Thursday, 28 February 2013

Memorial Service for the Victims of the Balloon Crash

Those wishing to attend a memorial service being arranged by the governor Ezzat Saad should gather TOMORROW at 3:30 outside the Iberotel where a coach will take people to the crash site. Thanks to Theresa Clark for the information.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Antiquities ministry refuses to rent Egypt's archaeological sites - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Good decision.

Antiquities ministry refuses to rent Egypt's archaeological sites - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online: The antiquities ministry has refused a request submitted by the Ministry of Finance to rent Egypt’s renowned archaeological sites in an attempt to close the government's budget deficit.

Some archaeologists have called the proposal 'insulting' and 'humiliating.'

"How can we rent our heritage?" wondered Ahmed Saeed, professor of ancient Egypt at Cairo University. On his Facebook page, Saeed posted a cartoon photo of the Sphinx crying. He wrote a caption underneath that read "Cry dear Sphinx people want to rent you or maybe later cut you into pieces and sell you! Shame on those who want to rent you – the symbol of dignity, power and Egypt’s ancient civilization."

Other archaeologists were suspicious of the request and described it as 'unfolded.' Hatem Sewelam professor of archaeology at Cairo University said the proposal was a 'rumour created by the media.'

Antiquities ministry's secretary-general Adel Abdel-Satar told Ahram Online that the proposal was suggested. He explained that Abdalla Mohamed Mahfouz, a thinker at Al-Ketab Al-Mostanir website whose nationality remains unknown, sent a request in early February to the Ministry of Finance to help Egypt overcome its economical problems, specifically to help close Egypt's budget deficit.

Mahfouz suggested to rent five of Egypt’s well known archaeological sites: the Pyramid of Giza, Sphinx, Karnak Temples in Luxor, and twin Ramses II Temples in Abu Simbel to international tourism companies for five years for an annual rent fee of LE200 billion.

In turn, the Ministry of Finance sent the request to the antiquities ministry and asked the ministry to review the proposal to see whether it was achievable or not.

The Ministry of State for Antiquities sent all official letters concerning the rent proposal of Egypt's archaeological sites to be discussed at the board of directors meeting.

However, the ministry refused the suggestion, stating that Egypt’s heritage is public property and cannot be leased or sold. Accordingly, such course of action is against Egypt’s antiquities law.

"Sending the proposal for discussion at the Ministry of State for Antiquities board of directors meeting protected the decision taken," asserted Abdel-Satar when asked why the proposal was submitted to the ministry. "If I had decided alone and refused the suggestion, my decision could have easily been objected by my bosses."

Abdel-Satar pointed out that the antiquities minister, the cabinet, prime minister, and president could object my refusal decision and settle on whatever they agree upon.

"I was sure that the ministry would refuse the suggestion, as it is against Egypt’s antiquities law, and no one can object the decision taken by the ministry's board of directors because it is considered final," Abdel-Satar confirmed.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

‫لVideo footage of the balloon crash

RIP

‫لحظة سقوط المنطاد السياحي بالاقصر

‬‎ - YouTube: - Sent using Google Toolbar

Update on the Luxor Balloon Crash

Check this Twitter account for photos and details from an eye witness https://twitter.com/chrismichel

Details are unconfirmed
  • explosion at 1000ft, 
  • basket contained 20 tourists
  • took place 07:00 local time 05:00 GMT 
  • mixed Chinese/Japanese/British/French
  • 9 Hongkongese, 4 Japanese, 2 Britons, 2 French & 2 Egyptian
  • children involved
  • 14 bodies
  • 2-3 injured including pilot
  • The pilot who survived is Mo'men Morad Ali with 70% burns
  • crash occurred near Al Moudira Hotel 
  • operator was Sky Cruise balloons 
  • The governor of Luxor has suspended hot air balloon activities http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/65624/Egypt/Politics-/photo-pls-Luxor-balloon-crash-kills-;-similar-trip.aspx 
  • 18 killed and 3 survivors. The pilot, an English man and a Scottish man. Both men's wives were killed
  • The English man has now died 
  • One Hungarian resident in the UK
This article is reasonable accurate http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284548/Egypt-hot-air-balloon-crash-British-death-toll-Luxor-accident-rises-three.html
We send out deepest sympathy to the injured and friends and family of the deceased

Egypt: Hot Air Balloon Crashes With 20 On Board

Terrible news, I can actually see the smoke from my balcony.  
Egypt: Hot Air Balloon Crashes With 20 On Board: A hot air balloon carrying 20 tourists has crashed in the Egyptian town of Luxor, according to reports.

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Monday, 25 February 2013

Counting the Cost | Jane Akshar

My latest book is now for sale. If you wonder what that has to do with Egypt. it is my attempt to earn some money to keep us going during the current down turn in tourism. 

Counting the Cost | Jane Akshar: Counting the Cost of Cult Membership

In 1993 the BBC ran a radio program called Relative Values on the Akshars, detailing our membership of the cult London Church of Christ. In Counting the Cost during the first half of the book I expand on the events in the audio, recruitment into a cult, membership of the London Church of Christ, our meeting, dating and marriage in the cult. The second half of the book I tell what happened next. The anti cult movement, marriage dynamics, cancer, PCG, Ayman’s death and finally my move to Egypt and embracing Islam. This fascinating story of two religious journeys in opposite directions will enthral you.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Thursday, 21 February 2013

British Embasy in Luxor

Spotted on Facebook  
It’s our pleasure to announce our meeting with the British Community in Luxor. The consul and a member of the consular team will be available to speak to members of the community to discuss any issues of interest.

The meeting will be held at the Gaddis Hotel, Khaled Ibn Walid st, Luxor on Wednesday 27 February from 10:00-14:00.

Thanks

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Ramsis II vizier's tomb cover discovered - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Ramsis II vizier's tomb cover discovered - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online: A group of Belgian archaeologists uncovered the remains of a mud-brick pyramid-shaped tomb cover in Luxor belonging to Ramsis II's vizier Khay.

The Belgian archaeological mission from the Free University of Brussels and Liege University uncovered the 15 metre-tall structure during their routine excavation work at Sheikh Abdul Gorna noblemen's necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.

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This Sundays Lecture

Dr Laurent Bavay entitled “Amenhotep is back on the hill. An update on the work of the Belgian Mission in the Theban Necropolis

7pm Mummification Museum FREE

Monday, 18 February 2013

Moving the Northern colossal statues of Amenhotep III









At last night’s lecture Mansour announced that they would be moving the northern colossus today and visitors were welcome. These two colossus were standing at the Northern gate of the funerary temple of Amenhotep III. They had fallen in an earthquake approx 1200BC and had been lying there ever since. Known about since 1821 they had waited funds, compulsory purchase of the land and the will to have them moved. A joint Egyptian-European mission directed by Mohammed Abdelmaqsoud and Hourig Sourouzian. Once moved they will be conserved and studied.

So arriving on site at 10am the actual dignitaries arrived at 11am. They attempted to move the large piece but their initial estimate of it size proved to be incorrect. They thought it was 35 tons, the crane could take 100 tons and the cables 40 tons but they quickly found it was more like 47 tons and more cables would be need. I was also told that it was raising at an angle so that might be adjusted too before they had another go. In the mean while the crane was used to remove other pieces from the low loader.

The location is between Sheikh Ali and the Ramasseum very slightly south of the German House.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mummification Museum Lecture José Galán – Update from the Spanish Mission

José Galán – Update from the Spanish Mission

Fantastic Lecture from Jose, the project has expanded beyond the courtyard of TT11 hence the title. The slides he chose were not only from the actual dig but also corresponding artefacts in museums worldwide.

First the team’s website http://excavacionegipto.com/campana/campana12_ing.jsp.htm lots of images and information. Also if you search this blog on the label TT11 you will find loads and loads of past lectures and news announcements.

The team have been working on the tomb of Djehuty TT11 for 12 years and he showed a slide of a hillside with an entrance to the tomb set into the hillside. He showed the same view in 2007 with this huge courtyard.  The tomb is located in the centre of Dra Abu Naga; Djehuty was the overseer of the treasury and overseer of the cattle. A very important official. The tomb was in a line of tombs, a sort of necropolis street. Next door is the tomb of Baki also an Overseer of Cattle. Djehuty wanted to be remembered as a great master of writing who was well acquainted with the funerary texts.  The facade was unusually decorated with texts, one side a hymn to Re and the other a biographical text. Also inside the tomb there are numerous texts that make the tomb a monument of writing.

The tomb needed lots work. The ceiling had holes that let debris in, the chambers were filled with debris, and the reliefs had mud covering parts of them. At the end of the tomb was a statue of Djehuty and his parents. It took until 2007 to remove all the debris and then they could start the conservation.

They have installed special lightening brought from Spain, because they had to install a false ceiling of iron beams so instead of having lights on the floor shining up, they have lights in the ceiling shining down. The burial chamber is down 2 levels and is inscribed with the book of dead such as transformation spells that Djehuty needed to overcome the dangers of the underworld. It is a 3-d representation as passages relating to the netherworld in the lower registers and that relating to the sky on the ceiling, in the centre of the ceiling is the goddess Nut.

So why did Djehuty chose this site to be buried in?

When you look at his contemperies such as TT73, 67, 86, 39, 131, 61, 82, 71, 84, 99,125, 127 and 110 these are located around Deir el Bahri at Sheikh Abu Gurna and the Assasif.

Perhaps because it was across the river from Karnak, he was not convinced that was the answer.

In that area are the pyramid of Nebkheperure Intef and the tombs of Kamoses, Ahotep and Hery. He dismissed Hery as being relevant Djehuty is older. Then looking at the architecture of the courtyard they noted the left hand (or south wall) had a twist inwards as though it was avoiding something special. Excavating in that area revealed a mud brick structure but they could only investigate so far as their concession only extended so far. Other similar chapels had been found by the Met and Poltz who have excavated in that area. They consisted of a chapel, a burial shaft with a surrounding wall.

Then after the village was removed at Dra Abu Naga their concession was extended to the south and included this structure. Excavations revealed wrapped wooden coffins and ushabtis wrapped in linen very similar to those in the Met, he showed a slide and I am fairly sure it was this one http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/100017133 these are called stick ushabtis for Ahmose and Ahmose-sa-pa-ir. Other pieces that bear his name UC40212 UC40213 E15682 JE 36347 BMEA360 and 1455 in Turin (there were more but I missed them) so he was a very important person.

There was textiles marked daiu-linen for Ahmose-sa-pa-ir and his son Ahmose (the linen breaks here). There are lists of important people (king/ancestor lists) that include him in TT2 TT359 and a coffin in Turin. Papyrus Abbott, a 21st dynasty document mentions his tomb and says it was untouched. A plan was made using the papyrus narrative (can anyone give me details as I missed enough info to find it online). They have found an alabaster jar with the name of Ahmose, it could be a relative. Also found is a huge deposit of cultic vases which indicate there was a monument in the area. So far they have found 4 17 dynasty vases, wooden shanties, linen all bearing the name so they have a good feeling the tomb in their concession.

Other finds have been a 90 cm child’s wooden coffin containing a child aged 3-4 years old. The coffin was lying on one side because the body didn’t fit in so they had tried to lie it face up and failed.

Evidence of another prince of the 17th dynasty was found on a door lintel. Nebkheperure Intef and, by implication, his brother Sekhemre Wepmaat Intef, were probably the sons of Sekhemre Shedtawy Sobekemsaf

More finds an obelisk from the early 17th, a sandal, some little coffins and shabities of Ahotep. This is normally a female name although instances of it being used by males, a fragment of a statue similar to the one in the Louvre.  In a connecting burial shaft yet another coffined shabities. A shabity wrapped in 9 linen tissues that were actually made that size. These were also inscribed with the name Ahotep and use of ultra violet on the inscription enabled them to read it clearly and identify this as a male name who was an official mouth piece of Nehen.

There was so much it was amazing and I encourage you to explore the website and look out for the publications as they come out.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Malqata - Mummification Museum Lecture

Malqata
Three members of the Joint Expedition to Malqata gave the presentation. Catherine Roehrig, Peter Lecovara and Diana Craig Patch. They have an excellent blog http://imalqata.wordpress.com/ where you can loads of details of what is going on.

The team is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Michael Carlos Museum

Mansour introduced them and commented how important this excavation was because of the encroachment and lack of an accurate map because it was so large.

Catherine

A number of the slides used Goggle earth overlaid with pointers, plans and maps. Personally i found this massively useful as I have never been able to get my head round this site and relate the floor plan of the king’s place to the actual site. Using Google was excellent. They also had some aerial photos provided by Barry Budd. As Catherine said the only way to really appreciate the site is from the air.

They are in their 4th season investigating the Temple of Amun, the Platform, North Palace, West Villas South and North Village amongst others, going as far south as Kom el Samak, including Birket Habu and the road to Deir el Shelwit. There is everything from Amenhotep III to Roman times. The name Malqata derives from the Arabic ‘to find’ and Catherine illustrated the lecture with a number of slides from the Metropolitan collection of moulds, rings, beads and pottery. Worth having a look at their website.

The site has been excavated by numerous teams from the 1880’s onwards including Percy Newbury and Robb Tytus, the Met under Winlock, Barry Kemp and David O’Connor and Waseda University. http://imalqata.wordpress.com/history-of-the-excavations/

Some of the previous excavations didn’t record things by the standards of today nor did they back fill so much information and sadly the actual structures have been lost to us. Catherine showed slides of earlier excavations and what is left today. Also things like the calf bench supports which have been removed from the site and are in the Cairo and Met respectively.

The temple’s full name was the House of Amun in the House of Rejoicing and had three shrines. There was sand over a brick flooring and they have door jambs ad lintels. The floors were plastered and appear to have been redone perhaps for the various Heb Sed’s. A new structure was added again perhaps for the third Heb Sed.

The south village was south of the French House and as they were left uncovered these have been scoured away by the winds.

Out in the desert there is a huge desert causeway which is clearly visible from the air and it focuses your eye on the three hills to the east on the other side of the Nile which have the same shape as the glyph for horizon and is the same axis as Birket Habu. There was some kind of big structure/platform on the east bank also on the same axis.

The overall impression from her lecture was that buildings of Amenhotep III at this time were all over Thebes, they were massive and nowadays very little remains.

Nest it was Peter and he talked about the Kings Palace. This had also not been back filled and although slightly protected by the excavation dumps it is suffering badly. Firstly from camel thorn which loves to grow (and destroy) the fertile mud brick. This mud brick comes in two sizes 30 and 36 cm and they are able it sue this knowledge to identify different building phases. They are going to put protective mesh on existing mud brick, overlay with new bricks and then back fill. The kings bed chamber has the best wall however the before and after photos showed huge deterioration from the original excavation to the condition today. It had been affected by the rain storms of 94/95, the protection of cardboard the guardians had used which had adhered to the brick work, insect and other damage. The plan is to restore, conserve and then cover and create a replica for the enjoyment of visitors whilst the original is kept safe. They want to make the site comprehensible to visitors. The new wall built by the SCA was protecting the site from further encroachment.

I have included one of my own photos form a few years ago where you can see camel thorn, the wall and cardboard, this was taken before the rain storm.





Lastly it was Diane talking about the north village. This had been excavated in 1917-18 by Ambrose Lansing but this was the early days of Egyptology and he left no notes. The village consists of one brick wide small houses, the action of the wind has meant they are lucky to get even one layer of brick and sometimes are only left with the impression in the mortar. There are indications of stairs but the strength of the walls means the roof was unlikely to have supported much more than a few sleeping bodies. Again aerial photographs using Barry Budd’s equipment have been very useful to understanding the site. Some roof pieces have been found as well as attempts at decoration with whitewashed walls with red dots. They were living on a hill and used a variety of methods to cope with that, terracing, ramps, fill or sometimes not bothering and leaving the slope. It has narrow streets and was rebuilt at one point perhaps for the second Heb Sed.

They found pits filled with rubbish, some of these seem to have been deliberately cut. Although this was a workers village it is nothing like Deir le Medina hardly any artefacts. The houses are less substantial, smaller, no bed platforms and no evidence of cooking!!!

I found this quite fascinating, sort of like accommodation provided for the Olympics.





Next week José Manuel Galán on TT11/12 remember NO PHOTOS

TT11 Field School | American Research Center in Egypt

TT110 Field School | American Research Center in Egypt: The American Research Center in Egypt is pleased to announce the launch of its new Luxor West Bank Archaeological Field School for local MSA/SCA inspectors. This field school forms part of a larger program of work, funded through USAID, that concentrates on the west bank. The school will focus on the excavation of the forecourt of the Eighteenth Dynasty Theban Tomb of Djehuty, TT 110. The excavation, coupled with an ARCE conservation field school to clean the interior, will provide training to MSA/SCA officials, improve our knowledge of the monument, and ultimately open the tomb for regular visitation....

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Monday, 11 February 2013

Mummification Museum Lectures Under Threat

Mansour Boriak just informed me that the lectures might be cancelled because people are taking photographs and publishing them on the net. Can I make a plea to everyone who attends not to take photos

Sunday, 10 February 2013

New Attraction at the Open Air Museum at Karnak

 

At the lecture tonight Mansour Boraik informed me that the Franco-Egyptian centre have completed their work restroring the monument of Haptshepsut called the Netery-Menou. The open air museum is one of my favourite places in Karnak and there are many gems there. The While Chapel of Senuseret, the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut, various shrines of Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis IV etc, the portico of Tuthmosis IV. It is great to see another addition.

There are loads of details here http://www.cfeetk.cnrs.fr/uk/index.php?page=anastylose-netjery-menou together with lots more pictures

The loose blocks of this monument were first discovered by G. Legrain at the beginning of the 20th century in the Cachette Courtyard at Karnak, and then by Sheata Adam and Farid El-Shaboury in the mid-1950’s. After a long time waiting upon mastabas, the blocks have been restored by the CFEETK conservation team, and studied and published by L. Gabolde in 2005.
This monument is of major importance for Karnak temple and for ancient Egyptian history since it is one of the few surviving records that attests explicitly to the power of queen Hatshepsut just before her ascent to the throne as king. Dedicated to Amun-Ra, god of Karnak, the walls of this monument (5.39 m high) show figures of queen Hatshepsut, king Tuthmosis III, princess Neferura and posthumous figures of the king Tuthmosis II.

In 2008, the French-Egyptian Scientific Committee agreed the reconstruction of this building at the entrance to the Open Air Museum. After excavation, the reconstruction of the Netery-menu started in 2009 as a main programme of the French-Egyptian Centre for the Study of Karnak Temples (MSA-CNRS) and was finished at the end of Januray 2013. It is now ready to be opened to visitors.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Mummification Museum Lecture - TT16 Panehsy Suzanne Onstine

Suzanne whilst giving an update on the tomb tried to give us some different aspects to the tomb from her previous lectures. You can read up on previous lectures here http://luxor-news.blogspot.com/2012/01/life-cycle-of-theban-tomb.html http://luxor-news.blogspot.com/2009/01/mummfication-museum-lecture-tt16.html she has presented at a lot of places and various papers of hers are on the web. There is also a good background page on the tomb http://home.comcast.net/~hebsed/Onstine.htm she gives a very good lecture so if you ever get a chance to see her I recommend it.

The tomb, located between two alabaster factories at Dra Abu el Naga, is near the road that leads to Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri and the team has been there since 2008. The tomb was only partially published by the French Baud and Droiton in 1932 as not all of the tomb was accessible, Kamp’s later plan was much bigger and they intend to complete that work and publish all the tomb.

The tomb is from Ramses  II, 19th dynasty, of Pa-nehsy and Ta-renut. She was a chantress of Amun and unusually her husband was also a chanter. He was also a priest of Amenhotep of the Forecourt. This makes the tomb very interesting as it has many unique scenes of temple activity and scenes relating to the worship of the deified Amenhotep I. Amenhotep was very old cult and he was almost a saint, the statue was an oracle statue and would give people answers. Panehsy would have been responsibility for interpreting the oracle. The tomb of Ahmose TT19 has an identical picture so we think this was a real statue. Ahmose Nefertari is also present in the scenes.

Phase one is the digital epigraphy of the first two rooms, then eventually the whole tomb. The work is done on a tablet and is an electronic version of the Mylar and tracing technique. She has published a preliminary report The Life of Panehsy, Chanter and Priest in http://www.arce.org/files/resource/wk/1k/rsrc/JARCE_Contents_and_Abstracts_2011.pdf

They are doing the epigraphy first, before conservation, as it is important to record everything before doing any work in case the conservation changes the tomb.

Phase 2 is the cleaning and studying the looted human remains. Suzanne gave a dramatic portrayal of the damage caused by looting to provide a scarab for the art market. As the looters know amulets can be inside the body cavity so they smash the chest in order to root around. So everyone that purchases this kind of art contributes to this kind of destruction. However even the broken bits can tell us something and being able to visual inspect something rather rely on CT scanning of whole bodies reveals unusual things. For example they found a stick up the spine to straighten it; they think it might be connected with making it like a djed pillar. So far the remains have been late period, third intermediate period to roman. They have found one 19th dynasty object and excavation of the burial chamber might reveal more if they are lucky. Rather nice textiles and Cartonage have been found.

Iconography

There are two representations of both Hathor and Nut, they have no idea why there are two. Hathor is the mistress of the west emerging from the mountain and Nut is the tree goddess pouring cool water to refresh the deceased. The reliefs are very damaged, again by looting. The elements of a Hathor depiction are a clump of papyrus, a crown with double feathers, sistrum, menet necklace and a desert mountain. At the edges of the destroyed relief pieces of these can be seen, the top of the feathers, the corner of the desert and a piece of flower.

For Nut she is shown as a tree goddess with the bottom half of her body hidden in the tree, she is giving nourishment and cool water to the deceased. Suzanne likens her to a potted plant goddess as sometimes she is shown in a white painted pot. The tree is a sycamore which needs a lot of water and sometimes a pond is shown next to the tree.

These scenes have unfortunately been looted and this must have happened after the 50’s as photos from that time show them intact.

The project will be ongoing until all the texts and painted scenes have been documented photographically and through digital epigraphy.

Next week Malkata and three lecturers!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Cairo Lectures

Two new Egypt Exploration Society Cairo Lectures just announced:

11 February - Edwin Brock
"Pharaoh's Jigsaw Puzzles, Reconstructing New Kingdom Royal Sarcophagi in the Valley of the Kings"

4 March - Aidan Dodson
"Howard Carter:
the Egypt Exploration Fund & Beyond"

Both at 1800 hrs at the British Council, Agouza.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Update from Osirisnet


We have the pleasure to present to you today a famous tomb from the site of Saqqara, the one of Irukaptah, known as "tomb of the butchers". Situated to the south of the Unas causeway, it had been buried (and preserved) by the construction of this causeway. Besides the scenes of butcher shop, the tomb is famous for its fourteen statues, of which some have preserved their multi-coloured decoration - something exceptionnal in the Old Kingdom :
http://www.osirisnet.net/mastabas/iroukaptah/e_iroukaptah_01.htm

Also, the news page for January has just been launched :
http://www.osirisnet.net/news/n_01_13.htm