Sunday, 29 November 2009

Mummification Museum Lectures restart Saturday

but I am not sure when I will be able to attend so please excuse no notes for a bit

Reconstructions of tombs

Yes I am back in Luxor, not quite firing on all cylinders but back.

This is an interesting website and shows the work being do to make accurate reconstructions of the tombs under threat like Seti I, Tuthmosis III, Nefertari and Tutankamun. These will then be built near to the Carter House at Luxor

Friday, 20 November 2009

Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible

Off to Cairo Sunday for a fairly serious opp, an ovarian cyst and a kidney stone to be removed. What fun ....... not. It will probably restrict my activities for a bit so news might be a bit sparse.

I would truly appreciate any readers who spot anything in Luxor to let me know so I can publish it.

Seti I temple

I have been told that the restoration team are coming back and combined with the dewatering project fingers crossed there is hope for my favourite temple

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Update from Osirisnet

We are pleased to announce the publication of three new or significantly
updated pages on Osirinet:

* The tomb of Nefermenu, TT 365, is the first of a new presentation based on
the site, called "A glimpse!". This name refers to very small tombs, or to
others for which we have very few photographs. TT 365 has been chosen to
inaugurate this new chapter because of it's common courtyard with the tomb
Nefersekheru. It's HERE :

* A major photographic update has been made to the tomb of Nefersekheru,
TT 296, with some 100 new photographs. It's HERE :

* And an article devoted to bindweeds has been written. These plants are
very often represented during the Amarna period, and again, during the
Ramesside period. Their representations are very often overlooked by
visitors, though they carry a high level of symbolism. Discover it in this
document. It's HERE :

Enjoy, and remember that we are always glad to read your comments.

Monuments of Egypt

Monday, 16 November 2009

Visiting the Restored Carter House

Today I took some of my guests to visit the Carter House. Firstly there is no fee (I bet that changes) the opening hours are 6am till 5pm. There is an extremely nice young man called Sayeed who is the newly installed director of the museum. He seems to be taking good care of it as well.

Next month they are hoping the Winter Palace takes over the running of the cafe and I think it will be a really nice place to stop and relax after a trip to the Valley of Kings.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Notes from the Luxor Symposium

There was a handout of abstracts which I have copied here and I also took some notes but these are not complete firstly this symposium will be published and secondly a couple of speakers I have previously published their talks and did not take notes.

Luxor Symposium 4 November 2009-11-05

On 4th November 1922 the steps leading to the tomb of Tutankamun (Kv62) were found by the Howard Carter and his team, an expedition funded by Lord Carnarvon. The discovery on King Tutankamun’s tomb revealed, by all accounts, the best preserved and most intact royal tomb ever found in the Valley of the kings, and has led to a series of successful, international exhibitions and publication focusing on the contents of the tomb.

A direct consequence of this discovery was an increased interest and enthusiasm for Egyptology, resulting in more foreign expeditions at the Valley of the Kings. Moreover, the discovery of another royal tomb continues to be the dream of all Egyptologists until this day.

The year 2007 marked the first Egyptian expedition working in the Valley of Kings, who have unearthed a wealth of important information on the history of the valley. In addition to their quest to find other missing royal tombs, the Egyptian expedition is currently working in the tunnel of the tomb of King Seti I (KV17) and has revealed a lot of information on the tunnel’s construction and function.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is inaugurating the opening of Carter’s rest house, located on Luxor’s West Bank, on 4th November 2009. The rest-house, built in 1910, is closely linked with all the events surrounding Howard Carter’s magnificent discoveries and work. Restored and upgraded by the SCA, the rest-house will include various facilities allowing it to host a permanent exhibition telling the story of Carter’s exceptional discovery. In conjunction with the inauguration, marking 87th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankamun, the symposium entitled Valley of Kings, Since Howard Carter will feature prominent archaeologist and scholars who conducted research related to the Valley of Kings.

The aim of the symposium is to provide a forum for dialogue surrounding the Valley of Kings. The symposium organizers intend to hold future scholarly sessions at the rest house on an annual basis, as a means to encourage scholars working at the site to discuss their finds, ideas, problems and exchange ideas.

Egyptian Expedition Work at the Valley of the Kings – Zahi Hawass

In November 2007, the first all-Egyptian team ever to work at the Valley of the Kings began excavations at four locations:
1) Between KV7 and KV8
2) To the east of KV62
3) In the so called Valley of the Monkeys
4) Inside the tunnel of Seti I (KV17)
This paper will address many significant discoveries, which are enhancing our understanding of one of the most fascinating places in Egypt. Among these discoveries are the means and methods used by the ancient Egyptians to control water and protect the tombs from flash floods. Other important revelations of this expedition include the workman’s huts and magazines to the east KV62, evidence of ancient graffiti throughout the valley and various tomb foundation deposits associated with cult practices.

My notes
They are using DNS and CAT scan technology and laboratory 1 in Cairo museum has had its findings confirmed by laboratory 2. Once these findings have been externally confirmed Zahi will announce them.

There has been no previous all Egyptian excavation and they have been looking at Ramases VIII. They have found 14 new graffiti which are related to the old Userhet graffiti. Also a man made wall and some shafts and places were the ancient workmen stored their lunch. KVC has been relocated under the inspectors hut at the end of the old rest area. The KV64 area published on the internet is just a crack in the valley not a tomb. Dr Zahi stated he does not believe in radar. In ancient times the workman’s huts were used as storage and many bits and pieces were found inside. Then they moved to the Western Valley where foundation deposits were found and radar was used in their search. In the Seti I tunnel back in the 1960’s Sheikh Ali excavated to a depth of 435 feet but at one point he went off the tunnel proper. They have undertaken 300 ft of conservation building stairs and a railway. Dr Zahi believes the tunnel is important and is part of the caves of the roots of Osirus.

Re-Excavating the tomb of Horemheb (KV45) – Geoffrey Martin

This tomb was discovered in 1908 by Theodore M Davies, and was cleared under the supervision of Edward Ayrton. The results were published in the Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatankhamamou (1912). The volume is clearly partial. There is no mention of pottery, and many objects found were not fully published or illustrated. Some problems were unresolved until recently, including the status of the Well Shaft: there was no certainty that Davies had excavated it to the bottom. In the large undecorated room behind the sarcophagus chamber a huge mound of debris awaited investigation. It seemed, partly at least, to consist of material deposited there by the excavators and by those repairing and conserving the monument t the time of the discovery and in more recent years. A tomb of such magnitude and importance clearly needed further work to ensure that all the evidence was available for a complete publication of the artefacts and an accurate section of the Shaft. The sarcophagus, too, demand attention: skeletal material ad debris remained inside, and the lid, repaired and replaced in position after the discovery in 1908, was wrongly orientated.

The Cambridge Expedition to the Valley of kings, funded by Piers and Jenny Litherland, was granted permission by the SCA in 2005 to carry out the projects, and the monument is now (2009) entirely free of debris. A complete catalogue was made of the objects found, including those in the Cairo museum and elsewhere, emanating from the 1908 excavation and from the work of the Cambridge Expedition. From the latter important material came to light, not least many sherds from wine jars, found in the Shaft, part of Horemheb funerary equipment. A number bear year dates 13 and 14 of the king. This new material will prove vital in establishing the true length of his reign, hitherto a controversial matter. Dr Jacobus van Dijk is working on the dockets. All the material is now at hand to begin a study of the objects and human remains found in the tomb by Davies and the Cambridge Expedition, to compare and contrast with material excavated in the near contemporary deposit in KV62 and from earlier, plundered New Kingdom tombs in the valley. The publication will include contributions by David Aston, Edwin Brock, J van Dijk and Roxie Walker.

My notes
Why reexcavate, in the past excavation was done to quickly and the excavation report misses lots of objects. It was only 2 pages long, Ayton’s account was considered too long and was omitted, sadly it is now lost. The shaft and room behind the sarcophagus are now empty of debris. Davies found objects but poorly documented and the debris was thrown into the back room. All the objects are late 18th dynasty. In their debris they found glass inlays similar to those in Tutankamun’s Hathor couch, beads, remnants of arrow heads, sand stone grinders, and wine jars seals. In the well shaft they found blocking stones but not any of the painted pieces. At the bottom they found two rooms a the 8 meter level containing wine dockets showing years 14/15 which indicate his reign was much shorter than thought. In the sarcophagus there were bones of at least three people. Although the tomb was supposedly found in 1908 there is graffiti of 1887 and 1896 which may explain wy pieces that must be from the tomb are in museums.

The West Valley and Amenmesse Projects (1971-2009- Otto Schaden

In 1971 I began my KV experience with an examination of Ay’s tomb WV23 with the aim of proposing to undertake a clearance of the tomb. This was accomplished in 1972 and in the scattered years afterwards the work was advanced. Then in 1992, the Amenmesse Project was initiated, the basic aim being a full investigation of KV10. The led to the discovery of the workman’s huts and the new tomb KV63

My notes
He started in the west tomb in 1971, although John Rommer said he was the first in KV4, archaeology has changed since he started. He was inspired by Elizabeth Thomas’s book published in the 1960’s/ WV25 was full of late burials, it had started as a royal tomb but never finished and there are no deposits. WV23 the pillared hall became the burial chamber. Found lid of sarcophagus, remnants of ushabities which indicated Ay had been buried there. They also found huts fragments of Ay’s burial. WV24 was a shaft tomb and had glass inlay pieces. KV10 the maps were incorrect for the tomb it is not as steep. Lots of flood damage. No evidence of burial but fragments of a queen’s burial, might have been the queen mother. They wanted to find foundation deposits and that led to the discovery of KC63. So far inscriptions on the coffins are for an untitled lady and a royal nurse.

The tomb of Ramases II KV7 - Christian Leblanc
The excavation carried out at the tomb of Ramses II since 1993, has permitted to clear and clean almost the whole underground structure which suffered of at least twelve diluvian rains. At present, only the shaft and two annexes should be excavated before commencing the important work of restoration of the tomb. First of all it is necessary to strengthen the burial chamber, the vaulted ceiling of which has no more pillars to support it. There pillars (eight in number) shivered long time ago under the pressure of swelling marls caused by the consecutive floods. , many skilled surveyors of civil engineering have inquired about the site and some solutions have been proposed. We hope that all these solutions can be submitted to the attention of the Supreme Council of Antiquities so this chamber could be strengthened, which will then be put into worth, according a project which both MAFTO and INSIGHT are working.

Along with archaeological research which brought a lot of information about the history of this burial, it was also possible, during the several expeditions to identify the iconographical wall programme of both corridors and the chambers which we are going to discuss about in our speech.

No notes as the talk was in French

Undecorated Tombs in the Valley of Kings – Donald Ryan

This was a dupplicate talk of one I have documented before.

Tutankamun’s Mask Reconsidered – Nicholas Reeves

Tutankamun’s gold mask is one of the ancient world’s most spectacular artworks, yet more than 80 years after its discovery the piece remains essentially unstudied. This paper draws together what we currently know about the object, focussing particularly on the details of its discovery and the materials and techniques employed in its manufacture. In the context of what we are beginning increasingly to discern about the makeshift character of Tutankamun’s burial, two key questions are posed: Was the mask actually made for the young king? And if not, who might its original owner have been?

My notes

Is this a reused piece, there has been no critical study only artistic ones. Harry Burton’s photos are bland. It I 54 cm by 39cm and 10.23 kilos. It is an official portrait and when discovered had three necklaces and a false beard. The gold of the face and head cloth are different carats and have a different coloured sheen, blue on the face and red on the cloth. There was damage done by Carter removing it from the innermost coffin but there was also damage done in antiquity. There is a hole to attach the flail and a slight crushing to the right hand side. Examination of the inside reveals it is made up of several pieces, face, ears, beard, back panel, front panel, collar, bureaus and the face. The face is the most obvious as the blue is lapis rather than the blue of the nemes head cloth. It seems to have been a construction norm to have a separate face. It was believed that Tutankamun’s face was originally Akhenaton’s face but now he does not believe this.

If Harry Burtons photo there are two discs of foil to cover the ear piercings, the plugs were in place so there was no intention to disguise. Tuthmosis IV was the first king with pierced ears but these are not acknowledged. Akhenaton shows his but not with a hole but a depression. The lotus head from the tomb show Tutankamun as a young boy is the only one that has actual holes showing. It is very rare to see a king with earrings. There is one of Ramses II as a young prince with a side lock of youth and earring. Blackman in her anthropological study notes that sometimes young boys who were the only son in modern Egyptian culture had one ear pierced and this might have been to disguise them. So holes were for young children and Tutankamun’s plugs show that he was older. Other pieces show Neferneferru as beneficial for her husband, so is this a woman. The canopic coffinites have the name inside and they all have functional pierced ears. So could these have been made for a co-regent queen, were these the original ears of Nefertiti put back on a Tutankamun face? Was Nefertiti not buried as a co-regent queen so these goods were needed? Was she buried as a full ruler or back to a queen status? Yes Nicholas left us with loads of questions and thought provoking notes.

The afternoon session was just as interesting but I will let you wait until the seminar is published to read about those.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Opening of the Carter Dig House, Luxor, Egypt

Lord Carnarvon, the 8th Earl gave a speech whilst those on the top table listened. From right to left Samir Farag, Dr Zahi Hawas, Lady Carnarvon, and members of the Carter family.

The plebs enjoyed it too, my friend Ros Eavis-Oliveria and Michael Campbell-Smith (aka Michael on the roof).

They found original surveying equipment, seen here as you go in and in the display stand is one of the bricks that was sent out by Lord Carnarvon to Egypt to build the house for Carter. It is dated 1910. It was a joke between them that it was Castle Carter like Carnarvon had Highclere Castle. (Lady Fiona Carnarvon told me that story)

Harry Burton's camera just outside his darkroom, a tiny space, how he managed I can't imagine.

The original kitchen with some original equipment, don't worry if you come to the cafeteria there is a really posh new kitchen. But this is quite interesting as it had very little in it. Egyptians are amazing at making the most delicious food out of the simplest food and using minimal equipement.

This the dining room, some is original and some reproductions. There is a wonderful decanter and glasses disguised as a stack of three books. the photography of Lord Carnarvon relaxing in the deckchair was probably taken in the verander outside this room.

This is photos of Howard Carter's office, the setting for my photo with Lord and Lady Carnarvon. They had a wonderful letter set on the desk together with fascimilies of drawings and notes. The desk is original.

Dr Zahi Hawass annouced that you can stay in this bedroom for $20,000 USD on the night 4th November 2010 and $10,000 USD on some other selected nights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Lord and Lady Carnarvon at the Carter House

It was absolute mayhem at the Carter House today preparing from the grand opening tomorrow. Millions of people trying to work and millions of people want to have an advanced look stopping the millions of people that were trying to work. Tempers were getting frayed but I am sure it will all be fine.

I had taken one look at the furniture yesterday and came armed with two cans of furniture polish and with the help of my friend Ros we removed the building dust from everything we could find. To be honest there was so much in the air I sure it is all coated again but we did our best.

Whilst we were working Dr Sabry and Dr Wassar arrived and also Lord and Lady Carnarvon. It was such a treat to meet them and of course I had to have my photo taken.

The display panels look fabulous and I am sure people are going to get a lot out of visiting this house. Eventually there will be a replica tomb on the site. We wer given a sneak preview of the ghost of Howard Carter. With the aid of lights, screens, mirrors and glass an image of Carter appears and gives a talk about the discovery of the tomb with slides. It is really excellent, very cleverly done

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Symposium and Opening of the Carter House

I have just heard (thanks for finding out Sharon) that the event on 4th is open to the general public. There are lectures from 9-12 at the Mummification Museum, then the Carter House opening from 12-4 and then more lectures from 4-9. Lots of great speakers including Dr Zahi Hawass, Otto Schaden, Salima Ikram, Donald Ryan and Nicholas Reeves amongst others