The recovered ushabti figurine
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Egyptian embassy in London received a wooden Ushabti figurine that was stolen in 2013 from an Aswan storehouse and illegally smuggled out of the country. The figurine is to be returned to Egypt soon.
Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the head of the antiquities repatriation department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the Ushabti was uncovered in 2009 by a Spanish archaeological mission in Qubet Al Hawa necropolis in Aswan and was stored among other artifacts in the storehouses.
In 2013, following the departure of the mission, the Aswan storehouse was subjected to looting and the Ushabti figurine was stolen, along with other artifacts. The statuette is 16.5 cm tall and carved in wood with golden decorative elements.
In 2016, Abdel Gawad explained, a curator at the British Museum in London noticed the figurine with a British citizen and reported the incident to the antiquities ministry. After diplomatic negotiations, the Ushabti was recovered and handed to the Egyptian embassy in London.
Monday, January 30, 2017
After a decade of closure, the Hunting Museum in Manial Palace is to be reopened soon. Written By/ Nevien El-Aref.
Mummified gazelle heads
In the arched corridor beneath the walls of the Manial Palace in Cairo where the Hunting Museum is located, curators, restorers, designers and workers are all racing against the clock to reach the deadline for the museum’s reopening.
Armed with yellow helmets and grey gloves, workers are putting the showcases in position, while restorers with their white gowns and technical tools are installing a skeleton of a camel that once transported the Kaaba cover, a vast piece of embroidery, from Cairo to Mecca in the early 1900s.
“Work is at full swing,” Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the Hunting Museum was scheduled to be officially reopened in mid-February during the mid-term school holiday after a decade of closure.
She said that when Manial Palace was officially inaugurated in 2013 after restoration work, the Hunting Museum was not among the halls that were opened to public. Last month, with a budget of LE140,000 provided by the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, the Museums Department began the renovation and restoration of the museum in order to open it to the public during the mid-term holiday.
Salah and Badawi inspecting the displaying scenario
The museum displays preserved animals, birds and skeletons from the collection of former King Farouk and Princes Mohamed Ali Tewfik and Youssef Kamal collected during their hunting trips. “Among the most beautiful and unique collection on display is the butterfly collection of prince Mohamed Ali Tewfik, the former owner of Manial Palace,” Salah said, adding that the collection consisted of 7,000 butterflies.
Sameh Al-Masri, the designer of the museum’s galleries, has brought the aura of the jungle into the galleries of the Hunting Museum, Salah said, adding that the roar of lions, sound of chickens, screech of eagles, and trumpeting of elephants would echo on the audio system. Visual effects would be used to suggest something of the ambiance in which the objects on display were collected.
Walaa Badawi, director of the Manial Palace, told the Weekly that the story of the museum started after the 1952 Revolution when an inventory was carried out of the property of members of Egypt’s former royal family.
When the committee in charge of the inventory detected a large collection of animals and birds, a section of the arched corridor beneath the palace walls was transformed into a Hunting Museum with 15 galleries displaying 10,000 animals and birds from the collection of former King Farouk, who was very fond with hunting, and princes Youssef Kamal from his palace in Matariya and Mohamed Ali Tewfik in Manial Palace.
The museum was inaugurated in 1963, closing in 2007 for restoration. Even after the reinauguration of the palace, the museum remained closed, however. “In 2015, I took the initiative to call for the restoration of the Hunting Museum as it is unique of its kind in Egypt,” Badawi said. Funds were found earlier this year, and restoration work started by restorer Manal Abdel-Moneim and her team. Some of the animals were in bad condition due to temperature and humidity fluctuations, but much of the damage was reversibl......READ MORE.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
The 'Egypt, The Cradle of Religions' exhibit will be inaugurated tonight at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany will inaugurate Thursday evening the “Egypt, the Cradle of Religions” temporary exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. The exhibition comes as part of the ministry’s framework to organise a series of temporary exhibits in an attempt to raise cultural and archaeological awareness.
Elham Salah, the head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the exhibition put on show a collection of 57 artefacts that were carefully selected from the Egyptian Museum, the Coptic Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art.
The exhibition aims to shed light on religion in Egypt since ancient times; from the monotheistic era of King Akhenaten to the appearance of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Among the objects on display are the Terracotta head of the oldest ancient Egyptian deity discovered in Beni Salama, the statue of priest Hotep Di If from the third ancient Egyptian dynasty, a relief of King Akhenaten and his family worshipping the god Aten, and a relief of the goddess Isis and the god Harpocrat from the Greaco-Roman era.
Wooden boxes that were used as holders of the Torah and religious silver pots are also among the objects on display, as well as icons depicting the Virgin Mary and Jesus during their voyage to Egypt, and a copy of the Holy Quran and a silver Islamic-era chandelier decorated with foliage ornaments.
Six Islamic-era lamps recently recovered after being stolen from Cairo’s Al-Refai Mosque will be on special display within the exhibition, as well as items that were recently seized in Egyptian ports before they could be smuggled abroad.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Egypt's Tourism and Antiquities Police has recovered six Khedivate-era lamps that were stolen late December from the El-Refai Mosque in Cairo’s El-Khalifa district, with the culprits behind the theft arrested earlier this week, the Ministry of Antiquities said on Tuesday.
El-Saeed Helmy, head of Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that a committee of archaeological experts has confirmed the recovered lamps’ authenticity.
Mona Ahmed, a restorer at the Museum of Islamic Art who specializes in glass artefacts, told Ahram Online that the lamps are in good condition, and that they bear the rank of Khedive Abbas Helmy II, who ruled Egypt and Sudan from 1892 to 1914.
The Tourism and Antiquities Police say that the people who stole the lamps were working with a film crew that was shooting inside the mosque.
The police arrested two suspects, one of whom is an antiques dealer, while a third is at large. Police say the suspects intended sell the lamps for EGP 900,000. Helmy says the six lamps were among 15 adorning the ceilings of the mausoleums of King Fouad and Princess Ferial at El-Refai Mosque.
The lamps, which date to 1910, are made of glass adorned with a Quranic verse written in Mameluke raised script. “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp,” says the verse from the Surat An-Nur.
Helmy says the lamps were recovered quickly due to the swift action by the antiquities ministry, which was quick to report the theft, and that the minister of antiquities has taken measures to prevent similar thefts in the future.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Following the astonishing discovery of 12 New Kingdom tombs by Lund university mission directed by Dr. Maria Nilsson, H.E. Charlotta Sparre paid her second visit to the site during the 9th season of the mission's work on Saturday 21st. The first visit was in May 2015.
Moamen Saad, PHD researcher at Gebel Silsila and head of inspectors in Karnak temples complex, told Luxor Times "The work of the Swedish mission in cooperation with the ministry of antiquities is shedding the light on this important site which would result in attracting tourists."
Mr. Saad also said that H.E. expressed her content of the volume of Swedish-Egyptian cooperation in archaeology and historical studies. She also praised the work she witnessed between both sides and the support of the ministry under the patronage of Dr. Khalid El-Enany.
Mr. Nasr Salama (director of Aswan antiquities), Ahmed Said (director of Gebel Silsila), Khalid Shawky (head inspectors of Gebel Silsila) and Mohamed Ibrahim (Kom Ombo antiquities inspector) accompanied the ambassador during the visit.
Ahmed said told Luxor Times "The discoveries of the mission during the past seasons of work has contributed in reshaping the knowledge of scholars of the site of Gebel Silsila as it is not just a quarry site."
"The mission has been training the inspectors of the area which allow to exploit their abilities and give them experience to work on different sites in the grounding Aswan area." Mr. Shawky told Luxor Times.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Nevine El-Aref enjoys a trip back to the age of the pyramid builders in the Japanese city of Toyama.
Residents and visitors to the Japanese city of Toyama fell under the spell of the Giza Pyramids last week on the opening of the sixth leg of the Golden Pharaohs and Pyramids touring exhibition in Japan.
Posters of the Great Pyramids at Giza, the pharaoh Khufu’s solar boat, the golden mask of Amenemopet, the limestone pyramidion of Ry and Maya, the black basalt statue of Khafre and jewelry embellished with precious stones have been decorating the walls of Toyama train station, shops, hotels and streets.
For the next two months, Toyama residents will be able to travel back in time to the ancient Egyptian civilisation and explore one of its most important and powerful eras – the Old Kingdom, the age of the Pyramid builders.
A gala ceremony was organised at the Toyama Civic Centre last Friday to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, with Japanese officials, Egyptologists and curators gathering to attend the inauguration.
Among them were Kiyotsugu Yamashi, president of Tulip TV which organised the exhibition, and Osamu Yamamato, director-general of civic affairs and culture at the Toyama prefectural government.
The Egyptian delegation was headed by Gharib Sonbol, head of restoration at the ministry of antiquities in Cairo. The present exhibition is the first ancient Egyptian exhibition to tour Japan after a three-year hiatus following the Tutankhamun: Golden Age of the Pharaohs touring exhibition in 2012.
That exhibition was cut short and returned to Egypt before the end of the planned tour after some Egyptian archaeologists filed a lawsuit against the ministry in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution. The lawsuit sought to end the sending of touring exhibitions of ancient Egyptian artefacts abroad.
The present exhibition was inaugurated in October 2015 in the Japanese capital Tokyo and is scheduled to tour seven other cities in Japan over a 25-month period, including Matsuyama, Sendai, Kagoshima, Kyoto, Toyama, Fukuoka, and Shizuoka.
“The exhibition does not only shed light on the Old Kingdom and the age of the Pyramid builders, but also highlights the strong bilateral relationship between Egypt and Japan in all domains,” minister of antiquities Khaled Al-Enany told the Weekly.
He added that the exhibition was a very good opportunity to promote tourism and to encourage Japanese tourists to return to Egypt.
Al-Enany said that Egyptian-Japanese cooperation in the cultural field was being seen in many distinguished projects. Among the most important was the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau which will put on display 100,000 artefacts and welcome millions of visitors every year.
“This is thanks to the Japanese government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their continuous efforts and support in offering two soft loans to complete one of the most important cultural projects in the world,” El-Enany said.
In addition, Japan had provided technical and scientific support through the provision of scientific equipment and materials to the GEM’s conservation centre. There are also many joint Egyptian-Japanese missions at various archaeological sites in Egypt that have yielded important results.
Waseda University, for example, has been excavating in Egypt since 1966, and was amongst the first foreign institutions to introduce advanced technological tools to better understand Egypt’s archaeology.
One of the University’s recent projects is the exploration of Khufu’s second solar boat in its pit on the Giza Plateau. “The exhibition is the first of its kind in Japan,” Sakuhi Yoshimura, president of the Higashi Nippon International University in Japan and the exhibition’s supervisor, told the Weekly, adding that exhibitions featuring the Pyramids were rare throughout the world... READ MORE.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
The museum, badly damaged in a car bomb explosion in 2014, was inaugurated Wednesday by President Sisi and other top officials. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Qur'an - ink on parchment, Abbasid 9th century
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated the museum, in a ceremony attended by other top officials. The museum will offer admission to visitors free of charge beginning Friday 20 January, and continuing through Saturday the 28th.
The MIA sustained severe damage in January 2014 when a car bomb exploded outside the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate building. The blast destroyed the façade of the building, several columns, display cases and artifacts, as well as the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.
In 2015, nearly a year after the blast, Cairo received a grant of EGP 50 million from the United Arab Emirates to restore the museum, in collaboration with Egyptian and foreign experts from Italy, Germany and the United States.
wooden Islamic boxes and tables
The American Research Centre in Cairo, in collaboration with the Swiss government, contributed EGP 1 million to restore the museum’s façade. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, as well as the Metropolitan Museums in New York, Germany and Austria assisted with trainings for the MIA's curators and restorers.
“The inauguration of the MIA embodies Egypt’s victory against terrorism, its capability and willingness to repair what terrorism has damaged, and to stand against terrorist attempts to destroy its heritage,” El-Enany said at the opening ceremony.
On Thursday, the museum will host a musical ceremony to celebrate the opening, and allow media in to photograph the new and restored exhibits. Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the façade, building and halls of the MIA have been restored with state-of-the-art security and lighting systems installed. Some aspects of the layout have changed, he added.
metal pots and pans
MIA Director Ahmed El-Shoki said the artifacts which were "damaged in the explosion, and which have been restored, are integrated into the new displays, but distinguished by a golden label placed beside them.”
The blast damaged 179 pieces, 169 of which were completely restored while 10 pieces, all carved in glass, were found to be beyond repair. Among the most important artifacts lost were a rare decorated Ayyubid jar and an Omayyad plate carved in porcelain.
The MIA is home to an exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster artifacts, as well as Islamic era metal, ceramic, glass, textile and crystal pieces from all over the world. The museum is housed in a two-story building, with the first floor open to visitors displaying 4,400 artifacts in 25 galleries.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
The son of Belarus President Nikolay Lukashenko visited the Giza Plateau. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Shamel and Badawi (centre) along with the Russian delegate
Walaa El-Din Badawi, director of the Mohamed Ali Palace, told Ahram Online that Prince Shamel, the son of King Farouk’s daughter Princess Fadia, came to Egypt along with a Russian delegation including top officials and friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Monday, Latvia’s ambassador to Egypt and the spouse of its former president also visited the palace. Badawi told Ahram Online that the visitors were keen to take photos in different sections of the palace, and promised to pay another visit Egypt soon.
Ashraf Mohi, director of the Giza Plateau, said that Lukashenko visited the Giza Pyramids and took photos in front of the Sphinx. Lukashenko, who Mohi says is fond of ancient Egyptian civilization, paid another visit to the plateau on the second day of his visit to explore the Great Pyramid of Khufu.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The tourism movement coming to Egypt declined by 40% from 2015 to 2016 due to the suspension of Russian trips to Egypt since early November.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority is getting ready to participate in the ITB Berlin exhibition in the first half of March 2017, in order to increase the incoming tourism movement from the western European countries throughout next summer, according to an official in the authority.
The authority asked the Egyptian Travel Agents Association to get ready to participate in the exhibition and to coordinate with the authority to increase the tourism flow coming to Egypt, especially from the German market.
For the third consecutive year, the Egyptian Tourist Authority kept the price of participation with no increase, according to the official, adding that the price of participation is €1,350, compared to €2,350 two years ago, in spite of the increase of the cost of reserving the section in the exhibition.
The incoming tourism flow to Egypt retreated the last year to 5.3 million tourists compared to 9.3 million in 2015—a decline of 40%—due to the suspension of Russian trips to Egypt since early November 2015.
The official said that the cost of participation serves the interest of Egypt’s tourism sector in the end, in order to enable the companies to be present in the exhibition. The official expects the number of tourists coming from Germany during this year to reach about 800,000, given the resumption of trips from Germany in the last quarter.
He added that the expenditure of German tourists ranges between $70-80 per night, and that they are among the most important tourists coming to Egypt throughout the last 10 years. The most important tourist areas for Germans are both Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, besides trips to archeological areas in Luxor and Aswan.
Monday, January 16, 2017
The Ministry of Antiquities denies claims on social media about the disappearance of a royal golden ring stored in the Egyptian Museum. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The Golden Ring
Salah explained that the ring was among items selected to be on display in a special temporary exhibition in 2002 inside the museum, along with other objects from the museum's collection and artifacts from the store galleries of Saqqara and the Giza Plateau. Regretfully, Elham continued, the ring was not put on show and returned to the store galleries.
A few days ago, a researcher reportedly arrived to the museum and asked to examine the ring. The museum's curator asked the researcher to give them time to remove the ring from its wooden box in the store gallery, while most curators at time were busy filing an inventory of all the museum's treasured collection.
Rumors apparently started on social media saying that the ring had disappeared having been stolen. An archaeological committee was then formed to open the box and photograph the ring in order to prove that the ring is safe in the museum's galleries and is not stolen as claimed.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
New Discovery, Aswan: New discovery in Aswan Reveals Health of Gebel Al-Silsila Inhabitants in Ancient Times
New tombs discovered at Gebel Al-Silsila area in Aswan continue to change perceptions of the nature and role of this ancient Egyptian quarry. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Skeletons found in the newly discovered tombs (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)
"While the tombs had been described by previous visitors to the site, no comprehensive survey, nor any proper archaeological work, had been conducted until 2015," Nilsson said, adding that during the initial survey, 43 tombs were identified, and five tombs were chosen to be cleared of sand and a damaging layer of salt, in order to study their state of conservation. Returning to the site eight months later, Nilsson continued, the work proved successful as both external and interior walls, and to some extent also the ceiling, stabilised by exposing them to the sun, drying out prior dampness.
The tombs entrances
The majority of the tombs excavated so far – with the main exception of two infant burials – had been plundered in antiquity and left neglected without further disturbance, covered by up to three metres of Nile silt, blown in sand, and fallen quarry spoil and debris.
"These readily identifiable stratifications have given a wealth of information with regards not only to the manner in which the spoil and silt have been deposited, but also provided a rudimentary chronological overview for the area," said Ward. He explained that the individual tombs excavated so far this season reveal multiple burials within the same chamber or crypt. A fact that suggests the tombs could belong to a complete family, and individuals of varying ages and sex.
"In addition, the newly discovered infant burials present another aspect to the cemetery, clearly indicating family life at Al-Silsila," Ward pointed out. He added that three different styles of burials have been documented so far, including a rock-hewn crypt, a shallow grave covered with stone, and one infant wrapped in textile placed within a wooden coffin. Two of the three children were placed secreted within the overhangs of the natural sandstone bluffs. They were placed on their side, oriented in either a north-south direction, face towards the east, or alternatively a east-west direction, and facing north.,,, READ MORE.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
|Ibn Khaldoun Mosque|
Alexandria's Ibn Khaldoun mosque is not an archaeological monument, asserted Mostafa Amin, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The secretary-general spoke in response to accusations of negligence from the press and social media, lobbed at the antiquities ministry after the mosque's minaret collapsed Sunday due to high wind and rain.
Amin said that the collapsed minaret is not registered on Egypt’s antiquities list and is not affiliated with Egyptian law governing the protection of antiquities.
Amin told Ahram Online that the mosque, located in Alexandria's Al-Mansheya district, is not a monument as some have claimed and that the Ministry of Antiquities carries no responsibility for it. The mosque falls rather under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religious Endowments, he said.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Cairo and Washington signed an MoU last month to impose tighter restrictions on the illicit importation of Egyptian antiquities. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Shaaban(left) Inspecting The Newly Arrived Sarcophagus' Lid
Minister of Antiquties Khaled El-Enany expressed his full appreciation for the efforts of the ministries of foreign affairs and the interior in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and foreign authorities to repatriate the objects and protect Egypt's cultural and archaeological heritage.
Abdel-Gawad said that the objects recovered include a wizened mummified hand, a painted child's sarcophagus, a gilded mummy mask, the lid of a wooden sarcophagus decorated with religious scenes and a painted linen burial shroud.
In early December, Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States to impose tighter restrictions on the illicit importation of antiquities from Egypt.
According to the MoU, the US government must return to Egypt any material on a designated list of antiquities which are recovered and forwarded to Washington.
Abdel-Gawad said the US government will continue to provide technical assistance in cultural resource management and security to Egypt, as appropriate, under existing and new programmes.
Finally, Egypt should promote best practices in cultural resource management. It should encourage coordination among heritage, tourism and religious authorities, along with development agencies to enforce laws that protect heritage sites from encroachment, unlawful appropriation, looting, and damage.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
The Six Artifacts on Display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir
The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir has put on display six Coptic-era artifacts at its entrance as the January Pieces of the Month in celebration of the Coptic Christmas on 7 January.
Sabah Abdel-Razak, director-general of the Egyptian Museum, explains that the artifacts were carefully selected from the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo and include two pieces of Coptic textiles and three wood carvings.
The first piece of textile has overlapping decorations colored in beige and brown with a cross in the middle.
The second is part of a Coptic robe with plants and geometric decorations, colored in black, dark beige and red. Its lower part ends with tassels colored with blue and gray.
The first of the three wood carvings is decorated with images of an angel, a saint holding a book, and the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus.
The second carving is gilded and decorated with the image of two saints; Irene, whose name means peace, and Foteine, meaning the bright one. An image of Christ is depicted in the middle, with the names of all three written in Greek above each image. The third carving depicts the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus and has a metal cover with ancient Russian writing.