Sunday, November 30, 2014

News, Luxor: Work under way on restoration of Amenhotep III statues

Amenhotep III statue [Credit: kairoinfo4u/Flickr]

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CAIRO: Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty Saturday inspected the restoration project to reassemble the two 3,400-year-old colossal statues of Amenhotep which once flanked the northern entrance of the Pharaoh’s temple in the west bank of Luxor, according to Abdel-Hakim Karar, director of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department, Sunday.

“The statues were first discovered in 1933. In February 2013, they were rediscovered submerged in irrigation water in a farm next to the Pharaoh’s mortuary temple in Kom El Hettan, west of Luxor, before the Egyptian-European mission tasked with excavation work at the temple started the process of moving the two statues to start the restoration,” said Karar.

The 14 meter-high colossi, which represent the Pharaoh standing on four-meter pedestals, are made of limestone and show him wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

According to Karar, the temple, along with several statues and pillars, was badly damaged by a severe earthquake in 27 B.C. The restoration work, which featured rejoining more than 20 blocks to the statues, is based on carvings found on the back of one of the statues showing how they looked when erected.

“The statues had lain in pieces for centuries in the fields, damaged by destructive forces of nature like earthquakes, and later by irrigation water, salt, encroachment and vandalism. This beautiful temple still has enough for us to study and conserve,” Horig Sourouzian, head of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project (CMATCP), was quoted as saying by The International Business Times.

When restored, the statues will join the famous Colossi of Memnon, two other seated statues of Amenhotep III flanking the northern entrance of the temple.

“The temple is 10 times bigger than other mortuary temples in the west bank. It used to be 700,100 meters. All its walls have been destroyed, but whatever was inside is still there. Our job is to save the temple that was once prestigious, but unfortunately was very badly damaged. I believe within 20 years, we will have achieved our objectives here,” Sourouzian said in a video at

Amenhotep III, the ninth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, ruled Egypt from 1386 B.C. to 1349 B.C. and his reign is believed to have marked the political and cultural zenith of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa
Related Post:
Two new Amenhotep III statues were unveiled in Egypt 
New Discovery, Luxor: Amenhotep III head unearthed at Armant Temple 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Treasures Abroad, UK: 2 Ancient Islamic lanterns surface in London

Lighting Unit - Masjid of Sultan Hassan
CAIRO: Two Islamic Lanterns dating from the Mamluk era (1250-1517) and reportedly stolen from the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) were accidentally monitored by a London-based Egyptian archaeologist during an attempt to sell them to an antique collector.

In a phone call with ON TV Tuesday, Doris Abouseif, former emeritus Professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies said that two months ago an antiquities collector, who was planning to buy Islamic antiquities from a dealer, sent her photos of four Islamic-style lanterns in order to check their authenticity before the deal was finalized.

“By viewing the lanterns, I realized that at least two of the lanterns are authentic and registered in the catalogue of the Egyptian Museum of Islamic Art (MIA),” said Abouseif, who currently lives in London.

In 1930, a Belgian archaeologist created a catalogue comprising photos and detailed background of most artifacts that were on display at the MIA, said Abouseif, adding that she has a copy of the catalogue and it shows two of the four lanterns. One of them belonged to Sultan Hassan (1330-1365) while the other belonged to Sultan Barquq (1382–1399), according to Abouseif.

“Later, I contacted officials at the MIA who confirmed the authenticity of two of the lanterns but said they have deposited them to the NMEC in 2007 and that they are currently in the museum’s storerooms,” said Abouseif, who added that the antiquity collector decided not to buy the lanterns after he realized they were authentic.

“I was shocked when I saw pieces of art like this for sale. Thus, I decided to inform all the stakeholders in London including auction houses, archaeologists, trade antiquities and museum curators and warned them against buying the lanterns,” Abouseif added.

She contacted several stakeholders in Egypt including archaeologists, activists and officials at the NMEC who, after viewing the photos, said the two lanterns are still at the museum’s storerooms.

“They said the lanterns, currently put for sale in London, are fake,” said Abouseif.

“I am quite sure they are original. I have seen the original ones and I can confirm the photos I saw are identical to the originals,” said Abouseif, who added that she urged officials at the Antiquities Ministry to double-check the storerooms.

Two weeks ago, officials at the ministry said they would create a committee of specialists to examine the lanterns at the NMEC’s storerooms and submit a report to the ministry regarding the issue within a week, according to Abouseif.

Egypt’s political turmoil since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and its consequent security lapse left the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to looting. In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking the smuggled artifacts inside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, many items remain unaccounted for.

Egypt has recovered more than 135 ancient artifacts that were to be sold in an auction houses in several countries, according to a statement released by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities in October.
Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa

Back Home: Egypt will retrieve 239 Artifacts from France in the next few days

A collection of 302 artifacts were smuggled to France after illicit digs. After they were seized by the French authorities, the Louvre museum experts examined them and validated the authenticity of 239 artefacts which France is returning them back to Egypt in the next few days.

Minister of Antiquties, Dr. Mamdouh El Damaty said that the ministry of antiquities claimed back also the other 63 objects which the French experts decided they were not genuine. 

Ali Ahmed, Director of the Repatriated Antiquities department, said “The artefacts are dated to different era of Ancient Egyptian civilization. They include; coloured wooden statues of sailors which were a part of a funerary boat model, a limestone tablet showing a scene of offering to Isis and Osiris as well as a number of amulets, Ushabtis, pottery and stone vessels beside Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins.

More Posts about Back Home Antiquities 
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Friday, November 28, 2014

News, Red Sea: 380 Italian tour operators visit Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada

CAIRO: An Italian delegation of 380 tour operators visited the Red Sea resort of Sahl Hasheesh to inspect the tourist attractions and potentials in Egypt’s unchartered travel destination, Deputy Tourism Minister for Marketing Affairs Sameh Saad told The Cairo Post Thursday.

“The Red Sea coast and Sahl Hasheesh in particular, represents a key touristic destination for Italian travelers who have a great passion for diving and exploring the underwater and marine life,” said Saad.

Located 18 km south of Hurghada resort with 12 kilometers of sandy beach front, the Sahl Hasheesh resort community on the Red Sea Coast covers 43 sq acres and is bordered by the chain of the Red Sea hills on the west.
Gabriele Burgio, Chairman of the Italy-based Alpitour said in a short time, Sahl Hasheesh notably became a key tourist destination for Italian travelers, Al-Ahram reported Thursday. Burgio hailed the efforts of the Egyptian Tourism Ministry in supporting the Italian tour operators through flexible travel packages at reasonable prices.

Increased German tourism cooperation follows a German government decision in July that lifted its previous travel ban to the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.  In July, Italy, along with 15 other European countries, eased its travel bans over the resorts on the coastline of the Red Sea; an action helped in increasing the number of European tourist visiting Egypt.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with a delegation of 15 top European tour operators Monday to discuss ways to work more closely with the Egyptian authorities and other stakeholders to successfully increase the number of holidaymakers to 2010 tourism levels.

In 2010, which witnessed highest numbers of tourists to Egypt on record, 14.7 million tourists visited the country while in 2013, which was the worst since the January 25 Revolution, only 9.5 million holidaymakers came, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.) Europe accounts for 72 percent of annual incoming tourism to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.
 Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New Discovery, Luxor: Limestone bust of Tuthmosis III discovered at Armant

CAIRO: A limestone head of the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479B.C. –1425B.C.), has been unearthed at the temple of God Montu at Armant, south of Luxor, according to a statement on the Antiquities Ministry’s Facebook page Monday.

The 3,400 year-old finding came during routine excavation and restoration works carried out by a joint mission of archaeologists from the French Institute for Oriental Studies (IFAO) and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said the statement.

The 4.5 meter-tall head, is believed to be part of one of the pharaoh’s massive statue that used to stand on the two sides of the temple’s open court, director of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department Abdel-Hakim Karar, told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“The head features the pharaoh wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, the stylized form of an Egyptian cobra at the center of his forehead along with the ceremonial beard attached to his chin,” said Karar, who added that the head was found in a bad state of preservation.

In November 2013, other five limestone heads of royal statues, probably dating back to the Middle Kingdom Period (2055 B.C.–1650 B.C.) along with a statue of a high priest, were unearthed at the same temple, head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Ancient Egyptian Deptartment Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, told the Cairo Post Tuesday. “The findings of Montu temple at Armant will be on display in a private section at the Egyptian Museum in January 2015,” Abdel Maqsoud said.

The modern town of Armant, located 25 kilometers southwest of Luxor, was an important Middle Kingdom trade center, which was enlarged during the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is famous for its temple which was originally built during the Old Kingdom Period and dedicated to Montu, the ancient Egyptian god of war whose statues are scattered in several museums in Egypt and abroad, former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Abdel Halem Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“Tuthmosis III was the sixth Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. During the first 22 years of his 54-year reign, he was co-regent with his stepmother and aunt, Queen Hatshepsut. His statues were much smaller than those of Ramses II and Amenhotep III as he was a busy military man and an active expansionist ruler, who led 16 successful military campaigns in 20 years and was said to have captured over 300 cities and conquered much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia,” said Nour el-Din.
Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Discovery, Luxor: Archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina

By combining an analysis of written artifacts with a study of skeletal remains, Stanford postdoctoral scholar Anne Austin is creating a detailed picture of care and medicine in the ancient world.

Ancient Egyptian workers in a village that’s now called Deir el-Medina were beneficiaries of what Stanford Egyptologist Anne Austin calls “the earliest documented governmental health care plan.”

The craftsmen who built Egyptian pharaohs’ royal tombs across the Nile from the modern city of Luxor worked under grueling conditions, but they could also take a paid sick day or visit a “clinic” for a free checkup.

For decades, Egyptologists have seen evidence of these health care benefits in the well preserved written records from the site, but Austin, a specialist in osteo-archaeology (the study of ancient bones), led the first detailed study of human remains at the site.

A postdoctoral scholar in the Department of History, Austin compared Deir el-Medina’s well-known textual artifacts to physical evidence of health and disease to create a newly comprehensive picture of how Egyptian workers lived.

Austin is continuing her research during her tenure as a fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities.

In skeletal remains that she found in the village’s cemeteries, Austin saw “evidence for state-subsidized health care among these workers, but also significant occupational stress fueled by pressure from the state to work.”

Daily work and payment records corroborate the physical evidence: Deir el-Medina’s men had uniquely comprehensive health care, but sometimes could not take advantage of it.

Deir el-Medina (the workers village)
For example, Austin saw in one mummy evidence of osteomyelitis – inflammation in the bone due to blood-borne infection; the man clearly had been working while this infection was ravaging his body. “The remains suggest that he would have been working during the development of this infection,” Austin said. “Rather than take time off, for whatever reason, he kept going.”

The workers received paid sick leave, as we know from the written records, but they “nonetheless felt pressure to work through illness, perhaps to fulfill tacit obligations to the state to which they owed so much.”

“The more I learn about Egypt, the more similar I think ancient Egyptian society is to modern American society,” Austin said. “Things we consider creations of the modern condition, such as health care and labor strikes, are also visible so far in the past.”

Evidence in the bones
Deir el-Medina, an hour’s climb across the mountainside that looms above Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, housed workers primarily in the 19th and 20th dynasties (1292-1077 BCE). Its heyday is later than the valley’s best-known occupant, Tutankhamun, but contemporaneous with the pharaoh who was arguably Egypt’s greatest, Ramesses II, and his long line of successors.

Deir el-Medina’s skilled workers had considerable engineering knowledge and an uncommon degree of literacy. They left tens of thousands of written records – bills, personal letters, lawsuits and prayers, on shards of clay, stone flakes and scraps of papyrus.……. Read More
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Monday, November 24, 2014

New Discovery, Luxor: Amenhotep III head unearthed at Armant Temple

A sandstone head of the 18th dynasty King Amenhotep III is unearthed at Armant temple. Written byNevine El-Aref
A new discovery has been made at Armant Temple, 25 kilometres south of Luxor. A mission from the French Institute for Oriental Studies (IFAO) unearthed a limestone head of the 18th dynasty king Amenhotep III, grandfather of king Tutankhamen.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damaty told Ahram Online that the head was accidentally found during restoration and consolidation works carried out at the temple's foundations.

Aly El-Asfar, head of the Central Administration of Upper Egypt, told Ahram Online that the head is carved in sandstone and in very bad condition. The face is totally damaged but a part of the crown still exists. The head is now under restoration at the gallery of the IFAO in Luxor.

He continued that last year the mission unearthed five heads of royal priests within the temple. The heads are carved in limestone and each one has the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt on top. Each head is 50 centimetres high and could date back to the Middle Kingdom.

Armant temple was dedicated to worshipping the falcon-headed god of war Montu. It was originally built during the Old Kingdom but it was reused during the Ptolemaic period, although decorations and additions continued to be added centuries later by the Romans. Because of Montu's strong association with raging bulls, the temple was a major centre for the worship for bulls, containing many statues and reliefs of the animal. Most of these statues are now located in museums around the world.

New Discovery: Exorcism, love spells common in Classical Egypt - Australian Researchers

An Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power (as researchers call it) has 
been deciphered revealing a series of invocations and spells
CAIRO: A recent Australian university study claims that incantation rituals and the use of magic spells for love, business and fighting demonic possession were widely used by everyday Egyptians during the apex of the pre-Islamic period, and not solely the proprietary of clerics.

Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, professors respectively at Australia’s Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, say they have deciphered a 1,300-year-old Coptic booklet that contains a series of invocations, love spells, exorcisms and a spell to cure the fatal black jaundice bacterial ailment, Live Science reported.

According to the researchers, the codex says that in order to subjugate someone, you have to say a “magical formula over two nails and then drive them into his doorpost, one on the right side [and] one on the left.”

The “Handbook of Ritual Power,” as researchers call the booklet, “is written in Coptic script and comprises 20 complete illustrated bound pages made from animal skin. It contains instructions to cast love spells and to cure possession by spirits and various ailments along with spells to bring success in business,” said the researchers in their findings.

Since the handbook is a codex of incantations and potions, with mixes of both science and religion, it was not necessarily used exclusively by priests or monks. “It is my sense that there were ritual practitioners outside the ranks of the clergy and monks, but exactly who they were is shielded from us by the fact that people didn’t really want to be labeled as a ‘magician,’” Choat said.

According to the researchers, the origins of the codex, which is now on display in the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University in Sydney, is also a mystery. “The style of writing and the dialect suggest that the codex originally came from Upper Egypt, perhaps in the vicinity of Hermopolis (the modern Egyptian town of El-Ashmunein, 270 kilometers south of Cairo),” they said.

The belief that demons exist and can possess people is of course the stuff of fiction and horror films, but it is also one of the most widely-held religious beliefs in the world. Most religions claim that humans can be possessed by demonic spirits (the Bible, for example, recounts six instances of Jesus casting out demons), and offer exorcisms to remedy this threat.
 Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Discovery, Luxor: Archaeologists unearth bejeweled ancient Egyptian mummy

CAIRO: A team of Spanish archaeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old female mummy wearing jewels in the necropolis below the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Thutmosis III in the west bank of Luxor, Aly el-Asfar, the head of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department, said Saturday.

Both the mummy and the wooden sarcophagus in which it was found were badly damaged and trapped under the tomb’s collapsed roof, and the site of the find dates back to the Middle Kingdom (2,000 B.C.-1,700 B.C.), Asfar told The Cairo Post.

“The sarcophagus was found sealed, which suggests the tomb and its contents apparently eluded tomb robbers in both ancient and modern times. It seems that the roof had already collapsed before tomb robbers were able to enter,” he added.

Deir El-Bahri Temples
The Temple of Hatshepsut on the left, the Temple of Thutmosis III on the Right 
The mummy, who is believed to have been an aristocrat in her 30s, was found wearing intact jewelry, including a gold-plated necklace inlaid with lapis lazuli, a shell-shaped golden pendant, two badly damaged silver ankle bracelets and two golden bracelets on her wrists, according to Asfar.

The excavation, restoration, conservation and site management project at the temple first began in 2008. It was a collaborative project between the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain, according to the website for the Thutmosis III Temple Project.

The Spanish team, currently tasked with the restoration and excavations at the temple, is directed by Spanish archaeologist Dr. Myriam Seco Álvarez.

“This finding is significant due to the rarity of the Middle Kingdom Period’s discoveries. It also emphasizes that this area had a necropolis that was used by ancient Egyptian nobles and high officials during the Middle Kingdom Period,” Álvarez was quoted as saying by

The Mortuary Temple of Thutmosis III was discovered accidentally in 1960 during a restoration carried out between the Mortuary Temples of Queen Hatshepsut and Pharaoh Mentuhotep II, archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Saturday.

“Thutmosis III, better known as the Napoleon of ancient Egypt, was an army general and statesman who ruled Egypt for over 40 prosperous years. He spent long years of training in the army before he succeeded his aunt and half-sister Queen Hatshepsut,” Sabban said.
    Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa

News: Antiquities minister gives go-ahead for restoration of Nubian temples

Temple of Kalabsha
CAIRO: Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said Wednesday the ministry will launch a comprehensive plan to restore Nubian temples located on the two banks of Lake Nasser south of Aswan.

Damaty’s announcement came after his meeting with prominent Nubian figures at the Antiquities Ministry headquarters Wednesday.

“The move complies with the ministry’s strategy to restore, develop and open new archaeological sites for the public in order to attract more tourists and promote Egypt’s tourism sector,” Damaty said on the Antiquities Ministry’s Facebook page.

During the meeting, Damaty said Nubian heritage “can’t be overlooked” and asserted the significance of the Nubians and their contributions to Egyptian civilization. Nubia is a region along the Nile River located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt, and despite Damaty’s words, the central government’s treatment of the Nubians has at times been less than praiseful.

“Over 150,000 Nubians were re-housed further to the north of Aswan during the construction of the High Dam in the 1960s,” archaeologist Ahmed Saleh, general director of Saving the Nubian Monuments Fund, told The Cairo Post Thursday. 
Temple of Dakka
Over 14 temples and shrines had to be moved from their original locations in order not to be submerged during the construction of the High Dam, which created Lake Nasser—one of the biggest manmade water reservoirs in the world—located to the south of the dam and stretching for 500 kilometers, according to Saleh.

“Under the supervision of UNESCO, the temples, spanning several eras of ancient Egyptian history, were dismantled and reassembled over higher and safer spots from 1964-1970,” he said, before adding that UNESCO specialists saved the temples, but there has been no restoration done to the walls, the carvings and the ceilings of those temples since.

The core body of the temples was successfully saved, but during the past two decades, much collateral damage has occurred, especially to the colors on the walls, some of which are totally lost, said Saleh, who praised Damaty’s decision.
  Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa
Read More About Nubian Temples Here
Related posts:
 African kingdoms on the Nile

 Edited by Marjorie M. Fisher 
 Peter Lacovara
 Salima Ikram 
 Sue D’Auria
 Photographs by Chester Higgins Jr.
 Foreword by Zahi Hawass

Saturday, November 22, 2014

News, Luxor: New Study shows Ancient Egyptian laborers worked through the pain despite health care

Deir el-Medina (the workers village)
CAIRO: A recent study on skeletal remains of workmen at ancient Egypt’s burial site of Deir el-Medina, has concluded that a state-subsidized health care plan was in place for workers who built the royal tombs.

Despite an comprehensive healthcare system, “several workers felt pressure to work through illness, perhaps to fulfill tacit obligations to the state to which they owed so much,” Anne Austin, a researcher specialized in osteo-archaeology at the Stanford Humanities Center’s History Department was quoted as saying by Stanford news website.

Austin has conducted a detailed study on skeletal remains of individuals of different genders, statuses, and occupations found at Luxor’s burial site of Deir el-Medina, in order to explore health care systems in ancient Egypt, according to Stanford news.

In her study, Austin also used the results of earlier researches on Deir el-Medina’s well-known textual artifacts of medical documents, bills, personal letters and administrative texts, which have been examined earlier by several archaeologists.

“These two data sets shed light on the applications and efficacy of health care in ancient Egypt through an understanding of both the physiological illnesses and social care at Deir el-Medina,” said Austin, adding that the workers were subject to  “significant occupational stress fueled by pressure from the state to accomplish their work.”

Mummy - YOUM7 (Archive)
According to Austin, Deir el-Medina’s workmen had uniquely comprehensive health care, but sometimes could not take advantage of it.

In one of the examined mummies, she said she observed evidence of inflammation in the bone due to blood-borne infection.

“The man clearly had been working while this infection was ravaging his body. He would have been working during the development of this infection,” Austin told the Stanford site. “Rather than take time off, for whatever reason, he kept going.”

The ancient workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina is nestled in a small valley north of the Valley of the Queens on Luxor’s west bank. The village was founded during the reign of Thutmose I (1510 B.C. – 1482 B.C.) and flourished until the end of the New Kingdom Period (1580B.C.-1080B.C.), archaeologist Sherif el Sabban told The Cairo Post Wednesday.

“Deir el-Medina, which in Arabic means ‘monastery of the city’, is one of ancient Egypt’s most well-preserved settlements and was a highly skilled community of craftsmen who cut and prepared the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Queens, and were administered directly by the vizier,” said Sabban.

Being in an industrial zone famous for funerary furniture and items for the surrounding communities, The Deir el-Medina workers were better paid than the majority of their contemporaries throughout Egypt, added Sabban.
 Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa 

Friday, November 21, 2014

News: Rosetta would petition The Islamic World Heritage Committee (IWHC)

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty announced he would petition The Islamic World Heritage Committee (IWHC), a subsidiary of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) to include the city of Rosetta in its Heritage List.

“Rosetta, famous for its well-preserved buildings in a unique Islamic architectural style, is considered the second most significant historical city of Islamic heritage after Cairo in terms of the number of historical monuments the city houses,” Damaty was quoted in Al-Ahram Monday.

The committee convened its 5th meeting in Cairo Tuesday to enhance cooperation to preserving the Islamic civilization’s heritage, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the ministry Monday.

Members of the IWHC are also scheduled to discuss the challenges facing Islamic monuments in hotspots in Arab and Islamic countries and also to propose mechanisms to protect Islamic heritage during armed conflicts, Al-Ahram reported Monday.

Rosetta, located 65 kilometers east of Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria, is a port city on the western branch of the River Nile and located 13 kilometers southeast of the river’s entrance into the Mediterranean.

“The city was founded in the eighth century by Haroun al-Rashid, the fifth caliph of the Abbasid dynasty (786–809.) It acquired its Arabic name, Rashid, from the Caliph,” archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

It is also the city where the famous Rosetta stone was found, Sabban added.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

News: UNESCO ends visit to Egypt, discusses preliminary recommendations

A detailed UNESCO report on restoration works carried out at Djoser's Step Pyramid in Saqqara and in Historic Cairo will be issued mid-December ……. Written by Nevine El-Aref

UNESCO delegate outside the Djoser's pyramid
After two days touring the maze of alleys of Historic Cairo, inspecting its heritage monuments, a UNESCO delegation embarked today on a four-hour visit to Saqqara necropolis, where it toured Djoser's Step Pyramid, inside and outside, to check on restoration works being conducted there. 

The delegation ended its visit to Egypt this evening. Before leaving for Paris, delegation members met both Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, to give their preliminary recommendations concerning encroachment on monuments in Historic Cairo and the restoration of the Step Pyramid in Saqqara. Their official report is to be issued mid-December.

During their meeting, Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the delegation highlighted that development and restoration work in Historic Cairo is going slowly and that the ministry should speed it up. They also noted that some edifices neighbouring the monuments have different architectural styles from the monuments, which has a negative impacts on the area's architectural atmosphere. They recommended to redevelop these edifices in a consistent architectural style. 

Eldamaty said that the delegation also raised concerns on neighbourhood encroachments on the monuments of Historic Cairo and asked for their immediate removal.and also  said that he would consider all the recommendations of the UNESCO delegation and meet them very soon in cooperation with all concerned authorities and organisations.

Mohamed Ali's Sabil in historic Cairo
For his part, Cairo Governor Galal Saeed said that the governorate has undertaken all the required procedures to remove all encroachments and to demolish all illegal buildings on or near monuments, many of which have been build during the past three years, when security was lacking in the aftermath of the January 2011 revolution. He promised to return Historic Cairo to its original look.

Nada Alhassan from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) highlighted the efforts being exerted by the antquities ministry to preserve monuments in Historic Cairo, but noted that the aims of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project — which are to preserve not only monuments but the area's architectural style and historic atmosphere — are not being fully applied.

Alhassan announced that ICOMOS will issue a recommendation to remove all ugly buildings that encroached on the area's monuments, as some of them are threaten historic edifices because they are ramshackle in construction. She also asked the governor to stop any new construction in the area.

UNESCO delegate inside the Djoser's pyramid
"In the coming five years, a concrete vision of Historic Cairo has to be drawn and new efficient officials appointed that are capable of managing such a great historic site as well as providing required funding to develop the city again, as it was before 2011," Alhassan said.

As for Djoser's Step Pyramid, Ahmed Ebeid, supervisor of the international organisations section at the antiquities ministry, said the UNESCO delegation visited the pyramid upon request from Eldamaty.

Two months ago, archaeology activists said that restoration work being carried out on the Step Pyramid was ruining the site, and was being executed by a firm that wasn't qualified — or even specialised — in such work. Media reports also circulated that a block of the pyramid's structure had tumbled down.

The antiquities ministry denied the claims. Kamal Wahid, director of Giza antiquities at the ministry, told Ahram Online at that time that the restoration work was utilising the latest technology and had been approved by the ministry, its consultancy bureau, and UNESCO.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

News, Cairo: President Al-Sisi meets with European Tour Operators to Boost Tourism

CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with a delegation of 15 top European tour operators to discuss ways to boost tourism, said presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef Monday.

During the meeting, Sisi expressed Egypt’s “keenness” to overcome obstacles that might hinder the tourism industry, the country’s main source of hard currency. “The delegation discussed with the president ways to work more closely with the Egyptian authorities and other stakeholders to successfully grow the number of customers to 2010 tourism levels,” said Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.

In 2010, which witnessed highest numbers of tourists to Egypt on record, 14.7 million persons visited the country while in 2013, which was the worst since the January 25 Revolution, only 9.5 million holidaymakers came, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.)

“The delegation combined Europe’s leading travel agencies, representing over 85 percent of number of European tourists visiting Egypt every year. Some of these travel agencies have resumed their operations to Egypt to their normal rates starting from January 2015. The meeting is expected to have its positive impact on the cultural tourism soon,” Egyptian Tourism Federation Chairman Elhamy El-Zayat told The Cairo Post Monday.

Europe accounts for 72 percent of annual incoming tourism to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. Egypt’s tourism sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing shocks ever since the 2011 January 25 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector over the past three years.

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, travel advisories issued for the Sinai Peninsula caused tourism revenues to decrease in the first quarter of 2014 to $1.3 billion, down 43 percent from the same period in 2013.

In October, global tour operator Insight Vacations decided to resume its Egypt operations after three years of remaining out of the market due to political unrest. “We have been monitoring the destination closely and after extensive consultation with our teams on the ground, and in speaking with our travel partners, we are pleased and excited to be making a return into Egypt in January,” Paul Melinis, Insight Vacations’ U.K. director of sales, was quoted by in late September.

Over the past few months and due to a slight improvement in Egypt’s security status, many European countries have begun lifting travel bans to parts of Egypt. Many have lifted their travel ban to the Sinai, but still impose it on Cairo and Upper Egypt.

Deputy chief executive of TUI Travel, Johan Lundgren, who met with Sisi, said that his company has long been the market leader to Egypt, which has the attraction of being a year-round destination, according to In the UK, customer satisfaction levels are at the highest they have ever been and across the Group, source markets that have not traditionally had Egypt in their program are now featuring it with strong demand,” said Lundgren.
 Source: Cairo Post – By/Rany Mostafa