Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Discovery, Ismailiya : New Discovery Suggests Date of Origin of Tel Al-Dafna Site in Qantara West

Archaeologists unearthing fossiles
Lava remains of San Turin volcano unearthed in Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site in western Ismailiya. Written By/Nevine El-Aref.  

During excavation work carried out at the Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site located at the Al-Qantara West area in Ismailiya, 11 kilometers west of the Suez Canal, an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Egyptologist Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud stumbled upon what is believed to be lava remains from the San Turin volcano. The volcano is considered the first destructive environmental phenomenon from the Mediterranean to hit Cyprus in antiquity.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty described the discovery as “very important” because it would help in uncovering more history from the Tel Al-Dafna site. The oldest archaeological evidence discovered in Tel Al-Dafna dates back to the ancient Egyptian 26th dynasty, though the lava remains can be from an era before the 26th dynasty.

Abdel-Maqsoud told Ahram Online that the mission has also uncovered part of a fortified island surrounded with mud and brick shields used as wave breakers as well as to protect the west side of King Psamtik I’s citadel from floods.

Tel Al-Dafna site
Abdel-Maqsoud continued to say that the citadel was built in such an area so as to protect the country’s eastern gate from any invasion. Its fence area is 20 metres thick, and inside it houses a collection of fortified residential houses.

In addition to the citadel, King Psamtik I built two other forts; one in the Marya area on the north coast to protect the country from Libyan invasion, and the other on Elephantine Island in the Upper Egypt's Aswan to stand against Ethiopian threat.

Abdel-Maqsoud pointed out that a collection of mastaba remains, the ruins of industrial workshops, ovens used in dismantling metals, and baking bread were also found.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department Mahmoud Afifi told Ahram Online that excavation works at the Tel Al-Dafna site are being carried out by the antiquities ministry in collaboration with the housing and defence ministries, as well as with the Sinai Construction Authority.

The work comes within the framework of the development of archaeological sites along the 30 June Corridor. 

Eldamaty (left) and Abdel Maqsoud (right) at Tel Al-Dafna site
This section of the Tel Al-Dafna excavation work is in its third phase. Afifi added that in addition to the Tel Al-Dafna work, another area 2300m long and 100m in width has been totally excavated and was empty of any archaeological evidence.

Afifi highlighted that the Tel Dafna site is one of five archaeological sites selected on Egypt’s eastern gate to be developed within the project of Egypt’s military history panorama and the development of archaeological sites along the Suez Canal. These sites are Tel-Habwa, Tel-Abu-Saify, Pelusium and Tel Al-Maskhouta.

Eldamaty expressed his strong appreciation for the Egyptian excavation mission working at the site, as it has helped in the discovery of many important sites. He added that the mission would help research and study along Pelusium branch of the Nile, as well as possibly work on archaeological sites on the banks of the Nile that have not yet been revealed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

News, Cairo: 500+ Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Repatriated, 5,000 Seized in 2015 - Statement

Artifacts are seen on display at the Egyptian museum
CAIRO: More than 500 ancient Egyptian artifacts have been repatriated from several countries in 2015, The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced in a statement Tuesday.

Spanning several periods of the ancient Egyptian history, the repatriated artifacts will be on display at an exhibit scheduled to open at the Egyptian Museum in January 2016, according to the statement published on the ministry’s Facebook page.

Among the most significant artifacts repatriated in 2015 is a 2,300 year-old sarcophagus recovered through “Operation Mummy’s Curse;” a five-year investigation carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world,” according to ICE.

The ministry also announced that officials at the archaeological units at the Egyptian ports and airports were able to foil several attempts to smuggle over 5,000 artifacts in 2015. Among the smuggling attempts thwarted in 2015 is one carried out by officials at the archaeological unit at Damietta port, who seized 1,124 artifacts heading for Thailand in November 2015.

“The smuggling attempt occurred through an import-export company which hid the seized artifacts inside wooden parcels filled with toilet paper,” said Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty.

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. During the past four years, Egypt has recovered more than 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, head of the Repatriated Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post.
Source: Cairo Post– By/  Rany Mostafa

News, Cairo: Seal to Door of Tutankhamen’s Tomb Transported to Grand Egyptian Museum

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) received Monday 2,862 artifacts from several archaeological storerooms at Luxor, Al Ahram reported.
The artifacts are set to be restored and documented at the GEM’s Restoration Center in preparation for their display when the museum opens in 2018.

The artifacts include the unbroken seal found on the door leading to the tomb of Tutankhamen, GEM director Tarek Tawfik told Al Ahram.

The artifacts also include seven royal busts, sarcophagi along with several colossal statues including those of Pharaoh Amenhotep III made of pink granite, said Tawfik.

The new museum, situated on 120 acres of land, is located 2 km southwest of the Giza Pyramids and was scheduled to be inaugurated in August 2015 but due to funding issues, it will not be inaugurated before 2018, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty previously stated.

The GEM is scheduled to house over 100,000 artifacts including the treasures of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. AP quoted Damaty as saying that GEM’s directorship will be “international and independent.”

In 2006, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) granted Egypt a concessional loan worth U.S. $400 million with a 1.5 percent interest rate over 30 years, and a grace period of 10 years, to construct the museum, Technical Supervisor at the Executive Committee of the Grand Egyptian Museum Wagih Hanna previously told the Cairo Post.

The construction of the three-phase project, which includes the construction of the museum’s main building and implementation of the master plan, landscape parks and surrounding site infrastructure, began in March 2012 with two phases accomplished so far.
Source: Cairo Post– By/ The Cairo Post

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Recovered Artifacts, Europe: Egypt Receives 2 Artifacts from Austria, Germany Today

CAIRO: Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities will receive Today two smuggled artifacts from Austria and Germany, announced Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty Monday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with Interpol, reclaimed an Ushbati dating back to the 26th Dynasty; it was seized by the Interpol police when two Australians attempted to sell it, al-Damaty added.

The second reclaimed artifact is a stele from the Luxor-based tomb of King Wahankh Intef II; this artifact was displayed at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Damaty added, noted at the stele is schedule to be exhibited at Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The GEM, sited on 120 acres of land, is located 2 km southwest of Giza Pyramids and was scheduled to be inaugurated in August 2015 but due to funding issues, it will not be inaugurated before 2018, al-Damaty has previously stated.

The artifacts spanned several eras of ancient Egyptian civilization and were likely stolen from the west bank of Luxor, the head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department Ali Ahmed previously told The Cairo Post.

Political turmoil in Egypt since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and the subsequent security lapse left the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to looting. In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking artifacts smuggled outside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, the issue is still unsettled.
Source: Cairo Post– By/The Cairo Post

Monday, December 28, 2015

News: Queen Nefertiti Tomb - Egypt 'will Not Allow Tutankhamun Tomb to be Damaged' in Hunt for Secret Chamber

Egyptian archaeologist says theory that Nefertiti's body could be in Tutankhamun's tomb is "baseless" One of Egypt’s leading archaeologists has taken sides in a dispute over the possible location of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb - and said that any attempt to test the theory by making a hole in the wall will not be allowed.

The British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves recently claimed that the tomb belonging to the 14th-century wife of Akhenaten could be in a concealed chamber behind one wall of the tomb of Tutankhamun - her step-son. 

After looking at high-resolution images, he concluded that some straight lines on the walls – previously hidden by colour and texture – may indicate the presence of a secret chamber. 

Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, and it is thought that, due to his unexpected death, he may have been buried in a chamber of his step-mother’s tomb.

At the time, the Egyptian antiquities minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said that there was a 90 per cent chance that there was “something” behind the walls. 

But former antiquities minister and leading archaeologist Zahi Hawass has  told the Telegraph that Reeves’ theory is “baseless”. 

He said that he would never allow anyone to make a hole in Tutankhamun’s tomb in order to test the theory: “The tomb is very vulnerable; any hole may expose the paintings to complete collapse”.

Instead, Mr Hawass has his own theory about where Queen Nerfertiti might be. He believes she is one of the two female mummies found in the Valley of the Queens. 

The mummies have been taken to the Egyptian Museum for testing, where their DNA will be compared to that of the recently discovered mummy of Queen Mutnodjmet – Neferititi’s sister - to find out the truth.

Whatever the DNA tests reveal, however, Mr Hawass is adamant that no one will be allowed to damage Tutankhamun’s tomb , and therefore said Reeves’ theory was “born dead”.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Recovered Artifacts, Asyut: Police Seize 47 Artifacts in Farmer’s House

The Artifacts Seized By Police. Youm7
CAIRO: Tourism and Antiquities policemen have seized a set of 47 ancient artifacts at a house of a farmer in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Asyut, Youm7 reported Friday.

The seizure came hours before the artifacts were prepared for sale. Spanning several periods of the ancient Egyptian historical periods, the artifacts in question include 29 coins, five pottery lanterns, 14 statues made of blue faience along with four incomplete statues made of clay.

Investigations carried out by policemen from the General Administration of Tourism and Antiquities Police revealed that the farmer was planning to sell the collection obtained through illicit digging activities.

After issuing the arrest warrant, the police raided the farmer’s house and were able to arrest him and seize the artifacts, Youm7 reported. The authenticity of the artifact was confirmed by a committee of specialists. The 41-year-old farmer was referred to investigation over antiquity acquisition and trade.

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.

During the past four years, Egypt has recovered more than 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, head of the Repatriated Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed previously told The Cairo Post.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

New Discovery, Aswan: Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Discovered in Aswan's Gebel Al-Silsila

Neferkhewe and his family in chapel 31
Two niches with six figures cut in rock were uncovered inside two New Kingdom chapels in the Gebel Al-Silsila area in Aswan. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Two niches with six figures cut in rock in high reliefs were uncovered during a survey carried out by a Swedish archaeological mission from Lund University inside two New Kingdom Egyptian chapels named Chapel 30 and 31.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty described the discovery as “important," as the Gebel Al-Silsila area was completely covered with sand and block ever since it was hit with a destructive earthquake in antiquity. Erosion elements have also impacted the area and its monuments.

Eldamaty explains that the rock-hewn figures were discovered despite Argentine Egyptologist Ricardo Caminos describing Chapel 30 as “completely destroyed.”

Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, told Ahram Online that the first niche was found at the end of Chapel 30 and bears two figures depicting the chapel’s owner and his wife sitting on a chair. The man is wearing a shoulder-length wig and is assuming the Osirian posture where his arms are crossed on his chest. The woman is putting her left arm on the shoulder of her husband while her right hand is on her chest.

Neferkhewe, the owner of the chapel
The second niche, said Afifi, was found in Chapel 31 and includes four figures. The first depicts the owner of the chapel Neferkhewe, who was the 'Overseer of Foreign Lands' during the reign of King Tuthmose III. The second figure is of his wife Ruwisti, while the third and fourth are of his son and daughter.

The Swedish mission has been working in Gebel Al-Silsila’s 32 chapels since 2012. The most well preserved is Chapel 31 as it still holds its complete architectural elements.

Gebel Al-Silsila (Chain of Mountains) was known in ancient times as Kheny, meaning the “Palace of Rowing,” and extends from Kom Ombo to Edfu where the River Nile narrows and high sandstone cliffs come down right to the water’s edge. The area was used as a quarry site since at least the 18th dynasty up to the Graeco-Roman era.

Ancient Egyptians had carved small shrines into the cliffs, dedicating them to a variety of Nile deities and to the river itself. Smaller shrines were cut by King Thutmose I, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, while Horemhab had constructed a rock-cut temple where many kings of the 19th dynasty or later left their mark in some way. 

Gebel Al-Silsila became an important cult centre, and each year at the beginning of the season of inundation, offerings and sacrifices were made to the gods associated with the Nile to ensure the country’s wellbeing for the coming year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Short Story: Museum reclaims its Nile view

From Boulaq to its current location in Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum has a remarkable story to tell, writes Nevine El-Aref.
The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, with its burnt-orange, neo-classical façade, has stood out as one of the city’s most famous landmarks since its construction in 1902. It is home to 150,000 of the nation’s most important artefacts, from a long and unique span of Egypt’s history.

Now, after more than five decades hidden behind the multi-storeyed headquarters of the once-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), gutted during the 25 January Revolution of 2011, the Egyptian Museum is to overlook the Nile again.

The roar of bulldozers joins the customary noise of Tahrir Square in the heart of downtown Cairo. The blackened headquarters of the now-defunct NDP, which stands between the museum and the Nile, is being demolished and its land returned to its original owner, the Ministry of Antiquities.

The land on which the NDP headquarters was built was originally used as a dock for cargo vessels transporting antiquities down the river from Luxor, Aswan and elsewhere in Upper Egypt to the museum for restoration or display.

In 1887, a welcoming ceremony was held at the dock for the arrival of the royal mummies, recovered by the then-antiquities director Gaston Maspero from a secret cache in Luxor, where they had been hidden by priests during the New Kingdom.

Museum designer Marcel Dourgnon had constructed the gate of the museum further from the Nile River not only to enable construction of the port but also to avoid the kind of building errors that had occurred at the Boulaq Museum, which had suffered significant damage when the Nile flooded in 1878.

Maps drawn up in 1911 and 1926 show a bookshop and cafeteria on the land, while to the west of the site stood the museum’s workshops and storehouses.

The dock continued to welcome the museum’s visitors from the banks of the Nile until the 1952 Revolution, when the land was sequestrated by the government from the Egyptian Antiquities Authority, now the Ministry of Antiquities, and used by various departments of the regime.

The last tenant was the NDP, which shared the large Nile-side premises with the National Council for Women, various national agencies and the Arab Bank.

On the evening of 28 January 2011, the building was gutted by fire in the midst of fierce fighting between security forces, demonstrators and thugs during demonstrations in Tahrir Square.

On the same day, the Egyptian Museum itself was partly looted despite attempts to protect it by protesters who formed a human chain around the site. Thieves raided the museum’s shop for jewellery, smashed display cases, and ransacked the ticket office.

Protesters succeeded in capturing a number of people who had broken into the museum, confiscating stolen artefacts and handing them over to the police. Some of the stolen objects were recovered within days of their robbery.

A statue of King Akhenaten was discovered amid garbage close to Tahrir Square and a number of other artefacts, including part of a broken wooden sarcophagus, were found lying on the ground to the east of the museum. Other collections, including an ancient Egyptian flute and gilded statuette of King Tutankhamun were found in a bag at the Tahrir metro station.

In March, a final report was issued stating that 54 artefacts were still missing. Copies of the list were submitted to both Interpol and the International Council of Museums.
Meantime, former minister of antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim described the burned-out NDP building as “a time bomb and a real threat to the museum and its priceless collection.”

The former NDP headquarters was considered unsafe and could collapse at any time. In early October 2015, a ministerial decree was issued ordering the demolition of the abandoned NDP building. The job was given to the Engineering Department of the Armed Forces.

When the demolition is complete, says Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty, the area will be converted into an open-air museum and showcase some of the museum’s collections, now short of space in the main building. A hall for temporary exhibitions will be built in a bid to attract more visitors to the museum.

Part of the land will be turned into a garden, similar to the one built by Pharaoh Amenhotep III at the Karnak Temple in Luxor. This could be planted with papyri and lotus flowers, Eldamaty said, and a collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts exhibited in it.

A source from the Egyptian Museum, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that providing a buffer zone around the museum, instead of having it situated right next to another building, was important for security.

Elham Salah, head of the Museums Section at the Ministry of Culture, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the museum will undergo “minor development.” This includes the upgrading of its indoor lighting system and refurbishment of its showcases, as well as improving the displays in some of the museum’s exhibition halls.

A long-term development plan for the museum was launched in 2012. “The Revival of the Egyptian Museum” was dedicated to defining the future role of the museum within the local and international museum landscape and giving it the prominence it has long deserved.

The initiative aimed at studying the museum’s existing situation and developing a practical plan for its full rehabilitation. It was funded by Germany’s Foreign Office and the Centre for International Migration and Development and executed by Environmental Quality International (EQI), an internationally acclaimed investment and consulting firm that specialises in natural and cultural heritage conservation and sustainable development.

Together, the Ministry of Antiquities and a high-calibre team of local and international architects, engineers, conservators, Egyptologists, environmentalists and botanists worked closely to launch the revival.

The initiative was made possible by an exemplary public and private partnership, engaging members of the business community, research institutions and scholars, both locally and internationally.

Eldamaty told the Weekly that the museum, as it stands today, appears to have undergone significant modification over the past decades, most of which have harmed the overall homogeny of the building and its architecture.

The revival’s aim is to address the pressing physical needs of the museum and to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to present the museum as it was originally intended to be seen, so that it remains a reference destination for both national and international visitors.... Read More

News: Cairo's Baron Empain Palace on its Way to Egypt's Tourist Track

A feasibility study has begun to restore and archaeologically document the historical Baron Empain palace in Heliopolis. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
In collaboration with an Egyptian consultant bureau, the Ministry of Antiquities has begun a feasibility study to restore and document the historical Baron Empain palace in Heliopolis, Cairo, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty announced yesterday.

The minister added that the bureau is doing the job voluntarily in an attempt to protect and preserve such a distinguished monument.

He also told Ahram Online that an architectural competition to select the best organisation to restore and rehabilitate the palace is to be launched in April 2016 after the completion of the study. Three winners are to be selected.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, the minister of antiquities' assistant for Islamic and Coptic monuments, told Ahram Online that the restoration and rehabilitation project is to be carried out according to the original architecture of the palace and its surrounding nature.

As for the garden, he continued, it would be refurbished to its original shape according to the archaeological and historical documents of the palace. 

He said that the original statues that once decorated the palace's garden would be erected in their original locations, while replica statues would be fabricated and installed to replace those which have been damaged over the span of time.

The Baron Empain palace is an iconic monument built in 1906 as the residence of Belgian industrialist Edouard Empain, who came to Egypt in 1904 to construct a railway line linking the Nile Delta city of Mansoura to Matariya on the far side of Lake Manzala.

French architect Alexandre Marcel built him the palace in the Avenue of Palaces (now El-Orouba) and he was inspired by the Cambodian palace of Angkor Wat and the Hindu temple of Orissa. 

Marcel designed a variety of human busts, statues of Indian dancers, elephants, snakes, Buddhas, Shivas and Krishnas in the palace. Marcel's colleague, Georges-Louis Claude, designed the palace’s interior.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

News, Cairo: Skeleton at Egyptian Museum Dated to 21,000 BC

CAIRO: A skeleton on display at the Egyptian Museum is dated between 21,000 and 19,000 BC, the Ministry of Antiquities announced on its Facebook page Monday.

The skeleton was discovered Fred Wendorf and Romuald Schild in 1982 in Wadi Kubbaniya,12 km north of Aswan on the west side of the Nile.

One year after its discovery, the remains were sent to the U.S. National Museum in Washington for analysis, where it was determined the bones belonged to a young man of around 23 years old, that he was right handed, and that the cause of death may have been a literal stab in the back: two flint blades were found in his abdomen.

The skeleton had been kept in storage since then, and was first displayed to the public in December 2015.
Source: Cairo Post– By/ The Cairo Post

News: Egypt to Launch Campaign Attracting Gulf Tourists

Following Russian plane disaster in October, tourism industry suffered after some countries cancelled flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Egypt altogether.

Egypt is launching on Monday a campaign targeting citizens from Gulf countries under the name of "This is Egypt" (#ThisIsEgypt), in an attempt to revive the country's ailing industry of hospitality. This is Egypt will kick off in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, with Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou currently visiting the oil-rich monarchy to launch the campaign that will also target the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.

Earlier this month, another campaign was launched on social media using the same hashtag, when Egypt's Ministry of Tourism called on people to snap photos from all over the country and show the world a firsthand account of the “real” Egypt.

Sami Mahmoud, chairman of Egypt's tourism authority (affiliated to the Ministry of Tourism) said the new month-long campaign aims at attracting Arab tourists during Christmas-breaks and mid-year vacations. "Arabs are more understanding of what happened with the Russian plane incident. We are counting on the close ties between these countries and Egypt," Mahmoud told Aswat Masriya.

Following the Russian airline disaster late October, which saw all 224 passengers and crew members killed, several countries suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and even the country altogether over security fears. Russia, among other countries, concluded that the plane was brought down by a bomb.

Mahmoud pointed out that the campaign, which will depend heavily on social media, would also include a promotional video that targets audiences from the Gulf. The video will be screened on satellite channels in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. It will also be displayed on screens in major business centres, Mahmoud said.

Zazou explained that the campaign focuses on these three Gulf countries in particular as they are on the top of the list of Arab countries that contribute to tourism in Egypt. In 2014, the annual report of tourism statistics showed that Saudi Arabia contributes to 21.6 percent of tourism in the country. The country also ranks sixth highest in the amount of citizens that visit Egypt.

The tourism sector is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency, which is desperately needed so that the country can buy basic foodstuffs, among other obligations. Foreign currency reserves in Egypt are almost at a critical level, standing at $16.41 billion at the end of October, most of which is made up of Gulf deposits.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New, Luxor: Sun Illuminates Sanctuary of Egypt's Ancient Karnak Temple

The event marks the winter solstice, the shortest and day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Solar alignment at the ancient Karnank temple in Luxor,
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
A shaft of sunlight illuminated on Tuesday the usually dark sanctum of the Karnak temple, an ancient complex in the southern city of Luxor, in a rare astronomical phenomenon that happens twice a year.

Around 1500 tourists gathered to watch the spectacle that has endured for thousands of years of Egyptian history. Photos showed a golden beam of light piercing the centre of the avenue of Sphinxes that lead to the Temple of Amun at the Karnak temple, one of the most popular sites from the Pharaonic era.

Provincial governor, Mohamed Badran, said the event has become one of the most important tourist affairs of the year, adding that a variety of archaeological and entertainment activities will ensue in the coming months. The spectacle usually draws thousands of tourists to the famed site to watch the ancient tribute, which occurs twice a year to mark the summer and winter solstice.

Egypt's vital tourism sector has struggled to recover since the 2011 uprising that ousted the longstanding autocrat Hosni Mubarak. A Russian plane crash over Sinai in late October further hurt the vital industry, a main pillar of the country's economy.

Egyptologists say the solar alignment at the God Amun sanctum at Karnak coincided with the illumination of his sanctum at the Hatshepsut's temple near the Nile town of Luxor. Archeologists say the phenomenon lasts for three day.

The event marks the beginning of winter solstice, an astronomical event that occurs in the northern hemisphere marking the longest night and shortest day of the year. On Monday, the sun illuminated the sanctum of the Karun Palace temple at dawn in Fayoum, south of Cairo, lighting the sacred room for a short period of time.

Monday, December 21, 2015

News: Fayoum Celebrates Sun Alignment at Qaroon Palace

Qaroon Palace
CAIRO: Fayoum city, southwest of Cairo, celebrated Monday the annual sun alignment on the Holy of Holies at the Qaroon Palace Temple, Youm7 reported.

The phenomenon was observed at 6 a.m. Monday and lasted for 25 minutes on the main and right compartments, but did not pass over the left one.

The event was attended by a number of officials including Minister of State for Legal Affairs Magdy el-Agaty, Fayoum Governor Wael Makram, as well as some guests including ambassadors and representatives from Zimbabwe, Bolivia and India embassies in Cairo.

A celebration took place Sunday night around the temple, including art performances by Egyptian Singer Ghada Ragab, and a Tanoura show (Egyptian folk dance.)

A study was conducted in 2012 assuring that the alignment at the holy of holies occurs every year at the same time.
Source: Cairo Post– By/ The Cairo Post

News: Cairo Airport Receives 6K Tourists Sunday

CAIRO: Some 6,094 tourists of different nationalities arrived in Cairo International Airport Sunday, security source at the airport told Youm7.

A total of 3,589 tourists from Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America have arrived at Cairo Airport along with 2,505 Arab tourists mainly from the Persian Gulf region, said the source. Sunday’s figures reflect a slight increase in number of holidaymakers that have visited Egypt since early December. Weather-wise, winter is Egypt’s peak tourist season.

“Upper Egypt’s Luxor has seen a surge of incoming tourists over the past 10 days,” Assistant Director of the General Department of Tourism Police Hosni Hussein told Youm7 earlier this month. Following the Russian plane crash that killed 224 passengers and crew, swift decisions were taken by a number of countries including Germany, Russia, France and the UK to evacuate their tourists from the resort town, after reports that a bomb may have been the cause.

Egypt’s political turmoil following the 2011 January uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak has badly affected tourism sector, which has only recently started to rebound. Egypt’s second most important source of national income after the Suez Canal provides direct and indirect employment to up to 12.6 percent of the country’s workforce.

The country’s revenues from tourism industry decreased by 15 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year, said tourism ministry economic advisor Adala Ragab in October. Revenues from tourism represent 11.3 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP.)
Source: Cairo Post– By/ The Cairo Post

Sunday, December 20, 2015

News, Giza: Second Phase of #ScanPyramid Project Begins

Muons Emusion plate setup in Bent Pyramid Lower Chamber
Scanners are being used to search for possible hidden chambers within Egyptian pyramids without compromising their infrastructure. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Muon radiography survey begins on King Snefru’s Bent Pyramid at Dahshour necropolis. A team of experts is beginning a scanning survey of the Bent Pyramid of ancient Egyptian King Snefru in Giza using scanning technology which uses non-invasive Muon particles. The scanners are being used to search for possible hidden chambers within the pyramid without compromising its infrastructure.

Following test sessions in November that allowed the #ScanPyramids team to calibrate the sensitivity of Muon emulsion films to the local environment (temperature and humidity) inside King Snefru’s Bent Pyramid, Kunihiro Morishima and his team from Nagoya University have just completed the installation of the Muon detector plates in the pyramid’s lower chamber.

Eldamaty and the ScanPyramids Team
Morishima explains that the films are composed of 40 “regular” plates representing a surface of 3m2 containing two emulsion films that are sensitive to Muons. 

These emulsion films will allow the detection of various types of Muons naturally penetrating the pyramid.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the #ScanPyramids team has also installed a “regular” plate sample in the Queen Chamber of Khufu’s Pyramid in order to find out the best chemical formula of the emulsion films suitable for the local environment inside the Pyramid, as has been done inside the Bent Pyramid.

“The complete installation of the Muon detector films inside Khufu Pyramid is expected to be done at a later stage in 2016,” he pointed out.

Muon Emulsion Test in Khufu's Pyramid Queen Chamber
The analysis of the Bent Pyramid Muon emulsion films will be taking place in Cairo and in Japan during the first weeks of 2016. 

Muon radiography is non-invasive as Muon particles come naturally from the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, and are created from collisions of cosmic rays with the nuclei of atoms in the atmosphere.

Morishima said that the particles fall to the ground at nearly the speed of light with a constant rate of about 10,000 per m2 per minute. 

As with x-rays used to visualise human skeletons, these elementary particles, like heavy electrons, can very easily pass through any structure, even large, thick rocks and mountains. 

Muons Sensitivty Calibration in Khufus
Pyramid Queen Chamber
Detectors placed at appropriate places (e.g. inside the pyramid, under a possibly undetected chamber) allow with the accumulation of Muons over time to discern the void areas from denser areas as some of the particles are absorbed or deflected.

Muon radiography is now frequently used for the observation of volcanoes, which also involves research teams from the University of Nagoya. 

More recently, KEK, the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, developed a detection approach based on electronic scintillators which are resistant to nuclear radiation, unlike chemical emulsions, in order to scan inside the Fukushima nuclear plant reactors.

The #ScanPyramids project was launched on October under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, and the Heritage, Innovation and Preservation Institute (HIP).

The project aims to scan over a one year period some of the Egyptian Pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Khafre Pyramid at the Giza Plateau, as well as King Snefru’s Bent and Red Pyramids at Dahshur necropolis. 

The Bent Pyramid
The #ScanPyramids combines several non-invasive and non-destructive scanning techniques in order to try to detect the presence of any unknown internal structures and cavities in ancient monuments, which may lead to a better understanding of their structure and their construction processes and techniques.

The used technologies are a mix of infrared thermography, Muon radiography and 3D reconstruction. 

It worth mentioning that the first phase of a project using a short infrared thermography survey has been completed, while its results and technical analysis of its findings will be announced in January 2016.
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