Monday, May 29, 2017

News: Egypt to Launch ‘Cairo Pass’ Package For Unlimited Access to Touristic Sites

From November, foreign visitors to Egypt can buy a ‘Cairo Pass’ which will allow them unlimited entry to archaeological sites and Islamic museums in Greater Cairo over a five-day period, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said earlier this week.

The ‘Cairo Pass’ is $100 for foreign visitors and $50 for students; this can be paid in other foreign currencies, such as the British pound or Euro. Tourists need to provide an ID photo and a photocopy of their passport. Students must provide their university ID.

The permits can be obtained from the headquarters of the Department of Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Antiquities in Zamalek, the Salah el-Din Citadel of Cairo, the Egyptian Museum or the Giza Pyramids.

“Foreign tourism companies requested this permit to be implemented in Cairo and Giza after its success in Luxor last year,” an official at the Ministry of Antiquities told Al-Borsa newspaper. The goal of the ‘Cairo Pass’ is to improve the Ministry’s financial resources and increase foreign currency inflows into the country, the official added.

According to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the total price of all tickets for foreign visitors at every archaeological site in Cairo and Giza—at LE8 to the dollar—is $147 (LE2,630) and $73 (LE1,315) for students. Therefore, tourists will save money by buying this pass.

Egypt’s tourism industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has suffered in the years of turmoil that followed the mass protests, as well as from the suspected bombing of a Russian plane in Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people on board.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt this year could come close to levels seen before its 2011 uprising, encouraged by investments in airport security and a cheaper Egyptian pound, the country’s Tourism Minister said. In 2015, the number of tourists coming to Egypt’s beaches and ancient sites stood at 9.3 million, compared with more than 14.7 million in 2010, while revenues registered $6.1 billion.

Egypt has been offering incentives to airlines such as EasyJet and Germany’s Air Berlin and tour operators such as TUI and Thomas Cook to bring more tourists to the country. In addition, some $50 million has been invested in airport security in Egypt, with further upgrades still coming,

However, efforts by the Egyptian tourism sector to recover have been frustrated by a halt on flights to Egypt from Russia following the attack on the Russian plane and a British suspension of flights to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Discovery, Beni Suef: Lintel Bearing Middle Kingdom Cartouches Unearthed at Ihnasya Site in Egypt

A lintel inscribed with the cartouche of Sesostris II was unearthed at Heryshef temple in Ihnasya. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

A large temple lintel made of red granite was discovered by an Egyptian-Spanish mission during excavation work at the temple of Heryshef at an archaeological site in Ihnasya El-Medina, Beni Suef.

Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, announced the discovery on Saturday.

He described it as “very important” because the lintel is engraved with two cartouches containing the name of the Middle Kingdom King Sesostris II, (c.1895 – 1889 BC), who built the Lahun pyramid located 10 km away from Ihnasya.

The presence of the lintel at the Heryshef temple proves the interest of Sesostris II in this site, and in Fayoum in general.

Maria Carmen Perez-Die, the director of the mission from the Antiquities Museum in Madrid, said that the mission had uncovered several constructions levels, one dating to the early 18th dynasty, which concluded with the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1479 – 1425 BC) and another to that of Ramesses II (c.1279 – 1213 BC).

Friday, May 26, 2017

Short Story: Zamalek Arts Centre Reopens

The Aisha Fahmi Palace Arts Centre in Zamalek reopened to the public earlier this week after seven years of restoration

Overlooking the Nile Corniche in the elegant Cairo district of Zamalek stands the Aisha Fahmi Palace, its distinguished Italian architecture relating the history of the fine arts in Egypt and the role played in promoting them by international and Egyptian artists and architects.

After it was constructed by Italian architect Antonio Lasciac in 1907, the 2,700 metre square palace was the residence of Ali Fahmi, the head of the army during the reign of king Fouad I. After his death, his sister, Aisha Fahmi, made the palace her home, spending the rest of her life there until her death in 1962.

The Ministry of Culture then bought the palace, transforming it into ministry offices. In 1971, it became a storehouse for the Ministry of Information, and late president Anwar Al-Sadat suggested converting the palace into a residence for his deputy. However, in 1975 the palace was given to the Fine Art and Literature Authority and converted into the first fine arts complex in Egypt.

This complex, or mogamaa al-fonoun, went on to host several international exhibitions displaying the works of renowned modern artists such as Picasso and Dali. In the early 1990s, the palace was put on Egypt’s heritage list because of its distinguished architectural style and its exquisite artistic elements.

The palace is a three-storey building including 30 rooms and two halls, a basement level and a roof terrace. The basement was originally used as a residential area for servants, the first floor was the reception area, while the second floor was originally Fahmi’s living area. The palace’s ceilings are decorated with frescoes embellished with golden arcades. Some of the walls are decorated with French tapestries, while others are covered with silk.

Probably the most striking rooms in the palace are the Japanese, billiards and green rooms. The Japanese room is the smallest room on the first floor, and its walls are covered with red silk decorated with golden Japanese lettering and scenes of landscapes in Japan. One of the room’s walls is decorated with drawings relating a folkloric Japanese tale. The ceiling is covered with wood painted with images of Japanese bonsai trees.

The room is furnished with Japanese furniture in red, gold and black. The most distinguished pieces in the room are two large golden statues of the Buddha on red bases.

The billiards room is a medium-sized room equipped with all the required equipment for playing billiards, such as the table, the cues and the competitor board, the latter being rather like the board used in horse racing where the names of the horses are written and on which the winning horse is put on top.

The green room is a very distinctive room. On each of its walls, there is a picture of a woman in a gold frame, all the pictures being in different styles and by different artists. The restorer of the palace, Mohamed Abdel-Baki, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the portraits of the women are thought to be pictures of Aisha Fahmi and her friends.... READ MORE.

Obituary: William Kelly Simpson

The renowned American Egyptologist and lover of Egypt professor William Kelly Simpson passed away recently at the age of 89. Simpson was a great friend and lover of Egypt. He spent his whole life and distinguished career in the service of Egypt and its monuments, especially those of ancient times.

Simpson was a professor of Egyptology emeritus at Yale University in the US. He was born in New York City and received his BA in 1947, MA in 1948, and PhD in 1954 from Yale University. He was one of the most important public figures at Yale University later in his career.

He first worked in the Egyptian Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Then he obtained a Fulbright fellowship to Egypt and a research fellowship at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. In 1958, he was promoted to professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Yale University. He also served for around 20 years as curator of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

While in Boston, he increased the museum’s collections tremendously, reinstalled the galleries, and launched excavations and documentation at several sites in Egypt, principally the Giza Pyramids area and in Sudan. He also taught at several US universities, including as the Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations and the University of Pennsylvania. He also lectured at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton, the Collège de France in Paris, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. In terms of fieldwork, Simpson was the director of the well-known Pennsylvania-Yale Expedition to Egypt. He also participated in the UNESCO campaign to rescue the Nubia monuments in Egypt and the Sudan in the 1960s. He was the co-director of very important excavations at Abydos in Upper Egypt and epigraphic missions in the Giza Pyramids area.

He was the author of many books and articles on Egyptian art, archaeology and literature. He co-authored a book on the history of the Ancient Near East and also co-authored, with other scholars, one of the best-known anthologies of ancient Egyptian literature. He was elected to three terms as president of the International Association of Egyptologists and served as president and later chairman of the Board of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, as vice-chairman of the Board of the American University in Cairo, and as trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Research Centre in Egypt.

In 1965, Simpson was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for the humanities in Near Eastern Studies. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Research Centre in Cairo on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1998. He also received the Award for Distinguished Service from the American University in Cairo and the Medal of Honour for Distinguished Service to Egyptology and Egypt from Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s minister of culture at the time, and the Organising Committee of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo in 2000.

In 2001, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the American University in Cairo. In 2003, he was awarded the Augustus Graham Medal by the Brooklyn Museum in the US for services to Egyptology and the museum. He was elected to membership of the American Oriental Society, the American Philosophical Society, and the German and Austrian Archaeological Institutes.

I met professor Simpson several times at the Giza Pyramids area and during the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo in 2000. He served the monuments of Egypt, especially the Giza Pyramids and the archaeological remains in Nubia, with unstinting passion, and he also helped many Egyptians to study Egyptology in the US. He was an unfailingly modest and helpful person, as well as an authority on ancient art, archaeology and literature. He served as a major channel between Egypt and the US to the benefit of the two nations and the archaeological and cultural ties between the two countries.

Later this year, Yale University will commemorate the memory of this distinguished person and scholar, and Egypt should do the same for the country’s great friend, professor William Kelly Simpson. Professor Simpson will be very greatly missed, but his multifaceted legacy at all levels between Egypt and the US and among many Egyptians and Americans will last forever.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

News, Giza: Tutankhamun's Bed, Chariot Set to Arrive at Grand Egyptian Museum

The artifacts are being moved in preparation for the new museum's soft opening in 2018. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The funerary bed and chariot of Tutankhamun is set to be delivered on Tuesday evening to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau in preparation for the new museum's soft opening in 2018.

State of the art technology and efficient scientific techniques were used in lifting and moving the artifacts from their current display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir into the packing boxes.

The bed is carved out of wood and covered with golden sheets with decoration depicting the goddess Mahit Weret.

The chariot, one of the king's five chariots, is also carved out of wood and covered with golden sheets and decorated with precious stones.

GEM supervisor-general Tarek Tawfik said that the packing and transportation was carried out by an Egyptian-Japanese team that has consolidated the wooden surfaces of both artefacts as well as strengthened the weak points before packing.

Scientific studies have been also conducted on the condition of the chariot and bed to ensure they can be safely transported.

Egyptian and international media, as well as Tawfik and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, will be present at the GEM when the artifacts arrive.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Back Home: Egypt Says It Retrieved 4 Stolen Artifacts From Britain

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced on Tuesday that it has retrieved from the United Kingdom four artifacts that had been stolen and smuggled out of Egypt.

The artifacts have now been restored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the ministry added in a statement.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, a ministry official, said that two of the artifacts were displayed at an auction house in the UK while the two other pieces were in the possession of an antiquities dealer in London.

Two of the artifacts were stolen during the security mayhem that prevailed in the wake of the 2011 Uprising, which resulted in the ousting of long-time president Hosni Mubarak, while the other two were stolen in 2013, according to the ministry.

In 2011, Egypt witnessed a period of security chaos during which the rate of antiquities thefts increased by 90 per cent compared to the pre-2011 rate, according to previous statements made by Egyptian officials.

Egypt seeks to regain illegally smuggled antiquities that date back to the pharaonic era.
To Read All Back Home Antiquities Posts Click Here 

Monday, May 22, 2017

New Discovery, Luxor: Embalming Materials For Middle Kingdom Vizier Lpi Rediscovered On Luxor's West Bank

Newly discovered embalming jars.Photos courtesy of the Spanish Mission
The embalming materials of Ipi, vizier and overseer of Thebes and member of the elite during the reign of King Amenemhat I in the early 20th Dynasty, have been rediscovered in his tomb at Deir Al-Bahari on Luxor's west bank. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Within the framework of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project, an international mission under the auspices of the University of Alcalá (UAH, Spain) has uncovered over 50 clay jars filled with embalming materials for the mummification of the ancient Egyptian vizier Ipi during the cleaning of the courtyard under his tomb number (TT 315).

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the antiquities ministry’s Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, said that the jars were first discovered in 1921 and 1922 by American Egyptologist Herbert Winlock inside an auxiliary chamber in the northeast corner of the upper courtyard of Ipi’s tomb, where they were left as is.

Time has taken its toll on the courtyard, which had been buried in sand before being uncovered by the Spanish mission.

The jars hold equipment such as bandages, oils and salts, which were used by embalmers in mummification, as well as jars, bowls, scrapers, and a mummification board decorated with ankh-signs.

“The identification of these materials is of great importance for understanding the mummification techniques used in the early Middle Kingdom and the assessment of the kinds of items, tools, and substances involved in the process of embalming,” head of the Spanish mission Antonio Morales told Ahram Online.

Morales added that the deposit of the mummification materials used for Ipi included jars with potmarks and other types of inscriptions, various shrouds and four-metre-long linen sheets, shawls, and rolls of wide bandages.

Embalming Materials Discovered
Photos Courtesy of The Spanish Mission
There were also other types of cloth, rags, and pieces of slender wrappings designed to cover fingers, toes, and other parts of the vizier’s corpse.

Team specialist Salima Ikram has identified what seems to be the mummified heart of Ipi, an uncommon practice that no doubt deserves more investigation.

Morales said that the deposit also contained around 300 sacks of natron salt, oils, sand, and other substances, as well as jar stoppers and a scraper.

Among the most outstanding pieces of the collection are the Nile clay and marl jars, some with potmarks and hieratic writing, various large bandages six metres in length, as well as a shroud used for covering the body of the vizier Ipi; a fringed shawl 10 metres in length.

There are also natron bags that were deposited in the inner parts of the vizier’s body, twisted bandages used as mummy packing, and small pieces of bandages for the upper and lower extremities.

Embalming Materials Discovered
Photos Courtesy of The Spanish Mission
The collection should provide members of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project an excellent opportunity for the scientific analysis of the substances, components, textiles, and human remains found in the embalming cache, as well as the technical procedures and religious rituals used in the mummification of a high official in the early Middle Kingdom.

Ezz El-Din El-Noubi, director of the Middle Area of Al-Qurna Antiquities, said that the discovery was made during the third season of project by the University of Alcalá Expedition to Deir El-Bahari in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Luxor Inspectorate.

The main purpose of the project is the archaeological study and epigraphy of the tombs of Henenu (TT 313) and Ipi (TT 315), the funerary chamber and sarcophagus of Harhotep (CG28023), as well as the conservation and detailed publication of information of these monuments and others located at Thebes.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Discovery, Sohag: Ancient Stone Block Discovered At Illegal Excavation Site in Upper Egypt’s Sohag

The block is engraved with the cartouche of the 30th Dynasty King Nectanebo II, who is known for his construction projects. Wreitten By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The Whole Block Discovered
An Egyptian archaeological committee from Al-Belinna inspectorate in the Sohag town of Abydos found a stone block engraved with the cartouche of the 30th Dynasty King Nectanebo II during the inspection of an old house in the Beni Mansour area, under which the owner was carrying out an illegal excavation.

The Tourism and Antiquities Police caught the suspects conducting the illegal excavation red-handed and have confiscated the house until the completion of investigations, according to Hani Abul Azm, the head of the Central Administration for Antiquities of Upper Egypt.

Abul Azm added that the block may have been part of King Nectanebo II's royal shrine or an extension of a wall of a temple built by the king. Nectanebo II is well-known for his construction projects in Abydos. Abul Azm said that after the completion of the expropriation procedures, more excavation will take place at the site.

Ashraf Okasha, director-general of Abydos Antiquities, pointed out that the newly discovered block measures 1.40x40 cm, but the high level of subterranean water has made it difficult to determine whether it was part of a shrine or a temple wall.

Okasha added that the archaeological committee inspected the site at the two-storey mud brick house where the illegal excavation was underway, with the block discovered at the bottom of a four metre-deep hole.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

News, Cairo: Funerary Bed of King Tut Packed for Transfer to Grand Egyptian Museum

The bed of Tutankhamun
The king's entire treasured collection is planned for transfer to the GEM ahead of its 2018 opening. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

A team from the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) began packing on Monday King Tutankhamun’s treasured collection at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in a step towards transferring to its permanent location at the GEM.

Tarek Tawfik, GEM supervisor-general, said that the team is now packing the golden king’s funerary bed which is made of wood gilded with golden sheets and decorated with the head of the goddess Sekhmet.

Before packing the bed was subjected to scientific documentation and first aid restoration to guarantee its safe transportation.

GEM's head of first aid restoration Eissa Zidan told Ahram Online that the packing process is carried out in collaboration with a Japanese scientific team and will take eight hours to complete. 

The team will use acid-free packing materials and equipment to minimise vibrations during the bed’s transportation.

Zidan during packing process
Japanese expert during packing
Zidan said that devices to measure heat and vibration intensity would be used on the bed during its transportation.

All the Tutankhamun artifacts are to be packed and transported to the GEM according to a planned schedule until the soft opening of the new museum in mid-2018.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Short Story: A Forecast of Egyptian Civilisation

Mai Samih listens to the story of civilisation in Egypt from a geological perspective.

Rocks and earth layers have as much to say as a drawing on a temple about the past, maybe even more. Head of the Department of Geology and professor of Geo-Archaeology at the Faculty of Science at Cairo University Mohamed Abdel-Rahman Hemdan said as much at a seminar at Beit Al-Sinary in Cairo in March when he claimed that “the past is the key to the present.”

“We geologists study the present to understand what happened in the past. However, that past is also the key to the present because archeologists have learned much about how the climate in particular has changed over time. This is a new trend we are now trying to work with,” he said.

The climate is the weather over the long term, Hemdan said, commenting that time-scales of 100 to a million years are not uncommon in geology. Cold weather in the north could affect the surface of the oceans and the winds in another part of the planet that carry rain.

“Rain for us in Egypt originates from two sources, the Atlantic monsoon from the west and the Indian monsoon from the east. These unite into one front named the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which causes rain. If this is directed northwards, it leads to rain, as happened some 11,000 to 8,000 years Before the Present (BP). If it goes southwards, a state of drought occurs. This could be good news for those who fear global warming, as when the sea level rises our desert will become green because there will be more rain,” he said.

Some 150,000 years BP the sea level was low, and the weather in Ethiopia was not as wet as it is today, so it did not feed a lot of water into the Nile. The River Nile looked like a small channel at the time, and the water level in the Mediterranean was 120 metres lower than it is today.

“Approximately 25,000 to 11,000 years BP there was a dry era called the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and Egypt went through a drought. In cool weather, the sea level decreases. The Nile flood level was low, and because of the low sea level the Delta had more branches that started to multiply and deepen. These left what are sometimes called ‘turtle backs’ behind them, sediments of soil that people would settle on to be higher than the water level during floods,” Hemdan said. 

This period was followed by wet conditions. “From 11,000 to 8,000 years BP, the Nile flood was very high, and the desert also saw a lot of rain, meaning that scientists called it the ‘Green Sahara’ era,” he said, adding that human beings were free to live more widely as a result. 

From 10,000 to 8,000 years BP, the land was once again very wet, and the River Nile would increase one cm every year. There was a lot of rain in Ethiopia, and the water in the Nile turned the flood plains into swamps. The river did not deposit much sediment, and it would flood the valley all year round, Hemdan added.

“Some 2,000 years BP is a very important era for the whole planet as it was an ice age that lasted for about 1,000 to 1,500 years, also affecting Egypt,” he said, adding that the Nile at that time consisted of two channels, the main one and one that resembled the Bahr Al- Lebeni and Giza channels that can still be seen today. “We discovered this through satellite images. The first was a short, thin channel near the desert during the Pre-Dynastic Period, and the second one was a large one in the current Nile channel,” he said....  READ MORE.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

News, Taba: Egypt's Antiquities Minister Seeks to Smooth Pharaoh Island's Entry to UNESCO World Heritage List

Khaled El-Enany is supervising inter-ministry efforts to meet the World Heritage Committee's deadline of February 2018, says senior antiquities official. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany has met with representatives of various other ministries and departments in order to facilitate the addition of Pharaoh Island in Taba to the UNESCO World Heritage list, a senior antiquities official told Ahram Online.

The ministry of antiquities is preparing the final archaeological file needed to register the site with UNESCO, with a February 2018 deadline for submission to the World Heritage Committee (WHC). The file is being compiled in cooperation with the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, tourism, international cooperation, defence and environment, as well as Homeland Security.

According to Ahmed Ebeid, Supervisor General of the Technical Office at the antiquities ministry, El-Enany meet with representatives of the other ministries and departments in order to resolve obstacles that arose in compiling the preliminary file, which was submitted in October. The high-level meeting also reviewed the WHC's recommendations relating to the site in South Sinai, which incorporates a historic fortress.

Yasmin El-Shazly, general supervisor of the antiquity ministry's International Organizations Department, told Ahram Online that before the final file can be submitted, the ministry must develop the island's visitor centre, provide more facilities and services, and ensure safe access roads.

She said that the minister has already created an action plan to develop the site in a way that reflects its historic and environmental value. “When Egypt succeeds in registering Pharaoh Island on the Word Heritage List, this will be Egypt’s first site to be registered since 2002,” El-Shazly said.

Pharaoh Island, located some 250 metres from the shore of Taba in South Sinai, includes of a fortress built by the Ayyubid prince Salaheddin to protect the Islamic empire from the Crusades. It was the second of several such fortresses built in Egypt by Salaheddin.

Built in 1171 AD, the citadel is strategically located on Pharaoh Island on a steep, difficult-to-climb hill high above sea level – and with a beautiful, blue sea view. The citadel played an important role in protecting the Sinai Peninsula from invasion during the Crusades.

It was capable of stand-alone defense in case of siege, with towers and defensive walls part of the citadel’s strategy. Water tanks built into the rock provided protection and sustenance. Archaeologists have also identified a bakery, mill and bathroom, as well as a furnace for producing weapons, a meeting room and accommodation for soldiers.

Pharaoh Island attracts all types of tourism, including eco-tourism, cultural visits and safaris. With beautiful views of the warm, Red Sea, it also boasts untouched coral reefs. Tours visit both the citadel and the neighbouring Valley Taiwibh, which has ancient Egyptian inscriptions of the early Egyptians who lived in Sinai, as well as inscriptions from Arab Nabataeans of the second century BC.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Recovered Artifacts, France: Ancient Egyptian Limestone Relief Recovered From Paris

Egypt recovered a limestone relief and a collection of 44 cosmetic containers from France. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities officially received today an ancient Egyptian limestone relief, which has been recovered from France, during a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Cairo.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, the general supervisor of the ministry’s Antiquities Repatriation Department, says that the relief was on display at a Paris auction house. The ministry took all the necessary procedures to stop the sale of the relief and have it withdrawn from the auction.

Abdel-Gawad said that the relief was stolen from a temple at Saqqara necropolis during the 1900s and smuggled out of the country.

The relief, which is dated to the 30th Dynasty during the reign of King Nakhtenbo II, is about 44X50 cm in size and weighs about 80kg.

It is carved in limestone and depicts the goddess Sekhmet carrying the sun disk on top of her head. It has a line of hieroglyphic writing that contains the cartouche of King Nekhtenbo II.

Abdel-Gawad said that the ministry has also received a collection of 44 small and medium-sized artefacts that had been seized at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France.

The collection includes cosmetic and jewellery containers made of beads, ivory, and bone, with some dating from different ancient Egyptian eras, though most are dated to the Coptic era.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New Discovery, Tuna Al-Gabal: Cachette of 17 Mummies Unearthed in Egypt's El-Minya

The Late Period burial site was discovered at the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site by a team from Cairo University. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany (C) speaks to the media on May 13, 2017,
 in front of mummies following their discovery in catacombs in the
Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt. (AFP)
Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site, near Upper Egypt's El-Minya, buzzed Saturday with journalists who flocked in to catch a glimpse of a newly discovered cachette of mummies, dating from the Late Period.

During excavation work in the area, which neighbours the birds and animals necropolis, a mission from Cairo University stumbled this week upon the cachette -- a term that describes an unmarked burial site used to house multiple mummies and protect them from looting.

Mission head Salah El-Kholi told Ahram Online that the cachette includes 17 non-royal mummies wrapped in linen and very well preserved. It was found by chance through a radar survey carried out in collaboration with experts from the university's faculty of science in early 2016 that revealed hollow ground.

A mummy inside the newly discovered burial 
site in Minya, Egypt  May 13, 2017. (Reuters)
El-Kholi said the mummies were found in burial shafts along with a collection of eight limestone sarcophagi, two of which were carved in clay. A number of baboon coffins were also found.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany described the discovery as important because it is the first made in the area since the discovery of the birds and animals necropolis by Egyptologist Sami Gabra between 1931 to 1954.

The discovery adds to a spate of recent finds at sites across Egypt. Most recently, a mission from the antiquities ministry stumbled upon the almost intact funerary collection of Userhat, the chancellor of Thebes during the 18th dynasty, in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor's west bank.

A number of mummies inside the newly discovered burial
site in Minya, Egypt  May 13, 2017. (Reuters)
El-Enany told reporters about this week's cachette discovery at a gala ceremony attended by El-Minya governor Essam Al Bedewi, the ambassadors of Belgium, Hungary and Serbia and a number of top officials from the ministry and Cairo University.

El-Kholi said that both clay sarcophagi are anthropoid coffins, one of which is in good condition while the other is partly damaged. Two papyri written in Demotic and a gold decoration with the shape of a feather were also found.

"This feather could be decoration on the hair dress of one of the deceased," El- Kholi said. He said the papyri would be transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum for restoration.

At a neighbouring site, the mission has also uncovered a number of Roman funerary houses made of clay. Inside they found a collection of different coins, lamps and other domestic items.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Discovery, Dahshur: Burial Chamber of Recently Unearthed 13th Dynasty Pyramid in Dahshur Uncovered

Newly Discovered Box 
Photo Nevine El-Aref
The wooden box of the canopic jars and remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus were uncovered inside the newly discovered pyramid remains in Dahshur necropolis. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities uncovered the burial chamber of a 13th Dynasty Pyramid discovered last month at Dahshur archaeological site.

Adel Okasha, head of the mission and the general director of the Dahshur site, explained that after removing the stones that covered the burial chamber, the mission discovered a wooden box engraved with three lines of hieroglyphics.

These lines are rituals to protect the deceased and the name of its owner.

Sherif Abdel Moneim, assistant to the minister of antiquities, revealed that the box housed the four canopic jars of the deceased with their name engraved, that of the daughter of the 13th Dynasty King Emnikamaw, whose pyramid is located 600 metres away.

He said that the mission also discovered last month a relief with 10 lines of hieroglyphics bearing the cartouche of King Emenikamaw. Hence the box may belong to the King’s daughter, or one of his family. Inside the box, the mission found wrappings of the deceased's liver, intestines, stomach and lungs.

Remains of an anthropoid sarcophagus have been found but in a very bad state of conservation. Excavation works would continue to uncover more of the pyramid's secrets.

Khaled El-Enany, minister of antiquities, visited the site this morning to inspect the excavation works.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

News, Sakkara: Djoser Pyramid Restoration 90% Complete

CAIRO: More than 90 percent of the restoration work at Djoser Pyramid, also known as the Step Pyramid, has been completed, the head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, Waad Abul-Ela, said Tuesday.

The pyramid will be open to the public once maintenance works are approved. “We are also working on repairing the southern tomb,” Abul-Ela added.

Djoser Pyramid, located in Saqqara, Giza, was built approximately 4700 years ago. Archaeologists believe it was the first pyramid built in ancient Egypt and is now the oldest stone structure of its size in the world. It is 62 meters high and consists of six 'steps' built atop one another.

In 2015, the cabinet approved the allocation of 15.3 million EGP ($844,000) for the pyramid’s restoration.

Monday, May 8, 2017

News: Experts Meet In Egypt Over Moving King Tut Property

Archaeologists and conservation experts are meeting in Cairo to discuss the safe transportation of King Tutankhamun’s throne, chests and bed from the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo to a new one being built on the other side of the city.

Sunday’s gathering brought together experts from Egypt, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Japan and is being organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

No date has yet been set for the transfer of the priceless items, which would be displayed at two halls in the new museum near the Giza Pyramids. The halls are scheduled to open at the end of 2017.

The tomb of King Tut, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, was discovered in 1922 in the southern city of Luxor.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

News, Cairo: Third Annual Tutankhamun Conference Inaugurated Yesterday

The Golden King Tutankhamun's human remains and furniture, discovered in his tomb, are the main focus of this year's conference. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Under the title, "Tutankhamun: Human Remains and Furniture," the third annual conference on the boy king launched yesterday at Ahmed Kamal Pasha Hall at the Ministry of Antiquities premises.

The conference is organised by the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) since 2015 in an attempt to further discussion of best methods to restore and preserve Tutankamun’s funerary collection and ensure its safe transportation from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the GEM overlooking the Giza Plateau.

It also discussed state of the art display techniques, to put on show the golden king’s collection at new permanent exhibition halls at the GEM.

Tarek Tawfik, GEM supervisor general, told Ahram Online that Egyptology professor at the American University in Cairo Fayza Heikal is the head of this year's conference with the participation of 12 scholars from six countries (France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Denmark).

Participants during the three days of the conference will discuss 17 scientific papers on the human remains of the boy king as well as his funerary collection.

Tawfik explained that on the first day the king’s chair, bed, and his wooden boxes would be the focus of discussion, while the second day would review the experience of the Berlin Museum in Germany and the Louvre Museum in Paris in transporting parts of their collection, along with new techniques used in exhibiting artefacts.

The third and final day, asserted Tawfik, would focus on the best techniques to be used to restore the king’s funerary collection.