Thursday, March 22, 2012

More re 17th Dynasty granary gate at Karnak

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Luxor was in the spotlight this week. On its east bank, the French-Egyptian Centre for the study of the Karnak Temples (CFEETK) came across what is believed to be a 17th-Dynasty granary gate revealing the name of a new pharaoh to be added to the king list of ancient Egypt. . . .

During a routine excavation and cleaning exercise on the north side of the Amun-Re Temple, French-Egyptian archaeologists discovered a 17th-Dynasty granary gate carved in limestone and engraved with a hieroglyphic text and the cartouche of a hitherto unknown 17th-Dynasty pharaoh named Sen-Nakht-En-Re. It seems that he was the great-grandfather of Pharaoh Ahmose I, who as a general ousted the Hyksos from Egypt and founded the 18th Dynasty.


Theft of two of the historic embroidered pieces of Al-Kaaba fabric

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine el-Aref)

A poor comment on Egyptian museum security.

Last Wednesday, the people of Cairo woke up to a piece of bad news. Two 19th-century pieces of embroidered Al-Kaaba Kiswa (the Kaaba cloth) had been stolen from the Khedive Tawfik mausoleum in the eastern cemetery, the Qubbat Afandina.

The pieces, embroidered with calligraphy in gold and silver threads, were two of many that were sent over the years by the Egyptian monarchy to cover the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia. They were hanging on the walls of the mausoleum.

Each one consisted of three decorated coloured ribbons embroidered in gold and silver depicting verses of the poem Al-Sira Al-Mohamadeya (Biography of the Prophet Mohamed).

The thieves escaped and are now at large. Investigations are now underway to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

There is no doubt that the theft involved a certain amount of negligence by authorities. Who, though, is to blame? 

Reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose II Suggests Crisis


With thanks to Tony Cagle's Archaeoblog for this link.  See Tony's page for his doubts on the subject.  The story was based on a paper published by the Paleontological Research Corporation.

Harvard University educated archaeologist and president of the Paleontological Research Corporation, Dr. Joel Klenck, states an array of archaeological discoveries evidence a crisis during the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose II (ca. 1,492-1,479 B.C.) in the Eighteenth Dynasty. An inscription by the succeeding Pharaoh Hatshepsut (ca. 1,479-1,457 B.C.) in her Underground Temple at Speos Artemidos states that Egypt was “ruined” and “had gone to pieces” before the beginning of her reign. Hatshepsut’s inscription also states that a population of “vagabonds” emerged from former Asiatic populations that once controlled northern Egypt and caused this ruination. Hatshepsut notes these vagabonds were responsible for “overthrowing that which had been made”.

Klenck comments, “The reign of Thutmose II ended between 79 and 86 years after Seqenenre Tao II (ca. 1,560-1,555 B.C.) began to reconquer northern Egypt from foreign Hyksos populations, who controlled Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1,650-1,550 B.C.). Egyptian texts are clear that the son of Tao II, Ahmose I, conquered the Hyksos and captured their capital at Avaris around 1,550 B.C. Yet, this inscription by Hatshepsut notes another population remained in Egypt from ‘the midst’ of the ‘Asiatics’ and ruined Egypt ‘down to my majesty’ or before the beginning of her reign.”

Further, there is evidence that disease affected the royal court before the reign of Hatshepsut.

Metro line to pyramids to be built

Rocket News 24   

On March 20, Japan signed a deal with Egypt agreeing to finance the development of a new metro rapid transit line from Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza with a loan of 33 billion yen ($395 million).

So the next time you’re on vacation in Egypt marveling at how convenient public transportation access is to the Pyramids, remember that you have Japan to thank.

The 17-kilometer underground system is expected to begin operation in 2020 and will connect central Cairo with several main tourist attractions, including the Giza Pyramids and the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum scheduled to open in 2013 that is also partly financed by Japan.

Amara West 2012: looking back on the season in the cemetery

The British Museum (Michaela Binder)

With photos.

After seven weeks of excavation we can look back to a very successful season in the cemetery at Amara West. In total, the two field school members (Åshild Vagene and Mohamed Saad), Laurel Engbring, Milena Grybowska and I were able to excavate and document 11 graves.

All of them proved to be complex features with one or two burial chambers used for the interment of several individuals – up to 15 in the case of G314. But even though the general outline of the graves appears similar, they differ from each other considerably in terms of size, shape and orientation. The results of this season confirm our picture of a mixed culture combining elements of Nubian and Egyptian funerary customs.

Minufiyeh update - inspecting drill core samples

EES Minufiyeh Survey (Joanne Rowland)

On Saturday we welcomed Angus Graham to the site for the first time and gave him a tour around before he started work on the drill core samples. As mentioned on yesterday’s report, we selected material from the site of Kom Usim in Ashmun province, where we cored on the very edges of the old kom. Our inspector, Nasra, spent time sitting with Angus while he analysed and recorded the samples in order to learn more about the methods and possibilities of working with core samples.

Udate from Kom el-Daba

EES Delta Survey (Patricia Spencer)

With photos.   

Many of the tells of the Nile Delta have house plans visible on their surfaces – as we had noted at Kom Ineizi on our visit two days ago. These are most visible when sites are flat and clear of surface debris or have relatively low mounds, but even on a site like Daba which has steep high mounds and areas covered in red-brick fragments, there are house plans visible in places. The mud-brick wall we found at the south end of our trench yesterday is the northern wall of a room which could be seen before excavation.

The walls of a room of another building, south of the town house, visible on the surface before excavation.

This morning we first of all asked our workmen to scrape carefully across the extended trench to show the walls and the fill between them more clearly. 

Arqueólogos españoles rescatan del olvido la figura del Visir egipcio Amen-Hotep

Cadena SER Madrid Sur   

With video interview.  I may translate later if I get some time, but the subject matter is the vizier Amen-Hotep Huy, who held office under the reign of Amenhotep III.  The video is an interview with the director of the mission to Amen-Hotep Huy's tomb on the east bank at Luxor. 

Un grupo de arqueólogos del Instituto de Estudios del Antiguo Egipto está redescubriendo para la Historia la figura del Visir Amen – Hotep, llamado Huy, a quien la historia le había relegado al olvido por luchas religiosas del momento. Se trata de una misión científica dirigida por el máximo responsable de este Instituto, Francisco Martín Valentín, quien ha recordado que el Visir era uno de los personajes más influyentes del reinado de Amen – Hotep III.

Martín Valentín nos habla de cómo las excavaciones que se hacen en la zona de Luxor Occidental desde 2009, donde se encuentra la tumba del visir, están arrojando datos muy significativos sobre esta figura, relegada  a un auténtico ostracismo “en vida y tras su muerte”. El monumento tiene una gran importancia arqueológica, artística e histórica, por pertenecer al reinado de Amen Hotep III y más específicamente al periodo entre los años 28 y 36 del reinado de este soberano, momento agitado e interesante del Imperio Nuevo egipcio.

The story of the Leeds Mummy

Yorkshire Evening Post  (Neil Hudson)

It’s not every day the YEP gets to talk about the relics of ancient Egypt – but thanks to a tour of the British Museum’s Egyptian collection at Leeds Museum, Yorkshire’s curious connection to that period in history can be revealed.

The connection comes in the form of a mummy, Nesyamun, which has been in our possession since 1823 when it was donated to the City of Leeds by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.

They had acquired it some years earlier by way of an Italian antique dealer who was travelling through London. It was the era of empire and exploration, when the riches of antiquity discovered in the Egyptian desert found their way across the continent.

What is known about Nesyamun was that he was born in the Sudan about 3,000 years ago, circa 1100BC.

Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 97


The Society is pleased to announce the publication of Issue 97 of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. This volume has now been dispatched to members, and should be arriving with them soon (if you haven't received your copy, please contact the Society by clicking here).

Dr Jo Rowland, who is the EES Field Director for the Minufiyeh Archaeological Survey, has published an article in this issue of the JEA which details the results of her work in 2010 at Quesna (for the full Table of Contents, click here). During the season, the team uncovered an intriguing mud-brick structure, which, after further investigation, planning, and excavation, turned out to be an Old Kingdom mastaba - the first evidence of Old Kingdom structures at Minufiyeh since the Survey began in 2005.

In her article, Dr Rowland suggests that the location of the tomb at Quesna, halfway between Busiris and Memphis, might suggest that it was built for an official responsible for contacts between the two settlements. Work continues on the mastaba this Spring; to keep up to date with the latest developments, visit the Minufiyeh Archaeological Survey blog.

Book Review: Egypte, Grèce, Rome: les différents visages des femmes antiques

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Review by Carlos Sánchez-Moreno Ellart)

Florence Bertholet, Anne Bielman Sanchez, Regula Frei-Stolba (ed.), Egypte, Grèce, Rome: les différents visages des femmes antiques: travaux et colloques du séminaire d'épigraphie grecque et latine de l'IASA 2002-2006. Echo. Collection de l'Institut d'Archéologie et d'Histoire Ancienne de l'Université de Lausanne; 7.   Berne:  Peter Lang, 2008.

This volume comprises lectures held at the University of Lausanne (2002-2006) on the subject of women and their relationship with political power in pharaonic Egypt, Greece, the Hellenistic kingdoms and Rome. Understandably, the book focuses on women from the upper classes.

Mireille Corbier outlines in her foreword (XIII-XX) that the approach taken by all the authors mixes both text and image and, to illustrate the tone of the volume under review, makes reference to Fanny Cosandey’s book about the symbolic value of the queen of France, who participated in power via her regency but did not have any formal political powers.1 The foreword insists on this main idea: men exercised political power and women had power only “par défaut ou par delegation” (XI).

In “Les reines dans l´Égypte pharaonique. Statut et representations” (3-24), Annie Forgeau tackles the part played by queens in pharaonic Egypt. Avoiding generalization due to the long period under analysis, she points out that iconography shows how the archetype of Egyptian monarchy is clearly linked to masculinity. The iconography of Hatshepsut is a significant example, for the presence of a female monarch is integrated into the traditional idea through the male iconography of royal attributes plus the traditional false beard. Forgeau refers also to some peculiar cases such as that of Nefertiti represented on stelae with ambassadors, even though this queen is never mentioned in the diplomatic letters preserved both in Egypt and the Near East.

New Book: Amenhotep III, Egypt's Radiant Pharaoh

Cambridge University Press

Thanks very much to Pat Kennedy for alerting me to this new publication.

Arielle P Kozloff:  Amenhotep III, Egypt's Radiant Pharaoh. Cambridge University Press.


Beginning in 1391 B.C., Amenhotep III was for 38 years the richest man on earth and commander in chief of the largest, best equipped army of its day. A successful though infrequent warrior, he was also a thoroughly cultivated man – religious, literate, and an art lover – at the height of Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty, what is often called her “Golden Age.” His foreign vassals addressed him as “the Sun,” and he justifiably called himself “dazzling,” here termed “radiant” for his effect on the then-known world. One could search for his equal through all the rulers of ancient Rome, the emperors of China, the kings and queens of England and France, and the czars of Russia and generally come up wanting.

Yet, today, 34 centuries later, his heirs are the world-famous ones. Two of these were far weaker and less productive men. His son Akhenaten is regarded as a champion of monotheism (the so-called Amarna Revolution) in an age of nearly universal polytheism, when, it will be argued here, his new devotion was a reaction to the traditional gods having failed their country in a time of crisis. Tutankhamen, Amenhotep III's short-lived grandson, accomplished little in his lifetime but rose to superstardom when his tiny tomb crammed with golden treasures was found nearly intact in 1922, the finds subsequently paraded around the world in a series of traveling exhibitions. In the following dynasty, Ramesses the Great reigned for 67 years, usurping Amenhotep's statues and temples in his own name and leaving the false impression of a large artistic and architectural footprint. Living to 90 years of age, Ramesses was a successful sire, producing around 200 children; a lucky soldier; and finally, a Middle Eastern peacemaker in a land of eternal turmoil.

Among Egyptologists, however, Amenhotep III is a favorite.

New Book: From the Ptolemies to the Romans Political and Economic Change in Egypt

What's New in Papyrology

A. Monson, From the Ptolemies to the Romans Political and Economic Change in Egypt
From the Ptolemies to the Romans. Political and Economic Change in Egypt
Andrew Monson, New York University
Hardback 9781107014411
GBP 60.00

This book gives a structured account of Egypt's transition from Ptolemaic to Roman rule by identifying key relationships between ecology, land tenure, taxation, administration and politics. It introduces theoretical perspectives from the social sciences and subjects them to empirical scrutiny using data from Greek and Demotic papyri as well as comparative evidence. 

Sad News: Egypt mourns environmentalist Mohamed Kassas

Egypt Independent (Louise Sarant)

The environmental and scientific communities in Egypt are mourning the death of one of its most renowned colleagues and friends, Mohamed Kassas.

The 91-year-old, considered “the father of Egypt’s environment,” died this morning after spending more than a week in Manal Hospital.

The botany professor at Cairo University was the first to dub the term “desertification” and to warn the global community of its threats in 1969 at an international conference on arid lands in Virginia.

Born in 1921 in a fishermen’s village nestled between Lake Burullos and the Mediterranean, Kassas developed an early and acute interest for biodiversity and nature.

His early fascination for plants and animals of the lake’s shores led him to enroll in a scientific program at Cairo University in 1940, where he chose to major in botany.

The deserts surrounding Cairo encouraged him to study plant ecology in arid environments, which subsequently aroused his curiosity for what he would later call the “desertification” process.

Photos from the Temple of Tod

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

I was at Tod myself in Christmas 2010, and it was just as quiet then as it is in the photos on the above page.

I had guest going to Tod Temple today and she could not believe how deserted it was and just a short distance out of town. Tickets are bought at Luxor temple so this is something that can that can be done on the road to Aswan but not the other way. However it can also be done as a day trip with Moalla and Esna. The tickets are 20LE and say Al Tud Temple, Qena which is a bit confusing. I have been there several times and really enjoy this site.

On going in there is a block yard with loads of pieces which seem to be grouped into period. I definitely saw a 12th dynasty block with Senusert I cartouche and there was 18th, 19th, late period and Roman remains as well as a 5th dynasty cartouche.

Photo for Today - the Ramesseum

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Redating of the Meidum necropolis.

Serwis Nauka w Polsce,  (on their English language pages)

Royal cemetery in Meidum developed continuously at least until the late New Kingdom period, the end of the second millennium BC, determined Dr. Teodozja Rzeuska, archaeologist at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Culture PAS. Until now, Egyptologists believed that the dead had been buried there only in times of the builders of the pyramids, in the third millennium BC.

From Red to Med

Saudi Aramco World  (John Cooper)

With map and photos.

It is the year 638 ce, the "Year of Ashes" on the Arabian Peninsula, which is beset by a terrible drought. Just six years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah find themselves in dire peril, their citizens, and many refugees from the countryside, facing starvation. Casting around for assistance, Caliph 'Umar ibn al-Khattab writes from Madinah to 'Amr ibn al-'As, his general in Egypt, urging him to send food to feed th1e hungry in the Hijaz, the Islamic heartland.

'Amr had not yet completely subdued Egypt when he received the caliph's orders, but the historical record tells us that he did not stint, sending a huge camel caravan laden with food, most likely wheat and barley, to 'Umar. The caravan made its way from the Nile Valley across the Sinai Peninsula, then south through the Hijaz Mountains to Madinah, a journey of some 1300 kilometers (800 mi) that took a month to complete . . . .
The effort had stretched caravan transport to its limits, however, and the lesson of the vulnerability of the Holy Cities, as well as the importance of the bounty of Egypt, was not lost on the caliph. 'Umar wrote again to 'Amr with a plan. "I wish to excavate a canal from Egypt's Nile, so that its waters will flow to the sea," Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam quotes 'Umar as saying. "That way, it will be easier to transport food to Makkah and Madinah. Consult among yourselves to settle the matter." 

Photo for Today - the Ramesseum

Friday, March 16, 2012

More on the looting at el-Hibeh

Past Horizons 

With a lot of photographs showing some of the damage.

El Hibeh archaeological site on the east bank of the Nile lies in a particularly impoverished area of Egypt, three hour’s drive south of Cairo. For the past 9 months a gang has been systematically and openly looting the site while the local police seemingly turn a blind eye.
A mummy torn open in search of artefacts lies in shredded wrapping. Image: provided by Dr. Carol Redmount

A mummy torn open in search of artefacts lies in shredded wrapping. Image: provided by Dr. Carol Redmount

The remains at the site date from the late Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and early Islamic periods – approximately 11th century BCE to eighth century CE. El Hibeh is of special importance because it is one of very few relatively intact town sites remaining in Egypt. It contains extensive archaeological deposits dating to the Third Intermediate Period, Egypt’s last “Dark Age” and an era particularly poorly known archaeologically.

Dr. Carol Redmount, an eminent archaeologist based at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived in Egypt in February to continue her archaeological work at the site after obtaining permission from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities which controls all excavations in the country.

Saqqara 2012 season closes, with update on looted items

Saqqara 2012 Dig Diary (Maarten Raven)

The week started with final retouches being done to the chapel of Khay, found in 1985 and now in need of some restoration because the gypsum layer covering large areas of the inferior limestone reliefs is coming loose. Our able restorer Mohammed did a good job and the wall decoration has been preserved.

Christian and Maarten spent two days checking the records in the central magazine of the SCA and repacking all the finds from our expedition kept there (a task started last week and brought to completion on Sunday).

We now have lists which enable us to know the whereabouts of every find of the years 1999-2010 in a matter of seconds. This means that finally we are also able to specify which objects were stolen during the looting of our site in January 2011 (the early days of the Egyptian revolution). Altogether, our losses amount to 84 shabtis and shabti fragments, 18 textiles, and a number of wooden objects, inscribed potsherds, amulets, and items of jewellery.

Abydos finds include Hatshepsut in female form

With photo. This story was out and about a few weeks ago but I hadn't seen the photo before of the wooden statuette before (in the New Scientist article).   

Ahram Online (Nevine el-Aref)

With photos.

A team of archeologists from Toronto University has discovered a cache of animal mummies that reveal rituals carried out by ancient Egyptians for their god Osiris.

The team discovered the remains of three hall temples from the reign of King Seti I. One of them was filled with 83 mummified dogs, cats, sheep and goats over 2000-years-old.

Early ancient Egyptians buried their kings at the northern side of the Upper Egyptian town of Abydos because it was considered holy land. The god of the afterlife, Osiris, was buried there after being killed by his son Set, the god of the underworld. According to ancient Egyptian myth, his wife, the goddess Isis, reassembled his body and brought him back to life at Abydos and delivered their son Horus who killed his uncle Set. Osiris and his family were buried in Abydos where a huge temple dedicated to him was constructed as well as several chapels built by different ancient Egyptian kings.

New Scientist (Caroline Morley)  

Hatshepsut ruled Egypt in the 15th century BC in a relatively long and prosperous reign. Despite her success as a female pharaoh, she is often depicted as a man in statues because the belief that pharaohs were sons of the god Amon-Re. Hatshepsut also dressed as a man to meet this expectation.

A statue uncovered in Abydos, Egypt, is thought to show her more feminine side.

An expedition led by a team from the University of Toronto, Canada, found a wooden statue of a king, thought to represent this powerful woman because of its distinctly feminine features: a smaller waist and delicate jawline.

The find also included a private offering chapel, a monumental building and the remains of over 80 animal mummies. 

A team of Canadian archeologists has unearthed a rare wooden statue of a pharaoh at a dig site in southern Egypt, and clues suggest the figure may be an important new representation of Hatshepsut — the great female king who enjoyed a long and successful reign about 3,500 years ago, but was almost erased from history by a male successor trying to secure his own power.

Researchers led by University of Toronto archeologist Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner also exposed two previously unknown religious buildings and found dozens of animal mummies — including cats, sheep and dogs — during a hugely successful excavation last summer near the ancient city of Abydos.

Pouls Wegner told Postmedia News on Tuesday that the discoveries, made in the midst of modern Egypt's ongoing political revolution, led to some "tense moments" as the Canadian researchers negotiated with Egyptian antiquity experts and security officials about how best to unbury the statue and ensure its preservation during a period of national upheaval.

10 die whilst excavating illegally

Ahram Online (Nevine el-Aref)

Ten people were killed when the soil caved in on them as they were illegally digging for ancient treasures under a house in a central Egyptian village, police officials told AFP on Monday.

The 10, including four brothers, were buried alive when the walls of the dig collapsed in the village of Arab Al-Manasra, north of the historic city of Luxor.

Rescue services were working to recover the bodies, the official said, adding that two people were also injured in the incident.

Nine limestone reliefs are back home from Spain

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With photo.

The stolen artefacts were missing for over a decade until they turned up in Barcelona

After a thirteen year absence, nine ancient Egyptian limestone reliefs were returned to their original place in the Saqqara necropolis.

The story of the objects goes back to 1999, when the nine limestone reliefs were reported missing from their original location on the walls of the sixth dynasty tomb of a nobleman called Imep-Hor, located in Kom Al-Khamsin area in Saqqara, 15 miles south of the Giza plateau.

The reliefs are engraved with hieroglyphic texts showing different names of the tomb’s owner and religious chapters from the Book of the Dead.

Ahmed Mostafa, former head of the return antiquities department as the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), told Ahram Online that one of these reliefs was found three years ago on the list of a well known auction house in Spain. The Ministry, which was then called the Supreme Council of Antiquities, asked the Spanish government to stop the auction as the relief was an Egyptian possession that has been stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country.

A Petition to stop the Looting of Egypt’s Archaeological Sites


This petition for signatures has just been started… everything has to be tried… Many objects are not going to end up on any list except for ‘Provenance unknown’, while mummies lie dismembered in the desert sands… Posted here because not everyone likes the idea of Facebook, and to reach more people… small beginnings with 8 blog-followers and 10-20 daily visitors at the most… :-) … Please send on…

This is a online petition at Avaaz, with the aim of getting 5000 signatures. This will then be sent to Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Antiquities, Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Mostafa Amin, Secretary General, Supreme Council of Antiquities and Kamal Ganzouri, Prime Minister of Egypt.

Amarna Field School and News and

Update by Barry Kemp, 4 March 2012:


As a follow-on from last year's Amarna field school, we are holding another this year, between October 14th and November 22nd (five weeks). Again it will be devoted entirely to the survey of the remains of the ancient city of Amarna using non-intrusive geophysical equipment. The same teaching team as last year, from the University of Arkansas, will be giving the instruction, but this time it will run under the auspices of the Institute for Field Research that is based in Los Angeles. The field-school works in co-operation with, and under a permit from, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

For the enrollment process, and more details, go to

The field school also offers the opportunity to get to know Amarna and some of the other ancient sites in the area.


The next season at Amarna will commence at the end of March. For the first month and a half the fieldwork will be largely devoted to the Great Aten Temple site which lies beside the modern village of El-Tell. Although originally the most important of Akhenaten's buildings - it was the House of the Aten - the front part has become a rubbish dump for the village, and other parts are increasingly threatened by the continuing growth of the adjacent village cemetery.

The first step will be to start cleaning the mud-brick enclosure wall that runs across the front and to expose whatever is left of the pylon entrance that is now covered by old excavation dumps. An assessment will then be made as to the feasibility of repairing and building up the brickwork to make it into a more effective perimeter to the site. The 1932 excavation also uncovered several elements of the temple design lying in front of the main part of the temple itself. It is hoped to add further details to the published record.

At the same time, a separate team will work in an area towards the middle of the temple enclosure, the site of a platform that is thought to have supported a large quartzite stele on which were inscribed the list of offerings for the temple.

The cemetery excavations, due to restart later in the year, have, over the years, produced the fragile remains of four painted wooden coffins. These require much attention from conservators, to stabilize and strengthen them and to enable the decoration to be fully studied. That work, and the study of other categories of artefacts by visiting scholars, will run simultaneously with the fieldwork.

The Amarna project has been greatly helped by donations made through the Justgiving web site: Please go on helping if you can.

A new issue of Horizon (no. 10) has been published and sent out. Its pdf version will shortly be available on our web sites: and

I look forward to reporting on how the season progresses.

Barry Kemp 4 March 2012

Construction on Grand Museum proceeds

Japan Times

Construction began Monday of the Grand Egyptian Museum in the suburbs of Giza, with completion scheduled for August 2015.

The museum, which will display about 100,000 items — including King Tutankhamen's golden mask, will cost ¥63 billion to build, with Japan providing about ¥35 billion in loans.

Construction began with a cue from Egypt's antiquities minister, Mohamed Ibrahim Ali, during a groundbreaking ceremony at a site near Pharaoh Khufu's pyramid.

Tell Basta 2012 season begins

The Tell Basta Project    

The first two weeks of work at Tell Basta have been full of a variety of different activities. Work in two new gridsquares has started, already revealing promising structures. Remains of a massive mudbrick wall and a large floor came to light in X/4. The mud brick structures belong to the walls of the Late Period - Ptolemaic tower houses that were mentioned in the previous post. The floor is especially interesting. It consists of limestone chips, some as large as a fist, some crushed nearly to dust. The whole mixture makes a quite durable pavement. We hope in due course to determine whether this are was used for specialised activities which required a hard-wearing floor.

Y/5, the other gridsquare, shows the contexts of the adjacent square Y/4, excavated in the previous seasons. Here we discovered one small room containing a large quantity of figurines, mostly of terracotta but some made of limestone. Some of them showed the remains of their original plaster and paint. 

Progress at Kom el Daba

EES Delta Survey 

With photos.

We’ve completed our first full week of work here at Kom el-Daba and are very pleased with the progress we’ve made so far. The east wall of our ‘town house’ now extends for about 10m and just before we finished work today (as always happens on excavations!) we reached an ‘end’ which may be the south-east corner or may be the start of another sebakh pit – hopefully we will find out when work resumes on Saturday.

Town houses like this were built very substantially with the ‘walls’ of the foundations up to about 4m thick, enclosing a casemate (chambered) structure in the centre. Since the building had several floors it needed a substantial foundation to support the weight of the rooms above. The sebakh pits we have found are entirely within what would have been the thickness of the eastern wall. The EES/Gottingen team working at Tell Basta are also excavating a similar town house: 

Update re Amara West: A pottery kiln?

The British Museum

Shadia Abdu Rabo, National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan and Neal Spencer, British Museum

Towards the end of the season, working in layers beneath house E13.8, we found a circular kiln – our first at Amara West.

The kiln had been made by cutting a deep pit into the natural surface of the island, and building a circular brick structure above it, with internal cross walls. The red-orange colour of the bricks, especially on the inside, were the first indication that this might have been a kiln for firing pottery vessels, with an upper chamber for placing the pots to be fired, and the lower space – cut into the alluvium – housing the burning fuel (wood, charcoal?). A shallow pit, sloping down to the entrance of the kiln, would have allowed the fuel to be inserted into the lower chamber.

68 artefacts seized in Minya

Egypt Independent  (Saeed Nafea) 

The antiquities and tourism police in Minya, Upper Egypt, seized 68 artifacts from the Greek and Roman eras from a shop owner’s house Monday . A report was made of the incident and the defendant was referred to the prosecution for investigation.

Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that a committee from the Antiquities Ministry confirmed that the seized pieces are artifacts and that sale or ownership of them is against the law.

Last month, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Ali said that two percent of historical artifacts held in government storehouses were stolen during the period of lax security that followed the 25 January revolution.

Mummies on the Move!

Egypt at the Manchester Museum  (Campbell Price)

Yesterday saw the latest phase of clearing – or ‘decanting’ – the Egyptian afterlife gallery in preparation for building work to begin on the new Ancient Worlds Galleries. This was the first time some of the mummies have been moved in over 30 years. A skilled team of movers and conservators ensured that each was carefully transferred to a temporary storage space to await conservation.

Among the travellers was Khary, a priest at the temple of Karnak during the Late Period (c. 750-330 BC), and his brightly painted coffin (Acc. no. 9354a-b). Both were purchased in Egypt in the late 19th Century, and arrived in Manchester via the Ship Canal in 1893. They were donated to the museum in 1935. Moving Khary afforded an opportunity to examine at close quarters his carefully wrapped body and brightly painted coffin. 

Precious past: why the ancient assets of Greece and Egypt must be saved

The Guardian, UK (Jonathan Jones)

While Greece and Egypt are destabilised by the eurozone debt crisis and revolution, we must do more to protect their vast store of the world's antiquities

In the British Museum on a Sunday afternoon, ancient faces look back at children and adults alike. Inside their glass cases, pharaohs and priests are unfazed by the crowds. And crowds there always are, for these are the painted coffins and carved masks of the ancient Egyptians, relics of a culture that has entranced the world for thousands of years.

Ancient civilisation is part of the world's heritage, and in recent times it seemed nothing could seriously threaten that inheritance. Tourists visited such sites as Giza in Egypt and Olympia in Greece safe in the assumed knowledge that we were seeing wonders that would always be available to admire.

Yet the instability of the world in 2012 is a threat to the apparently tranquil monuments of antiquity.

Programmes on the Past: a recent EES seminar

EES Director's Blog (Chris Naunton)

The effective use of mass media has been centrally important to the work of the Society since its beginnings, when Amelia Edwards regularly re-cast the letters sent by Flinders Petrie from Egypt as dig reports for The Times.

Television in particular has been the subject of scrutiny by historians of archaeology in recent years (see e.g. the recent event featuring Sir David Attenborough organized by the Cambridge Division of Archaeology Personal Histories Project, and this article by Don Henson of the CBA), and series such as ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’, now widely regarded as having been the first in a line of iconic, archaeology-related BBC series along with ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Timewatch’, are now a valuable record of the way in which archaeology has been presented to the public, and an important source for the study of the history of our discipline. In the last half-century television has also played an important role in helping the EES to ‘spread the word’ about its work.

For several years during the 1970s the Society regularly arranged showings of the latest Egyptology-related films for members. As the Annual Reports of the time record, these included films on work at Saqqara, “Professor Harrison’s medical investigation of the Tutankhamun mummy”, “the Ray Smith El-Amarna project, “Nefertiti and the Computer””, and The Night of Counting the Years which was also shown at Doughty Mews in 2010.

Técnica pionera para descifrar los jeroglíficos

Ushebtis Egipcios or
You Tube

Video. Well worth watching even if you don't speak Spanish.  If you only speak a little Spanish this is very clear and easy to follow.

Un equipo de arqueólogos de la Universidad de Jaén está desarrollando una importante excavación en una de la mayores necrópolis de Egipto, Qubbet el-Hawa, en Asuán, al sur del país, donde ha realizado los primeros hallazgos. Se trata de una veintena de momias, algunas con más de 4.000 años de antigüedad, y abundante material jereoglífico de difícil interpretación. Por eso, a su regreso a Jaén, están utilizando una técnica pionera en el mundo al combinar el escaneado en 3D con la RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) que les permitirá comprender mejor los textos y compartir el material con la comunidad académica internacional.

Khufu’s granddaughter's tomb and 5 more to be open for public

Luxor Times  

After restoration and development for the site of the cemetery where 6 tombs of high officials and Nobles at the Saqqara Necropolis fated back to the Old Kingdom, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim (minister State of Antiquities) accompanied by UNESCO delegation headed by Francesco Bandarin (UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture) visited the site and announced that the 6 tombs will be open for public soon. The cemetery which contains the tombs of “Seshemnefer” of 6th dynasty who held the title of “Secretary of all the king’s secret orders” and Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu and the wife of King Khafre (Her tomb was discovered by archeologist George Reisner on April 23, 1927, with subsequent excavations undertaken by his team on behalf of Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her sarcophagus and mummy are now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.)

Object biography #3: A female figurine from the ‘Magician’s tomb’

Egypt at the Manchester Museum (Campbell Price)

With photos.  An extraordinary object.

This wooden figurine (20.2 cm high) is among Manchester Museum’s most discussed Egyptian objects. It represents a naked female, with the face of a lion and two movable arms, attached with pegs. In each hand she holds serpents made of metal. The figurine is just one piece from an intriguing group found amidst debris at the bottom of a late Middle Kingdom (c. 1773-1650 BC) shaft burial known as the ‘Ramesseum tomb.’ This name derived from the location of the shaft at the rear of what later became the mortuary temple of Ramesses II. Many of the other objects from the tomb are also in the Manchester collection.

Between 1885 and 1886, W. M. Flinders Petrie and James Quibell discovered and cleared the shaft. The tomb’s contents included ivory protective ‘wands’, ivory clappers, model food offerings, and female fertility figurines. In association – but not connected for sure – with these was found a box containing 118 reed pens (Acc. No. 1882) and a large number of texts written on papyrus.

Exhibition: At OI, questioning images we make of ancient times

Chicago Tribune (Steve Johnson)

Inevitable Indiana Jones reference included :-)

A new exhibit at the Oriental Institute Museum asks visitors to think twice about the images they see of ancient worlds. A painting or a model may look authoritative, but before you accept it as truth, ask yourself what assumptions the artist or archaeologist is making to complete the image, what gaps might he or she be filling in?

And then, bigger picture, consider how much of what we think we know about earlier times might be based on images that blend the factual and the fanciful.

"Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East" is up at the University of Chicago's splendid temple to Middle Eastern research and culture through Sept. 2, and it is a compact, well-edited and intellectually engaging show.

Alexandria, Egypt: City of the Imagination

Huffington Post (Ralph White) 

Alexandria, Egypt is a city that appeals powerfully to imagination. It was here that the Egyptian Revolution was ignited by the brutal murder of blogger Khaled Said, and the city continues to be a major focal center of political activism. But Alexandria is also the city of Cleopatra, and of the ancient Library, reborn today as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It was the home of the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, beautifully brought to life by Rachel Weisz in the recent film Agora. And Lawrence Durrell immortalized the sensuous, mid-20th century incarnation of the city in his classic evocation of the city's exotic and sensuous ambience, The Alexandria Quartet.

Yet for many its place in the world remains indistinct. Most visitors to Egypt tend not to venture north of Cairo to the shores of the Mediterranean where Alexandria is found. Instead they head up the Nile to the pharaonic monuments of Luxor and Aswan, or East to the beaches and diving resorts of Sharm El Sheik. But in Alexandria we have a cultural jewel, one of the most brilliant cities in the history of the world, its Corniche stretched along the blue bay shore, awaiting rediscovery by lovers of history and ancient spirituality.

What visitors expect of the 'GEM' Part II

Egypt Independent (Fatma Kesh)

Part I can be found here.

On a Sunday afternoon, the garden of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square is quiet. The only people on the premises, apart from the museum’s staff, are scores of Egyptian visitors, mostly students and families who have come to visit the country’s most prestigious cultural institution.

“This is my sixth visit to the museum,” says Ahmed Taylon, a student at Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Agriculture. “And it will definitely not be my last.”

Taylon likes to visit the museum every once in a while because it is impossible to see its vast collection on a single visit. He first learned about the museum in school at the port city of Rosetta, but was only able to visit it after he moved to study in the Egyptian capital.

Many residents of Rosetta would like to visit the museum as well, says Taylon, but they have little practical information about it to be able to organize a trip down to Cairo.

“Why not have TV or radio advertisements, informing the public about its opening hours and other practical information?” he asks.

New Book: Memphis Under the Ptolemies

What's New in Papyrology 

Memphis Under the Ptolemies (Second Edition)
Dorothy J. Thompson

Drawing on archaeological findings and an unusual combination of Greek and Egyptian evidence, Dorothy Thompson examines the economic life and multicultural society of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis in the era between Alexander and Augustus. Now thoroughly revised and updated, this masterful account is essential reading for anyone interested in ancient Egypt or the Hellenistic world.

New Book: Grand Hotels of Egypt

AUC Press

Grand Hotels of Egypt In the Golden Age of Travel
By Andrew Humphreys

A colorfully illustrated celebration of Egypt’s classic era of touring

From the earliest resthouses serving travelers on the Overland Route between Britain and Bombay to the grand Edwardian palaces on the Nile that made Egypt the exotic alternative to wintering on the Riviera, the hotels of Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan were always about far more than just bed and board. As bridgeheads for African exploration, neutral territories for conducting diplomacy, headquarters for armies, providers of home comforts for writers, painters, scholars, and archaeologists in the field, and social hubs for an international elite, more of importance happened in Egypt’s hotels than in any other setting. It was through the hotels that visitors from the west—the earliest adventurers, then the travelers and, finally, the tourists—experienced the Orient. This book tells the stories of Egypt’s historic hotels (including the Cecil, Shepheard’s, the Mena House, Gezira Palace, Semiramis, Winter Palace, and Cataract) and some of the people who stayed in them, from Amelia Edwards, Lucie Duff Gordon and Florence Nightingale to Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Winston Churchill, and TE Lawrence.

Book Review: Petitions, Litigation, and Social Control in Roman Egypt

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Georgy Kantor)

Benjamin Kelly, Petitions, Litigation, and Social Control in Roman Egypt. Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents.   Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press, 2011. 

Interest in the social history of provincial Roman law and in the reasons for which the provincials decided to resolve their disputes through Roman courts has been steadily growing in the last decade. Kelly’s monograph on the social history of litigation and dispute resolution in early imperial Egypt brings the debate back to its origins in juristic papyrology and is a major contribution to the subject. His main achievement, hard to overestimate, has been to produce, for the first time, a study based not on a small and relatively random sample of legal petitions and court minutes, but on the whole body of the published material: 568 petitions, catalogued in Appendix I, and 227 reports of proceedings, catalogued in Appendix III (Appendix II provides a checklist of petitions which did not involve dispute resolution). For all his prudent admission (p. 332) that the ‘aim of the social historian of ancient law should be typological, not cliometric’ Kelly comes incomparably closer to producing genuine (if rough) statistics than any of his predecessors. Kelly’s approach is informed by wide reading in social theory and anthropology, but he is never in thrall of theoretical approaches from outside the discipline and engages with models based on other pre-modern societies independently and fruitfully. 

Lecture Notes: Wandering wombs and wicked water

UCL Events (Jessica Lowrie)

Wandering wombs and wicked water – women’s complaints and their treatment. By Dr Nicholas Reeves.

This evening event to mark International Women’s Day was held in the UCL Petrie Museum and was remarkably well-attended.

Dr Carole Reeves from the UCL Centre for the History of Medicine delivered an insightful talk, helpfully leaving plenty of time at the end for some engaging questions from the interested audience.

The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus is the oldest known medical text, dating from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2025-1700 BC) and was used as the basis for the talk.

Dr Reeves used this historical artefact to discuss some of the similarities between complaints in women today and in the ancient world, but also examining the differences in how these problems were perceived and treated. 

New Book: Karnak avant le XIIIe dynastie


Karnak avant la XVIIIe dynastie. Contribution à l'étude des vestiges en brique crue des premiers temples d'Amon-Rê, december 2011) Guillaume Charloux & Romain Mensan Two articles by Michel Azim & Antoine Garric With the participation of Shimaa Montaser Abu al-Hagag

Photo for Today - the Ramesseum

Monday, March 12, 2012

Save el-Hibeh

Facebook page  Carol Redmount

Go to the above page (which already has 875 members at the time of writing) for photographs and discussion.

From Carol Redmount:

Dear friends, former students, and concerned world citizens: Archaeological sites throughout Egypt are currently being heavily looted, including the critical site of El Hibeh about 3 hours south of Cairo. Once these sites are gone, they are lost forever. It is a non-renewable resource. El Hibeh is of particular importance as it is one of the least disturbed city mounds of the Third Intermediate Period. It was first built probably in 1070 BCE by the High Priests of Amun at Luxor/Thebes and then more or less continually occupied for over 1,700 years so that the site also includes important remains from the Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Roman, Coptic, and early Islamic periods. We are posting here pictures of the site, of looting, of articles regarding this issue, and hope that you will spread the word, add friends to the group, and notify the press when and where possible. We must take action to save El Hibeh and hundreds of other sites like it that have been severely damaged as a result of limited police protection since January 28, 2011.

I arrived in Egypt in mid-February, signed my contract with the SCA, and was ready to go to work with my team. The day before we were supposed to start work I received a phone call telling me that local Beni Suef security had yanked our permission to work. The upshot was that a local "gangster", whose name is known, from El Ogra, the village north of the site, had formed a sort of mafia focused on looting the site. This "criminal" is evidently a murderer who got out of prison after the revolution. His "gang" is looting the site non-stop, on a massive scale. When I returned to Cairo from our dig house last week and our van passed the site heading for the eastern desert highway, we saw about ten men openly looting the mound and desert behind (we have pictures of some of them), with conveniently parked motorcycles nearby. One of our drivers took the same road this past Friday and reported that again numerous men were busy with wholesale looting of the site in broad daylight. This is an on-going crisis. They are destroying the site. The SCA officials have tried everything they could to get the looting to stop. Nothing seems to be having any effect. This is something police and security seem to be ignoring, turning a blind eye to, or worse. We started the Save Hibeh facebook page because we are at our wits end as to what else to do . . .

And here's Carol Redmont's email to EEF:

We're trying to get as much international media interest as possible on this--it seems to be almost the only really effective tool for embarrassing people into actually doing something about the situation
rather than burying their heads in the sand. If you do know people to pass it on to, also please pass along the contact information for the Egyptian media representative (the one being interviewed in the video) who, as
an Egyptian, is the best one to run with the story. His name is Mohammed Sherdy, his e-mail is, and his phone number (from the States or Canada) is 011-20100-559-9559.

Here's the link to the video:

Weekly Wafd exposes the most Dangerous Gang Looting Antiquities
It’s Leader Escaped from Execution and Has with him tens of Armed Men
March 8, 2012

“While political parties are wrestling to reformulate the constitution and members of parliament are competing to gain as much media attention as they can. While politicians are busy attacking / defending the Military Council and economists are concerned about the bad financial situation of the country. While the Ministry of Interior is busy with the battle over whether to allow beards or not, while other activists are jostling to impose their opinions in the media throughout Egypt and while the elite are busy with these cases, there is a mafia is devoted to looting antiquities what the ancient Egyptian civilization left us. They are no longer practicing their crimes in darkness, but in the middle of the day with bulldozers while the Ministry of Antiquities and the police are in silent!!”

Because the Bulldozer has no heart and the mafia has no conscience, they have destroyed priceless antiquities, demolished temples that were beacons for the world, desecrated tombs and looted mummies leaving them in open air.

Horrible information has emerged about crimes that these antiquities mafia are committing in many areas in Egypt such as in Abu Sir, Abu Rawash, Sakkara and Beni Suef etc. Tones of Egypt’s antiquities have been stolen in the last couple of months, much of it transferred by trucks to hiding places controlled by this mafia.

The Egyptian soil still contains much that excavations continue to find, these excavations are conducted by specialized people under the protection of the state with the support of officials.  Police have withdrawn from all the antiquities sites leaving them to thieves who do what they like.

It is unbelievable what is happening now to our history, you can just go to el Heba, Feshn office, Beni Suef and you would see an example of this wonder.

El Heba contains an exceptional collection of antiquities extending from the Pharaonic dynasties to the Coptic and Islamic Periods.  Antiquities that provide information about three consecutive periods of Egypt’s history.

Because of is very dry environment, the pharaohs chose el-Hiba to establish a Pharaonic archives center where they kept copies of papyrus documents, laws and stories. King Sishonk constructed a large temple similar to the temple of Karnak and sealed his name on every single stone.

Ancient factories were built around the temple and workers built their houses around these factories.  They built two huge cemeteries at the east and west sides of the city and surrounded it with fence to protect it.

When the Coptic era started in Egypt, the place became a unique area containing many Coptic antiquities and the same happened during the Islamic Period.

In short, El Hiba is an example of a rare location that contains antiquities from three different eras, Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic.  When this city was discovered in 1896 by the Egyptian Egyptologist, Mr. Ahmed Kamal, this was a great discovery.

Foreign missions started to come to this area with the hope of uncovering the antiquities while local police provided a specialist protection to this site. 

As soon as the Egyptian revolution started and the police withdrew, the police left the area to the looters to find these priceless treasures.  The leader of the El Hiba mafia is a man called “Abou Atia,” who escaped an execution order. He has got hold of a bulldozer and hired tens of men equipped with guns and dynamite and are currently digging el Hiba looking for antiquities and gold within the tombs.

However, Abou Atia’s gang took different kind of antiquities from el Hiba, some of these have been moved to private magazines in order to be sold.  Tens of tombs were robbed, some mummies and sarcophagi were kept in places and others were left in the open air, small statues and some golden pieces were also stolen from the tombs.

Abu Atia’s gang has been looking for antiquities for a year now, they have dug 400 holes in the 2km city, the depth of some of these holes is more than 15 meters.

Because of this mafia, the beautiful and the important city of Hiba has turned into a battle field that our predecessors’ skulls and bones scattered all over the ground.  The whole area is covered by holes that these looters have made, the temple, most of the houses and tombs dated to 1700 B.C. are now demolished.

So the Ministry of State for Antiquities has found no one to protect them and it looks as though the Ministry believes that their only possibility is to protect the Egyptian Museum.

Sadly, foreign missions are more concern about Egyptian history / antiquities than the Egyptians themselves.  Are we waiting to ask the international community to interfere to save out heritage after we failed in protect it?

I met with Dr. Carol Redmount, specialist in Egyptian antiquities and a Professor at Berkeley, California and I asked her about what she observed after the latest security chaos.  Sadly she said that the condition of the Egyptian antiquities is painful after the Egyptian authorities left it with no protection against the looters.  She said, I live in Egypt many months every year and I visited all the antiquities sites in Delta and I have a passion for them that I feel they become part of me.

Q.     Did you visit El-Hiba in Beni Suef?
A.     I did, and I spent many years there excavating from 2001 – 2007 under Egyptian     supervision and I returned back in 2009.

Q.    How did you see this area?
A.    It is a complete antique city, very beautiful and the only one that tells how the regular Egyptians used to live in the Pharaonic time because most of the habitants were regular people, farmers or workers.

Q.    Did you know what happened to this area in the past months?
A.    Unfortunately I knew, some people called me and told me about these crimes happened in Al Heba, then I called the people at the inspectorate office and informed them.

Q.    What did they say?
A.    We are so upset

Q.    Just upset?
A.    No, they said they tried to protect the city and they informed the police and asked     for help

Q.    What was the police answer?
A.    Nothing

There is only one meaning to what the antiquities expert said, this is that the Egyptian authorities protect the Egyptian mafia.

I express one phrase to these people who are protecting this mafia, that Dr. Andy Daily, an American Professor of History said to me “I love Egyptian history and every Egyptian must feel shame of what’s happening to the Egyptian antiquities from this mafia”  We really need to feel shame.

Illegal digging puts lives at risk

Egyptian Gazette  

Dreams of making a fast fortune have motivated many Egyptians, who are looking for antiquities and carrying out excavations not only at locations known for Pharaonic precious artefacts, but also to other areas of Cairo.

Sayeda Aisha, Khalifa, Tunsi and Deweiqa have all recently witnessed increased excavations, which affect houses and put people’s lives at risk.  
According to older inhabitants of these areas, a large number of residents of these areas are being deceived, because of their state of poverty and dreams of speedy wealth. 
The senior citizens stressed that these deluded residents wrongly believe that people exhibiting riches imply that they are working in illegal archaeological trading and smuggling.
The senior citizens have appealed to mosque employees more than once to try to stop these excavations. However, nobody responds to these calls and death is the frequent end, due to undermined houses collapsing. 


Insect-sized robot to explore shafts of Great Pyramid


A Hong Kong dentist is wielding forceps to help reach for answers inside the last surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Pulling teeth by day and devising inventions by night, Ng Tze-chuen, 59, said he organized a team working with Egypt's former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass to unlock the mystery surrounding the doors blocking two narrow shafts in the pyramid, which is the tomb of the Pharaoh Cheops, also known as Khufu.

"The Chinese have more experience with chopsticks. And a dentist has more experience in gripping with forceps," said Ng.

"Why Egypt is so interesting, it's because of the hieroglyphics. It's like a detective story. It's all waiting for me to use my grippers."

Inspired by dental forceps -- he has designed 70 of his own to properly grip the tricky crevices of patients' teeth -- Ng said his team will mount tiny grippers on an insect-sized robot expected to gently trek the winding shafts of the pyramid without causing damage to the walls.

Bulgarian Archeologists Discover Mummy in Egypt


In Luxor, Egypt, Bulgarian archeologists discovered a mummy of an Egyptian priest from the time of Ramses II. The mummy is about 3000 years old and was now classified as No.263 in the Egyptian national register in Cairo.  The body was of a nobleman from the 19th Egyptian dynasty. The news was brought to Bulgaria by no other but Bulgaria’s Minister of Education, Sergey Ignatov who is also a professor of Egyptology. 

The Djedi Project - The Next Generation in Robotic Archaeology

Em Hotep! (Keith Payne)

Another terrific article from Keith, stuffed full of photos and diagrams.  Don't miss it!

The Djedi Project is not just the new mission to explore the pyramid shafts—it truly is the next generation in robotic archaeology.  Beginning with Waynman Dixon’s iron rods, researchers have been probing the Great Pyramid’s mysterious claustrophobic passageways for 140 years.  But now, using technology designed for uses as divergent as space exploration and terrestrial search and rescue, we are finally able to explore the chamber behind Gantenbrink’s Door.

Picking up where we left off with Pyramid Rover, this Em Hotep exclusive covers how the Djedi Team won the “Robot Olympics in the Desert”, the members who make up the team, the specifics of the robot’s design, and the results of Djedi’s maiden voyage up QCS and into the chamber behind the first blocking stone.  Through interviews and exchanges with the Djedi Project manager, Shaun Whitehead, as well as other team members, this article promises to be the resource for the published Djedi material to date.

Kom el-Daba excavations underway

EES Delta Survey

The excavation of the mud-brick building really started today. The fill over the brickwork of the northern wall – in what we are, for the moment, assuming was a ‘street’ between this house and the next – was very empty with just a few sherds. It is essentially a homogenous fill made up of centuries of fine brick dust blowing down from the structures above as they have weathered and eroded. In places this fill is over a metre deep and it has to be removed before archaeologically significant levels are reached. It is then a matter of trowelling the surface to identify the mud bricks of the wall from the fill alongside, which can also contain pieces of brick, fallen down from the wall. Contexts can be distinguished most clearly when they are of distinct and different colours.

Luxor Temple Conservation Update

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

Luxor Temple Conservation Update - February 2012 | American Research Center in Egypt

Three-thousand, five-hundred years is a long time for any building to stand, and it comes as no surprise that, today, Luxor temple is in need of some help. Many of its columns in the first court, for example, have been showing the very serious effects of exposure to the elements and prior maintenance efforts. To address these issues, ARCE began a project in 2008 to assess and conserve the columns in the Ramesses II court. This work runs in tandem with our larger conservation initiative on the East Bank and forms part of our Egyptian conservator training program.

Under the management of ARCE Luxor’s Associate Director, John Shearman, ARCE conservator Khadiga Adam has supervised and instructed 28 conservators and 10 craftsmen over the past two years to address the columns’ problems. Visitors to the temple can immediately see our team’s progress, as they work in plain sight to the west of the Ramesses II court’s Amun, Mut and Khonsu shrines.

Between 2010 and 2011 this exacting work has involved a number of stages. Before conserving anything, each column needed to be studied and documented.

More re the new 17th Dynasty king

Discovery  (Rossella Lorenzi)

A new king has been added to the long list of ancient pharaohs, the Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, announced this week.

The king's name, Senakht-en-Re, emerged from the engraved remains of a limestone door found by a French-Egyptian team‭ ‬in the Temple of Karnak complex on Luxor’s east bank. Karnak 4

The archaeologists, led by French Egyptologist Christophe Thiers, of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), unearthed a fragmented lintel and an imposing door jamb during routine excavation at the temple of Ptah.

Belonging to an administrative structure dating to the enigmatic 17th Dynasty (about 1634-1543 BC) the limestone remains featured hieroglyphics which indicated that the door was dedicated to Amun-Re.‭

"They also revealed who ordered the construction of this structure. It was the pharaoh Senakht-en-Re," said a CNRS statement.

If you didn't see the comments in response to my last post on the subject, also see:
Ahram Online

Interview with Dr.Veldmeijer and Prof. Ikram re chariot discovery

Ancient Egypt Online  

Here's a short excerpt:

In a recent article in Nature (Click here to view this article), it was reported that new remains of a chariot were (re)discovered. Currently, Dr. André Veldmeijer (Netherlands Flemisch Institute in Cairo) and Prof. Dr. Salima Ikram (American University in Cairo) are analysing the find for future publication. Because this find will be of interest, not only to Egyptologists but to ancient Near Eastern scholars as a whole, AEO managed to contact these researchers to find out more.

Ancient Egypt Online (AEO): Can you tell me (AEO readers) how you became interested in ancient Egyptian Leatherwork?

Dr. André Veldmeijer (AJV): I have been working with footwear and stumbled upon leather shoes and sandals. That was basically the start of interest in leather; from here it spread out to leather in general rather than only footwear.

Dr. Salima Ikram (SI): I had been working on animals and their by-products and one day André and were chatting and discovered that we had a mutual interest in leather production.

AEO: Can you tell me (AEO readers) a little about the Chariot project and why it is significant to Egyptological research?

Alexandria and Egypt

Al Ahram Weekly

Alexandria, the brilliant Greek city state known as "The Bride of the Mediterranean", wore its distinctly Egyptian flavour with pride, and it was more pharaonic than previously supposed. Salvaged sphinxes, statues, papyrus columns and blocks of stone inscribed with the names of pharaohs attest to this. The sea bed in the Great (Eastern) harbour is carpeted with such works -- some usurped from earlier structures and transported to adorn the Ptolemaic city.

Ptolemy I, the general who inherited Egypt, took immediate steps to accommodate the local population. On the spacious summit of a high rock in Alexandria (where the so-called Pompey's Pillar stands today) he constructed the Serapeum, a temple to house the god Osir-Apis (Serapis in Greek), a hybrid god is attributed to two sources: an Egyptian familiar with local tradition, and a priestly family acquainted with Greek rituals.  

Egypt’s tourism gets boost as historic Nile cruise set to return

Bikya Masr 

Sailing the Nile River in Egypt has always been a huge tourism boost for the country, but for the past 16 years, the an historic route on the river had been put on hold. Now, tour operators and the ministry of tourism are hopeful restarting the Cairo-Aswan cruises will help bring back tourists who have gone elsewhere as Egypt faces political, social and economic unrest.

“We really hope that this will increase people coming because it was a successful route in years past,” Alexandria-based tour operator Waleed Ghanem told via telephone.

The ministry of tourism confirmed at the ITB Berlin Travel Expo that the historic route between Cairo and Aswan in Upper Egypt will be back on schedule, increasing hopes of a return to pre-uprising tour levels, which have dropped sharply in the past year as a result of the unrest in the country.

Egyptian Scientific Institute in danger from botched restoration, says minister

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to halt restoration work at the Egyptian Scientific Institute in Cairo because it is not being conducted in an appropriate manner.

“Restoration and consolidation work carried out at the institute does not pay attention to the monumental dimensions of the building and its historical value,” Ibrahim told Ahram Online. "Concrete bars being used to consolidate the edifice are totally against antiquities protection laws."

Ibrahim has asked the armed forces engineering department to submit a report to the antiquities ministry on the restoration works and the technical archaeological institute to study the work and have it approved by the Permanent Archaeological Committee for Islamic and Coptic Monuments.

Exhbition: Secret Egypt - Unravelling Truth from Myth

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery 

Tullie House, Carlisle
10th March 2012 - 10th June 2012, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

The exhibition features around 200 artefacts on loan from major Egyptology collections throughout the UK including Manchester Museum, the Ashmolean and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Moving through six themes, it begins by asking what is real and what is fake via an examination of funerary objects that helped Ancient Egyptians into the sacred world of death before debunking some of the more spurious myths that have grown up around them.

Alexander and his Macedonian heirs

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Macedonian conquest of Egypt, its consequences and its reflection in literature and art were the subject of an international workshop at the University of Warsaw towards the end of 2011. Its aim was to explore the means by which Alexander's successors, the Ptolemies -- who successfully ruled Egypt for three centuries and made it once more a brilliant kingdom -- systematically elevated and propagated Alexander's memory by identifying themselves with the deceased hero and reusing his visual and literary heritage.

The colourful personality of Alexander the Great has been memorialised in fiction, films and biographies. His death and multiple burials have long held fascination. Indeed, the search for his tomb continues. Seeking clues from material remains, today's scholars continue to unravel the compelling mysteries that surround his brief stay in Egypt.

Alexander, son of Philip II of Macedonia, had already made himself master of the disunited Greek world when, after defeating the Persians in the Levant, he marched on Egypt. The country was then under Persian rule and the Egyptians in a state of revolt against their overlords. It was not without enthusiasm, therefore, that they joined Alexander's march towards their capital Memphis where the Persian garrison was quickly discharged.

Latest edition of KMT


Thanks to John F. Rauchert for the update:

KMT Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2012.   Includes Six Feature Articles:

  • “The Amarna Princesses, Aten’s Daughters” by Dennis Forbes
  • “Domenico Fontana Moves the Vatican Obelisk” by Bob Brier
  • “Unique Offering to the God Min at Karnak’s White Chapel of Senusret I ” by Earl L. Ertman
  • “A Pyramid’s Diagnosis” by Gene Kritsky
  • “Commentary & Opinion: The Re-Search for Hatshepsut’s Mummy” by Dennis Forbes
  • “Giant of Egyptology: Ludwig Keimer” by Isolde Lehnert
  • Plus “Nile Currents,” “For the Record” & Book Reviews

Projects to display Egypt's heritage in museums

Luxor Times  

Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister State of Antiquities, met Dr. Yasser El Shayeb (Director of the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage- CULTNAT) to discuss the ideas of co-operation between them concerning documentation and preservation of the archaeological and cultural heritage. They reviewed during the meeting the possibility of implementing a project to portray three-dimensional images of the Egyptian antiquities by using laser to produce holograms on screens or in the open air without the use of display screens to promote for the less visited and known sites such as Hibs Temple, near Khargha Oasis in the western desert, both nationwide or internationally through the international travel markets which could be a factor to attract tourism and increase national income.

The minister also asked Dr. Yasser to contribute in implementation of Heritage display panorama in Sharm El Shiekh Museum (Under construction)

The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections


Vol 4, No 1: JAEI March 2012

  • “The Galatian Shield in Egypt” by Matthew C. Coleman
  • “The Obelisks of Augustus: The Significance of a Symbolic Element of the Architectural Landscape in the Transmission of Ideology from Egypt to Rome” By Steven R. W. Gregory
  • “Egyptian Ideas, Minoan Rituals: Evidence of the Interconnections between Crete and Egypt in the Bronze Age on the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus” By Paula L. Martino
  • Zipora Cochavi-Rainey-- The Akkadian Dialect of Egyptian Scribes in the 14th and 13th Centuries BCE Reviewed by James Elliott Campbell
  • A. Merriman-- Egyptian Watercraft Models: From the Predynastic to Third Intermediate Periods Reviewed by Pearce Paul Creasman
  • Bruce Louden-- Homer's Odyssey and the Near East Reviewed by JAEI Staff
  • Bezalel Porten et. al.-- The Elephantine Papyri in English: Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change (Second Revised Edition) Reviewed by Nikolaos Lazaridis

Laser-mapping LiDAR revolutionizes archaeology


Not specifically Egyptology but of general archaeological interest.

"This is it—the paradigm shift," archaeologist Chris Fisher told Ars. "Just like the advent of radiocarbon dating, LiDAR will have the same impact."

LiDAR, or "light detection and ranging," acts as a sort of radar with light, painting the target area with lasers and recording the time it takes to reflect back to the instruments.

An archaeologist specializing in Western Mexico, Fisher studies the way environments affect and change cultures. LiDAR has helped him repaint the picture of ancient Mexico, bringing the little-known Purepecha empire a lot more historical prominence. . . .

Last year, LiDAR enabled Fisher to create a full-fledged picture of the important Mesoamerican capital in greater detail. This included the discovery of several pyramids, ceremonial complexes and thousands of residences and other buildings that no one knew existed in the city.

Photo for Today - The Ramesseum

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A New 17th Dynasty Pharaoh was discovered

Luxor Times

During his visit yesterday to Karnak temple, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim (Minister state of Antiquities) announced the discovery of a new pharaoh’s name from the 17th dynasty that was not known to Egyptologists which helps in revealing the chronological order of the Kings of this dynasty.

It was the IFAO mission headed by Christophe Thiers that found a limestone door at the north of Amon’s temple dated back to 17th dynasty with hieroglyphics inscriptions and a royal cartouche bears the name of a King that didn’t appear before in ancient Egyptian history and the name is “Sen Nakht N’ Ra”

Revealing the statue of Amenhotep III, the third colossus of Memnon

Luxor Times

With an accompanying photo essay on the unveiling of the statue.

The raising operation started on 6th February 2012, and was successfully achieved on 13th February.
After that first step of the operation, the right foot of the King resting on a decorated base and other blocks belong to this base were placed on the pedestal.
The knee, the chest and the head will be joined to the colossus in the forthcoming season.
The colossus is a masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian royal sculpture, hewn in a very hard block of quartzite which was transported from the quarries of Gebel El-Ahmar in Cairo. It is extremely well sculpted and smoothly polished.
This is the first time that such a monumental sculpture is raised by methods combining the Pharaonic ways and modern technique of lifting with air-cushions.
In spring 2013, the team will also lift at its original location the lower part of the south colossus, which was unknown and lay completely buried under the ground of the temple. It was discovered by the project director in 2003 and was treated by the conservation team.

Minufiyeh survey 2012

EES Minufiyeh Survey (Jo Rowland)

Jo Rowland and her team are back in Minufiyeh in the Delta and are already hard at work excavating where they left off last year.

Today was the start of the excavation at Quesna.  Our team of local workers were waiting for us when we arrived with our inspector at 7.30am. We will work with the workers until 1.00pm every day, and then we stay at the site until 3pm, to catch up on drawings, photographs and the filling in of recording forms, all vital aspects of our work. We were returning to Trench 9, which was the main focus for training during the field school of autumn last year. We are a much smaller team this time, but already on our first morning we have uncovered a number of new burials within this Ptolemaic-Roman cemetery, as well as re-defining features that had started to appear at the end of the last season.

EES Delta Survey 2012

EES Delta Survey (Patricia Spencer)  

The EES Delta Survey is ready to kick off for the new 2012 season
We’re just about all ready for our flight tomorrow to Cairo to collect our documentation from the SCA and visit Faten in the EES Cairo Office at the British Council where Jeff is giving a lecture on Tuesday (6th) at 7pm: We’ll be staying in Zamalek again and will hopefully have as good a Nile view from our hotel room as we did last year!