Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Time for a photo

The tomb of Roy from Dra Abu Naga, my favourite tomb

Hidden Thebes – Ted Brock

Mummification Museum lecture 20th Dec 2008
Hidden Thebes – Ted Brock
Lost and Unknown Monuments Outside Karnak Temple

Ted was on two projects which revealed hidden parts of Karnak. The first was a sewage project and the second the dewatering. Both these projects involved doffing down into the foundations of Luxor he dug test pits along the line of the proposed work and then during the actual work. Both of these revealed that what we call Karnak is only a part of the Middle Kingdom, New kingdom and Late Period complex.

Three projects have resulted in objects and monuments being found.
The sewage project to provide Luxor with a sewage system
The Chevier ditch. This was an early project to remove water from Karnak. It was not affective but they are hopeful will be much better. Removing the water is dealing with the symptoms not the cause which is the increased agricultural activity. This has resulted from the constant water supply from the Aswan dam allowing farmers to have 2 or 3 crops a year. They flood irrigate the fields and the water table has risen as a result.
The new dewatering project.

During these projects various elements of Karnak

East Karnak in front of the 1st pylon
There are various unknown monuments outside Karnak. The enclosure walls created in the 30th dynasty by the Ptolemy’s give you a false impression of the area. Before this various monuments were scattered all over the Karnak area.
In the south east there is a mound which is the foundation of an offering chapel. Temple C east of Karnak which is connected to Khonsu. The stele of the princess sending the healing statue. Redford discovered a new chapel of Osiris. West inside the enclosure wall only foundations remain. West of Montu temple there is a chapel to Osiris.
The village of Bahawa there is an extension of the sphinx avenue which extended as far as the Nile. Remains of gateway of Ptolemy XII the father of Cleopatra VII

The Akhenaton temple was discovered by Chevrier who found many statues. Redford has continued excavation for 15-20 years and delineated the west part of the temple. Gem Pa Aten. During the sewage project they dug test pits but could not find anything in the expected place. But the excavation itself they found the north and east walls. The east wall was very significant and gave them dimensions and it was 200 sq meters. Almost as large as the Amun complex. After Akhenaton they dug out the temple to its very foundations and reused the blocks in the building of the late 18 dynasty pylons.

Their trench went through the north wall and either side there are loads of blocks, statue pieces, which they could not investigate. They also found offering tables with names of Akhenaton and Nefertiti show the name change from Amenhotep.

They found rows of storage jars below the foundations the purpose of which of which is unknown. Ted’s theory that these were temporary walls (a bit like sand bags).

The East wall has foundations of reused pillars, statues, parts of the colossal statues, lots of knee caps. They also found sphinx pieces; beard with blue pigment, the bases of the statues has bound foreign captives going against the view of Akhenaton as a pacifist pharaoh.

Due east of the Mut temple found reused 25th dynasty material in Persian period monuments, column fragments. In the south east there was a large late period stone wall with reused blocks and statues. An Osiris figure of Amenhotep III probably from the statue from a ram head sphinx and a possible XII dynasty stele

At south el Baharwah there is a Ptolemy dedicated to Khonsu Waset Neferhotep

So it seems that north Karnak had Osiris and east had Khonsu

They found some uraeii that might have come from a lintel and the top of a screen wall

Malqata north Karnak
Columns and door jambs of Nitocris, an Osiris Parmares temple, within the village columns of a colonnade from 25th dynasty God’s wives of Amun Shepenwepet II. A Hathor capital

In the north west by the Thoth gate there is a Ptolemaic temple Lepsus designated it temple F. They found a block with gilded decoration. The SCA found more blocks when creating a wall. The Thoth gateway had columns and screen wall of Ptolemy IV.

The conclusion is that there is a huge potential of future work. When doing his various projects they have left signposts for the archaeologists of the future to investigate.

Next lecture 3rd January TT120 Layla Pinch

Monday, 22 December 2008

Nefertari ; QV66 ; from Osirisnet

Nefertari ; QV66 ; Luxor ; Thebes ; Egyptian tomb

Currently Nefertari's tomb is closed except to special groups paying very special prices $5,000!!!! But you can still visit courtsey of osirisnet. They have just put up this virtual tour of the tomb and it is really good.

Mummfication Museum lecture - Luxor After the Pharoahs

Luxor after Pharaohs Michael Jones, Luigi De Cescires 13/12/8
An ARCE project in collaboration with the SCA and funded by USAID

In today’s archaeological world projects are multi discipline so a report has to be as well. Michael Jones will set the archaeological context for the conservation work Luigi will talk about.

Archaeology is about managing change up until modern times where the temple is a modern landscape. From Tutmosis III, Tutankhamen, Ramses II, Nectanebo in Pharaonic times through to its condition during Napoleons’ time.

Some old slides showed how the temple was part of a living breathing Luxor. There were pigeon houses in front of the obelisks and it was surrounded by ancient settlement. There were houses on top of the roofed section on the Amenhotep III temple. It became overcome by settlement.

In 1881 the temple was cleared in a project funded by international public subscription. You can trace the height of the debris by the dates of the graffiti.

By 1933 it had become the triangular shaped area we know today and there was a beginning to understand the Roman remains on the site. In front of the temple was the house of the descendents of Abu Hagag which was difficult to remove but by the 1950’s the sphinx avenue was found and the cleared the front of the East pylon.

The North Colonnade of Amenhotep III sun court was taken away by the Romans. Many statues were taken away by the Romans to decorate their houses and this explains a column base found by Howard Carter in 1902. There is a line through the temple which lines up with MacDonald’s, which was created by the Romans.

They installed an arch in pylon 2 and the very beginning of it can still be seen on the side of the pylon. There are bullet holes where tourists used to practise their shooting. Clearance of the temple revealed that the floor consisted of column drums which had altered the floor level necessitating the provision of steps. There was a shelf in the apse. In 1960 a doorway was put in through the apse to save the tourists having to walk round to the areas at the back.

In 1856 Wilkinson draw a series of pictures which included a portrayal of horses on the Roman fresco inside the apse. The room was filled with debris so the lower part was not recorded. These paintings are useful but not accurate.

The 4 figures in the Apse are the four tetrarchs Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Galerius At this stage the Roman Empire had been divided into East and West and each had two emperors. After Diocletian abdicated in 305AD Constantius was proclaimed Augustus and eventually became sole ruler. There was a statue base inscribed for Constantine. During the making of the Corniche there was a huge loss of archaeological material as debris was just shoved into the making of the bank. (One wonders if in 50 years archaeologists will be making the same remarks about Gurna)

Underneath the mosque there is a church.

The fortress is often portrayed as a rectangle that has lost its south west corner but Napoleon showed that part as having ramps like those newly discovered at Karnak so it might well have been an ancient quay. The fortress might well have been out of line like the old Cairo fortress.

The Luxor temple today is suffering from traffic the cruise boats and the raised humidity. From the 1980’s until now there has been a big deteriation in its condition. There was a big credit given to Chicago House for the work they have done there.

Luigi’s have of the lecture was quite technical and for fear of making mistakes and leading some other conservator astray I will confine myself to a few highlights.

They had to conserve the plaster as well as clean the paint
Trial cleanings were undertaken
It was a big chance to study the frescos
Previous conservation had to be removed
Maximian’s face was erased almost as soon as it was painted and there are only 3 out of 4 heads of the tetrarchs
Had to use abrasive to remove guano deposits
In some places 95% of the paint layer has been lost
Wilkinson’s work shows mistakes like horses and there is not a laurel in his hands, so can’t be relied on. The West wall has gone completely
Documentation is an important part of their work. Need to have a diary as some parts could not be deciphered prior to cleaning so could not be drawn
There was a need for emergency restoration before the project started
The Romans closed the door way with reused blocks and from the marks they can work out what tools were used
Had to work out how many layers and the fresco composition
They worked out the drawing layer and found string whipping used in preparation. They can see the details of the brush marks made in the wet plaster.
Details like the embroidery on the shoulder pads was added later
When conserving they must make sure the wet does not penetrate too far into the plaster
A mechanical method is often the best for removing the salts. They restore pigment colours by removing the glaring white of the plaster with aqua spoca
They are training Egyptian staff
Need protect the surface after cleaning

Next Week Hidden Thebes Ted Brock

No Internet in Egypt for 3 days

Did you miss me, I missed you. It is at times like this you realise how much you are reliant on the internet. Apparently 3 out of the 4 cables connecting Egypt with Europe were broken so loads of the Mid, Far East and Africa were affected. Although the break has not been repaired they have managed to reroute the traffic and Egypt is back 85%. thank heavens. I was getting withdrawal symptoms

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Cairo Eyes-Cairo Egypt.

Cairo Eyes-Cairo Egypt.
My man in Cairo has changed his website address. I have worked with him for 5 years and he is totally honest and reliable so for all your Cairo needs, speak to Waleed

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Egypt for Children

Coming to Egypt with kids I recommend this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Egyptian-Echo-Newspaper-History/dp/0746027516

Travelling outside the convoy

As you know the convoy system stopped in Upper Egypt on 1st December so what is it like now. Well I have had 2 trips outside the convoy, one to Abydos and one on the road to Aswan. So what are the differences.

You can leave when you want. We started to Abydos at 6:30 so we arrived when it was cool. (In the summer I would suggest leaving seriously early.) We were able to stop on the way to go to the toilet. We spent as long as we wanted at the site, had lunch in the little café which was really nice and didn’t have to visit Dendara which I always found a disappointment after Abydos. Much nicer to visit on its own and using the Lotus boat. We actually spent about 5 hours there.

Going to Moalla (Ankhtifi) and El Kab on the road to Aswan. Well first we were able to do so without having to wait for another convoy to leave the site. I like Ankhtifi but would not want to spend 6 hours there. In the old days we would have been able to do either Moalla or El Kab but not both. Again we left Luxor when we wanted, stayed as long as we wanted and on the way back we stopped at this little café and had lunch. I don’t think they had ever had a tourist there before. They charged us 5LE for a lunch of bread, foul, cheese and tomatoes for 2!!!!! We did stop at the old enforced stopping place on the way there but actually that was more pleasant because we weren’t in a rush so were able to have more of a laugh with the salesmen.

I felt safer as we were not racing along like wacky races and anyway if a terrorist seriously wanted to attack tourists it is much more difficult when they are not gathered together in a large group at exactly the same time each day. I never quite got the hang of why that was safer. It was relaxing and more interesting because you could stop and see the local life, if you wanted.

Altogether a safer, much more interesting, more comfortable and relaxing trip. Hurrah for the end of the convoys

Certificate of Continuing Education in Egyptology

Quite a few people have asked me about the course I am doing, it is a 4 year course with Manchester University and COMPLETELY online which is fabulous for me living in Egypt. There are people from all over the world on it. My tutor is Joyce Tyldesley (how cool is that). There is a discussion forum where you post your topic work as well as chat to other students. You get topics released every month with links to good internet sites and museums. There are essays to do, quizzes and of course topic work and a reading list as long as your arm. I am really enjoying it and it is really opening up my eyes to how out of date and incomplete my knowledge is (is that good or bad lol). You get access to Jstor. You had to answer a couple of questions on the application form and it was nerve wracking waiting to hear if I had been accepted. The price is very reasonable, £770 GBP this year. I would throughly recommend it.

Certificate of Continuing Education in Egyptology
This four year, part-time course provides opportunity for serious academic study of the history and civilization of Ancient Egypt from c3100BC to the Arab Conquest, together with a grounding in Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs. The programme is led by Professor Rosalie David OBE, a scholar of international standing and Director of the University's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology.

The programme is offered as a taught course as well as through online distance learning.

For further information please email egypt.cce@manchester.ac.uk

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Abydos outside the Seti I temple, 1st Dynasty burials

OK I am massive lucky…..and then some. I thought I had got permission to visit the Archaic period burials at Abydos but when we got there it was disaster. Having produced my permissions, these were dismissed, I phoned this, that and the other, not good enough, no answer, phone switched off. I had spent 30 minutes arguing. Then I produced my ace in the hole and got hold of Dr Sabry, Dr Zahi’s deputy. He was marvellous and within 30 seconds we had our precious permission. One phone call and he arranged it all. I was totally made up as I had tried to get there before and failed. As we were doing these burials for our first essay it was really important. Assigned an inspector and a police man we went off. Our driver was amazing as this was a desert road more suited to a four wheel driver than our rather nice a/c mini bus. But our driver did it.

We went to the area of the burial of the early dynastic tombs. The area is known as Umm el-Gaab (Qaab), mother of pots and the amount of pottery there left by devoted pilgrims to the area was stunning. The wonderful inspector Mohammed Naguid took us everywhere. He had warned the German expedition we were coming and a rather stern member warned us we could visit, no stepping on mudbrick, if we wanted to go down shoes off. Harda ya Basha (yes SIR!!!). So we got to see the open tombs. Omg they were fantastic. Den was the first use of a stair case and has a pink granite floor. Totally huge and the granite floor was so smooth.

Djer was being excavated and showed what looked like burnt walls, an enclosed area which might have been an early serdab. It was stunning to think these were 5000 years old

Then we got to Khasekhemwy’s funerary enclosure, also known as Shent el-Zebib. Wow, double wow and triple wow. I could not believe it. It was huge, magnificent, amazing, and totally impressive. Although experts disagree about the origins of the step pyramid enclosure, some saying it came from nowhere and others that it had its origin in these enclosures. I agree with the later having seen this for myself.

Then the inspector suggested we went to the New Kingdom temple of Ramses II, built on older buildings. This is known as Kom el Sultan. Our visit really showed me how large the Abydos cemeteries were and how important the entire area was. You get an entirely different idea when you just visit the Seti I temple, with no idea of this vast area behind.

I also had a quick look at the House of Companions which is a simple place to stay there. It is not sophisticated or luxurious but it is clean. So somewhere to stay in Abydos

Birds at Medinet Habu

My photo of the problem at the Ramesseum prompted one of my readers to send this photo of Medinet Habu. You can see underneath the erosion caused by the droppings. I do hope someone is paying attention to this and some kind of solution is being worked on.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Karnak the Quintessential Sacred City - Sylvie Cauville-Colin

I was very lucky this week as the lecturer Sylvie Cauville-Colin very kindly gave me her entire presentation including her script. So below is her actual script. If anyone would like the entire presentation including all the slides please email me and I will send then a copy. BTW it is 22MB

It might be strange to hear me talk about Karnak, because I am from the future, the time of the fall of Egypt — as some ancient scholars used to say.
You all know that the past is buried under the foundations of the buildings.
But, I hope you will see that the future (I mean the Graeco-Roman period) provides the light necessary to help us study the remains of the buildings.
One can’t explain the offerings in Karnak, Luxor or Medinet Habu without the texts of the last pharaohs — whether they be Ptolemies or Caesars.

I want to share with you my personal understanding of Karnak
— with the help of Edfu and Dendara, and with the help of my favorite gods, Osiris and Hathor.
Karnak is certainly the largest and most important temple in Egypt, not the most beautiful but it is, above all, the most sacred,
as if the gods were still with us here, in the earth, in the walls, in the wind.
At the beginning of Egypt’s history, the political power was in the north, in the hands of the pharaohs and the priests of Memphis and Heliopolis.

All temples glorified the royal power, a human king in the New Kingdom, a god in the Ptolemaic time.
The purpose of the priests was political proclamation of the legitimate royal power, whether referring to a pharaoh in Karnak, or Horus in Edfu.
In Edfu, Horus is the son of Re and the heir of Osiris. He inherited his power from the three dynastic gods : Re-Horakhty from Heliopolis, Ptah from Memphis and Amun from Thebes.
In Edfu, the three gods of the three capital cities are presented all along the temple walls, from the hypostyle to the Heliopolitan coronation chapel whose name is the “throne of Re”.
Ptolemy gave wine to Re, myrrh to Ptah, and Maât to Amun.

The offerings were not for the three of them, but they were to be given back to Horus during the crowning ceremonies.

The king received milk during his baptism, and wine for his crowning, as well as myrrh and Maât — the symbol of his duty, honesty and integrity.
Even if Ptolemy is a khawaga, he is still a pharaoh, the heir of Menes.
He is blessed by Heliopolis, Memphis, Thebes.
There are many examples of the impact/domination of the three capital cities, in every temple.

For examples
The temple of Sethi the first at Abydos has seven chambers:
- the axial one for Amun, beneath Re-Horakhty from Heliopolis, one chapel for the king, between Ptah and the marvelous memphite chambers.
- Behind the first row of chambers, lies the Osiris complex which contains yet another royal chamber between those of Horus and Isis. Abydos is a temple for Osiris, of course, but Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis have the best places — in a very subtle way.
All of this surrounding the pharaoh!

- My final example is in Karnak, during the period of decline: on the gate of the second pylon
Amun is dominant on the outside of the gate of Ptolemy the sixth , but in the recess of the door, one can see Ptah, Re and Osiris.

Very few temples were dedicated to Ptah with the exception of the temple in Karnak. My personal belief is that the temple of Ptah is actually an exact representation of the city of Memphis.
Built by Thutmosis the third, it was dedicated to Ptah and Hathor.
In the same period (Thutmosis III), the core of the temple is reserved for Amun. Great-Temple-of-Maât was his name, for Maât, for Thebes.
In the Akhmenu, Great-Temple was for Re-Horakhty from Heliopolis.
In light of what we know about Edfu, why not imagine that the coronation was celebrated in the three capital places, Memphis-Heliopolis-Thebes as early as the New Kingdom period.
The King received myrrh in the temple of Ptah (we can see this offering inside the temple)
maât in the Temple-of-Maât in Ipetsout,
and, wine in the heliopolitan enclosure of the Akhmenu.

What exactly is Akhmenu? The name means that the monument, menu, makes someone akh. Akh is a special spiritual state.
For example, the small osirian figure made in corn (nebou) turned to gold (nebou): Osiris is akh, like alchemy. Sakhou.
In the Akhmenu, King-Sokar became Amun and Re,
like a transmutation, an initiation rite - from the old king-god to the bright sun,
from Memphis to Heliopolis.
In the so-called Botanical Garden, the king was in a higher state of consciousness: I mean that he was able to see hidden qualities of the rare plant species.He had more knowledge than the common people, than the priests. It was a way to show his superiority, his difference.

What about Karnak before the Middle Kingdom?
Most scholars believe that Amenemhat was responsible for establishing Karnak as a new religious capital. But, why did Amenemhat choose the Fayum as a capital and not Thebes?
The architectural program of Sesostris the first in Karnak was perfect (as the book of Luc Gabolde).
How was it possible if there was nothing before?
Only the heliopolitan priests could create something so perfect, so imposing.
Amun: who is he? One can hear him, but can’t see him,
he is the breath, the wind, the air, the ether.
He received a part of Ptah-Sokar, the fertilizing power of Min,
the strength of Montu the warrior, and the sun disk of Re.

Egyptian people gave a great value to words, because, for them, it is more than a pun, it is a part of god, the mind was life.
From the first king Menes who reigned in Mennefer (Memphis), from Menu / Min to Mentchou / Montu, the permanence men, Imen / Amun was in everything, and in every prayer,
Imen men em ikhet nebet = Amun is immanent in everything.

Monthu and Hathor were the most ancient gods of Thebes, the two of them were worshipped in the temple of Ptah in the Amun enclosure.
There, from the beginning of the New Kingdom to the last Ptolemy, Hathor was the first lady of Thebes (heryt-tep Ouaset).
In the other side of Karnak, in the temple of Khonsu, Hathor was the one who resides in Benenet.
Draw a straight line between the gate of Khonsu and the gate near the temple of Ptah, you will have a south-north axis, like the path of the Nile.
It is a route of the procession for the New Year. This line crosses through the hypostyle hall, from the south door to the north corner.

On the south wall, one can see the theogamy or holy birth in a very summarized manner: Khnum is modeling a form on his wheel pottery, Hathor is breast-feeding the small child.
On all of the walls, the king’s crowning is always facing north, towards the Ptah’s temple for the memphite coronation, in the hand of Hathor, daughter of Re.
In the north part of the hypostyle (on the east wall), is the great royal ritual of the New Year (with the ceremonial candle). Directly opposite that, on the west wall, we see fifteen Hathors in position for the numerous ceremonies of the coronation.

• South-north, royal and hathoric way.
• East-west, royal and hathoric way, too.
From the obelisk of Thutmosis III to Deir el-Bahari, there is a line which starts in bakhu/east to manu/west.

Bakh, which means
sacred bull Bucchis”,
is also a verb for “birth”.
From the birth to the death…

The name of the unic/lone/only obelisk is tekhen ouâty, which, later, will become a name for Harendotes (Hornedjitef), the son and heir of Osiris.
So the obelisk is like a figure of the king, Horus and pharaoh.
The west bank is the douat, the realm of the dead, the estate of Hathor,
the belly of the cow which the Re’s boat crosses from morning to night,
Hathor is the royal womb.

The part of the domain dedicated to Khonsu was called benenet.
But sometimes the name is written like benben, like the old stone which was worshipped in the temple of benben in Heliopolis, like the pyramidion on the top of the obelisk, or the obelisk itself — or himself, because he was the god Horus.
Ben/benben means also : to flow ; benben/benen : sexual activity ; benty : breast ; benen : ball, egg.
Something round or straight, it is the power of creation, the genesis.

Benenet, the name of the south-west part of Karnak, was the nucleus of the sacred land, where the first light emerged.
So, what was Karnak before the Middle Kingdom? That is the question. Now, there are no evidences. Till now, maybe, but we are just at the beginning of the excavations in Karnak: to think that we have excavated 10 per cent so far!
In the ground of Ipesout, urban pottery was found, and it was concluded that, in the old time, Karnak was only a very small town.
Is it really possible to imagine that there was nothing there before the Middle Kingdom? Then, a few years later, this wonderful place of legitimate power?
Anyway, I just want to share with you two “heretic” hypotheses:

What if the irst nucleus, the first sacred place, was not Ipetsout, but Benenet?
The power of Heliopolis, of Re, was unquestionable, no doubt.
The national temples, like Edfu or Dendara, were in the hand of Heliopolis and conceived with old texts kept in the library of Memphis-Heliopolis.
We must never forget that the conflict between Re and Osiris was the foundation of the egyptian religion.
And if Amun was not the first god of Karnak?
Osiris, from the beginning (till today) was the most popular, wasn’t he ?
And if he was there in Karnak before Amun ? And if the priests of Heliopolis decided to reduce the influence of Osiris and imagine a new god, like a puzzle: several pieces of different gods, under the power of Heliopolis.
Amun was quite an enigmatic and hidden god, for anybody.
And if so, where was the first temple of Osiris?

And now, the birthplace of Osiris is just next to the temple of Khonsu.
The current name is Temple of Opet.
Who knows what it means?
The different meanings of Opet (Ipetsout, Temple of Opet, Opet of the south, the feast of Opet) are rather confusing, and even more so for the average tourists.
Ipet is the goddess of the temple, like Ouaset, in broad outline, a form of Hathor.
In the graeco-roman period, Ipetouret is not the same, she is Nut, Osiris’ mother.
Per-Ipet-ouret is a Temple of Nut, for Osiris.
In few months, we will witness the rebirth of Osiris, thanks to the restoration and to the generous assistance, the evergetism, of Mme Guichard.

There is more about the life of Osiris in the ptolemaic texts than in the New Kingdom texts. It is said that the five children of Geb and Nut (Osiris, Horus the great, Seth, Isis and Nephthys) were born during the five day period that we call the epagomenal days which follow the three-hundred-sixty-day. Their respective birthplaces were: Thebes, Qous, Ombos, Dendara and Diospolis.
Five places, five days, the most dangerous days…

The osirian chapels of Dendara provide the most complete documentation about his birth and his death.
For instance, Amun-Re said to Osiris: Your mother gave birth to you in Thebes.
After his death, Osiris was embalmed in Memphis, and buried in Heliopolis.
So in Karnak, where is the Necropolis of Osiris? In the north-east.
Where was he born? In the south-west.
That sounds strange, doesn’t it? It is the exact opposite of all we know, that the sun rises in the east, and he sets in the west.
The texts of Dendara say exactly, he lay (htp) next to (r-gs) the Great-Temple of Heliopolis. The cemetery of Osiris is located next to the Great-Temple of the Akhmenu, that is exactly what is written in the osirian texts of Dendara.

Another text from the ptolemaic period, in the temple of Khonsu, tell us that Osiris appeared as a light next to Benenet (wbn m Òww r-gs bnnt). And it is true!
So he was born and lay next to (r-gs) the temple, in Karnak (the nucleus), and another in Heliopolis, as if by magic, also in Karnak in the heliopolitan temple of Akhmenu.
Karnak is a miniature of Egypt: Osiris was born in the south = in Thebes, next to the nucleus of creation, mummified in Memphis and buried next to the Great-Temple of Heliopolis.
Unfortunately, I won’t have enough time to say much about the Temple of Osiris. But, the expression “Re-Amun is called Osiris” shows the final reconciliation between them.
The Temple of Osiris is the result of two thousand years of theological reflection.

Re, Amun, Ptah, Osiris, Hathor: all great gods, all in Karnak, for such a long time. What for?
We find the answer in the prayers to Amun.
For example, the well known hymn in the temple of Hibis goes:
Amun, you are the sky, you are the earth, you are the douat, you are the flood, you are the air between them.
And in the Leiden hymn to Amun:
It is a trinity of the gods: Amun, Re, Ptah. The only one whose name is hidden is Amun; his head is Re, his body is Ptah. Their cities will remain for ever, Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis, for ever.
The spirit (ba) of Amun is in the sky, his temple is in Thebes for his statues, the necropolis is for his mummy who is in the douat.
The sky of Thebes is Heliopolis.

Well, now, we see Karnak from an other perspective.
Heliopolis in the east, Memphis in the north, Thebes in the south.
Two axes with Hathor-Nut and the pharaohs:
- One path for the coronation of the New Year with Hathor.
- One for the life of the king, from his birth to his death.
The head of Amun is in Heliopolis, his foot in the west bank and he is revived by the flooding of the Nile-Osiris.
Amun is the Hidden one, and is everything, made of four gods:
Re, Ptah, Osiris and Hathor,
he is the fifth element, the quintessential god.
And Karnak is a miniature model of Egypt and a microcosm of egyptian theology, a sacred place for the essential god and royalty.

I am aware of the heretic nature of my particular point of view,
I don’t want to talk you into my hypothesis, but, may be, you will think further…
I hope that my presentation has not disturbed your own ideas and beliefs.
I want to thank the moudir Mansour Boraik and Ibrahim Soliman, who were kind enough to welcome me to their New Kingdom.
And thank you all for your patience and attention.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Pigeons at the Ramesseum

Just a bit worrying to see all these pigeons at the Ramesseum. I was told that it was the result of bird flu when many people let their pigeons, which they raised for food, go. Whatever the reason there are now a huge number and we know the damage this does to stone work. I wonder if any one is looking at this and if there is a proposed solution.

Picture courtsey of Michael Campbell Smith

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Petamenophis photo

The blog looked a little dull so here is a photo to cheer you up. It was a block in the door way of Petamenophis

Monday, 1 December 2008

Hurghada Convoy to end

Apparently you can now travel any time during daylight hours. What this actually going to mean will wait an see. For example can you travel direct to other places along the coast or you still have to use the road t Safaga. And what it is like coming back. But it is a great step forward and the sooner they get rid of the Luxor Abydos and Luxor Aswan convoy the happier my guests will be. If you could do a trip to Aswan stopping at Tod, Moalla, Esna, Edfu, El Kab, Gebel Silsila, Kom Ombo wouldn't that be so much better. And to not all arrive in Edfu at the same time Please soon

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Recent Work of the American Research Centre in Khonsu Temple, Karnak – Pamela Rose, Brett MacLean

Pamela Rose
The current temple is a Ramesses III structure incorporating an Amenhotep II bark shrine. Recently they have been working looking at the foundations of the temple. There are three projects going on
1) Conservation of the wall paintings – Ed Johnson
2) Restoration and repair of the temple access – Danny Roy
3) Epigraphic study of the reused blocks – Chicago House
Pamela Rose is an archaeologist who is investigating and recording the foundation material. This work is not disturbing the temple in any way as they are using ancient holes that have been filled with rubble. Once they clear these they are backfilling with sand and repaving the floor. They have found mud brick and limestone blocks but as to giving a clear idea of what these things are it is like making a novel out of post it notes. A lot of her work can be called key hole surgery as some of the spaces are very tiny.

Temple Axis’s
In late Roman times they removed the paving and dug large pits, these are enormous and contain nothing pharaonic. It is possible they were looking for gold. At one point the hypostyle hall contained a church. They have found no foundation deposits only late Roman and medieval material. From this they are able to deduce there was a medieval occupation of the temple but they are not sure exactly what it was although the evidence points towards a domestic use. They also found a 1979 newspaper!

The construction follows set patterns and there are multiple layers of foundation including blocks, mud brick structures and debris

In the sanctuary there were lots of reused blocks and they have cleared a large area. There were mud brick platforms on a trench of soft sand. It is possible the stones were part of an earlier structure but not sure the purpose of the mud brick. There was a mud brick covering to a hole but it was empty except for a limestone plaque.

It is possible the earlier structure had lime stone blocks as the current temple is made of sandstone but these reused foundation blocks are limestone. They were only able to remove 2 blocks one of which was inscribed.

They have spent a lot of time clearing rubble and in it they found another piece of the late 18 dynasty triad which is now 15 cm taller.

Brett MacLean
He talked about the epigraphic survey. Although the temple was only partly decorated it was recorded in a survey done in 1924 of all Ramses III structures. It is built of reused blocks from
• Amenhotep III’s peristyle hall from his mortuary temple
• Amenhotep son of Hapi mortuary temple
• Ay
• Horemheb
There are reused and recarved pillar drums of Amenhotep and architraves of Horemheb. On the roof there is an Akhenaton chariot scene. Bark shrines of Tutmosis III, Amenhotep II, and Amenhotep III. They wanted to record these blocks in the floor of the temple while they were available as when the temple is backfilled and repaved these will be hidden again. There are 150 reused fragments in the floor and 70% have inscriptions. Some were extremely difficult to access; where possible they use clear plastic and take a 1:1 traced copy. In some places they had so little space; they used aluminium foil to take rubbings.

One block was a lintel with inscriptions of Tutmosis IV on one side. There was only a 1cm gap the other side making recording really difficult but they found it was Tutmosis III on the other side.

After they make the 1:1 they then make a smaller copy and double check each other’s results and Ray Johnson does the final check. Where possible photographs are taken with film and digital.

One limestone block had raised relief dating to the middle kingdom or very early new kingdom.

A door jamb fragment of Tutmosis III, with a piece of graffiti of Khonsu so they think there was an earlier structure to Khonsu on the site.

There are three square pillar fragments approximately 70-75 cm wide with Khonsu in raised relief on one side and sunk relief on the other side. There is Amarna damage and restoration. They are not sure which king as the piece that would contain the glyphs is missing. Another fragment with a falcon headed god which could be Khonsu or Montu which must have come from the same building.

There were 5-6 blocks with raised Tutmosis style with pharaoh and Khonsu showing Amarna damage that had been recarved.

Some blocks show Tutmosis IV recarved in a Ramses II style or Horemheb changed to Ramses II

All the blocks are in the back area so all part of a single previous structure

It is a closed set of blocks there are none in the walls or roof
Lots of Khonsu or a flacon headed god
So it is possible there was a previous temple is a style similar to the small Tutmosis temple in Medinet Habu

It was built by Tutmosis III and finished by Tutmosis IV, there was damage in the Amarna period and it was recarved. An Atum figure was left intact. Ramses II changed it adding his long transparent robe and changing the design of the kilt. He also changed the nose and ear of a Tutmosis king, carving it more deeply and making it look more like Ramses II. Ramses II added an annex that was original to him and usurped something built by Horemheb

These are prelimary conclusions as the work is not finished.

Next week Karnak the Quintessential Sacred City of Egypt by Sylvia Caville

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Day Trip to Dendara on the Lotus Boat

Yes another first for me. I had been wanting to revisit Dendara for ages as we had a lecture showing the cleaned surfaces and I wanted to see it. So I was offered a treat taking the boat to Dendara. Again this was something I had meant to do but it got cancelled and I never rebooked so finally I got to go. The Lotus is operated by the Iberotel and you can book direct or through an agency.

You start early, yes early enough to catch sunrise. I went by motorboat and picked up my friend from the Sheraton and the motorboat took us direct to the boat. You actually climb on the roof of the motorboat and get on that way which was quite funny. All the other people coming from the East Bank dock and queuing up and us getting in the back door.

We got a seat on the top deck which was a great view but a little cold, especially at this time of year. We had jackets and huge Egyptian scarfs but there were some mad tourists in sun dresses and bikinis huddled under towels lol.
You could see the hot air balloons doing their sunrise tour.

It was wonderfully drifting along, watching the life and waving at the locals. Waiters went round offering tea and coffee and there was a real east end street trader reincarnated as an Egyptian selling all sorts of bits and pieces. Quite amusing and no hassle

If you are not catching up on seeing each other after 2 years like we were you might appreciate a book. They did actually have some on board. We left Luxor at 7am and arrived at Dendara about 11.

Included in the price was a coach to the site and a guide. There is a new visitor centre since I was last at the site and there was a short film shown. The site is now well labeled.

I have to be honest and say the guide was awful so we quickly ditched him and made our own way around. There were three coaches and 3 guides so we might have got the duff one.

The courtyard in front of the temple has some nice piece including this gorgeous Bes. You can also see the birth house and sanatorium

The cleaning was totally fantastic, the colours are really being revealed and look fantastic. When the whole temple is done it is going to be fantastic.

It is still going on so some of the ceiling was obscured by scaffolding. We were invited up to have a look but I am sorry no way was I going up that ladder.

Well worth seeing and we had a look round all the temple except the back where Cleopatra VII is shown with Caesarion.

We managed to get on the stairs by ourselves and made our way up to the roof. It is amazing the see the well worn stairs and think of the processions of priests that have been up and down that stair carrying their offerings and shrines up to the roof.

As Hathor was the daughter of the sun God lots of her ceremony's would have taking place in the sun. There is a small open air chapel on the roof and some fantastic panoramic views of the temple surrounds and the country side.

Other rooms on the roof celebrate the story of Osiris. The plaster copy of the zodiac ceiling now in the Louvre. another ceiling with Nut. Here is an Egyptian sex scene!!!

Then we got in the coaches back and on arrival had a great lunch also included. Beer and wine were available and then it was back to Luxor. It had warmed up a lot so the bikinis came out, not mine I hastened to add but I did take my socks off. Tea and cake was served at 5pm also in the price and we arrived back at 7pm. It takes a lot longer to go back because you are against the current. Our motorboat was waiting for us so we exited the opposite way to everyone else getting off on the gangplank which was quite good. Great day out and thoroughly recommended

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Egyptian Wall Painting – 2000 Years of Art History: Francisco Tiradritti

Egyptian Wall Painting – 2000 Years of Art History: Francisco Tiradritti

This is one of those lectures that are really difficult to write up without the slides but I will do my best.

Francisco started off with a little test. He showed a set of glyphs with one blanked out and asked us to guess what colour it was. It was the T in glyphs which is often described as a loaf of bread. This was done to make us really look at the thing properly. The colour was black which is not the colour of a loaf of bread. In fact ancient Egyptian bread was like modern Egyptian bread, flat. The early European Egyptologists though it looked like a loaf of European bread but in fact the colour of black, like the land gives away the real meaning, the primordial mound. This means we have to take a fresh look at paintings and colours and throw away our old ideas.

Colours can be viewed as (this is where you need the slides a lot)
• Primary colours
• Warm/cold
• Computer display
Egyptian colours should be viewed as the Egyptians saw the world around them Desert, Cultivation, Sun. He used an example that Italians have 2 words for blue because they see the division of the sky and sea all around them. Different nationalities have a different view of colour because of the world around them (he made a quip about Britain and grey).

The Ancient Egyptians had 4 main colours
• Hed yellow/white
• Deshret red
• Kemet black
• Wadjet blue/green
Dark blue does not have a colour name but is referred to by the word for lapis lazuli. It is very close to black and in fact the Ancient Egyptians had 2 different blacks which you can see in Old Kingdom tombs at Sakkara where they use a black background and then paint individual items like the T glyph a darker black (sorry you had to have seen the slide on this one). This is unique to the Ancient Egyptians. They had a concept of light and absence of light.

So their palette ranged from green blue dark blue black dark black brown red yellow white with positive and negative determinations like a man is red and a woman is yellow.

They had a good colour sense and there is a stele in the Louvre that shows the rays of the sun multi coloured like you would see through a prism.

They separated their world showing man at the centre like a bowl from Nagada II period which shows a man in the centre with his arms and legs spread just like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man surrounded by plants and animals with the desert on the edge.

Art was early in the culture e.g. tomb 100 Hierakonpolis which has complicated [pictures including what might be a boat procession and fighting

He then did an analysis of the medium geese from the 4th Dynasty showing how although they are very naturalistic they also obey all sorts of conventions. Three in glyphs means plural and there are 2 groups of 3. They were in two groups and the geese with its head down uses the same space as the two geese giving a sort of perspective that it is in front. There is mirroring of the image. There is motion with the 2 geese following the 1 goose. This painting was cut out by an artists and he could see the perfect balance.

Another example of naturalistic art is the cattle wading through the water in the Old Kingdom tomb of Titi.

He then did a detailed analysis of the tomb of Ankh Tifi (yes the one I wrote about). The painting of the papyrus was like an Impressionist work, the artist was not worried about proportion but about colour. The tomb has a pattern with the hunters on the back wall going towards the desert while the donkeys are going to the cultivation which is shown on the left hand side wall. There is a man looking over his shoulder and the scene on the front wall at that point is of the festival of Henen. A cow is looking directly at you on a pillar and the scene on the wall is the donkeys.

In the Turin Museum there is a man painted in yellow the woman’s colour and you can see he is an ‘office’ worker. Another picture shows blood spurting from the neck of a bull as it is being killed. A cow that has just given birth is licking the blood from its calf.

A picture from the 1st Intermediate Period shows bulls fighting

The Middle kingdom tomb of (sorry I am not sure of the name I though he said Ankh something but definitely TT60 yet that is Senet, mother of vizier Intefiqer, early Dynasty 12 if anyone can confirm I haven’t made a mistake I would appreciate it) has dancers again in groups of three clapping, those were drawn by the student and the master has come along and drawn more spoiling the balance but making a better naturalistic picture. You can see the difference in the legs.

At Beni Hassan, which is in need of restoration, they paid more attention to proportion and had short stories like how to catch a pigeon. The walls are divided into dessert, Nile and banks of the Nile.

The arrival of Hyskos altered the art and also makes it less insular with pictures of bulls leaping like at Knossos. There is speculation that artists came from Crete to do the decoration. (The tomb of Rekhmire shows a Minoan.). The 17th Dynasty was much freer in expression. There was artistic trade between Egypt Crete and Minoa.

18th dynasty has some great art
Picture of Senemut wonderful portrait
TT81 Ineni shows what looks like a hyena but it is huge like a monster demonstrating how brave the owners was
Rekhmire’s banquet the woman’s scene
The vine ceiling of Sennefer
In the tomb of Nakht the scenes of non scribal work are heavily influenced by the attitude of a scribe having the best kind of job. So the farmer is shown bent and careworn. Also Nakht is sitting in a pavilion with lots of supplies around him but the supplies for the workers in the field are much smaller even though it has to sustain more people.
Meena is a scribe who does counting of the harvest so his tomb shows that scene out of order at the top because it was the most important aspect of Mena’s life. The girls in the field quarrelling was copied by Monthemet. He also shows a chariot right in the middle of the field which is not logical but he wants to be shown so rich he uses a chariot even in the fields. Like Francisco would be painted with a Ferrari.

The three dancers are shown with slanting eyes which was a temple stele of painting rather than a pace style. Other paintings show the light behind the robe making it transparent.

The palace of Malkata has many beautiful pieces like a ceiling with birds flying everywhere giving the impression it was open to the sky.

Ramose's tomb the mourners are very natural one having a saggy breast but yet formal with their tears which are the glyph for crying. The carved walls were never intended to be painted the carving was so good it represented the painting.

The Amarna period was the height of creative work and after that art went downhill imitating the past.

Next week it is the temple of Khonsu Pamela Rose and Brett McClain

Thursday, 20 November 2008

KV63 - Otto Schaden returns in January

Just heard from the team that they are returning early January and expect to be opening the tomb then. It will be very interesting to see what further results they get from the study of the tomb contents.

And on a personal note I am happy that Otto's health problems have allowed him to come back to Luxor

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

From Ray Johnson about Luxor

A number of issues have been raised lately regarding the urban renewal program in Luxor and its effects on the local population, tourism, antiquities preservation, and the archaeological community.
The Epigraphic Survey of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago based at Chicago House is one of many archaeological missions in Luxor which has borne witness to and been impacted by these changes, and is one of the many voices of the scientific community here who have joined in the development conversation between the city, the SCA, archeological missions, and the local population since the inception of the program by the city several years go. The community of archaeologists in Luxor has been far from silent during this whole process. We may not have been very effective in curtailing some of the more onerous aspects of the present program, but we have certainly not been silent.

Since I started working for the Epigraphic Survey in 1978, I have witnessed the transformation of Luxor from a sleepy, charming, provincial town into a 21st century tourist mecca, and I am still hard pressed to believe that so many changes could occur in such a relatively short period of time. In 1978 the horse and carriage and a few battered Mercedes were the main modes of transportation in Luxor; Peugeots came later, and I remember when the first big tour bus hit town in the 1980s. I have witnessed a series of development programs that were launched in response to changing conditions in Luxor, largely due to increasing tourism. The most radical until now was the riverbank development project of the late 1980s that transformed the natural, tree-lined riverbank of Luxor where sheep and goats still grazed, into a concrete, terraced mooring and touristic area four kilometers long.
This was accomplished in response to the rapidly increasing numbers of gigantic tour boats that began to appear in the late 1980s that dumped rubbish and tore up the natural riverbank wherever they moored; the riverbank had to be developed to provide services vital to the boats and upkeep of the riverbank. In that project the existing infrastructure along the Corniche was respected, the riverbank was extended outward, the Corniche was widened, and a pedestrian walkway with garden areas was created along the edge of the riverbank for the local families and tourists alike which is still tremendously popular with everyone.

This current development program is the most ambitious one to date and is more radical than anything ever seen (even in the pharaonic period, which is saying something). As has been stated, the program has its good and its bad points. It has been mentioned that the plan was developed by Abt Associates, Inc. and the links to their reports are easily accessed. Another link (in German and Arabic, with lots of illustrations and photos) which people might find enlightening, is:


The development program for Luxor, including many of the artists'
projections of the changed landscape shown in the web site above (many of which have already happened) was announced to the archaeological community in 2006 in a PowerPoint presentation given by Luxor governor Dr. Samir Farag at the Luxor Museum, after which there was a fairly lively discussion among those present; I was one of them. During the discussions it was made clear that the programs planned for the antiquities sites themselves were designed by the SCA and city together, and were about to be launched. We had about two weeks warning.

The issues that the new development program address have been of concern to the Government of Egypt (GOE) and SCA for a long, long time, but until now the SCA alone did not have the resources to deal with them properly. The main issues are:

1. The need to enlarge and upgrade Luxor's infrastructure and antiquities site facilities to accommodate radically expanded tourism, east and west bank.

2. The encroachment of the modern community on antiquities sites, east and west bank.

3. The excavation and development of new antiquities sites (like the sphinx road between Luxor and Karnak temples) for tourism, but which (the thinking goes) will also safeguard the sites from future encroachment.

The GOE and city authorities have been primarily concerned with expanding the existing infrastructure of Luxor to accommodate many, many more tourists. Their primary incentive (as in all the development programs for most cultural heritage sites throughout the world these days) is to make money. And at the moment (at least for now), tourism is booming. Luxor is crammed with tourists, all the hotels and tour boats are full, and the streets clogged with tour buses, and it's not even high season yet. Hundreds of buses hit town from the Red Sea coast resorts daily in the AM, see as many sites as possible all day, and return at dusk.
The 6:00 PM convoy back to Hurghada is sometimes more than 250 buses long, stretching three kilometers along the Luxor Corniche. Add to this the traffic generated by Luxor's growing local population and you have a LOT of clogged streets. So this issue is a crucial one; the city cannot handle the present traffic even now (not to mention future projected traffic).

Increased tourist traffic is the major reason for the street widening all over town lately, which unfortunately has been at the expense of many historic residential and public buildings from the turn of the last century and earlier. The sphinx road project is requiring another chunk of historic Luxor to come down. In response to this, and to the demolition of the modern community in western Thebes, two years ago the Epigraphic Survey expanded its photographic documentation program of Luxor's ancient landscape to include those parts of 'moder' Luxor before, during, and after demolition (b&w and digital) to insure some record of what is swiftly disappearing. These days our photography team is hard-pressed to keep up. Other archaeological missions have been recording the changes occurring around them as well. We are dedicating a part of our Photographic Archives at Chicago House for this special material, and are currently designing a cataloguing system for it.

As most of you know by now, the Chicago House facility and its neighbors along the several kilometers of the Luxor Corniche are being directly affected by a new Corniche widening and development program sponsored by the GOE. The original plan proposed tearing everything down along the Corniche to create a completely new touristic zone along the Nile between Luxor and Karnak temples. A revised plan, announced this spring, allowed a number of existing facilities to stay where they were (Chicago House, the Coptic Catholic rest house to the south, the Luxor Museum, and a bishop's residence, all minus their entire front gardens).
Most of the residential areas along the Corniche are slated for removal, also the Mina Palace Hotel, the Bank of Alexandria, the convention center to the immediate north of Chicago House, and the Officers' Club and rest house, while the Etap-Mercure Hotel will be obliged to remove its entire front wing. The plan is to move the widened Corniche to the east, and cut away the riverbank to create a new pedestrian walkway at the river level.

No one took this quietly. There were diplomatic appeals to the GOE; much networking on the part of the many, many friends of Luxor and Chicago House (including the SCA -- sincerest thanks to all of you); and a lot of talking to everyone (including the governor). Finally, we were informed on November 5th by Dr. Farag that the amount of land along the Corniche required by the city has been reduced. For Chicago House this means that instead of losing our entire front garden area, 22 meters (as was originally discussed), we will lose 'only' the front part of it,
14.5 meters, including our local staff's gatehouse and rest area (we will build them a better one). It is my understanding that the Luxor Museum front garden area will remain intact, of tremendous importance for the fragile collections housed within, and less front garden area will be taken from the Coptic Catholic rest house to our south. Property owners will be compensated for the amount of property taken, and the city will finance and build the new enclosure walls. The foundation emplacements have already been dug for our new front wall, roughly dividing our front area in half along its entire 124 meter length, and reinforced concrete pillars will go up later this week. The city has promised to keep as many trees as possible from the garden along the new Corniche sidewalk, so our fingers are crossed.

Chicago House can live with these changes, and we are grateful that we will be allowed to continue our service to the Luxor archaeological community with our library facility and temple documentation / conservation programs, in the spot where we have been since 1930. But some of our neighbors are not so fortunate. One of the saddest parts of Luxor's new development program (which has been commented on previously) is that rather than encouraging the mingling of the tourists with the local population, which enriches the visitors' experience (and generates valuable income for the locals), the GOE's policy promotes segregation of the two groups.
That is a great pity since meeting Egyptians in their natural home setting is one of the great joys of visiting this country, and this city. We should all continue to strongly urge the GOE to reconsider its program in this regard.

A related issue is the encroachment of the modern community on the antiquities sites. The city's clearing of the residential area around Karnak (including the residence and historic offices of the Karnak Franco-Egyptian Center) and creation of a huge plaza all the way to the river, occurred at the same time the residents of Gurna and Dra Abu El Naga were moved from their homes - which were then torn down - and re-settled in the newly constructed community of New Gurna to the north. This form of site management - clearing away all modern encroachment from the vicinity of antiquities sites - has been the ideal of the GOE and SCA for generations, conceived when there were far, far fewer buildings around Karnak or houses over the Gurna necropolis.
Now, finally, the GOE has the power to implement its program, and as you all know, it has been a painful process. The sight of gigantic bulldozers demolishing the mud-brick houses over the fragile necropolis was something that none of us will ever forget; the sorrow of the Gurnawis was heartbreaking. Far from being silent while this was going on, the Egyptological community talked at great length with the SCA and the city about that program, not that it did much good; the city had its mandate, and forces had been started that were beyond anyone's control.
The result is that the community of Dra Abu El Naga is gone, and most of Gurna. But talking eventually had a positive effect, and the program was curtailed. Now parts of Gurna and most of Gurnet Murai will remain standing as monuments to the more recent history of western Thebes (the present inhabitants will still be resettled elsewhere).

As has been noted, the sad reality for the scientific community and local population in Luxor - and in many cultural heritage sites all over the world - is that the prime motivation for the city's new development program is increased tourism. The entire GOE is behind Luxor's program, and the goal is clear: to create the means by which the maximum number of tourists can visit the maximum number of sites in the shortest time possible. The challenge of our community is to continue our conversation with the city, the SCA, and the local population to help Egypt mitigate any potentially negative affects on the antiquities sites that we are all committed to preserve. There are many years ahead for this program; this is just the beginning. In this case, you win some, and you lose some, but believe me, it's not for lack of trying.

Ray Johnson, Director, Epigraphic Survey Chicago House, Luxor November 16, 2008

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Block Statue of Amenhoptep son of Hapu - Luxor Museum

If you are visiting Luxor Museum do not be surprised if you find things there which are not in the catalogue. I was asked about a block statue of Amenhotep son of Hapu and for the life of me had no recollection and suggested to the questioner to ask EEF. This is a fantastic resource which I subscribe to and no matter how obscure the question they come up trumps. At first everyone was pointing at the seated scribal statue but Victor V. Solkin pointed out a statue not on the catalogue and Ray Johnson of Chicago House elaborated further. I do love the way so many Egyptologists are so approachable and helpful.

The block statue in question is a colossal indurated limestone block statue (1 meter in height) of Amenhotep Son of Hapu (Cairo Catalogue 583). It was found in the 19th century by Mariette between the Third Pylon of Amenhotep III and obelisk of Thutmosis I at Karnak; Legrain found additional pieces in 1903. The statue was moved to the extension of the Luxor Museum a few years ago from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. That is why it is not listed in the Luxor Museum guide books. It was moved to the extension - which has a military theme - because of the reference in the autobiographical inscription where Amenhotep refers to his early years as a 'scribe of recruits.'

The front, back, and sides of the statue are completely covered with the longest autobiographical inscription that survives from Amenhotep's monuments. Although half the face is missing, the style of the surviving eye (very long and narrow) indicates that the statue was commissioned as a royal gift to this favored and extraordinary official during Nebmaatre Amenhotep III's last decade.

For photographs, descriptions, transcriptions, translations, and commentary of the extensive autobiography inscribed on all sides of the statue (in French), see Alexandre Varille, "Inscriptions concernant l'architecte Amenhotep, fils de Hapou," Bibliothèque d'étude (BdÉ) XLIV (Cairo, 1968); pages 32-49, plates V - VIII.

Ray Johnson, Chicago House, Luxor

Connecting with Thebes and Communicating in Cambridge

Connecting with Thebes and Communicating in Cambridge 15th November 2008 Dr Sally Ann Ashton

Dr Sally has been working for 5 seasons at the Montu temple at Karnak and just arrived 2 weeks ago. She explained that having given a lecture on this last year she had nothing new to say after just 2 weeks so thought she would tell us something different. She is the curator for the Fitz William museum which is part of Cambridge University and the lecture would be about that.

There is a very good website that you can look at and this a direct link to the Egyptian collection http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/ant/egypt/

There are over 17,000 objects in the museum and the website is an important part of it. Museums are becoming increasingly aware that not everyone can get to visit in person and good websites are an important way of making collections available to everyone. Their website is also in Arabic which is another aspect of making it more available, the Petrie also has an Arabic version.

The museum was founded in 1817 by 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam and is particularly famous for its paintings. They have objects from all over Egypt and these are a mixture of excavated and donations. The later are a big challenge for any curator as provenance is often not known or obscure. The objects she selected were from Deir el Medina, Deir el Bahri, Ramasseum and Karnak in Upper Egypt and Faiyum in Lower Egypt. Since opening the galleries she has increased the objects on display by 200 to 1200.

The first object in the collection was http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/opacdirect/49036.html Nespawershefi'. He was Chief of scribes of the temple of Amun Re at Karnak. This object was acquired about the time of Napoleon in 1822 by 2 clergymen Hanbury, Barnard Waddington, George (BTW I encourage you to have a look around the website it is really informative and easy to navigate) and was donated to the Fitz. It is from the III Intermediate Period and made of small pieces of cross thorn and sycamore fig. You do not realise this because it is plastered over. The Egyptians were very clever at joining pieces of wood; they had to be with no native large trees. They are expecting all their coffins to be published soon by (I didn’t catch this name properly it sounded like Gryowski but might have been Grajetski if anyone can let me know I would be very grateful).

Their next object is an enormous sarcophagus lid of Ramses III acquired in 1823 http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/opacdirect/49037.html The Louvre have the base and there is some old correspondence between the two museums try to get each other’s half. The Louvre argued as they had the largest bit they should have it all. It was a fascinating insight to the way things used to be. This object is 7 ½ tons and was given by Belzoni legend has it he hoped to get a fellowship in exchange but he died a year later. It is the King in the form of Osiris flanked by Nephthys and Isis.

Her next slide was amusing as it showed the accounts kept by Wallis Budge when acquiring antiquities. It was apparent he was told to keep to a budget, in this case £100 and the accounts show the packing prices and transportation fees. I have to say these old records have the loveliest handwriting. There were letters from the EEF later to be EES about the Amarna dig, with a follow up detailing all the objects sent to them. The problem with this is that objects found together might be spread amongst many museums. For example one museum might have the outmost coffin, another, the innermost and in those days neither would swap or lend to each other.

A big source of objects is the Gayer Anderson collection which is a collection built by a medic and major in the British Army who was seconded to Egypt in 1906 and was eventually awarded the title of Pasha. Of course this is the bane of many a curator objects without provenance, bought from antiquities dealers in Cairo. He was very into masks and face so there is a good collection of those including the lower jaw of Akhenaton. There is a lot of Amarna objects and these tie in well with the Petrie excavated objects which have full provenance.

There are a number of pieces of ostracha http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/ant/egypt/gallery/religion.html?case=15 and there most famous one, which regularly goes on tour, is the stone mason http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/ant/egypt/gallery/cataloguedetail.html?&priref=58783&_function_=xslt&_limit_=200

(You can do your search for the links now or I am never going to get this finished).
25 Dynasty piece of one of the God’s wives of Amun, a gold ring and seals from the priests quarters in Karnak, sculptures models similar to that of Nefertiti’s head which only seem to have been produced in the Amarna and Ptolemaic times. Often still with their grid lines.
Cartonage from a burial in the Ramasseum excavated by Quibell, the bandages have 2 different dates on them from the period of Orsokan indicating that people used up old linen for burials. The body is missing and it is a shame how these early excavators torn apart burials. The face is gold indicating a high status and it has amulets, leather menets and a posy of garlic, 4 sons of Horus and a box with some poor quality ushabitis

From the Middle Kingdom is a magician’s wand clearly showing signs of wear. Frome Deir el Bahri there are 2 reliefs on excavated and the other from Gayer Anderson collection one shows a fox attacking a nest of chicks and the mother bird coming to the rescue. They also display ugly things like a votive object of wood with a socket for an erect penis.

One piece http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/papyrus/index.html is the book of the dead of Ramose. Luckily this piece had never been fully displayed and as a consequence is in fantastic condition. One colour in particular, a yellow, fades almost immediately on contact with daylight. He was a royal scribe to Seti I, they expect to publish this in 1-2 years.

Recently they booked some of the collection in for CT scanning; they were admitted as private patients on Sunday afternoon. Even animals were scanned. This non-destructive technique has revealed lots of useful data about the collection.

The museum wants to make more of the collection accessible in a variety of ways and to give more information about it. As Egyptology is in two parts of the national curriculum they get 1-2 school parties a day. They have also been working with the prison population, especially those on long term sentences and they have come up with suggestions such as making a virtual gallery tour. This should go live in spring 2009. 50% of prisoners cannot read and write and as she put it those of African descent are over represented in the prison population so they have been taking an African centred approach to Egyptology as well as utilising Muslim connections with modern Egypt. She should some art work were Egyptian and Nigerian themes had been mixed. There are 3,000 students in prison, some had learnt hieroglyphics and were using them to communicate to their families. She had to provide the authorities with a translation of this code 

Next week it is Francisco Tiradritti on Harwa

Monday, 10 November 2008

Only in Egypt - bless him

This morning I went out, caught a service car to the ferry and whilst going there realised I had left my purse behind with all my money. I hadn't got a piastre on me. When we arrived I went to the driver and told him in my terrible Arabic I was really sorry I had not got any money. He smiled and said no problem. As he saw me go towards the Nile he called me back and offered me enough money for my ferry fare. Can you believe it. I didn't even know him.

I refused because I knew I get a free lift on a motorboat. I was telling the story to the boy on the motorboat and he offered to lend me some money!!! He knows me and knew he would get the money back but it was still a lovely gesture

This is why I live here, Egyptians are so friendly and do anything to help you whether they know you or not.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Mummification Museum Lecture Recent Investigations of Undecorated Tombs in the Valley of Kings

2008 Recent Investigations of Undecorated Tombs in the Valley of Kings
8/11/8 Donald Ryan

If you ever get a chance to attend one of his lectures I do encourage you to go. Not only is he knowledgeable and interesting but he is amusing as well. First class lecturer

His work is the unglamorous side of excavation and not normally seen by tourists as it is tucked away behind the mountain in the middle of the Valley.

He gave a brief background of how he got into Egyptology, started young ready National Geographic’s. In 1981 he was working in the Faiyum and got a chance to visit Luxor. He came in July, on a bike, that remark caused a ripple of laughter. 18 months later he came on a 2 month visit to Egypt and went round everywhere. The Valley of the Kings contains the new kingdom burials of the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom. The 18, 19, 20 dynasty Pharaohs but he was intrigued by the undecorated tombs. He then started researching one of his sources being the great book The Royal Necropolis of Thebes by Elizabeth Thomas http://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Elizabeth&last=Thomas

In early times the undecorated tombs were considered very uninteresting, with no decoration therefore no owner and o treasure the early archaeologists were singularly unbothered about the tombs and their contents. Often they were just a shaft leading to a single room.

He wanted to know the WHO, WHEN and WHY of KV21, 27, 28, 44, 45, 60

If you look at the list of tombs in the Valley of Kings from the Theban Mapping Project http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/ you will find a number of tombs with question marks against them. Some like Tutankhamen (KV62), Yuya and Thuyu (KV 46), and Maiherperi (KV36) were discovered intact and the last two if made today would attract huge attention as they were spectacular discoveries. But many others we have no clue about.

Currently he is working in KV27 which is the last of the tombs on his list. Believed, by Italian archaeologists, to have been discovered in 1853 by Mariette. The shaft was full of flood debris. It has been flooded numerous times and the debris reaches nearly to the ceiling with some large stones. All debris that was excavated was painstakingly sieved which took 3 ½ field seasons. There were 30 large storage jars which had been shattered by the flood debris. Floods can be very powerful crushing everything in their path and the contents have been totally destroyed. They counted them by indentify the mud stoppers. There were thousands of potsherds and these have been investigated by Dr Barbara Aston, a pottery expert, and have been identified by style to the early – mid 18th dynasty. Using 2 outstanding local experts a number of matches have been made and new styles not previously attested have been identified.

There were also pieces of calcite/alabaster but these do not seem to be pieces of the same jigsaw. Some glyphs but these tell us nothing about the owners. He also found remains of the occupants a headless torso and other bits and pieces.

They got excited about a large piece of a canopic jar but this was the wrong part of the pot, identifying it as the stomach but not the owner. But they were fortunate and the other side appeared and identified God’s father Userhet. But this turned out to be a red herring he had seen something similar before at Harvard, 3 canopics were found in KV45. So with 3 canopics found in JV45 and only 1 in KV27 it seems more likely that KV45 was the tomb of Userhet and we still don’t know who KV27 belonged to.

He thought they were going to finished last year, excavators should never think this as it goes wrong. They found organic remains that turned out to be a coffin approximately 1 metre of the floor. This is in a very fragile state and needs very delicate handling.

They found a skull and it appears 3 individuals are embedded in solidified silt which is very difficult to deal with. One is identified as male. He hopes to get gender and ages of the rest but doubts they will get names.

In his opinion this was the first undecorated tomb in the time of Hatshepsut.

He is hoping to publish his results next year. As part of this they are making an inventory of all the finds from the 6 tombs
• Face piece of a wooden coffin where you can see the adze marks where the robbers took of the gold
• A chair leg from burial furniture, why only one is a puzzle
• There are some glyphs of some of the fragments but again they don’t tell us much
• A piece from the side of the coffin of SitRa, the royal wet nurse
• Fragments of papyrus
• Various seals some with 9 captives and a jackal
• A seal found in the shaft of a seated man and a Mut glyph which has not made any sense
• Graffiti on the walls of wadjet eyes which he believes to be 18th dynasty
• Evidence of moringa oil http://tilz.tearfund.org/Publications/Footsteps+21-30/Footsteps+28/Moringa+oil.htm• Large head end of a coffin which was covered in black resin. You could see the brush strokes where the resin was applied. When studying the piece for the inventory it appeared there might be glyphs under the resin. Subsequent painstaking cleaning revealed Nephthys standing on a basket with accompanying text identifying the owner as a temple singer called Ti. It is possible that this is a reused coffin as there are masculine pro nouns and the name looks squashed in.
• In one of the niches there were pieces of the foot of the coffin and this also underwent cleaning and revealed Isis
• Painted plaster on linen which they might be able to match

He then gave us some of his tentative conclusions. He believes that KV60 was turned into a cache tomb containing Sit Re, Hatshepsut and Ti. Although the Valley was used for the burial of kings he believes that it was reused and that there were burials on top dating to the 22nd dynasty III Intermediate Period. KV44 and 45 which Carter found in 1901/2 which were a shaft leading to a single room were burials on top. KV44 there were three coffins on top of the debris. The tombs are nicely cut. In KV28 a III Intermediate Period coffin was found, KV27 the coffin is 1 meter high above the debris which suggest a later burial

Belzoni found KV21 in October 1817 in October 1817 and the plan looks like a small royal tomb with corridors, stairs, ramp and a pillared hall. He noted that it was clean; there were 2 female mummies with long hair. He left it open and published it. The team found bat guano and graffiti of 1820’s. Large pots which appeared to have been destroyed by a 19th century traveller. The 2 mummies had been ravaged by the flood damage and they found everything that Belzoni said had been there indicating he had taken nothing away.

In the 1890’s when it had been covered and filled by flood debris a trench was dug through and in this they found newspapers of that time the newest being at the bottom dating to 1896.

Dr Ryan believes that these were royal females and noted although it is called the Valley of Kings there are a heck of lot of burials which aren’t kings some even animals.

Howard Carter excavated 3 of the tombs and Dr Ryan was disparaging of his methods. KV45 was rummaged through in 1901/2 and revealing no treasure they left it with its contents of human remains, coffin fragments and crude clay ushabitis.

With KV60 Carter only devoted a paragraph and a half and does not mention room B at all which could make you wonder if we have the right KV60 except al l the other measurements are correct. This room had mummy wrappings and indications of a ceiling. There was an intrusive burial that had been stripped.

Present and Future
The big responsibility of anyone excavating in the Valley of Kings is conservation and restoration. The Theban Mapping project is ongoing. Now people remove their debris from the valley (there are huge mounds of debris in the valley which can add to the damage a flood can cause). The biggest threat to valley is water, which might seem strange to those visitors who stand there is a parched valley in the baking sun. But as the flood of 1994 showed these sudden rain storms can cause huge damage. Water got into KV21 at that time and left silt on the floor. There is a great need to protect and to monitor geological movement with crack monitors etc. They themselves had installed crack monitors in 1993 which had fortunately indicated no movement so far but we must always be on our guard.

In 1870 Belzoni said there was nothing more to be found in the Valley. Theodore Davies repeated this in 1910. We know this was mistaken and Dr Ryan believes we are entering a new age of exploration in the Valley of Kings, he thinks we are only just beginning and it is still full of surprises.

In the question and answer session he said they had left a pillar of the debris, a so called witness column so future excavators with different techniques could study it and maybe find more.

Next week it is Sally Ann Aston

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | The development plan for Luxor

Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | The development plan for Luxor

TT353 Senenmut

A quick chat in passing to Francisco Martin Valentine and his wife who told me that the Spanish minister is coming next week and they are hoping he will agree to fund a replica of chamber A at the site so everyone can see the wonderful inscription and astronomical ceiling. wouldn't that be wonderful

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Dr Zahi Hawass in Luxor

Today there was a plaque unveiled to the Polish Mission at Deir el Bahri by Zahi Hawass. It is amazing to think how long they have been there and how much they have achieved

Monday, 3 November 2008

Chicago House Library

I just died and went to heaven and it was called the library at Chicago House. I had asked if I could use their facilities in connection with my Manchester Uni course and I went along there for the first time today.

It is a proper library with a musty smell and shelves of tooled leather volumes. The index is on cards, they have field reports dated 1920,1921 etc. There were sections of German and French books. Folios, wonderful prints. It was truly fantastic.

They also had all the modern stuff as well so I read one book on my list and got to chapter 2 on another. I must admit to complete curiosity and rummaged around the returned books as people left to see what they were reading. Kent Weeks was there when I arrived and I think he was looking at some hieroglyphic texts, there were 2 Egyptian girls look at tomb publications.

Honestly you could spend all day in there, there were some wonderful black and white photos in the corridor when I went to the loo. Men in dinner jackets, ladies in wonderful old costumes all posed in front of Chicago House

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Orisirnet.net October Release

Dear friends,

The October News page is now on line


Monuments of Egypt

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Mummification Museum Lectures restart


Just talked to Mansour Boraik and the lectures start next Saturday at 7pm. The first speaker will be Donald Ryan. These lectures are free, everyone is welcome and they are held at the Mummification Museum

Luxor Corniche Development and Chicago House

Talking to Ray Johnson it would appear that the volume of protest has made people think a bit more about the proposal. NOT change their mind as yet so please keep up the momentum it does seem to be making a difference.

Here is the email again
It has come to our attention that a new development program is about to be launched in Luxor by the Government of Egypt that focuses on the east bank Corniche Boulevard. The goal is to double the width of the Corniche to alleviate traffic congestion, create a pedestrian walkway along the Nile, and establish a four-kilometer touristic zone along the riverfront between Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple. If the current plan is implemented this zone will be at the expense of most of the buildings presently along the Corniche boulevard, most of which will be demolished or cut back to accommodate the widened street. Exceptions are the Luxor Museum, which will only lose its front parking area, and the University of Chicago's headquarters in Luxor, Chicago House, which will remain where it is, but will lose its entire front garden area to the new street.

It is hoped that the Luxor City authorities will reject this unecessarily extreme plan for a less radical approach that is also being discussed.
Building the riverbank outward would allow room for a widened Corniche but still preserve the buildings and gardens presently along the Nile that give Luxor so much of its charm and character.
Slated for removal are several older gardens: one part of a military club, one in front of a mosque, and another in the front of a Coptic Catholic rest house. The historic Chicago House garden in particular would be a terrible loss. Over 75 years old, its 24-meter palm trees and dozens of trees and flowering bushes were donated as cuttings from the botanical gardens of Cairo and Aswan in the 1930s, and are unique in Luxor. Two rows of royal palms along the front walk imitate the 14 open papyrus columns of the great Colonnade Hall of Luxor Temple, and symbolize the archaeological preservation work this institution has accomplished in partnership with Egypt for over 84 years.

It may not be too late. Comments in support of a less radical plan for the Luxor Corniche can be sent to the office of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif: