Monday, November 30, 2009

Cleopatra comes to America

Here a short article on a new exhibition coming to Philadelphia at the Franklin Institute on Cleopatra including some artifacts raised from the bay at Alexandria as well as from the excavations being carried out at the temple of Taposiris Magna where some believe the legendary Cleopatra's tomb may be.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cambyses Lost

Excellent article on the lost army of Cambyses and the twin brothers who are making the recent claims.

Dr. Hawass on Tutankhamen

Here is the second in a series of four videos by Dr. Hawass on king Tut. There are a couple of nice excavation photographs included.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Conserving Monuments

Here Dr. Hawass talks about conservation of monuments in particularly the step pyramid and the serapeum. Dr. Hawass also mentions an unexplored shaft on the east side of the step pyramid that will be excavated.

The fine doctor also briefly discusses climate change on the monuments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Mummies Heart

Here is an article and short video on mummies in particular heart disease in mummies and analysis on the mummy of a 4 year old.

A Fine Centennial

This is a fine article on the centennial of the display of two Egyptian mummies at the Albany Institute of History and Art including comments by Peter Lacovara senior curator of Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern art at Emory University.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hammurabi on the Nile

A broken mud seal has recently been found at tell Al-Dabaa which dates to the reign of the Mesopotamian ruler Hammurabi.

Brooklyn Museum

This article on a show at the Brooklyn museum has a nice slide show.

News From Thebes

This article from Al Ahram is a roundup of work completed around Thebes which include the restoration of Carter house and the new entrance to the Karnak temple.

Talking Mummies

Studies conducted on 22 mummies kept in the Cairo museum has revealed heart disease in many of the mummies including the 16th century bc mummy of the Lady Rai found in the kings cache of DB320.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Cemetery for Thutmosis and Amenhotep

My intentions in writing this article is only meant as an interpretation of the royal necropolis with a number of the tombs mentioned we will probably never know anything about. It appears the early kings of dynasty 18 used the new cemetery to keep their most important courtiers buried close to their king.

These courtier tombs may have inspired little respect from succeeding kings and their courts as the importance of the valley of kings grew. Many of these earlier courtiers may have been removed from the valley and placed into tombs in the other Theban cemeteries even before the dynasty had ended.

The famous biography in the tomb of Ineni says's he was responsible for creating the tomb of Tutmosis I "no one seeing and no one hearing". Archaeologists have long looked and speculated on the where abouts of this tomb.

There are two tombs which bore sarcophagus's for this king, the first a small poorly cut tomb in the valley of king's tomb (KV 38) has been shown to be a reburial of the king during the reign of his grandson Thutmosis III.

The second a joint tomb with his daughter Hatshepsut (kv20) seems more likely to be Ineni's work however with all the activities by Hatshepsut's workers in the tomb. Would you just push the king and his coffins aside so the workers could continue finishing the tomb for the female king,

I would doubt this but might actually place the original burial in the nearby neighbouring tomb known today as KV 60. The year is 1492 bc the short reign of Tutmosis I is over and the founder of his dynasty is perhaps placed into the tomb his architect Ineni had created in an unused wadi.

So begins the history of what would become one of the most famous royal necropolis's in the world. The valley of kings. The tomb carved by Ineni's workers (kv60) would seem like a less than grand start to the new royal necropolis perhaps inspiring his daughter to create a grander monument for herself and her father.

Hatshepsut's valley tomb (KV 20) is a wonky corkscrew tomb that is hardly little more than an extremely long cave free from the mathematics of engineering but also flawed by the lowest chambers being carved in unstable shale.

The next known pharaohs tomb in the valley is that of Tutmosis III and his family representing a renaissance for the tomb builders. The layouts of tombs 33,34, 38 and 42 present the viewer with ever refining geometry while the reburial of Tutmosis I, tomb 38 appears to be the earliest of the group.

We find in tomb 34's cartouche shaped burial chamber the first truly beautiful room in the valley with its pink decoration the Imyduat inscribed on its walls scrolled out like a giant roll of papyrus surrounding the kings quartzite sarcophagus regarded as one of the most beautiful of its kind in Egyptian history.

A deep carved well was the first in the valley and an exclusive to future kings tombs.

Tomb 42 was started for Thutmosis III's great royal wife Hatshepsut Meryet Re though not on the scale of her husbands tomb it's mathematics is just that more precise. The tomb also like 34 and 38 has a cartouche shaped burial chamber, an exclusive to this kings family.

Nearby tombs numbered 26 and 37 are small unrefined cuttings which may belong to this series of tombs as do probably cuttings 33 by location and F by a foundation deposit.

From the crude reburial of Thutmosis I to the more refined tombs of Thutmosis III and his queen a true renaissance had occurred bringing forth the golden age of the Necropolis.

Starting in the reign of Thutmosis's son Amenhotep II the cartouche shaped burial chamber is abandoned and replaced with a six pillared hall with lower crypt. The well has been retained as has the decoration of the Imyduat scroll in the burial chamber.

The geometrics of the tomb are well executed and the tombs fine preservation make this perhaps the finest surviving tomb of an eighteenth dynasty king.

Near to this kings tomb is another numbered 48, in this crude cutting was found the broken mummy of Amenhotep's vizier Amenimopet. Surrounding the viziers tomb are three small tombs which when found contained animal mummies which may have been pets or sacred to Amenhotep II.

The enigmatic tomb 12 may have been started as a family tomb for this king. A lesser queen of Amenhotep's named Tiaa and mother of his heir Thutmosis IV was probably buried in a modest unfinished tomb numbered 32.

When discovered in 1899 valley tomb number 36 still contained much of its eighteenth dynasty burial equipment including the well preserved mummy of its owner. Maihirpre who bore the titles" Child of the nursery and fan bearer on the right of the king" died young probably in his early twenties. A vase from the tomb stylisticly loosely places the date of burial at Amenhotep II or Thutmosis IV.

Thutmosis IV"s tomb mirrors his father only on a larger scale and missing the Imyduat scroll in the burial chamber. In the nearby finely carved tomb 21 there are two now torn apart female mummies who may have belonged to this court.

Tombs numbered 27, 28 and 45 (Userhat) all contained ceramics datable to this reign or Thutmosis' successor Amenhotep III. By location tomb 44 may also belong to this series.

There are two securely dated tombs in the valley for the reign of Amenhotep III including his beautiful tomb 22 in the west valley. The tombs plans follow his predecessors tombs but much more finely painted and with the addition of two extra burial suites for two of his wives.

Sadly vandalism and salt leeching into the walls have left the decoration of the tomb in poor condition, of the 24 sides of the six pillars in the burial chamber only one remains undamaged.
When discovered in 1905 tomb 46 held the sumptuous burial of Yuya and Thuya, the parents and of Amenhotep's Great royal wife Tiye.

Their undecorated tomb unusually for the valley is entered by two staircases and a corridor as opposed to a simple shaft. The cutting today known as "A" contained goods bearing this kings name. Tomb 55 also contained objects for this king and his queenTiye.

The nearby location of tomb 62 may also belong to this group. Tomb 25 may well have been started for Amenhotep IV but his revolution left the valley for the royal tomb atAkhetaten. With the return to the valley after the Amarna period, tomb 55 may have been used for the reburial of Akhenaten, Smenkare and possibly Queen Tiye.

It has been suggested that Smenkare may have been buried in the tomb across the path known today as number 62. With king Tutankhamen's return to the valley for his burial, tomb 23 may have been started for him. With the unexpected death of Tutankhamen his tomb and much of his furnishings may not have been finished.

His elderly successor Aye may have appropriated the kings tomb and unfinished funerary furniture for his own death a couple of years later. Looking at the burial of Smenkare king Aye may have ordered it opened and the offending pharaoh removed to the unwanted storeroom (55) across the path. If Akhenaten was in tomb 55 at this point he may have been removed and the heretics burial rifled leaving Smenkare with the rubbish.

The remodeling of Smenkare's burial for king Tut would require Smenkare's name to be removed from the various objects in the tomb. When found by Howard Carter the tomb contained about half the jewellery the boxes said was originally in the tomb.

This has long been thought of as the work of tomb robbers but might actually represent the number of pieces of jewellery who's inscriptions could not be altered and thus were removed from the new kings burial.

Whatever is going on a further cutting in the valley numbered 54 was filled with king Tut's mummification residue. Almost certainly the shaft tomb 63 was sealed by the time king Tutankhamun was buried.

Four years later the old king Aye was buried in the west valley in tomb now known as 23. Tombs 58 and 24 may well belong to this group.

The location of tomb 49 suggests that it belongs to the next king Horemheb's time and may have been a storeroom while the kings tomb was being built. As the last king of Egypt's glorious eighteenth dynasty his tomb kv57 made a number of innovations including the first fully cut kings tomb on a straight axis in the valley.

Though his reign was long enough to have finished his tomb it remains for the most part only partially decorated. Horemheb's tomb is the first in the valley to posses passages from "The book of gates".

There are probably countless interpretations of the valley of kings and in particularly to the family of kings and courtiers whom were laid to rest there at the beginning of the New kingdom.

The Pharaoh's Tomb

Perhaps the most visited tomb in the world the tomb of Tutankhamen in the valley of kings is by no means a grand affair compared to those of the other Pharaoh's buried in the valley.

The tomb is to be conserved and there is the idea of closing the tomb replacing it with a replica for tourists to visit.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whats up at Egypt's Ministry of Culture?

Since 1987 the ministry of culture has been headed by an abstract painter Farouk Hosny who recently had been a candidate to the job of UNESCO director general. A job he lost most likely over remarks he made in 2008 in the Egyptian parliament where he threatened "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt".

This threat of book burning though had a precedent as in 2001 the minister ordered the burning of 3 homoerotic books by 8th century Arab poet Abu Nuwas with some 6000 books being removed from Egypt's libraries and destroyed.

However Minister Hosny blamed the UNESCO loss on "Zionist pressures" and a conspiracy of "a group of the world's Jews who had a major influence in the elections". There is a sense that Mr. Hosny's term as Minister of culture may soon be over with Mr. Hosny's replacement right on his tail .

Recently Egypt's President for life, Hosni Mubarak rescued Dr. Zahi Hawass from retirement as the Secretary general of the Supreme council of antiquities by giving Dr. Hawass the job of vice minister of culture. Dr. Hawass has a tough reputation of a man not afraid to scrap and a strong determination to the preservation of Egyptian history.

Unfortunately Dr Hawass also displays certain amounts of arrogance and even before he has started at his new job the doctor has created a scandal by describing music star Beyonce as “She’s a stupid person and she doesn’t understand a thing and she doesn’t want to understand. She’s coming here to take pictures and that’s it”.

Not a great introduction to his new position!

Dr. Hawass' website remains silent for now on the issue but no doubt an apology is owed for his insult. Dr. Hawass' anger may have been justified but his words in public were unprofessional and beneath his years of wisdom.

With his well known reputation of his love of book burning which pasture Mr. Hosny gets pushed into remains for now unknown. Unfortunately over at Egypt's Ministry of culture the culture officials are appearing to be hot headed cookie cutter men.

A future minister (say:Zahi Hawass) hopefully will be remembered for more than his insult of Beyonce and not for burning books.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hawass vs Stupid

It should be apparent the meeting between Dr Zahi Hawass and singer Beyonce was not a pleasant day at the pyramids. Dr. Hawass would have done himself a favour if he had gone about his business and left after a half hour instead he waited 2 hours.

Beyonce came across as spoiled, out of touch and perhaps not even interested which caused Dr. Hawass to say “She’s a stupid person and she doesn’t understand a thing and she doesn’t want to understand. She’s coming here to take pictures and that’s it”.

Unfortunately Dr. Hawass has a habit of dishing out such insults to people in Arabic when he thinks the person he's insulting cannot understand him.

At this point Beyonce is the clear winner leaving Dr. Hawass looking stupid!

1. For waiting two hours to get his picture taken with Beyonce!

2. For publicly slandering Beyonce when he should have been ignoring her!

3. For using his native tongue to hide his words!

This has been a trivial unfortunate episode lets hope the doctor gets some rest and comes back less cranky. To Dr. Hawass' credit he did give Beyonce one of his giant books which would make anyone sore and cranky holding it for two hours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So Long Cambyses

Here a release from Dr. Hawass concerning reports on the finding of Cambyses lost army.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

King Tut's Tomb

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute are set for a five year cleaning of the tomb of Tutankhamen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Tomb of Aper-el

This article is a roundup of recent writings of Dr. Hawass on the subject of the vizier and a number of Hebrew biblical personages including Moses and Joseph.

Cambyses Lost Army

The Persian King Cambyses was a colourful character with quite a temper but how much is reality and how much is mythology has long been the question. Archaeologists have long searched for his 50 000 strong army which vanished in a sandstorm in 525 bc.

Archaeologists believe they have located the remains of the lost army yielding hundreds of bones and Achaemenid weapons and jewelry.

Excellent video from discovery:

Thebe's Lost Tombs

This excellent four minute video about the "lost" tombs of Thebes has some interesting images of some of the better preserved tombs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Underwater Excavation by Zahi

Here is a nice video on excavating the Nile, unfortunately, the obelisks of Amenemhet III, which were lost in the Nile on their journey to the national collection more than 100 years ago have not been found!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Never Ending Nefertiti

I recently purchased an old book and found inside a 50 year old postcard from Luxor with a picture of none other than the Berlin Nefertiti and wow here I am writing yet another piece on her.

The controversy level on this bust is through the roof and doubtless there is another more scandalous object in the world. I guess the more comment the merrier and in its new glass home I hope the powers that be will chill out.

Berlin really markets the heck out of the bust and the controversy to the detriment of the rest of its Egyptian collection which remains lost in a whirlwind of Nefertiti.

Berlin's new Egyptian museum is impressive but one wonders what the point is in having the rest of the collection, certainly they make something nice to look at when your on your way too and fro Nefertiti.

Berlin has many wonderful artifacts it could be better marketing which are completely overshadowed by the (stolen bust?), though I have said many times the Egyptian official did not do his job when he gave this bust to Berlin.

Still the bust because of this discrepancy should be in the Egyptian National collection with fair compensation to Berlin. Today is a turning point hopefully for the museum and the collection the new director Frederica Seyfried will start with a fresh attitude and have more to say other than Nefertiti!