Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

The image is confirmed as being from AP.  There were some doubts as to its authenticity expressed on Facebook during the day, but it is genuine.  If you are trying to study the image, this is the original and very much better.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

Everything is safe at the site of Abusir,” he said. “Nothing has been stolen from Abusir.”

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

I didn't think the day would come when Sudan is the comparatively more stable country ... but the British Museum team at Amara West are continuing.  They report that they are now digging down into an earlier occupation layer to try to indentify buildings below those excavated last season.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

To help maintain a site by site list of looting, I have created a new site.

Blog reports are best for breaking news, but as reports add up it can be hard to recall the status of a particular site, monument or museum.  That is going to become increasingly the case over the next few weeks as additional reports come in.

Andie Byrnes and I are working on a new online magaazine.  That means we have web space and site templates ready so I have used that material to create a new site - the Egyptological Looting Database 2011.  I have populated it with known / strongly suspected information (it's rather hard to tell the difference in the current environment).

Please help with any additional information by leaving comments on the relevant page or contacting me directly.
It's a static WordPress site.  There is no news feed - for news continue to rely on the various blogs and Twitter feeds.  This is intended as a menued site to help people quickly find the material on a particular site.  It's somewhat bare at present, but sadly I fear it may grow substantially over the next few weeks.  In the interests of speed, I haven't duplicated work like that done by Margaret Maitland in the National Egyptological Musuem in Cairo: it makes more sense for now just to link to it.

If anybody wants access to help maintain material, grow out the depth of reports, link to sources etc, then you are very welcome to a login.  Just let me know. It's in WordPress so if you already know that blogging package, then you should be able to find your way around.

If you find any problems, please forgive and let me know.  I have never loaded, developed and launched a website in under three hours before, but these are unusual times.  If there are things anybody wants, then please let me know and I will try to add them.  Whether this site is just a tempoary index to the reports of looting, or whether it remains long term, who knows.  I am not thinking that far ahead - we simply don't know how many reports of looting and damage are going to come in over the coming days and weeks.

As always, comments welcome.  I am an inclusive sort of girl so feel free to weigh in with your own views on this. They are just as valid as mine own - and quite possibly more erudite!

Update: I am completed a detailed first pass and hopefully got most things on.  I have tried to link to sources as much as possible.  In a number of cases there are (perhaps unsurprisingly) conflicting reports.  Hopefully with sources linked, people can make up their own minds until it is clear which is definitive.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

Report that Susan Onstine, an archaeologist working in Luxor says conditions there are improving.

At present the cultural position in Upper Egypt is somewhat reassuring.  Lower Egypt has suffered badly.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

Are these the two mummies destroyed in the attack on the Egyptian National Museum?  It's an era of Egypt I know nothing about, but if those checking the photo of one damaged mummy which I linked earlier, could please consider these two mummies as potential candidates then I should be grateful.

My reasoning is that we know Late Period was raided.  The suggestions are that was focused on the Tanis collection.  That's not verified though, so don't take it as fact.  These two mummies were housed together in one room.  It's that geography that makes me wonder whether they might be the victims.

If anyone has any photos they can use to check, I should be grateful.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

It sounds as though the SCA has been divorced from the Ministry of Culture.  Dr Hawass remains Head of SCA, but now at Ministerial level.  I've not seen an official press release so that could be wrong, but it seems highly plausible so I'll risk being wrong on this one!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

That's an AP photo midway down of one of the destroyed mummies in the National Museum.  It's AP so I won't break copyright and repost here directly.  Identity so far unknown.  Can you help?  (Thanks to Stuart Tyler for the heads up.)

You'll see that page is in a total jumble of languages.  Piecing together anything coherent for an English audience takes time.  Andie has done a good job with this morning's news over at Egyptology News so I won't repeat it.  I'm just coming online now, but other this photo there is little to report. 

Everything I am reading says Luxor and the West Bank remains quiet but so much of Egypt is off the comms net, there simply is no news from some sites. 

Posted by Andie on Monday, January 31, 2011

There's not much new information this morning about heritage matters in Egypt.

Thanks to Boris A. Trivan for the news that the Amarna Project operations have been halted by security police. Barry Kemp and his team are perfectly safe and are planning to return to Cairo to find flights out of the country when they can.

There are reports on the Washington Post and Times Magazine websites which focus particularly on the damage to antiquities at the Egyptian Museum, attempts to enter other museums and ongoing looting at a number of sites.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 31, 2011

I have been contacted by someone wanting reassurance that Dr Lehner and his team (esp. Mary Murray and Anna Tavares) are safe.  If anyone has news or knows of their plans, please post a comment or contact me directly.

Thank you.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

I will throw this US Governent travel guidance up in case it improves the reach.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has informed U.S. citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe.  This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law.  U.S. citizens who travel on U.S. government–arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location.  Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt on Monday, January 31.  Persons interested in departing Egypt via U.S.G.-chartered transportation should contact the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to or by calling 1-202-501-4444.  Please provide the following information:

  • Name, age, place of birth and U.S. passport number and any special medical needs.
  • Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination. 
  • Travelers are permitted only one piece of luggage per person.

At present there are no plans to evacuate Britains, but the Turkish and Indian authorities have arranged transport for their nationals.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

In case you are interested, Boris Trivan posted at 5pm UK time (7pm Egyptian) in a comment on Andie's blog to say:

All is fine in the Amarna dig house. Professor Kemp is there at the moment.

Salima Ikram is well and back in Cairo.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

While concentrating on the unrest, I missed this article from the Brooklyn Museum about examining ancient Egyptian papyri to discover how sections were fastened togethe.  There is a second, alied article, about their examination of pigments used.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

I am struggling to find any concrete news from Luxor, but this firsthand account from BBC News suggests that there are rioters even in tourist areas:

Prof Steve Flint, from Liverpool, writes: "Tear gas blew into the Luxor Sheraton last night and big protests in town. Luxor airport in comms meltdown this morning with domestic flights cancelled and delayed, yet coach loads of tourists kept arriving. I managed to get out on a direct flight to Doha on Qatar Airways and am in Doha now, flying to Manchester later tonight. Central Luxor was very tense this morning, with trucks of riot police across town at 08.00. If things escalate it will be difficult to get all the tourists out quickly."

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

The reports from Jane Akhsar and others is that the Valley of the Kings and the West Bank is safe - for now.  The concerns are these:

  • Breakouts have been reported from two local prisons and it is feared that the security situation might deteriorate
  • The army are protecting the Valley of the Kings and reportedly Karnak and Luxor temples, but other sites are protected by "neighbourhood watch groups"
  • Although Jane reports the West Bank to be quiet, over on the East Bank Luxor is "more tricksy" as she says.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where antiquities and monuments have been saved, it is frequently thanks to the efforts of ordinary Egyptians.  If the purpose of the uprising is to assert a new identity as Egyptians, it seems that the future includes a pride and interest in their historic past. For me that demonstration of pride will be an enduring memory of this crisis.

To the many unsung heroes who have protected artefects of global importance, my thanks and respect.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

As reported yesterday, several objects in the Egyptian Museum have been vandalised including statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun.  For indentification of the affected artfects, Margaret Maitland at the Eloquent Peasant is keeping track and has photos.

To add to the concern, Antiquae Terrae has compiled a map of the rooms housing the vandalised artefacts shown in the Al Jazeera footage.  It is copyright so I cannot reproduce it here so follow the link and scroll down to see it.  Worryingly, the items shown are on three sides of the museum so there may be more damage in the areas we haven't seen.  As Andie Byrnes has reported, Wafaa el-Saddik reports that 13 cases had the glass smashed.  People are assuming these are the cases shown in the Al Jazzera footage, but this is incorrect as this video interview with Dr Hawass reveals.  He clearly states that:

  • 13 Late Period cases were opened (none of those shown in the video are late period), and
  • 1 case in the general Tutankhamun display was opened.  These statues are the ones seen vandalised in the video footage.
This strongly suggests that there is additional Late Period damage for which we have no photos or details.

Concerning is growing that the two assualted mummies were those of Yuya and Thuya but this is unclear.  I understand the concern, and they may have been damaged.  However, the intruders seemed to be after gold and if they had already raided the Late Period collection (that seems to be the sequence of events), then it could be late period mummies.

Dr Hawass has posted a press release on the damage:
I found out that one criminal was still at the museum, too.  When he had asked the people guarding the museum for water, they took his hands and tied him to the door that lead to the gift shop so that he could not escape!  Luckily, the criminals who stole the jewellery from the gift shop did not know where the jewellery inside the museum is kept.  They went into the Late Period gallery but, when they found no gold, they broke thirteen vitrines and threw the antiquities on the floor.  Then the criminals went to the King Tutankhamun galleries.  Thank God they opened only one case!  The criminals found a statue of the king on a panther, broke it, and threw it on the floor.  I am very thankful that all of the antiquities that were damaged in the museum can be restored, and the tourist police caught all of the criminals that broke into it. 
I am far from a fan of Hawass but in this case I am inclined to believe he does genuinely care.  What I found most interesting from somebody who is a Minister in the present Government is his statement that "The Egyptian people are calling for freedom, not destruction. "  Politically, that is not siding with Mubarak.

The Other Museums 

This is what Hawass has to say:
The curfew started again on Saturday afternoon at 4.00pm, and I was receiving messages all night from my inspectors at Saqqara, Dahsur, and Mit Rahina. The magazines and stores of Abusir were opened, and I could not find anyone to protect the antiquities at the site. At this time I still do not know what has happened at Saqqara, but I expect to hear from the inspectors there soon. East of Qantara in the Sinai, we have a large store containing antiquities from the Port Said Museum. Sadly, a large group, armed with guns and a truck, entered the store, opened the boxes in the magazine and took the precious objects. Other groups attempted to enter the Coptic Museum, Royal Jewellery Museum, National Museum of Alexandria, and El Manial Museum. Luckily, the foresighted employees of the Royal Jewellery Museum moved all of the objects into the basement, and sealed it before leaving.
 The news from Alexandria is actually encouraging, as there were reports it had burned down.  The losses ar Abusir and Saqqara are potentially huge losses.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

I've had a message to say that half the team flew out safely on Friday. The rest of the team are apparently safe and will leave as soon as they can find flights.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

I stayed up late so I'm just surfacing now.  Other than various companies making arrangements for citizens to exit, there is little news. Andie Byrnes has a roundup of what there is on Egyptology News so I won't duplicate that.

I'll have a deeper hunt and will obviously post any news there is.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

Somebody emailed me and asked whether I knew if the various archaeological teams are safe. Apologies for not replying directly but I managed to delete your email by mistake.  Sorry.

Believe me, if I heard anything I'd report it. I know Andrea Byrnes would do the same. In general news is little more than an infuriating trickle. Sorry again, but I don't have any news.

If anyone does know, then please get it to Andie or I and we'll circulate it.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

Andie Byrnes has done a good job of keeping up with the news from the various museums during the evening.  I am impressed - because there are so few fully reliable sources so compiling something coherent takes a great deal of skill.

If you are just checking in, the biggest news is from the Egyptian Musuem in Cairo and saddly the news from there has all now been verified by TV coverage, Nine men, described as "convicts", broke in to the museum through the roof.  Dr Hawass says they broke open one case but TV coverage suggests rather more damage than that.  The worst damage was to items in the Tutankhamun collection.  Some of the wooden statues were smashed from their bases: Hawass believes they can be repaired.  I have also read reports (unverified) that the doors were ripped from the golden shrine and other furniture damaged/smashed.

They reached the musuem shop which they cleared out.  They came in through the roof and reached the shop on the ground floor so they roamed all of the museum.  They tried to steal two mummies.  When they lifted them, the heads fell off. (Story verified by TV interview with Dr Hawass and other TV coverage.)  It is suspected that the mumies were then dropped to the floor and very badly damaged.  The names of the mummies have not been released - but there are hints that they were mummies of two of the pharaohs from the Mummy Room.  (Other reports say they were "2000 years old", which might make them Ptolemaic /Roman..) I have no located some video for anybody who hasn't seen it.  I suspect there might be a slightly longer segment in circulation, but this is all I have seen myself so far.

This version is slightly longer, but I don't think there is much that isn't in the first video

(For completeness, some reports suggest that those who broke in were police, not convicts. Other stories claim that up to 1,000 people broke into the grounds and shop.)

There are unverified reports that Hawass is now camped out in the museum.  I have often been critical of the man, but his exhortations and efforts to protect the musuem might be his lastest legacy to the world and we may owe him a debt.  His latest concern is set out in this video, namely that the burnt out NDP Headquarters (the building you see burning in all TV coverage) could collapse onto the museum wrecking the museum and setting it on fire. 

For other museums, Andie has done a good job of gathering what news there is.

The common people deserve much of the credit for protecting musuems.  They formed a cordon around the national Egyptian Musuem, and reportedly other museums.  That's getting increasingly dangerous.  Residents' groups are forming gangs to try to protect their neightbourhoods from looting.  They are all armed.  I have just listened to an interview with one.  He and his neighbours all wear a white ribbon so they stand out and don't shoot each other.  That is the depths to which security has sunk.

There are now soldiers with machine guns inside the Egyptian Museum.  Hopefully they won't step on the fragments of statues, but their protection is welcome.  Tanks have also been sent to the Giza Pyramids (verified by TV coverage), the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, and to the Valley of the Kings (unverified).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tutankhamun's treasures are among those smashed in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

Al Jazeera showed images Saturday of shattered glass cabinets and dozens of damaged antiquities inside of the National Museum, home to thousands of ancient artifacts, in what appeared to be the work of a small number of looters. On Friday, wire reports said that the army and a large number of protesters joined together outside the museum in an effort to protect its ancient artifacts.
The reports coming out of Cairo and Egypt about the National Museum are disturbing, like this report from the San Francisco Sentinel.  I haven't managed to see the pictures, I would probably find them very upsetting if I did, but a blogger reports this includes furniture from the tomb of Tutankhamun.  The most recognisable furniture would be the golden throne, but it does mean that the Tutakhamun hall was ransacked.  Thankfully a good number of artefacts are on tour.  The Eloquent Peasant reports:

 The footage appears to show wooden statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun with the gilded figure of the king ripped from the smashed bases. Images below show the statues in their original state, and their current condition:
Middle Kingdom models of daily life and their have been smashed. The damage on the famous army of Mehseti doesn’t seem to be too severe thankfully, but other beautiful models are broken and strewn on the floor.

The Eloquent Peasant has links to more photos.  The figures show the bases of gilded wooden figures from the tomb of Tutankhamun but the figures themselves cannot be seen.  We must fear that they have been looted.


I have just seen the upsetting footage.  The pictures linked are most of it but some of the damage to the figures from Tutankhamun's tomb looks pretty serious.  The security forces are now patrolling with machine guns and say nothing has been stolen, but I doubt whether anybody has managed to do an inventory yet to be certain.

I'm out for the evening but I will have a look arond (late) when I get back in.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

This is a telephone call from Jane Akshar of Luxor News, recorded this morning.  Jane is based on the West Bank and said that yesterday (Friday) that people were still out on tours.  The East Bank (Luxor centre) isn't as calm according to new reports; reportedly it has also detiorated during today as I reported earlier.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

"I felt deeply sorry today when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night," Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Saturday.
"Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies," 
 There is no news of which mummies were destroyed or whether other artefacts were damaged or stolen, but the ticket office was trashed.  The story was reported by Reuters.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

I've scoured the news sources.  This seems to be the current situation:

# Tourists already in Egypt are safe.  The airports are all open but flights are disrupted if air crew cannot get to the airport.  At present FCO are not advising evacuation of tourists and changing flights in Cairo remains safe ... If nervous.  The situation is fluid and FCO are reviewing their advice annually.

# Red Sea tourist resorts in Sinai have been unaffected.  There are reports however that riots may now be spreading to Sinai so again the situations is dynamic.

# I've seen pictures of the Egyptian Museum standing in a sea of smoke.  It is guarded by the army and presently secure.  It is obviously shut.  Cairo itself is seeing another day of massive protests.  The touch point will come as dark falls.  There is a curfew again - 16 hours a day of curfew.  It was totally ignored last night.  The army have asked people to obey it tonight. Whether they enforce it could prove pivotal.

# The army has closed the Giza Pyramids to tourists.  There are no reports from the other pyramid fields.

# There is scant news from Luxor.  Jane Akshar got a message out to someone which is on her blog to say things were quiet.  Al Jazeera report that has changed.  The party HQ in Luxor has been burned out, there are riots and tanks in the streets.  There is no news from the West Bank.  Hopefully everything is secure but there is obviously a risk of looting, particularly of any unguarded tombs.

# Aswan has dropped off the map. I have heard no news of riots, but then I've just heard no news.  All the indications are that all tourists on cruises are safe. 

# Alexandria seems to be experiencing the same as Cairo.  Suez seems to be a hotspot.  The Canal has always been a military zone and remains open. If that changes news would fly around the world in minutes because it would have such an enormous impact on oil prices.  At present nobody seems particularly worried that it might close.

# The Egyptian Internet is still down so news is a bit sparse.  In many ways TV is the best coverage - Al Jazeera if you can get it.  (It's not the first time I've relied on Al Jazeera.  For travel I personally now rate it above CNN.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

Don't expect much Egyptology for several days. All Internet links are still down.

The unrest has now spread to Luxor according to Al Jazeera.  The Luxor building housing the National Democratic Party has been burnt out like in Cairo.  Tanks are on the streets of Luxor as are 15000 protesters.

I'd have posted a Luxor update yesterday but as the international media are in Cairo I just couldn't find any news of Luxor.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 29, 2011

I've just listened to the mp3 of a telephone call from Cairo from earlier tonight and it seems that the targets for looting and violence seem to be restricted to the police and political targets like the NDP headquarters which was set on fire.  Vodafone seems to have been targetted because of links to the regime - for instance for cuttimg off mobile phones.  Other American shops like MacDonalds haven't been attacked.

Latest reports are that the Internet and phones are now back on in Cairo so hopefully we may get more news tomorrow.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

The Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has addressed Egypt on State television. He said that the public rallies are evidence of the freedom of political expression in Egypt. He recognises that the people want improved democracy and suffer in the face of unemployment and poverty. The President says that he is on the side, and will always be on the side, of the poor. He promises "new step" to improve democracy, improve employment and to raise the standard of living.

He sees the arson, lootimg and violence as plots intended to undermine the foundations of Egypt.

Mubarak has dismissed the Government and a new Government will be formed tomorrow.


Apparently, all opposition parties have rejected Mubarak's speech so the "new" Government is likely to be new faces from the ruling National Democratic Party. 


Will that be enough?  Well we will find out overnight and over the next coming days, but the immediate reaction from the protestors is to resume chants of "Down with Mubarak".  I suspect the new Govermnent will have to be radically different and include the opposition parties for it to stand any chance of being acceptable to the populace.

We will also wait to find out whether Zahi Hawass has kept his job.  I am assuming that Farouk Hosny the Minister of Culture has been sacked so maybe Zahi will get promoted to Minsiter of Culture, but he is also senior enough that he might have been sacked as well.  It could prove academic is I doubt the changes have gone far enough to establish ensuring stability,

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

"We now advise against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez."

That's the latest official travel advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

The latest reports are that the youths who had formed a guard around the Egyptian Museum came under attack from thugs intent on lootimg the museum, but the army has now moved in to ensure its protection.  I think people understand its enormous value to Egypt so hopfefully it should be a high priority for security.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

According to sources on Twitter, the protestors themselves have surrounded the Egyptian Museum to protect it from looters.  If that is true (there are reports that there is TV coverage as evidence), that is very good news indeed, but suggests that the BBC report was correct that the army wasn't protecting the Museum.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

There is no way I will manage to keep up with this story as it develops, but if I spot anything major I will throw it up quickly.  I'd suggest you rely on the main news channels instead.

There seem to be reliable reports that the fires in Tahrir Square have spread to the building next door to the Egyptiam Museum. As there is a curfew across Egypt, mobile phone networks have been shut down and even BBC journalists beaten by police using steel bars, up to date reliable news is hard to come by.

The second threat is looting.  There are definite reports of looting in Cairo.  Whether the Museum is safe remains unclear.  There are reports that it is protected by the army but other reports suggest that this consists of a single solidier.

I don't know Egypt well enough to know how this will pan out.  I was in Luxor just a week before the massacre in 1997 and that came out of the blue pretty much.  The security situation was tense but there was no sense that it was likely to erupt.  Equally, trouuble-magnet that I am, I was in Bangkok during one of the recent States of Emergency.  That was so bad I was one of a handful of Westerners still on the streets.  In the hotel at night, I often heard bombs going off nearby.  And yet, as a tourist I felt totally safe and I don't think anybody was worried that cultural or tourists were likely targets.  It's very hard to predict the future for Egypt.  My guess is that the present riots will be quelled.  I am not sure however that will make Egypt safer.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 28, 2011

In the last three fiscal years the Met has sold close to $3.7 million worth of objects from its collection, including a statue of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, a first edition of Vitruvius’s “Ten Books on Architecture,” and Albert Bierstadt’s oil on canvas “Rocky Mountain Goats.” The museum used some of the proceeds from the Sekhmet to purchase other Egyptian pieces: a vizier statuette, a canopic jar and a sculpture of a king’s head; the Vitruvius, sold with 26 other works, enabled the purchase of 19 objects, 8 of them leaves from an unpublished Italian manuscript copy of the “Ten Books on Architecture”; the Bierstadt proceeds have yet to be used.
 That paragraph is taken from a recent article in the New York Times which covers the whole topic of museums selling items from their "permanent collections".  It is called deaccessioning.  We often talk confidently here that such an such an item is in the collection of this or that museum.  As the churn of museum collections increases, that might no longer be the case.

My personal views are mixed.  In some cases crates and crates of potsherds which are never on display might be academically important for comparative study.  On the other hand, if items are going to sit and crates, never go on display and never be studied, maybe they should be deaccessioned.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

If you were unsucessful in application to be the witch at Wokey Hole in Cheddar, maybe you could become the mummy for new exhibition at the Herbert in Coventry, UK.  Actually, it sounds like an exhibition worth seeing:

Other exhibits include a huge granite statue of Ramesses the Great from the British Museum. A never-before-displayed head sculpture of Queen Nefertiti will also be shown
That is in addition to the mummy of Princess Perenbast displayed in a recreated tomb.  The exhibitiion is called Secret Egypt and is part of a programme of Egyptian events at the Herbert but there is also a dedicated website for Secret Egypt.  It opens on 11th February and runs through to 5th June.  I may try to get to Coventry during that time.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

Two complementary articles on the mummy of King Tuthmosis I.  Tim Reid has an article on the possibly convoluted travels of the supposed mummy of Tuthmosis IMarianne Lubhan, however, thinks this mummy is probably that of Prince Sipair, a son of King Amenhotep I.  They are worth reading together as both articles are well researched and complement each other.

(I think they are both talking of the same mummy.  Tim refers to it as CG61066, pictures of that match those in Marianne's article. If I have that wrong, sorry guys, I hope one of you will jump in to correct me!)

CORRECTION: Marianne was talking of mummy CG61065

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

A new exhibition has opened in the hall of the SCA in Zamalek (Cairo) with photos of the finds from Mersa Gawasis believed to be the harbour from which expeditions to the Land of Punt departed.  The exhibition should be moving to the Egptian Museum in due course.  If you are interested in the exhibition or the site, this Ahram Online article is well worth a read.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

Andie Byrnes has picked this one up.  Project Djehuty are back at work with a dig diary.

Today begins a new campaign, a campaign is not either, as is our 10 th CAMPAIGN. Ten years already! And this promises to be a good year. The work plan includes the excavation of the innermost chamber of the tomb of Hery, after last year will solve the problem of falling debris through a big hole in the middle of the ceiling of the room. A second group will be digging while inside the neighboring tomb of Baki, where debris fell well within Hery to be located a few yards further up the hillside. Outside, continue digging over graves, near the small chapel Ramesside we found a couple of years. And finally, a fourth group will begin digging in the southern part of the expansion of the site, to the left of the courtyard entrance to the tomb of Djehuty, which appears to have great potential.
Sorry, that is a Google translation from the Spanish!   Unfortunately there is no RSS feed so I find it hard to keep up to date.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

Osirisnet is growing to be a major resource and a page on tomb TT181, the tomb of Nebamon and Ipuky, has now been added, replete with photos.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 24, 2011

John Hopkins University isn't the only team at work in the Karnak Precinct, Brooklyn Museum has a team onsite at the temple as well.  As ever, their dig diary is very high quality - I just wish the Egyptian teams were as good.  Anyway, you can read their progress during the second week here, complete with many photos. If you want even more photos of the various excavations, Jane Akshar has an outstanding set of new photos on her blog.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 22, 2011

By far my most read article has been my critique which set out the evidence that the KV55 mummy is not Akhenaten as claimed by Hawass, Zink and Pusch in their JAMA paper on the study of the DNA of the family of Tutankhamun.  I am planning to revisit the paper when Andie and I launch Egyptological Online.

Criticism has now reached New Scientist magazine and an article which quotes many geneticists critical of the paper and the study.

But many geneticists complain that the team used inappropriate analysis techniques. Far from being definitive, the study is "not seen as rigorous or convincing", says Eline Lorenzen of the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. "Many of us in the DNA community are surprised that this has been published."
Rather than criticise the conclusions drawn, the geneticists are concerned about the anlysis itself.  I and others were critical that insufficient controls were included in the study and this picked up, but there are reported concerns about even the extraction of DNA from the mummy of Tutankhamun.  Demands are growing for publication of the raw data which Zink is denying, allegedly saying that if the raw data was released it would cause a "a lot of arguing" over technicalities.  That isn't a sentiment that seems to exhibit much confidence in the data or methodology to me.

The one piece of good news is that they have now managed to extract mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and will be publishing their findings.  There is no indication from which mummies mitochondrial DNA has been extracted nor whether any new paper will address the concerns raised about the previous paper and the methods used for DNA extraction and analysis.

(Quick recap.  Mitochondrial DNA is passed exclusively from the mother so its use is to determine matrilineal descent.  The royal family was so inter-related, it is possible that there may be few differences detectable so mitochondrial DNA might tell us very little.  Would it could be a good indicator of is of any women brought in from outside the royal family, possibly princesses from other countries.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 21, 2011

[Somebody reading this will know why I couldn't resist the subject 
  ... ]

John Hopkins Universtity are back in Luxor and as usual have a great dig diary up documenting their work in the Temple of Mut at Karnak.  For me the highlight of the season so far isn't Karnak, but their visit to the sandstone quarries at Gebel Silsila south of Luxor.  (Warning, the site isn't open to the public any more.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 21, 2011

A nice article by Marie Millet from the Amara West team has been posted on the Amara West blog. With pictures, she descrives her work on site as a pottery expert and what the pottery says about one of the houses which the team has excavated.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a slow news day so here is an article by Zahi Hawass describing one of his earliest visits to the Valley of the Kings.  There really is nothing newsworthy in it at all, but I know some people like his stuff! 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jane has posted about the recent heavy rain in Luxor

It sounds to me as though Luxor goes all to pieces if it rains.  As it does in the UK if it snows!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 16, 2011

Well Dr Zahi Hawass thinks so.

If you are interested in some of the other archaeological discoveries in 2010, take a look at this Wikipedia list, which I don't think is complete.  Even on that list though, personally I'd say the most important, published find in Egypt was made by the Yale team from America - finding a new city is pretty much hard to beat.  Some of the non-European finds also seem more important that the tunnel in KV17.  Had something been found at the end of the tunnel, then yes, maybe, but the excavations just found more tunnel and not a secret tomb chamber - the tunnel was already known.  It was hard work I am sure, but I cannot honestly see it as the archaeological discovery of the year.

What is perhaps more important is confirmation that a search is to be made in KV7 during 2011 to see whether Ramses II constructed a tunnel at the back of his tomb, like that found in KV17 (Seti I).

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 16, 2011

When I rehomed The World of Hieroglyphs, I didn't re-upload the zip of WP-Hiero. I've now created a version 1.1 of it, and uploaded that instead. You can access it via this page.

WP-Hiero is a simple hieroglyphics parser, offered as a WordPress plugin (or for stand alone use for peope who don't have WordPress on their server).  It uses the NewGardiner font from Mark Jan Nederhof so is classified as non-commercial use only, which is why I cannot add it to the WordPress repository.  As I say, this is the simple plugin and still very much a work in progress.  It is inteaded for small pieces of MDC (Manuel de Codage) like A12-B12 or p*(t:Z4):pt

(Keep reading about WP-Hiero version 1.1)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 15, 2011

Neal Spencer is now in the Sudan and outlines his hopes for the season at Amara West.

(Google reader had scrambled the earlier link. Sorry.  I've corrected it now.  It's yet another problem of my dreaded Windows Phone - I should have bought and iPhone - as I have no cute and paste, it's impossible to check links if I post from mobile. Sorry agin.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 14, 2011

Zahi Hawass is demanding the return of a range of objects from Lord Carnarvon's family which he alleges were removed illegally from Egypt. I had understood that prior to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, sponsors were entitled to a share of the finds. Essentially that is how Egyptology was financed.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 14, 2011

This is an interesting article about the Roman graffiti on the Colossi of Memnon - and the question I suppose is whether ancient grafitti are defacement or become cultural or literary works in their own right.  (Picture © Steve F-E-Cameron, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 14, 2011

This is cryptography rather than Egytology, but if you are interested in how Tutankhamun has infiltrated modern culture, this article on the Krptos enigma might interest you.  (Interesting as well that cryptography has the same Greek root (kryptos - hidden, secret) as crypt (as in burial crypt).)

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 14, 2011

I have previously reported that Tutankhamiun's tomb will not be re-opening and instead tourists will be encoraged to visit a replica recreated near the Carter House.  Details of the replica tomb are now starting to emerge and excitingly it will recreate the decoration of the tomb as it was found in 1922/23.  As The Art Newspaper reports, (with picture) a missing relief of Isis will be restored.  The replica is being created by Factum Arte and the director says:

Included in the facsimile will be a lost “Isis” fragment known only from a photograph taken by Harry Burton shortly after Carter’s discovery of the tomb in 1922. The 1.8m x 1.4m fragment is from the southeast corner of the Throne Room. The photograph, now at Oxford’s Griffith Institute, shows that Carter had carefully removed the fragment and placed it in a wooden box filled with bran. “It’s most likely in a storeroom in Egypt,” said Lowe, who consulted several Egyptologists when creating the colour copy. “The aim of this type of reconstruction of missing parts of important sites is to focus attention on the biography and movement of things—once an object becomes the focus of attention new information about it normally emerges. In this case, I am hoping [the fragment] might be found,” said Lowe.
Check the link above for more details and a picture.

If you are interested in the work that Factum Arte has been doing on the replica tomb, then I recommend the coverage on the Factum Arte site, which has a video you can watch as well. The page gives some more information about the location of the Isis scene. If I read the page correctly, they are also recontructing one or more broken seals.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, January 13, 2011

There's actually a series of Tutankhamun lectures in Manchester by a variety of speakers.  The first is Joyce Tyldesley tonight, so this is a post in haste from mobile.

Thanks to Stephanie.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another version of the recent story about the finding of missing pieces of the double statue.  No pictures but there is mention of a total of 1000 fragments from various statues.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Missing parts of the double statue of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye have been found, including a rather nice piece of Queen Tiye's wig. There are details and a picture of this piece on CBS News.  Live Science has pictures of another two pieces: her fingers and lower arm.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, January 06, 2011

A relatively uninteresting post, other than containing yet another reference to looking for the tomb of Ankhesenamun.  I now distrust what Hawass says in lectures and interviews but less-guarded comments like this suggests to me that he himself believes he could find the tomb of Ankhesenamun. 

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 04, 2011

This is the text of the interview. You'll have to listen on YouTube as embedding is disabled.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 03, 2011

It seems like I have written that before.  But Zahi Hawass has just told the Discovery Channel that there are suggestions that tomb KV64 could be the tomb of Queen Ankhesenamun.  This is what he has to say:

Called KV64, as it will be the 64th tomb discovered, the tomb is likely to be a Queen’s burial.
“We found some indication that this tomb could be for Ankhesenamun, the Queen of Tutankhamun,” Hawass said.
 And ...
“I hope this will be an intact tomb for Queen Ankhesenamun,” Hawass said.

The casual references suggest that a tomb has been found but not explored - I am worried that could indicate a tomb in poor condition, although we could hope that like KV62 the authorities had filled the entrance passageway with limestome chips which would make entry slow if modern archaeological standards were followed.  We will have to wait and see.  There aren't many more details in the interview.  My guess is that lectures like the one at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester might flesh out some of the details.  At present, there isn't even confirmation whether the "find" is in the main Valley of the Kings or in the Western Valley.

I'll say this though: if tomb KV64 did turn out to be the intact tomb of Ankhesenamun, then I'd be *very* happy with the domain I registered for News from the Valley of the Kings!  It would also be very interesting when combined with the DNA studies if the body of any of Nefertiti's daughters was found. It could add to the evidence that the KV55 mummy is not Ankhenaten. I keep promising to write up the DNA findings in detail ... something I must get around to in the next few weeks.

The other really interesting part of the interview is that Hawass mentions he has a team excavating a previoulsy unknown pyramid in Dashur, which has been buried beneath the sands.  The indication is that the pyramid dates to the 13th Dynasty and Hawass believes it is the tomb of a king from that dynasty.

PS Jane Akshar has indicated a very busy winter season of excavations is underway in Luxor!

PPS Fox News now has the story too, but they just refer to Discovery as a source and haven't spoken to Hawass themselves.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 02, 2011

Carole Hawley is just back from Luxor and has two pieces of news:

1. The guides say that Tutankhamun's body will permanently be removed from his tomb this summer (2011). 

2.  She came across Kent Weeks who has a team again clearing tomb KV5. 

They also visited KV8, possibly one of the best tombs presently open in the Valley of the Kings.

My thanks to Carole.  Andy Byrnes should be back this week too and I'm really looking forwards to her personal report from Luxor.  She promised to try to visit the Western Valley.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 02, 2011

My friend Gill kindly bought me a Senet set for Christmas.  Expect an article about the game once I have learned how to play it.


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