Friday, June 21, 2013

News from 1st June to 21st June

Much embarrassment. Has three weeks really passed since my last post?  I knew that it had been a while but I had no idea that it was that long.  Apparently time also passes when you're up to your ears in chaos! 

Here's the usual, albeit belated roundup, with an emphasis in the media on the terrible looting of Egyptian sites.  It needs highlighting, so that's a good thing, but it is a ghastly outcome of the so-called revolution that it is happening at all.   Other stories, with much better news, are inevitably overshadowed but should not be forgotten.

This is, inevitably, a rather long post.  Sorry!

The recently excavated Avenue of the Sphinxes,
Luxor (photograph taken in early 2011)

A new discovery has been made at the Hyksos fortress at Tell el Yahodiya in the Nile Delta. With photos. Luxor Times
Remains of a town inhabited from around 2000BC until the Graeco-Roman era discovered in Qalioubiya area. Ahram Online

Town of admin staff and workers who built Giza pyramids suffered multiple flash floods in Old Kingdom. New Scientist

4 minute YouTube video, in Spanish, re recent work at Qubbet el Hawa (Aswan), including opening of a sealed chamber.

Arqueólogos españoles hallan un doble sarcófago de 4.000 años en Egipto

Acceden a una cámara intacta de más de 4.000 años en la necrópolis faraónica Qubbet el Hawa, Aswan. Europa Press

Update on work being carried out in Karakhamun’s burial chamber. South Asasif Project

Update from recent excavations at Abydos. Penn Museum Artifact Lab 

Archaeos excavating in the Sudan have uncovered a necropolis where hundreds of small pyramids once stood. Archaeology

Human bone study at Amarna and other topics. I have copied the latest email update from the Amarna team to my blog at

Gebel el Silsila Survey Project season finale - lots of info and some great pics

A section of a New Kingdom stele listing offerings made to gods was discovered at Matariya in Cairo. Ahram Online 


Polish scientists will examine how climate changed in Egypt thousands of years ago. Nauka W Polske

Pyramids of Giza built by trade unions of hired workers? Pravda

Unpublished 18th century manuscript on hieroglyphs, believed lost, now presented by the Griffith Institute:

A previously unknown album of drawings by Amelia Edwards recently identified in the GI Archive. Griffith Institute

Elephant and giraffe hair? No problem! Includes 18th Dynasty elephant-hair basket. Penn Artifact Lab

More re conservation work by Massachusetts General Hospital on mummy Padihershef. Washington Post

The Edinburgh Casing Stone – A piece of Giza at the National Museum of Scotland. Arkysite

Scientists investigate a 3,000-yr-old mummy discovered in Scotland after more than 7 decades in storage. Channel4

Boston hospital cleaning 2,500-year-old mummy of Padihershef. PhysOrg

The mysteries of the Egyptian hairstyles by Collection Correspondent Monika Zgoda. UCL Collections blog 

Heritage Management and Looting

Why does Shura Council’s culture, tourism + media committee want to modify present antiquities law? Al Ahram Weekly

More re the armed gang that attacked 5 Aswan tombs, robbed their contents + dug several holes nearby. Al Ahram Weekly

Activists in Cairo and Alex call for protests aimed at saving local historical site from destruction. Ahram Online

More re looting at Dashour, Abusir al Malaq and elsewhere. With slideshow showing some of the travesty. Triblive

Ancient Heliopolis under threat. Daily News Egypt

Forbidden by Islam, grave-robbing has exploded since the 2011 revolution. More from TribLive re looting in Egypt

More re the looting of Egypt’s ancient Roman Antinopolis. Hurriyet Daily News

Human bones lie scattered with broken ancient mud bricks at the looted settlement site of El-Hibeh. TribLive

We only sell real thing, Egyptian grave-robbing family in village of Abu Sir al Malaq boasts. TribLive

Dr. Monica Hanna, an Egyptian archaeologist, risks life, career to expose looting. TribLive

Depressing account of looting: Unchecked looting guts Egypt’s heritage with 1 ancient site 70 percent gone. TribLive

Minister for Antiquities says new committee will confront worsening conditions near Giza Pyramids. Daily News Egypt

A nobles' tomb site, not yet fully excavated, has been looted in Aswan. 4 other Aswan sites looted too. Ahram Online

Antiquities ministry forms National Committee on heritage sites and plans monthly reviews. Daily News Egypt

Cultural non-profit complains of lack of access to Egyptian heritage site thanks to high fee. Ahram Online

Antiquities ministry leads a new govmnt committee that will aim to protect UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ahram Online

Ministry for Antiquities awaiting the green light from Cairo Governorate to begin renovation. Daily News Egypt

Ministry of Antiquities issues a statement regarding monuments’ security. Daily News Egypt

After years of neglect the Abbey Church of the Apostles in Atfih in Giza regains its original splendour. Ahram Online

Looting continues of sites, urban and rural, contributing to the dramatic loss of Egypt’s heritage. Daily News Egypt 


Book Review: C.Bilsel. Antiquity on Display: Regimes of the Authentic in Berlin's Pergamon Museum. OUP 2012. BMCR 

Book Review: Andrew Monson, From the Ptolemies to the Romans: Political and Economic Change in Egypt. CUP 2012 BMCR 


The synopses for eleven of the ARCE 2013 panel sessions is now ready for your enjoyment. Emhotep 

27th International Congress of Papyrologists / XXVIIe Congrès international de papyrologie. What's New In Papyrology 

3DPetrie will give a workshop at the Museums Association conference in Nov '13 in Liverpool. More information: …

1st International Conference on Heritage Conservation & Site Management, Cairo, 8-11 Dec 2013: 

Museums and exhibitions
260 yrs ago the British Museum came into being: 7 June 1753, the British Museum Act received royal assent. Brit Mus 

A plan to restore security in museums and archaeological sites across Egypt is finally going ahead. Ahram Online 

The Post Office Museum in Attaba recalls the days when pigeons, camels and boats transported mail. Egyptian Gazette 

The revamped State Information Service page about the existing and new Egyptian Museums in Cairo. SIS 

Unwrap a real mummy – Museum visitors explore historic artifacts using state of the art 3D reality capture. 

The mystery of the spinning statuette (II) 

Eternal Egypt Lives on in the Hall of Ancient Egypt at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Houston Press 

Somewhat confused story about the continuing decay of a mummy in the Hyderabad museum. Deccan Chronicle 

Chiddingstone Castle has a new display of its Egyptian artefacts after shipping exhibits out to America. ThisIsKent 

Slideshow: Chiddingstone Castle in UK loans Egyptian artefacts to Houston (US) museum. …

Two new exhibits at Philadelphia's Penn Museum offer a new way to look at race, war and mummies. Penn Live 

Janet Kamien, internationally renowned consultant who brought museum exhibits to life. Chicago Sun-Times 

Exhib of photo portraits explores how cultural achievements of ancient Middle East contributed to modern life. O.I. 

Art at Villa Borghese's Egyptian Museum back in Cairo. ANSAmed 

Secret Egypt, at Worcester City Art Gallery/Museum, will bring together more than 100 objects. Worcester News 

El sótano de la La Casa de los Botines en León albergará mascotas embalsamadas hace más de 25 siglos. Ushebtis 

Heracleion, lost for 1200 years below Mediterranean sea, set to go on display. With map, video and pics. Daily Mail 

Ancient Egpyt (and T-Rex) in Chicago: The Field Museum and the Oriental Institute Museum. Egyptian Archaeology blog 

Antiquities ministry employees closed Cairo's Egyptian Museum to tourists in protest re pay, contracts. Ahram Online 

Smuggling and repatriation

Director-general of Repatriation, Antiquities Department, resigns citing poor cooperation at Ministry of Antiquities 

Egypt asks UN to help stop auction of rare Quran manuscript that vanished from Al-Azhar mosque in 18thC. Ahram Online 

Free online articles

A brief journey into medical care and disease in ancient Egypt by Richard Sullivan. . Via @historyancient

Did the Ancient Egyptians of the Old, Middle & New Kingdom ever reach Malta and the Central Mediterranean? 

Article in Spanish: Antes de Tutankhamon. Ushebtis 

Rule and Revenue in Egypt and Rome: Political Stability and Fiscal Institutions 

Journals and Magazine  

The new issue of the British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (Issue 20, May 2013) is available free online 

Cahiers de Karnak 14, english summaries : …

Digital Projects

Official launch of the Karnak project (v. 0.) based on a comprehensive inventory of documents + inscriptions. CFEETK 

Historians and Digital History: Why Do Academics Shy Away from Digital History? ActiveHistory 

Travel and Tourism

Travel and tourism: "Come to Egypt – you'll have the place practically to yourself." The Independent 

US embassy in Cairo instructs nationals to avoid Giza Plateau, citing recent 'criminal conduct' in area. Ahram Online

More re concerns about uncontrolled behaviour of some vendors and parking attendants at Giza plateau. Al Ahram Weekly 

Ahram Online has more on the outcry over Luxor's newly appointed governor, a story that has been taken up worldwide. 

Concerns for tourism as new governor is member of militant group responsible for 1997 Luxor massacre. The Guardian 

Luxor tourism workers protested re new Islamist governor linked to a group responsible for 90s terror shooting. ABC 

Tourism insiders voice misgivings over new Luxor governor, a leading member of a formerly-violent group. Ahram Online 

New governor appointed to Luxor, good choice or the last nail in the coffin? Luxor Times 

Another new committee, this time to address harassment at the Giza pyramids. Ahram Online 

Exploring the Fayoum Oasis. Egyptian Gazette 

Minister of Antiquities says US embassy warning over Giza pyramids is baseless. Ahram Online 

Avec 14,6% de touristes en plus par rapport au premier trimestre 2012 le début de l'année semble positif. Ahram Hebdo 

Job Opportunities

New opportunity for training in risk management at World Heritage sites. UNESCO 


Obituary: Kew botanist Nigel Hepper, author of Pharaoh’s Flowers: the Botanical Treasures of Tutankhamun (1990) 


An "insanely rare" pottery seal mold from Tutankhamun's workshop up for auction at Antiquities Saleroom. Art Daily 

Following in the footsteps of a British woman who believed she was the reincarnation of a priestess. Thailand Nation 

Congratulations to UCLA Egyptology for the NEH grant in Digital Humanities 

Call for submissions: The 2014 edition of *The Archaeology Channel* International Film and Video Festival. 

Interview with Zahi Hawass, who is clear of legal charges, free to travel and plans a comeback tour. Live Science 

Architect Hassan Fathy is perhaps Egypt's most renowned architect from the 20th century, but why? Cairobserver 

Doing more in Egypt. Latest blog post from Egypt Exploration Society Director Chris Naunton.EES Director's Blog 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Update from Amarna: Human bone study at Amarna and other topics

The latest email news update from Barry Kemp and Anna Stevens:

2013 physical anthropology study period

Following a break of two weeks at the end of the spring excavation season (for the cemetery part see the Amarna Facebook page, the house and expedition opened again, on May 18th, for the start of the 2013 physical anthropology study period, that is due to end on June 13th. Led by Prof Jerry Rose, assisted by Dr Gretchen Dabbs, the 15-person group travelled by chartered bus to Amarna and quickly got to work. Facing them this time is twice as many bones as in the past. Since the 2012 study period, two full field seasons of excavation at the South Tombs Cemetery have taken place. The result is whole or partial skeletons of 141 individuals, who take the full total of individuals since excavation began in 2006 to 401.

The bones are stored, by individual, in large plastic crates and skull boxes, labelled as to circumstances of finding (date, location, etc). They still retain, however, a coating of sand that needs to be carefully brushed off over fine-mesh sieves. In order to hasten this, four of the regular cemetery workmen (led by Walid Mohammed Omar) are doing this necessary job.  As the individuals emerge from their 'dry-cleaning' episode, they are laid out in full anatomical order on the tables in the workrooms. They are then recorded according to a full bioanthropological protocol. Beyond this, several specific research projects are under way, some of them assisted by the expedition's on-site x-ray facility.

A few photographs can be seen at:

In some cases, the hair remains on the skulls, sometimes as a full head of hair. Often, however, ancient robbery has separated skull and hair, and the latter is found loose in the sand. When taken together, the eight seasons of excavation have provided a large collection. For a second time, the team was joined by Jolanda Bos from The Netherlands. Jolanda is an archaeologist and heritage consultant who has studied hair plaiting and beadwork amongst African societies. She began this time by improving the means of storing skulls with hair that will keep them stable, creating for each a paper bonnet that still allows the anthropologists access to the jaw and front of the skull for cranial measurements and dental research.

Her Amarna findings are exciting. "The amount of complete hairstyles dating to such a limited and specific period is unique, especially in combination with the preservation conditions and the ethnic complexity of the group." A wide variety of types of hair, ranging from very curly black hair, to middle brown straight hair were present amongst the skulls, showing the ethnic diversity of the Amarna sample. No wigs were found, the preference being for hair extensions for which abundant evidence is present. The extensions were either braided or tied into the hair of the individual. It became clear that on almost all skulls which were analyzed, fat was used to model the hairstyles. On all skulls very fine pieces of textile were found covering the hair. Whether or not this was only done for burial or whether it was the general practice in daily life as well remains unclear. The textile found on the top of the head retained traces where fat cones had been placed, but textile was also present on the back and side of the head.
The remains of possible fat cones were discovered on most of the skulls examined.

At least three cases were identified of sidelocks on the skulls of children, the ages being four and a half, eight and a half and nine and a half. On the back and the side of some of the skulls, botanical remains were found. They seem to have been bound with string to the back of the head of the individual; sometimes they were found in relation with a strip of textile. Possibly these are the remains of floral garlands draped around the head of the deceased.

Bones, hair and much, much more is stored in the expedition storerooms, or magazines, situated beside the expedition house. This time the keys and responsibility are entrusted to Inspector Edward Rushdi, who otherwise helps to look after the central regional magazines at El-Ashmunein.

Enhancing and enlarging storage is a constant need. We have just added two new sets of steel storage racking, manufactured by two brothers who have a wrought-iron business in Mallawi across the river. One of the sets was paid for by a donation from the Sussex Ancient Egypt Society.

New publication

The Egypt Exploration Society has recently published a further Amarna monograph, one arising from research on Amarna's other major archaeological period, that of the early Christian communities who established themselves in the rock tombs and on desert sites. The details are:

Jane Faiers, Late Roman Glassware and Pottery from Amarna and Related Studies. With contributions by Gillian Pyke and Wendy Smith. One Hundred and Second Excavation Memoir. London, EES 2013. 267 pages and many illustrations. It includes detailed information on the distribution of glass and pottery from the excavations carried out at the Kom el-Nana monastery.

Forthcoming tours

1) Between Saturday, October 5th and Saturday, October 19th Barry Kemp will accompany a tour from Aswan through Middle Egypt to Cairo. Two full days will be spent at Amarna. The tour, entitled 'Cities of the Nile', will be run by Ancient World Tours, a long-time supporter of the Amarna expedition.
A further, similar tour is planned for October 2014. Consult: and tel. +44 844 357 9494

2) Between Monday, December 9th and Sunday, December 22nd the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society plans to run a Study Tour to Lower Egypt, including the Faiyum, Alexandria and the Delta, taking in a number of rarely visited sites. The trip will be led by Barry Kemp and Dr Rawia Ismail. A donation will be made to the Amarna Trust. Attached are an itinerary, booking form and information sheet. See also

Major conservation grant

We are delighted to report that the Amarna expedition has been awarded a major grant for the conservation of the decorated wooden coffins from the South Tombs Cemetery. The grant comes from USAID, as administered by the American Research Center's Antiquities Endowment Fund. This stage of the conservation programme will commence at Amarna during 2014.

That the Amarna expedition is able to run lengthy seasons of fieldwork, conservation and research also owes a great deal to the continuing support of members of the public. Thank you!

Barry Kemp/Anna Stevens