Sunday, August 23, 2009

Isis or the Search for Egypt's Buried Past

Pierre Montet
Editions Ferni

This book by Pierre Montet starts with the early history of exploration of Egypt's monuments with no shortage of interesting details. The contribution of Auguste Mariette to the science of Egyptology is beautifully put forward with many details that I have rarely if ever heard before.

The book precedes with Mr. Mariette's successors in the field as well as the various other excavators that take over at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The impetuous for some of the earlier explorations was the desire of to find sites and events from the Bible.

With the death of Mariette so begins the generous era of Gaston Maspero and it is at this time the book then turns to individual sites beginning with Abu Roash and the discoveries made at them. The book is instead of being a history of Egypt is rather the most interesting history of excavations along the Nile and the objects found and questions raised by these discoveries.

The author handles the less heard of missions with great interest but also the famous finds with equal intelligence not to be repeating the same old lengthy stories of great discoveries told over and over again. Mr. Montet talks in some detail of the Legrain statue deposit at the seventh pylon at Karnak about details unknown to the present author. The third part of the book comes to a close with the resignation of Mr. Maspero in August of 1914.

Part four begins with the changes made after world war one to the division of finds with Cairo receiving all the find's unless the antiquities authorities deemed a piece unnecessary to the national collection. The head of Nefertiti in Berlin became a major part of this decision being made.

Soon Mr. Montet is onto the discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb in thankfully not too much detail and then the author is on to excavations outside of Egypt as well as in the desert regions.

The book was an interesting read though some of Mr. Montet's details are told differently by others but I might be the mistaken one. The famous story of the royal mummies arriving in Cairo and being taxed as salted fish is instead applied to the arrival of the mummy found in the pyramid of Merenre and delivered to Cairo in the months before the Deir el Bahari cache was discovered.

Isis was a good read certainly Pierre Montet was a fortunate excavator and a man who knew what he was talking about.

Friday, August 21, 2009

CT Scan for Iret-Net Hor-Irw

A 2500-year-old unwrapped mummy of priest from around 500 BC has had his turn under the CT scan.

Plans from the Supreme Council of Antiquities

The Supreme council of antiquities announces the results of restorations as well as future plans for development.

Saving Kings Tombs in the Valley

Certainly, the most important decorated tombs should be closed to protect the wall decorations but there must be a way of sealing off the painted burial chamber of Tutankhamen from tourists standing in the antechamber. Also, tombs who's decoration is badly damaged such as Merenptah and Siptah's tombs might be well suited as examples for tourist to tour to get an idea of scale and remaining decoration of a king's tomb.

The most important tombs should be reproduced for tourists to explore the replica tombs. The tombs of Thutmosis III, Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, Ramses I, Seti I, Ramses IV and Ramses VI should be closed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saving Tombs

Clearly the breath from thousands of tourists is damaging the painted walls of Egyptian tombs.

and here:

The Hyderabad Mummy

An Egyptian expert has recommended an air tight display case in an effort to preserve the deteriorating mummy in Hyderabad.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saving Abu Simbel

The saving and reconstruction of both Ramesses the greats temples at Abu Simbel required five years and $40 million. Begun on November 16, 1963, the first of the 1,041 blocks was moved on may 21, 1965, while the first block to be laid at the new site was set on January 4 of the following year.

Three weeks later engineers installed the four gods in the inner sanctuary of the temple placing beneath them a foundation deposit including among other things copies of the Koran, newspapers and some coins. On September 14, 1966, a highlight the reunification of the face with the rest of the body of the first of the three 67 foot statues of the great king, this one being the farthest to the left.

By the following fall, the baboons on the cornice of the great temple were once again in place after an absence of two years. The Aswan dam of the 1960's created a new lake and drowned the original sites of more than two dozen ancient monuments while completely drowning the Nile's less impressive architectural monuments such as a number of mud brick Middle Kingdom forts.

The dam with its twelve generators has created massive amounts of needed electricity as well as mitigating floods and droughts since its completion in 1970. As expected however more than forty years later the dam is silting up, these silts used to flow down the river to stabilize the coast of the Nile delta. Along with the silt came the nutrients which used to attract a now dying fishery on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

It may now be time to undue damages before they get worse but I know that's just crazy talk. Perhaps moving the Abu Simbel temples again to raise the damn still further higher is only as crazy as erecting the dam in the first place.

No simple solution

Friday, August 14, 2009

Akhenaten and Nefertiti

Cyril Aldred
The Brooklyn Museum
The Viking Press
SBN 670-11139-2

This 1973 book is by the late Egyptologist Cyril Aldred for the Brooklyn museums 150 year anniversary. Though I must say the late Mr. Aldred's last book I read was his 1968 "Akhenaten Pharaoh of Egypt" and was surely one of the classics of Egyptology so this book was almost certainly good but could it live up to Akhenaten.

The very knowledgeable Mr. Aldred clearly understood the art of the Amarna period with the subtleties of the period. The book opens with a description of the Amarna revolution and a historical outline of the period leading into the building program of King Akhenaten and his Queen Nefertiti.

Mr. Aldred than very helpfully discusses the periods of art within the revolution breaking the art of the reign into an early, middle and later phases. This first half of the book ends with an overview of the iconography and character of the art of the heretics reign.

The earlier mention of the phases of Amarna art into early, middle and late periods becomes extremely useful in the second half of the book, the catalog which has its objects presented in this order beginning with the art of the early revolution with its exaggerated style which softens as the reign progress'.

The catalog is truly one of the most remarkable of Amarna art I have seen ending with a number of shawabti from the royal tomb. Particularly interesting and beautiful are the talatats from the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the collection of Norbert Schimmel.

Another fantastic book by the great Cyril Aldred keeping in mind it is one thing to read a book and another to study it. This book is worth spending serious time looking at particularly if you wish to know about the art of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Red Madder

A discovery recently made at the wonderful Metropolitan Museum of Art of red dye making is 700 years older than previously shown.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Saving Highclere Castle

There are plenty of images showing the state of portions of the castle and of course a L12 million renovation.

KV57 Reopens

The announcement that the tomb of Pharaoh Horemheb in the Valley of the Kings has been reopened.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What Will Become of Us?

The Giza plateau is bearing reorganized and this article is on what will become of the beasts of burden shepherding tourists around the plateau.

Hyderabad's Mummy to be Restored

Efforts are being made to restore a mummy in the Hyderabad museum. The article says the mummy is Old Kingdom in date but it also says that it belonged to the period of Egypt,s sixth Pharaoh which to my knowledge there is no proof of mummification in the first two dynasties.

Chantress of Amun

So now it is Tahemaa's turn in the ct scanner. The 2500 year old mummy is that of a young women who lived at Thebes and was a chantress in the temple of Amun.