Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kings & Queens: Queen Cleopatra Start & End

Cleopatra's family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C. The stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra's tragic life inspired a number of books. The era began when Alexander's general, Ptolemy, took over as ruler of Egypt, becoming King Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. Over the next three centuries, his descendants would follow in his path. At its height, Ptolemaic Egypt was one of the world's great powers.
Around this same time, the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey was consuming Rome. Pompey eventually sought refuge in Egypt, but on orders by Ptolemy, was killed.
In pursuit of his rival, Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt, where he met and eventually fell in love with Cleopatra. In Caesar, Cleopatra now had access to enough military muscle to dethrone her brother and solidify her grip on Egypt as sole ruler. Following Caesar's defeat of Ptolemy's forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar restored Cleopatra to the throne. Soon after, Ptolemy XIII fled and drowned in the Nile. 

In 47 B.C. Cleopatra bore Caesar a son, whom she named Caesarion. However, Caesar never acknowledged the boy was his offspring, and historical debate continues over whether he was indeed his father.

Just like Caesar before him, Antony was embroiled in a battle over Rome's control. His rival was Caesar's own great-nephew, Gaius Octavius,Cleopatra had her own motivations, as well. In exchange for her help, she sought the return of Egypt's eastern empire, which included large areas of Lebanon and Syria. 

In the year 34 B.C., Antony returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria with a triumphant flair. Crowds swarmed to the Gymnasium to catch a glimpse of the couple seated on golden thrones that were elevated on silver platforms. Beside them sat their children. Antony antagonized his rival by declaring Caesarion as Caesar’s real son and legal heir, rather than Octavian, whom the revered Roman leader had adopted. Octavian, however, fought back, declaring he’d seized Antony’s will, and told the Roman people that Antony had turned over Roman possessions to Cleopatra and that there were plans to make Alexandria the Roman capital. 

In the year 31 B.C., Cleopatra and Antony combined armies to try to defeat Octavian in a raging sea battle at Actium, on Greece’s west coast. The clash, however, proved to be a costly defeat for the Egyptians, forcing Antony and Cleopatra to flee back to Egypt. 

Antony soon returned to the battlefield, where he was falsely informed that Cleopatra had died. Upon hearing the news, the despondent Roman leader committed suicide by stabbing himself. Cleopatra followed her lover’s demise by ending her life as well by being bitten by an Egyptian cobra. She died on August 12, 30 B.C. The two were buried together, as they had wished, and Egypt 
became a province of the Roman Empire.

Cleopatr's tomb:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Discovery, Aswan: Four mummies found in Aswan after attempted robbery

Aswan Tourism and Antiquities Investigation department was able to find four mummies and other archaeological articrafts dating back to the Roman and Greek eras in a mountainous area west of the Nile in Aswan.

The treasures were found after a group of thieves tried to steal them.

The other articrafts also include two stone pieces with Pharaonic inscriptions, also dating back to the same period, in addition to some wooden vessels.

The prosecution ordered that the findings be handed to Aswan antiquities department and to prepare a report about their archaeological value.

Authorities are in search for the thieves who attempted to steal the articrafts.

NEWS: Penalties imposed on two amateur German archaeologists

Egypt's ministry of antiquities has decided to impose penalties on two German amateur archaeologists who stole samples of King Khufu's cartouche from a small compartment above his burial chamber in the great pyramid.
During a meeting Sunday, the Permanent Committee of the Ministry of the State of Antiquities (MSA) condemned such action and described it as a great violation of Egypt's ancient heritage, and the great pyramid in particular - the only surviving monument of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Section at the MSA, Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, told Ahram Online that the committee has prohibited any archaeological cooperation between the MSA and Dresden University, who supported the work of the German archaeologists, as well as the scientific laboratory where the stolen and smuggled samples were analysed.
The findings of both archaeologists have been rejected, as they were carried out by amateurs not expert archaeologists, Maqsoud asserted.
The results cast doubt on the construction date of the great pyramid and consequently the pharaoh for which it was built. The results suggest that the pyramid was built in an era proceeding Khufu's reign.
"This is totally false and nonsensical," said Ahmed Saeed, professor of ancient Egyptian civilisation at Cairo University. He explains that accurate scientific research dates the cartouche within an era after the reign of Khufu.
He elaborates on the writing of the king's name in graffiti, maintaining it could have been written by the pyramid builders after construction, which might also explain why the king's short name and not his official title is inscribed. Alternatively, he suggests the cartouche could have been written during the Middle Kingdom era, due to the style of writing used.
MSA minister Mohamed Ibrahim referred the case against the two Germans to the prosecutor-general for further investigation, alleging that both amateur archaeologists had broken Egyptian law by entering the pyramid and taking the samples without permission from the MSA. They also smuggled the samples out of the country, in breach of international law and the UNESCO convention.
Ibrahim further requested that the Egyptian police and Interpol put the names of both German archaeologists on the airport watch-list.
The German embassy in Cairo responded to the incident in a press release, denouncing the actions of their two citizens and stating that the researchers are not affiliated with the embassy or the German Archaeological Institute, nor do they represent any official mission from Germany to Egypt.
Source: Ahram Online By Nevein el aref 

3D Egypt Collection (Vol. 02): The Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Ancient Port of Alexandria by Ancientvine

3D Egypt Collection 
"The Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Ancient Port of Alexandria by Ancientvine"

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Alexandria: The Sunken City

1,200 years ago the ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion disappeared beneath the Mediterranean. Founded around 8th century BC, well before the foundation of Alexandria in 331 BC, it is believed Heracleion served as the obligatory port of entry to Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world.

Prior to its discovery in 2000 by archaeologist Franck Goddio and the IEASM (European Institute for Underwater Archaeology), no race of Thonis-Heracleion had been found (the city was known to the Greeks as Thonis). Its name was almost razed from the memory of mankind, only preserved in ancient classic texts and rare inscriptions found on land by archaeologists.With his unique survey-based approach utilising sophisticated technical equipment, Franck Goddio and his team from the IEASM were able to locate, map and excavate parts of the city of Thonis-Heracleion, which lies 6.5 kilometres off today’s coastline about 150 feet underwater. The city is located within an overall research area of 11 by 15 kilometres in the western part of Aboukir Bay.
Findings to date include:
- The remains of more than 64 ships buried in the thick clay and sand that covers the sea bed
- Gold coins and weights made from bronze and stone
- Giant 16-ft statues along with hundreds of smaller statues of minor gods
- Slabs of stone inscribed in both ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian
- Dozens of small limestone sarcophagi believed to have once contained mummified animals

- Over 700 ancient anchors for ships 
Research suggests that the site was affected by geological and cataclysmic phenomena. The slow movement of subsidence of the soil affected this part of the south-eastern basin of the Mediterranean. The rise in sea level also contributed significantly to the submergence of the land. The IEASM made geological observations that brought these phenomena to light by discovering seismic effects in the underlying geology.
Analysis of the site also suggests liquefaction of the soil. These localized phenomena can be triggered by the action of great pressure on soil with a high clay and water content. The pressure from large buildings, combined with an overload of weight due to an unusually high flood or a tidal wave, can dramatically compress the soil and force the expulsion of water contained within the structure of the clay. The clay quickly loses volume, which creates sudden subsidence. An earthquake can also cause such a phenomenon. These factors, whether occurring together or independently, may have caused significant destruction and explain the submergence of Thonis-Heracleion.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

See Egypt (8): Al Salamlek Palace, Alexandria

Al Salamlek Palace
The Royal Family Residence
King Farouk

NEWS: Egypt plans ambitious renovation for Cairo museum

Organizers said they want to return the dusty 111-year-old museum to its former glory by painting the walls and covering the floors in their original colors and patterns.

The lighting and security systems also will be upgraded to meet international standards, Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said, announcing the plan during a news conference in the museum's leafy courtyard. The displays also will be rearranged, although he did not give details about how.

One of the museum's most famous exhibits, King Tutankhamun's treasures, will be moved to a new Grand Egyptian museum that is being built near the Giza pyramids. It is scheduled to be completed in 2015. 

Along with the overall tourist industry, the museum has suffered in large part due to its location near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests and frequent clashes since the start of the 2011 revolution that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Violence spiked again after the 3 July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
But the interim government that has assumed power is struggling to regain control of the streets and bring back the visitors who long made Egypt a top tourist spot.

"From Tahrir, on a Friday, we are sending a positive message to the entire world: Egypt is doing well," Ibrahim said on the anniversary of the museum's inauguration in 1902.

Ibrahim also said his ministry planned to demolish the blackened former headquarters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, which was burned during the anti-Mubarak uprising and stands between the museum and the River Nile, to create a botanical garden and an open-air museum. He said part of the new exposition area could be dedicated to the country's popular uprisings.

The minister declined to give an exact figure for the cost of the project, but said it would likely be at least $4.3 million.

Source: Ahram Online 
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Official website for the Egyptian Museum Click Here 

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NEW DISCOVERY: New findings at Tuthmosis III Mortuary temple, Akhnaton was found too!

According to Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Antiquities, the Egyptian-Spanish mission working in the site of Tuthmosis III mortuary temple on the West Bank of Luxor, found the lower parts of two black granite statues.

One of the discovered parts of the statues found bears an inscription of King Tuthmosis III name. The parts were found inside a mud brick structure in the northern part of the temple.

The mission also found parts of limestone doors of one of the temple buildings with texts and cavernous/sunken inscriptions of two cartouches of Tuthmosis III.

Dr. Mohamed Abd El Maqsoud, Head of the Ancient Egypt department, pointed out that the scenes and inscriptions carved very neatly and with maximum accuracy which is common for art in the middle of the 18th Dynasty. He also said that one of these doors has an inscription of the High Priest “Khonsu”, beside the discovery of a group of royal seals of Akhnaton and Ramses II.

Dr. Abd El Maqsoud referred that finding the name or Ramses II and Priest Khonsu confirms that a part of the temple was used till the time of Ramses II and Akhnaton seals shows that it was used for religious rituals in the beginning of King Akhnaton’s reign.

The site is under the management of the Academy of Fine arts of Seville, Spain. More about the mission Click here

Tuthmosis III(died 1426 ) Egyptian king of the 18th dynasty (r. 14791426 ), often regarded as the greatest pharaoh of ancient Egypt. He ascended the throne around the age of 10, but his aunt, Hatshepsut, ruled first as his regent and then in her own right for the next 20 years. On her death he began military campaigns to reestablish Egyptian supremacy in Syria and Palestine. Later he attacked and defeated the kingdom of Mitanni, a powerful Mesopotamian rival of Egypt. He subdued the Nubian tribes to the south and employed them in the gold mines that became the basis of Egypt's wealth. He consolidated his victories with more campaigns and established a system whereby native rulers would pay yearly tribute to Egypt and send their heirs as hostages to Egypt, where they would be educated at court. At home he enlarged the temple of Amon at Karnak. His mummy was discovered in 1889 and his mortuary temple in 1962.


Mummfication Museum lecture -Tuthmosis III funerary temple by Jane Ashkar 

New discoveries in Luxor in 2012 & 2013:

Source: Luxor times 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NEW DISCOVERY: 2 New Kingdom statues & 5 Crown heads discovered at Montu temple in Armant, Luxor

The Minister of Antiquities announced the discovery of two Ramasside statues in Armant temple by the mission of IFAO and University of Montpellier.

The first statue is limestone and of a temple scribe called Imen- Hep. The other one is diorite rock of a high priest.
According to Ali El Asfar, Vice director of the Ancient Egyptian antiquities department.
The first statue is 69cm height, 48cm width showing the high priest in a worshipping position on his knees carrying an offering table holding two Falcon heads representing God Montu.

The second statue is 92 cm height and 62 cm width shows the scribe sitting and between his hands, on his lap, a sarcophagus and niche which has a statue of God Montu inside holding an Ankh. The sides of the niche show different scenes of one of the family members of the statue owner.
The sides of the statue show a repeated scene of a woman holding ritual tools. 
Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim also announced the discovery of 5 royal statues' heads in Armant temple, about 25 km south of Luxor.
The limestone heads were discovered today have the crowns of Lower & Upper Egypt.
According to the Minister, the heads are probably dated back to Middle Kingdom. Each of them measures 50 cm height.

Dr. Mohamed Abd El Maqsoud (Director of the Ancient Egyptian department) said that Egyptology are working on studying the heads, trying to determine if they belong to any headless statues which were found in the past years. Hoping this will help to identify the statues owners.

Source: Luxor Times 1 & 2 

BACK HOME: Egypt recovers 90 stolen antiquities from Israel

Israel has returned a collection of stolen antiquities to Egypt after they were found on sale at an auction hall in Jerusalem.

The antiquities ministry said the collection contains 90 ancient Egyptian artifacts, including clay vessels, vases, ushabti figurines and stelae.

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online on Saturday the auction hall was exhibiting 110 artifacts but only 90 were recovered by the Israeli authorities. The remaining 20 were sold.

The minister said Egypt had asked the Israeli authorities to take legal procedures against the auctioneers and to trace the sold objects. They are willing to do this, he added.

Ali Ahmed, director-general of the Repatriation of Antiquities Department at the ministry, said the objects were first noticed during a routine internet search of international auction halls.

The recovery process began in September when Ibrahim sent an urgent letter to the foreign ministry asking them to act in collaboration with the Egyptian embassy in Jerusalem to stop the sale of 110 artefacts at the Eweda auction hall in Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities discovered the objects were stolen and had been illegally smuggled out of Egypt when the owner of the auction hall was unable to prove his ownership of the objects.
Source: Ahram online by Nevien el Aref 
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NEWS: Egyptian government deploys armed guards at remote temple sites

The Ministry of State for Antiquities has started to provide security in remote archaeological areas which were left without guards after the 2011 revolution.

Ten ministry security guards at the Wadi Al-Sebua temple area on Lake Nasser, south of Aswan, were armed with guns on Friday, in order to tighten security measures at the remote site. Antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the step was important for preventing further looting attempts.

He denied reports that the Wadi Al-Sebua area had been recently subjected to looting, saying that only electricity cables and lamps used to illuminate the site at night had been stolen. Wadi Al-Sebua, or the Valley of the Lions, is the name given to a Nubian temple built by King Ramses II at the end of his reign (1279 -1213BC).

It was one of the temples that was dismantled and removed from its site in the 1960s to make way for the reservoir that would accompany the Aswan High Dam. The temple took its name from an avenue of sphinxes that decorates its entrance.

The temple originally consisted of a set of three pylons, but only two survive. The first, which led to the avenue of sphinxes, is no longer there, but the second, which leads into a forecourt decorated by statues of Ramses II and the third, which leads to a second courtyard supported by columns decorated by images of Ramses as Osiris, are still extant.

The hypostyle hall and inner sanctuary that follow these courtyards were carved into the bedrock.

Source: Ahram Online By Nevien El Aref 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NEWS: Stolen Ancient Egyptian shrine recovered

Tourism and Antiquities Police have recovered a stolen limestone naos (shrine) hidden inside a residential home in Mit-Rahina town in Al-Badrasheen city, south of Cairo.
Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry's archaeological committee had confirmed the naos is authentic and dates from the Old Kingdom.
It includes four statues of persons fixed on four bases engraved with hieroglyphic verses from The Pyramid Texts. The first statue is 16 cm tall and depicts a standing figure wearing a black wig. The second is 19.2 cm tall and features a person wearing a coloured wig, while the third statue is 9.2 cm in height and may be of a child wearing a coloured wig. On his chest is engraved line of hieroglyphics. The fourth statue is 16.4 cm tall and depicts a person with a black wig.
Aly El-Asfar, deputy head of the Ancient Egyptian department at the ministry, said the statues could be of the same person different during stages of life. The naos is now under investigation to discover its original location and whether it was dug illegally.
The possessor of the naos is now being held in custody and is being investigated, he said.
Mit Rahina archaeological site was subjected to looting in 2011 due to the lack of security in the aftermath of January 2011 revolution.
Mit-Rahina, historically known as Memphis, was the capital of Ancient Egypt for over eight consecutive dynasties during the Old Kingdom.
The city reached its peak during the 6th Dynasty, becoming the epicentre of worship of Ptah, the Egyptian god of creation and artworks.
With the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, Memphis briefly declined after the 18th Dynasty, becoming the second largest Egyptian city until 641 CE, before it was eventually abandoned, becoming a stone quarry for the surrounding settlements.
Memphis now houses the ruins of Ancient Egyptian, Ptolemaic as well as Graeco-Roman temples and chapels.
More Pictures about Memphis CLICK HERE

More about Memphis visit
Source: Ahram Online by Nevien el Aref 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Alexandria Attractions: Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. 

The library was conceived and opened either during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (323–283 BC) or during the reign of his son Ptolemy II(283–246 BC). As a symbol of the wealth and power of Egypt, it employed many scribes to borrow books from around the known world, copy them, and return them. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls, and though it is unknown how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, their combined value was incalculable. 

According to the earliest source of information, the pseudepi graphic Letter of Aristeas composed between Bc180 and 145 BC, the library was initially organized by Demetrius of Phaleron, a student of Aristotle, under the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (c.367 BC—c.283 BC). Other sources claim it was instead created under the reign of his son Ptolemy II (283–246 BC). The Library was built in the Brucheion (Royal Quarter) in the style of Aristotle's Lyceum, adjacent to and in service of the Museum (a Greek Temple or "House of Muses", whence the term "museum").    

The Library at Alexandria was in charge of collecting the entire world's knowledge, and most of the staff was occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper. It did so through an aggressive and well-funded royal mandate involving trips to the book fairs of Rhodes and Athens. According to Galen, any books found on ships that came into port were taken to the library, and were listed as "books of the ships". Official scribes then copied these writings; the originals were kept in the library, and the copies delivered to the owners. Other than collecting works from the past, the library served as home to a host of international scholars, well-patronized by the Ptolemaic dynasty with travel, lodging, and stipends for their whole families.

According to Galen, Ptolemy III requested permission from the Athenians to borrow the original scripts of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, for which the Athenians demanded the enormous amount of fifteen talents (450 kg) of a precious metal as guarantee. Ptolemy III happily paid the fee but kept the original scripts for the library. This story may also be construed erroneously to show the power of Alexandria over Athens during the Ptolemaic dynasty. This detail is due to the fact that Alexandria was a man-made bidirectional port between the mainland and the Pharos island, welcoming trade from the East and West, and soon found itself to be an international hub for trade, the leading producer of papyrus and, soon enough, books.

The famous burning of the Library of Alexandria, including the incalculable loss of ancient works, has become a symbol of the irretrievable loss of public knowledge. Although there is a mythology of "the burning of the Library at Alexandria", the library may have suffered several fires or acts of destruction of varying degrees over many years. Ancient and modern sources identify several possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

During Caesar's Civil War, Julius Caesar was besieged at Alexandria in 48 BC. Many ancient sources describe Caesar setting fire to his own ships and state that this fire spread to the library, destroying it.
In 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated near the site of the ancient library, intended as a commemoration and emulation of the Royal Library of Alexandria.  
Source: Wikipedia 

** Official website for Bibliotheca Alexandria 

  • More pictures for the modern Bibliotheca Alexandria Click here 

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