Friday, November 30, 2012

Oldest Pharaoh Rock Art Rediscovered in Egypt

This ancient rock picture near Egypt's Nile River was first spotted by an explorer more than a century ago—and then almost completely forgotten.
Photograph courtesy Hendrickx/Darnell/Gatto, Antiquity
Scientists who rediscovered it now think it's the earliest known depiction of a pharaoh.
The royal figure at the center of the panel wears the "White Crown," the bowling pin-shaped headpiece that symbolized kingship of southern Egypt, and carries a long scepter. Two attendants bearing standards march ahead of him; behind him, an attendant waves a large fan to cool the royal head. A hound-like dog with pointed ears walks at the ruler's feet. Surrounding the king are large ships, symbols of dominance, towed by bearded men pulling on ropes.
The picture, which was engraved on a sheer cliff face in the desert northwest of the city of Aswan, was probably created between roughly 3200 and 3100 B.C., according to researchers who published their discovery in December's issue of the journal Antiquity.
At around the same time that the picture was crafted, northern and southern Egypt were united under the reign of a supreme monarch, or pharaoh. The pharaoh in the picture may be Narmer, the king who overcame the last vestiges of northern resistance to southern rule and is considered by many to be Egypt's founding pharaoh.
This rock art picture, known as tableau 7a, is nearly ten feet (three meters) wide. That makes it the largest of the pictures at the site, called Nag el-Hamdulab after the neighboring village.
Earlier Egyptian art tends to show not kings themselves, but emblems of royal or divine power, said Yale University's John Darnell, one of the paper's authors. An image of a bull or falcon, for example, was often used as a stand-in for the king. When human rulers were shown, they were small and peripheral, as if they didn't count for much.
But here, for the first time, the king is dominant. "It's an amazing depiction, artistically and textually, of the birth of dynastic Egypt," Darnell said.
The change in the king's depiction reflects changes in the nature of kingship at the time, said Yale University archaeologist Maria Gatto, another author of the paper.
"He's not just a regular man like everyone else," she said. "He's a god, someone special who can help you be in contact with the supernatural."
—Traci Watson
Published November 29, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Byzantine coins found in Beheira

Italian excavation mission discovers two well-preserved gold Byzantine coins in El-Baheira

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 26 Nov 2012

An Italian excavation mission headed by Dr. Loredana Sist from Milano University stumbled upon two well-preserved gold coins within the sand at the archaeological site Kom El-Ghoraf in El-Beheira governorate in Delta during routine excavations.

Each coin weighs 4,300 gr. The first coin depicts the figure of a Byzantine Emperor named Phocas (602-610 AD) holding in his right hand a cross. His name is on one side of the cross, while the other side shows the same emperor with a cane in one hand and a cross in the other.

The second coin shows the image of another Byzantine emperor named Heraclinus (610-641 AD) with his two sons, princes Konstantinos III and Heraclinus II, on one side while the other side features a large cross.

Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State of Antiquities, said the very important discovery gives Egyptologists a full and complete vision of the shapes, sizes and looks of coins during such an era. It also shows the high skills of craftsmen of the Byzantine period, he added.

Mostafa Roshdi, Director of El-Beheira Antiquities, told Ahram online that the area of Kom El-Ghoraf is a very important archaeological site located between Damanhur and Rosetta. It was previously a part of the seven Nomes of Lower Egyptthe district still little explored. In the Late Period this area was dominated by the city of Metelis, not yet identified.
The vast site was destroyed intensively since the late nineteenth century, as seen from topographical maps of different periods that record the progressive dismantling.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dynasties Of Egypt Part II: Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period

The Old Kingdom is the name commonly given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley (the others being Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom).

The term Old Kingdom, coined during the nineteenth century, is somewhat arbitrary. Egyptians at that time would have seen no distinction between the Old Kingdom and the preceding Early Dynastic Period, since the last Early Dynastic king was related by blood to the first two kings of the Old Kingdom, and the Early Dynastic royal residence at Ineb-Hedj (translated as "The White Walls" for its majestic fortifications) remained unchanged except for the name. During the Old Kingdom, the capital was renamed Memphis. 

The basic justification for a separation between the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom is the revolutionary change in architecture accompanied and the effects that large-scale building projects had on Egyptian society and economy..

The Old Kingdom spanned the period from the Third Dynasty to the Sixth Dynasty (2,686 BC – 2,134 BC). Many Egyptologists also include the Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasties in the Old Kingdom as a continuation of the administration that had been firmly established at Memphis. Thereafter, the Old Kingdom was followed by a period of disunity and relative cultural decline (a "dark period that spanned the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and part of the Eleventh Dynasties) referred to by Egyptologists as the First Intermediate Period.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Egypt celebrates 90 year anniversary of Tutankhamun’s tomb discovery

Ninety years ago on November 22 the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun was discovered in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor in Egypt.

After years of finding smaller archaeological hauls in the area Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, opened the tomb and discovered an abundance of gold and fineries left with the king after his death and mummification.

On Thursday the great-grandson of the 5th Earl, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Carnarvon attended an event to celebrate this anniversary at Howard Carter’s house which is now a museum a few miles from the Valley of the Kings.

Egypt's ministers of tourism and antiquities were present as were ambassadors to Egypt from the United States and Singapore amongst others.

The current Lord Carnarvon, George, explained the importance of the celebration.

“Well I’m here today in Luxor, indeed in Howard Carter’s house, Castle Carter as it’s known, because it's the 90th year following the first discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. When my great-grandfather and Howard Carter actually broke through the outer sealed door with Tutankhamun’s cartouche and crest on it and when they first saw into the ante-chamber of the tomb. This amazing archaeological discovery that has never been surpassed,” he said.

Carnarvon is a big fan of his great-grandfather but readily admits his wife Fiona is more of an expert on Egyptology than he is, even translating a certain amount of hieroglyphics. He says opening the tomb was a very dramatic moment.

“My great-grandfather says to Howard Carter ‘What do you see?’ and Carter famously replies ‘Just wonderful things.’ And he's looking back at this, in a way perhaps, theatre set of ancient civilization 3,100 years ago, everywhere the glint of gold off those beautiful wooden objects and that's just the start,” said Carnarvon.

The 8th Earl funded Carter's excavation work in the Valley of the Kings for several years. The pair were in their last year of working together when they made by far their greatest discovery: the tomb of the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922. It is still the best preserved of the pharaonic tombs in the area.

By Reuters
Friday, 23 November 2012


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Two Old Kingdom engraved blocks return home

A New Zealand citizen turned over two ancient Egyptian artefacts which had been in the possession of his late friend

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 22 Nov 2012

On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over two Old Kingdom sandstone engravings to the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), which were for decades in the possession of a New Zealand photographer.

The blocks depict two scenes; one shows the lioness goddess of war Sekhmet wearing the Cobra crown, while the second is a hieroglyphic text uncovering a title of an Old Kingdom king saying: "King of Upper and Lower Egypt and the core of the two lands, Horus."

Osama El-Nahas, director of the retrieved antiquities section, relates that the story of these two blocks which were in the possession of a photographer from New Zealand who lived in Egypt during the 1940s and 1950s and died this year. Before his death, El-Nahas said, the photographer told his best friend Bruce Hall to hand over the two blocks to Egypt.

Antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online that the two blocks are now at the Egyptian Museum for restoration, and will be put on show in a special exhibition along with other artefacts that were retrieved last year. He added that the blocks will be studied to determine their original position and location.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monthu Temple reveals new pharaonic secrets

A royal statue of a yet unidentified New Kingdom king has been unearthed at Monthu Temple in Luxor

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 21 Nov 2012

A French archaeological mission from the French Institute for Archaeological Studies have unearthed a yet unidentified royal statue of a New Kingdom king during routine excavations at Monthu Temple, northeast of Karnak Temple in Luxor.

The statue is 125 centimetres tall and made of black granite and depicts a standing king wearing short dress with hands aside.

Christopher Tiers, head of the archaeological mission, said that early studies of the statue suggest that the artistic features of the depicted king confirm its royalty.

The statue is to be transferred to the storage facilities of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) for restoration and documentation. Tiers asserted that excavation at the site is in full swing in order to find any additional statues that may enable archaeologists to identify the New Kingdom king.

Monthu Temple is dedicated to the worship of the falcon-headed got of war Monthu. The temple is located five kilometres northeast of Karnak in an area called Armant on Luxor’s east bank.

Armant was excavated by French archaeologist Fernand Disson de la Roque from 1925 to the post-war period, when he revealed many buildings, including Monthu Temple. The temple replaced an older sanctuary from the Old Kingdom and consists of an open forum with a tower and enclosing two mounds that housed the chapels of worship.

The ruins of the last structure date to the reign of Ptolemy VIII, although decorations and additions continued to be added centuries later by the Romans. Along the span of time, Monthu Temple was a major centre of worshipping Apis bulls, that is why it contains many statues and reliefs of bulls. Most of these statues are now on display in various museums around the world.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Louvre: A Passion for Egypt

As the Louvre in Paris prepares for its 220th anniversary, Ahram Online explores the history and highlights of its impressive collection of Egyptian Art

by Mohammed Elrazzaz, Monday 19 Nov 2012

It should come as no surprise that, two hundred and twenty years after its inauguration, the Louvre boasts unparalleled collections of artifacts and masterpieces, with Egypt having more than its fair share of representation.
From ancient Egyptian and Hellenistic art, all the way to Coptic and Islamic art, the quality and scope of the Egyptian collections are everything you would expect from a legendary museum in a country that paved the way for the Egyptomania that swept across Europe following Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign in 1798 and the publishing of the Description de l'Egypte a few years later.

A tour de force of Egyptian Art

While there are eight curatorial departments in the Grand Louvre, Egypt is the only country to have a full department dedicated exclusively to its art: The Egyptian Antiquities Department. Moreover, Hellenistic, Coptic and Islamic artifacts adorn the collections of other departments, and efforts are underway to inaugurate a ninth department that will feature many Egyptian artifacts: the Department of the East Mediterranean in the Roman Empire.

New permanent galleries have already been opened towards that purpose, exhibiting objects and artworks from the East Mediterranean (Egypt and around) from the period between the first century BC and the sixth century AD: Hellenistic funerary art, Coptic textiles, and Nubian artifacts.

In addition, the new Department of Islamic Art (opened last September) has some Egyptian masterpieces of international fame, like the magnificent eleventh-century Fatimid rock crystal ewer (previously displayed at the Department of Decorative Arts), originally part of the treasury of the Abbey of Saint-Denis. A fifteenth-century Mamluk vestibule reassembled in an epic effort to put together three hundred stones is yet another example.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Egyptian Renaissance: The Kushite 25th Dynasty

An Egyptian Renaissance: The Kushite 25th Dynasty

by Dr. Lisa Swart

Far from being a cultural and geographic backwater, the Kushite 25th Dynasty created one of the largest empires along the Nile in ancient and medieval times. A dynasty of charismatic Kushite kings assumed Egyptian titles and postures for over a century. Their sovereignty over Egypt was acknowledged by the Egyptians, all while retaining their own unique identities. The Kushites not only united a previously fragmented Egypt, which had slid into political and economic decline, but reinvigorated Egyptian material culture with a blend of their own distinctive characteristics with Egyptian prototypes.


Extending south, along the Nile River from the First Cataract to the Shubaluqa Gorge (Sixth Cataract), is the land of Nubia. Today, this region is mostly located within the borders of modern Sudan, with a small portion crossing into southern Egypt. Known as Kush by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Hebrews and Persians; and Ethiopia by the Greeks, Romans and 19th and early 20th century writers, it is one of only two African civilizations so far to have produced significant archaeological or written records from before 1000 CE (Depuydt, 1996: 531), However, even with rich Kushite archaeological remains along the course of the Nile Valley, compared with other great civilizations of the ancient world, relatively little is known about Nubia. Previously considered a geographical backwater, Nubia has been traditionally viewed with the flawed perception by scholars from within the shadow of the monolithic Egyptian empire. This opinion has its roots in the preconceptions of early African societies prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Confounding matters further, unlike Egypt, there is not an excess of textual artifacts, and of those found, many have been written in the undeciphered Meroitic language.

As ancient as its neighbour in the north, the history of Nubia is deeply interwoven with that of Egypt, a long-time rival, trading partner, colonial master, and subsequent colony. From obscure origins, the Kushite kings conquered and establised their domination over Egypt as the Twenty-fifth Dynasty during the mid-eighth century BCE. They ruled Egypt for over a century, until they were ousted by the Assyrians in the 650s BCE.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Statues of 5th dynasty top officials discovered in Abusir

Nine wooden and limestone statues unearthed by Czech archaeological mission at Abusir necropolis reveal 5th dynasty ancient burial customs, society, environment

by Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 18 Nov 2012

During routine excavations in Abusir South, 30km north of Giza plateau, Czech excavators from the Czech Institute of Egyptology of the Charles University in Prague, unearthed a collection of fifth dynasty ancient Egyptian statues.

Photo courtesy of Czech Institute of Egyptology
Miroslav Barta, the head of the Czech mission told Ahram Online that the statues were found in a hidden tunnel located inside a rock-hewn tomb of Iti, the crew inspector. His tomb is located between two rock-hewn tombs of two fifth dynasty high officials: the overseer of the crew scribe, Nefer, and the chief of justice of the Shepespuptah great house.

Although the exploration of the tunnel suggests that it was subjected to looting in antiquity, nine wooden and painted limestone statues were found inside.

"It seems that tomb raiders did not recognise the importance, nor the beauty of such statues, so they left them in situ but, regretfully, six were broken into two as a result of the robbers' activities, with three found intact," Barta told Ahram Online. Perhaps, he continued, they were searching for jewellery or the like.

These statues were found scattered in the tunnel, some  standing in their original position, others laying on the floor. Two of the fragments were made of wood, while the rest of the statues were made of limestone and most of them still have polychromy. Only one statue is inscribed with the deceased's name, Iti.

Barta says the discovery is very important because it shows the traditions of ancient Egyptian burial practices, the society, environment, art and history of the fifth dynasty. Excavation is continuing for more evidence of that era in Egypt’s ancient history.

Abusir means The House of Osiris, the god of the dead and resurrection. Abusir became a royal burial place during the reign of King Userkaf, founder of the fifth dynasty, who built a remarkable and unique solar temple. Some of his successors built their own burial and solar temples there. The last solar temple was built by King Menkauhor at the end of the fifth dynasty.

A collection of mastaba tombs of higher courtiers are found there among them the one belongs to the royal hair dresser and vizier Ptahshepses.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Egyptian Idol


In March 2001, Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, exploding the statues and reducing to rubble some of Afghanistan's most important cultural relics. That act seemed to epitomize the cultural intolerance of the Taliban regime but also drew attention to the ways in which cultural heritage preservation has become used as a measure of civilized behavior of states in an era of global cosmopolitanism. For those concerned about the future of the world's antiquities, this week another threat emerged on the horizon. In an interview with Egyptian Dream TV over the weekend, Salafist leader Murgan Salem al-Gohary called on Muslims to destroy the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx as a religiously mandated act of iconoclasm. "The idols and statutes that fill Egypt must be destroyed. Muslims are tasked with applying the teachings of Islam and removing these idols, just like we did in Afghanistan when we smashed the Buddha statues," said Gohary, who claims to have participated in the destruction of Buddhas in Afghanistan and was arrested on several occasions under the Mubarak regime.

Forget for a minute the gross improbability of Gohary's threat to destroy millions tons of sheer rock and stone, monuments that have survived foreign invasions, rapacious pillagers, and environmental threats. It is a move almost guaranteed to draw media attention, particularly with the high level of anxiety surrounding the new political clout of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the rise of the Salafist al-Nour party as a significant force in both the government and the charting of a new constitution. Fears over how Islamists might fare in post-Mubarak Egypt have only intensified amid a roiling debate over issues such as the role of women, the inclusion of minorities, and the country's position toward Western interests. Amid this debate, Egypt's Pharaonic remains have now become the latest touchstone for controversy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tutankhamun's replica tomb unveiled

An exact replica tomb of the golden King Tutankhamun, a gift from Madrid- and Zurich-based organisations, is revealed at the opening of the EU Task Force Conference on Tourism and Flexible Investment in Egypt

by Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 13 Nov 2012

Before the Conrad Hotel overlooking the Nile Corniche, where an exact replica tomb of the ancient Egyptian mysterious king Tutankhamun is located, thousand of journalists, TV cameras and photographers gathered to witness on Tuesday the unveiling of the tomb by European Commission Vice President Catherine Ashton and the Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou.

The tomb was immediately opened to public after its official inauguration within the framework of the two-day-long EU Task Force Conference on Tourism and Flexible Investments.

The replica tomb is a gift to Egypt from the Factum Foundation, Madrid, the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, Zurich and the University of Basel, to promote the EU Task Force Conference taking place in Egypt as well as to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the discovery of the first signs that led British archaeologist Howard Carter to a full discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank on 22 November 1922.

James Macmillan-Scott, president of the factum foundation said that the work undertaken in the tomb of Tutankhamun is an initiative instigated in 1988 by the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt with the full support of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who have long supported the idea of building replicas of the royal tombs at Theban Necropolis that are either closed or need to be closed for their preservation. The first phase included the three tombs that are in danger due to the high rates of visitors; Tutankhamun, Nefertari and Set I.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

10th Century B.C.E. Egyptian Scarab, Ritual Baths Unearthed in Jerusalem Excavation

By Popular Archaeology Staff   Sat, Nov 10, 2012

Archaeologists discovered an Egyptian scarab dated to the 10th century B.C.E. during ongoing excavations in the Ophel area just south of the Jewish Temple Mount (or Islamic Haram-Ash Sharif).

Under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University, a team of Israeli archaeologists, along with a group of archaeologists, students and volunteers from the Herbert W. Armstrong College in the U.S., uncovered the small but telling artifact, shedding additional light on ancient Jerusalem and the Ophel, an area adjacent to the Temple Mount that was central during the Judahite kingships described in the Biblical accounts. This small green hematite scarab, like a coin, fits easily into the palm of the hand and was used anciently to impress wet clay used to seal papyrus or parchment documents, such as letters and other forms of correspondence, including those of a governmental or royal nature. Artifacts of this type were plentiful in ancient Egypt and their presence in ancient Jerusalem during the 10th century B.C.E. suggests Egyptian influence or connections. One side of the scarab was sculpted, as is typical for scarabs, in the shape of a dung beetle. The other side depicted the ram's head, a symbol of the Egyptian god Ra. The scarab is modeled after the Scarabaeidae family of the dung beetle, which rolls dung into a ball for eating and laying eggs that are later transformed into larva, or life renewal. The scarab was thus considered an earthly symbol of the heavenly life cycle, which was incorporated into ancient Egyptian society as a symbol of the ancient Egyptian myth wherein the sun (Ra) traveled across the sky each day and transformed bodies and souls. 

Said Mazar, "The big question that we should really think about is to what extent the Egyptian cult influenced Jerusalem during the 10th century B.C.E. , during the time of King Solomon, for instance.  We saw several other items that expressed this Egyptian influence, as well."

The location of the scarab, well within the royal precinct of the ancient city near the Temple Mount, raises some tantalizing, albeit speculative, questions.

"We know that King Solomon married an Egyptian princess", said Mazar. "Was it hers?"

Other recent work in the Ophel included exploration of well-preserved remains of a number of ritual baths. Much of the plaster facing of the baths was still intact which, along with the descending steps, overall dimensions, design, and proximity to the Temple Mount, would be a telltale feature of a typical mikveh, a water immersion facility that Jewish pilgrims would use to ritually cleanse themselves before participating in Temple activities. One of the baths, a very large example, was built such that the pilgrims would have needed to ascend above ground level before entering the bath. It is the only ritual bath of its kind ever found.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seth, God of Conflict

(Set, Suty, Sutekh) Son of Geb and Nut, Seth is a God of physical vigor and voracious sexual appetite in open conflict with social order and emotional bonds. While there are important contexts in which Seth’s activity is positive, most notably in his defense of the boat of Re against the attacks of Apophis, the great symbol of entropy, he is most well known as the murderer of his brother Osiris and for unsuccessfully vying for worldly sovereignty against Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris and the embodiment of legitimacy and civilization. In the conflict with Horus, Seth represents the principle that might makes right, as well as all the wild elements of human nature that resist civilization. Especially in his animal guises, or as the God of storms, Seth embodies the points at which nature itself comes into conflict with the human world, resisting domestication, or the points at which humans seek justification for their exploitation of nature, as in myths which sanctify the use of animal flesh in sacred contexts by identifying the animals in question with Seth or his followers. Seth’s positive aspects come to be expressed less and less over the course of Egyptian history, especially after the 20th dynasty, when a reaction against the foreign Hyksos dynasty who had taken Seth as their patron seems to have caused a precipitous decline in Seth’s cult. Whatever role contingent historical factors may have played in this fall from favor, it is also clearly to be attributed to the increasing centrality of the Osirian mythos in Egyptian culture, and perhaps as well as to the smaller accomodation afforded the wild, undisciplined aspects of life in an increasingly orderly and legalistic society. 

At his most positive, Seth represents vigor and strength, but in a form which would ruthlessly displace the weaker were it not kept in check. This force is constructive when channeled against either entropy itself (Apophis) or some other brute elemental force like the sea, subdued by Seth in a fragmentary myth. A candid recognition of Seth’s change in status can be seen in the so-called ‘Memphite Theology’, in which it is recounted that Geb, judging between Horus and Seth, initially resolves their conflict by dividing the nation, making Seth king of Upper (Southern) Egypt, “the place in which he was born,” and Horus king of Lower (Northern) Egypt, “the place in which his father was drowned,” but, as the text goes on to explain, “then it seemed wrong to Geb that the portion of Horus was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave to Horus his [Horus'] inheritance, for he [Horus] is the son of the firstborn son,” (Lichtheim vol. 1, 52) thus awarding Horus sovereignty over the totality of a unified Egypt. Seth is a God to whom Egyptians, whether kings or commoners, had recourse, however, in war or in illness, life-or-death struggles where physical strength and combat prowess would be decisive. He occurs as well in certain images of balance and totality, such as in images of coronation or of the sma tawy, the ‘uniting of the (two) lands’, in which Seth represents Upper Egypt and Horus represents Lower Egypt, although there is a tendency later to replace Seth with Thoth in these contexts as Seth falls into disfavor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tomb of Ancient Egyptian Princess Discoverd in Unusual Spot

By Jeanna Bryner

The tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess has been discovered south of Cairo hidden in bedrock and surrounded by a court of tombs belonging to four high officials.

Dating to 2500 B.C., the structure was built in the second half of the Fifth Dynasty, though archaeologists are puzzled as to why this princess was buried in Abusir South among tombs of non-royal officials. Most members of the Fifth Dynasty's royal family were buried 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) to the north, in the central part of Abusir or farther south in Saqqara.

(Saqqara holds a vast burial ground for the ancient capital Memphis and is home to the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser.)

The researchers aren't sure whether the remains of the princess are inside tomb, as the investigation is still in progress, Miroslav Bárta, director of the mission, told LiveScience. Even so, they also found several fragments of a false-door bearing the titles and the name of Sheretnebty, the king's daughter.

"By this unique discovery we open a completely new chapter in the history of Abusir and Saqqara necropolis," said Bárta, who heads the Czech mission to Egypt from the Czech Institute of Egyptology of the Charles University in Prague.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ancient Egyptian artifacts uncovered in Sharqiya, North Sinai

A German archaeological mission has unearthed a granite statue of King Ramses II, one of the most significant figures of the pharaonic modern kingdom.
Ramses ruled Egypt between 1304 and 1237 BC.
Adel Hussein, director of the Antiquities Ministry's Lower Egypt sector, said in a statement on Monday that the 2.47-meter statue has been discovered at Tal Basta in Sharqiya. The piece shows Ramses II sitting between the goddess Bastit and the god Atum, the statement said. Deep inscriptions with the king's name are found on its back.
The goddess Bastit was represented in the form of a cat and was worshipped at Tal Basta, where the Ramses II statue was unearthed.
Atum, a pharaonic word for "perfect,” was believed by ancient Egyptians to have created himself. Mythology holds he later united with the god Ra, becoming Atum Ra.
An Egyptian mission also discovered the remains of a citadel’s gates and pillars at Tal Habwa in North Sinai that date back to Ramses II’s time, the statement said. The findings bear inscriptions of the king’s name and phrases such as “Atum’s beloved one” and the “protector of Egypt.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

How tourism cursed tomb of King Tut

Damage from breath of visitors forces closure of chamber

by Alastair Beach, Sunday 4 November 2012

At around 10am on November 4, 1922, an unknown and slightly prickly archaeologist was working with his team to clear away some rubble close to the tomb of Ramses VI, the twentieth dynasty pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the twelfth century BC.

After five years of toil in the Valley of the Kings, the vast desert funerary complex close to modern day Luxor, Howard Carter had little to show for his relic-hunting efforts.

Time was running out, and Lord Carnarvon, his benefactor back in Britain, had reluctantly granted him just one more season to come up with something spectacular.  
In the mid-morning heat exactly 90 years ago today, it arrived.

As Carter and his men cleaned up the debris near some ancient stone huts, they inadvertently stumbled upon the steps leading down into the tomb of Tutankhamun.

The unprecedented find – the first time a royal burial chamber had been found containing all of its treasures – triggered a wave of Egyptmania in the West and cemented Carter’s place in history.

Yet although Egyptologists initially hailed the discovery for the unique insights it provided into ancient burial rites, the tomb itself has not fared well since being prised open after 3000 years of regal isolation.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Revolution Brings Hard Times for Egypt's Treasures

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Egyptian princess's tomb from 2500 BC uncovered

EGYPT'S antiquities minister announced overnight the discovery of a princess's tomb dating from the fifth dynasty (around 2500 BC) in the Abu Sir region south of Cairo.
"We have discovered the antechamber to Princess Shert Nebti's   tomb which contains four limestone pillars," Mohamed Ibrahim said. 
The pillars "have hieroglyphic inscriptions giving the princess's name and her titles, which include 'the daughter of the king Men Salbo and his lover venerated before God the all-powerful,'" he added.
Mr Ibrahim said that the Czech Institute of Egyptology's mission, funded by the Charles University of Prague and directed by Miroslav Bartas, had made the discovery.
"The discovery of this tomb marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the sepulchres at Abu Sir and Saqqara," Mr Ibrahim said.
The Czech team also excavated a corridor in the southeast of the antechamber, which leads off to four other tombs, two of which have already been discovered separately.
The two tombs belonged to high-ranking officials including a "grand upholder of the law" and an "inspector of the servants of the palace," according to their inscriptions. They date from the fifth pharaonic dynasty.
The discoveries have all been made during the excavation season, which began in October, said Usama al-Shini, director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities for Giza.
The corridor contains four limestone sarcophagi that contain statuettes of a man, a man accompanied by his son, and two men with a woman.


Friday, November 2, 2012

The 19th Dynasty (1295 - 1186 BC)

After the recovery from the religious revolution, Egypt was a changed world. It is not easy to define the exact nature of the changes, since there are many exceptions. Yet, it is impossible not to notice the marked deterioration of the art, the literature, and indeed the general culture of the people. The language which they wrote approximates more
 closely to the vernacular and incorporates many foreign words. The copies of ancient texts are incredibly careless, as if the scribes utterly failed to understand their meaning. At Thebes the tombs no longer display the bright and happy scenes of everyday life which characterized Dyn. XVIII, but concentrate rather upon the perils to be faced in the hereafter. The judgment of the heart before Osiris is a favorite theme, and the Book of Gates illustrates the obstacles to be encountered during the nightly journey through the Netherworld. The less frequent remains from Memphis show reliefs of only slightly greater elegance. The temples elsewhere depict upon their walls many vivid representations of warfare, but the workmanship is relatively coarse and the explanatory legends are often more adulatory that informative. In spite of all, Egypt still presents an aspect of wonderful grandeur, which the greater abundance of this period's monuments makes better known to the present-day tourist than the far finer products of earlier times.