Friday, September 30, 2016

Video Friday: The Sphinx

The Oldest Film Footage of the Sphinx of Giza (1897)

10 rare images of the Great Sphinx

The digital restoration of the Sphinx 

The Sphinx is believed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre from the 4th dynasty.

The Pink Panther and the Sphinx

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Colors of Egypt

Ancient Egypt: An Artist's Coloring Book 

I just added to my Egyptian coloring books with this offering by Dominique Navarro and the American University of Cairo Press

Embark on a colorful journey to reveal a hidden Egypt! Explore Egyptian gods, animals, hieroglyphs, designs, and more as you color the elaborate artwork, revealing vibrant details while learning unusual Egyptology facts and coloring tips along the way.

Learn about ancient Egypt color theory, including the history of primary colors in the Egyptian palette, their meaning and symbolism, to inspire your own artistic coloring choices. Use your imagination to color, or follow the suggestions accompanying each art panel, including techniques for adding texture, shading, and depth to your artwork.

The Osiris Fish

It was the first thing I saw when I opened my Ancient Egypt: An Artist's Coloring Book. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen anything like it before. So, I had to look it up to see for myself.

Was This Masterpiece Painted With Ground Mummy?

For centuries, European artists adorned their canvases with pigment made from the pulverized remains of ancient Egyptians.

From at least the 16th century until as late as the early 1900s, a pigment made from mummified human remains appeared on the palettes of European artists, including Delacroix. Painters prized "mummy brown" for its rich, transparent shade. As a result, an unknown number of ancient Egyptians are spending their afterlife on art canvases, unwittingly admired in museum galleries around the world.

The Nefertiti affair: the history of a repatriation debate

Anglo-French rivalry, a touch of Germanophobia, two world wars and a flawless artefact. This is the background of what became known as the Nefertiti Affair.

Even if you have never set foot in Egypt or you’re not sure why Nefertiti’s name rings a bell, you’ve probably seen her face somewhere. With the golden mask of Tutankhamun, the bust of Queen Nefertiti, now displayed in the Neues Museum in Berlin, is one of the best known pieces of Egyptian art.

Dying in ancient Egypt
Photo Credit: Chris Stacey

As silent witnesses to the past, ancient Egyptian mummies can add to our knowledge of their society well beyond what we can learn from the study of texts, art and funerary rituals.
In a study led by Macquarie University, researchers have successfully identified proteins present in skin samples from 4200-year-old mummies with evidence of inflammation and activation of the immune system, as well as possible indications of cancer.

For a slightly less technical version, read this one.

NASA Satellites Orbiting 400 Miles Above Earth Reveal Ancient Buried Egyptian Pyramids

By examining infrared images taken by NASA satellites orbiting 400 miles above the Earth, space archaeologists have identified 17 pyramids buried deep under the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis, Egypt. Tanis, abandoned centuries ago, is famous as the fictional home of the Lost Ark from the Indiana Jones movies. Satellite images also showed other lost structures, upwards of 3,000 settlements, and 1,000 lost tombs, buried for thousands of years.

Many aspects of pyramid construction still a mystery
Photograph courtesy of the Field Museum. The limestone block tomb of Unis-ankh, son of an Egyptian pharaoh, dates to 2400 B.C. and is part of the "Inside Ancient Egypt" exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum. Directions etched on his father's pyramid describe methods for transitioning from life into the afterlife.

The world's oldest inscribed papyrus journal was found just a few years ago in storage vaults at the world's oldest harbor. Discovered on Egypt's east coast near the Red Sea, the harbor was a stop for sailors whose ships transported copper and turquoise from nearby mines, and limestone tagged for the largest of Giza's pyramids -- the burial monument for the Pharaoh Khufu (also known by the Greek name Cheops).

The journal, written by inspector Merer, includes twice-a-day entries documenting activities by his staff of 200, dating back some 4,000 years ago

The Trial of a Mummy

This film has been created by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and brought to the viewer by the fine people at It is an account of an 18th Dynasty court musician named Khonso-Imhep and his journey into the afterlife. Enjoy!

Ancient Egyptians Collected Fossils

Ancient Egyptian worshipers of Set, god of darkness and chaos, collected fossils of extinct beasts by the thousands. From 1300 and 1200 BC, nearly three tons of heavy, black fossils, polished by river sands, were brought to Set shrines on the Nile. Many of the bones were wrapped in linen and placed in rock‑cut tombs.

What it’s like to be called Isis: ‘People ask, where’s your machine gun?’
Photograph: Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Women named after the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility describe the pain of dealing with constant ‘jokes’ about terrorism.

Before there was Isis, the extremist militant group responsible for the most brutal terrorist attacks and killings of recent years, there was Isis: an 11-year-old girl in Kent whose mother named her after the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, magic and motherhood. “I was really proud of it,” Isis Hales says. And now? “I just …” she trails off and her mother, Lucy, steps in. “You wanted to change your name, didn’t you?” “Yeah,” Isis replies quietly. “That was about four months ago.”

Tutankhamun Coming Soon to ITV

Photo of the week: Humor

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Stories of Egypt

The Story of Egypt

Joann Fletcher’s story of Egypt is a personal one. And she is a good storyteller. She writes expressively, making you hear the primordial Nile waters flooding and the evening fires in the desert crackling. Her story is inevitably a history of ancient Egypt, divided in the all too well-known kingdoms and dynasties, substituted by alliterative chapter names like ‘The Rule of Ra’ and ‘Zenith of the Sun’. It is prefaced by Egypt’s mythical beginnings, and traced to its actual source when the Sahara was still a savanna, 55,000 years ago. Amazon link to The Story of Egypt.

Cartouche of Akhenaten

In this photo we find an image of the coffin found in Valley of the Kings tomb KV55. Inside was believed to be the mummy of the heretic King Akhenaten. The tomb, like the king it contained, is controversial and only made worse by its poor excavation by men who were capable of doing a much more professional job. Add to the mess no photographs appeared to have been taken during the taking apart of the mummy found in this most outstanding royal coffin that had been found up to that time.

Games from ancient Egypt

Amira El-Noshokaty investigates the children’s games today’s Egyptians have inherited from their ancestors.

It is sometimes said that if you really want to know about a nation, look at the attention it pays to its children.

As people flock to see the relics of ancient Egyptian civilisation at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo they could do worse than look carefully at the children’s toys and board games amid all the grand statues and other objects.

Who are the Sea Peoples?

The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. It remains an archaeological mystery that is the subject of much debate even today, more than 150 years after the discussions first began. But it’s a fascinating story with lots of twists and turns, right up to the present day.

It begins with the early French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, who suggested in the 1860s and 1870s that a group of marauding invaders whom he called the Sea Peoples were responsible for bringing the Late Bronze Age to an end shortly after 1200 BCE. He based this on a number of Egyptian inscriptions, especially those on the walls of Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramses III, which is near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

World Museum Ancient Egypt collection

World Museum has over 16,000 objects from ancient Egypt and Nubia, making it one of the largest collections in Great Britain. The objects come from a timespan of over 5000 years that comprehensively represent the evolving cultures of the Nile Valley, from the prehistory to the Byzantine Period.

The museum not only has a superb variety of popular objects, such as mummies, coffins, sculpture and jewellery, but also objects of great historical importance such as a distinctive group of papyrus from the 11th century BC that contain the only written evidence of tomb robbery in the Valley of the Kings (KV9  - the tomb of Rameses VI).

Karnak in high res

Check out this amazing giant image of Karnak Temple. Click the title link  and then click on the large image to open up the SUPER hi-res version.

Now you know why your feet hurt after exploring there all day!

Thank you to Dave Robbins for sharing this beauty! Photo: Ahmed Bahloul Khier Galal

IDOLIZED (video about Ptah)

by Diana Craig Patch at  the Metropolitan Museum New York

Image of the God Ptah, "Third Intermediate Period–early Dynasty 26, ca. 945–600 B.C. " Egypt

Shout Out: Kathryn Bard, archaeologist and Park Ridge native

The Park Ridge Public Library's copy of "An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt" includes a handwritten dedication from its author, Kathryn Bard.

"To the Park Ridge Public Library — where I first read about ancient Egypt (1958)," Bard wrote on the title page.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Video Friday: Pyramids

The Giza pyramid complex (Arabic: أهرامات الجيزة‎‎) is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt.The plateau includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers' village and an industrial complex. The pyramids, which have historically loomed large as emblems of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination,were popularized in Hellenistic times, when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.

The Giza Pyramids are not the only pyramids in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids.

Now, let's watch some videos!

The Pyramids Animated short

Seven ways you're wrong about the Pyramids

Bert and Ernie in a Pyramid

How did they build that?

Emma-Louise Osborne, a 26-year-old recent animation graduate from Southampton, discusses what inspired her tongue-in-cheek final project and what her future plans are in The Ancient Egyptians: how did they build that?.

How the Pyramids were really built

Giza Pyramids 1920

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: Books, demons & gifts for the gods

Gifts for the Gods

A fascinating, myth-busting new exhibition looking at ancient Egyptian animal mummies, prepared in their millions as votive offerings to the gods, is set to open at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.  Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed will feature over 60 animal mummies and run from Saturday 14 May until Sunday 4 September 2016.

Since we've obviously missed the exhibit, there are a series of videos about it on youtube. Start with this one:

Online database of Ancient Egyptian demons

A database of Ancient Egyptian demons — featuring dog-headed humans, walking suns and strange hippo-lion combinations — has been created to help experts work out what they are.

Launched at the British Science Festival in Swansea, the online catalogue allows people to look at line drawings of the creatures, which are thought to have been used to protect people from nightmares and diseases.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Demons from the GroovyHistorian

The gods and demons of ancient Egypt are varied but central throughout ancient Egyptian history and mythology because they were the way for people to understand the balance of good and evil. In many different civilizations there are good and bad Scenarios, the reason why I wanted to write about ancient Egypt here is because they are ever so unique in how they are seen? The good and the bad.

Ancient Egypt in Fiction

I'm always looking for a good read about Ancient Egypt, but sometimes you must go looking for it. The American Research Center offers the Modern Fiction about Ancient Egypt list. My website has a Books I Love list that has a few more selections. Goodreads has Best Egyptian Historical Fiction. The Historical Novel Society has their own list called Ancient Egyp, and there's a Barnes and Noble list, too.

If you're looking for a fun read that's not exactly Ancient Egypt, let me suggest The Chaos of Stars, which I reviewed as YA romantic suspense via Neil Gaiman's American Gods (with Isis and Osiris content). Here's from the synopsis:
Isadora's family is seriously screwed up—which comes with the territory when you're the human daughter of the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. Isadora is tired of her immortal relatives and their ancient mythological drama, so when she gets the chance to move to California with her brother, she jumps on it. But her new life comes with plenty of its own dramatic—and dangerous—complications . . . and Isadora quickly learns there's no such thing as a clean break from family.
New Book Examines the Ancient Egyptian Economy

Brian Muhs, Associate Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, has published a new book on The Ancient Egyptian Economy 3000-30 BC  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).  This book is the first economic history of ancient Egypt covering the entire pharaonic period, 3000–30 BCE, and employing a New Institutional Economics approach.

Egypt Hires Private Companies to Manage Pyramids Complex

Egypt’s government is set to hire a number of private companies to manage the Pyramids complex in Giza, reported MENA.

The companies will be in charge of cleaning and securing the complex that houses the world’s only remaining Ancient World Wonder, the Sphinx, and other ancient Egyptian sites.

Egyptian statuette recovered from Mexico is authentic

After a week of studies and analysis, the Ministry of Antiquities has confirmed the authenticity of an Ancient Egyptian Ushabti figurine newly recovered from Mexico.

Shabab Abdel-Gawad, the head of the Antiquities Repatriation Department, told Ahram Online that the statuette was found one month ago by Mexican citizen at his newly purchased house. The citizen handed over the statuette to the Egyptian embassy in Mexico.

Ancient Egyptian Numbering System

Outer coffin of Khonsu

This is the outer coffin of Khonsu, son of Sennedjem, found in Tomb no. 1 at Deir El Medina in 1885. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Model built by Anthony Barbieri-Low, based on photos from Michael Chen and Kara Cooney.

Friday, September 9, 2016

August Reads

Talking with a friend about Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Flannery O'Conner, I wondered who succeeded them. Who are the Contemporary Southern Writers? One Google search later, I found Pat Conroy's Favorite Books in which the bestselling author picks his favorite contemporary Southern novelists. Two of this month's reads, Peachtree Road and My Brother Michael, came from that list.

Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons

Synopsis: Headstrong, exuberant, and independent, Lucy Bondurant is a devastating beauty who will never become the demure Southern lady her mother and society demand. Sheppard Gibbs Bondurant III, Lucy's older cousin, is too shy and bookish to become the classically suave and gregarious Southern gentleman his family expects. Growing up together in a sprawling home on Atlanta's Peachtree Road, these two will be united by fierce love and hate, and by rebellion against the narrow aristocratic society into which they were born. Anne Rivers Siddons's classic novel vividly brings to life their mesmerizing, unforgettable story—set against the dramatic changing landscape of Atlanta, a sleepy city destined for greatness.

My take:  Shades of Faulkner and The Sound and the Fury. Another doomed  Southern Girl and an way too sensitive Southern Gentleman on the road ruin. I almost expected  the narrator, Shep (Gibby) to exclaim "Lucy smells like trees!" There was also a strong whiff of Oedipus and the dithering Hamlet, and Lucy and Gibby's mothers wore Eau du Lady MacBeth perfume.

Several reviews and even the synopsis mentions how the novel evokes Atlanta between Gone with the Wind, Camelot, and the near present. No. Evoking is what Stephen King did in 11/22/63 when he breathed life in the late 50's and early 60's in Texas. In that novel, you heard the music, felt the heat, and sensed the storm in the air. Siddons gave us lists of things that are typical of the time, but evocative? Not so much. The essence of  the Civil Rights movement became little more than a list of its heroes' names and a litany of jazz musicians. The street names were a highlight of the book; after I reading it, I could draw a map of the Buckhead neighborhood and give you a pretty dry lecture on its architecture.

Peachtree Road is long. (816 pages for the paperback according to Amazon.) I've gladly read books that long and wished them longer still, but this book is long because it's repetitive. Lucy shimmers and burns from page one and on pretty much every page thereafter. Shep/Gibby diddles and throws up and obsesses. All young men are princes  - every time they're mentioned. If Siddon cut the descriptions of Lucy's "nimbus" of hair by half, she could reduce the page count by 50. Ditto the innumerable mentions of the exact shade of blue of her eyes and her coltish (or tree-like) body. Shep/Gibby's long orations about Lucy's fascination aresomewhat less than fascinating. In fact, Lucy is a cardboard figure. As is Shep and nearly every other character.

In spite of all that, Siddons pulls you into the novel, dragging you slowly, inexorably to the end and the doom that you knew awaited from the first sentence. I think the many reviews who scorn the book by saying that Gibby and Lucy are spoiled brats (or worse) missed the point. This novel is not about Lucy, Shep, or any character. It is a novel about the end of a culture. Just as Gone with the Wind  chronicled the end of the ante-bellum south, Peachtree Road sounds the death knell for the new, aristorcratic South that rose in its place. This novel becomes the birth announcement for the South that shed its name and became that car-choked, high-rise metropolis called The Sunbelt.

My Brother Michael by Janis Owens

Synopsis: Winner of the Chatauqua South Award for Fiction

Out of the shotgun houses and deep, shaded porches of a west Florida mill town comes this extraordinary novel of love and redemption as told by Gabriel Catts. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Gabe attempts to reconcile a family shattered by his betrayal of his older brother, Michael. As Gabe contends with a host of personal demons, he recounts his lifelong love for his brother’s wife, Myra, whose own demons threaten to overwhelm all three of them. Circumstance and passion push them beyond the moral boundaries of their close-knit community in this intimate view of a Southern family.

My take:  Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that Southern writers must begin their novel with a death? (Looking at you, William Faulkner.)

This is a gritty novel of love, violence, and sibling rivalry in near present Florida. The novel explores not only romantic love (although there is that, and it's more obsession), but love of place, love of family, and love of history. It also is charts the dangerous journey of people who sometimes hates all of those things and find redemption. You might not like Gabriel Catts or Myra, plenty of reviewers didn't. I bet, however, their flaws and their stunning humanity will fascinate, and their journey is one you'll be glad you took.

This novel deals with all the big themes (life, death, sanity, religion, incest, class, and race) with a deft precision that belies the somewhat folky voice of some of the characters. I am definitely inclined to read more by this author.

If you want to read one contemporary Southern novel, I can't recommend a better one.

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin

Synopsis: From New Yorker staff writer and bestselling author of The Nine and The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson, the definitive account of the kidnapping and trial that defined an insane era in American history

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”

My take:  The Patty Hearst kidnapping and its aftermath occurred while I was in college. It left me conflicted. I halfway wanted her to be an innocent kidnapping victim; as someone who at least flirted with radicalism, I also wanted her to be a bad ass revolutionary. If Jeffrey Toobin is right, both wishes came true.

Toobin's book is a logical,  utilitarian retelling of Patty's story. It draws on crime scene documents, court records, journals, friends, and other accounts. It is a story of its time, which was a very strange time indeed. It's a story of class and extraordinary privilege. (The law came down much harder on Patty's SLA colleagues than on her for similar or lesser crimes.) It's a story of the women's movement. It's last, but not least, a story of a radical movement that was both scary and silly. Who remembers the SLA motto? Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.  At the time, I thought it terribly relevant and insightful. Upon coming across it in this book, I found myself giggling.

What did I end up thinking about Patty Hearst, that innocent, bad ass revolutionary? She might have been the ultimate pragmatist, an foreign idea to me when I was in college. She was a survivor. Maybe, she was the first twenty-first century American, adept at looking out for Number One. Toobin says she became her mother, surely not someone she wanted to be. I believe many women my age might understand that concept pretty well.

There's not much reason to read this book unless you have an abiding interest in the Patty Hearst case. There are no great insights into human nature à la  In Cold Blood. Not a lot of new evidence. Toobin takes what you probably already know and presents it coherently and logically, but never excitingly.

For another perspective, read Patty Hearst’s America: What “American Heiress” gets wrong (and right) about an insane time and place.

We Could Be Beautiful: A Novel by Swan Huntley

Synopsis: A spellbinding psychological debut novel, Swan Huntley's We Could Be Beautiful is the story of a wealthy woman who has everything—and yet can trust no one.

Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she'll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine's parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer's), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth's old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: "We cannot trust anyone . . . " Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.

My take:  Let me say right up front, I'm a little confused about the "psychological" part of the description. I mean, yes, we do get into the "mind" of Catherine, but I'd be hard pressed to think of a novel that doesn't do that. When novels bear the psychological tag, I tend to think of serial killers and other creepy people. The focus on name brands, labels, and cool places in Manhattan was a little reminiscent of American Pscho's obsession with the same, although Catherine is no Patrick Bateman. Nor is her too-perfect potential husband William. Yes, he does stalk her, but it feels more like corporate espionage rather than Fatal Attraction. If anything, the characters are like the rich people in The Great Gatsby:
They were careless people. . . they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
Still, it was a fun, summer read, and the character arc was well played.

Outlander by Diana Gabalon

Synopsis: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My take:  Unless you live in a bubble, you know about Outlander, the mini-series on the Starz network. I'm a fan. A big fan. A friend of mine get together to watch the latest Outlander episode, drink wine, eat chocolate, pant over Sam Heughan, and, yes, sing along with the theme song.

We're fans, OK?

Years ago, I started the book and didn't finish it. That sometimes happens. You're just not in the mood to read a particular book at a particular time, but a few months or years later you pick it up and devour it. So, given my fan-girl behavior with the series, I gave Outlander the Book another try.

Far be it from me to fly in the face of 21,000+ Amazon reviewers who gave it enough rave reviews that it has 4.5 out of 5 stars. BUT, I rather hoped the book would be deeper, more exciting than the mini-series, and it just wasn't. The series was more faithful to the book than I imagined it would be, but it certainly wasn't richer. Jamie Fraser on the page just doesn't have the appeal of Sam Heughan on the screen. Claire is surly, not spirited. Even Dougal, one of my favorite characters, is a bit ho-hum.

The fighting and the sex scenes go on forever (not something I usually mind). They are both best described as Tab A goes into Slot B. I didn't object to the whippings and beatings as many reviewers did (and which by and large didn't seem to make the leap from book to screen); I found them B-O-R-I-N-G. To be fair, Outlander was written over twenty years ago (1991), and it pretty much follows the conventions of time travel romance written at that time. It might even have been one of the first of the romance novels to feature explicit sex. I probably would have found it more fascinating in 1991, but I'm a different reader now.

So, since I don't seem to be missing a whole heck of a lot by watching the more enjoyable mini-series, I won't be reading any more of the books.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: By Bread Alone

Labor Day in Ancient Egypt
Labor Day is a holiday in the United States, and one most of us look forward to celebrating. (Who doesn't like a day off work?) This link is to a post I did last for Labor Day 2015; to be perfectly honest, not that much changed in ancient Egyptian labor practices since last year.

What was it like to be a working man or woman in ancient Egypt?

Not as bad as some might expect. Some workers enjoyed health insurance, free food and lodging, and 2 days off every 10 days. In case you're wondering, a week in Ancient Egypt was 10 days long.

That whole slaves building the pyramid, yeah that's just a story. No Pharaoh was going to entrust his House of a Million Years to disgruntled slave labor. Still, working in Ancient Egypt was no cruise up the Nile either.


Following an old recipe can be challenging. Following a recipe that is not written, but only depicted in pictograms and drawings, archeological examples, and assumptions is even more difficult. The job here is to not only follow the recipe, but also try to understand the culture and traditions where this bread came to be.

In this case, I’m trying to make bread as it was done in ancient Egypt. Bread is not only one of the oldest food staples in many cultures, but it is also a good marker of civilization.

Food: Bread, beer, and all good things

The staple food was bread and beer, supplemented by onions or other vegetables and dried fish.

They eat loaves of bread of coarse grain which they call cyllestis. They make their beverage from barley, for they have no vines in their country.They eat fish raw, sun-dried or preserved in salt brine.

Archaeologist Alain Zivie about the Tomb of Aper-el at Saqqara

French archaeologist Dr Alain Zivie shows some of the findings from the Tomb of the vizier Aper-el, which dates from the latter part of the 18th Dynasty, around 1353-1335 BC and are now stored at the Imhotep Museum at Saqqara.

Ancient Egyptian Farmhouse

Click on the arrow to rotate the farmhouse.

Ancient Egyptians used metal in wooden ships
 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)
Cairo (AFP) - A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Egypt's antiquities minister attended the  lifting of newfound beam of Khufu's second boat. It may be the oars holder of King Khufu's second solar boat. For a second article, click here.

Identity marks and their relation to writing in New Kingdom Egypt

Van der Moezel studied identity marks from the settlement at Deir el-Medina, on the west bank of the Nile. This is where some 40 to 120 workers and their families lived between 1550 and 1070 BC. These were the workers who built and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, where the legendary King Tutankhamen is buried, along with other pharaohs and elite.

Dr Robert Connolly and the Garstang Mummy

Dr Robert Connolly is an anatomist at the University of Liverpool who assisted with the anatomical work done on the mummy of Tutankhamun back in the 1960s as a grad student, and has carried out a significant amount of research on Egyptian mummies since then.

Does Chinese Civilization Come From Ancient Egypt?

On a cool Sunday evening in March, a geochemist named Sun Weidong gave a public lecture to an audience of laymen, students, and professors at the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, the capital city of the landlocked province of Anhui in eastern China. But the professor didn’t just talk about geochemistry. He also cited several ancient Chinese classics, at one point quoting historian Sima Qian’s description of the topography of the Xia empire — traditionally regarded as China’s founding dynasty, dating from 2070 to 1600 B.C. “Northwards the stream is divided and becomes the nine rivers,” wrote Sima Qian in his first century historiography, the Records of the Grand Historian. “Reunited, it forms the opposing river and flows into the sea.”

In other words, “the stream” in question wasn’t China’s famed Yellow River, which flows from west to east. “There is only one major river in the world which flows northwards. Which one is it?” the professor asked. “The Nile,” someone replied. Sun then showed a map of the famed Egyptian river and its delta — with nine of its distributaries flowing into the Mediterranean. This author, a researcher at the same institute, watched as audience members broke into smiles and murmurs, intrigued that these ancient Chinese texts seemed to better agree with the geography of Egypt than that of China.

Before Mrs. Simpson, there were pyramids . . .

In 1861 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert decided that their 20 year-old son, “Bertie” (Albert), Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, would benefit from a royal tour of the Middle East. As well as a history lesson, it would offer him the chance to meet many of the rulers in the region – essential training as heir to the throne.

The royal tour was accompanied by acclaimed photographer Francis Bedford, who photographed the touring party and the many sights they took in along the way. Thanks to this, we now have a series of incredible images of 19th century Egypt. When Bertie steamed into Cairo station on the train from Alexandria in March 1862, the first thing he did was jump onto a donkey and ride through the streets of the city!

At the time of Albert’s visit, excavations were still ongoing at Luxor Temple. Today, the colossal statues of Ramesses II standing at the first pylon are visible down to their feet.

[Photos: Royal Collection Trust]