Monday, January 29, 2018

Ancient Egypt January 29

The Top 10 Secrets of The Temple of Dendur at NYC’s Met Museum
Reconstruction of Temple of Dendur’s possible paint. Image via Met Museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its many secrets, houses a wonderful collection of works that date back to ancient times through the Renaissance. Most notably though, the museum is home to a bona fide Egyptian temple!

The Temple of Dendur, as it’s called, is completely open to the public, which means visitors can walk through its doors and hallways, experiencing the temple as it was originally used. Here are 10 of our favorite fun facts about the structure.

Opera Aida Is Coming To The Pyramids But It’ll Literally Cost You A Fortune

Opera Aida is set to be performed in Egypt alongside at Pyramids of Giza stage on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of March. The show is welcoming an audience of 1500 people; this will be the second time it’s played outside the Opera House, the first being played at the Karnak Temple in Luxor in 1987. The audience should expect an entirely different setting and design than any other!


"This comic is easily the best retelling of an ancient Egyptian story I've ever seen."

--T.G. Wilfong, Professor of Egyptology, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan
Drawing on one of the earliest literary travel accounts known to man, travel writer Rolf Potts and illustrator Cedar Van Tassel recreate the comic tale of Wenamun, an ancient Egyptian priest whose overseas voyage in search of Lebanese timber resulted in an ongoing series of fiascos.

Unearthing Hatshepsut, Egypt's Most Powerful Female Pharaoh
Lepsius 1843–45. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1929 

Before the British scholar Terence Gray adopted the name Wei Wu Wei and began his studies in Taoism, he was a budding Egyptologist with an iconoclastic streak. In 1920, seemingly tired of history as it had hitherto been written, he published a biographic study of the Egyptian queen and pharaoh Hatshepsut written not as a dry academic tract, but as a drama.

Nefertiti was no pharaoh, says renowned Egyptologist
The bust of Nefertiti from the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection, presently in the Neues Museum.

Contrary to popular opinion, one of the most famous women in ancient history did not rule Egypt, according to a new book.

Dr. Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist from The University of Manchester, says Queen Nefertiti was just one of a series of powerful queens who played an influential role in Egyptian history.

It was, argues Dr. Tyldesley, the beauty of her famous limestone and plaster sculpture—reportedly Hitler's favourite piece of ancient art—which propelled her into the public spotlight after it was put on public display in 1923.

Top Facts about King Ay
Ay receiving the Gold of Honor – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Several secrets around Ancient Egypt and its rulers have not yet been revealed; the magical Egyptian deserts still carry a lot underneath their sands.

Ministry of Antiquities announced that famous Egyptologist, author and former Minister of Antiquties Zahi Hawas will lead an archaeological mission to begin new excavation works at Valley of the Monkeys, located at Valley of the Kings, according to a statement released on the Ministry of Antiquities official Facebook page.

How climate change and population growth threaten Egypt’s ancient treasures
Roger Anis for UN Environment

In his 40-something years as an archaeological excavator on Luxor’s West Bank, Mustafa Al-Nubi has witnessed a flurry of changes.

Tourist numbers have surged, fallen, and then slowly grown again. Local villages have exploded in size. Even the landscape has undergone a radical transformation, as Egyptologists slowly pick their way through the vast Theban Necropolis. “It’s like one big museum now,” Nubi says. “My grandfather would not recognize his own house.”

Researchers use non-visible imaging approach to reveal climate change and population growth threaten Egypt’s ancient treasures

An international team lead by University College London (UCL) researchers has developed a non-destructive multimodal imaging technique that utilizes multispectral imaging and a range of other imaging methods to reveal text from ancient Egyptian mummy cases for research and analysis.

Hidden Ancient Egyptian Paintings Revealed Thanks To New Digital Imaging Tool

Scientists have used a new imaging technique to re-examine Egyptian art and find details that were previously missing.

Linda Evans and Anna-Latifa Mourad from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia describe in their paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science how they used a technique called DStretch to analyze the ancient paintings. These paintings were found at Beni Hassan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery that’s located near to the city of Minya in modern Egypt.

The Earliest Music in Ancient Egypt video

This video supplements Heidi Köpp-Junk's article, "The Earliest Music in Ancient Egypt," featured in The Ancient Near East Today. Visit to read the article.

Ancient Egyptian Humor Video

Horrible Histories - Egyptian Gods and The Devourer - YouTube from Ellen Warburton on Vimeo.

Pictures of the Week

Moving the statue of Ramses II to the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Ancient Egypt January 22

New move for Ramses
Statue of Ramses II uncovered in Memphis by Joseph Hekekyan, 1852-1854 (Photo: Jean Pascal Sebah)

The relocation of the colossal statue of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II from Ramses Square in downtown Cairo to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau received worldwide media coverage in 2006.

The red granite statue is to move again at the end of this month, when it starts its last journey to the permanent display area on the Grand Staircase at the entrance to the GEM. The move will be carried out by the Arab Contractors Company that was responsible for the previous move in 2006.

Egypt From Above Like You’ve Never Seen Before

One way of enjoying Egypt’s heritage and ancient history is to visit tourist attractions, national museums and local cities. But there is always another way of looking at things, that’s why Egyptian Streets brings you a set of photos revealing Egypt’s most fascinating landscapes from an eagle eye perspective.

Restoring Isis Temple

At the border where lush farmland meets arid desert on Luxor’s West Bank is the Early Roman Isis Temple at Deir el-Shelwit. Constructed in the first century, the temple is a fascinating fusion of cultures, a Roman temple dedicated to the cult of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, who was worshipped for her ability to heal. Unassuming and unfinished, the small square temple contains four chapels, a central chamber (Naos), an antechamber (Pronaos) and a short staircase leading to a rooftop terrace.

DNA confirms the Two Brothers’ relationship

Using ‘next generation’ DNA sequencing, scientists at the University of Manchester have confirmed a long-held supposition that the famous ‘Two Brothers’ of the Manchester Museum have a shared mother but different fathers – so are, in fact, half-brothers. This is the first in a series of blog posts presenting the DNA results, and discussing the interpretation and display of the Brothers in Manchester.  For more info: DNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were related

Archaeologists Begin Search for Tomb of King Tut's Wife
Credit: Magica/Alamy

Excavations have begun in an area of the Valley of the Kings where the tomb of Tutankhamun's wife may be located, archaeologist Zahi Hawass announced today (Jan. 16).

Archaeologists are digging in a spot called the West Valley, or the Valley of the Monkeys, near the tomb of the pharaoh Ay (reign: 1327 to 1323 B.C.), the successor to King Tut (reign: 1336 to 1327 B.C.). Though a few royal tombs have been found in the West Valley, the bulk of them have turned up in the East Valley of the Valley of the Kings.

See also Valley of the Monkeys Excavations

Historical door at Giza Pyramids stolen

A theft was carried out at the Giza Pyramids’ cemetery of builders, which was opened for visitors in November for the first time since its discovery in 1990 by Egyptian archaeologist and former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass.

How well does Assassin's Creed Origins capture history? We asked an Egyptologist

Egyptologist Jose Manuel Galan fell in love with the Ancient Egyptians by reading the fiction they wrote. Originally written on papyrus 4,000 years ago and translated into English for modern eyes, these stories of ancient deities awoke something inside the professor, leading him down a lifetime of study of the ancient civilisation, - particularly their daily lives, and the events we can piece together from the traces they left behind.

Egypt’s Great Pyramid houses a secret throne
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

A REAL-life "Iron Throne" carved from the core of a meteorite could be hidden inside the Great Pyramid, an expert claims.

Professor Giulio Magli of Milan Polytechnic believes the throne of the pharaoh Khufu is concealed in a secret chamber deep within the Ancient Wonder.

Ancient Egyptians are known to have used meteoritic iron in artifacts such as King Tut’s dagger, which was unearthed by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.

Hetepheres I: King Sneferu’s wife and King Khufu’s mother
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Queen Hetepheres was the daughter of the Third Dynasty’s last king, King Huni. She was a legal heir to the throne and carried royal blood. However, her husband, King Sneferu, became the new ruler of Egypt, according to researcher and author Ismail Hamed’s book “Most Celebrated Queen in Ancient Egypt”. With King Snefreu’s declaration as a new king of Egypt, a new ruling dynasty was in place: the Fourth Dynasty.

Picture of the week

Seen here is a practice writing board from the First Intermediate Period. Scribes in training could use boards like these to practice their writing. When done with a text, they could wash off the ink or scrape the board clean and add a thin layer of whitewash to make it like new. This writing board is now in the @metmuseum (28.9.5)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ancient Egypt January 15

Ancient mining ops buildings found in Egypt — ministry
(AFP photo)

The ruins of two buildings used to supervise mines in ancient Egypt more than 4,400 years ago have been discovered in the south, the antiquities ministry said on Thursday.

The find was made by a US-Egyptian mission in the Tal Edfu area north of the city of Aswan.

Ramses II stelae uncovered at San Al-Hagar site

San Al-Hagar is a very distinguished archaeological site houses a vast collection of temples, among them temples dedicated to the goddess Mut, god Horus and god Amun.

During work carried out at San Al-Hagar archaeological site in Sharqiya governorate with a view to develop the site into an open-air museum, archaeologists stumbled upon a stelae of 19th Dynasty King Ramses II.

AUC Bookstore Opens in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

The American University in Cairo Press (AUC Press) recently opened a bookstore in The Egyptian Museum, as part of the Egyptian Heritage Exhibition, marking the 115th anniversary of the Museum. “AUC Press and Bookstores regularly take part in events and book fairs but this is a unique and excellent initiative by the Ministry of Antiquities,” said Nigel-Fletcher Jones, director of AUC Press and Bookstores. “Many visitors to Cairo are here on a short, almost whistle stop tour, so this may be one of a few rare moments when they are able to see the huge range of high quality books AUC Press has to offer.”

Will the Tanis Collection replace King Tut’s in the Tahrir Museum?
Note: I was looking for the mask to which they refer, but there are apparently several gold masks in the Tanis Collection. I chose the mask of Funeral mask of Psusennes 1 1, around 994 BCE. 48 cm high. Room 2, 1st Floor from this page.
“The Egyptian Musem in Tahrir will not die, it will continue to receive visitors all year round,” stated Khaled el-Enani, Minister of State for Antiquities, proudly, on more than one occasion. Even now that King Tutankhamun, hereafter referred to as Tut, has been transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir still has the Yuya and Tjuyu collection, in addition to the Tanis gold collection which includes a gold mask that could potentially replace King Tut’s mask in the exhibition.

The Victorian female collectors captivated by Ancient Egypt
Thomas Rowlandson Modern Antiquities (hand coloured engraving, c. 1800). Nelson and Lady Hamilton canoodle in an Egyptian coffin, hungrily watched by her antiquarian husband Sir William Hamilton.

In Victorian Britain’s overwhelmingly masculine society, intelligent, driven and often moneyed women were obliged to restrict their energies to acceptable “feminine” activities; like travelling, writing, fund-raising – and amassing impressive collections of Egyptian antiquities.

The results of this male-sanctioned pursuit are said to have greatly helped to establish British Egyptology and boosted the Victorian interest in all things Pharaonic.

Fragment of Black granite statue of King Amenhotep III discovered in Sohag parking lot

The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of an artifact in a parking lot in Akhmim, Sohag governorate, during a drilling operation to develop the site.

The Walmart Book of the Dead

As for who reads this book
And who follows its spells
I know your name
You will not die after your death
In Walmart
You will not perish forever
For I know your name

So begins this darkly comic incantation on the gods and scourges of the 21st century. The Walmart Book of the Dead was inspired by the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, funerary texts with accompanying illustrations containing spells to preserve the spirit of the deceased in the afterlife. In Lucy Biederman’s version, shoplifters, grifters, drifters, and hustlers, desirous children, greeters, would-be Marxists, wolves, and circuit court judges, wander Walmart unknowingly consigned to their afterlives.

“This BOOK is for the dark hours, the seam that ties the end of the evening to sunrise, when the bad, wrong things people do in and around Walmart are a hospital infection, red Rit dye in a load of whites, a gun in a classroom: by the time the problem is identified, it’s already ruined everything.”

 So, of course, you'll want to read ‘The Walmart Book of the Dead’‘The Walmart Book of the Dead’ review.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ancient Egypt January 8

Egypt recovers 3 ancient mummies from US
PROMario Sánchez Prada/Flickr

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced on Wednesday that it has recovered parts of three ancient mummies from the United States, which had been stolen and smuggled out of Egypt in the early 20th century.

The supervisor-general of the ministry’s repatriation department, Shaaban Abdel Gawad, said in a statement that “the ministry had succeeded following several diplomatic negotiations to recover three pieces of various ancient mummies.”

For more on this topic:

Ancient Egypt VIII: Ancient Egyptians initiate world literature
‘Sinuhe’ story papyrus – Wikimedia Commons

January 2018: Prominent archaeologist and author, Enas El Shafie, traced the origins of Ancient Egyptian history in a TV interview with Ibrahim Hegazy, aired on state-owned TV.

El Shafie has introduced evidence to illustrate how world literature was inspired by Ancient Egyptian heritage, including the stories of Snow White and Cinderella, and narrative poems, like Divine Comedy and Iliad.

Dawn of Egyptian Writing
(Alberto Urcia, Elkab Desert Survey Project)

Archaeologists have discovered an oversized inscription that offers a new glimpse into the early development of the Egyptian writing system. A team led by Yale University Egyptologist John Darnell found the hieroglyphs on a cliff face within view of a desert road north of the ancient city of Elkab. Dating to around 3250 B.C., they were carved during Dynasty 0, a period when the Nile Valley was divided into competing kingdoms and scribes were just beginning to master writing.


Ring with portrait of a Ptolemy wearing the Egyptian double crown, about 186 - 145 B.C., gold.
Musée du Louvre. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: Hervé Lewandowski.

“Beyond the Nile is the first exhibition to provide a comprehensive overview – spanning more than two thousand years – of Egypt’s interactions with the classical world. It is an unprecedented compilation of works of art from the Bronze Age to the late Roman Empire, drawn from the major museums of Europe and America, as well as the Getty’s own collection,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and one of the curators of the exhibition. “From trade, exchange, and artistic borrowings to diplomacy, immigration, and warfare, the cultures and histories of these two civilizations were intimately intertwined for millennia. The monuments and art that resulted provide spectacular evidence of how profoundly these so different cultures affected each other, and indeed the global culture we share today.”

Remains of royal ancient Egyptian artefacts uncovered in Tel Al-Pharaeen

At least one of the pieces uncovered in Kafr El-Sheikh dates to the reign of King Psamtik I.

An Egyptian excavation mission has discovered remains of mud-brick walls and several artefacts that can be dated to different periods of the ancient Egyptian era as well as four furnaces from the Late Period (664-332 BCE) during excavation work carried out in Tel Al-Pharaeen archeological site known as “ancient Buto” in the Kafr Al-Sheikh Governorate.

Scan technique reveals secret writing in mummy cases

Researchers in London have developed scanning techniques that show what is written on the papyrus that mummy cases are made from.

These are the decorated boxes into which the wrapped body of the deceased was placed before it was put in a tomb.

See also Egypt mummy can ‘LIVE FOREVER’ after breakthrough discovery

Verdi’s Ode to Ancient Egypt, ‘Aida’
(Credit: Metropolitan Opera)

Premiering on December 24, 1871, at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo, Egypt, Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” is one of opera’s best-loved and most enduring works. Verdi was commissioned by Isma’il Pasha, who was governor of Egypt, in celebration of the opening of Egypt’s Khedivial Opera House, although the premiere was delayed due to complications from the temporary capture of Paris by Prussian forces.

9 Photos of Extraordinary Mummies, Ancient and Modern

From thousand-year-old crocodiles to a 20th-century pneumonia victim, these preserved remains tell remarkable stories about life and death.

“There was something strangely touching about her fingertips,” author Chip Brown noted in his impression of the 2,500-year-old mummy of Hatshepsut in our 2009 article on the ancient Egyptian queen. “Everywhere else about her person all human grace had vanished."

View of the Great Pyramid from Mena House © Michalea Moore 2017

In November, researchers announced they had used cosmic rays to discover (or maybe more like rediscover) a big, empty space inside the largest of the pyramids located in Giza, Egypt. A team of French robotics researchers is building a tiny blimp that could let scientists peer inside the void and other spaces that are difficult to access.

Picture of the week

Modernized versions of ancient Egyptian art created by Anton Batov, an illustrator based in Moscow, Russia. Thanks to Lyn Green and Pharonoic Phunnies.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ancient Egypt January 1, 2018

Giza 2000 BC

Celebrating the Seasons: the Ancient Egyptian Calendar

In the spirit of the holidays, the Nile Scribes have teamed up with The Dead Speak Online to bring you a double feature on the celebration of holidays, or festivals, in ancient Egypt and their place in the Egyptian calendar.

A year of many discoveries

Coincidence has always played a major role in making new discoveries. Among the most famous examples are the uncovering of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, the funerary collection of the Pharaoh Khufu’s mother Hetepheres, the Pyramids Builders’ Cemetery on the Giza Plateau, and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in the Bahareya Oasis.

This year, coincidence led to the discovery of more than 30 treasures, something which made the Ministry of Antiquities describe 2017 as “the year of discoveries”.

Today’s archaeologists are putting down shovels and turning to tech

In 1817, the Italian archaeology pioneer Captain Giovanni Battista Caviglia set out to explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, a.k.a. Cheops’ Pyramid: the oldest of the three three Giza pyramids and the most ancient of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like a lot of Egyptologists of his age, Caviglia’s pioneering work led to some profound insights into Ancient Egyptian civilization — but at a cost. Believing there was treasure located in an undiscovered hidden chamber in the pyramid, he used dynamite to blast several holes, causing significant damage.

Jump forward 200 years to 2017.

Mummies take centre stage in British Museum shake-up

The British Museum’s famous Egyptian mummies are to be moved as part of a historic overhaul of the institution’s permanent collection.  The mummies are set to be lowered to the museum’s ground floor — reuniting them with other Egyptian treasures, including the Rosetta Stone — under plans to display exhibits in chronological order for the first time.

Egypt's Heliopolis: Archaeologists face modern problems at ancient site

Excavating the ancient city of Egypt's Heliopolis is not your stereotypical dig. At one archaeological site, workers had to remove trash that had been 13-metres deep before they could start on the dirt. For the archaeologists and antiquities officials, the most pressing challenges are modern, not ancient.

Copper Content of Ancient Egyptian Ink May Help Us (Literally) Piece Together Egyptian History

Modern pen and paper has an ancient ancestor – ink and papyrus. Around 5,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians invented arguably one of the most important tools of civilized life, and their technology allowed people to communicate across vast distances for the first time. They cleverly harnessed the soot produced from the manufacturing of copper-containing ores to create the black ink color. Naturally, this idea quickly spread around the world to places like ancient Greece and Rome, which changed the world forever.

Ancient Deir el-Medina artworks exhibited in Cairo

A temporary exhibition showing artworks from the ancient Deir el-Medina kicked off here on Thursday. Deir el-Medina was home to a community of workers and artisans in charge of digging and decorating the tombs of Pharaohs in the ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period (16th century BC-11th century BC). (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

The Alchemy and Artistry of Ancient Egypt’s Funerary Portraits

HER RAPT, BLACK EYES GAZE out, as if she’s waiting for you to ask her a question. Her hairstyle—a braid twirled and tucked at the crown of her head—hints at a noble rank, as does her purple tunic, dangling earrings, and stack of necklaces dappled with pearls and gemstones. It’s been a few millennia, so flecks of paint have sloughed off of the lifelike portrait, which was fastened to her mummified body during Egypt’s Coptic period, nearly 2,000 years ago.

Cleopatra Biopic Will Be a ‘Dirty, Bloody’ Political Thriller

Screenwriter David Scarpa says Sony’s in-the-works Cleopatra will be a “dirty, bloody” political thriller. Denis Villeneuve is in talks to direct the historical biopic based on Stacy Schiff’s 2010 book Cleopatra: A Life. Angelina Jolie has long been attached to the project, but it’s unknown whether she remains on-board.

For more info, see Villeneuve’s “Cleopatra” Has Swearing & Sex.

The Cleopatras

The Cleopatras was a 1983 BBC Television eight-part historical drama serial. Written by Philip Mackie, it is set in Ancient Egypt during the latter part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty with an emphasis on the Cleopatras. Intended to be the I, Claudius of the 1980s, The Cleopatras met with a decidedly mixed critical reaction. It was regarded and portrayed as a gaudy farce.

The 10 Biggest Archaeology Discoveries of 2017
Photo Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Of particular note to Egyptophiles, Slides 6 & 7, although to be perfectly clear, these are all pretty cool.

Archaeologists were digging up plenty of fascinating bones and other ancient remains throughout 2017, revealing more intriguing information about humans' past. From hundreds of mysterious stone structures in Saudi Arabia called gates, to a previously undiscovered cave that held Dead Sea Scrolls, to a woman who was literally buried with her husband's heart, Live Science takes a look at 10 of the coolest archaeological and historical finds of the year.


A pristine, white sarcophagus once held the mummy of the Egyptian Pharoah Seti I, whose father, Ramses, was the revered ruler of the ancient Egyptian kingdom for more than a decade sometime in the 1200s B.C. The sarcophagus located in a tomb chamber decorated with some of the most well-preserved hieroglyphs and paintings of Egyptian mythology known to man. After centuries of mass pillaging—and the mass tourism of more recent years—the tomb has been irreversibly destroyed.

But the Egyptian artifact has been granted a second life at the Antikenmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, as a 3-D printed copy.