Monday, July 31, 2006

Breaking News: KV64 - New tomb identified?

Thanks very much indeed to the nameless hero who emailed me the following piece of breaking news, which has been unfolding on the Amarna Royal Tombs Project (ARTP) website. Dr Nick Reeves, who updated the site earlier in the year with some contextualization re the discovery of KV63, has announced the possible discovery of a second new tomb.

On 28th July he wrote:
"Over the summer I have given much thought to the current state of play in the Valley, to the threat of further uncontrolled excavation and to a peculiar dilemma I find myself in: for the prospect of yet more tombs is based upon rather more than mere academic hypothesis. Just as ARTP’s radar survey of the central Valley first highlighted KV63 in 2000, so our project discovered clear evidence also for the existence and location of what appears to be a second new burial, ‘KV64’ - the tomb to which KV63 quite likely relates. Ought I now to be drawing attention to the freshly reviewed evidence for this tomb - if a tomb is what our feature indeed transpires to be? Or should I be maintaining a discreet silence in the hope that the present archaeological uncertainty in the Valley will eventually pass?
Because of the intensity of interest KV63 has aroused among those currently in control I have concluded that the best option is to reveal publicly not only this second tomb’s apparent existence but its precise location also. There is deliberate method in this course of action. First of all it will prevent the possibility of yet another ‘accidental’ discovery and hurried clearance: publicising the existence of the feature in advance of its physical exposure ought to allow time for a considered, scientific approach to its investigation to be insisted upon by the wider archaeological community and arranged through the SCA. Secondly, disclosure now will limit the amount of collateral archaeological damage otherwise likely to be sustained in the sort of random search which is all but imminent. Thirdly, with the publicity the announcement of a new tomb is likely to generate there is a chance that sanity will prevail and the message at last get through that all future excavations in the Valley must be carried out systematically and at a state-of-the-art level."

Today Dr Reeves has updated the site again with some more information, including a radar image of the site concerned:
"From its location this tomb could prove to be a find of the greatest possible significance. By inference from the neighbouring tombs KV62 (Tutankhamun) and KV63 I believe it is likely to represent yet another burial of immediate post-Amarna date - not impossibly home to one or more of the missing Amarna dead about whom I first speculated in 1997 and to whose actual existence KV63 now points. Situated in a part of the Valley which was out of bounds to earlier excavators, moreover, the new find is almost certain to be undisturbed."

The site has plans and more information. It will be fascinating to see how this proceeds.

CAT scan of 2000 year old child (
The mummy of a small child originally found in Hawara by Flinders Petrie has been CT scanned by the MRI unit of the John Radcliffe Hosptial in Oxford: "Doctors carried out the scan on behalf of the nearby Ashmolean Museum in an attempt to discover what lay beneath the mummy's bandages. The CT scan involves taking X-ray images of a patient from different angles, giving a series of cross-sections which can be combined to build up a picture of the inside of the body.
Over 15 minutes, more than 2,500 individual images were taken of the three-foot package in order to build up a 3D picture. The scan established that the mummy did indeed contain human remains - the Egyptians would sometimes substitute cats, dogs or herons to appease the bereaved family if there was a problem with the embalming process.
And the remains were those of a child preserved using traditional methods and carefully wrapped in linen bandages, decorated with gilded studs.
Researchers discovered that it was a young boy aged between four and seven, who was probably killed by pneumonia. Four metal buckles had been placed on the body - on the face and above the heart, stomach and genitals - to keep the bandages in place. "
See the above page for the full article, with a photograph showing the buckles identified in the scan (if you click on the photograph to see the larger image, the buckles are quite clearly visible).

Also covered on the Sunday Mirror (in brief): (

UPDATED August 1st:
More details added at the website:

Reconstructed face of 2300 mummy (
"She has emotion, character, serenity. And though she's but a plaster reconstruction, she's far more personable than her namesake whose mummified remains lie upstairs in the Reading Public Museum. Nefrina the mummy was a woman who lived about 2,300 years ago in the Nile River city of Ahkmim. The museum has had her Xrayed and CT-scanned. From that it has learned much about her life -- and her death from complications resulting from a badly treated hip fracture. . . . But museum Director Ronald C. Roth won't let a visitor take a photo of the plaster bust on his office shelf, or even describe her surprising facial features. She's reserved for an unveiling early next year as the museum gears up for a major exhibit centering on the mummy in 2008.The museum has even changed the English spelling of her name to Nefrina -- to be more pronounceable and visitor-friendly -- from the linguistically purer Nefer-ii-ne. Created by renowned Philadelphia forensic reconstruction artist Frank Bender, the bust is based on a polymer replica of Nefrina's skull."
See the above page for the full story. This was originally taken from the Reading Eagle website, but that link no longer appears to be working.

The Reading Museum website is at, but there are no details yet about the forthcoming exhibition.

TT320 Royal Cachette website
Thanks very much to Jane Akshar's Luxor News blog for the information that TT320 has a dedicated website, at the above address. Additional information about the site, including some season summaries in English, can be found at:

Boston museum may return artifacts to Italy (
"Italian authorities say Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, one of several major U.S. museums accused of harboring looted artifacts from Italy, has agreed on the outline of a deal to return multiple items.In a joint statement, MFA Director Malcolm Rogers and Italian officials stopped short of claiming a complete agreement or disclosing details on artifacts, saying only that in a daylong Tuesday meeting, they 'made significant progress toward a final agreement that establishes a cultural partnership.' But in an interview, Italian Cultural Ministry attorney Maurizio Fiorilli, the country's lead antiquities prosecutor, indicated that the conversation included discussion of 16 MFA-held objects with disputed provenance and that the core of the pact would include return of more than one object."
See the above page for the full story.

New archaeology blog

Not relevant to many visitors, the above blog may nevertheless be of interest to some. The archaeolog blog has been launched with the following mission statment: "Archaeolog is a collective weblog dealing in all things archaeological. It is open to the wider archaeological community and cognate fields from academics to field practitioners, from professors to students. We are inclusive and have no agenda other than to foster debate. We are community driven and we wish to provide a place for archaeology at large to be visible to the widest possible audience.
Archaeolog welcomes short essays, book reviews, commentaries, and debate pieces spanning a range of topics and concerns across the discipline.
Archaeolog is committed to accelerating the debate. With the ability to comment it facilitates immediate feedback and discussion from a broad range of inquirers interested in exploring the archaeological sensibility at large."
See the above site for more details - there is already quite a bit of content to give you an idea of what it's all about.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rehearsing the move of Ramesses II
"A replica of the statue of Ramses II, weighing 83 tons, went through its last “rehearsal” to substitute the original before it is moved to the new egyptian museum. The gigantic replica, 11.5 meters high, was transported from the centric plaza of Tahir to the new Great Egyptian Museum, near the pyramids, in a nightly voyage that took eight hours. With this rehearsal, the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt wants to be sure that no unexpected risks are taken when they move the original piece next August 25. Archaeologists expect that the transportation of the statue of Ramses II will preserve it since it has been severely deteriorated by acoustic and environmental contamination that it has suffered since it was installed in 1954 ib front of the main railway station in El Cairo."
See the above page for more.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Review: Great Ancient Battles of the World CD Course (
"Great Ancient Battles of the World, taught by Professor Garrett Fagan of Pennsylvania State University. Part of the Great Courses series on CD - Those who make the military a career cannot escape studying, reading and listening about combat, warfare, tactics and strategy. Whether you make your career in the enlisted ranks or as an officer, what distinguishes the United States military is the range of independent course offerings available on-line, in training schools, leadership academies and for officers' war colleges. For some, attending a school and taking a few hours or a semester on strategy is not enough, and this means constant reading. . . . Professor Garrett Fagan is a Professor of Classics in Penn State whose main interest is ancient Rome. He delivers 24 lectures on the evolution of ancient warfare by highlighting ancient battles that have altered the course of the ancient world.The three major blocks range from prehistoric times to the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian kingdoms".
See the above page for more information.

Goettinger Miszellen no. 210

The latest issue of GM has been released - see the above site for more details. The Contents are as follows (thanks to EEF for this information):
- Hein, K.: Der pavian im Boot: ein Deutungsversuch p. 5
- Becker, M.: Djefai-Hapi - ein Name mit langer Tradition? p. 7
- Castillos, J.-J.: Social Stratification in Early Egypt p. 13
- Derchain, Ph.: La clepsydre de la dernière nuit. p. 19
- Fischer, H.-G.: Marginalia IV p. 23
- Goede, B.: Haarpflege, Kosmetik und Körperpflege aus medizinischen Papyri p. 39
- Hohneck, H.: Hatte Thutmosis I. wirklich einen Sohn namens Amenmose? p. 59
- Jurman, C.: Die Namen des Rudjamun in der Kapelle des Osiris-Hekadjet. Bemerkungen zu Titulaturen der 3.
Zwischenzeit und dem Wadi Gasus-Graffito p. 69
- Ohshiro, M.: The Cradle period of Ancient Egyptian Culture - A Study of the Foreign Elements in the Pre and
Early Dynastic Periods p. 93
- Zauzich, K.-Th.: Ein wissenschaftsgeschichtliches Curiosum p. 105
- The Sommerhausen School of Demotic Studies p. 111 [Tutor: Prof Zauzich; for info: ]

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pyramid pioneers were spot on

"Archaeologists who measured the Egyptian pyramids at Giza more than 100 years ago were surprisingly accurate, a review of historical surveys has shown. The paper, posted online by the Queensland University of Technology, reviews the major surveying projects of the pyramids Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, built around 2600 BC, south of what is now the city of Cairo.
'They weren't that far out; their surveys were quite diligent and systematic and we're getting fairly good agreement using modern technology,' said the paper's co-author Robert Webb, a lecturer in surveying in the school of urban development. But Mr Webb says laser scanning, computer modelling and other modern technology has not brought us any closer to answering one of the most intriguing questions about the pyramids. This is whether their position and measurements deliberately reflect the alignment of the planets and stars."

Also covered at:

More re "Napoleon on the Nile" at the Dashesh, NY
Another review of the exhibition Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, artists and the rediscovery of Egypt currently showing at the Dashesh in New York: "The notable French astronomer André Méchain, whose career spanned the French Revolution, said that when war divides peoples, art and science can serve to reunite them. This unusual and fascinating exhibition circles around Méchain’s claim while demonstrating, arguably, that modern democratic principles are deeply rooted in conflict, science, and art—or more precisely, symbolism based upon the visual culture of ancient civilizations."
The exhibition's run has been extended until December 31st 2006.

Beating the heat at the Field
Article about how the Field Museum in Chicago is taking measures against the heat, during the Tutankhamun exhibition: "The centrifugal chiller cooling system brought relief to exhibit curators throughout the 87-year-old, 1.25 million square foot institution by providing the one thing crucial to the preservation of priceless artifacts: year-round temperature control. Tut's caretakers require the exhibit to maintain a temperature between 68 and 70 degrees with 45 percent to 50 percent humidity, 24 hours a day. These ranges ensure the resin-soaked linen bandages covering Tut's salt-and baking-soda-treated leathery skin don't crack from climate-related expansion and contraction. But Tut isn't the only one with sensitive skin. There is Mfuwe, the largest man-eating lion on record, and flocks of North American birds, not to mention paper-and-cloth artifacts that also require temperature and moisture stability."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Season ends at KV63
The KV63 website has been updated with the following posts:

First, a post on Otto Schaden's Dig Diary: "Botanists Ahmed Fahmy and Rim Hamdy were out earlier this month to inspect the garlands and floral collars from Coffin ‘E’, with plans to return again next season. A few of our larger ‘treasures’ were transferred to the Luxor SCA magazine for storage, as they have been registered." There are also details of the preparations to close the tomb for the season, and a promise of the long-awaited new photographs when Dr Schanden returns to Chicago at the end of July. See the above page for the entire post.

Finally, a farewell message from Bill and Roxanne Wilson:
"Otto has left the Valley!! After spending the last seven months making ground-breaking discoveries in the Valley of the Kings. Otto is on his way home to Chicago. The tomb is secured, the treasures have been stored away at the magazine and the search for Ankhesenamun and Kiya has ended. Roxanne and I would like to thank everyone who have followed the exploits of Otto and his team of tomb raiders. We look forward to a brand new season in the valley, beginning in a little more than six months.
Bill and Roxanne Wilson"

Book: Tracing the history of diplomacy

Exerpt from a non-fiction book called The Ambassadors: From Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, the Men Who Introduced the World to Itself by Jonathan Wright: "In the eleventh century B.C., during the reign of Ramesses XI, an Egyptian envoy named Wen Amun travelled to Lebanon to buy timber for the sacred barque of the god Amun¬re. Much like Iosip Nepea, his journey was plagued with bad fortune. At the port of Dor in the Nile delta he was robbed of all his money, although he quickly made good his loss by seizing an equivalent quantity of silver on board a ship bound for the Syrian port of Byblos.
The prince of Byblos was distinctly unimpressed by the arrival of an Egyptian envoy. He lacked written credentials, he had brought no gifts, so there was little incentive to provide him with precious timber."
See the above page for the rest of the account of Wen Amun's activities.

Minerva Magazine July/August

The July/August edition of Minerva (Volume 17 • Number 4) is now available. Below are some of the contents - pieces which have either an Egyptology or heritage theme. See the above page for the full contents listing.

Egypt’s Sunken Treasures in Berlin — Peter Clayton
An Accidental Revolution? Early Neolithic Religion & Economic Change — David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce
Museums Past, Present, and Future: An AAMD Conference in New York — Jerome M. Eisenberg
The Global Heritage Fund: Saving Cradles of Civilisation — Ian Hodder and Jeff Morg
A Tale of Two Cities: The Coins from Herakleion and Canopus — Andrew Meadows

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Blog Update

I think that I'm now up to date with the blog. All new posts, added this morning and slotted in amongst yesterday's additions in more or less the correct date location, have been marked with ADDED in the subject line, to make them easier to separate out from those I posted yesterday.
Although Kat Newkirk has said she really doesn't need crediting for all her hard work, I could not live with myself if I didn't add a big public THANK YOU to her for all the emails with news items that she sent whilst I was away. Thanks also to Mark Morgan and Thierry Benderitter.

Kind regards
Andie Byrnes

Interview re Grand Egyptian Museum ( web page ( audio file - requires RealPlayer
A short interview with Yasser Mansour, the Chief Architect for the new museum. "A lone cement truck coughs up sand in a desert plateau near the Pyramids. It's close to 100 degrees. There's no shade, nothing to block the sun from baking the faces of construction workers. In a few weeks, they'll begin building the largest Archeological Museum in the world: The Grand Egyptian Museum."
See the first link for the transcript of the interview, or listen to the interview via the second link.

Revered Ibis surviving (just) in Syria

"Scientists have tagged three northern bald ibis, among the last survivors of a species of Middle Eastern bird once so revered that it had its own ancient Egyptian hieroglyph, in an effort to save them from extinction. Only 13 of the birds remain in Syria, Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the conservation agency BirdLife International said in a news release. The birds, with their distinctive black Mohican-style plumage and long, downward-curved red bills, were once revered by pharaohs and were found throughout the Middle East, northern Africa and the European Alps. They are now classified as critically endangered, the highest level of threat, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Until four years ago the species was thought to be extinct in Syria. The only other wild population is in Morocco."

More re Science feature on Saharan prehistory

Thanks very much to Mark Morgan for pointing out this rather more comprehensive insight into the Science article featuring the work of Stefan Kropelin and Rudolph Kuper in the Western Desert. The two page piece on the National Geographic website describes some of the conclusions about the impacts of climate change on the development of Pharaonic Egypt: "Without rain, rivers, or the ephemeral desert streams known as waddis, vegetation became sparse, and people had to leave the desert or die, Kröpelin says. Members of this skilled human population settled near the Nile River, giving rise to the first pharaonic cultures in Egypt."
See the above page for more.

Also covered on the BBC website at:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blog - a bit of an update

I promised that I would try to update the blog today, but the backlog was rather more awesome than I had anticipated - 427 Google Alerts alone, never mind the emails and websites. I've just finished processing the Alerts, and I've posted below those news items. However, I have not had the chance to catch up with anything else today, so I'll sort out the rest of the news items from the last week tomorrow. Sorry about that!

To those of you who emailed, and to whom I promised a reply today - apologies. I'll catch up with my emails tomorrow (there are hundreds, which is the reason for the delay).

The moral of the story - never go away on holiday to a place with no Internet connection! It's just too painful when you arrive home :-)

Oh, and by the way - I checked the KV63 website to see if the promised photos had appeared, but nothing has changed since I last looked, which I guess means that the SCA haven't yet given the KV63 team clearance to publish them.

All the best
Andie (suntanned and happy, but very tired!)

Exelon chief's sarcophagus at the Field (
"A nicely painted but none-too-fancy 2,200-year-old Egyptian coffin that stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble late in May has joined the Field Museum's permanent exhibits on daily life in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs.The coffin, on extended loan from Exelon Corp.'s chief executive, John Rowe, appeared in the museum's permanent Egyptian gallery Friday. . . . An avid history buff, Rowe bought the beautifully preserved empty wood coffin about 10 years ago from a Chicago dealer to display it in a glass case in his office at Exelon headquarters. He reluctantly gave it up last May 25, a day after Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, publicly castigated Rowe for owning such an object."
See the rest of the story at the above website.

Egyptian items in annual Hanover auction (
"Anyone in the market for an Egyptian mummified falcon that predates the birth of Christ can scoot over to the Birchwood Manor Antique Show.
But bring along $8,500, and an admiration of all things ancient and beautiful.
This is the 100th edition of the twice-yearly show, organizer Jesse Kohler said on Saturday, and it concludes today after being open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sue McGovern, president of Washington, D.C.,-based Sands of Time antiques, had some of the more aged treasures of ancient China and Egypt on display, including the mummified bird cadaver."

Wayne County Historical Museum exhibit expanded

"In a journey of discovery much like opening an Egyptian tomb, work has begun to refurbish the exhibit that surrounds the mummy at the Wayne County Historical Museum.
The mummy, bought for the museum by its founder Julia Meek Gaar, is one of the most beloved exhibits -- intriguing thousands of school children for decades.
The project to refurbish the exhibit and catalog the museum's Egyptian collection developed when Richmond native Bonnie M. Sampsell of Chapel Hill, N.C. -- who happens to have a passion for Egyptology -- came home to visit her mother, Gene McClelland.
After seeing the current exhibit and talking with museum executive director Jim Harlan, they developed a plan for her to renew and expand the exhibit, catalog the collection and do more research on the items in the collection."

Bonnie Sampsell wrote the excellent Travellers Guide to the Geology of Egypt, a review of which can be found on the Ancient Egypt Magazine website at:

More re Cairo Ramesses move (
"A giant statue of Pharaoh Ramses II will be moved next month from a congested square in downtown Cairo to a more serene home near the Great Pyramids in a bid to save it from corrosive pollution, Egypt‘s antiquities chief said Monday. The 125-ton statue — a popular feature on postcards and guide books — will become part of a new museum about a mile from the pyramids. Contractors plan to transport a replica next week, as a test. If all goes well, the real thing will make its way through the sprawling city Aug. 25 . . . . Once moved, it will be renovated as its new home is built. The museum, which also will house King Tutankhamun‘s mummy and other treasures, is not expected to open for at least five years."
See this very brief bulletin for more information.

The same story is covered by the Scotsman at:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cattle nomads in the prehistoric Sahara

Some sadly brief pieces about the excellent work carried out by Dr Kropelin and his colleagues in the eastern Sahara, including the Gilf Kebir. There's a bit more on the above page, but not much. (
"A 3,200-year interlude of tropical rains once transformed the eastern Sahara into a verdant savanna where seminomadic people thrived amid elephants, cattle and more than 30 species of fish, according to German researchers.After collecting more than 500 radiocarbon dates at 150 sites in an area larger than Western Europe, University of Cologne researchers found that the sudden climate change 10,500 years ago coaxed thousands of people to move into the now desolate expanse. The researchers based their dates on bone, charcoal and human artifacts found in the area.The prehistoric settlements show evidence of the first attempts in Africa at raising cattle and fashioning ceramic pottery, said geo-archeologist Stefan Kroepelin, one of the authors of the paper, published Friday in the journal Science." (
"An archaeologist who has spent decades studying sites in the Sahara says nomads who roamed the area millennia ago were the first to domesticate cattle. At the time, what is now desert was a vast savannah with a humid climate, Dr. Stefan Kropelin of the University of Cologne told the BBC. When the climate changed and the area became one of the driest places on Earth, its inhabitants moved into the Nile Valley."

See the above pages for some more details (particularly the first one). The original article was published in the journal Science (subscription required):

Saturday, July 22, 2006

ADDED Obituary: Professor Roland Tefnin

Thanks very much to Thierry Benderitter for forwarding the following sad news from Raymond Betz of the Groupe d'Etudes Egypte: "Nous avons le regret de vous annoncer le décès du Professeur Roland TEFNIN de l’ULB, lors d’un déplacement à l’étranger. Il était Directeur de la MANT (Mission Archéologique dans la Nécropole Thébaine) où il s’occupait de la restauration des tombes TT29 et TT96. A l’ULB, il donnait les cours d’Histoire de l’Art à la Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres".

ADDED: Egyptian origins of Brazilian carnival
"The writer Hiram Araújo researched the origins of carnival, which led him to Egypt. According to him, the festival came from the banks of the Nile, four thousand years before Christ, in the celebrations the locals did to celebrate the good period for planting foods. The 'Egyptian' party is today the greatest cultural manifestation in Brazil and generates a turnover of US$ 460 million in Rio de Janeiro alone. . . . Defending this thesis is the researcher Hiram Araújo, director of the Carnival Institute of the Estácio de Sá University and the cultural director of the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro (Liesa). The Egyptian origin of carnival is told in the book "Carnaval" ("Carnival")."

Friday, July 21, 2006

UNESCO involvement with Saladin Citadel project

"Can UNESCO regulations bring the fierce debate over the Saladin Citadel project to a satisfactory close? Nevine El-Aref investigates an issue to be reckoned with.
The past three months have not been easy for ALKAN Holding Company (AHC) chairman Mohamed Nosseir, locked as he has been in a bitter feud not only with the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) but, equally, with archaeologists and intellectuals resentful of a LE2.5 billion project to build the Cairo Financial and Tourist Centre (CFTC), a 260,000-square metre business and tourism megacomplex overlooking the Citadel. An ambitious project for which land has been set aside at the foot of the Muqattam Hills, the complex -- initially scheduled for completion in 2002 -- includes eight office towers, entertainment and shopping facilities, a 600-room five-star hotel and -- the highlight, a CFTC donation -- a glass-domed trading floor modeled on those of London, Tokyo and New York for the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange (CASE), which agreed to be headquartered there when the project was launched in 1999 but has, since the delay, reportedly backed out; rumour has it that CASE will move, rather, to the Smart Village on the Cairo-Alexandria highway.
Launched early February, the project was halted by Cairo Governor Abdel-Azim Waziri in response to a SCA intervention stating that the project, undertaken without the permission of the SCA Permanent Committee for Islamic and Coptic Antiquities (which refused to grant it in 2001 and again in 2005) constituted an encroachment on an archeological site, violating Antiquities Law 117 of 1983."
See the full story on the above page on the Al Ahram Weekly website.

Tourism in Egypt

"Encouraged by the rapid growth of the tourism sector in Egypt, the government is trying not only to attract more tourists but also to encourage international tourism giants to increase their business in Egypt and to attract more foreign investment in this field based on the following facts:
- Egypt saw rapid growth in tourism of 18.4 percent in 2004, the fastest in the Middle East, and was the destination for 19.1 percent of all Middle East international tourist arrivals.
- Tourism provides a significant contribution to Egypt's economy. The hotels and restaurants segment of the industry accounted for 2.8 percent of Egypt's GDP in 2004, and the total direct and indirect impact of tourism on the economy is about 11.3 percent of GDP. The sector employs around 12.6 percent of all Egyptian labor.
- Investment in the industry increased by 18.4 percent in 2004, reaching $500 million.
- Tourism is the second-largest source of foreign earnings with 23.4 percent of total receipts.
- Receipts from tourism reached $5.5 billion in 2004, an increase of 44.2 percent from a year earlier.
- International tourist arrivals increased to 8.1 million in 2004, 34.1 percent higher than in 2003.
Investing in tourism will give the investor the privilege of low infrastructure costs, income and sales tax exemption (in free zones areas), only 5 percent custom duties on imported machinery, the use of 14 efficiently managed commercial seaports and access to 232,000 university graduates annually."
See the above article for the full story.

ADDED Latest figures for Tutankhamun (
Sometimes the Chicago Tribune demands a username and password - sometimes it doesn't. Today it seems to have decided that it is a subscription site - for this article at least. It is quite a long summary of the current state of the visitor ticket sales for the latest leg of the Tutankhamun exhibition: "Advance sales account for 85 percent of ticket purchases, either online or through a dedicated phone number, 866-FIELD-03. Some visitors, discovering tickets are gone for the day they want to go, are paying more than $100 a ticket to online scalpers.The museum, which hoped to sell 350,000 advance and same-day tickets by the end of June, had sold 360,000 by midnight June 30 and since has surpassed 400,000. That's a good indication that the museum will fulfill its hope for more than a million visitors to the traveling exhibition by the time it closes Jan. 1."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Maine mills used mummy wrappings to create paper

"Researcher S.J. Wolfe, senior archivist for the American Antiquarian Society, said in the early 1850s adventurer and chemist Isaiah Deck suggested a bizarre solution to the lack of rags then used as a key ingredient to make paper. . . . Wolfe, who noted animals were also mummified in Egypt, said Deck estimated the United States' needs for cloth for paper-making could be met for 14 years by using the wrappings from millions of mummies. Stranger still, mills actually did so, including some right in Gardiner, between 1860 and 1900."
See the above page for the full story.

Tutankhamun jewel formed by meteor fireball

"In 1996 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele spotted an unusual yellow-green gem in the middle of one of Tutankhamun's necklaces. The jewel was tested and found to be glass, but intriguingly it is older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.
Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert.
But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it? The BBC Horizon programme has reported an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor."

I actually managed to see this programme whilst in Wales (thanks Dad). Although there were a lot of shots of four-wheel-drives zipping over sand dunes, and most of the information actually isn't new, it was a cheerful presentation of the facts that have emerged about the green-yellow glass that litters parts of the Western Desert and was used by both prehistoric and pharaonic people to form tools and artefacts. See the above page on the BBC News website for the full story.

ADDED Golf Course Planned with views of Pyramids

"Thomson Perrett & Lobb, an international golf course architecture firm founded by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, with partners Ross Perrett and Tim Lobb, has won the contract to design a dramatic desert course perched on hills above Egypt's ancient Pyramids.New Giza, a massive 600-hectare site just 20km from Cairo, will be a landmark development for Egypt. It will combine luxury residential areas, a five-star hotel, restaurants, shopping, spa, sporting facilities, parks - and a high-end golf course.Set on jagged desert hills and utilizing a deep cut quarry with sheer cliffs, the course at New Giza may become one of the most spectacular in the Middle East."
See the above page for the full story.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Forthcoming museums

A short item about some of the newly opened and planned museums in Egypt: "Egyptian visitors are already spoilt for choice when it comes to cultural attractions - and they will find even more evidence of the country's rich civilisation in years to come. The Culture Ministry aims to build a museum in every city in Egypt to preserve its heritage and raise cultural and archaeological awareness among residents and visitors. High-profile developments underway include the building of the Grand Egyptian Museum, National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation and Al Arish National Museum, and renovation of the Rashid National Museum, Coptic Museum and Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria."
See the above page for more details about the museums, including the new museum which opened in Saqqara near Cairo in December, commemorating the architect Imhotep.

Repatriating artefacts

"Who is the rightful owner of ancient artifacts – the famed Elgin marbles taken from the Parthenon, say, or the elegant Nefertiti head? Is it the museums and collectors housing them, or the lands from which these antiquities came? The question takes on more relevance with each new case of ownership being passed back to the country of origin. In February, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed to return several prized items to Italy. Last week, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles agreed to return two ancient works to Greece. Both countries claimed the items were stolen."
See the above article for the full story.

Although many of these articles are not specific to Egypt, I continue to cover them because they are relevant to the international heritage community in general, and each new agreement helps to form a series of precedents to guide future negotiations.

Monday, July 17, 2006

ADDED Exhibition: Photography and Egyptology

A long article featuring the role of photography in the long history of Egyptology and other heritage projects: "War, politics, religious movements and natural disasters — all key players in the formation of human history. Now, Kathleen Stewart Howe has just added one more chief element to the list, one that most people would never consider as being pivotal in history: photography. Howe, the Sarah Rempel & Herbert S. Rempel ’23 Director of the Museum of Art and professor of art history at Pomona College, has found that photography played a significant role in shaping archeology, especially Egyptology, from its very beginnings. . . . The exhibit, which will run until May 1, features 19th century photographs by Du Camp, Teynard, Greene, and others, such as Joseph Philibert, a pioneer Daguerreotypist. These photographs transport the viewer back to ancient Greece and Egypt. They provide a glimpse into the life of an archeologist working on some of the oldest monuments and sites around the Mediterranean, all through the lens of a camera."
See the above page for the rest of this fascinating feature.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blog updates

See below for today's postings.
As from today, Saturday 15th, I will be off for a week without an Internet connection again, for the very last time in the forseeable future, unless I am lucky enough to piggy-back off someone else's wireless connection. There is no landline in the house, and Internet cafes are not a feature of this particular section of Welsh landscape :-)
I'll update the blog when I return in a week's time, on the Sunday or Monday. I'm just crossing my fingers that nothing exciting happens while I'm away! Do keep an eye out for the KV63 website, because they may update it with the new photos that have been promised:
Apologies for falling off the face of the world for the second time in the space of a few weeks!


Excavating the site of the battle of Megiddo

Two page article about the excavations at Tel Megiddo, the site of a battle described in detail by military scribe Tjaneni on the walls of Thutmose III's Temple of Amun in Karnak:
"More than a hundred years ago, German archeologists began to excavate the remarkable tel (mound) of Megiddo. Since then, artifacts galore from 26 layers of civilization built on top of one another have been discovered. However, the site still has many untapped secrets waiting for a trowel or shovel to unearth and expose them to the light of the new millennium.
Scores of students from Israel and abroad, including archeology buffs of all ages, are hard at work hoping to discover the unknown as they participate in this season's dig on and around Tel Megiddo.
For 25 years a German team worked the site, mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings as Thutmose III - one of the mightiest kings of Egypt - waged war upon the city in 1478 BCE. The battle was described for posterity in hieroglyphic detail on the walls of his upper Egypt temple."

For more about the battle of Megiddo, see:

Egyptian mission finds new Ram statue in Luxor

"The Egyptian mission working in a subterranean water project at Karnak and Luxor temples found new statue of Ram during digging operations, said chairman of the Higher Council of Luxor Samir Farag on Thursday.
He said the company assigned of lowering the underground, water level in the area found the statue by chance. The project, carried out by a Swiss company with a US aid of LE 20 million, is scheduled to take two years to get the job."
This is the entire bulletin on the State Information Service website.

Saturday Trivia - Games

Tale In The Desert III
"Gamers on the hunt for a different kind of MMORPG might find what they’re looking for in the deserts of ancient Egypt. A Tale In the Desert III is now available online, offering substance rather than violence to create the gaming experience. Lead designer Andrew Tepper, aka Pharaoh in the game, took some time out not too long ago to speak with Igniq about the third incarnation of the title, which has been online in beta for a few months. The franchise has been around since 2003." See the above page for more. (Thanks again Kat).

Luxor Amun Rising
Luxor Amun Rising has you aim colored marbles at a string of constantly moving marbles in an attempt to get three of the same color in a row, at which point they break and leave the line. The object of the game is to keep the marbles from reaching the end of the track. My description here hardly does this game justice, because this is an incredibly fun time. I love a good puzzle, and so not surprisingly, I was highly impressed by this game. I enjoyed watching the pretty colored marbles, and hearing their industrial steel sound as they rolled along the track (remember how I said I am easily amused?). Above all, the game was very addictive, and I spent a lot of time attempting high scores and seeing how far into the game I could go before losing. As the name suggests, the game is nicely decked out in an Egyptian theme, so the graphics and the music reflect that.
See the above site for the full review.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Underwater museum for Alexandria?

"Setting up an offshore, submarine archaeological site anywhere is not an easy task, let alone in a city with the water pollution problems of Alexandria. Yet the remarkable discoveries made by underwater archaeologists over the last decade justify further serious efforts for what would be Egypt's first ever offshore underwater museum.
The site and form gives cause for conjecture. Should it be in Alexandria's Eastern Harbour, the Sisila area, or Abu Qir Bay? What will it look like? Should it resemble the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney or the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology at the spectacular Uluburun Wreck in Turkey, or the Musée de Marine in Paris? All these display a collection of sunken ship wrecks, flora and fauna.
These questions and more were raised at an international workshop held last week in Alexandria to discuss the feasibility of constructing such a museum."
See the abovepage for the full story.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Changes at the Valley of the Kings
If you're brave enough to tackle the heat and are planning on a visit to Luxor this summer, take note of Jane Akshar's news on the above page about changes at the Valley of the Kings, with the ticket office now moved to a new position.

More re ancient Egyptian insights into suicide
Thanks very much to N. Doyle for his comment at the above page, which offers some helpful explanation about the somewhat confusing article published re ancient Egyptian insights into suicide. The demystification is much appreciated!

Saharan Prehistory

It's a very slow news day today, so I've dropped this post into the blog for anyone interested in Egyptian/Saharan prehistory and early/mid Holocene climate.
Whilst hunting around for an article on the website of the Polish Academy of Sciences, I found a couple of Egyptian prehistory papers in their Academia magazine, both in PDF format - both very digestible and informative and very well worth a read. I've linked directly to those articles of interest below:

"The Megaliths of Nabta Playa", Romuald Schild & Fred Wendorf
"Prehistoric Herdsmen", Michał Kobusiewicz, Romuald Schild

If you are interested in changing prehistoric environmental conditions in the Sahara, and have access either to Athens or to an academic library, then a couple of papers in the current issue of Quarternary International may be of interest (Volume 151, Issue 1, Page 1-144, July 2006 - Dark nature: responses of humans and ecosystems to rapid environmental changes - edited by S.A.G. Leroy, H. Jousse and M. Cremaschi). :

There is also a recent publicly available article about global climate change during the early/mid Holocene at PNAS (Abrupt tropical climate change: Past and present - Lonnie G. Thompson, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Henry Brecher, Mary Davis, Blanca León, Don Les, Ping-Nan Lin, Tracy Mashiotta, and Keith Mountain
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has also announced that legacy content dating back to volume 1, issue 1, in 1915 is now digitally archived, searchable, and freely available on the PNAS web site at

And since I seem to have drifted off on a tangent into climate change, if you want to find out more about the basics of climate, as well as climate modelling and prediction, have a look at the rather lovely Basics of Climate Prediction website, which is a well put together self-contained course, using Macromedia Flash 8 animated sequences to introduce visitors to the subject (use the Next button at the bottom right to navigate through the sections):

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ancient Greek carvings found in Alexandria

"Egyptian archaeologists have discovered carvings with Greek inscriptions dating back to the era of the second-century Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Tuesday.The carvings, believed to form part of the altar of a temple, was unearthed while archaeologists were excavating in the area around Pompeii's Pillar in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria."
See the above page for more details.

Projects to map and record Egypt’s historical sites

First there's a piece about the GIS mapping project being developed by the EAIS (Egyptian Antiquities Information System): "The need for a single comprehensive database has become more pressing than ever, and since 2000, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has been working with the Finnish Foreign Ministry to create an organization to map and describe all of Egypt’s historical sites.
EAIS recently inaugurated its Geographic Information System for use by various branches of the SCA. The cutting-edge system is a multi-functional computerized tool capable of collecting, storing, retrieving, transforming, displaying and analyzing massive amounts of data. . . . Knowing each site’s exact location and borders is crucial so it can be granted protected status under the law. Amlaak (literally translated as ‘property’), the branch of the SCA that surveys and maintains legal records on cultural heritage sites, is one of the main beneficiaries of EAIS’ work."
The EAIS website can be found at:

On the same page there's an item about the Chicago House project to capture details of existing monuments to provide a precise record of them: "While the EAIS has been working on large scale mapping of historical sites, the University of Chicago-funded Chicago House has been documenting antiquities on a smaller scale. Chicago House is continuing an 80-year project called the Epigraphic Survey, which draws on the skills of photographers, artists and Egyptologists. Dr. Raymond Johnson is the director of the Chicago House. “The goal of our project is to create something so precise that it could stand alone as a replacement for the original — which, unfortunately, has already proved necessary in some cases,” he says. At its core, the Epigraphic Survey is a collection of enhanced photographs.

See the above web page for more on both these stories. Thanks again to Kat!

More on Ramesses statue move
"Carved in StoneHot off the Da Vinci debate, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni refused to budge an inch over the planned removal of the statue of Ramses II from Ramses Square. The move is scheduled for August 25.At a press conference last month, Hosni explained that the statue was originally slated to be moved after the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum wraps up, but the ministry has decided not to wait. Hosni said delays at the GEM and the fact that the massive statue stands in the way of urban development plans for Ramses Square factored into the decision.While it waits for the GEM to open in 2011, the statue will be housed in a special hangar where experts will begin restoring it."

More on the New 7 Wonders

For anyone who has managed to miss the New Seven Wonders, there's a short overview on the July Egypt Today website: "Once upon a time, a Greek travel journalist named Herodotus suggested the world’s very first ‘best of’ list, better known as the Seven Wonders of the World. Egypt was a double winner with the now-destroyed Lighthouse of Alexandria and the still-standing Pyramids of Giza. Fast-forward 2,500 years, and a Swiss filmmaker is pitting the world’s oldest standing wonder against 20 other heritage sites for a place among the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World.’ "

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ancient poem's insight into suicide
"Analysis of an ancient Egyptian poem by a psychiatrist and an Egyptologist shows that it describes the psychopathology of suicide with great accuracy.Dispute over Suicide was a poem written by an unnamed Egyptian writer between 2000 and 1740 BC on papyrus in hieroglyphics.The writer is known as ‘The Eloquent Peasant’, and was commissioned by King Meri-ka-re to write a poem in order to dissuade people from committing suicide.
Suicide as a form of human behaviour is probably as ancient as man himself. Attitudes towards those who take their own lives have veered between condemnation and tolerance throughout the ages.It is possible that moral and cultural views about suicide have affected its incidence, statistics on suicide, and even coroners’ verdicts. An historical approach makes it possible to understand what meaning suicide has for people with different experiences from different backgrounds and generations.
Dr. George Tadros, a consultant psychiatrist, and Dr. Ahmes Pahor, an Egyptologist and ENT consultant, used a computer programme with special software for qualitative analysis to assess the poem."
See the above web page for the full story.

Thanks to Kat Newkirk for pointing out that this is also covered at:
"The analysis suggests ancient civilisations could provide insight into wider mental health issues. It comes as the Royal College of Psychiatrists gathers in Glasgow for its annual meeting today."
This is the full item on the Scotsman website. Comments are enabled on the site, but only one has been made so far.

Egypt launches roaming museum in Japan

"Egypt will launch a roaming Pharaonic museum to tour 10 Japanese cities for two years, as a token of gratitude for Japan's support for the establishment of the Grand Museum of Egypt. Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni told reporters Monday that the museum, to be launched on July 14, would exhibit pieces discovered during the last 40 years by the Japanese Waseda University's archeological mission to Egypt. Japan, he noted, insured the mobile museum, which included 327 pieces chosen from various Egyptian archeological locations, with USD 25 million, and would provide advanced equipment and expertise to the Egyptian Museum as well as grants for four training courses in Japan for Egyptian archeologists."
See the brief article on the above web page.

Monday, July 10, 2006

UNESCO supports Luxor development plan

"The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) supported the Egyptian government's development project in the ancient Karnak area in Luxor.
A UNESCO report said that the Karnak project is very well planned and systematic, striking the right balance between preserving Egypt's legacy and Luxor's planning.
There was a fuss about protecting the residential compound and the 19th century house of the French Egyptologist George Legrain, being situated on the doorstep of the Karnak Temple. UNESCO officials said that protecting the historical site in Egypt is the sole responsibility of the Egyptian government which has every right whether to keep or demolish Legrain's house and the residential compound."
This is the complete item on the State Information Service website.

KV63 website updated

Thanks very much to Gary Maher for pointing out that the KV63 dig diary has been updated, with new photographs added. Dr Schaden's diary entry for July 9th gives a short update about coffins D and E, and there are some new photos on Photo Page 2 (with many more promised when the necessary permissions from Dr Hawass have been obtained). The Fall/Autumn edition of KMT will provide a full article about the tomb, and this should be available towards the end of August.
Schaden says that the site will be shut down for the season on Thursday July 13th, and the team will be away for a few months, with plans for next season still pending at the moment.
I'll update the blog when the new photos appear, but it looks as thought that will be the last entry for the KV63 website for the season. Here's hoping that they enjoy the break.

Getty returns artefacts to Greece

For those keeping up with ongoing international cases where ownership of antiquities is in dispute, the Getty has agreed to return two important pieces to Greece: "After months of intense scrutiny of its collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles said Monday that it had agreed to relinquish ownership to two of four important ancient works that the government of Greece says were illegally removed from Greek soil."
Museums and governments worldwide are watching to see the outcome of these cases, with a view to determining their own chances of repatriating artefacts which have been aquired from illegitimate sources.

Digital Egypt website

Thanks to Andrei Bodrov for letting me know about his new site, Digital Egypt, which includes fullscreen QTVR panoramas of Giza, together with still photos from different Luxor and Giza and a rather nice plan of the Giza pyramids. It is a lovely looking page, but the main attraction is the Panorama section, showing Flash movies of the Giza plateau - when a little red viewfinder appears you can mouse over it to see a brief textual description of what it is you are looking at.
In order to see the panoramas, you will need to download Macromedia Flashplayer, if you don't already have it installed (and if you have, you will need version 6 as a minimum), and for full screen views you will need QuickTime FULLSCREEN panoramas. You'll find what you need on the QuickTime website at - and you will then be able to see the full panoramas.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Quest for the Mummy of Hatshepsut

Thanks very much to Jen Mason for the following artilce. On Zahi Hawass's own website, Hawass argues in favour of a mummy located in the Cairo Museum being that of Hatshepsut. The first part of the article is historical background information into Hatshepsut herself
There then follows a description of KV20, the tomb of Hatshepsut, and nearby KV60, where Carter found two elderly mummified women (one inscribed for the Great Royal Nurse Sitre-In) and stuffed geese.
Hawass then suggests that the long-forgotten coffin and mummy inscribed for the Great Royal Nurse, removed from KV60 by Ayrton and Davis in 1908, and eventually located after a search on the third floor of the Cairo Museum, were in fact never supposed to be paired together: "The badly damaged coffin is typical of the 18th Dynasty. Among the remaining inscriptions is wr Sdt nfrw nswt In, 'great royal nurse In'. The mummy inside is about 1.5 m. tall but the coffin is 2.13 m, suggesting that the coffin was not originally intended for this mummy. The obese mummy still in the tomb is significantly taller, and would fit much better in the coffin." He goes on to describe the mummy and suggests that her appearence, the quality of the mummification process and the very fine linen used argue that she may have been royal. He points out the the linen on the base of the coffin, not connected directly to the mummy, was of inferior quality.
Putting all of this together, Hawass suggests that the mummy of Hatshepsut was removed from KV20 for security reasons during the Third Intermediate Period, and that it was reburied in KV60 in the coffin of Sitre-In. He beleives that the mummy currently still resident in KV60 may have been the original occupant of the coffin.
See the above URL for the full article by Hawass.

More re speculation on KV63's owner

Thanks very much to Kat Newkirk for the following item, which looks at Hawass's view that KV63 was originally a tomb and was later used as a storage area for embalming materials. Schaden and Hawass have differing views on whether or not the tomb's original owner can be identified:
"Hawass says historical evidence indicates that Tutankhamun's mother died giving birth to him and that there was not enough time to build her an elaborate tomb. Tutankhamun took the throne at the age of 8 or 9 more than 3,300 years ago. Before he died in his late teens, he asked to be buried near his mother, Hawass says.
Pottery and seals found in the tomb were similar to those found in King Tut's tomb. Faces painted on coffins in both tombs closely resemble each other as well, Hawass says.
But Egyptologist Otto Schaden of the University of Memphis, who is leading the archaeological team, says there is not enough evidence to determine whose tomb it was.
'The coffin has absolutely no royal insignia, so it's very unlikely it belongs to a queen,' Schaden says. 'As head of the antiquities, (Hawass is) in a position to draw whatever conclusions he wishes. I can't say he's wrong because I can't say whose tomb it was meant to be.'
As archaeologists continue to examine the final coffin's fragile contents, they hope to find hieroglyphics that give more decisive evidence of the tomb's former inhabitant."
See the above article for the full story.

Potential problem with Tutankhamun London visit

An article about the troubled UK deputy prime minisiter, John Prescott, which mentions in passing a possible threat to the London visit in 2007 of the Tutankhamun exhibition, which is supposed to be hosted at the Greenwich Dome: "Prescott is under pressure over his links to Philip Anschutz, the US tycoon with business interests in London who entertained the deputy prime minister at his Colorado ranch. An Anschutz company that owns a stake in the Millennium Dome is threatening to shelve £300m of proposed investment and cancel a Tutankhamun exhibition unless it is granted a licence for a supercasino."

Petrie Book Auction
On Wednesday 12th July The Friends of the Petrie Museum will be holding their annual book auction in Room G6, Institute of Archaeology (University College London), 30 Gordon Square.

Email and postal bids are both possible, and full details of how to go about this can be found on the above page.

There are a few Ancient Near East and general titles, but the majority are Egyptology. There is the usual mix of some very desirable titles, useful out-of-print books and other more general items.

'Viewing' is from 5pm with the auction starting at 6pm. All welcome. If you would like an email list of titles with the current bid status, please email Jan Picton (Secretary, Friends of the Petrie) at:

Last year they raised 2300 pounds. All proceeds go towards the conservation of objects in the Petrie Museum so please support the auction.

The Petrie Museum is located in London, UK:
More information about the Friends of the Petrie can be found at:

EEF News Digest
Last week's EEF News Digest will be available online later today at the above address, for all the latest information about exhibitions, conferences, lectures and new online and print publications, grants awards and fellowships, new websites, courses and trips, plus a round up of last week's main news items.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

David Roberts volumes to be auctioned

Inspired by an upcoming auction that will sell three of David Roberts's wonderful volumes of illustrations, this article delves into the life of the painter:
"It was to be a book like no other: bigger, more beautifully bound, more lavishly illustrated. But the man behind the world's most expensive travel book was no gentleman adventurer. He was a painter and decorator from Edinburgh with a big talent, and an even bigger ambition.
David Roberts travelled through the Middle East in the 1830s when such journeys were virtually unknown, sketching as he went. He published his work, The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia, in six immense, folio-sized volumes. Three of these volumes, covering the Holy Land and the surrounding area, bound in two magnificent books, will be auctioned at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Valued at between £8,000 and £12,000, these books are increasingly rare . . . .
But this is more than the story of a book. It's the rags-to-riches story of a shoemaker's son from Stockbridge who became one of the best-known artists of his generation."
See the above article for the full story, which is well worth reading if you are interested in the painter.

The volumes will be auctioned at Lyon & Turnbull in a Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps and Photographs sale, on Tuesday, 11 July.

To see some examples of David Roberts's work, go to:

World Heritage Map

It's a slow time of year for Egyptology news, so here's a little something just slightly off topic, for those of you who are interested - a complete map of the World Heritage sites, including those in Egypt, is available either electronically in PDF format, or in print (free of charge) at the above web address:
"This large format full-color map features the 812 World Heritage sites and brief explanations of the World Heritage Convention and the World Heritage conservation programmes, as well as superb photos of World Heritages sites with explanatory captions.
The dimensions of the map are 58 cm by 89 cm (23 in. by 35 in.), and it can be downloaded below. If you would like to receive a free printed map, please register on the World Heritage website with your name and address and to specify your preferred language (English, French or Spanish) at this address:".

Saturday Trivia

Makeover for village landmark (
"Visitors are flocking to a village to see a giant rock painted to look like King Tutankhamun. Villagers in Kilcreggan, near Helensburgh, have just given the boy king a facelift to restore him to his former glory. It is believed the boulder was first painted in the 1920s. . . . The stone was painted by Turner Prize nominee Christine Borland, who lives in Kilcreggan, with children from the Cove Park Art Club. They even got archaeologist Tom Addyman to paint on a replica of King Tut's cartouche - the name plate in hieroglyphics on his tomb."

Book: The Anubis Tapestry
Many thanks to Kat Newkirk for pointing this out. A new illustrated novel from Actionpolis combines ancient Egyptian mythology with the supernatural in an action adventure whose hero is a 13 year old boy. Sounds like a combination of Indiana Jones, The Mummy and Harry Potter - with illustrations: "Written and illustrated by Bruce Zick -- a veteran of every major film company you can think of (and having worked with directors like Lucas, Spielberg and Copolla) – The Anubis Tapestry will bring to life this fall from the fledging all ages imprint, for only $12.95. 'The Anubis Tapestry' is about bringing the mummy mythology to new life,' Zick told CBR News. 'When Chance Henry's father is transformed into a mummy, the boy must become a mummy himself and enter the dreaded Underworld to save his dad. In the process, we reinvent ancient Egypt, the Domain of the Dead, the Elder Gods, and the use of Egyptian magic. The process began when I was approached by Komikwerks to do a book. We collaborated on the story idea and then they cut me loose to create some weird and crazy stuff.
See the above page for the full review. The Actionpolis website is at: (
"British actress Rachel Weisz and actor Brendan Fraser have apparently agreed to reprise their roles in the next 'Mummy' sequel, despite rumours claiming that they had turned down the offer. Previous reports claimed that the only star to return for the next sequel in the action franchise would be South African actor Arnold Vosloo, who played the villain in the first two blockbusters. However, according to recent sources, both Fraser and Weisz will return in the roles of O'Connell and Evelyn respectively in the planned sequel, which will be set in the 1940s, after the events of the last film 'The Mummy Returns'."

See the above pages for more details.

Friday, July 07, 2006

KV63 - summary of the latest news
The Al Ahram Weekly's Nevine El-Aref summarizes the situation at KV63, with news of the latest discoveries: "Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly that the team had also opened the sealed jars and found that they contained natron, miniature vessels, bits of plant material and in some cases seal impressions. These seals matched examples found in the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) and the embalming cache of Tutankhamun (KV54), where leftover material from his mummification and funerary banquet were placed together. The seal impressions found so far include a lion and a crocodile holding a captive, the sun-disk on top of a seated Osiris flanked by the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt above the sign for gold, and the jackal-headed god Anubis with nine bound captives."
See the above page for the full story.

Mark Rose on Discovery's latest KV63 offering
Mark Rose continues to do a great job on the Archaeology magazine website with a new piece on the Discovery Channel's programme about the opening of the last coffin at KV63, accompanied by some excellent photos which I haven't seen elsewhere: "The new Discovery Channel documentary covers the opening of that coffin, what was found inside it, and what archaeologists thought of the tomb. The raw footage I was able to view showed an on-site interview with Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities; discussion between Hawass and project director Otto Schaden about the pink gold coffinette; and the opening of the coffin. The film of the opening is amazing: conservator Nadia Lokma seems out of her mind with worry, Hawass is giving orders, and Hawass and Schaden can't help but pitch in with the lifting."
See the rest of the article on the above page.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Egypt reappoints Hawass

"Zahi Hawass, Egypt's voluble and media-savvy chief archaeologist, dubbed the King of the Pharaohs, was reappointed head of the country's top antiquities body on Monday. The decision made by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif came as no surprise after four years of high-profile efforts by Hawass to rejuvenate Egyptology in his home country. . . . The 59-year-old is in theory due to retire next year when he turns 60, but his entourage has not ruled out an extension to his mandate."

Yare Egyptology update

Yare Egyptology, which specializes in supplying electronic copies of out of print books, has been having some technical difficulties since their ISP went out of existence. Brian Yare is working to relocate his operation on alternative web-space. A limited web site is expected to be up shortly at

The email service should still operate: or

Brian assures his customers that they will still receive the usual prompt service while they sort out the web shopfront, so business goes on as usual in spite of the web problems.

Sympathies also to the ISP's other 12,000 customers who found themselves without a web presence!

I'll update when Yare Egyptology's website is back up and running.

What's new in Abzu

Abzu has been updated. To find material newly added to Abzu, you can follow the "View items recently added to ABZU" link at:
Entries stay there for a month from the date they are entered. Alternatively you can make use of the RSS feed from the same page, or you can read the blog constructed from the RSS feed: What's New in Abzu blog:
This blog gives a listing of everything added to the database since September 30 2005 (1056 items).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Unearthing Aswan's past (
"Swiss archaeologists are joining the scramble to recover invaluable ancient remains in Egypt before they are lost forever beneath modern developments.
Cornelius von Pilgrim is leading efforts to unearth evidence of how people lived thousands of years ago near the southern city of Aswan. 'Many ancient towns are being covered by modern towns with deep foundations that destroy the ancient remains,' von Pilgrim told swissinfo. The archaeologist from the Swiss Institute for Egyptian Architectural and Archaeological Research in Cairo has been working alongside Egyptian experts for the past six years in Aswan."
See the above page for more.

Model coffin of Teti

The most recent issue of the British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (BMSAES) online journal is now available online. There are only two papers in the issue. One is by Wolfram Grajetzki, entitled The Second Intermediate Period model coffin of Teti in the British Museum (EA 35016). The abstract reads as follows: "This article publishes the model coffin British Museum EA 35016 bought in 1868 from the Robert J. Hay collection. It belongs to a military official called Teti and dates to the Second Intermediate Period. Its style of decoration with the high number of text columns on the long sides follows closely the full-scale coffins of the period found at Thebes and other places in Upper Egypt. The inscriptions with different spells spoken by gods are quite garbled but also have parallels on coffins of about the same period." See the second of the two web addresses for the full paper.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Blog Update

I've updated the blog with news from last Wednesday until today. Apologies for the five day absence - as I posted previously, I had a suspicion that I would be unable to find an Internet connection where I was going.

Thanks to everyone who emailed me while I was away and I will catch up with the replies over the next day or so.

Special thanks to the following for emailing me news items in my absence, so that I didn't have to look as far as I would have done: Jen Mason, Greg Reeder, Maria Fdez-Valmayor, Tony Marson, Carolin Johanson, Gary Maher and Doug Weller.

Thanks very much to Mark Morgan's comment on the blog for the information that the first of Discovery's KV63 programmes, Egypt's New Tomb Revealed aired in the UK Saturday 1st July on the Discovery Channel at 10PM. I managed to miss it, being out of reach of the relevant technology, but hopefully it will show again in the not too distant future. Di (gatekeeperdi) - I hope that you didn't miss it?

All the best

KV63 - A round-up of the week's news

A round-up of the main news items concerning last Wednesday's opening of the last coffin, with Zahi Hawass at the helm.

First of all, here's an excellent photograph of what they found when they opened the coffin:

Dissapointing for some, no mummy was discovered when the coffin was eventually opened: (
"When researchers from the University of Memphis last week saw the contents of the last of seven sarcophagi they had found in a previously undiscovered chamber in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, for the seventh time there was no mummy inside."

However, the findings were still great news for the archaeologists: (
"The first tomb discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 80 years doesn't have any mummies, but archaeologists opened the last of eight sarcophagi inside on Wednesday and found something they say is even more valuable: embalming materials and a rare collar of ancient, woven flowers. Hushed researchers craned their necks and media scuffled inside a stiflingly hot stone chamber six metres underground to watch Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass slowly crack open the last coffin's lid -- with his bare hands -- for the first time in what scientists believe is more than 3 000 years . . . . Hawass, who heads the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he believed the new tomb could have belonged to King Tut's mother. Closely related Egyptian royals tended to be buried near each other, and graves of the rest of Tut's family have already been found, he said."

The BBC website gives more information about the garland:
"Archaeologists in Egypt expecting to find a mummy during their excavation of a burial chamber in Luxor have instead discovered a garland of flowers. The 3,000-year-old garland is the first to be discovered . . . . The chief curator of Cairo's Egyptian Museum said the surprise find was 'even better' than discovering a mummy. 'I prayed to find a mummy, but when I saw this, I said it's better - it's really beautiful,' said Nadia Lokma. 'It's very rare - there's nothing like it in any museum. We've seen things like it in drawings, but we've never seen this before in real life - it's magnificent,' she said. Experts say ancient Egyptian royals often wore garlands entwined with gold strips around their shoulders in both life and death.

A slightly different take on things comes from the International Herald Tribune, which focuses on Hawass's speculations about the tomb's original owner
"Archaeology is about patience, and about expecting the unexpected. It is about finding a clue in the sand and gently sifting through layers of time. KV 63 has offered up many mysteries. . . . But archaeology is also about show business, and in modern Egypt the master of ceremonies, the only man allowed to pull back the curtain for the audience, is Hawass, the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He has a theory about KV 63, but by the end of the day Wednesday it was hard to know how much of that was show business and how much science, or whether there was a bit of both. His theory was that the tomb was the burial place of King Tut's mother, Queen Kiya. While there is evidence linking Tut's tomb with this one, others who have actually worked inside the newest tomb said there was no evidence a mummy was ever buried there."

The WSTM website lists some of the reasoning behind Hawass's conclusions:
"* A coffin that included a garland of flowers like that buried with Tutankhamun signifying sweetness in the afterlife, gold beads, lemons, cloves and garlic, which was considered a protector of the soul and guardian of riches in the afterlife;
* Contents within the last-opened coffin that date back to the time of King Tutankhamun and feature unique embalming materials and actual linen scraps used to wrap mummies;
* Seals and inscriptions that include "PA-ATEN," which an Egyptian expert believes is part of the former name given to Tutankhamun's wife, and point directly to the time of King Tutankhamun;
* A ceremonial bowl and additional pottery shards that exactly match those found in King Tutankhamun's tomb, including identical hieroglyphic messages;
* Pots found with gold lining, indicative of materials produced in a royal workshop; and
* An imprint found at the bottom of a coffin that suggests a mummy was once inside. There is a possibility a mummy may have been stolen from KV63."

From the New York Times there's a photo of Zahi Hawass with the unopened coffin:

And from CNN, photos and video footage:

There are no updates yet on the official KV63 website.

Museum offers a modern look at ancient art

"On Wednesday, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield will unveil a permanent gallery called the Hall of Ancient Treasures, featuring art from ancient Egypt, China, Rome, Greece and other areas. . . . Colorful graphics, maps, video and written commentary will bring the ancient world to life for visitors. Ironically, some of the most dramatic of these displays are about funeral practices. In the Egyptian section, for example, the new gallery features a coffin whose hieroglyphics tell the story of a stonecutter from Thebes who died 2,600 years ago. His name was Padihershef, and the coffin records the names of his parents, too, along with spells and prayers to help him along in the afterlife."
See the above two page article for the full review.

More on sarcophagi found near Giza pyramids

"Egyptian archaeologists have found two ancient sarcophagi close to the pyramids, the head of Egypt`s Supreme Council for Antiquities said on Sunday. The sarcophagi, found about a kilometer (0.6 miles) south of the pyramids in Giza, dated to the late 26th dynasty, or about 2,500 years old, council chief Zahi Hawass said in a report by the state MENA news agency. Hieroglyphs referring to the ancient Egyptian gods Osiris, god of the dead, and the sun-god Ra were painted on the larger sarcophagus, which measured about 2 meters (6 feet 6.74 inches) tall, 70 centimeters wide and 60 centimeters deep and was painted red, blue and green, the report said. The name of sarcophagus' owner, Neb Ra Khatow, and ritual incantations to the gods were also painted on the sarcophagus. The second sarcophagus had a more human form and was found inside the first. Hawass said it was in good condition, and that a wreath made of plants encircled the mummy inside."
This is the complete item on the Zee news web page.

More on the Bosnian pyramids

Mark Rose from Archaeology magazine has been following up a few enquiries of his own into the research taking place at the Bosnian pyramids: "Was Barakat there officially? What was his expertise? The news stories said that he was "sent by Cairo" (Reuters, June 5) and that he was an 'expert in pyramids' (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 2). Barakat, we were told, had sent his report to Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, who had 'recommended him to the foundation leading the excavation work' (Agence France-Presse, June 12). Taking it all together, you might believe that Barakat had been dispatched by Dr. Hawass. Could that be true?
Unable to confirm any of this, I asked Dr. Hawass directly. Concerning Barakat, he states: 'Mr. Barakat, the Egyptian geologist working with Mr. Osmanagic, knows nothing about Egyptian pyramids. He was not sent by the SCA, and we do not support or concur with his statements'."
See the above page for the full article, together with a link to the letter from Mr Hawass.

Hatshepsut at the Met closes on July 9th
A short summary of the exhibition on the WCBS TV website is accompanied by a video showing footage of the exhibition.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Digital Hierakonpolis Initiative

Not a news item, but an interesting web page looking at how technology is being used to help the excavations at Hierakonpolis, and to help communicate the Hierakonpolis findings to a wider audience. The page provides background information about the Predynastic site, and describes the company's role in applying technology to some of the challenges provided by the Hierakonpolis project.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

PalArch updated

Thanks to André J. Veldmeijer for the following update:

The July issue of is online with important news (amongothers on upcoming changes, guaranteed durability and accessibility ofour e-publications etc.), please have a look at the free Newsletter:

New issue of PalArch's Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology(ISSN 1567-214X)

Vandecruys, G. 2006. Response to Reader (2006): more geological andarchaeological data on the Sphinx discussion.

Reader, C.D. 2006. Further considerations on development at Giza beforethe 4th Dynasty.

PalArch's Center of Book Reviews has 6 reviews online:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Measuring Time (
An informal article that looks at the evolution of time measurement and the development of clocks describes three early Egytian time keeping devices - sundials, merkhets and water clocks. See the above article for the full story, but here's a sample: "Water clocks were among the earliest timekeepers that did not depend on the observation of celestial bodies. One of the oldest of this type was found in the tomb of Amenhotep - I, buried around 1500 B.C. These were stone vessels with sloping sides that allowed water to drip at a nearly constant rate from a small hole near the bottom. Markings on the inside surface measured the passage of time as the water level reached them."