Monday, December 29, 2008

King Tut exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art not selling as many tickets as expected

Dallas News

When King Tut rolled into town in October, Bonnie Pitman, the new director of the Dallas Museum of Art, predicted that 1 million visitors would see the show, with ticket buyers traveling from hundreds, even thousands of miles away.

A banner heralded the King Tut exhibit's October arrival, but then an economic wrinkle developed.

"I don't see this as a huge moneymaker," she said at the time. "Our goal is to break even."

But neither Ms. Pitman nor the international promoters of "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" expected the financial crisis that has the global economy in a tailspin.

So how is the boy king doing?

"Like every institution," Ms. Pitman said this past week, "we have been impacted by the economic climate."

The Tut exhibit has drawn more than 270,000 visitors during its first three months, Ms. Pitman said, with 90,000 of those being schoolchildren, who, like other large groups, purchased discounted tickets.

With less than five months to go before the show closes May 17, the DMA would have to draw 730,000 to reach the 1 million mark. That would be an average of 146,000 a month, which exceeds its current average of around 90,000 a month.

It is unclear what the numbers could mean for the DMA financially, because contract terms for the exhibit have been kept confidential. But Ms. Pitman and others remain optimistic about attendance.

See the above page for the full story.

More re new gallery at Liverpool World Museum

I recently found out that a very old friend of mine, Jon Marrow, has been connected with this project. In my foolish youth we became friends when used to excavate the same sites in the UK (including a tar-filled Roman drain and a particularly cold wet cave which had Palaeolithic remains) Happy Christmas Jon! Stay warm and dry.

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 this Friday 5 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.

70% of Egypt's antiquities not discovered yet

Egypt State Information Service

An oft-quoted set of statements that the SIS have seen fit to wheel out again this week:

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said 70 per cent of Egypt's artifacts and monuments have not been discovered yet.

He said the diligent work of up to 200 Egyptian and foreign missions operating in Egypt has led to the discovery of only 30 per cent of the antiquities.

He said the exploration works will move to the northern parts of the country.

"We will cease explorations in Upper Egypt," he said.

Hawwas said the exploratory operations in the region cost one billion Egyptian pounds annually.

"The SCA undertakes such cost thanks to the Egyptian exhibitions abroad that showcase the ancient masterpieces," Hawwas said.

Hopefully this spells good news for Nile Delta projects, big and small. Survey and excavation in the Delta region presents enormous challenges to archaeologists but the rewards, in terms of new data and new insights, are potentially very rich.

Colloquium: The Red Sea in Pharaonic Times


The Red Sea in Pharaonic Times

Colloque au Caire et à Ayn Soukhna (11-12 janvier 2009)

La même année, en 2001, se sont ouverts deux chantiers de fouilles archéologiques sur la Côte de le mer Rouge, distants d’environ 400 kms. Le site d’Ayn Soukhna, sur la côte ouest du golfe de Suez, à la latitude du Caire, a d’abord été repéré par de nombreuses inscriptions rupestres d’époque pharaonique. L’équipe d’archéologues de l’Ifao (dir. Georges Castel, Pierre Tallet) a ensuite mis au jour un important complexe de galeries creusées en bord de mer, et utilisées comme entrepôts. Les vestiges de deux embarcations du Moyen Empire égyptien (c. 1800 av. J.-C.), qui y avaient soigneusement été rangées après démontage, y ont été découvertes. Sur le même site, des installations portuaires et des ateliers métallurgiques ont été identifiés.

La ressemblance est frappante avec le site de Mersa Gaouasis, qui se trouve lui aussi sur la côte occidentale de la mer Rouge, quelque 400 km plus au sud. Les fouilles, menées par une équipe italo-américaine placée sous la direction de Rodolfo Fattovich et Kathryn Bard, ont en effet abouti à la découverte d’un complexe similaire de galeries-entrepôts, dans lesquelles a également été mis au jour un abondant matériel provenant du démantèlement de bateaux, remontant également au Moyen Empire égyptien.

See the above page for more.

Warps and Wefts 2009; Patterns of Moon, Patterns of Sun

Saudi Aramco World (Carol Bier; Paul Lunde)

Textiles created in Islamic societies before the industrial revolution represented the most advanced stages of technological development for their time. Less than a century after the Arab conquests, patterned silks woven with compound weave structures were exported beyond Islamic lands to the East and West. Although silk is first documented in China, luxury Islamic textiles subsequently influenced silk-weaving in China and Japan, and pattern-woven fragments of Islamic silks were used to wrap the relics of saints in European church treasuries. These rich textiles were produced using the technology of the drawloom, whose two separate harnesses allowed for two sets of warps, one for pattern and one for structure, and which likely contributed to the rapid commercialization of textile production and trade from the early Islamic period.

See the above page for more.

Daily Photo - Sahara Satellite Image

A gorgeous photograph of the Sahara desert. Click on the image to go to the Wikipedia version, where you can see the full sized image and zoom in on certain areas. The Nile is a great green snake to the east, and the Saharan highland zones stand out particularly well, including Gilf and Uweinat in Egypt.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The year of archaeological restorations

Egypt Daily Star News

While stunning archaeological revelations are expected to make headlines by the beginning of 2009, archaeology-enthusiasts were let down by unfulfilled promises of exciting excavations made in 2008.

What marked the year 2008, however, were the landmark restorations that highlighted archaeological events, especially in the field of Islamic architecture.

The return of Amenhotep III

Al Ahram Weekly

EGYPTIAN archaeologists were in high spirits this week as a greywacke head of the 18th Dynasty King Amenhotep III was returned to Egypt after two decades of being shunted back and forth between Switzerland, Britain and the US, reports Nevine El-Aref.

The distinctive features, with full cheeks, wide, raised and slightly arched eyebrows above elongated but sharply edged narrow eyes, are a supreme example of the sculptural style that dominated King Amenhotep III's reign. Originally part of a larger statue of Amenhotep III, the head is thought to have been made in the studios located within the Ptah Temple enclosure at Memphis, near the Saqqara necropolis.

The story of the theft of the head dates back to 1992, when antiquities restorer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry began stealing Pharaonic objects and smuggling them out of Egypt. He succeeded in pilfering 35 items from the tomb of Heteb-Ka in Saqqara, 10 kilometres south of Giza, smuggling them through customs by hiding each under a layer of plaster, which he then painted in a crude fashion so that they resembled replicas produced by the Egyptian Documentation Centre.

In 1994, while trying to sell 24 papyrus texts, Tokeley-Parry was asked to produce a provenance for the items by an antiquities trader. The scam was revealed when his assistant took the papyri to the British Museum and the curator recognised them as part of a collection discovered in 1966 by a British mission excavating in the animal necropolis of north Saqqara.

Liverpool Museum Uncovers Child Mummy

Huliq News

Liverpool Museum unveils child mummy as part of it's newest items exhibited online.

The mummy of a young boy of about two years old, elaborately wrapped in a series of narrow linen bandages. When excavated by Professor Flinders Petrie in he described this as the most perfect example of the complex system of diagonal winding, it is completely regular over the entire body.

The colours of the bandages have now faded but the thirteen layers were once red, white, gilt, blue and brown, no studs were required to hold them in place.

There is a portrait of the child inserted into the bandages, unfortunately badly damaged but originally fine, it is probable that the damage occurred during the time between preparation of the mummy and the actual burial.

A Digital Eye of Horus for Archaeologists

Talking Pyramids (Vincent Brown)

Following the latest report about Sarah Parcak's work iwth satellites Vincent has provided a good summary of many other wasy in which archaeologists have been using satellite technology.
As technology evolves at an increasingly rapid rate, the study of ancient sites is aided by some of it’s developments. One such tool that has leaped into the hands of Egyptlogists and Archaeologists in recent years is the satellite. A great boon to any study of a site is the ability to view an area from above.

In the previous story we heard Dr Zahi Hawass state that he begins any archaeological work on the Giza plateau by climbing to the top of the Great Pyramid to get an overview of the site. The bird’s eye view that is provided by aerial photography and satellite imaging has been instrumental in the discovery of new sites, sites that woud perhaps never have been discovered.

See the above page for the full story.

Treasure hunting adventurer out of luck

The Age (John Elder)

Frank Bottaro has never been frank about his Indiana Jones-like tomb raiding. "In my business, you have to be vague," he said, while relating foggy tales of slipping secretly across borders with treasures tucked under his armpits and dodging murder in exotic locales.

Like the time he found a Roman city. "In the Sahara desert, right? I can't mention the place, right? We were digging when a big group of Bedouin came up, with blunderbusses … There was three of us. We had a pistol. One pistol only …"

He told me this story six years ago, by way of explaining — in a soft voice, with the enigmatic smile of a carpet seller — why he'd given his name as "Bottard" to an Age reporter for a story about funerary dolls being bought at the Camberwell market for a pittance and later put on sale in France for $200,000.

Frank, an Armadale-based antiquities merchant, was the middleman. I call him Frank because it's friendly and Frank needs all the friends he can get.

See the above page for more.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge (Ancient Egypt magazine)

One of my favourite sites in Egypt - Medinet Madi, Faiyum Depression.

Click image to see a bigger version of the image

With many thanks to Bob Partridge, Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine.
Copyright Bob Partridge.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Australian arrested for smuggling in Egypt


AN AUSTRALIAN antiques dealer has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle two 2300-year-old animal mummies and religious figurines out of the country.

It is believed Frank Bottaro, 61, who runs BC Galleries in Armadale, Melbourne, was on his way to Thailand on Tuesday when he was picked up at Cairo International Airport.

A security official became suspicious of the figurines that were allegedly wrapped as gifts and placed amid souvenir ceramic pots in his suitcase.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that an unidentified 61-year-old was arrested for allegedly smuggling antiquities but had yet to be charged.

She said that, under Egyptian law, he could not be charged until he had appeared before a magistrate, and Egyptian courts were shut for several days during Christmas holidays.

She said officials were providing consular assistance to the man and his family in Cairo and Canberra.

A separate source later confirmed the man's name was Frank Bottaro.

The charge of smuggling antiquities carries a maximum jail term of 15 years.

According to local reports, when security officials opened the suspect suitcase, they allegedly found mummies of a cat and an ibis, both dating back to 300BC. They also allegedly found 19 figurines of the ancient Egyptian gods of Horus and Thoth, wrapped as gifts.


An Australian has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle a 2,000-year-old mummified cat and other antiquities out in his suitcase, a security official said on Thursday.

The man was arrested on Wednesday trying to board a plane to Bangkok, the Cairo airport official said, after a mummified cat and ibis were found in his bags along with 19 religious figurines, including of the gods Horus and Thoth.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that a 61-year-old man had been arrested and detained in the Egyptian capital.

The man was receiving consular support while in detention but had yet to be charged with any offence, a spokeswoman said.

The man is a teacher who had wrapped the more than 2,000-year-old artefacts as gift souvenirs, Egyptian media reported. It was not immediately clear how the man had obtained the objects.

Egypt State Information Service

The archaeological Committee that was formed by the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass said in a statement issued by the council in 24-12-2008 that the "flax linen" seized with an Australian airport to Cairo is an archaeological flax linen.

The flax linen that was founded were used in the mummification process of animal mummies that the ancient Egyptians were worshiped in many areas in Egypt, such as large tuna mountain ,tel basta and Saqqara.

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni has demanded Dr. Hawass to go to Cairo airport immediately upon recieving information about seizing an Australian tourist carrying 5.5 kg of coils used in the mummification process while traveling from Cairo Airport.

Airport Security Authority with cooperation with tourism police have taken all the legal procedures to deliver the passenger to the appropriate investigation agency for determining how these coils were delivered to him.

See the above pages for more.

Meresamun to go under OI scanner

Chicago Tribune

When doctors at the University of Chicago put the first patient through their new cutting-edge CT scanner, they weren't very concerned about her health. But they did hope to find clues into how she died, 3,000 years ago.

Meresamun, a mummy owned by the university's Oriental Institute, recently had the honor of being the first subject of the university's 256-slice scanner, which is four times as powerful as the previous model and the first of its kind in Illinois.

As a medical tool, University of Chicago Medical Center radiologists say, the scanner will create faster, more accurate images of ailing people's bodies while also reducing their exposure to radiation.

Physicians have used computed tomography, or CT, for more than 30 years to peek inside the body. The scanners contain detectors that loop around a patient, taking a series of X-rays from various angles that are then assembled into a three-dimensional cross-section of the body, or "slice." When slices are stacked together electronically, doctors can reconstruct organs to look for tumors or blood clots.

A Search for Pictures from the Times When the Sahara Was full of Lakes

The archaeologist, Martin Tomášek, describes an almost twenty-two day exploration by the Czech expedition into rarely seen stretches of the Egyptian Sahara. Thanks to him we bring unique pictures from the places where package tours rarely ever go.

It was almost 2 a.m. on 3rd November 2008, when most of the members of our scientific expedition met at Cairo airport. The final destination was the remote area of Gilf Kebir, which is located near where Egypt borders with Libya and Sudan. Our team of scientists – Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta, surveyor Vladimír Brůna, and me (archaeologist Martin Tomášek) – were joined at the airport by other members of the expedition. The rest soon arrived from Prague and comprised of: archaeologist Jiří Svoboda, expert of the Palaeolithic era, surveyor Václav Cílek, archaeologist Jiří Musil, specialist on the Roman Period, botanist Petr Pokorný and Josef Jíša who was responsible for charging all of the electrical devices using solar cells. The last person to join the expedition was Martin Frouz, a photographer working for the Czech National Geographic team.

The founder of the expedition and its natural leader was Miroslav Bárta from the Czech Institute of Egyptology. He had in-depth knowledge of the environment and the Arabic dialects spoken in Egypt and was in charge of arranging the necessary travel permits as well as the logistics side of the expedition. Local knowledge was supplied with the help of Bedouins from Baharija. Due to the recent tourist abduction, which had happened not far from Gilf Kebir, Egyptian authorities took all possible steps in order to limit visitors to the area as much as possible. Because of this our permits were delayed, and we were allowed to stay close to the border of Sudan only for a restricted number of days.

The following day we left Cairo and made our way south-west. What was the reason and goal of our journey? Czech Egyptologists have been working in Egypt for fifty years, mainly in a burial-ground near the royal metropolis in Abusir. In 2004, one of the Czech expeditions set off for the Egyptian Western Desert where its members explored what was left of the extinct settlements in the area of el-Hajez in the oasis Bahrija. This is certainly not the only oasis of the desert. Five oases have been populated up to recent times (Siva, Bahrija, Farafra, Dachla, Charga). People also used to live in many other places in this part of the Sahara. Even after the desert had taken over there were still paths connecting individual areas. It was these ancient paths that we decided to follow as they led to the little known remains of the settlement in the Gilf Kebir locality.

Egyptian writer defends story of early Christians

Daily Nation

Egyptian novelist and scholar Youssef Ziedan has angered the Egyptian Coptic Church with his best-selling novel Azazeel, the story of a 5th-century Egyptian-born monk who witnesses early Christian disputes.

Bishop Bishoy, the secretary of the church’s Holy Synod, said Ziedan “intended to destroy authentic Christian doctrine” and accused him of interfering in internal Christian matters.

But in an interview with Reuters, Ziedan said church elders were upset he had challenged their authority as the heirs of St Mark the Apostle and their exclusive claim to Egyptian history between the end of paganism and the arrival of Islam.

Farouk Hosni and his goal to become UNESCO director-general

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

It was not an easy week for Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and the members of his 2009 UNESCO election campaign committee. Hosni was caught up in yet another drive against his nomination for the post of UNESCO director-general and its impact lingers on.

Earlier this week a rumour began circulating suggesting that Israel had convinced the current US administration to oppose Hosni's nomination. According to leaks the Bush administration has already started a counter campaign and is keen to convince Barack Obama's incoming administration, as well as some European and Latin American countries, to follow its lead.

The rumours raise two important questions: are they true, and if so, why now?

An official source who requested anonymity confirmed the US position towards Hosni's nomination and told Al-Ahram Weekly that Washington had asked Egypt to reconsider Hosni's candidacy and nominate someone else. Should Hosni succeed in gaining the post, the US and several other countries have threatened to reconsider their relationship with UNESCO.

Official sources also assert that in the corridors of UNESCO's Paris headquarters Israeli representatives have been running after UNESCO members trying to canvas them to vote against Hosni. The sources say the anti-Hosni campaign increased in intensity after a number of Mediterranean, European, African and Asian countries announced their support for Egypt's minister of culture.

Al Ahram Weekly
(Gamal Nkrumah)

With a bit of luck, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni might end up being the next secretary general of the UNESCO. The luck required for this outcome depends to a great degree on the goodwill of the United States of America. Yet eyebrows will be raised both by the timing and by the viscous verbal abuse hurled by the Israelis and their backers in Washington who would not like to see Hosni head UNESCO.

There is truth in that. Pundits in Egypt are unanimous in their support for Hosni's bid for the UNESCO top job.

The nightmare scenario is that Hosni would lose due to deliberate Machiavellian machinations by the Israelis and the Americans. Hosni is as popular as ever among artists and intellectuals in the country. It appears that newspapermen are now backing his bid. He now has a growing throng of supporters among journalists and the public.

Most pundits abhorred the manner in which Washington throws its weight about. Writing in the official daily Al-Ahram, distinguished columnist Salama Ahmed Salama tackled the challenges lying ahead of Hosni's in his quest for the UNESCO's top job.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge (Ancient Egypt magazine)

Dimai, the Faiyum Depression
Click image to see a bigger version

With many thanks to Bob Partridge, Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine.
Copyright Bob Partridge.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A very Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it

A very happy Christmas and a big hug to everyone.
I hope that you have a lovely day.
Much love

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More re new tombs at Saqqara

Zahi Hawass has updated his web pages with three photographs of the site.

USA Today

Dr. Aidan Dodson, a research fellow at the University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in Bristol, England who was not involved in the dig, said that while the tombs themselves aren't especially significant, the possibility of a much larger cemetary is.

"It shows that the blank areas of the maps of Saqqara aren't really empty at all. It's just that archaeologists haven't got round to digging them," he said.

Excavations have been going on at Saqqara for about 150 years, uncovering a vast necropolis of pyramids, tombs and funerary complexes mostly from the Old Kingdom, but including sites as recent as the Roman era.

But despite the years of excavation, new finds are constantly being made. In November, Hawass announced the discovery of a new pyramid at Saqqara, the 118th in Egypt, and the 12th to be found just in Saqqara.

BBC News

Thanks very much to Jonathan Calvert for the above link, which has a very useful video about the discovery, with Zahi Hawass talking at the site and showing the limited number of inscriptions and some of the tombs' features.

The contents of the newly found tombs have long since been stolen, Mr Hawass said.

The entrance of the tomb of the official in charge of music, Thanah, shows carved images of her smelling lotus flowers.

The other official whose tomb was discovered, Iya Maat, oversaw the extraction of granite and limestone from Aswan and other materials from the Western Desert for the construction of nearby pyramids.

Nubians push for a return to their drowned homeland

International Herald Tribune

Singing songs and chatting in an ancient language, hundreds of cheerful Nubian travelers gathered at the Alexandria railway station for a long pilgrimage to a lost homeland.

Exiles in their own country, they journeyed 18 hours to celebrate a Muslim holiday in the Nile Valley of southern Egypt, a region their ancestors once dominated from a loose confederation of villages along the river banks.

In 1964, their shoreline was inundated when the Aswan High Dam created Lake Nasser, the largest reservoir in the world. Now the Egyptian government has floated plans to develop and populate land surrounding the lake - without reserving space for Nubians. But ethnic minority activists want terrain set aside for new villages so their brethren can live again on the Nile, returning from a northern Egypt diaspora and arid settlements established 44 years ago for displaced families.

"The settlements are false Nubia," said Haggag Oddoul, an author who has become an outspoken advocate for resettlement. "To restore our character and community, we need to be rerooted. We need to return."

See the above page for the full story.

Egyptian antiquities

Safe Corner

David Gill has update Safe Corner with some details about the selling of Egyptian antiquities:

In August 2007 I speculated about the scale of the market in antiquities. I have now posted some analyses of the scale of the market based on Sotheby's New York:

* Percentage of Egyptian antiquities at auction (1998-2008)
* Trends in the sale of Egyptian antiquities (1998-2008)

Pharaoh's head returned to Egypt

Archaeology Magazine

The full background story about the investigation and the trial is available on the above page.


Egyptian authorities have taken possession of a 3,500-year old sculpture of a Pharaoh's head, nearly 20 years after it was spirited out of Egypt by the grubby mitts of a notorious London antiques dealer.

In 1990, thrillingly-named varmint Jonathan Tokeley-Parry came into possession of the head, which depicts Amenhotep III, who died in 1375. In order to smuggle it out of the country, he disguised it as a tacky souvenir by dipping it in plastic and painting it black, thus hiding its dignified provenance. The artifact was then shunted mercilessly from country to country like a Ryanair stewardess.

Despite Tokeley-Parry's fiendish ways, the authorities (possibly working on a tip-off from Indiana Jones) busted his game wide open when an assistant tried to sell stolen papyrus texts to the British Museum, and he was jailed in 1997 for three years. Since then, the two countries have churned through the legalities of the sculpture's return, and it was handed over to the country's embassy this past weekend, from whence it shall be returned to the Middle East.

Satellites unearthing ancient Egyptian ruins


Sarah Parcak's work with satellite images makes fairly regular appearences in the media. There's nothing really new here, but for those of you who haven't come across her work before the above article provides a good summary.

Archaeologists believe they have unearthed only a small fraction of Egypt's ancient ruins, but they're making new discoveries with help from high-tech allies -- satellites that peer into the past from the distance of space.

"Everyone's becoming more aware of this technology and what it can do," said Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist who heads the Laboratory for Global Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "There is so much to learn."

Images from space have been around for decades. Yet only in the past decade or so has the resolution of images from commercial satellites sharpened enough to be of much use to archaeologists. Today, scientists can use them to locate ruins -- some no bigger than a small living room -- in some of the most remote and forbidding places on the planet.

In this field, Parcak is a pioneer. Her work in Egypt has yielded hundreds of finds in regions of the Middle Egypt and the eastern Nile River Delta.

Parcak conducted surveys and expeditions in the eastern Nile Delta and Middle Egypt in 2003 and 2004 that confirmed 132 sites that were initially suggested by satellite images. Eighty-three of those sites had never been visited or recorded.

In the past two years, she has found hundreds more, she said, leading her to amend an earlier conclusion that Egyptologists have found only the tip of the iceberg.

"My estimate of 1/100th of 1 percent of all sites found is on the high side," Parcak said.

See the above page for the full story, with photographs.

More re closure of Ashmolean

BBC News

Culture-seekers have one day left to visit the UK's oldest public museum - Oxford University's Ashmolean - before it closes its doors for nearly a year.

The 325-year-old visitor attraction will be shut to the public from 23 December for a £61m revamp.

Once refurbished, the museum will have 39 new galleries, a new education centre and Oxford's first rooftop cafe.

See the above page for more.

Mummification Museum lecture, Hidden Thebes – Ted Brock

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

Mummification Museum lecture 20th Dec 2008
Hidden Thebes – Ted Brock
Lost and Unknown Monuments Outside Karnak Temple

Ted was on two projects which revealed hidden parts of Karnak. The first was a sewage project and the second the dewatering. Both these projects involved doffing down into the foundations of Luxor he dug test pits along the line of the proposed work and then during the actual work. Both of these revealed that what we call Karnak is only a part of the Middle Kingdom, New kingdom and Late Period complex.

Three projects have resulted in objects and monuments being found.
The sewage project to provide Luxor with a sewage system
The Chevier ditch. This was an early project to remove water from Karnak. It was not affective but they are hopeful will be much better. Removing the water is dealing with the symptoms not the cause which is the increased agricultural activity. This has resulted from the constant water supply from the Aswan dam allowing farmers to have 2 or 3 crops a year. They flood irrigate the fields and the water table has risen as a result.
The new dewatering project.

New Facebook presence for the Petrie

Thanks to Jan Picton, Secretary, Friends of the Petrie Museum, for the information that there is now a new unofficial Fan page for the Petrie Museum - and you don't have to belong to Facebook to look at it. It gives you the opportunity to start discussions, comment on the museum, and ask questions.


Daily Photo by Bob Partridge (Ancient Egypt magazine)

Desert scenery, the Faiyum Depression
Click image to see a bigger version

With many thanks to Bob Partridge, Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine.
Copyright Bob Partridge.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Importance of new 5th Dynasty tombs found in Saqqara area

International Herald Tribune

A pair of 4,300-year-old pharaonic tombs discovered at Saqqara indicate that the sprawling necropolis south of Cairo is even larger than previously thought, Egypt's top archaeologist said Monday.

The rock-cut tombs were built for high officials — one responsible for the quarries used to build the nearby pyramids and another for a woman in charge of procuring entertainers for the pharaohs.

"We announce today a major, important discovery at Saqqara, the discovery of two new tombs dating back to 4,300 years ago," said Zahi Hawass, as he showed reporters around the site Monday. "The discovery of the two tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery."

The discovery indicates that there is even more to the vast necropolis of Saqqara, located 12 miles south of the capital, Cairo, he added.

In the past, excavations have focused on just one side of the two nearby pyramids — the Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty. The area where the two tombs were found, to the southwest, has been largely untouched.

"This means the royal cemetery is bigger than we thought," said Saleh Suleiman, the archaeologist responsible for the excavation of the two tombs.

Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said excavations will continue and further finds should shed light on the 5th and 6th dynasties of the Old Kingdom, which ruled over 4,000 years ago.

One of the tombs, about a yard wide and 2.75 yards long, has a description above the entrance about the man, Yaamat, for whom it was built. The second tomb is twice the size and includes inscriptions and an image of a seated woman.

Aidan Dodson, a research fellow at the University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in Bristol, England, who was not involved in the dig, said that while the tombs themselves aren't especially significant, the possibility of a much larger cemetery is.

"It shows that the blank areas of the maps of Saqqara aren't really empty at all. It's just that archaeologists haven't got round to digging them," he said.

Excavations have been going on at Saqqara for about 150 years, uncovering a vast necropolis of pyramids, tombs and funerary complexes mostly from the Old Kingdom, but including sites as recent as the Roman era.

See the above page for more.

Associated Press

(With photographs)

Times of India

EHCA Secretary General Zahi Hawas said one of the tombs belonged to Iya-Maat, who supervised the construction mission of King Unas, the last ruler of the 5th Dynasty.

Iya-Maat brought limestone from the Tura area, granite from the Aswan and red bricks or mafet from the western Desert.

He bore several titles, including "supervisor of the king's property."

The second tomb belonged to 5th Dynasty singer Thinh. A lintel at the front of the tomb is engraved with the singer's various titles, including "supervisor of all singers."

A relief showing such a singer during a performance is found on one of the tomb's walls.

Despite Unas' long rule, very little is known about him and the society where he headed. Some believe the end of his rule marked the end of the golden age of Egypt's the Old Kingdom.

Egypt State Information Service

Egypt has discovered two new tombs at the Saqqara archeological area, 30 km southwest of Cairo, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said Sunday 21/12/2008.

An Egyptian mission under Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass found the tombs 400 meters southwest of the Step Pyramid in Saqqara.

Hawwass said the tombs are made of limestone and engraved in rock.

Luxor after Pharaohs

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

Thanks to Jane Akshar for another set of lecture notes from the Mummification Museum's lecture series. This time she has reported on the lecture Luxor after the Pharaohs by Michael Jones and Luigi De Cescires:

Luxor after Pharaohs Michael Jones, Luigi De Cescires 13/12/8. An ARCE project in collaboration with the SCA and funded by USAID

In today’s archaeological world projects are multi discipline so a report has to be as well. Michael Jones will set the archaeological context for the conservation work Luigi will talk about.

Archaeology is about managing change up until modern times where the temple is a modern landscape. From Tutmosis III, Tutankhamen, Ramses II, Nectanebo in Pharaonic times through to its condition during Napoleons’ time.

Some old slides showed how the temple was part of a living breathing Luxor. There were pigeon houses in front of the obelisks and it was surrounded by ancient settlement. There were houses on top of the roofed section on the Amenhotep III temple. It became overcome by settlement.

In 1881 the temple was cleared in a project funded by international public subscription. You can trace the height of the debris by the dates of the graffiti.

By 1933 it had become the triangular shaped area we know today and there was a beginning to understand the Roman remains on the site. In front of the temple was the house of the descendents of Abu Hagag which was difficult to remove but by the 1950’s the sphinx avenue was found and the cleared the front of the East pylon.

The North Colonnade of Amenhotep III sun court was taken away by the Romans. Many statues were taken away by the Romans to decorate their houses and this explains a column base found by Howard Carter in 1902. There is a line through the temple which lines up with MacDonald’s, which was created by the Romans.

See the above page for Jane's complete notes.

Exhibition: Beyond Babylon (Georgette Gouveia)

Met curator Joan Aruz knows how to connect the dots. A case in point - her new blockbuster exhibit, "Beyond Babylon" (through March 15), which sweeps across the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia to explore the cross-pollination of cultures there in the second millennium B.C.

"It's interesting, because in past exhibits, people treated these regions separately," says the Chappaqua resident, curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "But people who look only at one place take the narrow view."

Aruz favors a bolder vision.

"By juxtaposing (approximately 350) objects, we want to demonstrate how these cultures thrived when they came in contact with one another," she says. "This is the first exhibit to bring them together."

The cultures that flowered beyond Babylon - the fabled, peacock-colored city of gardens and ziggurats that was the New York of this ancient world and is now a ruin in Iraq - have names that will be familiar to many viewers from history books. They are Canaanite, Mycenaean Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian and Assyrian, to name a few. But you don't have to know Hammurabi, the memorable Babylonian king and codifier of its laws, from Hatshepsut, Egypt's great female Pharaoh, to relish this show.

See the above page for more.

Internet recovers in most of Egypt

Egypt State Information Service

The efficiency of internet services recovered by over 80 percent on Sunday 21/12/2008, said a well-placed source at the operations room chaired by Minister of Communications Tareq Kamel to follow-up repair works of six disrupted undersea cables.

The operation room has not until now received complaints from financial institutions, banks or stock markets about grave losses resulting from an internet breakdown since Friday, the source said.

The ship fixing the cables arrived in Italy earlier to mend the cut of the cables which occurred on 19/12/2008 and Egypt is awaiting reports.

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge (Ancient Egypt magazine)

Denderah - Temple of Hathor

Click image to see a bigger version

With many thanks to Bob Partridge, Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine.
Copyright Bob Partridge.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nefertari (QV66) on OsirisNet


I always have a smile on my face even before I've opened an email from Thierry because I always know that I'm going to enjoy what he reports!

Thanks to Jon, we are now proud to present 'The complete Nefertari'.

As you know, Nefertari's tomb, QV 66, is considered as one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The pages for the tomb are now completed, and Jon has also updated his 3D tour, making the virtual visit of the tomb a unique experience on the Internet, and alas, in reality. because the tomb itself is now closed to the public.

So rush to

You won't regret it.
Enjoy !

TECHNICAL NOTE : the users of Firefox or Google Chrome must update the Cortona plug-in for the 3D tour: it is necessary to install version 6.0 at least. This is currently in beta, but doesn't appear to have any problems.
It is explained, with the download link, on the special page of the 3D tour.
It is extremely simple to install, and only takes about 3 minutes.
If you still encounter problems with the Cortona, then try the new Cosmo plugin. Again details and the download link are on the special page of the 3D tour.

Merry Christmas !


Original pages created by Jon Hirst
Images taken from the 3D tour created by Jon Hirst
Copyright OsirisNet 2008

Another Top 10

National Geographic

The National Geographic arrange their Top 10 in the order of the stories most viewed by their online readers. Whilst other Top 10 listings have no Egyptology items this one has four.

Lost cities, baffling pyramids, and ancient graveyards are just some of the mysteries covered in National Geographic News's most viewed archaeology stories of 2008.

See the above page for the list, with details.

Exhibition: Historic documents reveal ancient world (Nicole Gough)

"Egypt Unveiled" is an exhibition featuring books, artwork, maps, and resources from one of the earliest European expeditions to Egypt.

"Napoleon landed in Egypt with over 50,000 troops and they were going to take over and make Egypt a part of the French empire," said Jennifer Meyer, exhibition curator.

"But that part did not go well because there was the plague, and brutal battles they lost, so they ended up withdrawing. In the meantime, all of these other things were happening, and that's the focus of the exhibition."

Napoleon's military goals may not have been accomplished, but the scholars and savants he brought along made the trip a success. . . .

There is something for everyone in the "Egypt Unveiled" exhibition, from early drawings of crocodiles to detailed sketches of the asp, from colorful drawings of the sacred Ibis to eerily detailed pictures of mummies. There is even a picture of the Rosetta Stone, which the savants discovered while exploring Egypt.

The exhibition will be on display until May 10th 2009 in the Firestone Library at Princeton University.

Interview with Peter Lacovara

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (By Rosalind Bentley)

The King Tut exhibit now showing at the Atlanta Civic Center opened to much fanfare last month. Our fair city is the first stop in the world premiere of a major Egyptian art exhibit, which continues here through May 25. And “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” has proved popular for its sponsor, the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University. Peter Lacovara is senior curator of Egypt, Nubia and the Near East at the Carlos Museum and was instrumental in bringing the exhibit here. We talked to Lacovara about acquisitions, values and Indiana Jones.

Q: What was the experience that convinced you that Egypt and Nubia would be your life’s work?

A: In college I took a class and then volunteered in the museum of fine arts in Boston, and they have a great Egyptian collection and a great, great Nubian collection. That really got me interested.

Q: So you were the kid who was always digging through the family attic?

A: Yeah.

Q: Emory lays claim to you, but you spend a lot of time living and working in New York.

A: (Laughs) Well, I’m from there.

Q: Is Atlanta too modern for the antiquities scholar?

A: Actually, more of our support for the Egyptian collection comes from New York these days than from Atlanta itself.

Q: Why aren’t you getting the Atlanta support?

A: I don’t know. You would think they would be more public minded, but I have found it very difficult to —- despite the popularity of the Egyptian collection —- I’ve found it very hard to build one here in Atlanta.

Q: You’re saying people just don’t get the importance of it?

A: Here, people seem to put the cart before the horse. They’re into building big, splashy museums and additions and not realizing that it’s the collections that are the important thing. It’s what’s inside that counts, not the outside.

Q: A few years ago, scholars including you concluded that a mummy acquired by the Carlos Museum was likely that of the great King Rameses I. Later the museum returned the mummy to Egypt. Did giving back Rameses I help to secure the current Tut exhibit?

A: No. When we gave back the mummy, we gave it back no strings attached. We weren’t going to ask for anything in return. But we’ve had a close relationship with the Egyptian antiquities service. We’ve had people from Egypt trained here, we’ve gone over and done collaborative projects. So it’s part of a close relationship with them.

See the above page for the entire interview.

Book Review: Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Daryn Lehoux, Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World: Parapegmata and Related Texts in Classical and Near Eastern Societies. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Reviewed by Y. Tzvi Langermann, Bar Ilan University

Parapegmata are devices for tracking temporal cycles. They refer both to instruments, in which a movable peg was employed to track certain phenomena, and by extension also to written texts in which the different sorts of cycles are recorded and correlated. Most usually, the temporal cycles are fixed lunar and stellar events, most especially heliacal risings of selected stars, which are tagged to the more fickle cycles of weather patterns; but they are by no means limited to these events. Calendars of this sort survive to this day in the form of "farmer's almanacs". Lehoux's book presents the ancient sources of this science, which take two forms: archaeological artifacts and written texts. His book is in two parts. Part one comprises a far-reaching attempt to define the subject, combining theory, close examination of selected examples, and frequent appeals to illustrations from our own (western, especially Canadian) culture. The first four chapters describe the written and other forms that parapegmata may take, the relationship between agricultural seasons and stellar phenomena, the place of astrology (by which Lehoux appears to mean, predictions based on computed configurations, that are claimed to be based upon observed correlations between stellar positions and terrestrial events), and the different calendars and calendric cycles that were in use in Greece and Rome, as well as the way meteorological phenomena were indexed to these. Lehoux wishes to distinguish as clearly as possible between 'astrometerology' on the one hand, and astrology and time-keeping in general, on the other, though all three have a place in parapegmata. He needlessly belabors the allegations that astrology is a pseudo-science; no one today excludes astrology from the history of science or the history of ideas, even though, at least so I think, hardly anyone would doubt its falsity. On the other hand, Lehoux's refutations of the intimate connections between developments in the calendar and in astronomy are well-founded and long overdue in the discipline.

Chapters five and six treat sources from Babylon and Egypt. Though there are sections of MUL.APIN and some Egyptian texts that are reminiscent of Greek and Latin parapegmata, Lehoux argues that these are due to similar concerns for tracking and predicting weather, agriculture seasons, and the like, shared by all of these civilizations. The classical sources were not influenced by Babylon or Egypt. In these chapters, Lehoux bucks the trend to emphasize the debt owed by Greek civilization to the East (most notably in Walter Burkert's Babylon, Memphis, Persepolis), but not in a sweeping fashion. He does not deny the evidence for the influence of Babylonian astronomy upon the Hellenes, but, with regard to parapegmata, Lehoux asserts that there is no evidence for the sharing of information. In the case of Egypt, he leans heavily upon Otto Neugebauer's famous claim that there was no Egyptian astronomy to speak of; so how could it have influenced the Greeks? Nonetheless, that assertion has been modified recently, on the basis of some of the same primary sources examined by Lehoux.1 Moreover, one should never forget that Ptolemy himself worked in Alexandria, and that the risings and settings, weather patterns and agriculture in his life were very much Egyptian. In the particular case of astrometeorology it seems inappropriate to look for any deep influence. Babylon and Greece have very little in common in agriculture, heliacal risings, or ritual and civic calendars; what use would it be to share information? Indeed, parapegmata are cultural phenomena, which found expression across the ancient world from China to Rome, and their study calls for a different sort of comparison, including but not limited to possible exchanges of data.

See the above page for the full story.

Egypt faces mass Internet outage

Wall Street Journal

Thanks very much to Rhio Barnhart for sending me this news item, which may be of interest to anyone living in Egypt or planning to visit:

Egypt's communications ministry says Internet cables in the Mediterranean Sea have been cut, causing massive Internet outages.

The ministry says three Internet cables running through the Mediterranean were cut Friday morning. Throughout the country the Internet is almost completely down or working sporadically.

The ministry says it will take "several days" for cables to be repaired and is trying to switch Egypt's Internet to an alternative route.

Daily Photo - southwest Egypt, the Western desert

Saturday, December 20, 2008

David Robert's Holy Land pictures discovered at Yorkshire Museum Library

Times Online

The first edition of the collection of fascinating images of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem was unearthed by volunteers cataloguing the Yorkshire Museum library in York.

The complete version of ’The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia and Nubia’, by David Roberts, is one of only 400 copies of the first edition ever made - other copies have been owned by Queen Victoria and the Tsar of Russia.

The first edition was printed in London in 1842, and the large books include hand-coloured lithographs of famous sites throughout the Holy Land from 1838 and 1839.

The Yorkshire Museum’s curator of archaeology, Andrew Morrison, said: “The books are a truly fantastic find and it is great they have been unearthed so close to Christmas.

“David Roberts was one of the first ’photo-journalists’ and his incredibly detailed paintings of the Middle East gave British society a fabulous insight into the everyday life of people in a world completely different from theirs.

See the above page for the full story, plus a comment in response, re a technical point.

Garstang at the World Museum, Liverpool

Liverpool Daily Post

As the first visitors take in World Museum Liverpool’s new Ancient Egypt gallery, Laura Davis explores the city’s long-standing fascination with the Land of the Pharaohs.

It was every bit the up-standing Edwardian tea party, with the brew sipped from bone china cups and the table decorated with a fringed cloth and a vase of rose s.
Despite the heat, the women were tightly buttoned up to the neck and the men wore waistcoats and smoked cigars.

But the setting was far from conventional. No sumptuous drawing room for these intrepid types, but the inside of an Ancient Egyptian tomb. These burial places had many uses. When he wasn’t breaking for tea, University of Liverpool professor John Garstang could be found carefully cataloguing his archaeological finds in the rock-cut tomb he used as his headquarters.

A photograph from the time reveals him boater-hatted, at a wooden trestle table – a selection of artefacts laid out on a cloth, draped over a sarcophagus. Another shows Garstang practising his golf swing in the middle of the desert, proving that a Edwardian gentleman could create a little corner of Merry Old England in the least likely of places.

Some of the items he found are among those on display in World Museum Liverpool’s new Ancient Egypt Gallery; others, given as gifts to his benefactors, have become lost among their other handed down possessions; but many of them are on display in the tiny Liverpool University museum that bears his name.

“Garstang was relatively unique in terms of British archaeologists because he came out of a university background,” explains Dr Steven Snape, the university’s director of Archaeological Collections.

“There were other people carrying out digs in Egypt, such as Flinders Petrie, of the Egypt Exploration Fund, but, because Garstang dug at so many sites and found so much stuff, he was really important in our understanding of the burial customs of ordinary Egyptians.”

While some archaeologists focused on the grand tombs of Pharaohs, filled with treasures, the Liverpool expeditions (from 1900 to World War I) were concerned with the anonymous masses. Garstang would spend several months at a time in the field, uncovering and labelling finds that, while less monetarily valuable than the items in the Royal tombs, were equally as illuminating.

See the above link for the three-page story.

Film: Egypt's enduring mummies

Ottowa Citizen (Jay Stone)

The first words you hear in the spooky/educational/mummyrific Imax film Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs are spoken by a voice of such baritone portent it could have narrated the newsreel at the beginning of Citizen Kane. "Egypt: ancient land of awe and wonder," says the voice, with a familiar theatricality.

Yes, it is Christopher Lee, the British actor who is the veteran of many movies from the Lord of the Rings to -- remember? -- The Mummy, the 1959 horror film in which he played Kharis, high priest of a pharaoh whose tomb is disturbed by archeologists who are unaware what havoc they are about to let loose on the world.

Disturbed tombs are part of the legacy of the pharaohs, a subtext that is mined by Mummies not to frighten us -- no re-animated priests in this film -- but to tie the ancient civilization to the modern world through the wonders of medicine.

See the above page for more.

Egyptian Art Exhibitions 2009

Suite101 (Stan Parchin)

Stan is continuing to publish some excellent things on the Suite101 website. This time he does a review of 11 museum exhibitions coming up in 2009. See the above page for details of each of the exhibitions.

The art and archaeology of ancient Egypt are the subjects of 11 museum exhibitions in 2009. Many focus on Tutankhamun, the Eighteenth Dynasty's most famous pharaoh.

Archaeological dig in Sudan

Polish Market Online

A team of Polish and Sudanese archeologists works in El Zuma region where the sacred mountain Gebel Barkal was located and first Christian commune Old Dongola emerged’ Mahmoud el Tayeb. Sudanese archaeologist and professor at the University of Warsaw explains the scope of the excavations. Polish Market is one of the sponsors of this archaeological mission.

‘The idea was born in late 2003. That’s when we realized at the Centre for Ancient Sudan Research that we should be interested only in the 200 years between 4th and 6th century because very little is known about Sudan in that period. It is still an unexplored mystery. This was the very early era when Christianity formed here. I excavate cemeteries between the 3rd and 4th cataract which were never studied before’ Mahmoud el Tayeb explains. The research project is conducted by the University of Warsaw and the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology. The archaeological explorations are part of a larger project – establishing a local cultural centre where the locals could observe their traditions and develop folk art. The centre is also envisaged as a tourist attraction which could boost the region’s economy. The plans are to create a tourist trail through hundreds of years Sudan’s history from Gebel Barkal surrounded with temples, the Zuma cemetery to the Christian town of Old Dongola.

See the above page for the full story.

Daily Photo - Faience lion


Blue fainece recumbent lion marked with black spots, legs missing. 2 modern perforations below.

Period - Dynasty 12 (1795BCE-1985BCE)
Found at - Lahun
Measurements - length 4.7 cms

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

King Tut's Father ID'd in Stone Inscription

Discovery Channel (Rossella Lorenzi)

An inscribed limestone block might have solved one of history's greatest mysteries -- who fathered the boy pharaoh King Tut.

"We can now say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News.

The finding offers evidence against another leading theory that King Tut was sired by the minor king Smenkhkare.

Hawass discovered the missing part of a broken limestone block a few months ago in a storeroom at el Ashmunein, a village on the west bank of the Nile some 150 miles south of Cairo.

Once reassembled, the slab has become "an accurate piece of evidence that proves Tut lived in el Amarna with Akhenaten and he married his wife, Ankhesenamun," while living in el Amarna, Hawass said.

The text also suggests that the young Tutankhamun married his father's daughter -- his half sister.

"The block shows the young Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenamun, seated together. The text identifies Tutankhamun as the 'king's son of his body, Tutankhaten,' and his wife as the 'king's daughter of his body, Ankhesenaten,'" Hawass said.


New evidence in the form of an inscribed limestone block in Egypt might have solved the mystery about the identity of boy pharaoh King Tutankhamun’s father.

The best-known pharaoh of ancient Egypt, King Tut has been puzzling scientists ever since his mummy and treasure-packed tomb was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

“We can now say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten,” Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News.

The finding offers evidence against another leading theory that King Tut was sired by the minor king Smenkhkare.

Hawass discovered the missing part of a broken limestone block a few months ago in a storeroom at el Ashmunein, a village on the west bank of the Nile some 150 miles south of Cairo.

Found among other sandstone slabs in the storeroom of El Ashmunein’’s archaeological site, the block was used in the construction of the temple of Thoth during the reign of Ramesses II, who ruled around 1279-1213 B.C.

See the above pages for the full stories.

The Egyptian Museum: New home for treasures of the boy king

The Financial Times (Yolande Knell)

Strange article. It appears under a report on Egypt in 2008 from the "Reports" section of the FT's website. It does talk a bit about the new Grand Museum but it also takes bits and pieces of other aspects of Egyptian heritage management and dots around a few soundbites about them.

The Egyptian authorities have pursued international grants and soft loans to finance the $350m project but they are also capitalising on the popularity of the young Pharaoh.

Since 2005, an exhibition including dozens of objects from his tomb has been touring the US and Europe. . . .

The exhibition, which is at present on show at the Atlanta Civic Centre in Georgia, has already raised $120m, and 5m people have seen it. It employs audio guides, 3-D movies, and school information packs – all modern educational tools that will eventually be used at the Grand Museum.

Mr Hawass, who took up his post in 2002, is a great showman who uses his regular media appearances to market ancient history to Egyptians and foreigners alike.

With evidence that more tourists are visiting Egypt’s Red Sea resorts than its long-neglected cultural sites, he is trying to win them back and use their money to fund restoration.

See the above page for the full story.

Tourism: Attention turns to virgin travel territory

The Financial Times (Alex Dziadosz)

Another article in the Egypt Report from the Financial Times (mentioned in the post above).

The vendors of Cairo’s Khan el-Khalily bazaar provide a colourful barometer of international wealth. The richer a country is, the more fluently touts bark its language at passers-by; in recent years, Egyptian-accented Mandarin and Russian have come into style.

The trend is illustrative. A country’s tourism industry depends largely on who can afford to travel. In Egypt, where tourism employs more than 12 per cent of the workforce, recessions in Germany, Italy and the UK – three of the country’s four biggest sources of tourists – have sparked plenty of worry.

So far, there have been no big shocks. Egypt will draw 13m visitors by the end of this year, 20 per cent more than in 2007, according to Zoheir Garana, the minister of tourism.

“We’re still okay for year-end to 2008,” he says. “We assume there will be a slowdown for the first two quarters of 2009.”

How steep the downturn will be is anybody’s guess. The state stopped issuing monthly arrival figures late last year, forcing analysts to make predictions based on limited data. Beltone Financial, a Cairo-based investment bank, estimates tourism will bring in about $11.5bn this fiscal year, up from $10.8bn last year. EFG-Hermes, a competing investment bank, predicts the sector will stop growing this fiscal year and will shrink by about 8 per cent next year.

See the above page for the rest of the story. There's lots of interesting information in this article. I hadn't realized, for example, that the Egyptian state had stopped issuing monthly arrival figures, or that the predicted downturn in tourism had resulted in a freezing of a planned rise in ticket and other prices. The search for new areas within Egypt to exploit and the development of new markets has been reported over the last few years but some of that information is brought together quite well here.

Egypt at Manchester Museum blog: Curator’s Diary

Egypt at the Manchester Museum (Karen Exell)

Yesterday Dr Margaret Serpico came to the Museum to talk to the Egypt and Archaeology gallery content development team about her experiences acting as the Egypt consultant for the new displays of the Egyptian material at the Brighton Museum. The Brighton Egypt collection consists of c. 1400 objects and has never been displayed before. It was donated to the Brighton Museum by Francis Llewellyn Griffiths, who excavated with Flinders Petrie, and who had family in Brighton. Dr Serpico gave a fascinating account of the highs and lows of gallery redevelopment. The Brighton Egypt gallery is due to open at the end of March 2009.

I have just about finished writing up the archaeology and Egypt gallery redevelopment consultation report, drawing togther the discussions from the year-long audience consultation events. This will from one of the sources on which the gallery design brief will draw, and will be circulated shortly.

See the above page for the rest of the post.

A quiet, safe place for the Pharaoh?

Egyptian Gazette

N.B. story will expire in the next few days on the above address

The transport of the giant granite statue of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses II, from Ramses Square, downtown Cairo on August 25, 2006, where it stood for more than 50 years, was watched by millions.

In Egypt and abroad, fond farewells were said as the stature was moved from the square that bore the Pharaoh's name, to a new prestigious location in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) on the Giza plateau. The reason given for transporting the 83-tonne monument was that noise, pollution, and vibration from traffic and subways was threatening its existence. The Egyptian Government, therefore, decided to relocate the statue to a safer, and more dignified location. At a temporary location on the Giza plateau, it will undergo restoration. But because the Grand Egyptian Museum is scheduled to open in 2020, the statue is imprisoned in a steel cage near the plateau, not far from el-Remaya Square, another busy junction which funnels traffic from Cairo to other governorates, including dozens of trucks, every day.

See the above page for the full story.

Museum, COSI plan Egypt projects

The Columbus Dispatch (Tim Feran)

The Columbus Museum of Art and COSI Columbus will showcase consecutive major exhibits next year:

• "To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures From the Brooklyn Museum" -- to run from Feb. 13 to June 7 at the museum -- explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife.

More than 100 objects -- including statues, coffins, jewelry and vessels -- will tell the story of mummification, funeral processions and rituals; and the contents of tombs.

• "Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science " -- to run from May 30 to Sept. 7 at COSI -- will be an interactive show featuring a human mummy, several animal mummies, forensic facial reconstructions and a life-size prototype of a human mummy.

"You've got the museum and COSI each able to play to (their) strengths," said David Chesebrough, COSI president and chief executive officer.

"Their exhibition covers the cultural/artistic side, and ours shows how real scientists put together this puzzle. So it's not the same exhibit twice but coming at the same topic from different angles."

See the above page for more.

Travel: A Nile cruise

The Independent, UK (Rory Ross)

Better than average summary of a trip down the Nile by the author and his 11 year old son.

I had decided to travel with my son Alexander, 11, who was on half-term and had been studying the pharaohs at school. Good to show him where history begins, I thought as we arrived in Cairo. Although he took great pains to appear underwhelmed at all times by the National Museum, the pyramids and the Sphinx, I noted from his post-trip chatter with his friends that these experiences left a deep and positive impression. He also bought a fez for the equivalent of £2 at a market stall, which thrilled him.

From Cairo, we flew south to Aswan, our port of embarkation on to the Nile, gateway to Nubia (the "land of gold") and home of the High Dam and the older Low Dam. Alexander was particularly impressed that the High Dam – 3,800m long, 980m wide and 111m high – had been built to withstand nuclear attack.

The 125-kilometre stretch of Nile between Aswan and Luxor covers most of pharaonic Egypt's greatest hits, including Kom Ombo, Edfu, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. Five years ago, the government stopped issuing new licences to operators of cruisers, pegging the fleet to just over 300 vessels, which provides healthy competition but isn't enough to clog the river. . . .

We arrived at Kom Ombo, a cult centre to Sobek, the crocodile god associated with fertility. The temple at Kom Ombo gives directly on to the Nile, where crocodiles once basked and were fed meat. Ancient Kom Ombo also doubled as a medical centre. Hieroglyphics show the pharaonic NHS in rude health, equipped with scissors, sponges, bandages, cups, dental instruments, forceps... "And saws for brain surgery," added Farouk.

Dental equipment is a common theme in Egyptian carvings. In one temple at Saqqara, just outside u oCairo, I saw an image of a cow having its teeth fixed. Ramses II, I was told, had terrible teeth and is believed to have died from tooth infection. But, as the pyramids of pastries and cakes that greeted us every morning aboard the St George attest, the Egyptian sweet tooth has lost none of its bite.

The next landfall, Edfu, is the most intact ancient temple in Egypt, a relative novelty built during the Ptolemaic period (305BC-30BC), which is strictly post-pharaoic, post-Alexander the Great. We confronted a large fortress-like edifice covered in images of kings making offerings to Horus, patron of the living pharaoh. A pair of hoopoes played among the colonnades. "The various King Ptolemys didn't believe in the story of Horus," said Farouk, "but the temple helped give them power over the people, while it was paid for by giving money to the priests. So everyone was happy: the pharaohs got their power, the priests got their money, and the people went home with a story. Politics was pretty straightforward in those days."

A bird-lover, Alexander was engrossed by the hoopoes. Temples and pyramids notwithstanding, Egypt is superb for bird-spotting, being an important migratory stopover between Africa and Europe.

See the above page for the full story, which includes various remarks about the cruise from a travel point of view - service, food, comfort etc. I'm not quite onvinced by the author's remark that there aren't enough cruise ships to clog the river. The last few times that I've passed through Luxor it looked like mayhem on the river, and I've heard various complaints about the queues at the Esna lock. But his trip was obviously one of the lucky ones.

Polish plaque in Luxor

Serwis Nauka w Polsce

A plaque commemorating the Polish-Egyptian cooperation in rebuilding and preserving Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in Deir el-Bahari. The plaque was placed on the southern side of the ramp that links the temple’s second terrace with the third, and highest, terrace.

The symbolic unveiling of the plaque was done by the Ambassador of Poland in Egypt, Jan Natkański, and the Director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities deputy, Sabri Abdel Aziz. The hosts of this event were Dr Zbigniew Szafrański, the head of the Polish Archaeology mission in Deir el-Bahari, and the regional director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Mansur Boriak.

The ceremony gathered a dozen archaeologists who have been running excavations around Luxor. Representatives of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and local authorities were also present at the ceremony. The Polish archaeologist after the ceremony invited the guests to their Headquarters – The Metropolitan House – in El-Asasif.

On the plaque you can see the crests of the University of Warsaw, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and a short text in English and Arabic.

See the above page for the full story.

Egyptian-German committee is looking into the case of a statue of Nefertiti

The Egyptian Gazette

N.B. story will expire in the next few days on the above address.

AN Egyptian-German committee is looking into the case of a statue of Queen Nefertiti, the wife of the monotheistic Akhenaten, which is currently in Germany. The plan is to have the statue transferred to el-Tawhid Museum, in Minya, about 240km south of Cairo, when it opens next year.

In 1912, a team of German archaeologists found the statue of Queen Nefertiti, made of limestone. They were given the precious antiquity under the law at the time that permitted the finders of ancient monuments to have a share in them.

The head of the German Institute of Archaeology says that the German members of the committee will let their Egyptian counterparts know whether the statue can be transferred in time for the opening ceremony or not.El-Tawhid Museum will also include monuments related to Akhenaten.

See the above page for more. I'll believe it when I see it happen :-).

Daily Photo by Bob Partridge (Ancient Egypt magazine)

Click image to see a bigger version

With many thanks to Bob Partridge, Editor of Ancient Egypt Magazine.
Copyright Bob Partridge.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Faculty Presents Egyptian Findings

BYU NewsNet (Mark Hartman)

BYU is the Brigham Young University.

The BYU Egypt Excavation Project will release its annual report on Friday. During the presentation, an overview of the project will be given and the history of the excavation site will be discussed. Kristen South, a part-time instructor at BYU, will present on the preservation of textiles, in this case mummy wrappings. South has a master's degree in Egyptology from Yale and recently presented her findings in Europe. Her portion of the presentation on Friday will be expanded for the BYU audience.

"These textiles come from a time period people don't know too much about," said Kerry Muhlestein, an assistant professor of ancient scripture. "We should be able to learn much about mummification from them."

In addition to the textile findings, the project has made some recent discoveries in other areas, including pyramids and the Christianizing of Egypt.

"It's a significant project that has made an important number of contributions to different disciplines," Muhlestein said. "We found a pyramid which nobody knew about that will make people rethink the purpose of pyramids and question their assumptions."

These discoveries may be new, but the project is not.

See the above page for more.

More re new gallery at World Museum, Liverpool.

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 this Friday 5 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 rest of the article.

There is also more information at the Liverpool World Museum website, including a video:

See the people of Ancient Egypt brought to life in these fascinating videos taken from the new gallery. A transcript of this video of the Pharaoh is also available here.

Museum mummy murder mystery

Sunday Mercury (Ben Goldby)

IT is the murder mystery which has spanned thousands of years.

Archaeologists have long questioned how an unidentified man entombed in a 1,700-year-old mummy at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery met his death.

Now they hope the macabre case may finally be solved with the help from medical experts from the Midlands.

The elaborately-bandaged Greco-Roman mummy, with gilt terracotta studs, was donated to the museum in the 1920s by Albert Phillips, a Birmingham bedstead maker who often travelled to the Middle East.

Results from previous X-rays revealed an unidentified metal object lodged in the back of the mummy’s neck, which some archaeologists believe may be an arrow head – meaning he could have been murdered.

On Friday the mummy was sent to Stafford Hospital to undergo a full CT scan which will provide 3D images which may finally help establish a definitive cause of death.

See the above page for the full story.

Egyptian mummies as commodities

Suite 101 (Jenn Ostrowski)

From medicine to entertainment, many ancient Egyptians did not get the peace they sought after death despite their efforts to preserve their dead.

Ancient Egyptians believed that after death their souls would survive, and that those souls would reanimate their bodies. This led to the need to preserve the deceased for the afterlife, but it’s doubtful the Egyptians ever fathomed the many other uses for their mummies.
Mummies as Medicine

Shipped across the Mediterranean Sea to apothecaries in large quantities, mummies were incorrectly assumed by Europeans to be embalmed with a type of bitumen (a black tar-like substance) believed to have healing properties in Asian tradition. Most mummies, in fact, were not coated with bitumen but dark resins, which lent to the dark tone of a mummy’s skin.

From the 1100s until opinions changed in the 1700s, powdered or chopped up pieces of a mummy were considered a cure for many different health problems, including diseases, poisoning, open wounds, and even broken bones. Mixed with other ingredients or used straight, mummy medicine became a popular drug in the West. King Francis I of France even took powdered mummy with rhubarb daily.

When Egyptian mummies became hard to acquire, a new market for the dearly departed opened up. Merchants substituted the corpses of slaves and others, “embalming” the bodies themselves and marketing them as genuine mummies.

See the above page for more uses of ancient Egyptian mummies. These stories never cease to make my hair stand on end.