Wednesday, November 30, 2005

J.P.Simpson photographs of Egypt
Thanks very much to Jaromir Malek, Keeper of the Archive at the Griffith Institute for the following item about the J.P. Simpson photographs which show details of, amongst other things, missing and damaged scenes in TT96: "A collection of photographs taken in Egypt in 1888 by James Parker Simpson can now be consulted on the Griffith Institute's web pages, above. The photographs are the property of his great grandson, Mr Simon B. Simpson OBE and have been identified and catalogued by the Topographical Bibliography team. They contain several now destroyed or damaged scenes in TT 96 Sennufer (Le Tombeau des Vignes) and several interesting images taken in royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Copies of the photographs are now in the Archive of the Griffith Institute in Oxford and an article about the photographs taken in TT 96 will appear in the next issue of Discussions in Egyptology".

Temple of Tawosret, Luxor

Although she doesn't have any details at the moment, Jane Akshar, Luxor resident and blogger, has noticed that temple of Tawosret is being excavated. When she finds out more, I'll put up a link to her new post. Tawosret was the Great Royal Wife of Seti II and step mother of Siptah, and may have acted as regent, as Siptah was very young at the time of his father's death. It is located about half way between the temples of Thutmoses IV and Merenptah. Very little is know of this second temple, which is ruined, and the only items discovered in its ruins to date were ceramic sherds, and small stone and faience plaques.

Today in 1995 - KV5

"Some further digging in what is believed to be Egypt's largest tomb has uncovered dozens of new rooms and some new corridors that could lead to the burial chambers of the sons of a powerful pharaoh who ruled from 1279 to 1212 B.C. . . . Earlier this year, professor Kent Weeks uncovered parts of what may be the largest tomb ever found in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. Now, he's discovered two new corridors. 'These corridors, the two of them at the front of the tomb, descend in parallel downward, very steeply, at about a 35-degree angle, heading toward what we think are the burial chambers where the sons of Ramses II may have been originally interred,' Weeks said."
See the CNN archive article above for the full story.

EEF News Digest
The EEF's weekly news digest, which is the best list around for lectures, digitized publications, and exhibitions, as well as providing a roundup of the week's Egyptology news, is now online at the above address.
A couple of news highlights which I missed include:

Un encuentro con los faraones (an encounter with the pharaohs)
In Spanish, but here's a very rough translation of the introductory paragraph (see the site for details): "The notable historian Violeta Pereyra attended a conference at the UNLP. She spoke about the conservation of Theban Tomb Nº 49. It consists of a sepulchre built more than 1300 years before Christ, which is being repaired by an interdisciplinary team of Argentinian professionals.

Karnak, architecture 3D
In French, but here's yet another of my gung-ho translations (see the above page for the full item): "At the University of Montreal, a team of architects, assisted by an Egyptologist, seeks to investigate how Karnak was built. This archeological site of Ancient Egypt is the largest religious complex ever set up by the man". The brief introductory story is accompanied by a link to a video, and is followed by a link to details about the project:
The video is well worth watching even if you don't speak French - the images make everything very clear and the computer reconstructions are fascinating. It lasts for 6.30 minutes.
See the EEF website for more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ancient Egyptian Art auction at Christies

"Christie’s New York will regale lovers of the Ancient World with an Antiquities extravaganza comprising three superb sales, spread out over two consecutive sale days. On December 8, the seventh edition of the highly successful Ancient Jewelry sale will take place, offering ancient luxury with a modern look. On December 9, the traditional Antiquities sale will be preceded by Ancient Egyptian Art from the Harer Family Trust Collection, a splendid private collection of Egyptian art."
See the above web page for more details.

EES 2006 Centenary Award
For information on the Egypt Exploration Society's 2006 Centenary Award, please visit the above page on the EES's website (in pdf format). The Award is granted to a particular project or projects which are in keeping with the EES's aims and purposes (detailed on the above page), and amounts to aroun £7,500 (ukp). Details of deadlines, conditions and previous holders of the Award are also shown.

Vida y muerte en el Antiguo Egipto

A new exhibition opened on the 24th November in the Caixa Nova Cultural Centre in Vigo, Galicia (Spain), entitled 'Vida y muerte en el Antiguo Egipto. Del arte faraónico al faro de Alejandría' (Life and death in Ancient Egypt. From the art of the Pharaohs to the lighthouse of Alexandria). A rough translation of the above item is as follows. The exhibtion runs from 24th November until approximately the 8th January 2006, and consists of 300 artefacts amalgamated from private Spanish collections. The exhibition covers the history of egypt from its origins until the Graeco-Roman period with some Coptic artefacts and a collection of 17 depictions of the first explorers who arrived with Napoleon, as well as later European travellers. Standing out amongst the items are a reconstruction of the lighthouse of Alexandria based on available data, which was carefully researched. There are also three wooden sarcophagi, vaious animal mummies, jewellry, amulets, statues, funerary reliefs and a video on Egypt in the age of Cleopatra.
For the article, expressed rather more elegantly in the original Spanish, see the above web page.

A longer article, also in Spanish, with a photograph of the above-mentioned lighthouse reconstruction can be found at (on the Faro de Vigo website).

A couple of photographs of exhibits are also shown on the Cultural Centre's website at (click on the photograph of the mummy in the far right menu bar to navigate to the correct page, and then click on the individual thumbnails to see the bigger photograph).

Monday, November 28, 2005

Egypt at the Indian Museum

Development work at the Indian Museum in Calcutta has included an overhaul of the Egyptian display: "The Egyptian gallery, boasting a 5,000-year-old mummy, had already undergone a facelift with state-of-the-art preservation techniques and illuminated displays . . . . The Egyptian gallery highlights the era from 5000 BC to 300 BC, including the pre-historic era, unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and the various dynasties. Spanning roughly 1,600 sq ft, the gallery displays articles, pictures and other artefacts, with the mummy holding centrestage.
The gallery has been air-conditioned and has separate sections for different eras of the Egyptian civilisation. Special preservation methods were introduced for the mummy. . . . The gallery boasts both original artefacts from Egypt as well as miniatures and copies. The entire display is centred around a fibreglass Giza pyramid and the mummy. Various articles of daily use, like utensils, gold statues and other items, which were buried along with the mummified Egyptian pharaohs, are displayed".

See the above article on the Indian Telegraph for the full story. I had a hunt around for the Museum'w website to see if there were more details, but the only link I could find was the one below. Many of the pages are broken, and calendar/exhibition information is very out of date. If anyone knows of another and more up to date link please let me know:

Met Will Return Disputed Art to Italy

An update on Bloomberg site regarding claims for the return of illegally sold artefacts, highlighted by the Italian legal position taken against the John Paul Getty Museum: "By holding talks and demanding the return of objects, Italy aims to end collecting practices that encourage illegal excavation and to work more closely with foreign museums through joint scholarship, art loans and collaboration on legitimate archaeological digs, Buttiglione and other officials have said.

Museums are under increasing pressure to return artifacts from their collections, in part because the former antiquities curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Marion True, is on trial in Rome for handling looted art. She denies the charges. Greece said yesterday it is taking legal action to win the return of four antiquities from the Getty."
See the above web page for more.

Today in 1922 - Howard Carter's Diary
The 28th had only a short entry: "Most of this day was spent in preparing for an official opening of the tomb to take place on the morrow - the 29th. Engelbach, the Chief Inspector, returned from Kena by the midday train, came over to the Valley on his motor-cycle in the afternoon and inspected the discovery". After today, Carter's diary for the year consists mainly of a list of dignitaries who came to visit the tomb - those interested should see the above web page on the Griffiths Institute website.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Luxor Update

Jane Akshar has updated her excellent Luxor Blog with some upto the moment news regarding development plans for Luxor: "Luxor recently held a big conference to discuss the future plans for the area. The conference was attended by all the leaders in the public and security sector.

Dr Samir Farag declared at the conference he wanted everyone to understand the big picture of the master plan for the future of Luxor. There will be a number of projects that have the intention of putting Luxor in a new position on the tourism map. There are more than 25 of these projects and they cover tourism, social development, cultural works and economic development. The planning process for these projects has been finished and the money has been allocated. Some 275 billion pounds is available for 20 projects from the master plan".

For examples of some of the project under discussion, and more information, see Jane's entry at the above URL.

An Obelisk for Central Park

A fascinating article written by Edmund S. Whitman on the Travellers in Egypt website, telling the full story of the Egyptian obelisk that stands in New York's Central Park: "Shortly after the Suez Canal Inaugural of 1869, the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, had a conversation with William Henry Hurlbert, editor of the New York World. Hurlbert was an ardent advocate of closer Egyptian-American relations and he knew that the Khedive was keen to move Egyptian cotton onto the markets of the West. With cotton production in the Southern States still paralyzed following the Civil War, this might be an auspicious moment for the Khedive’s vessels to start moving cotton in New York harbor.

'A great way to open the harbor and the hearts of New York would be for Your Highness to present America with an Egyptian obelisk. After all, both London and Paris have been so honored.'
'There is no insurmountable obstacle to preclude such a gift. Have you a particular obelisk in mind?'
'Forgive the pun, Your Highness – but any old obelisk will do. There’s one hanging over the seawall in Alexandria for instance. It could readily be moved.'
'Ah yes. The so-called Cleopatra’s Needle. Yes — I think it might be arranged.'

So began a project that would spark a minor rebellion in Alexandria, cost philanthropist William Vanderbilt $102,576 and, in less than 100 years, do more damage to the misnamed obelisk than 35 centuries of wear and tear in Egypt."

See the full article on the above URL for more.

Today in 1922 - Howard Carter's Diary

Inspected tomb with electric light. Ibrahim Effendi came.

It soon became obvious that we were but on the threshold of the discovery. The sight that met us was beyond anything one could conceive. The heterogeneous mass of material crowded into the chamber without particular order, so crowded that you were obliged to move with anxious caution, for time had wrought certain havoc with many of the objects, was very bewildering. Everywhere we found traces of disorder caused by some early intruder, objects over-turned, broken fragments lying upon the floor, all added to the confusion, and the unfamiliar plan of tomb repeatedly caused us to ask ourselves in our perplexity whether it was really a tomb or a Royal Cache? As the better light fell upon the objects we endeavoured to take them in. It was impossible. They were so many. . . . . .

. . . . It was a sight surpassing all precedent, and one we never dreamed of seeing. We were astonished by the beauty and refinement of the art displayed by the objects surpassing all we could have imagined - the impression was overwhelming."

See the above page on the Griffiths Institute website for the full transcript from Carter's diary.

Nile File 1,curpg-3.cms
A short four-page travel item on the The Times of India website describing a visit to Giza, the ancient Egyptian focus on power and death and how this is now immortalized via tourism: "The temples and monuments dedicated to them fuelled the economy, creating employment for priests, artisans and labourers, all dedicated to ensuring the pharaoh's conquest of death. Personality cult? And then some. But it kept a civilisation going for 30 dynasties, not to mention johnny-come-latelys like the Greeks and Romans. It was only with the coming of the Arabs, and Islam, that the old gods yielded to a new, more demotic Allah."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Researchers to look into Victorian historical 'truths'

"Cambridge academics have scored a £1m grant to find out how much the Victorians reinvented history. Classicists, historians, philosophers and English researchers at the university will team up to decipher how pre-Victorian history has been "filtered" through Victorian eyes to see whether there is room to reinterpret everything from the debauchery of the Middle Ages to the glamour of ancient Egypt. . . . Some variations in historical interpretations that the academics will be looking at include: The were two principal discoveries of ancient Egyptian remains, in 1880 and then 1920. Each led to completely different interpretations about what life in ancient Egypt was like. In 1880 when the Victorians discovered Tutankhamun's predecessor Akhenaten, they interpreted their findings to show that the Egyptians were conservative - they emphasised how they rejected the old gods and discovered one god, as well as values of truth and beauty, respectability and honour. It was some contrast to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the 1920s which led to a glamorous reinvention of Egypt as glittery and exotic and brutal, like something out of a Hollywood film."
A short but fascinating article. See the full report on the Guardian website at the above URL.

Today in 1922 - Howard Carter's Diary

Open second doorway about 2pm. Advised Engelbach.

After clearing 9 metres of the descending passage, in about the middle of the afternoon, we came upon a second sealed doorway, which was almost the exact replica of the first. It bore similar seal impressions and had similar traces of successive reopenings and reclosings in the plastering. The seal impressions were of Tut.ankh.Amen and of the Royal Necropolis, but not in any way so clear as those on the first doorway. The entrance and passage both in plan and in style resembled almost to measurement the tomb containing the cache of Akhenaten discovered by Davis in the very near vicinity; which seemed to substantiate our first conjecture that we had found a cache.

Feverishly we cleared away the remaining last scraps of rubbish on the floor of the passage before the doorway, until we had only the clean sealed doorway before us. In which, after making preliminary notes, we made a tiny breach in the top left hand corner to see what was beyond. Darkness and the iron testing rod told us that there was empty space. Perhaps another descending staircase, in accordance to the ordinary royal Theban tomb plan? Or may be a chamber? Candles were procured - the all important tell-tale for foul gases when opening an ancient subterranean excavation - I widened the breach and by means of the candle looked in, while Ld. C., Lady E, and Callender with the Reises waited in anxious expectation.

It was sometime before one could see, the hot air escaping caused the candle to flicker, but as soon as one's eyes became accustomed to the glimmer of light the interior of the chamber gradually loomed before one, with its strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another.

There was naturally short suspense for those present who could not see, when Lord Carnarvon said to me `Can you see anything'. I replied to him Yes, it is wonderful. I then with precaution made the hole sufficiently large for both of us to see. With the light of an electric torch as well as an additional candle we looked in. Our sensations and astonishment are difficult to describe as the better light revealed to us the marvellous collection of treasures.

See the above website for the full entry in Carter's diary.

Glories of Ancient Egypt

An irreverently cheerful look at the exhibition, now at Daytona Beach: "The A new exhibit at Daytona Beach's Museum of Arts and Sciences, Glories of Ancient Egypt, really socks you in the head with exactly how besotted they were with post-life experience. It's kind of sweet, really, this feeling of someone trying to wave to you from eons and half a world away.And you can see the wave in these artifacts from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, more than 200 of them including the one that lured me in: a mummified kitten. Cat to the future. It rests in a glass case and looks a little like a potato that has grown into a somewhat lewd and funny shape. Goodbye Kitty is just one of an incredible number of funerary artifacts, including shawabtis, little figurines that did menial work for you in the afterworld (post-mortem PAs), and gold toe and nail tips for the mummies, similar in intent to fake nails people wear now. Continuing the fashion survey, one of my favorite artifacts is a beadnet dress and broadcollar (the Egyptians brought much of the stuff of life with them to their tombs). At about 4,000 years old, it looks less dated than acid-washed jeans. I also loved the kohl sticks and mirror, which came about 1,000 years later. The idea that dressing up and packing on the eyeliner has been an important custom for thousands of years is so "Circle of Life" . . . it would make me cry if I weren't afraid of wrecking my makeup and my new silk dress."

Increased tourism from January to October
Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Maghrabi said that tourism in Egypt has recorded an increase of 5.1% this year from January to October, in comparison to the same period last year. An estimated 7.2 million tourists have visited Egypt during this period. He added that tourist nights have also netted an increase of 3.8% underlining that this represents a breakthrough for Egyptian tourism. Al Maghrabi's statements were made at his meeting with an Indian press delegation comprising a host of chief editors. Al Maghrabi stated that the government is keen on cutting down of Customs and imports as well as granting facilitation for establishing trade centers on International standards, which nourished the marketing of goods in Egypt.
This is the full bulletin on the State Information Service website.

Trivia Roundup

In which aliens created the human race
"Marshall Klarfeld, independent researcher and author of Adam: The Missing Link, spoke in downtown Santa Barbara at the Karpeles Manuscript Library at 1:30 p.m. Approximately 100 people attended the event, where Klarfeld presented his theory that aliens, using genetic engineering, created the first human beings 250,000 years ago . . . . Klarfeld also referenced pyramids in Giza, Egypt, and large stones in Baalbek, Lebanon, as evidence for his theory. He said researchers do not know how ancient societies could have built such large landmarks, which suggests that they could have had some help from sources such as aliens".

Rome and Cleopatra
The television series Rome has been raising quite a few eyebrows, with scenes of violence and excess, and blending fictional and historical characters: "Many of 'Rome’s' citizens, however, do have real-life counterparts, in name only, at least. The historian Suetonius wrote that Brutus’ mother, Servilia, was indeed the love of Caesar’s life. Cleopatra did give birth to a son in 47 B.C. that Caesar accepted as his own - though Suetonius reported rumors that the child was not his. 'Rome' has great fun at Cleopatra’s expense, implying the child could have been fathered by even a lowly legionnaire. Given that DNA tests on TV have become as ubiquitous as eye exams thanks to the CSI franchise, 'Rome' reminds us of a time when you could only take the mother at her word - and maybe not at all".
This full review of Rome, now showing in the US, is available at the above URL.

Revenge of the Mummy Rollercoaster
Getting a heart-stopping fright does not have to be confined to Halloween or the post-holiday credit-card bill. Universal Studios Florida delivers the chills year-round with an attraction that incorporates Hollywood firepower, robotics and the very latest in roller-coaster technology. Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride is based on the pair of witty blockbuster horror films from Stephen Sommers -- "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns" -- starring Brendan Fraser and a regenerating corpse named Imhotep, brought to life by movie magic and actor Arnold Vosloo. Taking the place of the theme park's Kongfrontation attraction, a 16-year-old ride that gave guests an up-close-and-personal encounter with Fay Wray's sweetheart, Revenge of the Mummy has been operating for a little more than a year, but it was in development for four times that long.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rosetta Stone first translated by Mediaeval Arabic Scholars
"Since 1822 it had been thought that Champollion was the first person to break the hieroglyphic code, but a recent analysis made by an Egyptian Egyptologist based in London, Okasha El-Dali, on some mediaeval Arabic manuscripts buried among other works in libraries in Paris, Ireland, London, Istanbul and India has proved that Arabic scholars decoded hieroglyphs 1,000 year earlier. This is still more notable, as El-Dali points out, since at a time when mediaeval European scholars thought that the hieroglyphic signs were magical symbols, each representing a concept in itself, Arab scholars had grasped the fundamental principle that this writing represented sounds and ideas."
See more about Okasha el-Daly's widely discussed conclusions at the above URL on the Al Ahram website.

The rose of the Nile

"A massive restoration project is breathing new life into the long-neglected Rashid National Museum". This article focuses on the newly restored Arab Killy House, the 400-year-old residential house of Rashid's Ottoman governor, now a museum whcih exhibits the history of Rashid from the town's construction in ancient times right through to the modern era. Politics, as ever, intrudes in the form of heritage ownership issues: "Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, said the highlight of the exhibition was a life-size replica of the Rosetta Stone offered by the British Museum in response to an official request submitted by Hawass to the museum's ancient Egyptian department. The replica stone, which arrived early this week, will be on show in the museum foyer. Hawass expressed his happiness and gratitude, but said he wished to see the original Rosetta Stone back in its place of origin on special loan to the exhibition."
See the above article for more about the museum and about Hawass's attempts to repatriate significant artefacts,l including the Rosetta stone.

Investigating the death of Irt Irw
"A mystery surrounding the death of one of the Hancock Museum's ancient residents is under investigation following a visit from world renowned Egyptologist Dr Joann Fletcher. The mummy of Irt Irw, which dates back to 664-525BC, was found in a tomb near Thebes, Egypt. Estimated to be aged between 30 and 40 years old she was first unwrapped during an autopsy in 1830 by three local doctors who removed 22.5 kg of bandages from her. The autopsy did not find any conclusive evidence as to why she died. It is this unique mystery which was investigated by Dr Joann Fletcher, Dr Stephen Buckley, a biochemist researching mummification techniques and the Hancock Museum's own Egyptologist Gillian Scott . . . . This ground-breaking research is part of an international project investigating evidence of disease in ancient Egyptian mummies".
See the above web page for more.

83 Anniversary of Tutankhamun Discovery

"Egypt and Briatin next Sunday will celebrate the passing of 83 years since discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut), said Thursday Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). In a press statement, SCA's Secretary-General Dr. Zahi Hawas said Egyptian and British cultural organizations will celebrate the discovery, which was made in 1922, through a number of activities, including a screening of a documentary regarding the king who ruled Egypt during 1332-1322 BCE. The celebration at the Egyptian Museum, he explained, will include a photo exhibition of the tomb and the process of its discovery, adding that although Tutankhamun was somewhat of a minor king in comparison to other rulers, the treasures found in his tomb made him quite a noteworthy pharaoh. To share King Tut's heritage with others, 50 of the tomb's major artifacts are being shown at international exhibitions, such as in the US, Germany, Switzerland and Britain."
This is the full item on the Kuwait News Agency website.

Today in 1922 - Howard Carter's Diary

The wonderful Griffith Institute has the record of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as written in Carter's own diaries, on the above web page. The diaries start on the 28th October 1922. I thought it would be fun to mark the anniversary of the discovery by linking to extracts at the above sites over the coming days. The entry below represents the full diary entries for the 25th November, to give the full flavour, but over the next few days I will only enter extracts with links back to the above page for the full item. See the above web page for full details about this project:

"Opened first door.

Noted seals. Made photographic records, which were not, as they afterwards proved, very successful. Opened the first doorway; which comprised rough stones built up from the threshold to the lintel, plastered over on the outside face, and covered with numerous impressions from various seals of Tut.ankh.Amen and the Royal Necropolis seal. The removal of this blocking exposed the commencement of a completely blocked descending passage, the same width as the entrance staircase and rather more than 2 metres high. It was filled with its local stone and rubble, probably from its own excavation, but like the doorway it showed distinct traces of more than one filling; the mass of the filling being of clean white stone chips mingled with dust, while in the upper left hand corner a large irregular hole had been pierced through it which had been refilled with dark flint and chert stones. This coincided with reopenings and successive reclosings found on the sealed doorway.

As we cleared the passage we found mixed with the rubble broken potsherds, jar seals, and numerous fragments of small objects; water skins lying on the floor together with alabaster jars, whole and broken, and coloured pottery vases; all pertaining to some disturbed burial, but telling us nothing to whom they belonged further than by their type which was of the late XVIIIth Dyn. These were disturbing elements as they pointed towards plundering".
For more about the Griffith Institute and their excellent work see:

Zahi Hawass Dig Days: Protecting History

"The term 'site management' is often used today by Egyptologists and archaeologists, but very few people understand its meaning. They use this term because it sounds good, and also to show that they know it. Site management is a programme designed to protect archaeological sites through conservation and restoration training, and to meet tourist goals. I was fortunate to go on a scientific cruise with archaeologists from all over the world, from Tunisia to Greece, arranged by the Getty Conservation Institute. Site management was the topic of discussion. We explored theories and ideas to ensure that we conserve our historical sites; we debated and heard from the experts and learnt that for the most part they concentrated on the conservation of a tomb or a temple but neglected the surroundings -- the general area of the site. We were left with the important question: how can we protect these sites?"
See the above Al Ahram Weekly page for the full article.

More issues with Tutankhamun exhibition
Another article looking at the controversy over the ethnic origins of the ancient Egyptians, and the objections to his portrayals at the Tutankhamun exhibition. See the above web page for the full details.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Egyptologist brings lost civilisation to life

"Egypt: How a Lost Civilisation was Rediscovered by Dr Joyce Tyldesley, covers the history of Egyptology, from the end of the Dynastic age to the present, beginning with little known Egyptians who investigated the country's ancient monuments to famous archaeologists such as Howard Carter, who uncovered the resting place of the boy king, Tutankhamen."
See the full article for more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rhind Papyrus & VR Book of the Dead
"An ancient Egyptian mathematical scroll believed to be more than 3,500 years old will go on display in Wales on Thursday. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus has been lent to the University of Swansea from the British Museum for a year. Its unveiling will coincide with the first public demonstration of a draft virtual reality game inspired by the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead and developed by Swansea's School of Engineering. The Rhind Papyrus comes from a site at ancient Thebes, modern Luxor. It is believed to have been found in the tomb of a Theban official who lived around 1530 BC. It was acquired by AH Rhind in the 1850s and bought by the British Museum in 1865".
This is the complete item on the IC Wales website. For more about the Egypt Centre at the University of Swansea (southern Wales, UK) see:

Petrie's Researches in Sinai: Dates
This is the chapter from WM Flinders Petrie's Researches in Sinai in which he attempts to tie the Egyptian dynasties into the calendar: " The work at Sinai has brought to light one monument of chronological importance, and has called attention to another such record; and as no account of the present knowledge of Egyptian chronology is generally available, it seems well to give here an outline of the materials before us, the mode of applying them to the question, and the main results for the history of Egypt. As this is a subject which involves some things not commonly known, it is but natural that many people — even of those acquainted with Egyptian matters — should set it aside as being too intricate or too uncertain to be profitably considered. Yet every one has some interest in the whole question of whether Menes founded the kingdom of all Egypt five thousand years before Herodotos, or at only half that distance of time; and any one who has to deal at all with history requires some workable series of dates for reference".
It was scanned from the original 1906 edition of Flinders Petrie's Researches in Sinai (John Murray, London) and put into HTML by Peter Meyer, and was checked back against the original. See the above URL for the full chapter

EEF News Digest
The EEF's weekly news digest, which is the best list around for lectures, digitized publications, and exhibitions, as well as providing a roundup of the week's Egyptology news, is now online at the above address.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Auction of 86 antiquities halted
"The hammer didn't fall. The Attorney General has contacted authorities in Germany to put a stop to the auctioning of 86 Egyptian antiquities. It was thought that they were going to be purchased by an American dealer for export to the USA. It was the Egyptian Ambassador in Berlin who warned colleagues back home in Egypt and a team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities flew to Germany to recover the precious artifacts. The antiquities had been smuggled out of the country by brothers Farouq and Mohammed el-Shaer, Abdel-Karim Abu Shanab and others, who were recently sentenced to up to 15 years with hard labour by Cairo Criminal Court for smuggling offences. Since starting its major campaign, the SCA has managed to retrieve over 31,000 antiquities that have been smuggled out of the country since the 19th century".
This is the full bulletin on the Egyptian Gazette.

Tutankhamun - closing stats

"With a closing rush, King Tut's tally at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art reached 937,613 visitors, museum officials said Monday — the second-largest audience for any museum exhibition after the 1.25 million who saw the touring display from the Boy King's tomb that came to the museum in 1978."Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" closed at midnight Sunday, ending a three-day marathon of round-the-clock viewing. In its six-month run, the show was seen by 198,000 children (80,000 of whom came with school groups), 87,500 senior citizens and 9,700 students 18 and older, LACMA reported. Sixty-four percent of the audience came from outside Los Angeles County, according to data from periodic surveys the museum conducted, and 18% were from out of state. Although final accounting wasn't complete, LACMA President Melody Kanschat said the museum expects to reap $2.5 million in profit from its arrangement with AEG, the sports and entertainment company that organized Tut's four-city U.S. tour. Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian government's antiquities agency, said the LACMA show earned $8.6 million for his nation's ambitious conservation and museum-building projects — a tad short of his goal of $9 million. Tut's next stop is the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, where officials say that nearly 300,000 tickets have been sold for a four-month run opening Dec. 15".
This is the complete item on the website.

Plus, more on the final closing night at the exhibition on the Contra Costa Times website:

Ebay - Naqada II vase
"One of these occasional oddities that crops up on Ebay (the last one I recall was the head of an Amarna princess of disputed authenticity). This one is a Naqada II vase is being offered for sale, along with antiquities from Luristan (Iran): "Rare Egyptian Nagada II Period Red Pottery Vessel C.1650 BC.Size 12 inches high 6 inches diameter (30.5 cm high) Condition: minor repair at the top of the vessel. This is a huge vase real big and rare to get them this size. The red pottery vase on the lower part with black color toward the top. Great item. Choice patina".

Worthwhile goal for a dusty relic
"University of Pennsylvania Museum director Richard M. Leventhal wants to bring antiquities into the future. Unfortunately, despite his museum's international reputation in anthropology and archaeology, the presentation of its collection is antiquated, dusty, tired. The place just doesn't have the whiz-bang appeal expected of a 21st-century science museum. That's why Penn is wise to embark on a yearlong master plan to improve the museum, led by noted British architect David Chipperfield. The goal is to re-envision the building, top to bottom. Sure, students still cherish field trips to see the "mummy museum," whose collections on Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Etruscans and Africans fit into world history curricula. But too often, these mummy trips represent students' sole visit to the West Philadelphia landmark, which opened in 1887. 'The museum has tended not to connect itself with the public as well as it's needed to,' Leventhal said recently. 'We're not here to display art. We're here to talk about human societies' ".
See the Philadelphia Inquirer website above for more details.

World Heritage Alliance
"On the 18 November 2005 Expedia, Inc. and the United Nations Foundation announced the launch of the World Heritage Alliance, an innovative joint initiative to promotesustainable tourism and awareness of World Heritage sites and communities around the world. This partnership believes conscientious travelers can contribute directly to nature conservation, historic preservation, and poverty reduction through sustainable tourism".

Travelling back in time
Only available in the print edition: "Time Travel - The Grand Tour is here again as tourists rediscover the past". Geographical Magazine is running a feature on what draws us to travel back to ancient sites, in its December issue, with its cover image for this story featuring the Giza pyramids.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nubia's Black Pharaohs

The full article is available only to Discover subscribers, but the following teaser appars on their article (to see the full teaser click on the link above).:"Striding toward an excavation near the base of the pinnacle, archaeologist Tim Kendall pauses momentarily to admire what he calls the 'little mountain with big secrets.' Thousands of years ago, Jebel Barkal and Napata, the town that grew up around it, served as the spiritual center of ancient Nubia, one of Africa's earliest civilizations. The mountain was also considered a holy site by neighboring Egypt, whose pharaohs plundered and tyrannized Nubia for 400 years. But in the eighth century B.C., Nubia turned the tables on its former colonizers. Its armies marched 700 miles north from Jebel Barkal to Thebes, the spiritual capital of Egypt. There the Nubian king Piye became the first of a succession of five 'black pharaohs' who ruled Egypt for six decades with the blessing of the Egyptian priesthood. What happened? asks Kendall. How did the Nubians, overrun by Egypt for centuries, crush their colonizers? And why did the priests of Thebes decide the black pharaohs had a mandate from heaven? Kendall has been searching for those answers for 20 years".

The midnight hour, and Tut's a sellout
"If the Los Angeles County Museum of Art threw its doors open around-the-clock to accommodate last-minute visitors to its pricey but popular King Tut show, who would show up at 2 a.m. on the last day? The answer: Robert Boggs, 26, of Torrance. At that wee hour, Boggs stood in solemn admiration before a gray granite sculpture of Tuthmosis IV and his mother. Tuthmosis wore the usual ancient Egyptian get-up. Boggs wore a black cardboard top hat bearing the words DEAD MAN WALKING. 'This is my bachelor party,' he said in a respectful whisper. 'It's all been a huge surprise.' He was the only apparent groom-to-be in the house, but Boggs and his fellow revelers were far from alone. At an hour when most bar-hoppers are beginning to contemplate vomiting or a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's, hundreds of eleventh-hour browsers had paid $30 each to fill the museum galleries". See the article on the Los Angeles Times Calendar for the full story".

Another article on the same subject appears on the San Gabriel Valley Tribune site at:

UNESCO 60th Birthday

"UNESCO, the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation, marked its 60th anniversary last week (on Wednesday 16 November) with a call for world peace and the respect of human diversity. The constitution of the UNESCO was prepared by a conference convened in London in 1945 and UNESCO came into being on 4 November 1946. UNESCO’s primary aim is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication to make war unthinkable. Today there are 191 members and six observer status nations . . . . Meanwhile, a two-day symposium of some 60 historians, anthropologists and philosophers, gathered in the French capital to reflect on the UN body’s mission and its goals for the next five years. Born from an agreement signed by 37 countries in London, exactly 60 years ago, the UN’s cultural organisation is probably best known around the globe for its list of over 800 protected World Heritage Sites. They notably include the Abu Simbel temple complex near Aswan on the upper Nile, for which UNESCO mounted a spectacular rescue operation in the 1960s and 70s, after Egypt decided to build a dam that would have put the 3,300 year-old masterpieces under water".
See The Rising Nepal website for the full story.

Zahi Hawass: Mr X's Journey

Zahi Hawass's Egyptian Gazette column, reproduced here in full because it will be deleted from the site in a couple of days: "Tomb 55 is a ten foot shaft tomb in which we found four burial chambers, one on each side of the shaft. The entrance to the northern and western chambers had been carved, with pylons and cornices on each entrance, and the western chamber was blocked by a piece of sandstone.Inside the western chamber we discovered four mummies in poor condition, pottery vessels and a terra-cotta statue of Bes, the god of pleasure.The northern chamber contained three skeletons, pottery vessels, a copper anklet and a faience-beaded necklace with a wedjet-eye amulet (eye of the falcon god Horus) in the center.The southern and eastern chambers had not been finished or used, but we found a well-preserved mummy at the bottom of the shaft.At the end of our season, Mr. X travelled to Cairo for examination and x-rays which would ascertain causes of death, types of diseases, deformities, and dental practices during different periods of ancient Egyptian history.We prepared a wooden box for transit and packed the mummy well. It was a very emotional moment. Many questions were in my mind: Did he or she ever visit the pyramids? Is he or she unhappy about leaving home for a strange new place?On the day of our departure, Mansour asked me ÒDoctor! What will we name it? Does it already have a name?" No, I realised, it didn't. There are no inscriptions in Graeco-Roman tombs and it needed a name before the journey. So, I decided to call it Mr or Mrs X.ÓNormally, the trip from Bahariya to Cairo takes three hours but our trip took eight. Our driver carefully avoided potholes and other hazards as he carried the precious cargo.Dr Azza Sarry e-Din, a physical anthropologist for the National Research Centre examined the mummy. The mummy was a male, who died at age 35-40 years old. He has two molars removed proving that dentistry was still actively practised during the Graeco-Roman Period. After the examination of Mr. X, I got an x-ray machine for the Bahariya site in order to carry out further studies there".

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Preparing for Tutankhamun

An article on the Orlando Sentinel about the preparations that need to be made for such an important exhibition: "In preparation for what is slated to be its largest venture to date, Fort Lauderdale's museum closed its doors last month and began an extensive overhaul of its interiors and facade. A tour of the museum earlier this week revealed a hive of workers brandishing drills and hammers, and the thick smell of wood and plaster . . . . The new exhibition space and retail shop will comprise 22,000 square feet: almost all of the main galleries of the first and second floor. Renovations include a new roof and air conditioning, a mini-theater screen and an abundance of new walls and doorways. The exterior has a new coat of paint and prodigious stucco work. Apart from construction crews, 70 admaintenance and security workers have been hired and 300 positions created to serve Tut".
See the above web page for more about the preparations being carried out and the costs involved.

Thutmose III in Edinburgh

A good description of the reconstructed tomb of Thutmose III, part of the exhibition currently showing in Edinburgh: "Outside, it might look like a wooden box, but inside, it’s the burial chamber of Pharaoh Thutmose III. With its stone walls, hieroglyphs and sand-edged floor, the full-scale model puts you deep in the heart of the Valley Of The Kings. There are advantages to visiting a reproduction rather than the real thing. The original burial chamber is hot and sticky, its wall drawings protected behind plate glass. There’s no such inconvenience at the City Art Centre, though the atmosphere is punctured by the distant grinding of the gallery escalators and the chatter of the reception desk; perhaps some sort of ambient soundtrack would help". See the above URL at the Sunday Herald for more details of the tomb reconstruction. For details of the exhibition itself see the City Arts Centre website at

I have been asked by a number of people to find out where the exhibition is scheduled to travel next, if it is scheduled to travel atall. Apart from some vague references to "other venues in Europe" I have been unable to find anything at all - so if anyone has any information, please let me know.

Disagreements at the SCA

Thanks for the following piece of news from Egypt passed on to me by a friend: Last week apparently saw disagreements between Dr Zahi Hawass (Secretary General of the SCA), Dr Abdel Maksoud ( Director General of the Antiquities of the Nile Delta, SCA) and Dr Mabrouk (the Director of the Museums Sector). Following these disagreements, Mabrouk was asked to leave the museums section, Maksoud was transferred to Upper Egypt and Usama EL-Katafani was put in Maksoud's position in the Delta. However, a few days later, the Minister of Culture – Farouk Hosni - transferred Maksoud back to his old position in the Delta, and it is believed that this u-turn has caused some consternation. More news will follow if I hear anything new.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Egypt reveals its secrets
A good summary in the Orlando Sentinel of the contents of the Glories of Ancient Egypt exhibition, which opened yesterday at Daytona Beach: "The largest exhibit in the Museum of Arts and Sciences' 50-year history, a collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts that includes three mummies and spans 4,200 years, opens today. Museum officials said they have waited two years to play host to Glories of Ancient Egypt because the exhibit is in such demand. Brown & Brown Inc., a national insurance company with headquarters in Daytona Beach, has sponsored the entire $250,000 exhibit. The artifacts, many taken from the excavated burial sites of pharaohs, minor officials and ordinary citizens, are on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Its ancient Egypt collection is the oldest in the United States and considered one of the best in the world". See the above website for a description of the exhibitions and the artefacts on display.

Art installation inspired by Petrie
In the cloisters of UCL, London (UK) Sarah Beddington has transformed a security guard's kiosk into an art installation, called the Panoptiscope. "It was commissioned to mark the move in 2008 of UCL's Petrie Museum from its current location in a former stables into a custom-built gallery in the college. This will allow fuller display of 80,000 Egyptian and Sudanese artefacts in the collection of William Flinders Petrie, the noted Egyptologist who lived in Cannon Place, Hampstead. Beddington made the kiosk as inscrutable as the warder's tower by installing opaque glass panels, but these have text etched in clear characters making a perhaps deliberately awkward peepshow when illuminated from within. The extracts come from records kept by Petrie during one year of the excavations of Lahun and also inscriptions on ant-eaten fragments of papyrus".
See the above Wood&Vale 24 website for full details and opening times.

Trivia Round-Up

5-Wits Tomb
"5W!TS premier show, TOMB, now at 5W!TS-Boston, is a 40-minute interactive adventure experience set in an incredibly realistic pharaoh’s tomb in an archaeological dig site in ancient Egypt. Explore TOMB with your team, working together to overcome each of pharaoh’s challenges as you make your way through the intricate rooms toward the burial chamber. Your journey is loaded with stunning special effects, from lasers and fog, to water and air, to dazzling computer-controlled lighting and booming stereo sound. It’s like being in the movies! Success is by no means guaranteed. If your team fails you’ll learn how pharaoh deals with inferior performance. Be on the lookout, because there’s never a shortage of surprises in the TOMB! A new TOMB adventure begins every 15 minutes during peak times, and every half hour during weekdays. Tickets are available at the door for your adventure today!"
What more could a body want?? See the above URL for more details.

Scooby-Doo Meets Cleopatra
"The Cartoon Network will premiere Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy?, an all-new animated movie, on Thanksgiving Day. When archaeologist and super-sleuth Velma is in Egypt to help restore the statue of the great Sphinx, she discovers a ruby ankh necklace that once belonged to Cleopatra herself and unlocks a tomb hidden below the Sphinx. It has been said that thousands of years ago, Cleopatra sealed the tomb and set a maze of secret traps to keep the treasures of her people out of the hands of Egypt's enemies. The tomb is rumored to be protected by an ancient curse and an army of one thousand mummified warriors.To Velma's good fortune, Scooby, Shaggy, Fred and Daphne make a surprise visit to Egypt, just in time to help her uncover the ancient curse. Velma and the gang, along with their new friend Prince Omar Karam, try to stop infamous treasure seeker Dr. Amelia Von Butch from defiling the secret tomb of the pharaohs, but Von Butch's greed prevails. And when all the water in the Nile River disappears, it seems that a larger plot may be at hand. Now, Scooby and the Mystery, Inc. crew must dodge booby traps and an army of the dead as they uncover the secrets behind the curse before it's too late".

And finally:
Asterix and Obelix Mission Cleopatra
"A French connection with the Goa-hosted International Film Festival of India is being firmed up this year. New release Asterix and Obelix Mission Cleopatra will be premiered in India at the Goa IFFI 2005, with a red carpet welcome for director Alain Chabat and actor-supermodel Neomie Lenoir". It will be dubbed into Hindi. Full details on the Asia Age website, above.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Egypt to recover 100 stolen antiquities
"Egypt is to recover more than a 100 stolen antiquities, smuggled out by a massive trafficking ring, from the United States, Canada and Germany.Some of the antiquities were located after Egypt's largest-ever trafficking trial in August, which led to heavy prison sentences for seven people, antiquities chief Zahi Hawwas told the official Mena news agency on Thursday.He said members of his Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) had found some of the missing pieces on the websites of several auctioneers across the world. Hawwas explained that the pieces to be recovered from Germany has been seized by police as they were being sold to a buyer in the United States. Some stolen pharaonic antiquities were intercepted upon arrival in the United States at a San Francisco airport, while others were seized from an auction room in Canada, he added. Hawwas did not elaborate on the nature of the stolen pieces nor did he specify when they would be returned. He explained that the pieces to be recovered were smuggled out through a major trafficking operation masterminded by two Egyptian antiquities dealers.
Mohammed al-Shaer was sentenced to 55 years in jail for trafficking antiquities, corruption and encouraging SCA officials to forge documents. A relative, Faruq al-Shaer, was sentenced to 42 years for illegal possession and trafficking of antiquities".
This is the full item on the Egytian Election website.

Oblique Refractions

A fascinating article in Al Ahram Weekly about an The Edward W Said Memorial Lecture was delivered on 1 November Said's 70th birthday) visiting professor David Damrosch, a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and most recently author of What is World Literature? Normally I wouldn't have had an excuse to add this article here, but fortunately there is a chapter in What is World Literature? mentioned here - 'Love in the Necropolis,which focuses on Ancient Egyptian love poetry and its various translations: "Although this is his first visit to Egypt Damrosch started learning Hieroglyphics when he was an undergraduate and continued his studies as a graduate student in Comparative Literature. 'I was interested in both the literature and culture of the oldest continuous culture in the world,' he explains, adding that there have been two touchstones he has used as a counterbalance to Europe, the Ancient Near East, specifically Egypt and Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica. In his concluding comments in the book Damrosch reads the French savants' discovery of the Rosetta stone and Champollion's subsequent deciphering of the hieroglyphs as heralding not only the recovery of Ancient Egyptian literature but also the recovery of other long-lost Near Eastern textualities. The excitement surrounding 19th-century discoveries in the field of Egyptology, he elaborates, spurred the decipherment of cuneiform script and was to lead to the recovery of Gilgamesh".
See the above article for the full story which summarizes some of the main points in the lecture and looks at Damrosch's scholarly output. There is als a full text of his lecture on the site at:

Press Release - New book re how the pyramids were built

"In a new book, The Golden Thread of Time, Crichton Miller unravels the mystery with the artefacts that were themselves discovered in the pyramid by Waynman Dixon. For over 100 years these artefacts have remained a mystery to academics, but expert navigator and historian Crichton Miller has managed to piece together the puzzle for all to see. You see, using his unique insight in navigation, Miller was able to work out that the fragments from the pyramid were in actual fact part of an incredible measuring device - used and hidden by the ancient Egyptian priesthood to locate, measure and build structures such as the Great Pyramid".
See the Click Press website for the full press release.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pyramids bid farewell to Aida
"Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni has ordered the removal of the makeshift theatre at the Giza Pyramids, used for performances of the opera Aida. The theatre was built in 1998 as a temporary measure. This decision has come in the light of an urgent request made to the Minister by Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass to remove the theatre, as it poses a threat to this famous archaeological area. Mansour Beirk, responsible for the Pyramids Archaeological Area, stated that the dismantling of the theatre will take place in the next few weeks".
This is the entire bulletin on the Egyptian Gazette.

Mark Millmore's Ancient Egypt website
Whilst looking via Google for a website that turned out not to exist, I stumbled across the above, put together by Mark Millmore, which is very different from the usual Egyptological fare. There are all sorts of interesting sections, but the one that drew my attention is the Rebuilding Temples part of the site, where Mark has created computer simulations of what a number of temples would have looked like in the fully glory of their original colouring. There is also a nice Glyph E-Card application which allows you to write a name in hieroglyphs and email it. Finally, I really liked the section on Egyptian mathematics, with the numbering system explained and a set of problems set for different age groups.
There is a large commercial element to the site, with some of Mark's products for sale.

Moscow to host Egyptian Cultural Week
Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni approved the staging of the first Egyptian cultural week in the Russian Capital Moscow on November 17 through 24 in implementation of the directives of President Hosni Mubarak and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the importance of cementing cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No pork ban in Ancient Egypt

"Italian researchers have found a pig-related disease in a mummy, squashing a common belief that Ancient Egyptians had a dietary ban on pork .Until now historians have found evidence suggesting ancient high priests in Egypt prohibited pig meat, in common with many Middle Eastern peoples who still don't eat pork today . . . . The researchers recently found the oldest recorded case of a rare disease called cystercosis in the belly of a second-century BC mummy. Cystercosis, which can spark dangerous mood swings and epilepsy, is caused by an intestinal parasite contained in raw or poorly cooked pork".
See the above website for more details.

Egypt Interactive Exhibition

A new exhibition is coming to Birmingham (UK) with a very different slant to it: "The exhibition transports visitors on a magical mystery tour of exploration, as they take on the role of a correspondent from the fictional 'Gazette' newspaper, and are tasked with reporting on the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb, the mysterious curse, and the fate of those involved. During this interactive journey, each intrepid visitor is given a Twenties reporter's press card, allowing them to gain clues and information from computer stations set up along the way, and to help them compile the scoop of the century. As the reporters pursue their investigations, the press card tracks each visitor around the various exhibits and artefacts on display. At the end of the expedition, the reporter uses the press card to submit their findings to the editor of the 'Gazette' and receives their own, personalised front page print-out of the newspaper to take home, including all the facts and secrets uncovered along the way. . . .
There is also an amazing feature called 'Augmented Reality' – a camera that recreates one of the displayed ancient artefacts in 3D form for the visitor, projecting it onto a screen so it can be viewed and inspected without causing damage to the original piece".

See the above URL for full details about the organizers and more information about the venue.

Egyptian Cultural Bureau (London, UK)

The Egyptian Cultural Bureau in London, UK, is into its 2005/2006 programme. They don't have a website at the moment, but I have added their programme to my Egyptology Portal at the above address for anyone who is interested in attending their lectures and study days.

Tutankhamun's Last Hoorah
"It’s a 24-hour Tut party! King Tutankhamun’s last stand! First extended from November 15th until November 20th, now LACMA has announced their wildly popular Tut exhibit will stay open around the clock this weekend before closing up shop and heading to the next stop on the Pharoah’s tour, Fort Lauderdale".
See ticket details on the LAist website, above.

Ancient art influences modern icons
"The famous Faiyum portraits are named after a fertile land in Roman Egypt peopled, during the first three centuries AD by a diverse community of Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Libyans, Nubians and Jews. One of the customs of those people was to embalm the bodies of their dead and to cover their faces with either wood or linen, on which they painted the portrait of the deceased. They are the famous Faiyum portraits that commemorated the dead and which have become known today for the intensity of their sitters' expressions and the luminosity of the colors. It is this intensity of the human gazes that caught the interest of religious icon painter Adamadia Billia-Giannopoulou and threw her into a decade-long, painstaking project that involved copying the originals by using the traditional encaustic technique. More than 50 of her laborious works will be presented for a few days in «Faiyum 'Eternal Glances',» her one-woman show at the Cultural Center of the Embassy of Egypt in Athens".
See more on the Kathimerini English Edition website, above.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prehistoric museum for Qena
An article on the Egyptian Gazette about the plans for the new museum of prehistory to be housed at Qena. This was first announced earlier this year, and I posted about it on the 7th May, but this provides something of an update: "Egypt is going to have its first museum for prehistoric relics, according to a decision taken by Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni. The museum will include 1,400 archaeological treasures, currently located in the storehouse of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. An area of land has already been set aside in Qena Governorate for the construction of the museum. Qena is a very appropriate location, bearing in mind that the oldest skull ever found in Egypt was found here, while this Upper Egyptian Governorate is home to many ancient tombs and other structures. A blueprint for the museum has already been drawn up, including rooms for exhibitions about the life of prehistoric man and how the first urban communities were established. There will also be displays about the agricultural work and industries of ancient man, as well as the pottery utensils he used. Meanwhile, moving forward in history, there will be an exhibition about the life and times of the Pharaohs".
This is the complete item on the Egyptian Gazette website.

EEF News Digest
The EEF's weekly news digest, which is the best list around for lectures, digitized publications, and exhibitions, as well as providing a roundup of the week's Egyptology news, is now online at the above address.

Ambushed Nile expedition to be resumed

An historic expedition to track the course of the Nile, which was halted last week when a man was shot dead in an ambush in Uganda, is to continue. Steve Willis, of Kent, who came to the rafters' aid when they ran into trouble in Murchison Falls park where he ran a campsite, died when rebels shot at him. Three of the four-man team from Britain and New Zealand were also injured - one with a gunshot wound to the head. The team plan to continue the trip to re-measure the Nile's course next year.
For the full story see the above page on the BBC News website.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Review: Egyptian Journies with Dan Cruikshank

This is a short piece by Ian Bell, added at the end of a review on Alien Worlds, briefly looking at the most recent episode of Egypt Journies which focused on the Amarna period: "Quite what the history department would have made, meanwhile, of Dan Cruickshank is anyone's guess. When he hove into view riding on an ass last night, it looked like a director's little joke. But as he proceeded to tell the tale of the heretical pharaoh Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti, a familiar performance began to emerge.Cruickshank could gush for Britain. He can enthuse to an Olympic standard. He is not an Egyptologist, as such, and much of his series is in any case being duplicated by BBC1's Egypt, but he can become awestruck at the drop of a Panama hat, a knack that is always hard to criticise"

Excavations in the Valley - the tombs (Part 2)
Part 2 of Zahi Hawass's occasional column in the Egyptian Gazette: "In 1999, our first season of excavation, we discovered the largest undisturbed burial site, containing over ten thousand mummies. It dates to sometime after 322 B.C., when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and its use continued into the period of Roman rule and perhaps into the fourth or fifth century A.D.The entrances of these tombs lie fifteen to twenty feet below the surface. The chambers are carved into sandstone bedrock and the walls, with one minor exception, are free of decoration. These tombs are family vaults, used by generations.
There are three types of tombs: tombs with staircases, entrance shafts, and surface burials. In both the staircase and shaft tombs, the builders carved stone benches, or mastabas, on which the mummies lay, sometimes up to six bodies on each bench. The surface burials consist of a shallow hole dug into the ground large enough for one mummy. They were placed near these larger tombs so that common people could benefit from the offering and rituals made for the wealthy.
When unearthing a mummy that has been buried for 2000 years, nothing can describe its smell. Over the years, I have become accustomed to this smell and my younger colleagues are shocked that I can continue to work undisturbed. The first time my assistant, Tarek el-Awady, uncovered a mummy in Tomb I, he looked as if he was going to pass out. While digging, he came in contact with black sand, which is caused by resins and decaying materials. It is an indicator you are close to a mummy. The excitement of the discovery makes you work faster, but the closer you get the stench grows stronger. Finally, you glimpse gold and the thrill of the discovery overpowers you unfortunately, so does the smell.
Tomb I contained four mummies, and is an older tomb. The mummy found in the shaft was buried in a coffin with an anthropoid, or human-shaped lid, an earlier style of mummification. Also this is the only tomb that has inscriptions and two-coloured drawings of Anubis, the god of mummification, guarding the burial chamber".

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another pyramid-shaped hotel

First there was the Luxor in Vegas - now we are to have the Raffles Hotel in Dubai, designed in the form of a pyramid to compliment the Egyptian-themed Wafi City Mall: "Back in the early 1990s a pyramid-shaped hotel was planned to complement Wafi City’s Egyptian-themed mall. Work began on the piling for the structure but was stopped due to the outbreak of the first Gulf War. But 15 years later, construction work has recommenced on the Wafi site, in the form of Dubai’s first Raffles hotel . . . . Such is the attention to detail that the project even has its own Egyptologist on board — Dr Mahmoud Mabrook, a senior member of the archaeological museum in Cairo. He is being consulted on the hieroglyphics on the project, which all have an authentic meaning".
See the ITP business website, above, for the full story.

To see what the hotel will look like see the following URL (you will need Flash 6.0 installed, and be warned - there is music).

More on the Glories of Ancient Egypt exhibition
A description of the Glories of Ancient Egypt exhibition which is showing at Daytona for six months: "Doll-like figures manage the oars on a miniature wooden boat, and suntan-colored pigments still cling to the faces on Old Kingdom limestone low-relief carvings. And it's easy to picture the makeup palette, a small slate tray decorated on one side with delicately carved birds, piled with freshly ground tints and waiting on a lady's dressing table more than 5,000 years ago.
In glass case after glass case, beginning with Egyptian civilization before the first dynasty was established, around 3000 B.C., and moving through time to about 2000 years ago, when Egypt had fallen to Rome, the exhibit sheds light on the distant past".
See the Daytona Beach News Journal for more.

The toast of Tutankhamen,11913,1639503,00.html
The identification of red wine in the tomb of Tutankhamun really gripped the media's imagination, and stories have still been trickling through about it, all repeating the same basic information. This short piece, by well known wine authoritiy Tim Atkin, asks what the wine actually tasted like: "The frustrating thing is we don't know which grape varieties they cultivated or what the resulting wines tasted like. One thing we can be sure of is that, in the absence of sulphur dioxide, the wine would have deteriorated very rapidly in a hot climate. Even the chief vintner Khaa, who appears to have been the leading consultant oenologist of his time, would have struggled to make the kind of wine we drink today. A salt papyrus in the British Museum records the production of Shedeh, a legendary Egyptian wine, and mentions that it was heated twice. It's possible that it tasted a bit like Madeira, although it would not have been fortified, as distillation was invented at a much later date. My guess is that most of what the Egyptians drank was oxidised".
For the full story see The Observer website, above.

The Nile in Style,,2100-1866972,00.html
A two-page travel article by Andrew Thomas about choosing to cruise the Nile by felucca instead of cruise ship: "Travelling by felucca is a mixture of sailing with the wind, drifting with the current and (when both drop away) impromptu rowing, with planks used as oars. Herons and egrets swooped at our bow, and at night we moored alongside sand islands and among reeds and coots. We slept like sardines across the deck and woke at dawn to see the real things darting through the water just inches from our heads. The days — three aboard, though it seemed like more — were lazy and long, spent reading, talking and watching river life go by. While most of the big cruise ships passed in the night, occasionally one would chunter past by day, its passengers looking down at us and we up at them. They were the ones with cameras in hand, we being the more photogenic. Being photogenic comes at a price, of course".
See the above article for the full story on The Times website.

Awards for SCA officials
"The Supreme Council of Antiquities will present awards to a number of officials who have done much to boost the archaeological work of the Council. At a ceremony today, SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass will honour Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Yussef, former head of the Central Administration of the Egyptian Antiquities Authority. Yussef has contributed to the Egyptian Encyclopedia with many scientific articles, as well as writing a number of books that have been translated into other languages".
This is the complete news bulletin on the Egyptian Gazette website

Tethys Geological Society

I realize that this may be of only minor interest to most visitors, but anyone interested in the geology and early prehistory of Egypt, in particular of the Faiyum and southern Western Desert, may be interested in the abstracts on this page. The following extract is taken from Ted Maxwell's abstract for his lecture entitled Climatic Cycling And Its Effect On Landscape Modification in Southern Egypt: "The “radar rivers” of the sand sheet add complexity to the drainage history, as several scales and directions of flow can be inferred, but multiple generations of incomplete channel remnants are now superposed. Sorting out the effects of Quaternary climate change on the Late Tertiary landscape of southern Egypt will require much more dating of exposures and deposits, as well as much additional work on drainage basin morphology".
For the full abstract, other abstracts, and details of the full lecture series, see the Tethys Geological Society's web page.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt: An Account by Orac

The writer is particularly interested in the Edwin Smith medical papyrus: "This papyrus was named after the American Egyptologist who purchased it in Luxor in 1862 and brought it back to the U.S. The papyrus dates to approximately 1600 B.C. and appears to be a copy of a document that dates back 200-300 years earlier still. What fascinated me is that this papyrus was a practical guide to the treatment of various ailments and embodied the medical thinking of Egyptian physicians of the time. Even more fascinating is that the knowledge contained in the scroll was presented as several cases. Most of the cases were, as might be expected, how to deal with traumatic wounds. There are also included eight magic spells purported to protect against airborne disease, but there is also one for preventing harm from an accidentally swallowed fly". See more on the above webpage.

Wadi Hitan

An article about the prehistoric marine life in the Wadi Hitan by Hassan Saadallah. "It might be strange to know that Fayyoum, the large fertile depression in the desert, used to have a large number of whales, fish and dolphins specifically at Wadi Hitan (Valley of the Whales).It was a few months ago that Wadi Hitan was included on the UNESCO list of international natural heritage. The site which is the first Egyptian and sixth Arab one on the list will not be the last because the Ministry of Environmental Affairs is working on another 26 potential sites that could be gradually put on the list of natural heritage.Since the early 20th century, the area has been the focus of scientific attention. Studies show that Wadi Hitan incorporates 406 skeletons of whales of which 205 are complete in addition to skeletons of mammals, sharks, mermaids and dolphins.The coordinated efforts of the Geology Museum, the Geological Survey Authority, the Environmental Affairs Agency and Egyptian universities have rendered an all-embracing study of Wadi Al Hitan, which ultimately entitled the site for inclusion on the international list.Generally speaking, Egypt has joined the UNESCO agreement of international heritage in l975. According to the list, there are more than 570 accredited cultural sites across the world compared to l30 sites of natural heritage in addition to 30 sites that combines both cultural and natural heritage".
This page will only be on the Egyptian Gazette website for the next week and will change next Saturday, so to read the full article please visit it in the next few days.

Personal thanks to Sussex Egyptology Society
Massive thanks to Mick and the members of Sussex Egyptology Society for making me so very welcome - the tea and sandwiches were great and the technical support was superb! It was super to meet you, and I am very grateful for your support and the opportunity to come and talk to you. Janet - thanks for inviting me.
Thank you ALL very much indeed for a great day.


Blue blood and rosettes of Camerons
Were David Cameron ever to become Prime Minister, he and his wife Samantha would be the most aristocratic occupants of Downing Street in more than 40 years. Michael Rhodes and Political Editor Simon McGee report . . . . The aristocrats in Mr Cam-eron's blood line include numerous dukes and earls, including the Herbert Earls of Carnarvon. His cousin, the unfortunate 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was the Egyptologist who entered Tutan-khamun's tomb in 1922 and was dead within months – some say from the curse of the Pharoah".
See the Yorkshire Today website for more.

Egyptians used helicopters and airplanes?
"There is a scientific theory that says that Egyptians descended from Martians who had once visited this planet. . . . the respectable Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published several sensational photos taken in the Amon Ra Temple in Karnak. At that, the newspaper asked its readers whether they believed that ancient Egyptians knew about battle aviation. The question would have seriously puzzled readers under some different conditions. But the photos the newspaper published demonstrated the bas-reliefs of an ancient temple built under Seti I who ruled 3,000 years ago; and on the bas-reliefs an ancient artist engraved a battle helicopter with a distinct rotor and a tail unit. Nearby, the artist depicted several other aircrafts astonishingly resembling contemporary supersonic fighters and heavy strategic bombers!"
See the above URL for more information

Saturday 12th

Apologies but it is going to be a late posting today - I am away for the day but I will update the blog in the evening.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hourig Sourouzian: Resurrection

"The Colossi of Memnon, two lonely sentinels, have greeted visitors to the Theban necropolis since Roman times. More recently, as you look beyond the seated monoliths, a temple can be seen progressively re-emerging from what, to an unprofessional eye, earlier appeared as no more than slight elevations and depressions in the packed earth. In this age of advanced technology, what is officially known as The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, simply Memnon/Amenhotep III Project, under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), is casting light on a great monument that was swept away soon after its completion".
Interview by Jill Kamil on the Al Ahram Weekly website.

Archaeologists discover base of ancient lighthouse

Thanks to EEF for this news item: "French diving archeologists have discovered the foundation of the ancient lighthouse of Pharos in Alexandria, the seventh wonder of the world. The director of the Alexandria national museum, Ibrahim Darwish, said Sunday that the lighthouse, which was destroyed by two earthquakes in the 11th and 14th centuries, had occupied an area of 800 sq m north of the city's eastern harbor. The lighthouse consisted of three towers stacked one on top of the other largest to smallest and reached 120-137 meters (390-450 feet) in height. On top of the lighthouse, there was a bronze chalice holding smoldering coal. A complicated system of mirrors made it possible for travelers to see the smoldering coal from a distance of tens of kilometers (up to 60 miles). The lighthouse was built by Greek architect Sostratus for King Ptolemy II (284-246 BC). It was erected on the eastern side of the island of Pharos at the entrance to the harbor of Alexandria. Earthquakes scattered the remains of the lighthouse all over the harbor, and only now have archeologists established its exact location. In July, Governor Salam El Mahgoub called on Egyptian and international organizations to restore the lighthouse, a project that will cost $100 million".
This is the full item on the Russian News and Information Agency website.

Book Review: Sculptor's Models
Sculptor's Models: the Study of the Type and Function of a Group of Ancient Egyptian Artefacts, (Nadya Samir Tomoum, trans. Brenda Siller, Cairo: SCA Press, 2005. pp265): " This solid publication, both in terms of production and of content, is a valuable research tool on a fascinating subject. Originally begun as a dissertation for a doctoral degree in Egyptology, this work of in- depth research on an important and little-known subject, the group of tiny objects, known collectively as "sculptors' models," is so insightful and interesting that the Supreme Council of Antiquities has decided to sponsor its publication".
See the above link for more.

Women and Property
Thanks to the EEF weekly digest for pointing to this article in PDF format: Women and Property in Persian Egypt and Mesopotamia. For other articles from the proceedings of the conference Women and Property in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Societies see the following URL:

Fort Lauderdale prepares for Tutankhamun

"Fort Lauderdale (MoA/FL) MoA/FL, the second venue in the 27-month museum tour, did not sustain any damage from Hurricane Wilma, allowing preparations for the forthcoming exhibit to continue uninterrupted in the past weeks . . . . More than 250,000 tickets have been sold or reserved for the exhibit at MoA/FL, an unprecedented number for the venue. Of all tickets reserved, approximately a third of the reservations are from outside the South Florida
tri-county region".
See more on the PR Newswire website.

Divine Aura in Pudong

"For anyone interested in what life was like under the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt and what the country is like today, the Super Brand Mall in Pudong has an exhibition that may unveil some of the mysteries of the past and give an insight into modern Egypt. Divine Aura is a Sino-Egyptian photographic exhibition of pictures taken by photographers from both countries . . . . It is part of Egyptian Week at the ongoing Shanghai International Arts Festival . . . . At the show, a number of replicas of cultural relics are on display, including 21 statues, three painted limestone panels and the "Rossetta Stone" which unlocked the secrets of ancient Egypt in the 19th century.For example, there is a replica of a statue of the God Anubis found in the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amon and the face of his father, the Pharaoh Akhenaton. Another 56 pieces of handicraft are also on display".
For more see the English Eastday webpage above.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mummies Invade

An item about the Excavating Egypt exhibition currently touring the US. "One is a wrapped female - she has no name. The other is a man. A priest from the Temple of Mut at Carnak. His name is Ankhefenmut. They are two real life mummies - around 3000 years old . . . . The exhibit is called Excavating Egypt and sponsored by General Electric. It's currently on a North American tour -on loan from the Petrie Museum in London. It's considered the primary teaching collection for Egyptology in the world". See the Fox23 News website above, for more.

Ancient Egypt Magazine - December/January Issue

I could have sworn that I had already posted this, but I can't find it anywhere! So here are some of the features that will appear in teh December/January issue of Ancient Egypt magazine. I'll post will more details when they become available. The new cover image is available on the above page.
– SphinxAE: looks at the many sphinxes of ancient Egypt from the Great Sphinx at Giza to those of the Ptolemaic Period.
– The Temple of Ptah at Karnak: Charlotte Booth visits the small temple of Ptah in a corner of the Karnak site overlooked by many tourists.
– Ancient Egyptian Medicine: George M. Burden, M.D. finds evidence that the ancient Egyptians recorded some surprisingly modern case-histories and treatments for illnesses.
– Mummies at the Movies: Mark Walker examines the influence of ancient Egypt, especially the modern fascination with mummies, on the fantasy world of the Big Screen.

Tragic end to Nile exploration
An article on The Telegraph website describes how Ugandan rebels ended Neil McGrigor's expedition to follow the Nile to its source, killing a British safari operator, stealing their belongings and setting fire to their Land Rovers. They were rescued by the army. McGrigor acknowledges that taking one soldier along for security was inadequate in an area notorious as a killing ground, where the Lord's Resistance Army have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths over the last two decades.
I posted news of the expeditions plans, on this blog, at the end of September here:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Egyptian-Japanese team to locate artifacts of the New Valley
"On a 3-year mission, a research team from the National Institute for Geophysics and Astronomy, "Helwan Observatory" will resume its project to survey and determine sites to dig for monuments in the Kharga Oases region. This will be carried out in cooperation with the Computer Science Lab in Technology Institute in Tokyo as well as the Supreme Council for Antiquities. Such enterprise aims at the detection of antiquities around Al-Zaiyan Temple in Polaq district in Al-Kharga Oases, in which state-of the art-technology will be used to determine and locate significant antiquities sites. Notably, a similar field study was carried out before to locate the underground water surrounding Hebes Temple in the New Valley".
This is the complete bulletin on the State Information Service website.

Egypt foils attempt to sell 50 artifacts in Canada
"Egypt has managed to foil an attempt to sell 50 Pharaohnic artifacts at the Medousa auction in Canada, said Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni. Secretary of the National Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawwas said that the Council has been monitoring 43 auctions all over the world to trace Egyptian artifacts on sale there. Hawwas said that the Prosecutor-General was notified and the Canadian authorities contacted in order to halt the sale and have the artifacts returned to Egypt. He said that the Canadian authorities have already taken measures to impound the pieces until Egypt sends a technical and judicial committee".
This is the entire bulletin on the State Information Service website.

The Ashmolean rebuild

"Behind its elegant façade, the state of Oxford's Ashmolean has long been an embarrassment - but a £49m rebuild is about to change that, says Giles Worsley. The Ashmolean in Oxford is one of the great museum buildings of the world and arguably the most sophisticated classical building ever erected in this country. But as a modern museum it fails lamentably". See this article on The Telegraph website for more. The article provides a real insight into the problems being experienced by this important museum and art gallery, and how they are being addressed.

The Ashmo has a relatively small but very fine Egyptology collection spread throughout four galleries. Particularly notable are the Predynastic and Amarna exhibits, as well as the wonderful Taharqa temple. Further details of their plans can be found at the Ashmolean's website: