Sunday, October 30, 2011

Australia returns 122 items to Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

After a decade of lying hidden in storehouses at auction halls in Melbourne, Australia, a collection of 122 ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman artefacts is to return to Egypt on 5 November.

An archaeological mission led by Ahmed Mostafa, director general of the Retrieved Antiquities Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), travelled early Friday to Melbourne to receive the items which are now at the Egyptian embassy in the city.

Mostafa told Ahram Online over the telephone interview before leaving that the recovered objects were on show at the Mossgreen Auction hall’s catalogue. They vary from miniature amulets to larger bronze statues, are from the Neolithic and Greco-Roman eras, dating from about 146BC to 415AD.

When the SCA found about the planned sale, Mostafa explains, it contacted the Egyptian embassy in Melbourne and, through diplomatic channels, Egypt managed to secure the collection.

Stolen ancient artefacts recovered

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With two photos.

Following comprehensive investigations carried out by the Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAP), a collection of missing ancient Egyptian artefacts were recovered buried by antiquity smugglers in the desert south of Saqqara necropolis.

According to a release submitted by TAP, the restituted collection includes of an anthropoid painted wood sarcophagus, two wooden statues depicting the god Ptah and seven pieces of inscribed limestone which were parts of a false door.

Conservation at the Ashmolean Museum, UK

Oxford Mail (Liam Sloan)

With photo.

A small team of conservators at the Ashmolean Museum are finishing their painstaking work to restore and preserve dozens of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in time for the grand opening of the new £5m galleries next month.

The new galleries of Ancient Egypt and Nubia will open to the public on Saturday, November 26, and set to boost visitor numbers to new record levels.

But, behind the scenes and high above the Oxford skyline, the experts have spent months slowly conserving priceless objects inch-by-inch.

Head of conservation Mark Norman said: “In the entire collection there are about 50,000 objects, although a lot of that is archaeological material not suitable for public display.

“Only a very small proportion goes out on display, and the conservation effort has been focussed on the most fragile and vulnerable pieces.”

Mummy had prostate cancer

Wired Science (Heather Pringle)

Some 2,250 years ago in Egypt, a man known today only as M1 struggled with a long, painful, progressive illness. A dull pain throbbed in his lower back, then spread to other parts of his body, making most movements a misery. When M1 finally succumbed to the mysterious ailment between the ages of 51 and 60, his family paid for him to be mummified so that he could be reborn and relish the pleasures of the afterworld.

Now an international research team has diagnosed what ailed M1: the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt and the second oldest case in the world. (The earliest diagnosis of prostate cancer came from the 2,700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia.) Moreover, the new study now in press in the International Journal of Paleopathology suggests that earlier investigators may have underestimated the prevalence of cancer in ancient populations because high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scanners capable of finding tumors measuring just 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter only became available in 2005. “I think earlier researchers probably missed a lot without this technology,” says team leader Carlos Prates, a radiologist in private practice at Imagens Médicas Integradas in Lisbon.

More protests, this time by GEM employees

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Approximately 40 Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) employees have staged a sit-in outside their administrative headquarters at Al-Remaya Square, saying they would go on strike if the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) did not meet their demands: a bonus every three months and a 15 per cent raise in incentives; they also called for the return of Major General Sameh Khatab, who had directed the SCA’s financial section for five years when Mostafa Amin, the new secretary general of SCA, dimissed Khatab.

Amin’s response to the sit-in was that employees of GEM receive the highest salaries among SCA employees. He told Ahram Online that a committee led by Atef Abul Dahab, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Department, will meet with the protesters tomorrow, reporting their demands, which will be looked into them in the light of SCA regulations.

i-Medjat, number 7

i-Medjat no.7

Can be downloaded free of charge from the above page, or go straight to the PDF here. Previous issues can also be downloaded.

i-Medjat is a recent egyptological journal edited by the Unité de Recherche-Action Guadeloupe (UNIRAG) and available for free in electronic form.

In ancient egyptian, the word Medjat means "papyrus roll".

The table of contents of the seventh issue is detailed below.

Editorial by Alain Anselin

(Hommage) Oum Ndigi, "Hommage à Jean Leclant", Université de Yaounde I.

(Article) Karine Gadré, "Developing ArchaeoAstronomy and Space Archaeology in the XXIth century", Chercheur associé, IRAP, Université de Toulouse & CNRS.

(Article) Graciela Gestoso Singer, "Submarine Archaeology and Underwater Cultural Heritage", Egyptology Unesco World Heritage Centre.

(Article) Edwin van den Brink, "The International Potmark Workshop",

(Article) Alain Anselin, "L'Intention Phonétique VI. Les premiers papyrus et leurs signes : mDA.t un nouveau ... media".

(Article) Paula Veiga, "Poking into medicine in ancient Egypt", Lisboa, Portugal.

(Article) Mouhamadou Nissire Sarr, "Note sur les Médecins égyptiens et leurs compétences".

(Article) Jean-Philippe Gourdine, "Vers l'Egyptologie Moléculaire ? Notes sur la paléopathologie dans l'Egypte antique", Postdoctoral fellow, Biochemistry Department, Emory University, Atlanta (Georgia, USA).

(Colloquium) "Egypt at its Origins 4 - Fourth International Conference on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, July 26-30, 2011."

Making a modern mummy

Radio Times

Not for the squeamish. Last week on the UK tv's Channel 4 a show (Egypt's Last Secret) was aired showing former Torquay taxi driver Alan Billis becoming the human to be mummified in the 21st century using Ancient Egyptian methods.

Billis donated his body to the rather unusual project after discovering he had terminal cancer. It's an intriguing human story - and the science behind it is equally fascinating.

Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret follows a team led by archaeological chemist Dr Stephen Buckley as they attempt to re-create the unique practices of the Ancient Egyptians of the 18th dynasty, the most highly skilled mummy-makers in history.

Dr Buckley gave us his step-by-step guide to making a modern-day mummy...

Scarborough Evening News

Dr Stephen Buckley and Dr Jo Fletcher, who live in Scarborough and work at the University of York, have helped mummify taxi driver Alan Billis, of Torquay. Mr Billis, who was terminally ill with lung cancer, put himself forward for the project, which is the culmination of years of research by the Scarborough pair. . .

Egyptologist Dr Fletcher told the Evening News that she expects the programme to “rattle a lot of cages” due to its controversial nature, but says the whole process was carried out with the full support of Mr Billis’ family.

Photos: Stunning aerial photographs over Luxor

Howard Middleton-Jones - Flikr

Thanks very much to Howard Middleton-Jones for taking and sharing these photographs. They are the most exceptional aerial photographs that I have seen taken from a hot air balloon. Both the clarity and the angles are superb.

Do have a look - I promise that you won't be disappointed.

Photos: National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece

Amigos de la Egiptologia (Javier Uriach Torelló)

Some great photos of the Egyptology collection in the National Archaeological Museum of Greece in Athens. It looks like a really excellent collection.

Online: Virtual tour of the tomb of Djehuty

Luxor News Blog

Thanks to Jane Akshar for publishing a virtual tour, in video, of the tomb of Djehuty on the above page.

If you speak Spanish full details of the Djehuty excavation can be found on the Project's website. A briefer English version, which includes yearly reports, can be found on the website here.

Online: The International Potmark Workshop

The International Potmark Workshop

Several articles are available as PDFs on the Articles page.

As a consequence of the renewed interest in Early Dynastic potmarks and with the formal approval of the Scientific Committee of the second international conference on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt. Origin of the State, which took place from the 5th – 8th of September 2005 in Toulouse, France, an International Potmark Workshop was established at the end of the former conference in preparation of the next conference on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt. Origin of the State, to be held in 2008 in London, England.

The present data-base driven web-site, containing over 3360 individual Early Dynastic potmarks, is but a tool- as yet still unfinished- to further and hopefully facilitate research and - through the Forum - communication amongst the 20 odd participants to this Workshop.

Although the workshop's main focus is on potmarks from the Proto- and Early Dynastic periods (Dynasties 0-2), several workshop participants will bring in their expertise concerning Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom potmarks as well, thus providing hopefully a diachronic perspective to the subject matter at hand as well as the possibility of a study in contrasts.

Online: New Coptic blog

Alin Suciu

If you are interested in Coptic studies there's a new blog on the subject of research on patristics, a, Coptic literature and manuscripts by Alin Suciu a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculté de théologie et de sciences religieuses, Université Laval, Québec.

New Book: La figure hathorique à Chypre


Carbillet, Aurélie. La figure hathorique à Chypre (2eme -1er mill. av. J.-C.), Alter Orient und Altes Testament AOAT. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.

A Table of Contents is available on the above page.

This essay deals with the origin, the identity, the place and the functions of the Hathoric figure in Cyprus (IInd-Ist millennium BC). Unlike in Egypt, Hathor is not identified by inscription in Cyprus. Her spreading is exclusively attested by hundred of iconographic evidence of varied nature (such as capitals, steles, terracotta, metal objects, vases, etc.) which were discovered almost everywhere on the island between the Late Bronze Age and the classical period (ca. 1600-400 BC). An examination of the representations of the Egyptian goddess was essential to define the iconographic features of the Hathoric figure in order to identify and isolate, among the Cypriote furniture, the imagery of the goddess. These Cypriot testimonia are listed in an exhaustive catalog, which constitutes the base of the reflection built on a iconographic, stylistic and contextual analysis of each document. In this way, these researches aimed to understand and to explain, on one hand, the introduction, the distribution and the disappearance of this Egyptian divine figure in Cyprus, and on the other hand, the symbolic value that the inhabitants of the island conferred on her.

Exhibition: Un jour, j’achetai une momie

Art Media Agency

Un jour, j’achetai une momie…Émile Guimet et l’Egypte Antique” in Lyon, 27 October 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon will present from 30 March to 2 July 2012 a selection of Émile Guimet’s collection.

The French industrialist Émile Guimet (1836-1918) left France for Egypt in 1865, and was quickly fascinated by the country’s history and culture. He started gathering a collection of Egyptian antiquities and during half a century he had gathered steles, statues, sarcophagus, funeral figurines, papyrus and amulets. Guimet also went as far as to finance archaeological digs like that of Antinoe Necropolis. The exhibition entitled “Un jour, j’achetai une momie…Émile Guimet et l’Egypte Antique” will present a part of this ensemble while trying to situate Guimet’s historic approach.

Exhibition: Gifts of the Sultan (Monica Rhor)

The two civilizations are separated by centuries and sensibilities. One venerates only a single deity; the other worshipped a pantheon of gods. One remains a force in the world to this day; the other vanished from Earth thousands of years ago.

Yet, in both the Islamic and ancient Egyptian cultures, religion is a constant beat that thrummed through the rhythms of daily life, surfacing in personal relationships, political maneuvers and faith-based rituals. It is also a motif running through two major exhibitions currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Gifts of the Sultan: The Art of Giving at the Islamic Courts and Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.

In Gifts of the Sultan, ethical and moral guidelines set by the Quran weave through a collection of 200 works from the 8th through the 19th centuries. In Tutankhamun, relics depicting offerings and prayers to the gods illustrate a society in which the religious and routine are inextricably entwined.

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor

Jigsaw puzzle of inscribed blocks forming
a wall behind the Avenue of Sphinxes just in
front of the Temple of Luxor

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tell Edfu blog - the 2011 season

Tell Edfu blog

Today excavations began and we were thrilled to have 59 local workmen join us for the clearing of the Old Kingdom area. Should we continue to get so many workers, we should be finished clearing this area by the Eid break in about 2 weeks. We are extremely excited to see some seal impressions already coming out of the ground.

Susan, Natasha, Janelle, and Dr. Moeller braved the temple pylon in search of the pottery boxes from previous seasons. Even though they had to dig for some time to find the exact boxes they were looking for, a tarp managed to keep most of the bat guano off of the boxes (a fact that greatly pleased the girls). Natasha and Janelle have a lot of work to do getting all of the pottery drawn over the next few weeks.

The Tell Efu Project has its own website. You can also read a short summary about the Oriental Institute's Tell Edfu project on their website, which also contains a link to the 2009-2010 report.

Tell Basta blog - 2011 season

Tell Basta blog

With photos.

We’ve been here at Tell Basta for more than a week now and work has begun on the detailed documentation of the finds of the last season, especially glass (by Dr Daniela Rosenow), pottery (by Mandy Mamedow) and terracotta (by Dr Veit Vaelske). These studies should provide interesting insights into the material culture of Bubastis from the Third Intermediate Period until the early Middle Ages as well as new information on trade and cultural relations with other regions - both within Egypt as in the wider Mediterranean world.

In addition epigraphic work, conducted by Eva Lange, has started in the temple. Here the reliefs of the Entrance hall of Osorkon I will be drawn on plastic sheets after identifying the blocks already published by Naville. This work is especially interesting and challenging as we have to play ‘hide and seek’ to find those published by Naville among the heaps of blocks, many of them enormous, which once formed the edifice.

SCA to launch new antiquities research centre

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Within the framework of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)’s efforts to develop the archaeological techniques at its disposal, the council soon plans to inaugurate a new Antiquities Research Centre.

According to SCA Secretary-General Mostafa Amin, the centre will cater to SCA employees with masters and doctoral competencies in order to take advantage of their respective skills and scientific knowledge to develop Egypt’s archaeological sector.

Amin pointed out that centre personnel would provide research aimed at developing and restoring the country’s many archaeological sites using the latest international methods and techniques.

SCA to review archaeological restoration projects

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Within the framework of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)’s efforts to restore Egypt’s many archaeological sites, a technical committee was established on Tuesday to review projects temporarily halted in the wake of Egypt’s January revolution. These reportedly include development projects taken up by the Ministry of Culture after its recent separation from the SCA, which is now directly answerable to the Cabinet.

Among these projects are the historic Cairo Development project, the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza plateau, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Old Cairo and the Nubian Archaeological Fund.

At a meeting with the SCA’s engineering and projects departments, recently-appointed SCA Secretary-General Mostafa Amin announced his decision to appoint Major-General Mohamed El-Sheikha to lead the committee. The meeting also discussed possibilities for collaboration with the SCA’s antiquities documentation, scientific and architectural centres instead of the consultancies that usually drain most of the budgets allocated for development projects.

Libyan heritage update

UNESCO convenes Libyan and international experts meeting for the safeguard of Libya’s cultural heritage
World Heritage Convention

I haven't seen any update about the outcome of this meeting, which took place two days ago, but something should be released in the next couple of weeks.

UNESCO has invited experts from both inside and outside of Libya to urgently examine the preservation of cultural heritage in the country, notably measures to safeguard cultural sites; prevent illicit trafficking, protect museums and strengthen cultural institutions in the wake of civil strife and the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. The meeting - the first on protecting Libyan cultural heritage after the fall of the regime - will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 21 October.

A press conference will be held during the meeting (1 p.m. Room VIII).

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, will open the session, during which experts will discuss the findings of the mission to Libya organized in late September by the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield. The Blue Shield is the distinctive emblem created by the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, (The Hague, 1954).*

Participants scheduled to attend the meeting include: Saleh Al Agab Abdallah, Chairman of the Department of Antiquities (Libya); Hafed Walda, King's College Classics department, London, archaeological mission, Leptis Magna; and Ahmad Bouzaian, of the University of Garyunis, Benghazi (Libya).

In Tripoli's museum of antiquity only Gaddafi is lost in revolution
The Guardian, UK (David Smith)

Gaddafi opened the Jamahiriya Museum in Tripoli 23 years ago on Sunday. And he made sure visitors were left in no doubt that the flowering of Roman, Byzantine and Islamic cultures were mere historical footnotes to his own ascent as "king of kings".

Brushing aside curators' preference for classical antiquity, Libya's leader gave pride of place in the first gallery to the Volkswagen Beetle he drove in the sixties and the open-top Jeep that swept him to power in 1969. Both have been vandalised and their future is uncertain in a post-Gaddafi Libya, where his ubiquitous image has been furiously purged from everything but banknotes.

At 11.30pm on 20 August 2011, as rebels launched their first attack on the Libyan capital, 20 armed men entered the museum, located in the Red Castle, at the corner of former Green Square.

They believed that the lecture theatre there had a secret underground tunnel leading to one of Gaddafi's residences on the Mediterranean coast.

That was untrue, but the rebels spotted the colonel's vintage cars and, as elsewhere, wreaked their revenge.

Egyptian mummy portraits go on display at Ashmolean museum

The Guardian, UK (Mark Brown)

Three beautifully restored mummy portraits of well-off young people who were, 2,000 years ago, probably members of a mysterious group called "the 6475" are to go on display at the new home for one of the most important Egyptian collections in the world.

The three faces - an enigmatic, beguiling young woman and two handsome men - will go on permanent display at Oxford's Ashmolean museum next month as part of the second phase of its redevelopment.

The £5m Egypt project is allowing the museum to display stunning objects which have been in storage for years with twice as many mummies and coffins being shown.

The oldest, on linen, is of a young woman dating from 55-70AD, excavated by Flinders Petrie - the founding father of Egyptology in the UK - at the Roman cemeteries of Hawara in Fayum, south-west of Cairo, in 1911.

1,200 tourists gather to watch sun light temple

Youm 7

Coming from different countries, 1,200 tourists were able to see the sun illuminate the inner sanctuary of the Abu Simbel temple Saturday, amidst an expansion of facilities used by tourists to the southern Egyptian archeological site.

Archaeologist Ahmed Saleh, the Director General of Abu Simbel, said that the sun’s passage started promptly at 5:42 am, and lasted for 22 minutes. The illumination announced the beginning of the harvest season for the ancient Egyptians.

Online: Reports on rescue excavations in Sudan

Section Française de la Direction des Antiquités du Soudan

For four years, the SFDAS has participated with NCAM in an archaeological survey program and rescue excavations linked to the construction of a dam near the 4th cataract of the Nile. This program started in November 2001 and ended in 2005. NCAM asked the SFDAS to carry out four interventions in the areas selected for the resettlement of Shaagia and Manasir populations who currently live along the fourth cataract. These regions are located near Debba, Korti, Atbara and Abu Hamed.

The first stage of the program, which ended in December 2002, covered the region of el-Multaga, east of Debba. The survey allowed the identification of 147 sites with an archaeological interest. Its contribution mainly concerns prehistory and more specifically Middle Paleolithic stone processing sites, Mesolithic and Khartoum Neolithic settlements, as well as funeral mounds dating from the second half of the fifth millennium BC.

Online: SudanPlanet


Available in Italian and English. With reports, overviews and some great photos.

A new dam in the area of the 4th cataract will put under water all the islands and large territories along the Nile, up to Abu Hamed, sinking prehistoric and historic sites which have never been investigated (Fig. 1).The Sudanese authorities (National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums) invited all the archaeological mission working in the country to contribute to the rescue of sites upstream of the dam. Indeed, it is necessary to organise systematic survey activities and rescue excavations to record archaeological sites and materials in the flooded area (Figs. 2, 3, 4).

Several foreign missions have answered the call and some have started salvage campaigns in the area, like the Sudan Archaeological Research Society from London, the Archaeological Museum of Gdansk (Poland), the French Unit of the National Corporation for Antiquities and

Museums, the University of California at Santa Barbara (USA). A sector of the area has been assigned to the Italian mission which is actually conducting archaeological excavations in Central Sudan (El Salha Project directed by Donatella Usai on behalf of the Italian Institute for Africa and the Orient, sponsored by AREA OFFICE and GASID from Turin).

Online: The Trismegistos project


Trismegistos [TM], called after the famous epithet of Hermes - Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and writing who also played a major role in Greek religion and philosophy, is a platform aiming to surmount barriers of language and discipline in the study of late period Egypt and the Nile valley (roughly BC 800 - 800 AD). It brings together a variety of projects dealing with metadata, mainly of published documents.

Its core component is Trismegistos Texts, which includes papyrological and epigraphic texts, not only in Greek, Latin, and Egyptian in its various scripts (Demotic, hieroglyphic, hieratic and Coptic), but also in Meroitic, Aramaic, Arabic, Nabataean, Carian, and other languages (currently 122639 records). Most of the metadata are provided by partner projects, normally limited to texts in a certain language, on a type of writing surface (e.g. papyrus) or of a certain type (e.g. literary vs. documentary).

Because Trismegistos wants to facilitate cross-cultural and cross-linguistic research, the project Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Graeco-Roman Egypt (Cologne, Mark Depauw; Sofja Kovalevskaja Award of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung) has collaborated with several projects of the K.U.Leuven to develop tools permitting an interdisciplinary approach to the collections holding the texts, the places where the texts where found and written, or the archives to which the texts belong.

British Museum Semantic Web Endpoint

The British Museum

This month the British Museum launched a service known as a Semantic Endpoint that will allow more direct online access to the collection database. Although it is a technical service it will support the creation of new web applications and services accessible to many different audiences.

What is a Semantic Endpoint?

Since 2007, visitors to the British Museum website have been able to search the collection through regular web pages. The Collection Online system has nearly two million objects and is still growing but provides only one way of viewing the information.

So, although people can search the collection using our website, the search interface cannot really meet the needs of all the many different audiences that might use it. The Endpoint allows external IT developers to create their own applications that satisfy particular requirements, and these can be built into other websites and use the Museum’s data in real time – so it never goes out of date.

Walters Art Museum opens access to 10,000 images

The Baltimore Sun (Tim Smith)

More than 10,000 items in the Walters Art Museum — about a third of the total collection — can now be viewed and downloaded online for free, without copyright restrictions.

The museum's collection is "basically public domain," said Dylan Kinnett, manager of web and social media at the Walters. "Something like this would be less likely at a museum with contemporary art, where the artist is still alive or the estate is still active."

The free online accessibility, which complements the Walters' free admission policy, allows viewers to see works spanning several eras, from ancient Egypt and the Americas to 18th- and 19th-century Europe. Objects from Asian and Islamic cultures are also included. Many of the downloadable art works are not currently on display at the museum.

Walters Art Museum

The images can be found online at the above address.

Catching up with Zahi Hawass

Globalpost (Deena Adel)

For years the renowned Egyptian archeologist Zahi Hawass earned worldwide fame bringing the country’s treasures to a global audience, unearthing mummies on his very own reality show, launching a clothing line and eventually becoming Minister of Antiquities.

Today Hawass is accused of corruption, briefly sentenced to a prison term (lifted by government decree), and targeted by angry protestors who chased him away from his Ministry position after a few months.

Commonly referred to as the “Egyptian Indiana Jones,” Hawass was not wearing his trademark fedora as he hosted GlobalPost in his tightly packed Cairo office. He adamantly swatted away allegations of misconduct while celebrating his own reputation.

“I established Egypt’s heritage, and gave value to Egyptians worldwide,” asserted Hawass, who served as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities for nearly a decade.

Hawass is credited with boosting tourism to Egypt by sparking interest in its archeology and spearheading a movement to return many prominent Ancient Egyptian artifacts to Egypt.

But after then-President Hosni Mubarak appointed him Minister of Antiquities in late January, protests erupted calling for him to quit (and “take his hat with him”). Among other things, he was accused of corruption and being a bit too close to former first lady Suzanna Mubarak.

New Book: Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt (interview)


Alan Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Jadaliyya: What made you write this book?

Alan Mikhail: In the most general sense, I wrote this book because I wanted to understand the period of Ottoman rule in the Arab World. The Ottomans were in Egypt for over 350 years, so they clearly must have had a fundamental role in shaping its history, politics, culture, and economy. I wondered why so many historians of the Middle East work on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries rather than on the earlier period. Thus, I wanted to write a book that would help us understand the complex dynamics of the relationship between Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman Empire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I wanted it both to attend to local conditions in Egypt and to larger imperial processes of governance, economics, and ecology.

Fallen Sesostris colossus replica in Mansura subject of dispute

Ahram Online (Neveine El-Aref)

Yesterday, after Friday prayers, worshipers and inhabitants of the Delta town of Mansura were faced with the off-white colossus of 12th Dynasty King Sesostris I laying on its left side in Al-Muwafi Square, where it was erected 10 years ago.

Rumours spread that Salafis were behind it, as a thick rope was found around the statue’s waist. “The rope is an indication that it was toppled intentionally,” said Mahmoud Hassan, a worker looking on.

Mansura Governor Major General Salah El-Maadawi said, however, that Salafis were not behind the collapse of the statue, but that erosion was to blame.

Atef Abul Daha, head of the Ancient Egyptian Monuments Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) said the fallen statue was not an authentic but rather a replica. The original is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Muhammad Ali's sabil, 1820


Sabils are a prominent, although not exclusive, feature of Ottoman urbanism. Cairo once had over three hundred Sabils and they were pivotal elements in various neighborhoods, they were places to get water a life necessity. The historic core of Cairo is dotted with these buildings, some have been restored, while others have fallen into disrepair as drinking water became available in private homes, and the waqf and patronage system that once maintained these structures no longer exists. Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt (1805-48) built a sabil in a prime location at the heart of Cairo. In 1998 that building was on the verge of collapse but a group of conservers led by architect Agnieszka Dobrowolska carried out a meticulous restoration project that saved the building. The following few paragraphs are an excerpt from a publication co-authored with historian Khaled Fahmy titled Muhammad Ali Pasha and his Sabil: A Guide to the Permanent Exhibition in the Sabil Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha in al-Aqqadin, Cairo.

Piecing Together the Priceless 'Cairo Genizah'

Science Daily

A well-known collection of historical texts, the Cairo Genizah is one of the most valuable sources of primary documents for medieval historians and religious scholars. The 350,000 fragments found in the Genizah include not only religious texts, but also social and commercial documents, dating from the 9th to 19th century. But the collection is scattered among 70 institutions worldwide, including libraries in Cambridge, Jerusalem, and New York City, and scholars are hampered by both the wide dispersal of the collection as well as their fragmentary condition.

Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are working to piece together this illuminating collection, bringing the pages of the texts back together for the first time in centuries. The results are being made available to scholars around the world through a website. Profs. Lior Wolf and Nachum Dershowitz of TAU's Blavatnik School of Computer Science have developed sophisticated software, based on facial recognition technology, that can identify digitized Genizah fragments thought to be a part of the same work and make editorial "joins."

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor (Open Air Museum)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Project resumed in Luxor to protect temples from subterranean water

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Following nine months of delay, an American-Egyptian mission responsible for lowering ground water at archaeological sites in Luxor resumed its work today. The project aims to decrease the subterranean water level that has affected the foundation stones of five temples in Luxor: Karnak and Luxor temples on the east bank, and Seti I, the Ramessium, and Merneptah and Haremhab on the west bank.

Today, to mark the resumption, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Amine, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, Governor of Luxor Ezzat Saad, and the head of the National Authority for Drinking Water and Sanitation Mohamed Mohsen inaugurated the project.

List of 'at risk' Egyptian archaeological sites to be published

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

In an attempt to preserve and protect archaeological sites threatened by urban development, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is preparing a list of sites deemed at risk, which will be distributed to archaeological institutes throughout the country. It will be also posted on the SCA website to be promoted internationally.

Mostafa Amine, secretary general of the SCA, told Ahram Online that this list would be a first step towards protecting these sites, and encouraging foreign and Egyptian archaeological missions to work there and help preserve them by excavating, restoring and documenting their monuments.

Council of Antiquities survey paves way for land sell-off

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Supreme Council of Antiquities to produce inventory of all its land in Egypt with land declared free of artefacts to be sold off to investors

For the first time since the French expedition to Egypt in 1789, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is to establish a comprehensive inventory of the land it owns around Egypt.

Such an inventory will entail archaeologists carrying out major archaeological surveys of these plots in order to declare them protected archaeological sites.

Mostafa Amine, secretary-general of the SCA, told Ahram Online that lands declared free of monuments or artefacts will be offered for investment.

Online catalogue underway of 29,000 of Petrie's archaeological finds in Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

When British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie came to Egypt in 1883 he explored several archaeological sites and revealed some of the country’s ancient history.

According to Egyptian law at the time, archaeological dig sponsors had full rights to half of finds, while Egypt retained the other half.

Half a century after Petrie’s death, the British Museum in London started cataloguing some of the artefacts he unearthed in Egypt, especially those in possession of the 60 museums involved in sponsoring Petrie’s excavation missions. The exciting news is that early this month they began preparing to catalogue them in an online searchable database format.

The Liverpool National Museum, which was among the sponsors of Petrie’s excavations joined the British Museum in its project and hosts two British curators that help catalogue its ancient Egyptian collection uncovered at the Greek trading post city of Naukratis.

SCA head tours historic Cairo, demands clean-up

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Antiquities czar visits Old Cairo's recently-restored Al-Muizz Street only to find that chaos still reigns

Moustafa Amine, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, took an unscheduled tour of Old Cairo’s historic Al-Muizz Street on Wednesday to inspect the street’s recently-restored Islamic monuments.

During his tour, Amine was reportedly angered to find that the area had been largely taken over by street peddlers and fruit vendors. Amine also found that the street was being used as a shortcut for automobiles, turning the courtyards of the area’s Fatimid and Ottoman mosques into parking lots.

The court in front of the Ibn Barquq Mosque, for example, had been transformed into a food court where wooden hand carts laden with koshari, hummus, liver and brains serve local patrons.

Gold diggers dream of riches

Monsters and Critics

In the depths of the earth in Aswan and the surrounding villages in southern Egypt, impoverished locals dig illegally for what they fervently hope will be treasure in the shape of gold - ancient gold.

The treasure hunters also seek out the abilities of 'sheikhs' who allegedly have an uncanny power to pinpoint the locations of the buried ancient treasures.

'One of the sheikhs is invited to the digger's house where the sheikh will inform him whether he should continue digging or not,' says Mohamed Bashir, an Aswan resident.

Although Egypt has its own sheikhs, help is often sought from Moroccan clerics who have a good reputation in this regard, according to Bashir.

Bashir, who runs a small souvenir ship for low-budget tourists told dpa that 'people pay the sheikh around 5,000 Egyptian pounds (840 dollars). Some have even paid as much as 30,000 pounds and never found anything under their houses.'

A Sigh of Relief in Libya

Safe Corner

After months of negative reporting on heritage sites in the Middle East, finally there is some good news from all five of Libya's UNESCO heritage sites. Both the 2,000 year old Roman city of Sabratha and the ruins of Leptis Magna, which had been occupied by Anti-Gaddafi forces since August, sustained little damage. In fact, Fadel Ali Mohammad, Libya's new minister of antiquities, reported minimal damage to Sabratha after his visit in early September.

Anti-Gaddafi forces are committed to preserving heritage sites and preventing looting. The rebels resisted bombing the Tripoli's Libya Museum, even after Gaddafi's officers took up camp in the galleries during the final days of the war, sleeping on mattresses beside marble Roman Venus' and Neolithic grinding stones. Like Augustus Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler before him, Muammar Gaddafi manipulated Libya's ancient history to his own self aggrandizing agenda.

Two reliefs stolen from Saqqara recovered

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

With photo.

The Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Police have succeeded in recovering two well-preserved limestone reliefs stolen in 1986 by an international antiquities smuggling gang from Saqqara archaeological storehouses.

The objects belong to the Fifth Dynasty tomb of the king's royal hairdresser Hetepka, discovered by British archaeologists Geoffrey Martin in the late 1960’s at the Old Kingdom cemetery at Saqqara necropolis.

Although several members of the gang were caught in 2002 and sent to prison, among them the gang’s mastermind, Jonathan Tokeley-Parry and his partner, British antiquities trader Frederick Schultz, the four objects they stole had not been recovered.

Two of the objects have been found.

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Amine said that both recovered items are limestone reliefs engraved with ancient Egyptian decorations and hieroglyphic texts.

Looted limestone artefact recovered by police

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

On Tuesday, the Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Police succeeded in recovering an ancient Egyptian limestone relief which had been reported missing during the chaos that followed the January 25 Revolution.

The relief, which was discovered by the Czech archaeological mission in Abusir, was one metre tall and 60 centimetres wide. It depicted four walking geese with a hieroglyphic text.

Egypt requests Rosetta Stone


A spokesman at the British Museum said museum directors received a request from Egypt to borrow the Rosetta stone for the opening ceremony of Grand Egyptian Museum.

Esmi Wilson said the museum secretary is studying this request, as there are reports saying the Egyptian government wants the stone back permanently.

Foreign missions resume their archaeological works in Upper Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Polish, American and German archaeological missions are given government authorisation to resume important works in Luxor and Aswan

This year’s October-December archaeological projects by foreign entities resume in full-swing under government authority.

The Permanent Committee of Antiquities (PCA), led by Mostafa Amine, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), approved the resumption of several archaeological works carried out by foreign archaeological missions.

26th Dynasty Tomb discovered

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

According to Atef Abul Dahab, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities, the tomb was found during routine digging work in Mansheyet Al-Tahrir Street in Ain Shams to lay the foundations of a residential house.

Workers stumbled upon what is believed to be a stony wall engraved with hieroglyphic text.

An archaeological committee from the Supreme Council of Antiquities embarked on an inspection tour and found that the wall is a part of a 26th Dynasty tomb.

Early investigations, said Abul Dahab, reveal that the tomb is empty of any treasured artefacts and inscriptions, which indicate that it had been robbed in antiquity.

Coffin reveals secret past of mummified 'royal boy'

This is South Devon

A 2,500-year-old mummified boy, who is a star draw at Devon's oldest museum, has unexpectedly been put in the shade – by the very coffin in which he lies.

Ever since he went on show as part of a major revamp at Torquay Museum in 2007, Psamtek – the only human mummy on public display in the county – has captured the imagination of thousands of curious visitors.

But now his own mummy-shaped coffin has stolen the limelight, after museum officials were told the ornate near-4ft-long object (1.2m) is nearly 1,000 years older than the body it contains.

Further investigation reveals the coffin may have been made for a junior member of royalty more than a century before the time of the famous boy king Tutankhamun.

Museum curator Barry Chandler said: "It's an extraordinary discovery and means that the coffin is now the most spectacular exhibit in our entire collection.

"It's extremely rare – even the British Museum doesn't have one quite like it."

Tutankhmun's club foot

New Scientist (Jo Marchant)

"IT IS normal," Robert Connolly exclaims, poring over the faded pages of an obscure, decades-old book. Connolly has found an image that appears to settle the controversy over whether the boy king Tutankhamun had a club foot. As with many mysteries related to the famous mummy, the truth is hard to pin down.

The argument started last year when a team led by Egypt's then-chief of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, reported that Tutankhamun's left foot was severely deformed.

Hawass's team CAT-scanned the mummy in January 2005. Their subsequent paper, published in 2009, noticed no foot-related problems. Then a reanalysis concluded that Tutankhamun's left foot was in a sorry state. The authors diagnosed club foot, two diseased metatarsals, and a missing toe bone (Journal of the American Medical Association, DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.121).

The finding that Tutankhamun was disabled made headlines around the world. But Connolly - a researcher at the University of Liverpool, UK, and part of a team that X-rayed the mummy in 1968 - is convinced it is wrong.

Fresh graduates promised employment at Supreme Council of Antiquities

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Following several meetings with temporary staff at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and its top officials, SCA secretary general Mostafa Amine today met fresh graduates of the Faculty of Archaeology and restoration institutes.

During the meeting, Amine promised to appoint 850 of them who submitted employment requests last July. He told them that in two weeks the SCA will take all the required procedures to appoint them, especially as the SCA had succeeded in securing the funds required to appoint them. This first phase, Amine told the Ahram Online, will be followed by second, third and fourth phases in an attempt to appoint the fresh graduates according to a scheduled timetable.

More re troubles that caused leadership change at the SCA

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Abdel-Fattah told Al-Ahram Weekly that his resignation did not stem from fear of the protests, but rather the contrary.

"My resignation is not from floundering or cowardice, but I cannot direct the SCA in this form," he said. He added that he was only given the authority to process the SCA's day-to-day work , but not to appoint temporary staff or pay salaries.

"The SCA's financial situation is really critical and no one helped me," he said.

Abdel-Fattah accused Egypt of abandoning its antiquities sector and leaving it in a desperate state, despite what archaeology had done for the country over the years.

He went on to say that the SCA was in debt to the tune of LE750 million to construction companies responsible for restoration work at several sites. It had also borrowed LE61 million from banks to pay the salaries of SCA employees, in addition to a further LE350 million from the government, which will increase to LE400 million after the addition of benefits.

"How can I pay all these debts?" Abdel-Fattah asks. "I don't even have enough money to pay for the restoration work and the delayed salaries."

Amin, the SCA's new head, is the former director of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department.

Attempt to smuggle 5 Pharaonic statues


The Egyptian Border Patrol stopped an attempt to smuggle five Pharaonic statutes that were in the possession of an Egyptian citizen.

The border patrol in the Red Sea region captured an Egyptian citizen Mohamed from the city of Abu Ramad.

Book Review: Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell’Egitto greco-romano

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Amin Benaissa)

S. Daris, Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell’Egitto greco-romano, supplemento 5 (2006-2009). Studi di Egittologia e di Papirologia 8. Pisa/Roma: Fabrizio Serra editore, 2010.
The Dizionario dei nomi geografici e topografici dell’Egitto greco-romano is a familiar reference work to all papyrologists and historians of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Launched in 1935 by Aristide Calderini, its goal has been to collect 1) all Egyptian toponyms attested in Greek and Latin texts, both literary and documentary (papyri, ostraca, inscriptions), and 2) toponyms from other parts of the ancient world mentioned in documents from Egypt. Its chronological framework spans roughly the period from the beginning of the Ptolemaic dynasty to the Islamic conquest of Egypt (c. 300 BCE-750 CE), but does not exclude some earlier or later Greek authors (e.g. Herodotus) and documents. The toponyms assembled range in scope from cities and villages to streets and canals.

Book Review: A Companion to Ancient Egypt (2 vols.)

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Peter C. Nadig)

Alan B. Lloyd (ed.), A Companion to Ancient Egypt (2 vols.). Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

One of the recent additions to the Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World is the huge two-volume set, Companion to Ancient Egypt edited by Alan B. Lloyd. A previous companion to the Ancient Near East (edited by D.C. Snell in 2007) features a few chapters on Ancient Egypt. The current book contains 49 articles by nearly as many contributors who specialize in different areas of Egyptian studies from Prehistory to the early Byzantine period. It would exceed the volume of such a review to comment on every chapter herein. The extensive table of content listed below gives an impression of the sheer variety of themes in this publication. Alan B. Lloyd can be congratulated for his effort in bringing so many different experts together.

Many subject headings on governmental, social, and cultural aspects were treated twice with an essay each for the Pharaonic and Graeco-Roman periods. Among the exceptions is Robert B. Partridge’s interesting contribution on transport (chapter 20), which focuses solely on Pharaonic times. In accordance with the series, each chapter concludes with a summary and suggestions for further reading – usually highlighting the most recent or relevant publications.

Book Review: Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Rome, and Greece

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Xianhua Wang)

Annette Imhausen, Tanja Pommerening (ed.), Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Rome, and Greece: Translating Ancient Scientific Texts. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Bd 286. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2010.

Thanks especially to the pioneering scholars of the 19th century, a substantial proportion of known ancient scientific texts is now available in translations into modern languages. During the last decades, however, it became obvious that ancient science needs to be understood on its own terms, and that the differences between ancient scientific concepts and “analogous” modern ones, which earlier scholars largely glossed over, must be recognized. In order to address questions raised by this new awareness and to “create a space to examine the challenges and related problems and to propose and discuss possible solutions”(p. 4), a symposium entitled “Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt and Greece: Zur Übersetzbarkeit von Wissenschaftssprachen des Altertums” was organized at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz from 27 to 29 July. This volume is the fruit of the symposium. It is divided into five sections, as was the symposium itself.

Book Review: The Zodiac of Paris

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Patricia Johnston and Glenn Palmer)

Jed Z. Buchwald, Diane Greco Josefowicz, The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate between Religion and Science. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010.

On July 1, 1798, Napoleon and his troops entered Alexandria with the intention of establishing a colony in Egypt, disrupting British trade with India, and purportedly freeing the Egyptians from their Mameluke oppressors and imposing liberty and equality on this land. After a struggle with the Mamelukes (who were supported by the British and the Ottoman Turks), Napoleon fled to France on Oct. 11, 1799, leaving behind the savants—the intellectuals and scholars who had accompanied him—along with remnants of the French army to preserve the glory of Napoleon. The savants had been given a vacant palace in Cairo and an academic organization, the Institute of Egypt. Napoleon had also ordered them into the field to make copious notes, chart maps, record contemporary life, gather artifacts and natural specimens and, above all, to document the ancient temples and monuments. During this campaign Vivant Denon drew the circular Dendera Zodiac, which he published in 1802, after the Napoleonic expedition. In 1821 the actual zodiac was moved to Paris and in 1822 installed in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and in 1964 it was moved to the Louvre.

Book Review: Money in Classical Antiquity

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Sitta von Reden, Money in Classical Antiquity. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

This wide-ranging work attempts to survey the whole of ancient money—emphatically not just coinage, for we have moved well beyond Finley’s idea that cash constituted money in the ancient world (quoted here, p. 9 and 92). In seven chapters of unequal coverage, the author leads up to an epilogue on “monetary culture.”

Monetization is generally taken as an indicator of acculturation; as a consequence its definition is as important as our ability to describe a “monetized” culture. von Reden expands the definition by arguing from the inclusion of bullion, jewelry etc. in early coin hoards that these objects had monetary function as well, and that monetization would have expanded with or without the invention of coinage. This is almost certainly true of bullion, not necessarily so for other objects.

Ch. 2 turns to cases, particularly that of Athens. Here the pivotal role of Solon—not in coinage, but in monetization— is highlighted. It is argued that the abolition of debt-bondage, and its replacement by contractual tenancy, promoted the use of coin; and that monetization was furthered by an increase in output (though not a “massive” one as at p. 39) after the success in the Persian Wars, and again after ca. 450 at the height of the Athenian empire. Certainly there is plenty of evidence for the use of coin (some described on p. 41) in the late fifth century.

The second case is that of Egypt which, as is well known, had no coinage of its own before Alexander.

New Book: Ancient Egyptian Demonology


Ancient Egyptian Demonology. Studies on the Boundaries between the Demonic and the Divine in Egyptian Magic. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 175. Editor: Kousoulis P., 2011.

In the Egyptian context, what we term magic and demon, drawing on our own cultural heritage, are not seen as negative aspects of cultural practice and conceptualisation. Similarly, the Egyptian equivalents do not carry the pejorative connotations borne by the modern terms and their Greek antecedents; magic and demons can be forces for good as well as evil. Indeed, the practice of magic and the conceptualisation of personified demonic agents are central to the Egyptian understanding of the workings of the world from the very continuation of the cosmos itself down to the vicissitudes of existence faced by individuals. In particular, the broader practice of magic and articulation of the involvement of demonic agency form one of the crucial links in Ancient Egypt between individual existence on the human level and the level of nature or the cosmos, the realm of the gods.

Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep son of Hapu and Ay/Horemheb

Luxor News Blog (Jane Akshar)

With some good photos.

A fellow student asked me if I had any photos of this temple and it is one of the ones I had never visited so thanks Patricia Kennedy for spuring me into action.

If you take the tiny road in front of the main ticket office and go along 1/4 of a mile or less you come to the Pharoahs Hotel. Ask them nicely and they will let you up on the roof to take photos.

Online: Virtual Ancient Thebes


Thanks to the Art of Counting blog for this link.

Ancient Thebes is home to the Ramesseum, one of the world's most important surviving examples of an ancient Egyptian temple. A project was designed to achieve an accurate sampling of the Ramesseum's ground plan for use in publication and conservation of the monument. Comprehensive laser scan coverage for the entire Ramesseum area was acquired along with detailed close-range 3D scans within the stone temple itself.

Online: A Virtual Exploration of the Lost Labyrinth

Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

This paper reports on a case study that explores the possibility of reproducing a destroyed historic site from its remaining artefacts. Using VR (virtual reality) technologies, we construct a series of low-end, 3D models that are navigable through the Web. This gives us the opportunity to visualise, explore and present ancient sites in their original form. We focus mainly on the Hawara Labyrinth site. However, the method developed is generic in that it is applicable to other sites and artefacts that require reconstruction and dissemination using digital technologies. The feedback from this pilot project will be integrated into an on-going project on creating online learning and teaching resource.

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor, open air museum

Apologies that it has been longer than usual since my last update - I have been exceedingly busy recently.

Cartouches of Thutmosis IV

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

New antiquities head at the SCA, but protests continue

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Following weeks of protests, which reached a head last week. One will just have to wait and see what happens next, but it sounds as though Abdel Fattah's resignation may have smoothed the way for Amine to secure finances from the Prime Minister to meet protester demands.

Today, in his first day in office, newly appointed Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Amine met with protestors camped in front of the SCA’s Abassiya building for four days.

Amine told Ahram Online that he told protestors that he agreed with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to immediately resolve their problems and to appoint all temporary staff who have spent more than three years working at SCA.

As a first step, he asserted, 4065 temporary employees will be immediately appointed to be followed by more appointments until the almost 12,000 temporary employees are all made permanent. The protestors were convinced and promised to end their protest. . . .

Asked about the fate of Egypt's ancient monuments under his tenure, given his specialty in Islamic and Coptic monuments, Amine assured that his training would not be an obstacle to caring for ancient Egyptian monuments. “My duty is to preserve Egypt’s antiquities, whether Islamic, Coptic, Jewish and Pharaonic,” Amine confirmed.

Amine told Ahram Online that he wants some time to reorganise the SCA and its administrative and archaeological works, but he promises to complete the SCA’s mega projects.

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

Around two hundred temporary employees of the Supreme Council of the Antiquities (SCA) are picketing the front entrance of the Egyptian Museum demanding the quick fulfillment of promises made by their bosses.

Newly-appointed SCA secretary general Mostafa Amine earlier on Sunday agreed to grant permanent contracts to temporary employees.

But two hours after his meeting with protesters they were demonstrating once again in front of Cairo's main antiquities collection to ensure Amine's pledge is swiftly implemented.

One protester, Mahmoud Ahmed Meselha, told Ahram Online that temporary workers had resumed their protest because they did not believe the promises that had been made.

Excavation equipment discovered in White Desert, investigation ongoing

Youm7 (Maher Abu El Noor)

Director of New Valley Security Othman Naji today received a report indicating that excavation equipment had been discovered about eight kilometers from the main street inside the White Desert Natural Reserve, a clear violation of the no excavation or digging policy.

Naji instructed a team to investigate the incident.

The team discovered a hole – one meter and a half in depth and three meters wide – inside of which was found human bones and pottery.

International institutes participate in developing world heritage sites in Dahshour

Youm7 (Allam Abdel Ghafar )

The governorate of Giza, the Egyptian Tourism Development Institute, UNECSO representatives and the World Tourism Organization will hold a meeting during the next few days to put the final plan of developing tourism in Dahshour by developing its international heritage sites.

“There are ten international and local institutes participating, implementing and improving the international heritage sites in Dahshour.

The governorate in cooperation with special institutes will research about facilities of implementing touristic investments,” the governor of Giza Ali Abdel Rahman said.

New Book: Sais I by Penelope Wilson

Egypt Exploration Society

Penelope Wilson's Sais I soon to be published.

We are pleased to announce the imminent publication of Penelope Wilson's Sais I: The Ramesside Third Intermediate Period at Kom Rebwa.

Sais was Egypt¹s capital in the 26th Dynasty, but it also had an earlier history, unknown before the EES/Durham University/SCA work at the site. This volume is the final excavation report for work carried out in the Northern Enclosure area of the site at Kom Rebwa, funded by the British Academy through the Egypt Exploration Society and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Excavations between 2000 and 2004 uncovered levels dating between the 20th Dynasty and the Third Intermediate Period. The best preserved levels consisted of part of a house, whose roof had collapsed and an earlier kiln, used for firing faience beads as well as pottery. Lower, buried layers also included Old Kingdom material, hinting at the earlier history of the area. The report contains invaluable information about everyday rural life in the Delta, with anlayses of the different layers, the pottery and the small finds, as well as plant remains and animal bones.

Exhibition: Nesperennub in Australia

Brisbane Times

I had no idea that Nesperennub was still travelling!

A 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy - originally embalmed with a bowl attached to his head - is the feature attraction of the newest exhibition at the revamped Queensland Museum in 2012.

Brisbane will be the only Australian city to host the touring exhibition from the British Museum, "Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb".

The central piece of the exhibition is the mummy of the priest Nesperennub, a prized treasure of the British Museum.

Nesperennub's mummy was discovered at Luxor, the site of Thebes, in the 1890s.

Nesperennub lived about 800 years before Christ and died at about 40 years of age.

According to documents from the British Museum, Nesperennub and his father both worked as priests in the religious complex of Karnak, around 500 kilometres south of Cairo.

Documenting Egypt's Abandoned Palaces

The Polis Blog

With photos.

Nikolskaya currently teaches photography at the American University in Cairo and is editing her upcoming book, "Egyptian Dust: The Social Life of Endangered Spaces," which will be released in February 2012. The book will include 70 pictures featuring buildings in ten Egyptian cities, with text by historian and poet On Barak.

Polis recently met with Xenia Nikolskaya in Stockholm to talk about the project.

For the last four years you have been documenting abandoned Egyptian palaces for your project "Dust." How did you come up with this idea?

One day, by chance, I walked by the Sarageldin palace in Cairo's Garden City. It was a fascinating little villa with sculptures and a garden — very romantic. The doorman asked me if I'd like to see the inside, and of course I did. All the windows were covered with shutters, and I was very curious to see the interior. It was like a sleeping beauty. The furniture was still in place, but it looked like the residents left suddenly, possibly at the time of the revolution in 1952. When I processed my pictures, the first thing I noticed, besides the beautiful interiors, was the dust. The dust is clearly visible in the pictures.

Photo for Today - Temple of Luxor (open air museum)