Monday, October 26, 2009

The view from Planet Hawass

The following is a summary of the main news items from Zahi Hawass's website over the previous few weeks. The most recent item is at the top of the post. If some of these are duplicates of earlier posts I apologise - these were picked up by Google Reader but it sometimes picks up older items as well as recent ones.

Neb Re statue
A photograph of the sandstone statue now located in the Luxor Museum.

A Night in the White Desert
Hawass talking about visiting the White Desert which is the remarkable area just north of Farafra, famous for its gorgeous white limestone formations. Now a national park it is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, which is a distinctly mixed blessing.

The unfinished pyramid at Saqqara
(With video)
The incomplete pyramid of the 3rd dynasty pharaoh Sekhemkhet was discovered in 1954 by Zakaria Gomein. As a sealed but empty sarcophagus Gomein discovered grave goods, including gold jewellry. There's some good footage of the pyramid on the video.

West Bank of Luxor
The photo store has been updated with some new images. This is a particularly fine aeriel photograph of Deir el-Bahri (the temples of Hatshepsut and Mentuhotep II) and the surrounding Theban hills.

Museums in Alexandria
Hawass goes walkabout in Alexandria, where he was delivering a lecture. He visited the National Museum of Alexandria and the Jewelry Museum. There's a description of the work that took place to restore the early 20th century building which houses the latter museum, and which sounds like a terrific place.

Restoring the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in Cairo
(With video)
Hawass uses the example of this synagogue to counter suggestions that the SCA are not concerned with the Jewish heritage of Cairo. It is expected to open to the public in 2010 following restoration work.

Taweret Figure Found at Dra Abu'l Naga
Another photo, and a rather nice one. A bronze figurine of the hippopotamus goddess Taweret found recently in the SCA excavations at Dra Abu’l Naga. Traces of gold can be seen on the head.

Drilling under the Sphinx
(With video)
Drilling to investigate groundwater levels beneath the Sphinx, for conservation purposes, have not revealed any hidden chambers!

Philae Temple
Nice aeriel shot of the Temple of Philae.

Restoring Saqqara
Some odds and ends about restoration work at the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the South Tomb and the Serapeum. Hawass says that they are hoping to re-open the Serapeum to the public in December, which would be great - it is a remarkable place.

Bahariya Oasis
Three houses have been destroyed (the owners apparently moved willingly to new properties ) and a bulldozer that brought them down revealed a burial shaft. Hawass also talke about previous discoveries at the oasis and suggests that there is much more to be revealed in Bahariya.

KV64 to be discovered by an all-Egyptian tomb
(With video)

We discovered a cut in the mountain, followed by stairs ending in a hole in the ground. It looks like the entrance to a tomb, and it is exactly similar to the entrance of KV63. We recorded many inscriptions nearby, some of which were already known and others of which were found for the first time. One tells us that a man named Userhat built a tomb for his father, the vizier Amennakht. Our work among the cliffs was very interesting. We found huge blocks, and it took us a long time to move them. After that, we found a manmade wall, below which was a shaft with stairs going down. This seems to be the entrance to yet another tomb. We also found many workmen’s huts – we know that the workmen used to live in the valley while they were cutting and decorating the tombs of the pharaohs. In one area, we found a round limestone base, with a hole in the middle where food and drink for the workmen would have been placed.

Remember that even if we do not find that one of these two entrances leads to the tomb of Ramesses VIII, we know that many great royals, including Thutmose II and Nefertiti, along with the queens of Dynasty 18, were buried in the valley, but their tombs are also still unknown.

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