Friday, September 30, 2011

More grief at the SCA

The head of the SCA is still in conflict with the government, and SCA employees are now closing sites as part of their protests. I cannot imagine how SCA employees believe that closing sites to tourism is going to improve the finances available to improve their conditions.

Ahram Online

Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Abdel Fatah, insists that his resignation is final and he cannot manage the demands of protesters, as Prime Minister Sharaf tries to convince him to stay on

Since the revolution started last January, Egypt’s antiquities community has been rocked by protests, criticism and reshuffles of top personnel at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the powerful governmental body which oversees all of Egypt’s archaeological sites.

Today, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced that current secretary general of the Council, Mohamed Abdel Fatah, would be granted the authority of a minister; nonetheless, the chaos continues as Abdel Fatah insists that his recently announced resignation will not be withdrawn, and protesters complaining of years of corruption and mismanagement at the Council continue their sit-in.

Following the announcement today that Abdel Fatah would be offered the full authority of a minister, in order to better proceed with the Council’s archaeological and administrative work, protesters blocked the entrance to the Council’s offices in Abbassiya, switching off the electricity and preventing the employees from entering. They also expelled the building’s security guards and shut the iron gates.

In Aswan, the situation is much worse. Protesters closed the doors of the Nubian museum and the Abu Simbel temples to prevent an official visit celebrating World Tourism Day from entering.


The Supreme Council of Antiquities employees closed the temple of Abydos in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag and closed all storage units that maintain the museum Tuesday, in solidarity with archeologists striking across Egypt.

The Temple of Abydos is the seventh archeological site to be closed down by council employees protesting against the Council’s lack of response to their demands. Other monuments that were closed include the Nubian Museum in Aswan, Abu Simbel, Wadi el-Sebou, and museums near Lake Nasser.


Archaeologists working in the Nubian fund closed down six archaeological sites in Aswan, including the Temple of Abu Simbel, the Temple of Wadi el-Seboo, the Temple of the Mayor and a number of museums located on Lake Nasser, in protest against the lack of response to their demands.

The staff at the Museum of Nubia shut down the museum yesterday and went on a strike until their demands were met. They were joined today by a group of colleagues.

They called upon their colleagues in all districts to close down archeological sites and museums until their demands are met.

Book of the Dead of Sobekmose to go on display at the Brooklyn

Art Daily

Following a three-year-long conservation project, the final section of the rare, thirty-five-centuries-old Egyptian Book of the Dead of the Goldworker of Amun, Sobekmose will go on long-term view on September 28. One of the most important funerary texts of the New Kingdom, in part because it is an early version of the Book of the Dead and casts light on the development of all later manuscripts, the papyrus is about twentyfive feet long. In an unusual feature, it is inscribed on both sides.

The Book of the Dead is a present-day name for ancient Egyptian texts containing a number of magic spells intended to assist the deceased in the afterlife, and which were placed in the coffin or burial chamber. The Book of the Dead of Sobekmose, created during the Eighteenth Dynasty, probably during the reign of Thutmose III or Amunhotep II (circa 1479–1400 b. c.e.), contains nearly one hundred “chapters,” almost half of the total known group of Book of the Dead texts.

Thousands of unregistered antiquities found in museum

Al Masry Al Youm (Marwa Yassine)

Azza Farouq, dean of Cairo University’s Faculty of Archaeology, has revealed that 3000 unregistered antiquities were found recently in the rest rooms of the faculty’s museum on campus.

“Some pieces were destroyed by the humidity,” she said.

Museum curators use the rest rooms as storage places.

“Not registering antiquities is a crime,” Farouq said, adding that she has formed a special committee to register the items.

Preliminary reports said that the pieces are rarer than others displayed in major Egyptian or foreign museums, and that they have a high value.

Tasmanian Museum mummy under the scanner

The Mercury (Kane Young)

Modern technology has helped finally wrap up an age-old debate the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's ancient Egyptian mummy is, in fact, male.

The mummy, plus three stuffed thylacines and five preserved baby thylacines, had CT scans at Hobart's Calvary Hospital yesterday, designed to give museum researchers more detailed information about the popular pieces.

Scans of the mummy confirmed it is an adolescent male and his major organs may still be intact. The scans will now be sent to experts overseas for further study.

In the TMAG's collection since 1897, the mummy which spent years on display under the museum's stairs was originally thought to be a female who died in about 1500BC.

Mamluk era arms market falls into disrepair

Ahram Online (Farah El Akkad)

The once bustling Souq Al-Selah Street lies in the heart of Islamic Cairo surrounded now by piles of refuse, as it slowly decays and slips out of the collective memory.

Those who forged, those who sold and those who bought the weapons have long since died, but will the old buildings of Souq Al-Selah Street (Arms Market Street) meet the same fate?

It is an interesting street: a narrow lane only 220 metres long, located to the right of Al-Rifaai Mosque in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Description de l’Egypt (1798) describes its location in a semi-isolated area on the eastern side of Old Cairo, ending at Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and Al-Ghuriya district. The street, which dates back to the 8th century, was first known as Souq Al-Ezzy.

However, over the years, the popular name became Souq Al-Selah due to the numerous workshops that sold all kinds of weaponry. The street saw its golden years during the Mamluk era when it was considered the Citadel’s main source of arms. A famous Mamluk prince, Ezz El-Din Bahdar, dwelt on the street itself and was in charge of supervising the arms industry.

Tourism linking cultures in Aswan

Egyptian Gazette (Mohamed Salah Attia)

The Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour opened, on Tuesday, global festivities organised in Aswan to mark World Tourism Day, launched in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

In his speech, the Egyptian minister emphasised that the tourism industry, whether in its cultural, social or economic aspect, is the backbone of the national economy.

Addressing international celebrities, who took part in the opening ceremony, Abdel-Nour highlighted the role of the tourism industry in providing jobs, helping to preserve traditions and heritage and saving the environment.

In an acknowledgement of Aswan's history as a hub of the world's ancient civilisations and many cultures, UNWTO decided to launch this year's great tourist event in the renowned and beautiful Upper Egyptian town. This year's global festivities unfurled the banner 'Tourism linking Cultures', to heighten the values of mutual understanding and respect and global peace.

Exhibition: Lost Egypt - Ancient Secrets, Modern Science

Des Moines Register (Michael Morain)

With photos and video.

With a little decoding, the hieroglyphic banner at the Science Center of Iowa gave a pretty big clue about the museum’s next exhibit. It read: “Show … me … the mummy.”

Turns out, the mummy in question is “Annie,” the 2,300-year-old star of “Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science.” The traveling show will open the day after Thanksgiving and remain through the spring, with artifacts and interactive displays that reveal how archaeologists use modern technology to understand ancient civilization, SCI staffers announced Wednesday.

From what scientists can tell, Annie (a nickname for anonymous) was about 17 years old when she died during a period of Egyptian turmoil. (Sound familiar?) Ancient embalmers probably didn’t know her name — they would have marked it on her coffin — but she was buried with considerable ceremony, with a gilded mask and an elaborately painted sarcophagus.

Archaeologists suspect her body may have been found in the Nile and buried according to customs described by the early Greek historian Herodotus.

Restored Moez Street needs rescuing again

Al Masry Al Youm (Fatma Keshk)

Bearing the name of the first Fatimid Caliph ruling Egypt, Al-Moez Leddine Allah al-Fatimy, and founded in 969 AD, Moez Street is the oldest main street of the Fatimid capital Cairo. Three years ago a massive restoration project of the street was completed, but it has recently begun to fall into disrepair.

The Hakim mosque, the complex of Al-Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qalawon, the Barqouq complex and Wekalet Al-Rab'a are some of the most famous monuments on Moez Street, from the Fatimid period (969-1171 AD) all the way through the Ottoman period (1517-1805 AD). These monuments also present the diverse Cairene architectural styles at the time, from mosques, houses, and schools to sabils (public water fountains for drinking, installed as memorials for people).

Aside from its archaeological and historical uniqueness, Moez offers a lively narrative of the social history of the inhabitants of Hussein, one of the most densely populated districts of Cairo.

Village family in Luxor cut off road against tour bus

Youm7 (Mostafa Gabr)

Families from the village of Marye in western Luxor cut off road leading to the temples of the King's Valley, holding up a tour bus behind the crowded cars across the road.

It was a response since the governorate didn’t give them alternative apartments contracts in place of the apartments they were displaced from.

A member of the people’s committee to solve the problem of Marey village, Hamdy el-Hanafy, said they met the governor of Luxor, Ezzat Saad, yesterday to finish off their problems and to sign in the compensation lists.

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor

Roman shrine to Isis

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Resignation of SCA head refused

A few days ago a number of news sites reported that the new head of the SCA, Mohamed Abdel Fatah, had resigned from his position. The reason given was that he felt that he could not do the job properly without being given full authority, and that the SCA had become completely paralyzed. Here are some of those links:

Egyptian Gazette
Ahram Online

In a telephone interview he expanded upon his reasons for resigning:

In a telephone interview with Ahram Online, Mohamed Abdel Fatah, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, confirmed his resignation of the post. “I am fed up,” Abdel Fatah said angrily. “All these protests stand against proceeding with archaeological works properly,” he said.

“I cannot be responsible without concrete authority in my hands,” Abdel Fatah said. In fact, Abdel Fatah cannot put into effect any of his decisions until he has the approval of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

He also asserted that there are specific people who are behind all protests in front of the Council for personal gains.

The latest news, from Ahram Online, is that the government has refused his resignation, but that Abdel Fatah has refused to return to the job until he has been given the authority needed to move forward. Here's an excerpt:
A day after the resignation of Mohamed Abdel Fatah, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the Cabinet scheduled an appointment with him on Sunday to discuss the issues behind his resignation.

In a telephone interview with Ahram Online, Abdel Fatah said that he would not return to the post without having full authority in the post.

Repairing the Book of the Dead

Brooklyn Museum (Rachel Danzing)

With photos.

Repairing papyrus can be a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. In order to make sense of the many small pieces at hand, we take advantage of the various examination techniques we have here in the lab.

One method of examination we use is the use of transmitted light, which is light which passes through a transparent material from one side to the other. Transmitted light is very useful in understanding how a sheet of papyrus is made and therefore, how it fits back together.

Use of the microscope is another instrument which makes our work easier. Under magnification, and in combination with transmitted light, we can see clearly what we are doing and this makes our repairs and placing of loose fragments more precise. It’s important to make as few and as small repairs as possible in order to stabilize the piece so that as much as possible of the original papyrus is visible.

EES participation in the AERA Field School at Memphis

Egypt Exploration Society

Dr David Jeffreys, the Director of the Society’s Survey of Memphis, and Judith Bunbury are teaching this autumn on behalf of the EES at the renowned field school run by Ancient Egypt Research Associates, directed by Mark Lehner. Courses are usually taught at Giza but this year are also being taught at Mitrahina (ancient Memphis) to give students experience in working on settlement sites.

The 'blog' for the field school is now online at:

Egypt's archeologists threatening strike if demands not met

Youm7 (Dina Abdel Alem)

Protesting archeology workers threatened to begin into work and hunger strikes, close all archeological sites, and steal monuments from museums and stores if their demands are not met.

Protestors are continuing their sit-in, which began Sunday, calling for the official appointment 12,000 workers in Supreme Council of the Antiquities.

Minufiyeh Survey excavating at Ptolemaic cemetery

Minufiyeh Survey (Joanne Rowland)

With photos.

Work continued at a good pace in T9, the trench investigating the northern extent of the main part of the Ptolemaic (and possibly Early Roman) cemetery. More information will become available after Friday when Ashraf el-Senussi joins us from the Fayum to investigate the ceramics that have been collected from the surface layers and from the individual burials until now! As usual the ceramics are all broken into small pieces - sherds - but there is at least one amphora that might be reconstructable!!

Investigation and excavation of the ceramic (double vessel-type) coffins continued as the students got to grips with drawing burials over the course of the week. Some of the students have picked up the main aspects of archaeological drawing very quickly and there have been a number of excellent drawings of the burials in addition to the coffins.

Egyptology for children at Manchester

Asian Image

This Autumn, The Manchester Museum stages Unearthed: Ancient Egypt, an exhibition of Egyptology with a difference.

Children are invited to become an archaeologist for the day and help uncover the stories behind some of the Museum’s ancient artefacts. The Museum has one of the finest collections of Egyptological material anywhere in the UK outside London and now there is the opportunity to experience it in an innovative way.

In a newly created gallery space, visitors will be transported back to the 1920s, the heyday of British excavations in Egypt, entering the mysterious storeroom of fictional archaeologist Dr Digby - played on a specially commissioned series of films by acclaimed author Terry Deary of Horrible Histories and Egyptian Tales fame.

Dr Digby and his assistant require help in cataloguing and investigating the large number of finds from various digs and participating children will be instructed on what to do next via the films.

Egyptian exhibit opens at Washington College

The Elm (Emily Salladale)

What will you be leaving behind when you die? The Ancient Egyptians, whose civilization was one of the greatest of the ancient world, left behind many amazing things that have caught people’s attention throughout the world with their beauty and mystery.

The Washington College community is lucky enough to have a beautiful exhibit with some of these priceless artifacts right within walk¬ing distance. The exhibit is entitled, “For Now and Forever: Funerary Artifacts of Ancient Egypt.”

The exhibit’s curator is Fatma Ismail, a lecturer in Art at WC. Ismail is also teaching the course,“Reading Egyptian Temples: Stone Wall as Mythology, Theology and Ideology.”

The exhibit, located in Kohl Gallery in the Gibson Center for the Arts, does not contain the artifacts people have come to associate with ancient Egyptian burials. There are no mummies or elaborate masks made of gold or jewels on display. Rather, these funerary artifacts have a quieter beauty, and they speak volumes about Ancient Egyptian culture, their unique religious beliefs and funeral practices.

New electronic ticketing system at pyramids


A new electronic ticketing system will be implemented at the Egyptian pyramids archaeological region tomorrow.

Book Review: Making Cairo Medieval

CairObserver (Reviewed by Seif El Rashidi, Aga Khan Cultural Services, Egypt)

Nezar AlSayyad, Irene Bierman, Nasser Rabbat, eds. Making Cairo Medieval. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2005. vi + 266 pp. $83.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7391-0915-1; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7391-0916-8.

Published on H-Urban (July, 2005)

Typically, scholarship of the urban development of Cairo has emphasized the dichotomy between its “medieval” and its “modern” quarters, with little critical analysis about how this notion of a dual city came about, or the impacts of this treatment on both perceptions of Cairo and on its subsequent development. Through the work of ten scholars, Making Cairo Medieval examines the idea of a “medieval Cairo”—a concept developed in the nineteenth century by people who were essentially outsiders to the historic quarters of the city, yet whose ideas of refashioning such neighborhoods to create a “medievalized” Cairo continue to affect the policies governing these quarters of the city today.

The first section of the book, “A Medieval City for a Modern World,” sets the framework around which the ideas that eventually led to the “medievalization” of the city developed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Australia will return 122 Egyptian archeological pieces

Canberra Times (Samantha Meys)

A hoard of stolen ancient Egyptian artefacts were yesterday returned to Egypt after a whirlwind few months of travel.

Office for the Arts representative Sally Basser handed the 122 artefacts to ambassador Omar Metwally in Canberra on behalf of Arts Minister Simon Crean.

Australian authorities originally seized the items in Melbourne at an auction house in November.

The ancient artefacts had been smuggled from Egypt to Australia.

Secretary to the ambassador, Ahmed Abu Moussa, said they were notified of the objects' location in Australia thanks to the internet.

Both the Egyptian and Australian governments have worked together to ensure the items were safely returned to Egypt, where they would be tested and verified by Egyptian authorities.

Youm7 (Amany Saber)

The Egyptian ambassador in Australia, Omar Metwali, received 122 archeological pieces from Australian authorities. The pieces were retrieved from an auction house in Melbourne in November 2010.

The Egyptian embassy in Australia issued a statement announcing the Australian authorities caught these pieces after the Egyptian embassy presented an official request to retrieve them.

The archeological pieces date back to the Pharaonic, Greek and Roman eras.

Analysing skeletal remains from Amara West

British Museum (Michaela Binder)

Since early July, I’ve been in London, finally getting to analyse the human remains we excavated last season at Amara West. The human skeleton acts as a unique database about a number of different aspects of past human life. It can reveal information about a person’s life such as sex, age at death, diet or health – even a few thousand years after the person died.

This does not necessarily require special technical equipment or analysis but can usually be deduced from visible inspection of the bones alone. For example, while certain shape traits in the skull and pelvis give information about whether the individual was male or female, attrition of the teeth and degenerative changes in specific parts of the hip bone can tell us how old a person was when he or she died.

Currently, I’m working on the human remains from the chamber of Grave 234. One of the more challenging tasks working on the burials from this grave is to find out how many people were actually buried there.

New Book: Egypt and the Near East - the Crossroads

Oxbow Books

Egypt and the Near East - the Crossroads: Proceedings of an International Conference on the Relations of Egypt and the Near East in the Bronze Age, Prague, September 1-3, 2010, edited by Jana Mynárová

The present volume presents the proceedings from the international workshop entitled Egypt and the Near East - the Crossroads, dedicated to the study of the relations between the two regions. The symposium took place from September 1-3, 2010 at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. The main objective of the workshop was to enhance our understanding of the historical processes and the development of the abundant and complex relations between Egypt and the Near East during the period defined by the end of the Chalcolithic Period and the dawn of the Iron Age. In light of this, special attention was given to the region of Syria-Palestine. In order to obtain a well-balanced insight, the subject was discussed both from an archaeological and a philological point of view.

The volume contains 14 papers, all of them closely related with the topic of the workshop with seven papers based on the study of material culture and archaeological data and seven papers devoted to the study of written sources.

Inspections by new Libyan Antiquities Minister

The Malta Independent

Libyan archaeologists are beginning to inspect the country’s priceless historical sites, hoping part of their cultural heritage and economic future has not been ruined by war.

“It is the first time I go there since the war, Gaddafi’s troops were inside and I want to know what happened,” said Fadel Ali Mohammed, Libya’s freshly appointed Minister for Antiquities.

Setting out from the Tripoli hotel that has become his temporary home, the 62-year-old − a doctor in archaeology and Greek philology − begins the drive west to Sabratha, one of Libya’s most treasured archaeological sites.

Despite multiple checkpoints armed by young volunteer militiamen, it only takes 90 minutes to get there. But it is an anxious 90 minutes for the man who is now in charge of protecting Libya’s past.

The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy' at Carlos Museum

Access Atlanta (Catherine Fox)

The mud-brown figure wrapped in yards of linen lies curled on his side, skull cradled by a headrest. He might be mistaken for a George Segal sculpture or a victim at Pompeii frozen in the ash. This man, however, lived thousands of years before Mount Vesuvius erupted. His remains are among the fewer than a dozen mummies extant from Egypt's Old Kingdom, and the only one on this continent, and it belongs to the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

Recently conserved after almost a century-long hibernation in storage, it is the star of and impetus for the museum's “Life & Death in the Pyramid Age: The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy.” Egyptologist Peter Lacovara conveys the historical, religious and geographical context for the prized artifact through tomb objects from the Carlos collection -- many acquired with this show in mind -- loans, large-scale photographs and informative texts.

The exhibition designers created a particularly dramatic tableau by transforming a gallery doorway into the entrance to a tomb. The visitor walks through it, just as an ancient Egyptian bringing an offering for the deceased would have done, to reach the offering plate (one of the new Carlos acquisitions), which sits in front of an actual “false door” door of a tomb.

More re work resuming on Kebash Road

Youm7 (Dina Abdul Aleem)

Kebash Road at Karnak Temple is facing a crisis after the January 25 Revolution, according to General Security of Supreme Council for Antiquities, Mohamed Abdul Fatah.

“Development and restoratfion processes have stopped since the January 25 Resolution. Residents, therefore use the road connecting Karnak and Luxor temples,” said Abdul Fatah.

The Supreme Council for Antiques was developing Kebash Road before the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution.

Abdul Fatah said the council prepared a cohesive plan with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Luxor governorate to protect and develop the road.

Abdul Fatah also said that Ministry of Tourism would fund the development of the road, while Luxor governorate would provide infrastructure towards restoration efforts.

Weaving a nation’s history at the Textile Museum

Al Masry Al Youm

The building is an architectural piece of art, built by Ali in 1828 as a charity for the soul of his son, Ismail Pasha, who had died in Sudan in 1822. At first, it was a charitable educational facility that provided community services and gaining a functional value that helped it survive and maintain its glamor over the centuries.

It was later turned into the Nahaseen School, before its condition deteriorated with some parts falling off due to age and weather erosion.

But as the Culture Ministry kicked off its Islamic Cairo renovation project in the Gammaliya district, the building was turned into the first and only textile museum of its kind in the Middle East.

Its vast collection displays the history of the textile industry in Egypt, including works from the Pharonic, Roman, Greek, Umayyad, Abbassid, Tulunid, Ottoman, Mamluk and Ayyubid periods.

CT Scanners Crack Open a Mummy Mystery


With short video.

In the late 1950s, the Natural History Museum received an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Wistar Institute. For years, curators and researchers knew very little about the body wrapped up inside. But recent technological advancements have revealed the individual’s age and gender—a male, roughly 40 years old—as well as something else hidden within the wrappings, says Dave Hunt, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum.

“He has three packets that were inside of the abdomen. They removed all the organs, and these have been stuffed back up in there to fill it out again,” says Hunt. Packing the linen rolls back inside, he says, was part of the mummification process for high-status individuals, so that they would more closely resemble what they had looked like during life. “In their religious beliefs, for the Baa spirit, the body was their temple, their place for residing at night. They left during the day and they came back at night, and they had to recognize who to come back to,” he says.

These revelations and many more have come thanks to the use of CT scanning technology.

Mysteries of the pyramids

Washington Times (Anwaar Abdall)

The Giza Pyramids are among the most famous monuments in the world. They also raise endless questions by their visitors. Part of their mystery is the fact that there are no definite answers to questions such as: Why they were built? How they were built? Who built them? What do they symbolize? In our attempt to find answers, we find many theories.

Approximately 90 percent of the theories in Egyptology are based on hypothesis, and only 10 percent are proven ones. Bearing in mind that there are 3 mysteries connected to the pyramids, namely the mystery of the tools used, the mystery of the colors and the mystery of mummification, the pyramids are a challenge to all the technologies that we have in the 21st century.

Even the name ‘Pyramid’ is a mystery. Historians believe the word is derived from the Greek word ‘pyramos’-which means a type of bread that takes the shape of a triangle. Interestingly enough, the original hieroglyphic “MER”, which means an instrument used to ascend to the sun, has no connection with the Greek word that might help answer the question about the pyramid. Several researchers reject the traditional theory that a pyramid is a tomb for a king.

Egypt to host conference on Islamic heritage


Egypt will host today the second conference of the Islamic heritage, organized by the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and cultural Organization (ISESCO) on September 17.

The conference will continue for two days and will be attended by the delegations of Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Malaysia.

Director General of the High Council of Antiquities, Mohamed abdel-Fatah, will deliver the opening speech. It is expected that abdel-Fatah will highlight Egypt's role in protecting the Islamic heritage as a way to achieve tourist development in the Islamic states.

Online: The Journal of Egyptological Studies (Bulgarian Institute of Archaeology)


Articles in JES 1 (2004) and JES 2 (2005) are available for download as PDFs.

The Journal of Egyptological Studies (JES) is published by the Bulgarian Institute of Egyptology. It is issued on an annual basis since September 2004. The JES is a result of the development and expansion of Egyptology in Bulgaria. It gives Egyptologists an opportunity to publish new original ideas, new approaches and data in connection with the language, literature, religion, archeology and history of the “place where our hearts live”.

The Journal of Egyptological Studies is open to the international Egyptolgical society, but also aims to establish a bridge between Western schools of Egyptology and their colleagues from Eastern Europe. As a result of World War II and the political changes, which took place afterwards, part of the connections between scholars from different countries in Europe has been interrupted. Nowadays, for example, few Egyptologists abroad know about fundamental achievements of Russian scholars in the field of socio-economic, political and cultural history of Ancient Egypt. We want to cooperate in filling this gap, encouraging young scholars to contribute to the process of exchange of ideas and experience in our field.

Sad News: Jean Leclant

Le Figaro

Ils sont une toute petite poignée d’hommes et de femmes à avoir chevillé au corps la passion de l’Égypte et de la Grèce antique, et, surtout, la passion de vouloir transmettre leur savoir. Jean Leclant était de ceux-là. Il s’est éteint aujourd'hui à l’âge de 91 ans.

Membre de l’Institut, dont il assurait le secrétariat perpétuel depuis vingt-huit ans (il fut élu en 1974), l’ancien élève de l’École normale était réputé pour ses travaux et ses publications sur l’histoire et la civilisation pharaonique, et ses fouilles en Égypte. Ses connaissances l’ont conduit à mener une carrière impressionnante. Impossible de citer tous ses titres, on peut juste rappeler qu’il a été membre de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale au Caire, professeur d’égyptologie à la Sorbonne puis au Collège de France durant une dizaine d’années. Il a été directeur d’études à l’École pratique des hautes études.

Il aimait l’étude.

More re UNESCO assistance for Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

During a meeting held yesterday at the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ (SCA) offices, the director of UNESCO’s cultural department Tamara Twinasky announced UNESCO’s full collaboration with the SCA to restore and preserve Egypt’s archaeological sites, which were listed on the UNESCO’S World Heritage List in 1979.

Mohamed Abdel Fatah, the secretary-general of the SCA, told Ahram Online that Twinasky pledged UNESCO’s full support to continue restoration and development work now carried out at the Memphis Necropolis (the Giza plateau, Abusir, Dahshur and Saqqara) especially at Dahshur and Saqqara which was meant to be completed earlier this year.


UNESCO will cooperate with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to maintain Egyptian archaeological sites listed on the World Heritage List.

Mohamed Abdel Fattah, the Secretary General of the SCA, met yesterday with Tarek Shawky, director of UNESCO’s regional office in Egypt; Tamara Twinasky, director of UNESCO’s cultural department; and Gehan Zaki, the General Coordinator between the organization and the SCA.

Abdel Fattah said UNESCO has expressed its readiness to cooperate with the SCA in many areas. They discussed the work underway at Dahshur, which is supposed to be finished by the beginning of next year. They also discussed the program of cooperation and the sites that have been on the World Heritage List since 1979.

In-Person Research on Ancient Manuscripts

Baylor University

Fragments of ancient, rare manuscripts of Greek classical poetry, Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scriptures are being retrieved from papier-mâché-like mummy wrappings on loan to Baylor University -- all part of an international project that will give undergraduate humanities students rare hands-on research.

The project, called the Green Scholars Initiative, eventually will include more than 100 universities, with Baylor University as the primary academic research partner. Professor-mentors will guide students through research and publication of articles about rare and unpublished documents, among them an ancient Egyptian dowry contract on loan to Kent State University and an ancient papyrus of Greek statesman Demosthenes' famed "On the Crown" Speech, said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, initiative director and a Distinguished Senior Fellow with Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion.

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor at sunset on New Years Eve 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Egyptian obelisk amongst Rome monuments vandalised

BBC News (David Willey)

Three historic monuments have been attacked by vandals in the Italian capital, Rome.

In the first attack, a man was caught on security cameras chipping two pieces off a marble statue on a fountain in the Piazza Navona.

Hours later tourists watched as a man threw a rock at the famous Trevi Fountain in the centre of the city.

Police then said they caught an American student scaling a wall of the Colosseum to chip off pieces of marble. . . .

Part of an Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome 2,000 years ago has just been covered in graffiti.

Egypt halts decision on visas

Al Ahram Weekly

Egypt will suspend the decision requiring tourists to get visas in advance, says the ministry of tourism.

The Assistant Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zazou announced that the Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour has agreed with the Council of Ministers to suspend the decision. Zazou added that tourism companies and offices were already notified of the suspension of the decision.

Last Thursday the cabinet had announced that it was going to change the visa regulations and visitors could no longer get their visa upon arrival in Egypt.

Al Masry Al Youm

Egypt's government has frozen a decision requiring tourists and other visitors to apply for visas before arrival in the country, an Egyptian tourism official said Sunday.

Deputy Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou said the Cabinet froze the decision, according to the official Middle East News Agency. He did not give a reason or say if it would be enforced later.

Online: JSTOR pre-1923 now freely available


Thanks to Chuck Jones and his Ancient World Online blog for the above link. JSTOR has long been an invaluable resource for those who have access. It is good that some of the content has been opened for the general public. There was a lot of pre-1923 Egyptology so this may well offer a useful resource.

Dear Library and Publisher Colleagues,

I am writing to share exciting news: today, we are making journal content on JSTOR published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere, freely available to the public for reading and downloading. This includes nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals, representing approximately 6% of the total content on JSTOR.

We are taking this step as part of our continuous effort to provide the widest possible access to the content on JSTOR while ensuring the long-term preservation of this important material. To date, we have primarily provided access to people through a growing base of libraries and institutions. In 1995, only ten journals were digitized and available to just a few universities. Today, millions of people from more than 7,000 institutions in 153 countries have access to journals on JSTOR through their universities, colleges, high schools, businesses, research institutions, museums, historical societies, and public libraries.

This constitutes remarkable progress and impact, but there remain many people who are not affiliated with institutions who want access to the knowledge preserved in JSTOR. We have taken a variety of steps over the years to serve them.

News from the SCA in Luxor

Luxor News Blog

Thanks to Jane Akshar for the information that Ibrahim Soliman (Supreme Council of Antiquities) has been promoted to Head of Karnak and Luxor.

Also from Jane's blog is the news that Abdel Fattah (new head of the SCA) is aiming to complete the Avenue of the Sphinxes for a planned opening at the end of October. At Karnak visitors will be directed towards the temple via the ongoing excavations in front of the first pylon. See the link for more.

A Revolutionary Duck


When walking along the waterfront in Garden City Cairenes and visitors wonder about one particular building across the Nile on the southern tip of Gezira (Zamalek) Island. If you take a falucca ride around here the boatman might tell you “that’s the museum of the revolution.” This might be confusing as there are now three junctures in the last century of Egyptian history that have been endowed with the title “revolution.”

The building in question was ordered in 1949 under King Farouk for the Royal Navy fleet and was completed in 1951. At that time it cost LE118,000. Needless to say, the building was never used as intended because the King was overthrown in 1952 by members of the army. During the early days of post-Farouk Egypt, the building was used by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the “free officers” as their headquarters and many historic meetings, laws, court rulings and decisions took place here. By 1956 the building was ignored and abandoned and stayed so until recently.

Feature on Serabit el-Kadim turquiose mines

Al Masry Al Youm (Fatma Keshk)

A feature story on Serabit el-Kadim in Sinai, with photos.

"His majesty of this God has sent the God's treasurer, the assistant and leader of the troupe, Her-Wer-Re, to the mining lands and he said: there is abundant turquoise in the hill."

With these words, Chief Her-Wer-Re began documenting the work of his mining expedition sent by the pharaoh (his majesty of this God) to Serabit al-Khadem in South Sinai during the Middle Kingdom Period (ca. 2055-1985 BC). In the inscriptions on his stele at the mine, he boasts of the success of his expedition despite rumors that turquoise ore might be lacking at that particular time of year: "My expedition returned complete in its entirety … I broke off in the first month of summer, bringing my precious stone … I accomplished my work with great success without a voice being raised against my work, which I have done excellently."

Rock inscriptions left by ancient Egyptian miners in South Sinai are rich with details of working conditions and weather, as well as praise for the pharaoh and the gods. They present a lively narrative of daily life that can be easily compared to modern business reports, or even a diary.

Photo for Today - the Temple of Luxor

Night time view.

Statue of Amenhotep III and Tiy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Egypt Antiquities authority schedules debt to push restoration

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

During his first meeting with representatives of constructor organisations which are carrying out restoration works and development projects of some of archaeological sites and monuments, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ (SCA) Mohamed Abdel Fatah agreed to draw an urgent plan for a rapid resumption of all restoration projects, which were put on hold for lack of the SCA budget, starting with those in dire need of restoration.

During the meeting, Abdel Fatah discussed the SCA financial situation with Sameh Khatab, head of the Financial Sector, and Mohamed El-Sheikha, head of the Projects Sector, in order to schedule all the SCA’s debts within the framework of the recent revenue of the council providing through the number of visitors to the monuments and archaeological sites.

The third phase of the Grand Egyptian Museum will see the light

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

According to the agreement signed between Egypt and Japan concerning the technical requirements of the company to carry out the third phase of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau, the GEM Committee will prepare a shortlist of the qualified companies proposed in the bid to select the winning one.

The proposed companies are among the most competent international companies from Spain, Brussels, Italy and Egypt.

The third phase of the build includes the construction of the museum’s main exhibition halls, which will display 100,000 ancient Egyptian artefacts.

Dealers arrested in Minya province

Youm7 (Manmoud Abel Rady)

Twelve antiques dealers were arrested in Minya province by Police detectives cooperating with the Public Security Authority after they tried to sell artifacts taken from tombs.

Major Gen. Ahmed Gamal, assistant Minister of Interior for public security, said that 12 antiques dealers in the city of Adwa were attempting to sell ten granite statues, 12 metal statues, a statue on a black granite base, and four scarabs.

No visas on arrival in Egypt

Just as Egypt tries to revive its tourism industry, they do something which seems so counter-productive. A friend of mine in New Zealand made the following remark yesterday:
"Egypt doesn't have an embassy in NZ and because I am here on a Work Visa going to Residency, I don't think I can legally just mail my passport to Canberra, Australia to get the visa. I'll probably have to go to the trouble and expense of going all the way to Canberra to get the thing and it will probably run me $750 all up. Very annoying indeed. This move is going to cost them even more tourists because I had at 2 Americans drop out after hearing this and some of the people joining me from here don't want to go to the extra trouble either."

Bikya Masr

In another odd move by the Egyptian government, foreign nationals will no longer be allowed to obtain an entry visa at a port of arrival, ending years of ease for foreign citizens hoping to visit the country.

It comes as the government appears to be continuing its crackdown of foreign nationals living in the country, where a large number have reported not being able to extend their visas or obtain longer permissions to stay in the country since the revolution ousted the government of Hosni Mubarak in February.

Despite relying heavily on tourism, the move means nations from the United States, Europe, Australia, Gulf countries, Africa, Latin America and Asia will now be required to apply for a visa at their local Egyptian embassy and consulate before arrival.

The Daily News Egypt (Reem Abdellatif)

Tourism officials are concerned with a Cabinet decision to change Egypt’s visa regulations, requiring visitors to obtain visas before arrival.

Visitors from Europe, the United States, or Gulf countries were given visas upon entry at the airport; this however, is set to change from now on. Visitors will be required to obtain visas from Egyptian embassies and consulates abroad.

“I was told by the minister of tourism that this won’t be applied right away,” Elhamy ElZayat, head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, told Daily News Egypt.

“We are currently trying to find a solution that can appease all sides,” he added.

The new rules will affect citizens from the United Stats, Europe, Australia, the Gulf, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, Cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy told The Associated Press.

ElZayat said the move would impact tourists mainly coming to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, in cities like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, because these tourists often use the internet to book their stays.

“There was a very good solution suggested by the tourism minister for the issue and it’s to give out visas via the internet, which will be faster and more convenient for visitors,” he added.

Petrie launches Egypt partnership

Museums Association (Geraldine Kendall)

The Petrie Museum holds over 80,000 Egyptian artefacts but can only display 10% of its collection.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has launched a collections partnership with the Egyptian Educational Centre and Cultural Bureau (EECCB), part of the Egyptian Embassy in London.

Last year the museum was awarded an Effective Collections Special Project grant of £25,000 for a scheme enabling unused objects from its collection to be displayed in the EECCB’s newly refurbished grade 1* listed building.

The Petrie Museum holds over 80,000 Egyptian artefacts but can only display around 10% of this collection at present due to the size of its facility.

Three rooms in the EECCB’s Mayfair property, including a large ballroom, are to be set aside to display over 100 objects from the museum on a three-year rotating basis.

“Defending Egyptian Tourism” campaign issues first statement

Youm7 (Hend Mokhtar)

Officials from the “Defending Egyptian Tourism” campaign issued their first statement Thursday, supporting a demonstration defending tourism in Egypt on October 14, and rejecting any statements that harm the tourism sector.

The campaign called on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to take necessary action against those who harm tourism, intentionally or unintentionally.

They described the tourism sector as a “red line” which cannot be harmed.

Illegal road on antiquities land near Abusir

Cairo/Giza Daily Photo (Maryanne Stroud Gabbani)

Maryanne follows this story with the better news that he local families met the other night and told the members who built the road that they could not quarry in this area, but it still makes one wonder how it went so far without anyone taking action to prevent it.

I went to Sakkara Country Club with a friend today to arrange a stay for him and his wife next weekend. While there the manager opened his drapes and waved at a dark line in the desert next to the Club. Apparently last night a group of local sand and gravel miners trucked in tons of clay to construct a road coming in from the asphalt road to the Giza dump to the north, along the edge of the desert and then up the hills just behind the Club. Apparently the goal is to mine and truck away the hills behind the Club that hid the sight and considerable stench of the Giza dump from the rest of us. And this is on antiquities land. The dump is not but the road most certainly is, and it's highly probable that the workers on this endeavor will enjoy a bit of moonlight archaeology. So who are they paying off? The Army or Antiquities? Or both?

Mexicans Arrested for Stealing Egyptian Antiquities in Chile

Latin American Herald Tribune

Two Mexicans were arrested when they were caught trying to steal priceless Egyptian antiquities from an exhibition in Chile’s capital, police said Sunday.

Jose Garcia Nielsen, 24, and Alberto Tinajo Cazares, 22, were caught attempting to steal the antiquities late Saturday at the Parque Arauco shopping center in Santiago’s Las Condes district, where the Archaeological Treasures of Egypt exhibition is being staged.

Security guards caught the two Mexicans, who will appear before a judge on Sunday, in the act of stealing the artifacts, police said.

The security guards called the Carabineros militarized police force, which arrested the two suspects and recovered the antiquities.

Nefertiti revisited

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

The conflict between Egypt and Germany over the 3,400-year-old iconic bust of Queen Nefertiti has again come to the fore following the discovery of a 1924 document revealing the mysterious story behind Germany's possession of the Nefertiti bust.

The latest edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel, published last week, contains a report that the German Oriental Association (DOG) had discovered a 1924 document claiming that Ludwig Borchardt, the discoverer of the Nefertiti bust, used a trick to smuggle the bust to Germany. According to the magazine, the document's authenticity is currently being analysed by experts.

The newspaper also said that the document was written by an eyewitness who claimed that Borchardt, who was keen on reserving the bust for Germany, intentionally disguised it by covering it with a layer of gypsum to ensure that the committee charged with supervising the distribution of new discoveries between Egypt and foreign mission would not see how beautiful the bust was or realise that it was actually made of exquisitely painted limestone.

New edition of AEC Egyptology Newsletter

To suscribe email <>

9th September 2011, Number 19

Edito: Why Egyptology?
Call for financial help to rebuild Khonsu-Ms' sarcophagus
Excavations to resume in Egypt despite revolution
Staying on top of research concerning prehistoric human origins

You can susbcribe at the above address but if you cannot get hold of the current issue email me and I'll send it to you (PDF).

New edition of BMSAES

British Museum


This issue presents the latest results from British Museum fieldwork at Elkab and Hagr Edfu, along with an article re-assessing the Great Enclosure at Naukratis. This site is currently the focus of a large research project in the Department of Greece and Rome, which will include the systematic cataloguing of artefacts from the site, both those housed in the British Museum and at other institutions.
Elisabeth O'Connell, Neal Spencer


British Museum Expedition to Elkab and Hagr Edfu 2011
W. Vivian Davies and Elisabeth R. O’Connell

The Egyptian temple and settlement at Naukratis
A. Jeffrey Spencer

New edition of Egyptological


Edition 2 of the Magazine section of Egyptological is now live on the above address.

Here is the Editorial for the edition:

Egyptological is getting bigger with 10 new articles or reviews published today and another album of photographs for your enjoyment.

Egyptological Magazine

In the Magazine we are pleased to see the return of two authors from the first edition. Brian Alm is continuing his popular series on the religion of the ancient Egyptians while Barbara O’Neill returns with another lavishly illustrated article. The image alongside, from the tomb of Nebamun is just one of the images in her article on the depiction of animal companions in tombs.

We are delighted to welcome two new authors. Philip A. Femano has written a must-read article questioning the purpose of the blocking stones in the Ascending Passage of the Great Pyramid. Gary Beuk presents a biography of one of the best known early Egyptologists, and certainly the most colourful, Gionanni Battista Belzoni.

Andrea Byrnes has added an article on the little known subject of Libyan Desert glass, a real treat for any Tutankhamun fans who have not heard of this unusual material found amongst his jewelery.

We hope you will show your appreciation for all of our writers by leaving comments on their pieces.

Our plan is for the Magazine to feature reviews as well as articles and you will find three of those as well, written by us. We attended the AWT conference last weekend and offer an overview and the first of our detailed reviews of invidual lectures. More will follow over the next few weeks.


Our new readers are reminded that Egyptological has three distinct sections: the Journal; the Magazine; and Colloquy. New within Colloquy you will find a review of an hieroglyphs course by a triad of new authors Glynis Greaves, Pat Kennedy, Sue Drew and yet another review from Andrea. Since pictures are popular, there is also a new photo album by another new contributor, Glyn Morris, who presents pictures of the Akhemenu Temple at Karnak.

More material is planned for Colloquy over the next few weeks. The beauty is that you don’t have to wait for the next edition. Colloquy is like snacking between meals!

Egyptological Journal

The next edition of the Journal will be published within a month or so.

Writers, Photograpahers and Volunteers Wanted

Egyptological is a free magazine for the community, by the community. We are always looking for new contributors. Please see the Participate section of the site for details of writing for us or submitting photographs.

We also really need more volunteers to help us. The more material we publish, the more work that is for our wonderful volunteers who have helped with proof reading. We would particularly like to thank Karen Hauck, Joyce Scribner, Cheryll Agg and Rebecca Kelly. If we are to continue to publish several articles a month, we really need more help with proof-reading and, for some articles, translation. If you can help, please contact us.

We would also particularly like a couple of assistants who could take on the role of Events secretary between them and keep the site up to date with any new Egyptology events around the world.

* * * * *

We hope you enjoy the new edition of our Egyptological Magazine. We are very grateful to the authors who have contributed material to make this second edition such a great success and would like to say a big thank you to them all. We could not do this without you.

Heritage at risk in Libya

CNN (Libby Lewis)

Before Moammar Gadhafi, there were the Phoenicians. And the Greeks. The Romans. The first Arabs. They're a reminder that no civilization -- and no leader -- is forever.

The Libyan transitional leaders have a lot to deal with once they stop being rebels, and begin shaping a new Libya: Keeping law and order, setting up a rudimentary government, dealing with money -- and oil.

But what about Libya's other wealth? Its archaeological treasures?

They are all over the country.

In the south, in Acacus, rock paintings 12,000 years old cross an entire mountain range.

In the east, the city of Cyrene holds a thousand years of history -- Roman general Mark Antony once gave it to Cleopatra.

And along the coast, the splendid ruins of Leptis Magna that were buried for centuries under the sand was said to be one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire.

What will happen to these sites in the days ahead? If you look at history, their fate does not bode well.

Archaeological Institute of America

We, the presidents of the undersigned cultural organizations, call on the international community to protect the ancient sites and antiquities of Libya, which face very real threats of damage and destruction caused by the unfortunate events and military action currently taking place there. The cultural heritage and archaeological resources located in Libya are irreplaceable elements of the world’s shared memory, going back thousands of years. The importance of guarding these treasures while civil unrest is underway cannot be overestimated.

We strongly urge immediate action to protect Libyan antiquities, cultural heritage, and archaeological sites, as illustrated at Through such action, significant archaeological artifacts and irreplaceable historic objects will be preserved in situ and in the many museums and sites across the country. Such an initiative will also help stem illicit international crime organizations that have links to money laundering, human trafficking and the drug trade and are known to exploit civil unrest and political instability for profiteering.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Following Libya's uprising, the UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova called on the world’s nations, Libyans and international art and antiquities traders to protect Libya’s cultural heritage.

In a release sent by UNESCO Media Service, Bokova stated that looting, theft and the illicit trafficking of cultural property are manifestly in contravention of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the only international instrument that focuses exclusively on the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property.

“The heritage of a nation is essential to the ability of its citizens to preserve their identity and self-esteem, to profit from their diversity and their history and build themselves a better future,” Bokova said. With this timeless truth in mind, she called on the people of Libya, on neighbouring countries and all those involved in the international art and antiquities trade to do all they can to protect Libya’s invaluable cultural heritage.

Chaos in the Caliph's Quarters

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With three photos.

Al-Muiz Street in Islamic Cairo is now totally transformed. When it was first closed off into a pedestrian-only open-air museum, the architecture imposed a serenity and power. Unfortunately, this is no longer in evidence. Chaos reigns, instead.

The lack of security following Egypt's January 25 Revolution provided peddlers, vendors and grocers opened the path (literally) for them to sell their wares all over the street, often even on the monuments. They use vehicles as a short cut, transforming the open courtyards of the Fatimid and Ottoman mosques into parking lots.

“The atmosphere of the street has changed totally – for the worse,” Ahmed Mahmoud, a bazaar owner at Al-Muiz Street told Ahram Online. He added that vehicles pose huge threats to the monuments lining the streets the run along. Three days ago, a stone block from the Sultan Brqouq mosque fell off while a huge truck passed.

Exhibition: Life and Death in the Pyramid Age

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Acquired from excavations at the sacred site of Abydos in Middle Egypt by Emory Theology Professor, Rev. William A. Shelton in 1920, this mummy is the oldest Egyptian mummy in the Western Hemisphere and one of no more than half a dozen known to exist in the world.

Current examinations being undertaken at Emory Hospital and in the Carlos Museum’s conservation lab promise to reveal much about the little understood origins of mummification in Egypt. No other mummy of this early date has been investigated using modern scientific procedures such as CT-scanning, radiocarbon dating, blood typing, and spectroscopic analysis.

The exhibition will also place the mummy within the context of ancient Egypt's practice of mummification, burial, and the cult of the dead, as well as exploring the social and political changes that marked the end of the Pyramid Age.

Photo for Today - Luxor Temple at sunset

This was on New Year's Eve. My father and I had no idea
that it was New Year's Eve until an Australian tourist
pointed it out. It was a good place to be for a day which
neither of us were intending to celebrate.

The obelisk outside the First Pylon was originally one of a pair. The
First Pylon dates to the reign of Ramesses II in the 19th Dynasty
and the obelisks were erected at that time.
The second obelisk is now in Paris on the Place de la Concorde,
moved there in 1835 by Napoleon. There's a photograph of the
French obelisk at the following address on Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

UPDATED. Breaking News - a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings?

Kate and I were at the AWT Amarna conference (and fund raiser) this weekend where, together with a large number of other people, we considerably enjoyed two days of excellent lectures by some terrific speakers. In his usual style, the conference host Peter Allingham saved a particularly good punchline for last.

Stephen Cross, who has been consulting on excavations in the Valley of the Kings opposite the tomb of Tutankhamun, announced the possible discovery of a new tomb located only three feet away from where he predicted it would be! Excavations were stopped when the revolution started, but hopefully excavation permits will be granted for further excavation to determine exactly what is there. Cross has secured the commitment of a top Egyptologist and unlimited funding, so the potential is there. The chances of it being undisturbed are good.

Kate has written up a summary of Stephen Cross's lecture on her blog (

We will provide more details about the lecture and will also review the conference as a whole on Friday on Egyptological, and will write up a good selection of the other lectures over the next couple of weeks. Although the new tomb announcement was a great punchline to the conference as a whole, there has been some seriously fascinating work carried out at Amarna which was a revelation to me, and I am looking forward to writing up some of those lectures and discussing them.

I have to say that it was a marvellous end to a really enjoyable two days. My thanks to Peter Allingham, Janet and Mike Shepherd, and all the speakers for all their hard work. It was a really great event.

Apologies that I am running behind with other Egytology news - I will be updating the blog over the next few hours (see below).

Renovations resumed at Djoser's Step Pyramid

Youm7 (Dina Abd El Aleem)

Mohammed Abdel Fattah, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, inspected the ongoing renovations at the step pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara with General Mohammed el-Sheikha, head of the developments unit of the council Monday.

Abdel Fattah said that the pyramid is stable and there is no need to be concerned. He went onto say that the renovation company is fulfilling it duties and there are no obstacles to completion or issues with the already-appropriated three million EGP (U.S. $503,000) budget.

He added that this project must be completed because of the pyramid’s historical, archaeological, and artistic importance as the oldest pyramid in Egypt.

International smugglers increasingly target Egypt's artifacts

Al Masry Al Youm (Mete Eriksen)

The dismantlement of an international mummy and artifact smuggling ring by US authorities in July raised alarms about the status of stolen Egyptian artifacts in transnational black markets.

The daily newspaper Metro-New York recently reported that three New York men were arrested for smuggling 2000-year-old Egyptian artifacts into the US from the United Arab Emirates by lying custom officials about the contents of their luggage. In this case, the antiquities were worth US$2.5 million.

Experts say the discovered amount is only the tip of the smuggling iceberg.

Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and a leading expert on animal mummies, says the smuggling begins in various sites in Egypt and ends up in the hands of antiquity dealers in Europe, the US, and some areas in the Gulf.

“By removing a mummy, or indeed any artifact, from its context we are destroying its meaning and what it can contribute to the sum of human knowledge,” says Ikram.

"Also by removing mummies illegally," she adds, "they and their surroundings are being destroyed. Thus, a piece of Egyptian history is lost forever."

Foreign missions to resume excavations in Egypt

Egyptian Gazette

Seventy-five archaeological missions will resume excavation projects in Egypt as of Monday, said Mohamed Ismail, a senior official with the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

Several foreign missions had halted their operations in Egypt in light of the January 25 revolution and the security void that followed the 18-day protests which toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Many foreign embassies had asked their missions to leave Egypt.

Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque

Al Ahram Weekly (Samir Sobhi)

Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque, whose history is sometimes overlooked by visitors, is one of Egypt's most important cultural and artistic treasures

Al-Azhar is one of the most serene places to pray in, and the area surrounding the mosque attracts both architect lovers and outgoing Egyptians and foreigners

There is no end to the architectural gems to be found in the Gammaliya, Al-Husseiniya, Saliba and Bab Al-Wazir areas of Cairo. In fact the entire district should be viewed as an open-air museum, with every second building seeming to be at least a few centuries old. Minarets carved in stone fill the skyline, and within the surrounding mosques, schools and caravansarays there are carved wooden embellishments, stonework and stained glass that make the mind spin.

Many people go to the Al-Azhar district of Cairo on a regular basis, either to relax in the company of friends in the 24-hour cafes or to introduce foreign visitors to the proud heritage of the city. However, more often than not there is little time to admire the details of all the buildings in the vicinity. Take the Al-Azhar Mosque itself, for example. The story of this building is well worth telling not only because it is one of the oldest mosques in Cairo -- only the Mosque of Amr in Masr Al-Qadima and of Ibn Tulun in Saliba are older -- but also because it has had the unusual distinction of serving as a school of learning for Islam's two rival doctrines: Shiism and Sunnism.

Book Review: Roman Egypt

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Nikolaos Lazaridis)

Livia Capponi, Roman Egypt. Classical World Series. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2010.

Livia Capponi, an enthusiastic and experienced papyrologist who is currently a lecturer in Ancient History at Newcastle University, has written a modest but well-documented introduction to Roman Egypt, a long historical period that begins with Augustus’ arrival at Alexandria on 1 October, 30 BC and ends with the Arab conquest of Egypt sealed by a treaty signed by the general ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and the patriarch Cyrus on 8 November 641. This introduction is intended for “students and teachers of Classical Civilization at late school and early university level”, according to the series’ mission statement on the back cover, even for “those with no previous knowledge of the classical languages and those who, before reading, did not even know what a papyrus was”, according to the author’s preface.

The book begins with a short preface in which the author briefly explains why the study of Roman Egypt is a difficult task that can be accomplished only by a few scholars who have the appropriate multilingual and multidisciplinary skills to be able to examine the diverse textual sources of this period. Although the author mentions that the book is looking only at a selection of aspects of Roman Egypt, she does not inform the reader on which criteria she bases her selection, a serious omission, I think, since it may lead the uninitiated reader to believe that these are the only important issues arising from the sources about this period.

Book Review: Alexandreia und das ptolemäische Ägypten

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by M. Weiskopf)

Gregor Weber (ed.), Alexandreia und das ptolemäische Ägypten: Kulturbegegnungen in hellenistischer Zeit. Berlin: Verlag Antike, 2010.

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

Weber has edited an excellent, well-written collection of essays investigating the Ptolemaic era, a collection (whose origins lie in 2007/2008) indicative of the advances made in the field since the 1980s when the imprecise term "multicultural" was first used to placate the “politically correct.” Weber’s introduction (pp. 9-29) makes clear that one is investigating cultural interactions, Kulturbegegnungen: a plural. The cultures and interactions are never static, nor is there a single Leitkultur. Weber proposes the investigation of five Problembereiche that cut across disciplines: a. the concept of monarchy, in which the desire for dynastic unity led to the adaptation of the Egyptian concept of sibling marriage; b. the elite of the land, Egyptian and Greco-Macedonian maintaining their respective positions, but prosopographical details preclude assigning ethnics based on one’s name; c. religion, in which the Ptolemies were active patrons, but a clear division between divine worlds seems to have persisted; d. the situation in the chora, illuminated for the most part by papyrus-preserved “personal” histories; e. dislike of the Ptolemaic rule: the priesthood saw the Ptolemies as the bulwark against a Sintflut of chaos and anarchy; it remains difficult to assign specific reasons for others’ dissatisfaction. Weber ends with advice (p. 24): “Generalisierende Aussage in grosser Stil ueber die griechische Elite oder die Aegypter verbieten sich daher.”

Dr Patricia Spencer retires from EES

Egypt Exploration Society (Patrica Spencer)

Dear Members,

At the end of 2011 I shall be retiring as Director of the Egypt Exploration Society, a post which I have been honoured to hold for 28 years - though with a succession of different job titles!

The Society’s Trustees have taken the opportunity afforded by my retirement and the departure in August of our Development Director, Victoria Perry (to be Chief Executive of a charity closer to her home in Worcestershire), to review the job description for the incoming Director and to include within it a development role. To create the necessary time and capacity for this within the Director post, the Trustees have agreed that I should retain my current ‘publications’ responsibilities and continue to work for the Society as a part-time ‘General Editor’, for one year in the first instance. I am very pleased that my employment with the Society will be continuing after my retirement as Director and am delighted that, as part of my new job, I shall be able to continue editing and producing Egyptian Archaeology.

The Society will shortly be advertising for my successor as Director and it is hoped that the appointment will be made by the end of October, with the new Director starting work in January 2012.

Best wishes,

Dr Patricia Spencer
The Egypt Exploration Society

Sad News: Jac Janssen

My sincere thanks to Jan Picton from the Friends of the Petrie Museum for letting members know that Jac Janssen has passed away. Jac Janssen did some pioneering research into Deir el-Medineh and made some very welcome suggestions about how the Egytpian economy was structured. Here is Jan's email:

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Professor Jac J Janssen on 23rd August at the age of 89.

Jac's knowledge of the economics of Ramesside Egypt and the lives of the people of Deir el-Medina remain unparalleled. His many publications, both alone and with Rosalind, demonstrate the range of this interests from commodity prices to children's games.

Jac did not suffer fools gladly but he was a kind man, a good friend, and very generous with his knowledge which he shared gladly with colleagues and generations of students.

After his retirement from his teaching post as Professor of Egyptology at Leiden University from 1979 to 1983 Jac moved to London. His marriage to Rosalind Hall, then assistant curator at the Petrie Museum, brought a lasting partnership in life and work with a number of shared publications. Anyone who met Jac and Rosalind recognised the closeness of their relationship. We extend our deepest sympathy to Rosalind for her great loss.

The funeral service will take place at noon on Tuesday 6th September, at the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, London (Liverpool St/Moorgate Tube) followed by a reception.

Those planning to attend should notify Rosalind, or email me and I will forward the emails.

If you wish to write to Rosalind and don't have the address, please send c/o the Petrie Museum.

Best wishes

Sad News: Professor John Evans

The Telegraph, UK

Evans rejected the "diffusionist" theory that such development could not have come about without the influence of hypothetical "invaders" from a supposedly more advanced Orient. Maltese prehistoric culture had flowered, he suggested, out of earlier indigenous cultures without any intervention from outside. His "anti-diffusionist" conclusions were validated by the development of radiocarbon dating, which showed that the Maltese temples predate the Egyptian Pyramids.

John Davies Evans was born on January 22 1925 in Liverpool to Welsh parents. From the Liverpool Institute he won an open scholarship to read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, aged 17. His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, during which he served at Bletchley Park as one of the team involved in breaking each day's new Enigma code settings.

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