Monday, February 29, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Art, Trash, & Egypt

This Scholar Says She's Unlocked The Secrets Of The Pyramid Texts

Susan Brind Morrow has developed a new translation of the world's oldest sacred texts.  For years, scholars thought that the Pyramid Texts were merely a series of funeral prayers and magic spells intended to protect Egyptian royalty in the afterlife. But renowned classicist and linguist Susan Brind Morrow has a different interpretation of this sacred literature. She said she believes it's proof of a complex religious philosophy, one that was less about mythology and more about the life-giving forces of nature. She also believes this ancient Egyptian philosophy influenced many of the spiritual traditions that came after it.

Pimp my coffin: Ancient Egyptian priest changed sarcophagus as his career progressed

New research for an exhibition opening today (23 February) at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has scholars scratching their heads about the booming funerary industry in ancient Egypt. An examination of the sarcophagi of Nespawershefyt (also known as Nes-Amun) has revealed that significant changes were made to the owner’s titles, which suggests that he had his coffins made well in advance of his death and upd ated them as his career flourished.

Pyramids and Sphinxes

Explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt through art and examine the relationship between tourism, commerce & representation in the age of mass reproduction.

Artists, writers, and travelers decamped to Egypt for up close and personal encounters with the remains of an ancient civilization. They documented these experiences in art, story, and verse, ushering in a wave of curiosity about Biblical lands of the past. The British saw an opportunity to organize commerce and tourism, and began creating an infrastructure in Egypt to support these industries. Romantic images of the past were created an distributed en masse, as great stylists introduced a new wave of Romanticism to Western art. Images of the Near East came into vogue, as a sensuous, tropical vibe combined with the glorious ruins of the pharaohs.

Artists secretly 3D scan bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and release 3D Print files online

he content of museums around the world are designed and curated to be vessels that share with local populations the wonders, beauty and history that surrounds us all. Art museums share with us the beauty of the human spirit whereas natural history museums bring to light elements birthed within nature itself.

Sometimes however, the extraction of an artifact from its original habitat to a foreign museum or gallery can lead to controversy. A good example of this is the iconic bust of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. After existing, for the most part, uninterrupted in Egypt since roughly 1345 BC, the prized sculpture was discovered and subsequently dealt to a German based archeological company in 1912 before leaving Egyptian soil for the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Since then, there has been enough controversy surrounding the validity of the transfer that TIME magazine has the bust at number two in their Top 10 Plundered Artifacts list.

Finds in Ancient Egyptian rubbish dumps inspire "world's largest archaeological project"

Touted as the world’s largest archaeological project, an online search for clues is crowd-sourcing the details of ancient lives in Egypt - from 19th century rubbish dumps.

Going through bins has perhaps never proved as productive as it did for Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Sturridge Hunt more than a century ago. Rooting through a rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus (the name means “sharp-nosed”), in ancient Egypt, these light-suited, hirsute late-20s archaeologists litter-picked more than 500,000 papyrus fragments, initiating papyrology as a scientific form.

And speaking of trash. . . .

History programmes have to keep up with the Kardashians, Egyptologist claims

Egyptologist Dr Chris Naunton has said it is "vital" to see television programmes about history and archaeology alongside EastEnders and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Picture of the week

From RAWI - Egypt's Heritage Review
Ibis Mummy: Considered sacrosanct, the ibis was connected first with the god Thoth and later with the revered sage Imhotep. Mummified ibises found at cult sites dedicated to Thoth or Imhotep are usually understood as votives deposited by private persons either as offerings or as gestures of appreciation for answered prayers. This elaborately preserved ibis bears witness to the extremes to which the ancient embalmers could go in their preservation of an animal. The linen wrappings, some of which have been dyed, are wound in an intricate pattern, while the bronze head attached to the mummy shows exquisite workmanship.
Found in Abydos- 30 B.C.E.–early 1st century C.E.(Roman Period)
Brooklyn Museum, NY

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Fit for a Queen (or Pharaoh)

Pyramid Age love story comes to life in Egyptian tomb's vivid color

he was a priestess named Meretites, and he was a singer named Kahai, who performed at the pharaoh's palace. They lived about 4,400 years ago in an age when pyramids were being built in Egypt, and their love is reflected in a highly unusual scene in their tomb — an image that has now been published in all its surviving color.

A University of Winnipeg researcher has discovered artifacts that likely belonged to one of the first female Egyptian pharaohs in a 450-piece collection at the university.

Luther Sousa found hieroglyphs that represented Queen Hatshepsut's throne name — Maatkare — on a hoe that's about a 30 centimetres long and a wooden rocker about 15 cm long.

Here's another article

Orchestrating 'Aida'

I'd like to see Aida at the Pyramids, but even lesser productions take a lot of work.

‘Aida’ might be the most recognizable opera in the world. For many people, the work, composed by Giuseppe Verdi in 1871, is their introduction to the world of opera. It revolves around a love triangle in ancient Egypt — a timelessly relatable tale of love, sacrifice and jealousy. But it’s more than just an enduring love story — it’s a logistical miracle.

The Lost Mummy of King Kamose

At the time of the discovery of King Kamose's mummy in the family necropolis at Dra Abu el-Naga in 1857 the body was not recognized as the king because of the inferior coffin and the lack of a cartouche surrounding the kings name. The impression was further hampered by the presence of the coffin buried or rather dumped within a hole in a pile of rubbish.

Egypt celebrates golden jubilee of Abu Simbel temple salvage operation

On Monday 22 February, tourists and top officials from the Aswan governorate, the antiquities and tourism ministries, as well as Egyptian and foreign journalists, photographers and TV presenters, will flock to Abu Simbel temple that overlooks Lake Nasser.

Before sunrise they will admire the equinox when a stream of light gradually sneaks through the temple's sanctuary and illuminates the faces of King Ramses II and the gods Re and Amuns’ statues. However, the statue of the god of darkness Ptah will remain in the shade because of its connection to the underworld.

Did a collection of 157 ancient Egyptian artefacts disappear from Saqqara archaeological gallery? If so, who is responsible?

A report sent to Egypt's prosecutor general accusing the minister of antiquities and the director of Saqqara archaeological galleries of responsibility for the disappearance of 157 ancient Egyptian artefacts from Saqqara archaeological storage facilities has caught today's headline.

The World’s Oldest Dress

A 5,000-year-old Egyptian garment provides a glimpse into the fashions of yester-yester-yesteryear.

There’s vintage, and then there’s vintage.

New tests show that a linen dress found in an Egyptian tomb dates back more than 5,000 years, making it the oldest woven garment yet found. Beautifully stitched and pleated, it signals the complexity and wealth of the ancient society that produced it.

Last week I shared an article on the reconstruction of Queen Hetephreses throne by Harvard researchers. Now there is a video.

Friday, February 19, 2016

At the end, I go back to the beginning. . . .

A couple of years ago, I bought these two drawings by Kris Waldherr Arts and Words, for my website. I specifically wanted them for the Queen of Heka page, because they captured the spirit of my novel and its main character, Iset, better known as the goddess Isis.

Just this month, I sent the final 80 pages to my editor/writing coach, Jason Sitzes, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course, relief doesn't last. It never does. I immediately started thinking about cleaning up the whole manuscript in preparation for sending it to beta readers and looking for an agent.

That task inevitably led me back to the beginning of the novel. Thank the gods (specifically, thank Isis), I still like the beginning, which goes like this
When you possess the one true, secret name of a god, they say you can do anything, even bring a man back from the dead. Twice.   
Now, consider this. You know me as Isis, and I made myself the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names. None of them my one, true name. But in the beginning, I was just a girl, and my mother named me Iset. I loved Asar, and he called me his darling girl. 
Many thanks to Jason, who kept me on task and demanded I make the novel live up to its opening lines. (And I tried, I really tried!)

I'd be remiss, however, if I failed to recognize the Virginia Beach Breakout Novel Intensive (affectionately known as BONI) where I met Jason and my writing comrade-in-arms, Ellan Otero, and where Lorin Oberweger and Donald Maass dragged the opening lines out of about 200 rather dull and uninspired words.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Mummy Time

Who’s coming to a mummy ‘re-rolling’?
Posted on 04/02/2016 by The Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank
Mummy unwrapping ‘spectacles’ were a popular pastime in the nineteenth century with mummies brought back from Egypt as souvenirs by travellers providing the majority of the candidates. These events were as much a spectacle, a Victorian socialite pastime, but as time wore on, the studies became increasingly linked to the people behind the mummies and the science behind the embalming process.

A throne fit for an Egyptian queen — recreated at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE — Tunneling deep below ground, archaeologists with a joint Harvard University/Museum of Fine Arts excavation team knew they were onto something big. It was 1925, and after weeks of clearing a burial shaft at Giza, Egypt, they had an unprecedented find: the undisturbed tomb of Queen Hetepheres, an Egyptian royal who lived some 4,500 years ago.

“They get to this little unfinished room, and except for this alabaster sarcophagus it’s just a big pile of stuff,” said Peter Der Manuelian, director of the Harvard Semitic Museum. “All the wood is gone, flooded, eaten by insects, gold is collapsed, hieroglyphs have fallen, furniture has come down, ceramics are broken.”

Now researchers at Harvard have used advanced computer modeling software to re-create a key discovery from that tomb, which they say is the most luxurious known piece of royal furniture from Egypt’s Old Kingdom: Hetepheres’s throne. It goes on public display at the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge on

Egypt to protect Abydos Temple from groundwater

The Antiquities Ministry of Egypt is aiming to protect the Abydos Temple from collapse due to rising groundwater.
In coordination with the American Research Center in Egypt, the ministry will attempt to save the temple, which is located in Sohag, Upper Egypt.

Describing Egypt

Magnificent virtual tours from  with a nod and a wink to the old Description de l'Égypte  describe Egypt one location at a time.  This time it's done through Egyptian Eyes, sharing the magnificence of ancient Egypt heritage with through the latest available technology, we chose 360º VR immersive experience to bring it right to your screen.

But we don't want to only show you pretty pictures, we want to tell you the stories from these locations, stories of their owners and their life and death, follow the progression of art, culture and architecture across Egypt's long, rich and diverse history.

There's a great set of advisors and collaborators: Dr. Thierry Benderitter of, the good poeple of The Theban Mapping Project , Hani D. Elmasri of Disney imagineering and Prof. Dr. Abdel Ghaffar Shedid Founder and head of the Art History Department, Faculty of Fine Arts.

How ancient Egypt shaped our idea of beauty

Pop culture is steeped in images of smoky-eyed pharaohs and their queens. Were the ancient Egyptians insufferably vain – or are we simply projecting our own values onto them? Alastair Sooke investigates.

Queen Meresankh guides you around the preparation of her tomb (Video)

Tomb of Queen Meresankh III (3D tour)
Tomb of Queen Meresankh III (3D tour)
Posted by Egyptology Temple on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Get your Noir on for Gamut

  1. 1.
    the complete range or scope of something.
  2. 2.
    online magazine, primarily of fiction, focusing on neo-noir, speculative stories with a literary bent.
  3. 3.
    a kickstart project to help fund the magazine costs.

Richard Thomas, editor and genius behind Gamut, says the magazine will publish original and reprint fiction, poetry, columns and embrace every corner of dark fiction—fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, mysteries, neo-noir, magical realism, transgressive, weird, Southern Gothic—you name it. The key difference is that Gamut isn't  doing anything “classic”; it must embrace the idea of neo-noir (which means “new-black”), at the intersection between genre and literary fiction.

The Kickstarter began on 2/1/16 with a goal a base goal of $52,00 and graduated stretch goals of up to $82,660 . If you want to know what that money's going for, check out the Kickstarter site.  If the project meets its fundraising goals, Gamut will launch on 1/1/17.

With a bargain basement $30+ pledge, you receive a full online membership for one year, which includes new fiction, reprints, columns, non-fiction, poetry, serials, art, and much more . This rate will never be offered again. Your subscription will also remain at this rate as long as you renew. Indefinitely.The regular rate will be $60 a year ($5 a month). So, really, get on over to the Kickstarter site and make your pledge. And if you're feeling flush, there are different levels of memberships with other gifts. Just like PBS and NPR, except darker.

Just so you know Richard Thomas is a man who knows his darkness. He's the author of
Three novels: Disintegration, Breaker, and Transubstantiate
Three short story collections: Tribulations (Crystal Lake), Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), and Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press)
One novella: The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books).
He's published over 100 stories and received 5 Pushcart Prize nominations. He is also the editor of several anthologies: Exigencies and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press), and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award).

In his spare time he's a columnist at LitReactor,  Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press, and teaches at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania (of course).

By the way, you can follow the Gamut Kickstart on Facebook.

If you're still not convinced you should support Gamut, check out this home video by Richard and his daughter.

So go on and pledge, you know you want to.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week - Aphrodisiacs, Tattoos, and Toothpaste

Guidebook to the Ancient Egyptian afterlife
In ancient Egypt, the end of life marked the start of a challenging journey – one that could be smoothed using the spells compiled in a Book of the Dead. Rob Attar explores how these books were used to ensure a speedy and successful path through the next world.

This article was first published in the December 2010 issue of BBC History Magazine.

An Ancient Egyptian Aphrodisiac

The small fragile faience ornaments that were collected during the first years the Met excavated at Malqata have always been favorites of mine.   These colorful images of floral elements were probably used to decorate different things, including broad collars. This season one of the images for these pendants, fruit of the mandrake (Mandragora sp.), has appeared on several objects.


A souvenir of a trip to Egypt, a tribute to TV serie Stargate or a genuine fascination for this incredibly wealthy culture, there are so many reasons to get Egyptian Mythology tattoos… Needing inspiration? Check this selection.

Try the Oldest Known Recipe For Toothpaste: From Ancient Egypt, Circa the 4th Century BC
We might imagine the ancient Greeks or Egyptians as prone to rampant tooth decay, lacking the benefits of packaged, branded toothpaste, silken ribbons of floss, astringent mouthwash, and ergonomic toothbrushes. But in fact, as toothpaste manufacturer Colgate points out, “the basic fundamentals” of toothbrush design “have not changed since the times of the Egyptians and Babylonians—a handle to grip, and a bristle-like feature with which to clean the teeth.” And not only did ancient people use toothbrushes, but it is believed that “Egyptians… started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC,” even before toothbrushes were invented.

Gods of Egypt Superbowl Spot

Did ancient Egypt suffer from climate change?

(CNN)New details have emerged of a previously unknown queen of ancient Egypt -- and if the professor behind the find is correct, it could be bad news for the rest of us.

 Czech archaeologists unearth 4500 years boat in Abusir

Dr. Mamdouh El Damaty, Minister of Antiquities, announced the discovery of a large wooden boat discovered to the south of Mastaba AS54 in Abusir by the mission of Czech Institute of Egyptology. The minister said "The discovery is important as this is the only boat of the Old Kingsom to be discovered next to non-Royal tomb which emphasize the status and rank of the Mastaba owner and his relation to the King at that time even though his name still unknown so far as the offering chapel which supposed to have his name and titles is in a bad condition. For more stories:

Egypt restores its first pyramid Saqqara

Egypt continues restoration of The Pyramid of Djoser, which is the world's oldest pyramid. Built during the 27th century BC, Djoser's pyramid is 100 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Bolton Museum's Egyptian collection
Artefacts from Bolton’s collection appear alongside those from six other museums in London’s Two Temple Place’s Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt. Many of the artefacts on display came from the same archaeological excavations and featured alongside are the fascinating stories of how they came to be the UK. More than 100 treasures from Bolton's collection – including coffins and containers – are on show.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Game of Thrones and Coffins: The Death and Resurrection of Osiris (Videos)

A public lecture by Robert Ritner, professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute in Breasted Hall. Dr. Ritner is a world-renowned expert on Egyptian religion and mythology, and his lecture focused on the enduring power and appeal of this god of the Egyptian pantheon.

This lecture was before the preview of the ballet Isis and Osiris, commissioned by the Illinois Arts Council. I wanted so badly to attend both, but I was in Canada at the time. So finding it on youtube was a gift.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ancient Egypt in the movies, schools and your living room

Tom Cruise is going to be heading for ancient Egypt in The Mummy reboot

Tom Cruise has been confirmed to star in the upcoming reboot of The Mummy.

And not only that, the film has now been given an official release date – June 9, 2017.

Gods of Egypt Rolls In IMAX® 3D Theatres February 26

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) announced that the film Gods of Egypt, which rolls out worldwide on February 26, will be released limited domestically in IMAX® 3D theatres, as well as select international territories.

In case you haven't seen Inonibird's hilarious Stick Gods pre-review, here it is:

Real History at the Downton Abbey Set Goes Back to Ancient Egypt

What’s the biggest conception about Downton Abbey location Highclere Castle among viewers of the show? According to the current Countess of Carnarvon, many viewers don’t understand how much real history there is in the house.

“We have been open since 1988, when the queues were at first as long as in this Downton time, because my father-in-law and Robert the butler had discovered various Egyptian treasures hidden away,” she noted in an email to LIFE Books.

For information about the Egyptian Exhibition at Highclere Caste, click here.

P is for pyramids

Students from Surrey Christian Elementary have spent the last few months learning about ancient Egypt as part of the Grade 7 curriculum geared towards understanding ancient civilizations.
During the initial classroom discussions, a couple of the students expressed interest in publishing a book and wondered if it could be incorporated in their classroom study. That’s where the idea for the Ancient Egypt Alphabet Book was born.

Earliest case of scurvy found in an ancient Egyptian child.

Signs of the disease have been spotted in the bones of a baby who died 6,000 years ago Archaeologists claim to have found the earliest known case of scurvy. Bones of one-year-old who lived 3800-3600BC showed signs of the disease. The child's death occurred at a time when agriculture was growing in the area
It suggests despite growing food resources, diets for peasants were poor.

People named Isis share tales of ignorance

The television was on in the background, broadcasting Sarah Palin endorsing presidential candidate Donald Trump as the leader needed to "kick ISIS' " butt.

Isis Carswell Jackson turned around instinctively, before the 39-year-old Chicagoland native could process that the threat, of course, wasn't directed at her.

"I looked up, 'cause it's your name," she said.

Jail time for breaking King Tut's beard

Eight Egyptians involved in a botched repair of the famed golden burial mask of King Tut, which was corrected late last year, have been referred to trial for "gross negligence."

Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt looks beyond the Pharaohs and shines a light on ordinary citizens

The guilded young man gazing out with huge eyes from the Egyptian mummy mask has all the trappings of a youthful pharaoh, with strong facial features beneath a headdress that sweeps behind large ears, his eyes outlined in black as deep as the black of his pupils, while brightly painted deities and mourners observe their rituals.

You can read another review of this exhibit here.

Secrets of the Pyramids: Is Another Egyptian Revival on the Horizon?

Coffins, mummies, pyramids and ancient tombs – words that seem more at home in a film script have been recently seen flooding headlines. Archeologists and Egyptologists seem on the brink of a major discovery that would rock both the academic world and popular culture. With stories about cosmic particles and secret chambers in the Great Pyramids to the burial site of one particularly famous ancient Egyptian, Queen Nefertiti, eyes are looking to Egypt for the next big revelation about this fascinating, though mysterious, ancient culture.

In the art and antiques world, these revelations are particularly exciting. If history has taught us anything, it is that the great enigma of ancient Egypt fascinates Western culture, and that new discoveries will reverberate not only through academia, but pop culture, fashion and design as well.

View Annie the mummy in Franklin Institute's 'Lost Egypt' exhibit

Franklin Institute opened the new exhibit "Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science" on Saturday, Jan. 30. The interactive display brings a human element to a culture thousands of years old by giving Annie the mummy a spotlight. The Egyptian mummy, on loan from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, becomes a real person for viewers and not just a relic of 200 B.C.

Life in Ancient Egypt: what was it like?
(Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Egypt’s pharaohs have left an impressive legacy of stone architecture, monumental inscriptions and religious art, allowing us to reconstruct their achievements with a fair degree of certainty. But what was daily life like for the ordinary Egyptian? Here, Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley shares 10 lesser-known fact.