Monday, May 30, 2005

David Roberts, R.A.
Further to my mention in the previous posting of David Roberts, whose paintings I love, there is a small feature about him on the above Travellers in Egypt website, which also contains a few of good quality images of his lithographs, including the rather wonderful and well-known self portrait. As well as being simply lovely in their own right, these paintings are a remarkable insight into the state of temples and monuments in Egypt at the time that Roberts was visiting in the 1830s - changes, both good and bad, from that time are often clearly visible. And his paintings highlight the sheer amount of sand that had to be moved from some of these monuments before they could be seen in their entirety.
If you have some time on your hands, a gallery-full of his paintings have been catpured online at the following address, although the quaility of the images is highly variable.

Featured Article on Kom Ombo
Tour Egypt's most recent Featured Article, by Mark Andrews in entitled "Kom Ombo and the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris". This piece provides a good summary of the site, and is accompanied by some excellent photographs and diagrams to illustrate the article, including a rather splendid David Roberts painting of how it looked at the time when he visited. A short bibliography is also included.

Ancient grains warehouses dating back to Greek era discovered
"Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced the discovery of grains warehouses dating back to the Greek and Romanian ages. In addition, an old house dating back to the Ptolemaic age and the remnants of a house have been unearthed in Fayoum governorate.
Dr. Zahi Hawas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said a mission from Bologna University in Italy has discovered during excavation works some grain warehouses including nine boxes for storing wheat and cereals.
They also found some potteries and silos dating back to the Coptic era, added Hawas noting that the building had been renovated during the Coptic age".
This is the complete news posting from the State Information Service.

EEF News Digest
Just a reminder that the website edition of EEF's news posting went up yesterday on the EEF website at the above URL. I am particularly keen on their newly digitized book updates but they also post information about world-wide exhibitions currently showing and coming up, and details of lectures and symposiums (as well as links to news items in both English and other languages).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Origines 2005, Toulouse
Just a quick reminder that the Origines conference is coming up in September. This conference, which only occurs every four years, focuses on the Predynastic, Origins of State and Early Dynastic. To see the main themes under discussion go to:
To download the programme in PDF format go to:
The French home page, if French is your preferred language, is at:

Hope to see you there!

UK Television Today

A whole handful of things are rolling today on UK television. On UKTV History there is the programme "In Search of Cleopatra" running on and off throughout the day, and on the same channel this evening at 7pm is "Top 10 Egypt", where Michael Woods takes viewers on a tour of his top 10 Egyptian sites - this has been shown before on UKTV, and the filming is great.
On Channel 4, "Return to the Valley of the Kings" is on at 7pm, followed by "Tutankhamun Exhumed" at 8pm. The first of these follows Lord Porchester (great grandson of Lord Carnarvon) to Egypt, where he supervizes an excavation led by Egyptologist Nigel Strudwick. The latter is about the most recent removal of Tutankhamun from his place of rest for cat scanning, including footage of the removal and the scanning.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sphinx Sound and Light Show Reviewed
Another item in the Travel section of Al Ahram's online publication - this one is a review of the Sound and Light show at the Sphinx.

Alexandria's Submerged Archaeology
A travel account of diving into Alexandria's underwater archaeolgy: "Thanks to the earthquake that rocked Alexandria in 1323 the Mediterranean has preserved to divers one of the seven wonders of the world -- Alexandria's Lighthouse, the remnants of which now lie nine metres on the sea bed". This is a moment-by-moment description by the writer of his experience of diving in Alexandria to see what remains under the sea. It is quite an intriguing insight.

Ancient Heliopolis
"Connected to the Nile by a canal, Heliopolis (the Ancient Egyptian Iunu and Biblical On) was always a place of eminence. As early as pre-dynastic times it was considered a holy site -- a fact to which the discovery, in the 1950s, of a large cemetery containing 145 human and 14 goat and dog mummies testified. Simple graves set into round or oval pits of various sizes and depths -- a few of them were lined with reed or wood -- they contained only the most basic items. Subsequent studies by the archaeologist credited with the discovery, Fernand Debono, and the Desert Institute point to the performance of ritual activities in these burial chambers, with hearths suggesting funerary meals". Read on for more - this has a lot of information about the archaeology and history of Heliopolis.
For a summary of Heliopolis in the Predynastic, I have posted the following on one of my other sites:

GlyphStudy: Middle Egyptian Study Group (updated)
A new study group, an off-shoot of the excellent and long-established AEL (Ancient Egyptian Language) list has been started at the above address. It will use Allen's "Middle Egyptian" as a study text, and members will work through it lesson by lesson. This is due to kick off very shortly, so if you are interested now is the time to sign up - it is completely free of charge to join and take part, but you will need to buy Allen's book if you want to participate. You will also need to be a member of AEL itself, because there will be some crossover between the two groups. To see the AEL website and join the group, go to:

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sunday Times: King Tut tut tut

Quite a long article - either select Print View or click on the next Page links at the bottom of each part of the text (4 pages in total). This is a very colourful piece focusing on Zahi Hawass, and also raising the Joann Fletcher Nefertiti case, and the reaction of Hawass to her claims. The opening paragraphs read: "They call him the Pharaoh, the keeper of the pyramids. He rules Egyptology with an iron fist and a censorious tongue. Nobody crosses Zahi Hawass and gets away with it. As the fabulous treasures of Tutankhamun begin a world tour, Richard Girling excavates the conspiracies, conflicts and fears that curse the world of archeology. You might as well ask a eunuch to slag off an emperor. Quite quickly you get tired of asking: phone calls not returned; e-mails not answered; questions ducked. If you're lucky, you might get the odd side-of-mouth hint; but no names, no details. 'Nobody of any standing in Egyptology will come out to help you,' said one well-known Egyptologist of his colleagues, 'because they'd lose their jobs. Sadly, people are cowering round his ankles.' "
Do read this article for more - it is quite an important insight, whether or not you agree with it.

Egyptology Events in Harrogate, UK
I was actually looking for some sort of update about the Naqada II vase that is being tested by York University (found nothing), and stumbled instead across a series of Egyptology initiatives being held by Harrogate Royal Pump Rooms Museum, including an exhibition (photos at the first link) and some events involving the Egyptology collection (details on the second link).

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Zahi Hawass Interview (Corrected)

The excellent Tour Egypt website has a new feature - an interview with the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass. As usual, Dr Hawass does not pull his punches and is very clear about his stand on speculative archaeological theories from academically unqualified Egyptologists, his stand on rejecting certain projects, and his appoach to the return of ancient items removed illegitimately from Egypt. There is also reference to his recent work with the Saqqara Late Period mummies.
Thanks to Jimmy Dunn for notifying me about the item.

Thanks to my anonymous correspondent for informing me that I had misquoted the original article with an unintentional but incorrect reference to Dr Grimal (for which my apologies both to my visitors and Dr Grimal) - I have now updated the above article accordingly as of today 29th May 2005.

All Three Tutankhamun Reconstructions
A page showing all three of the reconstructions of Tutankhamun side by side. This is the only page that I know of which shows all three together.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Update: Oxyrhynchus Papyri and The Trojan Wars,0,7572249,print.story?coll=ny-leadhealthnews-headlines
"In the past few weeks alone, researchers have succeeded in deciphering a 70-line fragment from a lost tragedy by Sophocles and a 30-line fragment from Archilochos, a Greek soldier-poet who chronicled the Trojan Wars.The Archilochos fragment confirms what scholars have long suspected: that the Greeks got lost on their way to invade Troy and mistakenly landed at place called Mysia. There they fought a battle, lost and had to regroup before heading off again for Troy.The Archilochos fragment will be published later this month. The newly discovered lines from Sophocles are scheduled for publication in August". See the article for more.

New location for museum of antiquities
"Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni stated that the first phase in constructing the Grand Museum of Egypt at Cairo-Alexandria desert road has already started. One of the Egyptian companies is paving the new location on 117 feddans and at a cost of L.E 5 million. Farouk Hosni affirmed that everything concerning the construction is undergoing accurate according to set schedules. He said that there is no problem in the finance and there are alternatives as the finance we get from the Supreme Council of Antiquities besides the international aid from international agencies. For the first time we have an American commitment for hosting 'Tutankhamen' exhibit in four American states and the aid will be directed to the Museum construction".
Also shown at:

Saqqara 2005 Dig Diary
The Leiden Excavations, a joint expedition working in the New Kingdom necropolis at Saqqara, are ongoing and the 2005 Dig Diary is online at the above URL. You will need to navigate from the home page to the What's New? Link in the left hand navigation bar. This site is in English. It provides a fascinating insight into what the team have been doing in the 2005 winter season.

Djehuty 2005 Dig Diary (in Spanish)
I was doing my usual Sunday morning trawl through my Egyptology Portal site, checking for updates and broken links, and I noticed that the Djehuty website has been updated with the 2005 dig diary. This is a good site, stuffed full of information about the excavation and restoration of two Luxor tombs. The dig diary has photos as well as text.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Updated: King Hor-Aha (Wine and Beer)
Same story, but with a good photograph.

For-Profit Exhibitions vs. Museums' Mission,0,6872498,print.story?coll=cl-home-top-blurb-right
"Among the questions confronting art-world leaders: Should nonprofit institutions such as LACMA, whose missions are educational, scholarly and aesthetic, hold hands with corporations that see museum galleries as profit centers? Are blockbuster shows worth doing if they dazzle the masses and ring the till, but offer no new insights or discoveries? Can you even really see art in a crowd? And should you have to pay an unprecedented $25 or $30 — plus handling charges for advance tickets — to do it? Or do such qualms look a gift horse in the mouth?" An article that addresses the much-talked of issue of there being a charge for the Tutankhamun exhibition currently touring the U.S. The New York Met refused the exhibition because of the compulsary entrance fee that accompanied it, which is almost double their recommended fee, but others have not been so squeamish. This is a long and very interesting piece. It ends with a summary of the top-ranked exhibitions in LACMA's history (headed by the 1978 Tutanhkamun exhibition). LACMA stands for Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Scratching Heritage
A reader's letter to the online Al Ahram Weekly, which attacks official care standards in the Valley of the Kings, and objects to the CT scans of mummies both as a desecration, and as something unnecessary taking place while the much-needed precautions for preservation of the tombs from which they have been removed are not taken. This is the third letter on the page.

Faruk Wahba: presenting ancient Egypt
"The retrospective exhibition of Faruk Wahba held at Horizon I Gallery displays a fine collection of the artist's work. They include a mixture of art dating from his graduation from Alexandria University's Faculty of Fine Arts in 1968 to this day. The exhibition is one of the important exhibitions of Alexandrian artists in Cairo this season.Wahba's name has been associated since the l980s with artistic representations of ancient Egyptian. His frequent visits to the Egyptian Museum have encouraged in him a great interest in its ancient statues, jewellery and mummies". This article goes on to discuss the work of Wahba.

EEF News Digest
The latest edition of EEF's news digest will be released by A.K. Eyma on the EEF website on Sunday - you can find it at the above address (the previous edition is there at the moment). As well as English language news articles, this page also contains a round up of articles from French, German and Spanish news sources. In addition, it provides an excellent summary of world-wide exhbitions currently showing and coming up, newly digitized references available online, and details of lectures and symposiums.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Updated: Ancient Beer, Wine Jars Found in Egypt
"Archaeologists digging in a 5,000-year-old site in southern Egypt have unearthed 200 rough ceramic beer and wine jars and a second mud-brick mortuary enclosure of King Hur-Aha the founder of the First Dynasty, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said Wednesday. A joint American excavation mission from Yale University, Institute of Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania University Museum and New York Universities found the treasure Wednesday at Shunet El-Zebib, north of Abydos in the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag". This is the entire Yahoo news item.

Update: For more details see longer articles at:

News Items in Brief
The following items are shown in brief as the last feature on this page on the Egyptian Gazette website:
  • The Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, has decided to open museums and archaeological sites free of charge the year round for school trips and private institutions caring for orphans and street children.
  • Japan has donated 261 million yen to a project for upgrading the area surrounding the Valley of Kings in Luxor.
  • The national project for the registration of Egyptian monuments has started with Aswan and will move on to Edfu very soon.
  • An ad-hoc committee has been created to work out a plan to develop new sign boards and labels for museums and archaeological sites in order to make them more attractive and informative.

The Age of the Great Sphinx at Giza

Giza Before the Fourth Dynasty is paper by Geologist Colin Reader, originally published in the Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum 9 in 2002, which has been published on the Hall of Ma'at website. Reader explores both the case for the attribution of the Sphinx to Khafre and some of the alternatives, including his own theory which he hopes goes further than any other in reconciling the available evidence. This is a three-year-old article, but I have added it here because it may not have been accessible to people who do not have access to an academic library, and it is still very relevant to discussions about the age of the Sphinx.

Ancient Mummies - Secrets to be unlocked,26474,en.htm
"Two world-renowned teams of experts on Egyptian mummies have joined forces in an international effort to better understand disease and its treatment in ancient Egypt. The University of Manchester's Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and Cairo's National Research Center have signed a formal agreement to enhance future academic research and teaching in the field. The Manchester-Cairo alliance will promote cooperation between the two institutions by supporting joint research activities and encouraging visits and exchanges by their staff and students". A number of different study areas are described in the article.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Three Ahkmim Stolen Stelae Returned
This, the second article on the page, follows the history of three stolen stelae and the routes they took before they were returned to Egypt. Zahi Hawass is quoted, commenting on smuggling in Egypt and elsewhere.

Giza Archives Project Update
After four years of preparation the Giza Archives Project website was launched earlier this year, and was updated this month. It is located at the above URL. The site will continue to be developed as a centralized online repository for all archaeological activity at the Giza Necropolis including everything from individual tomb records to over 200 free downloadable Giza books and articles in text-searchable PDF format. The next information to be added to the website is detailed on the site at:
This is a fascinating site and is worth taking the time to become familiar with. One of the better uses of the Web by an Egyptological project.

Ancient Egyptian Language Website - New Pages
A new resource on the excellent AEL website has been announced. It consists of a tabulated index of textual references appearing in popular grammars, with particular references to the Westcar papyrus and the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor. The task was carried out by Ken Saunders who kindly donated this material to the AEL website. See the above link to see this great piece of work.

Ancient World Tours Open Day
"On Sunday July 3rd 2005 AWT will be holding our annual open day. This year, we return to Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon". An annual day-long event with guest speakers lecturing on a variety of different subjects. Details are on Page 20 of this PDF brochure.

Update: National Geographic Feature on Tutankhamun
Further to my earlier posting about this forthcoming article, there is now an exerpt on the National Geographic website from the June issue. The full article will only be available in the printed magazine.

Antibiotics in Nubian Beer
An intriguing article on the National Geographic website about a study of human bones suggests that ancient Nubians benefited from antibiotic properties in the clays from which beer storage jars were made. "The brew was made from grain contaminated with the bacteria streptomycedes, which produces tetracycline. The ancient Nubians . . . stored their grain in mud bins. A soil bacteria, streptomycedes is ubiquitous in arid climates like Sudan's". Although there are no medical books from Nubia, there are from neighbouring Egypt, and the uses of beer for medicinal purposes are well documented. See the article for a description of the beer and the theories regarding the antibiotic properties.

J. African Archaeology - Khartoum and Nabta/Kiseiba
The Journal of African Archaeology, volume 3, is tentatively expected to be released in June. As well as a number of potentially fascinating articles about other areas of Africa, shown at the above address, there is an article by D. Usai looking at prehistoric seasonal occupation in southern Egypt, entitled Early Holocene seasonal movements between the Desert and the Nile Valley: Details from the lithic industry of some Khartoum Variant and some Nabta/Kiseiba sites. The contents for volumes 1 and 2 (2003 and 2004) can also be navigated to from this page.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Quest for Ancient Egypt (UK Television)
Another last minute notification of a tv programme - this time tonight at 9-10pm on the Freeview channel UK History. The episode is entitled "From Plunder to Preservation" and is described on the Radio Times website as: "Documentary on the archaeologists and historians who uncovered the lost past of Egypt for us. A look at a time when the world of Egyptology began to take on a more recognisable face, as men like August Mariette and Gaston Maspero struggled to establish laws to prohibit the wholesale removal of Egypt's ancient monuments. We also encounter 19-year-old William Petrie, who established the use of photography in archaeology".

Three Pharaonic faces retrieved from Greece
"Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni agreed to assign a delegation from the ministry under Ibrahim Abdul Meguid to restore three pieces of antiquities. The pieces are the portraits of the faces of three ancient Egyptians, said Zahi Hawas, Head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, asserting that this wooden portrait was to be placed on the tombs. The pieces were given to Egyptian embassy in Athens by a Greek national."

The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt (U.S. Exhibition){B83F9585-FEAA-496C-9BCC-4644839921BC
Planning a trip to New York later in the year, I was having a look around to see if any Egyptology exhibitions are running or going to run, and I found this one. It is planned to run from September 13th 2005 to January 15th 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum's description reads: "The causes of illnesses were little understood in ancient Egypt, and their prevention and cure was a major concern for most Egyptians—one that informs much of ancient Egyptian art, yet has been given relatively little attention. This exhibition will highlight objects from the Museum’s collection that address this concern, allowing visitors to appreciate them in new ways. Included will be the rarely seen Edwin Smith Papyrus, on loan from the New York Academy of Medicine. One of the world’s oldest scientific documents, this 15-foot papyrus deals with the treatment of wounds both practically and magically". There is also a Hatshepsut exhibition running from March next year, but I'll post about that somewhat nearer the time.

Hawass: Statues restored from Jordan in good condition
"Supreme Council of Antiquities SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawwas stressed that the pharaonic bronze statues of the Egyptian embassy in Jordan received are in good condition and were placed at the Egyptian Museum for restoration in preparation for the display. Hawwas added that the statues that were found inside onions sacks comprise 16 ancient Egyptian artifacts of lengths ranging between 11-7 cm".

Monday, May 16, 2005

Egypt Exhibition - the Rochdale Collection (UK)
This description comes from the 24-Hour Museum website. Sorry for not posting the original URL, but it was 456 characters long, so thanks to for the abbreviated version. "Rochdale’s own magnificent Ancient Egyptian collection goes on show for the first time for over 30 Years. The Egyptian collection of Rochdale is derived mainly from two private collections, that of John Bright and that of Charles Heape. The collection includes ceramics, stone, wood, gesso, animal and plant remains, textiles, metals and precious metals and almost without exception the material is of international importance. Some of the objects in the collection date back to before the Dynastic or Pharoanic period the oldest being more than 7000 years old. These items represent some of the oldest Egyptian objects in any museum collection including Egypt".
This URL on Rochdale museum's own website has a much less detailed explanation, but you will be able to find contact etc details on this site:

Eternal Egypt Website - Award
I was having a look around the CultNat website earlier on, and saw this item which I must have missed in April: " was recognized with the award in the category of Best Innovative or Experimental Application at the Ninth Annual International Conference for Culture and Heritage online: Museums and the Web 2005 held on April 13-16, in Vancouver, Canada".

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Near Destruction of Giza in 1833
An entertaining article on the American Scientist website, describing how the Ottoman viceroy Mohammad Ali Pasha proposed, as part of his plans for modernization, to create barrages in Lower Egypt using the the Giza pyramids for construction material. the story comes from the "Memoirs" of the Chief Engineer, who eventually became Minsiter of Public Works, French-born Linant de Bellefonds. "Linant recounts that he did not object or directly counter the viceroy. Rather, he wisely used less conspicuous means. First, he requested permission to study the Giza site to assess the demolition task and provide a logistical plan. He also organized a preliminary visit with the Egyptian ministers of foreign affairs, public works and education. Linant compiled a careful report, which compared the cost of using material scavenged from pyramids versus newly cut stone from quarries, surmising that the quarry material would be cheaper." See the article for the analysis of the pyramids from the perspective of a raw material, and for the rest of the story.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The War Path of Horus - New Sites
This is the last paragraph on Egypt Today's News-Reel page, speculating about the War Path of Horus, and the light that new sites are casting on it: "Finally, the War Path of Horus has long been the subject of debate. Was it a myth, or historical fact? Only a handful of the 11 forts said to mark the ancient protective boundaries delineating Egypts territories have been discovered. Last month, three new forts believed to have been a part of the path were unearthed north of Ismailiyya, where they are thought to have marked and protected the kingdoms eastern borders. SCA officials are ecstatic, saying they believe the forts could shed new light on the military logic of the ancient Egyptians".

Hidden Treasures - Cairo Museum Basement
You will need to scroll about half way down the page to find a short item entitled "Hidden Treasures" - a short but pointed account of the current cataloguing of the Cairo Museum, and some of the potential problems .

Friday, May 13, 2005

Petrie Museum wins top award
"A 100-year-old museum, home to one of the world's largest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology, has won an industry award. A panel of experts judged University College London's Petrie Museum to have remained relevant and interesting since its creation in 1892". I am delighted to post this article - having spent many happy hours in the Petrie, and only last week having sat with a tray of Faiyum lithics about which I was writing a report, thanks to the excellent staff at the museum, I can say from first hand experience what a terrific place it is. I can only say how pleased I am for them. They have also done more to use the Internet that most much bigger museums, publishing their entire catalouge online, offering online educational material, and graphical reconstructions. Congratulations to a very deserving winner.
Visit the museum online at:
Visit Digital Egypt for Universities (a Petrie website) at:

King Tutankhamun Reconstruction - in Audio
NPR News interview with Chris Sloan from the National Geographic Society. He talks about two teams who worked on the team - one team who knew it was Tutankhamun, one who didn't. Initially the team in the dark thought that the skull was female. They thought that the skull was a little strange in shape, but their investigations showed that it falls within the range of human variation. This has more information than most of the newspaper and Internet articles, and is well worth a listen if you are interested in this subject. You will need either Windows Media Player or RealPlayer installed (but there are links to download either if you haven't got them already and do want to install them).

Egyptian Treasures on display in Germany
"Egyptian Ambassador in Germany Muhammad Al-Orabi opens on May 21 an exhibition displaying Egyptian artifacts. The one-month exhibition is organized by German foundations in Potsdam. The ambassador stressed the importance of the exhibition as a cultural link between the two sides for pursuing dialogue and consistency with the German people". This is the entire piece from the State Information Service, but I'll have a hunt round and update this item if I can find out more.

A British Museum Egyptologist's View - Updated
I was having a look for something on the Tour Egypt website, and stumbled across this article. I thought that it might be of interest, so I've added the link to the blog. The introductory text reads: "Dr. Neal Spencer, Assistant Keeper of the Department of Ancient Egypt and the Sudan at the British Museum knows the situation well, having worked at the museum for six years and himself involved in a current excavation project in Egypt. He believes that the issue of claiming back ancient objects has not been raised officially, and when raised it relates mainly to objects exported out of Egypt after 1970". It also talks about Dr Spencer's work in Egypt, adherence to the SCA's rules and the opening of a new British Museum Egyptology gallery.
Update: In the original posting I said that I was uncertain when this item had been posted to the Tour Egypt website. So many thanks to Jimmy Dunn from the Tour Egypt website for telling me that the item was published on May 6th 2005, which makes it bang up to date.

Update - More on the Tutankhamun Facial Reconstruction
Al Ahram Weekly's take on the whole reconstruction thing, but still with the same two images without the third, which I still haven't tracked down, for comparison.

Celebration of Farouk Hosni by Zahi Hawass
Quoting Hawass: "In my speech at the ceremony in the garden of the Cairo Museum to present the gold medal, I said that Hosni, as both minister of culture and an artist, stood against his government and prevented the extension of the Ring Road threatening the Giza Pyramids". See the Al Ahram Weekly article for more.

National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation
Due to open in around three years time, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization will "place on show Egypt's diverse civilisations from pre-historic to modern times. On display will be 150,000 artefacts carefully selected from the principal museums in Egypt: the Egyptian, Islamic and Coptic museums in Cairo, the Graeco-Roman and Alexandria National museums in Alexandria and the Luxor Museum, as well as major archaeological storehouses such those on the Giza Plateau and at Saqqara". See the article for a broad discussion about the background to the museum and how the exhibits will be chosen.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

June edition National Geographic - "King Tut Revealed"
Having accidentally left it until May to report on NG's April item on Abydos, I though I'd give advance warning of June's edition on the reconstruction of the face of Tutankhamun: "King Tut Revealed - Egypt's boy pharaoh has fascinated the world since the first glimpse of his tomb in 1922. Now modern forensics and high-tech imaging off new insights into his life—and death. By A. R. Williams. Photographs by Kenneth Garrett. Art by Elisabeth Dayn├Ęs."

The Black Pharaohs - 3pm today UK Television

On the UK TV History channel at 3pm today (sorry for the extra stupid short notice) there is a Horizon programme as follows: "Documentary telling the story of the Black African Kingdom of Kush and its battles with ancient Egypt for supremacy of the Nile Valley. The kings of Kush ruled Egypt for 100 years and became the most powerful emperors of the ancient world. Though archaeologists were convinced Kush's influence had been underestimated, they had lacked proof until the recent discovery of an inscription in a tomb that tells of an invasion by a Kushite army" (copied from the Radio Times website at I caught it at 9am this morning and it is probably on again at some point tomorrow - they usually repeat them several times during the week. Lots of glorious footage of scenery and sites, and Derek Welsby does a good turn as the main archaeologist featured - a better than average popular archaeology documentary.

News Items in Brief

The last item on this page of the Egyptian Gazette lists a couple of short Egyptological news items.

  • The US Research Centre is cleaning and registering remains of Tow Sert temple in Luxor.
  • The French team of archaeologists excavating the Dosh site in the New Valley have reported finding a collection of ostraca that date back to the first century AD.
  • The excavating team at Dandara temple in Qena have uncovered a part of a route leading to the temple marina and parts of the sacred chapel. A wall 200 metres long and 2.3 metres high has been built to protect the temple precincts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Belzoni's Account of The Tomb of Seti I
The Travellers in Egypt website has another great crop of articles. This one is an extract from Belzoni's Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries Within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia, 1820.
It begins: "On the 16th October (1817) I recommence my excavations in the valley of Beban el Malook, and pointed out the fortunate spot, which has paid me for all the trouble I took in my researches. I may call this a fortunate day, one of the best perhaps of my life; I do not mean to say, that fortune has made me rich, for I do not consider all rich men fortunate; but she has given me that satisfaction, that extreme pleasure, which wealth cannot purchase; the pleasure of discovering what has been long sought in vain, and of presenting the world with a new and perfect monument of Egyptian antiquity, which can be recorded as superior to any other in point of grandeur, style, and preservation, appearing as if just finished on the day we entered it; and what I found in it will show its great superiority to all others. Not fifteen yards from the last tomb I described, I caused the earth to be opened at the foot of a steep hill, and under a torrent, which, when it rains, pours a great quantity of water over the very spot I have caused to be dug. No one could imagine, that the ancient Egyptians would make the entrance into such an immense and superb excavation just under a torrent of water; but I had strong reasons to suppose, that there was a tomb in that place, from indications I had observed in my pursuit."
And it gets better and better. Well worth a read!

Opening the Tomb of Tutankhamun - Photos Auctioned
On May 12th 142 press photographs of the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter are going for sale by auction at Sotheby's. The photos were taken by by Harry Burton (1879-1940): "Harry Burton had been hired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1914 to make a photographic record of ancient Egyptian monuments at Thebes and to serve as the official photographer for the Museum's excavation team. When the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922 the Museum's Egyptian Expedition offered the services of its staff to Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, and Burton spent the next eight years photographing the tomb and its treasures".

Tutankhamun killed by Gangrene
"The discovery by Egyptian scientists puts to rest the theory that the teenage pharaoh was murdered by a blow to his head. 'After consultations with Italian and Swiss experts, Egyptian scientists ... have found that a fracture in the boy king's left leg a day before his death was infected with gangrene and led to his passing,' Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said". See this short CNN article for more.

Facial reconstruction of Tutankhamun
"Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the SupremeCouncil of Antiquities (SCA), announced yesterday theresults of three independent attempts to reconstructthe face of Egypt's most famous King, Tutankhamun. Dr Hawass led the efforts to see what King Tut, whodied over 3,000 years ago, might have looked like inlife. Under his direction, three independentartist-scientist teams, one French, one American andone Egyptian, used modern forensic techniques toreconstruct Tut's face". To see the full article, you will need to scroll down this page quite a long way - it is the fifth and last item on the page, highlighted in blue. The article concludes that the reconstructions are all very similar, except in the interpretation of the ears and the end of the nose. It also has a lot of information about the CT scans already described in detail elsewhere, and says that 5 more mummies are going to be scanned as part of a 5 year project to scan all known mummies in Egypt.
Another article on the same subject, but with images (the French reconstruction, the US reconstruction and some related images, including an original scultpure of Tutankhamun, for comparison), is on the BBC website below. It points out that while the other two teams knew that they were reconstructing the head of Tutankhamun, the US team were not given the identity of the mummy.
Other sites containing much the same information are shown below. None of the sites listed below have any images of the reconstruction other than the French and Egyptian ones shown on the BBC website. None show the US reconstruction, which may appear on one of the other news sites later today - if so I'll add a link.
(Sorry that this is all so cramped together - for some reason Blogger has suddenly stopped letting me create spaced paragraphs! Hopefully this is just a temporary thing).

Tutankhamun: Reopening the FBI File (UK Television)
This is short notice, but on UK television tonight, Channel 5 are showing a programme that confronts the FBI findings three years ago with the latest data. Whether it's worth watching rather depends on how you felt about the show three years ago! Here is the blurb from the Channel 5 website describing the programme: "Historical documentary. The death of Tutankhamun at just 19 years old is a mystery that has baffled us for 3500 years. In 2002 Mike King and Greg Cooper unearthed evidence that pointed to murder, conspiracy and cover-up. Now an Egyptian scientific expedition has uncovered evidence that may indicate a natural death, forcing the FBI detectives to re-open their files to determine once and for all how the Egyptian Pharaoh really died".
7.15 - 9.00pm on Channel 5, UK television this evening.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

News on the Naqada II Harrogate Vase
"In about a week, tests will reveal whether the art on an Egyptian vase on show at the Royal Pump Room Museum is of international importance or the work of a brilliant forger.The vase itself, which shows the image of a boat carrying a body curled into a foetal position, is genuine. Two years of tests at York University have traced the object and parts of its decorative paint to 3,200BC, predating the times of the pyramids and the Pharaohs". See the article for some comments re the vase. Obviously, I will update the blog as soon as more information is available about this important artefact.

"King Tut Curse" Caused by Tomb Toxins?
Quite a fun article, looking to address the curse of the tomb of Tutankhamun: "In recent years a scientific mummy's-curse theory was offered for Carnarvon's death. Was he killed by exposure to ancient, toxic pathogens from the sealed tomb? Did they prove too much for his immune system, which was weakened by a chronic illness he had experienced before he went to Egypt?" See the article for more.

Zahi Hawss on Egypt and Archaeology
Zahi Hawass talking about just about everything - the role of Egyptology in the country's economy, the preservation of monuments and the need to control tourist numbers, on the National Geographic Channel programme about Tutankhamun, on the regulation of numbers of foreign archaeologists in Egypt, the role of Egyptian Egyptologists, the repatriation of stolen artefacts, and how he is better known than a film star. There is also a short biography of Hawass at the end of the article.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tutankhamun on TV
The National Geographic Channel is presenting a show that discusses the recent scan's results on how Tutankhamun died: "The CT scan finds loose bones inside King Tut's skull, severed ribs and a fractured left leg with a missing kneecap. Was he murdered? Or was he hurt in battle? Does the newly discovered broken leg offer clues to his death? King Tut's Final Secrets attempts to solve the mystery".

Sunday, May 08, 2005

3ft Mummy under the Scanner,1413,200~20954~2857828,00.html
"Researchers hope that more than 20,000 images taken by sophisticated scanning equipment and other technological tools at Stanford's School of Medicine will offer a detailed, three- dimensional look inside the small Egyptian mummy that has been stored at a San Jose museum for more than 70 years".

Book Review: Forgotten Africa
This book is aimed at the "general reader and beginning student; advanced undergraduates and postgraduates may find the coverage a little too basic, and in terms of these readership criteria, Connah hits the mark. Connah emphasises this approach in his introduction, and he goes on to weave a very accessible, approachable and engaging book. The coverage is vast: early hominins, regional rock art, food production and then area-specific case studies embracing everything from ancient Egypt (good to see this recognised as actually belonging to Africa), Nubia, Ethiopia and across into western Africa, the tropical rain forest and points southwards. Every major site, theme and theory is covered in an accessible manner."
This is a short extract from a much longer review on the Prehistoric Society website. See the above link for the full review.

More on Searfaring Caves at Mersa Gawasis.
"These and other discoveries at what was once a port known as Mersa Gawasis offer an unprecedented look at the earliest known sea expeditions conducted for pharaohs."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Assessment of attacks on Cairo tourism
"Will last week's terror attacks near two of Egypt's most popular tourist attractions, the Egyptian Museum and the Citadel, have an effect on the nation's most vital industry? The attacks, which left four tourists injured, took place just as Egypt was celebrating its best year of tourism ever, with a record of eight million visitors in 2004. Solidly ahead of oil, Suez Canal revenues, and remittances, tourism is Egypt's main hard currency earner at $6.5 billion per year". See article for more.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bowers Museum Mummy CT Scans
"Six of the British Museum's mummies – part of a new exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana – were recently "cat-scanned" by a team of Orange County radiologists. Some of the mummies had been scanned before, but with less advanced technology. Strudwick hoped the new scans would be more revealing". This is a detailed article about some of the mummies that have been CT scanned and are now exhibited at the Bowers Museum, with photographs.

National Geographic Feature on Abydos
Thanks to my Dad for buying me the April edition of National Geographic, which I unfortunately only picked up last week - so, sorry it's a bit late!
These pages contain the first few paragraphs of a National Geographic article about Abydos focusing on Egypt's First Pharaohs, entitled "Abydos - Life and Death at the Dawn of Egyptian Civilization", some of the accompanying photographs from the magazine, and a printable art-map.
The full magazine feature has a good summary of the role of Abydos in both early Dynastic and later times, an imaginative reconstruction of the burial procession of the Pharaoh Aha (shown on the web page), and contains the usual stunning phhotographs and artistic reconstructions, as well as some very useful maps.
This last link also has a commentary from the author of the article about his experience doing the research for the item in Egypt:

Museums with Egyptology Collections
This site was pointed out to me only recently - it contains links to museum websites with online displays of Egyptology collections. A useful resource, which is scheduled to grow.

ETANA-Abzu News
The Etana-Abzu news update from Charles Jones says that 91 items were catalogued in Abzu during April 2005. The above link lists all 91 new items.

The Saqqara Mummy In Pictures

Photographs of the new 30th Dynasty Mummy from Saqqara. It's a beauty. On the Telegraph link, you will need to click on the "Pics" link at the top of the page, underneath the title, to see the show of images.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Divine Creatures (Book Review)
Edited by Salima Ikram, the book Divine Creatures "is basically a series of essays written on the subject of animal mummies and mummification that starts by addressing the general and most accessible and then progresses to discuss the more specific and technical. These range from the reasons behind animal mummification to the detailed analysis of particular cults. The book is illustrated throughout with numerous maps of key sites, in both black and white and color, which show the sheer extent of the catacombs." See the article for more.

Fairuz Temple, Sinai
"Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni is to inaugurate late this year the temple of Fairuz in Sinai to be ready for receiving visitors after the restoration works that worth L.E. 10 million".

More on Saqqara 30th Dynasty Sarcophagus
"A superbly preserved 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brightly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday at Egypt's Saqqara Pyramids complex south of Cairo".
See the article for more information.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Oxyrhynchus: 666 is not the number of the beast
"A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616."
Read the article for the full story.

Hierakonpolis on Archaeology Magazine Site - Updated
Follow the team's stabilization and repair of King Khasekhemwy's Ceremonial Enclosure on the Archaeology Magazine's Hierakonpolis Interactive page.

Plus -
Special Report: New Finds from the Elite Cemetery
April 22, 2005 by Mark Rose

Old Kingdom Pharaonic Seals
"Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a number of rare Pharaonic seals of soldiers sent out on desert missions in search of red paint to decorate the pyramids . . . . [They] belonged to Cheops, who ruled from 2551 to 2528 BC, in whose honour the greatest of the great pyramids of Giza southwest of Cairo was built, and show Pharaonic soldiers' ranks."

30th Dynasty Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus has been found at Saqqara beneath a layer of sand, dating to the 30th Dynasty. Numerous ceramic amulets were found at the site, but they have not given any clues about the identity of the owner of the sarcophagus.

Sarabit el-Khadem Opens
"Sarabit el-Khadem, the only ancient Egyptian temple in Sinai, is scheduled to appear on tourist itineraries in the coming months. The temple, southeast of Abu Zneima city in South Sinai, was recently restored at a cost of LE 10 million. Built in homage to Hat-Hor (the lady of Turquoise) in the 12th dynasty, the temple juxtaposes a number of turquoise mining caves that were used in ancient times."

New Antiquities Law
"The Supreme Council for Antiquities is preparing a new antiquities law to replace the current one, Law 117 for the year 1983. According to Zahi Hawass, the SCA’s high-profile secretary-general, the old law is no longer suitable because the penalties it imposes for the crimes of antiquity trafficking are not strong enough. The law will be presented to the People’s Assembly when it reconvenes for its next legislative season after the anticipated fall parliamentary and presidential elections".

Recent Cairo Attacks - Impacts on Tourism
"Seven tourists were reported to be injured in Saturday's incidents, which came less than a month after a bomb near Cairo's well-visited central bazaar. Two French tourists and an American died in that attack. The government sought yesterday to play down Saturday's attacks as 'isolated'. Dr Ahmed Nazif, Egypt's prime minister said the attack did not signal the return of violent Islamist militancy. 'I do not think this will be a pattern in Egypt. I am positive that our society and the security services are able to maintain security and safety,' he said.
In spite of his reassurances, the main tourist sites of Cairo were reported to be quiet with few tourists venturing out."

I've Been Away - Apologies

I've been away for a few days, and Nancy hasn't been able to post to the Blog, so apologies for the large gap and the sudden influx of catch-up news items.