Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 26, 2009

TutankhamunPerfume JarThis is a story from a month or so ago but I'm just catching up on it now. National Geographic reports that scientists are intending to analyse and recreate Hatcshepsut's perfume.

A perfume bottle, 4.7"/12cm high, with Hatshepsut's throne name has survived and is in the Ägyptisches Museum, Universität Bonn. There's a picture in the National Geographic article. I don't like the National Geographic site which splits the article across 3 pages to maximise the adverts shown, and even the writing style irritates me, but it's worth persisting as the third page pictures X-rays of the interior of the jar. The perfume bottle is sealed. It also has a very thin neck so the team believe it should be possible to remove only a very tiny amount of the residue preserved in the bottle.

The Germans are theorising what the contents may contain but the two strongest possibilities are incenses (plants were brought back from the famous expedition to the Land of Punt) and spikenard. Spikenard was used in temple perfumes but also was determined as the base of a perfume found in one of the jars in Tutankhamun's tomb - the beautiul alabaster perfume jar from the pharaoh's tomb is shown above. There is also a relief on a column at Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple (picture) showing a perfume bearer. Two jars are a totally different shape (widest just below a short neck). The centre of the image is slightly unclear but seems to show a jar of the same shape as the one in Bonn.

When I've more time raised eyebrows I want to study perfumes in more detail: there's an overlap of two interests when it comes to Ancient Egyptian perfumes. They also can reveal something about trading patterns. I'm looking forward to the findings of the Bonn team.

Photograph © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, 2002 published in Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0. Please visit his site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 25, 2009

A couple of days ago Jane Akshar posted that the mummification bed found inside one of he storage jars from tomb KV63 has now been installed in the Luxor Mummification Museum. I'd assumed the post was little more than the headline ... Mistake, Kate! Jane was allowed to take photos. It's hard taking photos of items in poor light inside glass cabinets so Jane has done the best she can, but it's a treat to have new angles. So don't make my mistake - take a look at her post!

This bed will surely increase visitor numbers to the museum if people know it's there.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 25, 2009


I mentioned yesterday that photos show new excavations in the Valley of the Kings. We've not managed to pinpoint the location, but this is what Joseph Hill, who took the photo above on 9th April 2009, has to say about the location:

I took the photo between two shots of this site facing the placard that reads "KV 5: Sons of Rameses II" so this must be across from KV5, in the stretch between KV2 and KV7. I'm pretty sure that must be where it was. There were people sorting through pottery shards, gluing together pottery, and I believe excavating in multiple places along the way.

I've linked to the point in the Flickr photostream so you can look at the shots either side that Joseph mentions in case this helps to narrow the location of this new dig. If you back out of that set, Joseph has a lot of good photos of Egypt.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dr Hawass writes in Al-Ahram Weekly on the mummy of Ramses the Great (Ramses II), whom he tentatively identifies as the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Dr Hawass has been in deep water recently, facing accusations of anti-Semitism (which I have chosen not to reproduce on this blog as I think it was something of a storm in a teacup) so a pro-Exodus article is politic.

More importantly, he indicates that CT Scans and DNA tests will be performed on the mummies of Ramses I and Ramses II, along with mummies believed to be of the family of Ramses II. It'll be a long wait - but worth it. The more I read about the two main royal mummy caches the more I realise that the identification of some of the royal mummies is not entirely secure. I suspect that DNA tests of the royal mummies will turn up more questions than answers: if paternity is disproven is a mummy misidentified or was a birth illegitimate?

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, April 24, 2009

Just in case you thought from the previous set of photos that all the excavations are over, there are various photos from 9th April showing that they are continuing. There seem to be two areas:

1) A shoulder near KV7 (I think). I'm not yet certain whether this is a fresh excavation of whether the spoil heap from the earlier excavations is being removed. I think it's a fresh exacavation but I'll wait until there is a better photo before I exhibit one here.

2) There is a very clear new trench started. Unfortunatley there's no way to tell where the photo was taken (other than in the Valley of the Kings). I've asked the photographer if he can recall and more details and for permission to post it here if he does.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, April 24, 2009

By Heidi Kontkanen


Backfill of Excavations in the Valley of the KingsBy Arja Kontkanen


By Hans Kontkanen


By Hans Kontkanen


By Heidi Kontkanen



This series of photos from 5th April 2009 is a family affair - I hope I've got the attribution of each photo right! They show the start of the process to backfill the central excavation in the Valley of the Kings. The first by Heidi is just before they commenced backfill so this is the definitive shot of the fullest extent of the excavations - well done Heidi (and you didn't think you had anything unique :) ).

PS It will be interesting to see which excavations are not backfilled.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This view by Helen Lewendon from 27th March 2009 looks across the central excavations and KV63 into the SW Arm of the main Eastern Valley of the Kings. I've not posted the hi-res but can do so if there's a wish to see it.
I don't recally seeing the power cable before. Several have had to be rerouted as we know but I'm not sure which tomb this cable is powering.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Science Channel (USA) is running a special on KV63 on Sunday 26th April 2009 at 9 pm (ET/PT). More information at FutonCritic.

If I was in the USA I'd probably watch, although I confess I find TV in the States really irritating - the advert density is just too high. I'm guessing it will come to the UK on the Discovery Channel in due course. As I don't have satelite, I'll wait until a terrestrial channel picks up on it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, April 22, 2009

With thanks to Andie Byrne for finding this story, a team from UCLA have produced a digital Karnak. I've bookmarked it to explore when I've more time - but I've also added it to the links page as one of the best resources available.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Heidi Kontaken who is recently back from the Valley of the Kings has very kindly sent me some photos. I'll work my way through them and post up anything interesting. I'm hoping for photos from a couple of other people as well.

This one shows the cave by KV63. I've downsized the resolution to fit the blog - if somebody spots something that needs blowing up, then please post a comment.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 19, 2009


Possibly an archetypal image from FAMSF of Egyptology in the early 21st century - Dr Hawass filming in the Valley of the Kings. This is from 8th April 2009 and looks like it shows the central excavation viewed from in front of the rest house.

So far there are no photos of ongoing excavations but that can take time to appear as most people don't upload photos until they are back home. There are photos from 7th April of the guys trying to reassemble pots - I think they are now a permanent fixture.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 19, 2009

Otto Shaden has posted the final update on the 2009 season in KV63.

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.


Many will be very interested that this coffin has been dated to the Amarna period. That makes it very rare and it encourages the hope that more material from that period may yet be found in the Valley of the Kings. There's more on the KV63 site, so it's worth reading.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 14, 2009



This is a crop from a photo by Mona, which she took on 22nd March 2009. I needed to Photoshop it to darken it down a bit, so I cropped it hard as well. The link will take you to the her orginal if you wish to see it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I've referred a couple of times to the sacred basin at the bottom of the managed watercourse discovered alongside KV8. Dr Hawass mentions it in his recent video as well.

I'm not absolutely certain but I think this photo by Kairanda shows it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's a while since we had the first photos of the cave and I know some people were keen to peer inside so I wanted to show this photo by Kairanda
who has managed to get much closer than anybody else. I've posted up the highest resolution one so click on the photo to enlarge it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, April 13, 2009

... he's a new video on his blog outlining the work he is undertaking at the moment.

1) There are nice pictures of tombs at Saqqara. I don't follow the minutiae of news from Lower Egypt so I'm not sure whether it is something new or a rehash.

2) There is video of work in the Valley of the Kings but nothing we've not already seen here on this blog. Mostly he is repeating what he's spoken about recently in places like Atlanta but the pictures of some cartouches found are new. There's no announcement of a tomb but he intends to search for the tomb of Nefertiti. The location mentioned is a bit confused but he talks about "in front of King Tut" and "between KV63 and KV55" (I think - the commentary is slightly unclear at that point).

3) The DNA study is again trailed but nothing new is announced.

4) There is specific news regarding the tomb of Cleopatra. Radar has revealed 3 possible locations for a tomb entrance and they are starting to dig the first this week.

5) He is about to pick a team to work with him to investigate the doors found in the Great Pyramid "3 years ago". (I first saw a photo of one of these more than 10 years ago now.) The wording indicates firmly that Dr Hawass envisages leading this investigation himself so rumours of his forthcoming retirement would seem to be misplaced.

It's well worth watching, but don't expect anything momentous.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've not found this site before and it's worth a look. This post is now out of date as it dates to 2006 but this post, while also I think quite old, is quite interesting in terms of discussing the reuse of the coffins. I've shown the image in this post, but for the explanation, refer to the blog article.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 11, 2009

The iconic bust of Nefertiti is usually in the news because of Hawass's efforts to have it returned to Egypt, but this story from Ahram Weekly is more about the artistic history of the bust itself.

A CT scan has revealed a different, more-wrinkled, vision of Nefertiti beneath the visible image. For photos, go here to the Physorg.com site. The photos can be enlarged a bit if you click on them. That article also describes the scientific process in much greater detail and if you want a photo of the bust entering the scanner itself, that's here - I think it's genuine.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, April 09, 2009

A short article by Jane Akshar is on her blog describing her recent visit to these two temples, with some photos.

(While Andi Byrne isn't updating her blog - which I miss greatly - I'll expand the scope here somewhat to include Upper Egypt generally when I find stories.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, April 09, 2009

I think these are the last of the stills from Neil, but we are trying to upload some video he took as well. Neil now has author permission so he may have some more photos to upload himself as well.



Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Neil Strudwick is just back from the Valley of the Kings and has kindly supplied a series of photos he took just a few days ago. I'll put them up in a series of posts so that no one post gets excessively long.

The photos don't look to be high res but if you click on them they will open up much bigger.


Working on Pottery

From hill KV9 on left KV7 on right KV8 centre

KV9 and KV8

KV2 on right very busy here clearing rubble etc

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Neil Strudwick is just back from the Valley of the Kings and has kindly supplied a series of photos he took just a few days ago, of which this is the second set. I'll put them up in a series of posts so that no one post gets excessively long.

The photos don't look to be high res but if you click on them they will open up much bigger.

carrying rubble between KV7 and KV2


Central area excavation
Neil


PS There are more but afraid you'll have to wait until tomorrow as I want to watch The Apprentice/

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I hadn't spotted the press release from Egypt's State Information Service, released on 27th March.

An Egyptian archeological mission working in the Valley of the Kings under Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawwas made on Thursday 26/3/2009 new discoveries, which can change the historical concept of the period between the 18th to 20th dynasties. In November, 2007, a new chapter in the history of the Valley of the Kings began when the first all-Egyptian team ever to work at the site began excavations under the direction of Dr. Zahi Hawwas. Hawwas announced that the team has recently made many important and exciting discoveries, "which are revolutionizing understanding of one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in Egypt. There are still a number of kings and other royals who were probably buried in the Valley of the Kings, but whose tombs have not yet been found. The resting places of Thutmose II, and the queens and princes of the 18th Dynasty are still unknown. Hawwas believes that there are still many treasures
left to be discovered in the valley.
As can be seen it lacks any concrete information but is claiming discoveries "which can change the historical context of the period between the 18th to 20th dynasties" and "which are revolutionizing understanding of one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in Egypt". They are quite some claims.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lecture Announcement ~Sunday, 26 April at 3:30 P.M.
Egypt’s New Tomb Revealed Lecture by Dr.Otto Schaden
Location: North Shore Retirement Hotel1611 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Chicago
Presented by the Chicago Archaeological Society.
Admission is free and open to the public.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, April 06, 2009

Just a couple of thoughts from recent posts ...

1) Dr Hawass reported the watercourse he discovered alongside KV8 as there to divert water from tombs, "In the area in the cliffs between the tombs of Ramesses II and Merenptah, Hawass and his team have found a man-made drainage channel that probably helped prevent the flooding of the royal tombs in the vicinity." I repeated that in my own article without thought but upon reflection there is another potential explanation.

Purification by washing was an important part of Egyptian religous life, which is why there is a sacred lake at temples liek Karnak and Denderah. Do we know enough about burial practices to know whether washing was also a feature of the burial ceremonies? What I'm wondering whether the primary purpose of the watercourse may not have been flood relief but creating a scared pool within the Valley of the Kings itself.

2) I'd also like to return to the ostracon which mentioned the tomb of Isisnofret (which is giving people troubles btw then they try to put the dimensions on to a map so any thoughts would be appreciated). When I stop to think about it, it's a strange way to record the location of tombs. It doesn't seem that way to us because we are used to the ideas of triangulation and understand how many points/distances are needed to locate a point. However, if one didn't appreciate triangulation, finding a location from the directions in the ostracon would be difficult. It makes me wonder whether it is possible that the priests had more understanding of geometry than is commonly understood, which they could also have used in their construction projects.

As I say, merely the musings of an amateur Egyptologist but one thing I have learned is that those at a distance from a field have value in asking dumb questions which can lead to new ways of thinking about things. Sometimes not being conditioned by the orthodoxy of a field is advantageous.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 05, 2009

I've been doing a bit of digging on Google and it seems that Hawass believes the tomb underneath the Rest House is the tomb of Nefertiti and during his recent lecture in Dallas confidently announced that "I tell you, in one year’s time, I will discover the tomb of Queen Nefertiti.” He also joked that, “Today, on the telephone, I ordered that office demolished."

I'm now pretty convinced that he hasn't yet located the tomb of Nefertiti but merely has an anomaly below the Rest House which he hopes is her tomb.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 04, 2009



This very short video from 9th March doesn't show much other than stone being shifted.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 04, 2009

A couple of months ago I posted about the location of the tomb of Queen Isisnofret. You might want to re-read that post, but to recap the ostracon found by Howard Carter has been translated as:

From tr(t)yt [Kate: willow tree] to the general in chief 30 cubits; (and to) the tomb of the Greatest of Seers, Meryatum, 25 cubits. From Tr(t)yt (and? to?) tomb of the oils to my Greatest of Seers, 40 cubits. Downstream on the northern path where the old tomb is, 30 cubits to the general-in-chief.
And on the other side:

(From?) tomb of Isisnofret to the tomb of my Greatest of Seers, Meryatum, 200 cubits. From the end of the Water of the Sky to the tomb of Isisnofret 445 cubits.

I must spend some time looking at the front as the Ahram Weekly article suggests that the location of the willow tree has been identified, but for now it's worth considering the second carefully as the location of the water course by KV8 (Merenptah) suggests strongly that the Water of the Sky may be in the cliffs behind KV8.




I wish my Photoshop was good enough to add a new circle to Weeks' diagram but sadly it isn't. However, if the cliffs behind KV8 are the location of the Water of the Sky, my measurements seem to suggest a location around KV4. There are unidentified tombs in this area, such as KV21 which Kent Weeks on the Theban Mapping Project site identifies as a probable Queens' tomb (which has mummies of two queens still inside); however, Weeks also identifies these tombs as probably 18th Dynasty. They are also largely undecorated and, judging by the tomb Ramses II created for Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, one would have expected an even more lavish tomb for Queen Isisnofret if she rated burial in the Valley of the Kings itself. It therefore seems unlikely that her tomb is one of the known but unidentified, undecorated tombs.

Interestingly, a location facing KV4 would locate Isisnofret's tomb backing on to KV5 (the Sons of Ramses II) which does seem a plausible location.

If anybody feels like attempting to draw out the new circles to show their overlaps, a better starting point might be contour maps on the Theban Mapping Project site. If anybody manages something they want to show off, then send it to me and I'll gladly post it up on the blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 04, 2009

Rick Menges has drawn my attention to the Ahram Weekly version of the end of term report form Hawass on the digs in the Valley of the Kings.


In the western valley, known as the Wadi Al-Quroud, or "valley of the monkeys", where the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay are both located, the mission has carried out excavation work in an attempt to find Queen Tiye's tomb.

Hawass said that Queen Tiye, the mother of Akhenaten, was the wife of Amenhotep III and possibly the sister of Ay. If she was buried in the Valley of the Kings, her tomb might have been carved out near that of her husband, and if Ay was in fact her brother it would be all the more appropriate for her tomb to be near his as well. "It will be interesting to see what excavations in this area will reveal," Hawass says.


Refer to the article for more.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, April 02, 2009

There's an article by Basque Research about the use of GPR to locate the missing tomb of Monthemhat, fourth prophet of Amun and Governor of Upper Egypt (670- 648 B.C.). The article doesn't make clear where the tomb is so it's worth reading this article as well which describes the complex and overal excavations is more detail.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, April 02, 2009


Alan Aplin has caught a good picture of reassembled pottery (click for high res picture), I know a few readers are keen for fresh pictures to see whether they can recognise anything.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, April 02, 2009


There are various pictures on Flickr showing extensive excavations continuiung through to 22nd March (maybe later, but people from after that haven't returned home yet). The best is this one by Sam Bailey (click for high resolution) from 19th March because it shows a different angle than I have featured before - looking towards kv2. It is also interesting because it seems to show new building which totally puzzles me. It really is worth taking a look at the high res version.

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