Monday, April 30, 2007

KV-63 Update

A short update from the KV-63 website: "The 58th ARCE meeting in Toledo on April 20-22nd was quite eventful with yours truly giving a lecture entitled Valley of the Kings Tomb KV-63, Earl Ertman lecturing on Use of the Eye with Descending Canthi and Dr. Zahi Hawass giving the Keynote Address.
In attendance from our KV-63/KV-10 staff: Archie Chubb, Earl Ertman, Betty Schneider, Elaine Taylor, Bill Wilson, Roxanne Wilson, and myself along with consultant Salima Ikram. Readers will note that there is now New Donor Information under the ‘Contributions’ Tab. Bill and Nancy Petty have graciously offered to use their 501K resources to administer KV-63 & KV-10 donation funds.
Soon....we will have some very exciting news regarding our 2007 Season and impending events.
Otto Schaden"

Met's art theft squad suffers budget cuts

Thanks very much to Chris Townsend for the following story, which is thoroughly depressing: "The dramatic scaling down of Scotland Yard's once renowned arts and antique squad has left organised criminals free to plunder the nation's heritage, according to a leading fine art insurer.
Police have sought private money to finance the squad after its annual budget of some £300,000 was halved earlier this year. But the Guardian has learned that Scotland Yard has failed to secure a penny from insurers or auction houses, after months of discussions. Britain's art market is second only to the US and experts claim up to £200m worth of stolen art and antiques are sold in the UK each year. Interpol estimates that art theft is the fourth largest organised crime after drugs, people trafficking and arms.
Annabel Fell-Clark, chief executive of Axa Art UK, which pays out tens of millions of pounds a year to reimburse victims of art theft, condemned the slashing of the unit's budget. She warned that scaling down the unit was already having an impact on pursuing art thieves who target Britain's stately homes and museums. . . . The London based "arts squad" was formed in 1969 to pursue and prosecute criminals who operate in the second biggest art market in the world. In the past the unit, which is called in to investigate 120 cases a year, was involved in recovery of art works across the world.
According to art crime sources, officers from the squad worked with Spanish investigators to help crack one of Europe's most spectacular art robberies - the theft of 19 paintings valued at £30m from the Madrid penthouse of Esther Koplowitz, Marquesa of Casa Penalver and Cardenas.
Other successes include the uncovering of a multimillion pound British smuggling operation in which precious antiquities and archaeological artefacts were stolen from Egypt, some of which were sold at Sotheby's."
See the entire article at the above page.

More artefacts to be requested for Museum opening

"Egypt said Sunday it would seek the temporary return of some of its most precious artifacts from museums abroad, including the Rosetta Stone and a bust of Nefertiti.
The country's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, said the Foreign Ministry would send letters this week to France, Germany, the United States and Great Britain requesting that the ancient artifacts be loaned to Egypt.
Hawass has previously demanded the permanent return of many of the artifacts, claiming some of them were taken illegally.
This time, the country is requesting museums loan the artifacts so they can be exhibited either at the 2011 opening of the Egyptian Museum, near the site of the Great Pyramids at Giza, or the Atum museum, which is set to open in the Nile Delta city of Meniya in 2010, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement. . . . The other artifacts Hawass would like to see put on display in Egypt are the Zodiac ceiling painting from the Dendera Temple, now housed in the Louvre; the statute of Hemiunu — the nephew and vizier of Pharaoh Khufu, builder of the Great pyramid — in Germany's Roemer-Pelizaeu museum; and the bust of Anchhaf, builder of the Chephren Pyramid, now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston."

Travel: The metaphysical approach

A truly fascinating insight into a growing corner of the tourism industry which, thanks partly to the draw of the Great Pyramid, is taking off in Egypt:
"Ms. Billger had everyone lie down. 'When ye have released the self from the body, rise to the outermost bounds of your earth-plane,' she intoned, 'and speak ye the word Dor-E-Lil-La.'
'Dor-E-Lil-La,' the bodies replied.
This was not a cult; the participants had met only two days before. They were in Egypt on a package tour.
New Age-style sacred travel, or metaphysical touring, is a growing branch of tourism, particularly in countries like Egypt with strong ancient-civilization pedigrees. Tourists with an adventuresome spiritual focus — predominantly middle-aged, upper middle class and female — come together to improve themselves and the world, as Ms. Billger’s group intended. Their ideas are best understood as an extreme on the continuum that includes yoga, tarot and astrology, and the rituals they perform at sites deemed sacred can vary widely."
See the above page for a detailed overview.

Egyptological events to mark exhibition

Thanks to Tony Marsonf or sending me this piece about an Egyptology themed Spring festival , which looks like a lot of fun:
"Imagine a 50-ton sand sculpture molded into the head of an Egyptian king, complete with headdress and beard, and a light show projecting images of Egyptian historical sites.
There actually is a laser show at the pyramids of Giza, but it's the N.C. Museum of Art that will be transformed into a celebration of all things Egyptian tonight.
For the past couple of years, the N.C. Museum of Art has kicked off spring with its annual park festival, a daylong extravaganza of music, puppets, parades and fun. This year, organizers are trying something different.
Tonight, between 5 and 9 p.m., the museum's Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater in the Museum Park will be transformed for a family-friendly festival called "An Evening in Egypt."
The event is a logical tie-in to the opening weekend of the exhibition "Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum." Though the exhibit doesn't officially open until Sunday, festival-goers will get a free sneak preview between 5 and 8:45 p.m."
See the full item for more details of more events.

Tourism: Hotels and cruise ships

"As of November this year, Mِvenpick’s Nile fleet, which already encompasses three luxury cruisers, will be augmented by the new Mِvenpick M/S Royal Lily. The move follows an agreement to strengthen the brand’s partnership with the Nile Exploration Corporation. Following the takeover of a further vessel called Mِvenpick M/S Prince Abbas, the company’s presence will also be extended to Lake Nasser."

"Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, the Boston-based operator of stylish hotels, is expanding its portfolio in Egypt by launching a new five-star cruise ship the Sonesta St George I which sail the majestic River Nile between Luxor and Aswan."

"Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa will re-open following a multi-million dollar facelift in Q1 2008, in what is commonly know as the 'world's greatest open-air museum - Luxor,"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Restoration at the Temple of Seti I

It is great to see that Jane is back in Luxor, and back at work on her blog. Todays she reports, with lots of photographs, on restoration work being carried out at the Temple of Seti I: "This lovely temple has been suffering badly from the the rising water table and I reported and photographed massive pieces of decoration falling of the pedestals located by the first pylon.
Today I went there and I was the happiest Egyptologist in Luxor as I walked in to see a team at work. Working under the direction of Rainer Stadelmann, Elena (sorry I didnt get her surname) from Madrid University was directing workman to remove the pedestal blocks. She very kindly explained what was going on. They arrived there 10th April and are due to leave 10th May."
See the above page for the rest of Jane's report.

The mystery of Tutankhamun
An article looking at how Tutankhamun was discovered and why the Pharaoh and his tomb goods generate such interest and enthusiasm. The article is tied into the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt currently on show at the Bahrain National Museum, and some mention of the exhibition is also made.

Travel: Comparing the land of Pharaohs to Uganda

A rather good virtual tour of Cairo, seen from the point of view from a Ugandan writer, Eden Kironde. She does touch on Giza and the Egyptian Museum, but the best parts of this piece are the bits that cover areas of Cairo where the tourist on heritage type tours don't usually venture - shopping malls, nightclubs, downtown markets and the new cities built on land reclaimed from the desert:
"In a country where there’s a piece of history in almost every suburb, the grand shopping malls are among the few symbols of the current generation. The Grand Mall in Maadi screams with splendour in the quiet neighbourhood. The mall oozes with such magnificence that all Ugandan malls would be reduced to kiosks in its presence. The six-storied mall possesses all the worldly goods in its enclosure. . . . Certainly in the over 70 million populated nation, not all can afford the prices of the goods in the malls and that is when the Ataba and downtown markets come in handy. Ataba, Egypt’s answer to our St. Balikudembe, has a variety of goods ranging from foodstuffs to domestic appliances at very low prices."
See the above page for the rest of the story.

Weekly Websites

This result of this week's visits around the Web have produced a very mixed batch of subjects:

Une zone archéologique exceptionnelle
“Une mission égypto-française a mis au jour la plus riche mine de cuivre de l’Egypte Ancienne au bord de la mer tout près du golfe de Suez. Des caves, des fours, des objets en cuivre ainsi que de tessons de poterie et de nombreuses scories ont été dégagés dans ce site minier exceptionnel de 2000 ans av. J.-C.”

Images from the Louvre (
191 images from the Louvre's Egyptology collection. Mouse over the image for brief details, or click on it for the bigger image and a full description. This is a lovely website.

Bonaparte in Egypt
A book review from 2005: Bonaparte in Egypt.
Author: J Christopher Herold
Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2005).

What's New in Papyrology
Recent publications of papyri & ostraca 4th BC-8th AD; conferences, lectures etc. from Papy-L and other sources as noted. gregg.schwendner AT
Once upon a time in the early 5th century AD, a young man grew up and went to work in the Great Library of Alexandria. And now he has returned to tell you about his life and times. his is the story of Yarrl, one of the last librarians to work in the Great Library. Yarrl lived during the late 4th and early 5th centuries. It was a time of great change, the sun was sinking below the horizon for the Roman Empire leaving a serious power vacuum. A relatively new religion with a new organization, the Christian Church, were more than willing to fill that vacuum.
The Great Library was no match for the Church. Less than 124 years after Constantine legalized Christianity, the Great Library was no more.
Yarrl was born in Constantinople on October 24, 385 AD. His mother died in childbirth. His father, an officer in the Roman military, was transferred to Alexandria in 400 AD, where he was placed in charge of a Roman cohort group that provided security services for Alexandria and the surrounding region. Yarrl's father was brother to Theon, the Prime Administrator of Alexandrian University and father of Hypatia. Yarrl's father was killed by an unknown assailant in Alexandria in 401 AD. Yarrl was then adopted by Theon who provided Yarrl living space in the temple library complex and continued his education.
The events depicted in this blog are loosely based upon historical facts. But in the main the story is fiction."

McClung Museum Resources
Thanks to the EEF Weekly News Digest for pointing out the following pages. Don't forget that last Thursday's Digest will be be online later today. These pages come from the McClung Museum and contain a number of papers and reserch documents on Egyptological (and other) themes:
Research pages index page
Research Notes
Occasional Papers:
Early photographs of Egypt

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Minister of Tourism on exclusion of pyramids from New 7 Wonders

I was waiting for this: "Zuhir Garanah, the Minister of Tourism, declared that the pyramid over everyone and no one in the world has to exclude the last remaining wonder from the 7 wonders of the world."
The article goes on to give details of an international press conferences in which increases in tourist traffic to Egypt were reported. See the above page for details. Some of the phrasing is a bit wobbly.

Book Review: The Rape of the Nile

Review by K. Krist Hurst.
Brian Fagan. 2005. The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robbers, Tourists and Archaeologists in Egypt. Westview Press.
"The roots of archaeology, like every other science, are firmly set in the Enlightenment of 18th and 19th century Europe. Like botanists (whose species collections often irreparably damaged fragile habitats) and doctors (who suppressed and jailed midwives), the practitioners of archaeology must regret as well as celebrate the mad creation of science. But for most of us, comfortably sober in the 21st century, the heady exhilaration that drove the scientific movement of the Enlightenment is remote, amusing, or unfathomable. Brian Fagan's The Rape of the Nile brings that heady dangerous destructive exhilaration to life. Begun in the 1960s as a commissioned biography of that quintessential showman, Giovanni Belzoni, The Rape of the Nile was first published in 1975. This new edition from Westview Press, has been extensively revised and updated. Far from a simple catalog of the sins of the tomb robbers, The Rape of the Nile communiciates that intellectual fever that created such havoc."
See the above page for the full review

Saturday Trivia

Fiction Review: Night Life
Review by Katie McNeill: "Night Life is the first book in Elizabeth Guest’s Pharaoh’s Rising series. The first thing that caught my eye, besides the cover, was the blurb on the back from Stella Cameron: 'He was beautiful. He was lethal. And Elizabeth Guest has let him have his way with our minds - our senses. You will give in without a fight.' How could you possibly resist that?
Adrian King is what the ancient Egyptians called an Eater of Blood and a Breaker of Bones - in modern terms, a vampire. Once he was a God King, a warrior, ruling Egypt until he was betrayed by those closest to him. Now he owns the Royal Palace in Las Vegas, a casino and hotel done in an ancient Egyptian theme. He is a king still, but over a different sort of land."
See the above page for the full review.

Friday, April 27, 2007

National Museum of Sinai opens

By Nevine El-Aref: "North Sinai's National Day celebration had a different flavour this year. Apart from the inauguration of new urban development projects that usually mark the event, the city's long-awaited LE50 million National Museum is at last finished.
The two-storey Al-Arish National Museum (ANM) will make a huge visual difference to North Sinai's capital city. The temple- shaped, honey-coloured edifice has finally been revealed after being hidden for almost a decade under ugly iron scaffolding, wooden panels and plastic sheets.
Although plans for the museum were drawn up in 1994 -- shortly after the return of Sinai's archaeological collection taken by Israel during their occupation -- the foundation stone was laid only in 1998. . . . The 2,500-square-metre museum tells the history of Sinai from the pre-dynastic to the Islamic eras, displaying 1,500 objects carefully selected from eight museums in Egypt: the Egyptian, Coptic and Islamic museums in Cairo, the Recovered Antiquities Museum at the Citadel, the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, the Sinai Historical Museum in Taba, the Port Said Museum, and the Beni Sweif museological storehouses in Ashmounein. Artefacts unearthed at excavation sites in Sinai such as the Horus military road in Qantara East and Tel Basta in the Nile Delta are also on display."
See the above page for full details of the museum, together with potted histories of Al-Arish and the Horus Road.

More re charges relating to forged Amarna statue

"Bolton Council paid £440,000 for the Amarna Princess in 2003 believing it was 3,300-years-old - but in 2006 experts found it was counterfeit.
George Greenhalgh, his wife Olive, 82, and sons, George, 52, and Shaun, 46, appeared at Bolton Magistrates' Court. They were bailed to appear at Bolton Crown Court on 24 July. . . . George Greenhalgh Snr, Olive Greenhalgh and Shaun Greenhalgh are all accused of conspiracy to defraud, including allegedly selling faked and forged works of arts as genuine, between 1989 and 2006. They are also charged with money laundering fake arts and antiques and the proceeds of the sales from the antiques.
George Greenhalgh Snr and Shaun Greenhalgh face an additional charge of money laundering the proceeds of the sale of the Amarna Princess. George Greenhalgh Jnr is charged with money laundering fake arts and antiques and the proceeds of the sales from the antiques.
All four were given unconditional bail and are expected to enter pleas when they appear at Bolton Crown Court in July."
See the above page for further details.

Laser technologies document Bab al-Barqiyya (
"The CyArk 3D Heritage Archive has archived 3D digital documentation of the Bab al-Barqiyya gate of the Ayyubid Wall, part of an extensive historic preservation and development project in Cairo of the Historic Cities Support Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The archived data and media consist of a High Definition Documentation (HDD) suite of data and media that include: 3D point cloud models, architectural CAD drawings, high resolution photographs, panoramic photographs and animations of this important historic example of Muslim architecture from the Ayyubid era. The Bab al-Barqiyya (1176 CE) is a fortified gate that was built as a part of the Ayyubid wall by Salah al-Din after the fall of the Fatimid Dynasty."
See the above page for the rest of the press release.

Bob Brier talking about Unknown Man E

"Brier recently spoke as part of a series held at Camden County College's Dennis Flyer Theater. The lectures dealt entirely with the mysteries and history of Ancient Egypt and brought to the college experts on the subject from all around the world.Not originally scheduled to speak that night, Brier, whose wife was unable to speak due to an illness, filled in and provided a glimpse into the mysteries surrounding an ancient mummy that had been labeled only by the name Unknown Man E". Bob Brier is quoted extensively in this piece, where he describes how the mummy was treated when first discovered in 1881, and why he believes that it is actually the mummy of Prince Pentawere, son of Ramesses III, who was believed to be involved in a royal harem conspiracy. Se the above page for an account of the lecture.

Book review: Excavating Egypt

Review by Stan Parchin
Betsy Teasley Trope, Stephen Quirke and Peter Lacovara, et al.
Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London (exh. cat.).
Atlanta, GA: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2005.
"Books dealing with both ancient Egyptian art and its scientific study rarely strike a balance in their treatment of the two topics. From an art historian's perspective, Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London excels in its even coverage of both subjects. This highly readable catalogue for the special exhibition of the same name describes in 205 pages more than 160 works of art and artifacts from a renowned British collection."
See the above page for the full review, with photographs.

A short review is also shown on Ancient Egypt Magazine's website, near the end of the page, at:

Hierakonpolis Online
Many thanks to Kat Newkirk for pointing out that the Hierakonpolis page on Archaeology magazine's website has been updated.

Czech Egyptologists report

Thanks again to EEF for the following link in the News Digest:
An interview with Ladislav Bares: " Czechs are now involved in excavation work in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria and Kuwait. All have come up with some important finds, but it is the Egyptologists who have really made an international impact. After more than a century of research and 40 years of excavation work in the land of the Pharaohs, Czech archaeologists have many important finds to their name. Ladislav Bares is head of the Czech Institute of Egyptology".
See the above page for the transcript of the interview, which is also available in audio.

Lost artefact from tomb of Tutankhamun?

Thanks to EEF for the following link in the EEF News Digest:
A small story which seems to be a teaser for a print version of the story. Basically it suggests that a ring in private ownership, found in the UK by a metal detector user on a beach on the Isle of Wight, may have been part of a collection lost in a ship wreck. It goes on to suggest, on what grounds I don't know, that it may have belonged to the Tutankhamun treasure, and that it is cursed. See the above page for details, but it has more about the bad luck that the familiy have experienced than information about the ring. There is a photo.

Travel: Aswan and Abu Simbel photographs
Travel snaps from a recent visit to Abu Simbel (first link) and Aswan (second link). Photos by Judith Serrao.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Overview of the current Nefertiti situation
The Times has put together a summary of the main points concerning the ongoing dispute between Germany and Egypt over whether the Nefertiti bust should, or should not, travel to Egypt for the opening of the Grand Museum in 2012: "The special beauty of the Nefertiti bust — the face painted on limestone, poised on top of a swanlike neck — was apparent to Borchardt as soon as he found it in the old settlement of Amarna, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Cairo.
'Suddenly we had the most alive Egyptian artwork in our hands,' he wrote in his diary. 'You cannot describe it with words. You can only see it.' To take it out of the country, Borchardt had to hide the bust on an inventory and declare it as a minor find.
Ironically, the only official who ever considered giving it back was Hermann Goering, the Nazi air force chief, who later plundered Europe’s art collections. Hitler overruled him: Nefertiti was to be the jewel in the crown, he said, of a redesigned Berlin that was to be called Germania, the capital of the Thousand-Year Reich."
See the above page for more.

I've stopped posting about this subject. There are lots of reports, but they all duplicate what has already been covered in earlier articles. When something new turns up on the subject, I'll start posting again.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies - April 2007

The latest issue of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies (April 2007 , Volume 66, Number 2) is now out, containing the following pieces that are relevant to Ancient Egypt. See the above page for the full contents listing.

Paul John Frandsen. The Menstrual "Taboo" in Ancient Egypt
Book Reviews:
- Emily Teeter, Ancient Egypt: Treasures from the Collection of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago (Lana Troy)
- Helen Jacquet-Gordon, Temple of Khonsu. Vol. 3. The Graffiti on the Khonsu Temple Roof at Karnak: A Manifestation of Personal Piety (Eugene Cruz-Uribe)
- Jaana Toivari-Viitala, Women at Deir el-Medina: A Study of the Status and Roles of the Female Inhabitants in the Workmen's Community during the Ramesside Period (Emily Teeter) 128
- Wendy Smith, Archaeobotanical Investigations of Agriculture at Late Antique Kom el-Nana (Tell el-Amarna) (Salima Ikram)
- Amanda-Alice Maravelia, Magic in Ancient Egypt: Metaphysical Quintessence of the Land of Gods (Helen Tourna)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Experts bone up on ancient riddle (
This is rather fun:
"Two unique linen-wrapped bundles containing remains which could be up to 2m years old were unearthed in the early 1920s by celebrated archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, who excavated many of the most important sites in Egypt.
The bulk of his finds went to University College in London, but for a long time it seemed the bundles had disappeared off the scientific map - until they turned up in Bolton.Intrigued by the discovery, Tom Hardwick, keeper of Egyptology at the museum, and archaeology expert David Craven turned detective to reopen an investigation, hoping to find exactly what they had.
They are now awaiting absolute confirmation of their theory from other experts worldwide.
Meanwhile, they are inviting members of the public to let their imagination run wild and let them know what they think the bones could be. . . . Bolton Museum is offering a prize for the right answer to its bone competition - or the suggestion that comes closest."

The museum's page dedicated to the competition is at the following page, complete with a photograph of one of the bones:
The competition closes on the 5th May 2007.

Exhibition: Global Views: 19th-century Travel Photographs

"In the second half of the 19th century, professional photographic firms arose in the major cities of Western Europe, as well as in more remote travel destinations such as Greece, Egypt, India, Asia and the Middle East. Catering to an influx of European and American tourists, a growing number of travel photographers documented historical monuments, archaeological sites and scenes of daily life from the Middle East and Asia.The exhibition features some of these unique images, which have historical value in terms of the development of photography and the study of the architectural and social history of the regions in which they were produced."

New York Museum Opens Greek And Roman Galleries

As Kat pointed out when she sent me this link, this is only loosely connected to Ancient Egypt, but it is a very quiet day on the news front, and I think that it may be of general interest: "The museum's new Greek and Roman galleries - centered on a two-story skylit hall that evokes a Roman public space - opened to the public Friday. Philippe de Montebello, the museum's director, called the opening 'a truly defining moment.' With the galleries once again home to ancient statues, bronze sculptures and even an Etruscan chariot, visitors will get a glimpse of history in a logical order - from the north end, which houses Egyptian art, to the new spaces in the south end spanning from the Bronze Age through the reign of Constantine, said Carlos Picon, curator in charge of the Greek and Roman art department."

Book review: The City of the Sharp-nosed Fish

Another review of City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish: Greek lives in Roman Egypt by Peter Parsons Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 320pp, ISBN 0297645889. Review by William Dalrymple.
"Much of the excitement of Parsons's book derives from the astonishingly contemporary feel of much of the material. A little boy, Theon, writes to his parents: "If you don't take me with you to Alexandria, I won't eat, I won't drink, so there." A correspondent named Akulas writing from cosmopolitan Alexandria admits he is missing his puppy, Soteris, and worries about her "since she now spends time by herself in the country". There is gossip about politicians consorting with rent boys, complaints about tax and death duties, even some muttered anxieties about the growing influence of Alexandria's Jewish lobby. And then there are the horribly contemporary religious fanatics, running around Egyptian city centres trying to lynch and assassinate writers and freethinkers, and to destroy idols and temples - though, in the fifth century, these fanatics were not Islamists, but early Coptic saints like St Cyril and his monks, 2that black-robed tribe who eat more than elephants, sweeping across the country like a river in spate ravaging the temples'.
See the above page for the rest of this comprehensive review.

Computers in Papyrology and Paleography

A message from Professor Roger Boyle [], Head of the School of Computing, University of Leeds on the above page, and is copied below:

Dear all -
I have been asked by the British Machine Vision Association to consider running a day on “Computers in Papyrology and Paleography” - specifically the use of computer imaging and image processing. The definitions for the day can be interpreted very broadly.
Such a day would probably run in Leeds, probably in late 07/early 08.
This message goes to a provisional list of those who may be interested (full list follows this message). Can I ask:
- Might you be interested?
- If so, might you be prepared to contribute a paper?
- Might you be able to nominate a keynote speaker [perhaps yourself ]?
I would be grateful if you could forward this message to anyone you feel might like to receive it, and to let me know of any gross omissions.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 10:18 am

Paléorient is now online (
Paléorient, a CNRS International pluridisciplinary journal, is dedicated to the prehistory and protohistory of South-West and Central Asia: "Created in 1971, Paléorient is an international and pluridisciplinary CNRS journal. It promotes exchange of ideas between prehistorians, archaeologists, and specialists concerned by Man evolution in his environment from his earliest appearance to the beginnings of urbanization in the area that extends from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf
Twice a year, Paléorient offers synthetical contributions, notes of information, reviews that are published in French or in English. Some issues are thematic ones.
It is internationally recognized as the natural place to present and to discuss recent research and results in all the fields that concern the prehistory and protohistory of the Middle East and Central Asia."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Joan of Arc relics revisited

More on the article published in Nature about the discovery that relics thought to have been belonged to Joan of Arc are in fact parts of an Egyptian mummy:
"Relics advertised as being remains of St. Joan of Arc are no such thing and may in fact be parts of an Egyptian mummy, Nature magazine reported on Wednesday. The magazine quoted French researchers who analysed the relics and found they did not appear to be the burnt remains of anyone from the 15th century, but in fact dated to more than 2,000 years ago. A vanilla smell suggests natural decomposition, not burning, the magazine quotes Philippe Charlier, a forensic scientist at Raymond Poincare Hospital in Garches, as saying. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 in Rouen. The so-called relics were discovered in 1867 in a jar in the attic of a Paris pharmacy. The Roman Catholic Church formally recognised them and they are kept in a museum in Chinon, France, that belongs to the Archdiocese of Tours. They include a blackened human rib, a cat's leg bone, some black chunks and a fragment of linen. Cats were often embalmed in ancient Egypt, but were also sometimes burned at the stake with accused witches in medieval Europe."
See the above for more details.

The full article is available to subscribers, or for purchase on Nature's website:

Q&A about the Tutankhamun exhibition
A sort of Frequently Asked Questions listing from the New York Times about the Tutankhamun exhibition including why it is not going to New York and what sort of offering the exhibition actually is: "It’s atypical in that most blockbuster exhibits make at least gestures toward an intellectual conceit. Here, the wall labels are pretty basic, and the idea is mostly Look at all this awesome gold stuff. The museum’s shop even sells knockoffs of Hawass’s hat." But the article recommends the exhibition, and says that it just requires a little reading beforehand if you're not already familiar with the period.
If you are asked for a username and password, enter egyptnews in both fields.

More on New 7 Wonders dispute

I bet this isn't the sort of publicity that the New 7 Wonders people had in mind when they started this project:
"Egypt officially protested against a contest sponsored by a Swiss Tourist Company to choose the new wonders of the world. The Giza Pyramids in Egypt were ruled out from the contest. Dr. Zahi Hawwas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said that he sent an official address to the UNESCO Director General, the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee, and the UNESCO Culture Director General asking them to intervene and immediately stop this farce."

Tourism: Internet for Tourism Sector
Speaking as a not infrequent visitor to Egypt, this initiative is very welcome:
"As part of the USAID project While in Egypt Stay Connected and in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Hotel Association, the Hotel Information Programme tours seven major tourist areas across Egypt.General Mohamed Hany Metwally, the Governor of South Sinai,
opened the inaugural session of the Hotel Information Programme, the first educational seminar in Egypt on the importance of the Internet for the tourism sector. It is part of the USAID project 'While In Egypt Stay Connected", which stems from the vital role the tourism sector plays in pushing the wheel of development, enhancing and boosting the national economy, and most of all, generating job opportunities for Egyptians.The Hotel Information Programme is the result of a number of studies carried out to create solutions to further enhance the tourism sector in Egypt, and make Egypt more connected to the world. The programme was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Hotel Association. Together, they collaborated to create this touring educational seminar to info Egypt's 3, 4, and 5-star hotel operators about the importance of the Internet in tourism today, in addition to the New No s required by the Ministry of Tourism."We believe that the development of the tourism sector through complying with global standards and mechanisms is crucial. We believe that Internet services are one key step amongst many steps needed to further advance this vital sector. The aim is to provide wireless Internet services everywhere in Egypt, to add to the existing wired Internet services that are already widely available," said Mr. Ismail Abaza, Senior Tourism Advisor to the project. 'We are initially launching the Hotel Information Programme in major tourist areas, with the aim to helping tourists 'stay connected 'while visiting Egypt."Starting in Sharm El Sheikh on April 16, the hotel information seminar will travel to seven major tourist areas through to late May: Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, Aswan, Taba, Alexandria, and Cairo. The programme's agenda includes the most prominent Internet-related companies that provide web design, Internet, and communications solutions. These companies will showcase cutting-edge programmes and services, with special offers for the participating hotels. One example is the provision of floating hotels with state-of-the-art technology to stay connected to the Internet while navigating between Luxor and Aswan."
The article is still on the site at the time of writing, but there it will not be archived on that site, so it is reproduced here in full.

Tourism: Egypt and India (
There's something really rather surrealistic about this piece:
"The Egypt Tourism Authority has signed Celina Jaitley as their Brand Ambassador to endorse Egyptian tourism in India.
The announcement was made by the chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority Amerl El Ezaby.
He said that they are happy to be associated with Celina Jaitley as her personality complements the vibrant beauty of Egypt and very well represents the spirit of their campaign.
Celina began her endorsement of Egypt at the press conference by inviting people to experience the mystique and charm of Egypt.
It is said that almost half million US dollars will be spent in next six months to encourage travel between India and Egypt.
Celina’s last release was Suneel Darshan’s Shakalaka Boom Boom. The film also starred Bobby Deol, Upen Patel and Kangana Ranaut."

Tourism: Statistics for February 2007 (
"Some 775,000 tourists from different world's countries visited Egypt last February, up by 16% compared to February 2006, said chairman of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) Abu Bakr Al-Gendi. Tourist nights spent by those tourists accounted for 6.4 million nights, with 15.3% increase versus February 2006, he added. European tourists topped the list of tourists that visited Egypt last February followed by tourists from the Middle East countries, East Asia, North America and Africa. Arab tourists totaled 124,600 up by 1.1% compared to February 2006."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ancient Egyptian flood prevention at Karnak Temple

"Remains of an ancient Egyptian wall used to prevent the leakage of the Nile flood waters from spreading over the Karnak temple in Luxor were discovered on Thursday at the temple's eastern side, culture minister Farouk Hosni announced on Sunday.
Hosni revealed that the wall was accidentally found by Egyptian excavators during an archeological inspection of the site undertaken as part of a development project aimed at removing encroachments accumulated over the years on the temple's different sides.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), explained that the newly-discovered wall is only 400 km long and 7m in height.
More excavations will reveal more relevant structures, said Hawass.
The wall was originally built of huge sandstone blocks brought from Al-Selsela area in Aswan to stop the water from reaching the temple during the annual Nile floods.
Hawass added that early studies on the wall and the decorated blocks scattered around it, showed that several kings had contributed to its construction.
The earliest was during the 25th Dynasty and the latest was during the reign of King Psammuthis of the 29th Dynasty, all of which assert that the construction of the wall started in the 26th Dynasty and lasted until the reign of King Nekhtanebu, the one who built the Karnak temple’s first Pylon.
Sabri Abdel Aziz, head of the ancient Egyptian department in the SCA, remarked that the discovery is important in as far as it highlights how ancient Egyptians protected the Karnak temple from the Nile flood.
It also reveals that temples built on the banks of the Nile were protected from the Nile flood by walls which led to the formation of several river islands in front of these temples that were inhabited by Egyptians during the Greco-Roman era.
Greco-Roman clay pots and pans were also found."

More about the Amarna forgery at Bolton Museum (
It is nice to see that there has been a follow-up to the discovery that the headless statue, created in the style distinctive to the Amarna period, and purchased for 440,000ukp by Bolton Museum, was found to be a forgery:
"Last week, antiques dealer George Greenhalgh, 84, and his 82-year- old wife Olive were quizzed by detectives from the Metropolitan Police.
The couple and their 52-year- old son, Shaun, have each been charged with conspiracy to defraud, including alleged offences of selling faked and forged works as genuine between 1989 and 2006 and money laundering the proceeds of the sale of such antiques.
George Greenhalgh and Shaun Greenhalgh also face an additional charge of laundering the proceeds of the sale of the Amarna Princess.
The couple's elder son, George jnr, aged 53, has also been charged with money laundering. The four are due to face Bolton magistrates on Thursday."
Originally reported at a number of sites including the BBC:

Exhibition: More re Temples and Tombs

"The 6,000-pound red granite lion symbolizes the power of the Egyptian Pharaoh. But Mary Ellen Soles, curator of ancient art at the N.C. Museum of Art, said the sculpture reminds her of 'a big kitty cat.' It’s the first thing people will encounter when visiting Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from the British Museum. Soles pointed out the big cat’s casual pose. One front paw is crossed over another and his tail curls around the front of his body. There’s a benign expression on his face. Soles noted the 'acutely observed naturalism,' such as the animal’s ribs and a pouch of sagging skin incorporated into the sculpture. Those elements contrast with the more traditional, formal look of the ruff around the lion’s neck. The sculpture was created for Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt during one of its most prosperous times. It was later re-inscribed for his grandson, Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut.
Moving the lion and other heavy objects into the museum a few weeks ago was no small feat, requiring the efforts of man and machine. 'It was as if they were building the pyramids,' said Larry Wheeler, the museum’s director. Unless you travel to Egypt or to The British Museum in London, Wheeler said, you’re unlikely to see an exhibit of this quality or scope. The exhibit has been traveling to different cities in the United States and Canada. It will go to a few more locations before the artwork is returned to London."
See the above page for the full story.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hawass overview of current status in various projects
Some of the new mummies that have been unearthed of late are likely to be those of ancient Egypt’s most controversial royals, announced Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Egypt’s chief archaeologist, who spoke on Wednesday to a packed hall at the American University in Cairo, noted that the mummies that are awaiting confirmation of scanning tests are among some of the new discoveries in the field of archaeology. This is in addition to a number of new findings from excavations which were carried out in Heliopolis and the Valley of the Kings, Luxor.
Hawass also said that four doors that have been pinpointed inside the big pyramid could also reveal some of the secrets of that ancient wonder.
He pointed out that the controversial mummies are thought to be those of Queen Hatshepsut, the only female ruler in ancient Egypt, whose mummy was found in Al Deir El Bahari along with that of her father Thotmous I . . . . Hawass also said that a tomb tucking away at a Ptolomite site near Alexandria could be sheltering the mummies of Antony and Cleopatra, the most famous Greek lovers of all time. . . . Hawass also announced that a temple belonging to King Ramses II, as well as a number of other tombs, were unearthed in Heliopolis."
See the above article for the entire story.

More re removal of Giza pyramids from New 7 Wonders

The pyramids of Giza have been removed from an Internet competition to name the new seven wonders of the world, but the anger of Egypt's antiquities chief remained unmollified on Thursday. Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Bernard Weber's contest to choose the seven new wonders of the world through global voting enraged Egyptian officials when the pyramids -- the one of the original wonder still standing -- were included in the competition. 'After careful consideration, the New 7 Wonders Foundation designates the Pyramids of Giza -- the only remaining of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World -- as an Honorary New7Wonders Candidate,' said a statement on the website which added that votes could no longer be cast for the pyramids. . . . Thursday's move has done little to dim his anger over what he calls a crass 'publicity stunt.' 'We didn't ask anything from these people and we reject the tourist company that is trying to choose the seven wonders -- they are cheating the Egyptians,' Hawass told AFP, referring to Weber's organisation. 'I am against this subject totally. I cannot accept a Greek historian choosing the seven wonders of antiquity and have a tourist company choosing the new ones,' he added.
See the above page for the rest of the story.

The original statement from the New 7 Wonders Foundation can be found at:
Click on the pyramid image to go to the page concerned.

Weekly Websites

This project focuses on the site of Quseir al-Qadim on the southern Egyptian Red Sea coast, and its surrounding landscape. The project is a collaboration between researchers from a number of institutions world wide and is particularly focussed on the sharing and representation of archaeological knowledge.
The site of Quseir al-Qadim (old Quseir) is eight kilometres north of the modern town of Quseir, on the Egyptian Red Sea coast. Four seasons of fieldwork have now been completed on site. The current project is directed by David Peacock, Lucy Blue and Stephanie Moser from the Department of Archaeology.
The site is believed to be the port of Myos Hormos, referred to by Pliny, Strabo and other ancient authors, and thus a very important part of the route between the East and the Mediterranean. The fieldwork programme for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 had three aspects: excavation of the ancient town, a study of the sabkha behind the site, which was once the ancient harbour, and a study of the immediate hinterland in order to understand connections with Coptos (Qift) and the Nile.

Mons Porphyrites Project
In five seasons, between 1994-1998 the Departments of Archaeology at the Universities of Southampton and Exeter surveyed and excavated at the quarry complex of Mons Porphrites. Mons Porphrites was the source of purple Imperial Porphyry, much sought after in the Roman and Byzantine worlds and which has continued to exercise symbolic influence in western society. The quarries lie in the Gebel Dokhan, or 'smoky mountain', itelf situated in the Red Sea mountains of eastern Egypt. The purple Imperial Porphyry is found nowhere else in the world, except in these mountains (together with other types of Porphyry) and the Romans went to extraordinary lengths to acquire substantial amounts of it.

Bir Umm Fawakhir Byzantine/Coptic Gold Mine
"The Bir Umm Fawakhir site, surveyed by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in 1992, 1993, and 1996, is the first entire ancient Egyptian gold-mining community to be studied archaeologically. Located in the central Eastern Desert of Egypt, Bir Umm Fawakhir was long believed to be a Roman caravan station serving traffic traveling from the Nile to Red Sea but was actually a 5th-6th century Byzantine/Coptic gold-mining town. The sprawling settlement is estimated to have housed slightly more than 1,000 people who worked the mines riddling the mountainsides and reduced and washed the ore."

Egyptian Study Society
Navigate in the left hand navigation bar, first to The Ostracton and then to The Ostracon Archives. The Egyptian Study Society lists some of the archive articles from its journal on its website.

Old photos of the Giza Plateau
Three pages of photographs taken from the book Egypt Caught in Time by Colin Osman and from the collection of photos and postcards from the Great Pyramid of Giza Research Assocation.

Egyptomania: Ancient Egypt at the movies
"This site offers an elaborate overview of motion pictures and tv movies that prominently feature Egyptology and ancient Egypt, its monuments or sites. Looking for those magnificent mummy films, or films featuring pyramids or Cleopatra? This is the site to visit!"

Restoring Djoser's Step Pyramid

"The Step Pyramid complex stood untouched until the 17th century, when European travellers attempted to enter and explore its underground chambers. At the turn of the 19th century, shortly after the Napoleon expedition to Egypt which attracted the world's attention to Egypt's various monuments and archaeological sites, research inside the pyramid began. In 1821 the Prussian General Johann Heinrich Freiherr von Minutoli discovered the access tunnel that leads under the pyramid from the north. In 1837 the British pyramid researcher John Perring found the underground galleries beneath the main structure. Soon after that, a Prussian expedition led by Karl Lepsius carried out more excavations on the pyramid side. Systematic archaeological research on the Djoser complex was first conducted only in the 1920s by the British archaeologist Cecil Firth. He was soon joined by the young French architect Jean-Philippe Lauer, who made the excavation of this complex his lifelong mission. Later, others would work at the site, but most of our current knowledge about this complicated structure can be attributed to Lauer.
Regretfully, however, the sands of time have taken their toll of the Step Pyramid. Most of its outer casing has gone, the core of the masonry has disappeared in some places, deep cracks have spread all over the walls and ceilings of the pyramid's underground corridors and its southern tomb, while several parts of the queen's tunnels, found beneath the pyramid's main shaft, have collapsed. For safety reasons the pyramid is closed to visitors.
Several solutions have been proposed to save this unique monument. Now, following three years of archaeological and scientific studies, a comprehensive restoration project to save and preserve this great pyramid from further destruction has been outlined."
See the above page for details.

Yet more on Egypt vs Germany re Nefertiti

"Secretary of the Supreme Council for Antiquities Zahi Hawas confirmed on April 20 that he will send an official letter to the director of Berlin's Altes Museum, requesting the approval of officials of the museum on loaning Nefertiti bust to Egypt for a three-month period, on the occasion of inaugurating the largest world museum of antiquities in mid June 2011 and which is currently set up by Ministry of Culturel on 117-fedden area on Alexandria Desert Road.
Hawas said the request shows keenness of Culturel Ministry officials to provide the chance for Egyptian and foreign visitors of the grand museum to witness their beautiful queen Nefertiti amid her counterparts of Egypt's ancient Pharaonic history.
Hawas rejected statements made lately by the German culture minister and museum director on the disapproval of German officials to Egypt's request of their loaning Nefertiti bust as they claimed danger of its damage during freight and transport."

And at:

Egyptologists keep ancient world fresh

"After she died around the time BC turned to AD, she had to charm knife-wielding gate keepers of the afterlife, convince 42 gods of her sinlessness, and finally see her heart weighed against the truth, knowing that any slip meant this seat of consciousness would be kibble for a waiting monster with a crocodile head, hippo hind parts, and the chest and forelegs of a leopard.
From the triumphant look of the Egyptian woman depicted on the burial papyrus, arms upraised as though signaling a touchdown, Tamesia waltzed into the afterlife intact.
But if it weren't for Terry Wilfong, of the University of Michigan, another part of Tamesia's burial papyrus would not come true.
Mr. Wilfong's painstaking interpretation of the papyrus, owned by the Toledo Museum of Art, is helping her name live forever - or at least through today - just like the papyrus promised."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Egyptian pyramids no longer in New7Wonders contest (
"The ancient Egyptian pyramids of Giza have officially been removed from the list of candidates in the New7Wonders contest as officials from the New7Wonders Foundation have designated the pyramids as an 'Honorary New7Wonders Candidate.'"After careful consideration, the New7Wonders Foundation designates the Pyramids of Giza—the only remaining of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World—as an Honorary New7Wonders Candidate," reads an announcement posted the New7Wonders official website.The designation was made after Egyptian officials raised their voice over the contest in which they believed questioned the status of their historical site."

And at:

Travel: Looking at Egypt from Cairo to Luxor (
More from Oliver Phillips and his recent trip to Egypt, who gives his impressions not only of the key tourist sites, but of the country that houses them: "Despite the fact nearly all have water and electricity supplies, old habits die hard and some women still sit on the water's edge, washing their eating utensils or clothes in the river, while talking to their neighbours.
Then, at Aswan, I passed a river-taxi and watched open-mouthed as an Egyptian in a suit and tie, scooped up a glassful of the Nile and drank it. The local boatmen informed us they did likewise and were immune to the multitude of bacteria.
Of course the river featured strongly in our visit for 80 per cent of the population live in the valley - a 20-mile wide stretch of fertile land between the arid sandstone mountains on one side and the Sahara on the other.
The crisp definition of fertile and arid was remarkable. We travelled comfortably by train from Cairo to Luxor. It took nine hours, which might seem like hell, but it was fascinating."

Saturday Trivia

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
"This week's Tomb Raider Anniversary video brings the dead back to life – and not in a good way. Get a load of Lara doing what she does best in our brand new video.
Watch her fend off those deadly and super nasty cat mummies in their brand new graphical glory as they rise again to block her quest to invade the Egyptian tombs.
Tomb Raider Anniversary beings to new life the game that started it all – the classic memories and experiences of the original are brought back to life, now with vastly improved graphics and gameplay mechanics.
Become immersed once again in the world that so many players fell in love with, and the game that was first to put the spotlight on the video game icon, Lara Croft."

Hawass Dig Days: Ambassador Abdel-Raouf El-Reedi

"When the Ramses II exhibition toured 12 cities in the United States in 1987, I discovered that Ambassador El-Reedi was passionate about Egyptology. He also realised that this could be used as a tool in helping his country in the United States. We travelled together to many cities to announce the coming of the Ramses II exhibition. We went to Denver, Dallas, Jacksonville, using culture as a political message. El-Reedi actually captured the hearts of the Americans. We also went to Memphis for the opening of the exhibition. El-Reedi successfully played an important role in bringing the Ramses II exhibition to Memphis, Tennessee. After the opening event we travelled to Arkansas and met Senator Bill Clinton. Ambassador El-Reedi in his beautiful manner raised his finger to me and said, "you should know that this man will be the president of the United States, and he will be a good president."
When El-Reedi returned to Egypt he was one of the few ambassadors to become a public figure. This was due to many reasons, such as his smile, his love of people, and his honesty. The Egyptians recognised what he had done for Egypt in the United States."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More re Egypt vs. Germany re Nefertiti
This is probably the best summary of the situation and the various remarks made, to date. I did find it interesting that Hawass says that he believes that Germany are afraid that if they loan the bust, Egypt will not return it.
The German group who have launched a campaign to discuss how to resolve the long disputed issues surrounding the ownership of the Nefertiti bust present their arguments at the above website.

Hawass's launch of a "scientific war" is reminiscent of some of his tactics to secure the permanent return of specific artefacts - for example when he threatened in 2005 to suspend Belgian excavations at Deir el Barsha and disrupt Britain's scientific links with Egypt if the Leuven and Fitzwilliam museums did not return specified items:

In 2005 Hawass also requested the assistance of UNESCO for negotiating the return of the Nefertiti bust, as well as the Denderah Zodiac (in the Louvre, Paris, France) and the Rosetta Stone (in the British Museum, London, U.K.):
A hunt around the UNESCO website did not reveal anything more about this, and a delve into this blog's archive failed to unearth a follow up to the appeal to UNESCO.

DNA analysis of mummy (
This website allowed me to look at both pages once, but when I attempted to view the pages for a second time, asked me to log in or subscribe.
"Washington University researchers have recently made a series of important discoveries based on examinations of the bones and DNA of a mummy recently added to the permanent collection of the St. Louis Science Center. . . . Anne Bowcock, professor of genetics, medicine and pediatrics, extracted and sequenced the baby mummy's DNA. She took specimens from four places where the mummy had already been partially unwrapped on the left side of its head and on its shoulder. 'The mummy was very hardened, like wood. We used thick needles to get some material. We removed a match-head sized piece of bone,' said Bowcock. Bowcock said that contamination had initially been a concern because mummy DNA assessments often contain DNA from people who have handled the mummy. Because she was able to take specimens directly from the bone, she is fairly confident in the results."
The second page of the article went on to say that the DNA indicates a possible European parentage on either maternal or paternal side for the mummy, and that this is entirely plausible given the Graeco-Roman date of the mummy.

Rock Arts Topographical Survey (RATS)
For anyone wondering what happened to the promised second volume of Desert RATS, here is a statement I found yesterday on the Bloomsbury Summer School website:
"As a consequence of the insolvency of the original printer of Desert RATS, Mike and Maggie Morrow’s invaluable catalogue of rock art sites in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, BSS now intends to seek a new business partner and publish the long-awaited second edition of RATS towards the end of 2007. This will be a significantly enhanced edition of the first one since the book will include new information about Hans Winkler’s recently rediscovered Site 18 and a CD of the complete volume. This CD will also contain over 500 additional plates of the most prominent images in full colour. The book and CD will be sold for £45, the CD on its own for £15, with discounts for EES members. As soon as there is a firm publication date, further information will be sent directly to all purchasers of the first edition, all those on the waiting list for the second edition and all those on BSS and BA mailing lists. In addition, progress reports will be published here from time to time."

Newsletter of the Egyptian Study Society, April 07
For those who are interested, the latest newsletter of the Egyptian Study Society is available online, in PDF format, at the above address. There are a couple of news items, some lecture notes, and brief information about the Society's study groups.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Zahi Hawass on Nefertiti and Israel

Die Welt 17.04.2007 Ulli Kulke portrays Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, who would very much like to bring the bust of Nefertiti - held in Berlin's Altes Museum - back home to Egypt: "Now he's starting to make threats. The famous bust the the pharao's wife should come home for at least three months, he says. If not, he will 'never again organise archaeological exhibitions in Germany,' as he said recently to the Egyptian parliament. And now he's told a recent congress of Arab antiquities authorities that he's ready to stop all cooperation with foreign institutions engaging in joint archaeological work with Israel. Kulke comments: 'It's to be assumed that Hawass was primarily addressing a domestic audience. People in Cairo say he's got his eyes on the presidency - and that the future of the country belongs to this extremely popular man.' "
The much longer article that the above brief piece refers to is at:
Unfortunately I don't speak more than a few words of German, and I dread to think what a translation engine would make of it, so I can't have a go at summarizing this in more detail, but German speakers should look at this URL for the full story, as written by Ulli Kulke herself.

Travel: Discovering mythical places (
A much better than usual travel piece by Oliver Phillips: "I am not saying it worried me greatly but at some stage in my life I wondered what had become of Thebes. It was a place that seemed to figure regularly in my younger schooldays, along with Babylon, Troy, Carthage, Mesopotamia, the Hittites, The Philistines and Thrace.
Somehow I had left them all behind, mixed up with the half-retained Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology, along with Hydra's head, Medusa, Achilles and that vulnerable heel.
And here we were, I discovered, with a feeling of meeting a long-lost childhood familiar, about to enter Thebes. I was pleased it had survived and flourished under the new name of Luxor. And it entranced me in its new persona, one much changed from the city about which Homer enthused.
By the time we reached Luxor, we had travelled down the Nile valley by train and come to terms with our shock at seeing Cairo, with its teeming millions beneath a haze of pollution.
I was surprised to discover the capital was the most populous metropolitan area in Africa, containing over two million cars, the majority of which are not only over ten years old, but involved in one gigantic, day-time traffic jam, which contributes to the general haze over the horizons.
It is a city of contrasts with impressive boulevards and large imposing buildings often to be found next to vast slum areas. The ancient Egyptians may have had a head start on civilisation but, as one of our party commented, they lost the thread when it came to dumping rubbish, particularly as they have, in the Sahara, one of the world's biggest landfill sites within easy reach. They estimate that some 4,000 tonnes of rubbish per day in Cairo is neither collected nor managed. It is just left."
See the above page for the writer's impressions of the sights (and sites) of Cairo.

Tourism: Egypt and Oman

"Mohammed bin Hamoud Al Toobi, Tourism Ministry undersecretary, said that there has been a study to market tourism potentials in the Sultanate and Egypt as a single package and the joint participation of the two countries in regional and international tourism fairs within the context of exerted efforts to enhance cooperation in tourism sphere between the two brotherly countries. He added, in a press conference held yesterday with Anwar Abu Al Ula, tourism undersecretary in the Arab Republic of Egypt, on the sidelines of the Egyptian tourism caravan visit to the Sultanate that the two sides were determined to sign cooperation agreement in the tourism and joint investment sphere held in the two countries."
See the above page for additional details.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Berlin response to Egypt re Nefertiti (
"Berlin's Museum of Egyptology on Monday rebuffed a threat from Egypt's top antiquities official to block all art loans to Germany unless the 'world's most beautiful woman', Queen Nefertiti, goes home to Cairo.Though one eye is missing, the 3 000-year-old painted limestone bust of the queen is celebrated as one of the finest female representations ever created. It was taken to Germany from Egypt under a 1913 contract. Dietrich Wildung, the museum director, said on the radio channel Deutschland radio Kultur he was not too concerned at the threat, since Egypt had not lent any art to Germany since 1985 anyway.'Even without loans we can manage comfortably and put on a good show,' he said."
See the above page for details

Restricted access to Egypt's mummies

"Only Egyptian archaeologists will have access to ancient Egyptian mummies while the foreigners will be allowed to examine them only in the presence and under the supervision of their Egyptian colleagues, Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni told a news conference. Hosni was accompanied at the news conference by Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, and Ahmed Saleh, director of the antiquities of 'Mit Rahina' at the Egyptian Museum. The conference focused on the minister's announcement of the return to Egypt of samples of the hair of great pharaoh Ramses II."

Cahiers Caribéens d’Egyptologie Feb/March 2007
The most recent issue of CCDE (No.10, February/March 2007) is now available. It can be purchased online at the above address, where a full list of contents, with abstracts is also shown. Articles are in French, Spanish and English. The contents are listed below:

Edwin van den Brink -

Nadine Dokoui-Cabrera, Lorène Labridy, Jean-Philippe Gourdine, Fabrice Silpa & Alain Anselin
Ankhou, Groupe de Recherches Pluridisciplinaire en Egyptologie

Oum Ndigi
Ngok Lituba
Groupe de Recherches Universitaire Pluridisciplinaire

Juan Jose Castillos
La estraficacion social en los origines de Egipto

Alain Anselin
Aegyptio-Graphica I. Note sur la valeur phonétique du hiéroglyphe du percnoptère translittéré /3/.

Lorène Labridy & Fabrice Silpa
Aegyptio-Graphica V. Un pluriel archaïque sur un Vase Decorated du Nagada II C

Oum Ndigi & Nadine Djo Ndjoke
Ngok Lituba I. Mbénbén, le nom de la pierre sacrée en bàti (bantu A 530).

Bienvenu Gouem Gouem
Ngok Lituba II. Note introductive methodologique au projet de fouilles archéologiques sur le site de Ngok Lituba

Jorge Roberto Ogdon - Studies in Archaic Epigraphy XVII. Further "On the Early Epithets of Anubis"

Alain Anselin - L’Avaleuse de Morts Archéologie linguistique de la Vallée des Images

Roxana Flammini
Lecturas egipcias de la Alteridad asiatica Mouhamadou

Nissire Sarr
La Bière et le Vin dans la pensée religieuse des Egyptiens de l’Antiquité

Juan de la Torre Suarez
El bebé de la Tumba Real de Amarna y otras cuestiones

Teresa Soria Trastoy
Una metodoligia de dudose aplicacion al conocimiento de los procesos sociales en el Antiguo Egipto

Egyptian Exhibit May Visit Brigham Young

"Ramses' tomb, displayed in the Bean Museum 21 years ago, drew 500,000 onlookers. The extraordinary gold tomb and jewelry were just a small sampling of priceless artifacts of the type BYU hopes to bring to campus once again.
Plans are in the works for an Egyptian exhibit that will be housed in the Museum of Art. This time, BYU will send museum faculty to Egypt to hand-pick the pieces for display. Instead of a traveling exhibit, this one will be unique to BYU."
BYU = Brigham Young University. See the above page for details.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Egypt response to German refusal to loan Nefertiti bust

"Egypt Sunday said it will never hold any antiquity exhibition in Germany in the future unless Germany temporarily returns the bust of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, the official news agency MENA reported.
MENA quoted Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass as saying that Egypt will request Germany again next week to temporarily return the 3,300-year-old bust for a three-month exhibition in Egypt.
German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann had rejected Egypt's request, saying that Nefertiti's bust was too fragile to leave Berlin for a trip to Egypt, according to MENA." (
"Egypt on Sunday threatened to ban future displays of its ancient artifacts in Germany if Berlin refuses to return a 3 400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti for a temporary exhibition. '(Egypt) will never again organise antiquities exhibitions in Germany if it refuses a request, to be issued next week, to allow the bust of Nefertiti to be displayed in Egypt for three months,' antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass told parliament, according to the official MENA news agency."

Wayne County Historical Museum mummy

"There are still mysteries, but Bonnie M. Sampsell has been a super sleuth, helping the Wayne County Historical Museum answer many questions about its mummy and its Egyptian collection. Richmond native Sampsell, who now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., started putting her passion for Egyptology to work for the museum last summer. She began cataloging the artifacts, researching the collection and updating the mummy's display. . . . Many of the questions centered on the mummy -- a favorite of visiting school children for years. Museum founder Julia Meek Gaar bought the mummy during a 1929 visit to Cairo, Egypt. She was told the mummy had been on exhibition in a curio store there for 40 years before the shop owner decided to sell it to her.
Sampsell used X-rays taken of the mummy in 1974 and 2000, a CAT scan done in 2000, along with other photographs and information to seek answers during her own recent trip to Cairo.
The mummy has long been believed to be a priestess because of the markings on the sarcophagus, but the expert in Egyptian skeletons that Sampsell consulted in Cairo believes the mummy is a man. The skull, she said, appears to be that of a male age 30 to 35, and the X-rayed skeleton also appears to be a male of the same age."
See the above page for the full story.

Bonnie Sampsell is the author of the excellent A Traveler's Guide to the Geology of Egypt, published by the AUC. For details of this very useful resource, see the AUC website at:

Book review: Napoleon in Egypt
Napoleon in Egypt, by Paul Strathern Jonathan Cape, £20 (UKP)
"One of the oddities of the French Revolution was the manic utopianism that it inspired in men such as Napoleon. By 1798 the Revolution was being exported through a series of stunning military victories in Italy. Casting a megalomaniac eye on the world map, Napoleon Bonaparte took 38,000 soldiers and set sail for the Orient as the first step towards wresting control of India from the British.
The full madness and magnificence of this expedition has long appealed to readers, and the latest to memorialise these Pharonic ambitions is Paul Strathern. What he has produced is a comprehensive and gripping read, as great an overview of war and hubris as can be managed in 400 pages.
Of Napoleon's adventures in Egypt there is much to say. Unusually for a would-be conqueror, Napoleon took with him 167 men of science and art who would bring European civilisation first to Egypt and ultimately to India and the world. With this force, Napoleon not only carried balloon-making technology and astronomical telescopes, but the only Arabic printing press in Europe.
Aside from being written with all the verve of a great adventure story, Napoleon In Egypt is also a shocking book. "
See the above page for the full story.

Piecing together the past
An article looking at archaeology, not just Egyptology, and what it seeks to achieve. It focuses on Caroline Rocheleau, a curatorial research fellow at the N.C. Museum of Art who helped put together the new Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art From the British Museum for its Raleigh run:
"A girl might dream about the glorious moments of discovery -- the tomb of King Tutankhamun, a Greek civilization that predated Homer, or the Madaba Map, a mosaic of the oldest known Holy Land map. But an archaeologist's fascination with ancient people runs deeper than that, sustaining interest in a field that extracts the big picture from small shards of culture.
Most people wouldn't commit to long, hot days sifting through layers of civilization. But they are more than willing to pay for the privilege of seeing ancient artifacts in museums. Before "The Treasures of Tutankhamun" toured the world in the 1970s, the word "blockbuster" wasn't in the museum vocabulary. Nearly 8 million Americans cued up to see the King Tut artifacts then.
Passion continues to run high. The five-city "Temples and Tombs" tour, which features 85 objects covering 3,000 years, overlaps with a new King Tut exhibit now in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, "The Past Is Present: Classical Antiquities at the Nasher Museum" is a yearlong display of ancient objects from the Mediterranean that were given to the museum last year. And "Fashioning the Divine: South Asian Sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum" drew from the UNC-Chapel Hill museum's collection."

The story is accompanied by the following:
It is a little hair-raising to see Belzoni described as an archeaologist, but the above page has a list of "archaeologists associated with prominent excavations", amongst them Belzoni, Flinders-Petrie, Carter and, of course, Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. Make of it what you will!

Travel: A tour from Cairo to Aswan, via Amarna

"At Tel el Amarna, the tombs of the nobles waited patiently for us in the baking sun. These seldom visited tombs, overlooking the ruins of the city that Akhenaten and Nefertiti built at Thebes, contain some of most exquisite New Kingdom art in existence. The bas reliefs, created more than 3,000 years ago, are still richly coloured and scenes of daily life spring up like pop-up books.
Our group walked the hillside alone, crunching pottery shards under our heels. The heretic king who had worshiped only one god had made his stand here and failed to turn the enormous religious machine of ancient Egypt around. It was here that the famous bust of Nefertiti was found in the ruins of a sculptor's workshop. In 1922, Howard Carter would find the tomb of Akhenaten's son Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.
The Egyptians we met were friendly, polite, educated and aware of the economic disparity between themselves and visitors. Tourism is what they do, and as the diplomat's wife came to learn, they never stop trying to sell."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekly Websites

Weekly Websites has been missing for the last two weeks, mainly because I haven't been here very much. So here are some diverse pages to kick it off again.

Another ruthless plug for a super online resource. OsirisNet need photographs to replace some which are no longer available. The photographs needed are listed here. Please help them out if you can! A staggering amount of work has gone into this site, which is completed in "spare" time.
With photographs, diagrams, descriptions and translations of texts, OsirisNet provides a virtual tour of tombs (and some temples) of ancient Egypt, from the Old Kingdom onwards. There are even virtual reality 3-d tours of some tombs:
There are also articles about aspects of the ancient Egyptian world:
In an email conversation the other day, Thierry said to me that he wanted people who might not be able to visit Egypt to be able to have total access, for free, to this astonishing unique piece of cultural heritage, and you have to hand it to Thierry - he is certainly bringing Egypt's monuments to life for a great many people.

Short report on Mons Claudianus
"Most of us regard the desert as an inhospitable landscape, and associate it with hardship and scarcity of water and food. It has therefore long been assumed that in Roman times, a posting to work in the imperial stone quarries at Mons Claudianus in the deserts of eastern Egypt must have seemed like a prison sentence with hard labour. A number of classical authors, such as the 1st century AD Jewish writer Josephus, wrote that the forced labour of convicts and captives was used at such remote stone quarries - an implication that appeared intuitively to make sense. However, recent archaeological work at Mons Claudianus suggests that, at this quarry at least, a quite different story can now be told. The first full-scale excavations at the site, which are just now reaching publication, have revealed that throughout the two centuries of its operation, a skilled and well-paid civilian workforce was employed in the quarries, in conditions - judging by their diet - that might well be regarded as luxurious."
See the above for the rest of the report.

James Breasted's stereoscopic images of Egypt
In The Sandals of Pharaoh: James Henry Breasted and the Stereoscope
An occasional paper from the McClung Museum
By Elaine A. EvansCurator/Adjunct Assistant Professor
"Today, I invite you to travel with the eminent American Egyptologist James Henry Breasted (1865-1935) in his quest to promote ancient Egypt in the United States via the stereoscope. Essential to this journey was his partnership with the firm of Underwood & Underwood, the American Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century publisher of stereoscopic views. Documentation will be presented about the state of the stereoscopic industry, why the two principals came together in a successful relationship, and why James Henry Breasted realized the possibilities the stereoscope had to promote his cause. Why did a scholar of such renown decide to involve himself in the popular, stereoscopic world? These and other questions will be touched upon."

Eastern Desert archaeology photographs
A long list of sites, accompanied by photographs and notes, all from Egypt's Eastern Desert.

An Egyptology News Blog in German
I saw this posted at the bottom of the online version of the EEF News Digest - an Egyptology news blog written in German, for those of you for whom German is a better bet than English. It has been going since March 2006. I don't read German, but if Aayko has added a link for it, then I assume that it has merit!

The Archeaology Channel
Featured videos, which play in Windows Media Player or RealPlayer.
Trial of a mummy
Egypt Gift of the Nile
Hieroglyphic text from the tomb of Sennefer

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Minister rules out lending Nefertiti bust

"Queen Nefertiti's bust, a symbol of female power and beauty that has survived more than three millennia, is too fragile to leave Berlin for a trip to Egypt, German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said.
Neumann rejected a campaign by a Hamburg-based lobby group demanding the loan of Nefertiti to Egypt. CulturCooperation e.V., partly funded by the European Union, says Egypt has been requesting the return of the regal bust for more than 90 years, most recently just for temporary exhibition. . . . Lena Blosat, a spokeswoman for CulturCooperation, said the group is of the opinion that Egyptian requests for a loan of the bust are justified. No one disputes Berlin's legal right to ownership of the treasure, she said.
CulturCooperation, a non-profit organization founded in 1986, supports contemporary art projects and campaigns for a fairer cultural exchange between European nations and countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America whose treasures were plundered by colonial powers. The group has funding from the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU."
"The German minister responsible for culture Friday ruled out lending Egypt one of Berlin's most famous archaeological treasures, the bust of Queen Nefertiti. Allowing the 3,000-year-old bust of the Egyptian queen to make such a long journey would be 'irresponsible,' Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann said. The minister was responding to demands from campaigners calling for the figure to go on display in other countries, including its native Egypt. 'Generally speaking we welcome loans of objects within the international museum community. But experts have voiced considerable reservations about a lengthy transportation of Nefertiti from a conservation and restoration point of view,' Neumann said. The plaster bust of Nefertiti is currently on display at Berlin's Altes Museum. It has been in German hands since it was bought by art lover James Simon in 1913."

Digitizing Giza

"Step into the subterranean tomb of Meresankh III, a queen of Egypt, wife to her uncle, the pharaoh Khafre. Turn to the right and examine the hieroglyphs carved into the limestone walls. Spin around and marvel at the vibrantly colored basreliefs depicting life and death in the Old Kingdom.
This panoramic view—along with scores of other images of Meresankh’s chapel, dating back to its discovery by archaeologists in 1927—is available through the Giza Archives Project (, an online, interactive collection of photographs and documents from the Giza pyramids and surrounding tombs and temples. Designed as a resource for scholarly research, the site is also a virtual treasure trove for anyone who’s ever been fascinated by the wonders of ancient Egypt. . . . Reisner’s expeditions were funded by Harvard and the MFA, leaving the museum
with the most extensive collection of Giza artifacts in the United States. Yet the museum’s Egyptian rooms display only 4 percent of the Giza holdings, Manuelian said. Through the Giza Project, scholars and the public can view and evaluate almost anything in the wide-ranging collection."
See the above page (in pdf format) for the rest of the 3-page article.