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.
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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.)
Niels has very kindly posted an update as a comment, which I'm re-posting so nobody misses it.
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.