Monday, November 27, 2017

News, Giza: Foreign Diplomats Tour Grand Egyptian Museum Site Ahead of 2018 Opening

The 150-strong delegation from the Egyptian Diplomatic Club was given a presentation on the GEM's construction history and a preview of the planned displays, including the complete treasures of Tutankhamun. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
A delegation of foreign diplomats visited the site of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) on Sunday, inspecting the ongoing construction work in an effort raise the project's profile ahead of its opening in 2018. The 150 diplomats from the Egyptian Diplomatic Club were given a guided tour of the site overlooking the Giza Plateau, including the conservation and research center and the main building, which is still being built.

Tarek Tawfik, supervisor general of the GEM, told Ahram Online that the delegation consisted of foreign ambassadors, cultural counsellors in Egypt and Egyptian diplomats. They began their visit with a minute's silence to mourn the victims of Friday's terrorist attack at Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai. The delegation was provided with a presentation on the GEM's construction, which started in the early 2000s, as well as the Ministry of Antiquities' plan to open the museum in 2018. 

Tawfik said the world is awaiting the opening of the GEM, which will display the complete collection of King Tutankhamun's treasures for the first time since his tomb was discovered in 1922. The treasures are currently stored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The GEM project is intended to provide a modern and spacious venue for the display of Egypt's antiquities, many of which are stored at the museum in Tahrir Square.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Short Story: New Gold of Tutankhamun

Gold appliqué sheets from Tutankhamun’s chariot were put on display at the Egyptian Museum this week, revealing the technology used to decorate ancient Egyptian vehicles, writes Nevine El-Aref .

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was buzzing with visitors this week who had flocked to the institution’s second floor to catch a glimpse of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s unseen treasures.  Glittering against black backgrounds inside glass showcases, a collection of gold appliqué sheets that once decorated the boy-king’s chariot had been put on display for the first time 95 years after its discovery.

When British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, he stumbled upon a collection of decorative gold sheets scattered on the floor of the treasury room near the chariot. Due to its poor conservation, Carter put the collection in a wooden box that has remained in the depths of the museum’s storage rooms ever since.

In 2014, a joint project by the Egyptian Museum, the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, the University of Tübingen and the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz carried out an archaeological and iconographic analysis of this important but largely ignored collection supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a research body, and the German foreign office. It is this collection that has now been placed on display.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany described the exhibition as “special and important” because it not only highlights a very significant subject but also celebrates the 60th anniversary of the reopening of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo after its closure in 1939 due to World War II.

“The exhibition is a good opportunity for the public to admire for the first time one of the golden king’s unseen treasures,” El-Enany said, adding that several artifacts from Tutankhamun’s treasured collection were still hidden in the Egyptian Museum. “This will not last long,” El-Enany promised, saying that all the boy-king’s unseen and non-exhibited artefacts would be transported to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau after its soft opening at the end of 2018.

Director of the German Archaeological Institute Stephan Seidlmayer said that studies carried out on the appliqués had revealed that they once adorned the horse-trapping, bow-cases and sheaths of weapons associated with Tutankhamun’s chariot. They exhibited unusual stately and playful designs, combining ancient Egyptian patterns with Levantine motifs, he said.

“They attest to the large network of social and cultural interconnections which has characterised the eastern Mediterranean from antiquity to the present time,” Seidlmayer said. He added that scientific analyses using the latest technology had revealed the sophisticated composition of the artifacts which rank among the highest products of ancient craftsmanship.

They reflect the wide-ranging trade network which incorporated the nearer and farther regions of the Near East and the Mediterranean that extended into parts of Middle and Western Europe. Raw materials, food products, and luxury goods were traded along different routes by land and sea.READ MORE.        

Saturday, November 25, 2017

New Discovery, Aswan: Hellenic-Era Block, New Kingdom Axes Discovered in Egypt's Aswan

During excavation work at the north-eastern area of Aswan's Komombo temple as part of a project to decrease subterranean water, an Egyptian mission from the Ministry of Antiquities has recently discovered a Hellenic-era limestone block engraved with hieroglyphic inscriptions. Writen By/ Nevine El-Aref .

A carpentry workshop was also discovered by a German-Swiss mission led by Cornelious von Pilgrim on Aswan's Elephantine Island in Aswan, where two New Kingdom-era axes were found. 

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explains that preliminary studies carried out on the block reveal that it dates back to the era of Macedonian King Philip III Arrhidaeus, the step brother of Alexander the Great, who succeeded his brother to the throne. The block is 83cm tall, 55cm wide and 32cm thick. The inscription shows the cartouche of King Philip III and a prayer to the crocodile god Sobek of Komombo. The upper part of the block depicts the goddess Nekhbet and its lower part bears an image of King Philip wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt.

The two most notable artefacts found at the workshop on Elephantine Island are axes made of bronze or copper. The axes were found in a small pit in one of the uppermost floors of the structure. The artefacts have been dated to the reign of either Thutmosis III or during the early rule of Amenhotep II.

One of the axes, which was most likely used as a construction tool, is symmetrical with elongated lugs; this type of axe started to appear in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. The axe, which is heavily corroded and cracked, is similar to a type of splayed axe with straight sides that became common at the time of the 18th Dynasty.

The second axe is clearly of foreign, likely Syrian, origin, and is the first of its kind to be found in Egypt. The axe head has a hole where it can be mounted on a shaft; a technology that was never adopted by Egyptian manufacturers.

“The axe has four spikes on the opposite sides of the blade, which corresponds to the Nackenkammäxten type of axe, which has only been known to originate from the northern Levant and Syria,” Von Pilgrim told Ahram Online.

Von Pilgrim added that two almost identical pieces have been found at a sanctuary of stratum VIII in Beth Shan (North Palestine) and in a tomb in Ugarit (Syria). However, the Levantine pieces are dated slightly later than the artifacts from Egypt, which could possibly be explained by the longevity of such precious weapons or tools and their eventual depositing in sacral and funeral contexts. Von Pilgrim added the axe from Elephantine is the earliest example of such an axe ever found, adding that it is safe to assume that it was used as a construction tool on Elephantine.

The Syrian axe, however, may have found its way into Egypt during the direct contacts, or conflicts, between Egypt and Mitanni during this period. The discovery of this Syrian axe in Elephantine could add to the study of contact between Egypt and Mitanni, the North African nation's rival in Syria during the Thutmoside period.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

News, Alexandria: Roman Shipwrecks Among Latest Seafloor Discoveries Near Alexandria

Three Roman shipwrecks and an ancient Egyptian votive bark to the god Osiris were discovered earlier this week on the Mediterranean seabed near the Egyptian city of Alexandria, along with a collection of smaller Artifacts. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The finds were discovered during underwater excavations carried out by a joint mission from the Ministry of Antiqiuties' Underwater Archaeology Department and the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology in Abu Qir Bay and Alexandria's eastern harbour.

Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the mission also uncovered a crystal Roman head probably depicting the Roman army commander Marc Antony and gold coins from the reign of Emperor Augustus.

Osama Al-Nahas, head of the Underwater Archeology Department at the ministry, explained that the eastern harbour still hides many treasures, and that evidence suggests a fourth shipwreck could yet be identified during the mission's next archaeological season in 2018.

The evidence, he told the Ahram Online, consists of large wooden beams and remains of pottery vessels, which may have been the cargo of a fourth ship.

In September the mission began its archaeological survey of the sunken city of Heraclion, which is located under Abu Qir Bay. The mission has also continued the restoration of those objects recovered from the seafloor during their previous archaeological seasons.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back Home, Cyprus: 14 Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Including Amulets, Vase, to Be Returned From Cyprus - Ministry

The objects include an alabaster vase inscribed with King Ramses II's cartouche, and 13 amulets of different shapes, sizes and materials. Written By / Nevine El-Aref.

The Egyptian embassy in Cyprus is set to receive a collection of 14 artefacts that have been stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country within a matter of days, an Egyptian antiquities official has said.

The objects include an alabaster vase inscribed with King Ramses II's cartouche, and 13 amulets of different shapes, sizes and materials. The subjects include the goddesses Sekhmet, Neith, Isis, and the Udjat and Djed symbols. Ushabti figurines are also among the collection.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, director-general of the Antiquities Repatriation Department, told Ahram Online that the retrieval of these objects started last year when Interpol reported that it had seized a collection of stolen ancient Egyptian artefacts in Nicosia.

The Repatriation Department, he said, carried out its own investigations and discovered that the seized objects were illegally smuggled out of the country after the passing of the Antiquities Law in 1983 and arrived in Cyprus in 1986, which means Egypt has a right of recovery.

In collaboration with Egypt's ministries of foreign affairs, justice and international cooperation, said Abdel Gawad, Cyprus has approved Egypt's right to retrieve the artifacts and they will be returned shortly.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Discovery, Fayoum: Mummy Discovered at Fayoum's Deir Al-Banat

Mummy discovered at Fayoum's Deir Al-Banat & The sarcophagus
During excavation work carried out at the Deir Al-Banat (Al-Banat Monastery) archaeological site in Fayoum, an Egyptian-Russian mission from the Russian Institute for Oriental Studies discovered a wooden Graeco-Roman sarcophagus with a mummy inside. Written By Nevine El-Aref.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the sarcophagus is in poor condition, with cracks all over its lid and base. The mummy, however, is well-preserved.

He explains that the mummy is wrapped in linen and has a blue and gold cartonnage mask. The mask is decorated with scenes depicting the sky deity Kheibir, while the mummy's chest is decorated with the face of the goddess Isis. The legs have an image of a white sabot.

Mohamed Abdel-Latif, head of the antiquities ministry’s Coptic and Islamic Antiquities Department, said that the sarcophagus and the mummy underwent conservation work at the site before they were transferred to Fayoum for restoration. 

Abdel-Latif said that Deir Al-Banat is known for its Islamic and Coptic antiquities, with its Graeco-Roman necropolis and early Coptic churches and cemeteries.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

News: Ancient Egyptian Tomb Resurrected Using 3D Printer 2,000 Miles Away in Switzerland

Archaeologists and artists working to create perfect copy of one ancient world's greatest wonders

         Facsimiles of two chambers of Pharaoh Seti's tomb are on display Ruedi 
Habegger,  Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig
An Ancient Egyptian tomb has been resurrected using a 3D printer - 2,000 miles away in Switzerland. A team of archaeologists and artists is working to create a perfect copy of the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, one of the largest and most elaborate in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. 

The eventual aim of the five-year project is to install the facsimile on a site close to the original, near Luxor.

For now, the two first two chambers have been reproduced and gone on display at a museum in Basel. The Scanning Seti exhibition at the Swiss city's Antikenmuseum contains an exact copy of the pharoah's 3,300-year-old royal sarcophagus, in rooms adorned with intricate etchings and paintings. 
It was created by Factum Foundation, a specialist art company which has previously worked on a facsimile of facsimile of Tutankhamen's tomb.

The team created a copy of Seti I's sarcophagus based on the 
original at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London
Founder Adam Lowe told CNN Seti's tomb was "the most important library of Pharaonic religion, philosophy, art, poetry and science" in existence. His team used state-of-the-art 3D scanning and printing technology, as well as photogrammetry - the science of taking measurements from photographs - to resurrect the chambers. 

They conducted a 3D survey of the walls of the original tomb and worked from fragments removed from Seti's burial chamber in the 19th century, now displayed in museums including the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

They also studied watercolors created by Giovanni Belzoni, a former circus strongman who discovered the tomb in 1817 more than 3,000 years after Seti's death. 

Belzoni found the tomb in immaculate condition, but years of improperly conducted excavations, looting, and tourism have since taken their toll.  Mr. Lowe said facsimiles had an important role to play in the future of tourism and conversation.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

News, Giza: Exploring Egypt's Great Pyramid From The Inside, Virtually

A team of scientists who last week announced the discovery of a large void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza have created a virtual-reality tour that allows users to 'teleport' themselves inside the structure and explore its architecture.
Using 3D technology, the Scan Pyramids Project allows visitors wearing headsets to take a guided tour inside the Grand Gallery, the Queen's Chamber and other ancient rooms not normally accessible to the public, without leaving Paris. "Thanks to this technique, we make it possible to teleport ourselves to Egypt, inside the pyramid, as a group and with a guide," said Mehdi Tayoubi, co-director of Scan Pyramids, which on Nov. 2 announced the discovery of a mysterious space inside the depths of the Pyramid.

The void itself is visible on the tour, appearing like a dotted cloud. "What is new in the world of virtual reality is that from now on you are not isolated but there are several of us, you're in a group, you can take a tour with your family. And you can access places which you usually can't in the real pyramid."

While partly designed as a fun experience, the "collaborative immersion" project allows researchers to improve the technologies they used to detect the pyramid void and think about what purpose it may have served. The pyramid, built in around 2,500 BC and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was a monumental tomb soaring to a height of 479 feet (146 metres). Until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, the Great Pyramid stood as the tallest manmade structure for more than 4,000 years.

While there are passage ways into it and chambers in various parts, much of the internal structure had remained a mystery until a team from France's HIP Institute used an imaging method based on cosmic rays to gain a view inside. So-called muon particles, which originate from interactions with rays from space and atoms in Earth's upper atmosphere, are able to penetrate hundreds of metres through stone before being absorbed. That allows for mapping inside stone structures.

"Muon tomography has really improved a lot due to its use on the pyramid and we think that muography will have other applications in other fields," said Tayoubi. "But we also wanted to innovate and imagine devices to allow the wider public to understand what this pyramid is, understand it from within." When looking through their 3D goggles, visitors can see the enormous stones of the pyramid as if they were real, and walk virtually along its corridors, chambers and hidden spaces. As they approach the pyramid from the outside, the tour even includes audio of Cairo's deafening and ever-present traffic.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New Discovery, Fayom: First Hellenistic Gymnasium in Egypt Discovered at Watfa Village in Fayoum

The gymnasium was used during the Ptolemaic period for training young Greek-speaking men in sports, literacy and philosophy. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

A part of the gymnasium 
A German-Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered the first Hellenistic gymnasium ever found in Egypt, located at Medinat Watfa, in the northwest of Fayoum Oasis. The mission from the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), headed by Professor Cornelia Römer, made the discovery as part of its ongoing excavations at the Watfa site.

Watfa is the location of the ancient village Philoteris, founded by king Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BCE and named after his second sister Philotera. Aymen Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the gymnasium included a large meeting hall, once adorned with statues, a dining hall and a courtyard in the main building.

There is also a racetrack of nearly 200 metres in length, long enough for the typical stadium-length races of 180 metres. Generous gardens surrounded the building, completing the ideal layout for a centre of Greek learning.

A part of the gymnasium 
Römer explains that gymnasia were privately founded by rich people who wanted their villages to become even more Greek in aspect. There, she continued, the young men of the Greek speaking upper-class were trained in sports, learned to read and write, and to enjoy philosophical discussions.

All big cities of the Hellenistic world, like Athens in Greece, Pergamon and Miletus in Asia Minor, and Pompei in Italy, had such gymnasia. “The gymnasia in the Egyptian countryside were built after their pattern. Although much smaller, the gymnasium of Watfa clearly shows the impact of Greek life in Egypt, not only in Alexandria, but also in the countryside," Römer said.

Alexander the Great, she pointed out, had made Egypt part of the Hellenistic world, and thousands of Greek-speaking settlers flocked to the land by the Nile, attracted by the new Ptolemaic empire, which promised prosperity and peace.

In the Delta and Fayoum in particular, new villages were founded, in which the indigenous population lived together with the Greek newcomers. Such villages were equipped not only with Egyptian temples, but also with Greek sanctuaries.
There were also public baths, an institution very popular in the Greek world. The baths soon became places of social encounter in the villages and meeting points for the Egyptian and Greek-speaking inhabitants.

Gymnasia as places of Greek culture and lifestyle were part of this Hellenistic cultural setting. Inscriptions and papyri had already witnessed the existence of gymnasia in the countryside of the Ptolemaic period. They tell of payments for parts of the main buildings being made by rich inhabitants of the villages, and of the men who governed the institutions.

At Watfa, the first building of this kind in Egypt has now been discovered. Watfa, ancient Philoteris, was one of the many villages founded under the first Ptolemies in the middle of the 3rd century BC. In the beginning, it had around 1,200 inhabitants, two thirds of them Egyptians, and one third Greek-speaking settlers.

The German Archaeological Institute has been conducting surveys and excavations at Watfa since 2010. One important aspect of the project‘s work is teaching Egyptian students, in cooperation with a teaching program at Ain Shams University, supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Back Home, Emirates: Sharjah Hands Back 400 Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Egypt

The objects, from the Islamic and Pharaonic eras, are currently being examined at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Part of the recovered collection 
Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has received a collection of 400 stolen and illegally smuggled artifacts returned to Egypt by the government of Sharjah.

The collection of Egyptian artifacts was seized by the Sharjah police in the United Arab Emirates and sent back to Cairo upon the order of Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al-Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

According to a ministry statement, Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany "appreciates the initiative launched by his highness Sheikh Al-Qasimi and the UAE authorities, which highlights his support for culture and preserving Egyptian heritage, a matter that reflects the strong and good relationship between the two countries."

El-Enany added that, once the artifacts have been unpacked and documented, they will be put on display in a special exhibition at the ministry.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, director-general of the ministry's Antiquities Repatriation Department, told Ahram Online that the objects are very valuable, most of them dating back to the Pharaonic period and some belonging to the Islamic era.

He said they include the following: a collection of painted false doors carved in stone; copper statuettes of ancient Egyptian deities such as Isis and Osiris; a collection of amulets made of faience; and udjat eyes made of copper and decorated with blue glass.

Fragments of diorite statues in the shape of sphinxes are also among the collection. The artifacts are currently being examined and documented at the Egyptian museum, said Abdel Gawad.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Short Story: Aliaa Ismail First Female Egyptian Egyptologist

Egyptian Egyptologist Aliaa Ismail 
From Madrid to Seti I, Aliaa Ismail’s journey takes an in- teresting path between heritage and technology. When the 26-year-old chose to major in Egyptology, she never imagined that she would one day be the onsite manager of one of Egypt’s most important archaeological projects. 

Ismail double majored in architectural engineering andEgyptology at the American University in Cairo (AUC). “At AUC, I really got to enjoy Egyptology as it really was something unique and very specific to my heritage. It’s always good to be involved in your heritage,” she says.

Under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiqui- ties, the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative utilizes digital technology to preserve cultural heritage. 
Ismail’s role as director of the training center for Luxor’s 3D scanning and documentation is to lead a team of scientists working on cre- ating exact facsimiles of tombs, including Seti I’s tomb, that are, or will soon be, closed to the public for conservation. 

She explains that “3D scanning is basically a method for understanding the surface that you are dealing with. When you look at something, what you see is not what you get.For example, a flat wall is not flat, it has details, it has scratches, very minor things that you cannot see but only feel,” explains Ismail.  “What we try to do is get this data that you can only feel into a form where you can actually see it. Understanding objects in this way allows you to conserve them and to docu- ment them better because it gives you a permanent record as they exist right now.”

Located in a small lateral valley in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, the tomb of Seti I was discovered in October 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, and quickly made international headlines with exhibits held in London in 1821, and later in Paris. The tomb, which is the largest in the Valley of the Kings, remained closed to tourists for some four decades before be- ing officially reopened in 2016.

In collaboration with the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation in Spain and the University of Ba- sel in Switzerland, the Mapping Project focuses on sustain- ability and knowledge transfer, and depends both on devel- oped technologies and human skills. It began in March 2016 with the recording of the vast Nineteenth Dynasty tomb of Seti I, and will include the development of a new training center for digital technology in conservation at Stoppelaëre´s House, also known as Hassan Fathy’s house. 

“The Factum Foundation would like to have an Egyptian team of up to 10 people onsite in Luxor. What we’ve started doing is training them two at a time, and the ones we have now are brilliant and very recep- tive to understanding new technology,” says Ismail, explaining the eventual results will help enable conservators, scholars and historians to see various layers of each artifact and understand the complex history that comes with it, just by its texture and color.

Although Ismail now gets along well with the team, she says it was a real challenge at first. “I’m leading a team of men and that’s hard in a place like Luxor where women are perceived to [have a lower status] than men,” says Ismail. “I had to establish myself in a manner enabling them to perceive me [positively], and not be threatened by me as a woman, as a boss.”

Friday, November 3, 2017

News, Giza: ScanPyramids Mission Rushed in Announcing 'Discovery of New Void’ in Giza’s Khufu' - Egypt Antiquities Ministry

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities said on Thursday that researchers in the ScanPyramids mission were mistaken in publicly announcing that they "discovered a new void space" inside the Great Pyramid of Giza before first discussing their findings with senior Egyptian and international Egyptologists, who have been commissioned by the ministry to study the issue. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
In an article published in the journal Nature on Thursday, an international team of researchers said they have found a hidden chamber in Khufu, the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The team said “the 30-meter (yard) void deep [they identified] within the pyramid is situated above the structure's Grand Gallery, and has a similar cross-section.The purpose of the chamber is unclear, and it's not yet known whether it was built with a function in mind.”

The researchers explained that they “made the discovery using cosmic-ray imaging, recording the behavior of subatomic particles called muons that penetrate the rock similar to X-rays, only much deeper.”

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that publishing the findings in an ongoing research by ScanPyramids project in a scientific  journal such as Nature Journal before discussing these findings with leading Egyptologists was a mistake.

“The findings of the ScanPyramids research project have to be first discussed scientifically among scientists and Egyptologists and then reviewed by the scientific committee, which was tasked by Egypt's ministry of antiquities to supervise research on the matter. This committee is led by renowned Egyptian Egyptologist Zahi Hawass with the participation of the well-known American Egyptologist Mark Lehner and Czech Egyptologist  Murslav Barta,” Waziri added.

“These experts have previously said that the existence of void spaces inside the pyramids is not a new thing and this is a well known fact among Egyptologists," Waziri said. “It was too early at this stage in their study to publish that there was a new discovery,” Waziri added.

An official Egyptian archaeologist, who requested anonymity, told Ahram Online that he believes the mission broke the Egyptian antiquities laws and regulations by announcing findings  to the media through video conference, and, therefore, might be barred by Egyptian authorities from continuing their research.

More News About Pyramid Scan Project

Thursday, November 2, 2017

News: Pharaonic Influences on Display at Egypt Art Show

Paintings by top Egyptian artists shared wall space with hieroglyphs and Pharaonic relics at Cairo's Egyptian Museum this week in an exhibition highlighting ancient influences on contemporary art.

Artists, intellectuals and ambassadors from around the world attended the Saturday night opening of "A night with Art at the Egyptian Museum", organised by the private Art D'Egypte organisation. The exhibition, at the museum on Cairo's iconic Tahrir square, will be open to the public until Tuesday. "We wanted to highlight the link between contemporary art and ancient Egyptian Pharaonic art," Art D'Egypte founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar told AFP.

The modern paintings included abstract portraits and other works by prominent contemporary Egyptian artists such as Adel El Siwi, Mohamed Abla, Ghada Amer, Farouk Hosny and Hoda Lotfi. "This initiative shows that artistic creativity spans millennia reaching today," said Abla, who showed five paintings at the exhibition, reflecting ancient Egyptian influences. "Contemporary art is an extension of art by the Pharaonic ancestors," he said.

The show also includes interactive seminars on ancient Egyptian art and its influences on contemporary artists. Several prominent archaeologists and Egyptologists are to speak, including former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said it was important to preserve Egyptian heritage "because the antiquities belong to the entire world." The ageing Egyptian museum, which is undergoing renovation, was a key tourist attraction before a January 2011 uprising toppled autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.

Visitors would wait in long lines outside its entrance, while the halls inside brimmed with foreign tourists and Egyptian visitors, including students on school trips. But Mubarak's ouster unleashed years of political turmoil and sent tourist numbers plummeting. During the uprising, which was centered in Tahrir Square just outside the museum, looters broke into the building, stealing and damaging several ancient treasures.

The fall in tourist numbers prompted the museum a few months ago to open its doors at night in the hope of attracting new visitors. Among its best-known exhibits are a golden funerary mask and other artifacts from the tomb of 18th dynasty Pharoah Tutankhamun. His belongings are among exhibits set to be transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new facility currently under construction near the Giza Pyramids. Anani said the facility should open at least partially before the end of 2018.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

News, Cairo: Photo Exhibition on Belgian-Egyptian Relations Inaugurated Tuesday Evening

Under the title “150 years of Belgian Royal Visits to Egypt,” Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Belgian Ambassador to Egypt Sibille de Cartier inaugurated on Tuesday evening a photo exhibition highlighting the strong friendship between Egypt and Belgium. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Elham Salah, the head of the Museums Department at the antiquities ministry, told Ahram Online that the exhibition has on display a collection of 60 black-and-white as well as colour photos and manuscripts showing the history of Belgian royal visits to Egypt over the past 150 years.

“Spanning a period of more than a century-and-a-half, [the photos] offer a unique glimpse into the history of these royal visits and allow us to revisit the Egypt of yesteryear. 


King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth with King Fouad
They are an illustration of the longstanding and durable relations between the two countries,” De Cartier told Ahram Online.

Sabah Abdel-Razek, director of the Egyptian Museum, said that numerous photographs and rare manuscripts will be on display, most of them coming from the archives of the Belgian Royal Palace and shown for the first time in Egypt.

De Cartier said that Belgian royals have been travelling to Egypt since as early as 1855, whether for official visits or to marvel at the timeless and captivating beauty of the country’s ancient treasures. 

The year 1855 was when King Leopold II, then Duke of Brabant, visited the country for the first time. King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth also visited Egypt on several occasions between 1911 and 1930.

During these visits, the royal family toured Egypt and its treasures extensively. From 1977 to 2012, Prince Albert, the future King Albert II, and Prince Philippe, Belgium’s current sovereign, travelled to the country several times when they headed commercial missions.