This video is a bit tenuous - but it is pretty and interesting! It's a video of different cities at night photographed from space. For anybody with an interest in human geography, it's very interesting to see how different the cities of various cultures look at night.
In terms of Egypt, there's pictures of Cairo from about 2:55 which segue into pictures of the Great Bend of the Nile at Luxor. There are stills of the Great Bend on this Nasa site. I've linked rather than cross-posted because if you hold your mouse over the daytime picture of the Great Bend it changes to night time. Be patient because the first time the transition is a bit slow - give it 20 seconds or so. Once you've swapped between the two scenes once, the pictures should be cached in your browser so you can flick between them quickly. It's interesting to compare the margins of modern habitation with the historic green, fertile strip. In rural areas habitation is bounded within the agricultural land; around Luxor on both banks development extends clearly into desert areas.
The daytime picture also shows the true width of the Nile Valley far better than I have noticed it before by pointing out the shading. The original plateau is darker than the valley the Nile has cut some 1,000' - 1,500' deep into the plateau - the rock which hasn't been exposed as long (we are talking millions of years) is paler.
Paler still is the Valley of the Kings, showing clearly how much it has been dug over by man, particularly modern archaeologists. There is an image further down the Nasa page showing you what to look for. Armed with that knowledge, it's then very obvious on Google Maps.
View Larger Map
It's also a really good way to see the geography of the Western Valley of the Kings in relation to the main wadi. South of the Valley of the Kings, Deir el-Bahri is very visible and again the entire wadi around the Temple of Hatshepsut is noticeably paler than nearby regions backed up against the cliffs, again suggesting that man has reworked surface of Deir el-Bahri more than other areas. If you ever doubted how water has shaped the Valley of the Kings, zoom out a little and look at the next wadi north (above) the Valley of the Kings. It's easy to see how water has deposited gravel on the corners of bends and at the junctions of side valleys. The Valley of the Kings has been as affected by flooding as this wadi - it's just less obvious because the valley floor has been so altered.
For anybody not entirely familiar with the geography of the West Bank at Luxor, it's worth swapping to the Wikimapia view which labels the main sites. There are some labels in Arabic so ignore those ... unless you speak Arabic of course, but the main historical sites are labelled in English. For instance the burial ground of Dra Abu el-Naga is labelled just east of "Hatshepsut's Parking Lot".
I recommend zooming in and out. As you zoom in more labels will appear but zooming out gives a wider perspective. Just a warning though that it is a Wiki so, as with all Wikis, not all of the information is accurate - I'd suggest using it as something for enjoyment rather than study.
Just a quick post to say there's no news - I've checked news sites. I'll scan blogs and forums in the next few days but everything is very quiet.
There's a nice picture by Sandro Vannini on Dr Hawass' site.
Jane Akshar has reported on the lecture about tomb TT33 at the Mummification Museum. See http://luxor-news.blogspot.com/2009/12/mummification-museum-lecture-tt33.html
(I understand people outside the UK are having trouble watching the TT33 video I posted. I've not found another version but when I'm updating News from the Valley of the Kings properly in the New Year, I'll have a hunt.)
News from the Valley of the Kings will probably now take a break until after New Year as I am busy most days. I may get chance to update between Christmas and New Year but don't count on it! I'll continue to scan news stories, though, so if anything major breaks, I'll post a heads up but if I am busy I tend to post by email and can't include links. Anything I do post will hit the RSS and Twitter feeds automatically.
Merry Christmas one and all.
It's a week for news about non-royal tombs with Jane Akshar reporting on a lecture on TT28. The leture next week is on TT33 - that's one I really wish I could attend!
This video isn't really new - probably about 3 years old - but I have never seen it and it has only recently been posted on YouTube. Indeed, I hadn't really heard about this tomb, but with The Lost Tombs of Thebes in bookshops, perhaps it's a good time to air this video about the lagest non-royal tomb in the Theban Hills near the Valley of the Kings. I can't embed so you will need to watch the video over at YouTube but I really recommend this documentary. (Warning - it's nearly an hour long, so treat youself to a glass of wine!)
If you want a quick into then this article, with a photo a Jane Akshar, dates to the re-opening of the tomb in 2005.
Photo by tschaut
PS If you prefer to buy a DVD, the site of the production company offers one for a rather large €62. There is a free transcript though.
The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has handed over five disputed frescoes to President Hosni Mubarak who was in Paris yesterday (Monday). The BBC story (linked) is generally very good but includes one minor over-simplification when it says that "They are believed to be from a 3,200-year-old tomb of the cleric, Tetaki, in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor." Actually the 18th Dynasty tomb of Tetaki is TT15 which is located outside the Valley of the Kings. Egypt had suspended relations with the Louvre to force the return of the frescoes.
The BBC article includes the best image, but which I cannot show as it is © Associated Press. There are very few alternatives, but if you want to see them they are all shown here.
A nice little post with photos on Jane's blog.
Otto Schaden has posted on KV63.com to say that the 2010 season in the Valley of the Kings will start around January 7th.
In a short time I will be leaving for Cairo (New Year’s Eve). I plan to meet with the recently appointed Director of the Permanent Committee and of Foreign Missions, Dr. Mohammed Ismail Khaled on January 3rd, and then hope to reach Luxor by the following morning. I will then make the necessary arrangements to have KV-10 opened. There will be a Karnak Symposium going on at that time, so I will try to attend some of those lecture’s as I unpack, get settled in the hotel and prepare for the opening of KV-10 and the start of the season’s work. My hope is that we can get started in the Valley on or about January 7th.There's interesting comment above this (thanks for Dennis for noticing):
The Valley of the Kings reveals its mysteries slowly. There were 83 years separating the discoveries of KV-62 and KV-63, but it may not take another fourscore years before KV-64 appears.
It's worth taking a quick peek. Dennis thinks - and I agree - that the contrast between the use of the verb "appear" in relation to KV64 and discovery of KV63 is interesting and could suggest that KV64 has already been "discovered" but we need to wait for it to "appear".
I've just read on Twiter of the death of the Egyptologist Susan Weeks, wife of Dr Kent Weeks. Susan will herself be remembered for her drawings and conservation of KV5. Reports suggest that she drowned in the Nile at Luxor. I can't link as I'm on mobile, but http://www.luxor4u.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=286939 has the details.
Please Google for the latest or refer to Jane's blog.
My sympathies to Dr Weeks and all of Susan's friends and family. My prayers are with you.
In the fourth and final part of this video series from Heritage Key, Dr Hawass mentions the robberies of KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun. He believes it was saved ultimately be the construction of tomb KV9.
That's possible, but doesn't explain how KV62 escaped robbery before then. Perhaps the security in the Valley of the Kings was robust during the early 19th Dynasty, but as Tutankhamun's tomb was robbed in the 18th Dynasty, it seems somewhat unlikely. Personally I prefer the theory that Horemheb discouraged mention of Tutankhamun along with the Amarnan royalty so the tomb wasn't well-known, and that KV62 was covered by debris from a flash flood as suggested by Stephen Cross. Admittedly, debris from the construction of the tomb of Ramses VI may have helped to protect the tomb, but I think it was a combination of all of these factors.
At the end of the video, Dr Hawass ponders the incalculable treasures that could have been in the tomb of Ramses VIII and which tombs could still be found, and which could be intact. He mentions Neferiti and Amenhotep I, which is interesting. There's no mention of Ramses VIII which last year was theorised (by Dr Hawass) as one of the tombs found in the Valley of the Kings.
(PS another month is slipping by without news of the DNA testing either.)
Dr Hawass has confirmed that cameras are banned from the Valley of the Kings. Apparently the problem is that guards have been taking bribes to allow people to use flash in the Valley of the Kings. Personally I think Egypt would do better getting rid of any guards that do that - maybe pay guards within the tombs more and insist they know English so that they can also act as guides - rather than penalising tourists. I don't have a problem with banning photos from within the tombs but banning cameras from the Valley of the Kings rather than tackling the problem of poor guards seems worrying. If guards can't be trusted to protect the tombs, then what is the purpose of having them? I find his admission very concerning. If guards will take money to permit a tourist to take an illict photo, isn't there a risk they will take a large sum of money for something more serious?
I have more sympathy with Dr Hawass position regarding the Egyptian Museum as there are people who ignore "no flash". Some people don't know how to turn it off, and unless the camera is very good then it is hard to take pictures without flash so they use flash.
I've taken pictures for years in low light without flash (and have come to realise you get better pictures by avoiding flash) but then I pick lenses based on their ability to take pictures in low light and I'm prepared to take time to set up the shot, make sure I'm steady and relaxed and so on.
The compromise for museums could be making cameras available for hire which don't have flashes, and which have been set for taking pictures in low light.
I've always tried to mix news with some more cultural material, so here is a poem about tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings, submitted by Anthony Holmes, author of "Tutankhamun Speak Thy Name".
For those who don't know about Tomb 55, it is the most mysterious tomb in the Valley. Sealed with Tutankhamun's sealed, it is believed it was closed for the last time in his reign. It could have been a treasure trove, but contained only one mummy, some magic bricks bearing the name of Ankhenaten, a fragment of Queen Tiye's shrine and some debris. The mummy was apparently male but had been re-wrapped and defaced. Sadly it has also been badly damaged by water. Search for KV55 on this blog for more information.
Here's another view of the Western Valley of the Kings, this time showing both last season's excavation and the cleared debris and looking towards tomb WV23 (King Ay). The previous shots have been courtesy of Dave Hay; this one is by Kamil Zachert.
In this third part of this video series, Zahi Hawass talks about some of the greatest treasures from KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, including the Golden Throne, with the amazing scenes of King Tutankhamun and Queen Ankhesenamun, and some of the jewelry. (Links are to my Squidoo lenses on the topics.)
Strangely although the earlier videos which feature the same interview with Dr Hawass were credited to Sandro Vannini, this one is credited to Nico Piazzi.
Kamil has kindly informed me that Professor Niwinski and the Cliff Mission team expect to be back at Deir e-Bahri in April. One of the main aims is to protect the Temple of Hatshepsut and the other temples below the cliffs from falling boulders. They estimate that there are between 5,000 and 7,000 tonnes of stones which need to be removed from the cliffs. That's a huge task!
Dave Haye has kindly sent me another 30 pictures. I'll download them tonight - not sure yet what they are of. Kamil has also said he's got a couple of pictures of the Western Valley of the Kings. Stay tuned!
Kamil Zachert has kindly contacted me to tell me that he has updated his Flickr photostream with loads of new photos of the autumn 2009 work by Professor Andrzej Niwinksi. The scale of some of the work is shown by the image I'd added at the top which Kamil has titled "Removing the rest of the Pillar". As always with Kamil, it's a fabulous set of photos. Just click on the photo above.
If you'd like to see a picture of the professor, there's a great image of him as well:
I'd missed this. Andrew Collins reported on illegal finds at Nazlet el-Samman near the Giza pyramids. I'm not sure what period they relate to - I'm guessing New Kingdom (which is why I am reporting here) but only on the basis of what Andrew says, and he himself is relying on second hand information.
I've been unable to find any official confirmation of this story.
(Supplemental. It looks as though the objects may be old Kingdom so I should have put it on the other blog. There's an earlier article on Andrew's site where he says there are rumours that the finds relate to Khufu's Valley Temple.)
(Again, to save bandwidth I've not shown a hi-res. If there's something you'd like to magnify shout and I'll put up the orginal.)
The Valley of the Kings pictures are 2009. Sorry I've corrected the article title now.
The Western Valley of the Kings was what I was dying to see. This is the area oppositive tomb WV23 (Ay) which has been excavated down to bedrock. I've got several of these, all large resolution. I'll check them through over the next couple of days and upload the best bits. For now I've just put a low-res up as there's nothing on this one when blown up but it's a good placing shot.
Having skimmed them, there's no sign that a tomb entrance was located, but it could have been covered back over. My guess is that there was a radar anomoly but it didn't turn out to be anything. Perhaps the most seasoned Valley of the Kings watchers will be most interested in learning the level of the bedrock in the Western Valley.
More to come in the next couple of days.
Here is a photo taken in the past couple of days of the Valley of the Kings. For now, until I've taken instruction on the issue, I'll not attribute, but you know who you are and thank you. Let me know later if you wish to be credited. If anybody else has photos, they are always very welcome.
Click on the image for a high resolution version.
I've quickly scanned the high-res but the eagle-eyed may spot anything I have missed. For me the most noteworthy point is that the pathway to KV8 has not been restored. Presumably the side valley is going to be left as it is showing the managed water course, but that would place KV8 permanently off limits - increasing the pressure on other tombs. Personally I think it a shame that the cave was covered back over - I'd have preferred the valley bottom restored to its level in antiquity.
(I do have a zoomed in view as well but I have chosen not to upload it for now. If anybody spots something on this one, I can check on the other.)
There are some nice photos by Sandro Vannini whose work is always of exceptional quality.
I nearly missed this because I've not found a write up, but Prof Niwinski has conducted an autumn expedition in the cliffs at Deir el-Bahri. See Kamil's photostream for more photos. There aren't many this time, but one is quite interesting, so take a look.
The main Cliff Mission site has also been updated to indicate release of a new September issue of Herhor. Sorry, I missed that too!. I'm guessing there may be another mission yet this season and that any update will come after that.
People have been asking "What's happening in the Valley of the Kings" so I thought people would appreciate a chance to see for themselves. It only covers the main valley, not the Western Valley of the Kings, and a few bits are obscured but you can see most of the Valley in the his photo by glenanpeanut taken on November 7, 2009.
In order to see what is going on, you need to take a look at the hi-res image. Click on the photo and it will take you through to Flickr.
There are a few things going on. Down in the lower right (or upper left arm of the Valley of the Kings if you think in terms of the Vallet itself) there is work going on but it looks like flood defences for a tomb. There are some other planks in the same area, but nothing that looks like excavations. There is also someting down at the head of the Valley opposite KV5. There's a blue water tanker and something that I can't identify. Again, nothing that looks like excavations.
The biggest area of interest is the Rest House and there we can see that there is ... nothing at all going on!
The latest article from Dr Hawass is pretty much a rehash of what has already been published about the death of Tutankhamun. There is a video associated with the article but to be honest I haven't bothered watching it.
With thanks to Magus, Mary Crowther and Roger Hubert, here is a free version of Howard Carter talking about Tutankhamun's Valley of the Kings tomb.
I have published a special article by Brian Playfair on the Old Kingdom blog. I am sure that Brian would love comments so please do make him feel welcome.
I've now got a free version of the Howard Carter recording. Thank you. I'll post tonight.
I'm having lunch with Andie today. It'll be interesting whether she's heard any rumours which she hasn't been able to publish!
I'm putting together another Squidoo lens, this time bringing together some of the old photographs of the Valley of the Kings and the clearance of Tutankhamun's tomb. I'll promote it here when I am happy with it.
In the meantime though, I found a recording on Amazon which I have never heard before of Howard Carter himself speaking of opening the tomb. I've never heard this before - I didn't even realise it existed! There is a preview of the first bit. Sadly it will cost you the usual MP3 download fee if you wish to hear it all, but MP3 downloads are only pennies. I'll keep looking and see if there is a free version of it anywhere. But if you are interested in the history of the Valley of the Kings
For those who follow the blog on a NewsReader you won't have noticed that the post about Hawass's hunt for the tomb of Queen Tiye in the Western Valley of the Kings (Now It's Queen Tiye) has re-surfaced in the comment stream with discussions over whether Queen Tiye was Tutankhamun's mother. I'm not quite sure why - I suspect it's been prompted by the recent discussions of whether KV63 was dug for Kiya or not in the Robbery of KV63 post. Remember all recent comments are shown at the top of the right sidebar and you can see more by clicking on "Show More Comments" at the bottom.
As Deir-el-Medina is outside the Valley of the Kings it's also outside the photo ban I think. Here is a photo from Paul Beckers showing new excavations (9th November 2009) on the path between Deir-el-Medina and the Valley of the Kings itself. Hopefully Paul might stop by himself and add anything else he knows about these new excavations (which at present look to be small scale).
As usual check out the full size original on Paul's Flickr. Paul got some really nice other photos, including the Tomb of Pabasa (TT279). As usual if you are interested in the Tomb of Pabasa the best site is Su Bayfield's Egyptian Monuments.
A couple of weeks ago I linked some fabulous photos of KV63 by Sandro Vannini. Today they are supplmented by an Heritage Key video in which Dr Hawass explains his own theories about KV63, and a blog post which covers substantially the same material as the audio track in the video.
Some people have problems playing videos if I link them here (and I have problems getting the aspect ratio right), and personally I prefer to watch videos on YouTube rather than embedded on any site (use the link above), but for those who prefer to watch here ... (if you are reading the newsfeed, you need to click through to the site).
Increasingly there is a consensus that KV63 was orginally an 18th Dynasty burial re-used in the 19th Dynasty as an embalmer's cache. Dr Hawass theorises that the tomb was robbed and that it was originally the tomb of Kiya. His reasoning is that she is believed to have died bearing Tutankhamun and that KV63 was dug by Tutankhamun so that his own tomb was close to his mother.
It is possible, and I am aware of no evidence which contradicts the theory; however:
1. It is not clear whether Queen Kiya was the mother of Tutankhamun. There is a credible theory that Tutankhamun was the son of Neferiti, or one of her daughters. (See my page on Nefertiti - Mother of Tutankhamun, but don't link through to the page on Nefertiti herself as I still haven't written it!)
2. Tutankhamun was born during the Amarna period and if Kiya died giving birth to him then her orginal burial should be among the Royal Tombs at Amarna. Most believe that the Amarnan royal mummies were transferred back to the Valley of the Kings but (leaving aside the highly ambiguous mummy in KV55), none of them have been definitively identified. It seems more likely that they were interred together in a cache.
3. Dr Hawass in the video says that the workmen from Deir-el-Medina could have dug KV63 "in a few days". That might be a slight exaggeration, but it was probably dug quickly. Even if it was robbed, there is no evidence that it was ever decorated. If Tutankhamun was so keen to venerate his mother that he chose to be buried next to her, isn't it curious that she was provided with a hastilly-dug, shallow tomb devoid of decoration?
4. If Tutankhamun felt that strongly about his mother, it would have seem more likely that he would have asked for her to be buried in a side chamber of his own tomb.
5. There is no evidence that KV63 was robbed. It is possible. It is also possible that it was a cache tomb dug in haste to accommdate royal mummies transferred from the insecure tombs at Amarna, before the mummies were moved into permanent resting places - or that the tomb was the final resting place of all (or most of) the Amarnan mummies and later cleared by robbers of all it's contents.
6. If a robbery took place, then it clearly occured before the end of Dynasty 18 or early in Dynasty 19 - ie before it was re-used as an embalmers' cache. There is no record of a robbery. Robbers in Ancient Egypt also tended to take valuables, ripping the bandages off mummies to get to amulets etc. The mummy itself was usually left behind. No mummy has been found in KV63. Most ancient robberies also left some traces. They were crimes conducted in a hurry. Fragments of coffin etc would have expected to be left behind. These have not been found. It is possible that the tomb was cleaned before it was re-used as a cache, but a thorough cleansing seems unlikely, or that any remains left behind were organic and have totally disintegrated. It seems however that the balance is against such a robbery.
7. Few believe that KV62 was the tomb he intended for himself - more likely WV23 which Ay usurped was originally dug for Tutankhamun. The propinquity of the two tombs would then be irrelevant.
For all these reasons I do not believe that KV63 was the tomb of Kiya. I'd like to advance an alternative theory of my own, that KV63 was a temporary tomb. Whatever the cause of Tutankhamun's demise, there is no doubt that his death was unexpected and his tomb was probably not ready (or was nicked by Ay). He needed to be provided with a royal tomb in a hurry. One tomb which was available was KV62 which could perhaps have been the resting place of Smenkhare (or even a royal Amarna re-interrment). The orginal occupant needed to be moved out quickly so a temporary tomb, KV63, was dug next door to secure this mummy (or mummies). Once Tutankhamun's tomb was sealed, this mummy was moved again to a final resting place, perhaps consolidated into an Amarna cache. If the tomb-hopping mummy of this theory was Smenkhare, then it would also fit with many of his grave goods been sorted through and re-assigned to Tutanhamun. Again it's just a theory, but for me it fits the evidence rather better than KV63-as-Kiya.
Finally, there blog article includes a mention of KV64 ...
And of course, there's the question how KV63 helps the search for KV64.Not exactly a definitive statement but it keeps the subject alive.
Dr Hawass and the SCA have announced a project to conserve KV62, the Valley of the Kings tomb of Tutankhamun. The article doesn't explictly state that the tomb will close during the 6 year project, but it seems likely. As a replica tomb is being constructed,if Tutankhamun's tomb closes, it seems unlikely that it will ever re-open again to the general public.
There is a second article about the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of KV62 in November 1922.
(Photo is one of those I feature of my static page about KV62 on Squidoo. I'll add something there about the conservation project over the weekend.)
I'll try to flesh out a more detailed version of the Hawass v. Beyonce story on the Old Kingdom blog in the next couple of days. (In the meantime read http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/cairo/2009/11/egyptologys-king.html)
This quote though is what caught my eye, "according to Arabiya, Hawass chided one of Beyonce's aides for stopping a photographer from his Supreme Council of Antiquities from taking pictures." The photo ban in the Valley of the Kings is a huge disappointment to many tourists. It's a shame Dr Hawass can't see that other people feel exactly as he reportedly did when they are stopped from taking photos as momentos.
In the end photos of the meeting were taken by Reuters and I'll try to post one up.
Nefertiti is still in the news on all the blogs but most of us are probably getting a bit bored of the ownership dispute so I wanted to offer my readers something Nefertiti related, but completely different ...
Sue Casson is a singer-songwriter who was a neighbour of Dr Nicholas Reeves at Chiddingstone Castle during the period of the Armana Royal Tombs excavations to the Valley of the Kings (1998 and 2002) . Hearing his stories and seeing the pictures, Sue wrote a number of songs inspired by Egyptology and excavation, as did her performing partner, including Last Call for Nefertiti
You can hear them yourself.
Some of you might already be familiar with some of the tracks as free CDs of Sue Casson and The Branncik Academy were given out to visistors to the O2 Tutankhamun exhibition. However, in honour of the believed-discovery of Tomb KV64 in the Valley of the Kings, new tracks have been added. Sue writes:
In honour of this imminent discovery, Brannick & I have taken to opportunity to add some new tracks to our page, including the previously unreleased 'The Curse' and 'Collector's Serenade', together with photos taken when we were filming in Luxor. I hope you like them. And er.... watch this space!
There is a great new article and video on Dr Hawass site. I won't bother with a write up here as the article itself is so well written. It is promoting the good doctor's new book which I'll put on my Christmas list!
EgyTweets is a Twitter bot which RTs Egypt tweets. The volume is probably too high for anybody to want to follow it, but you never know .... I hadn't found it before. I just now need to find one which retweets everything on the Valley of the Kings for me to be set up with a source of news ...
Tomb TT34 is one of the Tombs of the Nobles in the Theban Hills not far from the Valley of the Kings.
I'd not realised this tomb complex was so big. There is a large sun court above the shaft tombs. There are some more details and pictures here, including one of the most beautiful reliefs I have ever seen of Montuemhat spearing fish. The video describes the work byDr Farouk Gomaa. He reports that the shaft tomb of Montuemhat had not been found, but work continues to locate it. That sounds promising but as the credits for this film show that it was shot in 2006, if they do find anything we may have a very long wait before we hear about it. (Which makes one wonder how long we will have to wait to see photos / video of a major tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It also feeds the conspiract theories. I have just posted on the Old Kingdom blog the latest from Andrew Collins on the now infamous Tomb of Birds. The time between discoveries and publication makes me much more willing to believe that Andrew Collin has found a cave system beneath the Giza Plateau but which is being witheld from the public by the authorities for now.)
Montuemhat was a Mayor of Thebes during the 25th Dynasty. There is a small room in the Mut Precinct at Karnak which is called the "Montuemhat Crypt". The walls have reliefs carrying a biography of Montuemhat. There are pictures here. If anybody has any other good resources on Montuemhat, then please add a comment - you can include links in comments if you want. It goes without saying that any news on the shaft tomb of Montuemhat would be wonderful.
The BBC has picked up the story (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8342428.stm) that Carter's House at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings has been reopened as a museum to celebrate the 87th anniversary of the tomb of Tutankhamun. It's a very brief, rather dull article, of a subject which Jane has covered so much better on her blog
Just as a flavour this is the video from the middle of the Tutankhamun episode. (I can't embed it.) It starts with our friend Zahi Hawass speaking about Tutankhamun and Ay before the team head off to the Valley of the Kings. Most of the series is on YouTube but it's an inconvenient way to watch so for the price a secondhand DVD is a better bet if you can find a cheap copy. (You can probably sell it back when you have watched it as well.)
YouTube also seems to be missing what I thought were the two best episodes - the Tomb Builders and Akhenaten / Nefertiti. The Tomb Builders sounds boring but is based in Deir-el-Medina and the Valley of the Kings and has the good footage inside KV17. The Akhenaten and Nefertiti episode was the most convincing, as well as having good footage from Amarna which doesn't make the TV as often as the Valley of the Kings and Giza. Anybody who has read about Kreed Kafer will be deeply sceptical of Derek Acorah's supposed channeling, but that doesn't mean that within it all there might not be some genuine mediumship. When he was channeling Akhenaten his belly did seem to become distended for instance.
Hopefully we'll get some science to report one of these days. At least the winter dig season is alsmost upon us!
El-Ahram Weekly has an article about the recent excavations in the Valley of the Kings. Mostly it is talking about the tunnel in Tomb KV17 (Seti I). It says the length is confirmed at 136m as Sheikh Ali Abdel-Rasoul had determined in 1961, suggesting the Dr Hawass's team hasn't in fact pushed the tunnel any futher than Rasoul.
The article also mentions the search for undiscovered tombs in the Valley of the Kings, saying:
The mission also worked in the area north and east of the tomb of Seti I, where they found traces of cutting in the bedrock underneath the modern rest house which may lead to a previously unknown tomb. Unfortunately, as Hawass pointed out, it would be necessary to remove the entire building in order to explore this area, so it will not be done in the immediate future.The article ends by mentioning the installation of the replica tombs in the cliffside near the Valley of the Kings in what it says will be called "Replica Valley".
A radar survey of the central valley was recently conducted that identified a number of areas of interest, and further analysis of the data may reveal features that warrant archaeological investigation.
In short, there's nothing particularly new in the article but then it shows that even the local news media are like us and marking time while waiting for the trumpeted major announcments.
For Halloween I watched the box set of Paranormal Egypt - £10 from my local secondhand DVD store. It features Tessa Dunlop with the medium Derek Acorah of Most Haunted fame. (Most Haunted is probably unfamiliar to American viewers but you have a lookalike which I think is called Ghosthunters - but which isn't as good. You get the picture though.)
I'll write up a review over the next few days and make it available but it wasn't too bad. Dr Hawass was featured several times of course but of all of Derek Acorah's stuff this is the least convincing I have watched. For instance he was ascending the ramp to Queen Hatchepsut's Temple at Deir-el-Bahri and was saying that his pyschic impression was of serenity. Odd that he didn't pick up the tourist massacre don't you think?
He regularly channelled spirits, including some of the great pharaohs - who all spoke ... English.
So the sceptic in me sees much to criticise but I'd still recommend it. Thanks to Hawass and Past Preservers they had "exclusive" and "special" access to many sites including several tombs in the Valley of the Kings. To be honest the video footage they shot inside the tomb of Seti probably makes the DVDs a bargain. I like the idea of pyschic investigations in some of the great sites, although it could have been better. As a piece of fun, and footage of some of the sites, it's still recommended though if like me you can find it cheap.
... on your appointment as Vice Minister of Culture.
Niels has very kindly posted an update as a comment, which I'm re-posting so nobody misses it.
Just been in the valley last week. No serious excavations seems to happen. A workforce was working on the right side of the valley leading to the tomb of Tutmosis 3 - just before KV42. Then they still had some minor work things going on beside the KV7 - but not up to KV8. Nothing large scale. Nothing seems to happen around the central resthouse at the moment."
Thank you so much Niels.
* * *
If anybody visits the Valley of the Kings, please do as Niels has done and send in an eyewitness account. As photos are banned, it's the only way of keeping track of any unfolding developments. (I notice October has come and nearly gone and there's been no official update about KV64, DNA testing or the robot exploration of the Great Pyramid.)
I think this is updated rather than new, and it's not really news, but it's still a nice little article.
The highlight is Bob's identification of the Mummy of "Unknown Man E" found in the Valley of the Kings was Prince Pentaweret. The story shows the privilege and latitude afforded royal males - even though Prince Pentaweret led an unsuccesful coup and poisoned the King (Ramss III), he was still granted mummification and a royal burial.
Edit: This is the link. Worth visting as there are photos. I'll delete the other link which didn't have photos. Sorry I missed it last night.
The photo ban seems to be enforced pretty rigorously. I do still look for new photos coming out of the Valley of the Kings but there's been nothing for the past month or so. Sad.
A nice video from Heritage Key about the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III on the West Bank near the Valley of the Kings. It's in French with subtitles but a nice video all the same.
Dr Hawass has a new photo, credited to the SCA, on his site about the West Bank of Luxor with an aerial view of Deir el Bahri looking generally towards the Valley of the Kings so the the Temple of Hatshepsut is in the foreground. It's a classic view but not often seen as it needs a helicopter or a lucky baloon flight to capture it. (I can't link as when I'm on mobile the Hawass site doesn't work - I've viewed it in Google Reader.)
Jane Akshar is the leading writer on the restoration of the Carter House on the West bank near Luxor. Catch up on the latest news - with photos - at Luxor News. Jane reports that the grand re-opening is planned for 4th November, the 75th anniversary of Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Sorry updates have been slow recently. I've been a bit down for a couple of weeks and had little enthusiasm for anything. I'm mostly back up to date now, but there are a few more links I want to check out over the weekend.
I've also stalled on finishing up the template for the Old Kingdom blog but I'll get back to that now as well and hopefully will migrate News from the Valley of the Kings across to the new template. (So if there's anything about the new temaplate you dislike, now is the time to shout before I make the switch!)
It's an interesting question, and one asked by none other than Sandro Vanni the photographer who tends to have exclusive access to the Valley of the Kings. Sandro writes on Flickr:
The excavations uncovered 7 wooden coffins in the tomb, of which three had been painted with faces. They have been dated to just prior to King Tutankhamun's reign, and their fragile condition means that restoration has to be done carefully to ensure the sarcophagi don't disintegrate. Covered in thick, black resin, the coffins contained materials used in mummification as well as the remains of human flesh. Perhaps most telling is that on clearing out the coffins, the team found an imprint on the base, suggesting a mummy had been stored in there. It's not completely out of the question that somebody stole the mummy of KV63!This is a must visit link as it accompanies the best photo of the contents of KV63 I have ever seen which I guess shows the contents pretty much undisturbed in the tomb so that you can see how they related to each other in where they were found. For copyright reasons, I can't show it here so you have to visit Flickr.
It's one of a set of 10 fabulous photos of KV63. (Although the link there promises has has more photos on the Heritage Key page about KV63, he doesn't and the Heritage key page only has small versions of the photos. They are much better viewed on Flickr. The page itself isn't a bad page about KV63, but nor is it particularly great. If you've kept up to date on Otto Schaden's page, there's nothing that will interest too much.)
This is a short article by Dan Vergano from the USAToday site. It's essentially all old news and comment and this is the only photo, but if it's something you've not come across before it may pique your interest.
Photo by Katarin Parizek, Penn State of a damaged ceiling from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.
There's a nice photo of this figure on Dr Hawass's blog.
It's unclear which tomb this was from, but the implication is that it was from TT1, the tomb of Djehuty.
I wasn't sure whether the foetuses found in Tutankhamun's tomb had been X-rayed recently, but they have. I watched a documentary the other night which showed the process (sometime during 2009 I think), clear shots of the two mummies and of their X-rays. It was about Akhenaten and the thesis that he suffered from Marfans syndrome. That's not new ground, but the question was whether Tutankhamun's mummy exhibit the same features shown in Akhenaten's statues, but his mummy was unsurprisingly (and thankfully) not available for inspection in a fairly low-rent TV documentary. But the mummies of his putative children were.
In answer to the question, the foetuses neither exhibited clear signs of Marfans, nor could it be ruled out. But it's good to know they have been professionall X-rayed.
What distressed me though was the treatment of these girls. The mummy of Tutankhamun is held with reverence in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. What are probably the mummies of this only children are stored in a plain wooden box on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in a Cairo hospital. The presenter was even allowed to remove the padding from around them, though thankfully there was no sign he touched them.
I think it's terribly disrespectful that these mummies aren't treated with the same respect as Tutankhamun's mummy. OK so they are only girls not a young man, but surely they deserve the same respect as Tutankhamun and should be restored to their proper place in KV62? They should also be in a proper climate controlled enclosure not stored in a wooden box which wasn't even airtight. Frankly I was disgusted and I'm seriously thinking of starting a petition to call for these girls to receive fitting respect as princesses and be restored to lie with their father. It's been reported elsewhere that the condition of the youngest one has deteriorated since the 1970s.
Dr Hawass is keeping up the pressure on getting the bust of Nefertiti and other objects returned to Egypt. Regardless of the legal arguments and understandable sentiment involved, I think it's in Egypt's interests for these objects to remain overseas. Nefertiti is Egypt's greatest ambassador.
Egypt would benefit from attracting higher spending tourists. Key to that are signature cultural artefacts strategically placed across the world to build a love of Egypt and a desire to visit. In short pretty much what now prevails.
Similarly photo bans are damaging. Photos of tourists stood beside a sign for "Tutankhamun's Tomb" is amazing free advertising. There are sites like the Laoatian Plain of Jars which are little visted - because they are little known. The last time I visited Ggantija Temples on Gozo, there were only a handful of visitors even though it's an amazing site older than the Pyramids ... But it's largely unknown. I think present policies may prove counter-productive over the medium term if pursued.
There biggest exception would seem to be the Rosetta Stone. Culturally it's relatively unimportant - it's prominent for technical reasons. It's also the key to Ancient Egyptian language and therefore in my opinion more closely bound with Egypt than the bust of Nefertiti. I doubt the British Museum would agree with me, but there's a case for a semi-permanent exchange.
Maybe that's the way forward with all the objects - arrange period exchanges. The chance of the Louvre returning the Dendera Zodiac or Berlin returning Nefertiti is remote. But one could see that objects could be loaned back to Egypt while a comparable signature treasure is loaned from Egypt in it's place.
That's the difficulty. Since the discovery of Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 nothing of the very highest quality has been found so Egypt doesn't have much to loan, although Tutankhamun's treasures could have been exchanged for Nefertiti etc for a time, rather than commercialising them. (An extra $1 a night hotel bed tax could have raised significant revenues instead.)
Perhaps the only way out of the impasse is some massive discoveries in Alexandria, Giza and Luxor etc.
With massive thanks to the eagle eyes of David Krueger, Otto Schaden has posted an update and a request for donations to help meet the cost of the 2010 season.
A mud seal bearing the impression of a cartouche of Menkheperre (Thutmosis III) was found in Pot 3 in March of 2006. *A photo of the seal can be found under the 'Photos ~ 2009' tab. [Kate - To find it you have to expand and view the descriptions - to save time it's this photo]Dr Schaden theorises that the seal could be:
It could have been [Men]kheper-Re (Thutmosis III)I'll let you read for yourself which Dr Shcaden believes is most likely. There's much more new material on the site including 30 new photos. For instance there is a beautiful blue bowl. I've been very impressed with the communications from the KV-63 team. I wish they would put the official reports on the site rather than publishing them only on academic journals but it's still a very good standard of communication.
or, [Men]khepr[u-]re (Thutmosis. IV)
or, [Neb]kheper-Re (Tut)
or, Kheper-[khepru]re (Ay)
There's also a link for Susan Osgood's site. She is an arist who has been working to record some of the artefects.
When I visit California I get the sense that everybody is waiting for 'the big one', without ever wanting to talk about it. That's how I've felt this week as news items have come in. Interesting maybe, but still a sense that we are all marking time an waiting for 'the big one'.
For those in the UK, Paul Rymer recommends a BBC iPlayer video on Tutankhamun. I've not watched as I have limited bandwidth, but I'll try to visit a pub with an open wireless point next week. It's available until sometime on Thursday. Available rather longer is a spot by Jane Akshar on the Pharaoh Akhenaten:
Melvyn Bragg and guests Elizabeth Frood, Richard Parkinson and Kate Spence discuss the Pharaoh Akhenaten, the ruler who brought revolutionary change to ancient Egypt.That's a radio broadcast and is available until 1st January.
As a companion to Jane's articles about destruction of some of the fine buildings on the Corniche, here's an article about the evacuation of residents from the West Bank.
Jane Akshar is seeking photos of the interior of the Carter House to help the architect restoring it. Can you help?
I found this post - then lost it again - before I got to check it out. So five days late here is a link to a photo of Dr Hawass with the 'mummy' from KV55. Everybody interested in the Valley of the Kings would like to know more about the occupant of KV55. Even a definitive statement on the individual's gender would be a good start.
The photo though is a great disapppointment. It's a really nice frontal photograph of Dr Hawass - just a shame that all you can see of the 'mummy' is small part of the skull. (It's not really a mummy either in the convential sense as I believe only the skeleton remains.) Theories as to its identity include Akhenaten, Smenkhare and Kiya. Strangely Nefertiti is rarely metioned as a possibility. Since both gender and age at time of death have been variously reported, it's hard to rule anybody out.
Sadly I suspect myself that it is Smenkhare. I say sadly because that means that Smenkhare's tomb doesn't remain to be found. Amenhotep I is where my big interest lies ...
As Andie's blog is still not being updated, I've started posting articles on the Old Kingdom on the new Ancient Egypt for All blog as I come across material. The template still has a number of wrinkles; I need to fill out the pages on things like subscribing; and the sidebars are somewhat bare. But it's better than nothing and it will get better I promise! If you have any particular issues please tell me either by contacting me or posting a comment. It looks best in Firefox but I've also tested in in Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
If anybody wants Blogger author privileges so they can post, just let me know. This is a community blog, not my personal blog (although I will post too to make sure it has regular updates). Alternatively, you can just email me articles and I'll create them in your name (remember to tell me what that is and, to avoid confusion, please don't use an Ancient Egyptian name like Isis!).
I'll not post further in this blog about Ancient Egypt for All again until the New Kingdom section is set up in a few weeks time as that's clearly closely allied to News from the Valley of the Kings. I have added a section in the white sidebar below the comments to show the titles of the most recent posts over there.
There is a new video of these discoveries on Dr Hawass's site. It's a nice video about three tombs of the Nobles, two of which have not yet been excavated. That's something of a new development as historically we've only had reports of findings from Dr Hawass when they have been comprehensively investigated. It's a very welcome change and I'm grateful for his understanding that we like news early in the process.
(Dra Abu El Naga is a royal burial ground in the Theban Hills on Luxor's West Bank which pre-dates the Valley of the Kings / Valley of the Queens. Most of the tombs are tombs of nobles and I understand that's what has been found.)
Jane Akshar has confirmed the rumours. Camera are now entirely forbidden from the Valley of the Kings. That's not just within tombs: cameras cannot be taken into the Valley of the Kings at all. It's even more than cannot be used - cameras must physically be left at the gate.
There is no word yet whether other sites are affected, but seemingly not at present. Since many mobile phones can take hi-res pictures, I'm not sure whether they are now banned as well.
It looks like the attempt at a news blackout in advance of a major announcement has begun. It's probably the surest sign yet that something big is coming. As well as protecting media rights an intact (or substantially complete) tomb will also be a major security headache and preventing exterior photos could be part of the security measures to protect it.
Anyone who has read the story of KV62 will know that Carnarvon (without consulting Carter) sold exclusive media rights to the Times of London. The other papers were incensed, of course, and thus began some of the reporting on other angles which didn't require photos from the tomb. It's possible the curse was a 'story' seized upon to fill the vacuum. Carter became a target for reporters as well, and for a time was banned from the Valley of the Kings.
Banning photos from the Valley of the Kings may have been done with the best of intentions but if history repeats itself it could rebound with devastating effect.
PS I'd welcome any first hand travel reports from readers. Words will have to replace pictures for a time.
This is something people might not have heard ot - the fleet of ancient wooden boats discovered in the sands at Abydos. It's really well covered in this article by Richard Pierce of New York University. It's not really news other than that David O'Connor, the expedition leader, has recently written a book (published 22/6/09) on Abydos and has been promoting it.
There are half a dozen beautiful photos showing the reliefs in the first pillared chamber in Valley of the Kings tomb KV17 (Seti I) by Sandro Vannini on Flickr. (Sorry, but I cannot show any of them here as they are copyright.)
This is the second (of two) Heritage Key Valley of the Kings video courtesy of YouTube. The editing at the end is a bit off, but it's much more interesting than the first. It says nothing about KV64 but Dr Hawass concentrates on some of the inscriptions found. Some we've seen before on this blog, but the sketch map of a tomb is new. There is also a really clear shot and explanation of the famous new queen inscription, called Queen Tiy and identified as the Great God's Wife. There's an interesting accompanying article on Dr Hawass's site, in which he says of Queen Tiy, "We hope to find more evidence of this queen through our work here." I know there has been some speculation that KV64 is her tomb, but I think this video just about discounts that possibility.
Wikipedia is reporting that one of the clay seals found in KV63 reads "paaten" and goes on to theorise that KV63 was intended as the tomb for Ankhesenpaaten (ie Ankhesenamun as she became).
Due to its proximity to the tomb of Tutankhamun and the resemblances between the portraits in the sarcophagi, as well as the style contemporary to the 18th Dynasty, it was speculated that the coffins were once used for the bodies of Kiya and/or even Ankhesenamen, which is supported by the finding of two small golden sarcophagi made to contain small statues that might correspond to her two stillborn children already buried in her husband's tomb, in order to make a connection between them and their mother in the afterlife.Quite why the bodies of Ankhesenamun and Kiya were then removed from the coffins during Dynasty XVIII is not explained. It's an interesting theory but I'm aware of no evidence to support it. If a "paaten" inscription has been recovered from the KV63 that would be very interesting, but I'd still not regard it as a proven link with Ankhesenamun, nor an indication that KV63 was dug for her. However, this is the latest from Otto Schaden on the coffin inscriptions:
As mentioned in the last update, Coffin A’s fragments proved to be quite interesting. Though very fragmentary and fragile because of termite damage, some key texts could be recovered from under the resin coating….the title “Royal Nurse” ( mn’t nsw ) and the name ‘Iny’. The longest translatable connected text was on the top cross band, left side: ‘Revered, (may) I see Re in the sky and drink water from the pool [ … ].’ Conspicuous by its absence, the deceased is never identified as ‘Osiris’ and the usual deities are not cited. The one example (quoted above) where we have the usual “revered” there is no qualification such as ‘revered by Anubis’ etc. This lack of the traditional deities strongly suggests that this coffin was probably fashioned during the reign of Akhenaton when many of the traditional deities were abandoned.There are alternative theories swirling round the web that both KV62 and KV63 were intended as tombs dug for royal mummies transferred from Amarna to the Valley of the Kings, and that KV62 was always intended as a phraaoh's tomb, just not for Tutankhamun as nobody expected him to die so young. However, Dr Schaden also reports that the digging of KV63 was probably started during the reign of Amenhotep III, which would elminate the theory that it was always intended for Tutankhamun. So although it's clear that KV63 (and probably KV55) was used as a cache burial when mummies were transferred from Amarna, this was probably not the tomb's original planned purpose. If there was a co-regency between Amenhotep III and Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), then perhaps KV63 (and/or KV55?) was orginally dug as the tomb for Nefertiti or Kiya before the Amaran era, then abandoned. Pure speculation of course but wouldn't it be wry if the tomb of Nefertiti has already been discovered - but in the end she was buried elsewehere?
Interestingly, the use of caches suggests that burials were transferred back from Amarna before permanent tombs could be prepared. Security must have been a recognised issue so if tombs' contents were transferred back with reasonable haste, maybe there are still substantial Amarna era remains to be found somewhere in the Valley of the Kings?
A bit of fun - here's the entrance to Tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings modelled in Lego by DecoJim!
"KV62 is going to the discovered. KV64 is going to be discovered by an Egyptian team."
That's how Dr Hawass closes the video. If anybody is having trouble watching it, then try this. It ran through fine for me.
The transcipt I offered in the previous post is inaccurate but seems instead to summarise what Dr Hawass is now saying on his blog. Having watched, it's not that positive. The video's credits date it to June 2009. It's a shame it's taken 3 months to be released. It describes itself as Part 1 - wonder when we will get Part 2? It's still worth watching though for what it reveals about the recent excavations in the Valley of the Kings.
Dr Hawass has posted a video about Tomb KV64:
I'm only on the mobile phone this weekend so I can't watch (and can only post here by email) but I believe this is a transcript). Can someone who watches please say more in a comment. It sounds like a positioning piece laying the ground for either a full announcement or a TV documentary on a fruitless search. It's talking about the two tomb entrances revealed in November 2008, and doesn't mention (in the transcript) any entrance which may have been found during the massive winter 2008/9 excavations, the radar survey or subsequently beneath the rest house. I still think the best prediction is for 3-4 tombs to be announced over the next few years, at least one of which I believe is that of pharaoh. Watch the video on Dr Hawass's site, or if like me you are stuck on a blackberry or mobile, here's that transcript (glad now I couldn't sleep!):
"The Valley of the Kings has only revealed one new discovery since the tomb of King Tut 84 years later, Otto Schaden found KV63 in front of the young pharaoh's tomb. Our excavation, however, is proving to be not only the first Egyptian expedition ever to work in the valley, but also one of the most scientifically important. When we started our excavation, we could feel from the beginning that the area was promising.
"We discovered a cut in the mountain, followed by stairs ending in a hole in the ground. It looks like the entrance to a tomb, and it is exactly similar to the entrance of KV63. We recorded many inscriptions nearby, some of which were already known and others of which were found for the first time. One tells us that a man named Userhat built a tomb for his father, the vizier Amennakht. Our work among the cliffs was very interesting. We found huge blocks, and it took us a long time to move them. After that, we found a manmade wall, below which was a shaft with stairs going down. This seems to be the entrance to yet another tomb. We also found many workmen's huts we know that the workmen used to live in the valley while they were cutting and decorating the tombs of the pharaohs. In one area, we found a round limestone base, with a hole in the middle where food and drink for the workmen would have been placed.
"Remember that even if we do not find that one of these two entrances leads to the tomb of Ramesses VIII, we know that many great royals, including Thutmose II and Nefertiti, along with the queens of Dynasty 18, were buried in the valley, but their tombs are also still unknown."
Don't Miss the Post About the work of the University Of Basel
Having read the responses to my earlier post, my decision is to opt for separate blogs for periods as indicated below. Any "regulars" can have either a Blogger author status or knowledge of the direct post email address for their periods of interest as preferred. (I hope we can manage that without spam - we can but try and see). Everybody else can email me/the blog owner and I'll create a post from that email as soon as I can. That should hopefully avoid the need for a forum as subjects can be started easily.
The first part of the report deals with the excavation of tomb KV26 which had never been cleared, nor fully surveyed. Based on the fragments of coffins and pottery found (nice picrtures in the report), KV26 dated to the 18th Dynasty, probably to the time of Thutmosis III-Amenhotep II. It was used for the burial of at least one mummy, possibly more, but the team have been unable to identify the occupant. Only fragmentary bones were discovered (which I guess we hope is enough for DNA to be extracted but it doesn't sound too promising).
The team believe that the mummies were not removed from the tomb duringt the 21st Dynasty but that the tomb was comprehensivly robbed. Like many tombs in the Valley of the Kings, KV26 has also suffered from major flooding.
It makes you realise that we think of the tombs of some Queens (and Princes) as missing but it's possible they have already been discovered but not attrubuted because no evidence of the occupants' identities remains.
The second half of the reports deals with the even more interesting KV30. This is a suprisingly large tomb for one which is relatively unknown, comprising several rooms. It is clear that the tomb was used for at least one burial, tentatively dated to the 18th Dynasty but which cannot be identified. More work is planned for the next season.
Alhough not headline tombs, this report is the best material on the Valley of the Kings I have seen since I started this blog. The only comparable material is from the Polish team working at Deir-el-Bahri. It's superior even to the John Hopkins dig diaries from Karnak. If you are interested in the Valley of the Kings, this is must read material IMHO. If that wasn't enough, Elke Noppes sent me a link to her own site. That was a site I hadn't seen before and looks excellent. I've filed it for reading. It's in German but IE/Google does a good job of an English translation.
Maintaining a blog full time can be a huge commitment as Andie Byrne over at Egyptology News has recently highlighted. Not many people want to spend that much time.
Equally many people are interested in Ancient Egypt and would like to write occasional articles on topics that interest them. The high standard of comments on this blog proves that. However if you only write an occasional article it never gets found or read as the Internet is so big.
So the difficult choice is massive commitment or nobody reading your articles. I'm guessing there are people here who would like to write occasional articles when the fancy takes them, but who don't want any commitment?
So that's my question. Am I right? I'm currently working on a new template for News from the Valley of the Kings. It's not much extra work to create a second blog as well and make that available to guest writers. I'd make it a general blog about Ancient Egypt / Egyptology. I can add 90 or so full authors who can publish through Blogger. You can have proper profiles and that's the best if you want lots of links or to lay things out with blockquotes etc. However for people who wish to be very casual I could just give you an email address - just write an article as an email and send it and it will appear straight on the blog. It's dead easy.
I'd promote it here and elsewhere so that we should quickly get readers and comments. I'll also manage the template and lightly moderate to keep spam from creeping in.
The blog would probably end up being a mix of news, articles about particular tombs, temples or people (I'd contribute some) with probably the odd book review and travel reports thrown in from people who have just been to Egypt. A real community blog about Ancient Egypt. (And I hope everyone knows it's a community style approach I prefer.)
So my questions are:
1) Would people be interested in writing for a blog like that if they could do so when it suited them and without commitment? (I'm not signing anybody up just now, merely gauging whether there is interest before I purchase/organise a domain name etc.)
2) Would people read a blog like that?
This doesn't exclude people who already have a blog. I've slipped the occasional off-topic in here about Giza and I'd probably write more if it wasn't off-topic for Valley of the Kings, Luxor etc. So if someone already has a blog but wants somewhere for subjects which don't fit there, that's fine too.
Over to you.
I'd love for a tomb of one of the daughters of Nefertiti and Akhenaten to be found. As reported last week, we know that it looks like Dr Hawass is about to report the discovery of a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings. In the meantime we all speculate on whose tomb that may be. (I really must get a new poll set up.) While researching DNA testing. I found this story from National Geographic in August 2008. On that occasion, Zahi is reported as saying:
"The fetuses will help us determine whether [King Tut's wife and daughter of Nefertiti] Ankhesenamun was a half sister or a full sister," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "If the fetus DNA matches King Tut's DNA and Ankhesenamun['s DNA], then they shared the same mother."That's twice now that Dr Hawass as reported that DNA testing may reveal details about Nefertiti and/or Ankhsenenamun. That quote definitely strongly suggests he has access to Ankhesenamun's DNA for testing purposes, from which we would have to conclude that Ankhesenamun's mummy, and possibly her tomb, may have been found. Is that a journalist mis-reporting what Dr Hawass said, Zahi's usual (over-)enthusiasm, or did it slip out by accident that Ankhesenamun has been found? Remember the reports of KV64 go back before August 2008, although it was only in October 2008 that Dr Hawass himself said new tombs have been found. There was no mention of testing Nefertiti's DNA in the quote so presumably she hadn't been located at that point.
I may have been unduly pessimsitic about the chances of recovering mitochondrial DNA. I understand that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was successfully extracted from the elder of the two foetuses in the Vallley of the King's KV62 and reported a TV documentary Secrets of the Pharaohs: Tut's Family Curse which aired in February 2001. There was a companion book to the series of three documentaries ("Secrets of the Pharoahs") that I have just ordered from Amazon for £0.01. If anybody wants a copy, there was still one "Very Good" condition used copy on the UK site at that price (although many more rated "Good") and I'd guess it could be picked up in the USA for $0.01. I'll try to post up a book review once I've got it.
While hunting for that, I have found this article at Egyptology Online which I'd recommend. There are several interesting sections but I want to quote one:
Back in 1993-94 Professor Scott Woodward, a microbiologist from Brigham Young University (USA) was asked to demonstrate the usefulness of DNA, testing on six mummies from the Old Kingdom period, with the aim of providing clues to their sexing and possible genealogies. Woodward was able to determine that two of the mummies had been [accidentally?] placed inside the wrong coffins.As two what the foetuses may reveal, it's interesting that in the August 2008 Zahi Hawass was reported in National Geographic as saying ""I personally feel they are not the sons of Tutankhamun". (There'll be a link to that article in the next post.) mtDNA was extracted from the older ofthe two foetuses which is female and therefore wouldn't have a Y chromosome to allow straightforward comparison to tutankhamun's own DNA. Even by the 90's, the condition of the foetuses had deteriorated badly - they were even hard to locate and were eventually tracked down to Cairo Medical School. Although techniques have improved in the near 2 decades since, whether they have deteriorated further since, rendered DNA extract impossible, has to be a concern. (Apparently a partial mtDNA sample was extracted from the second foetus. I have seen no report indicating whether this was consistent with a sibling match.)
Following his success, Woodward was invited to the Cairo Museum sometime during the mid 90’s to examine and harvest tissue samples from 27 royal mummies from the New Kingdom Period, during their removal to a new display room.From the 27 mummies, only 7 yielded successful DNA sequences. However, from his results he was able to determine that Ahmose I had married his full sister Seknet-re and that Amenhotep I's mtDNA was different from Ahmose I, making it highly likely that Ahmose – Nefertari was in actual fact Amenhotep I's mother.
There are reports that Scott Woodward also succesfully extracted DNA from Yuya, whom some identify as the Biblical Josepth. There are suspicions that it was these links which caused the project to be abandoned fairly abruptly. It will be interesting to see what is published in the next few months by Dr Hawass but having investigated some of this may be corroboration of earlier findings rather then groundbreaking news. It will be interesting to see whether the work of Professor Woodward is credited.
While news from the Valley of the King is thin on the ground, I'v got caught up in the story of Queen Mutnodjmet. As somebody else wrote, we know enough about the royal women to tantalise but the facts are few. Perhaps that's my fascination with the royal women of the New Kingdom. Those who have been following the article on the canopic jar will know I am having trouble determining which of four canopic jars in the case belongs to Queen Mutnodjmet. The labelling is poor. Quite how poor I didn't realise until I went back to my photo of the label to see if I'd missed anything which would help determine the jar - I'd assume the labels were in the order of the objects. The label actually describes her as early 19th Dynasty, even though we know that Mutnodjmet died around the 13th year of Horemheb's reign - and he, of course, was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Hmmm. Not good.
I was wrong however, about Queeen Mutnodjmet's mummy being missing - I'd picked up some wrong articles. (I'll go back and correct my own next.) All that was discovered was bone fragments including bits of her skull, teeth and pelvis. (See this article.) Her mummy had disintegrated. So the lapse by the Egyptian Museum is rather more understandable.
(If anybody needs it, the original image is 3000x2000 so it would blow up reasonably well.)
It's cropping up in a few comments, so I wanted to record my own thoughts on the implications of Zahi's forthcoming retirement as Head of SCA.
Given the policy Dr Hawass has established so firmly, once he steps down it will then fall to the new Head of SCA to make any important announements. I suspect that discoveries which are in the works (KV64 in the Valley of the Kings, the shafts in the Great Pyramid and Cleopatra's tomb) will therefore be announced before his retirement - assuming that the discoveries are there to be announced of course.
The time for commemorating his achievements will be in a few months time, but I was delighted to hear that he intends to continue to lead missions. Unless the new discoveries are stunning, I think however his true lasting legacy will be seen to be site management.