Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 29, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 26, 2009

There's a nice picture by Sandro Vannini on Dr Hawass' site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jane Akshar has reported on the lecture about tomb TT33 at the Mummification Museum. See

(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.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 19, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PetamenophisThis 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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A nice little post with photos on Jane's blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Otto Schaden has posted on 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".

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 14, 2009

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 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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 14, 2009

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.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 13, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 10, 2009

With thanks to Dave Hay, here's another photo looking into the Valley of the Kings a couple of weeks ago. This I think shows all the areas people were interested in from last season so I have uploaded the full-res and artificially sharpened it. Click it to enlarge.

I can't see anything of interest.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Midst golden dunes and azure skies, its magic steeped in history,
The ancient land of Egypt hides a tomb that holds a mystery.
Who was the king or was she queen, the one for whom the tomb was meant?
What were the titles, rich or mean, that led to this predicament?

Historians have checked the clues, have read the text and ancient script.
The gurus all come up with views of who lay in that desert crypt!
The tomb was numbered fifty-five, the Valley where the Pharaohs sleep;
Their bodies dead, their souls alive, with everlasting fields to reap.

But which of them was laid to rest in this deserted limestone cave;
To face the trial, the sacred test, to gain the freedom from the grave?
They dug the ground to find the door and when they entered the dark room
They found a mummy on the floor - Akhenaten’s sought-for tomb?

The name erased and mask askew, the tomb upset, who was to blame?
How earnestly they sought a clue to lead them to the owner’s name.
The walls were bare, all hopes were dashed, the coffin just on trestles lay.
The seals were rent, the screens were smashed, no written word to guide their way.

The body scanned, the bones unsealed, results were checked: “You’ve found a queen”!
A woman’s corpse had been revealed; the puzzle stayed, who had she been?
It was a most important find, was it Kiye or maybe Ti?
But then there came a change of mind, the body proved to be a ‘he’!

It was before the Carter find and all had sought the Boy-King’s vault.
Davis searched with all his mind, but finally he called a halt.
Conclusions drawn, “He was a King, but who he was we cannot say!
Without a crown, without a ring, his title’s lost in every way.”

The Pharaohs from the Thutmose line were taken from sarcophagi.
Their mummies stacked in some dark mine to thwart the thieves and fool the eye.
Names were found for everyone except those of the Aten clan.
Could Tutankhamun be this one? For now they knew it was a man.

“But no,” they said, “he is too old and yet too young for other Kings.
We’re certain someone stole the gold and took away the better things.”
Of those that lived in times afar, their mummies with their names survive.
My theory favours Smenkhkara to be the ghost of fifty-five.

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, December 07, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 06, 2009

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.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 06, 2009

With huge thanks to Dave Hay, here's a picture of the rubble from the excavations in the Western Valley of the Kings piled up on the opposite side of the path on the way up to tomb WV23.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 06, 2009

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!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 06, 2009

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!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 04, 2009

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:

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 03, 2009

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.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 03, 2009

I promised further photos from the Western Valley of the Kings - here's one showing the depth of the excavation down to bedrock.  There's at least one more but I've had a run in with bureacucratic offcialdom today so I'm just going to watch some Yes Prime Minsister and maybe some Buffy to cheer myself up! 

(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.)


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