Sunday, February 28, 2010

Amenhotep's Head

A beautiful colossal head of Amenhotep III has been uncovered in the grounds of his mortuary temple.

Friday, February 26, 2010

WV 22?

I have noticed on a number of sites that one of the mummies recently studied by Dr. Hawass has been given the designation of WV 22. The mummy in question was found in the Valley of kings in KV 35 in a side chamber with an inscription identifying it as Amenhotep III, the king who owned the tomb in the valley marked WV 22.

By giving this mummy a designation of WV 22 implies that the mummy came from that tomb. Certainly we know the mummy was not removed from WV 22 in modern times. The mummy may well be Amenhotep III but to put the designation WV 22 on that mummy is an assumption based on insufficient evidence to my knowledge?

True the badly damaged mummy was inscribed as Amenhotep III but lying in a coffin trough for Ramses III with a lid for Seti II. It is also true that Amenhotep III and his queen Tiye enjoyed a long reign and as a result the kings tomb in the valley, WV 22 was more than likely finished and well provisioned with their funerary equipment, that is not proof the king or his queen or the mummy in question were ever buried in it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Avenue of Mice

This is a report critical of the restoration of the avenue of sphinxes by the Supreme council of antiquities. The avenue restoration has caused evictions of people living in homes on top of the avenue. The residents have been offered new homes built far out in the desert or an inadequate amount of money.

There are criticism's of the incredible rate at which the 2.7 kilometer avenue has been excavated in just three years including claims of bulldozers being used with several historic buildings having been destroyed. The aim of the project is part of a grand scheme by the SCA to turn the area into the worlds largest open air museum.

Only time will tell if Mickey mouse emerges from the rubble of the evicted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Pharaoh's Coffin?

Apparently Dr. Hawass said of this coffin that it belonged to a king of the twenty first dynasty though clearly this is not a coffin of a pharaoh and I have some doubt Dr. Hawass would have said that. The coffin was confiscated in Florida and is about to be returned to Egypt as having been stolen/smuggled.

One article says the coffin has a record that does not go back further than the 1970's while another article says it was removed in 1884. I do not know what to make but here it is anyway.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Like Old Times

This is Al Ahram's report on the DNA and CT scan analysis of the royal mummies pertaining to Tutankhamen.

Restoring the Avenue of Sphinxes

This article is from Dr. Zahi Hawass on the restoration ongoing along the ancient avenue of sphinxes that links Karnak temple with Luxor temple.

Naos of Amenemhet I

This is a nice short article from the Egyptian vice minister of culture Dr. Zahi Hawass on the history of a Naos at Karnak and the fragment of it which disappeared a century ago to be bought by the good people of the Metropolitan museum of art and returned to it's place back at Karnak.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

After Nefertiti

With the recent release of the data from the DNA and CT scanning of the eighteenth dynasty mummies in particular the mummies believed related to king Tutankhamen some new questions have been raised.

The results show that the Kv55 man found in a coffin bearing the titles of Akhenaten is a son of the Amenhotep III mummy and the mummy identified as Queen Tiye while the test results show the Kv35YL to be Tutankhamen's mother and sister to the Kv55 skeleton.

First must come the question of Akhenaten, a known son of Amenhotep III or Smenkhara a shadowy figure and never mentioned as a son of Amenhotep III. There are a number of similarities with Smenkhara's names that resemble Nefertiti's names including Neferneferuaten and there may never have been a male king named Smenkhara.

This may be backed up by statues found in Tutankhamen's tomb of a women wearing the white crown which may be among the equipment reused in the boy kings burial.

Three Women are known to be possibilities for Tut's mother these including Nefertiti, Kiya and Meritaten. Meritaten eldest daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti is probably ruled out as being too young to be Tut's mother though she is the only one of the three women to bear the title king's daughter. Nefertiti is never mentioned on the known surviving monuments as giving birth to a son and Kiya is believed to be foreign by birth.

Should the Kv55 mummy really be Akhenaten than the DNA results say Tutankamen's mother was also a full blood sister to the Kv55 skeleton.

The sisters of Akhenaten have never been thought of as part of the Amarna revolution but they are now candidates for an elevation to "kings mother". The known sisters of Akhenaten include Queen Sitamen, Queen Isis both of whom married their father Amenhotep III but neither has the known title of kings mother.

Three lesser sisters are also known including princess' Henut-Tenab and Nebetah both of whom possess title of "kings daughter". All four of these ladies has the potential to be the Kv35's younger lady and mother of the boy king. The last Princess Beketaten was more than likely too young to be Tutankhamen's mother

Jama Response

This is a fine breakdown of the recent Jama report in the search for Tutankhamen's family tree.

Dr. Hawass' Discovery

Here is a statement from Dr. Zahi Hawass on his recent discovery of the Amarna royal family.

Tutankhamen Unwrapped

This is an excellent set of Video's by Discovery on the tests that have been going on examining the royal mummies. Remarkable are the images of the two mummies from tomb Kv21 as well as the results which show much of the Amarna royal family has been found.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Son of the Sun

Rosicrucian Library
Volume XXV
Supreme Grand Lodge of A.M.O.R.C., Inc.
Printing and Publishing Department
San Jose, California

This 1946 book was originally published as "Son of the God" but by the 1956 second edition was renamed. The author was the very controversial Savitri Devi who equated to Hinduism to Nazism with Hitler having been the most recent reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

The book is on the life and reign of the eighteenth dynasty heretic pharaoh Akhenaton. From the start, I must say that this book has been difficult to get into even though the facts in the book are nicely presented but very outdated. I guess when your a 64-year-old book based on science there is bound to be those gaps of knowledge that came along later.

The author presents the pharaoh Akhenaton as a gentle loving soul of great vision, a true family man glorious, beneficent and sugar coated. This made me a little noxious with the potentially spoiled mentally ill tyrannical dictator being covered in a thick layer of literary butterscotch.

I was not enjoying this but I persevered in hopes it would turn around yet it did not and yes it was clear to me the author was well read though Ms. Devi had drifted off to her own garden of the Aton. There are times that I feel like I am drowning in the gush (adoration) being put forward by the author.

If you are the type who likes to spend Saturday night at home reading the bible than this might be for you but the theological language makes me feel like the author is trying to indoctrinate me into the cult of Aton. The author is obsessed by the vision of the beauty that was Akhenaton, she obviously never saw the colossal statues from the Gem Pa Aton which though powerful and intimidating are not beautiful nor is the guard road which surrounds the site of his capital Akhetaton.

I found the book to be more an interpretation of the religion of the Aton to suit the author's theology, a theology which for me is simplified and made to order. I could not get over my own feelings that the great visionary prophet of the Aton was no friend to the common people but an entitled king who protected his eccentricities by isolating his followers just as cult leaders do today.

The book ends with a chapter on the modern religions in a comparative exercise of theological fantasy ending with the Aton being in possession of the truth according to Ms. Devi. The author was clearly intelligent but all that knowledge did not make for an interesting read rather the king who the author was extolling became lost within the book's religious message.

Ms. Devi's desire to extol her own theology as that of Akhenaton made for a tediously long and tiring read and though I know that something here went over my head I could care less but to give praise to my own lord that I have finished this dull and unrewarding book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rescuing Medinet Habu

This is an article of the preservation of the monuments around Luxor from the rise of groundwater with particular interest in the Temple of Medinet Habu the mortuary temple of Rameses III.

The Tut Family Tree

The reports that both king Tutankhamen's mother and father have been found with the long speculated Kv 55 mummy being as expected to be his father but the real surprise is the finding that the younger lady from Kv 35 is likely his mother. There is a press conference taking place in Cairo today so I will keep posted,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Royal mummies

The news is filled with articles on the relations revealed through the DNA and other testing that has been done over the last couple of years on the eighteenth dynasty mummies. There are reports that Ankhesunamen(Tutankhamen's wife) has potentially been found to be one of the two badly damaged mummies from KV 21 in the valley of kings.

It is also being reported that the mummy thought of as Nefertiti or younger lady from KV35 has turned out to be king Tut's mother! Whether that makes her Nefertiti is another matter she may be Kiya.

All will be revealed tomorrow when a press conference at the Cairo museum will be held on the subject.

Royal DNA

Here is a light question and answer session with Dr. Zahi Hawass.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Plans for the future

This is a good report on the grandiose plans for the future of Egyptian sites and museums the gentleman makes no mention of the museum of the revolution (snore) but he does mention the museum of the Suez canal (double snore).

I am unaware if the 30 year fruition of the Nubia museum is considered good timing if so it will be some time before we see the more luxuriant of these projects while those lesser projects like the jewelry museum are pushed forward.

All these programs seem a little bit of overkill with a little less being more and no doubt a number of these museums will be duds if they ever get off the drawing board. You can have dozens of museums but I find it hard to believe that tourists will pay to see the same objects over and over again especially if they have already visited the Cairo museum or the Grand Egyptian museum or the Civilization museum.

The rest of the museums run the risk of being watered down versions or too provincial to be of any real interest to the general tourist who carries the ultimate purse. Building museums in an effort to educate the Egyptian population about their history is wonderful but looking upon such noble efforts in terms of a profit may be fooling oneself when faced with a museum doomed to be an unvisited subsidized institution.

Tut's Family

This is an announcement that there will be a press conference on Wednesday to announce the results of the tests on the royal mummies particularly with those related to king Tutankhamen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Avenue of Sphinx's

Here we have an article on the recent project to restore the avenue of sphinxes that spans the avenue between Karnak temple and Luxor temple.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Monastery of Saint Anthony

Dr. Zahi Hawass and the Supreme council of antiquities have just finished a multi million dollar restoration of the monastery of Saint Anthony. This is a report from Dr. Hawass on a program of restorations that have taken place in Egypt.

The Great Game

Interesting article on a new exhibition going on at the Ruhr museum in Essen, Germany called The great game: Archaeology and politics in the colonial period. The show deals with the controversy over the bust of Nefertiti found at Tell el Amarna in 1912 by Ludwig Borchardt.

I was unable to find anything about this on the Ruhr museums site.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pyramid Builders

Shemsu Sesen over at Em Hotep has recently published an article on the pyramid builders of the fourth dynasty and the settlement discovered by Dr Mark Lehner nearby that relates to the builders. In part one of a planned three parts Shemsu Sesen covers the question of slave builders in relation to the community found near the pyramids.

From the article I would guess he is on the money.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Play on Words

I felt the need to write a second article on the recent tightening of Egyptian law particularly on a couple of points.

Firstly people scrawling their name on a monument is a violation of our shared cultural heritage and nobody other than the vandal cares that you were there. Such childish vandalism should be treated harshly to discourage others from doing similar whether 6-12 months in an Egyptian prison and or a fine of LE150 000 (that's about $30 000) will be a deterrent is yet to be seen.

My second point is a gripe with technicalities being the distortion of the word "antiquity". I accept that the word "antiquity" may have a different content in the Arabic language( I doubt it though) however the dictionary description of an "antiquity" is "something before the middle ages" or a thousand years old approximately or more than.

The new Egyptian law refers to an antique as an antiquity, an antique being anything more than one hundred years old and that now those who inherit antiques must report them to the Supreme council of antiquities within six months as is true of anyone owning an antique.

This author here has a small library with a large number of the books being that more than one hundred years of age and that is what bothers me that there are probably many such home libraries in Egypt where the antique books now classified as "antiquities" need to be reported to the Supreme council of antiquities within 6 months.

A clever tool to use the SCA to potentially edit home libraries of books deemed undesirable or to remove from home libraries books designated as desirable on behalf of the government.

Remembering of course that the minister of culture is Farouk Hosni who is the boss of Dr. Zahi Hawass head of the SCA. The minister of culture Farouk Hosni is the very same man who stood up in the Egyptian parliament and proclaimed that he would burn in front of the parliament any Israeli books found in Egypt's national library.

Minister Hosni has in the past blamed western Zionists for his loss as the head of UNESCO and no doubt carries a grudge. Now I guess instead of burning books in the Egyptian parliament it will have to be done in some dark boiler room over at the SCA but no doubt those books are still on that list.

The new powers granted to the Supreme council of antiquities and its head over a play on words is almost certainly not a good thing to the preservation of Egypt's culture and as long as Farouk Hosni is the Egyptian minister of culture these questions will hang over his ministry and the Supreme council of antiquities.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Antiquities Laws Tightened

The Egyptian parliament has given in to most of the Culture ministries suggestions in tightening the antiquities laws to get rid of loop holes. Last week both the minister of culture as well as the vice minister threatened to resign if the proposed loosening of antiquity laws passed.

The current Egyptian law defines an antiquity as anything older including buildings and objects more than 100 years old and all human remains are considered antiquities. In the dictionary an antiquity is described as something before the middle ages so I guess that fits with a description of current Egyptian law.

Those Egyptians unfortunate enough to find an antiquity will now have six months to report it to the Supreme council of antiquities instead of the previous two years. Those Egyptians unfortunate enough to inherit their grandmothers antique tea urn will have to report it to the authorities as it is now known as an antiquity.

Using photographs of archaeological sites or artifacts for commercial purposes without the permission of the Supreme council of antiquities is forbidden. The penalties for anyone caught , smuggling, possessing or inheriting without state permission will be fined with the fines being doubled.

Those caught writing their name on a monument will also receive severe punishment including six to twelve months in an Egyptian prison including perhaps a fine of LE150 000.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Little Help from Friends

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.

A new exhibition of photographs from 1960's and 1970's tells the story of the rescue of the two temples and the help given by Italian experts.

The Restoration of St. Anthony's Monastery

The eight year restoration of the 1600 year old Christian monastery St. Anthony's has recently been completed. The restorations to the monastery have been extensive including a tower, two churches and the monks quarters.

The monastery was founded by St. Anthony who lived in isolation in a cave and when he died his followers built the monastery. The timing on the completion of the job is good as it may hopefully bring a measure of calm and tolerance in lite of the recent religious based murders on the eve of Coptic Christmas.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cave of Giza

Well this subject is still alive and worth pursuit if only to prove that what Andrew Collins saw was a tomb of the late period "NC2" and not a cave. Certainly whatever Mr. Collins and his team discovered on their visit in march of 2008 has inspired Dr. Zahi Hawass to investigate further.

Dr. Hawass is pursuing the excavation of "NC2" to show that it is a tomb and what may be discovered about the history of the site. The doctor said "there are no natural caves at the site, simply a pharaonic tomb later reused as catacombs".

Sales of Mr. Collins new book "Beneath the Pyramids" are probably not hurting with this attention.

Egyptology in the Near Future

Dr Zahi Hawass is announcing that there will be a number of new discoveries revealed in the next few months including discoveries at Saqqara. He also says he has also granted permission for a robot to enter the great pyramid to explore the shafts.

Dr. Hawass is set to reveal his interpretation of the results of the CT scanning of the royal mummies including Tutankhamun and mummies supposedly related to him. The doctor in this article seems assured that he has located the mummy of Akhenaten, no doubt the kv55 remains which are almost certainly closely related to the boy king.

Finally Dr. Hawass talks about the upcoming conference involving 30 countries on the subject of repatriation of antiquities to countries of origin. participate countries include Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, China, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Korea, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.

Absent from that conference is Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, United States, Canada and Switzerland making the conference questionable even before it starts, and yes those objects which Dr. Hawass covets most received mention again!

Avenue of Sphinxes

Here Dr. Hawass announces the return of the piece of the red granite naos to its rightful place joined back to the naos of Amenemhet I at Karnak. The fine doctor also reviews the newly restored avenue of sphinxes linking Karnak with Luxor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sarcophagus in Tomb 31

Kate from the Valley of Kings is reporting the possible find of a sarcophagus in valley of kings tomb kv31.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tomb of Sa-Iset

Here is a short article from Dr. Hawass on his recent opening of the stone sarcophagus of the middle kingdom vizier Sa-Iset.