Friday, August 26, 2016

Video Friday: Ancient Egypt on Broadway

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat

Song of the King (Seven Fat Cows) 



Pharaoh's Story


Aida

Another Pyramid



The Gods Love Nubia 




Akhenaten The Musical 

The Teaser



You are in Egypt Demo Recording 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: The importance of spice and graffiti


The most important things we have ever found

Image: The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL
“F.P. (Flinders) thought them among the most important things we have ever found” wrote Hilder Petrie in April 1953, of her husband’s opinion, quite a statement considering archaeologist Flinders Petrie excavated in Egypt over four decades until 1924. But what were the important excavation materials Hilder Petrie was referring to…..?

Most interesting graffiti: Egyptian fresco Aubervilliers

The Seine-Saint-Denis has long been a land of creation of urban art . The frescoes that adorn facades of buildings, highway pillars , walls, bridges ... give color to the landscape of 93. These works are often performed by recognized artists who are well visible to all.


4,200-Year-Old Egyptian Temple  of Dendara Discovered to Have Remarkably Well Preserved Artwork
Image via  / Shutterstock.com
Scattered throughout modern Egypt are many ancient temples which are famous for their splendor and historical significance. The perfect example of one of these breathtaking displays of luxury is the Temple of Hathor. Built around 2250 BC, the artwork that runs throughout the building is remarkably well kept, despite being thousands and thousands of years old. As the main temple within the significant Dendera Temple complex, it is known for being one of the best-preserved sites in all of Egypt.

Proving its MET’tle

A pyramid, a gargantuan limestone sarcophagus, canopic jars used by the Ancient Egyptians to store the internal organs that were removed from the body during mummification… It’s like being in Egypt but without the desert and camels! The Metropolitan Museum of Art which opened in a Gothic Revival-style building in 1870 has grown into more than two-million-square-feet along New York City’s Central Park, on Fifth Avenue.

PICTURE GALLERY - GIZA

Compiled by Charles Woods. Photos are believed to have been taken between 1880 and 1920 - Colours are hand tinted. Click the link in the title to see all of them.  This is from the Ancient Luxor site.


Spices of Life in Ancient Egypt

When 19th-century British explorers first discovered the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, the folks back home in England were captivated. Stories abounded in the popular press about cursed mummies, haunted crypts and ancient gods whose wrath followed the despoilers home and hounded them to an early grave....The heady aromas and spices of the Middle East were suddenly in very high demand. Exotic flavors from the mysterious region were in vogue, just like the tales of high drama and daring adventure that accompanied them.

Maya and Merit on the Move

The last Video Friday: Highlights of Saqqara at the National Museum of Antiquities provided an insight into the beautiful statues of Maya and Merit. This week, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden  provided these fascinating photographs of moving the statue inside the museum. The statues will be in their new home on November 18th.


Penshenabu: picture of the week

Egyptian statue reprensented a priest called Penshenabu from the 19th Dynasty, about 1200 BCE.
Penshenabu offers an altar with a ram's head, heart sacred to the god Amun of Thebes. Egyptian museum, Turin.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week -- From London to Abydos



Ancient Egypt In London: 10 Places

Ah London. Land of sphinxes, pyramids and obelisks. Home of hieroglyphics. Final resting place of great pharaohs. Nope, we haven't gone off our rocker. Since the late 18th century London has been gaga for all things ancient Egyptian. In fact, we reckon it's the best place to see Egypt outside of Egypt.

Abydos: Life and Death at the Dawn of Egyptian Civilization

New evidence shows that human sacrifice helped populate the royal city of the dead.

King Aha, "The Fighter," was not killed while unifying the Nile's two warring kingdoms, nor while building the capital of Memphis. No, one legend has it that the first ruler of a united Egypt was killed in a hunting accident after a reign of 62 years, unceremoniously trampled to death by a rampaging hippopotamus. News of his demise brought a separate, special terror to his staff. For many, the honor of serving the king in life would lead to the more dubious distinction of serving the king in death.

3,400-Year-Old Underwater Temple from Era of Thutmosis III Discovered near Cairo

Featured image: One of the blocks found with hieroglyphics in the newly-discovered temple linked to the reign of Thutmose III. Credit: Ahram Online

The Minister of Antiquities in Egypt has announced the discovery of an ancient Egyptian temple near Cairo, from the time of Pharaoh Thutmose III. The ancient temple was found beneath a house, submerged under groundwater, by a group of looters who used diving equipment to explore the nine-meter deep ruins. Seven tablets, two blocks covered in hieroglyphics, several column bases and a huge statue of a seated person made of pink granite have been unearthed so far.

Canopic inspiration

The Rich in Vitamin Art exhibition comprises of a series of ceramic 'Canopic Jars', drawing from modern day obsession with fame, commemorating celebrities’ lives, specifically relating to the organ which causes their death.


Sopdet is a Real Scorcher! — Sirius At Heliacal Rising

Sirius marks the nose of Canis Major, the Greater Dog. That much I'll concede. In ancient Egypt circa 3000 BC, the star's return at dawn after its ~70 day hiatus in the daytime sky coincided with the flooding of the Nile River, the lifeline of Egypt then as today. Floods deposited precious silt that fertilized the farmlands along the river. Since 1970, when the Aswan Dam was completed, floodwaters are now stored for later release.


Pharaoh's Sandal Obsession

Photos from the Grand Egyptian Museum
Some of the nearly 100 pairs of sandals that were found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

The gold pair were the ones found on the feet of his mummy.

Egyptian symbols defined






































Ministry of Antiquities July Newsletter

Click the link above to read the entire newsletter.




Friday, August 12, 2016

Video Friday: Highlights of Saqqara at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden




Dr. Maarten Raven is a passionate egyptologist and one of the best specialists of the excavations in Saqqara. We had the pleasure to film and edit the lecture he gave in Brussels in 2014 during the ArtConnoisseurs/BAAF/AAB lecture series. Now, we are glad to share with you a private tour with him among one of the most important Egyptian art collection in Europe.

Dr. Raven shares with us the story of the sculptures of Maya and Merit, an important couple at the time of Thoutankamon and a pure jewel of the museum's collection.


Art Heritage series #1 - Highlights of Saqqara at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden with Dr. Maarten Raven from BIAPAL CHANNEL on Vimeo.



ART HERITAGE SERIES #1 EP 02 - Highlights of Saqqara at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden with Dr. Maarten Raven from BIAPAL CHANNEL on Vimeo.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Alexandria, Abu Simbel, Saqqara, Abydos, Israel and more


From Alexandria to Abu Simbel
Egypt in early photographs 1849–1875

This exhibition of the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection showcases around sixty vintage prints that offer insights into the era of early photographs, 1849-1875.

Sacred Animal Necropolis North of Saqqara

Virtual Reconstruction for the Digital Heritage Masters Degree (Alicante University) dissertation, 2015-2016. Created using published archaeological data.

The site was dedicated to the funerary cult of the sacred animals, and consisted of various sanctuaries and three catacombs: the Mother of Apis, Baboon, and Falcon Catacombs.

It was in use since the 7th Century BC, until the 1st Century BC (Late and Ptolemaic periods).

Discovered by W.B. Emery in 1955 and excavated since 1964, until 1976.


Egyptian museum wins cultural preservation grant

The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir awarded the grant of the United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).
The AFCP grant was awarded to the Egyptian Museum -- whose application was submitted in December 2015 by the museum's then-secretary general Khaled El-Enany -- following a worldwide competition, Sabah Abdel Razek, first secretary of the Egyptian Museum, told Ahram Online.

Does This Rock Explain Why Egyptians Are Biblical Villains?

For nearly a century, historians have argued about whether or not the events in Exodus actually took place, A new find in Israel may hold the key to a new explanation.

When it comes to the prototypical villains of ancient literature, the Egyptians are right up there. Nobody, it seemed, really liked the ancient superpower. Ancient Greek romance novels routinely portray them as cunning and duplicitous. The Romans found Cleopatra to be equal parts captivating and conniving and, in the Bible, the Israelites were enslaved by the Pharaohs for centuries.

A new discovery at Tel Hazor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest Biblical-era archaeological sites in Israel, may change how we think about the Egyptians.

Two Egyptian archaeological periodicals to be launched soon

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities Scientific Publications Department is to issue two new peer-reviewed journals.
The first is “Archaeology in Egypt” and is concerned with publishing archaeological fieldwork from expeditions working in Egypt across all periods.

The second, “Conservation in Egypt,” is concerned with conservation and restoration works carried out in Egypt.

Professing Faith: Egyptian god Thoth is linked with writing on papyrus

Like a vision from the immortal gods, it came to me. The answer is, of course, papyrus, an old friend of mine from my Egyptology studies. As I write this, I can see a big blue pot with a cluster of tall slender spines rising from the muck, each with a pompon-shaped flower at the end. And, most curiously, the stems are triangular in shape.

There are people, my family for instance, who see it as a noxious swamp grass. But I find it very elegant. It was grown in Egypt and Nubia since time immemorial, and the early histories of the human race have been written on its sides. In a basket made of its fibers, the infant Moses was saved from death at the hands of Pharaoh, and Mary and Joseph probably rested by clusters of it on their flight into Egypt.

Texts in Translation #16: Senebtifi’s Beaker from Abydos

A guest post by Dr Nicky Nielsen, newly-appointed Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Manchester. Senebtifi’s vessel is one of several objects which are used in the teaching of the University of Manchester Online Egyptology Certificate and Diploma courses.

March of the Hathors


Friday, August 5, 2016

July Reads



The After Party: A Novel by Anton DiSclafani

Synopsis: Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1950s Houston social scene. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, she dominates the room and the gossip columns. Every man who sees her seems to want her; every woman just wants to be her. But this is a highly ordered world of garden clubs and debutante balls. The money may flow as freely as the oil, but the freedom and power all belong to the men. What happens when a woman of indecorous appetites and desires like Joan wants more? What does it do to her best friend?

Devoted to Joan since childhood, Cece Buchanan is either her chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on whom you ask. But as Joan’s radical behavior escalates, Cece’s perspective shifts—forcing one provocative choice to appear the only one there is.

A thrilling glimpse into the sphere of the rich and beautiful at a memorable moment in history, The After Party unfurls a story of friendship as obsessive, euphoric, consuming, and complicated as any romance.
My take: THIS is the book I was hoping for when I started (but didn't finish) reading Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty last month. Cece Buchanan is Jay Gatsby staring at the green light across the water in East Egg and dreaming of Daisy, or maybe she's Nick Carraway narrating the tragedy if The Great Gatsby was set in Houston in the Fifties. Great summer read.

The Summer of Curtis Sittenfeld

American Wife: A Novel 

Synopsis: A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes governor and then president, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with–and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband’s presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.

My take: As many know, this book is loosely (or sometimes closely) based on Laura Bush. After living thirty years in Texas, many of the anecdotes in this book are familiar to me. There are others that didn't make the book. A good friend of mine, a dyed in the wool Democrat, worked with Laura Bush setting up the Texas Book Festival, and she once said if Laura was running she'd probably vote Republican for the first and last time ever.

Alice Lindgren is the kind of person you might say that about. While it's clearly not an insight into the mind of THE Laura Bush, it does explore an interesting question : How do two people who are so different, you might say total opposites, love each other? Perhaps this book explores the very nature of love and the amount of forgiveness and tolerance two people must find in each other if they are in love. If you read this book, try not to match the anecdotes with things you know about Laura and W and simply immerse yourself in the story.

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Prep: A Novel

Synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.

As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

My take: Sittenfeld does coming of age stories well. Although most of us never had the boarding school experience, I think we all might find ourselves mirrored in Lee, her struggle to grow up, and the betrayal that overtakes her in a very public way. I enjoyed the novel immensely, yet I struggle to write something about it that doesn't sound exactly like the many other reviews I've done of Sittenfeld, which is not to say that this novel is repetitive or unoriginal.

I can say this: Prep is an essentially American novel in the way The Great Gatsby is an American novel. Lee Fiora is Jay Gatsby, IF Gatsby:

  • Was a girl
  • Who had Nick Carraway's introspective personality
  • Went to boarding school instead of embracing crime
  • Got over Daisy Fay Buchanan
  • Was assassinated by the New York Times instead of George Wilson
  • Went on to live a productive life 
If that doesn't entice you to read Prep, nothing will.

(And seriously,why am I  seeing Gatsby parallels in my reading this month? Is it time to read Gatsby again, or maybe watch the latest movie version?)


Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Synopsis: Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

My take: As I told a friend who asked if I was going to review this book, "Yes, but I'm not quite sure what I think about it."  Expect rambling to follow.

Clearly, the novel worked well enough for me to finish it. These days if a book doesn't hold my interest, I just quit reading it. So, it has that going for it.

Let me get my major points of dissatisfaction out in the open right away.
  • The novel felt uncomfortably misogynistic. She (yes, Charlie is a she)  dwelt a little too long and lovingly on the abuse and beatings even in a story where penance is de rigueur for forgiveness and redemption.
  • About 85% of the way in (according to my Kindle), the author just seemed to give up on telling the story. The remaining 15 percent felt rushed and pedantic, almost an afterword. While I might have had issues with the misogyny, the earlier parts of the book engaged me with the lushness of its prose and its sensual details. The ending felt like someone dumped a bucket of ice on my head, although there was a bit of a return to the good writing in the epilogue. 
So, what did I like about Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet. I loved the concept of magic in the world via something as ordinary as baked goods. At its best, this novel captured the poetry and magic of Like Water for Chocolate. As someone mentioned in another review, it is a fairy tale inside a fairy tale, although, sadly, never quite as satisfying as a fairy tale. 

I am also a big fan of forgiveness and redemption stories, particularly those that are flavored with a bit of hubris. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet had, at times, the elegiac tone of a Greek tragedy with a (maybe) happy ending. Like a Greek tragedy, the mortals, semi-immortals, and the gods in this book are flawed, but intriguing. I was left, however, somewhat puzzled by what redemption looks like. The very last line of the novel seemed to undercut what I might have considered the redemptive moment.

Homberg's world building and magical system also didn't hold up for me in the long run. There were certain inconsistencies that made me think she was going in one direction, and then it would just come to a dead end. And off we'd race in another direction.

Right at the end, she brought in a motherhood trope that was a device to make the action of the story make sense. It seemed to come out of the blue and (going with the Greek tragedy theme) was quite literally deus ex machina. In no other parts of the book, do we get any sense that Maire was longing to be a mother or had anything approaching maternal feelings. Was there a moral to the whole motherhood thing? I'm not sure. 

I can't wholeheartedly recommend the book, but I can call it a brilliant and intriguing experiment that didn't live up to its promise.  



Monday, August 1, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: A brief history of sedentary fragments



Mummified Egyptian Was Just As Sedentary And Carb-Hungry As Modern Men

The 2,200-year-old mummy of an Egyptian man who spent a lot of time sitting and eating carbs went on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday and will be open to the public beginning Wednesday.

Fragments of Akhenaten

In the middle of June, there was an announcement from Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities about a box found in the basement of Cairo's Egyptian Museum. The contents included some 500 small gold sheets which may have come from the 1907 excavation of Valley of the Kings tomb KV55. In that controversial excavation, a royal coffin was found, unlike anything before that time. The coffin had been defaced with the owners names cut out. The box to be studied may hold these missing names inscribed on the gold sheets. The inscription which runs down the center of the coffins lid contained epithets which are unique to the Heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Video Friday
 In case you didn't see it, I started a new feature last week. I receive links to a lot of videos, which I sometimes include in these posts. A lot of cool videos don't make it just for space reasons. So, I decided to devote every other Friday to a post that has the videos that enchanted me during the week. I'll try for a theme (like last week's Mummies), but I'm making no promises.

Ancient Egypt: A Brief History
Egyptian civilization has flourished continuously since prehistoric times. While the civilization's rulers, writing, natural climate, religion and borders have changed many times over the millennia, Egypt still exists as a modern-day country

A map of Egypt's archaeological sites to be launched

The Geographic Information System (GIS) at the Ministry of Antiquities has created an archaeological map locating all the archaeological sites and museums over Egypt.

The map is in both Arabic and English and will be provided to all archaeological sites and museums.

Articles from the Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds

The following articles are from the British Museums Lost Cities exhibit.

The British Museum staged a major exhibition on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean seabed. The BP exhibition is the Museum’s first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries. It shows how the exploration of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – submerged at the mouth of the River Nile for over a thousand years – is transforming our understanding of the relationship between ancient Egypt and the Greek world and the great importance of these ancient cities.
  • Ancient Egyptian festivals - Ancient Egypt’s Inundation season (called Akhet in the ancient Egyptian language) took place over a four-month period from mid-July to mid-November. It related to the annual flooding of the Nile that was essential for a good harvest, and was hugely significant in Egyptian religious practice.
  • Motherhood in ancient Egypt - Motherhood was extremely important in ancient Egypt. Children were the main reason for setting up a household.
  • Gold jewellery in ancient Egypt - Vanished beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay at the mouth of the Nile.
  • Tax and trade on the Nile Delta - People, goods and ideas began to flow between Egypt and Greece from around 650 BC. After a time of relative isolation, Egypt once more opened itself up to the Mediterranean world.
  • Hapy – the Egyptian god of the Nile - This colossal 5.4-metre statue of Hapy was discovered underwater in what was the thriving and cosmopolitan seaport of Thonis-Heracleion.

In preparation for the renovation of the Ptolemaic galleries of Egyptian art, riggers and technicians deinstalled one of the most-viewed objects at The Met, the Book of the Dead of the Priest of Horus, Imhotep, and its companion, Papyrus inscribed with six "Osiris Liturgies". The two scrolls are housed in eight framed sections, measuring around 100 feet in total length, in gallery 133. For the staff of the Department of Egyptian Art and myself, an associate paper conservator, this step represented the start of the second phase of the refurbishment of the scrolls' display.