Saturday, September 29, 2018

News, Giza: Japan's New Ambassador to Egypt Pays Visit to Khufu's Second Solar Boat

The newly appointed Japanese ambassador to Egypt visits the restoration project of Khufu’s second solar boat as the first archaeological site in his long tour list. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Masaki Noke, the newly appointed Japanese ambassador to Egypt, visited on Thursday the restoration project of Khufu’s second solar boat in Giza Plateau.

Ambassador Noke viewed the techninque which the Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists are using to lift up the boat’s wooden beams from its original location inside the pit to the surface, before transporting it to the site laboratory for restoration and consolidation.

Eissa Zidan, the head of the Restoration Department of the project, told Ahram Online that the Japanese archaelogist Sakuji Yoshimura, the head of the restoration team, explained to Ambassador Noke that "restoring the second solar boat of king Khufu was his dream to come true.'

Yoshimura said "the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), had helped him realise his dream by supporting and financing the project."

The JICA will continue its support of the project until the restoration and reconstruction of the boat is completed and the boat is readied to be on show at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

Zidan told Ahram Online that the restoration team has so far succeeded in removing 866 pieces from the pit, and restored 840 pieces and transported around 700 pieces to the GEM’s restoration centre.

The first phase of the project began over 20 years ago. In 1992, a Japanese scientific and archaeological team from Waseda University, in collaboration with the Japanese government, provided a grant of $10 million to remove the boat from its original pit, restore and reassemble it, and put it on show to the public.

The team first cleaned the pit of insects then Japanese technicians inserted a camera through a hole in the chamber's limestone to assess the boat's condition inside the pit and the possibility of its restoration.

The team’s inspection showed that the second boat was in a much better state of preservation than the first one discovered in 1954. Khufu's first solar boat was discovered by the late architect and archaeologist Kamal El-Malakh, together with Zaki Nour, during routine cleaning on the south side of the Great Pyramid.

The first boat was removed piece by piece under the supervision of master restorer Ahmed Youssef, who spent more than 20 years restoring and reassembling the boat. The second boat remained sealed in its pit until 1987, when it was examined by the American National Geographic Society via remote camera.

After the space inside the pit was photographed and air measurements were taken, the pit was resealed. It was initially believed that the pit had been so well sealed thus the air inside must have been preserved since ancient Egyptian times. Sadly, though, Yoshimura pointed out that this was not the case, explaining that air had leaked into the pit from outside and mixed with the air inside and this had allowed insects to thrive and negatively affect some wooden beams.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

New Discovery, Memphis: 'Massive' Ancient Building Discovered By Archaeologists in Egypt

Building likely a part of ancient capital city of MemphisArchaeologists have discovered a “massive” ancient building in Egypt.

Large Roman bath and chamber likely for religious rituals
discovered in town of Mit Rahina 
The building was found in the town of Mit Rahina, 12 miles (20km) south of the capital, Cairo.

The country’s Antiquities Ministry said archaeologists also uncovered an attached building which includes a large Roman bath and another chamber that was likely used for religious rituals.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the building probably formed part of the residential block in the area, which was the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

Memphis, which was founded around 3,100BC, was home to Menes, the king who united Upper and Lower Egypt. “The discovered building was built of brick blocks supported by huge blocks of limestone, whose foundations, external walls and inner staircase were built with red brick molds,” Mr Waziri said, according to Egypt Today.

He said the area would be excavated and studied in order to discover more about the building. Egypt hopes such discoveries will spur tourism, partially driven by antiquities sightseeing, which was hit hard by political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Our Treasures Abroad, Norway: Egypt Ambassador to Norway Inaugurates Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Exhibition in Oslo

Egyptian Ambassador in Norway Mahy Hassan Abdel-Latif inaugurated an exhibition of ancient Egyptian antiquities and paintings entitled "Images of Egypt" at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. Written By/ MENA.

The three-month exhibition showcases Egyptian artifacts from across the world's largest museums including London's Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris's Musée d'Orsay and the US Metropolitan Museum of Art, alongside two original copies of the book "Description de l'Égypte."

Over 300 people attended the opening ceremony including ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives from Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and individuals from the Egyptian community in Norway.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

New Opening, Nile Delta: San Al-Hagar Archaeological Site's Conversion to Open-Air Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art Making Progress

The Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany and an entourage of foreign ambassadors embarked on an inspection tour Saturday to the San Al-Hagar archeological site to assess the progress being made to develop the Sharqiya Governorate site into an open-air museum for ancient Egyptian art. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The minister was accompanied by Mostafa Waziri, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mamdouh Gurab, Governor of Sharqiya, and a group of a dozen foreign ambassadors to Egypt from Brazil, Lithuania, Congo, Greece, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other attaches.

El-Enany explained that the project aims to lift the monumental blocks, reliefs, columns, statues, and stelae laying on the sand at the site and to restore and re-erect them onto concrete slabs to protect them for future generations. The artifacts have been laying on sands since their discovery in the 19th century.

Waziri also said that the Egyptian mission restored and lifted-up ancient Egyptian blocks, statues, columns and obelisks onto stone mounts to isolate them from the ground and protect them from subsoil water, salts and moisture, as well as putting the objects on a better display to visitors.

The most important objects that the mission restored and re-erected are the northern and southern colossi of King Ramses II, which had been left on the ground in pieces since its discovery in the 19th century, along with two obelisks and two columns of the King Ramses II era. San Al-Hagar boasts many monumental relics and is one of the country’s largest and most impressive sites, causing Egyptologists to dub it the “Luxor of the North”.

During the 21st and 22nd dynasties, Tanis was a royal necropolis housing the tombs of the Pharaohs as well as nobles and military leaders. Pierre Montet’s excavations between the 1920s and 1950s were the most important carried out at Tanis. Montet put an end to the enigma of the identification of the site, as some Egyptologists saw Tanis as Pi-Ramses, while others suggested that it was the ancient Avaris.

Montet showed that Tanis was neither Pi-Ramses nor Avaris, but rather a third capital in the Delta during the 21st Dynasty. He also unearthed the royal necropolis of the 21st and 22nd dynasties in 1939, with their unique treasures now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

“This discovery was not recognised in the way that the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 was recognised because of the outbreak of World War II,” Waziri said. Among the tombs that were uncovered were those of the Pharaohs Psusennes I, Amenemonpe, Osorkon II and Sheshonq III.

The site houses large number of tombs and temples among the largest is the one dedicated to god Amun. It also houses the Temples of deities Mut and Khonsu and Horus along with a collection of obelisks, columns and colossi of King Ramses II. In December 2017, the ministry launched a comprehensive rescue project to restore Tanis and to develop the site into an open-air museum of Ancient Egyptian art.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

New Discovery, Aswan: A Sarcophagus With A Mummy Uncovered in Late Period Tomb in Egypt

A Late Period sandstone anthropoid sarcophagus with mummy uncovered near Al-Aga Khan mausoleum in the Upper Egyptian historic city. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Excavations carried out by an Egyptian mission near the Aga Khan Mausoleum on Aswan's west bank uncovered an anthropoid sandstone sarcophagus with a mummy inside of a Late Period tomb.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the mummy inside the sarcophagus is wrapped in linen and in a very good conservation condition.

Waziri pointed out that more studies are needed to identify the sarcophagus’ owner. He noted that the mission also uncovered a couple of Late Period tombs with walls decorated with scenes depicting several deities such as Isis, Hathor, and Anubis.

A fragmented collection of coloured stone sarcophagi was also unearthed, along with the remains of a wooden coffin inscribed with hieroglyphic text.

Abdel-Moneim Saeed, the director of Aswan and Nubian Antiquities, explained that a large number of mummies, which were haphazardly buried in the tomb, were also unearthed, suggesting that the tomb was used as a communal burial site.

Saeed added that excavations inside the tomb revealed an unidentified sandstone head of a statue, as well as a collection of amulets and scarabs carved in faience and a wooden statuette of the deity Horus.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New Discover, Kom Ombo: A New Sphinx Uncovered Near Aswan


The Egyptian archaeological mission stumbled upon a sandstone statue of a Sphinx during excavation work that was being carried out at the Kom Ombo temple in Aswan to reduce the ground water level. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the discovered statue likely dates to the Ptolemaic era as it was found in the south-eastern side of Kom Ombo temple, the same location where two sandstone reliefs of King Ptolemy V were previously uncovered 2 months ago.

Abdel Moneim Saeed, general director of the Aswan and Nubia antiquities council said that the mission will conduct more archaeological studies on the Sphinx to discover more information about its history and the king it belongs to.

The previously discovered reliefs of King Ptolemy V were engraved in sandstone and inscribed with hieroglyphic and demotic writings, and upon their discovery, were transferred to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat for conservation and display inside the museum.

Friday, September 14, 2018

News, Giza: Ancient Egyptian Artifacts From Al-Bahnasa Arrives at the GEM

A collection of 71 artifacts were transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum in preparation for its opening in 2020. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) received a collection of 71 artifacts today from Al-Bahnasa archaeological site in the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt.

Tarek Tawfiq, GEM Supervisor General, told Ahram Online that the collection includes several important ancient Egyptian pieces, such as the beautiful Nes-Ptah’s sarcophagus with an anthropoid lid. Nes-Ptah was a noble and son of Thebes’ and overseer Montumhat. The sarcophagus is inscribed with hieroglyphic texts and weighs a staggering five tons.

The collection also includes a red granite sarcophagus for a noble named User Montu, weighing three tonnes, as well as three colossi depicting the lioness goddess Sekhmet seated on the throne holding the symbol of life Ankh and the sun disk upon her head. 

Lastly, four canopic jars, with lids depicting the four sons of Horus, were also one of the artifacts transported to the GEM.

Eissa Zidan, Head of the First Aid Restoration Department at the GEM, explained that the collection was subjected to documentation and restoration before it was packed and transported.  The valuable collection was placed inside wooden boxes and covered with special foam layers which absorb the vibrations caused during transportation.

The GEM complex, located overlooking the Giza plateau, is a cultural institution located on an area of approximately 500,000 m2. Adjacent to the Pyramids of Giza, the complex includes one of the largest museums in the world, displaying the heritage of the Egyptian civilization. It will contain over 100,000 artifacts, reflecting Egypt's past from prehistory through the Greek and Roman periods in Egypt.

The museum is set to open in 2020. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Discovery, Giza: More Than 800 Egyptian Tombs Revealed in Ancient Burial Ground


Described for the first time, the 4,000-year-old "rabbit's warren" represents one of the largest groupings of Middle Kingdom burials.

For thousands of years, a necropolis has been lurking under the desert near the village of Lisht in Egypt, just south of Al Ayyat. Located at the edge of the Sahara, the ancient cemetery is no secret; today, a pair of pyramids rises above the landscape in the north and south of the burial grounds.

But many of the site's ancient tombs have long been concealed under feet of sand—until now.

In just a single field season, a joint expedition between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities mapped out a whopping 802 tombs at Lisht. These newly described tombs date back roughly 4,000 years and were previously unknown to Egyptologists, according to an announcement from Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Antiquities, and Mostafa Waziry, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

“What we have at the site is one of the largest corpuses of Middle Kingdom tombs in the entire country of Egypt,” says archaeologist Sarah Parcak, a National Geographic Explorer and professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who co-led the expedition with Adel Okasha, Director of the Pyramids Region.

While the tombs were largely looted before the expedition started work, they still offer many insights into the lives of the people who once bustled in the ancient city nearby, believed to have been the Middle Kingdom capital of Itj-Tawy.

Middle Kingdom Riches
Spanning from roughly 2030 to 1650 B.C., the Middle Kingdom is a period marked by flourishing art and culture. “You see this blossoming during the Middle Kingdom,” Parcak says.

Much of what we know so far about Lisht during this period comes from extensive excavations conducted since the early 1900s by researchers with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Per museum policy, Met curator Adela Oppenheim declined to comment directly about the new research. But she notes that artifacts from this period seem to reflect a greater awareness of the human condition, which is part of what makes the Middle Kingdom so fascinating.

Met teams have primarily focused their efforts on documenting and mapping the two pyramids—built for the kings Amenemhat I and Senusret I—as well as the surrounding royal tombs. But there's still much more to learn from the rest of the site's resting places.

“From this area, there really aren't very many tombs that are known, except for the royal tombs there,” says Kathryn Bard, an archaeologist at Boston University who was not involved in the work. “That's why this cemetery is important.”

Underground Network
The latest work began in 2014 when Parcak and her colleagues noticed evidence of looting pits in high-resolution satellite images. From 2009 to 2013, the dark pockmarks multiplied in the images. But from the sky, Parcak notes, the team couldn't be sure where the holes led.
Since then, work on the ground that was partially funded by National Geographic revealed that most of these pits led to tombs. At each site, the team carefully documented features of the tombs, collecting images and GPS coordinates to assemble a database for the region.

Many shaft tombs had places for up to eight burials, which means the interlocking mortuary system likely housed at least 4,000 individuals in the afterlife.

“They used all the space they could get their hands on,” says Parcak, who compares the dense system of graves to the winding tunnels of a rabbit warren. “Many would have been reused by families or grandchildren, or great-grand children, or third cousins three times removed.”
Fragments of Information
 By the time the researchers arrived on the scene, looters had emptied most of the tombs. Parcak's work previously suggested that looting intensified in Egypt during the economic instability that followed the 2009 recession and the 2011 revolution. Lisht seemed to be no exception.

But Bard and other Egyptologists believe that there's still information to glean.

“I think it was a good first step,” Mark Lehner, director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, says of the mapping and documentation efforts. Pottery shards, fragments of wall murals, human remains, and even the tomb structures themselves can help researchers learn more about the health, economic status, and mortuary practices of the people who once lived in the capital.

“This is really, to me, where the value is of this work,” says Parcak. She adds that these latest finds are limited to the southern part of the site, and the team hopes to continue work in the northern regions next season.

“Like all these other sites in Egypt,” she says, “there’s a lot left to map and discover.