Friday, April 30, 2010

Dr. Hawass is Not a Terrorist

Here is another of Dr. Zahi Hawass' "Dig Days" though the dig here appears to be about english bureaucracy mistreating the fine doctor. Hey to Dr. Hawass bureaucracy sucks just ask the people of Qurna or those former residents in the way of the avenue of rams.

Dr. Hawass says "I think this means they treat all of us like suspected terrorists." There is that chip on his shoulders again and no doubt Dr. Hawass went into this embassy carrying it along with his exalted status as Egypt's vice minister of culture.

Disturbing is the use of a phrase like "all of us" coming from a man who fashions himself to be an ambassador for Egypt and its heritage. Certainly, Dr. Hawass should have acted better and shown more respect for the English Embassy and his position as a representative of Egypt.

Mummies in Miami

The Bass Museum of Art will unveil today two mummies today that will be exhibited in the museum. One of the mummies has long been in the museums basement while the other has been donated for the show.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Travelling Tut

Here is a quick interview with Dr. Zahi Hawass and expert Dr. David Silverman on the myth of the boy king.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs

Dr. Zahi Hawass
National Geographic Society
ISBN 978 -1-4262-0264-3

This fairly large volume was written as an accompanying text to the travelling show "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the great Pharaoh's" the volume has photographs from Sandro Vannini accompanying the text by several authors including a foreword by H. E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak and an introduction with a pretty standard outline of Egyptian history by Dr. Zahi Hawass. I did like the inclusion of the image of the possibly fake statue of Thutmosis III.

Various authors then basically repeat what Dr. Hawass explained except in more detail with David O'Connor writing about the Predynastic through the First Intermediate Period. The chronology of the period based on government, architecture, religion and society.

The book moves forward in chapter three with David Silverman's account of the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period which includes the changes in burial styles and the evolution of the role of kingship and of his portraiture. In chapter four "The golden age" author Betsy M. Bryan takes on the subject of the New Kingdom including the continued rise of militarism through the three dynasties and the role of women particularly royal women in the foundation of the XVIIIth dynasty.

The role of the increasingly wealthier courtiers and the middle class is examined as is statuary of the New Kingdom and its function. The author then goes on to the development of tombs including those in the Valley of kings, Saqqara and Deir el Medina.

In chapter five Dr. Hawass is back on the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb with some interesting tidbits but of course, it is a story repeated too much. In chapter six Donald Redford explains the Third Intermediate Period and the rise of the Late Period.

From the division of power between Thebes and Tanis in the Twenty-First Dynasty to the revival of old artistic styles by foreign admiring conquerors of dynasties of the late period. It is at this point we are presented with the first great picture in the book a two-page photograph in the tomb of Mentuemhat in the Assasif necropolis.

Soon the book turns to the objects in the exhibition starting in Gallery one representing pharaohs of the old and Middle Kingdoms, though the choice of the word "Pharaoh" is an inappropriate title for those kings. The Fourth Dynasty calcite statue of King Khafre is not terribly beautiful but an interesting and unusual choice.

Same can be said for the seated statue of the thirteenth dynasty King Sobekhotep it's unusual in its disunity of the composition. Gallery Two contains objects related to the pharaohs of the New Kingdom and later with the remarkable among this gallery of objects is the relief of Horemheb.

In Gallery III the examination is of pharaoh's family with a number of excellent objects including the inner coffin of Kings Wife Meritamun, wife of Amenhotep I. Also interesting is the statue of Nofret opposite Meritamun's coffin, of course the introduction of one of the canopic jars from KV 55 is up to debate on who is represented.

A nice pick is the statue of Benermerut and Princess Meritamun as being unusual and in the style of the famous Senenmut and Princess Neferure statues. So many of the effective choices in this exhibition are from the Karnak cachette and rarely seen.

In Gallery IV "The Pharaoh's Court" The block statue of Hetep is a winner but I must say that I love those block statues. The stelae of Any is a jewel that I cannot say I have seen before it's grim looking figures exalted in Any's glory.

The pharaoh's religion is the basis of gallery V with a stelae of Amenhotep I and his mother Ahmose- Nefertari. I also very much liked the front half a sphinx presenting an offering while the statue of Osiris in the gallery is very fine and stirs a certain sympathy and admiration from the viewer.

The gold of the pharaohs is presented in gallery VI with much of the material chosen for this gallery being very famous choices though the snake-headed amulet of Psusennes I is a little-seen piece. The description presented by Betsy Bryan of the Ahmose I funerary ewer presents a thoughtful direction for the ewer ending up in the burial of Psusennes I. I really liked the bits of jewelry of the kings wife Ahhotep particularly the odd elements of the surviving pieces.

In gallery VII we revisit Tutankhamun with objects from his tomb including a nice ivory senet board and a bunch of amulets and jewelry also very nice is the rather plain cartouche-shaped box and a lovely two-page photo of various shabti's from the boy king's tomb.

The book closes up with a nice roundup by Dr. Hawass of recent discoveries around the various archaeological sites in Egypt with some notes on the exhibition. Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs is solid reading material the objects chosen tell a terrific story as do Sandro Vannini's photographs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ptolemy III Coins

Nearly 400 Ptolemaic bronze coins have been found north of the Qarun lake in the Fayum oasis. The coins are dated to the reign of Ptolemy III and contain an image of Amun-Zues and are inscribed in Greek.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Egypt: 4000 Years of Art

Jaromir Malek
Phaidon Press Ltd.
ISBN 0 7148 4200 1

This 376-page book by Jaromir Malek is a substantial weight luckily for the reader not too large so that it can be read with little propping oneself into place. Egypt; 4000 years of Art opens with a nice introduction on the evolution of the arts of ancient Egypt.

The author makes really nice use of clear large pictures on virtually every page starting with a lovely Pre-Dynastic Naqada palette in the Ashmolean museum and Brooklyn's beautiful terracotta"bird woman" dated c.3400 BC. The objects chosen are a pretty standard fair of the most famous with a few harder to find objects such as the sower from the tomb chapel of Itet at Maidum and now in Manchester.

Jaromir Malek has made nice choices of objects though the provenance of his choices is almost completely omitted from the text. The authors choice of the broken off summit of an obelisk belonging to Hatshepsut at Karnak as a demonstration of ancient alteration was particularly interesting.

It is for me the lesser objects that make the connections between the famous and great pieces with Jaromir Malek's descriptions representing not only for the obvious appearance of the objects but the artistic value placed on it in ancient times and modern times. The wooden cosmetic container of a servant carrying a jar in the Liverpool museum an excellent example of a piece altered in modern times by a misguided former owners perception.

The author every once in a while introduces quaint and unusual details including about the leather funerary canopy of Esiemkhebi c.1040 BC. The presentation of the works presented in chronological order has been extremely helpful with Jaromir Malek writing an insightful study on the evolution of Egyptian art.

Egypt: 4000 Years of Art is designed and written in such a way that it is suitable for an enthusiastic 10 year old but sophisticated enough for readers of all ages.

Dr. Hawass' Wish list

Here is a video on Dr. Zahi Hawass talking about those five objects he desperately wants returned except he seems to have dropped his request for the Denderah zodiac and now it's Turin's turn to hand over their statue of Ramses II.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Here we have a coming exhibition at the Roemer-und Pelizaeus-museum Hildesheim

Couldn't resist sounds fun.

Fourteen Tombs

This is a video on the tombs recently found at the Bahariya oasis.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More on Toe

This article from Discovery points out that the toe was not stolen in 1907 but given away legitimately by the department of antiquities, Cairo to Professor Ronald Harrison of Liverpool University in 1968.

Off to the Land of Punt

Two ancient baboon mummies will be examined to see if samples from their hair will reveal the location in Africa from which they were collected. There is hope that the results will point to the ancient land of Punt where Hatshepsut and other kings of Egypt sent expeditions to bring back luxury goods including gold, perfume, incense and the baboons.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Hammamat Inscription ca 1990 bc

Year 2, second month of the first season, day 15, Nibtowere Mentuhotep living forever.

His majesty commanded to erect this stelea to his father Min, lord of the highlands in this august primeval mountain........ order that his ka may be satisfied and that the god his desire, as does a king who is upon the great throne, first in thrones: enduring in monuments, excellent god, lord of joy, mighty in fear, great in love, heir of Horus in his two lands, whom the divine Isis, Min and Mut, the great sorceress reared for the dominion of the two regions of Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nibtowere Mentuhotep IV, living like Re forever, he says;

My Majesty sent forth the hereditary prince, governor of the city and vizier, chief of works, favorite of the king, Amenemhet, with an army of 10 000 men from the southern nomes, and the.....of the Oxryrhyncus nome; to bring for me an august block of pure costly stone which is in the mountain, who's excellent things Min makes; for a sarcophagus, an eternal memorial, and for monuments in the temples of middle Egypt, according as a king of the two lands sends to bring for himself the desire of his heart, from the highlands of his father Min.

He made as his monument for his father Min of Koptos, lord of the highlands, head of the Troglodytes, in order that he might celebrate very many Sed Jubilees, living like Re forever.

Translation James Breasted

The First Wonder

First occurrence of Sed jubilee

Year 2 second month of the first season, day 3

This wonder which happened to his majesty : that the beasts of the highlands came down to him; there came a gazelle great with young, going with the face of the people before her, while her eyes looked backward; she did not turn back until she arrived at this august mountain, at this block, it still being in place, for this lid of this sarcophagus. She dropped her young upon it while the army of the king was looking. Then they cut off her neck before it and brought fire. It descended in safety.

Now, it was the majesty of this august god, lord of the highlands, who gave the offering to his son, Nibtowere, Mentuhotep IV, living forever, in order that his heart might be joyful, that he might live upon his throne forever and ever, that he might celebrate millions of Sed Jubilees.

The hereditary prince, count, governor of the city and vizier, chief of all nobles of judicial office, supervisor of everything in this whole land, the vizier Amenemhet

Translation James Breasted

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Tomb in Ismailia

Here Dr. Hawass describes a new tomb found in Ismailia containing a limestone sarcophagus and inscriptions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In the Oasis

The discovery of beautiful Roman mummies and related artifacts is explained here.

Blockyard at Luxor Temple

Interesting piece from Jane Akshar of a tour of the blockyard at Luxor temple.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mummies in the Bahariya Oasis

Mummies and artifacts have turned up in the Bahariya oasis during clearance work for the building of a youth center. The article has wonderful images of the good looking mummies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Radar Survey of the Sphinx

Dr. Hawass talks about recent discoveries at the famous statue.

Head of Amenhotep

This is a photo of the now famous head of Amenhotep III confiscated from a smuggling ring headed by Jonathan Tokeley Parry

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Egypt Holds Talks in International Repatriation

As part of the international publicity campaign to retrieve artifacts from museums around the world Egypt is set to host a conference on the subject, invited are thirty countries from around the world but apparently only sixteen can make it.

Included in all those invited countries is Italy who no doubt will be emptying Rome of it's obelisks to return to Egypt soon and Greece too demanding the return of the "Parthenon marbles" with nothing in return though the Greeks may wish to keep the marbles in their crates for the convenience of the next person who carts them away.

Missing from the list of guests is of course the powers in possession of said objects including Germany, France and maybe most important of all Great Britain. Dr. Hawass and his Greek counterpart hope that creating a big stink that they will shame the British museum out of the Rosetta stone, Elgin marbles and everything else they can get their hands on.

Attending countries :Bolivia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Iraq, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka and Syria.

One believes you hold these type of media events when you have no case in the world courts!

Police Break Up Pro Democracy Rally

Egyptian riot police have broken up an illegal pro democracy demonstration held to call for a change in the Egyptian constitution for running for president. The Egyptian constitution only allows the ruling party to pick a nominee for president.

There is a campaign to nominate the former head of the International Atomic Energy Commission and Nobel prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei as an independent candidate for president of Egypt. Recently the publisher of a book praising Mr ElBaradei had his offices raided by Egyptian police and was arrested while other supporters have been detained.

The eighty one year old president for life Hosni Mubarak appears to be interested in handing his presidency over to his son Gamal establishing the Mubarak dynasty. Protesters and even journalists have been beaten and dragged away from the protest in front of the Egyptian parliament.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tutankhamun's Funeral

Interesting exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tutankhamun's funeral made up of mostly objects found by Theodore Davis in Kv 54 in 1908. The Metropolitan has a nice online display of the highlights.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Philae Victory Stela

This is an article on the Philae victory stela which has been known for more than a hundred years however the trilingual inscription is poorly carved and difficult to read. A  recent study has shown that Roman Emperor Octavian is mentioned as a Pharaoh on the stela even though Octavian was never crowned Pharaoh.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Challenging the President

Mohamed ElBaradei is the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a recipient of the Nobel prize in 2005 and a potential challenger of Egyptian President for life Hosni Mubarak. Under Egyptian law only the ruling party can put forward a candidate and it has long been suspected that Mr. Mubarak wants his son Gamal to succeed him.

Mr. ElBaradei has many supporters of his independent candidacy including Ahmed Mihanna a publisher who recent published a book supporting Mr. ElBaradei. Mr. Mihanna's office was raided and his computer taken by the Egyptian police and Mr. Mihanna arrested.

Other supporters of Mr. ElBaradei have been briefly detained.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Gay "English Patient"

Laszlo Almasy was an explorer known by the Bedouin as "Father of the sand" who explored two million square kilometers of the Saharan desert mapping and making a number of discoveries including stone age painted dugouts. Hollywood loosely based the movie "The English Patient" on Almasy with his characters heart being broken by a women before he dies as a hero.

Love letters from the Nazi agent to a soldier named Hans as well as at least one prince show Laszlo Almasy was not interested in women. His 1942 "Operation Salam" was perhaps his most daring act when he smuggled Nazi agents into British occupied Egypt.

To do this Almasy revealed that he had a hiding place in the desert for the operations supplies, a hiding place that has recently been found by an Austrian expedition.

Avenue of Rams

This is another article on the fast paced excavation of the ancient avenue of rams with everything in its path being demolished for the peoples own good, that is according to the governor of Luxor. The evicted residents are being offered money or another flat for their demolished homes.

The precedents is not good for the residents of Luxor who need only to look at the people evicted from Gurna a couple of years ago many of who are less than happy and facing problems receiving water and electricity in their new government given homes.

There is also talk that the excavation of the avenue is turning up mostly battered and unrecognizable pieces of statuary (rams).