Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Action taken to restore scientific institute

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

A closed meeting with the army engineering section and the Arab Contractor Company a delegation with the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) led by Mohamed Shiha head of the Projects Department is to be held tomorrow to discuss all possible procedures to restore Egypt Scientific Institute (ESI). Report submitted by the MSA inspection mission would be also discussed in order to draw a restoration plan.

MSA’s minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that, according to official reports, the two-storey institute had been partially damaged by fire that had led to the collapse of its first- and second-floor ceilings, as well as the destruction of its wooden windows and arcades.

What's going on in heritage management?

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Netherlands/Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) and the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE) convened a one-day Heritage Management Workshop on 22 November to review the current situation in Egypt and discuss a way forward. In her opening address Kim Duistermaat, director of the Netherlands Institute, which hosted the event, said: "Archaeology is no longer purely an academic discipline. Research and site protection are two sides of the same coin. Archaeology is a study of the past; site management relates to the present."

There was a certain irony in a high-level discussion on Architectural Heritage Management (AHM) taking place at such a time in Egypt's history when, following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak and his government, the future is so uncertain. However, its staging was appropriate because the priorities for a new government under Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri rest on restoring order, security, and reviving the economy. Tourism being a mainstay of the Egyptian economy, control of the country's rich archaeological heritage is of major concern in the so-called post-revolutionary era.

The Antiquities Brief swung from the SCA (Supreme Council of Antiquities), to a newly formed Ministry of State for Antiquities, and then back again to the SCA within a few months, clearly indicating government uncertainty on how to deal with a complex problem.

A second origianl copy of 'Description' is available in Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Librarian Marie Bryan, manager of Chicago House Library it Luxor, has announced that they have a handwritten copy of the famous book ‘Description De l’Egypt’ and that it is open for researchers and Luxor habitants to read.

Bryan said the copy they have consists of 20 volumes, compiled during the campaign when Napoleon came to Egypt in the eighteenth century by a number of scholars and scientists from a range of disciplines. The book’s full title in English is ‘Description of Egypt: the collection of researches and observations on Egypt during the French campaign.’

Manchester Museum and its relationship with local people

Egypt at the Manchester Museum (Campbell Price)

Campbell Price is the the new Curator of Egypt and the Sudan at the Manchester Museum, taking over from Karen Exell, who has taken up a teaching post with UCL in Qatar. (to read more about him see his introductory post on the Manchester Museum blog). The Manchester Museum blog has not been much used by the staff in the past and it is great to see Dr Price sharing his experiences of the Museum with the wider world.

One of the most interesting aspects of my new job is understanding the relationship between the Museum’s collections and local people, and why artefacts from Egypt and Sudan has been so popular in Manchester. A newly published book by Hilary Forrest, a member of Manchester Ancient Egypt Society, provides a useful summary of the history of Egyptological interest in the Greater Manchester area, and an introduction to the many Egypt enthusiasts the region has produced and been closely associated with.

As part of the redevelopment of our Ancient Worlds galleries, the Museum has been consulting local community groups. A week into the job, I accompanied our Curator for Community Exhibitions on a visit to a group of older people called ‘Forever Young’, who meet regularly at Fallowfield Library. This was a superb opportunity to get a local perspective on our plans and explore expectations for the galleries.

New Book: Alexandria and the Moon

Peeters Publishers

Alexandria and the Moon. An Investigation into the Lunar Macedonian Calendar of Ptolemaic Egypt
By C. Bennett
Series: Studia Hellenistica, 52

This book is the first comprehensive study of the lunar Macedonian calendar in two decades. The mechanics of the calendar are examined in detail, and a new approach for reconstructing the sequence of intercalary months and years is proposed which, for the first time, permits a consistent interpretation of the papyrological data of the middle Ptolemaic period. It is shown that in c. 265 BC Ptolemy II deliberately set in motion a process to realign the calendar over an extended period, which ended early in the reign of Ptolemy IV. The results have implications for the origins of the financial year, the date of the Ptolemaieia, and the history of the Canopic reform of the Egyptian calendar, among other topics. Appendices consider the nature of Macedonian intercalation and the New Year outside Egypt.

The study is of interest to students of ancient calendars, Ptolemaic chronology, and Hellenistic history.

New Book (and online): Perspectives on Ptolemaic Thebes

Oriental Institute

Perspectives on Ptolemaic Thebes

Peter F. Dorman and Betsy M. Bryan, eds.
Occasional Proceedings of the Theban Workshop.
Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization (SAOC)
SAOC 65.

Available to view or download in PDF format from the above page.

The manuscript consists of seven papers presented at the Theban Workshop, 2006. Within the temporal and spatial boundaries indicated by the title, the subjects of the papers are extremely diverse, ranging from models of culture-history (Manning and Moyer), to studies of specific administrative offices (Arlt), a single statue type (Albersmeier), inscriptions in a single temple (DiCerbo/Jasnow, and McClain), and inscriptions of a single king (Ritner). Nonetheless, all the papers are significant contributions to scholarship, presenting new interpretations and conclusions. Two papers (DiCerbo/Jasnow and McClain) are useful preliminary reports on long-term projects. The cross-references in Arlt and Albersmeier’s and in Manning’s and Moyer’s papers attest to value added by presentation at the workshop.

More details on the above page.

New Book: Amarna's Leatherwork

Sidestone Press

Amarna's Leatherwork. Part I. Preliminary analysis and catalogue
By André J. Veldmeijer

The ancient Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna (or Amarna, ancient Akhetaten) was the short-lived capital built by the controversial Pharaoh Akhenaten, probably the father of the famous Tutankhamun. This volume, the first of two, presents the leatherwork excavated at the site by these various expeditions. The book consists of two parts: the catalogue and the preliminary analysis.

This e-book is also available as a hard-copy.

Lecture notes - 15 Years in the tomb of Harwa

Luxor News Blog (notes by Jane Akshar)

I did find it tricky to take notes and have put question marks where I am not entirely clear what was said, anyone that would like to clarify for me would be my friend for life. :)

The team started work at the tomb of Harwa in 1996 although a survey had been done a year earlier. Harwa was a very important official, Great Majordomo of the God’s wife of Amun or Divine Votaress and there are 8 known statues of him (see the website also for a life of Harwa see ) and they are in different styles the ones in the Cairo Museum and Assuan are Old Kingdom, the block statues are New Kingdom and there is a shrine that is Middle Kingdom. This is because the 25th Dynasty was part of the Pharaonic Renaissance of Egypt. Although all periods had copied previous styles the Nubian Kings specialised in this by with a Nubian twist.

Photo for Today - Nihebsedpepy in the British Museum

Tomb slab of Nihebsedpepy
Carved and painted
First Intermediate Period, c.2100 BC
From Upper Egypt
British Museum, EA1818

Nihebsedpepy is shown with a prayer to Anubis for offerings above and in front of him.
His name incorporates the name of the Old Kingdom king Pepy,
whose cartouche is shown in the column on the right.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all readers who celebrate it.
Have a really lovely day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The burning of the Institut d'Egypte

This has been the biggest and saddest antiquities news story of the last two weeks. For those who haven't caught up with it, the Institute d'Egypte, a research centre set up by Napoleon, no less, was a victim of the riots and was set on fire. The Institut was home to over two hundred thousand volumes, of which the 24 volumes of an original of the Description de l'Egypte was one. Conservators are now looking at the damage to the books and documents to see what can be recovered. Here in France the French media are demanding an official enquiry to look into how it happened, but from all the reports it looks as though it was an unfortunate and tragic casualty of the fighting, not a deliberate attack on the contents of the building. The mud-slinging has started already, but I don't suppose that any one faction will be held to account. Photo from the Associated Press.

Here are some of the most informative of the news stories.

A good summary of the situation as it was a week ago was supplied by the Associated Press:

Google / Associated Press

Volunteers in white lab coats, surgical gloves and masks stood on the back of a pickup truck Monday along the banks of the Nile River in Cairo, rummaging through stacks of rare 200-year-old manuscripts that were little more than charcoal debris.

The volunteers, ranging from academic experts to appalled citizens, have spent the past two days trying to salvage what's left of some 192,000 books, journals and writings, casualties of Egypt's latest bout of violence.

Institute d'Egypte, a research center set up by Napoleon Bonaparte during France's invasion in the late 18th century, caught fire during clashes between protesters and Egypt's military over the weekend. It was home to a treasure trove of writings, most notably the handwritten 24-volume Description de l'Egypte, which began during the 1798-1801 French occupation.

The compilation, which includes 20 years of observations by more than 150 French scholars and scientists, was one of the most comprehensive descriptions of Egypt's monuments, its ancient civilization and contemporary life at the time.

The Description of Egypt is likely burned beyond repair. Its home, the two-story historic institute near Tahrir Square, is now in danger of collapsing after the roof caved in.

"The burning of such a rich building means a large part of Egyptian history has ended," the director of the institute, Mohammed al-Sharbouni, told state television over the weekend. The building was managed by a local non-governmental organization.

Al-Sharbouni said most of the contents were destroyed in the fire that raged for more than 12 hours on Saturday. Firefighters flooded the building with water, adding to the damage.

During the clashes a day earlier, parts of the parliament and a transportation authority office caught fire, but those blazes were put out quickly.

The violence erupted in Cairo Friday, when military forces guarding the Cabinet building, near the institute, cracked down on a 3-week-old sit-in to demand the country's ruling generals hand power to a civilian authority. At least 14 people have been killed.

Zein Abdel-Hady, who runs the country's main library, is leading the effort to try and save what's left of the charred manuscripts.

"This is equal to the burning of Galileo's books," Abdel-Hady said, referring to the Italian scientist whose work proposing that the earth revolved around the sun was believed to have been burned in protest in the 17th century.

Below Abdel-Hady's office, dozens of people sifted through the mounds of debris brought to the library. A man in a surgical coat carried a pile of burned paper with his arms carefully spread, as if cradling a baby.

The rescuers used newspapers to cover some partially burned books. Bulky machines vacuum-packed delicate paper.

At least 16 truckloads with around 50,000 manuscripts, some damaged beyond repair, have been moved from the sidewalks outside the U.S. Embassy and the American University in Cairo, both near the burned institute, to the main library, Abdel-Hady said.

He told The Associated Press that there is no way of knowing what has been lost for good at this stage, but the material was worth tens of millions of dollars — and in many ways simply priceless.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim assigned today an archaeological committee led by Mohsen Sayed, head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department, to inspect the Geographic Society in downtown Cairo after the building housing it was burned amid escalating clashes between protesters and the Egyptian military.

So far, the committee has been unable to inspect the building due to the unstable security conditions on Al-Sheikh Rihan Street, where the Geographic Society building is located. When calm returns, Sayed told Ahram Online, the committee will continue with its job.

Reportedly, most of the Geographic Society's unique 200,000 books and manuscripts have been burned, as well as the original copy of “Le Description de L’Egypt” written by scientists who came with Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in the late 18th century.

Ibrahim said the ministry would help in the restoration of the Geographic Society as well the collection of rescued books, some of which are now transferred to the National Archives and American University in Cairo libraries.

At least some parts of the Egyptian community are pulling together to assist with the salvage operation


After burning the Egyptian Scientific Institute on Saturday 17th December 2011, great efforts started to work on saving the collections of the library which has 196.000 items. The National Library of Egypt is leading the efforts that initiated by different organizations and individuals. At this press release we will try to give a spot light on what's happening after burning the Egyptian Scientific Institute.

On the official side; The Ministry of Archeology formed a technical committee to check out the burned building of the Egyptian Scientific Institute. Another 2 committees formed for the same purpose, they were formed by Ministry of Culture, and Civilized Coordination Authority. The final result says that the building needs 2.5 Million Egyptian Pounds ($420.000) for restoration, and this process will take 1 year according to Mohammed Ali Ibrahim the Minister of Archaeology.

On the collections side; from the first moment after burning the collections; the National Library of Egypt started to save the collections as possible as they can. Many of Egyptian volunteers assisted in extracting the books from the fire. Dr. Zein Abdul Hadi, the head of Egyptian National Library participated himself at this process. Many trucks moved the rescued books to the National Library. According to Dr. Zein, "Around 30.000 items were rescued and stored in the National Library”. Cooperative efforts are running now to restore the saved items. American University in Cairo (AUC) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina are participating effectively. Today, 21st December, the National Library announced that same PCs were rescued and the electronic catalog of the library was found and safe.

On Monday 19th December; Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi, Governor of the Emirate of Sharjah, announce that he will bear the whole cost of the building restoration, and will donate some of his rare acquisitions to the Institute.

William J. Kopycki, the Field Director, Library of Congress, Cairo Office posted important images that show the library stamps of the Egyptian Scientific Institute. It was great initiative that may assist in detecting any of these collections in the old books market.

One report estimates that 70% of the books have been severely damaged:

The Daily News Egypt
(Heba Hesham)

With photo.

Seventy percent of the books and manuscripts were damaged in the fire that engulfed the Scientific Complex on Saturday amid clashes in downtown Cairo, according to Saber Arab, head of Dar Al-Kotob and the committee formed to measure the damages.

"With the naked eye, I believe around 10 percent of the books are sound, 20 percent can be restored and 70 percent are totally damaged," Arab told Daily News Egypt.

Al Masry Al Youm

In the wake of the fire that destroyed much of the manuscript collection at the Institut d'Egypte on Saturday, scores of pro-democracy protesters have told of their efforts to salvage books and other rare documents from the smoking ruins.

The institute, which was built by Napoleon Bonaparte on Qasr al-Ainy Street, was set ablaze during fighting between security forces and pro-democracy protesters on Saturday morning. Many rare documents dating back to Napoleon's campaign in 1789, including an original copy of the Description de l'Egypt, were damaged by fire or else by water used to put out the flames.

Protesters began salvage operations later on Saturday, as fighting continued around them, removing books and manuscripts from the building and arranging them on the pavement outside. They made contact with officials at the Ministry of Culture, who arranged to collect the works and remove to the safety of the Dar al-Kutub building on the Corniche.

The first to enter the building and save documents did so while the fire was still raging. Several young men were shot at and pelted with rocks as they tried to enter the building.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With two photos showing the building on fire and what it looks like now.

Following an inspection of the Egyptian Science Institute in downtown Cairo, an archaeological committee led by Mohsen Sayed, head of Islamic and Coptic antiquities, announced that, although the building had been subject to considerable damage, its overall structure remained intact.

Egypt’s minister of state for antiquities said that, according to official reports, the two-storey institute had been partially damaged by fire that had led to the collapse of its first- and second-floor ceilings, as well as the destruction of its wooden windows and arcades.

Sayed told Ahram Online that all of the building’s internal walls had been destroyed but stressed that its supporting walls were still well preserved. Restoration work will begin as soon as the tense political situation in the area is brought under control, he added.

Looking at the bigger picture, art critic Jonathan Jones considers the implications for the future of Egypt's other heritage. He wrote a piece during the January "revolution" that was deluged with responses.

The Guardian (Jonathan Jones)

Nelson wrecked Napoleon's military plans in Egypt, but the scholars did produce their Description. I have it before me, in a modern edition published by Taschen. What a book. Meticulous engravings depict the wonders of Egyptian archaeology: the temples of Philae, for instance, are shown in their original setting on an island in the Nile, seen from every angle in measured architectural views. Today the temples are on another nearby island after Unesco moved them to save them from flooding caused by the Aswan Dam – so the Description's precise record of their original appearance is invaluable.

It goes on like that. The French team journeyed to all the great archaeological sites of Egypt and made the first precise studies of them. This book is a monument to human curiosity and reason. Out of it came a new understanding of the legacy of one of the world's most charismatic civilizations. Yet the French also studied the modern Egypt of their time, the natural history of the Nile, the Islamic architecture of Cairo, even agricultural techniques and industries.

One of four original copies of this great work in Egypt has been lost forever. It is a warning. Whatever the political stakes, all sides must respect Egypt's art and history. The Description of Egypt was a record of what Egyptians have created over millennia. Those astounding antiquities themselves, many of the greatest of which are in the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square, are just as vulnerable. Please protect them

Phase 3 of the Grand Egyptian Museum to go ahead

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) announced today the name of the two companies that won the bid to construct the third and last phase of the Grand Egyptian museum overlooking the Giza plateau.

It consists of the construction of the museum’s main building and its landscape.

Mohamed Ibrahim MSA’s minister told Ahram online that the construction work will start mid January 2012 following the signature of the contract and will last for two years.

Antiquities hotline to open

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is to operate a hotline service to receive complaints, ideas and suggestions to help the council develop its archaeological work.

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced the hotline would open on Monday. It will be operated five days per week from Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm until its full operation in January when it will be operated 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

24 hours a day? It looks as though they are expecting a lot of complaints, ideas and suggestions!

Avenue of sphinxes to open to public in March

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

If I remember rightly, this was supposed to open October/November, so this is a fairly substantial delay, but unsurprising under the circumstances.

During an inspection tour of Luxor’s archaeological sites, the Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced that the Avenue of Sphinxes will be partly opened to public by mid March. “We have chosen a date that coincides with the opening of the Berlin International Tourism Market on 13 March 2011,” Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

He explained that a 150 metre long section out of the 2,700 meters of the avenue will be ready for the public after restoration, promising to solve all technical and financial problems in order to resume restoration work in the rest of the avenue.

Photo for Today: Predynastic figurines of bone and ivory

Predynastic figures of bone and ivory in the British Museum
Naqada I.
The lapiz lazuli eyes of the central figurine may
have been a later addition.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Antiquities minister eyes new policies for Egypt heritage

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Today, following a long meeting with top officials of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), newly-appointed Minster of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim told reporters that under his tenure Egypt’s antiquities will be managed differently.

“I will focus my work more on archaeologists than on archaeology,” he asserted, explaining that “this doesn’t mean that I will neglect archaeology; on the contrary, protecting Egypt’s heritage is an obligation.” He added that when the skills and knowledge of archaeologists are better developed, Egypt’s heritage will be better preserved.

During the meeting, Ibrahim told officials that restoration work will be carried out by the SCA’s own restorers and not outside consultants. He also announced that in he will soon inaugurate such projects as the Serapium Necropolis in Saqqara and the Crocodile Museum in Kom Ombo, helping to boost tourism to Egypt.

Amarna report from Barry Kemp

The Amarna Project
The Amarna Trust

The plan that I outlined in the last report has gone ahead, the only difference being that the repairs at the North Palace went on for longer, until December 1st, overlapping with the start of the cemetery excavation.

The extra time was devoted largely to the casting and laying of the mock-sandstone slabs that filled six of the unusually wide doorways in the central and western animal houses.

Our aim this season was to complete the repairs to a major part of the palace, comprising the L-shaped block that includes the best preserved part at the rear, that served as the domestic heart of the palace, and the distinctive set of adjacent animal houses along the north side. In the former, our repairs have mainly been intnded to stabilise the ancient brickwork, leaving as much of it exposed as possible, whereas in the latter, where much of the original brickwork was barely above the ground level, we have recreated the wall lines, but to a diminishing height as one moves away from the rear of the palace. I think that a reasonably harmonious balance has been achieved. Next year, our repair and conservation team will move to the Central City and start work at the front of the Great Aten Temple.

Cemetery Excavation

The delayed excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery began in mid-November, the first day of actual excavation being the 15th. The archaeological team comprises Anna Stevens, Julie Rogers, Trisha Drennan, Nabil Abd el-Latif Abd el-Hakam and, for part of the time, myself. The El-Minia inspectorate has also supplied three junior inspectors for one month's training in excavation and recording. In past years we have worked in three separate areas of the cemetery. We have called them the Upper Site (begun in 2006), the Lower Site (begun in 2009) and the Wadi Mouth Site (begun in 2010).

This time, all resources are going into the last two, and particularly into the Lower Site.

Last year's excavation at the Lower Site took the form of a five-metre-wide trench laid down the hill slope, to the edge of the wadi floor. Burials were found down most of its length, except towards the top, where the outcropping of rock at the surface had deterred people from digging graves.

At the bottom, the hard gravelly surface at which the grave cuts became visible dropped somewhat, and the graves themselves continued to the very end of the trench. This pointed to the likelihood that not only had graves originally spread across the wadi floor, but that they had, at least to some extent, not been washed away by occasional violent flash floods.

It was natural this year, therefore, to extend this same trench out into the wadi floor. A further 25 metres has been added, of which two thirds has had the top layer of sand and gravel removed. Sure enough, the graves continue, and at fairly closely spaced intervals. We realised early on that, along the sides of the wadi, the presence of graves is given away by the scatter of dark broken boulders that were once the original coverings or cairns over the graves. Scattered amongst them are sherds and fragments of bones. On the wadi floor, by contrast, such evidence is only sparsely present, the surface having been swept by floodwaters from time to time.

The top layer, around 50 cm deep, is compacted coarse sand and gravel that gives no hint of graves underneath. Yet the graves we have so far uncovered tell the same story of extensive robbery that we have met from the beginning, reinforcing the impression that there has been only one major phase of robbery that happened not too long after the cemetery was in use.

The robbers evidently could see where each grave was, and dug down often in a targeted way, leaving parts of the body undisturbed.

Within a short time of our starting, the top of another decayed wooden anthropoid coffin appeared, not far from where the two examples were found in 2010. With those, the pieces were removed directly and as carefully as was possible and transferred to the site magazine. This year the team included two conservators, Julie Dawson (Fitzwilliam Musem, Cambridge) and Lucy Skinner. Their first task was to begin consolidation of the 2010 coffin pieces, but the appearance of the new coffin took them immediately into the field to deal with it. The new coffin is, if anything, in an even more fragile condition. Julie and Lucy work with a remarkable first-aid conservation chemical, cyclododecane. When dissolved in warm water and applied to fragile surfaces it forms a firm, opaque white waxy cover that can be reinforced with gauze. The wonder of its properties is that subsequently, when exposed to air, the chemical slowly 'sublimates', in other words, vanishes of its own accord, leaving the wood to be consolidated in the laboratory. It took a week to conserve the coffin in the ground in this way, but at the end, it was possible to lift the sides as single pieces. Wrapped to be airtight, the pieces are in the site magazine awaiting further treatment next year.

The site magazine is, in effect, a museum storeroom. It, too, needs money spent on it to create a suitable long-term home for the bulk of the finds from excavation. Its original shelving units were imported from the UK, through the good offices of Alf Baxendale, now one of our trustees. Needing more of them, we have found a blacksmith business in Mallawi (the brothers Adel and Mohammed Anwar Abd el-Rahman) which can produce very reasonable imitations. Members of the Sussex Egyptology Society raised the funds to pay for three units; Jerry Rose and Dolores Burke contributed the cost of the fourth.

There is a short-term disadvantage to the method of conservation just outlined: the coffin surfaces are exposed in only small patches before the cyclododecane and gauze are applied, at which time the surfaces become invisible. One only sees the decoration through small and temporary portholes. The sides were decorated in the way that the other coffins were, with vertical columns of hieroglyphs separating striding figures. The hieroglyphs are very faint, so much so that it was not possible to read them in their brief moments of exposure, and they do not show up well on photographs. But one of the windows brought a surprise. The head of one of the striding figures was particularly clear, drawn in thin red paint lines with yellow fill. The head was not human, but unmistakably canine. It could be Anubis or Duamutef, the jackal-headed member of the Four Sons of Horus.

Both appear on the sides of coffins during the New Kingdom. Good examples are those of Yuya and Tuyu, the parents of Queen Tiy, from the Valley of the Kings.

So far, the decoration of the three coffins found in previous seasons (the first found in 2008) conforms to the Amarna rule (as accepted in modern interpretations) that funerary depictions avoided Osiris and associated deities, including Anubis and the Four Sons of Horus. It has never been clear, however, whether this was because Ahenaten ordered it or because it was a logical outcome of people's acceptance of Akhenaten's ideas. Thus, in finding an exception to the rule, we cannot tell if it represents a violation of a royal order, or the retention by one family of older ideas which many of their contemporaries had left behind, the latter implying the not unreasonable existence of a measure of personal choice in such matters.

It should be noted that the style of painting, the fine, assured red lines painted over a cream or yellow blocking of the shape, is the same as that on the coffin fragments found in 2008. Both of these coffins, incidentally, also included a single large eye towards the head end of the coffin side.

There is no reason, on this basis, to think that this latest coffin was an old one brought to Amarna, having been made before Akhenaten's time. The other figures seemed, whilst momentarily visible before disappearing under their chemical protection, to be human-headed, which is an option for this period. But we will have to wait until at least next year before getting a second and better look.

In addition to the trench, other excavation squares are being investigated on the adjacent valley sides, both at the Lower Site and at the Wadi Mouth Site. One by one, graves are being cleared and the bones of their occupants, often children and even babies, are being recovered and often reunited to again become 'individuals', to await study by the anthropologists, who will come in the late spring and tell us more about who the individuals were. Not all of the graves are disturbed but, even so, at the time of writing, apart from the coffin, some sherds and a couple of intact pots, no 'finds' have been discovered, reinforcing the impression that has been there from the beginning, that, either through choice or poverty, adding grave goods to a burial was not a common practice.

One consequence is that we are up-to-date in the recording of objects found at the cemetery since we began in 2006. Artist Andy Boyce, at the end of a month of drawing, has put us in this unusual position.

The excavation will run until the end of December. It is good to see that, after the upheavals of the spring, the government antiquities agency, now again the Ministry of Antiquities Affairs (its Minister Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Ali), is fulfilling its appointed role. One local result is that our application to renew our programme of work in 2012 has been accepted. I will write about this in a future bulletin.

My thanks to all who have helped us through a difficult but none the less interesting year.

Barry Kemp, 15 December 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 (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 where a membership form can be downloaded. The Foundation publishes a regular newsletter, The Akhetaten Sun, available to members.

New Book: The Memphite Tomb of Horemheb

Brepols Publishers

M. J. Raven, V. Verschoor, M. Vugts, R. v. Walsem 2011
The Memphite Tomb of Horemheb. Commander-in-Chief of Tutankhamun, V: The Forecourt and the Area South of the Tomb with Some Notes on the Tomb of Tia

This book is the first in a series dealing with the excavations in the New Kingdom cemetery of Saqqara by a team of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities and Leiden University. The tomb of the general Horemheb is the most important monument of this cemetery. It was found by art robbers at the beginning of the 19th century, and then lost again. Its rediscovery and partial excavation by the Leiden Museum of Antiquities and the Egypt Exploration Society (1975-1979) was followed by a publication in four volumes. However, since then new excavations by the present expedition have led to the discovery of a hitherto unknown First Pylon and forecourt. Further clearances around its perimeter walls shed new light on the adjacent tomb of Tia, treasurer and brother-in-law of Ramesses II, and on the later use of the area as a cemetery of the poor.

Maarten J. Raven is curator of the Egyptian department of the Leiden Museum since 1978 and joint field director of the Dutch excavations at Saqqara (Egypt) since 1999. He is particularly interested in the art and material culture of the New Kingdom and the Late Period, in iconography, magic and symbolism, and in Egyptomania and the rediscovery of Ancient Egypt.

René van Walsem is lecturer in Egyptology at Leiden University since 1979. He was joint field director of the Dutch excavations at Saqqara from 1999 until 2007. His main field of interest is Egypt during the Old Kingdom, New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, with a focus on the material culture, elite tombs, and coffins.

Vincent Verschoor and Marije Vugts studied Egyptology at Leiden University. They are former field assistants in the Leiden excavations at Saqqara and board members of the Society of Friends of Saqqara. Together, they compiled the first draft of several of the chapters of the present publication.

Online: AERA Open Access publications

Ancient World Online (Charles Jones)

A useful summary of all the freely available resources on the AERA website,

Egypt Research Associates explores Egypt’s archaeological record seeking the origins of civilization. Our mission is to contribute insight and understanding to the present awareness of cultural evolution.

In recent years, we have explored the development of urbanism, labor organization, and the elementary structures of ancient daily life at the once-Lost City of the pyramid builders at Giza.

AERA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Dr. Mark Lehner and Matthew McCauley, with the assistance of Margaret Sears, in 1985 for the purpose of funding and facilitating the research of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project, which grew out of the Sphinx Project.

Irynefer Open again while TT1 is closed

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

With lots of pictures.

I must be completely mad I heard that TT290 Irynefer had been newly opened for tourists and instead of going there early I went at 12:30. It was hot, very, very, very hot but it was worth it. When you buy your ticket for Deir el Medina at the ticket office there is a sign up saying Sennedjem is closed for restoration and they have opened Irynefer in its place. Although the English is a little ambiguous lol.

It is at the far end of the village and slightly up the hill. They have made a new shelter and sign for it. It is part of the normal Deir el Medina ticket and instead of Sennedjem which is being restored you get Irynefer. It doesn’t have any of that nasty plastic screening so please be careful with backpacks and brushing the walls if you visit.

The burial chamber is barrel vaulted and very nicely decorated. The round walls are on the north and south ends and the entrance is in the East wall.

Along the north wall the owner and his wife are adoring and they are wearing very Ramaside clothing, his kilt has a high back and her dress is elaborately pleated.

Exhibition: Tutankhamun in Japan

General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Antiquities released a decision to newly appointed Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim take over the Ministry of Antiquities, concerning their consent to hold the Tutankhamen exhibition in Japan.

The council released an order for the transfer of the monument along with the head of the museum sector Adel Abdel Satar, media coordinator Hassan Saad Allah and four journalists by the end of December.

The exhibition will be held for a year in two cities in Japan for the benefit of U.S. $7 million.

Egypt's Islamists try to calm fears over tourism

The Telegraph, UK

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the political arm of the influential Muslim Brotherhood – announced a conference in Cairo entitled "Let's encourage tourism" that brought together industry leaders and party members.

Meanwhile, Al-Nur, the ultraconservative party representing followers of the fundamentalist Salafi brand of Islam, said it was launching a conference to promote the industry in the Egyptian southern city of Aswan.

About 15 million holidaymakers visited the country last year, attracted by its Pharaonic sites and Red Sea beach resorts. The industry is a key money earner and source of foreign currency.

Islamist parties won a crushing victory in the first stage of parliamentary elections which wrapped up last week, leading to fears they might impose strict Islamic law that could scare off Western holidaymakers.

Some Islamist candidates or religious scholars have advocated destroying ancient monuments – seen as a form of idol worshipping – and bans on alcohol, mixed-sex beaches, gambling and even bikinis.

Breaking Travel News

Egypt’s major Islamist parties have emphasised that tourism will remain a key priority for the country should they win the elections.

The announcements aim to allay fears that religious conservatism could harm travel and tourism, which remains one of Egypt’s biggest industries, accounting for over a tenth of GDP and employing an estimated one in eight of the workforce.

The Freedom and Justice Party as well as Al-Nur are both launching conferences to explore opportunities to improve tourism.

Cultural Heritage and War: A Video Report on Libya

Cultural Heritage Lawyer (Rick St Hilaire)

With two videos.

A recent video produced by reports on cultural heritage in Libya in the context of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The short, two part film titled NATO and Libya - Cultural Heritage in Times of Unrest can be viewed below.

One important remark is made by Dr. Joris Kila, Chairman of the International Military Cultural Resources Work Group. He explains that friendly military forces committed to protecting cultural property can deny enemy forces a potential reservoir of military financing. The comment is another reminder that meaningful investigation to uncover the connection between illegal antiquities trafficking and weapons purchases is sorely needed.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amenhotep III, El Kab

Graffiti on the temple walls

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great Pyramid's secret doors in 2012

Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)

Will the mystery over the Great Pyramid's secret doors be solved in 2012?

I dare say yes. After almost two decades of failed attempts, chances are now strong that researchers will reveal next year what lies behind the secret doors at the heart of Egypt's most magnificent pyramid.

New revelations on the enduring mystery were already expected this year, following a robot exploration of the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum.

But unrest in Egypt froze the project at its most promising stage, after it produced the first ever images behind one of the Great Pyramid's mysterious doors.

Now the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), once led by the controversial yet charismatic Zahi Hawass, is slowly returning to granting permits for excavations and archaeological research.

New Book: Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism

Cambridge University Press

Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism by Ian S. Moyer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

In a series of studies, Ian Moyer explores the ancient history and modern historiography of relations between Egypt and Greece from the fifth century BCE to the early Roman empire. Beginning with Herodotus, he analyzes key encounters between Greeks and Egyptian priests, the bearers of Egypt's ancient traditions. Four moments unfold as rich micro-histories of cross-cultural interaction: Herodotus' interviews with priests at Thebes; Manetho's composition of an Egyptian history in Greek; the struggles of Egyptian priests on Delos; and a Greek physician's quest for magic in Egypt. In writing these histories, the author moves beyond Orientalizing representations of the Other and colonial metanarratives of the civilizing process to reveal interactions between Greeks and Egyptians as transactional processes in which the traditions, discourses and pragmatic interests of both sides shaped the outcome. The result is a dialogical history of cultural and intellectual exchanges between the great civilizations of Greece and Egypt.

Pyramid construction


En janvier 2011, Pyramidales se faisait l'écho de la conférence de presse internationale au cours de laquelle Jean-Pierre Houdin et l'Équipe Kheops de Dassault Systèmes présentaient la phase II de la théorie de l'auteur de "Kheops Révélée", formulée sous le label "Kheops Renaissance".

Par la suite, Pyramidales a amplement décrit et illustré ces nouveaux développements relatifs à la construction et à la configuration technique de la Grande Pyramide du Plateau de Guizeh. Voir ici (liens en bas d'article)

Près d'une année après, il nous a semblé intéressant de savoir comment ce nouveau volet de la théorie "houdinienne" a été reçu et interprété, autant par le grand public que par les experts ou passionnés d'égyptologie.

Jean-Pierre Houdin a aimablement accepté de répondre aux questions de Pyramidales. Qu'il en soit ici très cordialement remercié.

Ottowa Citizen (Bruce Deachman)

Dominic Raina’s business card is a simple affair bearing his name, phone number and an equilateral triangle resting on one side. Written underneath the triangle is the service Raina offers: “PYRAMID CONSTRUCTION DEMO’S.” Above the triangle, his nickname — “NO-MOSS-NICK” — hints at Raina’s solution to the question of how ancient Egyptians transported huge blocks of stone and raised them in place to construct the great pyramids: A rolling stone, he says, gathers no moss.

In the living room of his Nepean home, he’s set out paving stones, wooden planks, ropes, cribbage boards and croquet posts to demonstrate his theories. Numerous books on Egypt and the pyramids sit on the coffee table, with scores of red ribbons marking pages of interest.

Poster: Rewriting History - A Look at Vandalism in 18th Dynasty Egypt

Institute of Archaeology, UCL

In history as today, vandalism is an act imbued with meaning. This is certainly true of two 18th-Dynasty Egyptian examples—that of the Pharaohs Hatshepsut and Akhenaten. Hatshepsut’s rise to power as king was at the expense of her young stepson—the rightful Pharaoh. Years after her death, vandalism in the form of the removal of any references or images associated with Hatshepsut’s kingship is evident. Akhenaten’s striking religious reforms landed him the same fate. Through analysis, we are able to ascertain the desired result of this vandalism: rewriting Egyptian history to include only that which was orthodox.

As part of their assessed work for the Principles of Conservation M.A. course at UCL, students are asked to design and produce a poster communicating aspects of conservation. The poster consists of two main parts: the poster itself and an accompanying paper. The topic year was "Deliberate damage, destruction and vandalism of cultural heritage." Students were asked to identify, examine and discuss an aspect of deliberate damage to cultural heritage of their choice.

For the entire poster page, some of which look at the general problems of graffiti and neglect, click here: UCL Principles of Conservation Posters

Conservation area under attack

Al Masry Al Youm

The Wadi Degla Natural Protectorate, a geological formation in southeast Cairo that is over 50 million years old, has recently come under threat from illegal quarrying and sand extraction operations. Industrial trucks and loaders have left trails of rubble and piles of rocky sand in the protectorate as evidence of their tampering.

According to Tarek al-Kanawati, the director of the protectorate, these violations have only been reported in a limited area in the northwest sector of the massive valley. Kanawati says that "only an area of 800 square meters has been affected" by these illegal operations. Yet tractor tracks and trails of rubble stretch across the protectorate for at least 3km in the northwest area of Wadi Degla.

Travel: Siwa - Legends & Lifestyles in the Egyptian Sahara

Egypt Daily News (Review by Heba Elkayal)

“It is a study of largesse in both legends and lifestyles,” writes emerging author Rawah Badrawi in the introduction of her new book on the desert oasis town of Siwa.

The story by Badrawi and hobbyist photographers Omar Hikal and Khaled Shokry is based on a carefully curated selection of images and text that, in a charmingly poetic style, narrate the history of this isolated town in a manner that is both informative and visually contemporary.

Styled as a coffee table book, it is titled “Siwa: Legends & Lifestyles in the Egyptian Sahara.” At 148 pages, it is replete with guest contributions and testimonies by local and international personalities including actress Isabella Rossellini, architect India Mahdavi, Egyptian Prince Abbas Helmi and wife Princess Mediha, and artist Adel El-Siwi amongst other illustrious characters.

The book is a modern travel book in the sense that it is not simply composed of long passages of descriptive text, but of short informative essays and beautiful pictures. “Siwa” essentially vies to tell an enthralling story weaved from various sources.

Photo for Today: Amenhotep III temple at El Kab

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Changes at the SCA / Antiquities Ministry

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Twenty-four hours after his appointment as Egypt’s new antiquities minister, Mohamed Ibrahim Aly unveils his strategy to spruce up archaeology

In a closed meeting, the new secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Mohamed Ibrahim Aly mapped a new plan to preserve more of Egypt’s heritage, develop further existing archaeological work, upgrade the skills of archaeologists, renew efforts on projects on hold.

“The youth and junior archaeologists are my top priorities," Aly told Ahram Online. He promised to appoint all SCA temporary staff in four phases, the last phase concluding in 2012. Meanwhile, 2,000 of 6,000 fresh graduates are to be appointed at the SCA and the Ministry of Antiquities according to a scheduled timetable. . . .

Aly also promised to speed up construction, development and restoration work put on hold in the last year

Ahram Online
(Nevine El Aref)

Abdel Hamid Marouf, current head of the ancient Egyptian documentation department at Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has replaced Atef Abul Dahab, who has retired, as head of the council’s ancient Egyptian antiquities department.

Ancient human remains from Sudan: training future specialists

British Museum Blog (Michaela Binder)

Sudan has perhaps one of the richest and most fascinating archaeological records in the world. Construction projects such as roads and dams are an increasing threat to its cultural heritage which prompts a large number of salvage excavations by Sudanese and international teams. Accordingly, as a large number of archaeological sites are cemeteries, the amount of human remains housed in museums and universities for use in research is steadily growing.
The pyramid cemetery at Meroe

Despite the fact Sudan has many excellent archaeologists, the scientific potential of human remains – which can increase our knowledge about many aspects of past human cultures – is not fully harnessed. This is mainly due to the fact that there is relatively little training in the study of human remains within the country itself.

Recognising this problem, the British Museum’s Amara West project has instigated a Bioarchaeology Field School, generously funded by the Institute of Bioarchaeology. I am currently in Khartoum running a one-week workshop at the National Council of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM).

Online: Studies of Ancient Egyptian Footwear

PalArch (André J. Veldmeijer)

Veldmeijer, André J. 2011.
Studies of Ancient Egyptian Footwear. Technological Aspects. Part XIV. Leather Eared Sandals. Palarch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology 8(5) (2011), 1-31.

Leather Eared Sandals, i.e. sandals with pre-straps that are cut from the sole’s leather, are a well known category of sandals in ancient Egypt, mainly because the manufacturing is depicted in scenes that decorate tombs. Based on archaeological fi nds, we can recognise several subcategories and types. The present paper, as part of the Ancient Egyptian Footwear Project’s publication series, presents the technological details of this category of leather sandals. As usual in this series of papers, other topics are discussed in passing.

Board games began as an elite passtime

Discovery News (Jennifer Viegas)

Competitive board games -- played on the ground, on the floor, or on boards -- emerged as pastimes for the elite, with the Roman Empire spreading their popularity throughout Europe, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Antiquity, mentions that board games likely originated and disseminated from Egypt and the Fertile Crescent regions at around 3500 B.C. From there, they spread around the Mediterranean before reaching the Roman Empire and what is now Europe.

Based on the archaeological record, board games didn't even reach Britain until the very end of the 1st century B.C. from newly conquered Gaul. At the time, Gaul was a region encompassing present-day France, Belgium, most of Switzerland and other areas.

Not just anyone could play board games then either.

New Book: American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted

National Newswire Service

Archaeologist James Henry Breasted was so well known during his lifetime that he landed on the cover of Time. When he died in 1935, the last half hour of his memorial service in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel was broadcast nationally on radio.

Yet Breasted, who founded the Oriental Institute in 1919 and was instrumental in promoting understanding of the ancient Middle East for scholars and the public alike, has never been the subject of a comprehensive biography, said Jeffrey Abt, author of the new book, American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute. The University of Chicago Press published the book earlier this month.

“The only other biography of Breasted is Pioneer to the Past, by his son Charles,” Abt said. “It is in part a memoir and gives scant attention to his father’s work after the mid-1920s. Also, because Charles was not a scholar, much of James Breasted’s research is not addressed,” added Abt, who is an associate professor in the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University.

Exhibition: Melbourne Museum Tutankhamun

eTravel Blackboard

Lying at Melbourne Museum for up to seven months, the Pharaoh packed his bags on Sunday evening but not after 796,277 people experienced the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition.

Drawing in 41 percent of international visitors and total visitors up from the 480,879 visitors that experienced the Titanic the Artefact exhibition in 2010, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher described the showcase as a stunning triumph for the city.

“Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has not only provided Victorians with a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the treasures of the boy king in their own Melbourne Museum but also attracted more than 326,000 interstate and international visitors, driving outstanding tourism and economic benefits for Victoria,” Ms Asher said.

Exhibition: Unwrapping the medical messages of mummies (Thomas Stephens)

Bandaged corpses are so much more than fodder for dodgy Hollywood horror films. An exhibition in Zurich explains what they can tell us about our own health.

“Mummies, men, medicine, magic”, running at Zurich University’s Irchel Campus, is full of surprising – and often macabre – pieces of information about the preserved bodies, some of which are several thousand years old.

“When we have only skeletons we’re so limited – there are so many things we just can’t see,” Christina Warinner, who helped organise the exhibition, told

“Mummies give us more of a body to study. For example if we want to look at intestinal parasites, we need an intestine! If we want to look at pneumonia and influenza, we have to have lungs…”

Before seeing the actual corpses, which come from Egypt, Europe and Peru, visitors are presented with some history and background information, such as what actually counts as a mummy.

Abdel Nour - Egypt's tourism not suspended


Egyptian Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said Egypt's tourism is not suspended as some people claim, adding the Red Sea coasts witnessed a notable demand. He also praised the tourist movement in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.

He added during a phone call with Al-Hayat Al-Youm the ministry is working to improve Egypt's tourism, underlining the need to restore stability and security in the Egyptian street to restore the rates of touristic demand.

KMT Winter 2011-12


Thanks to John Rauchert for the above link.

KMT Volume 22, Number 4, Winter 2011-12

Includes Five Feature Articles :

“The Third Intermediate Period at Karnak” by Aidan Dodson

“Four Ancient Egyptian Papyri in the Collection of the Russian National Library” by Victor V. Solkin

“Ancient Egypt in Avignon, France: The Egyptian Collection of the Calvet Museum & the Exhibition ‘Fantastic Egypt’” by Lucy Gordan-Rastelli

“Egyptianized Richmond, Virginia” by Kenneth Ostrand

“Egyptomania on the James: The Egyptian Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts & the Exhibition ‘Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb’” by Peter J. Schertz

Plus “Nile Currents” & “For the Record”

Photos: Luxor Taxi Photostream

Flickr Luxor Taxi

Thanks to Jane Akshr for pointing to the above site, which has some lovely photographs of the Ramesseum and tombs from El Kab and the Valley of the Nobles.

Swiss architect researches Egyptian project


Swiss architect Sasha Rossler will head to Cairo in a short visit on December 7 for ten days. He will complete his research about his art project, focusing on Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi’s work.

According to Swiss cultural organization, Rossler is find out two things, the problem with Fathi’s project of establishing a new village and why people refuse to move to the new village.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amenhotep III, El Kab

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Amin supports re-establishment of the Ministry for Antiquities

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

In a statement issued by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), of which Ahram Online has received a copy, SCA’s secretary general Mostafa Amin denies any statements being spread on Facebook and Twitter that he is against the re-establishment of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), and describes the claims as unfounded.

“These are rumours spread by my opponents or by those who want to disturb the water between me and the new minister,” Amin told Ahram Online. He added that he is very happy that the cabinet has finally met the archaeologists’ demand to have a ministry of their own. He is also happy to nominate Mohamed Ibrahim Ali, Professor of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University, to hold Egypt’s antiquities portfolio.

Update from the Epigraphic Survey

The Oriental Institute blog (Charles Jones)

Report from Ray Johnson

I am pleased to report that Luxor has been peaceful throughout the last few weeks, and the Chicago House team is busy and well. Our work at Medinet Habu, TT 107, and Luxor Temple has proceeded normally, and continued through the disturbances in Cairo with no interruption. The elections so far - here, in Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere - have been noteworthy for their orderliness, peaceful nature, enthusiasm, and unprecedented turnout. It's an encouraging beginning! And history in the making.

Yesterday artist Sue Osgood returned to Luxor to continue working in TT 107, the tomb of Nefersekheru, steward of Amenhotep III's Malkata palace, where Margaret has been drawing for the last month. Tomorrow conservator Hiroko Kariya arrives to resume conservation work in the Luxor Temple blockyards. On Sunday we are all heading south to see the current excavation work of faculty member Nadine Moeller, husband Gregory, and her team (including Hratch Papazian) at Tell Edfu.

German scholarships to Supreme Council of Antiquities

Youm 7 (Dina Abdel Aleem)

German Institute for Antiquities in Cairo dedicated 40 training scholarships for workers at the Supreme Council of Antiquities in different archaeological specialties.

The scholarships aim to train workers and specialists in the council on the latest methods in the field of archeological work, in order to learn new artistic skills.

SCA General Secretariat Mostafa Amin said these scholarships are a prelude to cooperation between the council and the German Institute for Antiquities. He said the scholarships will benefit the field of maintaining Egyptian antiquities, either by documentation, restoration or archaeological findings which add historical facts to the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Egyptological - our December edition is out now

Egyptological - Journal and Magazine editions Link
We are very pleased to announce that the latest edition of Egyptological is now out and is available at the above address, free of charge. There is an eclectic mix of articles in both the Journal and Magazine sections, spanning the prehistoric to Coptic periods via the 12th and 18th Dynasties, with articles, reviews, note and the latest Photo Album.

All our authors welcome discussion and feedback, so do feel free to comment on any of the pieces on Egyptological.

Older articles are also available on the site and can be found in our archives. If a particular subject is of interest our search facility will help you to find all relevant items.

Journal, Edition 2
  • Comparison of the stelae of wsrimn (Fisher Collection, Detroit) and of ddwsbk (Louvre C240 and BM566) of Dynasty XII. By Etienne Vander Walle (translated by Diana Gainer)
  • Who Is King Scorpion? By Francis Lankester
  • The contributions of A.J. Arkell to eastern Saharan prehistory. By Andrea Byrnes
Magazine, Edition 3

  • Hatshepsut, King of Egypt (1479–1458 BC). By Barbara O'Neill
  • Ancient Egyptian Religion, Part 3 – Temples, Festivals and Personal Piety. By Brian Alm
  • An Introduction to The Coptic Period in Egypt. The Early Christian era 1st Century AD – 7th Century AD. By Howard Middleton-Jones

  • AWT Conference 2011 Review: Glass Faience and Pottery Making at Amarna (Paul Nicholson). By Kate Phizackerley
  • AWT Conference 2011 Review: Curse of the Pharaoh’s DNA (Jo Marchant). By Kate Phizackerley
  • Book Review: Gifts of the Nile – Ancient Egyptian Faience (edited by Florence Dunn). By Andrea Byrnes
In Brief
  • Notes on the goddess Pakhet. By Andrea byrnes

Photo Album
  • Fatimid Rock Crystal in the V&A Museum, London. By Sarah Preece

The Tell Edfu team wrap up for the season

Tell Edfu blog

As the days are getting colder (this morning it is 50 degrees Fahrenheit / 10 degrees Celsius here, the same temperature as in Chicago!) we are getting near the end of our 2011 season. Our last day on the tell will be on Thursday, December 8th. During the next few days we will be busy in packing up everything on site and do the last drawings and recordings. Natasha, Janelle and Lindsey are taking care of the large amount of pottery sherds which will be packed according to their respective archaeological contexts in plastic bags and cardboard boxes before getting put into the pylon of the temple which is their temporary storage location until we come back next year.

Museum of Turin Egyptology collections go online

Museo Egizio, Torino

The Museo Egizio di Torino (now governed by a Foundation) is striving to modernise itself. The works in progress include:

  1. researching, documenting and conserving the collections;
  2. improving information and services for the public;
  3. updating the tired displays; and
  4. refurbishing the palace.

In a digital age, all museums must face the often all-too-meagre state of their documentation and decide whether to delay or to make everything accessible and constantly to update the entries on line. We have chosen to go on line and to continue upgrading the information, especially bibliographic references and dating/chronology. We hope our collections prove a useful contribution to Egyptology and to your individual research. The Museum is grateful for all user input (, but cannot be expected to respond to individual comments.

In order to confer progressively the collections to the Foundation, the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Piemonte e del Museo Antichità Egizie has produced index card information of the objects in the magazines, along with photographs. This project, financed by MiBAC for € 185.000, has also included various institutions promoting formative internships (project page).

Protest at Abydos Temple suspended

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Following almost two days of blocking the entrance gate of Abydos Temple in El-Balyana village near the upper Egyptian town of Sohag, protestors suspended their demonstration, left the site and allowed visitors to enter the temple.

The suspension came after Sohag Governorate’s secretary general met the protestors and promised them to meet all their demands.

Exhibition: 19th Century Photographs of Egypt, Florida

Art Daily

With a magnificent sepia photograph of the Sphinx, Great Pyramid and an unlikely group of visitors to the area on camel-back - check out the beard of the chap on the left. Oh to be in Florida right now!

Egypt was an exotic land to nineteenth-century European artists. Painters, writers, and photographers traveled to Egypt to explore, document, and interpret this great country, its civilization, and its newly discovered antiquities. Technical advances in the young medium of photography encouraged direct observation and the advancement of knowledge.

The more than 40 images in Forever in a Moment capture this wonderful sense of discovery. The exhibition is the third in a series unveiling the magnanimous gifts of photography from Ludmila and Bruce Dandrew and Chitranee and Dr. Robert L. Drapkin. Additional works have been lent by The Drapkin Collection, Timothy Welsh, and another private collector.

Forever in a Moment beautifully complements Ancient Egypt—Art and Magic: Treasures from the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Geneva, Switzerland, an American premiere opening at the Museum of Fine Arts December 17.

The majority of the photographs in Forever in a Moment are European. They capture some of the world’s most imposing archeological sites. Many are now on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

New Book: Photography and Archaeology

Reaktion Books

Not exactly Egyptology, but potentially of some interest to some readers.

Photography and Archaeology
Frederick N. Bohrer

Through photographs we preserve the past, and looking for the past is the very job of the archaeologist. But what are we looking at in an archaeological photograph? Archaeological photography is often largely deserted, to be scanned with a forensic gaze, towards finding evidence of what once took place. At the same time, photographs of excavated sites and artefacts have revealed stunning ancient works, shot as works of art. In Photography and Archaeology, Frederick Bohrer examines some of history’s most famous archaeological excavations, as well as lesser-known and previously unpublished finds, from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas, and the ways these sites have been represented in photographs. Bohrer shows how the development of photography in the nineteenth century made archaeology available to a much wider audience, and he discusses how these images revealed the material traces of the past, as well as their meaning and use today.

Frederick N. Bohrer is Professor of Art at Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, and author of Orientalism and Visual Culture: Mesopotamia in Nineteenth-century Europe (2003)

Photo for Today - Amenhotep III temple at El Kab

Monday, December 05, 2011

Protestors block tourist access to Temple of Abydos


Tourism movement stopped in Abydos Temple in Sohag. Two tourist groups cancelled their visit to the temple due to insecure developments that may arise as a result of protests there.

Resident of the village of Oraba Abydos organized a protest before the entrance of the temple, angry at the shortage of gas canisters in their village.

The story began when Abdoul Aziz al-Nahas received information about 300 people gathering in front of Abydos tourist Temple protesting against the shortage of gas canisters in their village.

Princess Samiha's former palace undergoes restoration

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Overlooking Zamalek's Nile Corniche stands the three-storey building that once hosted Khedive Ismail’s granddaughter, princess Samiha Kamel, with a distinguished architectural style that combines the Mamluk, Ottoman, European, Andalusian and Moroccan styles. The awe-inspiring edifice has four facades crowned by a tower similar to those found atop Mamluk fortresses. Its front is decorated with foliage elements and its gates and widows lined with geometrical ornamentation. . . .

Two years after her death, the palace was declared state property. In 1990, it was converted into the Great Cairo Library. . . .

Routine monitoring carried out by the SCA has revealed that the palace was improperly restored, its granite columns and front having been covered with fake painting. The SCA has carried out a restoration project to rescue the landmark building and restore its original look, said Mohsen Sayed Ali, head of the SCA’s Islamic and Coptic antiquities department.

Penn Museum Launches Online Collections Database

Penn Museum (Gabrielle Niu)

Just this week, the Penn Museum launched its Online Collections Database. This brand new resource currently encompasses over 314,000 object records and is illustrated with 46,000 images, stats that are expected to increase as the project moves forward. A keyword as well as an advanced search allow users to casually browse or specifically search for objects.

Experpted from About

Images may not be used for print publication or commercial purposes without written approval from the Penn Museum. To request licensing of an image for print publication or commercial use, or to request publication-quality photography of an object, please email

All information (data, images, and text) on the Penn Museum's website are made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws:

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Unwrapping the ancient Egyptian animal mummy industry

BBC News (Jane O'Brien)

With video.

The ancient Egyptian animal mummification industry was so large it put some species in danger of extinction. But as a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC shows, the Egyptians believed they were doing the animals a great honour.

Egypt in the 7th Century BC was not a healthy place to be if you were a cat or a dog.

Puppy farms and other animal breeding programmes were a huge industry - not to produce pets, but to provide a stock of animals to be killed and mummified.

The Egyptians believed that animals held a unique position in the afterlife. They could keep the dead company, they represented the gods, and they were well received as offerings by the gods, Egyptologists say.

A recurring theme in museum shows (Joan Altabe)

With some kind of magnetic pull, ancient Egypt is a constant draw in museum shows worldwide. This year alone, a Cleopatra exhibit came to the Milwaukee Public Museum, A Pharoah exhibit came to the British Museum, and Egyptian art came to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Even Egyptian fakes showed up at the Brooklyn Museum.Now an Egyptian double feature comes to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg: “Forever in a Moment: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Egypt,” through April 10, 2012 and “Ancient Egypt—Art and Magic: Treasures from the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art/Geneva,” opening December 17 through April 29.

This isn’t even the first time that the Old Nile got featured at MFA. “The Lure of Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs Revisited'' was mounted back in 1998.

Our fascination with Egypt is as old as its pyramids and was already far along in the time that Moses saw it.

Exhibition: Grave Secrets - Tales of the Ancient Nubians

Culture 24

Exhibition: Grave Secrets: Tales of the Ancient Nubians, The Manchester Museum, Manchester, until March 4 2012

If you crave a real warrior in your life, the man known simply as 15A in the Manchester Museum’s mummy-heavy display of early 20th century archaeological discoveries just south of Egypt is a superhuman specimen.

Examinations have revealed that he survived multiple wounds from both blunt and sharp objects, including one to his forehead which simultaneously damaged his skull and brain, but his wounds healed and he survived them all.

More re prostate cancer in an Egyptian mummy

The Portugal News

An Egyptian mummy, more than 2,000 years-old, belonging to the National Archaeology Museum (MNA), is a unique specimen after having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to researcher Carlos Prates.

Following three dimensional tomography exams throughout the entire body, the mummy, which is around 2,300 years old, was diagnosed with a tumour in the prostate with bone extensions.

“It is a unique case, probably the second oldest known. There is a find with a similar hypothesis in some very degraded bones found in Sibeira, analysis results which presume the cause of death was prostate cancer, but there is no radiography, nor images, and it is dated to 2,700 years; whereas the Lisbon mummy is 2,300 years old,” Mr Prates, radiologist and leader of the clinical team that made the discovery told Lusa News Agency.

Travel : Siwa Oasis

Al Ahram Weekly (Ameera Fouad)

Once upon a time, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus said he knew a fountain of the sun that ran coldest in the noontide heat. Once upon a time, Queen Cleopatra made herself a bath and a spring in which to bathe in the middle of the Western Desert. Once upon a time, a temple was built in Siwa to honour the ram-headed god Amon-Ra, housing an oracle whose fame had spread by about 700 BCE. Once upon a time, the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who lived between 522 and 443 BCE, wrote a poem about the oracle at Siwa and carved it on a stone stele.

Once upon a time, Egyptian egyptologist Zahi Hawass, former secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, made headlines when he announced that archaeologists had discovered the world's oldest human footprint while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa. Once upon a timeÒê¦ many figures could be cited at this juncture in connection with Egypt's Siwa Oasis, though it is the "fountain of the sun" at Siwa that is perhaps the most celebrated.

Siwa is like no other oasis in Egypt.

'The Ceremony of Love' and the Giza Plateau

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Nevine El-Aref sums up what happened on Friday 11 November on the Giza Plateau, and the loss for Egypt on that day

The "Ceremony of Love" that was scheduled to be held on the footsteps of the Great Pyramid of Khufu on 11 November, and the furore it created among Egyptologists, the public and the media, has raised questions over private functions on the Giza Plateau and meditation sessions inside the Great Pyramid, as well as the roots of misoneism -- a resistance to anything new -- in Egypt and the importance of the Khufu pyramid in New Age rituals.

It all began on 5 November when a Polish numerologist group posted on its website a call for people from all over the globe to come to the Great Pyramid of Khufu on 11 November for its so-called "Ceremony of Love".

Photo for Today: Temple of Amenhotep III, El Kab

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Coptic Christian city found in Dakhleh Oasis

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Council of Antiquities (SCA) stumbled on what it believes to be a Coptic settlement dating back to the 4th century AD.

Mostafa Amin, the Secretary General of the SCA, made the announcement, explaining that the newly discovered settlement consists of remains of residential houses and service buildings as well as a large Basilica with distinguished columns and a wooden alter adorned with foliage decoration and icons showing Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels and saints.

“I am very happy with what the mission has found; because it is the first time this area was explored,” Amin told Ahram Online. He continued that this new discovery not only forms another another archaeological attraction but “will lead us to other settlements that can be dated to different eras as well.”

Gadling (Sean McLachlan)

An ancient Christian city dating to the fourth century AD has been discovered in Egypt.

Archaeologists digging at the Ain al-Sabil area of the New Valley Governorate have discovered the remains of a basilica and buildings to serve the priests. This is the first excavation at the site and researchers hope more discoveries will be made under the Egyptian sands.