Sunday, 27 March 2011

Amenhotep III gets his beard back (edited)

Mansour Boraik announced that on 25th March the famous red granite head of Amenhotep III which was on display in Luxor Museum was reunited with its beard. This had been located in the Metropolitan Museum (previously I said in New York for over 40 years and generously returned to Egypt. which was completely WRONG. It was in the Metropolitan STORAGE rooms in Luxor, totally my mistake sorry) The completed statue is now on display in Luxor Museum.

Luxor Museum has many famous exhibits is well worth a visit, with a better layout, climate control and labeling than the Cairo Museum. Some of its more famous exhibits

• Tutankhamen’s chariot which has been reassembled
• the rosettes that were on the linen pall that covered Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus
• a bust of Hathor from the tomb of Tutankhamen, that greets visitors in the entrance to the museum
• a wall of resembled talata, the small blocks used by Akhenaton to build temples quickly and easily
• wooden models of boats
• a statue of Hatshepsut as a woman
• the mummies of the founders of the 18th and 19th dynasties
• the golden flies awarded in battle similar to medals
• a lovely gold and silver axe belonging to a queen!
• and much, much more

Thursday, 24 March 2011

15 years for the Luxor thieves

Well I think Mansour Boraik was right when he said any further problems would be deterred by what happened to the thieves. My hubby told me that they appeared in front of a military court on 22nd and were sentenced to 15 years. Personally I would not fancy 15 days in an Egyptian jail. It certainly sends out a message to anyone else thinking of doing something similar.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Stolen ancient Egyptian statues recovered - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Mansour Boraik just confirmed for me the future plans for site security. Obviously this is more about night time than day time.

1) The guardians are going to be armed
2) They are increasing the number of guardians
3) They have moved some objects to more secure areas
4) There will be more security on site
5) Knowledge that offenders will be tried by a military court will deter thefts.
6) There are some other things happening which he would rather not reveal

He reminded me that Luxor was the only place that had not had thefts until and he was proud of that. He was also determined that this would not happen again. He was using two weapons, people will hear the consequences of what happened to this thief’s they will be deterred and increased security. The people arrested were well know thieves and quickly identified and captured. Within 24 hours Hourig had identified and seen the recovered objects. This incident does not reflect any aspect of tourist safety.

I told him I am proud of the actions of the SCA in Luxor, I saw how hard everyone was working to recover the objects and how seriously they took it. I and others were also impressed by the openness and transparency in letting us know exactly what had gone missing and the details. I was sure everyone was so pleased that the objects had been recovered so quickly.

Here is a news article about the recovery
Stolen ancient Egyptian statues recovered - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online: "Within 24 hours the Antiquities and Tourism Police, in collaboration with the Military Police Forces, succeeded in retrieving the two ancient Egyptian statues stolen yesterday from a warehouse on Luxor’s West Bank.

The statues were found hidden inside the home of Ahmed El Zot, the head of an armed gang, who is infamous for his dishonesty. Three other members of the gang are also in custody.

Mansour Boreik, supervisor of Luxor’s monuments, relates that last night an armed gang attacked the warehouse of the European/Egyptian excavation mission of Amenhotep III’s temple. The gang members gave the guards anaesthetic shots, tied them up and entered the warehouse with ease. They stole a bust of the lioness god, Sekhmet, deity of war and another granite statue of an ancient Egyptian god. They also broke several while escaping with the goods.

Boreik said that the police came onto the site immediately and with comprehensive investigations succeeded in catching the head of the gang and three other members.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Luxor's stolen statues RECOVERED

Just got a text message from Mansour Boraik
We just found the two statues right now. Thanks to the antiquites police. I want to say Luxor will be safe forever

Well done everyone

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Two Statues Stolen in Luxor

Times have changed in Egypt. I read on Facebook about the theft from the Amenhotep III storerooms and phoned Mostafa Wazery to find out what had happened. I immediately got the entire story and he invited me to go to his office. There he showed me pictures of the stolen objects. What a change from pre revolutionary days when everything would have to be referred to Cairo for permission. The story. At 3:35 am the 4 guards at the storeroom at Kom el Hetan, the area behind the colossus of Memnon were attacked. Two objects were stolen.. One statue was 38 cms high and a portrait of Amenhotep III the other was more damaged. Armed men attacked the guards with sub machine guns and chloroform, the guards defended the storeroom but were unable to stop the robbery. Mostafa Wazery was on site by 4am and has been there ever since. While I was there he was having to field calls from journalists and other interested parties. My Arabic is not good enough to understand what was said but it seemed he was getting tip offs. I know he is doing all he can to get the objects back. Just as I left Dr Hourig Sourouzian arrived so you can be assured everything is being done. Mostafa was so disappointed as up until now Thebes had been secure and he was proud of his guards for doing their best to fight off the attack. Three of them ended up in hospital.

This is the storeroom where the theft took place.

Mostafa Wazery

Friday, 18 March 2011

Egypt's constitutional referendum

Tomorrow is a historic day, for the first time Egyptians have a chance to decide their own destiny. There is a referendum to decide changes to the constitution. I have been asking local people will they be letting their wives vote. Yes I know it should not be up to the man of the family to decide this but this is the reality of Luxor and Upper Egypt. I have been pleasantly surprised. Even older men are saying yes, because now it will make a difference. (I feel if we can get the women to the polling station then we can work on getting them to make their own voting decision.) So even my father in law is quite excited and saying that everyone should vote. Sadly there are still the occasional ‘there is no point’.

Some of the comments I have heard show a great deal of understanding, one taxi driver told me it will take time to become fully democratic like France after the revolution. Frankly that one complete threw me as I had no idea they learnt about the French revolution but it was encouraging to know that not everyone assumes change will happen overnight. Some do however and we have silly demos of school boys wanting to only have to buy 20 books instead of 40. Others think democracy means no rules and have been building illegally and ignoring the law. But I believe this is a swing of the pendulum and they will settle down to reality. They are a clever people.

The one thing I would like to see happen in Luxor is market research before changes are made instead of consultants telling governors what they want to hear. Actually ask tourists what they want to see (less hassle I think would be top of the list), asking locals what they want, actually that one should come first. Luxor should be about Luxorians. Also the archaeologists should be consulted about the changes at the sites before the tourists.

So this is the start of the democratic process, let us look to the future with hope for a great Egypt Moving Forward.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Pictures from Richard Sellicks KV57

These have been sitting in my inbox since early Jan. Now seems the moment to publish them. Horemhebs tomb is one of my favourites, the blue gray background being so much nicer than that mucky yellow lol. Ramses I has the same colour, enjoy

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Pride cometh before a fall

Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Pride cometh before a fall: "Pride cometh before a fall
It was officially confirmed on Sunday, 6 March, that Zahi Hawass has stepped down as minister of antiquities in Egypt, Jill Kamil writes

Zahi Hawass, the international face of Egypt's archaeology for some 10 years, has admitted that he was no longer able to protect the country's antiquities because of the absence of police protection, and because he believes he is the victim of a campaign against him by senior officials at his ministry. What he doesn't admit is that members of his own staff have accused him of dictatorial polices concerning findings, unfairness in taking credit for the excavations of others, punishing any whose opinions do not square with his own, of hampering the aspirations of qualified graduates, of nepotism and even, in the words of ex-director of the Egyptian Museum Wafaa El-Saddik, of overseeing a system of corruption.

Days before he resigned as president in February 2011, Hosni Mubarak elevated Hawass from his position as secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to head a new Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (MSAA) -- which separates it from the Ministry of Culture -- something he has long been pressing for. As a member of the old guard, however, his name indelibly linked with those of Suzanne Mubarak and ex-minister of culture Farouk Hosni, so he could not expect to remain a cog in the wheel of a discredited state apparatus no matter how often or how vociferously he defended himself on his website and in public interviews.

In NatGeo Newswatch posted on 22 February, he vowed to stay on as Egypt's antiquities chief, 'so that I can continue to do everything in my power to protect Egypt's cultural heritage.' That he has failed to do. Despite repeated assurances that he has attended to the upgrading of security systems at archaeological sites all over the country, built 30 new storehouses, and tabled new legislation increasing the penalties of those found guilty of illegal dealings in antiquities, he has now been forced to admit failure.

'The antiquities guards and security forces at sites are unarmed and this makes them easy targets for armed looters,' declared Hawass, who added, 'the Egyptian police force does not have the capacity to protect every single site, monument and museum in Egypt'. Indeed, hundreds of archaeological sites all over Egypt remain inadequately protected. Objects have frequently turned up at international auction houses which have been withdrawn from sale, confiscated, and steps taken to return them to Egypt. There is a certain irony, however, in the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the retrieval of stolen goods by Hawass personally, while little mention is made of steps taken for the protection of the monuments from which they were looted.

Antiquities thieves, incidentally, are not all galabeya -clad looters as the stereotype has it, or traders like those who were caught red-handed in Minya carrying stolen artefacts for which a dealer was going to pay them LE5 million ( The Egyptian Gazette, 21 May 2003). Unfortunately the antiquities trade embraces all levels from the lowest to the highest. In 2004 Tark El-Siwaissi, chairman of the National Democratic Party's office in the Giza governorate was remanded in custody pending investigation. He was accused of having amassed a fortune estimated at LE33 million, from smuggling Pharaonic antiquities to Europe and America for the previous two years. He had allegedly made hefty bribes to certain high ranking individuals to ensure his appointment in an area which gave him easy access to antiquities officials who would help him conduct his illicit smuggling. Six officials were implicated in the scandal ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 May 2003).

As secretary-general of the SCA, Hawass was both admired and criticised, and he responded to both with aplomb. Self-possession is the hallmark of his character. When accused of being pro-American he said: 'I give nothing for nothing.' When foreign missions accused him of creating so much bureaucratic red-tape that he hindered their activities he responded, 'requesting the mapping and photographing of each concession, the publication of all discoveries made within five years after first clearance of the finds, new concessions put on hold in order to better focus attention on existing endangered sites like the Delta, these rules are all reasonable, and in the interests of Egypt'. When accused of being no Egyptologist he waxed lyrical on his discoveries: the workmen's cemetery at Giza, the Valley of the Golden Mummies, the tomb of the Graeco-Roman governor of Bahriya, a 5,000-year-old tomb at Saqqara, new evidence of granite quarries in Aswan, and the ruins of a gigantic temple at Akhmim.

Anyone who has excavated in Egypt well knows that no discoveries could be announced without authorisation by Zahi Hawass, and woe betide anyone who violated the rules. Famously, in 2003, he banned British archaeologist Joann Fletcher from working in Egypt, denouncing her as 'nuts' when she announced, on a Discovery Channel documentary that she thought a previously-discovered mummy in the Valley of the Kings might be that of Nefertiti. Furious that he was not been given the opportunity to make the announcement himself, Hawass called it 'inconclusive, premature', and banned her from Egypt 'because she had broken the rules'. It has long been known that if one didn't want to incur his wrath, it was wise not to pre-empt him. He is known to have a terrible temper.

Preferential treatment has never won him kudos. I am reminded of the episode regarding Tutankhamun's mummy in the Valley of the Kings. In January 2005, he declared that it would be removed from the tomb for forensic examination in Cairo. Accused by high-ranking and respected compatriots on the Permanent Committee of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (including Abdel-Halim Nureddin and Gaballah Gaballah) of unscientific behaviour, and putting the mummy at risk, he changed his mind and decided that the examination would take place in situ. But in granting exclusive rights to a documentary team of the National Geographic, while excluding Egyptian photographers and journalists, he infuriated not a few.

In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly back in August 2005 (Issue 757) Hawass mentioned that he hoped, during his tenure, to be able to raise the living standards of Egyptian archaeologists, providing them with medical insurance, a syndicate, and allowing them to make a more active lead in archaeological work in their own land. He fell short of his promise, which is why there were demonstrations outside the SCA building on three occasions last month. He was targeted by concerned students and archaeologists demanding his resignation. His promise of 900 archaeology internships to a representative group did not do much to soothe their anger.

And angry too are archaeologists who claim that in not announcing the truth about the break-in in Cairo Museum last month, and declaring the objects safe, he allowed the thieves to make away with treasures which are probably already in some private collection abroad. And, in failing to tell the truth about the broken objects being restored he is until today keeping bad news at bay.

'He doesn't miss out on an excellent photo opportunity like the discovery of the statue of Akhenaten as an offering bearer by a young protester near the southern wall of the museum in Tahrir Square, but he opts out of telling the truth about the 11 missing shwepte figures,' said one disgruntled archaeologist who is pleased to hear that Hawass will not be part of the first post-revolutionary government.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday, 11 March 2011

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Latest from

Dear List Members,

We have the pleasure to present to you today the tomb of prince Montuherkhepeshef, which is in the Valley of the Kings and bear the number KV19. It amounts to an entry and a corridor, but the scenes which decorate it, although repetitive, are of a good pictorial quality.

Also, you probably know that confusion reigns in Egypt around the antiques.
Zahi Hawass is no longer Minister of the antiques, a ministry which also disappeared. Ignoring what the status of the Service of the Antiques is, since this one had been officially abolished at the time of the creation of the ministry. Following the protest of the Egyptians working in the domain of the antiques, these last are no longer under the dependence of the ministry of the tourism, but are managed directly by a department of the temporary government.
The situation is serious: the army, which protected the sites, retired. The police, who were to replace it, is not there, if it is present, is armed insufficiently to resist the real organised bands which currently attack the stores on many sites, of which one is Saqqara. You will find more details on the site.
Consequently, we invite you to sign the international petition to the Egyptian transient government concerning the urgent measures aimed at protecting the archaeological site. The petition is supported notably by the International Council of the Museums (ICOM) as well as the International Committee for the Egyptology (CIPEG).
The text is available for this on

Tombs of Egypt

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Internet in Egypt

I have been wanting to upload some videos and it is impossible. I am supposed to have a a 1GB line and normally it runs around 750MB which is fine. At the moment it is between 75-95 which is slightly slower than dialup!!! According to TEData its not their fault Argh!!

News & Events: "Technical Problem Occurred In One Of The Marine Cables

Dear Customers, Due to technical problem that occurred in one of the marine cables you may feel a slowness in internet services . We are working on minimizing the impact as much as possible but the download speed may vary from time to time or according to the used application. We apologize for any inconvenience that is out of our hands.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Preliminary Report Dra Abu el-Naga 2010 Field Season, by M. BetrĂ², P. Del Vesco, G. Miniaci

From EEF:

The 10th field season of the Archaeological Expedition at Dra Abu el-Naga, in the area of Theban Tomb 14 and the tomb MIDAN.05, has been carried out by the University of Pisa between November 11 and December 10, 2010.
The team, under the direction of Marilina BetrĂ², was composed by Gianluca Miniaci, Paolo Del Vesco, Federica Facchetti and the restorer Gianluca Buonomini. Some students and graduates of the University of Pisa also took part to this campaign: Giorgia Cafici, Paolo Marini, Maria Antonietta Ricci, Renata Schiavo, Elena Tiribilli and Silvia Zago. Researches on site could also profit of the scientific collaboration of Pierluigi De Rosa (Department of Civil and Enviromental Engineering – University of Perugia) for a thorough monitoring of the rock mass in the tombs investigated by the expedition and for some consolidation interventions.
The 2010 campaign brought many interesting results, among which the discovery of new wall paintings in MIDAN.05, and some new tombs and shafts previously unknown.

The complete pdf text of the Preliminary Report Dra Abu el-Naga 2010 may be found at:

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Something new in the Valley of Kings?

Lots and lots of interesting stuff from the University of Basel who are working in the Valley of Kings.

1. Clearing of the tombs KV 29 and KV 40 was started.
2. KV 29 and KV 40 were covered with an iron door.
3. Clearing of the chamber in KV 59.
4. Documenting of finds from earlier seasons.
5. New feature was discovered on the north side of KV 40.

I love the use of the word feature, they know it could be something or nothing none the less it will be their something or nothing. Well done them on finding their feature.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Egyptian Town Anxiously Awaits Tourists' Return

Radio interview and transcript on NPR

FLINTOFF: Jane Ashkar, originally from Britain, operates tours and a rental company called Flats in Luxor with her Egyptian husband. She says the major sites, the vast temples of Luxor and Karnak, the tombs and the Valley of the Kings were suddenly empty.

Ms. JANE ASHKAR (Flats in Luxor): Normally at this time of year, they get six to eight thousand a day. After Friday the 28th, they had 35. It was panic.

FLINTOFF: She says many lower-level staff at hotels and restaurants were laid off.

Ms. ASHKAR: Behind every one man you will see in a hotel, there will be a family of maybe 20 - you know, his mom, his dad, his brothers, his sisters, his kids, his wife - all relying on his salary and his tips for food.

FLINTOFF: Ashkar says she's been blogging about how safe Luxor is and the tourists are starting to come back.

PS They spelt my name wrong, my fault for having a peculiar name lol