Monday, September 29, 2008

Blog update

Hi to all

First of all, a HUGE thanks to Ben Morales-Correa for picking things up where I left off, particularly as I gave him no notice and I was away for much longer than I originally planned. Many many thanks also to Kat Newkirk, as ever, for continuing to send me emails with news items on a daily basis. I would also like to thank Stan Parchin, Alejandro Jiménez Serrano, Noreen Doyle, Anthony Cagle, Mark Stott, George Stilwell, Chris Townsend, Rick Menges, David Petersen and Harry Robbins.

Second, I anticipate that I will soon find myself in a position where it will be difficult to guarantee that the blog will be updated on a daily basis. As many of you know my mother has been very ill on a long term basis, but has been having a particularly unpleasent time recently. I plan to visit my parents in Wales for shorter periods but more frequently. In addition, my postgraduate research has reached something of a head this term and I need to jump through various university hoops to see it on its way. In short, the next few months are going to be somewhat hectic and I anticipate that the blog will suffer somewhat. Anyway, bear with me and keep the news items coming! I'm not giving up the blog, just being a little less obsessive about it :-).

There are lots of news items below, thanks to Kat and the above-mentioned contributors, from the last two weeks.
They begin with the "daily photo" post. Some of them are quite old items but I've added them in case anyone missed them elsewhere. I've tried not to duplicate anything that Ben has already posted, but no promises! I've posted as many as I have the time for today but there will be more tomorrow. I hope that I've covered the main stories but let me know if I've missed anything important.

All the best


Gilf Kebir hostages freed

BBC News

A group of Western tourists and their Egyptian guides, who were kidnapped 10 days ago, have been freed.

The 11 hostages - five Italians, five Germans and a Romanian - and their guides are said to be in good health.

The group, abducted by gunmen in a remote border region of Egypt, are now said to be en route to Cairo.

During their captivity, they were moved around a lawless desert area straddling Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Chad.

The freeing of the Westerners was reported on Egyptian state television and confirmed by the Italian foreign ministry

No details were given on the circumstances of their release.

The kidnappers had demanded that Germany take charge of payment of an $8.8m (£4.9m) ransom. It is unclear if any payment was exchanged.

The breakthrough comes a day after Sudanese troops clashed with alleged kidnappers in northern Sudan, killing six gunmen. Another two were taken into custody.

Excavation news: Tomb nº 33 at Qubbet el-Hawa (Aswan)

Thanks very much to Alejandro Jiménez Serrano (Área de Historia Antigua, Universidad de Jaén) for sending me the following recent links which have details about the excavation that he is leading in tomb nº 33 at Qubbet el-Hawa (Aswan). It was excavated in 1885/86 by Bit General Grenfell and because of its similarity to QH31 (Sarenput II) is dated to Middle Kingdom, although no inscription has been -until now- discovered in the tomb. All are in Spanish and when I've worked through some of my backlog I'll go through them in detail and summarize them.

Here's a taster for those of you who speak Spanish:

El equipo multidisciplinar de investigadores, dirigidos por el profesor doctor de la Universidad de Jaén Alejandro Jiménez Serrano, que ha estado trabajando desde finales del pasado mes de junio hasta comienzos de agosto en la necrópolis de Qubbet el-Hawa (Asuán, Egipto) ha asegurado que los resultados obtenidos han superado todas las expectativas iniciales. Ello pese a que una parte de las investigaciones, correspondientes a la primera campaña que realizan, se han centrado en el exterior de la tumba 33 del citado cementerio.

El proyecto se organizó a partir de unos objetivos concretos. En primer lugar, se tenía que realizar un levantamiento topográfico de toda la necrópolis para poder contextualizar geográficamente la posición de las tumbas. Aunque parte de la necrópolis ha sido excavada en diversos periodos, nunca se había realizado una cartografía y menos con el detalle que ha conseguido la UJA. «Con ella se ha podido realizar un estudio geológico, ya que algunas tumbas presentan riesgos de colapso, así como determinar dónde se debe actuar para evitar que un patrimonio de hasta 4.200 años de antigüedad desaparezca para siempre», explica el doctor Alejandro Jiménez.

Travel: Poor image robs Sudan of tourism windfall

The National (Matt Brown)

MEROE, SUDAN // A dozen 2,000-year-old pyramids rise out of the orange sand like a jagged row of teeth. In the soft sandstone bricks of these ancient tombs, the Nubian people carved pictures of the God Amun with the body of a man and the head of a bird.

On a scorching 41-degree day here in the Nubian Desert, this ruined capital of the ancient Kushitic Kingdom is nearly vacant. Two men with camels wait to give rides to the rare tourist. But the car park is empty. No one is around to buy the carved replicas of the pyramids that a few dusty-haired boys are peddling.

Like Egypt, its neighbour to the north, Sudan has amazing archaeological sites, including pyramids, ruins of cities and ancient temples. Sudan also has game parks teeming with elephants, lions and hippos rivalling those in Kenya.

Unlike Egypt or Kenya, which attract millions of tourists each year, Sudan brings in a meagre 60,000 visitors annually and is missing out on a windfall in tourism revenue. A reputation as an unstable country and a trade embargo have kept all but the most intrepid travellers away.

Discovery of pharaoh's head could lead archaeologists to Ramses II temple

Daily Mail Online

With photographs.

A huge 3,000 year-old red granite head has been unearthed in Cairo of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, archaeologists have revealed.

Egypt's antiquities council said they believed the broken statue found at Tell Basta, 50 miles northeast of Cairo was of Ramses II. They hope the discovery will lead them to a major temple of the pharaoh in the area.

The 30-inch high carving belonged to a colossal statue that once stood in the area. Its nose is broken and the beard that was once attached to the king's chin is missing.

Archaeologists are still digging on the location for the rest of the statue. A large statue of the daughter and wife of Ramses II, Meritamum was discovered on the site two years ago and re-erected.

The site was dedicated to the cat-goddess Bastet and was an important centre from the Old Kingdom until the end of the Roman Period.

See the above page for the full story.

New gallery at the World Museum, Liverpool, UK

Art Daily

With photograph.

A major new gallery at the World Museum Liverpool looks at the incredible world of the Pharaohs and the remarkable culture that built the Pyramids and the Sphinx.

Ancient Egypt, opening on December 2008, contains 1,500 fascinating exhibits from the museum’s world-class collections. One of its great treasures – the vividly-coloured belt of the last great Pharaoh, Rameses III – is going on display for the first time since before the Second World War.

Dating from 1180 BC, the monarch probably wore it in battle while riding his chariot. This is a unique survival from the ancient world – there is nothing like it even in Tutankhamen’s Tomb.

Among the items on display are the mummy said to have inspired H Rider Haggard’s classic fantasy adventure She, about a beautiful queen who lives 2,000 years waiting for her lost love before shrivelling up into a pile of dust. The best-selling Victorian author was a keen collector of artefacts and helped popularise Ancient Egypt.

Visitors can 'unwrap' a mummy without it being touched using a computer interactive.

Ancient Egypt follows the development of the kingdom from the time of Menes, the first king of Egypt who reigned around 3000 BC, through the days of the Pharaohs, up to the time of the last ruler – the legendary Queen Cleopatra, who died in 30 BC – into the Greek and Roman periods.

See the above page for the full story.

New Hieroword dictionary

Thanks to Luca Brigatti from the GlyphStudy group for letting us know that he has upload the new dictionary by Mark Vygus as well as Hieroword 3.4.7.

Hieroword 3.4.7 accepts dictionaries of up to 50,000 definitions and therefore you will need it if you use Mark's dictionary or any of the other re-sortings and variations of more than 15,000 entries.

As usual you can find everything here:

Enjoy and if you redistribute it do not forget to give credit where credit is due.

The Findings of a Swiss Archaeological Team in Northern Sudan


The Swiss archaeologist Charles Bonnet spent many years exploring the remains of Nubian civilization in northern Sudan, focusing particular attention on the site of Kerma, the capital of the Nubians, and finding evidence of the existence of a genuine civilization in the region.

The rare discovery of the black pharaohs on the site "Doukki Gel" is considered to be the culmination of the work of Charles Bonnet and the Swiss team: Their findings provided new and precious information about Nubian civilization during the era of Kerma Kingdom, and some aspects of the relationship that existed between the Egyptian pharaohs and Nubian kings in northern Sudan.

A tale for old cities

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Back in 1990, 29 Egyptian scholars were called upon to propose strategies for the implementation of UNDP-sponsored Task Force for Sustainable Development. Adli Bishai, director of a project in Gammaliya now known as FEDA (Friends of Environment and Development Association), took the bait, but soon found that he in turn was expected to land an extraordinarily large fish.

Gammaliya has been the commercial and industrial centre of the city since the end of the 19th century, and it has, moreover, the highest concentration of Islamic monuments in the world. Bishai's aim was to evaluate the condition of the area, including past conservation efforts, and to remedy errors and place the historic zone under a unified body as opposed to many ministries and government-sponsored organisations.

Sceptical colleagues and friends told him it wouldn't work. They pointed out that the plan, as he envisioned it, would entail working with different ministries which were subject to the law and unlikely to change. He was warned that it was totally unrealistic to expect them to collaborate.

Undaunted, Bishai moved ahead. He started in 1993 by setting up FEDA, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and proposed a framework for sustainable development based on a balance between resource management, environmental protection, human development and economic growth. It was an enormously ambitious plan. Fifteen years down the line, however, the impossible is well on its way to being achieved.

See the above page for the full story.

The Ptolemies through plexi-glass

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine el-Aref)

On the seabed of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour lie the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty complete with temples, palaces and streets. Queen Cleopatra's Palace and Antirhodos Island, now near the centre of the harbour between Qait Bay fortress to the north, Silsila on the east and Mahattat Al-Raml to the south, were in the same position.

These magnificent monuments were hidden beneath the waves after sinking in antiquity until 1996, when a joint mission by the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), with sponsorship from the Hilti Foundation of Liechtenstein, began scientific and archaeological studies in the Eastern Harbour. . . .

Following all these discoveries, all that was required was an underwater museum to make these monuments accessible to the public. However, 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 an invaluable cultural exercise.

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 in 2006 to discuss the feasibility of constructing such a museum. On the table were a projected ground plan, an architectural design and a programme to study the environmental conditions of the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria and its state of marine pollution, the socio-economic problems related to the success of the underwater archaeological museum project, and its urban impacts. The workshop was held under the umbrella of UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture at the Alexandria Art Creativity Centre, where a multidisciplinary team of 28 international and Egyptian experts were gathered.

See the above page for the full story.

Arrest Over Burglary At Batley Museum

West Yorkshire Police

A 35 year old man has been arrested in the Rochdale area in connection with a burglary which occurred at Bagshaw Museum at Wilton Park in Batley.

Between 11 March 2005 and 12 March 2005 around £150,000 worth of Egyptian artefacts and a human skull were taken after shutters were broken and a double-glazed window smashed at the premises.

Around £5,000 worth of damage was caused.

Officers searched an address in the Rochdale area, however, the stolen items have not been recovered.

The man arrested has now been bailed pending further enquiries.

Shabti - Click to view a larger image The Shabties are around five inch tall and are decorated with hieroglyphics
The missing Egyptian artefacts called Shabties are often carved from stone and jade. The items were buried with the dead to work as servants in the afterlife and are in various states of decay.

The Shabties which are decorated with hieroglyphics and around five inches tall are valued between £300 and £3,000 pounds each.

Kirklees Police are now again calling to anyone who knows the whereabouts of these items to contact DC Gumersell at Dewsbury CID on 0845 6060606 or crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Berlin Museums & Legacy of James Simon Exhibit

Suite 101 (Stan Parchin)

The famous Bust of Queen Tiye is in this exhibition.

Some 150 works from nine different German collections are on view in six galleries from October 18, 2008 to January 18, 2009. The exhibition's appearance at the California venue is its sole North American stop.

The show features: ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian masterpieces; medieval, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures; Old Master paintings; works on paper; woodblock prints from 18th- and 19th-century Japan; objects produced along the famed Silk Road; and examples of European folk art. Together they elucidate the contributions of philanthropist and entrepreneur James Simon (1851-1932) to the development of Berlin's important museum collections.

The German Jew James Simon was a revered patron of the arts, connoisseur and avid collector. He recognized the value of archaeology and financially sponsored digs in Egypt, the Near East and Central Asia. The excavations he underwrote unearthed some of the ancient world's greatest treasures, among them the famous Egyptian Bust of Queen Nefertiti, the monumental Neo-Babylonian Ishtar Gate and its regal Processional Way. His myriad gifts to the State Museums of Berlin allowed them to rise to the stature of other art institutions around the world.

See the above page for the full story.

Completion of establishing Rosetta museum at a cost of L.E. 4 million

Egypt State Information Service

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has finalized setting up the first national museum for the antiquities of Rosetta city in Beheira Governorate, as well as the completion of renovation of the antiquities of the historical city.

Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni said that during the coming week, Rosetta museum will be inaugurated at a total cost of L.E. 4 million. A garden and the halls of the museum have been set up within the framework of renovating the monuments of the city that aim at preserving the historic character.

The renovation works include mosques, houses, and baths as well as setting up a traditional craft center and they will be inaugurated by the end of the year.

Secretary General of SCA, Zahi Hawass said that the project is the first of its kind to renovate the ancient buildings in the city. The first phase of the project has started since 2002 and included the renovation of 10 ancient houses.

Suzanne Mubarak inaugurates royal jewelries museum

Egyptian State Information Service

Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak is to inaugurate soon a royal jewelries museum in Alexandria after renovation. The museum will show case 500 artifacts that belong to Mouhamed Ali Family.

The 50- million museum took 3 years and is considered the biggest Egyptian museums. The artifacts of the museum date back to 1809.

King Tut Had Twins, But Why?

Live Science (Meredith F. Small)

A rather different take on the Tutankhamun foetus story:

Two mummified fetuses found in Tutankhamen's tomb back in 1922 are probably twins, despite the fact that one is much larger than the other, a team of scientists recently announced.

King Tut has always held a fascination for the public, and the idea that the young pharaoh and his presumably beautiful wife, Ankhesenamen, the daughter of Nefertiti, had twins adds even more drama to the story.

The possibility of twins for Tut also underscores the fact that conceiving twins is a common human story. It's also one that begs for an explanation.

Humans are primates, which means that unlike mice, we don't have litters. Instead, we primates, that is lemurs, lorises, monkeys, apes and humans, typically give birth to offspring one at a time and then invest heavily in each baby .

This strategy of fewer but finer seems to work pretty well. Primates may not survive in great numbers, but we are a tenacious group that inhabits all sorts of environments and just keeps on going.

Clearly, the "all your eggs in one basket" is a reasonable way to pass on genes.

Of course, the path of evolution is never perfect, and there are some species of primates that have more than one offspring at a time. Tamarins, small monkeys in South America, usually have twins; mothers rely on fathers to help out.

Thomas Campbell Named Met Museum's New Director

Suite 101 (Stan Parchin)

Stan Parchin has provided a great introduction to the new Director of the MMA. Here's an extract but see the above page for the full story:

Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Met, the world-renowned authority and published scholar in the field of European tapestry succeeds Philippe de Montebello, the museum's revered leader for 31 years, on January 1, 2009.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Board of Trustees called for an 11:00 AM press conference on September 9 to reveal the identity of Mr. de Montebello's successor after an arduous eight-month international search for a new director. Both de Montebello and Campbell attended the event to introduce the museum's new head and field questions about the future direction of the United States' largest art museum.

Thomas Campbell, 46, is a native of Cambridge, England. He received his B.A. in English language and literature from the University of Oxford (1984) and Diploma from Christie's Fine and Decorative Arts program in London (1985). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art (1987 and 1999, respectively).

While pursuing his Master's degree, Campbell realized that the importance of tapestry as propaganda in European art and history had been overlooked by modern scholars. From 1987 to 1994, he addressed this oversight by developing the Franses Tapestry Archive. Its more than 120,000 images subsequently secured the resource's place as the world's superlative repository of information about European tapestries and figurative textiles.

More than a blink

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

With photograph.

At Luxor Temple his innovations include building the colonnaded court, a masterpiece of balance for which credit should be given to Amenhotep's architect.

In 1970, during routine excavations in the area of Amenhotep's mortuary temple on the West Bank at Luxor -- built on the flood plain little beyond the ground plan of the temple has survived -- a large limestone statue of King Amenhotep III was found. In 1972 it was moved to the Luxor Museum, and at some point during the short journey the left eye was chipped off the statue. Its whereabouts remained a mystery until 2006 when it reappeared in an exhibition shown at the Museum of Antiquities and Ludwig Collection (MALC) in Basel, Switzerland.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly that after being removed from the statue the eye was smuggled out of Egypt and fell into the hands of an American antiquities dealer called Norbert Shem. It was subsequently sold to a German antiquities dealer who lent it to MALC.

Conference: Traditions and Transformations or

Traditions and Transformations: Tourism, Heritage and Cultural Change in the Middle East and North Africa Region

In April (4-7) 2009, the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change in partnership with the Council for British Research in the Levant (the CBRL is an overseas Institute of the British Academy) will hold a major international conference to explore the changing relationships between tourism, culture and heritage across the Middle East and North Africa Region. Delegates from across the Middle East and the North Africa Region, together with scholars from the rest of the world will assemble to discuss the critical relationships between tourism, heritage and culture.

The Conference is being hosted by the Greater Municipality of Amman in Jordan and will be held in the King Hussein Cultural Centre in the heart of the vibrant downtown area of Jordan’s Capital City. We are delighted that the patron of the Conference will be Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya Bint Al Hassan.

The aims of this inter-disciplinary conference are: To critically explore the major issues facing the MENA region with regard to the development of tourism and its relationships with heritage and culture; To draw upon ideas, cases and best practice from international scholars and help develop new understandings and research capacities regarding the relationships between tourism, heritage and culture in the MENA Region and; To provide a major networking opportunity for international scholars, policy makers and professionals.

The conference will feature over 150 international academics, policy makers and practitioners and will feature keynote addresses from Dr Taleb Rifai, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Professor Nezar Alsayyad, Director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at University California Berkeley, and Dr Seteney Shami, Programme Director of the Middle East and the North Africa region at the Social Science Research Council.

The conference seeks to promote dialogue across disciplinary boundaries and welcomes papers from all disciplines. Key themes of interest to the conference include:

• Histories, mobilities, and the symbolic / political economies of tourism;
• Tourism in the construction of places / spaces / nations;
• The role of archaeology in contemporary tourism;
• Structures / infrastructures of International tourism - building/architecture/ design for tourism & tourists;
• Tourism and the role of the museum;
• The conservation of heritage for tourism;
• The practices and performances of ‘tradition’;
• Tourist art and art for tourists;
• Intangible heritage and its role in tourism;
• Rural and urban tourism practices.

Members of the Conference Scientific Committee include: Dr Khaled Adham, (United Arab Emirates University), Dr Rami Daher (German Jordanian University), Professor Bill Finlayson (Council for British Research in the Levant), Dr Habib Saidi (University of Laval) and Dr Lina Tahan (Leeds Metropolitan University).

If you wish to submit a 300 word abstract as an electronic file (including title and full contact details) please do so no later than 17th October 2008 to

To participate in this conference or to learn more please contact: or visit or

Boy king's belongings suggest afterlife is all fun and games

Dallas News (Nancy Churnin)

Tutankhamun ascended the throne as a 9-year-old and died about 10 years later. Many things in the boy king's tomb, from a dog collar to game boards, reflect his young age.

David Silverman, national curator for the exhibition and professor of Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania, hopes others will become as hooked on Egyptology as he became after going to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as a youngster.

"It was so exotic, and the more I learned, the more mysteries I uncovered. Most Egyptologists love detective stories. I'm one of those. It's fun to try and figure it all out," he says. Here are some of Tut's toys

News about the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt


Thanks to Eugene Cruz-Uribe for the news that he has taken over as Editor of the JARCE. He took over this position late this summer from Charles Van Siclen who has been acting editor for his efforts.

The current status of the journal is as follows:

Volume 42 (2005-2006) : page proofs are at the printers and we expect to have the journal in the mail by the end of October.

Volume 43 (2007) : articles have been accepted and corrected. They are to the printers for page proof composition and layout. We are hoping to have this issue out by December 2008.

Volume 44 (2008) : we are still accepting articles until the beginning of November with plans to have it published by April 2009.

A new "Guide for Authors" will appear shortly on the ARCE website. Potential authors can still use the old guidelines for formating information.

The ARCE website ( is currently being revamped. A further announcement will be forthcoming when the new website is up and running.

Through the kind efforts of Rachel Mauldin, volumes 1-25 of JARCE will appear in JSTOR soon. Watch for a further announcement.

If anyone has any questions about JARCE, or about submitting articles, please contact Eugene Cruz-Uribe at

Conference: Conference, Knowledge and Society


This Conference will address a range of critically important themes in the various fields that address the relationships between technology, knowledge and society. The Conference is cross-disciplinary in scope, a meeting point for technologists with a concern for the social and social scientists with a concern for the technological. The focus is primarily, but not exclusively, on information and communications technologies.

As well as impressive line-up of international main speakers, the Conference will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the Conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society. If you are unable to attend the Conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic Journal, as well as access to the electronic version of the Conference proceedings.

The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 9 October 2008. Future deadlines will be announced on the Conference website after this date. Proposals are reviewed within two weeks of submission. Full details of the Conference, including an online proposal submission form, are to be found at the Conference website

Pharaoh gets his eye back

Herald Sun

SWITZERLAND is to return a pharaoh's "eye" stolen 36 years ago from the ancient Egyptian statue of King Amenhotep III.

"The eye is around 50cm long and was stolen from Amenhotep III's statue, which was discovered in 1970 in his Luxor temple," Egypt's culture minister Faruk Hosni said.

The eye was stolen in 1972 when a fire broke out around the temple.

"The thieves sold it to an American antiquities dealer who then auctioned it at Sotheby's," he said.

There, the eye was bought by a German antiquities dealer before ending up in a museum in Basel, Switzerland.

Art & Empire: Assyrian Treasures at MFA, Boston

Suite 101 (Stan Parchin)

With photographs.

"Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston features 250 objects from ancient Assyrian palaces and temples.

On view in the building's Gund Gallery from September 21, 2008 to January 4, 2009, this ticketed exhibition of ancient Near Eastern works from the 9th to 7th Centuries B.C. displays carved ivories, royal and religious statuary, massive relief and small-scale sculptures, clay tablets inscribed in wedge-shaped cuneiform writing, cylinder seals, furniture fittings, precious jewelry and metal vessels from the palaces of Nimrud and Nineveh.

Art and Empire... describes the complex society, religion and court culture of the ancient Neo-Assyrian Empire. Spanning the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, Assyria at its height spanned all of modern-day Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as well as large parts of Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. The installation's magnificent Mesopotamian masterpieces were previously displayed to worldwide acclaim at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (1995), Dallas' Kimbell Art Museum (1995-96) and Spain's Museo Arqueologico Provincial de Alicante (2007) before their unprecedented stateside return, this time to Boston.

See the above page for the full story.

Egypt hosts American Tourism Society Conference

Travel Daily News
Egypt’s bustling metropolis of Cairo, founded in the 6th century by Arab settlers and now a city of 16 million, will showcase its ancient sites as well as its modern pulse to delegates at the American Tourism Society’s (ATS) Fall 2008 Conference, October 26-30.

The Egyptian Tourist Authority is hosting ATS’s first-ever conference in that country. . . .

“Egypt, although most famous for its ancient archaeological sites, is also a constantly evolving destination, with new hotels, infrastructures and attractions, “ said Sayed Khalifa, Director, Egyptian Tourist Authority in New York. “We are looking forward to having the opportunity to show the ATS delegates, even those who have visited Egypt previously, both modern and ancient Cairo, including our newly opened historical sites. We hope that this ATS conference will result in new and expanded tour programs to our country.”

Reconstruction of a mummy's face

With photograph.

A reconstruction of a mystery Egyptian mummy's face is among exhibits at Dundee University's first Forensic and Medical Art graduate show.

The work is by one of five students who have completed what is the first degree of its kind anywhere in the world.

They have been led by a former Boston Police Department artist, who says the graduates are getting international attention.

Book Review: Alexander the Great Failure

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

John D. Grainger, Alexander the Great Failure. The Collapse of the Macedonian Empire. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2007.

Reviewed by Waldemar Heckel, University of Calgary

The idea of studying Alexander's achievement in context, that is, with reference to what preceded and followed his reign, is certainly a good one. But the discussion of everything from the rise of Macedon to the death of Pyrrhos of Epeiros in 272 BC in the space of 188 pages (excluding the conclusion, notes, bibliography and index) involves certain economies that, as one might guess before even reading the book, will prove detrimental either to the reader's understanding of events or to the author's main argument. As far as the latter is concerned, it is really an assertion, since no serious effort is made to argue the case. The title certainly implies that the failure of the Macedonian conquest and of the empire is directly attributable to Alexander. And this is spelled out in the Preface (p. xviii) . . . .

Later on, the author says "It is worth considering the events recounted in this book from the point of view of the victims, since the normal assumption is that Alexander was a hero, a military genius...", but the amount of space devoted to Alexander's aims, methods, and achievements in the east is less than twenty pages (75-93). And very little is said in these pages about the plight of the victims. Within such limits there is room only for generalizations and a selective presentation of events and outcomes. Of bias in the sources there is nothing (and Grainger admits as much on p. xviii), only echoes of the now familiar refrain of recent Alexander detractors, and the explicit statement "In many ways he was a perpetual adolescent; his superstition, impulsiveness, carelessness with money, extravagant grief over the death of Hephaistion, unwillingness to see that other work needed to be done, love of fighting, all show this" (92). At least, we are spared the comparisons with Hitler and Stalin which have become de rigueur for Alexander detractors (see, e.g., Hanson 2001: 89-90; for a welcome dose of common sense see, however, Rogers 2004: 280-1).

Book Review: Osiris - Death and Afterlife of a God

Scholia Reviews

Scholia Reviews ns (2008) 16.

Bojana Mosjov, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. Pp. vi + 150, incl. 10 plates, 7 figures, and 2 maps.

Sakkie Cornelius
Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

The cult of the Egyptian god Osiris was -- next to that of his sister Isis, who was his loving wife and mother of his child, Horus -- surely the most popular in the ancient world, including the Greco-Roman world. Plutarch later retold the myth in which Osiris is one of the main characters.[[1]] However, the origins and development of Osiris are much more complex. In this book the Macedonian- born author retells this story covering 3000 years, but also looks at the influence and legacy of the Egyptian god of the dead, the first ‘mummy’ in the long history of the Egyptian cult of the dead.

The book has a list of Egyptian gods and goddesses (pp. xiv-xviii), a glossary of terms with definitions (pp. 134- 37), a chronology following the ‘ Oxford History of Egypt’ (pp. 138-41;,[[2]] a bibliography (pp. 142-44), and an index consisting mostly of names, but not concepts such as ‘monotheism’ or ‘ resurrection’ (pp. 145-50). There are two very detailed maps, some illustrations: line- drawings in the text, but also two black-and-white plates -– the rest are in colour. (The description in the very first lines of the book (p. xi) of the well-known scene of Osiris sitting at the judgement of the dead really begs for an illustration!)[[3]] The key Egyptian term for cosmic order and justice is printed throughout the book (as in the list on p. xvi; cf. the index on p. 147) as Ma’at instead of the correct Ma‘at! (written with an ain and not an aleph). The same is true for per a-a (p. xiii), Baal and Canaan (pp.
55, 134).

Seth was the opponent of Osiris, but the Egyptian word (setekh) is surely not related to the complex Hebrew term satan (p. xvii), which has very little to do with the later Christian concept of divine Evil.[[4]]

The introduction deals with some central concepts and definitions. It is argued (p. xi) that ‘because of the peculiar nature of their religion . . . [the Egyptians] never took the trouble to write down or explain this myth’ -- what exactly was this ‘peculiar nature’? This introduction is followed by the prologue, which summarizes the Osiris myth, and eleven numbered chapters.

Humour: Hey, where did all my stuff go?

The Onion

If you don't like swear words please avoid this article. Here's an extract, but I've chosen a relatively polite bit, which I've edited with xxxxs (apologies to the author but I have to look after the sensibilities of my visitors!). See the above page for the entire story.

Well this sucks. I leave the realm of the living to roam the underworld for a few thousand years, return to my burial place to enjoy all my worldly possessions, and all of a sudden, everything is gone. Everything. The alabaster chalice, the cobra amulet, that gold vulture thing I've had since I was a baby—all of it, gone.

I don't understand how this could have happened. It was all right here. Everything I ever owned. Right xxxxxxx here. I definitely remember there was a royal scepter leaning up against the outer sarcophagus, and there were a bunch of crowns and stuff, too. I know I had at least, like, 10 crowns. And—aw, xxxx me, they took my pendant with the beetle and monkeys on it. I xxxxxxx loved that pendant. It's not even worth anything, but it was still like my favorite thing. Why in the world would someone do something like this?

This afterlife is going to suck.

And where did my statue of Anubis go? Do you know how hard it's going to be to find another three-foot-long wood carving of a recumbent jackal? It's going to be impossible, that's how hard it's going to be, because it was carved for me by my grandmother Queen Nefertiti, who last I checked died in 1330 B.C. I was going to use that statue. I was going to use all of this stuff.

Book Review: War in Ancient Egypt

Scholia Reviews

Sorry about all the bizarre characters in this - they are copied directly from the website.

Scholia Reviews ns 17 (2008) 13.

Anthony J. Spalinger, War in Ancient Egypt: The New Kingdom. Ancient World at War. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Pp. xx + 291, incl. figures and maps. ISBN 1-4051-1372-3. UK£16.99. Further Details.

Sakkie Cornelius
Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

During the period of the New Kingdom (ca. 1500-1100 BCE) Egypt ‘ruled the east’[[1]] and its armies marched into Canaan, but also into Kush (Nubia) in the south. Egypt developed a standing, professional army. In this book Anthony Spalinger, a well-known Egyptologist at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, introduces us to the Egyptian war machine under the ‘war pharaohs’ of dynasty 18 and the Ramesside dynasty. In the volume ‘Companion to the Ancient Near East’[[2]] he has already written a chapter on this aspect of the history Egypt.

There are other books on war in Egypt, going back to Wolf,[[3]] the relevant parts in General Yigael Yadin’s ‘Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands’,[[4]] and more recently Ian Shaw’s little book in the Shire Egyptology series,[[5]] Partridge’s ‘Fighting Pharaohs’,[[6]] and McDermott’s[[7]] well-illustrated overview, to mention only a few. Spalinger does not deal with the weapons of warfare in detail, but the focus (and therefore the strong point and the greatest contribution of the book) is on the socio-political aspects of warfare; the military classes and logistics (following the method of the German military historian Hans Delbrack, cf. p. xiii), showing how the military was organised, fed, and equipped, which made the Egyptian war machine so effective and creating a "˜world power". The sources analysed and discussed include texts, iconography, and artefacts. Spalinger is also well acquainted with the German and even the Russian literature on the topic. Of great value to classicists are the many comparisons made, for example, to the way in which the armies of Alexander the Great were organised, again with regard to logistics.

Each chapter has an excursus (printed in grey) which gives more information on logistical matters and other issues, and deals with the important literature in which such matters are discussed, followed by notes which also include references to the literature. At the back is a general bibliography and an index (of names, but also authors and concepts such as chariots and horses).

Daily Photo - Faience pig figurine

UC11007. Faience? pig, faded. Early Dynastic Period (2750BCE-3100BCE). Found at Hierakonpolis ? Measurements - length 7 cms height 3.3 cms width 2.8 cms

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Egypt kidnappings not stopping tourists

Times Online

The adventure-tour operator Explore will decide in the next few days whether to go ahead with trips to the remote western desert of Egypt, where 11 tourists were kidnapped on September 19.

The company’s next tour, which is due to depart on October 17, will include several days in the Gilf Kebir, an uninhabited region of dramatic rock sculptures and prehistoric cave art. It was there that 11 tourists, mostly Germans and Italians, and eight Egyptian guides were seized by gunmen and taken over the border into Sudan.

Explore says the 11 clients booked to travel next month have been offered the chance to switch to another tour, but are all keen to go ahead. Other tour operators report that clients have been in touch seeking reassurance after initial media reports misreported that the kidnap had taken place in the popular tourist city of Aswan.

The Foreign Office has not advised against travel to any parts of Egypt, merely reiterating its warning of a “high threat from terrorism” across the country. In the past, Islamist groups attacked tourists as a way to destabilise the Egyptian government, but the motivation for the latest kidnapping seems far from ideological – the gunmen have demanded a ransom.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book Review: Egypt in the Byzantine World 300-700

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

This book's genesis lies in the annual Dumbarton Oaks Spring Symposium in Byzantine Studies, which in 2004 was dedicated to the theme 'Egypt in the Byzantine World, 450-700'. Roger Bagnall subsequently expanded the focus of the symposium and invited further contributions from notable specialists, so that the resultant volume represents a valuable and timely collection of essays which not only outlines the state of the very best contemporary scholarship on late antique Egypt, but also demonstrates the extent to which further work is necessary and indicates what directions may be most fruitful for such future research.

Each essay is followed by a bibliography, and the volume as a whole is rounded off by an index; indices are often lacking in edited volumes of this kind, and its inclusion here will certainly be appreciated by readers seeking references to specific topics addressed across the broad spectrum of the volume's essays.

This is an excellent collection of essays, each of which deserves much more comment than can be reasonably expected here. As a whole the volume covers an extremely wide range of topics across the entire scholarly spectrum of research into Byzantine Egypt, while each contribution successfully offers lucid and penetrating analyses of specific topics. This book will quickly and deservedly find a wide readership among all those interested in Egypt in the Byzantine world, and will no doubt serve as a helpful spur to future research.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Arab FMs support Hosni's nomination for UNESCO post

Egypt State Information Service

Arab foreign ministers meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly session in New York voiced their support for the nomination of Egypt's Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni for the UNESCO top post.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hosam Zaki, who is also spokesman for Arab foreign ministers meeting in New York, said the Arab decision to consider the Egyptian nominee as representative to all the Arab nations came following Morocco's declaration of the withdrawal of its candidate for the post.

He added that the ministry will intensify contacts with foreign states to mobilize international support for the Egyptian and Arab nominee in coordination with the Arab embassies.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Egypt finds granite statue, likely of Ramses II

Reuters Africa

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a granite statue probably depicting the head of Ramses II, one of ancient Egypt's most powerful pharaohs, the country's culture ministry said on Wednesday.

Researchers discovered the statue 150 cm (five feet) under ground in the eastern Nile Delta town of Tell Basta, which was once the capital of ancient Egypt, the culture ministry said.

The pink granite statue had a broken nose and a missing beard, Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement.

Archaeologists are continuing to dig around the site in hopes of finding the rest of the statue and possible remains of a temple built by Ramses, he said.

Thursday's lecture to complement DMA King Tut exhibit

University News

With perfect timing, the University of Dallas Art Department has invited a world-renowned Egyptologist to lecture on Akhenaten, father of the most famous Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamen, or, as we know him today, King Tut. Dr. James Hoffmeier is a professor specializing in Near Eastern Archaeology at Trinity International University, which is based in Deerfield, Illinois.

The lecture promises to be particularly interesting as it comes just before the Dallas Year trip to the Dallas Museum of Art, where the King Tut exhibit is being held temporarily. According to the art department's press release, Dr. Hoffmeier will be discussing "the significant amount of material from the Amarna period uncovered since 1999 at Tell el-Borg in North Sinai. The Amarna period began when Pharaoh Akhenaten moved his capital city and changed the state religion to a form of monotheism. This revolutionary period only lasted briefly; King Tutankhamen (King Tut), a successor to Akhenaten, died at the young age of eighteen." Those who attend Dr. Hoffmeier's lecture will undoubtedly have a historical framework with which to view the Tut exhibit.

The lecturer, Dr. Hoffmeier, was actually born in Egypt, where he lived until he was 16. According his profile, found on the Trinity International University webpage, he received his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, going on to the University of Toronto to earn his masters and Ph.D. in philosophy. He has returned to Egypt several times on archaeological digs in Sinai, where he not only studies the civilization of Akhenaten and Tutankhamen, but also attempts to uncover parts of the Old Testament story of the Jewish people. Sinai is the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, as recorded in the book of Exodus.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NY museum receives $1 million gift

A $1 million gift to Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery will fund the renovation of its antiquities gallery to showcase two 4th-century Egyptian coffins.

The donation from Helen Berkeley, a former president of the Memorial Art Gallery Council from 1990 to 1992, will transform the former antiquities exhibit into the Berkeley Gallery of Ancient Art.

The gallery's centerpiece will be the ornate inner and outer coffins of a wealthy Egyptian official, acquired in 2001.

The gift will also establish an art conservation fund.

Egypt archives its monuments through aerial and terrestrial photography

Daily News Egypt

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has completed the first phase of its historical documentation process of monuments in the city of Habu in the western bank of Luxor using aerial and terrestrial photography.

The project comes as part of SCA’s plan to archive Egypt’s monumental areas that will also include the Pyramids and Saqqara.

“This project aims at using the advanced techniques of aerial and three dimensional photography in documenting and reconstructing the monumental areas and exploring new archeological sites,” Zahi Hawass, head of the SCA, said.

The SCA will also conduct research to enhance urban planning around archeological sites while studying the effect of sand storms, wind streams.

The research will entail suggesting methods to protect them from ecological and human threats especially underground and mineral water.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lego architects tackle the Secret of the Pharaohs


A crowd of excited children — and more than a few adults — gathered at the Discovery Centre in Halifax yesterday to see the completion of a 50-hour Lego project.

“All ages get excited about it,” said Lego Certified Professional, Robin Sather, 43. “We all have Lego in our past somewhere. In some way it ties into everyone’s experience.”

One of just six certified professionals in the world, and the only Canadian, Sather spent the weekend in Halifax building an enormous Lego Sphinx. There’s an ongoing contest to guess how many blocks were used, but the Sphinx’s head weighs about 200-pounds.

Egyptian art exhibit coming to Cal State San Bernardino museum Nov. 22

The Press Enterprise

For the first time in history, a portion of his extraordinary findings have come to the United States in "Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology." So far, the exhibit has traveled to such venues as the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, the New Mexico Museum of Art and Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami.

The Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum at Cal State San Bernardino will host the Petrie collection starting Nov. 22. As the only venue on the West Coast for the exhibit, the show is also the Fullerton Art Museum's first international exhibition ever.

Running through Feb. 15, 2009, the exhibit will feature more than 220 objects portraying the daily life and burial of the ancient Egyptians. The world's earliest surviving dress (cir. 2800 B.C.), jewelry, mummy masks and royal art from King Akhenaten's palace city of Amarna are among the treasures included in the exhibit.

Book Review: The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran starts this novel several years after the events of her first novel, Nefertiti. The sole survivor from the previous royal line is Princess Nefertari, niece of Nefertiti. She has been raised at the court of the current Pharaoh, Seti I, and alongside the royal heir, Ramesses. They are fast friends. In fact, he is one of her only friends and the only reason the other children tolerate her. She is the victim of the backlash of hatred against her deceased family. She is called 'heretic' and worse and is blamed for the actions of her relatives.

As they grow up, the close friendship of Nefertari and Ramesses blossoms into love. But few at court want Nefertari as Egypt's queen and her enemies try to turn the people against her, too. Fortunately for Nefertari, she is a gifted woman. She has an affinity for language and is able to learn the political intricacies of the court. She has brains and courage. Her journey to the throne of Egypt is breathtaking.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Boy king's belongings suggest afterlife is all fun and games

Dallas News

Tutankhamun ascended the throne as a 9-year-old and died about 10 years later. Many things in the boy king's tomb, from a dog collar to game boards, reflect his young age.

David Silverman, national curator for the exhibition and professor of Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania, hopes others will become as hooked on Egyptology as he became after going to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as a youngster.

"It was so exotic, and the more I learned, the more mysteries I uncovered. Most Egyptologists love detective stories. I'm one of those. It's fun to try and figure it all out," he says.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Before the Valley of the Kings: Egypt's Last Royal Pyramids

Loyola University new Orleans

Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time: 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: Miller Hall, Room 114

Before the Valley of the Kings: Egypt’s Last Royal Pyramids " by Dr. Stephen Harvey (Michel and Nelly Abemayor Lecture in Egyptian Art and Archaeology of the Archaeological Institute of America)

The pyramids at Giza and hidden royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings (ancient Thebes) are among the best-known features of ancient Egyptian civilization. Despite their basic familiarity, however, little is understood about the process by which the pharaohs chose to abandon the earlier pyramidal form in favor of rock-cut burials, a transition that took place at the outset of Egypt’s New Kingdom. Surprisingly, the best evidence for this change in royal tomb concepts may be found not at Thebes but at the sacred site of Abydos in southern Egypt, where the last Egyptian royal pyramids were constructed by King Ahmose (ca 1550-1525 BCE).

Near the pyramids that the pharaoh constructed for himself and in honor of his grandmother Tetisheri, Ahmose also carved out a rock-cut tomb of a type best known from later king’s tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Excavations at Abydos since 1993 are beginning to provide a fascinating look into the artistic and architectural innovations of Ahmose’s reign, including unique depictions of King Ahmose’s defeat of the Hyksos, rulers of Syro-Palestinian origin who had dominated northern Egypt for a century. Given that not tomb or temple for King Ahmose has ever been discovered at Thebes (modern Luxor), the Abydos monuments are of great importance, and this lecture will explore the intriguing possibility that the pharaoh was intended to be buried in one of the mortuary structures built by him at that site.

Tacoma Art Museum Presents Oasis: Western Dreams of the Ottoman Empire

Tacoma Art Museum’s exhibition Oasis: Western Dreams of the Ottoman Empire from the Dahesh Museum of Art features a survey of nineteenth-century Western artists’ responses to the diverse cultures of the former Ottoman Empire. The exhibition is on view Saturday, September 20, 2008 through Sunday, January 4, 2009.

Napoleon’s military campaign in Egypt (1798–1801) sparked Western interest in the East, particularly the countries of the Ottoman Empire, an area extending from Turkey and Greece through the Middle East and North Africa. European and American artists became fascinated with what was then known as “the Orient” and the art movement known as Orientalism grew out of this preoccupation.

“Reality and fantasy blend in the works on view in this exhibition,” said Margaret Bullock, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions. “Orientalist works are full of rich detail and lush colors based on fact but often romanticized or recombined to suit the artist’s fancy.”

Oasis, organized by the Dahesh Museum of Art in New York, includes more than sixty Orientalist paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, drawings, and books. The exhibition provides important historic and cultural perspectives on the ways in which Western artists depicted, and sometimes distorted, the many cultures of the Ottoman Empire. It also highlights the power these images had, and continue to have, on the Western imagination.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Egyptian sunken antiquities carried to Italy

Egypt State Information Service

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif approved moving the Egyptian sunken antiquities exhibition from the city of Madrid, Spain to the Italian capital Rome. To be inaugurated next week. The exhibition is of special importance since it is the first time Egyptian antiquities are exhibited outside Egypt.

"The exhibition will be organized for the first time in the Italian capital, "Rome" later this month," Where it will move from Madrid after being presented there for five months,"said Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni.

For his part, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said the exhibition is expected to bring to Egypt revenues of 900,000 euros.

He pointed out that the exhibition comprises 489 pieces of relics extracted from the depths of the Mediterranean at the coasts of Alexandria.

SCA to take legal action in mosque robbery case

Daily News Egypt

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is taking legal action against the workers of Mengak Al Youssefi Mosque after some of the mosque’s antiques located in the citadel area were stolen last Friday.

Decorative parts of the menbar (the preacher’s pulpit) of the mosque made of ivory and ebony were stolen along with its doors and platform.

Zahi Hawass, SCA secretary general, pointed fingers at the workers of the mosque affiliated with the Ministry of Endowments, claiming that their “carelessness” led to the robbery. He demanded that necessary legal procedures be taken in this case.

Mohsen Said Ali, head of Islamic and Coptic antiquities department, filed a police report accusing the person responsible for guarding the mosque of leaving his post several times.

Ali added that they warned the general secretary for mosques’ affairs at the Ministry of Endowments about the frequency of similar incidents because of irresponsible workers who leave the mosques unattended.

“The ministry is still studying the case and an investigation will be conducted to identify those responsible for it,” Samir Fawzy, spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowments told Daily News Egypt.

However he said that although the mosque is affiliated with the ministry, the antiques located in the mosque are the responsibility of the antiquities council.

Mengak Al Youssefi Mosque dates back to the Mamluki era and was built in 1349 (750 in the Islamic calendar) by Prince Mengak Al Youssef.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New artifacts to debut in Dallas at King Tut exhibit opening this fall at the DMA

Pegasus News

Four new artifacts from King Tut’s tomb will be on display when Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opens at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) on October 3. Marking the first stop on the exhibition's three-city U.S. encore tour after a London engagement, Dallas will be the first city to premiere the new objects, most of which have never before been seen outside of Egypt.

The new objects, all of which belonged to King Tut, include a pectoral necklace featuring solar and lunar emblems and a scarab; a bracelet featuring a scarab clasp; and two nested miniature coffins, one inside of the other, which contained the mummified remains of what is thought to be one of Tutankhamun’s stillborn children.

Perhaps the most intriguing object, the Pectoral with Solar/Lunar Emblems and Scarab features an unusual yellow-green carved scarab in the center, which was tested and found to be glass. The glass itself is a scientific enigma, as its origins were traced to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in a remote part of the Sahara Desert. Although it remains uncertain how the glass got there or how it was created, some investigators have suggested that its creation may have been due to cosmic events more than 30,000 years ago.

The remarkable inlaid pendant has inventive iconography and decoration on both sides that spells out Tutankhamun's throne name in a protective cryptogram. The central winged scarab with falcon tail and hind legs represents the rising sun. The image of the left eye of Horus supports a crescent and disk with royal and divine figures, symbolizing the moon.

The Bracelet with Scarab Clasp was found among other pieces of jewelry stored within the treasury of King Tut’s tomb. A central image of a beetle representing the sun god is attached to a flexible beaded band of seven panels. Signs of wear indicate use in life.

Underwater Museum Planned for Egypt's Alexandria

National Geographic

Cleopatra's palace sank long ago into the Mediterranean, but visitors to Alexandria, Egypt, may eventually view the complex's remnants via the world's first underwater museum.

In early September the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, announced it is funding a team to determine if such a museum is feasible. If built, the museum could display treasures and monuments of her palace, which once stood on an island in one of the largest human-made bays in the world but were submerged by earthquakes from the fourth century A.D. onward. The bay is filled archaeological sunken treasures. In the 1990s archaeologist-divers found thousands of objects: 26 sphinxes, statues bearing gifts to the gods, blocks weighing up to 56 tons, and even Roman and Greek shipwrecks.

The proposed museum could include pieces believed to be from the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Archaeologists have mapped more than 2,000 submerged objects in the area of the bay where they believe the lighthouse once stood.

The museum would be both inland and underwater, not only for aesthetic value but also because it follows the 2001 UNESCO convention for the preservation of underwater heritage. The convention decided that submerged artifacts should ideally remain on the seabed out of respect for their historical context and, in some cases, because water actually preserves artifacts. The dual nature is intended to create an experience like that of a traditional museum while also allowing visitors to witness artifacts in their submerged states.

Once complete, Egyptian authorities hope, the museum will transform both Alexandria's tourism industry and the city's current landscape.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Loyola hosts prestigious national lecture on ancient Egypt

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans welcomes Stephen Harvey, Ph.D., to present the Michel and Nelly Abemayor Lecture in Egyptian Art and Archaeology on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. “Before the Valley of the Kings: Egypt’s last royal pyramids” takes place in Miller Hall, Rm. 114, on Loyola’s main campus.

The Abemayor Lecture is given annually at an active society of the Archaeological Institute of America in order to promote a better understanding of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Harvey, who is the director of the Ahmose and Tetisheri Project in Abydos, Egypt, will explore the construction and purpose of rock-cut royal tombs at Abydos that depart from the better known pyramidal forms found at Giza and in the Valley of the Kings.

Wellcome Library's Medical Collection goes digital in Egypt

24 Hour Museum

A pioneering new partnership between the Wellcome Library in London and Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) will help reveal the story of early medicine in the Eastern world and enable rare materials to be universally accessible for the first time.

The Wellcome Library will be making items available from its collection of rare materials relating to both Ancient and Modern Egypt in digital form to BA for the first time. These items will eventually become part of BA’s own online library and will also feature in the World Digital Library, a portal to cultural content worldwide.

The material from the Wellcome Library consists of visual, documentary, manuscript and printed material in several languages and will enhance BA’s current resources.

Inaugurated in 2003, the BA is the leading institution for the documentation of Egyptian, Arabic and Islamic cultural heritage and a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria, which was established in the 3rd century BC.

The Wellcome Library is one of the world’s leading resources for the history of medicine and is part of the Wellcome Trust, the largest charity in the UK, which spends around £600 million a year funding biomedical research.

The Delegation of the European Commission organises its First Photography Competition in Egypt

The European Commission's Delegation to Egypt

The Delegation of the European Commission in Cairo is organising its 1st Photography Competition in Egypt. The theme of the Competition is ‘Egypt: Life in a picture’, and participating photos will need to reflect the different faces and aspects of today's Egypt. The aim of this competition is to promote and stimulate creativity among amateur photographers in Egypt, and to give them an opportunity to showcase their work to a wide audience.

All amateur photographers living in Egypt are invited to participate. A panel of eminent photographers and artists will be judging all entries, and prizes will be awarded to the first two winning photos. The panel will be looking for the photographers' personal vision of life in today's Egypt. Photos may depict human behaviour, scenes of urban or rural life, or Egypt’s physical or natural environment, showing how people interact with their environments and daily existence.

The best 30 photos chosen by the panel will be exhibited in December at a Cairo gallery. A catalogue of these photos will also be printed. In addition, the Delegation will choose 12 photos to include in its 2009 calendar to be distributed widely inside and outside Egypt.

Full details of how to participate in the photo competition can be found at the Delegation’s website:

Andrea Bocelli in Egypt


Bibliotheca Alexandrina is hosting a charity concert featuring the legendary opera singer Andrea Bocelli on the 11th of October 2008 at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Great Hall. The concert is held under the auspices of her Excellency Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the Egyptian First Lady.

All the ticket revenue will be donated to Taha Hussein Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired, as is part of the library. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina has recently adopted an overall strategy of the development of Taha Hussein Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired, involving an expansion of the reading area and number of computers.

[N.B.] Admission to the Cairo concert is via personal invitations. The Cairo event is not open to the public; there will be audience from the Egyptian Government, the diplomatic corps in Cairo, overseas fans, representatives from the business community and actors, performers and celebrities.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blog updates

Apologies for the lack of blog for the last few days. I have had various logistical complications which have meant that it has been impossible to do the usual updates. I'm afraid that the situation will remain until the week after next (a week on Wednesday) when I will be returning from Wales.

Hope all is well with everyone, and I will backdate on my return.
All the best

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Met Chooses Tapestries Curator to Lead Museum

New York Times

Ending months of fervid speculation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reached into its ranks on Tuesday and chose Thomas P. Campbell, a 46-year-old British-born tapestries curator, to succeed Philippe de Montebello as director and chief executive.

Visitors at "Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor" an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum that Thomas P. Campbell curated in 2007.

The appointment, effective Jan. 1, was approved in an afternoon vote of the museum’s board of trustees after a suspenseful eight-month search that began after Mr. Montebello, 72, announced plans to retire after 31 years in the post.

Given the profile of the Met and Mr. de Montebello, a patrician presence who presided over scores of ambitious exhibitions and acquisitions, it was the most closely watched search ever in the museum world. The Met’s committee worked so secretively that some trustees and most of the museum’s curators were still unaware on Monday that Mr. Campbell had emerged as the top candidate.

In selecting him, the Met seems to have opted for intellectual heft as well as continuity. Educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, Mr. Campbell arrived at the museum in 1995 and built his reputation through much-praised catalogs that were both scholarly and sumptuous, and shows involving complex logistics and diplomacy. His exhibition “Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence” became the sleeper hit of 2002, attracting some 215,000 visitors — more than twice what the museum had projected — with works that had never been seen before in America.

Book Review: Alexander the Great - A Life in Legend

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

There's a table of contents on the above page, together with the rest of the review. Here's an extract:

Richard Stoneman, Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend. New Haven, CT/London: Yale University Press, 2008.

Reviewed by Dawn L. Gilley, History, University of Missouri-Columbia

Modern scholars of Alexander the Great are deeply indebted to Richard Stoneman for his work on the Alexander Romance and its influence on later works about the Macedonian king. In the current volume, he has combined that research in an attempt to address Alexander's longevity in the imaginations of writers after the death of the world's greatest conqueror (4). The work is organized in such a way as to follow the life and career of the king, but also addresses his reign through centuries of interpretation by various cultures. Every chapter opens with pertinent passages from various texts, which aid in highlighting the themes under discussion. Ultimately, the author argues that the presentation of Alexander changes to fit the demands of a particular culture, whether Egyptian, Persian, or Christian, or the genre itself (149).

The work begins with the birth of the future king of the world (Chapter 1) and focuses on Egyptian and Persian versions. Various myths about Alexander's birth insinuate some sort of celestial interference, which has colored these accounts (Alexander Romance I.4, 6, Plutarch, Alexander 2.3-6). The Egyptian version suggests that the lover of Olympias, a serpent, was Nectanebo a magician and last pharaoh of Egypt. It was also an incarnation of Ammon-Re and signified the birth of a hero (7). Stoneman argues that Egyptian culture required that Alexander be conceived by a god (20-21) in order to legitimize his rule of Egypt. That Alexander was designated Pharaoh of Egypt has been much debated. None of the historians of Alexander mentioned that he was Pharaoh or that there was a ceremony to designate him as such, though temple reliefs depict the king as sacrificing in the ways of the Pharaohs. The Alexander Romance refers specifically to a coronation ceremony, which, according to Stoneman, needed some sort of legitimization (1.34). The cultural demands of Egypt required that Alexander followed the traditional "procedure" for pharaohs.

Egypt one of strongest candidates for UNESCO

Egypt State Information Service

Egypt is one of the strongest candidates for the top post of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said Sunday 7/9/2008.

" We should be, however, good losers if we lost the post," he told a host of intellectuals at the Egyptian Writers' Union's new headquarters in the Citadel area.

Hosni said Egypt needs to secure 30 votes out of total 58 to win the post at a complicated secret voting.

He said "the election for the post is governed by several factors, including political and economic interests among states."

He said he does have a vision and a mission if he secured the post. "My platform centers on reconciliation and co-existence irrespective of race or language."

Hosni also said Egypt's massive program to restore its ancient monuments was one of the cornerstones of his nomination to the post.

Exhibition: Behind the scenes at Lost Egypt

Lost Egypt

The Lost Egypt blog has been updated with details about construction work at the Lost Egypt exhibition, with the building of a reconstruction of part of the temple of Karnak. With photographs.

When the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and tombs, they used solid materials like limestone and granite. On the Lost Egypt project, we need materials that are going to be durable (although not quite as durable as the Pyramids!) to last for the entire 6+ year tour of the exhibition, as it travels around the U.S., but also lightweight and easy to assemble at each new location. Wood panels that fit together using camlocks are a good solution. Showing up at the next venue with semi trucks filled with limestone ready for assembly would be a bit challenging….where are those pyramid builders when you need them?

Exhibition: Tutlanta

The Earth Times

"Tutlanta" launched today as tickets became available for "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs," a new exhibition featuring more than 130 treasures from the tomb of celebrated pharaoh King Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian sites. The exhibition will premiere at the Atlanta Civic Center from November 15, 2008, to May 25, 2009, and is presented by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University.

To kick off fall's golden celebration, exhibition organizers announced a slate of Egyptian-themed activities and initiatives that will launch in conjunction with the exhibition. The "Egyptomania in Atlanta Bus Tour" will transport visitors on a chartered coach to explore Egyptian revival art and architecture in Atlanta with the Michael C. Carlos Museum's curator of Egyptian art, Dr. Peter Lacovara, as their guide. "TUT Trivia!" will incorporate King Tut-themed questions into trivia nights at select Atlanta locations. In January 2009, the Atlanta Opera and Emory University's Flora Glenn Candler concert series will present Philip Glass' opera "Akhnaten," which explores the great pharaoh's reign just before that of Tutankhamun.

Additionally, more than 75 businesses throughout the city will participate in a "Tutlanta" affinity card that all King Tut ticket-buyers will receive, entitling them to $250 worth of Egyptian-themed offerings and discounts at participating locations.

See the above page for more.

Trivia: Will smith is The Last Pharaoh


Kat and I have been swamped with Will Smith notifications, but Kat has pulled one out of the pack which is better than most:

Will Smith really wants a crack at the ancient history epic, and this time it looks like he's going to get it. According to Variety, Smith has hired the go-to guy for historical epics, Randall Wallace, to pen The Last Pharaoh for him to star in.

It won't actually be about the last pharaoh of Egypt (Cleopatra still holds that distinction), but Taharqa, a member of the Nubian dynasty of Egypt, who ruled from 690 to 664 B.C.E. Mentioned by Greek historian Strabo as one of the greatest military tacticians in the world, he's believed to be Tirhakah, king of Ethopia, who's mentioned in the Old Testament as driving Assyrian king Sennacherib away from destroying Jerusalem. Taharqa wasn't just a fighter, though -- he was devoted to peaceful works like restoring temples, and building sanctuaries all over Nubia and Egypt. Nevertheless, his biggest claim to fame is fighting the Assyrians, who invaded Egypt in 677. He didn't exactly defeat them -- they took Memphis and established the 26th dynasty, and Taharqa was driven back to Nubia, where he died in 664.

It definitely has the potential of an action packed story, but I'm curious as to how it's going to be fleshed out.

See the above page for more.

Online Egypt store

Tutankhamun's Treasure Store

I was emailed today with details of an online store which sells Tutankhamun and other Egypt-based souvenirs, reproductions, jewellry etc. Someone said to me yesterday "we had better start thinking about Christmas soon" (horrible thought - it's over three months away but I bet the shops start stocking fake Christmas trees soon) so I thought it might be worth a quick mention. I've not used the store myself but it has some very nice looking items.

At the same time, if you know of any other online stores selling similar products, prefereably ones of which you have had experience, I will do a round-up of them at the beginning of November.

Daily Photo - Lion carved on hippo ivory

UC16685. Part of rectangular ivory object (made from hippo tusk) with incised design of recumbent lion - spotted - segment from cuboid rod. Late Middle Kingdom (1700BCE-1850BCE). Found at Lahun. Length 11 cms.

Copyright: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology,
University College London
With my thanks

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rising from the ruins

The Star Central (Hisham Zulkifli)

Recent studies have pointed to a fourth pyramid that was built during the fourth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Local authorities are already talking about plans to open it to visitors next year.

CAN anybody lose a pyramid in Egypt? Apparently, yes, in a place called Abu Rawash, some 8km north of Giza where the country’s great pyramids are.

Recently, media members who congregated in Giza, in the south-west of the capital Cairo in northern Egypt, found themselves coming face to face with an Egyptian man on a mission. Dr Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, declared that by next year, he wants all the pyramids to be opened to the public.

“Anyone who comes to Egypt will be able to go and see Abu Rawash, which will be opened to the public,” he said at a press conference in May, during which newsmen were treated to an abridged version of The History Channel’s new documentary, The Lost Pyramid. (It premieres on Astro Channel 555 tonight.)

But, really, how can anyone miss a pyramid? After all, it is one of those massive stone structures hundreds of feet tall, right?

The fact is, even though there are more than 80 of these burial monuments along the Nile River, they are all in various states of ruin, with some barely recognisable as pyramids. Indeed, some resemble little more than mounds of sand.

Egyptian Museum Newsletter, Issue 2

The second issue of the Egyptian Museum Newsletter has been sent out to all subscribers. There is a lot of useful information in the newsletter. A good article about the basement offers an insight into the behind-the-scenes working of the museum, and there's are helpful directions for those wishing to apply to take photographs in the museum.

To subscribe to the mailing list, please send an e-mail to with the words SUBSCRIBE ARABIC or SUBSCRIBE ENGLISH in the subject line, and your name and affiliation in the message.

You can view a copy of both this and issue 1 of the newsletter by clicking here.

Mummy moved to Leeds museum

24 Hour Museum

Specialist mountain-rescue kit was called in yesterday to move a Yorkshire mummy into its new resting place at the Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square, where he is expected to be a star attraction.

Nesyamun – also known as The Leeds Mummy – was transported from his previous home in storage on Thursday September 4 to the much grander surroundings of the city’s new museum. This is due to open to the public on September 13 2008.

The display will reveal a fascinating history around the ancient Egyptian, who was a priest in Thebes before his second life as celebrity exhibit.

“The Leeds Mummy is one of the most outstanding exhibits in our incredible new museum,” said Cllr John Procter, the council’s executive member for leisure. “We are counting the days till it opens.”

The major operation to move the mummy over two miles to the new museum has also revealed startling new facts relating to his death, which was initially thought to have been caused by strangulation.

Book Review: Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt

JS Online (Allen Barra)

Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt. By Joyce Tyldesley. Basic Books.

Cleopatra has generated more fame - in the form of poems, paintings, books, plays and films - per known fact than any woman in history.

As Joyce Tyldesley phrases it in her fascinating and irresistible biography, “Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt,” “It is clearly never going to be possible to write a conventional biography of Cleopatra.”

So Tyldesley has gone ahead and written one.

An archaeologist, author (“Daughters of Isis”) and popular consultant for TV shows on ancient history, Tyldesley has chosen to re-create her subject by putting together the puzzle pieces of history that surround Cleopatra’s life and legend.

Neither an Egyptian by blood nor an actual Greek — Cleopatra could trace her ancestry on her father’s side to the original Ptolemy, a general of Alexander the Great — she was a fabulous hybrid of those cultures and several others that were native to the Egypt of the first century B.C.

What she was not, Tyldesley argues, was the villainous vamp portrayed in the movies. Played by such actresses as Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor, the movie Cleopatra derived from the overheated imaginations of such western writers as Plutarch, whose “Life of Mark Antony” influenced most later writers, including Shakespeare.

See the above page for the full story.

Digitizing documents

Science Daily

Thanks to Kat for this. A useful idea, not specific to Egyptology but certainly relevant to it:

Gennari set about photographing 2,500 documents, producing some 25,000 images in total, which would have been the equivalent of $15,000 worth of photocopying. If he had used a film camera, almost 700 rolls of film (about $4,000) would have been required with the attendant costs of converting those to photo CDs adding $30,000 to the total costs).

However, with the images safely stored on a handful of recordable DVDs Gennari was able to import the whole collection into Google's free Picasa image library software for cataloguing and study on his return to the US.

"Digital photography and computer technology allowed me to capture, transport, and manipulate a previously inconceivable amount of document at a tremendous cost saving," he says, "Additionally, my need for frequent return trips and long, expensive, stays in a foreign country to continue my research has been eliminated. I have a lifetime worth of research documents at my fingers whenever I wish to conduct the research; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

"Digital photography allows for the collection of large amounts of archival documents in a short period of time," explains Gennari, "This has many benefits for the researcher including a greater convenience of time, a dramatic savings of money, and an increased flexibility in using the documents." Gennari has one additional piece of advice for other researchers hoping to exploit digital technology in this way: Take spare rechargeable batteries for your camera.

I've been scanning documents into PDFs recently - a good way of storing old and fragile documents (not ancient, just elderly and abused), but it is so time consuming!

Daily Photo - Old Kingdom red ware bowl

UC17588. Burnished red ware pottery bowl with incurve rim. Broken and repaired.
Dynasty 4? (2494BCE-2613BCE). Found at Meydum. Diameter 25.5 cms.

Copyright: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology,
University College London
With my thanks