Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kom Firin I: the Ramesside temple and the site survey

British Museum

Neal Spencer with a contribution by Květa Smoláriková

British Museum Research Publication 170
ISBN 978-086159-170-1
© The Trustees of the British Museum 2008

The first monograph on British Museum fieldwork at Kom Firin in Egypt’s Nile Delta, a settlement created around the time of Ramses II, and occupied until late Antiquity.

This volume focuses on the survey and remote sensing of the site, along with a full publication of the Ramesside temple, and a consideration of the adjacent cemetery (Silvagou).

The Ramesside temple and the site survey (pdf 1.53mb)


Figures 12 (pdf 788kb)

Figures 351 (pdf 4.16mb)

Colour plates

Plates 125 (pdf 4.25mb)

Plates 2673 (pdf 4.15mb)

Plates 7495 (pdf 2.97mb)

Plates 96133 (pdf 5.56mb)

Plates 134167 (pdf 4.54mb)

Plates 168252 (pdf 5.87mb)

Plates 253265 (pdf 1.77mb)

Old Delta Capitals to Be Protected, Promoted

Egpt State Information Service

The Supreme Council for Antiquities has started a project for protecting and promoting the capital cities of old Delta region, said Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni on Wednesday 26/5/2010.

The project covers the capitals of the Delta governorates, namely, Sharqiya, Kafr el-Sheikh and Gharbiya, he added.

The project is aimed at safeguarding these areas against the hazards of sanitary drainage and underground waters, he noted, adding that the projects are also aimed at excavating antiquities.

The Ancient Land in Antiquities and Photographs at the Nelson-Atkins

KC Tribune (Steve Shapiro)

Before such superheroes as Iron Man and Batman crowded the imagination, truly super beings, bearing the names Osiris, Isis and Horus, strode tall and mighty—and why not? Ancient Egypt in its heyday was the equivalent of Russia under Catherine I, Britain under Queen Victoria or America under, well, Truman.

Tut, Ramses II, and Amenhotep III were deities; the pharaohs combined the powers of supreme rulers both in their lifetimes and afterwards (something Dick Cheney apparently hopes to achieve). Gods of fertility and of the afterworld were as common as celebrities nowadays, with the added emphasis on their magical link between the living and the dead.

The religious practices and everyday iconography of ancient Egypt still possess the aura of the ancient realm, as discoveries of tombs, hieroglyphics, funeral offerings and daily accessories over the last several hundred years have coalesced to attract the public’s fascination in a way that ancient Roman rarely has.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum, once known primarily for its ancient Chinese collection, has been developing its collections of art and artifacts of by-gone civilizations, from Native American to Colonial America. The recently unveiled Egyptian galleries, which lead into the Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, and European galleries, have an updated feel—and a priceless two thousand three hundred year-old coffin as a greeter.

Exhibition: Mummies of the World

The Independent

The Egyptian funeral rite of mummification dating back to 2,400 BC in ancient Egypt has always triggered interest in the public worldwide, fueled by people's fascination for death and ancient Egypt. However, a new exhibition of more than 40 mummies, Mummies of the World, opening this summer in Los Angeles and traveling for three years in the USA, shows that this rite is not limited to Egypt nor to pharaohs.

As New Yorkers can still visit Tutankhamun's Funeral exhibition in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art until September 6 with artifacts that trace the life, death and mummification of Tutankhamun, organizer American Exhibition is putting together what they call "the largest exhibition of mummies ever assembled," to open on July 1, in Los Angeles California Science Center.

Oriental Institute archive of photographs

Oriental Institute

Thanks to the Ancient World Online for the pointer to this wonderful collection of photographs in the Oriental Institute's online resource centre.

Profile of Zahi Hawass

Spiegel Online (Matthias Schulz)

Egypt, plagued by tomb raiders and art dealers, has lost large portions of its pharaonic heritage to Europe and the United States. The head of the country's Supreme Council of Antiquities is waging a bitter moral campaign against the West, and he is now demanding the return of six of the most beautiful masterpieces.

It is 5 a.m. and Zahi Hawass is sitting in his SUV, freshly showered, about to drive out to the Bahariya Oasis for a press appearance. The streets are still empty as Cairo shimmers in the rose-colored morning sun. Hawass must hurry to avoid the morning traffic.

He has already had a heart attack, and since then he only smokes water pipes. Referring to his driver, he says: "If he slows down I'll fire him." He likes to call his opponents "assholes."

But no one here is troubled by his behavior. In fact, Hawass has a license to be loud and angry. He sets his own rules. As Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), he is the ultimate protector of all monuments in the country.

Some 30,000 people report to Hawass, whose organization is responsible for hundreds of dilapidated temples, gloomy tombs and treasure chambers fragrant with the scent of resin, once filled with gold jewelry and papyrus documents, stretching from the delta to the fourth Nile cataract.

Sorprese d'Egitto

La Stampa (Maurizio Lupo)

I loro corpi non ci sono più. Ma i sarcofagi che riproducono le loro fattezze esistono ancora. Sono trenta. Appartengono a una famiglia che visse a Tebe d’Egitto più di due millenni fa.

Ricordano cinque generazioni di alti borghesi, donne e uomini, alcuni dei quali sacerdoti, specializzati nella cultura del loto. Per tre secoli riposarono insieme. Oggi giacciono in un magazzino sotterraneo del Museo Egizio di Torino.

In un altro si conservano le spoglie di uno sconosciuto, che visse 4 mila anni fa. Di lui non si sa nulla. Ma è certo che da noi diverrà famoso. Perché i suoi resti sono raccolti in un sarcofago forse unico al mondo. E’ fatto con fasci di giunchi, avvinti fra loro come in una cesta, fino a formare una bara vegetale.

Eleni Vassilika, la direttrice del Museo, dice «di non averne mai visto uno eguale». E’ una vera rarità. Con la famiglia di Tebe diverrà una delle nuove «star» dell’Egizio, che sarà esposta nel nuovo allestimento. Ora infine si può.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

Friday, May 28, 2010

Giza Archives Project Wins 2010 Philip M. Hamer and Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award

Giza Archives blog (Peter der Manuelian)

In recognition of outstanding efforts to promote its vast holdings of early 20th century archaeological expedition records, the Giza Archives Project at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is the 2010 recipient of the Philip M. Hamer and Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award.

Part of the Giza Archives Project staff at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. From left to right: Hayley Lacis, Rachel Aronin, Catherine Pate, Rus Gant. Photo by Peter Der Manuelian, May 10, 2010 (PDM_IMG05491).

The Giza Archives and its accompanying web site provide unprecedented access to the records of the MFA archaeological expeditions of the early 1900s. The digitization of thousands of glass plate negatives, expedition diary pages, object records, maps, and manuscripts provides people from all over the world the opportunity to virtually explore Giza and learn more about the history of archeology. Additionally, the web site’s creative display, visual search, and high resolution zoom features effectively use today’s technology to provide insight into the ancient Egyptian civilization during the Pyramid Age. Scholars and enthusiasts alike now have immediate access to important primary research materials that previously had been difficult, and in some cases impossible, to examine.

Since 1973, the Hamer Kegan Award has recognized individuals or institutions that have increased public awareness of archival documents for education, instructional, or other public purposes.

Bard Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

BU Today

With video of some of Bard's excavation work.

When it comes to archaeology, the term “groundbreaking” is just a little too cute, so when the American Academy of Arts and Sciences invited Kathryn Bard to join, it judiciously cited her “pathbreaking” excavations in the Egyptian desert.

An associate professor of archaeology in the College of Arts & Sciences, Bard is one of 229 leaders in the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, the arts, business, and public affairs to be chosen for the class of 2010. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” she says. “This is a tremendous honor.”

While digging with an archaeological team along the Red Sea coast five years ago, Bard uncovered an ancient man-made cave. Further excavations revealed a mud brick, a small grinding stone, shell beads, and part of a box — artifacts that offer a tantalizing glimpse into an elaborate network of millennia-old Red Sea trade.

Days later, the team uncovered the entrance to a second cave. Inside they found a network of larger rooms filled with dozens of nautical artifacts: limestone anchors, 80 coils of knotted rope, pottery fragments, ship timbers, and two curved cedar planks that likely are steering oars from a 70-foot-long ship. Hieroglyphic inscriptions revealed that the ship was dispatched to the southern Red Sea port of Punt by Queen Hatshepsut during the 15th century B.C.

Umayyad coin discovered near Wadi el-Natrun

This is a few days old but I am still playing catch-up. There's a photo of the coin on the above page.

Cultural Minister, Farouk Hosni, announced that a gold Umayyad coin was unearthed last Thursday during an excavation at Deir Yehnes el-Koseir (Monastery of St. John the Little), an area in Wadi el-Natrun. The excavation is a joint venture between Yale University in the USA and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the SCA, explained that the coin is very well preserved and both sides are decorated with kufi inscriptions. The first side of the coin bears the name of Allah and the second side is inscribed: “in the name of God the Merciful.” The edge of the coin is decorated with the year when it was minted.

The coin can be dated to the year 103 of Higra (721 AD) during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph, Yazid Ibn Abdel Malek Ibn Marawan.

Online paper: Archaeoastronomy and Archaeo-Topography as Tools in the Search for a Missing Egyptian Pyramid

Available online free of charge as a PDF.

Giulio Magli. 2010
Archaeoastronomy and Archaeo-Topography as Tools in the Search for a Missing Egyptian Pyramid
PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 7(5) (2010)

Among the royal pyramids of the 6th Egyptian Dynasty, that of the second king, Userkare, is missing. This Pharaoh, however, ruled long enough – two to four years – to plan his pyramid on the ground and have the workers excavate the substructure. Userkare’s unfinished tomb might therefore be buried in the sands of the Memphite necropolis, possibly with a copy of the Pyramid Texts carved on its walls. In the present paper, methods based on archaeo-topography and archaeoastronomy have been applied with the aim of finding the possible location of the building site of this monument.

Online Resource - The Edfu Project

The Edfu Project

Thanks to the Ancient World Online blog for highlighting this project to record and translate texts from the temple of Edfu. It a site plan, photographs of the temple and of a scale model of the temple, multimedia resources and downloads. Most importantly the website includes a freely accessible online library of monographs, articles, and manuscripts on material about the Edfu district. Here's an exerpt from the introduction.

The Edfu texts had been published for decades before they were worked on adequately. Because of the extraordinarily large amount of texts, most linguistic and factual problems could be solved by searching the rest of the material for comparable cases.

In 1986, Professor Dr. Dieter Kurth of Hamburg University initiated a long-term project that is devoted to a complete translation of the Edfu inscriptions that meets the requirement of both linguistics and literary studies. It was triggered by the frustrating experience that parallel passages and comparable contents were nearly lost among those 3.000 pages of hieroglyphs if researchers did not start to search every single page afresh when they came across a problem.
In a way, this meant that researchers always had to start from scratch if they attempted to further our knowledge of the Edfu texts.

A Walk Along A Mameluke Street

Living in Egypt (Maryanne Stroud Gabbani and Patricia Canfield)

With some absolutely super photographs

A couple of weeks ago a close friend of mine, Patricia Canfield, decided to take one of the walks in Cairo sponsored by ARCE (The American Research Center in Egypt). ARCE offers some amazing tours of Cairo and sites further afield for very reasonable prices. You do have register with ARCE beforehand and to show up on time for the bus as they absolutely depart at the advertised hour, but the tours are some of the best in Egypt. Pat is a freelance writer living here for some twenty odd years and when she showed me the photographs and told me about the places she'd seen, I begged her to write it up for me for my blog. These days my arthritic knees have taken me away from any ideas I have of three hour walks, although knee replacement surgery scheduled for this summer should have me back pounding the pavements, however gingerly, in the fall. Here is her story . . .

Exhibition: The Conservator's Art

LA Times (Charles Burress)

Berkeley's show at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology is free, small and devoid of crowds. But the key difference is a dual focus: on both rarely seen objects and "the conservator's art," the exacting craft and detective science of analyzing and preserving crumbling and extremely fragile items that are thousands of years old.

The exhibition — "The Conservator's Art: Preserving Egypt's Past," which runs until next spring — not only displays mummy cases, statuettes, hieroglyphics and other artifacts usually locked away in Berkeley's trove of Egyptian treasures. It also describes, for example, the crocodiles' journey to the Stanford University School of Medicine in February for $12,000 worth of rides through CT scanners normally used for humans. The tests revealed that one mummy, which has never been unwrapped, contained jumbled bones from more than one animal.

Exhibition: The funeral of Tutankhamun

Archaeology Magazine (Eti Bonn-Muller)

With 20-photograph slideshow.

Creating a burial as spectacular as that of the pharaoh Tutankhamun required a vast amount of preparation. The exhibition Tutankhamun’s Funeral at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art shows dozens of artifacts that include leftover materials from Tut’s mummification and provide unique insights into the days leading up to his interment.

Beginning in 1902, retired American lawyer Theodore Davis sponsored excavations in the Valley of the Kings directed, successively, by Howard Carter, Arthur Weigall, and Edward Ayrton. Davis and his crew had a remarkable series of discoveries: the tomb of Thutmose IV (KV43), the tomb of Yuya and Tujya (Tutankhamun’s great grandparents), 19th Dynasty jewelry in KV56, and KV55 (an enigmatic royal burial from the end of the 18th Dynasty).

Of great interest is the discovery by Davis (Ayrton doing the real work) in late December 1907 of a deposit of funerary goods in KV54, a tomb that was started but never completed.

Passions of Petrie

Heritage Key (Paula Veiga)

William Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) was a man “of great physical and intellectual energy” as Percy Newberry said. Once considered too frail to attend school, he went on to become a teen sensation and one of the most intrepid archaeologists of the early years of Egyptology. He was so intelligent (or at least thought so) he donated his brain to medical research. His is the name behind London's Petrie Museum, and considered to be the father of archaeology. His name has become something of a trademark for Egypology, but what passions drove this remarkable archaeologist?

The consistent and continuous features, subjects and people in his life that made him so popular can be listed, as since he was a child until his death, he revealed enjoying some more than other. In a chronological and logical order, from earlier to later; from less important to most important; from a subject further or closer to Egyptology; from subjects he pursued in England to abroad; from green pastures to ochre sand dunes, all of these were present in Petrie’s life and can be traced back to the travels he made, the writings he left us and the memoirs his family must share.

Works of art from the Tutankhamun exhibition

Stan Parchin has posted a number of works of art from ancient Egypt (as well as elsewhere) on his Art Museum Journal website. Each object featured comes from the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibtion and each short article gives an insight into individual pieces and their wider context. So far he has written about:

Tutankhamun's Inlaid Diadem
Tutankhamun's Coffinette
Tutankhamun's Cosmetic Jar
Amarna Princess
Head of a Colossal Statue of Amenhotep IV

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

Thanks to Kat for doing all the work to extract the seven book reviews of Egypt-related interest from the latest volume of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Neither articles nor book reviews are available free of charge, but you can purchase individual articles if required. The full TOC is available on the above page.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Volume 69, Number 1
(April 2010)

Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth, by Michel Chauveau and Cleopatra: A Sourcebook, by Prudence J. Jones.
Foy Scalf
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 108.

The Quick and the Dead: Biomedical Theory in Ancient Egypt, by Andrew H.
Gordon and Calvin W. Schwabe.
W. Benson Harer Jr.
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 109-110.

Egypt and the Levant: Interrelations from the 4th through the Early 3rd Millennium b.c.e., edited by Edwin C. M. van den Brink and Thomas E. Levy.
Benjamin Porter
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 119-121.

The Sacred Animal Necropolis at North Saqqara: The Falcon Complex and
Catacomb: The Archaeological Report, by Sue Davies and H. S. Smith.
Emily Teeter
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 124-126.

Soleb III: Le temple: Description; Soleb IV: Le temple: Plans et photographies; Soleb V: Le temple: Bas-reliefs et inscriptions, by Michela Schiff Giorgini, in collaboration with Clément Robichon and Jean Leclant. Edited by Nathalie Beaux.
Peter F. Dorman
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 127-132.

Les Architraves du temple d’Esna: Paléographie, by Dimitri Meeks.
François Gaudard
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 133-134.

Ägyptische Mumienmasken in Würzburg, by Martin Andreas Stadler.
Christina Riggs
Journal of Near Eastern Studies April 2010, Vol. 69, No. 1: 136-137.

Susan Howe Weeks Memorial Fund

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

Thanks to Jane for posting the following annoucement about the Memorial Fund established in the memory of Susan Howe Weeks, who died in December last year.

Susan Weeks, who died last December 12th, will be remembered as an outstanding artist, ceramist and student of Egyptian folk arts and crafts. Her many contributions are among the most respected in these fields.

To honor Susan’s memory and work, her family, friends and colleagues have established the Susan Howe Weeks Memorial Fund at the American University in Cairo. The fund will be used to further work in areas of Susan’s particular interests.

Please see the above page for full details.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

Thursday, May 27, 2010

45 tombs found in Faiyum area

I turn my back for five minutes and everything kicks off!

Egypt State Information Service

Culture Minister Farouq Hosni announced on Sunday 23/5/2010 that forty-five tombs have been unearthed in Lahoun, Fayyoum, containing a group of painted wooden sarcophagi with mummies inside.

Zahi Hawwas, Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said archaeologists found a tomb dating back to the 18th dynasty (1569-1315 B.C) containing 12 wooden sarcophagi each with a mummy inside.

The mummies are in perfect condition and wrapped in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring ancient Egyptian gods.

With photographs.
Dr. Abdel Rahman El-Aydi, head of the archaeological mission, pointed out that the first and second dynasties cemeteries are composed of 14 tombs. One of the tombs is almost completely intact, including all of its funerary equipment and a wooden sarcophagus with a mummy wrapped with linen.

The Middle New Kingdoms cemetery contains 31 tombs most of which are dated to the 11th and 12th dynasties (2030-1840 BC). Each tomb includes a painted wooden sarcophagus bearing a mummy covered with cartonnage, decorated with religious texts that help the deceased to cross through the underworld, as well as scenes of different ancient Egyptian deities, such as Horus, Hathor, Khnum and Amun.

Also, at the four corners of king Senwosret II’s temple, the mission has located four shafts filled with a large collection of clay vessels.

Last year, the mission found 53 stone tombs from the Middle and New Kingdom, as well as the Late Period and the Roman era.

Associated Press

With photographs.

Archeologists have unearthed 57 ancient Egyptian tombs, most of which hold an ornately painted wooden sarcophagus with a mummy inside, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said Sunday.

The oldest tombs date back to around 2750 B.C. during the period of Egypt's first and second dynasties, the council said in a statement. Twelve of the tombs belong the 18th dynasty which ruled Egypt during the second millennium B.C.

The discovery throws new light on Egypt's ancient religions, the council said.

Egypt's archaeology chief, Zahi Hawass, said the mummies dating to the 18th dynasty are covered in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring ancient Egyptian deities.

Abdel Rahman El-Aydi, head of the archaeological mission that made the discovery, said some of the tombs are decorated with religious texts that ancient Egyptians believed would help the deceased to cross through the underworld.

Heritage Key (An Wuyts)

With photos

Archaeologists last week discovered 45 ancient Egyptian tombs at the site of El-Lahoun, in the Fayum. In a statement issued by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni claims that a sarcophagus holding a mummy has been found in in each of the tombs, located about 70 miles from Cairo.

One of the tombs unearthed during the dig is from the 18th dynasty (1550-1295 BC), and contains at least 12 wooden sarcophagi stacked on top of each other. Each of these sarcophagi is thought to hold a mummy covered in cartonnage.

The mummies are decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring different ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Four cemeteries have also been discovered, the oldest dating to the 1st and 2nd Dynasty (ca. 2750-2649BC). Mission leader Dr Abdel Rahman El-Aydi says the cemetery is composed of fourteen tombs, with one of the burials found almost completely intact. All of its funerary equipment and a wooden sarcophagus with a linen-wrapped mummy were unearthed.

The second cemetery belongs to the 11th and 12th Dynasty (2030-1840BC.) Each tomb includes a painted wooden sarcophagus bearing a mummy covered with cartonnage. This was decorated with religious texts which help the deceased with their journey through the afterlife.

The third and fourth cemeteries are dated to the New Kingdom (1550-1070BC) and the Late Period (724-343BC) respectively.

New rock art research at Gilf Kebir


Archaeologists are studying prehistoric rock drawings discovered in a remote cave in 2002, including dancing figures and strange headless beasts, as they seek new clues about the rise of Egyptian civilisation.

Amateur explorers stumbled across the cave, which includes 5,000 images painted or engraved into stone, in the vast, empty desert near Egypt's southwest border with Libya and Sudan.

Rudolph Kuper, a German archaeologist, said the detail depicted in the "Cave of the Beasts" indicate the site is at least 8,000 years old, likely the work of hunter-gatherers whose descendants may have been among the early settlers of the then-swampy and inhospitable Nile Valley.

The cave is 10 km (6 miles) from the "Cave of the Swimmers" romanticised in the film the "English Patient", but with far more, and better preserved, images.

By studying the sandstone cave and other nearby sites, the archaeologists are trying to build a timeline to compare the culture and technologies of the peoples who inhabited the area.

Heritage Key (Sean Williams)

Prehistoric cave painters in the Sahara Desert gave rise to ancient Egyptian civilisation, according to a German archaeological team. The paintings in a caves in Gilf Kebir, a vast sandstone plateau near the Egyptian-Libyan border, may be over 400 miles from the River Nile. But the team claims it was once a thriving community which later spread east to create Egypt's famous cities and landmarks.

The plateau, a Martian landscape the size of Switzerland, is home to two famous caves, the 'Cave of the Swimmers' and the 'Cave of the Beasts' - Watch our amazing video of the caves and their paintings here. The former was discovered by Hungarian explorer László Almásy and immortalised in the novel and Academy Award-winning movie The English Patient. But it is the latter which the team believe could unlock the secrets of how ancient Egypt began.

Rudolf Kuper, of Köln's Heinrich Barth Institute, believes the Cave of the Beasts' detail dates it back around 8,000 years. He claims its artists' descendents would eventually emigrate to the Nile Valley to create pharaonic Egypt. "It is the most amazing cave ... in North Africa and Egypt," German expert Karin Kindermann tells AP. "You take a piece of the puzzle and see where it could fit. This is an important piece."

Clues from leftover bandages of Tutankhamun

MSNBC (Rossella Lorenzi)

With photos

King Tutankhamun's mummy was wrapped in custom-made bandages similar to modern first-aid gauzes, an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has revealed.

Running from 4.70 meters to 39 centimeters (15.4 feet to 15.3 inches), the narrow bandages consist of 50 linen pieces especially woven for the boy king.

For a century, the narrow linen bandages were contained in a rather overlooked cache of large ceramic jars at the museum's Department of Egyptian Art. The collection was recovered from the Valley of the Kings between 1907 and 1908, more than a decade before Howard Carter discovered King Tut's treasure-packed tomb.

Now on permanent display in the museum's Egyptian galleries and highlighted in the exhibition "Tutankhamun's Funeral," the objects provide important insights into King Tut's mummification.

"The linens on the actual mummy were so much decayed by excessive use of resins that the bandages on display at the museum are actually the best-preserved lot of Tutankhamun wrappings," Dorothea Arnold, curator of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan museum, told Discovery News.

The Mysteries of Meroe

New York Times (Souren Melikian)

Agatha Christie could have invented the story. Imagine another Egypt, with a marked black African component. This is Meroe, in present-day Sudan. In art, ancient Egyptian deities appear alongside others, unknown elsewhere. The Meroitic cursive script has been deciphered, revealing that it transcribes an African language. It is related to others spoken today, like Taman in parts of Darfur and Chad, Nyima in the Sudanese Nuba mounts, or Nubian in upper Egypt and Sudan. For the moment though, it is only beginning to be partially understood. Go see the latest on “Méroé, un empire sur le Nil” at the Louvre until Sept. 6.

In the last three years, archaeological discoveries have given a new face to an enigmatic culture that already intrigued Western explorers 250 years ago. In 1772, the Scotsman James Bruce caught sight of broken obelisks and barely discernible traces of pyramids as he traveled back from the source of the Blue Nile. These, he reckoned, had to be the remains of Meroe, known to Ancient Greek historians.

It was the Frenchman Frédéric Caillaud who, on the morning of April 25, 1822, first saw “a host of pyramids.” He accurately drew and described these in his book “A Trip to Meroe on the White River,” published in 1826. The consequences were disastrous. Antique hunters rushed to loot the site.

In 1834, Giuseppe Ferlini destroyed several pyramid.

Synchrotron probes Egyptian beads

ABC Science (Dani Cooper)

Not content with managing the household it appears women in Ancient Egypt were also keeping the budget in the black with some home-based manufacturing.

That is the conclusion an Australian team has drawn by using synchrotrons to analyse the synthetic turquoise that was popular during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten around 1300BC.

Archaeologist Dr Mark Eccleston will outline his findings at the Melbourne Museum in a lecture tomorrow as part of National Archaeology Week.

Eccleston says Egyptian 'faience', a fine-glazed quartz ceramic of distinct turquoise colour, was a common material used in items ranging from simple beads to religious artefacts.

He says while it was known that larger factories were used to produce the faience, his research has shown less prestigious pieces could also have been produced in ovens in household courtyards.

So where are Anthony and Cleopatra?

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Advance warning - Indiana Jones reference.

Cleopatra's curse hung over the ancient city of Taposiris Magna, 50km west of Alexandria, where excavators combed the sand last Saturday looking for her resting place with her beloved Mark Anthony. Nevine El-Aref witnessed the search

Last Saturday was a very strange day. At Taposiris Magna, where the ruins of the Osiris Temple and few Graeco-Roman tombs emerge from the sand, a dozen journalists, photographers and TV cameramen gathered to witness the revelations of the latest search there carried by an Egyptian-Dominican team.

At first everything seemed as normal as usual. Excavators were busy digging while workmen with their black buckets removing the sand out of the temple. At 9:30am sharp Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who is supervising the excavations, came to the site to make the announcement and to explore a newly-discovered three- metre-deep shaft. Dominican archaeologist Kathleen Martinez, who heads the excavation mission, was also on the site. There was a sense of great excitement and anxiety as we waited to see what lay inside the shaft.

By this time Hawass, in his Indiana Jones hat, was enclosed inside a red iron cage hung on an anchor which suspended him on a thick wire from an electronic engine. Hawass went downwards, and when he had almost reached the bottom he gave the order for the engine to stop as he had found subterranean water covering the bottom of the shaft.

Ongoing saga of Nefertiti bust

All Voices (Christopher Szabo)

Demands by Egypt for the return of Queen Nefertiti’s bust to Cairo have been turned down by Germany. State Minister for Culture Bernd Neumann argued the statue rightfully belonged to Germany.

Neumann rejected Egyptian claims that the bust had been unlawfully acquired by the German Oriental Company in 1913 and had also lawfully passed on to the Prussian state, according to Earth Times. Neumann said, “This is doubtlessly backed by documents. Egyptian legal claims for the return of Nefertiti thus lack any basis.” Neumann added: “The bust of Nefertiti is staying in Berlin.”

Feisty Egyptian antiquities boss Zahi Hawass announced last week he would formally request Nefertiti’s return to Egypt.

Heritage Key
(Ann Wuyts)

Germany has made a firm response to last week's announcement by Zahi Hawass that Egyptian government will officially demand the return of the Bust of Nefertiti. Minister of Culture Bern Neumann today made it clear – once again – that the bust is going nowhere: “Nofretete stays in Berlin!”

Hawass claims the bust of Nefertiti – Nofretete in German – was smuggled out of Egypt illegally and should be returned. According to Egypt's head of antiquities, archaeologist Ludwig Borchard intentionally lied to Egyptian officials about the value of the bust.

Bernd Neumann, also board member of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Neues Museum where Nefertiti is now housed, stresses that the acquisition of the bust by the German Oriental Society and later by the Prussian state was legal. “This can be documented beyond doubt,” he says. “There is thus no legal foundation for the Egyptian claim for the return of the Nefertiti Bust”.

Monsters and Critics

German and Egyptian officials said Saturday they see no reason why the question of the ownership of a bust of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti should drive a wedge between the two countries.

The bust is displayed in Berlin's New Museum. Officials there say it was legally purchased in 1913. But Egyptian officials have continued to insist that the bust should be returned.

On the Egyptian leg of a Mideast trip, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he did not think the issue of the bust would damage political relations between the two countries.

His Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Abul-Gheit, said: 'We will come to an agreement that will satisfy both sides.'

Divers explore sunken ruins of Cleopatra's palace

Mercury News (Jason Keyser)

The finds from along the Egyptian coast will go on display at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute from June 5 to Jan. 2 in an exhibition titled "Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt."

Many archaeological sites have been destroyed by man, with statues cut or smashed to pieces. Alexandria's Royal Quarters—ports, a cape and islands full of temples, palaces and military outposts—simply slid into the sea after cataclysmic earthquakes in the fourth and eighth centuries. Goddio's team found it in 1996. Many of its treasures are completely intact, wrapped in sediment protecting them from the saltwater.

"It's as it was when it sank," said Ashraf Abdel-Raouf of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, who is part of the team.

Tuesday's dive explored the sprawling palace and temple complex where Cleopatra, the last of Egypt's Greek-speaking Ptolemaic rulers, seduced the Roman general Mark Antony before they committed suicide upon their defeat by Octavian, the future Roman Emperor Augustus.

A new Egyptological Journal - EDAL

Libreria Antiquaria Pontremoli

EDAL - Egyptian & Egyptological Documents, Archives, Libraries.

La rivista annuale EDAL, pubblicata da Pontremoli Editore con la direzione scientifica di Patrizia Piacentini, Professore Ordinario di Egittologia all'Università degli Studi di Milano, si pone l'obiettivo di far conoscere non solo la ricchissima collezione di documenti d'archivio, fotografie, disegni, libri antichi e rari conservata nella Biblioteca e Archivi di Egittologia dell'Università di Milano e le analoghe collezioni di altre università, musei, biblioteche e collezioni private di tutto il mondo, ma anche i materiali egiziani antichi relativi agli archivi e alle biblioteche, dai documenti scritti alle testimonianze archeologiche.

Nel vasto panorama delle riviste scientifiche internazionali e di alto livello culturale, una pubblicazione specifica su questi argomenti ancora mancava.

See the above for more. Below is the table of contents for EDAL I:

EDAL I - 2009

P.Piacentini - Ten Years Later
P.Panza - Piranesi e i faraoni
D.Picchi - Le antichità egiziane di Pelagio Palagi e il mercato antiquario veneziano
F.Mauric-Barberio - Le rôle des archives dans la reconstitution du décor perdu de la tombe de Séthi Ier
N.Cherpion - Le dessinateur Cherubini et la Grammaire de Champollion
T.El Awady - Borchardt's Photo Archive
I.Rogger - Les fond d'archives Gustave Jéquier, Neuchâtel
E.Delange - Les Fouilles Françaises à Eléphantine (Assouan), 1906-1911
E.Fiore-Marochetti - Vasi iscritti in terracotta da Gebelein
N.Kayser-Lienhard-B.Garnier - Étude et publication de la collection d'antiquités égyptiennes d'Auguste Rodin
M.Marvulli - Evaristo Breccia e l'Egittologia nel "Corriere della Sera" durante il fascismo
M.Sironi - La serie egizia di Casimiro Teja sul "Pasquino"
A.Negri - Egittomania: l'immagine dell'Egitto nella grafica minore, satirica e per ragazzi
P.Usick - The Archives of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. The British Museum
N.Strudwick - The early display of Egyptian sculpture in the British Museum
S.Quirke - Borderlines: questions of definition among the archives amid the collections of the Petrie Museum
C.Naunton - The Archives of the Egypt Exploration Society
É.Gady - Les archives du Musée Gréco-Romain d'Alexandrie: projet amgra
P.Der Manuelian - Eight years at the Giza Archives Project
C.Mazzucato - Ancient Egypt Research Associates: developing a gis for the "Lost City of the Pyramids"
M.Borla - Archivi egittologici della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Piemonte e del Museo delle Antichità Egizie:
M.H.Trindade Lopes - Les archives de l'Institut Oriental de l'Université Nouvelle de Lisboa
C.De Simone - The Documentation Center on Nubia at the Nubia Museum of Aswan
C.Orsenigo - Egyptological Archives and Library of the Università degli Studi di Milano. Bibliography

Egyptian stars under Paris skies

Engineering and Science (Jed Z. Buchwald)

One evening in early July of 1822 a group gathered for dinner at the home of the leading figure in French science, the Marquis de Laplace, outside Paris. The guests included five of the most distinguished physicists and chemists of the day: Jean-Baptiste Biot, famed for his experimental work in optics and electricity; François Arago, rapidly becoming an influential administrator of science, the editor of an important journal, and himself a reasonably accomplished experimenter in optics; Joseph Fourier, who had developed the series representation now termed Fourier analysis and whose controversial theory of thermal diffusion had already been widely discussed; the influential chemist Claude Berthollet; and John Dalton, the English protagonist of the atom.

The previous several years had seen remarkable developments in French science, including fundamental discoveries in electricity, magnetism, heat, and optics. Most of the dinner guests had participated in these events, often on opposing sides. Biot and Arago were scarcely on speaking terms, Fourier’s mathematics and his heat theory were not well thought of by Biot and Laplace, and Berthollet had little sympathy for chemical atomism. Yet the evening’s conversation had nothing to do with physics, chemistry, or mathematics. Instead, the guests discussed the arrival in Paris of a zodiac from a ceiling in the Egyptian temple of Dendera, far up the Nile. Sawn and exploded out of its site by a French archaeological vandal named Claude Lelorrain, the Dendera zodiac roused Parisian salons and institutes to such an extent that for several months it displaced all other topics, attracted crowds of curious admirers, and was soon bought by King Louis XVIII for an immense sum.

This was not the first time that Dendera had ignited discussion. On his return from Napoleon’s colonial expedition to Egypt in 1799, the artist Vivant Denon had made available his sketch of what certainly looked like a zodiac.

Finds at mortuary temple of Amenhotep III indicate possible avenue

Suite101 (Robert McRoberts)

On May 17th, 2010 the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt announced it had discovered a possible avenue of colossal statues leading from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III to the banks of the Nile River. Eighty statues have already been uncovered at the site famously marked by the Colossi of Mammon.

The term “mortuary temple” has been used to describe a number of important buildings related to Pharaohs from Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. The term “mortuary temple” is misleading and it is not translated directly from any Egyptian term. Western influence in archaeology has shaped our perception of theses buildings. Modern funeral arrangements are usually focused on the physical internment of the deceased. Whereas the rituals surrounding the death and afterlife of an Egyptian Pharaoh involved a sustained effort with a constant flow of supplies being sent to the temple to provide sustenance for the dead king.

The Egyptian word for the this sustenance is transliterated as K3. The original structures that we designate as mortuary temples were simply called “K3-houses.” By the time of Amenhotep III, during the middle of the fourteenth century BCE, these structures had assumed monumental proportions. Although the current temple site contains few remnants of the once great structure, it is believed to have been larger than the temple of Karnak which can still be seen across the river at Thebes.

Book Review: Inside the Egyptian Museum

Arab News (Review by Lisa Kaaki)

Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass” is an invitation to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This beautifully illustrated book is told by the charismatic author, Zahi Hawass, who is a world-renowned archaeologist, Egyptologist and the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Hawass gives his readers a tour of the famous Egyptian Museum as well as a history of Egyptian history.

The Egyptian Museum, which is located in the heart of Cairo, is one of the most important museums in the world and contains the largest collection of Pharaonic artifacts. Hawass writes in his book that an international competition took place between 1893 and 1895 in order to select an architect to build the new Egyptian Museum.

Mrs Mubarak to open 1st phases of Egyptian Grand museum project

Egypt State Information Service

Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak will open on May 27th 2010 the first and second phases of the Grand Egyptian Museum project.

These two stages include the basic foundations at the museum’s location, the establishment of the World Center of Restoration and two power stations as well as a water station.

Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said that work has already in the third and final phase of the project, which will take 26 months before the becomes ready fro official inauguration in mid 2012, said Hosni.

An assortment of rave artifacts will be showcased in the museum including the treasures of king Tutankhamen where a model tomb of the young king.

The huge statue of king Ramses II, moved earlier from downtown, will be also showcased in the museum.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

It's a really bad photo, Kat, but I posted it just in case you haven't
got this one. I'll try to find out which one she is.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Relocation of cemetery for archaeological purposes

Al Masry Al Youm (Norhan Elkaheem)

The argument appears to be that the cemetery could overlie significant New Kingdom and Graeco-Roman remains.

Akhmim village, Sohag-- Two women, clad in black, and a young girl are kneeling over a pile of burning paper at the entrance of Akhmim village's sole, seven-century-old cemetery. They are partaking in what appears to be a death ritual, blowing wisps of smoke with pieces of cardboard papers, and speaking in hushed, hurried tones.

"My husband is buried here," says the younger of the two women before they scurry off into the narrow alley that leads to his grave.

But not for long. At the end of April, Sohag's governor announced that as of 1 May, the 150,000 residents of Akhmim would be banned from burying their dead in their traditional cemetary, which Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquites (SCA) recently designated as an archeological site . . . .

Since the cemetary was closed to the public, more than 50 bodies have been buried in a new cemetery on the outskirts of the village--a 77 feddan, LE80 million project funded equally by the SCA and the governorate. Bodies from the old cemetery, numbering in the thousands, will gradually be moved by their families after the Ministry of Health and Al-Azhar complete reports evaluating health and religious concerns.

Cairo conference one month later

Archaeopop (Sean Aaberg)

The Conference on International Cooperation in the Restitution and Protection of Cultural Heritage took place on April 7 and 8, 2010 in Cairo. Over 20 countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean attended. This meeting, the first of its kind, brought together countries that have been victimized by the antiquities trade to talk about return and restitution. As I observed in January, this meeting represents a new phase in the decolonization of heritage.

New Tang Dynasty Television reported on the conference, including an interview with the Syrian delegation. As the clip from Hawass suggests, one of the main aims of the meeting was to further increase the pressure on European and American museums to stop purchasing illegal antiquities.

Two days, of course, was not enough time for the participants to agree on a common platform (though seven countries added items to a repatriation wish list). As Paul Barford notes, it is unclear exactly what will come of the conference, though it is clearly a historic step. Zahi Hawass would like to make the meetings an annual event, and the next one is tentatively scheduled for Greece next year.

Last week Kwame Opuku published an assessment of the conference at, which is worth reading in its entirety (via SAFE).

See the above page for more, together with the relevant links.

Book Review: Writing

Scholia Reviews (Review by María Fernanda De Girolami & Romina Magallanes )

Barry B. Powell, Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Chichester: Wiley- Blackwell, 2009.

Powell’s aim is to carry out a detailed investigation into the structural principles that govern writing through the study of historical examples. He focuses on what he calls 'lexigraphic writing', which is attested since 3400 BC. Also, he highlights the fundamental necessity of defining and understanding writing from a careful organization of categories, since professional jargons, when used without precision, sometimes generate confusion. An example is the ambiguous use of the following categories: 'language', 'writing', 'lexigraphic writing', 'speech', 'pictogram', 'ideogram', and 'alphabet', among others. The book begins with a diagram of the categories of writing with which he will develop his argument. It is followed by three indexes: of contents (pp. vii-viii), of illustrations (pp. ix- xiii) and of maps (p. xiv); then come a preface (pp. xv-xvi), a chronology (pp. xvii-xx) from 9000 BC to AD 1900, an introduction (pp. 1-10) followed by eighteen chapters (pp. 11-254), a glossary (pp. 255- 62), bibliographical references divided on thematic sections (pp. 263-68), a general bibliography (pp. 268f.) and, lastly, an index (pp. 270-76).

The first four chapters, 'What is Writing?' (pp. 11-18), 'Writing with Signs' (pp. 19- 37), 'Categories and Features of Writing' (pp. 38-50) and 'Some General Issues in the Study of Writing' (pp. 51-59), are devoted to theory. . . .

Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10 are devoted to Egyptian writing. In Chapter 7, 'Plato´s Ideas and Champollion´s Decipherment of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs' (pp. 85-99), the different interpretations of hieroglyphics from the descriptions of Diodorus c. 80–20 BC) to Horapollo, Athanasius Kircher (1602- 80), Thomas Young (1773-1829), and Jean Francois Champollion (1790-1832 [p. 96]) are studied. Chapter 8, 'Egyptian Writing and Egyptian Speech' (pp. 100-107), focuses on the sections `The Phases of Egyptian Language / Speech´: Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian, Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic; and `The Forms of Egyptian Writing´: hieroglyphic proper, hieratic and demotic. Chapter 9, 'The Origin and Nature of Egyptian Writing' (pp. 108-19) sets out the relationship between Mesopotamian logography and Egyptian writing. Powell points out that there is archeological evidence of commerce between Mesopotamia and Egypt in the second half of the fourth millennium BC, therefore he thinks that someone understood the principles of the Mesopotamian invention and re-invented writing according to the Egyptian conditions (p. 109). He also researches the earliest Egyptian writings and their different types of signs: phonograms, logograms, semantic complements or determinatives. Chapter 10, '"The House of Life": Scribes and Writing in Ancient Egypt' (pp. 120-27) studies writing instruments, mainly the Egyptian invention of the papyrus, the way the scribes used those instruments, some examples of writing and the role of the scribes in the Egyptian culture.

Head of Amarna Princess

Art Museum Journal (Stan Parchin)

Stan has written a piece about one of the Amarna princess sculptures. With photo.

Pharaoh Akhenaten (r. 1353-1336 B.C.) dedicated his 17-year reign and the resources of New Kingdom Egypt to the exclusive worship of the Aten or solar disk, profoundly affecting the history of his polytheistic civilization's art. In the enigmatic ruler's remote capital Akhetaten (present-day el-Amarna), the chief royal sculptor Thutmose and his workshop produced female images of remarkable beauty and startling naturalism. Each was a radical departure from the centuries-old static and idealized representations of the human body. One such graceful work, the Sculpted Head of a Princess from Amarna (ca. 1340-1337 B.C.), is on view in the special exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

New papyrology portal


The DVCVTS project has been put together to form a digital catalogue of texts, both published and unpublished. It is a work in progress and the owners would welcome comments and contributions.

Bienvenido a DVCTVS, el portal papirológico en nuestro país. Aquí encontrarás información sobre las principales colecciones de papiros de los fondos nacionales, en la forma de un catálogo digital, para los textos aun no editados, y también de textos e imegenes digitales para aquellos que ya han sido publicados. DVCTVS es un proyecto en ejecución, por eso agradeceremos tus comentarios y aportaciones, tanto sobre el funcionamiento de nuestra base de datos como sobre nuevo material papiráceo que pueda incorporarse a nuestro portal.

Sandro Vannini photos - Canopic shrine of Tutankhamun

Heritage Key

Several alabaster artefacts were discovered inside the Tomb of King Tutankhamun (KV62) by Howard Carter when he began excavating the tomb in 1922. The Canopic Shrine was one of the intruiging discoveries for how packed together it was, with a box containing several artefacts in a manner comparable to a Russian doll!

The Canopic Shrine is a large gilded wooden box flanked by a Canopy and supported on a sledge. Inside the shrine was the Canopic Chest, which has four hollowed spaces inside which are sealed by Human-Headed Stoppers. Inside the hollows were four small Canopic Coffinettes.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Statue of Thoth found at mortuary temple of Amenhotep III

Heritage Key

With photos and video.

Archaeologists have discovered a colossal statue of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth at the north-western side of King Amenhotep III's funerary temple at Luxor.

The red granite statue depicting Thoth, the ancient Egyptian deity of wisdom, is 3,5 metres tall and 140 cm wide. In a statement, Dr Zahi Hawass said that evidence found at the excavation suggests more colossi could be found here still. The first traces of these large statues were uncovered during works aiming at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor's west bank.

The head of 2,5 metres high statue depicting Pharaoh Amenhotep III in standing position – possibly the best preserved depiction of the pharoah's face found to date - was unearthed at the King's funeral temple at Kom El-Hettan only months ago, together with a statue of the god Thoth. In 2009 two black granite statues of the pharaohs were found at the temple. A year ago, excavations revealed a 5 metres high statue similar to the Thoth statue.

Afifi Rohayem, assistant director of the excavations, said that the site could contain an avenue of Thoth statues, who once outlined the original path leading to Amenhotep III's funeral temple.

Press release.

A red granite colossus of the ancient Egyptian deity of wisdom, Thoth, was unearthed at the northwestern side of King Amenhotep III’s funerary temple on the west bank of Luxor.

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced the find today, explaining that the statue is 3.5 meters tall and 140 cm wide, and was discovered during routine excavations carried out by an Egyptian archaeological team led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

Hawass said that evidence at the site where the colossus was found suggests that more colossi could be found here, as a similar statue 5 meters in height was discovered there last year.

Afifi Rohayem, the assistant of the mission’s director, said that the site could contain an avenue of Thoth statues that once outlined the original path leading to the temple.

Traces of these colossi were first uncovered at the site during the execution of a development project aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor’s west bank. As part of the process Dr. Hawass assigned a special excavation mission to explore the site.

Cool response from Berlin to Egypt's official Nefertiti request

Monsters and Critics

Berlin responded cooly on Friday to renewed demands from Cairo that the prized bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti should be returned to its country of origin from its current home in a Berlin museum.

'A request from Egypt to return (Nefertiti) has not reached us yet,' said a spokeswoman for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which runs the Berlin museum housing the 3,500-year-old sculpture. She referred to a previous statement which denied any Egyptian claim to the bust.

'Everything has been said on this subject,' added a spokesman for the German Culture Minister.

On Thursday, Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said that next week he would formally request Nefertiti's return to Cairo.

'We are no longer discussing whether to do this, but only how to formulate this demand,' Hawass told German Press Agency dpa.

More re discoveries on Avenues of Sphinxes

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

The remins of a fifth-century church and a Nilometer have been uncovered this week by an Egyptian mission carrying out routine excavations at the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor, Nevine El-Aref reports.

The excavations came within the framework of the Ministry of Culture's plan to develop and revitalise the ancient religious path that once connected Luxor and Karnak temples.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the remains of the church were found on the second section of the path, which is divided into five sections. Archaeological investigations revealed that the church was built with limestone blocks that were originally parts of Ptolemaic temples and had been reused. The blocks are very well preserved and decorated with scenes depicting Ptolemaic and Roman rulers offering sacrifices to ancient Egyptian deities.

Hawass believes that the blocks belonged to the Ptolemaic and Roman temples that once stretched along the avenue. They were removed and reused during the Coptic era in the construction of churches. One of the church's blocks contains information concerning the 26th-Dynasty mayor of the Luxor area, Muntomhat.

Sabri Abdel-Aziz, head of the Ancient Egyptian Department at the SCA, said that in the avenue's fourth section the mission had also discovered the remains of a cylindrical sandstone Nilometer with spiral steps.

To Bury a Pharaoh

Archaeology Magazine (Eti Bonn-Muller)

Met curator Dorothea Arnold takes a fresh look at the leftover materials from Tutankhamun's mummification.

More than a century ago, a rather unspectacular discovery was made in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. Excavations funded by American lawyer Theodore Davis uncovered a cache of large ceramic jars filled with ratty scraps of mummy wrappings, linen bags with embalming material seeping out the seams, and collars of dried flowers. Some 14 years later, in 1922, Howard Carter, who had been on Davis's earlier expeditions, used this cache to help locate the tomb of a pharaoh—today known simply as King Tut—that lay some 110 meters away. The cache, which consists of the leftover materials from Tutankhamun's mummification, provides rare insight into the days leading up to the young pharaoh's burial. (The recently discovered KV 63 is another embalming cache from about the same time as Tut.)

In the collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1909, these items are now the subject of an exhibition, "Tutankhamun's Funeral," on view through September 6. Dorothea Arnold, curator in charge of the museum's Department of Egyptian Art, spoke with ARCHAEOLOGY's Eti Bonn-Muller about Davis's discovery and the light it sheds on the ancient world's most well-known burial.

New galleries at Cleveland Museum of Art

Art Daily

After a five-year hiatus, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s (CMA) collections from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Africa, as well as works from Late Antiquity, the Byzantine Empire and the European Middle Ages, will return to public view on June 26. The new presentation will trace the evolution of the visual and cultural traditions at the roots of Western civilization and foster an understanding of the ritual, social and historical contexts within which these works of art were produced. At the same time, visitors will be encouraged to explore connections to art from other periods on view throughout the museum.

The works will be showcased in 17 newly renovated galleries, which also include dedicated spaces for the museum’s holdings of prints and drawings, in the first level of the museum’s original Beaux-Arts building, designed by Hubbell and Benes.

Free articles available online at Antiquity

Antiquity have made a number of short articles available free of charge in their Project Gallery section. Please find a short selection below but see the above link for the search engine which will enable you to find more articles.


With map, photographs and diagrams.
Excavating a unique pre-Mesolithic cemetery in central Sudan
Donatella Usai, Sandro Salvatori, Paola Iacumin, Antonietta Di Matteo, Tina Jakob & Andrea Zerboni.


The population of the pre-Mesolithic cemetery at Al Khiday 2 (16-D-4, Figure 1) in central Sudan must have had a unique outlook on the afterlife. Archaeologists associate flexed inhumation burials common to prehistoric cemeteries worldwide with the foetal position, a formal expression of a 'new life'. However, what explanation can be suggested for burying the deceased in a prone and extended position as found at Al Khiday 2? Here we report on this unique cemetery with its unusual burial rite (Figure 2).

The cemetery is a multi-stratified site on a low fluvial bar, probably deposited by the Nile in the Upper Pleistocene (Williamson 2009), and is located 35km south of Omdurman, on the western bank of the White Nile. The site of Al Khiday 2 was discovered during an extensive survey covering c. 245km². Archaeological work took place in 2006-2008 excavating c. 475m². A total of 120 skeletons have so far been excavated and bioarchaeological studies, including demography, metric and non-metric analysis to establish population differences, as well as skeletal and dental pathology, were carried out. The site was excavated stratigraphically and organic material (charcoals, bones and shells) was collected for radiocarbon dating, performed at BETA Analytic Laboratory, USA (Table 1). Archaeological contexts were defined by pottery decoration, according to a classification proposed by Caneva (Caneva 1988), and supported by layer-feature specific radiometric dating. Calibration (2σ in the text) of conventional and AMS radiocarbon results used INTCAL04 under OxCal v.3.10; uncalibrated years are reported as bp while calibrated age is indicated as cal years BC/AD.


The oldest representation of a Nile boat
D. Usai & S. Salvatori

The El Salha Archaeological Project has been the subject of archaeological and geo-morphological reconnaissance and excavation in Central Sudan by the Is.I.A.O. (Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente) since the autumn of 2000. The name given to the project comes from the El Salha village which lies along the western bank of the White Nile at about 15km south of Omdurman (Figure 1). The two main goals of the project are the archaeological exploration of one the core areas of the Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures along the Nile Valley, scarcely known to date (Arkell 1949; Marshall & Adam 1953), and the emergency investigation of several large archaeological sites located along the Nile bank and in the interior in danger of destruction because of the rapid urban growth of the villages located south of Omdurman. We have now located 160 archaeological sites (settlements and graveyards) ranging from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Early Islamic period (Usai & Salvatori 2002). Of particular interest are the many Mesolithic and Neolithic sites, which are often larger than 10ha in size, located both along the Nile and in the interior along the edges of an Early and Middle Holocene lagoon or lake-like basin.


With map, photographs and diagrams.

Cosmetic connections? An Egyptian relief carving from Early Bronze Age Tel Bet Yerah (Israel)

Raphael Greenberg, David Wengrow & Sarit Paz


Tel Bet Yerah (Khirbet el-Kerak) is a low, 30ha mound located at the egress of the River Jordan from the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel (Figure 1). Excavated periodically since 1933 (see Greenberg et al. 2006), the site provides one of the earliest examples of planned urban settlement in the southern Levant. Renewed excavations, led by the University of Tel Aviv in collaboration with University College London, have brought to light new evidence for the relationship between the Early Bronze Age town and the then nascent kingdom of Egypt to the south.

During the 2009 excavations, a fragment of Egyptian relief carving was found in proximity to a monumental structure known as the 'Circles Building'. Presented here for the first time, it is best identified as a piece from a ceremonial cosmetic palette, of the same genre as the famous palette of King Narmer. The find is remarkable, both in its own right and for its location. Egyptian cosmetic palettes of simpler forms are quite widely documented in the southern Levant (Jacobs 1996). But prior to the discovery of the 'Bet Yerah Palette', examples with relief decoration — most of which were produced during a relatively narrow window of time (c. 3300-3100 BC, or 'Dynasty 0') — were known only within Egypt itself, and their use was assumed to have been confined to the early Egyptian elite.

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Discoveries along Avenue of Sphinxes

Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)

With photo of Nilometer

Egyptian archaeologists carrying routine excavations at the so-called “Avenue of Sphinxes,” have unearthed the remains of a 5th century Egyptian Christian church and a "nilometer," a structure used to measure the level of the Nile during floods. . . . .

Divided into five sections, the path is now yielding a number of archaeological remains.

On the second section of the path, the archaeologists found the ruins of a 1,600-year-old church. The stone remains revealed that the building was constructed with recycled limestone blocks.

“The blocks originally belonged to the Ptolemaic and Roman temples that stretched along the Avenue of Sphinxes,” Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement released by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities on Tuesday.

“They are very well preserved and decorated with scenes depicting Ptolemaic and Roman kings offering sacrifices to ancient Egyptian deities,” Hawass said.

At the avenue’s fourth section, the team also discovered remains of a cylindrical sandstone nilometer with New Kingdom (1569-1081 B.C.) clay vessels at its bottom.

Earth Times

The archaeologists also unearthed foundation stones which were used to install the sphinx statues that used to be found along the Avenue of Sphinx.

Since the beginning of restoration work at the Avenue of Sphinxes, some 128 sphinx statues have been unearthed. They are to be displayed in their original positions along the avenue.

Egypt State Information Service

A mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities discovered the remains of a church and a Nilometer during excavations at the Rams Road between the Luxor and Karnak temples, Minster of Culture Farouk Hosni said.

The discovery dated back to the fifth century AD.

At the same context, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas said on May 11th 2010 that the remains of the church were found in the second sector of the Rams Road which is divided into five sectors.

The church was built during the fifth century AD with stone blocks dating back to the Ptolemaic era with religious inscriptions on it.

The mission has also discovered a Nilometer seven meters in diameter and assortment of pottery.

Lecture report: Excavations at Djedfre's pyramid, Abu Roash

Heritage Key (Owen Jarus)

With photos

Dr Michel Baud of the Louvre Museum in Paris gave an interesting lecture last week about his excavations of a pyramid at Abu Roash. The monument was badly preserved and its stone had been quarried in Roman times, but the certain details, such as its apparent solar connections, were still discernible. Earlier, Vassil Dobrev stated that the pyramid may actually be a solar temple. However, Baud dismisses these claims....

Nearly 4,500 years ago, in the time of the Old Kingdom, the pharaoh Khufu built one of the greatest monuments on earth - the Great Pyramid. His pyramid was actually a complex of monuments at Giza. Using up 2.7 million cubic meters of stone, it incorporated three queens’ pyramids, a satellite pyramid and hundreds of mastaba tombs for his officials. At a height of nearly 147 meters it was the tallest human-made monument in the world – up until the construction of the Lincoln Cathedral in the 14th century AD.

So what did Khufu’s successor do? The person who succeeded him as pharaoh would have had a tough act to follow. We know that the person who succeeded him as pharaoh was a man called Djedefre (also spelled Radjedef). He was Khufu’s son and, like his father, would have had access to the vast resources of the Egyptian state.

Closing in on Cleopatra?

VOA News

They are among history's most famous lovers - Antony and Cleopatra, the Roman warrior and the Egyptian queen. From Shakespeare to Hollywood, their story has been told many times. Now, Egypt's top archeologist, with his own touch of Hollywood style, says he may be closing in on Cleopatra's tomb.

On a recent sunny day west of Alexandria, Zahi Hawass strides across the rock and rubble of Taposiris Magna, a Ptolemaic temple overlooking the shores of the Mediterranean. Wearing his trademark Indiana Jones hat, he explains that although others have scoured the temple before, this current dig, begun in 2005, has turned up countless new treasures.

He says the team has located the original main entrance and uncovered a series of pharaonic-style entrance blocks. There is also a statue, which Hawass, giving the headless torso a playful pat, says is likely that of Ptolemy IV, one of Cleopatra's ancestors. "That is really important discoveries " he says,"in the search for the beautiful, magical queen - Queen Cleopatra."

New Book Edition: James Allen's Middle Egyptian

The second edition of James Allen's important book Middle Egyptian is now available. According to the blurb on, the updates are as follows:

This second edition contains revised exercises and essays, providing an up to date account of current research and discoveries. New illustrations enhance discussions and examples. These additions combine with the previous edition to create a complete grammatical description of the classical language of ancient Egypt for specialists in linguistics and other fields.

Book Review: Breathing Flesh


PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 7(4) (2010)

Jan Moje about Nyord, R. 2009. Breathing Flesh. Conceptions of the Body in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts. – København, Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications 37.

Sie Sargtexte gehören mit zu den wichtigsten Quellen über die altägyptischen Vorstellungen vom Jenseits. Sie waren Bereits Thema diverser Arbeiten, darunter jedoch relativ wenige Detailstudien zu den religiösen Konzeptionen und Vorstellungen einzelner Bereiche. In Diese Sparte ist nun das vorliegende Buch einzuordnen. Bei dieser umfangreichen…

Exhibition: Along the Nile (Pisa, Italy)

A pioneering but fateful 19th-century expedition along the River Nile by two of the founding fathers of modern Egyptology is the focus of a new exhibition in Pisa.

Funded by Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II and Charles X of France, the 1828-29 voyage was led by Europe's first Egyptology professor, Ippolito Rosellini, and the French philologist who had recently deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Jean-Francois Champollion.

The men brought back a haul of ancient antiquities but also carried out a systematic survey of the monuments of Egypt and their hieroglyphic inscriptions, which - thanks to Champollion - they were able to read for the first time.

The Pisa show concentrates on the experiences of Rosellini and six fellow Tuscans who took part in the expedition - not all of whom made it back alive.

Around 200 priceless statues, bas-reliefs and other antiquities that the men brought back are on display at the city's Palazzo Blu, but the real focus of the exhibition is on the diaries, letters and paintings made by expedition members that give a first-hand account of their voyage.

Exhibition: Replicas of Tutankhamun tomb in Madrid, Spain

Think Spain

Madrid's Casa de Campo is to play host to a life-size replica of Tutankhamun's tomb, in a new concept of exhibitions that plans to show not just famous artefacts, but also the setting in which they were found.

According to the exhibition's organiser, Christoph Stolz, Egypt has captured the public's interest ever since 1964 when the Pharaoh's treasures started to be shown in museums around the world. What this new exhibition hopes to do is show the artefacts not in glass showcases, but to give the visitor "an idea of how archaeologist Howard Carter would have found the tomb".

Photo for Today - Temple of Amada

Built by Thutmosis III in the Eighteenth Dynasty, the Temple
of Amada is the oldest of the Nubian temples. As with most of the sites
around Lake Nasser this was rescued prior to the flooding of the desert to
create Lake Nasser. It was dedicated to the deities Amun and
Ra-Horakhty and was elaborated by Amenhotep II and Thutmosis IV.
The scene above clearly shows the cartouches of Thutmosis III.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Excavations at Karnak

Luxor News (Jane Akshar)

With lots of photos!

I had an exhausting morning with Mansour Boraik, would you believe we had a meeting on the hottest day this year. He got Salah to show me the new stuff at Karnak and then we drove the whole length of Sphinx avenue stopping at the various bits so he could show me what they had found and how they intended to site manage the Sphinx Avenue, I will try and write that up tomorrow.

Back to Karnak, they are excavating the area to the right of the first pylon. There used to be houses and bazaars there. Further excavations have revealed the heating room. Just at the bottom of the picture.

Exhibition Review: Méroé, un empire sur le Nil

Al Ahram Weekly (David Tresilian)

A detailed review of the exhibition.

A spring exhibition at the Louvre in Paris is throwing unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan, writes David Tresilian

Housed in the temporary exhibition space in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, Méroé, un empire sur le Nil is a smallish exhibition that might seem almost overawed by its magnificent surroundings. However, appearances are deceptive, and it would be a pity if visitors to Paris were to overlook this exhibition on their itinerary through the Louvre. This is an exhibition that casts real and unexpected light on the ancient history of Sudan. If one had a criticism to make of it, it would only be that it is not larger.

Flourishing between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE and thus coexisting with Ptolemaic and then Roman rule in Egypt, the city of Meroe, the ruins of which are located on the east bank of the Nile a few miles north of Kabushiyah in present-day Sudan, once formed the capital of an empire that stretched northwards to the borders of ancient Egypt and southwards to take in much of what is today central and southern Sudan.

Famous in antiquity for its war-like queens, four of whom are known to have reigned between the first century BCE and the first century CE, Meroe was the successor state of the ancient Kushite kingdom, whose so-called Black Pharoahs once ruled both Egypt and Sudan in the 7th century BCE.

Travel: How safe is it to travel in Cairo

Heritage Key (Annie Waddington-Feather)

I stopped posting 90% of the travel articles that find their way into my Inbox a long time ago because if they bore me senseless I am guessing that they will bore most of the blog's visitors too. On the other hand there are always exceptions. This, at least, is a question that some people may be asking at the moment.

The man with the toothless smile and sharp eyes beckons you over to see his papyrus, meanwhile another calls you to his perfume shop. Sales pitches vary: ‘Special price for pretty lady’ or if you’re male, ‘You want something for your wife, not your wife? OK, for your mistress then?’

Apart from the hassle of the hustlers and the danger of having an over-priced piece of papyrus on your wall when you get home, what other risks do you face in Cairo? Is it safe to travel there at all?

Video Review: The Hidden History of Egypt with Terry Jones

Em Hotep! (Keith Payne)

And now for something completely different! Terry Jones of Monty Python fame teams up with Egyptologist Dr. Joann Fletcher to give us a look at everyday life in ancient Egypt by comparing it to everyday life in modern Egypt.

Food and fun, work and play, you will be surprised by how much remains the same. Summary, analysis, and some really cool video clips wait inside!

The Hidden History of Egypt is presented by Terry Jones, with Egyptologist and fellow Brit, Dr. Joann Fletcher serving as his guide and advisor. It was written by Terry Jones, Alan Ereira, and Phil Grabsky, and was directed and produced by Phil Grabsky, in conjunction with Seventh Art Productions, for the Discovery Channel (original air date—January 20, 2002).

Ancient Grain ThreshersIn The Hidden History of Egypt, comedian, philosopher, and social commentator Terry Jones seeks to uncover the mysteries of one of ancient Egypt’s most secretive orders—the everyday man and woman. With all the attention given to celebrity mummies, touring treasure troves, and custody battles over “stolen” artifacts, it’s easy to forget about the people who paid the taxes, crafted the treasures, and built the monuments, which Terry Jones dismisses as the “funeral arrangements for some crazed megalomaniac.”

But this documentary doesn’t rely solely on ancient chronicles to bring the citizens of Dynastic Egypt to life (although there is certainly plenty of that as well).

Reflections on the Cairo Conference on Restitution

Museum Security Network (Kwame Opoku)

The Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage, 7-8 April 2010, Cairo, Egypt, ended with demands for the return of certain cultural artefacts which had been looted or stolen by colonial powers in the past. (2)

The conference called by Zahi Hawass, the energetic and dynamic Secretary-General of the Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, was attended by several States including, Austria, Bolivia, Chile, China, Cyprus, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria and the United States. Britain, France and Germany, countries holding most of the contested artefacts did not attend. One can understand that there was not much interest in inviting the countries holding the contested artefacts since their attitudes over many decades have not been generally positive or sympathetic to the idea of restitution. However, in the last few years France and Britain have returned objects to Egypt. My own position would be to invite them to attend as observers, ensuring however that they do not come to disrupt or sabotage the conference or even try to dominate proceedings as they are wont to since eventually, we would need their co-operation to achieve lasting solutions to the questions of restitution. Besides, the USA which is a big market for stolen/looted artefacts attended as observer and we have not heard that this presence hindered the participants from achieving their aims.

Information on the number of participating States seems to vary according to the report that one reads. From the list of participating States, we note the absence of Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Sudan etc. Did these countries not have any demands for restitution? Ethiopia in particular, has still claims against Italy which returned the Axum Obelisk in 2008. Ethiopia has even more claims against Britain which is keeping thousands of Ethiopian national treasures looted during the infamous attack on Maqdala in 1868. What about Ghana? Has Ghana given up all attempts to recover the numerous gold and silver objects, including the 20 centimetre-high golden head, regalia and other treasures looted by the British in the infamous 1874 Punitive Expedition to Kumasi?

Luxor's holiday temples of boom

Times Online (Karen Robinson)

Apart from the opening paragraphs about the redevelopment of Luxor this article is about property development and is essentially off-topic, but my friend Jane Akshar gets a mention so I had to include it :-)

If you want to know what it felt like to be a pharaoh, Samir Farag is the man to ask. As the governor of Luxor, on the banks of the Nile, 450 miles south of Cairo, he is presiding over a development masterplan even the most ambitious Egyptian temple-builders would have envied.

At the centre of it all is an effort to turn his city, home to almost a third of the ancient monuments in Egypt, into an “open-air museum”, with the excavation and restoration of the 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes, a die-straight 1½-mile road, flanked by more than 1,000 sphinxes, that connects the temples of Luxor and Karnak.

Yet, even as these mighty works proceed, the needs of the British seeker of sunshine property are also in Farag’s thoughts. An important part of the overall plan is El Tod. This bare plateau, six miles south of the city, with a commanding view of the Nile and its lush west bank, is to house a huge resort complex. The 600-hectare site, says Farag, will have hotels, a golf course and residential units, “all completely designed for foreigners”.