Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Past Preservers: Breaking News from Egypt

Past Preservers: Breaking News from Egypt: "Dr. Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and the head of the mission, finally succeeded in completely excavating the 174m long tunnel after several seasons of work that began in November 2007.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mummification Museum lectures in July

Good news people there are going to be 2 lectures in July

24th July Popular Worship at Luxor Temple: An Examination of the Rebus and So-Called ‘People’s Gate – Kenneth Griffin
31st July The Tomb of Karakhamun (TT 223): Season 2010 – Elena Pischikova

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Mohammed Ismail's daughter got married

Sorry not photos, my current camera does not have flash. But I am sure his many friends will be pleased to know. Just a little sideline apparently in the old days they used to go and pick up the bride on a horse. Mohammed did that for his wife and apparently my father in law did as well. The men would wear a white galabeya and the women a normal black abya. It was about 30 years ago the fashion for western style wedding dresses started, obviously it took a while to infiltrate Luxor.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Karnak Temple Plaza development is a winning entry in the Islamic Capitals and Cities contest.

From the press office of Samir Farag

“For the second time in a row we have been shortlisted in the prestigious competition organised by Islamic Capitals and Cities. Karnak Temple Plaza development was in category to improve and beautify a city. “ said Dr Samir Farag, Governor of Luxor. This is the second time in a row Luxor has been rewarded, this time with second place. The first time was in 2007 for the comprehensive plan to develop the whole of Luxor, in the category of regional and urban planning. This year’s prize was awarded for the project to develop the Plaza in front of Karnak Temple, this was implemented at a cost of 80 million pounds. It removed all the slums in the surrounding area of the temple and opened up a vista, so the visitor standing in the middle of the temple gates can see the temple of Hatshepsut on the opposite bank of the Nile, the West Bank of Luxor, exactly like the ancient Egyptians did.

Mexican Archaeologists will Return to Egypt

Interesting report and below I republished my lecture notes from this tomb.

Mexican Archaeologists will Return to Egypt: "MEXICO CITY.- After 5 years of uninterrupted archaeological, restoration and iconographic interpretation work, the Mexican delegation in charge of conservation at the Theban Tomb 39, in Egypt, will begin the 6th field season in September 2010. The goal is to open the site to public in 2013.

Exploration at the Theban Tomb 39 continues to the exterior of it, since work at the interior is concluded, informed Dr. Angelina Macias Goytia, researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The specialist mentioned that archaeological work to be conducted in September will focus on the retirement of 6 tons of debris accumulated from nearby hill runoffs. This material obstructs the line of sight of the 3,500 years old monument.

Archaeological labor adds up to work conducted by restorers from INAH National Coordination of Cultural Heritage Conservation, which focuses on the attention to mural painting, reliefs and cracks at funerary chambers.

At her participation at the Permanent Conferences of Archaeology organized by INAH, the head of the Mexican archaeological project at Egypt mentioned that this would be “the first Egyptian tomb salvaged and consolidated by Mexicans to be open to public”.

“The place is exceptionally beautiful due to the amount of hieroglyphs found on the walls, which can be deciphered, as well as the good conservation state of the murals”.

The so-called TT39 is a tomb/funerary temple that corresponds to the 18th dynasty, dedicated to the eternal rest of Pui Em Ra, second priest of Amon during the kingdom of queen at-Shep-Sut. The sarcophaguses of the priest and some of his relatives must have been deposited here, but the tomb has been looted several times.

The funerary precinct has a hallway and 3 chambers, each of them with different form, size and iconography, depending on the use given to them.

The northern chamber has mural paintings that represent the procession to bury Pui Em Ra, which are fully restored; the second was dedicated to his family and has a niche to place offerings, and the third one was a temple that has at the entrance 2 stelae with biographical hieroglyphs.

“As rubble is meticulously retired to detect the presence of archaeological material, the northern wall of the tomb will be checked to confirm how long is it, because we found cuts that could be the entrance to other interior spaces; there is a rectangular element that could be a room, but we need to verify it”, explained archaeologist Macias.

Archaeological work performed at Theban Tomb 39 is basically rehabilitation and maintenance of the funerary complex and research has been conducted to verify its extension and locate archaeological material.

Between debris and explored wells were recovered ceramic fragments, lithic tools, dry herb and flower bouquets that might have been part of offerings, and mummified human rests which chronological and cultural affiliation has not been determined.

Macias declared that the tomb still requires structural conservation work because there are fractures on the rocks of the hill to which the mausoleum is fixed. Mexican architects from University of Valle de Mexico, specialized on ancient monument restoration, will conduct this work.

“The authorization of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiques to work in an ancient tomb is an acknowledgement to the high level of Mexican archaeology and restoration, as well as to the INAH schools of Restoration, Conservation and Museography (ENCRyM) and National of Anthropology and History (ENAH)”, she concluded.

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2007 Lecture Notes
TT39 Puimra – Dr Gabirela Arrache

Dr Gabirela is from the Mexico mission and brought so much excitement and enthusiasm to the lecture. Puimra was a second prophet of Amun and his tomb is located in the Assasif area. Theirs is the first mission from Mexico in Egypt and she felt there was a lot of similarity in cultures.

The team started by using Goggle Earth to view the area of the Assasif and they also had a 1923 publication to compare with. They are using the very latest technology in their work,

Puimra had a lot of titles Inspector of the Cattle of Amun, Inspector of the Fields of Amun, One who the king has confidence in. Howard Carter found some statues of his and from these we know he was involved in the construction of Deir el Bahri and also served under Thothmosis III. He shows an obelisk with cartouches. Puimra had two wives; his principle wife was Senseneb a daughter of the 1st prophet of Amun and divine Adorotrix. His son Smenkephrera was also another import priest of Amun.

Dr Gabirela showed a slide of the tomb with the Gurna houses above it and commented that she was glad these houses had now gone as they had lost objects to tomb robbers while they were there.

There was a 17 sqm courtyard in front of the tomb and they are still excavating looking for the edges of this courtyard. There are 3 walls, the original one, one from 1920’s and lastly their own wall. There was graffiti from Norman Davies 1920.

There were 18 shafts in the area and a big 26th dynasty sarcophagus. The outside of the tomb had a complex exterior of a false door, Steele, entrance, Steele, false door with palace façade niches. Subsequent reuse of the tomb had changed these and one was cut out. The carving is of high quality into limestone. In front of the façade there was a 4 column porch in sandstone with relief’s coloured in yellow.

Inside there was a pillared hall with 3 chapels. There is good colour on the reliefs. Relief’s are usually plaster on limestone but in this tomb the painting is direct on to the limestone which is poor quality with a lot of cracks. There is evidence of different artists at work. The depiction of foreign people is the most popular relief from this tomb; it also shows gold being counted. The three chapels are the 1south pr-wr, 2 centre sh-ntr and 3 north pr-nsr/pw.

Northern Chapel
They found pieces of the door jamb. Scenes show a funerary procession, travel to Abydos, lots of offerings and a barrel vaulted ceiling. The false door from this chapel is in the Cairo museum and Dr Gabirela hopes that the restoration of the tomb will include putting this back in situ. They are extremely concerned about the cracks in the tomb, they are trying to consolidate them and also hope the removal of the houses will help.

Central Chamber
They found 400 stones, perhaps put there by Davies, that are not documented. Lots have colour and hieroglyphics. These pieces are now safe in a storage area. There are lots of poor people in the area and these stones mean money so they have to be stored carefully. The team is planning to publish the graffiti and exterior hieroglyphics. They also did some tests to see what cleaning would do. This season the first thing to do was to safe guard the roof as the fallen houses had put weight on the chambers. Previously they found that the iron beams supporting the roof had moved by 7cm in 2005. They tried to support them. The quality of the concrete on the roof was awful with no structural steel inside. They were able to put a boot through so had to remove and replace. While this work was going on the protected the walls with wood. They also raised the height of the protective wall. They have found more parts of the courtyard and expect to take another 5 – 6 years to complete their work.

Friday, 11 June 2010

CHALLENGING THE PAST: Birmingham Egyptology: new issue is out!

CHALLENGING THE PAST: Birmingham Egyptology: new issue is out!: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


One of my Facebook friends pointed this one out to me, lots of publications and information in English from the Japanese. They have been working at the tomb of Amenhotep III in the Western Valley of Kings, Luxor INSTITUTE OF EGYPTOLOGY: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Sex, drugs and rock & roll in Ancient Egypt

For some reason there is a lot of publicity just recent about Betsy Bryan's thoughts on this subject. She actually gave a lecture at the Mummification Musuem back in 2006 and here are my old notes.

2006 John Hopkins Season at the Mut temple/Enlarging the view of Mut

Dr Betsy Bryan

2nd Feb

Dr Bryan gave a summary of the work of previous season in order to set the scene of the work they are doing in 2006. The earliest stone temple at the site was Thutmosis III and Hatshepsut.

They have been working on the area behind the sacred lake which is a horseshoe shape. They have found many granaries which would have been beehive shape very like the paintings at the tomb of Khety at Beni Hassan. Together with qurns, bread moulds and pots it suggests that this was a big beer and bread making operation in this area of the temple.

In The far south area near the enclosure wall they were hoping to find remains of Ancient Thebes but so far the remains are 25th dynasty. Once these have been recorded it is hope they can excavate underneath and night find what they were originally hoping.

Inside the temple they are looking at 2 courtyards and the platform area. They have found remains of Hathor headed pillars. The temple was variously built by Thutmosis II, Ramases II, Seti II and Ramses IV. The platform area was Thutmosis III, the condition of the blocks is very unstable so they are trying to conserve these and remove the ones that are in danger and fragile, build better foundations then relay the blocks that are stable. There were more examples of foundation blocks with joint cartouches of Tut III and Hatshepsut. And Senumut’s name also is present. A lot of the foundation blocks are reused from other periods and should be on display. The work of the restorers was shown by a fantastic Hathor headed column that had been rescued. There was much mutilation by the atonists and then restoration by various kings like Tutankhamen, Ay and Horemheb.

One of the discoveries was a lovely statue of a queen of Amenhotep III. Although this has much been reported in the press as being Queen Tiye (Ti) it actually has no name and could be Sitamun, Mutemewa or Tiye. The modus has cartouches of Amenhotep all the way round and it would have come from the last 7 years of his reign.

The second part of the lecture was a complete revelation for me and forgive me if my notes are incomplete or inaccurate as I was trying to write in the dark and take it in.

Dr Bryan gave a fascinating insight into the Festivals of drunkenness. Now being drunk was not socially acceptable and there is wisdom literature support that moral stance. However there is much that encourages people to get drunk in order to experience God. This has links with the story of Hathor being made drunk in order to stop her destroying mankind. Mut is linked with Sekmet and Bast which is why there are so many statues of Sekmet from that temple. It seems that a part of the religious worship was to get so drunk you passed out and just before you did you experienced the divine. They even had ‘designated drivers’ who would look after you so you could lose control in a very controlled situation.

Scenes of this are in evidence at tombs like Kahri at El Kab where the deceased family talk to each other and make remarks like asking for 18 jars of wine. In Rekhmire the question is posed ‘Is it Ma’at to get drunk’ and the hieroglyphic for Ma’at is turned round indicating ‘Yes go for it’. In tt38 there are scenes of vomiting

Phrases like ‘roaming in the marshes’ indicate that sexual activity is also an important part of this and associated with the Beautiful Feast of the Valley where you communed with dead relatives. In TT82 there is a song which talks of “rejoicing in drunken women”

Mut appears to have a role to play in the Eye of Re, which is an aspect of Hathor where she takes revenge on mankind when they don’t behave. (I am not sure I got all this clearly so if anyone can give me more I would appreciate it)

In the question and answer session two other things came out. One questioner talked about the influence in Sufism of Ancient Egypt and how getting into an altered state to experience the divine was there. And another lady mentioned the princess of Mentuhotep who had scenes of granaries and might be an earlier example of this religious experience. Probably all these granaries at the Mut temple where were all this beer was coming from.

So another excellent lecture which widened my understanding. I did like the site report but this part 2 was the best bit for me

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Courses in Egyptology from Manchester Uni

As I am sure you are aware i am doing the online Egyptology course from Manchester Uni. I totally recommend it. If you want to apply you have until the end of June.

The benefits

- a course designed by the the creme de la creme of Egyptology: Tutor Joyce Tyldesley Prof Rosalie David
- a fully featured online learning environment
- interaction with your peers, in small tutorial groups, by year and by course
- guided learning with 28 activities and 2 essays a year and as well as a final dissertation
- tools for independent research
- quiz(s)
- hieroglyphic teaching
- comprehensive book list
- links to quality websites
- technical support

- free Jstore access
- student card
- student discounts
- student software
- free anti virus for the life of your computer
- free Visual Glyph for the life of your computer
- free transliteration font for the life of your computer
- use of VPN giving access to all British TV, I think that is an accidental benefit but it is still very nice

and a lot of FUN

And for everyone that hasn't got the time or would like a taster, they have short courses. These are brand new but using all the knowledge they have from running the Certificate Course.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

I just got a brief update from Otto Schaden on his future plans. Reading between the lines some funds would help his future planning. If you go to the website it tells you how you can help.

Dear Jane ---

No great secrets here, I am hoping to finish up a report for
ASAE and a brief summary for Orientalia, then I will begin to work
out some plans and possible schedules for the next season. Of
late, we have been active during the early months of the year
and no doubt we will plan our 2011 season to begin in January.
Until we have raised more funds, we cannot set the length of the
season at this early date. Our proposal to the SCA will probably
be sent to Zamalek during September.

The work on KV-63 materials is not yet complete, but we do
hope to gradually get back to the KV-10 tasks. The descent
through the pillared hall remains to be cleared, but for 2011, we
will still need that room for work on the KV-63 coffins.

By the end of summer we should have advanced many of our
plans for 2011.


Budding Egyptologist Guide - Luxor Monuments

Budding Egyptologist Guide.

Full details of Luxor’s monuments can be seen in Kent Weeks excellent guide book to Luxor but here are some of my own thoughts on the sites and the special bits for me. In case you are wondering how I manage to get photos inside the tombs, it used to be allowed back in 1979 when I first came to Egypt.

Photos are here Budding Egyptologist Guide - Luxor Monuments - : "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

In and around Luxor
Valley of Kings

It was recently announced that another tomb was discovered in the Valley of the Kings. Number KV63 was discovered by Dr Otto Schaden. Previously, the last tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamen. It varies, but generally there are over 12 tombs in the valley that can be visited. It is best to check on the day you visit as you can be pleasantly surprised. Also, who knows who you might see, for example: Zahi Hawass, Sabri Azeb, and Mustapha Waseri.

Tomb of Ay

This is a separate ticket and is located in the Western Valley of the Valley of the Kings. This site is often completely deserted by tourists as it is over 2km from the ticket office. The right driver will take you up the winding path where desert foxes roam. Did Ay murder Tutankhamen; the jury is still out on that.

Carter House

Just outside the Valley is the house that Carter lived in whilst excavating Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was recently restored and is open to the public. It was built for him by Lord Carnarvon. There is a short viewing of Carter’s ghost talking about his work. It is open to the public and no ticket is required.

Valley of Queens

Although the tomb of Nefertari is closed, except to special groups with a lot of money, it does not mean there is nothing to see here. There are the tombs of two princes and a queen open and from here you can walk to the workman’s village past the shrine of Meretsegner and Ptah.

Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahri •

An iconic temple of a queen (or rather king, as there was no title for a female ruler so Hatshepsut was always called the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of king). The architecture of this temple, possibly inspired from its next door neighbour, is unique amongst mortuary temples. This is a very popular site with its own ticket office.

Assasif Tombs & Tomb of Pabasa

These two sites are surprising. The tickets are bought at the Hatshepsut ticket office, which is one of the busiest sites in Egypt, however almost nobody comes to these three tombs. Certainly not the big tour groups. Chat with the guards and have a cup of tea. The tombs are huge and there is a lot of excavation going on in the area, e.g. the tomb of Harwa (under the direction of Francesco Tiradritti).

Colossus of Memnon

Although almost everyone just looks at the big statues, take the time to wander along the road and see the excavations going on behind. Dr Hourig Sourouzian is excavating there and you have probably read about all the statuary she has found.

Mortuary Temple of Merenptah with museum

From the road it looks like there is nothing to see at this temple, but this is one of Luxor’s secrets with its museum and underground store rooms which have many pieces from the temple of Amenhotep III. Poor old Merenptah was the 13th son of Ramses II and must have given up expecting to succeed him. There was a need to build a temple quickly and he used many blocks from the temple of Amenhotep III which is behind the colossus of Memnon. The colour on these pieces is spectacular and I thoroughly recommend a visit to this site. The museum is open at a slightly later time around 8/9 am, although the temple opens at 6am.

Mortuary Temple of Seti I

One of my favourite sites in Egypt and one I love to take children to and re-enact scenes from the temple walls. The modesty of Seti is demonstrated clearly as the part of the temple dedicated to him is tiny and almost hidden. Totally unlike his more famous son Ramses II.

Mortuary Temple of Ramses II (Ramasseum) •

This was the big destination of many a traveller doing the grand tour and they left their graffiti here, including Belzoni. The poem Ozymandes is connected with this site and I like to stand viewing the giant statue and recite it. The fallen statue is massive, carved from Aswan granite and a testimony to Ramses II ego.

Mortuary Temple of Ramses III (Medinet Habu)

On the right hand side on the outside wall, you can see the only depiction of a sea battle in Egyptian art. Also on the right is the temple of Tuthmosis III. I recommend this temple for colour. The temples were not dull sandstone when built, but vibrant, gaudy and completely over the top. This temple gives you a glimpse of that.

Workman’s Village at Deir el Medina •Tomb of Pashedu •

The ticket for the village entitles you to visit two tombs, the village and the small temple so are a great value. Get an additional ticket for Pashedu, which is up the hill. It is fascinating to see the place where the elite that built the valley of the kings lived, worked, and were buried. There is also an excellent book stall here. You can walk or take a donkey from the village, over the ridge to the temple of Hatshepsut. I call this path the poor man’s hot air balloon.

Nobles Tombs

* Roy and Shu Roy •
* Khokha tombs Neferronpet, Dhutmosis and Nefersekheru •
* Ramose, Khaemhet, Userhet
* Benji, Userhet, Khonsu •
* Sennefer and Rekhmire
* Meena and Nakht

There are several sets of noble’s tombs. I love them all. These sites are infrequently visited and are much more interesting to the layman or children. My favourite is Rekhmire, which is a bit of a climb up the hill, there is so much detail of every aspect of Ancient Egyptian life. My second favourite is Roy. The colour is stunning and it overlooks Karnak temple. Location, location, location. The Beautiful Feast of the Valley would have gone straight past his door. The carvings in the entire Ramose group are wonderful and in the tomb of Ramose himself you can see the change of religion to Akhenaton and the Aton. There is also a lot of excavation going on in this area and sometimes the archaeologists are prepared to have a chat and tell you about their work.

Karnak Temple and the Open Air Museum

Everyone goes to Karnak temple but no group goes to the Open Air Museum. Inside there is the Middle Kingdom White Chapel of Senusret, which is exquisite. As for the rest of the temple, the botanical room shows Tuthmosis III as a rival to Napoleon with his love of science. The temple of Ptah where the guardians do a little trick with a mirror and the Sekhmet statue, the priests houses at the back of the sacred lake, Sphinx Avenue, and the excavations taking place in front of the first pylon are all worthwhile viewing. Take at least 10 days going round this temple, well maybe not quite that much, but you could.

Luxor Temple and the Mosque

Like Karnak temple, Luxor temple also has its less visited area. The mosque built inside the ancient temple has recently been restored and Mansour Boraik has published a great paper on the decoration and it is all now on display. Luxor temple now also has a block yard that is open for viewing which is well laid out by Chicago House. This temple is open in the evening so is great for a floodlight experience.

Outside of Luxor

Don’t forget there are great day trips from Luxor.

If you would like to see if a cruise would suit you, why not try the day trip to Dendera. I particularly like this as personally I couldn’t take an entire week on a cruise boat, although I loved being on a sailing boat or Sandal. The day trip was perfect for me and Dendera is a great temple to visit.

Ankhtifi at Moalla

Within 20 km of Luxor there is the 1st Intermediate Period cemetery at Moalla with the tomb of Ankhtifi (tickets have to be bought at Luxor temple). Now that the convoy system has finished, this is a great place to visit for an hour. I call this a beta max tomb, poor old Ankhtifi chose the wrong side and it was the Theban princes who eventually won out and ruled. It is a very unusual tomb, with irregular columns and uses lots of turquoise colour.

Tod Temple

Another site within 20 km, whose tickets have to be bought at Luxor temple, is the temple of Montu at Tod. In the block yard there is evidence from the 5th dynasty right up until Coptic times and everything in between. This was the site where the Tod treasure was found.


Finally also with the 20km range is the temple at Esna, a Ptolemaic temple but also the site of early dynastic excavations. A guest of ours, Dr Dorothy Downs has written about Esna. The temple is much lower than the surrounding town and indeed has not been fully excavated.