Thursday, June 30, 2011

Artefacts discovered in North Egypt's San El-Hagar (Zahi Hawass)

French archaeologists in San El-Hagar have discovered hundreds of colored and inscribed limestone blocks, which they believe were used to build the sacred lake walls of a temple dedicated to the goddess Mut.

The limestone blocks may have belonged to King Osorkon II of the 22nd Dynasty and used for either a temple or chapel, announced Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities today. The stone may have also been reused in the late period and the Ptolemaic era. Dr. Hawass added that following a complete excavation and study of the blocks, the French mission would reconstruct the original arrangement to determine if they are from a temple or chapel.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With photos.
During routine excavation work, French excavators working at the San El-Hagar archaeological site unearthed hundreds of painted limestone blocks that were once used in the construction of the temple of the XXII dynasty king Osorkon II.

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass said that early studies on site revealed that these blocks were dismantled and reused in the construction of edifices during the Late Ancient Egyptian period and the Ptolemaic era.

He promised that after unearthing all the blocks the archaeological team would study and reconstruct the blocks into their original shape in order to discover whether they formed a temple or a chapel.

Island of Meroe added to World Heritage List


With photo.

The Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe, a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbara rivers, was the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush, a major power from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. The property consists of the royal city of the Kushite kings at Meroe, near the River Nile, the nearby religious site of Naqa and Musawwarat es Sufra. It was the seat of the rulers who occupied Egypt for close to a century and features, among other vestiges, pyramids, temples and domestic buildings as well as major installations connected to water management. Their vast empire extended from the Mediterranean to the heart of Africa, and the property testifies to the exchange between the art, architectures, religions and languages of both regions.

Opening plans for the Avenue of Sphinxes (Zahi Hawass)

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, made the announcement following a meeting attended by Major General Khalid Fouda, Governor of Luxor, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Maksoud, Undersecretary of State for the Minister’s Office, Dr. Mohamed Shikha, Head of Projects, at Luxor and Mansour Boraik, Director of Antiquities in Luxor

The attendees have agreed to organize a festival during the month of October to open the project and attract international tourism to Luxor. The important event will be opened by the Prime Minister of Egypt, Essam Sharaf, and is to bring together various government ministries such as the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Culture.

Lined with sphinxes, the 2.7km route that connects the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak will be lit by the Sound and Light Company of Egypt. Company president, Essam Abd El Hady, made it clear that the sophisticated lighting design would be appropriate to the archaeological importance and beauty of the site.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

After five years of hard work, the avenue of Sphinxes has been reincarnated into its original form, inviting Luxor’s visitors to walk along the historical avenue as the ancient Egyptians did in the days of the Pharaohs.

To celebrate the restoration, said Mansour Boreik, director of Luxor monuments, the ministry of state for antiquities (MSA) is organizing a special inauguration ceremony on October at the avenue. Sound and Light Company is installing a special lamp to light the avenue and showcase the distinguished artistic beauty of its sphinxes, as well as the monuments that were unearthed during the route’s development project, including Greco-Roman workshops and wine factories.

Hawass appoints new Sec Gen for Supreme Council of Antiquities

Youm 7

This is the sum total of information on the above site, but hopefully more information will come soon if this is accurate. It is about time that the SCA now has a new head, particularly as Hawass as a minister presumably has other responsibilities than the management of the SCA's multiple interests and people.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, has Mohammad Abdel-Moneim as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Abdel-Moneim was the Ministry's general supervisor. He was also the chairman of the Central Administration for Lower Egypt and monuments in Sinai monuments. He discovered many excavations along with important archaeological pieces in North Sinai and the East of the Delta.

Online: Tarek Waly Centre

Tarek Waly Centre (Journal)
Tarek Waly Centre (Articles)

Thanks to Geoffrey Tassie for sending me the links to the above site, which has open access publications.


Our founding as a heritage planning and architectural practice evolved around the cultural continuum … Our prime responsibility; helping perpetuate this continuum, by both drawing on past practitioners and, looking to pass it on to the coming generations

Social-urban heritage and the architecture of the place are the heart of our interest and expertise…Through analytically reading and critiquing this built – or at times, once built - heritage, we explore the geometry and patterns that provided it its being... its value

Our urban and architectural contributions to places of either a strong or a nascent heritage value, respect and, are informed by these geometries in an attempt to accomplish a lasting and relevant architecture... and heritage


The Tarek Waly Center, Architecture & Heritage was founded in 1998 to create a vision for the historic quarter of Cairo.

Since then we have established ourselves as a heritage planning practice with a portfolio of almost twenty heritage sites including the Giza Pyramids World Heritage Site.

Our interests and experience cover;
  • Research on the historic value of a site or place in the form of a complete overview and time-line
  • Urban and architectural design and design-guidelines for the immediate and surrounding built environment
  • Design of the visitor experience

Taking Tut commerce to extremes

The Daily News, Egypt (Philip Whitfield)

Belt tightening isn’t enough. Beggars can’t be choosers, they say when the kitty’s dwindling. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are funding feeding fellahin fuul. Egypt could weigh up some assets worth more than their weight in gold: Tutankhamun?

Instead of borrowing into oblivion, turn the tables on the foreign bankers rubbing their hands at the prospect of drowning Egypt in debt. Offer a lease and sale deal for King Tut.

Sounds farfetched? Tutankhamun and Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibitions make $100 million a year crisscrossing America. At home the country’s archaeological mausoleums only rake in $80 million pay dirt digging dirt. Tut-a-mania tourists are putting off coming to Egypt. And Tut’s ultimate resting place at the yet to be built Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is some years away.

Put on the thinking cap. Instead of charging foreign museums $20 million a year staging Tut fests, more drastic solutions might be considered.

Let’s make a Tut-plan. The world’s 20 major museums in the United States, Europe and Asia request their governments to pony up $1 billion each to rent Tut — loose change for those sending good money after bad to Greece, Portugal and who knows next.

Partial closure of Egypt galleries at Manchester Museum

Egypt at the Manchester Museum blog

We have now started work on our new Ancient Worlds galleries, opening late 2012, which will replace the current Ancient Egypt and Archaeology galleries. The Daily Life section of Ancient Egypt is now closed but most of our mummies and our archaeology collection will stay on display until Feb 2012.

You’ll be able to see many of the removed objects in our temporary exhibition Unearthed: Ancient Egypt, which will run 30 Sep 2011-6 Sep 2012.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Eighteenth Dynasty inscritpions
now located in the Roman courtyard of the 18th Dynasty temple
Does anyone have any information?

Monday, June 27, 2011

BBC Video about Faiyum development plans

BBC News

Showing both environmentalist and developer perspectives in the row over whether a beautiful area of the Faiyum, both archaeologically and environmentally unique, should be developed as a tourist resort. There is a lot of footage of the lovely scenery.

Environmentalists in Egypt are calling for the country's new rulers to cancel a major tourist development in an area famous for its natural beauty, history, geology and fossils.

The development in the area of Fayyoum, south-west of Cairo, was agreed in the final years of President Mubarak's rule.

Critics say there was no consultation, a classic example of the way business was done under the ousted ruler.

Jon Leyne reports.

Excavating a solar boat

National Geographic

With photographs.

For the first time in centuries, a multi-ton limestone slab—one of dozens—floats free of the "tomb" of a 4,500-year-old, disassembled "solar boat" at the foot of the Great Pyramids in Giza (map), Egypt, on Thursday.

Below are hundreds of delicate wooden "puzzle pieces," protected by the climate-controlled tent built over the site in 2008.

Once the months-long process of extracting the pieces is finished, researchers expect to spend several years restoring the ship before placing it on display in Giza's Solar Boat Museum near the Pyramids. A similar ship found nearby has already been reconstructed and is on display in the museum. At about 140 feet (43 meters) long, the restored ship is thought to be a bit bigger than its still fragmented sister.

Sad News: Christiane Desroches Noblecourt

Google / AP

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, a pioneering French Egyptologist who prodded Gen. Gamal Abdel Nasser to help salvage Nubia's vaunted antiquities, has died. She was 97.

Desroches Noblecourt died Thursday at a hospital in Epernay, east of Paris, where she had been taken after a recent stroke, said Anne Francoise, treasurer of a retirement home in the nearby town of Sezanne where Desroches Noblecourt lived the last few years.

Born Nov. 17, 1913 in Paris, Desroches Noblecourt developed an early passion for Egypt after reading about the discovery of King Tut's tomb in the early 1920s. She later studied at the Louvre and the Sorbonne.

After an initial trip to Egypt in the late 1930s, she became the first woman to be put on a stipend with the Cairo-based French Institute of Oriental Archaeology — cracking a male-dominated world of Egyptology.

In a statement, President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Desroches Noblecourt as the "grande dame of the Nile," who blended scientific rigor with the qualities of "the most passionate of educators."

Exhibition: In the Shadow of the Pyramids (preview)

UCL Museums and Collections Blog (Debbie Challis)

With photos.

I have just returned from Copenhagen where I was work-shadowing my colleague Tine Bagh at the NY Carlsberg Glyptotek while she is working on the exhibition In the Shadow of the Pyramids. Tine’s work studying the excavation records of objects in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek for The Petrie Project is the research underpinning The Shadow of the Pyramids exhibition, opening in November 2011.

The exhibition will be situated in one of the temporary exhibition galleries in a skylit long thin room. Opposite the entrance will be a large photograph of Flinders Petrie, roughly contemporary to the time he was working at Memphis, and information about him, his wife Hilda and his archaeological methods.

Online: Egyptological, Edition 1, June 30th 2011


Our first edition is on its way! Free of charge, and without advertising, Egyptological is a new online Egyptology publication with three sections to suit all levels of interest. We do hope that you enjoy it, and will appreciate any feedback. If you are interested in writing for us we are interested in a wide variety of topics, including articles about prehistoric, Coptic and Islamic periods as well as Pharaonic Egypt. You can get hold of me at the usual address or contact both of us at:

On 30th June 2011 will be launching the first edition of Egyptological, barring last minute glitches.

We hope that you will find plenty to keep you interested. If you have any comments or queries about any of the articles published, you can reply to any of them to start a discussion by clicking “Post Comment” at the end of each article.

In the Journal we have two articles in the first edition. In Shabtis in Croatian Private Collections and Museums Mladen Tomorad looks at 375 shabtis that have either been found at Roman sites in Croatia or were imported by collectors. He discusses the range of shabtis in Croatian collections by measuring them against Hans B. Schneider’s typology, and considers their significance. In The sAb in the Old Kingdom: a consideration of the title within the scope of a prosopographic study Etienne Vande Walle has undertaken an ambitious and detailed study of the bearer of the title sAb in the Old Kingdom, suggesting that the definition proposed could shed significant light on the Ancient Egyptian legal system.

In the Magazine Brian Alm has contributed the first of his five part series looking at Ancient Egyptian religion in Ancient Egypt in Ancient Egyptian Religion, Part 1. In this first part he looks at the concepts of maat, duality and magic, explaining how they are the fundamental foundations of Egyptian religion, and setting the scene for his future analysis of this vast and complex subject. Barbara O’Neill's overview of the mirror, Reflections of Eternity – an Overview of Mirrors from Prehistory to the New Kingdom, introduces how mirrors were made, used and perceived and how they developed through time. Finally, In Bloggers, Antiquities and Egypt’s Revolution Kate Phizackerley and Andrea Byrnes reveal how bloggers helped the international community to gain an accurate understanding of the damage Egypt’s revolution has inflicted upon her historic sites.

In Colloquy you will find a series of short items in the In Brief section. Both the Photo Album and In Brief sections will be updated on an ad hoc basis, so if you have a photo album, short review or article that you would like to add send them along and we will be able to post them between editions. In the current edition of Colloquy you will find two sets of photographs from Abydos and another from the British Museum. Recent articles include ornithology expert John Wyatt’s discussions of the Rekhyt bird and the Geese of Meidum, beautifully illustrated by artist Jackie Garner, Kate Phizackerley’s Gantenbrink’s Door – Part 1, The Discovery, Andrea Byrnes’s review of the BBC television show Egypt’s Lost Cities, and Rhio Barnhart’s Studying Hieroglyphs Online – Some Observations.

We already have more articles in the pipeline for our second edition but we are also looking for more contributors so if you have something that you would like to submit please see our Write For Us section, and if you are not quite sure about what you would like to write but want to chat about ideas do get in touch with us.

If you have any feedback please contact us.

All the best
Andrea and Kate

Contact us at:

Book Reviews on PalArch

There are two book reviews online at PalArch, both in German, so I haven't attempted to preview them.

PalArch - The Egyptian Pyramids
Theis about Lepre, J.P. 2006. The Egyptian Pyramids. A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference. – Jefferson/London, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers (2nd Edition).

PalArch - Servant of Mut
Daniel Arpagaus about D’Auria, S.H. Ed. 2008. Servant of Mut: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini. – Leiden/Boston, Brill (Probleme der Ägyptologie 28)

The eighth Scientific Seminar for Archaeologists

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

The eighth Scientific Seminar for Archaeologists has finally been held at the premises of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) following a six-month hiatus since the 25 January Revolution. Life may be returning to normal in the antiquities department: when it was the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the MSA organised regular archaeological seminars on ancient Egyptian, Graeco-Roman, Islamic and Coptic antiquities, as well as restoration techniques and museums technology. Because of the revolution, however, and the chaos during and after it which allowed for the looting of some archaeological sites and several of the artefacts of the priceless collection in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, the MSA put a halt to all its activities, among them the periodical archaeological seminars.

Online: Magic of King Tutankhamun

Wizzley (Kate Phizackerley)

Kate has written a tabloid-style article about the magic of Tutankhamun during the Egyptian revolution. You can find it on the above page.

Only two tombs in Valley of the Kings, the graveyard of many of the most famous kings of ancient Egypt, escaped plunder thousands of years ago: the famous tomb of Tutankhamun and that of Yuya and his wife Thuya. Although Yuya may seem much less famous than Tutankhamun, he is often believed to be the real Biblical Joseph made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is probably the great-grandfather of Tutankhamun. The great tragedy of the break in at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, one of the world’s greatest museums, is that items from both these tombs were stolen, breaking up collections of objects which had survived intact for nearly 3,500 years.

Wanted: Natural History Museum

Al Masry Al Youm (Hala Barakat)

From pharaonic history to Islamic art to celebrations of Egypt's military victories, the nation has a wealth of museums. But the lack of a museum displaying the biological and geological components of the country's natural heritage creates a knowledge gap, jeopardizes the existence of natural wealth and limits the ability to use it in education, environmental tourism, and scientific research.

Attempts to establish a natural history museum here have been ongoing since the 1920s. For various reasons - namely the lack of commitment and support from the government, as well as an absence of interest or a champion - the project never materialized.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Ceramics, Roman courtyard
of the small 18th Dynasty temple at
Medinet Habu

Friday, June 24, 2011

Second solar boat to undergo two phases of restoration (Zahi Hawass)

With photos.

Today marks the start of the second phase of the project that will involve raising the stone blocks covering the boat pit. The first stone block, out of a total of 41, was carefully lifted this morning. To give you some idea of the scale of the blocks, the biggest one measures 1m wide by 4.10m lengthways and weights 16 tons. Such an unusual operation requires unique techniques, in this case developed by the Egyptian and Japanese teams on site. The process involves inserting a piece of wood beneath the cover stone. Each piece has been designed specifically for this purpose, chemically treated, and layered with heat insulation. So strong it could hold the weight of one person!

Yesterday, the Egyptian and Japanese teams conducted an experiment to clean the fillings around the sides of the covering stones. During this procedure they revealed a cartouche for King Khufu and beside it was the name of the crown prince Djedefre, without cartouche. This is a very great discovery.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

The second solar boat remained sealed in its pit until 1987 when the American National Geographic Society examined it in association with the Egyptian Office for Historical Monuments. The team penetrated the limestone ceiling and inserted a tiny camera ascertain the boat’s status, then sealing the pit again. Unfortunately the hole made leaked air into the pit, allowing insects to thrive inside and damage some part of the boat’s wooden beams.

In collaboration with the Japanese government, a Japanese scientific and archaeological team from Waseda University offered a grant of $10 million to lift the boat out of the pit, restore and reassemble it and exhibit it beside its twin. A joint team made up of staff of the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, a delegation from Waseda University and the Japanese Institute for Restoration Research embarked on a scientific examination of the boat.

Pharaonic palaces discovered in Upper Egypt

Al Masry Al Youm

The Ministry of Antiquities on Wednesday announced the discovery of a group of pharaonic palaces in Wadi al-Gadid in Upper Egypt.

The palaces, believed to belong to the Sixth Dynasty, are estimated to be 3200 years old.

According to a ministry statement, a French excavation team made the discovery in Balat village in the Dakhla Oasis, around 500 km south of Cairo.

Remnants of Islamic, Coptic buildings discovered in Luxor

Al Masry Al Youm

An Egyptian expedition team working in Luxor discovered remnants of ancient Islamic and Coptic buildings, the Ministry of Antiquities announced Wednesday.

The remnants include churches, minarets and domes and are located in the Luxor Temple area along the Avenue of the Sphinxes, according to a ministry statement.

The team found remains of an ancient church that dates back to the Ptolemaic era (AD 5), built with stone blocks typical of ancient temples. The church reflects the style of ancient Egyptian architecture in its stone cornices, columns and ceiling vault.

As for the Islamic monuments, the expedition team found the authentic architrave of a mosque called al-Muqashqash, as well as the minaret and dome of another mosque, Abul Hajjaj.

The Geology Museum, Cairo

Al Masry Al Youm

The entrance to the Geology Museum in Cairo, with its sad grey appearance and busy location a few meters away from the Maadi corniche, doesn't exactly lure in visitors. An outdoor alley leading to the museum is bordered by different types of rocks, some named on plasticized labels and others left to the viewer’s imagination.

However, this first impression of general haphazardness--so common for the city's less popular museums--is erased as soon as one enters the vast pre-fabricated building and its three distinct collections. In spite of appearances, the Geology Museum can turn a novice into a lover of rocks.

What attracts the eye immediately is not the museum’s rich collection of fossilized sea shells or the numerous marble samples showcased in some of the many display cabinets.

Colin Renfrew on unprovenanced antiquities

Safe Corner

In less than 18 minutes, Professor Colin Renfrew covers a lot of ground and an array of issues in the 2008 video "The issue of unprovenanced antiquities" here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). It's a summary of the issues SAFE addresses, well worth viewing.

Beginning with how he came around to take a "purist position" against publishing unprovenanced material, Renfrew recalls founding the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre with Neil Brodie, the scandal at Sotheby's and Peter Watson's investigations, the UNESCO Convention, and Britain's implementation of The Dealing in Cultural Objects Offences Act in 2003.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Chapel of the Divine Adoratrices, with
the High Entrance in the background

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Uncovering of 2nd solar boat, Giza

Youm7 (Akram Sami)

A delegation from Waseda University has completed its exploratory research along with the Japanese Institute for Restoration Research, and is prepared to lift a stone cover, consisting of 40 panels, on the southern side of Khufu pyramid (also known as Cheops, or the Great Pyramid).

The uncovering of the second solar boat will now take place on June 23, 2011 at 9.30am. It has been rescheduled from June 22.

In 1987, following an electromagnetic radar survey, a second solar boat was detected in the area to the west of the first solar boat, located on the southern side of the Great Pyramid at Giza. It has been the focus of research since 2008 by staff from the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, a delegation from Waseda University and the Japanese Institute for Restoration Research.

Conditions are now ideal to remove the stone cover, consisting of 40 panels. The uncovering event on June 23 will take place inside the large tent warehouse, constructed to enclose and protect the second solar boat.

Arranged by the Japanese Embassy in Egypt, the event will be attended by its Chargé d’Affaires Masami Kinefuchi, the Minister of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass, and the Chief Executive Representative of the Nitori Holding Company, Akio Nitori.

Giant Roman palace unearthed in Upper Egypt

Al Masry Al Youm

A huge palace from the Roman ages (31-395 BC) has been discovered in the New Valley Governorate in Upper Egypt, the Ministry of Antiquities announced Monday.

An US expedition in the Amhada region, 500km south of Cairo, unearthed a palace belonging to a person named Sornius, according to a statement by the ministry.

The ministry said the palace cannot be opened to the public due to erosion, but it said a copy will be constructed for visitors.

Luxor’s Sphinx Avenue paved with local residents’ bitter memories

The Daily Star, Lebanon (Cam McGrath)

Mohammad Saeed’s battle with a wrecking crew ended predictably. His refusal to leave the home his grandfather built and defiant attempts to throw himself in front of the giant hydraulic hammer bought his family some time, but by the end of the day their two-storey house was reduced to rubble.

“The government came one morning and told us to leave,” Saeed recalls. “They said we could pick up our [compensation] money at the bank. When we asked where we were expected to go on this little amount, the man said ‘anywhere but here’.”

Saeed, a souvenir shop employee, was one of thousands of Luxor residents forced from their homes to make way for a controversial tourism development plan. The project aims to transform Luxor, a southern Egyptian city of 400,000 built over the world’s richest collection of antiquities, into a vast open-air museum. The master plan envisions new roads, five-star hotels, glitzy shops, and an IMAX theater.

Protecting Akhenaten's boundary stela

El Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

With a good summary of the role and importance of the boundary stelae

In 1906, one of these stelae was blown up and in 1989 it was rumoured that another of the stelae had deteriorated. However, as Mohamed Abdel-Fattah, director of the ancient Egyptian antiquities section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly, in 1989 part of the cliff collapsed while a mining procedure was being carried out nearby, but this did not harm the stela. "The stela is safe and sound," Abdel-Fattah said.

Consolidation and restoration work had been carried out to maintain those stelae that had been damaged. This damage occurred not only in modern times, due to natural causes, but also in antiquity when the city of Akhetaten fell into ruin following the death of Pharaoh Akhenaten. This was a time when the priests of Amun regained their power and returned to worshipping their god, Amun, moving back to the old capital at Thebes.

A month ago it was reported that another stela had deteriorated as a result of mining in the area. Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities, sent an archaeological committee to investigate.

UNESCO director general tours the Egytian Museum

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Bokova has been showing UNESCO's support for the Egyptian revolution and giving her assurance that the international body would back the integrity of the nation's archaeological treasures after the thuggery and vandalism in the lawless days of the uprising.

Guided by Tarek El-Awadi, director-general of the Egyptian Museum, Bokova visited the golden treasure galleries, the mummy mausoleum and the showcases displaying the artefacts that were reported missing and have since been recovered.

El-Awadi told Al-Ahram Weekly that Bokova had expressed her satisfaction with what she had seen and with the restoration work that had been carried out on those objects that had been damaged. She said that the Egyptian Museum was "safe and sound", and said she was very pleased that 34 of the 54 objects that went missing had been retrieved. She promised that UNESCO would help Egypt recover all its missing items, not only those from the museum but also those stolen from other archaeological sites.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova inspected the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to check the damage after it was robbed during the chaos of the January 25 Revolution.

Guided by Tarek El-Awadi, director general of the Egyptian Museum, Bokova visited the golden treasures halls, the mausoleum of mummies as well as the artefact showcases, which were reported missing but recovered.

Talking to the press Bokova expressed her satisfaction with what she saw during her tour and the restoration work carried out on the objects that were reported missing and then recovered. She said that the Egyptian museum is safe and sound.

Exhibition: Pharaoh - King of Egypt

British Museum Blog (Margaret Maitland)

The forthcoming new British Museum touring exhibition Pharaoh: King of Egypt explores both the myths and realities of kingship in ancient Egypt. With 130 objects, from a larger than life-size royal tomb guardian statue, exquisite jewellery, and palace decorations, to defaced royal monuments and accounts of assassination and civil war, Pharaoh: King of Egypt is the largest ever UK loan of Egyptian objects from the British Museum.

Searching for fragments of an astronomical ceiling

Egypt Exploration Society

With photos.

Professor Sarah Symons of the Integrated Science Programme & Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University, Hanilton, Ontario recently visited the Society's London offices to study some of the unpublished material relating to the discovery and excavation of the Osireion at Abydos. She has sent the following report on her experiences.

Antiquities ministry denies any misappropriation of public funds using artefacts

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

On Sunday, the Public Funds Prosecution investigated accusations made by archaeologist Nour Abdel Samad that former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak and Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass abused their official government positions and misappropriated public funds in the form of national artefacts.

Hawass had said during a talk show that a Tutankhamun exhibition collected $17 million in donations for Suzanne Mubarak’s charity fund which Abdel Samad said was illegal as the charity is privately owned.

The archaeologist also accused Hawass of illegally signing a contract with the National Geographical Society to exhibit unique Egyptian artefacts in the United States and Australia.

The accusation points to the contract which allowed artefacts from the Tutankhamun collection to be sent to Minnesota on an exhibition in which runs until 15 April 2012 without documenting the number or types of the pieces. It also said that the Egyptian Museum sent 143 artefacts to Washington between 30 July and 14 October 2002 which have not yet been returned.

Animal Mummies – X-radiography, and coming soon – CT scans!

Brooklyn Museum (Lisa Bruno)

These past few weeks we have been steadily packing and preparing to transport a group of animal mummies to the Animal Medical Center (AMC) for CT scanning with radiologist Anthony Fischetti, DVM, MS. In earlier blog posts we described the CT scanning of Brooklyn’s human mummies, but we have yet to CT scan our animals.

Falcon X-rayAs you may remember from an earlier post, Dr. Fischetti and a colleague came out to the Conservation Lab to look at a group of x-rays of animal mummies. It was at that time that we discussed the possibility of CT scanning the animal mummies.

Scientific Gathering for Egyptian Archaeologists (Zahi Hawass)

The Ministry of State for Antiquities hosted a four-day meeting for Egyptian archaeologists. Today, 16th June, is the final day. Despite being an annual event, this particular occasion was significant for two reasons. It was the first gathering of Egyptian archaeologists since the revolution on 25th January and the first to bring a broad range of specialists together. In previous years, separate meetings took place for distinct archaeological specializations: Ancient Egyptian, Islamic, Coptic, Greco-Roman, and site or museum restoration.

We have been fortunate to have such a diverse selection of papers. There was a presentation about objects stolen from the Egyptian Museum during the revolution in El Tahrir Square. Another paper discussed how archaeologists and site guards thwarted an attempt by looters to steal a statue of Senusret III in Ehnasia and we had a variety of papers concerning MSA excavation work in Alexandria, Saqqara, Ismailia, Sohag, and Medinet Habu on Luxor’s west bank, to mention just a few.

Papers also covered important new methodological research concerning human bone and pottery analysis. What insights can be gained from understanding the type of clay used and methods of production, for example? Restoration work and architectural considerations form a further integral part of recent research.

No artifacts missing from presidential palaces

Al Masry Al Youm (Mohamed Azouz)

A panel comissioned by the Egyptian government to take stock of artifacts at presidential palaces has said no pieces are missing.

Late in May, Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass ordered the formation of a panel to record the contents of presidential palaces, prompted by reports that toppled president Hosni Mubarak seized a number of pieces on leaving for Sharm al-Sheikh, where he has been residing since his ouster in February.

Archaeologists, however, remain skeptical of the integrity of the panel, especially as Hawass himself and Mubarak’s wife Suzanne are also accused of stealing antiquities.

Queen Tyti identified

Luxor News (Jane Akshar)

Today I was describing the open tombs in the Valley of Queens and saying Queen Tyti was a queen but we don't know of whom. Ken Griffin, who is visiting, corrected me and said just recently they did identify her. So I wrote to Aidan Dobson and he very kindly sent me the article. It is published in JEA 96. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology Volume 96 2010 pages 242 -247

The article is authored by Mark Collier, Aidan Dodson, and Gottfried Hamernik and is like a detective story on a detective story.

Online: New Imaging Methods to Improve Text Legibility of Ostraca


Gregory Bearman, Mark S. Anderson & Kenneth Aitchison. 2011. New Imaging Methods to Improve Text Legibility of Ostraca – PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 8(2) (2011)

We report on experiments on three new methods to improve text contrast for carbon ink ostraca. These are (1) Raman imaging, (2) Micro-focus XRF scanning and (3) exogenous contrast agents either to enhance the X-ray signal or create an optical fluorescence signal. We tested all three methods with modern ‘stunt’ ostraca, made using a variety of carbon-based inks. In each imaging modality, the inks are clearly differentiated from the clay background. The exogenous contrast enhancement, in particular, suggests a variety of approaches to improving text legibility.

Beit Zeinab Khatoun HQ for Cairo Urban Rehabilitation Project

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

In cooperation with UNESCO, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) is to transform the Zeinab Khatoun house into the headquarters for the Cairo Urban Rehabilitation Project.

Mohamed El-Sheika, head of the project department at MSA, told Ahram Online that the project aims to draw an archaeological map for Old Cairo, and provide the means to rehabilitate modern homes to make them harmonious with the area's archaeology.

The house is one of the most remarkable Mameluke houses, and was named after its last owner.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

High Gate of Ramesses III, with rooms above the entrance
used during royal visits by the women of the harem.
The light was all wrong for this photo, which fails
to show the excellent relief carvings.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Misappropriation of funds from King Tut exhibit

Al Masry Al Youm

The Public Funds Prosecution is investigating accusations made by Nour Abdel Samad, director of Egypt’s archaeological sites, that former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak and Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass misappropriated public funds using national artifacts.

Hawass had said during a talk show that a Tutankhamun exhibition collected US$17 million in donations for Suzanne Mubarak’s charity fund, which Samad said was illegal because the charity is privately owned.

Abdel Samad also accused Hawass of illegally signing a contract with the American Geographical Society to exhibit unique Egyptian artifacts in the United States and Australia.

Akht back home

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

A GRANITE engraving depicting a cow-shaped ancient Egyptian deity Akht is back in Egypt.

Eleven years after having gone missing from its original location in Behbit Al-Hegara temple in the Nile Delta, a granite engraving featuring the cow-shaped ancient Egyptian deity Akht has returned to its homeland.

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass said the engraving was a part of a larger block at Behbit Al-Hegara temple built during the reign of the 30th Dynasty King Nakhtanebo.

Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, general supervisor of the minister's office, said the story of the retrieved artefact began in 1999 when the temple was robbed by an armed gang. Thieves cut off part of the granite along with other engraved and painted fragments.

Video: tomb of Nefertari

Egyptians (Tim Reid)

Tim has included a video of the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens on his site at the above address. Quite lovely.

Zahi Hawass found innocent

Bikya Masr

An Egyptian court ruled on Wednesday that Egypt’s firebrand Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass is innocent of charges against him. The minister is currently in the United States on a speaking tour.

“Today is a very special day for me. The MSA, and myself personally, will always hold the laws of Egypt in the highest regard,” Hawass wrote on his personal blog.

“The MSA, and myself personally, have always held the laws of Egypt and the ruling of our courts in the highest regard and we will continue to do so,” he continued.

In April, Hawass was sentenced to one-year in jail n a dispute over a bookstore at the Egyptian Museum.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Damaged roof of the entrance
of the 18th Dynasty Temple.
Built during the Roman period.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Explore tunnels inside Great Pyramid of Giza in 3D tour

New Scientist

New Scientist was first to reveal some exciting findings from an innovative robotic exploration of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. A robot built at Leeds University in the UK, called Djedi, explored a mysterious tunnel thought to lead to a secret chamber in the pyramid - providing stunning pictures of so-far-undeciphered hieroglyphs written in red paint, alongside lines cut into the tunnel walls by stone masons. All are currently being analysed by egyptologists - and many more revelations are expected as Djedi's video streams are interpreted over time.

Dassault Systèmes, a technology partner of the Leeds roboticists, has produced a compelling video fly-through to help people understand precisely where the tunnel was in the pyramid and where the hieroglyphics had been found.

Islamic museum collection is safe

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

It seems that rumours took their toll on the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA). A collection of 4,200 Islamic artefacts had been claimed stolen from the Islamic museum in Bab El Khalq, downtown Cairo. The rumour included the transfer of these objects from the museum to the presidential palaces.

Atteya Radwan, head of the museum section at the MSA denies any of this took place. He told Ahram Online that all the objects, whether exhibited or stored in the Islamic museum, are safe and sound and nothing has been transferred to the presidential palaces.


Egypt's antiquities ministry on Monday denied claims in a local media report that 4,200 artefacts were stolen from the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo during its recent refurbishment.

"Attiya Radwan, Head of the Museums Sector, clarified that no Islamic artefacts have left the museum or have been transferred to the presidential palaces. All are accounted for and in the care and custody of the museum curators," the ministry said in a statement.

No artefacts for which the Egyptian state is responsible are held in any presidential palaces, according to the statement.

UNESCO director general tours the Egytian Museum

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova inspected the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to check the damage after it was robbed during the chaos of the January 25 Revolution.

Guided by Tarek El-Awadi, director general of the Egyptian Museum, Bokova visited the golden treasures halls, the mausoleum of mummies as well as the artefact showcases, which were reported missing but recovered.

Talking to the press Bokova expressed her satisfaction with what she saw during her tour and the restoration work carried out on the objects that were reported missing and then recovered. She said that the Egyptian museum is safe and sound.

Hawass promotes tourism on US lecture tour

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Minister of State for Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, is currently in the United States on a lecture tour. During a press conference at the Science Museum in Indianapolis, Hawass invited Americans to visit Egypt, reassuring the public that Egypt is now a safe place for tourism.

Hawass proudly announced that the young Egyptians who instigated the revolution on 25 January are the same ones who protected the Egyptian Museum during the lawlessness on 28 January, when protesters were attacked by policemen and hired thugs. It was a demonstration representative of the passion and care Egyptians hold for their heritage.

Efforts are currently being made to ensure tourists are safe and well looked after at popular sites. The army and police, on behalf of the Egyptian government, are working hard to protect Egypt and all who visit it.

Ministry of state for antiquities denies Hawass' escape rumours

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Today, the criminal court of Agouza acquitted Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass of the charge issued for not implementing the administration court ruling to put on halt all procedures being taken to rent the cafeteria and the bookstore of the Egyptian museum inTahrir Square. In May of last year, the ministry had rented the cafeteria and bookstore of the Egyptian museum to the Sound and Light Organisation.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Mohamed Ramadan, supervisor of legal affairs at the ministry of state for antiquities, denied today's claims by a national newspaper that the administrative court enforced the ruling issued in April against Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities, sentencing him to one year in jail and a fine of LE1000.

Ramadan explained that this news is incorrect for three reasons; the first is that the criminal court, not the administrative, is the legal authority that would pursue such a case. The second , continued Ramadan, is that the criminal court has delayed reviewing such a case until 15 June and no verdict has yet been issued. The third reason is that the administrative court has cancelled the decision to rent the cafeteria and bookstore of the Egyptian museum to the Sound and Light Organisation, instead re-establish another bidding process to allow all organisations to participate.

Exhibition: The Fayum mummy portraits of Egypt

Gadling (Sean McLachlan)

The pyramids, Tutankhamen's gold, the massive temples of Luxor and Karnak. . .the civilization of ancient Egypt has left us an incredible legacy, yet of all of these impressive monuments and treasures none has a more personal effect on the viewer than the Fayum mummy portraits.

During the Graeco-Roman period, after Egypt had fallen first to Alexander the Great and then to the Romans, the old traditions continued. Temples were still built, priests still wrote in hieroglyphics, and the wealthy were still mummified in order to guarantee their place in the afterlife.

The new rulers of Egypt took on some local customs. They often chose to be mummified in the Egyptian fashion, but added the touch of putting a portrait of the deceased over the wrappings covering the face. Painted on thin slats of wood, they were part of a trend called panel painting, considered by Classical writers to be one of the highest forms of art.

Al Masry Al Youm (Hoda Nessef)

Mummy portraits or Fayoum mummy portraits (also Fayoum mummy portraits) is the modern term given to a type of realistic painted portraits on wooden boards attached to mummies from Roman Egypt. They belong to the tradition of panel painting, one of the most highly regarded forms of art in the Classical world. In fact, the Fayoum portraits are the only large body of art from that tradition to have survived.

Mummy portraits have been found across Egypt, but are most common in the Fayoum Basin, particularly from Hawara and Antonopoulos, hence the common name. "Fayoum Portraits" is generally thought of as a stylistic, rather than a geographic, description. While painted Cartonnage mummy cases date back to pharoahnic times, the Fayoum mummy portraits were an innovation dating to the time of the Roman occupation of Egypt.

Archaeology's Tech Revolution

Yahoo News Canada

Let′s face it, Indiana Jones was a pretty lousy archaeologist. He destroyed his sites, used a bullwhip instead of a trowel and was more likely to kill his peers than co-author a paper with them. Regardless, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which celebrates its 30th anniversary on June 12, did make studying the past cool for an entire generation of scientists. Those modern archaeologists whom "Raiders" inspired luckily learned from the mistakes of Dr. Jones, and use advanced technology such as satellite imaging, airborne laser mapping, robots and full-body medical scanners instead of a scientifically useless whip.

Such innovations have allowed archaeologists to spot buried pyramids from space, create 3-D maps of ancient Mayan ruins from the air, explore the sunken wrecks of Roman ships and find evidence ofheart disease in 3,000-year-old mummies. Most of the new toolkit comes from fields such as biology, chemistry, physics or engineering, as well as commercial gadgets that include GPS, laptops and smartphones.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lahun to be upgraded

The Egyptian Gazette (Hassan Saadallah)

The Government has agreed to launch an urgent plan for upgrading the historic site of el-Lahun near Fayoum, about 60km south of Cairo, home to Pharaonic treasures, Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass said.

He added that this archaeological site will be developed to preserve its treasures that include a rare collection of mummies, which he stressed are in a good shape.

Hawass has denied receiving a letter from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova expressing her concern over reports claiming that some of the mummies were damaged during an excavation by an Egyptian team.

"These reports are baseless and the Ministry never stood idle while anyone, whether Egyptian or foreign, was seen damaging mummies," he stressed.

However, Hawass said that he had ordered the formation of an ad hoc committee to appraise the antiquities in this area and draw up a comprehensive excavation and restoration project for it.

Inventory of artefacts in Cairo University Museum

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

An archaeological committee from the ministry of state for antiquities (MSA) embarked today on an inspection tour of the collection of the faculty of archaeology museum, Cairo University, which was robbed a month ago.

Zahi Hawass, minister of state of the MSA told Ahram Online that the tour was granted upon the request of the prosecutor in charge of investigations who attempts to pinpoint all of the losses.

The committee will also inventory the museum’s collection and compare it with artefacts registered in the faculty’s documents. A detailed and final report will be submitted to the prosecutor upon completion of the committee’s mission.

Stabilising the Step Pyramid

BBC News (Neil Prior)

With video of the work being carried out.

A south Wales engineering company is using 21st Century technology, including air bags, to help preserve one of Egypt's most imposing landmarks, dating back to 2,700 BC.

The Pyramid of Djoser is Egypt's oldest step-built pyramid. But it was at risk of collapse after an earthquake in 1992.

Newport specialist engineers Cintec, who have previously provided solutions to structural problems at landmarks such as the White House and Windsor Castle, were set the task of helping it last another 4,700 years.

The team has now completed phase one of the work at the site at Saqqara, south west of Cairo.

It involved using pressurised air-filled bags, in order to hold up the roof of the 60m high pyramid, while more permanent repairs are carried out.

However managing director of Cintec, Peter James, says this is just the first step in a project which has been complicated by the recent political upheaval in Egypt.

"We were all packed and ready to begin work in January, just when the Egyptian government began to fall," said Mr James.

"We've had to sit on our hands for another four months before getting the go-ahead; all the while hearing stories of looting, and worrying about how much additional damage was going to be caused."

Can Egypt protect its heritage? (Zahi Hawass)

As those of you who have followed my website know, there was some looting and land grabbing, and even the Egyptian Museum was vandalized and robbed. At one point, I myself resigned in protest when I felt that the authorities were not doing enough to protect our monuments. However, the situation was never as bad as many of the unconfirmed reports had implied, and it is now greatly improved.

Hundreds of artifacts stolen from one magazine in the Delta were returned, and almost half of the objects stolen from the Egyptian Museum have been recovered. The army is backing up the authority of the Ministry of State for Antiquities -- only last week, the army removed a newly-built cemetery and mosque above ancient Memphis, and are continuing to support MSA work to reclaim our sites.

One of the most heartening things about recent events was the extent to which regular Egyptians were willing to go to protect their cultural heritage. Yes, there were many vandals and thieves who took advantage of the unrest for personal gain, but there were also many people who stood up against them. When the Egyptian Museum was attacked, young protesters formed a human chain around it to protect it. In some remote sites, local villagers took it upon themselves to organize patrols to scare off would-be looters. If this revolution, with the resulting power vacuum, had happened anywhere else, I think that the vandalism and theft would have been much more extensive, as it was, for example, in Iraq.

See the above page for the full story.

Latest hieroglyph dictionary released by Mark Vygus

Pyramid Texts Online

Vincent Brown has posted the latest update to Mark's dictionary on the above page. Mark has added another 50 pages.

Eighth archaeological seminar to be inaugurated

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

The eighth archaeological seminar will review new techniques and theories as recovered artifacts go back on display for the first time since the January revolution

Starting Sunday, foreign and Egyptian archaeologists will gather at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) in Zamalek to spend a week discussing research theories, museological techniques and the latest archaeological discoveries in Egypt

Hisham El-Lessi, the commissar of the seminar said that the meetings will introduce 60 archaeological research papers on Ancient Egyptian, Coptic and Islamic monuments.

Zahi Hawass in the US

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass travelled today to the United States to promote tourism to Egypt. Hawass will make a tour of five states, delivering lectures as part of the framework of cooperation between both countries’ ministries of state for antiquities and tourism. The ministries hope to promote tourism to Egypt and regain the number of tourists that once flocked to the country to admire its old civilisations and enjoy its sun and sand.

As Hawass begins his lecture tour of the US he has conducted a couple of interviews.

Hawass will be in Ohio (U.S.) to lecture as the Cleopatra exhibition opens. In this short telephone interview he discusses the search for Cleopatra's tomb, the reasons he resigned during the revolution and the state of his job at present.

With video preview of the exhibition.


Nothing new in this interview except that he says that he will soon be making an announcement concerning the mummy Ramses III.

Granite depiction of cow-shaped deity returns to Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

After 11 years of absence from the Behbit El-Hegara temple in El-Gharbiya governorate, the engraving featuring the cow-shaped ancient Egyptian deity Akht will soon be back in its original position. The engraving is part of a larger one at Behbit El-Hegara temple which was built during the reign of the 30th dynasty king Nakhtanebo.

Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, general supervisor of the office of the minister of state for antiquities, said that the engravings and reliefs that decorated the temple were archaeologically documented by French Egyptologist Chrsitian Farfard Mix in 1977 and, in 1989, they were registered in the official documents of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. In 1990, Abdel Maqsoud relates, theives broke into the temple and cut the engraving from the wall, along with other parts of the temple’s decoration.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

View back towards the 18th Dynasty temple
from the Roman courtyard.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Brown spots in tomb of Tutankhamun indicative of rushed burial?


In the tomb of King Tutankhamen, the elaborately painted walls are covered with dark brown spots that mar the face of the goddess Hathor, the silvery-coated baboons—in fact, almost every surface.

Despite almost a century of scientific investigation, the precise identity of these spots remains a mystery, but Harvard microbiologist Ralph Mitchell thinks they have a tale to tell.

Nobody knows why Tutankhamen, the famed "boy king" of the 18th Egyptian dynasty, died in his late teens. Various investigations have attributed his early demise to a head injury, an infected broken leg, malaria, sickle-cell anemia, or perhaps a combination of several misfortunes.

Whatever the cause of King Tut's death, Mitchell thinks those brown spots reveal something: that the young pharaoh was buried in an unusual hurry, before the walls of the tomb were even dry.

New Delta project looking at Delta-Levant connections in 4th Millennium BC

Serwis Nauka w Polsce

Dr. Agnieszka Mączyńska from the Archaeological Museum in Poznań is one of fourteen winners of grant awarded in the second edition of "POMOST" programme of the Foundation for Polish Science. Together with our foreign partners she will analyse the role of the Nile Delta in the period preceding the formation of the Egyptian state. The programme POMOST awards grants to parents, to facilitate their return to scientific work. They also support the scientific work of pregnant women.

The Foundation has granted Dr. Mączyńska the sum of nearly PLN 400 thousand for a project entitled "Delta of the Nile as a centre of cultural interaction between Upper Egypt and the southern Levant in the 4th millennium BC".

Until recently, northern Egypt has been neglected by archaeologists. Larger excavation projects began only in the last two decades. Due to the covering of the oldest settlements with thick layers of Nile silt, reaching the layers of the period preceding the rise of the Egyptian state has proved particularly difficult.

So far, archaeologists have based their knowledge of its origins primarily on the research of surveys in Upper Egypt, so the picture is still far from complete and not objective. The grant awarded to Dr. Mączyńska is important in terms of balancing the sources of knowledge on the origins of the centralized state of the pharaohs. It will also contribute to the understanding of mechanisms that gave rise to one of the oldest civilizations.

"The Nile Delta has been long regarded as a province, a passive participant of the cultural expression processes. My task is to show that this opinion is unjust, as the then inhabitants played an active role" - said Dr. Mączyńska.

Hieroglyphs found recent in Great Pyramid are numbers

Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)

Mysterious hieroglyphs written in red paint on the floor of a hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza are just numbers, according to a mathematical analysis of the 4,500-year-old mausoleum.

Shown to the world last month, when the first report of a robot exploration of the Great Pyramid was published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l'Egypte (ASAE), the images revealed features that have not been seen by human eyes since the construction of the monument.

Researchers were particularly intrigued by three red ochre figures painted on the floor of a hidden chamber at the end of a tunnel deep inside the pyramid.

"There are many unanswered questions that these images raise," Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, told Discovery News. "Why is there writing in this space? What does the writing say? There appears to be a masonry cutting mark next to the figures: why was it not cut along this line?" Richardson wondered.

Luca Miatello, an independent researcher who specializes on ancient Egyptian mathematics, believes he has some answers.

"The markings are hieratic numerical signs. They read from right to left, meaning 100, 20, 1. The builders simply recorded the total length of the shaft: 121 cubits," Miatello told Discovery News.

Egyptian item repatriated from the UK

Luxor Times

With photos.

Back from an auction hall in London, Egypt managed to retrieve a granite relief which is a part of a bigger scene from the 30th dynasty temple of Isis in Bahbit Al hegara, Delta(known as Iseum or Isaeum). The relief depicts a head and shoulders of Apis dated back to King Nectanebo II (380-343 B.C) and it was documented by Chrisitan Favard meeks in 1977 as well as the Egyptian Atiquities records in 1989.

On Friday 5th January 1990, a guard working at the temple site reported that thugs attacked the site and stole some artefacts and next day the inventory showed missing pieces which were reported and the retrieved artefacts is one of them.

There are a number of posts about this on Egyptian sate-run sites as well but all of my usual Egyptian sites are inaccessible today (including Ahram Online, Al Ahram Weekly, the Egyptian Gazette and the Egypt State Information Service). I'll post those links when the sites come back up.

Steven Sidebotham talking about Berenike (Red Sea)

University of Delaware (Ann Manser)

With video.

For almost two decades, archaeologist Steven Sidebotham has been uncovering—literally, layer by layer—the secrets of an ancient, multicultural Egyptian city that reveals a new chapter of its story each time he visits.

This year, for example, the UD history professor's archaeological dig at the Red Sea port city of Berenike found a pet cemetery containing the remains of 17 dogs and cats, ship timbers and other sailing artifacts from the harbor area and a trove of objects from an early Roman trash dump.

"This is an amazing, huge site with excellent preservation" because of the desert climate, Sidebotham said. "We've probably covered about 2 percent of the surface, so there are still several lifetimes' worth of work to be done. We'll never be finished with it."

The project began in 1994 and has survived government upheavals, administrative delays, changing international partnerships and even this year's political turmoil that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Operating on a shoestring budget that often includes infusions of his own money, Sidebotham and his colleagues have documented a thriving culture that existed in the city for some 800 years, beginning around the 3rd century B.C.

New online resources at the Griffith Institute

Griffith Institute

Thanks as usual to Chuck Jones via Ancient World Online for the link to the latest updates at the Griffith Institute.

Q & A with Paul Sussman

Al Masry Al Youm (Soha El-Saman)

Many Western novels about Egypt risk emphasizing common stereotypes. But British novelist Paul Sussman is an exception.

Through several bestselling thrillers, he highlights overlooked historical facts and mythical stories, offering his readers alternative perspectives on on the country's ancient history and the intricacies of modern life.

Al-Masry Al-Youm talked to Sussman about his long fascination with Egypt and what he seeks to portray through his novels.

Exhibition: Question for Immortality opens in Taiwan

Focus Taiwan

History buffs in Taiwan will not need to travel to Europe or Egypt to get a peak into the life and culture of ancient Egypt when an exhibition featuring more than 200 artifacts, including an unwrapped mummy, opens in Taipei June 12.

Titled "Quest for Immortality, " the exhibition has 268 relics spanning 6,000 years. Most of the items are on loan from the Bolton Museum in the United Kingdom, including some that have never been exhibited outside the museum before, according to the China Times Group, the main organizer.

The Oriental Museum of Durham University and Jewry Wall Museum, also in the U.K., have also contributed items from their collections to the exhibition.

Field photos from Kom el Hisn

ArchaeoBlog (Tony Cagle)

Tony has posted some photographs from the days when he was involved in field work at the site Kom el Hisn, in the western Delta.

That’s a burial in a mud brick tomb. It was intrusive into the other structures meaning it was later than the building containing it, though how much later is unclear — most say First Intermediate or Middle Kingdom, I think it might still be Old Kingdom. This was after excavation. It was of an elderly female and there was some plaster outlining the body suggesting some sort of coffin. Note the only grave good, a bronze or copper mirror

Warrington Museum opens with mummy of teenage boy on display

Warrington Guardian

The Victorian building that was the north of England’s first public museum, has retained much of its 19th century charm, now complemented by a modern look and feel.

Now, revealed to the town, the Warrington Guardian is looking at four of the most interesting objects on show over the next four weeks.

This week, we look at the centrepiece to the world cultures display – a mummy of a teenage boy and a coffin.

The mummy was donated in 1885 while the coffin arrived some time later, and has now been restored to its original glory with the missing lid found at Manchester Museum.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Temple of the 18th Dynasty
Closed at Christmas for renovation

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Egyptian Mummies Hold Clues of Ancient Air Pollution

Live Science (Owen Jarus)

Ancient Egyptians may have been exposed to air pollution way back when, according to new evidence of particulates in the lungs of 15 mummies, including noblemen and priests.

Particulates, tiny microscopic particles that irritate the lungs, have been linked to a wide array of modern-day illnesses, including heart disease, lung ailments and cancer. The particulates are typically linked to post-industrial activities, such as fossil-fuel burning.

But after hearing of reports of such particulates being found in mummy tissue, Roger Montgomerie, a doctoral student at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester, decided to take a closer look at mummified lung tissue. His work represents the first attempt to identify and study particulates in multiple Egyptian mummies.

Mastaba of Nikauisesi now on OsirisNet


From Thierry Benderitter:

We present to you today on OsirisNet the mastaba of Nikauisesi in Saqqara, which dates from the beginning of 6th Dynasty. Discovered quite recently (1979) it si now open to the public. In this monument, a good part of its original decoration is well preserved.

The site of the monument has been defined as belonging to the period of the occupation of the cemetery of Teti, early in the reign. Subsequently, it would had as neighbours Kagemni, the rear of whose gigantic mastaba is opposite Nikauisesi's entry, and Mereruka.

The mastaba includes five chambers, of which four are decorated, the serdab and an interior courtyard which gives access to a staircase which leads to the roof.


Saqqara gets a security upgrade

Egyptian Gazette

The guards at the Saqqara Pyramids have cast aside their wooden sticks in favour of loaded guns.

The Government has beefed up security in historic sites to protect them from theft after the January 25 Revolution.

This change in security philosophy has been prompted by the constant pillaging of antiquities there over the past four months.

Encouraged by the mysterious disappearance of policemen on January 28, the antiquity thieves went into action in broad daylight. Their haul was huge, including the contents of royal tombs, which they badly damaged in the process of pillaging them.

Saqqara was the final resting place for the dead in the New and Late Kingdom (1539 to 1069 BC).

The new security philosophy was announced by Egypt’s chief archaeologist, the Minister for Archaeological Affairs Zahi Hawass, during his opening of six royal cemeteries from the New and Late Kingdom.

Hawas disclosed that more than 17,000 guards deployed at major archaeological sites across the country will be equipped with loaded guns. Veteran instructors from the Ministry of Interior will give the guards, known as ghafir (sentries) intensive training.

Damage to Amarna stela?

There has been a discussion on EEF at the moment about the possible destruction of a boundary stone from Amarna. The confusion which has given rise to the discussion seems to come partly from the translation of Arabic news stories. A recent stoy in English on the Youm 7 website suggests that one of the 14 reliefs was destroyed by illegal dynamite quarrying some five months ago.

Thanks to EEF's Aayko Eyma for writing to Barry Kemp of the Amarna Project, who has replied to Aayko to say that there are two stelae which have been harmed. He says that Stela S was destroyed in 2004 and that Stela Q, already denuded of most of its decorated surface in the early 20th Century, was further damaged more recently. An undecorated section has been removed and Kemp says that although it is assumed that this was by human agency it is unclear how it was done.

More re discoveries at Temple of Amenhotep III

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

A good summary of the work carried out at Kom el Hittan.

When it was constructed on Luxor's west bank during the 14th century BC, the mortuary temple of the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III was the largest temple complex in the Theban area. It stretched over a 350,000-square- metre space, guarded at the main gateway by a pair of gigantic statues of Amenhotep popularly known as the Colossi of Memnon, with smaller statues of Queen Tiye and Queen Mutemwiya at their feet.

Regrettably, these two colossi are almost all that remains of this huge temple complex, since much of the rest of the temple collapsed during a massive earthquake that hit the area in antiquity, while the parts that survived this catastrophe decayed as a result of the high level of subterranean water -- the temple having been built closer to the River Nile than any contemporary mortuary temples. During the 19th Dynasty, Pharaoh Meneptah used several blocks of the Amenhotep III temple to help construct his own mortuary temple, which he built almost 100 metres to the north.

Thanks, however, to traces of the walls and foundations that have survived under the mud, the temple's original shape and plan are well known.

More re concerns over development in the Faiyum

Reuters (Patrick Werr)

Egypt's popular uprising may have arrived just in time to save a Neolithic site that holds the country's oldest evidence of agriculture and could yield vital clues to the rise of Pharaonic civilisation.

The site lies in a protected nature reserve along the shore north of Lake Qarun that until recently had remained virtually untouched, even though it lies only 70 km from Cairo, Egypt's fast-expanding capital.

A month before the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak erupted in January, the Egyptian government carved 2.8 square kilometres of prime land from the reserve and awarded it to property developer Amer Group for a tourist resort.

Since Mubarak was ousted, three government ministers who sat on a committee that approved the sale have been jailed while they battle corruption charges not related to the Amer deal.

One of them, Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi, told Reuters in January that archaeology officials had given the re-development the necessary green light.

Egypt's archaeology chief now says that was untrue.

Al Masry Al Youm (Louise Sarant)

With photographs.

Last December, the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) allocated large chunks of land located in the North of Lake Qarun Protected Area to the real estate developer Amer Group.

The North of Lake Qarun area has been a protected prea since the 1980s, and its boundaries have expanded gradually to include Gebel Qattrani, a desert filled with archaeological and geological treasures. The site has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A group of environmental activists recently launched a Facebook campaign to alert the community of Amer Group’s potentially devastating development plans. After building “Porto Marina” over the site of an ancient Greco-Roman Port on the North Coast in 2005, the group built its second monumental resort on the once pristine Red Sea coast, “Porto Sokhna.”

Environmentalists are worried the company may develop a similar resort on the lake’s shores, thus endangering the archaeological remains and violating laws that regulate protected areas. To have their voice heard, they launched a petition and created a Facebook group to stop any development project.

Exhibition: Lost Egypt


With video.

Central Texans won't have to travel far to experience some of the wonders of ancient Egypt.

Developed by the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, "Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets Modern Science" uses technology to help unravel the mystery behind mummies.

Artifacts from the time of ancient Egypt are on display, including an actual mummy.

"Her name is Annie. She was given that name by the scientists that studied her. It's a nickname for anonymous," Changing Exhibits Manager Rebecca Tucker-Nall said. "The people who found her about 300 BC didn't know her name.

A new beginning for Egyptian tourism

Al Masry Al Youm (Mohamed Elshahed)

In the recent flurry of reports about Egypt’s impending economic challenges, many have highlighted the damage done to the tourism sector in the wake of the 25 January revolution. The number of tourists who’ve come to Egypt in the first quarter of this fiscal year is down 46 percent from last year. Despite this significant drop the streets of downtown Cairo still seem to have a sizeable number of foreigners.

Sitting at Stella Bar or at the cafés around Townhouse Gallery, it seems as though there is no tourism crisis. That’s because many tourists who frequent these downtown destinations are not the ones targeted by the state’s international tourism campaign.

Book Review: Museum Revolutions

Journal of Folklore Research (Reviewed by Carrie Hertz)

Museum Revolutions: How Museums Change and Are Changed, edited by Simon J. Knell, Suzanne MacLeod, and Sheila Watson. 2007. London and New York: Routledge.

Museums—wishing to do good in the world, but like so many public institutions, relying on fickle civic support—must continually justify their own existence by aggressively evaluating the purpose and impact of their endeavors. Grappling with volatile and abiding issues like representation, power relations, identity politics, systems of knowledge, value production, post-colonialism, Eurocentricism, nationalism, and the like, museums in the twenty-first century have a lot on their proverbial plates. In this milieu, then, the constant reflexive desire of museum professionals and scholars to appraise the past, present, and future of museology is both unsurprising and heartening. Museum Revolutions: How Museums Change and Are Changed is just one of a diverse series of edited volumes published by Routledge that valiantly tackles these kinds of issues within museum studies.

Photo for Today - Medinet Habu

Remains of the 13th Hypostyle Hall

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The results of fieldwork at Kom el-Hettan (Amenhotep III, Luxor) (Zahi Hawass)

Press Release (see the above page for the full story). With photos.

During their excavation at the funerary temple of the 18th Dynasty king, Amenhotep III (c. 1390-1352 BC), at Kom el-Hettan on the west bank of Luxor, the mission of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project unearthed an alabaster colossus of the great king. The team has also discovered the head of a deity, as well as restoring a stele and a head of the same king.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities (MSA), has announced that the colossal statue shows Amenhotep III seated, and wearing the Nemes headdress, a pleated shendjyt kilt and a royal beard. It was found in the passageway leading to the third pylon (gate) of the funerary temple, 200 m behind the Colossi of Memnon, which guarded the first pylon.

“The statue is the northern one of a pair of colossi that were once placed at the gate of the third pylon,” reported Hawass. It is likely that both statues collapsed during an earthquake that took place in antiquity, but parts of them were still visible in a layer of Nile alluvium. The back of one of the two statues’ thrones had already been discovered in a previous excavation and its fragmentary text published. The other parts will be gradually uncovered for conservation and the statue restored in its original location in the near future.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With photos.

During a routine excavation at the funerary temple of the 18th Dynasty king, Amenhotep III (c. 1390-1352 BC), at Kom el-Hettan area on Luxor’s west bank, the mission of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project unearthed an alabaster colossus of the great king. The team has also discovered the head of a deity, as well as restoring a stele and a statue head of the same king.

Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, has announced that the colossal statue shows Amenhotep III seated, and wearing the Nemes headdress, a pleated shendyt kilt and a royal beard. It was found in the passageway leading to the third pylon of the funerary temple, 200 metres behind the colossi of Memnon, which guarded the first pylon.

“The statue is the northern one of a pair of colossi that were once placed at the gate of the third pylon,” said Hawass. It is likely that both statues collapsed during an earthquake that took place in antiquity, but parts of them were still visible in a layer of Nile alluvium. The back of one of the two statues’ thrones had already been discovered in a previous excavation and its fragmentary text published.