Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 30, 2009

With thanks to a reader for posting this link in a comment, Hawass in Atlanta on 26th March has again been speaking of finding the tomb of Nefertiti.

While stopping short of making an outright prediction, he suggested that his team would make the next big find – the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, who has assumed a legendary status as one of the world’s most beautiful women ever to have lived.
It's the only write up I've been able to find and I can't tell whether this is a journalist jumping to conclusions or whether Hawass really did drop more hints about the tomb of Nefertiti. Hawass is campaigning for the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin to be returned to Egypt as we know, and I am just a little suspicious that keeping Nefertiti in the news could have as much to do with that campaign as it does archaeology in the Valley of the Kings.

He also spoke further in an interview afterwards about the new law copyrighting the image of antiquities from statues to Tutankhamun and even the pyramids. I really don't see how you can copyright the image of the pyramids long after it has been in the public domain and I don't understand copyright law well enough to guess whether a new law past in Egypt as any effect in Europe and America.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 29, 2009

This image by floatingtoad from 14th March reinforces the photo on the Dr Hawass press release (Nigel Hetherington didn't include this one) and shows that huts extend south beyond KV63. We know that Carter cleared more huts from above KV62. I think Hawass has suggested the ones found earlier in the season were used for storage but it now looks as though there was a little village in the Valley of the Kings (even if only for storage) and that is different, I think, to the picture most of us have.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 29, 2009

Past Preservers provides consultancy to media companies, producers, and film makers who seek reliable, competent, and prompt assistance in the realisation of heritage media projects that seek to inform and entertain their audience while strengthening and reimagining our bonds to the past.

Our previous assignments include work for the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Al-Jazeera International, TLC and Living Channel.
The fact that the press release came from PastPreservers first suggests that they put it together. They do work for magazines as well as TV channels but on this occasion my guess from the available evidence is that they are scouting for a TV documentary. I'm not sure what it is though - it could be the work in Seti I rather than the outside excavations.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 28, 2009

The photographer given credit for the photos in the recent press report on Dr Hawass's site is Sandro Vannini who has done most of the recent photography in the Valley of the Kings, more generally for the Theban Tombs, and for the travelling Tutankhamun exhibition. He is the photographer Hawass seems to favour for his books.

It is worth visiting Sandro's site. He has a gallery of some his photos. Since he is a professional selling photographs, for obvious reasons, they are of low resolution.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 28, 2009

If there was any doubt that Nigel Hetherington's piece had sanction, it has been removed today with it's republication on Hawass's own blog. Dr Hawass has chosen not to show the photo of the team, nor of the faience/amulet discovered, but has added a photo of the central area excavations which are very similar to the ones we have posted on this blog over the past couple of months.

Given it's tone as a "that's all folks" communication, I suspect that we should expect nothing further on the topic from Dr Hawass for several weeks, if at all before next season. That isn't to say he hasn't discovered anything new, just that he has nothing he has nothing to announce at present. Photos from the Valley of the Kings over the next couple of months will tell a tale. If sites are still protected by "no photo" signs, or tents then that is a clear indication there is something being kept under wraps. Unless, of course, Hawass manages to get the new law he wants banning photography of all archeological sites.

It is interesting he has chosen to reveal a feature beneath the rest house - that is well protected and is therefore safe from robbers until officially dug. It's a shame because it could be an Amarna era tomb, even the step leading down to it are consistent with that. However, the sewage pipes from the rest house are known to have leaked so there is a possibiliy that any tomb beneath the rest house as suffered water damage.

Back in the summer of 2008, Hawass when speaking at the O2 first mentioned the fragment referring to an unknown queen. He has now revealed that the fragment shows Weret. As this was a title used by a number of queens, I suspect that there must be some further details not yet revealed that allows him to indenitfy this as an unknown queen.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 27, 2009

An update on the work in the Valley of the Kings has come from a surprising source, Nigel Hetherington's Past Preservers. There is no mention of new tombs, other than an indication that one may lie beneath the Rest House as many readers here have suspected; but there is a photograph of Dr Hawass and the Egyptian excavation team so this press release clearly has been sanctioned.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 27, 2009

... just that there isn't much news this week. As the dig season winds down (other than the Valley of the Kings which the last I heard is still ongoing), news is likely to get less frequent.

In fact, it will be interesting to see how long the excavations in the Valley of the Kings do continue. Exavations rarely continue once we start getting to the summer heat - for obviou reasons. If these continue much longer (and that tent for instance isn't taken down), that would be a stong indicator that something has been found.

I'l post as soon as there is anything to report. In the meantime, I've been doing some maintenance/housekeeping. I've highlighted my own comments in the side bar and those of other Blogger members to a somewhat lesser degree. I've also added an option to click on a link at the bottom of the comments to reveal another 20 comments for those occasions when the comments are flying in thick-and-fast (such as if/when a tomb is announced).


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the face is it this photo taken on 7th March 2009 by Tasty Oats shows nothing more than the fact that archaeological investigations are continuing, and other photos of a similar date show they are still excavating. But if you look closely at the full size image in the centre you'll see the item I have clipped and shown on the left. It's security lighting, I think, and not something I have seen before - and in quite a strange place. Is this new, does anybody know? It's also obvious that the upper arms of the valley are also now being scoured.

The finds are considerable. If you are interested in how much pottery has been found, take a look at this photo by Jim Traveller.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 22, 2009

I mentioned this bed in my post on 9th February, but there is now a very good picture on the KV63 site, along with new photos of the conservation of the coffins. I have shown a copy here as I believe the SCA was handing out copies of this photo for press use so I think it is OK to show it here. The copy on the KV63 site is slightly higher resolution, and the photos of the coffins make a visit to that site worthwhile anyway.

This is what Otto Shaden has to say about the bed:

As mentioned in my 7 February update we discovered a very unique wooden bed inside Jar #13. In addition to finding the bed in the jar we also found three wooden boards (wrapped in linen) with 4 “prongs” or “legs” which may have served as supports for the bed. We now have enough such “legs” for four bed supports, but only 3 wrapped boards (ca. 50 cm in length) have been uncovered.

During a brief visit to KV-10/KV-63 on March 1st by Dr. Zahi Hawass, he called attention to one of our SCA conservators, Amany Nashed, for her good work on the restoration of the bed. Dr. Hawass also suggested we try placing the bed on the supports--- which we did the following day and they appear to be a good fit. The KV-63 website already has a few images of the bed and supports posted (*plus some new ones added today) but more images will be made available soon.

The bed is 68" (170cm) long and was probably used to lay out the mummy/body during the embalming process and not intended for a burial. It increases the view that there should be another Amarna era tomb in the vicinity of KV63, probably of female mummies. It's clear that KV63 was important for embalming and was probably relatively close to the tomb(s) into which the mummies were then sealed. It can't have been for KV55 as that was almost certainly a reburial from Amarna (either of Akhenaten or Smenkhare) and embalming wouldn't have been needed. It seems very unlikely that if it had been used for Tutankhamun that no discards with his name would be found in KV63. Everything suggests - to me at least - that there is one or more further tombs in the vicinity.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dear all,

Not sure when the problem began but Photobucket decide to spray ads all over my blog page. It's yet another issue from when I changed the template. I left the graphics hosted at the original (free) Photobucket location set up by the designer when I adopted the template. As this blog has got more popular, it trigger the bandwidth limit.

I have now manged to grab all the graphics, download them, upload them to web space I pay for (but don't much use), and edit the template to grab the graphics from the new location. In short, I hope I have fixed it.

I'll post something about KV63 tomorrow but I think Andie has it well covered already, so I'd rather go and sort my other templates out that have the same problem.

Sorry again

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When I first posted my previous post, I had a photo of the wrong boulder. Many thanks to Kamil for correcting me and supplying the right photos. (I have changed the photo in the first post, but just to be certain I have repeated the correct photo in this post as well.)

The boulder is much bigger than I thought - in the lowest photo above it is the boulder on which the guy with the blank shirt is standing. I now also better understand the difficult it posts. It isn't just the boulder itself, it would also mean clearing all the other rocks from around it and of which may fall - and moving them could dislodge the big boulder, and as the middle photo shows, they are working right above the Deir el-Bahri temples.

While there may be something beneath the boulder all is not lost as one other location is suspected of harbouring the entrance to a tomb.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the work of Prof Niwinski and the Polish team above Deir-el-Bahri. I had few comments from people asking "which is the big rock?" With permission from Kamil, I'm delighted to show this picture which shows the size of the huge boulder and if you follow that link, it'll take you to a Flickr set of the 2009 images from the team.
For anybody in Warsaw, the Polish team are also giving a presentation on 1st April. I've done my best to offer a translation ... I'm guessing the presentation will be in Polish so check the invite details for yourself rather then rely entirely on my translation.
Warszawska group members together with the SME Herhor Editor of kindly invite members and friends to the monthly series of evenings devoted to the history and culture of Egypt. First Encounter with Antiquity, prof. Andrzej NiwiƄski will be held on 1 April 2009 already (Wednesday) at 18.00 in the cafe-antique Mesita Sienna Street 93 in Warsaw. Images shown will include little-known places in Western Thebes taken while the Mission was in Egypt in February. Admission free.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jane Akshar's blog carries an update from Otto Schaden that isn't on the main KV-63 site. (The good doctor is suffering from slow computer links in Luxor.)

I think by now I don't believe it is fair (and in many cases legal) to copy large sections of text. It's quite a long report so if you are interested, you can read it all on Jane's blog. For me, these are the most interesting paragraphs:

As the first resin came off of Coffin E’s lid, it appeared we had the name of a woman, Btau/Butau, a fairly common woman’s name already in the Middle Kingdom and into the New Kingdom --- but after cleaning resin off the texts on the box, it became clear that the name included the “hnwt” (mistress) and was thus Henut-wadjbu, a common woman’s name in the new kingdom.
And ...

We have only begun dealing with the resin on some of the very poorly preserved sides of the box of Coffin A, but despite the bad condition of much of the wood, we have found some interesting texts. After further cleaning we will send a report to Dr. Zahi Hawass and later provide more details in our next Update.
It's interesting that Coffin E is inscribed for a fairly low status woman - quite unexpected in the Valley of the Kings. It's interesting to speculate what it might be doing there. Was it being re-labelled for somebody more senior? Did the Valley of the Kings also serve as the embalmers' headquarters for the Tombs of the Nobles as well?

It's also tantalising to wonder what inscriptions have been found on Coffin A.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 16, 2009

Hawass: Of course. I always say, “Who knows what the sand of Egypt is hiding? Secrets.” You see, there are many secrets to be discovered. You know, in about two weeks from now I will announce—for the first time—an important study that I did with DNA and a CAT scan machine to reveal the family of King Tut; who was the real father and the mother and everything about his family. Because we know very little about that. And with DNA and a CAT scan, we were able to reveal, for the fist time, an important discovery that I will announce about two weeks from now. And it will be very important for people to know about this. The second thing that I’m also trying to discover is KV64. for the first time in the Valley of the Kings; [I am] looking for the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Also, the secrets behind the secret doors I found inside the great pyramid. Year 2009 will be the year I come to reveal the secrets of the secrets of the pyramid for the first time.

Links to this interview, titled Zahi Hawass enthused about the future of Egyptology, have been on a few blogs over the weekend. It's worth reading if you haven't done so, but it's the paragraph above which is most interesting to me, for a number of reasons:

1) It suggests we should get the results of the DNA tests on the royal mummies by the end of the month. Among other things that may shed more light on the parentage of Tutankhamun (at least patrilineal), and maybe help to identify the mysterious occupant of KV55. My bet is on Smenkhare and a brother of Tutankhamun. But if the two were full brothers, that would also prove that neither Meketaten nor Nefertiti was the mother of Tutankhamun. There may be further surprises for some of the other mummies as well - who knows.

2) It suggests findings from the CAT scan of Tutankhamun. I thought that was public domain by know and that the indications were Tutankhamun had a badly infected fracture of his leg, an earlier break to his ankle and a badly impacted wisdom tooth. But no evidence if a blow to the head. (If anybody hasn't seen the videos, I've got 3 parts linked here. Watch Part 3 first. I've stopped work on that page until we get the DNA results. I'll finish off my page on Neferneferure in the meantime - she was much more interesting that I expected - I'm working my way through Nefertiti's daughters. Meritaten will be last because she is so interesting.)

3) News about KV64 has changed to "I am looking for". Elsewhere he is now talking about Nefertiti rather than Ramesses VIII. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. As he decried Nicholas Reeves for using term KV64 until a tomb had been located, by suspicion is that this is confirmatory that a tomb has been found. I'd still prefer a rather more clear cut statement though.

4) On other matters, he seems convinced there is something to reveal in the Great Pyramid. Perhaps after all the lead up 2009 will not be the year of new findings in the Valley of the Kings but instead be focused on the Great Pyramid. One thing is certain, Dr Hawass's time has come and if he is going to get in the history books, then this year is his chance. He's unlucky the Golden Mummies hasn't done it - it should have done but the publicity has been wrong.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 14, 2009

Readers will remember a few weeks ago reported claims that a small bust of Tutankhamun had been found in Iraq. I was skeptical: several how commented were downright dismissive and they were right to me. It has now been revealed as a fake.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 13, 2009

There are photos from 9th March on Flickr. They are set without a download option so I can't easily add them - I could link them I suppose. The don't actually show much new though other than that the excavations are continuing and that the Valley was almost deserted. I think one of the main reasons we aren't seeing many new photos are present could well be because tourist numbers are down.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, March 13, 2009

Tim on his Egyptians blog has expressed a theory that Akhenaten's reign overlapped Amenhotep III's almost entirely.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, March 12, 2009

Those checking the newsfeeds in the side bar will have seen a report by Dr Hawass that an Italian team have found a talatat block resued in a Christian church.

The block is carved in sunk relief with the image of a queen of the Amarna Period wearing the vulture headdress.
There's a bigger picture and stylistically it dates to the Amarna period but the attribution to Nefertiti seems somewhat shaky to me. It could be Nefertiti, but it could also be Kiya or Meritaten - or some unknown Queen. Hopefully they will find another block with an inscription.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jane Akshar's blog is showing a photo of pottery found in the tomb of Ay (WV23). I'm not entirely certain whether the potter has come from within the tomb of Ay or elsewhere in the Western Valley. Either is important. If new discoveries are being made within the tomb of Ay, that is probably more Amarna era finds which always cause excitement. It's a while since I visted the tomb but coincidentally I was looking through my photos from inside the tomb this morning as I was taking them in to get them digitised. My recollection is that tomb looked to have been fully excavated.

Finds from elsewhere in the Western Valley may be even more interesting.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A couple of good photos have surfaced today: Dr Hawass's site is carrying a photo of a workman examining the ceiling of the new burial chamber; and Voice of America has a photo of gold rings found during the clearance.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Brooklyn Museum team have finished thier 2009 season at the Temple of Mut. You can read their final post here.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dr Hawass has announced discovery of a new burial chamber by a Spanish team at the bottom of a shaft in the Tomb of Djehuty (TT11) at Dra Abu El-Naga on the West Bank of the Nile near Luxor. There's no permalink yet for the main story so just go to the main site:

There's not a lot of text, but this one is the meat of it:

The discovery is remarkable, as only four other decorated burial chambers dating to this period are known. Although the names of Djehuty, his father, and his mother were intentionally erased in the upper part of the monument, they are intact in the newly discovered lower burial chamber. At the entrance to the lower chamber, the Spanish team found five gold earrings and two gold rings, which date to the early- to mid-18th Dynasty and probably belonged to Djehuty or to a member of his family.
However, there are an extra couple of pages with photos that do have permalinks:

In 2003 a sarcophagus of a woman was discovered buried in the tombs courtyard. It is not known who she is. Djehhuty was overseer of the treasury and overseer of the works for Hatshepsut. He lived on into Tuthmosis III's reign. Both pharaohs are represented in the tomb.

Reminder that Jane Akshar wrote up a lecture on the work at TT11 given at the Mummification Museum in February. The main website for Proyecto Dehuty gives the history of the Spanish team's work. The most recent news isn't on there yet but no doubt will be when they write up the 2009 season; however, it's best to ignore the English version of the site and jump straight in to the Spanish one which has a day by day dig diary replete with lots of photos. This is an extract from the first entry of the season.

On one hand digging burial chamber of the tomb of Djehuty we discover at the end of the previous season, after digging the pit depth of eight meters leading up to it. The camera has a considerable size and is filled with earth and stone almost to the ceiling. Therefore, we do not know what we are going to find when the excavator. Everything seems to indicate, by a few sherds visible on the surface, which has been re-used around 1000 years before Christ, or nearly 500 years after it was buried Djehuty, but our luck seems to have escaped the action of the looters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are by far the most devastating and violent.

That makes it clear that the chamber was discovered last year (not early in 2009 as Dr Hawass' press release indicates - we are getting used to that by now) but needed to be dug clear in 2009. It's worth reading through the dig diary from about 21st January as that's the day they got access to the new chamber and is the first report of their findings in the tomb but later days cover finding human bones near the entrance. Warning, though. The photos shown inline are only thumbnails. You need to click on them to see them enlarged. The temptation is to rely on a Google translation to read the text but if you do that the photos don't enlarge when you click on them: if you wish to see the bigger photos you need to click on them from the original Spanish page.


As an aside, can I also recommend the diary entry from 16th January 2009. This covers their visit to ...

the tomb of the three princesses who were handed over to Syrian king Tutmosis III as a way to seal and ensure good diplomatic relations with Egypt when the Egyptian king established and consolidated the Egyptian authority on Palestine and southern Syria as far as the Euphrates River near the town of Karkemish. The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1916 and the magnificent treasure is now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

It's something that isn't often mentioned online so it may be of interest to some readers. Indeed one of my reasons for blogging it here is so that I can find it again myself!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 09, 2009

It's been a slow news day so I have caught up on some housekeeping/development.

I'm delighted that the post on the Western Valley has attracted 12 comments so far. I am pleased that people are contributing their views as well mine. To make it easier for those 50+ of you who read the blog via a newsfeed, I've now added the links to make it easy for people to subscribe to comments if they wish.

A few people have contacted me on Facebook and said they are keen to make contact with other people who share there interest in Ancient Egypt so I've created a FaceBook Group. It's an open group so anybody is free to join. I've left permissions set fairly open and unless the group gets spammed (I help not) I'll leave them that way. I think the only thing I turned off is the ability to post links since that blocks the most likely source of spam. If any regular reader from here would like to post links message me and I'll give you full admin permissions. You can upload photos and videos, post on the wall or in the discussion forum. Hope to see people there soon. (If you wish to just friend me as well, could you please mention that you know me from this blog.)

Poll: Has a new tomb been found?
The results of the most recent poll is:

ResponseYou said
More than one20%

Reportedly Dr Hawass was asked why KV63 wasn't announced when it was discovered and replied, "They did already find it last year but I told them they cant make it public until they excavate it." The gap between the discovery of KV63 and its announcement in 2006 is well-documented and it is a simple, small chamber. The same has happened with many of the discoveries at Saqqara.

With that in mind how long should be expect to wait between the discovery of any major tomb and it's announcement?

So that's the inspiration for a new poll. Should any new tomb found be opened? KV5 was damaged by tour buses parked above it and another tomb was damaged by a leaking sewer pipe. Knowing where tombs are helps to safeguard them. With that in mind, all the surveying and excavation seems prudent (if one presumes that tombs are more valuable that any stratigraphy cut away to find them). However, it's less clear whether a tomb found should be opened. For instance, should be wait until a world class team can be assembled. How much might be missed by not treating the tomb as a sterile environment and sampling the air for instance?

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 07, 2009

All of the news we have had so far about excavations had centred on the Eastern Valley. As fewer tourists visit the Western Valley (when I visted the tomb of Ay I was the only visitor in the entire valley), news is less forthcoming. Jane Akshar reports that she has just visited the Tomb of Ay and found the area busy with archaeologists.

Jane was talking with the geophysics chappy and he said they are looking for Amana era tombs. She also reports "dozens of people excavating". Why not pop over to her blog and have a read for yourself.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ahram Weekly has more on the Tomb of Amenhotep. This is the key paragraph.

Laurent Bavay, head of the Belgian mission, explained that the tomb was a T-shaped chapel with a transverse gallery oriented north and south and divided by a row of six pillars. Its southern half collapsed in antiquity and the space was entirely filled with debris that partially blocked the entrance and the passage leading into the gallery. The walls of the tomb are painted with the classical geometric motifs well known from the 18th Dynasty, along with bands of hieroglyphic texts showing the name, various titles and genealogy of the tomb's owner. According to these inscriptions, the tombs belonged to Amenhotep, the deputy of the overseer of seal-bearers. His father was Ahmes, director of the cattle of Amun and Neheh, and his wife, who was called Renena, was the daughter of the overseer of seal-bearers Sennefer.
The full article is worth reading though as it also has pictures of an Amenhotep III sphinx statute found in his funerary temple.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This story has been on other blogs over the past couple of days but I waited until I tracked down sites with photos. There are a few with photos but most seem to repeat a rather poor photo, but here are two exceptions:

  1. Soumen Kuhvaleti has a really good photo - and text in English!
  2. The most detailed text, and the second best photo is on Futura Sciences - which even has a second photo which, while not showing much detail, is very atmospheric. (It's lit by the very limited natural light flitering in through the entranceway.) This is a French site but Google for once has managed a very good translation so I have linked that. This reports that the tomb has:

'The tomb of Amenhotep carved into the rock, has several rooms. The ceiling of the first is supported by six large pillars and walls adorned with paintings showing the offices of the individual. Unfortunately, most of these paintings were destroyed in the nineteenth century, "probably to be sold," says Laurent Blavay.'

This is a rediscovery by Laurent Blavay of the Free University of Brussels on 29th January 2009. The tomb was first discovered in 1882 (some reports say 1880) by Swedish Egyptologist Karl Piehl but subsequently lost.

No other site seems to have any information or photographs not on these sites and usually have rather less.


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