Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Puzzle over statue find in Egypt

http://tinyurl.com/c52v9 (Monsters and Critics)
"A German archaeological mission stumbled on a mystery with the discovery of three partial Pharaonic statues in Luxor, Egyptian officials announced Monday, because one appears to date to a later period than most previous finds at the site. Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) announced Monday the discovery of two statues of Sakhmet, the goddess of war, as well as the head of a member of the royal family, at the temple of Amunhotep III on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, 700 kilometres south of Cairo.
The finds were made by a dig headed by Hourig Sourzian of the Friends of the Memnon Colossi association that is affiliated with the Egypt office of the German Archaeological Institute. The Sakhmet statues, which date to the New Kingdom's 18th dynasty (circa 1533-1292 B.C.), hail from the same period as most of the finds in the area. The head believed to date to the 25th dynasty (circa 760-656 B.C.) that is characterized by its Nubian features seems however out of place. In a statement by the SCA, Sourzian suggested that the head might have ended up at the location having been left there by a 19th century British dig or an illegal excavation by antiquities merchants."
See the above web page for the rest of the story, and photographs of Sakhment of the head concerned.

http://tinyurl.com/7k8pv (Mail and Guardian)
"The head of excavations in western Luxor, Ali al-Asfhar, said he believes the royal head to be the most important discovery among the three items because of the questions raised by the presence of the head at such a location. Statues of Sakhmet are relatively common, having been found at many sites, he added."

Also at:
http://tinyurl.com/d7cyq (Egypt State Information Service)

DVD Review: King Tutankhamun - The Mystery Unsealed

"One interesting point is the straightforward debunking of the entire 'curse' story, which basically gets appropriately short shrift. The one point that may cause some viewers discomfort are rare shots of the unwrapped mummy itself, which had been dismembered by Carter in order to remove it from its coffin. The film winds up with excavations of a nearby site in 1995 that had been buried by Carter's rubble from the excavations for Tut, which promised equally interesting finds. It would have been nice to include a short update on this point to let the viewer know what, if anything, has been found in the last decade."
See the above page for the full review.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Reopened IMA gallery

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is re-opening on the 5th February 2006, following the completion of a $74 million expansion project: "With works ranging from ancient Egyptian sculpture to contemporary paintings, the African Gallery encompasses more than 100 cultures and time periods. . . . One thing that sets the IMA's displays apart is the integration of contemporary African art with historical pieces, illustrating how artists have been influenced by their cultures' pasts."
See the full story on the above web page.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art can be found at:

Biggest tomb at pharonic Thebes's cemetery renovated

http://tinyurl.com/dbvs8 (Egyptian State Information Service)
"Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni has approved carrying out an urgent project to renovate and develop the biggest tomb at the Luxor Pharaonic cemetery in Thebes. The project will be implemented in cooperation with the French Strassbourg University and the French Institute for Oriental Studies. Dr. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said the project aims at reaching deep areas inside the tomb. Hawwas said the tomb dates back to the 26th Dynasty."
This is the complete item.

The second wooden panel

Zahi Hawass's occasional comment on the Egyptian Gazette website, reproduced here in full: "As we continued to excavate Tomb 26, we found the most beautiful female mummy. She wore a gilded gypsum mask, and a band of yellow and red flowers crowned by the uraeus (protective cobra) was upon her head. Her eyes were framed in black, and on her chest was a cartonnage mask covered with painted funerary scenes. Resting on her chest was her child, buried with the mother for eternity.
In another niche we found three mummies. The first was in a wooden coffin, wrapped in linen and with a cartonnage chest shield with scenes of the Book of the Dead. The second was also in a wooden box. It seemed that the gods wanted to make up for the day before when we lost the beautiful wooden panel, because here we discovered a second panel.I though that if I did not ask Salah to do the conservation, it would end his career. So I said to him, 'Come Salah. You have to know that everyone makes mistakes. Do this work again and do it well.' The mummy was that of a woman who had originally been buried in a coffin, but only the foot panel remained. This panel was more beautiful, exciting than the golden mummies. It depicted the gate of the afterlife, guarded by a cobra. The deceased, shown as a gypsum statue, is dressed in a green Roman Garment with short sleeves, long skirt, with back bands. Over this she wears a red cloak. The right leg is in stride as if she is leaving the coffin and walking through the gate into eternal life. I thanked god for letting us find a second panel and giving courage back to Salah.
But, I could not think of the golden lady, and I was upset that we had taken from her the special panel that was meant to insure her resurrection and I feel strongly that these ancient people have the right to be left in peace. However, as archaeologists, it is our job to preserve these artifacts and learn from them, and protect our heritage."

Another casualty at the Getty

"A trustee of the J. Paul Getty Trust whose donated collection to the museum included a stolen ancient Roman sculpture has resigned, officials said.The board of trustees accepted the resignation Wednesday of wealthy art collector Barbara G. Fleischman, who had been a board member since 2000 . . . . The board thanked Fleischman for her support and for substantial contributions she and her late husband, Lawrence, had made to the museum.The Getty has drawn sharp criticism from the art world in recent years as Italy and Greece claimed that looted artifacts had appeared in the Getty collection. The Getty's former antiquities curator, Marion True, is now on trial in Rome on charges alleging she conspired with dealers to traffic in looted antiquities. She has denied wrongdoing. The acquisition of the Fleischmans' collection in 1996 also stirred questions about the lack of documented ownership history for several of the pieces."
Although the items currently under discussion are mainly Roman, the museum world is watching with interest. Egypt has claims against the Getty itself, and the outcomes of the Getty case may see many claims against museums for items which have been obtained under disputed circumstances.

Travel: A child in Egypt

http://tinyurl.com/bblgw (Chicago Tribune)
A travel article written by a lady who went on holiday to Egypt with a 6 year old child, planning and following her own itinerary. One of the more interesting of the many travel items that has been floating around recently: "The tourist office in Aswan can help locate a felucca captain, but you'll need to bargain for the price and type of trip you want on your own. I got the price down to $10 for me and $7 for Joe--including meals--on a rather primitive boat: There was no toilet aboard, and we'd have to sleep on deck under the stars. (There are more comfortable--and expensive--options). We sailed with six other passengers whose patience was tested when, for the first hour, Joe kept threatening to hurl himself into the Nile. And just when I thought one of them was ready to give him a push, Joe settled down, realizing the best way to enjoy felucca travel was to recline on a pillow, take in the huge Egyptian sky and read or color a book."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Questions about the Tiy statue

http://tinyurl.com/d45jz (Forbes.com)
In this item Bryan says that the identification of the statue as Tiy may not be secure, but that it certainly represents "a major queen of Amenhotep III, which would limit the subject of the statue to Tiye, Amenhotep's mother or his daughter".

The article also addresses the fact that the statue was apparently used as building material: "A Johns Hopkins University archaeological team found a life-sized statue believed to represent Queen Tiye buried face down under the floor of the sprawling Karnak Temple site in Luxor, the ancient Egyptian royal city. The statue, which dates to between 1391 and 1352 B.C., was found under the platform of a temple of the goddess Mut, which dates to about 700 B.C. It appears to have been tossed in with rubble used to fill in the floor during that temple's later expansion, said Betsy Bryan, a professor of Egyptian art and archaeology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. 'The reason for using the statue as construction material, however, remains unknown,' Bryan said in an e-mail from Egypt."

See the above article for the full story

Quest for Immortality

Showing from January 27th to May 7th 2006, the Public Museum of Grand Rapids is hosting the exhibition Quest for Immortality: "The invitation to host this landmark exhibition in Grand Rapids for one hundred days was made recently, and is directly related to the Public Museum’s success in organizing and hosting The Dead Sea Scrolls. The exhibition has been presented in Washington, D.C., Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee and Denver and will stop here before continuing to Nashville, Portland, and Houston and several European cities. Grand Rapids is the sole host city along the New York/Chicago corridor. Highlighting masterpieces from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Luxor Museum in Luxor, formerly known as Thebes, and the archaeological sites of Tanis and Deir-el-Bahari, the exhibition includes several extraordinarily preserved artifacts that have not been publicly displayed before and many that have never been shown outside of Egypt."
See the Grand Rapids musem website, above, for more information

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, should be online later today at the above address.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ancient papyrus goes on display

"It served first as a notebook for ancient painters and then as part of a mummy's wrapping. Now, a first century B.C. parchment believed to contain the earliest cartography of the Greek-Roman era will be on display next month in the northern city of Turin. The Papyrus of Artemidorus tells a tale of more than 2,000 years of art and culture. . . .The parchment's story begins around the mid-first century B.C., when a copyist in Alexandria, Egypt, began working on a blank parchment to copy the second of 11 books by Greek geographer Artemidorus of Ephesus . . . . The parchment surfaced again in the Nile Valley, where it was used as a wrapping for a mummy, lying in the ground for 1,800 years"
The parchment, which was purchased for $3,369,850 will be on display at the Bricherasio Palace (Turin, Italy) from February 8th for three months. It may be loaned out to other collections in the future. For the full story see the above page.

More on Ancient Ship

Another article about yesterday's report on the Monsters and Critics website about the find of an ancient ship in Alexandria: "The ships' remains were found during a five-year excavation of five caves south of the Red Sea port of Safaga, about 300 miles southeast of Cairo, the chairman of the supreme council, Zahi Hawass, said in a statement late Thursday. The archaeologists, who came from Boston and East Naples universities, found Pharaonic seals from the era of Sankhkare Mentuhotep III, one of seven rulers of the 11th dynasty, which lasted from about 2133 B.C. to 1991 B.C.. They also found wooden boxes, covered with gypsum, bearing the inscription 'Wonders of the land of Punt'."

The Gifts of the Gods

"The U of S Museum of Antiquities opens a brand new exhibit, The Gifts of the Gods: Adornment in Antiquity. The Gifts of the Gods: Adornment in Antiquity is one of the U of S’s annual shifting exhibitions. These transitory exhibits are meant to highlight a certain aspect of the Museum’s collection and a certain theme drawn from the artworks and artifacts of history. And now they’re better than ever. This is, in fact, the first temporary exhibit to show in the Museum’s new location in the renovated College Building, which has allowed the Museum to escape its cramped home formerly on the second floor of the main library. Now unleashed in all its glory, most of the permanent collection is out year-round. New lighting, massive windows, and an airy ceiling magnificently showcase the collection and will highlight the pieces of the Adornment exhibit in particular—all forty-some of them! Adornment is the Museum’s specifically created collection of replicas and original pieces from the Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Medieval and Renaissance Europe." Replicas include the Nefertiti bust.
See the above page for the full story.

Saturday Trivia

Haunted Egypt
"Dahshour - it’s a place where the soldiers of the army have their trainings, soldiers who used to be their for the 45 days training said that late at night u can hear sounds of guns and sounds of people screaming and from the balcony they can see ghosts of the army who totally died in this place it was a big team and they were erased ,they say that they can see them walking and doing their exercises." And lots more of the same!

Karnak on Ice
"A NEW bar made out of ice should have no problem keeping the beer cold. The bar is part of a 20,000-square-meter park made out of snow and ice that will open in the city on Saturday and operate for a year. More than 1,000 tons of transparent ice cubes were piled up to create the crystal kingdom near the Longhua Temple in Xuhui District. Besides enjoying a cold drink, visitors will be able to check out ice replicas of some of the world's most famous buildings, sculptures and historical sites, such as terra cotta warriors in Xi'an, St. Peter's Abbey in Rome, the Karnak Temple in Thebes, and Red Square in Moscow. Standing beside the European spires and ancient Egyptian columns are several farm houses typical of those found in northeast China. Sheep walk leisurely in the front yards, and chickens play happily."

Role of Nefertiti nominated
"American director John Hayman has nominated young Egyptian actress Muna Zaki for a leading role in the upcoming film "Nefertiti", which was written by Egyptian archeological researcher Ahmad Otham, who resides in England. The events of the film revolve around the time of Nefertiti’s reign over Egypt and after the death of her husband the Pharaoh Akhnaton.
The scenario of the film has faced many criticism because it discusses the point of view of the writer who published a thesis entitled 'Mouses and Akhnaton' stating that he is certain Akhnaton is the holy prophet Moses, reported the Egyptian daily Al Akhbar."

Night at the Museum
http://tinyurl.com/9t2g3 (Monsters and Critics)
"Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney are embracing their dark sides. The aged actors have signed up to play villains in the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy ‘Night at the Museum’. The Hollywood Reporter says they’ll play colleagues of Ben Stiller, who plays a security guard trapped in a museum when a magical pharaoh’s tablet on display brings the exhibits to life. Van Dyke and Rooney play other security guards on the same detail who want to get the tablet from Stiller and use it to make themselves young."

Adventurer follows in steps of the army of Cambyses
"The route that Signor Miglietti followed through the so-called Great Sand Sea — from the Farafra oasis in southern Egypt to the Siwa oasis in the north — has always been considered impossible for a man carrying his own food and water. According to legend, Cambyses II, the Persian king, foolishly tried to take the same route in 523 BC, setting off with a 50,000-strong army. Herodotus, the Greek author, writes that Cambyses and his men were swallowed up in sandstorms and never seen again. Signor Miglietti, 38, who runs an electrical components business, was so fascinated by the king’s ill-fated journey that he decided to try it. Before setting off a week ago, pulling a 200lb cart loaded with supplies, he was warned by Tuareg desert nomads that his plan was madness. Five days, 23 hours later, with blistered feet and severe stomach cramps, he arrived at Siwa."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Queen Tiy

A short article on the Al Ahram website, reproduced in full here, offering a couple of new details: "A beautiful black granite statue of Queen Tiye, mother of the monotheistic king Akhnaten, was unearthed last Monday in Luxor, reports Nevine El-Aref. At Karnak's Mut Temple, a John Hopkins University archaeological mission stumbled upon the statue while brushing sand off the temple's second hall. 'The statue is mostly intact,' said Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who added that although the 160cm tall statue has a broken arm and a missing leg, it was still considered very well preserved. It features a standing Queen Tiye wearing a wig and a cobra-decorated crown. Initial examinations revealed that the back of the statue is engraved with two columns of hieroglyphic text bearing different titles of king Amenhotep III, who ruled for 38 years during the 18th Dynasty. According to Sabri Abdel-Aziz, head of the SCA's Ancient Egypt Department, the inscriptions written on the statue also include a cartouche of a 21st Dynasty queen called Henutaw, which reveals that the same statue was used in a subsequent era."

A longer article on the Discovery Channel website, putting Tiy into her historical context: "Tiy was the daughter of Yuaa, a priest of an Egyptian fertility god, Min. He likely was a "foreigner" from Syria. Less is known about her mother, Tuaa, but it is believed that Tuaa was of royal descent, probably from the royal family of Mittani, which was a kingdom in northern Syria. Tiy married Pharaoh Amenhotep III when she was 12 years old. Her husband, who consulted her regarding state affairs and official policies, acknowledged her intelligence and ambition. The pharaoh supposedly showered Tiy with gifts during her lifetime. Their son, Akhenaten, began his reign as Amenhotep IV, but later changed his name when he rejected polytheism and chose to worship only one god, Aten, that represented the sun."
See the full story on the above page.

Luxor update

A very short bulletin on the Al Ahram website about developments at Luxor: "The SCA and the Luxor Supreme Council agreed to enlarge the road around the two famous Memnon statues on Luxor's West Bank; they also discussed the possibility of constructing a visitors' centre -- similar to the one at the Abu Simbel Temple -- at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings."

Jane Akshar has updated her site with some more Luxor news, including an item about a newly discovered a hieroglyph-covered block dating to Tuthmosis IV, recently found at Karnak.

Origins of the date palm

http://tinyurl.com/95p4g (Gulf Daily News)
"The date palm Phoenix dactylifera dates back to the first Pharaonic dynasties and the ancient Egyptians called it 'Bennu', 'bnr or 'bnr.t'. These names were used for anything sweet but more significantly for the sun-bird which was assimilated to the exalted sun-god Ra. This association between the sun-bird and the date palm is testimony as to the indispensable role of this tree to their life. It is thought that the botanist, Theophrastus (c. 370-285 BC), named the date palm phoenix due to the colour of the dates being similar to the purple dye the Phoenicians were renowned for making from the 'Murex shellfish'. The Latin word dactylifera derives from the Greek word 'Dactylos', which means finger, for the shape of the dates and leaves. For the ancient Syrians and Hebrews this word referred to the date palm itself. Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish botanist, gave the plant this binomial name. The plant's place of origin has been a subject of great debate."
See the above web page for the full story.

Ancient ship remains at Red Sea port

http://tinyurl.com/bae3l (Monsters and Critics)
"The remains of a ship used by ancient Egyptians for commercial trips to the fabled land of Punt have been discovered in five caves engraved in a port on the Red Sea. The find, in the Marsa Gawasees area near the Red Sea resort of Safaga, dates back to the Middle Kingdom and was excavated by a joint American and Italian team from Boston University and East Naples working in the area for five years, it was reported Thursday. Higher Antiquities Council Secretary-general Zahi Hawwas called the find one of the most important marine excavations that confirms that Punt lay to the south of Egypt and not in Sinai as previously believed. As early as the third millennium BCE, Egyptian inscriptions indicate that they traded with people from the land of Punt, which sometimes they also called 'Gods' Land'. The discovery included a huge amount of ropes and masts that were used at different stages of ship building in addition to ship wooden parts and thick cedar logs, Hawwas said. He added that all pieces were in good condition and had been transferred to a storehouse in preparation for renovation."
See the above page for the full story.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tiy statue and Hathor pillar captial

There have been lots more bulletins about Queen Tiy scattered around the Web, but none of them contain any new information. I will post anything new when it turns up, but won't be adding anything that duplicates earlier posts. However, the photos on the Temple of Mut Dig Diary (John Hopkins) have been supplemented with a set of images of the queen both showing the cartouches much more clearly, and showing the visit of Zahi Hawass to see the new discovery:

The rest of the above site has some wonderful photographs of the excavation, and provides a real insight into the daily activities of field archaeologists working on a site of this type. See the link at the top of the page to see the dig diary from both this season, and previous seasons. One of the finds this season has been a Hathor pillar capital, which has now be cleaned, looks wonderful, and is shown on this page:

Sunken antiquities in France and Germany

http://tinyurl.com/aco76 (Egyptian State Information Service)
"Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has approved the holding of an exhibition for sunken antiquities in Berlin on May 11. Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said the exhibition is expected to net 1.6 million euros (LE12 million) during its tour in Berlin and Paris. The exhibition will also receive half a million US dollars on a yearly basis from the European Institute for Archaeology for a 15 year period. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that $42 million will be paid in insurance for the exhibited antiquities. Meanwhile, Hawwas said 85% of reparation works of the Royal Jewelry Museum project have been concluded. He added that the museum is due to open next June."
This is the complete bulletin on the SIS website.

Tutankhamun - Fort Lauderdale Ticket Sales

The Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale has seen its previous ticket sale records broken, with more than one third of visitors coming from out of town. Demand to see the exhibit has been so high that the closing time has been extended from 7.30pm to 9pm: "The museum said it has sold or reserved a record-breaking 380,000 tickets since they went on sale Oct. 18. The Tutankhamun exhibition opened its doors Dec. 15. The museum said it has already outsold its two most recent blockbuster exhibits combined"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More on the Queen Tiy statue

A slightly longer summary of the find, than most of the smaller press releases that are being published online, quoting the expedition director Betsy Brian.

A super set of photos on the John Hopkins University Dig Diary, showing the entire statue as she was found, the columns of hieroglyphs on the back, and clear details of the cartouches on the head dress. The photos of the team with the statue give a real sense of the excitement that greated the find.

Tutankhamun - Chicago tickets go on sale

Tutankhamun madness is up for grabs in Chicago: "Tickets go on sale today at 9 a.m. at the Field Museum for the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition. The exhibit, which debuts May 26 and runs through Jan. 1, 2007, costs $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students with ID, and $16 for children aged 4-11 including general museum admission. To mark the first date of sale, one hour of parking will be free in the museum's east lot from 7 a.m. until noon."
Tickets are available at www.fieldmuseum.org/tut.

The pharaonic exhibition in its 9th station

http://tinyurl.com/ad5m9 (Egyptian State Information Service)
"The Egyptian pharaonic exhibition that tours 13 states of the US, reaches its ninth station at the state of Michigan on January 27, 2006 through May 7, 2006. Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said that the exhibition attains great success and publicity. Hawas added that the exhibition resulted in $13 million dlrs. with one million per state. On her part, Wafa'a al-Sedeek, general supervisor of the foreign exhibitions said that the exhibition comprises 141 pieces."
This is the entire bulletin on the SIS website.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Statue of Queen Ti discovered

http://tinyurl.com/btf4g (Al Jazeera)
"A US archaeological team has unearthed a statue of Queen Ti, one of the most important women in ancient Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities says. The statue, mostly intact, was found under a statue of Amenhotep III in the sprawling Karnak Temple in Luxor, which was a royal city in ancient Egypt. The statue was found by an archaelogical team from the Johns Hopkins University. Ti was the first queen of Egypt to have her name appear on official acts alongside that of her husband. She was known for her influence in state affairs in the reigns of both her husband (1417-1379 BC) and of her son, Akhenaton, (1379-1362 BC) during a time of prosperity and power in the 18th dynasty. Her son is remembered for being the first pharaoh to advocate monotheism. Ti, of Nubian heritage, is believed to be the grandmother of Tutankhamun, perhaps the most famous ruler of ancient Egypt. Amenhotep III, who ruled for 38 years, made a basic change in the history of ancient Egypt when he named his wife, Ti, as queen against the tradition that his sister should be queen." This is the full item on the above web page.

This is also covered on the State Information Service, with a photograph:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Egypt offers ICJ Pharaonic statue

http://tinyurl.com/754ut (Egyptian State Information Service)
"The Egyptian ambassador in the Hague Ahmed Fathallah will on Monday offer a statue representing the Pharaonic god of justice to the international Court of Justice (ICJ) on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its establishment, sources at the Egyptian embassy said on Sunday. The head of the court will receive the statue in a ceremony to be attended by all members of the court including Egyptian judge Nabil al Arabi."
This is the entire posting on the SIS website.

Petrie - the real Indiana Jones

http://tinyurl.com/af3mp (The Times Argus)
A nice article produced on the back of the travelling exhibition Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London, which is now at the Albany Instutute of History Art: "In the late 1880s, William Matthew Flinders Petrie went to Egypt to measure the pyramids.While getting established as an archaeologist, the young adventurer lived in an abandoned tomb at the Giza necropolis, where he used a hammock for a bed. In one feat of excavation, he swung down 25 feet on a rope ladder and squeezed through a pyramid doorway into a flooded burial chamber. With only a candle to light the pitch-black walls, he waded through fetid water filled with floating coffins, skulls and other debris. Shortly after, his sensational finds made him the talk of London.Petrie went on to lead excavations at many of the most important sites in Egypt, including Hawara, Abydos and Amarna . . . . He's also credited with transforming archaeology from a treasure hunt to a real science. " See the full story for details of the exhibition.

Details of the permanent collection of Petrie's discoveries, together with an online catalogue of the collection, can be found at:

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Cultural heritage centre to open in Luxor

A new heritage centre is due to open in Luxur in April 2006. southern Egypt will get a new cultural heritage centre due to open in April, according to Fathi Salah, the Director of Centre for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CULTNAT): "The new centre, which will be named Maubarak Cultural Centre, is part of a huge complex that will also house the Mubarak Public Library with an average total cost of LE15 million, added Salah. The CULTNAT-affiliated centre is designed to contribute to showcasing Egypt's cultural heritage, using the latest technologies, to the massive number of tourists who are visiting the City, elaborated Salah. He added that the centre would have a micro gallery, a showroom with several booths displaying information on various cultural heritage, and also a 'culturama', a variety of interesting cultural topics will be projected on panoramic 180- degree screens".
For more about CULTNAT see their website at:

Travel Item - Cairo to Luxor

http://tinyurl.com/btonk (African News Dimension - Part 1)
http://tinyurl.com/a4cvz (Part 2)
Two-part journal account re visiting Cairo and then taking a coach journey from Cairo to Luxor along the Red Sea. "The next morning we left and travelled for another 140km, where we set up camp on the beach front. The view was obviously breathtaking, but the weather stopped everybody from taking a dip in the sea. Absoloutely no civilisation existed within 140 km of our camp. We were all alone in the desert, with intense police protection for a reason thats unknown to me but still baffles me. The night was lit up by the moon and the milky way. One thing I can can say about the desert: theres no civilisation, but there's definately alot of wild animals that make wierd and funny noises during the night."


The Weekly digest of EEF should be on the site at the above address later today, with its usual collection of exhibitions, lectures, online publications and more.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Controversy re St Louis Mask

http://tinyurl.com/7rfrv (St Louis Post Dispatch)
"A one-time forger and art smuggler has accused the St. Louis Art Museum of purchasing in 1998 a stolen Egyptian mummy mask and displaying it in its galleries. Museum director Brent Benjamin said the history of the mask was thoroughly researched before its purchase, and he is confident the piece was not stolen.
The accusation comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the international trade in antiquities. This case also illustrates the difficulty of constructing complete records detailing the ownership of ancient objects - proving the object wasn't stolen or forged.High-profile players in the international market for antiquities now find themselves in legal hot water. A former curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is on trial in Italy on charges that she was involved in buying looted objects, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York is working out a deal with the Italian government over the disposition of 42 works the Italians have charged were smuggled out of the country.
Michel van Rijn, now a self-appointed art-world watchdog, claims that the St. Louis Art Museum's mummy mask, dating to the Egyptian New Kingdom between 1307 and 1196 B.C., was stolen in the 1990s from storage at the pyramid of Saqqara, where it had been excavated in the early 1950s. Van Rijn contacted the Museum and the Post-Dispatch with his charge. But despite two e-mail requests, he has not provided hard evidence.Benjamin dismisses the accusation. . . . .But van Rijn has not been a man easy to dismiss - or ignore. He has an active Web site where he makes accusations against dealers, collectors and institutions."
See the above article for the full story.

Travel item

Yet another travel feature, focusing on Luxor, with some photos: "Luxor, described as the world's greatest open-air museum is chock-a-block with ancient monuments, the scale and the grandeur of which are mind-boggling and sure to evoke interest even if you are not a history buff. The River Nile divides the city into the East Bank and the West Bank. However, the town is largely spread on the East Bank comprising hotels, bazaars and major monuments like the Karnak Temple, the Luxor Temple and the museum".

Science of small particles

There's not much news today, so forgive this very short extract from an otherwise irrelevant (but truly fascinating) article on the science and technology of small particles: "There is even a connection between the Sphinx of Egypt’s Giza plateau and porosity. The Sphinx may be coerced into revealing its true age thanks to the porosity of the stone from which it is made. A model of the weathering process based on the porosity of the stone has been suggested that may yield a timeline back to the date of its creation."
For anyone interested in the whole age of the sphinx debate, Colin Reader has an excellent summary at:
and his follow up comments are on the same site at:

Saturday Trivia

Jamaica - Legend of the Nile
http://snipurl.com/lqtr (Jamaica Observer)
"The stage was set for some ten weeks of fetes and carnival action as the Bacchanal Jamaica organization announced its programme for 2006 at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Tuesday evening. This year's theme is Lost Empires, inspired by the exploits of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and other ancient cultures. The popular series of Friday fetes begins tonight at the Mas Camp in New Kingston, with a special event billed Legend of the Nile, hosted by mobile telecoms provider Digicel." Sounds like a lot of fun.

Book Review: Conspiracy theories out to change the world
"If you suspect the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance, or that the Titanic never really sank, or that Elvis was a CIA agent, then you are not alone. Almost every major event in history has its conspiracy theories, from Holocaust deniers, Nazi gold hunters to the belief that Google is a national security agency plot.
Such intrigues led British journalists James McConnachie and Robin Tudge to compile the best intrigues of the last 3000 years or so in The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories.
Tudge says their book does not presume to tell readers that Princess Diana's car crash was definitely an accident, or if Neil Armstrong actually walked on the moon or stomped around an indoor setup. Instead they are presenting the world according to conspiracists - a compilation of allegations, accusations and bizarre explanations. Some of the more extreme include Anne Frank as the face of an international conspiracy, the British royal family as power brokers behind agencies and corporations, and the curse of Tutankhamen creating bad luck for anyone associated with the discovery of his tomb. Some theorists also believe Tutankhamen was the model for Jesus, even claiming the two were the same person."
See the above URL for the full story.
Fiction Review: Brad Geagley's Year of the Hyenas
"A novel of murder in Ancient Egypt. Geagley shines his spotlight on an already existing mystery: the strange death of Ramses III, an event that nearly brought ancient Egypt to collapse.Semerket is hired to investigate the death of an elderly, seemingly insignificant Theban priestess. Hoping to affect a cover-up, the authorities soon realize they have opened a Pandora's box, because Semerket is actually too good at his job. He also has a pesky habit of uncovering the truth when he really wants to. As Semerket picks up one thread after another, he discovers that they all lead to a plot to kill Pharaoh Ramses III. Complicating his case is Semerket's ex-wife, who has inadvertently stirred up the murderous nest of the plotters. As a consequence, the ancient Egyptian detective finds himself on the horns of a dilemma: making a choice between saving his wife or saving his country."
See the above URL for the rest of the review.

Friday, January 20, 2006

New tombs discovered

"Tourist and Antiquities Police have taken charge of a number of rocky above-ground tombs and a number of underground tombs, dating to a late Pharaonic dynasty. Said Mohamed, who holds a technical diploma and owns a piece of agricultural land in el-Ayyat, was digging for antiquities on his land, when he stumbled across the tombs and some human bones. He also discovered a manmade well that had been blocked up, as well some large potsherds. Antiquities experts have concluded that Said has come across an ancient cemetery, describing the find as 'significant'. "
This is the complete posting on the Egyptian Gazette website.

Coptic Museum Countdown

El Ahram Weekly columnist Jill Kamil is given a guided tour through the soon to be re-opened Coptic Museum: " We pass into the first chamber and it is clear that care has been taken in choosing the brick colour of the walls, an ideal shade to set off the objects on display. I am reminded of the time Gabra first took me round the museum galleries, back in the 1980s; he was director and I was writing Coptic Egypt: History and Guide. He still exudes the same enthusiasm, and his familiarity with each and every object is apparent. The chamber contains niches, pediments and friezes from Ahnasia (Heracleopolis Magna near Beni Sweif in Middle Egypt), and the subject matter is typical of a pagan Greek community. While each piece is carved with Greek mythological characters such as Aphrodite, Dionysos and the goat- hoofed Pan, the work, he emphasises, has certain distinctive characteristics."
See the entire story on the Al Ahram website, above.

Prehistoric Sahara teeming with life

This may be of interest to anyone interested in the prehistory of the Western Desert of Egypt, with many of the same conclusions being drawn here for Libya, as have been drawn by a number of research groups in the Western Desert: "The Sahara has not always been the arid, inhospitable place that it is today – it was once a savannah teeming with life, according to researchers at the Universities of Reading and Leicester. Eight years of studies in the Libyan desert area of Fazzan, now one of the harshest, most inaccessible spots on Earth, have revealed swings in its climate that have caused considerably wetter periods, lasting for thousands of years, when the desert turned to savannah and lakes provided water for people and animals. This, in turn, has given us vital clues about the history of humans in the area and how these ancient inhabitants coped with climate change as the land began to dry up around them again. In their article ‘Ancient lakes of the Sahara’, which appears in the January-February issue of American Scientist magazine, Dr Kevin White of the University of Reading and Professor David Mattingly of the University of Leicester explain how they used satellite technology and archaeological evidence to reveal new clues about both the past environment of the Sahara and of human prehistory in the area".
See the full article on the Innovations Report website for the full story.

For those interested in the original paper, the American Scientist's website is at:

Champollion Library Aqcuisitions

A 118 page list, in PDF format, of aquisitions by the Champollion Egyptology Library (College de France, Paris, France). Titles are multi lingual with English and French apparently dominating. Conditions for access to the library, and a link to the catalogue can be found at:

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Henry George Fischer, Egyptologist, Dies

"Henry George Fischer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art curator who helped the Temple of Dendur find a new life in New York as a focal point of the museum, died on Dec. 11 in Newtown, Pa., where he had moved from Sherman, Conn., in 2003. He was 82. The death was announced by his family and the museum, where he was curator emeritus of Egyptology. Starting with his doctoral dissertation in 1955, Dr. Fischer's books and articles brought a deeper understanding of the culture of ancient Egypt. In particular, he contributed to the study of the previously neglected art and culture of the Egyptian provinces, as distinct from the centers of the rule of the pharaohs."
See the complete obituary on the New York Times website above. If you are asked for a username and password, use "egyptnews" in both fields.

Computer Working Group (Informatique et Egyptologie)

Nigel Strudwick has announced that dates have been set for the 2006 meeting of the Computer Working Group of the IAE, better known as Informatique et Egyptologie. The meeting will take place in Worcester College, Oxford (UK) on 7-10 August 2006. IAE Computer Group Meeting 2006. the last formal meetig took place in Pisa in 2002. Further practical details will be compiled shortly, but the current plan is for the arrival of participants on Monday 7th August, with the meeting taking place on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th, and departure on Thursday 10th. Nigel Strudwick describes the main themes as follows:

Now that most professional Egyptologists have access to IT and many technical problems have been solved or can be solved by colleagues or by others in their own institutions, I&E no longer needs to be so concerned with technical problems as it has been in the past. It is our aim to try and broaden the appeal of the meeting to encompass those who are doing important and relevant work to Egyptology, but who have until now shied away from our meetings, thinking perhaps that they are themselves not specialised enough to come, or do not have the relevant expertise. Computer technology now so all pervades our lives that most of us cannot exist without it, and the technology is being put to very interesting uses. The following four themes are suggested as the basis of the sessions:
One of the greatest potential contributions which IT can make to any subject is to make access easier to the ever-expanding amount of bibliography. The AEB, the management committee of which is hoped will be present at the Oxford meeting, has led the way for many years, and is presently its best approach in an Internet age. There are many issues in how such projects can be made available.

Museums and Archival collections online
Many Egyptological museums now have sections or substantial parts of their collections online. There are many issues as to how this should be done, and what standards and approaches can or should be taken.

The Internet-archiving, recommendation
The Internet has become a major element in the work of many Egyptologists in the past ten years, and with the greater access to high-speed technology, it promises to become more and more central to our lives. Many excellent sites have been set up, but many sites are plagued by occasional unavailability, or by the need to move service providers. Ways need to be adopted to control this. Also, the plethora of sites out there can be daunting to all, and we must remember that we are inevitably addressing ourselves to a wider public.Techniques need to be found to review and recommend sites to help those whose limited expertise may send them down the wrong path.

The meetings of I&E over the years have seen the launching of projects by many individuals. Individuals are invited to present projects which have a considerable IT component that will be of interest to participants. Presenters who have previously reported on their projects at these meetings are asked to present major changes rather than incremental progress reports.

Contact Information
Enquiries about the conference should be addressed to Diane Bergman at the
Sackler Library of the Ashmolean Museum (and NOT to Worcester College):

A web site for the meeting will soon be made available through the Egyptology Resources site in Cambridge (http://www.newton.cam.ac.uk/egypt).
Details for Worcester College can be found at:

Diane Bergman, diane.bergman@saclib.ox.ac.uk
Dag Bergman, dag.eg01@ddbergman.f2s.com
Nigel Strudwick, ncs3@cam.ac.uk

Travel Item: Luxor

http://tinyurl.com/aj2vd (Economic Times, India Times)
How one person spent their time during a short stay in Luxor: "Soon it was time for the sound and light show in English and we were really excited as we had heard that it was as good as any Hollywood production in its special effects and rivetting storytelling. The show started with an introduction covering the birth of the great city of Thebes and erection of the Karnak temple and a narration of the glorious achievements of some great Pharaohs." See the above web page for the entire account. Although it is quite a short piece, it has a seven-page format, which means that you have to click for the next page every couple of paragraphs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New museum in Rosetta

"In the coming few days, the Rosetta National Museum will be inaugurated. It will be one of the most impressive museums in Egypt, enjoying a wonderful location near the River Nile.The museum is surrounded by about 50 beautiful old houses. In fact the Rosetta National Museum is located in Arab Kulli House, which is being comprehensively developed and restored. The Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary-General Zahi Hawass stated that, in collaboration with the Rosetta (Rashid) City Council, two feddans of land have been annexed to Arab Kulli House, where a park and a centre for visitors will be created. The surrounding area has already been developed. The developments include a new hotel. Hawass noted that Arab Kulli House, which has been turned into Rosetta National Museum, consists of three floors, with a number of shops beneath the building. He added that the British Museum is going to make an identical copy of the Rosetta Stone, which will be exhibited on the first floor, along with a display of graphics, explaining the history of the Stone and how it was discovered. "The Rosetta National Museum project has been completed in two years at a cost of LE7 million ," said Mohamed Abdel-Fattah, head of the Museums Sectors, adding that the project also includes developing the surrounding houses and providing them with adequate security. The house was named after a Turkish trader called Hussein Arab Kulli, who lived there in the early 18th Century. It was the largest house in Rosetta. The first floor was used for receptions; the second was where the family lived and where Kulli had his office and the third contained the haramlik (women's quarters)."

More on auction purchases

I don't know why these have been featured so late in the day, but this article looks at December's auction purchases of Old Kingdom items. I include it in case anyone missed the items the first time round: "The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, set a world record when it bought this ancient Egyptian limestone sculpture at auction Dec. 9. Extraordinarily, earlier in the same sale, another statue, a granite figure, also set a record for an Egyptian antiquity, when it sold for $2,256,000. But the granite figure didn't hold that record for long. It was spectacularly overtaken by this Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His Family, which sold for $2,816,000. According to inscriptions, this tomb sculpture represents the Overseer of Craftsmen, Priest of Ptah, His wife, the Royal Confidant, Tjen-tety, and His son, the Overseer of Craftsmen, Khuwy-ptah. Characteristically,the wife and son are shown smaller. Relative size indicates importance. These two smaller figures affectionately embrace the larger one's legs."
See the above web page for more. There's a nice photo of the Ka-nefer statue on the page.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Luxor News

Jane Akshar's Luxor blog has been updated with news on groundwater damaage at the Temple of Edfu, and the dilemma of what to do about houses that damage tombs at Qurna. There is also a summary of a recent lecture at the Mummification Museum.

Unesco World Heritage sites

One of the International Herald Tribune's multi page reviews of an international heritage issue. This looks at the role of Unesco, the relative value of adding more sites to the list, and how achieving World Heritage status is used to boost the economy via tourism: "Unesco's manifesto sounded simple enough- It set up a World Heritage Convention in 1972 to protect cultural and natural sites of 'outstanding universal value.' The convention established a World Heritage Committee, a rotating group of 15 (now 21) nations, and a World Heritage Fund to provide oversight, technical assistance and loans. The World Heritage Center in Paris oversees the program, and the committee annually decides on new designations. It has become clear, though, that for many sites, getting on the list might be more an end goal than the beginning of conservation efforts. Once the four- to five-year nomination process is over, Unesco generally doesn't provide funds or technical assistance from its 35-person staff (plus consultants), nor regular monitoring to ensure that the ambitious plans come to fruition. . . . Penin Pedersen, the Unesco tourism official, said there was no solid evidence that World Heritage nomination leads to an increase of tourism. The circumstantial evidence, however, is strong. The nomination of Calakmul in 2002 literally put it on the map. "
Visit the above page to read the full story.

Tutankhamun Queues

Articles about visitor complaints re the Fort Lauderdale exhibition: " After months of planning, assemblage and a media blitz fit for a king, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs ticked past the 125,000 visitors mark last weekend at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art. But big numbers have brought complaints from patrons and a museum staff hustling to address them."
See the above web page for the entire article.

Also on the above web page is an interactive tour of the exhibition where you can navigate your way round room by room, using a floor plan to find your way.

Ancient Egypt in basketball

For those interested in modern uses of ancient Egypt design motifs, this is quite an unusul one: "The James Naismith Trophy, the trophy which is presented to the winner of the FIBA World Championship 2006 has returned from the defending champion Serbia & Montenegro (former Yugoslavia) and was displayed at the Draw Event venue today. . . . The trophy . . . . was originally designed in 1965 based on the inspiration of Dr. H.C. Renato William Jones, the first Secretary General of FIBA, who passed away in 1981 at the age of 74. He was very much impressed by one of the lotus columns with a particularly stylish bud shaped capital in the temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt and this inspired a portion of the trophy's design. . . .The original trophy, which is kept at the Pedro Ferrandiz Foundation in Spain, was completely remodelled in 1997. The top of the cup has a lotus flower design and a decagonal rotating middle piece, with carved maps of the continents and precious stones (black onyx, yellow citrine, green chrysoprase, red garnet and blue topaz) inlaid. The colours of these stones mirror those representing five FIBA zones. The base is made of marble and James Naismith's name is engraved on all four sides in Latin, Arabic, and Chinese letters, as well as in Egyptian hieroglyphics. "

Thanks are due to my ever valued Official Nitpicker, Chris Townsend, for pointing out that this cup is a basketball trophy, not a football trophy as I previously claimed.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Photography in Egypt - Update

Thanks very much to Bob Partridge (Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine) for permission to post the following update about photography in Egypt:
"Having recently spoken face to face about this subject to Dr Zahi Hawass and the Director of the Egyptian Museum, Dr Sadiq, the rules appear to be perfectly clear, NO photography is allowed in ANY tombs or museums and permission can ONLY be given by the SCA at their office in Zamalek . . . and this, at the moment at least means one has to turn up in person.
It would seem the position appears to be unclear in some parts of Egypt. The bottom line is the rules have been made by the SCA. Whilst many of us might not like it, we have to accept it and we can only hope that the rules may be changed or amended in the future, to allow the genuine enthusiast, or student to be able to take photos, possible with a sizeable fee, but without having to arrange this in Cairo, but locally.
If visitors are getting around the rules, then a) perhaps they should keep it quiet and b) it might actually jeapordise any amending of the rules in the future."

Orion returns to claim stake in night sky

http://tinyurl.com/7cj8t (Morning News Online, Florence, South Carolina)
Astronomy article discussing what is visible in the night sky, with a brief mention of the Giza pyramids in the context of the Orion's Belt constellation: "A string of first and second magnitude stars make up Orion’s 'belt' that, according to one theory, could have been the inspiration behind the grouping of three pyramids at Giza in Egypt. These pyramids are angled along a line similar to the way the belts stars are. Ironically, the first two are the same size while the third is smaller and slightly offset from the other two, just like the stars themselves.Both Alnitak and Alnilam shine at an identical 1.7 magnitude, but the third star, Mintaka is a bit dimmer at 2.2 magnitude. Is it a cosmic coincidence or was it really an ancient civilization’s attempt to mimic the heavens?"

More Tutankhamun

http://tinyurl.com/bkfne (Chicago Tribune Metromix)
"After the last Tut exhibit returned to Egypt in the early 1980s from its long U.S. and European tour, the Egyptian parliament passed laws barring future tours outside Egypt.In a telephone interview this week, Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Egyptian lawmakers had been dismayed by physical damage done to some artifacts from the earlier tour. Museums around the world have almost ceaselessly pressured Egypt to mount another exhibition ever since, Hawass said. At the same time, Egypt, a poor country, has struggled to properly store, conserve and display its vast collection of antiquities."

The curse of the mummies (2)

By Zahi Hawass: "At the end of the 1999 season, I opened Bahariya to tourists and moved five mummies from Tomb 54 to the museum there. One of them was a boy aged five and a younger girl.It had never occurred to me until I moved these two children that the so-called curse of the mummies existed. But both these children began to haunt me in my dreams each and every night. They were reaching out for me with their long white arms, trying to grab me. I did not understand why they were disturbing my rest. This same year I had gone to Los Angeles to teach archaeology at UCLA and the dreams continued night after night.I
had to do many TV and magazine interviews about the new discovery and I was invited to give a lecture in Richmond Virginia at the Museum of Art. On the day of my lecture, I was to fly to Richmond at 7 o'clock in the morning. I set my alarm clock for 4:03 but it did not ring; I woke up at 5 o'clock and had to race to the airport without even washing my face. I barely made the flight but arrived in Philadelphia only to find the flight to Richmond canceled. I had to take a later flight and landed an hour before my lecture. The taxi driver got lost, so I was late to the museum. I finally gave my talk two hours late, and found myself talking about the curse of the mummies.
The next morning I was to talk at a school. I had asked for awake-up call, but forgot and took the phone off the hook. All night the children haunted me. I awoke at 9:30 hearing my escort banging on my door.I could not ignore the golden children any longer. As I waited for a plane back to Los Angeles, I realised what they wanted: they wanted their father to come with them to the museum. In September 1999, I returned to Bahariya and moved their father to the museum. The children never haunted me again."
Part One was posted on the 10th January.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Visiting Tutankhamun

http://tinyurl.com/dg6tj (Florida Today)
An article about the type of visitors to Tutankhamun and the numbers of people visiting: "Since the exhibition opened Dec. 15 at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, more than 220,000 demographically diverse visitors have visited Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. You see them wearing everything from T-shirts and trucker hats to Armani sweaters and Chanel suits. They are of every flavor and color, with a wide range of accents. From young children shepherded in strollers to the elderly, guided in wheelchairs".
See the above article for more.

Archaeological Diggings

Details of the current issue of the magazine Archaeological Diggings are at the above address. Contents include a special feature on Hatshepsut, and an article about medicine in Ancient Egypt.

Aswan Dam

On a long and frankly fascinating list of things which happened today in history the Herald Sun points out that, Egypt's Sadd el-Ali, the Aswan High Dam was officially opened today in 1971 by President Anwar Sadat. After 11 years of construction work, Lake Nasser (the Es-Sadd el-Ali Lake) rose gradually during the 1960s, until it attained a water surface of c.5,500km sq., causing 50,000 Nubians to be evacuated and resettled elswhere in Egypt and the Sudan. It also drowned archaeological sites, only a proportion of which were excavated or rescued before the rising waters covered them for good. Of the 24 stone monuments rescued, the most prominent were Philae and Abu Simbel. For a truly awe inspiring insight into the outcomes of the dam and an analysis of its future, the book Egypt, An Economic Geography by Foud N. Ibrahim and Barbara Ibrahim is a terrific read.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Napoleon in Egypt subject of new exhibition

A new exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Sciences has opened in Macon (Georgia, U.S.) called Napoleon in Egypt: "Napoleon Bonaparte is well-known for his military victories, his habit of placing one hand in his jacket and his love for his wife, Josephine. Bet you didn't know that his 1798 invasion of Egypt helped kick off "Egyptomania" across Europe and fostered the modern study of archeology. Along with his armies, Napoleon brought a crew of 150 people to document ancient Egypt's treasures, and along the way they dug up the Rosetta stone. Now on display at the British Museum in London, the famed slab helped cracked the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics by including Greek translations."
For more details see the museum's website:

Albany museum displays Petrie artefacts

http://tinyurl.com/bo3ve (Pressconnect.com)
"The Albany Institute of History & Art, with GE as a sponsor, will host a world-class traveling exhibition, beginning Jan. 21, showcasing important Egyptian treasures from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London. Many of the artifacts in the exhibit's North American tour have never been seen by the public. GE Presents Excavating Egypt tells the story of archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853—1942) and his exploration of ancient Egyptian civilization. Petrie worked in Egypt for over half a century and is considered the "Father of Egyptian Archaeology" for his innovations and contributions to the field. He also was the inspiration for the film hero Indiana Jones."
See the above web page for more details. The website for the Albany, which contains further information, can be found at


http://tinyurl.com/de6g2 (The Telegraph)
This is actually a travel article about the south of France, but it does contain a quick couple of paragraphs about hieroglyph decipherer Champollion's home town Figeac, where his former home is now a museum: "You'll not be long in Figeac before learning that it has a Very Celebrated Man (VCM) on its books . . . . VCM one is Jean-François Champollion who, with the help of the Rosetta stone, cracked Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822. Thus, as pop biographies say, he founded Egyptology. Old Jean-François is a national hero, as a similar figure perhaps wouldn't be in Britain, and Figeac treats him with reverence. He has his bar and square, of course, but also, just off the square, a vast, black granite reproduction of the Rosetta stone forming the floor of a courtyard . . . . Champollion's old family home is in an alley leading to the courtyard and was, until last year, a museum dedicated to the chap. It will be again from 2007, when it re opens on a much grander scale."

EEF News Digest

EEF has an interesting collection of online papers in its newsletter this week, which will be available on the dedicated website at the above address on Sunday. The newsletter is delivered by email automatically to forum subscribers. For more information, see:

Saturday Trivia

There has not been much in the way of trivia recently, but here's a pair to raise an eyebrow or a smile, whichever fits:

New Welsh adventure computer game
"Cardiff-based productive play company, B-DAG has launched its first Welsh-language adventure computer game, The Crystal of the Pharaoh. Crisial y PharoBased on the Welsh children’s book Crisial y Pharo, the game is both an adventure and educational game, which sees the protagonist Pryderi dragged into a computer where he faces many dangers to save the creatures living there from the evil wizard Swrief, who intends to steal the magic crystal, hidden inside the pyramid, to destroy all of them."

Brokeback Mountain finds a parallel in Egypt
Just when you thought that it was safe to assume that the nose-touching pair in Saqqara had ceased to make the headlines, someone has observed that the movie Brokeback Mountain finds a parallel in ancient Egypt: "As the gay-cowboy film Brokeback Mountain causes indignant protests among old Wyoming ranch-hands, it emerges that such controversies are almost as old as art itself. What may be the first depiction of a gay-male kiss was discovered in a 4000-year-old Egyptian tomb. Their arms entwined, their torsos and noses touching, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were painted together for eternity in an embrace usually associated with heterosexual couples of the 5th dynasty." In all fairness, the rest of the article simply focuses on the discussions described elsewhere regarding the tomb, and does not labour comparisons with the film.

Friday, January 13, 2006

EAIS Newsletter

The Egyptian Antiquities Information Service newsletter that was issued in December is now on their website at the above address. Contents include a summary of achievements to date, plans for phase 3 of the project, details of the first volume of the Historical Sites in Egypt publication, information about work being carried out to conserve quarry landscapes, and about Cultural Resource Management projects.
To subscribe to the occasional newsletter (once or twice a year, to date), or to see previous issues, see the following page on the EAIS website:

Egypt Mummy Shows Taste for Pork

"In a study to be published in the coming months in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Fabrizio Bruschi, a pathologist from Italy's Pisa University, and colleagues report the discovery of the oldest known case of cysticercosis — a pig-related disease — in a mummy from the late Ptolemaic period (II-I century B.C.). Often contracted from undercooked pork, cysticercosis is an infection caused by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium. Known as the 'mummia di Narni,' from the town in central Italy where it is kept, the mummy belongs to a young woman about 20 years old. Most likely an upper-class lady, she rests in a beautiful wooden sarcophagus." See the above article on the Discovery Channel website for more.
The website for the American Journal of Tripical Medicne and Hygiene can be found at:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

News from Luxor

Jane Akshar has updated her blog with some new updates from Luxor, where she lives and works, including a posting about the new entrance to the Ramesseum and a follow up to Edwin Brock's lecture about the work required to save Luxor and Karnak temples.

Seeking Eternity Gallery still touring America

http://tinyurl.com/785m9 (State Information Service)
"Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawwas announced that the Pharaohnic monumental gallery under "Seeking Eternity" will reach its ninth stop in the Michigan State in U.S.A at the end of January. Notably, the eighth stop for the gallery was in Ohayo on January 3. In his statements today January 12, 2006, Hawwas said that the gallery is scheduled to visit 13 American states and cities, pointing out that the gallery began its tour with Washington's gallery, Science Museum in Boston, Kimble Museum in Texas, New Orleans in Louisiana, then Colorado and the seventh tour was in Las Vegas. For her part Dr. Wafaa Aseddiq, Director of the Ancient Egyptian Mueum General Supervisor of foreign exhibition committee said the SCA will get one million dollar for each city it visits".

Interview with Hawass (part 2 of 2)

"In the Valley of the Kings some 35 years ago, I met a young man from the Abdul Rasul family who told me he knew about the secrets of the valley.The man in his 70s took me to a secret path and led me to the mouth of a secret tunnel. He said if I take this route further into the tomb of Seti, the tunnel will go down to another 300 feet where you will find a second chamber with the tomb of Seti. I did not believe him until a few months ago when I entered the shaft with only a flashlight, a rope and a meter. It was dangerous to go inside that shaft for more than 216 feet. Beyond that I could not go any further because the rubble was blocking my path and falling on my head.Next month, I will go again and restore this shaft piece by piece and go deeper to 300 feet Abdul Rasul told me. There I think I will find the tomb of Seti I – perhaps the most important discovery yet again. No artefacts from his tomb are out there. Therefore Seti’s tomb is still very much intact."
See the above article for the full story.

Failure of terrorism to derail tourism

Article based on an interview with Ahmed El-Khadem, head of the Egyptian Tourist Authority: "While El-Khadem admits that the fall out from the Sharm bombings had a negative impact on the second half of 2005 the good news is that things are moving back to normal. He predicts that by February the majority of markets will be performing at their normal levels, with the possible exception of the Italian market, the most seriously affected by the Sharm El-Sheikh bombings".
See the above article for the full story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Visitor Center in Valley of Kings

http://tinyurl.com/826el (State Information Service)
"Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni will open next March the first World Visitors Center in the Valley of Kings. Dr. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said the Center is established 400m far from the tombs area. Ali Hilal, director of the SCA projects sector, said the LE 20 million project aims to protect more than 60 royal tombs in the area. It is also meant to highlight history of the antiquities in the area as well as raising the citizens' awareness."

New museums for all

"In an attempt to preserve Egypt's priceless treasures, both stored and newly-discovered, to create the best environment to display them and to release the pressure in some overstuffed museums, the Ministry of Culture has placed Egypt's museums at the top of its priorities. This year will witness the inauguration of up to five new regional and national museums and the re- opening of three others after restoration and development to bring them up to international standards".
The article gives details of the new Grand Museum of Egypt, now under construction, a museum of objects recovered from under water in Alexandria, development work at the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, the Rashid National Museum, teh Al-Arish National Museum, the Coptic Museum in Cairo, and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.

A more detailed discussion of the Grand Museum of Egypt, plus other museums including the existing Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, can be found on the ECHO website at:

Hawass in Fort Lauderdale

Zahi Hawass on how much enthusiam has greeted the Tutankhamun exhibition in Fort Lauderdale: "I recently returned from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after attending the opening of the Pharaoh's golden exhibition there. When I arrived, I could not believe how much Egyptomania had gripped this American city. People were wearing the golden mask of Tut on their T-shirts, and signs everywhere announced that the golden king had arrived. The exhibition display there is even better than it was in Los Angeles. There is more space, and the design is beautiful."

Interview with Hawass (part 1)

Hawass is quoted talking about a number of excavations including Giza, Saqqara and particularly the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahariya Oasis. He tells the following story which took place when he was excavating in Bahariya: "I met three young men who told me they will show me tombs located under the homes of Bahariya residents. Skeptical in the beginning, I did not believe what I would discover under the house of a very old lady. Her bathroom took me to a shaft which led to a maze of corridors with ornately-decorated tombs. The problem was the sewage system, over a mile radius, seeping through the entire tomb site. The whole town is built on top of these burials."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bibliotheca Alexandrina copy of Farous lighthouse

http://snipurl.com/lfy4 (Egypt State Information Service)
"The Alexandria Study Center of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has started the building of a copycat version of the ancient Farous lighthouse. The move is part of a project implemented by the center to take part in the Strabo program to establish a Web site on the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean Basin countries. The project also includes the building of three-dimensional versions of the Qaytbay Citadel and Ottoman mosques in Alexandria."

The curse of the mummies (1)

This short feature by Zahi Hawass on the Al Ahram website is copied in full, because it will only be shown for a short period and will not be archived: "The curse of the mummies (Part 1)by Zahi HawassAfter the announcement of the discovery, the small town of El Bawiti became famous. People from all over the world wanted to visit and see the Valley of the Golden Mummies. Friends from Egypt and America, news teams from Europe, tour companies, professors, and ambassadors came to the site.My personal belief is that mummies should not be displayed for personal reasons, and at the end of the 1999 season, I was strongly urged to open the Bahariya to tourists. After much thought, I moved five of the most beautiful mummies from Tomb 54 to the Bahariya Museum. By moving these five the rest would remain safe.
The mummies I had moved to the museum would promote tourism and allow the tourists to view some of the mummies without tramping around the cemetery. Tourists are dangerous to archaeological sites, and having hordes of people walking all over Bahariya would do it terrible damage.Two of the mummies I moved to the museum were a boy, aged five and a younger girl. By the way they were decorated and because they were found in the same tomb, I concluded they were probably brother and sister.
It never occurred to me that until I moved the two children to their resting place in the museum that the so-called curse of the mummies existed. This idea, of course, has been around since Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. After I moved the children I prepared myself to travel to the United States to teach archaeology at UCLA.I went to Los Angeles and settled in to begin my course. But the golden children had followed me to California and were haunting my dreams. In the dream, the children reached out their arms to me, trying to grab me, another mummy, a woman, I had also moved, appeared looking at me with pleading eyes. Every night they visited my dreams. In my worst nightmare, the little girl reached her White arms towards me and tried to wrap them around my throat. Why were they disturbing my rest?"

Peruvian artist makes Egypt inspired sculptures

"Júlio César is a Peruvian artisan and has been working with sculptures and pictures based on the historic Egyptian culture in Brazil for over 40 years. The Egyptian items, made out of stone, show gods and pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. Khafra, a pharaoh who reigned between 2520 and 2494 BC and was responsible for the construction of the second largest Egyptian pyramid, became a picture sculpted by Júlio César. Ramesses II, the most famous Egyptian pharaoh, who reigned between 1290 and 1223 BC, became a statue. The sculptor's favourite image, however, among those of the Egyptians, is that of Akhenaten". Sadly, although there is a nice photo of the artist, there is none of his work. See the above web page for the full story.

Tutankhamun in Chicago

For those of you planning to be in Chicago between May 26, 2006 and January 1, 2007, details of the Tutankhamun exhibition are now being displayed at its Chicago venue on the above web page on the Field Museum's website.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Egyptian Cultural Heritage News Briefs

Thanks to Geoffrey Tassie for the information that the Egyptian Cultural Heritage Organization website has been updated with a new News Briefs section. This is a different format entirely from either a blog or a magazine/newspaper. Instead, the most important issues from the last year have been brought together and researched, and the resulting page is a series of informed articles and briefs about some of the most important areas of interest and/or concern regarding Egypt's heritage. The site's navigation has also been improved, making it easier to use. For more about ECHO and its goals, see

Flooding Nubia - again

http://tinyurl.com/c3plm (The Telegraph)
An article highlighting the potential loss of irreplaceable archaeological riches in the Sudan: "In a highly controversial move, the Sudanese government is planning to flood a vast stretch of the southern Nile valley as part of plans for a big hydro-electric dam at Merowe, near what was once the ancient city of Napata. The project has been criticised by environmental groups, who say it will lead to the displacement of about 50,000 people - small farmers and their families, who have tilled the Nile's fertile banks for centuries. The Sudanese government insists, however, that the Chinese-backed project should go ahead, saying it is essential to pull the country into the developed world. With the dam scheduled for completion in 2008, archaeologists are in a race against time to survey what will eventually become a 100-mile-long lake. . . . Already more than 700 sites of potential interest have been discovered in just one small part of the area to be flooded - showing the need not only for an urgent programme to rescue the most important artefacts, but also for a reappraisal of Sudan's archaeological importance".
The article quotes British Museum representatives and provides a short overview of what is known about the Sudanese history. Potentially important prehistoric sites are also under threat. See the above web page on The Telegraph's website for more.

Online facsimile of Belzon's "Operations"

Thanks very much to Chuck Jones for pointing out that there is a complete facsimile of Belzoni's Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries Within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia on the Gallica website at the above addresses.
I found that the top URL doesn't function properly in Mozilla Firefox, my usual browser, but the second one does - and the entire site appears to work perfectly in Explorer 6.

New 7 Wonders Finalists

There has been quite a lot of publicity about this recently. The above is a short press release announcing the finalists in the competition to establish a modern 7 wonders of the world, the results of which will be announced on the 1st January 2007. The Great Pyramid at Giza is the only Egyptian contender.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Belzoni on the second pyramid (1820)

http://tinyurl.com/9msk4 (Travellers in Egypt)
A fabulous and lengthy extract from Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries Within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, 1820, describing his work on the "second" Giza pyramid: "The Arabs had great confidence in the hopes I had excited among them, that if any entrance into the pyramid were found, I would give great bakshis, in addition to the advantage they would derive from other strangers. But after many vain expectations, and much hard labour in removing huge masses of stone, and cutting the mortar, which was so hard that their hatchets were nearly all broken, they began to flag in their prospect of finding any thing, and I was about to become an object of ridicule for making the attempt to penetrate a place, which appeared to them, as well as to more civilized people, a mass of solid stone. However, as long as I paid them they continued their work, though with much less zeal. My hopes did not forsake me, in spite of all the difficulties I saw, and the little appearance of making the discovery of an entrance into the pyramid."
See the full extract on the Travellers in Egypt website, above. This is part 1 - I will post when part 2 has been added to the site.

Journal of African Archaeology

The contents and abstracts for the Journal of African Archaeology Vol. 3 (2) 2005 are available online at the above address. Two articles relevant to Egypt are featured:

B. Eichhorn, S. Hendrickx, H. Riemer & B. Stern
Desert Roads and Transport Vessels from Late Roman-Coptic Times in the Eastern Sahara.

P.M. Vermeersch, P. Van Peer, V. Rots & R. Paulussen
A Survey of the Bili Cave and its Surroundings in the Red Sea Mountains, El Gouna, Egypt.

Abstracts are in both English and French.

More on Tutankhamun at Fort Lauderdale

A clear and informative overview of the Tutankhamun exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, if you haven't already read too many to bear the thought of yet another one, including a couple of photographs and a brief look at the financing: After the world tour in the 1970s, the Egyptian government clamped down on road shows of their treasures, feeling stung by their past generosity. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said as much to reporters during a preview in Fort Lauderdale in December, after the city's leaders gave a series of speeches about brotherhood and the benefits of cultural exchange. 'In the past,' Hawass said, 'Egypt gave many exhibitions freely. Museums made a lot of money but we made hardly anything. Now, why do we send exhibitions to the United States or Europe? It's about money. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is still making money today on King Tut replicas (from the 1970s) in its gift shop and we see not one penny of it. There are no free meals anymore.' "
For the full article see the above web page on the St Petersburg Times website.

More on the king's physical appearence:
"Whether the forensic reconstruction can truly show King Tutankhamun's features may be debatable. What is indisputable are the depictions on paintings, sculptures and other artifacts produced by the best artists of the time, more than 3,000 years ago".

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Farouq Hosni visits textile museum

http://tinyurl.com/c7whf (State Information Service)
"Culture Minister Farouq Hosni has visited Mohamed Ali Sabeel (a public fountain) in Nahasseen district in Cairo after the Supreme Council of Antiquities has turned it into a textile museum within the context of the projects aiming at turning Old Cairo into an open museum for Islamic monuments. The museum consists of different 250 pieces of textiles and 15 carpets from the Pharaonic era till Mohamed Ali Pasha era. The museum also contains drawings, paintings and scripts showing how textile products are made".
This is the entire item on the Egypt State Information Service website.

5 on the verge of vanishing

A feature on the USA Today website picking out five world heritage and environmental areas currently under threat. One of those picked out is the West Bank at Luxor. This problem has been reported on a number of times, but it is always worth throwing out a few reminders:

"The threat: The Theban necropolis harbors among the richest trove of archaeological treasures in the world, including the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
But a "cocktail" of perils prompted World Monuments Watch to place the location on its 100 Most Endangered Sites list for 2006. Among the threats is frequent flash flooding, resulting from climate changes and new roads. And the rising water table caused by the construction of the Aswan Dam 40 years ago has created more arable land and enticed farmers into the archaeological zone, along with illegal tourism-related businesses. Tourism pressures will threaten the sites, particularly given the Egyptian government's plan to attract 10 million visitors to Luxor annually by 2010, a five-fold increase over today's numbers.

The prognosis: A management plan for the Valley of the Kings has been proposed; one for the Valley of the Queens is in the talking stages. But an integrated plan for the entire area needs to be developed, says World Monuments Watch executive director Bonnie Burnham. As it stands, she says, if the government's tourism objectives are realized, "by the end of the decade, this will be an unmanageable situation."

The full article, with the other four areas under threat, can be found at the above web page.

Sunken Egyptian treasure sees light of day

"Egyptian treasures from the Pharaohs' port of Herakleion, recovered after lying under the sea for centuries, will go on public show for the first time in the German capital in May, it was announced on Friday. The exhibition, titled Egypt's Sunken Treasures, will open at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin on May 13 for a four-month run. French explorer Franck Goddio and his team began operations to raise the remains of ships and statues from the seabed at the present-day Abu Qir bay in Alexandria in the mid-1990s. The artefacts come from the lost city of Herakleion and parts of the city of Canopus. The discoveries have helped to shed new light on the extent to which the Egyptian people, who were long ruled by foreign conquerors, were in contact with people and ideas from Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. The approximately 500 exhibits are from 1 200 to 2 700 years old and most have never been on public display. The Centre for Maritime Archaeology at Oxford University is taking part in the research work and will hold a scientific symposium in Berlin while the exhibition is showing".
This is the full item on the IOL website.