer reviewed and Open Access. It contains research on conservation science, artefact studies, restoration, museum studies, environment studies, collection management and curation. Published from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London from 1992 to 2002, the journal is to be relaunched in 2011 in collaboration with the British Library, with a newly constituted international editorial board.
The new editorial team will be announced shortly. If you are interested in submitting a paper before then, please contact the Journal Manager.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Under the title, “The revolution’s decisiveness at the Supreme Council of Antiquities" (SCA) a small group of the SCA’s staff protested today in front of the SCA building in Zamalek asking for the resignation of the newly appointed secretary general Mostafa Amin.
The protest comes but a month after Amin took the post. Protestors asked not only for the resignation of Amin but the SCA to be returned to being the Ministry of State for Antiquites (MSA), and the appointment of the SCA’s temporary staff according to a scheduled timetable.
Egyptian Archaeology 39
EA 39 (Autumn 2011) was published in early November 2011. In addition to regular features such as ‘Digging Diary’, ‘Bookshelf’ and items of EES news, the issue includes the second in the series of short interviews with leading Egyptologists, Five minutes with Salima Ikram, and the following articles:
Joanne Rowland and Jeffrey Spencer, The EES Delta Survey in spring 2011
Eva Lange, The EES Amelia Edwards Projects Fund: Tell Basta
Alice Williams, An Egyptological friendship
Hiroko Kariya and Ray Johnson, Luxor temple: conservation and site-management
Faye Kalloniatis, The shroud of Ipu at Norwich Castle Museum
Steven E Sidebotham and Iwona Zych, Berenike: Egypt’s Red Sea gateway to the east
Dirk Huyge and Dimitri A G Vandenberghe, Confirming the Pleistocene age of the Qurta rock art
Hourig Sourouzian, Investigating the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III
Campbell Price and Gina Criscenzo-Laycock, ACCES-ing Egyptian and Sudanese collections in the UK
Gianluca Miniaci, Re-excavating rishi coffins in museums and archives
Tamás Bács and Richard Parkinson, Wall paintings from the tomb of Kynebu at Luxor
Bookshelf has reviews by Aidan Dodson (Glenn Janes, The Shabti Collections, 1; West Park Museum, Macclesfield), Richard Bussmann (Christopher Woods (ed.), Visible Language. Inventions of writing in the ancient Middle East and beyond), Eva Lange (Mohamed I Bakr, Helmut Brandl and Faye Kalloniatis, Egyptian Antiquities from Kufur Nigm and Bubastis) and Gianluca Miniaci (Bill Manley and Aidan Dodson, Life Everlasting. National Museums Scotland Collection of Ancient Egyptian Coffins). There is also a review by David Jeffreys of the BBC DVD Egypt's Lost Cities.
Digging Diary has brief reports on recent fieldwork in Egypt.
A sensational discovery 89 years ago by archaeologist Howard Carter turned the unknown pharaoh Tutankhamun into an international superstar. For years, Tutankhamun, his treasures and his tomb have been touring the globe with an ambassador-like presence in each city he visits.
Starting on Nov. 19 and running through April 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany, Tutankhamun takes center stage in an inaugural exhibition titled, “A Festival of Egyptian Culture,” organized by Germany’s leading concert promoter, Semmel Concerts.
A replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb chambers, true to scale and detail of the originals, will make the moment of discovery an attainable, three-dimensional experience for visitors. The replica tour began in 2008 and has successfully attracted nearly 2.5 million visitors from all over Europe including, Zurich, Brussels and Seoul.
Exhibited in a 4,000 square meter custom built gallery space, Tutankhamun will serve as the headline act of the festival — and for the first time, a rich, diverse program of contemporary Egyptian literature, music, visual arts and stand-up comedy in Frankfurt will accompany him.
“We see our exhibitions, always a little bit, as an ambassador for Egyptian culture. This exhibition is formed from a very serious scientific foundation and that’s why it is important to organize an interesting and rich program combining lectures with book readings, music and so on,” said Project Manager Christoph Scholz.
"Mummy" presents 111 ancient Egyptian objects from London's British Museum, which houses what is generally considered the most comprehensive collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo.
Just as important, it details the results of state-of-the-art scanning and other techniques that permit a complete examination of the mummy without disturbing the case or body.
About 30 percent of the objects are on permanent display at the British Museum, said John Taylor, the assistant keeper of the British Museum's Egyptian collection who is doubling as curator of the show here.
This has been announced before, without happening, but this article seems convincing enough.
Egypt's tourism authority has announced that the river Nile will be opened up for the resumption of the "long Nile cruise," the full 14-day voyage all the way from Cairo to Aswan.
Egypt's new minister of tourism, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, said at a press conference in London yesterday that the cruises on the Lower Nile (confusingly, the northerly stretch of the river between Cairo and Luxor), would resume after a 16-year break. This is part of a plan by the Egyptian government to boost tourism numbers, which plummeted by 80 percent in February this year following the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
Currently, Nile cruises only operate between Luxor and the southerly city of Aswan; this stretch is known as the Upper Nile. There are virtually no licenses for operators to sail north of Luxor, so a typical visit to Egypt includes a few days in Cairo -- to visit the pyramids, the Museum of Antiquities and the Sphinx -- followed by a flight south to cruise the Upper Nile for up to a week.
The longer cruises, which take between 11 and 14 days, were stopped in 1994 for various reasons, including security concerns and the fact that the river was becoming severely silted up.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Using a new technology known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), a team of Belgian scientists and Professor John Coleman Darnell of Yale have determined that Egyptian petroglyphs found at the east bank of the Nile are about 15,000 years old, making them the oldest rock art in Egypt and possibly the earliest known graphic record in North Africa.
The dating results will be published in the December issue of Antiquity (Vol. 85 Issue 330, pp. 1184–1193).
The site of the rock art panels is near the modern village of Qurta, about 40km south of the Upper-Egyptian town of Edfu. First seen by Canadian archaeologists in the early 1960s, they were subsequently forgotten and relocated by the Belgian mission in 2005. The rediscovery was announced in the Project Gallery of Antiquity in 2007.
One of the 2007 articles was in Antiquity and is freely available to view, with photographs:
Ancient Egyptian mummies come and go in Richmond, but Ti Ameny Net and Tjeby the Younger are here to stay.
Ti Ameny Net and her elaborately painted coffin, housed in the University of Richmond's Ancient World Gallery, are surely UR's best-kept archaeological secret.
That will change Feb. 24 when "Ti Ameny Net: An Ancient Mummy, An Egyptian Woman and Modern Science" opens at UR's Lora Robins Gallery of Design From Nature. This small show will remain on view through June 29.
Tjeby the Younger is no stranger to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts visitors with long memories. Until his coffin was closed in 1984, he fired the imaginations of schoolchildren for two decades as they peered down a shaft to see his dimly lighted form in his partly open coffin.
Satellite imagery has uncovered new evidence of a lost civilisation of the Sahara in Libya’s south-western desert wastes that will help re-write the history of the country.
The fall of Gaddafi has opened the way for archaeologists to explore the country’s pre-Islamic heritage, so long ignored under his regime.
Using satellites and air-photographs to identify the remains in one of the most inhospitable parts of the desert, a British team has discovered more than 100 fortified farms and villages with castle-like structures and several towns, most dating between AD 1-500.
These “lost cities” were built by a little-known ancient civilisation called the Garamantes, whose lifestyle and culture was far more advanced and historically significant than the ancient sources suggested.
The team from the University of Leicester has identified the mud brick remains of the castle-like complexes, with walls still standing up to four metres high, along with traces of dwellings, cairn cemeteries, associated field systems, wells and sophisticated irrigation systems. Follow-up ground survey earlier this year confirmed the pre-Islamic date and remarkable preservation.
Also copied on:
The archaeological site of Abu Mena, an early Christian sanctuary south of Alexandria, might be added back to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, warned Mohamed Reda, head of the Engineering and Technical Unit for the Museums and Monuments in Delta and Sinai, at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The site, which includes a complex of churches and Saint Mar Mena al-Agaiby’s Monastery, is among the most important destinations for Christian pilgrims around the world. In 2001, the site was put on the UNESCO list due to a significant rise in groundwater levels, a common problem in the Mediterranean region, where the local soil becomes semi-liquid with excess water resulting from urban growth and agricultural development.
Egypt's antiquities authority closed the largest of the Giza pyramids Friday following rumors that groups would try to hold spiritual ceremonies on the site at 11:11 A.M. on Nov. 11, 2011.
The authority's head Mustafa Amin said in a statement Friday that the pyramid of Khufu, also known as Cheops, would be closed to visitors until Saturday morning for "necessary maintenance."
The closure follows a string of unconfirmed reports in local media that unidentified groups would try to hold "Jewish" or "Masonic" rites on the site to take advantage of mysterious powers coming from the pyramid on the rare date.
Amin called all reports of planned ceremonies at the site "completely lacking in truth."
The complex's director, Ali al-Asfar, said Friday that an Egyptian company requested permission last month to hold an event called "hug the pyramid," in which 120 people would join hands around the ancient burial structure.
The authority declined the request a week ago, al-Asfar said, but that did not stop concerned Egyptians from starting internet campaigns to prevent the event from taking place.
Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)
Controversy surrounded not only the meditation ceremony slated for Friday, but the fact that SCA initially approved it. People from all over the world were due to hold a "ceremony of love" to strengthen the power of the pyramid on the day 11-11-2011, to save the earth from cosmic threats. According to the programme published by the polish foundation DAR SWATOWIDA, which was sponsoring the event, a crystal pyramid would be installed inside Khufu’s sarcophagus for 24 hours in order to harness the energy of all sacred sites around the world and create a shield between the earth and cosmic forces. They believe the world will end on 12/12/2012.
International Society for Nubian Studies
Mission Archaeologique Suisse Au Sudan
The ACACIA project in Wadi Howar
Polish Archaeological Mission in Sudan
This work is a rather ambitious attempt to summarize not only the development of the burial place in ancient Egypt and its architecture, but also the complex religious significance of the tomb, the attendant rituals and ritual objects as well as funerary texts. Admittedly, there is a great deal to be said about each of these aspects of the burial rite in ancient Egypt and the author has essayed a survey that includes a good deal of significant information as well as observation.
The time span of the investigation of over three thousand years begins in the late Predynastic Period and continues through the entire history of pharaonic Egypt. The emphasis is on private rather than royal burials (although these are not completely ignored). Among the topics discussed is an examination of the meaning and function of the tomb as a “machine” or a “vehicle”, in the words of the author, to enable the spirit of the deceased to enter the afterlife.
B. & A. Dodson. 2010. Life Everlasting. National Museums Scotland Collection of Ancient Egyptian Coffins. – Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland.
After an overview (without title, pp. 1-10) of the history of the conglomerate of the National Museums Scotland – with special attention to the Egyptian collections and the individuals who were most closely related to their development, among whom Rhind was the most prominent – the Egyptian coffin collection is divided into seven ‘parts’.
The introduction sketches the archaeological and culture historical context. Part 1 (Cat. 1-2, pp. 12-19) describes two Middle Kingdom coffins of two men, both of whom were called Khnumhotep (no family relation), with the coffins respectively rectangular and anthropoid in shape. The main text is followed by notes, a pattern repeated for the remaining six parts.
Please don't shoot the messenger!
More than 20 people linked to the opening of Tutankhamun's burial chamber in Luxor in 1923 died in bizarre circumstances, six of them in London.
A frenzied public blamed the 'Curse of Tutankhamun' and speculated on the supernatural powers of the ancient Egyptians.
But a historian now claims the deaths in Britain were the work of a notorious satanist, Aleister Crowley.
Mark Beynon has drawn on previously unpublished evidence to conclude the occultist – dubbed the wickedest man in the world – masterminded a series of ritualistic killings in 'revenge' for the British archaeologist Howard Carter's opening of the boy-king's tomb.
Also on The Telegraph.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
The Resumption of Work, Autumn 2011
I am writing this on a fine, warm morning, at a table set beneath a group of palm trees that occupy the centre of the North Palace at Amarna. Six months have passed since I last sent out an email report. I have delayed writing another until I could see a path through the uncertainties. Our permit from the SCA runs until the end of the year, and my hope has been that it would be possible to carry out, during the last months of 2011, the fieldwork that had been planned for the spring. I can now report that this is happening.
Two separate projects are involved, and they are taking place one after the other, on either side of the middle of November. The first is the repair schedule at the North Palace. The second is the resumption of excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery. That these are taking place is a sign that, bit by bit, post-revolution Egypt is settling down to its new order.
The idea of carrying out remedial work at the North Palace goes back to the late 1990s. By that time, after seventy years of exposure to the elements and, for much of that time, being used by farmers and their animals as a short cut to their fields (it was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence only in 1984), the brickwork had suffered severely. The rear part, standing higher than the rest, looked close to major collapse. The three days of heavy rain during January of this year illustrate the seriousness of the assault that the weather can bring on.
Our first steps in consolidation were taken in September 1997. Our subsequent seasons have not been annual, sometimes being replaced by similar work at the Small Aten Temple. Our team of brickmakers and three teams of builders have, over the years, developed a good style of work that is sensitive to the materials they use and to the requirements of an ancient building. For the supervision of much of the repairs, we have been fortunate to have the services of conservation architect Suresh Dhargalkar who formerly was responsible for conservation at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. This year he was unable to come. I have done my best to stand in for him, with the assistance of SCA conservator Atef Nagi and inspector Ahmed Fathi.
In the rear parts of the palace, the aims of the work have been to preserve as much as possible of the original brickwork and to leave it visible, adding significant brickwork only where the original has all but disappeared. We have thus added a patchwork of new bricks, sometimes in the sides of walls, to fill undercutting, sometimes to define the jambs of doorways, and sometimes on top as capping. We have also marked out missing stone elements, casting replacement column bases and laying, at ground level, the outlines of stone features in limestone blocks. Over a very large part of the palace, however, the walls have preserved less well.
Weathering has reduced them to low dusty ridges covered with gravel with perhaps only a single course of original bricks underneath. In this condition, they have all but stabilised, and are beyond the kind of consolidation we have applied to standing brickwork.
The part of the palace on the north side that lies adjacent to the better-preserved rear was of unusual design, a row of three similar buildings that were intended for the keeping of animals and birds. One part had been provided with rows of stone mangers carved with pictures of feeding animals. Traces of painted decoration, and the closeness of the buildings to the royal residential area together suggest that their purpose was something almost theatrical, namely, the creation in solid form of the idyllic landscape of papyrus marsh and animal life that so enchanted the ancient Egyptians and which was a recurrent theme in the art and architecture of Amarna.
Thus it seemed desirable to clarify the layout of this part on the ground.
The only feasible way to do this is to brush down the remaining wall stumps and to lay fresh courses of bricks over the top. The final stage of this is the work that is currently proceeding. In order to reflect the increasing degree of erosion as one moves westwards, towards the present cultivated fields, the height of the rebuilt walls also generally decreases, down to one or two courses at the lowest point.
Access to each section of the three animal houses was through doorways that were up to 2 m wide. The original thresholds were long ago removed, leaving only broken pieces behind. It clarifies the appearance of buildings if doorways have thresholds. In two of the animal houses they had been slabs of sandstone, brought from quarries far to the south, quarries that are no longer used. This year we are creating mock-sandstone thresholds to replace them, by casting them as slabs in wooden moulds, using local desert clay for colour. For this, Simon Bradley has returned, the sculptor who made the full-size column that stands conspicuously in the Small Aten Temple.
It has also been possible to make further observations and measurements that contribute to the major publication of the North Palace that is well under way. To this end, the third member of the team, Miriam Bertram, is drawing a series of elevations of walls from the rear part of the palace to which she is adding elements that, although now lost, can be, to some extent, reconstructed from the notes, sketches and photographs made in the 1920s, when the building was first exposed. This includes walls with windows, complete with stone window sills, and a wall in the animal houses where parts of most of the decorated stone mangers were still in place in 1923.
The work at the palace will end on November 12th. By then, the laying out of wall lines for the three animal houses should be finished, although some small touches might remain for next year. What I hope we have achieved in the L-shaped area that we have paid attention to since we began in 1997 is to prolong the life of the best-preserved brickwork at the rear and, in the part where we have laid out new walls, to reveal more clearly to the visitor an unusual architectural layout and to help the imagination extend itself over the very large areas that remain untouched.
Our own contributions to the fabric of the North Palace are themselves exposed to the elements and gradually degrade. It makes sense to think of returning in five years' time to give the building a 'service', a mixture of cleaning and repair. In the meantime, the plan for next year is to transfer the building teams to the Central City and to undertake a work of reclamation at the site of the Great Aten Temple, a task that will take several years to accomplish.
The final official confirmation that we can undertake the planned excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery came just over a week ago. On November 13th, Anna Stevens, the deputy director, will arrive with a small team of archaeologists with the intention of continuing the excavation until very near the end of the year. At the same time, the magazine at the expedition house will be opened. One task to be undertaken is conservation of the fragments of decorated coffins recovered in previous seasons.
I would like to thank all who take an interest in our work, and especially those who have continued to support us through this difficult period.
Pictures of the current work are mounted on the Amarna Facebook site, and I have attached a few here.
Our Justgiving site includes a special appeal to assist in the completion of a publication project (the painted wall plaster from an early Christian church that had been constructed over the remains of one of Akhenaten's buildings at Amarna, the place called Kom el-Nana). See:
It is close to reaching its target. Can I appeal to your generosity again to accomplish this?
And any who receive this report but not our free, printed twice-yearly newsletter, Horizon, and who would like to be added to the mailing list, need only send me their name and postal address.
Barry Kemp, 31 October 2011.
The work at Amarna is supported directly by two institutions: in the UK by the Amarna Trust, and in the USA by the Amarna Research Foundation. In both cases, donations are tax deductible. Amarna Trust: Donations can be made directly to the treasurer: Dr Alison L. Gascoigne Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF +44 (0)2380 599636 or to the Trust's bank account: Bank: Nat West Address: High Wycombe branch, 33 High Street, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP11 2AJ Account name: The Amarna Trust Account number: 15626229 Branch sort code: 60-11-01 BIC: NWBK GB 2L IBAN: GB66 NWBK 6011 0115 6262 29 or by electronic transfer through Paypal or Justgiving, available on the website www.amarnatrust.com (where a Gift Aid form is downloadable) The Trust sends out a free newsletter twice a year, Horizon, to anyone who sends me a postal address. It is also available as a downloadable pdf file from our two web sites. Amarna Research Foundation The Amarna Research Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Colorado. It has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization, and contributions to the Foundation are tax exempt. The Foundation receives donations and runs a membership list. See www.museum-tours.com/amarna/ where a membership form can be downloaded. The Foundation publishes a regular newsletter, The Akhetaten Sun, available to members.
Thanks to Jane Akshar for pointing to this link of of the Finnish project's excavations at the Workmen's huts in the Theban mountains, which are planned to continue until 2013.
With two photo galleries (2009 and 2010)
The Workmen’s Huts in the Theban Mountains (WHTM) Project forms part of a research project called People and Environment. A multidisciplinary study on human agency, housing constructions, and social and ritual space in Egypt 1550-1069 BC with special focus on the Station de Repos area.
This is a five-year project taking place 1.8.2008–31.7.2013 directed by Dr. Jaana Toivari-Viitala. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland and undertaken at the University of Helsinki in association with the Finnish Egyptological Society. The international partners of the project are The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in Egypt and the University of Basel in Switzerland as well as the Náprstek Museum in the Czech Republic.
The main objectives of the project are:
1. The conservation, consolidation and documentation of the Station de Repos area on the West Bank of Luxor which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis in Egypt (= Workmen’s Huts in The Theban Mountains (WHTM) Project).
2. Conducting multidisciplinary in-depth research on the ancient Egyptian royal
tomb-builders’ various modes of housing, building types and functions, lay-out of
road/path networks, mobility and other types of human interaction with the environment and landscape as part of human life, experience, agency, social taxonomies, and the conceptual world at large in ancient Egypt during the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC) with special focus on the Station de Repos area on the West Bank of Luxor.
3. Providing a research frame work and environment for young Finnish doctoral students of
4. A continuation of Finnish co-operation in the international preservation work of
UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
5. To make the progress and results of the research project known and available throughproper and on-going reporting in various types of national and international media targeting the scientific and the lay audience.
Due to constantly increasing subsoil water levels, environmental change and increasing pollution, and damage caused by growing numbers of tourists, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has launched an appeal to the international scientific community to take part in the conservation, consolidation, and documentation work of endangered sites and monuments which form part of our world heritage. One location in the Theban area under threat to disappear forever without having been properly studied or documented is the Station de Repos area situated on the cliff slope of the Valley of Kings. It consists of clusters of the Deir el-Medina based royal tomb builders temporary accommodation huts dating to the 19.–20. dynasties (1295–1069 BC).
Libya's famed ancient Roman sites, including the sprawling seaside ruins of Leptis Magna, were spared damage by NATO during the recent airstrikes, says a London-based Libyan archaeologist .
Hafed Walda, a research fellow at Kings College, said Friday that he wants to "say thank you to NATO for achieving precision strikes" during its campaign to protect civilians from late dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime
Libya boasts many ancient Roman structures, along with a wealth of ancient artifacts in its major museum in the capital Tripoli and in other museums countrywide.
During the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq's major museum in Baghdad was looted. Fears were raised on the outbreak of violence in Libya that a similar fate may befall its antiquities and ancient ruins.
Walda, speaking at the American Academy in Rome at a conference on saving cultural heritage in crisis areas, said he had visited sites in the country's west in late September, and all had "so far seen no visible loss."
A collection of ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman figurines and miniature amulets are on their way home from Australia, reports Nevine El-Aref.
This week Egypt is celebrating the restitution of 122 ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman artefacts that have been recovered from Australia. All the items, which vary from miniature amulets to larger bronze statues from the Neolithic to the Graeco-Roman eras, were stolen several years ago from archaeological sites in Egypt. The handover ceremony was hosted by Egyptian Ambassador to Australia Omar Metwalli at the embassy premises in Canberra.
Mustafa Amin, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told a press conference that the objects were hidden for almost a decade inside the storehouses of the Mossgreen Auction hall.
When the SCA learnt about plans to sell off these objects from the auctioneer's catalogue, officers contacted the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra, which on its turn contacted the Australian authorities with a request that the sale be stopped.
An ancient Egyptian mummy has had quite an afterlife, traveling more than 6,000 miles, spending six decades in private hands, and finally, in 1989, finding a home at the World Heritage Museum (now the Spurlock Museum) at the University of Illinois. The mummy's travels did not end there, however. It has made two trips to a local hospital—once in 1990 and again this year—for some not-so-routine medical exams.
Egyptologists, a radiologist, a pathologist, a physical anthropologist, and a mummy expert are using the best diagnostic tools available to learn about the mummy without unwrapping its red linen shroud or cutting into it. The team discussed its findings during a symposium at the museum in Urbana, Ill.
The first round of tests in 1990 included X-rays and CT scans, as well as an analysis of tiny fragments of cloth, insects, and hardened resins collected from the fraying base of the mummy. Joseph Barkmeier, MD, medical director of diagnostic services and regional outreach at Carle Foundation Hospital and Physician Group in Urbana, conducted the CT scans at the hospital. He repeated the scans this year at Carle with much-improved CT technology.
"Medical diagnostic technology has experienced tremendous advancements in the past two decades," Barkmeier says. "Image resolution is nearly 10 times greater than it was when we first imaged the mummy in 1990, and we can reconstruct images faster and view them from multiple vantage points."
The scans and an analysis of the materials used in embalming (including carbon-14 dating of a wooden plank that supports the body) found that the mummy was a child of a wealthy family from the Roman period of ancient Egypt.
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mustafa Amin embarked today on an inspection tour of the Giza plateau to check on the development of the new museum’s construction and discuss any obstacles that might stand in the way of the project’s completion.
During the tour, Amin asserted that the SCA would soon provide all required funds to complete the construction of the wall surrounding the plateau as well as the new building for the Giza Inspectorate. He also agreed to provide the solar boat museum with monitoring devices that would control the humidity and temperature levels inside the museum.
Amin also inspected the plateau’s visitor path, lighting and security systems as well as the administrative building which is still under construction.
All over Egypt, you can find these “homes away from home”. The places, where all those famous names of the past have spent their professional life, during excavation seasons, and their free time. Some of these houses have already disappeared, some are on the verge of being demolished and some (Like Castle Carter) will probably still be there long after we are gone.
Nevertheless, they do have a history of their own and are, in our opinion, worth of being surveyed, their history recorded for future generations.
And that’s exactly what we will try to do! Locate as many of these houses (or the location where they once stood) as possible and write articles about their history.
Vol 3, No 4: JAEI August 2011
Access restricted to subscribers
Campaign of Ramesses III against Philistia
Egypt and the Chad: Some Additional Remarks
A Long Walk in the Desert: A Study of the Roman Hydreumata along the Trade Routes between the Red Sea and the Nile
Christina W.M. Scott
S.E. Sidebotham--Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route
Pearce Paul Creasman
Friday, November 04, 2011
The 25 January Revolution seems to have cast the Pharaohs' curse over the antiquities and museums sector in Egypt, which has seen more than its share of bad luck in the past nine months.
The early days of the uprising saw thieves taking advantage of the temporary lack of security to loot several archaeological sites and museums around the country, including the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, the Saqqara and Abusir necropolises in Giza, and sites in the Delta and Upper Egypt. Although some of the stolen items were later recovered, many are still missing.
Meanwhile, certain developed sites such as Al-Muizz Street in mediaeval Cairo saw renewed damage to their structure as residents in the area encroached on the unique Islamic monuments that have lined the street since the Mamluk era. And, hampered by a budget shortfall caused by the drop in the tourist industry in Egypt, construction work on new museums such as the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking Giza plateau and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) were put on hold. Also delayed were development and restoration projects at several archaeological sites and monuments, such as Djoser's Step Pyramid in the Saqqara necropolis.
On the administrative level the case was even worse.
The Customs Police at the High Dam Port in the Upper Egypt city of Aswan Wednesday caught a Sudanese traveller attempting to illegally smuggle seven wooden boxes full of ancient Egyptian and Islamic artefacts out of the country.
The 50-year-old was arrested after policemen found that the boxes contained a wooden chair inlaid with ivory and pearls, clay and metal pots, as well as a number of statuettes and canopic jars. Investigations are underway to ascertain if the main was working alone or had colleagues in Egypt or abroad.
The restoration works will not damage or endanger the monument, Supreme Council of Antiquities head Mostafa Amin said following a field tour Tuesday at the pyramid in Saqqara.
Renovation works are being completed according to a plan laid out to protect the pyramid, according to Amin. Workers have finished cleaning the sand and blemishes accumulated over time from its six steps to remove the added weight from the pyramid.
The restoration includes replacing worn-out stone bricks with new pieces made of the same materials, as well as replacing unstable stones to prevent their collapse. Holes and gaps on top of the six steps have also been filled.
A year after its establishment, Egypt's foreign ministry has selected Atia Radwan, head of the Museum Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), to be the administrative attache to the Antiquities Museum at the Egyptian Art Academy in Rome (EAAR). SCA Secretary General Mostafa Amin appointed Adel Abdel Satar, Radwan's deputy, to replace Radwan.
The museum is Egypt's first permanent antiquities exhibition abroad. The 220 square metre museum presents Egyptian civilisation from the days of the pharoahs through to the Islamic era.
Radwan told Ahram Online that the permanent exhibition, entitled "The Golden Ages of Egypt: Continuity and Change", will highlight the face of Egyptian arts by showing 205 artefacts carefully selected from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo as well as the Coptic, Islamic and the ceramic museums. The collection is exhibited thematically as "Life, Faith and Beyond."
Fall quarter this year (October-December 2011), I will be joining my very first archaeological dig! The project is in Edfu, Egypt (the project website can be found here). Since this is the first time I've ever been in a foreign country for longer than a few weeks, let alone on a dig, I thought a blog would be a perfect way to keep everyone informed! Internet access is spotty, with only one person at a time being aloud on our rather shaky connection. However, I hope to blog as often as I can, even if it means writing my posts in word and posting in bulk every few days.
The lead on the project is my adviser, so I'm not jumping into this completely blind (plus, Dan and I visited the site on our honeymoon!). I'll also have at least 3 other girls that I know coming with me. We'll be meeting a couple of my adviser's friends for a few weeks at a time throughout the season (including one of my old professors who now lives in Copenhagen), so it won't just be us UofCers all the time. For the most part, I'll be drawing pottery.
A 3,000-YEAR-OLD Egyptian mummy which was once hidden under the floorboards at University College Cork (UCC) is at the centre of an investigation by Egyptian authorities.
The male mummy is now located at the Boole Library at UCC but is not on public display.
A spokesman from the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin said they are aware of the mummy at UCC and are in discussions with the university on the matter.
He said they are waiting to have the mummy assessed by an expert or somebody at the embassy. He also said that, once the assessment is completed, they will then decide if it will be returned to Egypt or stay in UCC.
A 1,900-year-old Egyptian mummy from the Spurlock Museum, who made headlines in early April for undergoing a CT scan at the Carle Foundation Hospital, is make another appearance in “The Return of the Mummy.”
Presented by Spurlock, The Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials and the Dr. Allan C. Campbell Family Distinguished Speaker Series, a panel of experts will discuss the new techniques applied to the ongoing study of the mummy and reveal new information gathered.
11 Nov 11 – 25 Mar 12 2011
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Dantes Plads 7, Copenhagen DK-1556, Denmark
+45 33 41 81 41
As one of the sponsors of Petrie’s Egyptian’s expeditions, the Carlsberg Foundation was the recipient of a large number of artefacts unearthed in the early decades of the 20th century.
“Cairo kept the unique and most complete objects and Petrie was allowed to take the rest,” says the scholar, Tine Bagh, who led the project.
“My job was to document the finds and investigate why we [the Glyptotek] ended up with some items while others went to Boston or Brussels.” The show will present the finds from the museum’s permanent collection, many of which are not normally on view, and aims to make new connections with artefacts excavated by Petrie in other museum’s collections.
“I want the objects to come alive,” Bagh says. “They are not just isolated pieces but an integral part of tombs and temples.” Two key discoveries resulting from Bagh’s research will be highlighted in the exhibition.
A limestone crown in the Glyptotek’s collection from Hawara, Egypt, has been matched to the head and torso of a crocodile god (Sobek) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
For most people interested in the history of Egypt, the name Rashid (or as the French named it: Rosetta) is linked to the Rosetta Stone. This stone, which was found in a wall in the fort of the city in 1799, provided the linguist Champollion with the final clues to finally decipher hieroglyphs. The black stone contained three versions of the same text, a decree celebrating the coronation of the pharaoh Ptolemy V in 196 BCE. The text was written in Greek, Demotic and hieroglyphs – the Greek was easily translated and could be used to understand the language of the other two texts. The stone was originally found by French soldiers but was seized by British troops and is now in the British Museum in London, where it is one of the museum's most famous objects (Andrews 2001, 156-157).
Rashid today is a bustling city on the Mediterranean coast, situated where a branch of the Nile enters the sea. It is relatively close to Alexandria and contains a unique heritage of historical houses and mosques, mostly from the Ottoman Period.
Excavations of a series of medieval churches in central Sudan have revealed a treasure trove of art, including a European-influenced work, along with evidence of journeys undertaken by travelers from western Europe that were equivalent to the distance between New York City and the Grand Canyon.
A visit by a Catalonian man named Benesec is recorded in one of the churches, along with visits from other pilgrims of the Middle Ages, according to lead researcher Bogdan Zurawski of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The discoveries were made at Banganarti and Selib, two sites along the Nile that were part of Makuria, a Christian kingdom ruled by a dynasty of kings throughout the Middle Ages.
A six-year effort to map the genetic patterns of humankind appears to confirm that early people first left Africa by crossing into Arabia.
Ancestors of modern people in Europe, Asia and Oceania migrated along a southern route, not a northern route through Egypt as some had supposed.
The results from the Genographic Project are published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
The Elephantine Papyri in English: Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change, Second Revised Edition by Bezalel Porten
This important volume contains 175 documents from the Egyptian border fortresses of Elephantine and Syene (Aswan), which yielded hundreds of papyri in hieratic, Demotic, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Coptic, spanning a period of 3,000 years. The documents include letters and legal contracts from family and other archives, and are thus an invaluable source of knowledge for scholars of varied disciplines, such as epistolography, law, society, religion, language, and onomastics. The volume includes seven sections, each containing carefully translated and extensively annotated documents of one language group. Excellent cross-referencing allows the user to trace forerunners and successors. Each section is preceded by an introduction; the Aramaic, Demotic, and Greek sections are concluded with a prosopography. The book closes with a select topical index.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
More turmoil in Egypt's heritage management circles.
Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the Supreme Committee of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), has been removed from his post following protests by employees.
Protests had accelerated over the last two days after the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) had refused to meet the protesters’ demands of a bonus every three months, a 15 per cent rise in incentives, and the resignation of Abdel-Maqsoud.
GEM employees sent a petition to Mustafa Amin, the SCA secretary general, asking for a reshuffle of the committee as its members were disrupting the GEM project and were remnants of the old regime. Amin said he would look into the matter.
In the petition, they also wrote, “All workers are exposed to deliberate persecution by the management through the withholding of bonuses and incentives, while committee members are paid almost one million pounds per month.”
Following two days of investigations by an SCA committee, Amin decided to discharge Abdel-Maqsoud.
BBC News (Katya Adler)
Libya's National Transitional Council says it believes several hundred ancient coins stolen from a bank in Benghazi during the Libyan uprising have turned up in Egypt.
More than 7,000 priceless coins and other precious artefacts were taken during a robbery in May while the city fought for its survival against forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi.
At the time, a fire at the bank was blamed on the fighting. Now it is thought to have been part of the audacious robbery.
The thieves targeted a collection known as the Treasure of Benghazi.
It included more than 10,000 pieces, with coins dating back to Greek, Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times, but also other treasures such as small statues and jewellery.
Most had been discovered during the Italian occupation of Libya and were taken out of the country.
They were then returned to Libya in 1961 after the country's independence.
Robbers make off with priceless Treasure of Benghazi
Hunt is on for treasures looted in Libyan uprisingA gang of Libyan looters have raided a priceless collection of gold and silver coins that are believed to date back to the time of Alexander the Great.
The thieves carried off with the pieces, known as The Treasure of Benghazi, having drilled through a concrete ceiling at the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi.
An expert has described the raid as 'one of the greatest thefts in archeological history.'
Silver didrachm, part of The Treasure of Benghazi collection have been stolen by looters in Libya
Silver didrachm, part of The Treasure of Benghazi collection have been stolen by looters in Libya
Whilst the break-in was initially believed to have been part of the uprising against Muammar Gadaffi, Hafed Walada, a Libyan archeologist working at King's College London told The Sunday Times; 'It may have been an inside job.
'It appears to have been carried out by people who knew what they were looking for.'
Reuters (Brian Rohan)
Pieces from a huge collection of priceless ancient coins, jewellery and statuettes, looted from a bank vault in eastern Libya in the chaos of the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi, have appeared in the local souk and are being taken abroad.
The cache of some 8,000 pieces was taken by thieves who chiselled into a concrete bank vault in Benghazi in the early days of revolutionary tumult after fire spread from an adjacent headquarters of the feared secret police.
Residents of the seaside neighbourhood say the bank was invaded by looters in February, when Benghazi rose up against Gaddafi's rule and triggered a revolt that spread nationwide.
Sincere congratulations and good wishes to Chris Naunton:
The selection panel, comprising four Trustees and an external independent from the charity sector, met on Monday 24 October and interviewed the four short-listed candidates from an international field. Each of the candidates gave a short Powerpoint presentation on their vision for the future of the Society and was then interviewed by the panel. We were very pleased that the post attracted such a wide range of strong applicants from several countries and impressed by the quality of their presentations, but, having carefully considered and weighed the evidence put forward during the interviews, the panel concluded that Chris’s combination of skills and experience placed him comfortably at the head of the field.
See the above page for more details.
Amin told Ahram Online that he needed some time to reorganise the SCA and its administrative and archaeological planning, but he promised to go forward and complete the SCA's mega projects such as the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) as well as removing all the encroachment on Al-Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo and the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor.
Amin has appointed Adel Abdel-Sattar to replace him as head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department, and the former SCA secretary-general, Mohamed Abdel-Fattah, as the head of the NMEC supreme committee.
Discover the Petrie Museum in 'Digging Egypt' at the Institute of Archaeology Library (London, UK) between the 28th October - 21st December 2011, a poster exhibition exploring the career of Flinders Petrie, the museum named for him, the women who made it possible, and how the Friends of the Petrie Museum support the work of the museum.
The Institute of Archaeology Library holds the Edwards Library, one of the most important collections of Egyptology books in the UK - meet Amelia Edwards and discover how the Library was formed.
09.30-21.00 Monday to Thursday
Venue: UCL Institute of Archaeology Library 5th floor
31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PY
Visitor tickets available at the Issue Desk
Although Houston has fallen under the spell of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, it is widely thought that a large number of visitors could come to the exhibition because they think this might be the last chance to see Tutankhamun's treasured collection, since the tour might soon come to an end and the objects return to Egypt.
Mark Lach, senior vice-president and creative director of Arts and Exhibitions International, one of the show's for-profit organisers, told Houston News that Egypt was allowing the objects to travel to raise funds for the restoration of monuments and artefacts and to build a $700 million museum in Cairo. Once the Grand Egyptian Museum is built, he continued, "this is probably the last time they'll travel, and they'll go to their permanent home there."
Since the Tutankhamun exhibition began its European-American tour in 2004, some critics in Egypt have questioned the legality of sending such priceless artefacts abroad, while in the host countries there have been questions as to whether the collection is appropriate for art museums.
The voices of critics in Egypt grew increasingly louder after the January Revolution, with some Egyptologists calling for no more exhibitions to be sent abroad. They claim that touring exhibitions are a threat to the objects and decrease the number of tourists who might otherwise come to Egypt to see them.
The Petrie has taken its education programme global by conducting sessions via Skype. Tracey, our visitor services officer, armed with a headset and mobile camera has taked students sitting in a classroom in the US on a tour of the collection. Based on the comments of the students, distance learning can work for museums: http://gleexperience.blogspot.com/
When I told my parents I was going to Egypt, they freaked out. My dad, who was sure I'd come home in a body bag, threatened to steal my passport. Such are the views of a conservative father with only one daughter. Even when that daughter is 24 years old.
I made it to Cairo, one week after the attack on the Israeli embassy there, and while I wasn't afraid of violence, I was worried -- well, curious -- about being a woman in Egypt, not to mention an American one. I looked for information on what to wear and watch out for as a female tourist in Egypt, but couldn't find a comprehensive guide. So, ladies, here's what you need to know.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is, according to author AN Wilson, "the greatest museum in the world". Its ceramics collection is rivalled only by the V&A, its Arnold Bennett archive is bettered only by the British Library and its Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasures is second only to the British Museum.
But while it is free to visit the V&A, the British Library and Museum, an entrance fee is set to be charged in Stoke. Across the country, eye-watering cuts to local authority budgets mean that councils are either closing museums or ratcheting up charges. Last week, artist Anish Kapoor accused the Tories of having a "castration complex" about the arts. Yet, in the midst of this, the teeming London museums continue to enjoy a state subsidy to retain free admission.
Google Reader's help pages are being inundated with complaints about the new design. Why on earth didn't they offer it in Beta so that people could feed back before it was imposed upon us?