Friday, May 29, 2009

The Boat Beneath the Pyramid

Nancy Jenkins
Holt, Rinehart and Winston
New York
ISBN 0-03-057061-1

This attractive book is filled with many images about pyramids of the Old Kingdom and the boat pits that accompany them including the subject of the book the boat found and restored by the genius of Ahmed Youssef Moustafa and now displayed in its museum next to the great pyramid at Giza built by King Khufu.

The book opens with a rundown of the pyramid age and its kings, the cleaning of the debris on the southern side of the great pyramid and the discovery in 1954 of the two boat pits there found. One can only be impressed by the sheer intimidation of the project of restoring the great ship and the amazing work done by Egyptian authorities including the antiquities authorities chief chemist the late Dr. Iskander and the credentials of the ships restorer Hag Moustafa.

The task of just excavating the boat from its pit must have been arduous enough the five times and ten years it took to finally figure out this ancient jigsaw puzzle was surely a pinnacle of accomplishments for the restorers and the antiquities service. Very interesting and previously unknown to me were the ten marks in inverted pyramids found on the south wall of the boat pit.

In the final chapters, the author talks about ships and ship building which of course includes a lot of interesting pictures of beautiful ships with the best pictures being of Khufu's ship during its excavation and after reconstruction. The author also discusses the concept of death in Pharaonic Egypt and the role of the gods and boats within the ancient religion.

The conclusion is uncertain with the exception that the boat is an immensely important object that needs to be properly cared for or the ship which survived for 45 centuries can easily be lost.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Farouk Hosni for Director General of UNESCO

Mr. Hosni has said amongst other things that he would personally burn all Israeli books in Egyptian libraries and as a result, he is an inappropriate choice to represent the preservation of world heritage which whether Mr. Hosni likes it or not includes Israeli heritage.

Contact UNESCO:

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Life and Times of Akhnaton

Arthur Weigall
Kennikat Press
Edition 1970
ISBN 0-8046-1102-5

This book originally published in 1910 was updated in 1922 by its author the late famous Egyptologist Arthur Weigall. The book opens with Mr. Weigall's 1922 preface in which he discusses the discovery of tomb 55 in the Valley of kings and the authors belief that the occupant found in the tomb was indeed the Pharaoh Akhnaton.

Mr. Weigall has a good argument of the identity of this mummy as he was the government inspector who oversaw the clearance of the contents of KV55. The author then goes on to a quick run down of the founding of the XVIII Dynasty leading up to Thutmosis IV and the introduction of the Aton in this reign.

From there the author moves on to an interesting examination of the art of the period and its connection with early dynastic styles as well as the influence of the young Kings Mother Queen Tiye over her son's early reign and the development of the religion of the Aton. As interesting as this is the suggestions of Mr. Weigall of the developments of the ensuing battle with the priesthood of Amen are from a highly enlightened man and reasonable.

The developments that were taking place during the kings 10th to 12 years of his reign including the great hymn to the Aton, as well as other accompanying hymns are made suitable for the decorating the tombs of the nobles and the prominent role played by Queen Nefertiti are discussed. Mr. Weigall's view of Akhnaton is that of a sickly gentle enlightened home body who completely in his pacifist ideals sacrificed his empire for his beliefs. The book culminates with the sad downfall of the visionary Pharaoh leading to his death.

In the last chapter, Mr. Weigall finishes his description of the events and the many opening and closings of tomb 55 in the Valley of kings. The authors view in this matter are some of a most fascinating read of the book.

The life and times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall was fascinating and recommend it for people who may or may not be interested in ancient Egypt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dr. Hawass has Nothing to Explain

Dr. Zahi Hawass explains himself over criticism that he has been receiving but to a degree, I still think Dr. Hawass probably is missing the point. As I am an avid reader and have read numerous articles and many of Dr. Hawass' books I can tell you the doctor does indeed give credit where due no issue there.

The fine doctor often refers to Egypt's colonial days where foreigners made all the discoveries while the native Egyptians did all the dirty work and rarely received the credit due. Victor Loret's days in the Valley of the Kings is an example of credit hogging. Still, all the same, Dr. Hawass should drop the foreign history of excavation it clearly bothers him and gets under the nails of those countries who paid for those discoveries.

The good doctor may also recognize that the retention of everything found is not a sign of good will and surely must inspire ill-will to the current state of Egyptology including the doctor who often comes across as president Mubarak's mini-me.

Perhaps Dr. Hawass should tone it down and not look for friends in the foreign press.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nefertiti Real or Fake

This is another article on the authenticity of the famous bust of Nefertiti in Berlin.,1518,625719,00.html

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Pyramid its Construction, Symbolism and Chronology

Basil Stewart
The Covenant Publishing Company, LTD.
Stanhope Press Limited
Great Britain

This short 55-page document is yet another in the theory of the great pyramid being a creation of divine inspiration. My copy is the third edition from 1931 written by Basil Stewart and a brief on his larger work "Witness of the Great Pyramid".

The author contends that the pyramid was never meant to be a tomb for a king but purely a bible in stone meant to enlighten mankind. The author is knowledgeable about Egyptian pyramids though unfortunately puts forward the idea that its message was particularly meant to be read by the British race whom Mr. Stewart puts forward as the closest race to the builders of the monument.

Again the theory that the measurement and astronomical alignments are telling a message of world history is put forward though I must say the measurement presented in one of the diagrams of the "Kings chamber" seems to show that history came to an end on August 20, 1953.

The Queens chamber in the pyramid is once again referred to as the Jews chamber because its shafts were covered over representing the blindness of the Jews who on judgment day would have their eyes opened to Christ the savior. As much as this offends me the author is not the only perpetrator of this idea it seemed to belong to the theory.

The last chapter talks of the pyramids missing capstone and its significance in the absence of the savior being the capstone of humanity. It is only explained at the end of the document that August 20, 1953, date represents the Armageddon and that 48 years later in 2001 Christ will reappear at the start of the newly cleansed earth.

I must have missed this event, that's bad but not as bad as the theory in this book and I would avoid reading this book if it were not already too late for me.

A Slump in Tourism

The economy is being blamed for a drop in tourism in Egypt however, I wonder if Egyptian officials attitudes towards its tourists may also be playing its part. I have many friends who love Pharaonic Egypt but who have no desire to visit the country.

Many western tourists may choose to spend their money in democracy's which Egypt is, of course, a dictatorship. Western tourists may also be uncomfortable supporting a regime where freedom of speech is not allowed and which journalists or bloggers can be jailed for publishing views which run contrary to the state line referred to as defaming the state or its president.

Egypt may have lots of ancient monuments but it also has an ugly side which many western tourists would probably rather not spend their hard earned money supporting.

CT Meresamun

This is an article on the recent CT scan of the coffin containing the mummy of Meresamun in the Oriental institute.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mysteries of the Great Pyramid

Dr. Hawass says that secrets of the pyramid will be revealed in July including perhaps King Khufu's burial chamber.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Miracle in Stone

Reverend Joseph A. Seiss
Porter Coates

This 137-year-old book is by Reverend Joseph A. Seiss pastor of The Church of the Holy Communion. The book is about the theory that the great pyramid at Giza is a holy book made in stone and that its measurements, volume including its astronomical alignments are divine measurements from god which will explain the natural world and the history and future of mankind.

The author talks about passages from the bible in relation to the elements of the pyramids architecture including a passage in the bible which tells about the cornerstone of god which the author convincingly equates to the capstone on the great pyramid.Though the analogies are somewhat of a stretch they are surprising in interest and not unreasonable and most comforting not preachy like.

The reverends theories concerning the Jewish people and the so-called queen's chamber are perhaps a little controversial but honest to the acceptance of a pastor of the late Victorian era though I found his theory of alignment of the pyramid and the queen's chamber with the city of Jerusalem to be a little confusing.

The author also talks about it being near the end of days with only a few inches left before judgment days, this was for me a bit of an eye-roller even though the author is very well read and quotes numerous other authors who have written about the great pyramid.

Towards the end of Reverend Seiss' third lecture, we find him relating Darwinism to the complex structure of the great pyramid and the idea that the predecessor of Victorian man closer to apes than himself could have built so complicated a structure as the great pyramid.

In the fourth lecture, the author presents and talks about testimonials both positive as well as negative with the most impressive pro testimonial from the late Scottish Astronomer Royal Piazzi Smyth the theories most vocal proponent. Reverend Seiss defends his argument admirably and with grace.

I realized from the start that in reality the author's point was already disproved but I ended up enjoying the book I found it interesting and thought worthy though I must say in the end the author trailed off into the end of days sermon. Luckily 132 years later we are still present enough for me to review the authors work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ani's Book of the Dead

This is a wonderful look at Ani's book of the dead illegally smuggle out of Egypt by Wallis Budge and presented here by Vassar college.

The Great Pyramid Shafts

The shafts that extend from the northern and southern walls of the Queens chamber have been found to have doors with copper bolts inside them. Perhaps behind one of these doors we will find a sarcophagus containing the missing mummy of Khufu's mother Hetepheres and the shaft will turn out to be a symbolic corridor leading to her burial chamber.

We know Khufu's sarcophagus had to be placed into the Kings chamber at the time of that chambers construction the same may be true for his mother who may be in a chamber just big enough to hold a sarcophagus within the masonry of the pyramid.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bad Blood

Here Dr. Hawass gets into the fake Nefertiti argument. Well the art historian has sure done a good job of getting attention for himself. Ignore the tasteless comments at the end of the article.

Friday, May 8, 2009

On the Return from Eton of Trinkets

The Myers Museum at Eton has done what is correct as would be expected from an institution of its standing

The issue is not with the correct actions of the Myers or any other institution in doing what is right but rather laws which take trivial objects and criminalizes the ownership of such. It is one thing to see antiquities in books or museums but quite another thrill to own and appreciate them.

It is true that important objects representative of a people's pride and achievement belong in museums but that much of what has been created in history would be better appreciated in the hands of the common people, as it is Mr. Webb and Davey have left a legacy of dubious nature and a hundred years earlier and Eton would not have a collection of antiquities.

In the end, prohibition does not work and objects forgotten in drawers do not teach.

Fake Amarna Queen

It is of course an assumption that the bust in Berlin is of Nefertiti there is no proof of that identity other than the shape of her crown. Now there are claims though I must admit a little far fetched that the bust was created early in the last century at the archaeological site at tel el Amarna.

Dr. H. must be having a good laugh!

Restoring Humanity

Here is the tale of a mummy being made ready for display including taking advantage of the moment to study it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Second Dynasty Tomb

The Illahun has turned up an intact tomb some 5000 years old, the article contains nice pictures of the find.

Nefertiti is a Fake

The famous bust of Nefertiti is believed to be a fake created at the 1912 dig site using ancient pigments.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Penns Mummies

The University of Pennsylvania has ct scanned some of its museums mummies including one with a mummified puppy at its feet.