Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jane Akshar has done one of her much appreciated write ups of a lecture at the Mummification Museum in Luxor, with Francisco Tiradritti talking about the work in the Tomb of Hawra.

The team started work at the tomb of Harwa in 1996 although a survey had been done a year earlier. Harwa was a very important official, steward of the God’s wife of Amun or Divine Votaress and there are 8 known statues of him (see the website also for a life see ) and they are in different styles the ones in the Cairo Museum and 1 in BM are Old Kingdom, the block statues are New Kingdom and there is a shrine that is Middle King. This is because the 15th Dynasty was part of the great Renaissance of Egypt. Although all periods had copied previous styles the Nubian Kings specialised in this by with a Nubian twist.

The rest of the write up is on Jane's blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 23, 2011

With family commitments I am not sure how much I will be online over the next few days, so I just wanted to say ...

Merry Christmas one at all.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 23, 2011

I won't be able to post it when it goes online later today, but Dr Thomas Schuler has indicated that the Blue Shield report about the library should be online today on the Blue Shield site:

I am expecting that the report will consolidate the various reports about the damage and salavge operation.  Once again, huge credit to Blue Shield, and especially to Thomas, for caring and the work put in to compile this.  As I have said before, Blue Shield's efforts in Egypt during 2011 have been remarkable.

It is also apparent from reports I am reading on various sites that once again the ordinary Egyptians, including many protestors, acted with courage and resolve to preserve their heritage, and are committed now to the salvage effort.  A huge tribute once again to the people of Egypt.

Also credit to Elena C for her efforts in promoting salvage efforts.  She has a Twitter feed (@Miss_Mymkin) at!/Miss_Mumkin if you want dynamic news.  More generally the hashtag #savethebooks is being used on Twitter if you want a wider set of sources.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 23, 2011

The mission is underway again and has a collection of photographs on their FaceBook page.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 23, 2011

On the collections side; from the first moment after burning the collections; the National Library of Egypt started to save the collections as possible as   they can. Many of Egyptian volunteers assisted in extracting the books from the fire. Dr. Zein Abdul Hadi, the head of Egyptian National Library participated himself at this process. Many trucks moved the rescued books to the National Library. According to Dr. Zein, "Around 30.000 items were rescued and stored in the National Library”. Cooperative efforts are running now to restore the saved items. American University in Cairo (AUC) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina are participating effectively. Today, 21st December, the National Library announced that same PCs were rescued and the electronic catalog of the library was found and safe.
Source and the full article from Cybrarians

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 23, 2011

The Blue Shield highly commends the courage demonstrated by the Egyptian population, as they braved the flames and collapsing building in order to save books and manuscripts. These acts are in following with previous actions taken during the events that threatened national museums and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in which the citizens prevented further damage and looting from taking place. We applaud such efforts and encourage the army and fire brigades to support such protection enterprises. In times of conflict such as these, the safeguarding of heritage should be granted the highest priority.
Full text of statement here:

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 18, 2011

A fire yesterday damaged the entire building of the Egyptian Scientific Institute and damaged its entire collection.  There are pictures of flames coming from the windows, but the fire is now out.  It is now known what, if anything, can be salvaged.


Both sides blame the other.  The army blames the protestors for throwing a Molotov Cocktail into the building; the protestors claim that the army was using the building as a base from which to attack them and some have even suggested that the fire may have been started deliberately by the army to descredit the protests.  It all sounds chillingly familiar.

The Egyptian Museum is still safe - and was open for visitors today - but these are anxious times again and I keep checking Twitter with a degree of trepidation.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, December 10, 2011

My thanks to CJB for the link to this paper.  (He posted it in a comment, so I am promoting it so that readers don't miss it.)

It ( is in French.  Google translate isn't too awful with French but it mangles it somewhat and I can't persuade it to translate the whole article.  When I have time, I will read it in French to try to catch the full sense of what they are suggesting. 

One central theme is that Akhenaten was survived by a King (Smenkhkare) and Queen (Meritaten) who had similar throne names and therefore were easily confused so it isn't possible to say which partner outlived his/her spouse to rule alone, although they lean as usual towards the Queen.  Smenkhare is seen as the occupant of KV55 and the son of Akhenaten, which is familiar territory.  Less usual is their belief, if I am reading it correctly, that Smenkhare was the brother of Tutankhamun.  That means the Amarna reliefs fail to show two sons of Pharaoh, but six daughters. 

The Younger Lady is identified as Sitamun but they pose the question that the wife of Smenkhare might actually not have been Meritaten the daughter of Akhenaten but the daughter of Smenkhare himself.   I need to re-read that section.

There is a lot more, with a lot of discussion of implications of the Amarna letters and foreign relations.  The paper cites a lot of references.  Since Google translate won't translate the second half for me, and skim reading something in French is a real stretch for me, I can't say too much more.  I will try to spend time to read it carefully when I have time to translate it fully.

My thanks again to CJB for what is an interesting and thought-provoking paper.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 09, 2011

Anybody interested in photos of the Valley of the Kings and the West Bank area might wish to try Luxor Taxi's Flickr photostream:

At present there are four pages.  There are some great pictures of El Kab for instance and some good shots from TT55 (Ramose).  All very well taken.  There are also some which were taken in the Eastern Desert on the road between Luxor and Hurghada.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 08, 2011

Marianne Luban has posted a couple of interesting pieces in her blog.  In the first "More on Substitution Portriats", Marianne continues with her theme about the Face of Tutankhamun which has attracted quite a lot of comment on this blog.

The second piece looks at the regnal count of King Hatchepsut.  Marianne's theory is that Hatchepsut backdated the start of her reign by three years to the death of Thutmosis I, effectively obliterating the reign of Thutmosis II as well as denying the later Tutmosis III the throne. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Andie Byrnes and I have just published the 2nd ddition of the Egyptological Journal and the 3rd edition of our Egyptological Magazine.  The editorial has full details, but for the scope of News from the Valley of the Kings the highlights are possibly two more write ups from the AWT Conference on Amarna, including one covering Jo Marchant's talk about the DNA of Tutankhamun and the other royal mummies from the 18th Dynasty.  Hatschepsut fans will be delighted that Barbara has written a full article about Hatchepsut.

Please remember that we don't announce all the articles published in the In Brief section between editions, or the Photo Albums - look in the Colloquy section for both of those, or follow us on Twitter @egyptological for notification when something is published.  As always, we encourage comments and there are some fascinating ones. 

We are always looking for writers and photographs.  It is a good way to get exposure for a subject which interests you, and of course we can add a biography page with a link to your site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, December 04, 2011

It is behind glass and hard to photograph.  There is however a much better image on the British in the British Museum catalogue, which also has full details. It was found in the Valley of the Kings in the tomb of Amennhotep III and is inscribed with his name.  Although we think of finds coming principally from the tombs of Tutankhamun and Yuya / Thuya, there are many broken objects like this from other tombs in the Valley of the Kings which hint at how lavishly provisioned they must once have been.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, December 02, 2011

I'm out so just a link for now - I've not yet found a photo

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, December 01, 2011

This is a wonderful article and a wonderful re-discovery.  Lying forgotten in drawers in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo was a full set of chariot leathers.  They are reportedly 90% - 95% complete.  The photos are excellent and show clearly the remarkable preservation.  The project is working to converve them.

The article highlights that they are likely to improve the understanding of Bronze Age charioteering across Europe.

Readers of this blog will be interested to learn that the Museum thinks they belonged to Akhenaten, but an ancient leather specialist thinks they belonged to one of Tutankamun's successors.  Where they came from is a big question.  As the article says, it must be from a tomb, presumably a royal or super-elite tomb.  For the period in question, that would seem to imply the Valley of the Kings, and very, very few tombs have yielded contents of that quality.  All in all that is a mystery, and a very interesting one.  The alternative might be an 18th Dynasty tomb at Saqqara, but it is equally hard to think which that might be.

What is clear is that the full inventory underway in the Egyptian Museum could be very interesting when it is published.  As well as potentially grim news of objects which cannot be located, we might also learn of other forgotten treasures.

(My thanks to Andie Byrnes for the link.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mostafa Amin, the Secretary General of the SCA, has announced the discovery of a 4th Century Coptic Settlement near Dakhla oasis. 

Mostafa Amin, the Secretary General of the SCA, made the announcement, explaining that the newly discovered settlement consists of remains of residential houses and service buildings as well as a large Basilica with distinguished columns and a wooden alter adorned with foliage decoration and icons showing Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels and saints.
More details and photos on Ahram Online

Edition 3 of Egyptological which will will be publishing next week on 7th December has an article introducing the history and religion of the Egyptian Copts.  If this sort of subject interests you, then look out for it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am catching up on a few things and found  really nice little article about the face of Tutankhamun by Marianne Luban.  Marianne starts:

I have written it here and elsewhere that the best way to know how a king of Egypt really looked is to see his face as substituted for those of his servants and nobles
Marianne goes on to suggest that a statue of Paramessu is a good "substitution portrait" for the face of Tutankhamun.  Follow the link for details and a picture.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

While news is thin, here is a link to some photos of the relefs in Theban tomb TT55 (Ramose).

You need to navigate backwards and forwards, and that is a full photostream so not all of the images are from TT55.  Sorry not to post the image directly, but it is copyright.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For those who like links I found a new blog at The latest article is about the temple of Abydos and they all seem relatively shallow. It's in Spanish I think (or maybe Italian) - a language for which I can usually gist a translation but no more.  It is not a site  to rush to, but non-English sites aren't as common as they could be so it will be welcomed by some.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ahram reports that security at archaeological sites has been "doubled" during the elections. No more details but for security one would expect that.

If uncontaminated by hyperbole it is reassuring news.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 14, 2011

If you are interested

The demands are familiar and the numbers reportedly small.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, November 12, 2011

Apparently (so this article says) some archaeologists associate Punnata with the Land of Punt. If you share that view, then the discovery of a statue associated with Punnata may interest you, although the article doesn't give a date. Pretty marginal interest for most of us I think, but some people might be interested.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some time ago I reviewed Will Cross's book The Life and Secrets of Almina Carnarvon.  I criticised the author for suggesting that the Sixth Earl was illegitimate but refusing the name who he thought was the real father.  The book devoted a lot of attention to Prince Victor Duleep Singh and I had put two and two together, but wasn't entirely sure that four was the answer.

The author and the Daily Mail have now gone public in an article with an amazingly long title, Downton's greatest secret: A lonely countess, an illicit love affair with an Egyptian prince... and an Earl who has no right to his title. The extraordinary claims about real life Lord.Cross also paints a very different picture of Carnarvon than generally appears in the literature:

But Carnarvon contracted a malady from one of the whorehouses, and after returning to England almost died,’ reveals Mr Cross. ‘He retained for life the facial marks from the effects of the disease. Thereafter, Carnarvon was sexually blighted.

His fall-back - with his valet Fernside as his confidant - was taking photographs of women. Naughty pictures became his passion, and at the height of his voyeurism he commissioned 3,000 nudes from a photographic studio.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, October 31, 2011

With the UNESCO budget stretched by the Arab Spring, it is regrettable that the UNESCO budget is likely to fall by about 20%. USA which has been making a sizeable contribution to the budget will withhold all funding following Palestinian membership of UNESCO. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, October 27, 2011

For those interested my local Works (Croydon) had three discounted Egypt books today. I suspect other branches might also have copies.

Pick of the bunch is Treasures of the Pyramids by Zahi Hawass with a foreword by Suzanne Mubarak.  Easy to see why that has been remaindered.  I didn't pick up a copy as the flat is in chaos because I need ceilings replaced - leak from the flat above.  It took the insurance assessor less than 10 minutes to approve the claim. I may grab a copy next week. The price is a very reasonable £9.99. It's an AUC Press publication, originally priced at $70 - see for details.

At the same price was Egypt Past and Present which contrasts old lithographs with modern photographs of the same scenes.  For me it's a book which interests for an hour or two but isn't a "keeper" so I ignored that. There was also Treasures of the Pharaohs at £6.99. It looked more tourist oriented but I will take a look next week when I have more time.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Times today reports that Maikel Sanad is close to death from multiple organ failure. He is a Coptic Egyptian and aged 26.

He is also in jail and on hunger strike in protest at being tried before a military court without either himself or his lawyer present.  He was sentenced to three years.

His crime was blogging about the Revolution and questioned whether the army supported the people.

So would I be safe visiting Egypt? Would most of my readers who have written various critical posts on Facebook?  

My thoughts are with Maikel and his family.

The case also exposes the ongoing problem of the reliability of reports from Egypt.  At present the only reports seem to be essentially press reports reported in Ahram and occasion stories in Youm which tend to be almost impossible to verify.  We need independent bloggers able to report on the status of sites.  News from the Valley of the Kings used to rely on tourist reports and photos.  First the photos were blocked by preventing tourists taking photos on sites; now tourist numbers are badly down.

I know I have been quiet here. That is partly being busy. It is partly that there isn't much going on. But it's also that the news out of Egypt is restricted still.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, October 05, 2011

There are reports coming in that the Mprtuary Temple of Amenhotep III which has been the site of some exciting discoveries over the past year has been flooded.  There is an article in Arabic but Google Translate struggles as usual - but the picture is worth a thousand words.

That's corrosive, salty water which destroys inscriptions.  I guess the worry is that if it can happen to such a high profile site then the SCA has really taken its eye off the ball and the risk to other sites must be a concern.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, October 02, 2011

It is official and in the mainstream media like Ahram.  What's more, everybody seems to be happy and the protestors have agreed to stop their protests and sit ins.  Big projects like the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Avenue of the Sphinxes will continue, although it is unclear where the money will come from until tourism picks up again.

Mostafa Amine was formerly head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department.  Quite what that means for any new projects, news or even publication of past SCA projects remains to be seen but it coudd be a fallow few years for Egyptology unless foreign missions are licensed.  

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Despite a meeting between Abdel Fatah and the Prime Minister his status remains unclear and the protests continue.  It is hard to see any quick resolution to either problem.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

He says it is an impossible job because he requires the Prime Minister's approval for every decision so nothing happens and because of organised resistance protests from within the SCA.  Not good. Not good at all.

Thanks to Patrick

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I have posted about this one before, but my thanks to Robert Nielsen for directing me to a magazine article I had not seen in which Hawass says he believes it is a tomb, and possibly that of Ankhesenamun.  It's largely confirmation of what has been published before, although I don't recall the reference to meat, but anyway:

This year began as a banner one for Hawass. Shortly after New Year’s, he revealed that the long-lost tomb of Tutankhamun’s widow, Ankhesenamun, could soon be unearthed. “We recently found some foundation deposits in the western part of the Valley of the Kings, offerings of meat and pottery placed where a new tomb was to be built,” he says. “This is the best location for Ankhesenamun’s tomb, and the fact that no ­artifacts have been found anywhere else suggests it has never been disturbed.” The discovery of “Mrs. Tut” would no doubt be a worldwide sensation, drawing more attention (and tourist dollars) than any other find, short of another pristine royal tomb.
This is different to the Cross location and to the ARTP locations, and indeed to all the other locations in the main wadi.  I believe that this refers to the Western Valley of the Kings, what is sometimes called the Valley of the Monkeys.

There is nothing else about KV64 in the article, but if you would like to read it in full, it is a June edition American Way Magazine, from American Airlines.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, September 04, 2011

Andie Byrnes and I have been at the Ancient World Tours Conference for the past couple of days.  The last speaker was Stephen Cross and it turned out he has actual news about a possible tomb KV64.

He ran through his theory that Tutankhamun's tomb KV62, the latest discovery tomb KV63 and the enigmatic tomb KV55 remained intact because they were covered by a layer of water-borne sediment in a flash flood in (he believes)Year 1 of Ay's reign.  The sediment set like concrete and thereafter was frequently taken to be the bedrock so that excavation teams stopped when they reached it.  Tombs beneath it were sealed and hidden. He also ran through the story of the 2008/9 excavations in the Valley of the Kings.  Over the next couple of weeks, Andie and I will be doing a full write-up and review of many of the sessions for publication on Egyptological, and that will include Steve's talk. To avoid duplication, I won't cover Cross's theory and the 2008/9 excavation in more detail now.

At the end of his talk he turned to the possibility of a tomb KV64.  He listed some facts about KV62:

  • it is at an elevation of 170m above mean sea level; 
  • it is sited below an overhang in the rock;
  • there is a leveled area just outside the entrance.
After the 2008/9 excavations, he identified one location in the central area which matches these same facts.  The levelled area was confirmed by ground penetrating radar.  It is about 3 feet from the edge of the excavated area.  The radar also suggested what may be a tunnel filled with limestone chipping stretching from somewhere near that possible entrance location beneath the Rest House, although I don't think it was shown as reaching the theorised tomb entrance.

There is no proof, but it could turn out that KV64 has been identified, although there have been many false dawns on this story over the past 5 or 6 years.  (He says that the Reeves radar anomalies were mostly checked and were surface features such as minor fissures or even modern conduits.)

He was asked if there was any plan to dig the new anomaly.  At present, permissions are not in place and there is something of a hiatus with the change in regime at the SCA but he has lined up a very senior British Egyptologist who has agreed to be mission director and he says that he has "unlimited" funding available.  I guess it now will come down to stability in Egypt and securing permissions. 

He was asked whom he thought might be buried in the tomb.  His answer to that question was slightly unclear - or at least I struggled to follow it, perhaps because he was being a bit cagey.  He said though that as he isn't a professional Egyptologist he doesn't have a reputation to protect so he can speculate - and did.  (It's an attitude I share.  I am a firm believer in having courage to say things which might turn out to be wrong rather than procrastinated - but I digress.)  So far as I followed it, his theory runs like this ...

We know from KV55 that some mummies were transferred from the Royal Tomb at Amarna - possibly/probably the KV55 mummy and certainly Queen Tiye who ended up in KV35.  (Steve Cross also personally believes that Nefertiti was Tiye's daughter and would be moved to KV35 at the same time i.e. I think Cross sees KV35YL as the Younger Lady.  That is something Jo Fletcher covered in one of the other talks.)  So the question of who could be in KV64 gets recast as, who was buried in the Royal Tomb at Amarna and therefore transferred to the Valley of the Kings during the reign of Tutankhamun?  That would seem pretty definitely to be Akhenaten, Tiye and Meketaten.  Maybe Nefertiti?  I don't think anybody really knows.  Steve Cross though points attention at Chamber Alpha.  He says that has niches for magic bricks which is not an Atenistic burial practice, and that they cut through the decoration, suggesting that it was a late development in the tomb, after the death of Akhenaten.  He suspects that it was Meritaten who was buried in Chamber Alpha.   So any of those bodies could be in an unknown tomb in the Valley of the Kings ... which might help solve who is in KV55 as well if a new, intact tomb were to be discovered. 

He sees KV63 as a tomb used for staging the bodies, perhaps usurping an existing noble tomb.

Andie has notes as well, so we will compare notes before we write up the material forEgyptological - in fact in the interest of speed I have written this blog post from memory rather than my notes.  So the coverage in due course in Egyptological should be rather fuller and certainly better structured tha this hasty effort. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, August 28, 2011

I have just posted up the second half of the exceptionally popular album of photos of Medinet Habu by Heidi Kontkanen.  Over the last month, her first album was the third most visited page on Egyptological - and obviously the front page was one of the two more popular pages!  This is another wonderful set.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, August 21, 2011

If anybody is interested, William Cross has written a highly detailed biography of Almina Carnarvin (neé Wombwell), wife of Lord Cararvon.

I have finally finished my review of the book and published it on Egyptological.  Alternatively, you can go straight to the author's home page for the book for more details.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nothing to add at this stage

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

He was listening!  Dr Hawass has updated his blog with a message about what he is up to.

Stylistically I am sure that Dr Hawass has written this himself rather than some other posts which appear to have been written for him.  (I can "hear" how it would sound with him reading it and it matches his oral style.) It's free of braggadocio.  He sounds happy - almost relieved to be free from the responsibility of what had become an impossible job.  I am pleased for him. 

He says he is writing a book about the impact of the revolution on antiquities.  If that trots out the same olf official line which few people believe, then it will be useless propaganda.  But potentially he is the best-placed to write the true story.  If he does, then it could be an explosive best-seller.  We shall have to wait and see.

He also mentions the wall at Giza and personally I think that is probably his greatest achievement.  As well as hopefully improving conditions on the site it also protects the margins from the sort of encroachment seent on other sites. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My thanks to Andie Byrnes for spotting this news story that work has stopped on restoring the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor.  It's a project ill-fated from the start.  There is more from Almasry Alyoum on the need for funds and that illegal encroachment has already started to fill the vacuum.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, August 13, 2011

The last post on Dr Hawass' personal blog was now one month ago, of 14th July.  It irritated me at times, and its impartiality was sometimes questionable, but compared to having to rely on FaceBook I almost reminisce and look back on the good old days.  Almost, but not quite of course because while I miss the blog, I don't miss the man.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, August 11, 2011

This is an interesting presentation by Elizabeth Murphy of Proteus Brown University, presented as a PDF.  It is something Andie Byrnes found - my thanks to Andie - while hunting for information and material about pugs in Ancient Egypt.  (If you can help with that, please visit Andie's request for information on Egyptological.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, August 11, 2011

I am disappointed by a rash of nuisance comments.  They also seem to have been directed to cause annoyance for one particular reader.  I have removed those comments and closed that posts to any further comments.  I prefer not to moderate comments hard, but these crossed the boundary of what I consider acceptable.

My apologoes to other readers.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, August 07, 2011

Thanks to Heidi Kontkanen for a beautiful set of photos of Medinet Habu which I have posted on Egyptological. There is a second set to follow.

For those who would like to see even more of Heidi's photos, she has a lot on Flickr:

(There  are a few minor stories to catch up on.  I have a full day tomorrow but I hope to be able to catch up here on Tuesday or Wednesday.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Andie Bynres found a story online which claims that scientists in Switzerland have analysed Tutankhamun's Y-chromosome and determined his haplogroup to be R1b1a2.  The story is bouncing around several fora and blogs but the source is hard to determine.  This article others rather more information and claims that the scientists have also analysed KV55 (they say Akhenaten so lets translate that back into a mummy and avoid the identification wit Akhenaten) and Amenhotep III.  The scientists work for the Zurich-based DNA genealogy center, iGENEA.

That's when the story gets murky, because their website not only will sell you a test to see if you too are related to King Tutankhamun, they state:

In the year 2009 extended DNA-tests had been carried out with the mummy of Tutankamun and other members for his family. These have only partially been published in February 2010. Despite several demands, the results of the Y-DNA tests have been shut away. 

iGENEA was able to reconstruct the Y-DNA profile of Tutankhamun, his father Akhenaten and his grandfather Amenhotep III with the help of a recording of the Discovery Channel.
So this is not new work on the official raw data.  There are two problems with working from the Discovery Channel videos.  The first is that the team which analysed Tutankhamun's DNA for publication in JAMA have stated that the first lab sequences were shot in the lab.  However, it was taking them a week to re-sterilise the lab to resume work so TV crews were banned and much of the lab sequences were reconstructions.  Now we know that, using the TV footage has to carry a warning that the results shown on TV may not be real - and so far as the Y chromosome is concerned could for instance by a reconstruction using the DNA of one of the scientists himself.  Even if the footage was accurate, there is concern among geneticists that the results were contaminated and the methodology of the original study uncertain. 

Putting the two together, with suitable caveats the data is probably useful to indicate familial relationships.  I don't however feel comfortable myself with claims of a European haplogroup in such circumstances.  It's possible, but the chance that it is a spurious result from a dramatised reconstruction seems very real to me. 

We go back to wishing that the raw data had been fully published and then such stories wouldn't arise.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some of the most popular content on Egyptological at present are some wonderful photographs of Abydos by James Whitfield.   The easiest way to find them is to look in the latest items in Colloquy.  (That's a page we are just adding to make finding things in that section of the site easier.)  Andie has another set of Abydos photos, and in particular the Osireion I believe to load shortly, as well as a brief article she has written indroducing the Osireion to anybody who isn't familiar with this unique temple building.  Her article should be up in the next few days once proof read so just keep an eye on the link.

For those readers on FaceBook who want even more Abydos photographs, Heidi Kontkanen has just uploaded an album of Luxor, Denderah and Abydos photographs.  I particularly like some of the ones of the Theban Hills, but I suspect most people will find the Abydos reliefs and the pictures of the Osireion most interesting.

All of the photos, on both Egyptological and Heidi's on FB, are worth looking at if you like visual material.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, July 25, 2011

This is a rare update from 2011 on the work of the Finnish team on the excavations at the workman's huts in the Theban Hills above the Valley of the Kings, mostly by way of new photographs by Heidu Kontkanen.  Not all the news is good:

From our modern perspective, it is upsetting to see how the village was first excavated and then left to be destroyed. Passers-by have used the huts as dumps and rest rooms,” says Docent Jaana Toivari- Viitala, who heads the first-ever research project managed by Finns in Egypt.

My thanks to Lenka Peacock for telling me about this page.

Sorry - here is the link

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 22, 2011

Dr Hawass has confirmed his retirement to the New York Times indicating that he is looking forwards to life as a private person as a scholar and writer.   I guess that makes him an amateur Egyptologist along with many of the rest of us - not a group he has admired in the past :)

It will be interesting to see his plans.  My guess it will be media work if he can get it, rather than writing - and I suspect the Discovery Channel will keep using him if it gets the ratings.  In the past he has insisted that the Secretary General reports all new developments so he won't have the new discoveries for is documentaries any more.  He might break the rules though.  If there are un-announced discoveries he will probably wish to be involved. I suspect he will remain a popular media figure and enjoy that side of his life.

As to what happens to the SCA, that concerns us more.  There are reports questioning the legal status of the Ministry of Antiquities during its brief existence so that will be something to watch.  The Ministry has now been disbanded and the SCA reports to the Prime Minister directly.

The foreign missions should get going again. maybe this winter but some may take a sabbatical if the situation is fluid.  It may take some time before any new Egyptian missions are planned and get underway.  Unless there is anything pending, then for the next few months we may continue to have more political than archaeological news.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 21, 2011

Almasry Al Youm has reported that the cabinet re-shuffle is expected to conclude on Thursday.  It also writes that

The source added that Sharaf decided to abolish the Antiquities Ministry while keeping the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which will be put under the direct control of the cabinet.
That could finally spell the end of the road for Dr Hawass because it doesn't seem to leave open the possibility for a ministerial position and he is over the mandatory state retirement age for officials. Anyway the news reported that three weeks ago he appointed Mohammed Abd el-Maqsud as the new Secretary General of the SCA, who may now find himself in the top job if the ministerial layer above him is removed.  It would also prevent some difficulties because the Prime Minister doesn't need to appoint anybody and so won't offend any of the factions.

Don't bank on anything though.  This re-shuffle has more twists and turns than the News Internation phone hacking scandal.  And, although this approach if adoped means that nobody new is appointed, that doesn't mean that people will be happy with the outcome.

If this does happen, the only way Dr Hawass can remain would be if he was re-appointed as Vice-Minister of Culture.  It is possible I suppose but it seems unlikely on several grounds, not least loss of personal face from a clear demotion and the Youm report seems to suggest that the SCA will report to the cabinet at large and not to the Culture Ministry.  I guess he could be appointed as Minsiter of Culture with responsibility for both the culture and antiquities portfolios, but I don't think it is likely he will go fro effectively being fired a couple of days ago to a big promotion.

Predictions are dangerous but this could be the final dénoument for Hawass as a politician.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, July 19, 2011

News tonight that Dr Hawass will be back at his desk tomorrow

Everybody knows that I am not a Zahi fan but credit to him for being willing to shoulder the responsibility again in such undesriable circumstances.  He is back because it has proved difficult to find a successor. Prime Minister Sharaf has been suffering from hypertension so the completion of the re-shuffle is delayed.  It is therefore unclear whether Zahi has kindly stepped in as caretaker so that the sites don't suffer from another interregnum, or whether he will not now be replaced in this re-shuffle.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, July 18, 2011

I have learned my lesson and declined to announce on the blog the new Antiquities Minister yesterday when everyone else thought the job had gone to Abdel Fattah al-Banna.  Apparently not as Al Youm reveals.

The background seems to be a fight between pro and anti-Hawass camps. Al-Banna is militantly anti-Hawass. Many senior people in the Ministry have enjoyed patronage from Zahi and don't wish that hegemony disturbed.

More generally there are claims that the entire cabinet re-shuffle is un-constitutional. So we have another power vacuum and Hawass could conceivably still rise again, although the vitriol expressed towards him recently would make that very difficult and probably unlikely. In short, it's an ugly mess.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, July 17, 2011

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, July 17, 2011

For those who don't follow Twitter,@Pastpreservers claims Zahi Hawass has resigned with immediate effect, saying the news came from the Ministry of Antiquities. Other reports on Twitter suggest he is packing his office. No official confirmation and many people waiting for confirmation. More later.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 15, 2011

A few days ago I posted about the rediscovery and study of a Dynasty 0 rock carving near Aswan.  My thanks to Christine Fößmeier who has found a full paper on the carving.  Sadly this report reveals the damage done to the scene - it has been attacked with broad chisels some time over the past 40 years.

The paper discusses the stylistic elements which point towards a date of Dynasty 0.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 15, 2011

Andie Byrnes has found this 244 page PDF of papers about Amarna. I have not had time to review them at all.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 15, 2011

Arrests have been made in an alleged smuggling case as announced by Dr Hawass on his blog, who suggests he helped to authenticate the items seized.  The allegations relate to the movement of antiquities before the January Revolution.  I am not proposing to cover it in detail here because Paul Barford has extensive coverage in several posts on his blog and will no doubt track any developments.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, July 15, 2011

The update doesn't give much new detail but it does highlight three key areas for investigation:

1) An unexpected and seemingly undisturbed burial pit
2) A gallery of animal mummies
3) A collection of shabtis

Addition: Luxor Times has a better summary than the Djeuty site and it is in English!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, July 11, 2011

Eastern DesertAndie Byrnes has just published (I hope - this is scheduled) an interesting article on Egyptological about the ancient Egyptians' relationship with the desert.  So much of our attention is focused on the narrow fertile strip of the Nile, and the immediate margins used for tombs.  As Andie points out, the desert was an integral part of the land of Egypt, with several well-established trade routes. 

Photo: © Andrea Byrnes

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, July 11, 2011

I am just catching up from a news item last week that rock art over 5,000 years old near Aswan has been studied by a team from Yale. Some reports say it is a new discovery but as the Yale report itself says it was found in the 60s by the Egyptian Egyptologist Labib Habachi near Nag el-Hamdulab on the West Bank of the Nile to the north of Aswan.


It is an important scene because it is the earliest representation of a king wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt. It is variously claimed to be from Dynasty 0 and 5,200 years old but I have seen no reliable dating methodology published. The main panel shows a Royal Jubilee.

The Yale link is the best for text but for pictures try the Washington Post:

There are two pictures so make sure you don't miss the close up view.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 07, 2011

Elizabeth H Owen just contacted me to tell me about a new novel she has written:
I just published a book about what might have happened to Ankhesenamun after Tut's death. It is almost a continuation of a book that I read when I was a little girl called The Lost Queen of Egypt.

The name of my book is THE LOST QUEEN OF ENGLAND. In the novel, Princess Diana did NOT die in the tunnel and goes to Egypt to escape her life. She falls in love with Egypt and decides to stay, eventually becoming an Egyptologist. After discovering a astonishing clue in the desert of Amarna, she lobbies for and is granted permission to dig in the Valley of the Kings. She finally solves the mystery of what happened to Ankhesenamun.
Not my cup of tea at all.  In fact, I hate the concept because I dislike most historical fiction, preferring to keep fact and fiction distinct.  Still, some people are interested in anything connected with Ankhesenamun and, as it is a slow news week, I thought I would pass it on.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, July 06, 2011

There were a few interesting points in the Pharaohs' Museum documentary tonight.

Firstly, the chief curator, Mohamed Ali, told Alan Yentob that all items in the same cabinet as the Akhenaten statue which was recovered, were taken.  One possible picture of the original contents of that cabinet is shown here, but I don't know whether items have been removed or added before January 2011.

To my mind, the documentary adds only minimal detail to the story of the break in.  That the robbers made their entrance via ropes from the ceiling is again presented but the windows filmed by the BBC are covered with the grime of ages and clearly hadn't been broken.  Reviewing an old video on this post, the presenter points to "that broken window", although he didn't film it. I am therefore inclined to believe that at least one intruder did enter via the skylight. There is visible blood on one of the objects in case on which one intruder is supposed to have fallen which lends further credence to the official story.  There is also a blood stain in the corner beyond one of the wooden model boats (I think the Meseti boat), where supposedly he hid close to where he entered on ropes from the skylight.  It's not obvious how if he moved to hide in a corner following his injury that he and/or his accomplices then made their way to the Tutankhamun collection and downstairs where he was captured in front of the Sekhmet statue. Dr Hawass also stressed that the museum was dark which is how the boat came to be damaged in the hunt for gold, which suggests the lights were turned off very quickly, but the impression I had formed from previous versions of the break in story was that there had been something of a delay before the idea of turning the lights off occurred to the control room. 

Amazingly during the production of this documentary the mask of Tutankhamun was again removed from its case while the public were present - and in this case BBC cameras too - to change a light bulb.  At least this time the curator wore latex gloves so the criticisms about the handling of some of the objects recently might have been taken on board.  Certainly the use of gloves is very welcome.

The documentary has many shots of the collection inside the museum, including one of the restored model boat from the tomb of Meseti which had been damaged.  It is certainly reassuring; however, the Tutankhamun collection (other than the mask) was shown only fleetingly.  The recovered Akhenaten statue was shown in position on display inside a case, but the other objects original in the same case didn't seem to be present with it, although that is somewhat hard to tell.  There are also some good shots from inside the mummy room, which will be welcome to many in terms of general pictures of some of the royal mummies.

If anybody is interested in the break in then it is a video worth watching if you have access to BBC iPlayer.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, July 03, 2011

I'm not on the laptop so just a link from me today.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 30, 2011

As I write the articles for the first edition of Egyptological our free online magazine about Egyptology and Ancient Egypt are publishing themseleves - we scheduled them over a 15 minute period.  It is a great first edition. Andie Byrnes and I are very proud of it.  It has been a lot of work for us, our volunteers and our wonderful authors.

There is nothing exclusively New Kingdom or Upper Egypt in this edition but there are several articles which are general in nature and should hopefully interest you.  We really welcome any feedback because it will help us to make future editions even better.  We are also looking for contributors for future articles and still have opportuities for volunteers.

PS Don't forget to look at the Photo Albums in Colloquy and the shorter In Brief articles.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We all thought that the promotion of Dr Hawass to be Minister of State for Antiquities meant that his former post as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antoquities was defunct and wouldn't be filled.  In a move which had not been telegraphed in the media or by any of those who claim to know the inner workings of the Ministry, according to Almasry Al Youm Dr Hawass has made a surprise appointment of Mohammad Abdel-Moneim to be Secretary General of the SCA.  I cannot locate any official confirmation of the appointment though.

With minimal international profile I have had to rely on media coverage to find out about him.  According to that article his background is in the Sinai and the East Delta which I don't particularly follow and the AL Youm report suggests that "He discovered many excavations along with important archaeological pieces in North Sinai and the East of the Delta." Google isn't particularly helpful. It tells me that Dodi Fayed was actually Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed and there is a Mohamed Abdel Moneim with a profile on a dating site who lives in Giza, is 52, has brown eyes and is 5' 11" tall.  I suspect that isn't the same Mohamed Abdel Moneim but who knows.  There is also a dentist of the same name in Alexandria.  And of course Mohamed Abdel-Moneim El-Sawy is the Minister of Culture.  Perhaps more promising is the Mohammed Abd El Moneim who has written a paper on Knobbed bowls of the Late Predynastic - Early Dynastic Period.

In short, until a biography is issued, or somebody writes a background, I am not sure whether this appointment is good or bad news. There is also the very significant possibility that the news isn't accurate. Although it has appeared in Al Youm, there is no press release on the SCA web site. Blogging about Egyptology definitely has its frustrations at present. I will follow up the story when there are more details either way but I am busy for the next few days with the launch of the first edition of Egyptological and time with my nieces.

Update 6th June  - I can still find no official confirmation of this story and doubt its accuracy

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heads up that there are clashes new between protesters and security forces in Tahrir Square, Cairo, tonight with Twitter reports that tear gas has been used.  With Greece and the Intercontintal in Kabul it hasn't made TV channels so if you wish news I would suggest Twitter or some Google-fu.   By far the worst clashes in months.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not Pharaonic Upper Egypt but it is a truly beautiful piece ... it being an Egyptian Fatimid rock crystal ewer (jug) and is about 1,000 years old.  There is a great picture on the Art Daily site.  It's not the picture shown alongside, that is the Fatimid ewer in the V & A collection mentioned in the Art Daily Article which is also beautiful but not, to my mind, as glorious as the one which went on display in the Pergamon this week.  There is no indication what it sold for this time, but in 2008 it sold for £3m and the Daily Mail carried a picture which doesn't show the engraving as well but does show the colours much better.

The V&A article has more information about the Fatimid rock crystal ewers.  Apparently the Cairo treasury orginally listed about 900 but less than 200 are believed to have survived according to the V&A, although the Daily Mail suggests that as few as six ones of this quality are known.  They describe the one now in the Pergamon Museum as a 'Holy Grail Jug' which is wildy inapt but also strangely appropriately evocative at the same time.

There is yet another picture here in an article which stresses just how thin the walls are - and remember these are not blown glass but are sculpted out of a single, solid piece of rock crystal (quartz) which is really skilled craftwork.

Sorry, I know this is later than interests most people but I love glassware.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, June 25, 2011

Early in the year with the January Revolution very much in mind I visited the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum.  It inspired me to write an article about how the Egyptians might have seen the break in at the Egyptian Museum and how the recognition of the risk may have helped spur people to protect Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  It was very tabloid peice but I didn't manage to place it anywhere.  It doesn't really fit well either here or on Egyptological because it isn't an academic piece at all, so I have finally published it on Wizzley.  If you are interested, it is called The Magic of King Tutankhamun.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, June 25, 2011

And that could have been a tweet because pretty much all the available information is in the title.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Professor Sarah Symons of the Integrated Science Programme & Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University, Hanilton, Ontario recently visited the Society's London offices to study some of the unpublished material relating to the discovery and excavation of the Osireion at Abydos. She has sent the following report on her experiences.
Prof Symons report is on the EES site.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An American archeological mission discovered a large palace dating back to the Roman period in Amhada area, the Dakhla Oasis in the New Valley. 
The palace's structure was found complete but it cannot open to visitors due to erosion factors, said director of antiquities at Dakhla Maher Bashandi on Monday 20/6/2011.
A replica of the palace will be built so people can see it, he said. The American mission had translated the writings found inside the palace, from which it learnt about new archaeological contents in the area related to agricultural and educational activities prevalent in ancient times, he said.
The inscriptions suggest that farmers in Ancient Egypt might have worked in the Oases area before heading to the Nile Valley, he said.
Source: Egypt State Information Service

At the moment, this seems to be about all of the information available.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Al-Ahram Weekly has an article on the situation of the Amarna boundary stellae.  The Ministry is denying reports that a stella has recently been damaged by mining, although it admits that it is in poor condition and is suffering from deterioration and that some parts of it have collapsed.   However, the official line is not fully accepted and even the pro-establishment Ahram reports:

However, some Egyptologists who requested anonymity did not accept the ministry's announcement. They believe strongly that in spite of the revolution Egyptians are still facing the same problems and the same false statements.
It is actually quite a good article about the stellae and well worth reading.

Thanks to Patrick.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is somewhat off topic but important enough to pass on as it seems presently limited to Arabic sources.  I regret that I am insufficiently familiar with Libyan momuments to verify the details but it purports to show the momuments at Nalut, and I think it does.  Similarly, I am not able to assess the degree of damage done or that it was pro-Gadaffi forces as claimed; although, the impression on casual inspection is of relatively extensive damage.  However, having plead ignorance, for those wishing to know more the monuments concerned are an old Berber castle.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 02, 2011

The team have found a second decorated chamber which is a major find for them.  There is a press report on the Dr Hawass blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 02, 2011

There are reports that 14 reliefs were destroyed by dynamite at Amarna about 6 months ago.  This news is unverified and only carried so far by Youm7.


Youm7 (English)
Youm7 (Arabic - translated)
Egyptian Dreams (hint of confirmation by Ministry sources)


It sounds as though this is a conflation of old and new reports.  As Andrea Byrnes reports:

Thanks to EEF's Aayko Eyma for writing to Barry Kemp of the Amarna Project, who has replied to Aayko to say that there are two stelae which have been harmed. He says that Stela S was destroyed [Kate: by dynamite] in 2004 and that Stela Q, already denuded of most of its decorated surface in the early 20th Century, was further damaged more recently. An undecorated section has been removed and Kemp says that although it is assumed that this was by human agency it is unclear how it was done.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nick Lerner kindly pointed out  an animation of the work of the Djedi robot in the Great Pyramid which makes it easier to visualise what was seen in the chamber behind the Gantenbrink Door.

There is also a page by Dassault Systèmes.  

(Sorry I know this is off topic but I have a thing about the Great Pyramid and the upside of running a blog is that one can occasionally break one's own rules!)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, May 28, 2011

The third consecutive season of archaeological investigations at the funerary temple of Thutmosis III , on the west bank at Luxor, started on October 2nd, until December 17th.
One of the most interesting discoveries this season was a tomb with a corridor, shaft, and a sealed funerary chamber. Several burial jars and plates were found inside the chamber in a good state of preservation, allowing the tomb to be dated to the Second Intermediate Period.
More about the Third Archaeological Campaign (2010) is on the project's web site, including a set of very good pictures. Thanks to Jane Akshar for spotting the update.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, May 28, 2011

This is an aerial image of the Karnak Temple complex in 1914 from the Cornell University Library via Flickr.  I have uploaded a relatively low res version.  If you would like a higher resolution version, it is available on Flickr.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, May 28, 2011

There doesn't seem to be a definitive version of what the Leeds robot saw behind one of Gantenbrink's Doors in the Great Pyramid.  Coverage seems to have been relegated to the Daily Mail.  I have found two articles which are better than most and which together outline as much as (I think) has been made public.

The first is an article in Discovery News which has a good report of how the Djedi project robot made the journey up the shaft and the future plans for exploration.  It also has a composite image of the floor of the new chamber behind the Gantenbirnk Door at the top of the southern shaft from the Queen's Chamber.

The second report from the Daily Grail reproduces one of the images at greater size and has what seems to be more of a quote from the Djedi team (that's a link to the Hawass blog post at the start of the project).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, May 27, 2011

Three stories are dominating the Egyptian archaeological landsape:

  1. whether new finds and opening new tombs can revive tourist fortunes
  2. Hawass - inevitably
  3. the findings of the robot inside the Great Pyramid
The robot stuff is certainly interesting, altough far from conclusive but for News from the Valley of the Kings the other stories are more germaine to the focus.  There are good roundups as well. The Independent asks, Can a tomb bring Egyptian tourism back to life? Past Horizons concentrates on the other story in Egypt's Man from the past who insists he has a future.

I had hoped there might be some nice new images to the tombs of Maya or Horemheb which have opened at Saqqara, but I cannot find mich other than the image in the Independent story and similar odd images in equivalent coverage elsewhere.  However, while I was looking I did turn up this photo of the discovery of Horemheb's tomb in the Valley of the Kings

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, May 23, 2011

These are excellent - you can find them on Egyptological our new site in the Photo Albums section.  The set includes the clearest picture I have ever seen of the famous "helicopter" glyph which shows that it is actually the accidental result of over-carving.

I really should have posted a link sooner.  Sorry.  I also forgot to mention that Andie wrote a short book review of House of Eternity - the Tomb of Nefertari which is in the In Brief section.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, May 23, 2011

My thanks to John Patterson for spotting this well ahead - it shows next Monday (30th) at 8:30pm.

Dr Sarah Parcak uses satellites to probe beneath the sands, where she has found cities, temples and pyramids. Now, with Dallas Campbell and Liz Bonnin, she heads to Egypt to discover if these magnificent buildings are really there

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, May 23, 2011

Seven New Kingdom tombs are to open at South Saqqara just outside Cairo including the unused/unfinished tomb of Horemheb built before he became King.  The other big news is that Maya, Tutankhamun's Treasurer is also to open.

Vincent Brown has gathered a little more detail.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, May 22, 2011

The story that examination of this New Kingdom royal mummy from Thebes showed that  she suffered atherosclerosis in two of her three main coronary arteries.  She was (in modern terms) a middle-aged lady in her mid forties - relatively old for Ancient Egypt.

The main reason for carrying the story though is that the Australian has a very good picture of her mummyCorrection: Tim Reid says it is the mmmy of Mahirpre from tomb KV56 in the Valley of the Kings.


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