Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Short Story: An Ancient Egyptian Mystery Draws Tourists to King Ramses II statue

Ancient Egyptians were known for their scientific excellence and genius, especially in the fields of astronomy, sculpture and construction. 

For instance, the three pyramids are considered among the Seven Wonders of the World. Pharaonic arts and antiquities still hide secrets that no scientists have managed to explain or understand. Every year, a Pharaonic miracle has been happening for 33 centuries. At the main entrance of the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Aswan governorate, a solar alignment is witnessed on the face of the King Ramses II statue twice a year, once on his birthday, Oct. 22, and again on his coronation day, Feb. 22.

Ramses II built his temple, which took 19 years to complete, in 1275 B.C. At the same time, the king inaugurated another temple for his wife, Queen Nefertari, who was said to be the most beautiful among Pharaonic queens. He ordered her shrine to be located near his own, on a mountain overlooking the Nile.

King Ramses II, of the ninth Pharaonic family, was born in 1315 B.C. He came to power in 1290 B.C. and gained wide popularity for several reasons. For one, he acceded to the throne when he was a young, ambitious and enthusiastic man and remained king for 67 years. He also inherited a strong and rich country from his father who taught him the arts of war, rule and politics.

Civilians and soldiers supported him, and he defeated the Hittites, the largest military power at the time. He was passionate about immortalizing his memory and honoring himself. For that purpose, he built more shrines, palaces, statues and obelisks than any other ruler before him. During his reign, Egypt built a new capital called Pi-Ramesses, which became one of the most important capitals of the ancient Near East.

When the sun shines, its rays creep into his deep shrine, which is about 60 meters (197 feet) from the entrance, to illuminate it. The aim is for the sun’s rays to fall on Ramses II’s face from the east from a narrow opening.

British explorer Amelia Edwards and her team detected this phenomenon in 1848, and she recorded it in her book “A Thousand Miles Up the Nile.” She wrote, “The statues of Abu Simbel Temple gain huge influence and are surrounded by an aura of praise and respect when the sunrays shine and set on them.”

Al-Monitor attended the Aswan governorate's celebration of the phenomenon. According to Aswan Gov. Magdy Hijazi, the governorate holds several artistic and cultural events for the occasion. “This year, the celebration was more organized, given the development of the work and performance to suit its grandiosity,” Hijazi told Al-Monitor. He noted that the event was made possible in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Culture in Aswan..... READ MORE.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Re-Opening, Dakhla Oasis: Openings In The Oasis

Three mudbrick houses and the remains of a villa in the Dakhla Oasis have been opened to the public after restoration. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

In the northwest of the Dakhla Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert is the mediaeval village of Al-Qasr with its mudbrick buildings, alleys, mosques, Pharaonic temple and seed mill. Its serenity was disturbed earlier this week when Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany along with Al-Wadi Al-Gadid Governor Mohamed Suleiman Al-Zamalout and Netherlands Ambassador Laurens Westhoff and other officials opened three houses and a villa in Al-Qasr to visitors after the completion of conservation work.

El-Enany described the work as “wonderful” and “one of the ministry’s most important achievements”. He said that the Al-Qasr village was one of the most important Islamic settlements in Egypt, not only because of its distinguished architecture but also because it was the meeting point of several trade routes as well as being on a main route for pilgrimage.

The newly inaugurated buildings are in the Rabaa Al-Shihabiya area of the village and include the Beit Al-Qadi, the Beit Al-Qurashi and the Beit Othman. The remains of the fourth-century Villa of Serenus, once a council member in Amheida (ancient Trimithis), were also restored and reopened.

Ahmed Al-Nemr, a member of the Ministry of Antiquities’ Scientific Office for Islamic and Coptic Monuments, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the Serenus Villa had been uncovered in 1979. While surveying the late antique city of Amheida, a team from the Dakhla Oasis Project had discovered the upper part of the Villa’s lavishly decorated walls, he said.

 El-Enany during the opening of Al-Qasr’s restored houses 
The main building, including decorated rooms, was subsequently excavated in 2004 and 2007 by a team from Columbia University in New York directed by Roger S Bagnall. Well-preserved decoration was found in four rooms depicting geometrical patterns as well as figurative scenes. “At the time of their discovery, both the paintings in situ and the collected fragments posed considerable conservation problems,” said Fred Leemhuis of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

He explained that the layer of plaster was very thin and extremely fragile. The best way of conserving this precious building for future generations was by refilling it with sand after extensive documentation, Leemhuis commented. “Because this unique villa would be destroyed by being exposed to the public, a plan was made to build a full-size reconstruction of the main house,” Leemhuis said.

Al-Nemr said that in order to recreate the full splendour of the building a decision had been taken to reconstruct the painted decoration. The project has been financed by a grant from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Cairo and administered by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo. Soon after archaeologist Nicholas Warner had finished work on the building, a decoration team led by Dorothea Schulz moved in and started reconstructing and recreating the decoration.

In a report in the newsletter of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, Schulz wrote that the decoration of the two smaller rooms consisted of an intricate geometrical pattern. The biggest room, the Domed Room, was completely decorated from the floor to the highest point in the dome. There are geometrical “wallpapers” all around the room, the report said, composed of many different patterns.

While the wallpapers are still in situ and could be copied without problems, the dome had collapsed in antiquity and had taken a lot of work to reconstruct from thousands of fragments, the report said. The Serenus Villa replica was inaugurated during the minister of antiquities’ visit as a visitor centre. El-Enany described the reconstruction work as “spectacular and well worth a visit”. “The replica villa is a complete example of how top officials or a family of high social status built and decorated their homes in antiquity,” he said. Photographs and banners showing the detailed work are also on display, as well as photographs of the villa’s original conditiond.... READ MORE.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cairo: 9 Stunning Photos of the Newly Opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation

The newly opened museum is located in the heart of Al Fustat, housing between its walls 50,000 artefacts and the ancient natural lake of Ain Basira.

The newly inaugurated National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) was added to Egypt's long list of exceptional museums last week. 

The museum is located in the ancient Fustat city, the location of the original city of Cairo, behind the famous Amr Ibn El Aas Mosque, according to the Museum's recently launched Facebook page.

The 25-acre state-of-the-art establishment, which just opened to the public last Wednesday, is designed by Egyptian architect El Ghazzali Kosseiba. It is currently showcasing 50,000 historical pieces that narrate the development of Egyptian civilization since the dawn of time. 

It also includes on its premises the ancient Ain Basira natural lake.

Entry and photography is free for everyone until the end of February, after which entry will be set at EGP 30 for Egyptians and EGP 60 for foreigners. 

Here are some stunning pictures from the opening of the museum.
Check out the NMEC on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

News, Luxor: Egypt's Antiquities Ministry Restores Colossus of Ramsess II at Karnak Temples

Restoration began one month ago on a statue of the celebrated 19th dynasty pharaoh, which decorated the façade of the Karnak Temples' first pylon. Written By / Nevine El-Aref.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities is conducting comprehensive restoration work on a colossus statue of king Ramsess II that once decorated the façade of the first pylon of the Karnak Temple Complex.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the ministry’s Luxor antiquities department, told Ahram Online that reconstruction of the statue began one month ago, and is expected to be completed within two months. The statue would then be erected in its original position, he said.
The colossus of Egypt's most celebrated pharaoh stood in front of Karnak's first pylon along with five others. Four of these colossi depict the king standing and the two others sitting.

During the fourth century AD, Waziri said, the colossi were subjected to damages by a destructive earthquake. Their blocks were selected and placed in wooden shelters on the first pylon's western side.

In 2016, the ministry decided to restore and reconstruct one of these statues. Luxor governorate has supported the project by providing the materials needed for restoration. 

The statue is carved in gray granite, weighs 65 tons and stands 10.8 metres tall.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Short Story: The NMEC Opens in Cairo

Model of a weaving workshop
A temporary exhibition on the development of Egyptian crafts through the ages is marking the soft opening of the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Overlooking the Ain Al-Sira Lake in the heart of Egypt’s first Islamic capital of Al-Fustat stands the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) with its pyramid-shaped roof. After six years of delay due to budgetary constraints in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution, the NMEC was partially inaugurated this week with the opening of a temporary exhibition relating the history and development of Egyptian crafts through the ages.

As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was scheduled to officially inaugurate the exhibition along with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany. Although the work at the NMEC has been proceeding according to the schedule drawn up with UNESCO in 2002 when the foundation stone was laid, construction was put on hold after the revolution.

The museum was originally to be opened in July 2011. Owing to the revolution and funding problems, the opening was delayed. Over the past six years work proceeded slowly, but by 2014 all the construction work had been completed, including the galleries, corridors and exhibition sections as well as labs and storage galleries. Despite still showing some concrete underlay, the building’s floors and staircases are now encased in grey marble and the lighting and security systems all installed.

 A crescent necklace
However, budgetary issues have still prevented the total completion of the museum and its opening to the public. To overcome such obstacles, El-Enany suggested creating a temporary exhibition hall to put on show some of the museum’s planned exhibits to encourage tourism to the NMEC and provide the required funds to open the whole museum.

Over the last six months work on the two levels hosting the temporary exhibition “Egypt’s Crafts through the Ages” has been at full swing to meet the opening deadline. Workers have been organising artefacts inside showcases, while others have been inserting graphics on the theme of the exhibition design. Curators have been fixing labels on each display.

“I am very happy and proud to say that a part of my dream has now come true,” El-Enany told the Weekly, referring to this week’s partial opening. He added that between 2014 and 2016 he had been honoured to have been the supervisor of the NMEC project.

“In this capacity, I have seen first-hand the hard work and dedication of the museum staff and the ministry employees in making the museum’s debut exhibition a reality and a successful one at that. I take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work,” El-Enany said, explaining that the newly opened exhibition was only a sampler of many more exciting endeavours to come.

“I hope every visitor will enjoy the exhibition and stay tuned to all of the NMEC’s future projects,” he said. The exhibition, El-Enany added, embodied what the NMEC as a museum and an institution aims to highlight: the material culture of a long-standing, diverse and advanced civilisation. It reflects both the continuity of traditions and the innovation of technologies in Egypt.

 Mabrouk and El-Enany inspecting the latest work at the exhibition hall before
 the opening
El-Enany said that the chosen crafts for the new exhibition were particularly relevant to the museum’s surrounding area, which has long been a hub of woodworking, textile production, jewellery making and pottery manufacturing. “Although the inauguration marks the opening of a single temporary exhibition to the public, the NMEC is a much larger entity than that, with rich galleries covering a plethora of themes in addition to being an extensive scientific research centre and cultural hub,” El-Enany said.

He announced that in order to celebrate the NMEC’s soft opening, the museum would offer admission to visitors free of charge beginning on 16 February and continuing through the end of the month. Photographs and videos for TV channels would be free of charge in the same period, he said.

“Craft production in Egypt has a long and rich history that over time has been continuously refined, incorporating new techniques and raw materials to create a treasure trove of exquisite masterpieces, many of which survive to this day,” Mahmoud Mabrouk, the exhibition designer, told the Weekly.

He said that the choice of crafts for the first temporary exhibition held at the NMEC boded well, with the location of the museum in Al-Fustat being known for its rich tradition of crafts. The area around the museum hosts a centuries-old pottery production community, and pottery producers and vendors line the main streets leading to the Museum.... READ MORE.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Re-Opening, Luxor: Luxor's Stoppelaëre House Transformed Into Scientific Centre For Heritage

The 1940s Stoppelaëre House  opened Last Week on Luxor’s west bank. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

After 12 months of restoration, Stoppelaëre House opened with a view to developing it into a cultural and scientific centre for heritage. 

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner  opened the house Friday. The house is a fully restored masterpiece of 20th century architecture by Egypt's pioneer architect Hassan Fathy. 

The restoration was part of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Antiquities in collaboration with the University of Basel and the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, said that Stoppelaëre House is an example of Fathy's mature approach to mud brick architecture. It was built in 1950 for Alexander Stoppelaëre after the completion of the village of New Gourna, a visionary housing project of the late 1940s. 

The restoration was funded by Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, Madrid, and the work was carried out by the Waly Centre for Architecture and Heritagein Cairo with a team of local craftsmen.

Tarek Waly, one of the leading heritage architects working in Egypt, worked with Fathy for many years and has a deep understanding of his aims and intentions. Great attention has been paid to preserving the building while also making it serve a new function as a state of the art 3D scanning, archiving and training centre.

Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, explained that the new centre at Stoppelaëre House will bring 3D scanning technologies (including medium/long range survey scanning, close range high-resolution surface scanning, composite photography and high-resolution photogrammetry) to Luxor. High-resolution recording and documentation provides a cost effective solution for heritage documentation that will benefit the local community.

He pointed out that in 2016, Factum Foundation began training local operators under the supervision of Aliaa Ismail, a specialist in architecture and Egyptology, who will run the centre. “The first two local operators are already fully trained and as the centre becomes fully equipped, the number of people receiving training in data recording, processing and archiving will increase,” Lowe said.

He added that the restoration of Stoppelaëre House and the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative Training Centre are one of the central elements of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative (TNPI), a project initiated in 2008. The TNPI gained prominence in 2014 for installing an exact facsimile of the tomb of Tutankhamun on the site near Howard Carter´s house.

Lowe continued that high-resolution recording and documentation are transforming the ways in which we protect, monitor, study and communicate the importance of vulnerable cultural heritage sites like the Valley of the Kings.

Now the initiative is focused on the tomb of King Seti I. Upon the discovery of the tomb 200 years ago by the explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni, a facsimile was made of the tomb’s wall to put them on show in London. Regretfully, Belzoni’s facsimile was made by casting the walls, which caused significant damage to the tomb. Belzoni and others also removed sections of the tomb that are now in international museums and collections around the world.

Stoppelaëre House become the symbol of a new approach, whereby such scattered fragments are analysed and reintegrated into a whole by way of new technologies. During 2017 there will be a significant transfer of skills and technology in order to facilitate the recording of sites in and around Luxor.

Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, describes the training programme as a fantastic idea. “It will provide Egyptians with the most up-to-date technologies that will allow them to preserve and document their cultural heritage accurately and completely. This shows how international cooperation can further the preservation of heritage, not just for Egypt, but for the world," she said.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Our Exhibtion Abroad, Swiss: Zurich hosts Egyptian Sunken Secret Exhibition for The First Time

After its successful tour in Paris and London, Osiris Egyptian Sunken Secrets Exhibition was hosted by Rietberg Museum in the Swiss city of Zurich between 10 February and 12 July. 

In a big press conference that was covered by a number of local and international media outlets, the Egypt Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Anany, provided information about the importance of the exhibited pieces that tells the mythical story of Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of rebirth, and were found in the old cities of Thonis-Heracleion, Canopus, Abo Qeir, and Alexandria eastern port.

“The exhibition hosts 319 relics that were found below the Egyptian coasts, starting from the 2000s and going back to the Pharaonic, Roman, and Greek eras,” Elham Salah Al-Din, head of the museum sector in the Ministry of Antiquities, said. The relics were chosen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Graeco-Roman Museum, the Alexandria National Museum, and the Bibliotheca Alexandria Museum. The process of hosting such rare pieces is not an easy task.

“The exhibition has been held many times before in many countries around the world. We never deal with individuals, we always communicate with authentic governmental institutions which provide some offers for receiving the relics. We always deal with reliable insurance and packaging companies. The relics must be shipped on EgyptAir flights to guarantee their security,” she added.

According to MySwitzerland.com, the exhibition features some outstanding exhibits, such as the colossal statue of Hapy, the personification of the inundation of the Nile, which is more than five meters tall; the life-sized sculpture of the sacred Apis bull; the shrine with the oldest Egyptian calendar; and the statue of Queen Arsinoe II, that testifies to unique sculptural skills.

The exhibition is open for visitors from all nationalities for six months. An official from the Ministry of Antiquities must accompany the relics in exhibition for the whole scheduled period. “Foreigners are obsessed with Egypt’s ancient era and when we announce holding any Egyptian exhibition in any country, we usually receive a lot of attention and positive feedback. This can be a great way for reviving the tourism sector in Egypt again and attracting bigger numbers of tourists,” she added.

In her opinion, this exhibition would benefit Egypt on many different political, educational, cultural, and economic levels. “The exhibition is not only a good source of income, it also introduces Egypt’s name and civilisation to people in many different countries and sends an important message about the stability and security of Egypt’s current circumstances. It also builds strong connections between Egypt and the major countries where people study Egypt’s ancient history in their educational curriculum,” she explained... READ MORE.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

News, Cairo: UNESCO Director General Visits Cairo's Newly Restored Museum of Islamic Art

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Tuesday evening, to tour the newly restored and re-opened facility. Ahram Online.

Accompanied by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, Bokova extended her 45-minute planned tour to 90 minutes to see the work which went into restoring the museum, which was badly damaged by a car bomb explosion in 2014 that targetted the adjacent Cairo Governorate Police Security Directorate.

El-Enany said that Bokova’s visit to Egypt and the MIA serves as a message to the world that it's time to visit Egypt, which he said has stood firm in the fight against terrorism. “The reopening of MIA embodies Egypt’s success in opposing terrorism and violence,” the minister said.

Bokova described the restoration work as “great” and said it "succeeded in returning the MIA to its original allure." “The work also shows dedicated international cooperation to rescue one of Egypt’s distinguished monuments,” Bokova added.

UNESCO, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Switzerland as well as other international museums, institutes and NGOs contributed to the museum's restoration.

“The MIA is an emblem of Islam and its contributions to history, culture, science, art and medicine,” Bokova said. Bokova gifted the MIA library with a series of seven books about the history of Islam and its historical contributions. 

The series, published in English, was compiled by UNESCO over the last 40 years. Bokova and El-Enany are set to open Wednesday evening the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

News, Cairo: National Museum of Egyptian Civilization Opens Temporary Exhibit, Free Admission

The museum's soft-opening will showcase "Crafts and Industries through the Ages" in Egypt, offering free admission 16-28 February. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Under the name "Crafts and Industries through the Ages" the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) is set to open its first temporary exhibition Wednesday evening, showcasing the history of four crafts in Egypt: clay, jewellery, textiles and wood. The opening will be attended by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

On a tour of the exhibition Monday, Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Ahram Online that to celebrate the NMEC's soft opening the museum will offer free admission from 16 through 28 February. Mahmoud Mabrouk, the exhibition's designer, said the museum will showcase a collection of 400 artefacts selected from Cairo's Egyptian Museum, Coptic Museum, Museum of Islamic Civilization and Al-Manial Palace Museum, as well as Alexandria's Jewellery Museum and NMEC storage.

Final preparations for Wednesday's opening are currently underway. "The exhibition will bring to life the continuation and development of ancient crafts into modern times through graphics, multimedia electronic guides and a documentary screening," Mabrouk said.

The most important artefacts, Mabrouk said, will be a collection of prehistoric clay pots, the royal chair of Hetep-Heres, mother of King Khufu, and a small ancient Egyptian stool carved from 120 wooden pieces. A Qabbati robe textile and set of Islamic doors decorated with foliage and geometric designs with ivory are also among the distinguished items to be displayed, along with jewellery from Siwa, Nubia, Upper and Lower Egypt.

Saeed Mahrous, NMEC Supervisor-General told Ahram Online "This exhibition is a step toward the NMEC’s third and final stage along the road to opening; it includes the museum’s 23,000 square metre exhibition hall.” “The exhibition will be organised by the chronology and geography of the artefacts,” Saeed added.

Plans to create the NMEC began in 1982 and construction finished in 2009. In 2000 a location on Lake Ain Al-Sira in Fustat was selected and in 2002 the large, square foundation stone — the platform of the building's stylised pyramid design — was installed.

When it opens fully to the public, the museum will display a collection of 50,000 artefacts from different eras in Egyptian history from the pre-dynastic through the modern age. The site houses a number of high-tech storage galleries, as well as a state-of-the-art security system, much like its counterparts the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Our Treasures Abroad, Brussels: 35,000 Year-Old Axe to Return to Egypt After Studies

The Returned Axe From Belgium
The Louvain University in Belgium handed over a 35,000 year-old axe to the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels after studies. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

After the completion of archaeological and scientific studies, the Louvein University in Belgium handed over a 35,000 year-old axe to the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels. The axe will arrive in Egypt within days.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the supervisor-general of Antiquities Repatriation Department, said the axe is carved in stone and was discovered by the Louvain mission along with a human skeleton in Nazlet Khater archaeological site in Sohag in Upper Egypt.

The Luvein mission took both the skeleton and the axe to Belgium for studies. The skeleton returned to Egypt in August 2015. Abdel Gawad said that the axe is one of the oldest skeletons ever found in Egypt.

It goes back to the Old archaic era around 35,000 years ago. It also shows the development of human species that lived in Egypt throughout different eras. 

Abdel Gawad suggested that the skeleton and the axe be put on show at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.

Friday, February 10, 2017

News, Giza: Encroachments Removed From Dahshur Necropolis Site - Ministry

Bulldozers from a neighbouring quarry had entered the Dahshur necropolis site. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

After two days of violations, the Dahshour necropolis, where the both pyramids of King Senefru are located, has been restored to its former state.

Alaa El-Shahat, head of the Administrative Centre for Antiquities in Cairo and Giza, told Ahram Online that in collaboration with the Tourism and Antiquities Police, Cairo Governorate, the army forces and General Security, the Ministry of Antiquities has succeeded in removing all recent encroachments made on the archaeological site and its safe zone.

Three days ago, El-Shahat said, bulldozers from a neighbouring quarry entered the Dahshur necropolis site, which is located around 40km south of Cairo.

The ministry has removed the encroachments and the police have caught the criminals who violated the archaeological sites.

The ministry, he continued, will also build a long wall to separate the archaeological site from the neighbouring quarry as well as establishing a small security unit of the Tourism and Antiquities Police in the area adjacent to the quarry in order to prohibit any future encroachment onto the site.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Discovery, Nile Delta: Monumental' Building Complex Discovered at Qantir in Egypt's Nile Delta

A mortar pit with children's footprints still preserved was also uncovered at the site. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

At the ancient city of Piramesse, which was Egypt's capital during the reign of the King Ramses II, an excavation team from the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim in Germany has uncovered parts of a building complex as well as a mortar pit with children’s footprints.

The head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at Egypt’s antiquities ministry, Mahmoud Afifi, describes the newly discovered building complex as "truly monumental," covering about 200 by 160 metres. The layout suggests the complex was likely a palace or a temple, Afifi told Ahram Online.

The mission director, Henning Franzmeier, explained magnetic measurements were carried out last year in order to determine the structure of the ancient city, and through those measurements the building complex was located.

The site of excavation had been chosen, he explained, not just because of its archaeological potential but because of its proximity to the edges of the modern village of Qantir, which is endangering the nearby antiquities under its fields due to rapid expansion.

Franzmeier told Ahram Online that the team has also uncovered an area of about 200 square metres in its excavations. 

It is the goal of this work to locate a potential entrance to the monumental building, which seems not to be located as is typical in the axis of the complex, but rather in its north-western corner. Furthermore a second small trench was laid out in an area where the excavators believe the enclosure wall can be traced.

"The finds and archaeological features uncovered are most promising," he said, adding that just a couple of centimetres beneath the surface a multitude of walls was uncovered, all dating to the Pharaonic period. Due to the limited size of the trenches no buildings can be reconstructed so far. 

Nonetheless it is obvious that the stratigraphy is extremely dense and several construction phases are preserved, and not all the walls are contemporaneous.

The team has also found a mortar pit extending to at least 2.5 by 8 metres. At the bottom, a layer of mortar was uncovered, in which children’s footprints have been preserved. Even more extraordinary is the filling of the pit, consisting of smashed pieces of painted wall plaster. 

"No motifs are recognisable so far but we are certainly dealing with the remains of large-scale multi-coloured wall paintings," said Franzmeier.

The team fragments have been cleaned in situ and subsequently removed. A comprehensive excavation of all fragments followed by permanent conservation and the reconstruction of motifs will be the subject of future seasons.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Recovered Artifacts, UK: Two More Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Recovered from London

Two ancient Egyptian pieces carved in glass were handed over to Egypt’s embassy in London. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

one of the recovered objects/ photo courtesy of 
the ministry of antiquities
Two ancient Egyptian artifacts carved in glass were recovered on Thursday after being handed over to the Egyptian embassy in London. Both objects were stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country. Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the supervisor-general of the Antiquities Repatriation department, said that both artifacts depict human faces.

The first one was stolen from the storehouses of Al-Qantara East city, after being damaged and looted amid the security vacuum following the January 2011 Revolution.

The second, he said, was stolen from the El-Sheikh Ebada site in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya. With the return of these two objects, Abdel Gawad told Ahram Online, Egypt has in total recently recovered four items.

He continued to explain that the first was a limestone relief that was stolen from Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in El-Deir El-Bahari in Luxor. It was chopped off a wall and illegally smuggled out of the country.

The relief was stolen from the temple in 1975 and resurfaced earlier this month at a small auction hall in Spain, where it was bought by a British antiquities dealer. Two months ago the relief was recovered. The second was an ushabti figurine from Qubet Al-Hawa necropolis store gallery in Aswan and was handed over to the Egyptian embassy in London two days ago.

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...