Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Discovery of mud brick wall from reign of King Thuthmose IV at Giza

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

An Egyptian archaeological mission directed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has discovered a large mud brick wall dating to the reign of King Thuthmose IV (1400-1390 BCE). The wall was uncovered in the area located in front of King Khafre’s valley temple on the Giza plateau.

Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny added that the discovery was made during routine excavation work carried out by the SCA.

Dr. Hawass stated that the newly discovered wall consists of two parts: the first section is 75cm tall and stretches for 86m from north to south along the eastern side of Khafre’s valley temple and the Sphinx; the second part is 90cm tall and is located in the area north of Khafre’s valley temple. This section is 46m long and runs from east to west along the perimeter of the valley temple area. The two parts of the wall converge at the south-east corner of the excavation area.

Hawass explained that according to initial studies carried out at the site, the newly discovered wall is a part of a larger wall found to the north of the Sphinx. This wall was constructed by King Thuthmose IV as an enclosure to protect the Sphinx from winds. According to ancient Egyptian texts the construction of this wall was the result of a dream which Thuthmose had after a long hunting trip in Wadi El-Ghezlan (Deer Valley), an area next to the Sphinx. In the king’s dream, the Sphinx asked the king to move the sand away from his body because it choked him. For this favor, the Sphinx promised to make Thutmose IV King of Egypt. To accomplish this task, Thuthmose IV removed the sand that had partially buried the Sphinx and built an enclosure wall to preserve it.

Hawass pointed out that archaeologists previously believed that the enclosure wall only existed on the Sphinx’s northern side because a 3m tall by 12 m long section had been found there. This theory has now been disproven thanks to the discovery of the two new wall sections along the eastern and southern sides of the Sphinx.

In addition to the two sections of the enclosure wall, the SCA team found a mudbrick wall on the eastern side of Khafre’s valley temple. Hawass believes that this wall could be the remains of Khafre’s pyramid settlement, which was inhabited by priests and officials who oversaw the activities of the mortuary cult of Khafre. This cult began at the king’s death and continued until the eighth dynasty (ca. 2143-2134 BCE), which was the end of the Old Kingdom.

Essam Shehab, supervisor of Khafre’s valley temple excavation, said that the mission also dug a 6m deep assessment trench in the area located in front of Khafre’s valley temple to search for any activity dating to the Middle Kingdom (2030 – ca. 1660 BCE). Initial inspection did not reveal any Middle Kingdom activity in the trench as it was filled with almost 5m of sand. Such amount of sand, said Shehab, suggested that the area was abandoned during the Middle Kingdom.

Excavations continue in order to reveal the rest of the Thuthmose IV enclosure wall and any other secrets still hidden within the sand.

Hawass says that BBC broke MSA regulations

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

I was very pleased to be involved with this project, which will be aired in a television program called Egypt’s Lost Cities. Unfortunately, however, an inaccurate article about it was prematurely released, even before the BBC’s press release was checked by my Ministry.

According to Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) regulations, it is prohibited for anyone to announce a discovery before notifying and obtaining the approval of the Ministry first. This procedure is in place to ensure that any discoveries people want to announce are real and have been officially verified. If every mission authorized to carry out work in Egypt was allowed to announce things without them being checked first, there could potentially be lots of false claims made all the time.

Sadly, this was the case with the BBC. I am disappointed that not only was the report published without the approval of the MSA, but also that its announcement was not accurate, showing how important it is to follow the proper protocol. The draft press release reported that 17 new pyramids and thousands of ancient Egyptian settlements have been discovered by the University of Alabama using infrared satellite images and that the last major pyramid find was made over 20 years ago.

Bikya Masr

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass wrote on his official blog that the BBC had broken government regulations on the reporting of the discovery of 17 previously unknown pyramids and thousands of tombs via satellite.

“According to Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) regulations, it is prohibited for anyone to announce a discovery before notifying and obtaining the approval of the Ministry first,” he wrote.

“This procedure is in place to ensure that any discoveries people want to announce are real and have been officially verified. If every mission authorized to carry out work in Egypt was allowed to announce things without them being checked first, there could potentially be lots of false claims made all the time,” Hawass added.

Many news outlets, including Bikya Masr reported the new discovery using satellites. Bikya Masr did not, and has not, asked for the ministry’s permission to report on substantiated and sourced stories pertaining to new discoveries in Egypt.

Hawass said the BBC has apologized for not notifying the ministry beforehand.

Update on Tuthmosis III temple excavations

Luxor News blog (Jane Akshar)

The third consecutive season of archaeological investigations at the funerary temple of Thutmosis III , on the west bank at Luxor, started on October 2nd, until December 17th. The season of excavations and work was made possible by the continued support of CEPSA, with further support by the Marcelino Botin Foundations enabling the season to be prolonged. This led to a marked increase in the amount of work that the joint Spanish-Egyptian team was able to achieve.

The team was further reinforced this season by the addition of several members of the Department of Fine art and Archaeology at the University of Granada, along with several graduate students in order to gain valuable field experience with specialists in Egyptology, Archaeology and Restoration.

High hopes for Egypt’s first institute of museology

Al Masry Al Youm (Steven Viney)

Earlier this month, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) announced that it would be establishing the first Institute of Museology in Egypt after a funding proposal put forth to USAID was revisited and moved to the next phase of development.

“We’ve been talking to USAID for a year and a half about opening a museology school in Cairo,” states Ramadan Hussein, a senior archaeological supervisor at the MSA. “After the revolution, they’ve shown new interest in the project and decided to move forward with funding.”

Despite the large number of museums that the country enjoys, Egypt’s museums suffer from a shortage of qualified personnel at the senior management level. This has been often reflected in poor exhibition design and resource management, as well as increased reliance on foreign experts.

Exhibition: Unpublished Faiyum portraits in Madrid

Art Daily

The Fayum Mummy Portraits continue to surprise to this day with their modern sensibility and vitality. Made between the first and fourth centuries A.D. they come from the tomb of Al- Fayum as well as from other places across Egypt, and they are borne of a mixture of Greek encaustic painting, Roman realism, and Egyptian funerary rituals. The exhibition Fayum Portraits + Adrian Paci: No Visible Future, organized by the Ministry of Culture, National Archeology Museum and PHotoEspaña posits these paintings as the earliest antecedent of photography since, in a manner similar to ID photos, the painters portray with the greatest possible exactitude the characteristics of their subjects so that the souls of the dead could recognize them – hence the portraits’ simplicity and accuracy.

John Berger dedicated one of his most elegant texts to these works; in it, he relates them to the migrations of our time. This exhibition seeks to pay them homage, bringing together 13 portraits that are shown along with the video Centro para la permanencia temporal (Center for Temporal Permanence), by Adrian Paci, a work in which time stops, and its protagonists – possible emigrants seek to depart but do not move – are subtly fashioned like the living-dead of Fayum.

More re Faiyum archaeology and ecology under threat


Fayoum is a lush area around an ancient sea in the desert 130 kilometers south of Cairo. There is a small city and several villages. There are also natural reserves and bird areas, an artist village and Egypt’s caricature museum. This sounds like Fayoum has enough uniqueness and attractions to be the star of Egypt’s next tourism campaign. Alas, this is not what the government thinks mainly because there is no big five-star hotel development copy and pasted from another location. So Mubarak’s government decided to sell the natural reserve, legally a protected area, to Amer Group, a massive developer who builds the worst of neolibralism from resorts to malls. The super rich developer has a 99-year leasehold on the land for $28,000/year! that comes down to 1 cents per square meter. If this isn’t a clear case of corruption I am not sure what is.


Environmentalists currently represent a small subsection of activists in Egypt, but like everybody else they've received a boost from the revolution, as well as more problems to deal with. The former comes in the sense that people are generally more willing to pay attention to the kind of political, economic, ecological and community problems environmentalism attempt to deal with — everyone is more empowered and has a great sense of community belonging. Yet, at the same time, the partial collapse of the state has led to many abuses (most notably illegal construction) and many people prioritize security or party politics ahead of environmentalism.

Can a tomb bring Egyptian tourism back to life?

The Independent, UK (Patrick Cockburn)

Egypt has opened to the public the tombs of leading retainers of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun at Saqqara, south of Cairo, in a desperate bid to lure back tourists who have avoided the country since the revolt in February that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

Unemployed guides at Saqqara, one of the great archaeological sites of the world, speak hopefully of the publicity surrounding the grand opening of seven tombs boosting foreign interest in Egypt's past. They stress that never before have visitors been able to see the tomb of Maya, Tutankhamun's treasurer, with its scenes of bearers bringing offerings, or of the young pharaoh's general, Horenheb, with incised stone carvings of his military victories.

But it may some time before fascination with ancient Egypt will be enough to make tourists forget the recent television pictures they have seen of fighting in Tahrir Square.

German university loses Egyptian collection bought under Nazis

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

A German court ruled that the University of Leipzig must hand over its 150 ancient Egyptian artefacts to the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC) as compensation for Holocaust victims and their descendants.

This collection came into the possession of the museum of the University of Leipzig in 1936 when the late Jewish professor Georg Steindorff, who held Leipzig’s Egyptology chair, sold it to the museum. Steindorff possessed this collection since 1915 when he excavated the site located to the west of King Khufu’s necropolis in the Giza plateau in a German mission. In accordance with Egyptian law at the time, he received 50 per cent of the discovered artefacts.

Al Masry Al Youm

A pharaonic artifact that was smuggled out of Egypt, taken to Germany, and is now in an Israeli institution must be returned, Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass announced Saturday.

The piece was discovered in Egypt in 1910, west of Khufu Pyramid. An archeologist called George Steindorff took it, along with half the pharaonic artifacts found by the expedition, for display in museums and universities.

Hawass told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the University of Leipzig in Germany gave the artifact to a committee for the victims of the Holocaust.

Monsters and Critics

The University of Leipzig is to lose an ancient Egyptian collection which it bought in 1936 from a Jewish professor, Georg Steindorff, a court ruled Thursday.

A court in Berlin decided that the collection must be handed to the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC), as Steindorff had sold it for a value far below its actual worth.

Leipzig university could produce no evidence to counter the charge that Steindorff had been forced to sell his collection under Nazi rule.

Book Review: House of Windows

New York Times (Anthony Julius)

The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole.

About 120 years ago, a cache of manuscripts, mostly fragments, was discovered in the storeroom of an old Cairo synagogue. Its members had deposited them there over many centuries. This collection of documents managed to be both heterogeneous and comprehensive at the same time.

Adina Hoffman is the author of “House of Windows: Portraits From a Jerusalem Neighborhood.” Peter Cole is a poet and translator. As they relate in their engaging book “Sacred Trash,” the materials in the storeroom included letters, wills, bills of lading, prayers, marriage contracts and writs of divorce, Bibles, money orders, court depositions, business inventories, leases, magic charms and receipts. One early examiner of the cache described the scene as a “battlefield of books.” The most recent deposits were made in the 19th century; there were fragments that dated back to the 10th century. Another early visitor described the scene thus: “For centuries, whitewash has tumbled” upon the documents “from the walls and ceiling; the sand of the desert has lodged in their folds and wrinkles; water from some unknown source has drenched them; they have squeezed and hurt each other.”

KMT Volume 22, Number 2, Summer 2011


Thanks to John Rauchert for this information. Includes Six Feature Articles:

  • Rediscovering the Karnak Cachette by Laurent Coulon, Emmanuel Jambon & Cynthia Sheikholeshlami
  • KV63 Update: The 2010 Season by Otto J. Schaden
  • Spanish Excavations of Tomb 28 at Luxor by Francisco J. Martin Valentin & Teresa Bedman
  • Theodore M. Davis & His Excavators by John M. Adams
  • The Origins of Egyptian Civilization Exhibition in Chicago by Emily Teeter
  • Egypt in Mantua, Italy, by Lucy Gordan-Rastelli

Plus “Nile Currents” & “For the Record,” as well as reviews of: Sex and the Golden Goddess I, Ancient Egyptian Love Songs in Context by Renata Landgrafova & Hana Navratilova; Before the Pyramids: The Origins of Egyptian Civilization edited by Emily Teeter; & Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, 300 BC-AD 700 by Judith McKenzie.

Book Review: The Stones of the Pyramids

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by William H. Peck)

Thanks to Kate Phizackerley for this link.

Dietrich D. Klemm, Rosemarie Klemm, The Stones of the Pyramids: Provenance of the Building Stones of the Old Kingdom Pyramids of Egypt. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2010.

Dietrich and and Rosemarie Klemm have published extensively in the past on the geology of Egypt, the stones used in ancient Egyptian construction and the quarries from which building stone was obtained in antiquity. Their work, employing petrographical and geochemical methods, has become something of a model for the analysis of ancient construction material and its sources in Egypt. This text is concerned with the provenience of the stone used in the pyramids of the Old Kingdom, differentiating between the material of core and casing, as well as the stone of attendant structures (Valley Temple, Causeway, and Pyramid Temple, where they exist.) Proximity of quarries to the monuments is taken into consideration as a natural element in the study of the logistics of supply.

Each pyramid is discussed chronologically beginning with the Step Pyramid of Djoser and ending with the Pyramid of Pepi II, but also including the Mastabat el-Faraoun and the Sun Temples of Userkaf and Niuserre. The geological setting of each structure and any physical factors that may have influenced its building and condition are given as preliminary information. Number and source position of stone samples are given and the results of the petrographical and geochemical analysis for structures and quarries are presented in textual and graphic form. Each structure is given its exact geographical coordinates, height, base and slope. Original height and preserved height are sometimes indicated. The size of the base is stated in meters. “Slope” indicated the inclination of side. In general the text is simply and direct and there are only occasional infacilities in the English translation from the German. Numerous photographs both aerial and ground of structures and quarries, plus construction details where appropriate, are included.

The samples for study and analysis taken were made with the permission, agreement and supervision of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Egypt’s man from the past who insists he has a future

Past Horizons (Jack Shenker)

No one interviews Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s self-styled Indiana Jones of the east – he interviews himself, fist pounding on desk and spittle flying forth into the ether.

“Do I look like a minister to you? Of course not!” thunders the minister for antiquities, a man appointed by Hosni Mubarak to oversee his nation’s cultural riches and, improbably, the great survivor of this year’s dramatic revolution.

“I am not part of the old regime – I love Egypt, I love archaeology and I will never be a politician,” Hawass continues. “I’m a damned archaeologist through and through.”

Zahi’s strength of feeling is understandable. The 63-year-old headed Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) from 2002 onwards. Like so many other Mubarak-era public figures he is struggling to carve out a role in post-uprising Egypt.

He is desperate to hammer home his apolitical virtues but after accepting a cabinet job as the regime was beginning to crumble and then taking to the airwaves in early February to declare ”we need President Mubarak” the task was always going to be tricky.

Ancient Egypt Magazine has new Facebook page

Official Ancient Egypt Magazine on Facebook

From Bob Partridge:

Over the last few years we have started to use Facebook to pass on relevant new information to you which sometimes cant wait for the two monthly publishing cycle.

For some reason we seem to have two magazine Facebook pages, one of which enabled the Editor to send a message to each Facebook friend (run by myself as Editor) and a second by the magazine publishers which only enabled messaging to the wall and not necessarily seen by everyone.

So we have now opened a new official Facebook page (replacing the original pages) for anyone interested in ancient Egypt and for subscribers to the magazine. The new page is called Official Ancient Egypt Magazine and the pages that I have been running will be closed in the next few days. So could I please ask you to close your Facebook membership of the old Ancient Egypt Magazine Facebook page and reregister under the new site as soon as possible.

It is still the intention to continue sending you extra news and information via the new Facebook page and hopefully it will encourage Facebook friends of the page to communicate with each other.

Please note, this is not intended as a forum for friends to contact the Editors, for example wanting help writing essays or for other general queries, as we sadly just do not have the time to do this, although we are always pleased to hear from anyone with comments or suggestions for the magazine.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pyramid-exploring robot reveals hidden hieroglyphs

New Scientist (Rowan Hooper)

With diagram.

THEY might be ancient graffiti tags left by a worker or symbols of religious significance. A robot has sent back the first images of markings on the wall of a tiny chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt that have not been seen for 4500 years. It has also helped settle the controversy about the only metal known to exist in the pyramid, and shows a "door" that could lead to another hidden chamber.

The pyramid is thought to have been built as a tomb for the pharaoh Khufu, and is the last of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing. It contains three main chambers: the Queen's Chamber, the Grand Gallery and the King's Chamber, which has two air shafts connecting it with the outside world. Strangely, though, there are two tunnels, about 20 centimetres by 20 centimetres, that extend from the north and south walls of the Queen's Chamber and stop at stone doors before they reach the outside of the pyramid (see diagram).

The function of these tunnels and doors is unknown, but some believe that one or both could lead to a secret chamber.

Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)

With photograph.

A robot explorer sent through the Great Pyramid of Giza has begun to unveil some of the secrets behind the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum as it transmitted the first images behind one of its mysterious doors.

The images revealed hieroglyphs written in red paint that have not been seen by human eyes since the construction of the pyramid. The pictures also unveiled new details about two puzzling copper pins embedded in one of the so called "secret doors."

Published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l'Egypte (ASAE), the images of markings and graffiti could unlock the secrets of the monument's puzzling architecture.

"We believe that if these hieroglyphs could be deciphered they could help Egyptologists work out why these mysterious shafts were built," Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, said.

Hawass response to satellite discovery reports

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Minister of State for Antiquities (MSA) Zahi Hawass announced at the ministry in Zamalek that yesterday’s media reports that researchers from the University of Alabama in the United States had identified 17 lost pyramids and thousands of ancient Egyptian settlements via infrared images is not accurate.

Hawass told Ahram Online that satellite infrared images are only able to locate anomalies beneath the sand, which cannot be identified until archaeological research is carried out. “These anomalies could be anything: a house, a tomb, a temple or even geological features,” Hawass asserted.

He continued that these images offer assistance in discovering antiquities but are generally not accurate.

And a response to Hawass by the Art of Counting

Seriously, did Zahi Hawass just spank Sarah Parcak? . . . .

While it is true that infrared images show only “anomalies” under the sand that need to be confirmed through direct examination, dismissing this data out of hand as inaccurate ignores the incredible insights that can be gained through the use of these technologies. These images DO assist in uncovering antiquities, even if the researcher does have to take them with a grain of salt and go into the process with the recognition that rather than being a true ‘map’ to an undiscovered site, these are guides that help direct to areas of incredible interest in a sea of sand.

The Art of Counting project has also encountered this type of dismissive attitude on occasion, as though statistical analysis is applicable to all other aspects of human existence but simply can’t reveal anything about ancient Egyptian imagery. Happily, there have been many scholars who have already joined the Art of Counting team, but new technologies can be overwhelming and somewhat frightening to those who do not understand them.

The future of the Norwich shroud

British Museum (Faye Kalloniatis)

Well, this will be the final blog entry for the Norwich shroud and what a way we’ve come over the past few months

As the project got underway, one highlight followed another. The first was the initial unrolling, when we watched the small and crumpled scrap unfurl to become a good-sized fragment of shroud. Then we saw that it had not merely a few columns of text but, rather, was filled with it – an epigrapher’s dream.

Then came the cartouche of Menkaure, which sent us all into paroxysms of delight. No sooner had we come to terms with this when we discovered the name of the shroud’s owner – a certain Ipu, daughter of Mutresti.

Yet there was more to come.

Egypt, US coalition cooperate on cultural protection


Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs of Egypt and the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities announced on Tuesday they had reached an agreement to cooperate on a comprehensive plan to protect Egypt’s archaeological and cultural heritage sites and artifacts.

The coalition, led by the George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute, the Archaeological Institute of America, the American Schools of Oriental Research, and the National Geographic Society, was in Cairo between May 16-18 at the invitation of the Egyptian government for a series of meetings with senior Egyptian government officials, private sector and archaeological experts.

The ministry and the coalition at the time formed a public-private partnership, agreeing to develop a framework that “commits resources to site protection, including protective walls at archaeological sites and increased training of law enforcement personnel; a nationwide satellite imagery analysis initiative; a complete database of Egypt’s antiquities based on inventories of Egypt’s museums and storage facilities; an education and awareness campaign; and longer term small business and green archaeological site programs,” GWU said in a press release.

Book Review: Alexandria Lost

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Christopher Haas)

Bojana Mojsov, Alexandria Lost: From the Advent of Christianity to the Arab Conquest. London: Duckworth, 2010.

Nearly two decades ago, Peter Fraser observed that classical Alexandria, like Antioch and other cities of the Middle East, did not ultimately die of “a slow cancer, but two massive heart attacks following upon a chronic illness.”1 He identified these coronary catastrophes as the Sassanian capture of the city in 619 and `Amr ibn al-As’s conquest in September of 641. This is the principal theme of Bojana Mojsov’s Alexandria Lost. Mojsov, an Egyptologist with long experience in the field of Pharaonic religion, exhibits from the first page a passion for the city known by the ancients as “most glorious Alexandria.” She sets out to discover “What happened to ancient Alexandria and to the Great Library? Alexander’s city was the shining star of the Mediterranean Sea, the museum the pride of the classical world, the library the greatest collection of antiquity. How could they disappear so thoroughly, without a trace?” (6).

Mojsov's answer is that the Alexandrian cultural heritage was destroyed deliberately by the forces of religious intolerance, and inadvertently by armies contending for possession of the city.

Tutankamón y sus tesoros arribaron a Valencia


Thanks to Amigos de la Egiptologia for this link.

Valencia en la primera ciudad en Latinoamérica en recibir la exposición “Tutankamón, la momia, su tumba y sus tesoros”, en la que se puede disfrutar de más de 400 piezas del Antiguo Egipto en una exhibición cargada de intriga, misterio y fascinación de una civilización con más de 5.000 años de antigüedad, en la que podrá distraerse la familia completa de una manera educativa desde este 24 de mayo en el Sambil Valencia.

Upcoming book: Birds in Ancient Egypt

Birds in Ancient Egypt: An Identification Guide by John Wyatt and Jackie Garner will be released in August 2012 (lots of advance warning!).

Lavishly illustrated with over 300 colour images depicting bird images from the tombs, temples and artefacts of Egypt together with the birds themselves. This innovative book looks in detail at the evidence for the probable existence of some 200 species in Ancient Egypt between c.4000BCE and c.250BCE, including bone and mummy records. New identification techniques were tested and exciting discoveries made.

To be put on the mailing list for further information and to receive details of the special pre-publication offer please email:
artist [at] jackiergarner. co. uk

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Egyptian pyramids found by infra-red satellite images

BBC News (Francis Cronin)

Thanks to Brian Donovan for this link.

More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings.

Initial excavations have already confirmed some of the findings including of two suspected pyramids.

"To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist," says Dr Sarah Parcak.

She has pioneered the work in space archaeology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and says she was amazed at how much she and her team have found.

News from Amarna, May 2011

The latest news from Amarna from Barry Kemp:

I see that my last report was dated 26th February, and was written with the optimism that flows from a crisis just passed.

Within a few days of arrival at the expedition house, seemingly with all obstacles cleared, it emerged that liaison between the regional police and the antiquities administration was no longer working as it had in the past.

The local police had supplied their usual contingent to man the little police post that is attached to the house, and I have continued to live here until now without objections. But at a more senior level, the police had decided that they would have one thing less to worry about if they did not have foreign expeditions in their province. Amarna has remained throughout as rurally peaceful as ever, but in the towns and cities demonstrations against various aspects of government have sporadically continued and created a sense of unease, heightened by rumours of banditry blamed on escaped prisoners, though no extra hindrances have been placed in the path of tourist groups.

So for two and a half months I have visited or telephoned the police weekly. To begin with, a few members of the expedition arrived in Cairo and it seemed possible that the fieldwork was on hold only temporarily. But as that hope faded, we were forced to accept that no outdoor work would be possible this side of the summer.

Eventually, near the end of April, the police conceded that the last group due to come, the anthropologists from the University of Arkansas, could be allowed to stay at the house and work on the human remains we have stored in the magazine at the house. Despite this agreement, police caution made even this seem uncertain until the last moment. The first group arrived three days ago, and the magazine has been opened, and work has begun. Since a further excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery has not yet taken place, the purpose of the study is to go over certain areas of the recording done in the past to ensure consistency, and, with the benefits of hindsight, to review aspects where recording leads to evaluations, particularly in respect of aging the individuals and the related topic of the rate of childhood skeletal development. A review of the craniometrics - the precise scheme of skull measurements that is another way of defining a population - is also planned.

Looking beyond the summer, the hope is to use the autumn as a time to carry out the postponed fieldwork. This should cover both the repairs at the North Palace and excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery. The autumn is also the promised time for elections to Egypt's new parliament that will lead to the formation of a new government, and beyond that looms the election for president. These, for Egypt, are uncharted waters. It may require a further period of patient discussion with the regional police to get a full expedition going again.

I hope that keeping the house open for this length of time has helped to maintain our credibility as a regular part of local life. It has also enabled the house staff - all local people - to be employed, if at a slightly reduced level. It is a pleasure to be able to report that, at the outset of the upheavals, when the house had to be closed for nearly a month, one well-wisher donated a sum of money specifically to cover the wages of the house staff for that period.

Two and a half quiet months at Amarna have not been without benefit, mainly in providing time for writing.

I brought to the expedition house copies of the archive records of the original North Palace excavations of 1923 and 1924. Over many years, from time to time, myself and others have turned our hands to bringing together a full report on the palace, a project originally disrupted by the early death of the main excavator, F.G. Newton, near the beginning of the second season (he died from Encephalitis lethargica in Asyut hospital on Christmas Day 1924).

Amongst the records are small-scale copies of inscribed and decorated fragments of limestone made at the time by members of the expedition who were then working and living at the northern expedition house. They number around 600. Many are fragments of conventional designs, but some showed traces of alterations in places where the name of the 'owner' of the palace was written. The alterations are a further example of a phenomenon documented from other parts of Amarna that has been much discussed, that bears on the status of female members of Akhenaten's family, namely, his eldest daughter Meretaten, a secondary wife named Kiya, and Nefertiti herself. Are we looking at the rise and fall of one of them in an outbreak of harem politics?

Because the erasures and recuttings were done on soft limestone surfaces, it is tricky to discern what the original signs were. The man who made most of the copies in 1924, C.R. Duncan Greenlees, worked carefully but without the benefit of studies of parallel material. This would not matter if the stonework were still available. Hardly any of it was photographed and, apart from a small number of pieces that were sent to museums, it is not extant. Its most likely fate was to be buried beside the northern expedition house at the end of the 1924 season. It might seem that the next logical step is to look for the place of burial. The northern house stands, however, on part of the ancient site. Any disturbance to the ground immediately becomes another excavation, and this is not something to be undertaken lightly. So far geophysics has failed to point to a likely location. We will probably be left, therefore, with a study in which the exercise of judgement on archival sources plays a crucial part.

How far can we trust Greenlees' copies? This is the norm for historians when interpreting documents from the past. Here, as is not infrequently the case, archaeology overlaps with research on historical archives. Having made a preliminary assessment of the evidence, I am not persuaded that a simple sequence, in which one woman's name replaced another, reflecting their respective positions at court, is necessarily the correct explanation, but there is some way to go before this material will be ready for publication.

Over the same period, the Assistant Director, Dr Anna Stevens, has remained in Cairo, preparing the final publication of excavations and survey at the Stone Village, carried out between 2005 and 2008. At the same time, and with the assistance of Tim Kashmiri, a computer database specialist, she has developed an improved database design for the many thousands of objects that have been registered by the expedition since it began excavations in 1979.

The closing date for the work at Amarna is set for June 12th. We have obviously lost some money in air fares and expenses in Cairo for the first small group who came, but not disastrously so. The costs of keeping the house open are mostly covered from elsewhere. The donated funds for the North Palace remain untouched.

In the meantime, we have, through the Justgiving site, set up another appeal. See:


This is to help us move forward with one of the many publications of fieldwork, in this instance the painted wall plaster from an early Christian church that had been constructed over the remains of one of Akhenaten's buildings at Amarna, the place called Kom el-Nana.

Thanks to all for continuing support and encouragement.

Barry Kemp, 21st May 2011.

The work at Amarna is supported directly by two institutions: in the UK by the Amarna Trust, and in the USA by the Amarna Research Foundation. In both cases, donations are tax deductible.

Amarna Trust:

Donations can be made directly to the treasurer:
Dr Alison L. Gascoigne
Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology
University of Southampton
Avenue Campus
SO17 1BF
+44 (0)2380 599636

or to the Trust's bank account:

Bank: Nat West
Address: High Wycombe branch, 33 High Street, High Wycombe, Bucks,
HP11 2AJ
Account name: The Amarna Trust
Account number: 15626229
Branch sort code: 60-11-01
IBAN: GB66 NWBK 6011 0115 6262 29

or by electronic transfer through Paypal or Justgiving, available on the website www.amarnatrust.com (where a Gift Aid form is downloadable)

The Trust sends out a free newsletter twice a year, Horizon, to anyone who sends me a postal address. It is also available as a downloadable pdf file from our two web sites.

Amarna Research Foundation

The Amarna Research Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Colorado. It has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization, and contributions to the Foundation are tax exempt.

The Foundation receives donations and runs a membership list. See www.museum-tours.com/amarna/ where a membership form can be downloaded.

The Foundation publishes a regular newsletter, The Akhetaten Sun, available to members.

Egypt restores archaeological piece from Mexico

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With 2 photos.
After three years in the custody of the Mexican government for investigation, Egypt receives a 17x15cm-wide New Kingdom relief that had been smuggled out of the country illegally. The story of the relief began in 2006 when Mexican police caught a Mexican citizen in possession of the relief red-handed. An investigation proved the piece was Egyptian property.

Egypt State Information Service

The Foreign Ministry restored Monday an archeological piece from Mexico that was seized at the Mexican customs department five years ago.

The Assistant Foreign Minister for international cultural affairs, Sherif el-Kholy said, since then, Egypt has been exerting strenuous efforts to restore the piece and the Egyptian embassy filed a request to get the piece back.

El-Kholy said the piece, dating back to the Modern Dynasty, is a rock slab with an inscribed drawing of a man's head with a wig.

He stressed that more smuggled pieces from several foreign countries would be restored.

Hawass meeting with the Ministry of Waqf

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

Today, I met with Dr. Elhussein, the Minister of Waqf to discuss the restoration of some Islamic monuments. We have spent 2 billion EGP on the conservation of Egyptian monuments over 20 years. We agreed that we will select a specialist company to provide security for 76 early mosques in order to protect them from theft. Many mosques have had pieces stolen, and working with this company is the first step in making sure that this does not happen again.

I agreed with Dr. Elhussein during our meeting today that it is important to find specialists to manage the 128 historical mosques that are all over Egypt. We also agreed to make a joint committee including high officials from both ministries that will meet monthly to discuss solutions and actions that need to be taken to restore the mosques. The restoration of the Islamic monuments would be under the MSA and then authority for these would be returned to the Ministry of Waqf so that regular religious activities could be reinstated in the mosques.

At the meeting, we also examined the problem of the people who are living inside the monuments. These historic buildings are concentrated in the area of historic Cairo, especially in Al-Ahazr, Hussein, the Citadel, Old Cairo, and the Rameses Districts.

Hawass - Recent Trip to Saqqara

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

Yesterday, I went to Saqqara to open the New Kingdom tombs for visitors. This new set of tombs includes the tombs of Tutankhamen’s treasurer, Maya, and his general who would become king, Horemheb. I want to encourage the tourists to come back, especially to visit these spectacular tombs that have never been opened to the public before. That is the great thing about Egypt, you can come here a dozen times and see different things each time.

When I got to Saqqara at 8:30am, I went to see how the work was going at the restoration of the Step Pyramid. I was very impressed when I saw the Egyptian team working very hard and I found out that they had been working there since 5 am! The project has been going for the last two years and we are successfully working to restore the world’s first pyramid.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The tombs of King Tut’s high officials open to the public

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

Dr. Zahi Hawass the Minister of State for Antiquities will open 7 tombs in the New Kingdom Cemetery in South Saqqara for tourism for the first time. This site contains the famous tomb of Maya, who was the treasurer of King Tut, as well as the tomb of Horemheb, the general of King Tut who later became king.

The Ministry is currently in the process of developing a management plan for the Saqqara site. It is hoped that this will enhance the value of the site as a visitor destination through better signage and facilities, as well as promoting local community involvement and an improved security presence.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With slide show.

Hundred of journalists, photographers and TV anchors gathered today at the Saqqara Necropolis, 30km south of the Giza Plateau, to catch a glimpse of the tombs that the minister of state for antiquities is opening to the public for the first time. The newly inaugurated tombs belong to King Tut’s general, who later became King Horemheb; his treasurer, Maya; the steward of the temple of Aten, Meryneith; the royal butler to both King Tut and Akhenaten, Ptahemwia; the overseer of the treasury of Ramsess II, Tia and the harem overseer under King Tutankhamun, Pay and his son, Raia.

These tombs underwent restoration to counter decay, including reinforcing the walls, smoothing cracks over and reliefs were consolidated and covered with glass for protection. Wooden and iron gates were installed at every tomb to strengthen security in entryways and new stone slabs outside of the tombs mark the path clearly through the necropolis.

Clearing illegal building on Luxor's West Bank

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

Today, we cleared about 22 monuments on the West Bank of Luxor that had been attacked by illegal building activity in the days following the revolution. Many people built houses or expanded their Alabaster factories over the archaeological sites and tombs.

One of the worst examples of this was a house built between two of the most famous nobles’ tombs on the West Bank - the tomb of Rekhmire and the tomb of Ramose. Not only are these buildings dangerous to the sites, but they were also built illegally and without permits.

Mummies tell history of a ‘modern’ plague

Past Horizons

With photos and illustrations.

Mummies from along the Nile are revealing how age-old irrigation techniques may have boosted the plague of schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease that infects an estimated 200 million people today.

An analysis of the mummies from Nubia, a former kingdom that was located in present-day Sudan, provides details for the first time about the prevalence of the disease across populations in ancient times, and how human alteration of the environment during that era may have contributed to its spread.

The American Journal of Physical Anthropology is publishing the study, led by Emory graduate student Amber Campbell Hibbs, who recently received her PhD in anthropology.

About 25 percent of mummies in the study dated to about 1,500 years ago were found to have Schistosoma mansoni, a species of schistosomiasis associated with more modern-day irrigation techniques.

El Kab pictures from Richard Sellicks

Luxor News Blog

Thanks to Jane Akshar for posting some more of Richard's excellent photographs, this time from the east bank temple within the massive mudbrick walls of El Kab.

One Entrance, Two Paths: The Noble and Service Routes in the Great Pyramid

Em Hotep (Keith Payne)

Follow Pharaoh Khufu’s funeral procession into the Great Pyramid where we learn the layout of the two very different routes to the King’s Chamber—one used by the workers in the construction of the vast monument, and one created for the sole purpose of the king’s last journey from his Valley Temple to the burial room.

This is the seventh article in a series based on Marc Chartier’s discussions with Jean-Pierre Houdin following the premier of Khufu Reborn, the long awaited revelation of the second chapter of Project Khufu. These articles are provided in English to Em Hotep via special arrangement with Marc Chartier/Pyramidales, Jean-Pierre Houdin and the Project Khufu team at Dassault Systèmes.

Visits to Egyptian Museum return to normal

Al Masry Al Youm

Tareq al-Awadi, head of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, said Sunday that visiting levels to the museum returned to normal this week with the restoration of calm in Tahrir Square.

Awadi said visits increased to normal levels on Saturday and Sunday.

Tourism to Egypt down 46 percent in first quarter

The number of tourists visiting Egypt slumped 46 percent in the first quarter when mass protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the government's statistics agency said on Sunday.

The unrest that began on January 25 prompted embassies to issue travel warnings and many tour groups cancelled trips, throwing an industry that is a major source of foreign currency into crisis.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Nomen or throne name of Ramesses III
Usermaatre Meryamun
(Power and Justice of Re, Beloved of Amun)
With some of the paint still visible.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Petition to stop the destruction of the Lake Qarun Protected Area


Thanks to Per Storemyr for sending this to me - a petition for the protection of the priceless antiquities in the Lake Qarun area of the Faiyum depression, to the southwest of Cairo. The petition can be viewed and signed above. They also have a Facebook site called NO PORTO FAYOUM but I'm not on Facebook any more and I don't have the link. The petition is publicly supported by, amongst many others, Per Storemyr (Quarryscapes), Mindy Baha El Din (Secretary, Nature Conservation Egypt) and Cassandra Vivian (author of The Western Desert of Egypt).

Egyptian Government, Minister of Antiquities, Minister of Environment, Minister of Tourism, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Governor Fayoum

In December 2010 Egypt’s Tourist Development Authority (TDA) sold 650 acres in the Lake Qarun Protected Area in Fayoum to the Amer Group, the Egyptian real estate developer responsible for the massive Porto Marina and Porto Sokhna tourist developments. The Amer Group paid a megre sum for this land (an annual fee of USD 0.01 per square metre). This is the first development of such huge proportions to be authorized in an Egyptian protected area.

Amer Group Chairman Mansour Amer is a former member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and reportedly has close ties to former president Hosni Mubarak. Since the fall of the Mubarak regime, many improper land deals have come under scrutiny. The former Minister of Tourism, Zuhair Garanah, is now serving a five-year prison sentence for corruption, and other government figures, prominent businessmen, and even the TDA itself, are currently under investigation.

Gebel Qatrani, where the development is to take place, is a desert area of outstanding natural beauty north of Lake Qarun. It has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it contains one of the world’s most complete fossil records of terrestrial primates and marshland mammals and remains critical to our understanding of mammalian--and human—evolution. Just last year, excavations there revealed the complete fossil remains of a prehistoric whale, new to science. In addition to its priceless fossil deposits, Gebel Qatrani is brimming with other prehistoric and pharaonic treasures, including the world’s most ancient paved road.

Porto Fayoum and other planned tourism developments in this area will also destroy bird habitats around Lake Qarun, which is a BirdLife International Important Bird Area (IBA).

The head of the Ministry of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass sanctioned the building in this area, despite its cultural, scientific and global importance. The former Governor of Fayoum supported the project against recommendations of experts and donors. Officials at Egypt’s Ministry of Environment opposed the developments, but were unable to stop the tourism projects, including the half-completed asphalt road around the lake.

If it goes ahead, Porto Fayoum will wreak untold destruction to this priceless natural and cultural heritage site, valuable to Fayoum, Egypt and the world.

Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) and the signatories of this petition are calling on the Egyptian government to:

1) Rescind this illicit land deal and return this land to the Egyptian people.

2) Abolish all TDA jurisdiction in the Lake Qarun Protected Area and return the land to the Ministry of Environment’s Nature Conservation Sector, responsible for Egypt’s Protected Areas.

3) Declare the northern part of Lake Qarun Egypt's to be first UNESCO Geopark.

4) Take steps to protect this area’s rich natural and cultural heritage by developing the Geopark’s management and infrastructure, turning it into a genuine ecotourism attraction for Fayoum oasis and Egypt.

5) Undertake the necessary measures and procedures to declare the Gebel Qatrani Geopark as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to bring recognition to this area of global importance.

Zahi Hawass has responded to it on his website drhawass.com:

It has come to my attention that an organization called Nature Conservation Egypt is circulating a petition about Lake Qarun in the Fayum, implicating me in a real estate project that threatens this site: www.petitiononline.com/nce2/.

Please be aware that much of what I have seen written about this issue is not true. The Amer Group did not take the site and did not build anything there.

Three years ago the Minister of Tourism decided to sell the site of Lake Qarun, which is government property, to the Amer Group to use for touristic purposes. I strongly objected to the project from the beginning because I know that this is an archaeologically rich area.

After a long discussion, my Ministry, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA, then known as the Supreme Council of Antiquities [SCA]), the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture all agreed that an archaeological impact assessment of the site should be undertaken first to judge whether this tourism project should be allowed or not.

It has been covered by bikyamasr too:

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass lashed out against a conservation organization in a blog post after he was accused of allowing state-owned property protected under international agreements to be sold for development by major developers.

Former President Hosni Mubarak’s government sold Amer Group the land on Lake Qarun for only $28,000 ($.01 per square meter), according to Egypt’s American Chamber of Commerce.

A former member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party reportedly has close ties to Mubarak and former Minister of Tourism Zuhair Garanah – who was recently sentenced to five years in prison for corruption – was the person who purchased the land at extremely low prices.

This and other tourism projects planned for a 10-kilometer stretch of coastal land along the northern part of Lake Qarun, 100 kilometers southwest of Cairo, will undoubtedly wreak untold damage to this unspoiled, scenic desert area, known as Gebel Qatrani.

The removal of a modern cemetery built above the oldest capital in the world

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

I will never forget what I saw when I went to Saqqara before I became Minister of Antiquities for the second time. During the Revolution, people built over five hundred tombs (a modern cemetery) above sites near the pyramids of Pepi I, Pepi II, and Djedkare Isesi. I found out that the people who live nearby also built a mosque on the causeway of the pyramid of Djedkare Isesi.

There was more destruction at Mit Rahina (ancient Memphis), where large cemeteries were built. Local people also built large cemeteries at Abusir, Lisht, the West Bank of Luxor, and many other sites all over Egypt. I was very upset by the attacks on the sites, and I could not sit by and watch them be destroyed like this. I even had dreams about these sites, and I hoped very much that we would be able to undo all of the damage.

Finding Ancient Egypt's Sense of Humor

New York Times (Souren Melikian)

Perhaps the future of top museums across the Western world that are strapped for cash lies in cameo exhibitions. This much is suggested by the remarkable show “Haremhab, the General Who Became King” put together by Dorothea Arnold, chairwoman of the department of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum here, and running through July 4. Not only are small exhibitions cheaper, they can sometimes be more effective by inducing much closer attention.

In zooming in on the time of Haremhab, the military chief who wielded immense power before ruling as a pharaoh from around 1316 to 1302 B.C., Ms. Arnold’s exhibition brings out an aspect of Egyptian art that has virtually gone unnoticed. The long-held myth of a culture solely concerned with timeless icons of gods and kings in postures dictated by canon is finally dispelled, even if that is not the purpose of the show. Viewers discover that images of humans lost in their private thoughts and beset by anxiety already appeared in Egypt by the mid-third millennium B.C.

Conserving the Norwich Shroud

British Museum (Melina Plottu)

As an intern in the textile studio of the British museum, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on the Norwich shroud conservation project. This began in January, and I have been working with the team since the very beginning, participating in all the stages of the conservation treatment.

With decisions about how to conserve the shroud made, we could begin to plan the details of the work.

We first had to make the shroud’s final support board. We used a thick, acid free card that has a honeycomb structure inside. This makes it a very strong but light material, and perfect to use as a large carrying board. We covered it with a brushed cotton fabric to give it a slightly soft padding, and on top of that with a cotton fabric dyed to a neutral beige colour chosen by the team.

An overlooked temple in Qena could offer the city better prospects

Al Masry Al Youm (Heba Afify)

Outside the Upper Egyptian city of Qena - only 60km north of Luxor - lies Dendara, a unique temple from the Greco-Roman period. Despite its historic value, limited efforts to develop the area have put it at a disadvantage. Receiving only a few hundred visitors per week, the people of Qena are deprived of the much-needed economic benefits of potential tourist activity.

In 2006, the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that it would restore the space. The ambitious project was to include the construction of a museum, a cultural center, bazaars, restaurants and other services around the temple.

The restoration of the temple’s interior is almost complete, but the city’s development has witnessed little progress. Although land was allocated for the museum five years ago, construction work never started. With only one hotel in the city and very few bazaars, the Dendara temple has failed, despite its significance, to “take its place on the touristic scene,” as the head of the temple’s restoration team Fathy Ashour acknowledged.

Insecurity adds to Egypt antiquities’ vulnerability

The Egyptian Gazette

With a primitive gun and a street dog, Ahmed Mohamed continues to guard the Tuna el-Gabal archaeological site, that extends for some eight square kilometres in the desert of Minya in Upper Egypt.

Following the January 25 revolution, there is an urgent need to protect archaelogical sites, which have been the target of encroachments by outlaws intending to exploit the security vacuum.

“This region, though devoid of antiquities is still witnessing attacks by armed thieves, who think that these closed buildings include some antique treasures while all their items have been moved to the big Egyptian Museum,” said the old guard. He moves with difficulty in the desert, with his hand on the gun's trigger in anticipation of a fresh assault.

Though the storehouses of Tuna el-Gabal do not contain any items, Mohamed, together with some 10 other guards continues to protect the area around the clock against potential attempts at searching for antiquities, as the public started to carry out their own excavations at different archaeological sites in the country.

Following the January 25 revolution, the important site of Tel el-Amarna in Minya, which contains some of the most famous Pharaonic tomb paintings from the Middle Kingdom, has also been the target of encroachments by people intending to exploit the security vacuum.

AEC Egyptology Newsletter 17


Can be viewed on the above page or available for download. PDF format.
Contents include:

  • The "Ancient Egyptian / Indo-European bridge" can hlep us voicalize hieroglyphs
  • Cognates equally seen by Hodge and Ray
  • Carlton-Taylor Hodge - Biography
  • The "Indo-Semitic" theory explained

Egypt’s tourism minister left troubling situation


Egypt’s former tourism minister, who was sentenced to five years in prison last week, has left a number of troubling business deals in his wake, including Porto Fayoum, a massive tourism development in a proposed world heritage site in Egypt’s Fayoum Oasis.

Mansour Amer of the Amer Group, who plans to build Porto Fayoum on 650 acres of pristine coast in Fayoum’s Lake Qarun protectorate, is also responsible for Porto Marina and Porto Sokhna, two huge tourism developments on Egypt’s North and Ain Sokhna coasts.

Former President Hosni Mubarak’s government sold Amer Group the land on Lake Qarun for only $28,000 ($.01 per square meter), according to Egypt’s American Chamber of Commerce.

Reports state that this is the first development of such massive proportions to be allowed in an Egyptian protected area.

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

The Washinton Post (Steve Donoghue)

When the third-century B.C. Egyptian historian Manetho wrote “Aegyptiaca,” his dynasty-by-dynasty account of a great civilization, the realm of the pharaohs was already vastly ancient. For Manetho, as for us in the present day, ancient Egypt’s main beguilement was its sheer, strange antiquity. The more we think about that age and strangeness, the more ancient Egypt seems like an exotic fantasy-realm, like something out of Michael Moorcock or M. John Harrison.

“It is extremely difficult to engage with a culture so remote in time and place from our own,” writes veteran Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson in the opening pages of his new book, “The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt,” and hundreds of authors have discovered that difficulty and retreated, baffled, into pseudo-myth and half-hearted mysticism. Luckily, Wilkinson isn’t one of those authors. His 2007 book, “Lives of the Ancient Egyptians,” was an immensely engaging work of informed archaeological reconstruction, and his latest is even better: This a magnificent, illuminating and refreshingly readable overview of the entire phenomenon of ancient Egypt.

Book Review: Thèbes et ses taxes: recherches sur la fiscalité en Egypte romaine

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Lucia Criscuolo,)

Paul Heilporn, Thèbes et ses taxes: recherches sur la fiscalité en Egypte romaine (Ostraca de Strasbourg II). Études d’Archéologie et d’Histoire ancienne. Paris: De Boccard, 2009.

Quello che colpisce, a conclusione della lettura di questo libro, è che una volta tanto il titolo è strettamente rispettato dall’autore, a dispetto del fatto che esso suoni un po’ ambizioso. In effetti si ha ora uno studio estremamente accurato e documentato su molti aspetti dell’organizzazione fiscale nella Tebe romana, che nasce e deriva dall’edizione di un gruppo di ostraca raccolti nella Bibliothèque Nationale Strasbourg. Il libro è diviso in cinque capitoli.

L’introduzione (pp. 11-31) fornisce una completa descrizione della collezione di ostraca di Strasburgo e della sua storia: circa metà dell’imponente collezione di ostraca greci è ancora inedita, e circa 2.000 di quelli demotici sono similmente in attesa di essere studiati. L’edizione di ‘soli’ 62 ostraca di questa collezione, apparentemente pochi a confronto con gli 812 del primo volume, pubblicato da P. Viereck, dipende dalla complessità dell’apparato critico e storico-papirologico fornito dal Heilporn. In realtà il volume offre ben di più della mera edizione di alcuni ostraca, dal momento che essi sono pubblicati e contemporaneamente collegati con altri di varie collezioni, come quelle del Museo dell’Ontario, della Bodleian Library o della Sorbona. L’autore ha infatti scelto di tentare una ricostruzione dei gruppi originali di testi che, sebbene non possano essere considerati con certezza archivi antichi, devono essere stati assemblati fin dall’antichità e sono stati solo successivamente dispersi, sia per caso, prima o dopo il loro ritrovamento, sia per la frammentazione generata dal mercato antiquario. Il risultato di questo meticoloso lavoro è la definizione di tre principali dossier (così sono denominati con molta prudenza da Heilphorn), i quali raccolgono testi secondo la loro provenienza e relazione rispettivamente con il distretto tebano di Ophieon, e con due famiglie di contribuenti, Pais, figlio di Senphthoumonthes e di Khabonchonsis e i suoi parenti.

Canals ancient and modern

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

The city of Suez has held a unique position since the early pharaonic era. Its port was an important centre for trade throughout the pharaonic period, and it continued to grow in importance right up to the present time. After the Suez Canal was opened in 1867, the city entered a new chapter in its history and became the most important international navigation link between the East and the West.

The major impact that this had on the development of Egypt will be a feature of the new museum, as will the country's own trade relations with its neighbours to the east and north of the Mediterranean Sea, and Suez's role in pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Mecca and Medina.

To highlight this role, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) has constructed the Suez National Museum, which is being inaugurated this week by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

Growing and Grinding


An advert for an upcoming talk by Willeke Wendrich, but it contains some information about the Faiyum and is quite well timed given the above discussions about the risks to the archaeology of the Faiyum.

The north shore of Lake Qarun in the Egyptian Fayum Oasis has the earliest evidence found for the introduction of domesticated wheat and barley in Egypt. A large scale survey has provided important new information on the development of Egypt’s earliest agriculture. Abandoned during most of the Pharaonic period, the region was once more under development in the Greco-Roman period as part of a huge effort to expand Egypt’s agricultural production, to feed the populous of Rome. Excavations of a granary in the suburbs of the town of Karanis has provided exciting insights in crops beyond wheat, barley and olives that were ground, consumed and exported. . . .

Part of the Fayum project is the creation of a Virtual Reality model of the Greco Roman town of Karanis, which is used for research, teaching and as a site monitoring and management tool.

Back to school for museum staff

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Over the past decade the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), now the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), has been carrying out a project to create a world- class museum system in Egypt that will properly exhibit and maintain the country's priceless artefacts, which are currently contributing to the overstaffing of the nation's museums.

The past few years have witnessed the inauguration of several new regional and national museums and the reopening of few others after restoration and development to bring them up to international standards and to match their counterparts abroad.

The museums initiative also aims at transforming Egypt's museums into huge educational institutions that will teach visitors to be aware of the importance of preserving their shared cultural and historical heritage.

International Coalition To Protect Egyptian Antiquities

Archaeological Institute of America

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Ministry) and the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities (the Coalition) announced they have reached mutual agreement to cooperate on a comprehensive plan to protect Egypt's archaeological and cultural heritage sites and artifacts, which will provide a crucial basis for tourism revenue as Egypt rebuilds a successful economy.

The Coalition, led by the George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute, the Archaeological Institute of America, the American Schools of Oriental Research, and the National Geographic Society, met in Cairo this week at the invitation of the Egyptian government for a series of meetings with senior Egyptian government officials, private sector and archaeological experts.

The meetings resulted in the Ministry and the Coalition forming a public-private partnership, and an agreement to develop a framework that commits resources to improve site protection throughout Egypt.

Bolton’s Egyptian artefacts to star in China and Taiwan exhibitions

The Bolton News

The artefacts are part of a touring exhibition, to be called Quest for Immortality — The Bolton Museum Collection, which will tour China and Taiwan for up to two years.

As revealed last November, Denmarkbased, United Exhibits Group (UEG), contacted the council to ask if it could borrow some of the 1,500-strong Egyptology collection.

Egyptology expert Nicholas Reeves, who formerly worked at the British Museum and is currently a fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was instrumental in pointing UEG in Bolton’s direction.

The Postal Museum presents a romantic history of letter sending

Al Masry Al Youm (Steven Viney)

Visiting Cairo’s Postal Museum overlooking Attaba Square is quite an adventure. As you exit the metro and make your way through the old book market onto Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street, you're met with Cairo’s epic Central Postal Office.

The building is currently undergoing massive renovation, but a glance beneath the scaffolds and tarps reveals the building’s beautiful architecture, which resembles a palace more than a post office.

Its multiple entrances are chaotic with people running around shouting postal questions. After obtaining a ticket, visitors are walked through the beautiful marble entrance with spiraling staircases that lead to the second floor museum, which appeared to be closed when I visited.

Taking but not giving in New Zealand

New Zealand Herald (Brian Rudiman)

Over the past decade, Te Papa's headhunters have been steadily working their way through a list of 120 institutions - mainly European museums - seeking the repatriation of toi moko.

They are the mummified heads that flowed out of New Zealand as ghoulish souvenirs in the early 19th century.

In recent days they've been celebrating the success of their latest sweep through Europe, resulting in the return of heads and other Maori human remains from Rouen in France, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

The hypocrisy is, these retrieved relics will be brought back to the Wellington waterfront national museum to share basement space with lonely Lady Mehit, the trophy of an equally ghoulish trade in human exotica.

She's an Egyptian mummy, stolen from her 2300-year-old burial site at the Temple of Min's cemetery in Akhmim about the same time as the Maori heads went on the market.

Book Review: Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash

h-net (Reviewed by Marc Bregman)

Rivka Ulmer. Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2009.

This book is a collection of ten interrelated essays, with numerous figures, color plates, and tables of motifs, by the prolific scholar of rabbinic literature, Rivka Ulmer, utilizing her additional expertise in Egyptology, art history, and cultural theory. A number of the essays that have been published previously are here revised, updated, and integrated into a monograph on the significance of Egypt, as a cultural icon, in rabbinic texts. The concept of “cultural icon” is best explained in the introduction to chapter 7, “Cleopatra, Isis and Serapis”: “For the purpose of this chapter a cultural icon is understood to be a representative of a particular culture or a famous individual that emerged to signify this culture to a sizable segment of the known world of antiquity, the Roman provinces and even Non-Roman territories” (p. 215).

Alexandria seeks to revive tourism with postcards from Egypt

Al Masry Al Youm

An initiative was launched in Alexandria to revitalize Egypt's tourism industry following the recent decline in tourist activity.

The initiative, entitled "A Million Postcards," involves the distribution of a million pictures of monuments, natural scenes and paintings from Egypt to embassies, consulates, gift shops and foreign cultural centers, especially those of countries that send large numbers of tourists to Egypt.

The postcards will also be displayed at Egyptian artistic and cultural events held overseas.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

The goddess Seshat

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Egyptian mummy 'first to have diseased heart'

BBC News (Jane Dreaper)

With photos.

An Egyptian princess who lived 3,500 years ago is thought to be the first known person to have developed heart disease, say researchers.

Doctors believe the princess would have needed a heart bypass if she were living now.

Scans showed she had extensive blockages in arteries leading to her heart, brain, stomach and legs.

The researchers say her case shows heart disease pre-dates a modern lifestyle.

Cardiac researchers from the US teamed up with colleagues at Al Azhar University in Cairo to analyse the remains of 52 mummies, including those of the princess.

They performed full-body scans on mummies at the National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo.

They had found evidence of hardening of the arteries in almost half the mummies scanned, researchers told a medical conference in Amsterdam.


The coronary arteries of Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon - as visualised by whole body computerised tomography (CT) scanning - will feature in two presentations at the International Conference of Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging (ICNC) this week in Amsterdam (15-18 May). ICNC is now one of the world's major scientific event in nuclear cardiology and cardiac CT imaging.

The Egyptian princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon, who lived in Thebes (Luxor) between 1580 and 1550 BC and who is now known to be first person in human history with diagnosed coronary artery disease, lived on a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and a limited amount of meat from domesticated (but not fattened) animals. Wheat and barley were grown along the banks of the Nile, making bread and beer the dietary staples of this period of ancient Egypt. Tobacco and trans-fats were unknown, and lifestyle was likely to have been active.

The coronary arteries of Princess Ahmose-Meryet-Amon - as visualised by whole body computerised tomography (CT) scanning - will feature in two presentations at the International Conference of Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging (ICNC) currently taking place in Amsterdam (15-18 May). ICNC is now one of the world's major scientific event in nuclear cardiology and cardiac CT imaging.

KV63 update from Otto Schaden

Luxor News (Jane Akshar)

I have some reports done, one just out is "KV63 Update: The 2011 Season," KMT 22 (No. 2, Summer 2011), pp. 33-41, which covers some of the work on KV-63's Coffins A and C, the ceramics, some of the seal impressions and some comments on Coffin E's garland (E.4).

Another paper will be submitted to the ASAE shortly, plus a brief summary for Orientalia.

When the political problems arose last January, we just kept working. The closure of banks and the halting of internet access proved to be only temporary inconveniences. While some missions shut down, we continued working to the scheduled end (early March).

American Egyptologists help Egypt protect its heritage

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass met today a group of American Egyptologists led by Deborah Lehr, director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University to discuss ways of collaborating to protect Egypt’s heritage.

During the meeting, Hawass discussed with the American Egyptologists different ways of collaborating to protect all archeological sites and museums in Egypt, especially those that were subjected to break-ins.

The meeting came within an initiative launched by American Egyptologists from several archaeological institutes and universities in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution to act as mediators between the Egyptian and American governments in an attempt to help Egypt protect and safeguard its archaeological heritage.

The American Egyptologists mission also asked the American government to take all required procedures to prohibit the entrance of any stolen Egyptian artefacts to the United States.

US delegation to help raise funds for Giza’s Grand Museum

Al Masry Al Youm

A US delegation on Tuesday said it would help raise funds to complete Egypt’s Grand Museum project in Giza and the Civilization Museum project in area of Fostat.

During its visit to Cairo, the delegation also proposed requesting the US government to provide Egypt with funds for establishing new museum stores and surrounding archaeological sites with fences to protect them from attacks.

The delegation, which will stay in Egypt until 19 May, includes several prominent figures representing major American organizations interested in protecting Egypt’s artifacts. It will meet with Egyptian authorities to discuss ways of curbing the theft of Egyptian antiquities.

Suez National Museum to be opened

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With photos.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass will officially inaugurate the Suez National Museum this Thursday. Built over three years with a budget of LE 42 million, the museum is 5950 square meters in size and displays 1500 artefacts that tell the story of the city of Suez from prehistoric to modern times.

Hawass says construction of the museum is part of a plan by the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) to establish national museums in cities throughout Egypt. The Suez museum displays archaeological artefacts, illustrations and maps that reveal the history of the Suez Canal beginning with the time of the canal’s ancient forerunner, the Sesostris Canal. This ancient canal was built during the reign of King Senusret III (1878-1840 BC) to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea via the River Nile. A colossus statue of the king is on show.

Attiya Radwan, Head of the Museums Sector at the MSA, explains that the port of Suez was an important trade centre throughout the Pharaonic period and continued to grow in importance through history into the modern era.

Al Masry Al Youm

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Thursday will officially open the Suez National Museum of Antiquities, which will showcase nearly 7000 years of Suez history.

The museum will showcase the history of the city from prehistoric times to the modern era. It includes a Suez Canal display that features artifacts, paintings and maps detailing the canal's history.

In a statement on Monday, Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass said the new museum comes as part of a plan to establish national museums to show the history of various Egyptian cities and to establish cultural centers through activities held at them.

The museum was built on an area of 5950 square meters and cost LE42 million. It includes 1500 antiquities.

Egypt State Information Service

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will open on Thursday 19/5/2011 the Suez National Museum to house 1,500 ancient artifacts.

The museum, built on a 5,950 square meter area, cost LE 42 million to build, Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawwas said on Monday. It displays the history of Suez city spanning over 7,000 years since ancient times to the modern era, Hawwas added.
Meanwhile, a delegation from the Antiquities Affairs Ministry is to head for Switzerland within days to restore a fifth Dynasty relief work from Basel Museum, which decided to give the stolen artifact back to Egypt.

The limestone relief piece of that dates back to some 4200 years ago (2465-2323 BC) shows daily life of fishing and is 51 centimeter high.

Egypt also had restored from Switzerland the eye of king Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), which was stolen from one of the huge statues inside the temple of Kom al-Hetan in Luxor.

The EES - Moving beyond national narratives

Egypt Exploration Society

Moving beyond national narratives: the EES Committee Minutes.

William Carruthers, a recipient of the Society's Centenary Award in 2009-10 and a regular visitor to the Society's archives, is now pursuing doctoral research into the history of Egyptology in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Here, Will explains how the records of EES Committee meetings can reveal the influence of certain individuals and institutions on the development of our subject.

Histories of Egyptology can suffer from their narrowness. Whilst not always true, it is simple to find Egyptological histories at the national level, or ‘heroic’ biographies of prominent figures in national Egyptological discourses. In the history of British Egyptology, for example, Petrie is often seen as a heroic British figure. My research seeks to move beyond such narratives. Whilst I am looking at certain prominent figures – Walter Bryan Emery (1903-1971), at one time the EES’ Field Director and a so-called ‘giant’ of British Egyptology, amongst them – it is clear that their careers are not simply embedded in national contexts.

With my favourite photo of Petrie :-)

The International Coalition to Support Protection of Egyptian Antiquities

drhawass.com (Zahi Hawass)

Yesterday, I had a meeting with a good friend of mine, Deborah Lehr, the Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute (CAI) at George Washington University in the United States. Deborah came to see me as the head of an important delegation from the States called the International Coalition to Support Protection of Egyptian Antiquities. The Coalition was made up of notable representatives of the CAI, the Archaeological Institute of America, the American Schools of Oriental Research at Boston University, and the National Geographic Society.

The Coalition came to discuss ways to support the Egyptian government in protecting and repatriating its antiquities. It was a very successful meeting. We talked over several suggestions, including a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Ministry of State for Antiquities.

Ancient World Open Bibliographies Project

Ancient World Open Bibliographies Project

Our Goal: To provide an online destination for students and scholars seeking bibliographies about the ancient world. In the modern academy, sometimes too much information is as thorny a problem as too little. The Ancient World Open Bibliographies seeks to provide annotated bibliographies on specific subjects that serve as an introduction to students or to scholars exploring a new area of research. We will also link to existing open-access bibliographical resources online.

Open Access: The project is currently hosted at a dedicated wiki (http://ancientbibliographies.libs.uga.edu), with duplication using the (free) bibliographic citation management software Zotero (see our group library here:
http://www.zotero.org/groups/ancient_world_open_bibliographies). It is open access and covered by a Creative Commons license.

Scope: Geographically, we cover Europe, Asia, and Africa. Temporally, we cover prehistory through ca. 700 CE. Right now the project is richest in Classical, Near Eastern, and Egyptian Studies, but we welcome broader contributions within our scope.

How Can You Help?

1. Create an annotated bibliography on a topic of your expertise.
2. Contribute an existing bibliography you have assembled on a topic? Perhaps one you use for your own work, or distribute to students.
3. Add a link to an existing online bibliography you use.
4. Encourage your colleagues and students to participate by creating and sharing their own bibliographies; for example, consider whether the creation of an collaborative annotated bibliography would work as a class assignment.

Bibliographies or links can be emailed (see contact info below) or feel free to edit the wiki, adding a link or a new page (see details on how to do the latter at
http://ancientbibliographies.libs.uga.edu/wiki/How_To_Contribute ).
Emailed bibliographies in most formats will work: .doc, .pdf, .ris or other export from EndNote/Refworks/Zotero/etc.

Questions, or Want to Contribute? Visit the wiki or blog or contact Phoebe Acheson (University of Georgia Libraries, pacheson@uga.edu ) or Chuck Jones (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU, cejo@uchicago.edu ).

This flier is available at http://tinyurl.com/AWOBflier