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.


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