Sunday, 30 December 2012

Theban Mapping Project Library

The library that Kent Weeks has set up on the west bank is attracting some lovely donations.  This time it was Elizabeth Buckley who had taken a great deal of trouble finding some English language books suitable for Muslim children. She also brought some lollys!!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Update on the excavations at Karnak

Salah who is charge of the excavations at Karnak has sent me this great update and photos. Many months ago he showed me round the excavations and told me he was convinced there was a third set of baths there so I was very excited for him when he found them. Below he says he thinks there are even more and I bet he is right. there was a good article published in Ancient Egypt magazine July 2012

From Salah  Elmasekh

Here is the pic for the our excavation At the first we found three Baths in the front of Karnak temples
the first Bath "Ptolemaic baths "dating back to 250 BC and you this consists of two circle Rooms inside each one 16 seat and the 2nd one in the mosico floor there is beatuiful decorations with two animals from the sea and the Nile and after that you every think about this one
- the 2nd Baths is Roman one dating back to 200 AD and this Bath still work for long time more 200 year's and the article in the magazine
- the 3rd Baths "2nd Ptolemaic baths " lie out in the site between the two baths ath the North the first one by 25m and at the south of Roman baths directly and under it this baths dating back to 200 BC and the oldest one until now this Bath consists of from many Rooms 3 inside the 2nd one there is two seats bigger size for two person to have shower inside it and beside the seats there is bath tub and all the floor of these rooms covered by mosico floor and these floor have very slop shape two the west for a reason to take all the waste water out side of the baths and in west side we found two pipes the first one for waste water and the 2nd one for the Hot water and the extention of this baths extended under the 2nd Baths there is opinion talking about that baths this private baths but I think there no private in the front of Karnak it mean's in that time there a palace in Ptolemaic time but not in that site because if see all the baths we found all of them in the same area and the same direction it means also that area for the baths to reception for the visitor's before visit the temple and all the baths in the left hand for the person enter the temple , I'm so happy for all the work really especially with this baths and all of them with different design so very good for me and in my opinion I think there more Baths in the front of Karnak temples not 3 only because if we imagine about the number's of the visitor and jut we work only in the left side what about the write side .me and my team we would like to thanks for Mr Ibrahim Soliman the General director of karnak temples for his support to us really we like him so much any way thanks

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

BBC News - King Ramesses III's throat was slit, analysis reveals

BBC News - King Ramesses III's throat was slit, analysis reveals: Dr Zink said: "Before now we knew more or less nothing about the destiny of Ramesses III. People had examined his body before and had done radiographs but they didn't notice any trauma. They did not have access to the CT scans that we do.
Mummy believed to be Prince Pentawere The mummy believed to be Prince Pentawere has unusual marks around the neck

"We were very surprised by what we found. We still cannot be sure that the cut killed him, but we think it did.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lecture to celebrate Luxor being a governorate - Francesco Tiradritti

Colour and Painting in Ancient Egypt 10/12/12
 To celebrate the anniversary of Luxor becoming a Governorate a series of lectures was arranged at Luxor library. The first was by Francesco and was on the subject of colours and painting in ancient Egyptian art. This lecture builds on his book published in 2007 and the lecture in 2008 at the Mummification Museum which is documented on this blog.

A lot of his argument hinges on the hieroglyph for the letter T which is a half circle with the straight side on the bottom. I have to admit i found his lecture more understandable since I have studying glyphs because of knowing T is such an important symbol being used to indicate gender of both nouns and verbs so it appears a lot. It is supposed to be the symbol for bread X1 in Gardiner’s list, however it is noting that X2 is the glyph that appears in offering formulas for bread, beer etc.

Firstly Francesco showed a slide with the T glyph cut out and asked us what is the colour of bread. Answers varied and he actually had another slide where he had recorded answers and the most common was orange with yellow and brown a close second. This glyph is always shown as black which (unless you are a bad cook) is not the normal colour of bread. This was the origin of his research. The Ancient Egyptian world was a simple one cantered on the Nile, surrounded by the inhabitated land and further surrounded by the desert and he showed a slide of a pot illustrating this in its decoration.

The next bit is hard to document without his pictures as it is all about colour, hues and colour charts. The world was divided into
Light white/yellow Black land Red desert Blue water and Green vegetation. These are called Hudj (green), Kem (black) Desher (red) Hedj (white). He was then trying to see where dark blue fitted in.
 In the Chester Beatty papyrus there is a phrase “her hair is true lapis” Xsbd mAa Snw=s this lead him to the idea that there were two opposites light = colour = hedj and darkness = no colour, absence of colour. In the 6th dynasty tombs at Saqqara the backgrounds are black, indicating empty space and black glyphs are put on this which are a different black.

 So you have a different categorisation where there is light, colours and darkness. The darkness is called Kek Hedj Hudj, Kem, Desher Kek The water glyph is shown black against this dark background as water is black because of the silt of the inundation. He believes that the half circle is not bread at all but the primordial mound (N30 Gardner). Bread in Ancient Egypt was flat or moulded (baked in a bread mould) into shapes and the bread in the offering formula is always this moulded type X2 sign. He believes that it is a preconceived idea that this is bread.

So there is another relationship of opposites between colours imagine a large X linking these four.

Darkness Kek Dry Desher

Humid Hudj Light Hedj

 During the 1st millennium blue and yellow are the most popular colours. Although the men were portrayed as red and the women yellow these colour differences could also be used to differentiate between individuals. He showed a model from the Leiden museum of bread and beer making, the yellow men are the more prominent men, the ones who spent more time indoors. In the Louvre there is a stele of the God re-Horakhty giving life and the ‘rays’ of the sun are multi coloured showing an understanding of rainbows (rainbows were rare in Ancient Egypt). It is obvious that the Ancient Egyptian artist had a much more complex view of colour than was first thought.

Lugi Vassalli was an artist and his diary has recently been found. He was protecting the monuments before Mariette. He was responsible for the removal of the Medium geese from the tomb and the slide showed where they fitted into the scene. Because Lugi was an artist he understood the artistic importance of the vignette. It was a manual of Ancient Egyptian art. Firstly when you put three of anything this is shorthand for plural or many in hieroglyphics. There are two groups and the out/exterior goose shows a different position and is larger given a sort of perspective, repetition is avoided by use of colour and position and movement is indicated by the tail position.

There are not many paintings in Old Kingdom art but he showed us some. I the mastaba of Ti there is a scenes of cattle wading through the water and the legs of the cattle show through the water. The First intermediate Period was a time of impressionistic art the tiller from Niankhpepi shows from the modelling of the legs an impression of the man being caught in a moment of time and the movement shown by the elongated legs. The three lady offering bearers in a line could be three different ladies or the same lady caught 3 times (like the pictures in a cartoon showing movement). There are two odd pictures in the tomb of Ankhtifi a cow showing a full face to the viewer and a man who looks deformed. But taken in relation to the pictures on the pillars next to them you realise the cow is looking towards another cow that is delivery a calf and the man has turned towards a festival. These pictures are catching the movement. In the Turin museum there is a picture showing the blood spurting from the neck of a cow as it is slaughtered, a man shown in a much paler colour who is a supervisor and the clever use of spots of red paint to highlight something such as the tongue of a cow illustrating its tenderness to its calf as it licks it.

He then went on to talk about the influence of Minoan paintings, when Bietek excavated at Tel el Baba he identified that there where people and bull as engaging in bull leaping like the paintings at Knossos. Actually it is not really possible to leap over a charging bull and it is quite possible that the scene was mis interrupted and it was actually an attempt at portraying perspective. He also does not believe just because there were bulls that this implies Minoan. When you look at the art and the portrayal of a man the proportions are completely different. Undoubtedly there was influence to and fro Egypt and Minoa, indeed all around the Mediterranean basin both backwards and forwards including and through Syria/Palestine area. (At this point a rather lively debate broke out with some members of the audience convinced that Egyptian sea craft had reached ocean going capabilities.) There is a story that Tuthmosis IV married a Minoan princess but no actual proof.

Thebes was the golden age of Egyptian painting and he cited some examples
• The female banquet in the tomb of Rekhmire
• The tomb of Sennefer with the grape ceiling
• In the tomb of Nakht the demonstration of personality in the man ploughing who is bald, with a bent back and red from the son
• The pile of food before the owner compared to the pile of food in front of the workers • In the Meena the vignettes should appear in the order of work but the 2 part appears first as this was the one Meena was responsible for
• The chariot, you would not use your best chariot (he used the equivalent of a Ferrari) to go to the fields
• The flight of birds at Malkata that look as though they are disturbed by the door opening
• The mourning women in the tomb of Ramose, again indicating movement

It was a fantastic lecture and really challenged you to put aside previous notions and actually look at what was in front of you. He is extending his research (e.g. does region influence colour choice) and I advise you to keep your eyes peeled for any of his publications as they are sure to be interesting. There was a very lively debate at the end. One of the members of the audience had done his dissertation on Hatshepsut and commented on the changes of her skin colour during her various incarnations, daughter, queen, regent, queen regent, king etc. Mansour did an excellent lecture the next night on the developments at Karnak but because of the revolution stopping work due to funds he had not got many updates on previous lectures at the Mummification Museum.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Piay TT344 - Zsuzsanna Vanek

I was invited to visit the tomb of Piay TT344 by Zsuzsanna Vanek. She has a paper published Excavation in the Tomb of Piay in Dra Abu el Naga (TT 344) / Zsuzsanna Vanek which was published in this book  There is a tiny bit on digital Egypt

It is a Ramasside tomb and shows the typical dress of that period, elaborate pleated  garments. There is a hymn to Re Horakhty twined with one to Amun, nice ba bird, judgement scene and a lot of scenes of him and his wife with the cult of Amenhotep I and Ahmose Nefertari. Clearing the debris from the tomb has revealed a lot of the wall paintings, shaflts and some problems. There are two openings at each end of the tomb, one is a dead end, the other is not full excavated. The burial shaft is believed to be in the east floor but has not been excavated. But there is a big problem with the fragile rock. This tomb is built in an area of poor quality limestone and the tomb has many cracks. It is difficult to ascertain exactly how problematic these are as they have not been monitored. The team has put gypsum across some cracks to monitor any movement and thankfully none has been detected yet. It is possible that it is more stable than it looks as there is a blackened niche that they have speculated is where Petrie put his candle and 1906 reports talk of the poor condition of the tomb. However some kind of re-enforcement is needed before further excavation can be done to be on the safe side. What kind is still being resolved but she only has 4 days before she leaves.

Big thanks to Zsuzsanna, Mansour Boraik, Mohammed Abd el-Aziz for arranging the visit and even bigger thanks to Reiss Omar and his men for getting me up and down the slope.:)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Lecture Tuesday 11/12/12

There is another lecture tomorrow night, please spread the word. 7pm Luxor Library MansourBoraik

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Lecture 7pm Monday Luxor Library

Just spotted on Facebook Lecture: Francesco Tiradritti the lecture will be about the Wall Painting in ancient Egypt. Monday 19:00 Luxor Public Library, please spread the word. 

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Luxor News has been made into a book!

Blogging Books suggested making the blog into a book, it has been great fun working with them and the finished article is now available here

This is now my 4th book, I wish my English teacher could see it :)