Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Archaeologists find compelling evidence for new tombs at Qubbet Al-Hawa site in Aswan

An ancient Egyptian encroachment wall uncovered below the visitors’ pathway at Qubbet Al-Hawa suggests additional tombs to be found

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016

During excavation work carried out below the visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the west Aswan cemetery, at Qubbet Al-Hawa site, archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP), stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient Egyptian encroachment wall.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Mahmoud Afify told Ahram Online that the wall is two-metres high and is part of the architectural support of the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Given the landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa, he explained, the support wall helped to secure the hillside and thus lower lying tombs that were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Nasr Salama, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the discovery as “stunning,” adding that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Queens of the Nile Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden

18 November 2016 until 17 April 2017

Photo courtesy of RMO Leiden
Queens of the Nile will tell the unique story of the ancient Egyptians pharaohs' wives during the New Kingdom period (1500 to 1000 BC). Visitors can admire 350 top archaeological pieces, including rare sculptures, magnificent jewellery and luxurious artefacts used by women at the Egyptian court, plus the sarcophagus cover and grave goods entombed with one of Egypt’s most celebrated queens, Nefertari. The Museo Egizio in Turin is loaning 245 of its finest objects for the exhibition. This is the second largest ancient Egyptian Museum in the world. 

Royal ladies of ancient Egypt

The exhibition will bring to life the riches enjoyed by the royal ladies of ancient Egypt, the intrigues they engaged in and the honours paid to them. During the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt was at the height of its power. Pharaohs were lords and masters of their realm and worshipped as gods. Their queens were also accorded divine and regal status. They fulfilled important religious functions and sometimes had temples especially built for them. Their divine status often continued after their death.

Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti, Nefertari

Famous queens as Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari were powerful women who were not simply wives but who ran the pharaoh's palace and exercised significant political power. Although pharaohs could marry many wives, only one was allowed to bear the title 'Great Queen'. She managed the day-to-day running of the harem, which sometimes comprised hundreds of women. At court she was surrounded by sumptuous jewellery, magnificent clothes, cosmetics and furniture. In the exhibition, beautiful artefacts such as necklaces, rings, glass scent bottles, painted vases and bronze mirrors provide a glimpse of the opulent life led by queens at the Egyptian court.

Unique objects from the tomb of Nefertari

A unique element in the exhibition will be the display of objects recovered from the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Her tomb, plundered in antiquity, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens, close to the Egyptian city of Luxor, in 1904. Regarded as one of the finest tombs from ancient Egypt, one of its richly decorated chambers will be reconstructed in the exhibition. Here visitors can experience the mystic beauty of Nefertari’s tomb, alongside her sarcophagus cover and gifts deposited at her entombment. The Museo Egizio seldom loans these precious grave goods.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Statues of lioness goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor's Kom El-Hettan excavation

by Nevine El-Aref , Friday 9 Dec 2016

Egyptian archaeologists excavating the Mortuary Temple of King Amenhotep III in Luxor have unearthed a number of statues of the goddess Sekhmet, daughter of the ancient Egyptian sun god Re, project director Hourig Sourouzian told Ahram Online on Thursday.

"They are of great artistic quality" Sourouzian said of the statues, which were found in four parts, including three busts and one headless torso, in the Kom El-Hettan archaeological area on Luxor's west bank.

Sourouzian oversees the work of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, which is working to save the remains of the more than 3,000 year-old temple and eventually restore its dispersed artefacts to the site, to be presented in their original layout.

The project director said her team found the Sekhmet pieces in very good condition, buried in the temple's hypostyle hall—a roofed structure supported by columns. Several other statues of the goddess have been found previously on the same site.

According to Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet was charged with defending her father Re against enemies.

The many statues of the goddess in the temple of Amenhotep III would also have been intended to protect the ruler from evil and disease, Afifi told Ahram Online. 

"All statues of the goddess are now stored in warehouses supervised by the Ministry of Antiquities for security reasons,” Afifi said, adding that when excavations at the temple are completed and the site is opened to visitors, the statues will be placed back in their original setting.

In addition to the statues of Sekhmet, Sourouzian's team have uncovered large pieces of sphinxes carved in limestone, as well as a small torso of a deity in black granite, within the vicinity of the funerary temple's third pylon.  

“The sphinxes are in a bad state of preservation and will need to be treated before being exposed,” she said.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany is set to travel to Luxor on Monday, to inspect the newly discovered statues and attend the opening of a temporary exhibit to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Luxor Museum.

The exhibit will display a collection of 40 artefacts discovered by archaeologists on the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project.

The artefacts will include a collection of amulets, Greco-Roman coins, remains of clay pots and religious stelae—stone tablets or columns erected as tombstones or boundary markers.