Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ancient Egyptian New Year greeted with Dance and Beer

"Many ancient Egyptians marked the first month of the New Year by singing, dancing and drinking red beer until they passed out, according to archaeologists who have unearthed new evidence of a ritual known as the Festival of Drunkenness. During ongoing excavations at a temple precinct in Luxor that is dedicated to the goddess Mut, the archaeologists recently found a sandstone column drum dating to 1470-1460 B.C. with writing that mentions the festival."
See the Discovery web page above, for the full story.


Following the elections, President Hosni Mubarak ordered Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to form a new cabinet. The reshuffle leaves the Minister for Culture (and minister responsible for the Supreme Council of Antiquities), Farouk Hosni, in his role: " Speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly's Nevine El-Aref yesterday, Hosni said that although he had publicly expressed disinterest in retaining his portfolio, his new mandate would focus on addressing the shortcomings of the past. He promised to dedicate much attention to rural areas, and stressed that new and modern cultural centres will be established. He also noted that much attention would be dedicated to youth, with an eye on rejuvenating cultural activities as part of the educational process. These efforts will run parallel to a host of heritage preservation projects".
See the above page on the Al Ahram Weekly website for the full details of the cabinet reshuffle.

Cruising the river
Travel article about a Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan: " It was a delightful trip of discovery which every Egyptian, apart from foreign tourists, should experience. One thing I noticed, which I describe as Nile ethics. It seems that the river sets its rules of conduct, based on cooperation and mutual respect. I never saw a cruise boat trying to overtake another; the way dozens of boats queued up before the Isna Lock was quite impressive. Whenever a boat passed another they exchanged greetings by blowing their sirens during the day and flickering their lights at night. I was awed by the ability of the rais of the boats, elderly or middle aged saaidis, dressed in their typical saaidi galabiyas and head gear, just as they were described in the books of the 19th century travellers".

Timeline: Egypt

Only a small chunk of Egyptology, but to celebrate the New Year, here's a chronology of Egypt from 7000BC to the present day:

"circa 7,000 BC - Settlement of Nile Valley begins. Egypt's pyramids served as tombs for her dead kings
circa 3,000 BC - Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt unite. Successive dynasties witness flourishing trade, prosperity and the development of great cultural traditions. Writing, including hieroglyphics, is used as an instrument of state. Construction of the pyramids - around 2,500 BC - is a formidable engineering achievement.
669 BC - Assyrians from Mesopotamia conquer and rule Egypt.
525 BC - Persian conquest.
332 BC - Alexander the Great, of ancient Macedonia, conquers Egypt, founds Alexandria. A Macedonian dynasty rules until 31 BC.
31 BC - Egypt comes under Roman rule; Queen Cleopatra commits suicide after Octavian's army defeats her forces.
642 AD - Arab conquest of Egypt.
969 - Cairo established as capital.
1250-1517 - Mameluke (slave soldier) rule, characterised by great prosperity and well-ordered civic institutions.
1517 - Egypt absorbed into the Turkish Ottoman empire.
1798 - Napoleon Bonaparte's forces invade but are repelled by the British and the Turks in 1801. Egypt once more becomes part of the Ottoman empire."

And much more - see the above page on the BBC website for the full chronology.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Pharaohs on the move

Nevine El-Aref looks at a year of culture and heritage in Egypt: "Tighter security and more effective protection notwithstanding, the collapse of a fragment of the Great Pyramid two weeks ago hurt no one, but prompted another round of the periodic dual campaign to inspect and restore both the outer body and inner corridors of the Pyramids. Culture Minister Hosni has dismissed the incident as representing no genuine threat . . . . He referred the collapse to environmental factors -- like erosion -- pointing out that such incidents had occasionally also taken place as a result of people illegally climbing up the Pyramids. The block that splintered is in fact one of more than a million building components weighing 0.5-5.2 tonnes each".

Adams receives Sudanese medal

"The American Professor William Y. Adams, a well-celebrated cultural anthropologist, archeologist, ethnologist, and historian was presented the Order of the Two Niles medal by the President of Sudan at the Republican Palace, Khartoum. Earlier in the 1950s, Adams led the salvation of many archeological sites that had been threatened by inundation of the Glen Canion Dam in his own country, the United States of America. In 1957-9, the UNESCO expert led the salvation of Nubia archeology from the inundation of the High Dam in Aswan. . . . Adams led for seven consecutive years an unprecedented number of scientific teams and individual researchers that helped to preserve more than 1,000 sites of the Nubian civilization, in addition to 150 newly-explored sites. The notable expert was also a consultant of the directors of the Sudanese department of antiquities".
See the above web page on the Sudan Tribune website for the full article.

Wadi el-Hitan

An article about the Eocene 406 whale fossils preserved in the Faiyum Depression at Wadi Hitan (Whale Valley), an area recently designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: "The great expanse was then dotted with lush estuaries, home to Basilosaurus whales that gathered annually to give birth in the protection of a sea channel. As the last whales with functioning feet, these ancient mammals left a grand testament to their lineage in this watery retreat. At last count, 406 whale skeletons of various species have been discovered in the area appropriately named Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)".
See the above article on the AAPG website for the full story.

Whale Valley is also featured as one of National Geographic's Top Ten News Photos of 2005:

Minerva Magazine January/February

Minerva is featuring a couple of Egypt-related articles this month (January/February 2006, Volume 17, No.1), including From Pharaohs to Emperors: Egyptian, Near Eastern & Classical Antiquities at Emory by Peter Lacovara and Jasper Gaunt, and Egypt, Greece, Rome: Rejection & Contact by Beatrix Gessler-Löhr.
For the full contents listing see the above URL.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tales of the Crypts (Sun Sentinel)
Travel piece mainly about visiting the Valley of the Kings and the Giza pyramids: "Egyptologists and other would-be experts are waving the tourist crowds away from Tutankhamun's tomb, describing it as an extra-cost disappointment. And sure enough, if this were Palm Beach, it would be like paying a $20 premium to scope out Mar-a-Lago's carriage house.Many of us make the trip anyway for bragging rights -- and it's the only tomb with a body in it. Sam Guy, an experienced traveler among our group, says that back home near Atlanta, neighbors will be more interested in his tale of Tut's tomb than the huge and more renowned Seti I caverns we just climbed through. We make a final visual scan, and huff our way back up to the surface, where humidity is only 15 percent and the sweat dries off our bodies and clothes in minutes."
See the above URL for the full two-page story.

Gerster's aerial photography

A new book about Georg Gerster's aerial photography has been published. Although Gester's work is global, he started out in Egypt and Nubia: "In Gerster's recent book, The Past From Above: Aerial Photographs of Archaeological Sites (J. Paul Getty Museum), places we've seen a thousand times in pictures from ground level take on a whole new meaning. His photographs dramatize the scale of ancient structures and show them, as if for the first time, in relation to their surroundings. Gerster, who was born in Switzerland and lives near Zurich, developed a passion for aerial photography in 1963, when, at 35, he chartered a small plane to photograph Egyptian and Sudanese sites about to be flooded by the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Since then, he has photographed sites in 108 countries and Antarctica, usually while perched in an open doorway while the plane or helicopter roars over a site".
This site requires registration details. The username is egyptnews, and the password is also egyptnews. See the above page on the OC Register website for the full story.

Flags on the Great Pyramid rejected (The Age)
A plan by Malaysia to raise its profile globally has been rejected by the Supreme Council of Antiquities: "Malaysian authorities suffered a setback today in their plan to send a 35-member team to drape Egypt's Great Pyramid at Giza with the flags of the world's 57 Muslim countries. The chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, the body responsible for the Giza site, said in Cairo that he would not allow it to be draped. . . . Hawass said he had rejected other requests to exploit the Great Pyramid in some way. He did not give details".
See the above item for full details.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back again

I'm back in London, and have resumed my usual happy status of being cuddled up to my broadband connection. Catch-up posts are below, and normal service will be resumed as from tomorrow.

I hope that those of you celebrating Christmas had a great time and are preparing happily for the New Year.

All the best

Dwarfs honoured in ancient Egypt (The Telegraph)
"The ancient Egyptians looked on dwarfs as magical figures and elevated some to the status of gods, an American doctor's study says. Dr Chahira Kozma, of Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, has used inscriptions and representations on tomb and temple walls, papyrus documents and other objects, as well as human remains, to see how achondroplasia, a cause of the most common type of dwarfism, was regarded in ancient times".
See the article for the full story.

Also at:
Science Daily:

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mummy for sale for $10m (
"Egyptian authorities arrested the owner of a souvenir shop near the pyramids plateau after receiving a tip that he had tried to sell a mummy for $10m, said a source from the Tourism and Antiquities police on Tuesday. Shop owner Ahmed al-Jabari was arrested on Monday after trying to sell items dating to the Pharoanic era, but on inspecting the premises police found no sign of the mummy in a sarcophagus that he had allegedly offered to sell earlier. Police seized from al-Jabari 126 items believed to be Pharaonic antiquities, among them 27 necklaces, the most important of which was made from gold and designed in the shape of a bird, alongside 18 amulets. In another incident of antiquities-related malfeasance, police took into custody on Monday a group of antiquities vendors who were conducting illegal digs in the desert near Minya, 250km south of Cairo. Among those taken into custody was a police officer. The number of those arrested was not being released".
Thsi is the entire item on teh website.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Magic in Ancient Egypt video

A 22 minute video in Windows Media Player or RealOne Player: "As expressed in monuments that retain their impact still today, magic and the supernatural filled the lives of ancient Egyptians. In this made-for-TAC video, television personality Fred Lewis and Field Museum Egyptologist Thomas Mudloff visit sacred and secret sites of ancient Egypt and reveal the mystery and magic of temples, pyramids, and tombs. Learn secrets of ancient magic, some still practiced today. See the tomb of the god Osiris, the entrance to the underworld, secret tunnels under the floor, and the magic of the stones themselves".

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Developing Egyptian Museum (State Information Service)
"Dr. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said a project was underway to develop the Egyptian Museum's cellar. 'The project is meant to turn the place into a modern location for exhibiting ancient Egyptian antiquities,' Hawwas said. He said that the 12-month project is being implemented in cooperation with the National Security Service, which has been helping to secure the place."
This is the complete bulletin on the SIS website.

Tut still rules

"Tut still rules: Some will claim it an authentic homage to ancient history, others will blast it as the hijacking of museums by sinister suits and big business. Wherever you stand, one thing is certain: When "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" closes its four-month run next April at the Museum of Art, hundreds of thousands will have gazed at the young pharaoh's treasures. Fort Lauderdale beat out Dallas, Houston and Seattle among other cities for the chance to host the collection of more than 130 artifacts from the tombs of Egypt's 18th Dynasty. As the museum's largest production to date, Tut should pump more than $120 million into the tills of local businesses -- further proof that even after 3,000 years, this boy is still worth his weight in gold."
There is more in the article about art in 2005, but this is the complete Egyptology reference.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Visits to Tutankhamun & update on Cairo Museum basement (Egyptian State Information Service)
Some 200,000 Americans visited Tutankhamun and the Golden age of the Pharaohs exhibition in Fort Luaderdale, Florida, USA since its inauguration last week. Florida is the second leg of the exhibition tour which covers four states. Some one million people are expected to visit the exhibition during its display in Florida, which will last for four months. . . .

Meanwhile, a team of Egyptian archaeologists discovered a new find during rejuvenations in the Egyptian Museum basement, where they found a sarcophagus of priests of Amun, the Egyptian god of life, represented as a man with a ram's head. The antique, a report of which was referred to Culture Minister Farouq Hosni, was found by chance when the museum officials were organizing the basement that houses several unregistered artifacts. Archaeologists discovered scores of boxes that have not been opened since the past century. Antiquities inside the basement date back to the centuries before Christ and amount to nearly 600 sarcophagi and 170 mummies. The Supreme Council of Antiquities started taking stock of the ancient pieces inside the basement".

Christmas Postings #2

Apologies for the fact that the blog has been idle for a week. I have been unable to get hold of an Internet connection for days, but things are back up and running for now - at least for the time being. I have backdated the blog with items that I have found, but please email me details of any I have missed so that I can add them.

One of the things that people most ask me is about what's happening with the Great Pyramid air shafts and the robot investigations - so if you are interested in this, please page back through the postings to find the relevant info.

All the best

Friday, December 23, 2005

Today in 1810

"Birth of Karl Richard Lepsius, German Egyptologist; Regarded as the founder of modern archaeology, his Egyptian Chronologies laid the foundation for a scientific treatment of early Egyptian history; he was the first to measure the Valley of the Tombs of Kings in Egypt".
This is the entire bulletin on the Vietnam News website.

P.S. I'm not doing a Saturday Trivia this week, and this is completely irrelevant to anything Egyptological, but I noticed on this web page that in 1888, on the same day that Lespius was born, Vincent van Gogh cut off a portion of his left ear :-)

Quest for the tomb of Amenhotep I

Zahi Hawass writing in his regular Dig Days slot on the Al Ahram Weekly website: "The tomb of the great 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep I, which could be supposed to lie in the Valley of the Kings, has never been found. Amenhotep I was a very important member of this dynasty, and his tomb is one of the few undiscovered so far. Up to know all the evidence suggests that he is not buried with other royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and Daniel Polz, who represents the German Institute in Cairo, believes that he is buried in the cemetery of Draa Abu Al-Naga. Polz has been excavating in this area for a long time. Three years ago, when I became secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the Polish scholar Niwinski came to see me and asked what my plans were for the following week. When I asked him why, he replied that he was going to find an intact tomb and would like me to accompany him. He was convinced that the tomb of Amenhotep I was in the cliff of Deir Al-Bahri. A year ago, I was visiting the Deir Al-Bahri area and entered the cache where the mummies were discovered by the Abdel-Rasoul family in 1871. These mummies were transferred to the Cairo Museum in 1881. While I was there, I noticed workmen removing huge stones from the cliff. I was worried because this was very dangerous work that could threaten the temple of Hatshepsut, which was directly underneath them. I learnt that this excavation was under the Polish scholar, Niwinski. The SCA permanent committee immediately stopped the work at this site to ensure the protection of the temple of Hatshepsut. Niwinski came to see me and I told him that the work above was dangerous and could ruin the first level of the temple. He said he was about to find the tomb, and we had just stopped him. . . . When we stopped the work, we felt we had no other choice because it seemed likely his search was useless and we were afraid of the damage that was being done to the cliff. However, the permanent committee met him last month and decided to give him one last chance. This time he will have specialists working with him who are trained in excavation techniques. Since this is his last chance, we hope that he will discover something that will always be remembered. Although I am not optimistic, we never know what secrets the sands of Egypt may hide."

7 Wonders - Old and New
An article about the New Seven Wonders of the world, the subject of the N7W Foundation, founded in the year 2000 by Swiss Bernard Weber. The old Seven Wonders included the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Great Pyramid -all listed in a travel guide for Athenians compiled by Philon of Byzantium. The foundation is looking for seven new wonders: "Located at the Heidi-Weber-Museum in Zurich, the foundation is in search of seven new wonders through a global voting process. . . . Weber was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote the project. He says his goal is to create seven enduring symbols of world unity while respecting and honouring the world's cultural diversity. . . . Weber says the main difference between the ancient and the modern wonders would be that the latter are chosen by millions of people from around the world instead of just one man. From June 2000 until the end of this year, people from all around the world can log on to the foundation's website and vote for their favourite choices for the new seven wonders".

Immortal Pharaoh - until January 8th

Those of you keen to see the above exhbition have until January 8th. An artilce on the Glasgow Herald provides an overview: " The exhibition begins on the upper floors of the gallery, taking you through the period of the New Kingdom and its deeply complex funerary rites and beliefs. In contrast with many Egyptian shows, the design is unfussy, bold rooms painted in single strong colours; objects sitting alone and well-lit in immaculate cases. There are fairly complex wall texts, but the priceless artefacts are still allowed to speak for themselves: tiny deities, tomb stelae and the tiny ba-bird, which was an essential element of the human soul.For children, the highlights will be two larger and more spectacular objects: an elaborately painted coffin from the 21st dynasty, deteriorated on the outside but richly decorated within, showing the Goddess of the West and the Coffin of Lady Tahai from 950 BC. In style, this is a huge change from the kinds of King Tut tack and over- ornamentation that many family exhibition designs favour these days, but then Immortal Pharaoh has impeccable credentials".

Misplaced Museum
Article on the Al Ahram Weekly site about why the Nubia Museum is visited so infrequently by tourists: "The loss of Nubia was one of the world's great tragedies. Not only did it mean the inundation of an entire land and the loss of its ancient monuments, but it uprooted an entire population from its native soil. Nubia was one of the few places remaining on earth that was unspoiled by humanity. It was a harsh and barren land to be sure, but it was one to which the people had, and indeed have until today, a strong attachment. That is why Nubians -- especially if accompanied by aged parents or grandparents who still remember the beautiful austere land in which they once dwelt -- visit the museum and come away with a sense of pride. Their self-esteem is stretched by this contact with the past. Yet, ironically, while cruises ply Lake Nasser and conduct visitors to ancient temples like those at Abu Simbel, Wadi Al-Sebua, Qasr Ibrim and others in Nubia, travel agents do not make it easy for clients to visit the museum, even though it would bring their cruise experience to life in its revelation of the ancient cultures of the lost land. And as far as Nile cruises are concerned, although they either start or end in Aswan this beautiful museum is too often bypassed".

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Well it wouldn't be Christmas without Tutankhamun . . .

General overview:

More skin colour issues:

Overview of the exhibition and its background (The Ledger Online)

Nile-themed Winterfest boat parade in Fort Lauderdale: (Sun Sentinel)

Other things to do in Fort Lauderdale if you're there for Tutankhamun (Orlando Sentinel)

Step into the world of the pharaohs

On the subject of facsimiles (inspired by Thutmosis III): "We may live in a world where many of our most treasured artworks — from Renaissance copies of Roman copies of Ancient Greek sculptures to Leonardo’s The Last Supper, so extensively restored that arguably the original no longer exists — are replicas. And yet, infused with the powerful spirit of Romanticism, we still crave the essence of the unique. Facsimiles may have their place in the funfair, but when it comes to profound feelings we demand 'authenticity'. Yet the replica can fulfil more than a mere functional role. It is not simply about the wider dissemination of ideas — though from autograph copies by Old Masters to Woolworths’ mass-market prints, the imitation has played an important part in art history. Nor is it only about the re-creation of an experience — though an oleograph hung in place of the family portrait that was flogged to pay death duties can, no doubt, prove consoling. And it is about more than conservation — though Egyptian authorities are developing plans with Factum Arte to make replica tombs in the Valley of the Kings so that both the precious originals and the valuable tourist industry can be preserved".


BASADE III (Boletin Anual De La Asociacion Andaluza De Egiptologia) has been published with the following contents (mainly in Spanish and French)
- Anselin, Alain. Conférence internationale «L'Egypte pré- et protodynastique. Les origines de l'Etat ». Toulouse (5-8 septembre 2005).
- Anselin, Alain. Un modèle zoomorphe d'orientation spatiale et temporelle en égyptien ancien.
- Gadré, Karine. Creando un equipo internacional de investigadores en Astro-Egiptología
- SARR, Mouhamadou Nissire. Cours d'eau et croyances en Egypte pharaonique et en Afrique noire
- Du Quesne, Terence. Sacred and profane in Egyptian love poetry.
- Soria Trastoy, Teresa. Fundaciones y Concesiones Reales de Tierras como factores participantes en la evolución del urbanismo del Antiguo Egipto.
- Soria Trastoy, Teresa. El Concepto de Maat y su relación con el Derecho del Egipto Faraónico
- De la Torre Suárez, Juan. Los oficios en las Ciudades de las Pirámides del Imperio Antiguo.
- De la Torre Suárez, Juan. Una estela inédita del Reino Medio.

CRE VII announced

Current Research in Egyptology (CRE) is an annual symposium held in universities in the UK for students from around the world, aiming to provide a forum for the discussion of Egyptological research currently being conducted by students at the graduate level, including archaeology, art, language, religion, science, culture and society, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of ancient Egypt. The seventh symposium will take place at Oxford University (UK) between the 6th and 8th of April 2006. More details are available at the above website. The first call for papers has just been made, so obviously no abstracts etc are appear, but I will update when they are available.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Alexandria Open Air Museum

"Pharaonic antiquities pulled from the Mediterranean will go on show in the coastal city of Alexandria in an open-air museum that is to open in the New Year, Egyptian culture officials said on Sunday. Located on the grounds of the Roman Amphitheatre, the museum will show 39 stone items, the most important of which is an obelisk from the era of Seti I who ruled in the 19th Dynasty. Other artifacts on display are a 6.5m statue of a woman, a group of small sphinxes and stone friezes with hieroglyphic carvings. The items were pulled out of the sea in 1999 just off Alexandria's coast. The area, which scientists believe suffered an earthquake in the 6th century that submerged parts of the city as well as three neighbouring cities, is thought to be a treasure trove of Greek and Roman artifacts as well.Since the opening of the Alexandria Library in 2002, the coastal city has become increasingly popular with tourists."
This is the entire item on the Cape Times website.

Also featured briefly on the Monsters and Critics website:

Egyptian puzzle of a silent embrace

An article about Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, two men sharing a single tomb: "Though not of the nobility, they were highly esteemed in the palace as the chief manicurists of the king, sometime from 2380 to 2320 B.C., in the time known as the fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. . . . . . Archaeologists were taken aback. It was extremely rare in ancient Egypt for an elite tomb to be shared by two men of apparently equal standing. . . . . And it was most unusual for a couple of the same sex to be depicted locked in an embrace. . . . . Over the years, the tomb's wall art has inspired considerable speculation. One interpretation is that the two men were brothers, probably identical twins, and this may be the earliest known depiction of twins. Another is that the men had a homosexual relationship, a more recent view that has gained support among gay advocates. Now, an Egyptologist at New York University has stepped into the debate with a third interpretation. He has marshaled circumstantial evidence that the two men might have been conjoined twins, popularly known as Siamese twins".
See the full article for more.

More on the same from the New York Times (username - egyptnews; password - egyptnews).
With photos.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Plans unveiled for $550 million museum
"Plans have been announced for the $550 million Great Egyptian Museum, to be established near the Pyramids near Cairo. It will be among the world’s largest museums, and is by far the biggest to be built from scratch. The venture is expected to attract up to five million visitors a year, slightly more than the British Museum in London, which is the world leader. There will be some 100,000 Egyptian artefacts on show (compared with the British Museum’s 80,000 displayed objects, covering all major cultures). Project director Dr Yasser Mansour told The Art Newspaper that the Great Egyptian Museum (GEM) will open in 2010. He was in London, for the Museums Association conference last month, to unveil the plans. The new museum will become the home for most of the huge collection housed at the present Egyptian Museum, in the centre of Cairo, in Tahrir Square".
See the above website for the full story.

Spain gears up for Pharaohs exhibition (Egyptian State Information Service)
"Spain is to open an exhibition of ancient Egyptian archaeology on Tuesday. The event is drawing extensive official and media attention. Spanish King and Queen are likely to open the event. The ministers of culture, information and tourism will also attend at the ceremony. The three-month exhibition is expected to contribute LE7 million to Egypt's coffers, said Wafaa al Sediq, the head of the Egyptian delegation. The 115 pieces to be showcased include a statue of Queen Hatshepsut, who bestowed the title of pharaoh on herself, and another of Queen Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaton. El-Sediq said seminars would be held on the sidelines of the exhibition for Spaniards to know more about the impact of the ancient Egyptian civilization on Western and European civilizations".
This is the complete bulletin on the State Information Service website.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Draining water from Karnak and Luxor
Luxor News Blog's Jane Akshar has reported on a recent lecture by Edwin Brock. "He talked about the project to drain the temples of Karnak and Luxor. . . . The project to drain these sites was started by Dr Hawass with the help of USAid and a Swedish company (Sveco Viac ?) at the beginning of 2005. It is surprising that the sites of Egypt are not all Unesco World Heritage sites and may be that will change one day. In the mean time these various bodies are vital to preserving Egypt’s sites. The principle problem is that the water table has risen considerable because of the increased agricultural activity and the problems with sewage and mains water".
For Jane's complete set of lecture notes, see the above URL. A second part to the lecture will be announced when a date has been confirmed.

Update re robot investigations in the Great Pyramid

Zahi Hawass speaking on his website re the next robot venture into the Great Pyramid's so-called air shafts: "I received this week a proposal for collection of the pins and debris sampling inside the shafts leading from the so-called Queen's Chamber inside the Great Pyramid from Dr. Tc Ng, an independent researcher from Hong Kong. As many know, we received a proposal for a robotic exploration of the shafts from National University in Singapore (NUS). But this proposal described devices that can developed that could be added to the NUS robot with resistible impact, that will significantly enhance the upcoming robotic exploration, by reliably collecting the pins as well as other small artifacts. The Honk Kong robots are totally self-contained and require no resources. Their umbilical wires will add negligible mass to the Singapore robot. The Honk Kong expert said to me: "they added in their robots devices that are carefully designed to protect the pyramid's shafts." He added that all of the robots have been tested on slopes up to 45 degrees, on a variety of materials, including polished limestone. However, it is known that the floor of the shafts is the region of the pins and debris is rough and as such are ideal for maximizing the grip of our miniature rovers. Now that the two robots have been studied we will make a decision soon".
See the full article on the above URL, which has some excellent photographs.

Powers of the Pyramid

"An article looking at the healing powers of the pyramid form: "The pyramid has been known from ancient times as a powerful design that connects to energy forces and its shape is identified with healing qualities. The Egyptians viewed the pyramid as a spiritual symbol because its form directs the electromagnetic energy surrounding the earth and from the stars and other planets. In metaphysical studies, its structure with four sloping sides emits positive energy that neutralises negative energy. One of its main functions is to remove or recycle stagnated and negative energy and focus harmonising energies".
Not my cup of tea, but if it is yours you can see more of the same on the above web page.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Egyptians’ stone-age roots

An article about a recent study by Joel Irish into the origins of the Badarian. "In the study, Joel Irish of the University of Alaska Fairbanks analyzed similarities among teeth from almost 1,000 people from various eras of Egyptian history and prehistory and found, he wrote, “overall population continuity” over this roughly 5,000-year span.Irish described the results in a paper in the Dec. 5 online edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. But he noted that while the finding backs up views that some archaeologists have voiced before, it’s partly at odds with some other studies of skeletal remains, so further tests are needed. The different results might stem from different sample sizes or types of data used, he wrote.To the extent that Irish found variations among the teeth, he wrote, many of those that differered most from the norm came from upper-class tombs. That, he added, suggests these nobles had become genetically somewhat apart, perhaps through inbreeding.On the whole, the findings provide a window into a poorly understood question, Irish said: Who were the ancient Egyptians? By providing a glimpse into their possible prehistory, he said, the study may help explain how the Egyptians developed their world-renowned culture, including the great pyramids that still stand.Some studies have also found genetic similarities between ancient and modern Egyptians. These results are debated, but if both they and Irish are right, Egypt’s present-day people and their pyramid-building forebears may largely be part of the same family dating back to the Stone Age".
See the full article for more, including a short overview of the Badarian.

Italian Antiquities Trial update (New York Times)
The Italian case against the J. Paul Getty Museum has been proceeding, with tempers flaring: "The charged atmosphere reflects the high profile of the trial, which is being closely watched by museums around the world. It is the first time that Italy has charged a museum official with involvement in the trade of looted objects. Italian officials hope the trial will discourage museums and collectors from buying art that appears on the market without a clear provenance".

Developing Hatshepsut and Habu templess (Egyptian State Information Service)
"Culture Minister Farouk Hosni approved the implementation of an integrated project for renovating and developing the two temples of Hatshapsut and Habu town of Luxor with costs estimated at L.E 30 million. The Hatshapsut temple renovations is undertaken in cooperation with the Polish archeological mission which started its works 40 years ago in restructuring the falling stones of the temple, it includes completing cleaning and accurate renovations of 5 royal halls, the Habu temple will be opened for visitors next year".
This is the entire item on the Egyptian State Information Service web page.

Travel highlights (Syracuse Post-Standard)
An article bulleting the key points of a trip to Egypt: "How did you get around? Airplane, bus, felucca, cruise ship, taxi, horse and buggy, camel, horse, foot.
What did you pack that came in handy? Bubble wrap (for fragile souvenirs), Handiwipes, Egyptian pound conversion cheat sheet, camera (of course), pens, candy and gum for Egyptian children, New Balance sneakers, hat.
Did you feel safe? Absolutely. Cairo is the second safest city in the world, people are kind and hospitable."
See the above article for more.

Saturday Trivia

A lot more than the usual amounts of trivia this week. I'm not sure whether it is the impact of the silly season on the media's state of mind, or simply that the sheer number of Tutankhamun articles are taking their toll on the human brain's ability to process coherent thought. Whatever the cause, here are a few choice items from last week.

Miss World 2005
OK, I confess - this is nothing to do with Egyptology, but it amused me. Briefly casting an eye over Yahoo's Anthropology and Archaeology News page last week, the following headline, topping all other articles, fairly leaped out at me: "Miss World Crown for 2005 goes to Miss Iceland". It is not that I mean any disrespect to Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir, who won the contest, but featuring her under either the category of anthropology of archaeology seemed a little bizarre, if not downright insulting. Curiosity winning out over the 1001 things I really ought to have been doing instaed, I had a look at the article to see if things became any clearer, and I assume that Yahoo's inner intelligence picked out the fact that she has her occuption down as an anthropologist. If you feel a burning need to see the item, it is on the above URL at Yahoo.

Tut Unplugged
A list of ways in which ancient Egypt has influenced modern popular culture: everything from Boris Karloff in The Mummy to the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas: " When Howard Carter cracked open that "condo made of stone-a," Tutankhamun's tomb, in November 1922 and started bringing out the boy king's fabulous funerary relics, he launched a craze that has waxed and waned but lasted in some form to this day".

Tomb it may concern (Sun Sentinel)
The touring exhibition from the point of view of Tutankhamun himself.

PC Game Review: Children of the Nile
"Basically, you are a royal family in ancient Egypt (no, not just one Pharaoh, but a line of them); the Children of the Nile are your people. So, all you have to do is get the whips out and put the slaves to work on the new tombs? Maybe a few Pyramids? Not quite that simple, the people who build Pyramids are skilled workers - Overseers, Labours, and Stone Carvers. They are just a part of the network of people who have to keep pleased, whether it is a need for bread, medical care, or to worship the gods in modest to massive temples. When people are not treated well they will emigrate, sometimes leaving you without an important social group, which can paralyse growth. The game reeks of realism, everyone, bar some children, play a part in the workings of the city, from man-servants who work for shopkeepers and woman-servants who work in the noble’s estates, to workers and their woman who buy goods in shops, to Priests who work in social services from schools to mortuaries".
See the above web page for the full review.

Ibsen magic to come alive at Egyptian pyramids
"Oslo: Norwegians have finalised plans to use the pyramids of Giza as a set for the 100th anniverary of the death of poet Henrik Ibsen to be marked next year. A concert version of the play Peer Gynt will be performed in the desert sands of Cairo in October as the grand finale after ten months of Ibsen 2006, starting Jan 16. The festivities will see the staging of his famous plays such as Nora, The Doll's House, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler and The Enemy of the People".
I don't mean to imply that anything to do with Ibsen is trivia - there are no giggles to be had in Hedda Gabler, for example. But why on earth use the pyramids for the 100th anniversary? I am clearly missing something here, and will welcome any enlightenment!

More Tutankhamun (Sun Sentinel)
Overview and visitor impressions: "Meade, like many visitors, mistakenly believed that the current show is smaller than the 70s exhibit. It's not. There were just 55 objects in the first show. This one has more than 130, but there is less emphasis on the "treasures" and more on Tut and his family". (Sun Sentinel)
A visit by the arts writer to the exhibition: " The Tut exhibit at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art follows this tack: Visitors enter a small foyer for a quick 90-second mini-flick introducing them to the show. A soundtrack of soft chanting and bells is heard. The initial gallery, "Egypt Before Tut," offers statues of lioness and serpent goddesses, ancient model boats set against a wallpapered backdrop of dunes and rivers and the green scrub that fringes Egypt's deserts. The spell is cast, but its force doesn't take hold until one arrives at the entrance to the underworld. Yes, it sounds dramatic, and it most certainly is". (Palm Beach Post)
Overview and visitor impressions (

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas postings

See today's postings below, as usual.
As from today, Friday 16th, I am all over the place until after Christmas, so apologies in advance if things become very intermittent for the next two weeks - I'm not sure what sort of Internet connections will be available. I'll be home in London some days, so there will certainly be updates. Things will be back to normal after the 29th December.
To those of you who are also celebrating the silly season, I wish you an early Happy Christmas - do have a great time.

All the best

Restoration of the temple of Amenhotep III
The above URL is in Italian - here is one of my horrible translations. I can only translate Italian from my Spanish, so if you read Italian I recommend that you visit the site. Thanks to the EEF newsletter for pointing it out.
A plan for the restoration of the temple of Amenhotep III (King of Egypt from 1411 to the 1357 BC), and its surrounding area on the left side of the Nile, near Luxor, has been initiated by the Ministry of Egyptian Culture, in collaboration with the SCA. The project also looks at the rescue of the Colossi of Memnon, gigantic stone statues that are under the risk of erosion from groundwaters raised due to agricultural irrigation. Water levels in the past have already hindered the restoration of the temple.

Antiguo Oriente 3

Antiguo Oriente 3 (2005) has now been published. As well as other features, there is a paper on cordage from Graeco-Roman Berenike (Egypt, Red Sea) by Andre Veldmeijer, including previously unpublished materials; and another on the Contendings of Horus and Seth by Marcelo Campagno.

Archaeology Magazine: Hatshepsut Review

The new edition of Archaeology Magazine has been announced. Although there's not much about Egypt there are some fascinating pieces. There's a new item on the website at the above address, which is a short review of the Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharoah, at San Francisco's rebuilt M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.

Developing the Faiyum Whales Valley area (Egypt State Information Service)
"The ministerial committee formed by Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif to develop Al-Hitan (Whales) valley area as a nature reserve held its second meeting to consider a plan for the purpose. The governor of Fayoum said that the meeting dealt with the results reached in light of recommendations submitted at the first meeting and the work program proposed since the area was declared a nature reserve by the UNESCO. Excavations of a group of fossilized whales dating back to about 40 million years were found in this area in addition to some other excavations of Sharks. Geologically the area dates back to almost 54 million years".

Tutankhamun again.

As before, I've only skimmed these, so apologies if there is any duplication. (Palm Beach Post)
Conversations with the first visitors to the Fort Lauderdale leg of the exhibition.
Exhibition launch coverage (Duluth News Tribune)
Another article looking at a different set of visitors' first reactions to the Tutankhamun exhibition. (
Short overview with some snapshots of the exhibition (click to go through all 8 pages). (
Key facts from the life of Tutankhamun, and information re practicalities of going to the exhibition, like parking. (Sun Sentinel)
More visitor reactions.

Virtual Museum of Islamic Art

This is somewhat out of the scope of this blog, but I thought it might be of interest to some visitors. Al Ahram Weekly has an article about the launch of an online virtual museum of Islamic art from around the Mediterranean, called "Hawass sees Discover Islamic Art as the richest website available to those who are interested in collecting information on Islamic civilisation. It also serves as a professional source for students and travellers who wish to explore the cultural heritage of a country renowned for its splendid ancient civilisations. Despite still being in its infant phase, the site has amassed an incredible number of hits and has been highlighted in newspapers and magazines around the world".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Foundation Deposits of Hatshepsut found at Karnak
More from Jane Akshar on her Luxor News Blog: "I spoke today to François Larché who head the Franco Egyptian team at Karnak. Rosemary, one of his team who is working in the area of the doorway and obelisk of Hatshepsut has found 2 new foundation deposit. Apparently they are having a very good season. These normally consit of miniture tools and when I asked about this I thought these were really tiny but he demonstrated a size of about a couple of feet. I do find it amazing that despite the length of time that Karnak has been known to us and with all the visitors trundling in and out they are still finding new things".

Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep II
Jane's been busy again: "There was furious activity at the temple of Amenhotep II the other day. This a mud brick temple situated next to the Ramasseum. According to the sign it is the Italian Archaeological Mission directed by Dr Angelo Sesana". She will try to find out more and will update her blog when she has some news. This posting has a photograph of the site as it is at the moment.
Ruthless plug for a friend coming up - See Jane Akshar's excellent Luxor Blog:

Was Cleopatra black?

"Watching a local television program recently, I heard Spike Lee express his belief that Queen Cleopatra of Egypt was Black. The African American hostess of the TV show agreed with Mr. Lee saying “Cleopatra certainly looked nothing like Elizabeth Taylor”. But the historical facts contradict Spike Lee’s belief. Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt [for indeed that was who Spike Lee was referring to] was definitely not Black. And since I have dared to follow in the footsteps of that literary genius, Frank Yerby who was known as ‘debunker of historical myth’, I realized that I had to marshal the proofs of Queen Cleopatra’s ancestry that would satisfy any reasonable person that she was a white European".
See the above article for the full story.

Tutankhamun - the never ending story

Hawass opens Tutankhamun exhibition (State Information Service)
"Secretary-General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawwas opens on Wednesday "Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibition" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hawwas will hold a press conference following the opening ceremony in which he will highlight the recent scientific findings by a team of Egyptian experts after inspecting the mummy of the young Pharaoh, using developed Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scanning. He said that holding the Tutankhamen exhibition in a number of US cities had scored record revenues ($ 9 million so far)".

As to the rest, I have skimmed these pages to make sure that there's nothing offensive on them, but apart from that I haven't read them - I've just about read all I can bear to on the subject. So apologies if there are replications of pages copied between online news resources.

BusinessWire wesbite summary of the exhibition (press release): (BusinessWire)

Construction work carries on over night: (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Reveling in ancient Egyptian style:

Exhibition opens to fanfare:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

First sphinx found

"Seeking to rediscover the "avenue of sphinxes", an Egyptian mission found the first Luxor 'sphinx'. Secretary-General of the Higher Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawas said that the 'sphinx' carries several carvings together with a royal "Kartouch". On his part, Samir Farag, Head of the City of Luxor, described the discovery as a turning point for Luxor".
This is the complete posting on the State Information Service website - I'm sorry that there's not more.

Research into Sinai and Red Sea

"A group of Egyptian and foreign archaeologists and university professors reviewed 30 archaeological researches on the history of Sinai and the Red Sea, at the 6th Egyptian-Italian conference held in Sharm El-Sheikh over the past three days. The conference is part of a series of Egyptian-Italian conferences organized every three years by the Egyptian Society of Graeco-Roman Studies, in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo . . . . Egypt will soon see the opening of important cultural projects including the opening of El-Arish Museum in April 2006, with a cost of LE100 million, and the Regional Sharm El-Sheikh Museum in 2007".
See the above page on the State Information Service website fore more.

Travelling to Egypt with children

A travel article focusing on the pros and cons of taking two children, aged 9 and 11, on holiday to Egypt: "For the children, the highlights were going inside the Great Pyramid, taking a camel ride across the sand, spit-roasted chicken, the felucca trip to Kitchener Island in Aswan and the cheap knick-knacks they'd bought - their bags were stuffed with papyrus notebooks, exotic head-dresses and beaded necklaces".
See the above web page on The Telegraph website for the full article.

Ancient Egypt Magazine - December/January Issue
Editor Bob Partridge has announced the contents for the the latest issue of 'Ancient Egypt' (December 2005/January 2006), which includes the following articles:
- Sphinxes in ancient Egypt: AE looks at the many sphinxes made in ancient Egypt, from the Great Sphinx at Giza right up to Greek and Roman times.
- Replicating and Egyptian relief: How an important relief of Thutmose I, now in Liverpool, was copied exactly using the latest technology.
- A Lion of Amenhotep III: In a corner of the citadel in Cairo, sits a forgotten lion of Amenhotep III, similar to others already published.
- The temple of Ptah at Karnak: Charlotte Booth visits the small an interesting temple of Ptah (built by Thutmose III with later additions) overlooked by most visitors to the great temple of Karnak.
- Ancient Egyptian Medicine. George Burden MD, discovers that ancient Egyptian Doctors knew more about their subject than most people probably realise.
- Mummies at the movies: Mark Walker looks at the mummy as portrayed in films in the last century and at the real mummies and stories which inspired the film makers.
- Black Athena: Janet Robinson sees the concept as opening up the world of ancient Egypt to many who may have felt excluded in the past.
- The Baron's Palace. A brief look at one of Cairo's more unusual monuments.
- Per Mesut: for younger readers, looks at multiplication tables,
ancient Egyptian style.

Book reviews:
- Divine Creatures: Animal mummies in Ancient Egypt, Edited by Salima Ikram
- Discussions in Egyptology 61, Edited by Alessandra Nibbi
- The Sculptor's Models of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods by Nadja Tomoum
- Egypt: How a Lost civilization was Rediscovered, by Joyce Tyldesley
- Nothing new Under the Sun, by Kay Bellinger.
- La Valle dei Riscoperta: I giornali di scavo di Victor Loret (The valley of the Kings rediscovered: the excavation journals of Victor Loret), by Patrizia Piacentini and Christian Orsenigo.
- Women Travellers in the Near East, Edited by Sarah Searight.
- Egypt at its Origins: Studies in memory of Barbara Adams. Edited by S. Hendrickx, R.F. Friedman, K.M. Cialowicz and M. Chlodnicki.

Plus all the usual features.

A feast for the ears (more Tut)

An article about the Jorge Ramos and Omar Sharif audio guides for the Tutankhamun exhibition.

Another exhibition summary can be found at: (Journal News website).

A short piece on work still to be completed for the exhibition:

Another article taking a look at the significance of the ethnic controversy: (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Fort Lauderdale's annual boat parade will have a Nile theme:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More on the outcome of the Christie's auction

This brief article on the Daily Star website provides a little more information on the limestone statue purchased by the Kimbell Art Museum, but also this coverage of the purchase of the statue of Nefertari: "Separately, Christie's sold an Egyptian black granite standard-bearing statue of Queen Nefertari, dating back to the Reign of Ramesses II, Dynasty XIX, 1290-1224 BC, for a record $2.3 million, over an undisclosed estimate. The Nefertari piece was previously bought at Christie's in 1979 for just $220,000, which was a world record at the time. This sale of ancient Egyptian artifacts was part of a larger, two-day antiquities sale".
See the above web page on the Daily Star website for the full article.
This article focuses more on the amount that items were sold for, and how this compares with previous record sale prices: "The previous world auction record for an Egyptian antiquity was £883,750 ($1,418,418) for an Egyptian sarcophagus at Christie’s in South Kensington in 2003."

10 things you might not know - and coconuts
An article on the South Florida Sun Sentinel website entited Ten things you might not know about Tutankhamun and his times. One for the kids, maybe.

Just one oddity - the article claims that the ancient Egyptians ate coconuts. I have to admit that this is a new one on me. I hunted round a few books which I have on ancient Egyptian food and drink and plant species, and found nothing. So I then had a look on Google. Various coconut websites say that coconuts are mentioned in the Sallier Papyrus. That is somewhat less than helpful given that there are a number of Sallier Papyri, but a search under the papyrus itself, both in books and on Google, brought forth various interesting odds and ends, but nothing about coconunts. So - if anyone out there knows anything about coconuts in ancient Egypt, please let me know.

Yet more on Tutankhamun exhibition - The Oxford Press
I confess that I haven't read the above. A brief skim of the page suggested that there was nothing that hasn't already been covered in previous articles, but just in case anyone has missed previous coverage of the exhibition - were you off-planet? :-) - here it is.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Four distinct groups of mummies
Zahi Hawass, on the Egyptian Gazette website: "Over our five excavation seasons, we have discovered more than 253 mummies which can be categorised into four distinct groups. The first are mummies cased with cartonnage and gold. These are the wealthy individuals, possibly the local merchants. Many of these mummies have golden masks and breastplates.

The second type are mummies wrapped in linen, the upper body is encased in cartonnage that covers the chest area and it is painted with funerary deities. These mummies are also identified by their lifelike eyes. The eyes are beautifully carved and inlaid with white marble around black obsidian pupils. Over time some of these inlaid eyes have shifted in the mask and they appear to be following you as you work. It is very unsettling!

The third type are mummies wrapped only in linen, woven into geometric patterns. There is no presence of paint or gilding. These are the middle class people.

The fourth and final type are mummies of the poorest individuals. They have been carelessly wrapped and in some cases the linen has unraveled. They are most often found in the surface tombs. Sometimes we have found just a skeleton covered with a single piece of cloth and only the two hands and the penis are wrapped separately.

Each of these mummies has its own story to tell us. Join me next week as I will tell you the story of two female mummies found in Tomb 54 that were loved for eternity".

This is the entire piece on the Egyptian Gazette website.

More on Tutankhamun at Fort Lauderdale - Palm Beach Post - Orlando Sentinel
I skimmed an eye over these, and couldn't see anything new in them, but I've posted the URLs in case anyone is keeping track of all the news articles published about the exhibition.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

A piece about the past and present of the famous Alexandrian library: "Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an attempt at engineering a rebirth of a lost inheritance and heritage, was inaugurated in 2002 and is located in the old Royal Quarter in almost exactly the same area where the first ancient library was located. Under the aegis of the Ptolemaic dynasty the ancient library of Alexandria was founded in the Third Century B.C. within the Mouseion or the temple of muses. A smaller "daughter" library was built later in the temple of Serapis (a Hellenised Egyptian deity). Both these libraries housed in the royal precinct, the Brucheion, were considered a single entity. In that period, Alexandria became a centre of book trade right across the Mediterranean and the library became a focal point of convergence for knowledge, culture and language. An academy, of sorts, where scholars with different disciplines, found a podium to debate and deliberate. Legend has it that under the Ptolemies the library was given protection from the wedges, chasms and separatist tendencies that govern politics and statehood management".
See the above article, with photos of the modern version, for the complete story about the library.

Nile File 3

Part 3 of a travel feature about the Nile, this time looking at the experience of tourism in Egypt: "I've finally figured out why otherwise fairly normal people become tourists: They are motivated by a secret desire to revert to childhood. For tourism is essentially a journey back in time. By travelling to a foreign land, with an unfamiliar language, customs, food, and sometimes even loo signs, the tourist in effect transforms himself into a child who must be led by the hand, literally and metaphorically, through this strange and potentially daunting terrain by a series of adults — guides, translators, taxi drivers, hotel staff etc — who cosset and guard him from the more egregious follies of his own inexperience".
See the above web page for more (there are four pages - click the Next link at the bottom of the page).

World of the Pharaohs
A travel article looking at Luxor and Cairo: "There's nothing like absorbing history hands-on. That's why I am enduring, er -- enjoying -- 100-degree-plus July heat, a daily dust bath, endless hassling from souvenir vendors and pushing through busloads upon busloads of tourists.
Physical challenges aside, the trip is worth it. In fact, the wealth of such unfathomably old monuments and fascinating details of such an advanced, ancient civilization are almost too much to take in. Luxor is the epicenter of a journey back to the world of the pharaohs. Located along the banks of the muddy Nile River in central Egypt, the modern town sprung up on the site of ancient Thebes, the capital of a newly unified nation 4,000 years ago. You don't have to go far to start sightseeing. In the middle of town sit the ruins of the grand Luxor Temple, built of huge blocks of stone and guarded by massive statues of the kings of the day, standing and seated with ramrod stiffness."

Book Review: Day of the False King

A fictional mystery set in ancient Egypt: "In his second adventure, Egyptian cop Semerket makes a move on a Babylonian god. Bel-Marduk is a famously curative deity sorely needed by a seriously ill Pharaoh. Ramses IV has given up on the local gods who, despite being worshipped with bountiful gifts and unstinting sacrifices, seem unable or unwilling to help. 'Death,' Ramses tells Semerket, 'gnaws at my vitals.' Why tap his Clerk of Investigations and Secrets for so critical a mission? Because Semerket is hot, having recently cracked the murder case (Year of the Hyena, 2005) that broke up a conspiracy and saved Ramses his throne and possibly his neck. The detective signs on, promising to return in good time, god in tow. Semerket, however, has his own agenda. His beloved wife Naia has disappeared in Babylon after being exiled for insufficient cause by the previous Pharaoh".

Online articles
Thanks to the Egyptologists's Electronic Forum's newsletter for pointing out two articles available online free of charge:

John F. Henry, "The Social Origins of Money: The Case of Egypt",
16 pp, in PDF, 52 kB.
An economist looks at the social and economic evolution of ancient Egypt and the introduction of a unit of account.

Bishoy Morris, "Surgery on Papyrus", in: student BMJ vol. 12
(Sept. 2004), 338-339; in PDF (179kB):
A medical student takes a look at Edwin Smith's papyrus, one of the oldest known surgical texts.

The EEF newsletter will appear online on Sunday in its usual location:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Kimbell purchases Old Kingdom statue at Christies auction

This is a really nice follow-up to yesterday's piece about the Christies auctions. The Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas) has purchased an Old Kingdom (Fifth Dynasty) limestone tomb statue, 14 inches high, showing the Overseer of Craftsmen Kanefer with his wife and son: "The Kimbell Art Museum has gone Christmas shopping in a very big way. Friday morning, the museum bought an ancient Egyptian sculpture for $2.8 million at a Christie’s auction in New York City. The price was about double the presale estimate. . . . . The sculpture, which appears to be in remarkable condition for a piece that’s more than 4,000 years old, shows vestiges of a painted surface".

It is so good to see pieces like this going to museums where they can be viewed by everyone. Best wishes to the Kimbell. For more information about the Kimbell see their website:

See the above page on the Star-Telegram website for the full story, which is accompanied by a good photograph of the statue. Another article on the same topic can be found at:

Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt
"Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, cosmetic surgery, gay hairdressers, desperate housewives and a mysterious sex manual. A new TV offering aimed at overshadowing the BBC's sex and swords drama Rome? Well, no, actually - welcome to the world of the ancient Egyptians. Their music, sex lives and cosmetic foibles are just some of the topics to be debated at Swansea University's Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt conference at the campus' Egypt Centre this month. The conference, the third the centre has organised, will welcome leading egyptologists and experts in gender from academic institutions across the world".
See the IC Wales website at the above address for the full article.

Toutankhamon Magazine
The fourth anniversary edition of the French magazine Touthankhamon is now available (issue 24). It features special guest author Claude Vandersleyen

Contents include :
- La 17e dynastie (The Seventeenth Dynasty) by Claude Vandersleyen
- Qu'est-ce que le livre des morts? (What is the Book of the Dead?)
- Seth, une longue histoire
- Aton et Akhenaton, une question politique et religieuse (Aten and Akhenaten, a question of politics and religion)
- L'exode: une fiction théologique (The Exodus: a theological fiction)
- L'obélisque de New York et ses crabes de bronze (The New York obelisk and its bronze crabs]
- Thoutmosis III le conquérant (Thutmoses III, the conqueror)
- Un Mastaba à Paris en 1900 (A Mastaba in Paris in 1900)
- Construire un temple (Building a temple)
- La cuisine de l'égypte ancienne (The kitchen of ancient Egypt)
- Voyager en Égypte (Travel in Egypt)

The next issue, number 25 is due in January 2006

More on Tutankhamun at Fort Lauderdale

This overview of the exhibition includes quotes from David Silverman, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania, and chief curator of the show, on the subject of differences between the Fort Lauderdale and LACMA approaches:
" 'What you see in Florida will be very different from the museum in Los Angeles,' Silverman says, explaining that the 5,000 additional square feet offered by the Museum of Art gave the tomb and burial gallery more space for additional photographs by Harry Burton, who accompanied Carter on his 1922 expedition. It also provided the opportunity to spotlight the differences between Tut and his father, Akhenaten.'In the LACMA version, the emphasis on Akhenaten is more about the changes he implemented in religion,' says Silverman about the king's conversion of Egypt to worship of a single deity, the sun-disk Aten."'n Fort Lauderdale, we'll have a colossal figure at one end of the gallery that's Akhenaten, and on the other, we'll have the torso of King Tut. It's made of wood and covered in stucco and plaster. It's very human-looking, especially compared to the huge statue of his father, which was meant to show power.'
See the above URL on the website for the full article.

The Mummy Who Would Be King

Thanks to Stephanie Houghton for the following item about an upcoming show and accompanying website from Nova, due to show in January 2006: "It is a tantalizing idea: could a shriveled mummy that has lain neglected on a dusty shelf in a museum at Niagara Falls be none other than the remnants of a long-lost Egyptian pharaoh? A trail of clues hints at how the looted mummy may have made its way to North America a century and a half ago. A team of archeologists from Emory University attempts to confirm its identity with the help of the latest imaging and DNA techniques. They find compelling evidence that the mummy may indeed be that of Rameses I, founder of ancient Egypt's most illustrious dynasty. At the climax of the show, the mummy is handed back to Egyptian authorities to take pride of place alongside its royal relatives in the Cairo Museum, a fitting climax to a bizarre, 3,000-year-old detective story".

The website will feature the following items:

Inquiry & Article
- Undiscovered Tombs
Could a largely intact royal tomb like that of King Tut's still lie unrevealed in the Valley of the Kings or elsewhere in Egypt? Hear what a suite of leading Egyptologists think.

- Who Was Rameses I?
Son of a soldier with not a drop of royal blood in his veins, Rameses I rose through the ranks to become the founder of Egypt's magnificent 19th Dynasty—and the first of 11 kings across two centuries to take the name Rameses.

Audio Slide Show & Interview
- Making Mummies
From the first ritual cleansing of the corpse to its elaborate burial, preparing a body for the afterlife was a process that could stretch over months. In this audio slide show, Egyptologist Salima Ikram leads us through the steps.

The Mummy Maven
- Unlike most scholars of the ancient world, Salima Ikram knows her subjects on an intimate, face-to-face basis. In this interview, Ikram sheds light on why mummification was practiced in ancient Egypt, how the practice evolved, and why—of some 70 million mummies made—very few remain intact today.

Also Links & Books and a Teacher's Guide

This is the full item on the No9va website.

Saturday Trivia - The Mummy

Mummy III
"Mummy fans have been wondering for some time now whether the next film in the campy thriller franchise would involve Egypt again. It now appears that the new Mummy villain will be Chinese . . . . The script, if genuine, was written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of Smallville. This contradicts an earlier rumor that said director Stephen Sommers was writing the script. Parts for both Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz are written in, although there's no confirmation yet that they're involved with the next film".
See the above web page for the rest of this brief piece. A review of the script is listed at:

Mummy 3D
Superscape Group plc, a publisher of 3D mobile games, has announced that new title The Mummy is now available for consumers of the T-Mobile network to download, licensed by Indiagames: "In this intriguing puzzle game, players must guide Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan and the roguish Rick O'Connell through ancient crypts and tombs, avoiding the 3000 year old Mummy, who is hell bent on mayhem and destruction". See for more details.

Mummy Returns Interactive
Mummy Returns Live is about to launch in Malaysia, beginning with Kuala Lumpur next week. "Primary Strategy Sdn Bhd expects to generate RM1.8 million in ticket sales and estimates a turnout of over 160,000 visitors from across the country during its month-long The Mummy Returns Live interactive show . . . . The interactive entertainment attraction based on the hit The Mummy and The Mummy Returns movies cost the company RM1.2 million to be brought here, its executive director Helmi Talib Abdul Talib told reporters at a media briefing in Petaling Jaya on Dec 9". See the above URL on the Edge Daily website for more.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Auctions at Christies, New York

Some ancient Egyptian items are to go under the hammer today from the Harer Family Trust Collection: "An Egyptian black granite standard bearing the statue of Queen Nefertari is the centerpiece of Egyptian Art from the Harer Family Trust Collection. It dates as far back to 1224 BC when Nefertari's husband Rammesses the second ruled. It could sell for two million dollars. . . . Another highlight is an Egyptian limestone statue of Ka-nefer and his family. Ka-nefer is depicted with his wife and son on a smaller scale by his feet. It dates back to 2323 BC and could go for 1.5 million dollars".
Greek and Roman items will also go on sale. For more details, including the full photographic catalogue with some lovely pieces shown, see

Also today, another auction is scheduled including Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities. Egyptian antiquities date from the Predynastic onwards. For the full photographic catalogue, which again includes some lovely pieces, see:

Celebrating the birthday of Tutankhamun

"As 2005 drew towards a close, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square celebrated the 83rd anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb with a gala party. This featured the opening of a landmark exhibition of 50 black and white photographs portraying the legendary discovery in 1922. The photographs, which are courtesy of the Grift Institute, Oxford, show British explorer Howard Carter at various stages of the discovery; entering the intact tomb, brushing the sand of Tut's golden sarcophagus, examining the golden mask and precious amulets decorating the mummy while a young Nubian child listens to his explanations, and walking through the Valley of the Kings with Lord Carnarvon, who funded Carter's excavations in Egypt. Portraits of Carnarvon and Carter are also on show in the exhibition, along with copies of Carter's birth and death certificates. Photographs of Tutankhamun's collection of treasures, seen piled on one side of the tomb on the day of the discovery, were also on show.

As part of the celebrations Zahi Hawass announced a new museum: "During his lecture Hawass announced that Carter's house on the Luxor West Bank would be converted into a museum to demonstrate how the great archaeologist lived while searching indefatigably for Tutankhamun's tomb".

For more details about the exhibition in Cairo, as well as a detailed description of the Golden Age of Pharaohs exhibition at Fort Lauderdale, see the above article on the Al Ahram Weekly website.

Opening the Tomb of Petamenophis and more

More about the latest news in Luxor from the wonderful Jane Akshar: "Over the last two years, a team from the University of Strasbourg, led by M. Traurecker, has been clearing the first three chambers of this huge tomb and it has just now been opened for a first official viewing. The opening was attended by many important officials from the Supreme Council and other archaeologists working in the area, such as Francesco Tiradritti. The next stage will be the cleaning, restoration and conservation of the tomb. It has important texts such as the Book of the Dead which need to be studied. In fact it is one of the most important, if not the most important, source for sacred texts during the period of Egyptian history".
See Jane's article, above, for the full details.

Jane also reports this week about the opening of Esna and Dendera to Luxor boat traffic:
"Rumour has it that any day now the authorities are going to change the rules and allow the felucca sailing boats and motor boats to go from Luxor to both Esna and Dendera. This is excellent news. As well as giving an alternative route to these locations it means you can view the sites there without limitation of time and away for convoy timings."
I'll post again when Jane has more information, which she promises to post to her blog.

Book Review: Mahfouz on Ancient Egypt

"Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz is best known for "The Cairo Trilogy," his saga about a modern Egyptian family living under British colonial rule between the two world wars. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that his first three novels — published in Arabic in 1939, 1943 and 1944 — were set in Ancient Egypt. In their pages, Mahfouz moves deftly between grand spectacle and behind-the-scenes intrigue, between lofty rhetoric and deflating remark, as he immerses you in a world where Egypt was the only reality and everything else was mere rumor." They are now available from Anchor
See the above web page on the Seattle Times website for more.

Although I could not purchase them direct from, they do appear to be available on both and are certainly available on

Dig Days: Queen Sofia of Spain

Zahi Hawass's Dig Days column in the Al Ahram Weekly this week describes Zahi's four meetings with the Queen of Spain: "Queen Sofia told me she had heard about my discovery of the tombs of the Pyramid builders, which proved that the Pyramids were built by Egyptians. The king and queen asked to see the excavation. At first I thought the visit would never happen because the security authorities did not want to accommodate the queen on the grounds that they could not secure the area because in order to get to the site we needed to pass through the village of Nazlet Al-Samman. The queen, however, insisted on seeing the site, so we left the media behind and went ahead to the excavation of the tombs of the Pyramid builders." See the full item on the Al Ahram Weekly website for more.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sinai and Red Sea conference
"Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass is to open the Sixth International Conference entitled 'The Sinai and the Red Sea from Ancient Times until the Present', which will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh from 9th to 12th December. The opening ceremony will be attended by Italian Ambassador Antonio Badini and South Sinai Governor Mustafa Afifi, as well as a number of Egyptian archaeologists. The conference will witness a number of lectures to be delivered by archaeologists from the SCA, as well as from Egyptian, Italian and British universities."
This is the complete item on the Egyptian Gazette website.

Tutankhamun Preparations

Preparations for the Fort Lauderdale exhibition are underway, and the above site has quite a few photos and a video of the work that is currently underway.
Also, see the following page for the official exhibition webpage for Fort Lauderdale.

New hotels in Giza and elsewhere

"Five-year-old Italian hotel chain Domina has filed plans with the Ministry of Tourism to build six new hotels at locations across Egypt. The plans include new resorts on the Red Sea at Taba, Marsa Alam and Ras Sidr and hotels in Heliopolis, Downtown Cairo and near the Pyramids in Giza. Domina currently operates eight hotels and resorts; its room capacity will increase to 1462 rooms when its two new Sharm El-Sheikh hotels open next month. The group’s presence in Egypt currently represents 30% of its international investments in Europe, Africa and Asia".

More on Tutankhamun ethnicity
I can't see anything new in this, but here it is in case anyone wants to check.

Back to the Blog

Hi to all

Apologies for the very intermittent postings over the last few days. I was in north Wales where I managed to get a wireless connection, but it came and went more or less at random, and was exceedingly slow. I am now back in London, and will be updating daily again. I'll be updating with the last two days' worth of news during the afternoon.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Satellites in support of World Heritage
"Last week the historic fortified town of Campeche, in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, was the centre for a Conference on the use of space technologies to conserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage, including UNESCO biosphere reserves. Experts representing more than 30 countries attended this international conference on the 'Use of Space Technologies for the Conservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage', organised by the National Institute of Anthropology and Historia (INAH) in Campeche, together with ESA, UNESCO and EURISY, a non-profit European organisation which aims to promote the use of space technologies.

The five-day Conference discussed the problems of conserving sites classified by UNESCO as 'World Heritage sites', as well as ways in which satellite images and technologies can be used as a tool to benefit conservation and detect possible risks to this heritage of humanity. . . .

Our world possesses places as unique and varied as the great pyramids of Egypt, the tombs of the Buganda kings at Kasubi in Uganda and the Komodo National Park in Indonesia. This extraordinary cultural and natural diversity is an important source of life and inspiration for humanity and its preservation is a responsibility that should be shared by the whole international community. Natural catastrophes, an excess of tourists, atmospheric contamination, acid rain and global warming are just some of the major threats to these sites. This is why, in June 2003, ESA and UNESCO decided to come together to call upon international space agencies to join the 'Open Initiative' aimed at helping developing countries improve the conservation of their World Heritage sites by using satellite images."

See the above web page for the complete article.

Visiting Dashur
A travel article about the benefits of taking the time to visit Dashur: "Nothing can dispel the wonder of the majestic pyramids at Giza, outside of Cairo--but the KFC and Pizza Hut across the street come pretty close. Then there are the hawkers trying to sell head scarves and rides on camels named Michael Jackson. Inside the Great Pyramid, what should be an impressive view of the pharaoh's final resting place is usually obstructed by hordes of sweaty, noisy tourists.

Fifteen miles south, however, at the other end of the Egyptian pyramid field, is Dahshur. It's where the ancient king Snefru built two pyramids, both of which are as intact as those raised at Giza by Snefru's son Cheops, the famous second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty. One, the Red Pyramid, is the second largest in Egypt . . . . Dahshur's second pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, changes from a 54-degree to a 43-degree slope around halfway up. It's unclear why, but a popular theory holds that Snefru realized the original plan would have been too ambitious, requiring an excessive amount of materials, so he had his builders change course in the middle of construction. Unlike the Giza pyramids, a large part of the reflective limestone casing on the Bent Pyramid is still intact, so it looks much like it did when it was erected four thousand years ago.

See the above article on the Budget Travel Online website for the full story.