Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Real Nefertiti

A scan of the famous and hotly disputed bust of Nefertiti in the Altes Museum has revealed what appears to be the famous queen without her makeup on.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lost Civilization Beneath Lake Nasser

Fifty years after the high dam was built and the monuments were removed to higher ground the loss was to the many people who's ancestral homes were drowned beneath lake Nasser.


The Treasures of Tutankhamun and the Egyptian Museum of Cairo

Alessia Amenta
White Star publishers
ISBN 88-544-0068-8

This large but not huge volume is filled with wonderful photographs by Araldo De Luca with its text by Alessia Amenta. The book is not very in depth but rather a light look at the artifacts from ancient Egypt's main Pharaonic periods.

Each period is preceded with a description of that period and followed by artifacts, often famous with their individual descriptions. Famous indeed but I still found a couple of the objects that were unknown to me.

Despite the books name the objects belonging to the boy-king make up a nice selection without over dominating the book. The section on the royal mummies, of course, is represented by the usual kings so not much there.

The content of this book and the masterpieces chosen made for a morning read certainly an appropriate volume for readers young and old and those who have only a few minutes to glance at the pages. Short and Sweet!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Valley of the Kings: The Tombs and the Funerary Temples of Thebes West

Kent Weeks
VMB Publishers
ISBN: 978-88-540-0976-9

This book edited by Kent R. Weeks and with photographs by Araldo De Luca has 14 contributors who represent a who's who of Egyptology so much is expected from it. Right from the start, the first problem I have with the book is its mammoth size and weight making it difficult to read.

The book is filled with many beautiful images and informative schematics making the book easy to understand unfortunately by now you will have to adjust your reading position before the book crushes you under its weight.

After a chapter on the history of the exploration of Thebes and it's necropolis' the book heads into the "Temples of millions of years". These temples were built during ancient Egypt's New Kingdom as mortuary temples for the Pharaoh's of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasty's.

The images that accompany the text are excellent and the information on some of the most important New Kingdom temples of millions of years is incredibly interesting and filled with lots of detail about these structures.

The chapter by Erik Hornung on funerary literature in the Valley of the Kings was excellent, unfortunately, however, the subject is so complicated that the chapter could have used the help of many more images.

The book next goes on to describe the individual Pharaoh's tombs in the valley but sadly the tombs of Thutmosis I, Hatshepsut, Thutmosis IV, Amenhotep III and the lesser Rammeside pharaoh's are not included in this section. Certainly, the tombs included were, for the most part, interesting particularly the under published tomb of Ramses II though with the plethora of books on King Tutankhamun's tomb I could have done without it, nothing new there.

The book next and interesting enough goes on to tombs in the Valley of the Queen's with a nice look at Nefertari's beautiful monument but no other queen's tomb. How I wish they had done tomb 51 that of Queen Isis mentioned in ancient tomb robbing papyrus' but instead, the book goes into brief descriptions of two princely tombs in the valley and that was it, hardly worth the mention of the queen's valley.

Next, it is on to the tombs of the nobles which are certainly interesting and well presented with much new information on a number of well-known tombs and of course the beautiful pictures by Mr. De Luca. All in all this book was a good read especially if you like an upper body workout at the same time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The University of Chicago magazine has an excellent interactive piece on the mummy of Meresamun. Outstanding!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hierakonpolis Interactive Dig Report

Here the huge hole in the wall of the fort is being filled to prevent the collapse of the wall.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Coffin Crime

Something about this article seems a little messed up but I would bet it is the 1884 date and that the article has merit.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hatshepsut's Perfume

A perfume bottle said to have been found in the female pharaoh's funerary possessions still contains residue which will be tested to be recreated.



This excellent video shows the Djehuty tomb including a schematic of the Hatshepsut era tomb where gold jewelry was recently found.


Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple

This is an ongoing project of creating 3d images of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple.


Kv 63 Update

There is a nice picture of the now restored funerary bed found in some of the jars found in the tomb and a name has appeared on one of the coffins.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hatshepsut Ruler of the Golden Age

This article from National Geographic is on the great female pharaoh Hatshepsut who ruled during the pharaonic age at the end of the 16th century BC. The article comes with a great slide show.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Smell Like an Egyptian

An article on recreating the scents used by the ancient Egyptians.


Ancient Lives: The Story of Pharaohs Tombmakers

John Romer
Michael O'Mara Books Limited
ISBN 1-85479-927-4

This book is written from the thousands of unique documents that survive from the ancient community of Deir El Medinah, the builders of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The story is crafted to reveal a community of privilege who's members are at once orderly and human highly respected and high spirited.

The documents used to tell their lives bring surprising sharp images of the people and their mastery of their craft creating tombs for pharaohs and their courts. A literate class who's confined lives were not always easy but are well expressed by Mr. Romer.

The tensions within the closely confined community are expected and an opposing party tells of a robbery occurring in the tomb of the pharaoh Seti II with objects stolen and a drunken worker even sitting on the sarcophagus of the king during burial while the king's mummy lay within. Vicious accusations from one family to another in order to gain prestige away from another within the confines of their small community

Ultimately the tomb builders fates lay with the kings who courts left the holy city of Thebes and the powerful priests of Amun to move farther away in the delta, the workers finding themselves beholden to the interests a much wider bureaucracy while a series of short reigning kings gradually lost interest and forgot the royal tomb builders.

By the last of the Rammeside pharaohs, a succession of weak kings and crop failures cause in a short period for the society of the holy city and the sacred necropolis' to be robbed of their valuable furnishings. The tomb builders become the tomb robbers till the inhabitants are no longer safe or being fed in their isolated village and the people move away and the tomb builders families and descendants simply vanish from recorded history.

This is one of those books where I found myself saying wow, again and again, it takes a few chapters to get into the complexities of the village life and its inhabitants but once in the reader becomes hooked the book becomes hard to put down.

Truly "Ancient lives" is John Romer's masterpiece and one of the finest compositions I have read in years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ptolemaic I guess

Here another article on the supposed remains of Cleopatra's sister.


Princess Arsinoe

What are believed to be the skeletal remains of Cleopatra's sister have been found in Turkey and may lead to the discovery of Cleopatra's genetic heritage. A little Greek a little Egyptian and a little African.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Land of Plagues

The Egyptian government is looking to pass harsher laws to stop the smuggling of antiquities these laws will only serve to keep in prisons people for many years at the expense of the well-being of the monuments.

In Dr. Zahi Hawass' book "The Valley of the Golden Mummies" Dr. Hawass tells about a theft of artifacts that took place in 1976 and that 24 years later those responsible were still in prison.

Those foreign institutions who pay to restore Egypt's monuments should not forget that Egypt cannot afford to pay for the restoration because it is too busy paying to keep people in prison without a second chance for decades. Now people like Dr. Hawass want to make the laws even more severe.

Foreigners and Egyptians alike should remember Egypt is a dictatorship and people are not objects! Apparently, the forgiveness in the Koran does not apply to Egypt.

The land of the plagues.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


A second burial chamber has been found in the tomb of Djehuty at Dra Abu el-Naga, the chamber is rare because it is painted and comes from the time of King Hatshepsut.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sail Like an Egyptian

The writer of this article acts surprised that ancient boats actually work, of course they work!


Valley of the Golden Mummies

Zahi Hawass
Harry N. Abrams. INC.
New York
ISBN 0-8109-3942-8

This large and picturesque book is by the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass. The author opens his book with a record of his accomplishments and quickly show the stern showman has a sense of humor though I am glad his career as a diplomat was put on a back shelf.

The good doctor gives credit where it is due for the discovery of the Valley of the Golden Mummies that belonging to a guard and a donkey at the temple of Alexander the great in the Bahariya Oasis. The Valley of Golden Mummies is loaded with pictures which makes the read easy to understand and follow giving the book a much wider appeal to readers young and old.

The subject of the book is a Greco-Roman cemetery filled with beautifully gilded mummies I found especially touching the mummy of the boy found in tomb 54 and the mummy called the bride. The author puts the Bahariya oasis into a modern perspective which includes the welfare of its inhabitants.

I would have enjoyed more pictures of mummies in the mummification chapter which was nearly void of images of the chapter's subject. Dr. Hawass leaves the golden mummies relatively early in the book and spends the rest of the book talking about the region's monuments and Egypt's Gods.

The Valley of Golden Mummies was an entertaining read though I would have preferred more on the books title subject it was still worth a read with lots of information on some of Egypt's lesser known monuments.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Conversations with Mummies

Rosalie David and Rick Archbold
Harper Collins Publishers
The Madison Press Limited
New York
ISBN: 0-688-17143-5

This books authors include the Eminent Dr. Rosalie David of the Manchester Museum and its Manchester Museum Mummy Project and Rick Archbold.

The book opens with the autopsy of mummy 1770 on the BBC in 1975 the mummy turned out to be controversial and to this day is used by some to suggest an error in carbon 14 dating. The book moves on to a short biography of the brilliant Dr. David and her mummy project.

Manchester's Egyptian collection can not be mentioned without a mention of the intact Middle Kingdom tomb of the two brothers and their unwrapping by Margaret Murray early in the last century. The two authors relate stories of different mummy autopsies in the United states, Canada and England including the use of CT scanners.

Among the many mummies studied comes the beautiful Djedmaatasankh from the Royal Ontario Museum who is cocooned in a beautiful case that comes from Egypt's 22nd Dynasty and cannot be opened without damaging the work of art.

The book moves on to the work being done on diseases in ancient and modern Egyptian populations with the help of the Manchester mummy tissue bank, a collection of Egyptian mummy tissue from as many as possible mummies in the world outside of Egypt. These samples are being used to track the evolution of diseases including malaria and Schistosomiasis.

The book was an excellent read and the science being done will no doubt advance our knowledge of the well-being of those ancient, modern and future lives. The contents are by no means a romantic read but if you like mummies and science this one is for you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Cult of Isisnofret

The recent discovery of the Nobel women's tomb has some speculating that she may be the granddaughter of the Pharaoh Ramses the great of Egypt's 19th dynasty.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Amenhotep III Statues

I know the last time we reported statues found of this King we never did see the statue and then it became confusing. However this time we have pictures and the two statues found here look like nice ones.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Tomb of Isisnofret

The discovery includes a badly damaged limestone sarcophagus and three human mummies and funerary equipment.

The Lost Tomb of Amenhotep

Here is a video on the rediscovered monument.


Underwater Alexandria

Underwater buildings are a bad idea and this museum will almost certainly turn into a money pit.


Temple of Mut

Here we have an update from the Brooklyn museums temple of Mut blog.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Textiles from KV63

Here is a short but quite interesting report on a textile found in the tomb.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Tomb of Amenhotep

Archaeologists have rediscovered this tomb belonging to an official of Thutmosis III which was originally discovered in 1880.


The Unwanted Road

A video on the approach of Cairo on the Giza necropolis.