Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New discovery in Qantara West highlights exact date of Tel Al-Dafna site

Lava remains of San Turin volcano unearthed in Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site, west of Al-Ismailiya governorate

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 30 Dec 2015

During excavation work carried out at Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site located at Al-Qantara west area, 11 kilometres west of the Suez Canal, an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Egyptologist Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud stumbled upon what is believed to be Lava remains of San Turin volcano.
The volcano is considered to be the first destructive environmental phenomena from the Mediterranean in antiquity to hit Cyprus.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty described the discovery as “very important” because it would help in uncovering more history from the Tel Al-Dafna site.

The oldest archaeological evidence discovered in Tel Al-Dafna dates back to the ancient Egyptian 26th dynasty although the lava remains can be dated to an era before the 26th dynasty.

At the same site, Abdel Maqsoud told Ahram Online that the mission has also uncovered a part of a fortified island surrounded with mud and brick shields used as wave breakers as well as protecting the west side of King Psamtiak I’s citadel from floods.

Maqsoud continued to say that the citadel was built in such an area to protect the country’s eastern gate from any invasion. Its fence area is 20 metres thick and inside it houses a collection of fortified residential houses.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

3,200-Year-Old Papyrus Contains Astrophysical Information about Variable Star Algol

Dec 23, 2015 by Sergio Prostak

Ancient Egyptians wrote Calendars of Lucky and Unlucky Days that assigned astronomically influenced prognoses for each day of the year. The best preserved of these calendars is the Cairo Calendar dated to 1244 – 1163 BC (Ramesside Period). According to scientists at the University of Helsinki, this papyrus is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary star Algol.

The Egyptian Museum of Cairo purchased this unique hieratic papyrus from an antiquities dealer in 1943. Twenty three years later, Egyptian scientist Abd el-Mohsen Bakir published it as the Cairo Calendar No. 86637.

The document is divided into three sections (Books I, II and III). Its largest part, Book II, consists of 365 passages, one for each day of the 360-day Egyptian year plus five epagomenal days. The passages seem to concern religious feasts, mythological incidents, favorable or adverse days, forecasts, and warnings.

University of Helsinki researchers Lauri Jetsu and Sebastian Porceddu have now performed a statistical analysis of the texts of this document.

“Our statistical analysis leads us to argue that the mythological texts of the Cairo Calendar contain astrophysical information about Algol,” the scientists said.

The analysis revealed that the periods of the variable star Algol (2.85 days) and the Moon (29.6 days) strongly regulate the actions of deities in this calendar.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Did Egypt’s Old Kingdom Die—or Simply Fade Away?

The end of the great age of pyramid building in Egypt was long thought to be a traumatic collapse that plunged the Nile Valley into a long era of chaos. New research is changing that view.

By Andrew Lawler, National Geographic 

As world leaders celebrate a new agreement to limit the impact of greenhouse gases on human society, archaeologists have been taking a fresh look at one of the most dramatic instances of a civilization confronted with devastating climate change.

For nearly a millennium, Egypt’s early pharaohs presided over a prosperous and wealthy state that built countless temples and palaces, enormous public works, and the famous Giza pyramids. Much of that prosperity depended on the regular inundations of the Nile River in a country that otherwise would be only desert.

Then, around 2200 B.C., ancient texts suggest that Egypt’s so-called Old Kingdom gave way to a disastrous era of foreign invasions, pestilence, civil war, and famines severe enough to result in cannibalism. In the past decade, climate data revealed that a severe and long-term drought afflicted the region during this same time, providing evidence of an environmental trigger that led to what has long been considered a dark age of Egyptian history.

But a number of Egyptologists argue that the simple story of a drought resulting in an abrupt societal breakdown doesn’t hold water. “The majority view today is that the Old Kingdom did not come to an end all of a sudden,” says Thomas Schneider, professor of Egyptology at the University of British Columbia. Instead, he and others say that climate stress affected different parts of Egypt in different ways—and not always for the worst. “We need to move away from this idea of collapse,” he says.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

One God to rule them all: Garry Shaw on Faith After the Pharaohs at the British Museum

The exhibition beautifully captures how religion shaped the region

by GARRY SHAW  |  17 December 2015

In the British Museum's latest exhibition, Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs, there is a long fragment of papyrus, one of many on display, written in Greek and called the Gospel of Thomas. What is striking about this fragment is not its beauty or penmanship, but the era in which it was written. In Oxyrhynchus, an Egyptian city, the scroll’s Christian owner had copied the text less than 300 years after the death of Jesus, a time when the ancient Egyptian gods were still widely worshipped, before the acceptance of Christianity across the Roman Empire and before the appearance of Islam. To many of his contemporaries in Egypt, this ancient copyist—a man simply trying to preserve his messiah's sayings—would have been a rebel. He could not have predicted how Egypt, and the whole world, would change over the coming centuries, or that the church would forbid Christians from reading the very text he was copying once the contents of the New Testament had been agreed upon.

Religious development—its continuation and transformation—is at the heart of Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs. It is what makes the show so fascinating and ambitious. Taking visitors from 30BC to AD1171, the exhibition is divided into three main sections, covering the Romans in Egypt and their interactions with the Jews and early Christians, the transition to Egypt as part of a Christian Empire and then, through the Byzantine Era, onwards into the Islamic Period. It is a millennium often ignored by museums in favour of Egypt's more ancient glories. Where most exhibitions end, this one begins.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Second phase of #ScanPyramid project begins

Scanners are being used to search for possible hidden chambers within Egyptian pyramids without compromising their infrastructure

By Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 17 Dec 2015

Muon radiography survey begins on King Snefru’s Bent Pyramid at Dahshour necropolis

A team of experts is beginning a scanning survey of the Bent Pyramid of ancient Egyptian King Snefru in Giza using scanning technology which uses non-invasive Muon particles. The scanners are being used to search for possible hidden chambers within the pyramid without compromising its infrastructure.

Following test sessions in November that allowed the #ScanPyramids team to calibrate the sensitivity of Muon emulsion films to the local environment (temperature and humidity) inside King Snefru’s Bent Pyramid, Kunihiro Morishima and his team from Nagoya University have just completed the installation of the Muon detector plates in the pyramid’s lower chamber.

Morishima explains that the films are composed of 40 “regular” plates representing a surface of 3m2 containing two emulsion films that are sensitive to Muons. These emulsion films will allow the detection of various types of Muons naturally penetrating the pyramid.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the #ScanPyramids team has also installed a “regular” plate sample in the Queen Chamber of Khufu’s Pyramid in order to find out the best chemical formula of the emulsion films suitable for the local environment inside the Pyramid, as has been done inside the Bent Pyramid.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What the world might discover from the King Tut mask restoration

German expert Christian Eckmann is leading the restoration of King Tut's famous mask, which was damaged by a botched repair job. DW met him in Cairo to find out what's hiding behind that clumsy layer of glue.

Since the golden burial mask of King Tutankhamun was unearthed nearly a century ago, visitors from around the world have flocked to the Egyptian museum to view the famed relic. An icon of ancient Egypt, it has become one of the world's most famous works of art.

So in August 2014, when the beard attached to the 3,300-year-old mask was knocked off while being returned to its display case after workers replaced a burned out light, panic set. In a hasty attempt in the early morning hours, workers glued the beard back on with insoluble epoxy resin. That proved to be a major error.

"They did not attach it in its original position, the beard was slightly bent to the left side," Christian Eckmann, the archaeologist tasked with restoring the artifact, told DW in an interview in the garden of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

"They also put some glue onto the chin and beard, so it was visible. It was not adequately done, and then in January 2015 the press found out, and the whole case was a scandal somehow," Eckmann explains. He is a renowned restorer from the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Archaeological research institute in Mainz.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 98

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more!

Photocredit: Nile Magazine; Kenneth Garrett


MAG eBooks Explore Ancient Egypt & Ancient Greece

Translation of Georg Möller's works on Hieratic hosted by the EEF.

Tell el-Dab’a XXII online open access

Association for Students of Egyptology

The Rock Inscriptions Project (Sinai Peninsula)

Open Access Egyptology Article Collection from Antiquity

Durham University Archaeology Dissertations


Ancient Egyptian mask repatriated from Germany

Revealed: King Tut's tomb has more rooms to explore


Conservation treatment of Nespekashuti


From Leipzig to Munich: A Decision Made Because of Perfect Perspectives


What Is Coptic and Who Were the Copts in Ancient Egypt?


Divine Felines is winding down on November 29th


Experts confident secret chamber in King Tut’s tomb belongs to Nefertiti

Is Nefertiti hiding in the Valley of Kings’ secret chambers?


Secrets of the Great Pyramid


A short film about Kom El Ahmar & Kom Wasit

Obituary: Professor Robert Anderson

Egyptian Archaeology 47: a tribute to Otto Schaden


German man returns mummy mask to Egypt after 50 years away

‘Well-preserved’ sarcophagus of 22nd dynasty nobleman unearthed in Egypt’s Luxor

Radar test underway before search for Nefertiti in tomb of Tutankhamun

Egypt recovers 26th dynasty faience statuette in Austria

Search for Nefertiti in Tutankhamun's tomb to start Thursday

New discovery in Egypt highlights the history of the Hyksos capital of Avaris

Radar survey underway at Tutankhamun's tomb in Luxor

'90 percent chance of hidden rooms in Tut tomb', Egypt says,-Egypt.aspx


Ugly Object of the Month – December

This month’s ugly object is a limestone relief sculpture of Isis-Thermouthis


Movember, Ancient Egypt Style

The Moment Of Truth

The First Rays Of The New Year

Reeves Is Right. There Is Something Behind The Wall!


Food and Feasts in Middle Kingdom Egypt

Uncovering Middle Kingdom Egypt with Adela Oppenheim


Episode 56: The Return of the King

Queens, Warriors and Conquest


French Egyptologist Asserts that the Younger Lady is Really the Mummy of Nefertiti


EPISODE 008: Where Did The Name Egypt Come From?

EPISODE 009: They’re Eating Their Children–Cannibalism In Ancient Egypt

EPISODE 010: Horus And Seth


Six Books for Every Egyptian Collection

An Egyptian Princess

Tuesday's Egyptian


Radar Finds Secret Chamber in King Tut's Tomb


Radar Scans in King Tut’s Tomb Suggest Hidden Chambers

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What Is Coptic and Who Were the Copts in Ancient Egypt?

A short history of ancient Egyptian language

By Megan Sauter

What is Coptic, and who were the Copts in ancient Egypt?

The Coptic language is the final stage of ancient Egyptian language. Even though it looks very different from texts written in Old Egyptian using hieroglyphs, the two are related. In his article “Coptic—Egypt’s Christian Language” in the November/December 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Leo Depuydt gives a short history of the development of ancient Egyptian language and shows where the Coptic language fits in that timeline, as well as answering the question: Who were the Copts.

What Is Coptic?

The Coptic language developed around 300 C.E. in Egypt. It is Egyptian language written using the Greek alphabet, as well as a couple of Demotic signs. This script was much easier to learn than the earlier writing systems used in ancient Egypt: hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic scripts.

Coptic was the lingua franca of Egypt when Egypt was predominantly Christian. Many assume that the Coptic language was developed primarily to spread Christianity, but Depuydt disagrees. He supports the great Belgian Coptologist Louis Théophile Lefort’s theory that the Coptic language was created by another group—the Jews.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Radar Scans in King Tut’s Tomb Suggest Hidden Chambers

After two nights of tests in the Valley of the Kings, new evidence reinforces the theory that undiscovered rooms may lie behind the painted walls.

By Peter Hessler, National Geographic 

LUXOR, Egypt—After two days of radar scans in the tomb of Tutankhamun, archaeologists have concluded that preliminary examination of the data provides evidence that unopened sections lie behind two hidden doorways in the pharaoh’s underground burial chamber.

The results, announced Saturday morning at a news conference in Luxor, bolster the theory of Nicholas Reeves, a British archaeologist who believes that the tomb contains another royal burial. The hidden tomb, he has speculated, belongs to Nefertiti, King Tut’s mother-in-law, who may have ruled as a female pharaoh during Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. If so, this would be only the second intact royal burial site to be discovered in modern times—and it would, in the words of Mamdouh Eldamaty, the Egyptian antiquities minister, represent “one of the most important finds of the century.” At the press conference, he said he was “90 percent positive” that another chamber lies behind the north wall of the tomb.

On Friday, Eldamaty stood next to that wall, which is painted with a scene depicting the burial rituals of the boy pharaoh, who ruled in the 14th century B.C. “The radar scan tells us that on this side of the north wall, we have two different materials,” he said. “We believe that there could be another chamber.”

The scans—conducted by Hirokatsu Watanabe, a Japanese radar specialist— also provide evidence of a second hidden doorway in the adjoining west wall.

Together these features lend credence to Reeves’s theory, which he made public in July. Since then examinations of the physical features of the burial chamber have added support. But until the tests began on Thursday, the evidence ran no deeper than the surface of the walls. Radar scans had never previously been conducted in the tomb, and they represent a crucial step in the investigation. For the first time, specialists have collected data about both the material structure of the walls and the open spaces behind them. It’s these spaces that are most intriguing—they could contain artifacts and possibly even burial goods that rival those found with Tutankhamun.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

‘Well-preserved’ sarcophagus of 22nd dynasty nobleman unearthed in Egypt’s Luxor

An anthropoid sarcophagus of a 22nd dynasty nobleman was discovered in El-Assassif necropolis on Luxor's West Bank

by Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 26 Nov 2015

During today’s inspection tour in Luxor’s West Bank around the tomb of the 22nd dynasty’s Amenhotep-Hwi (TT28), Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty announced the discovery of the sarcophagus of a 22nd dynasty nobleman named Ankh-If-Khonsu.

Photocredit: Ahram Online

Eldamaty explained that the sarcophagus was found to be well preserved and in excellent condition after being unearthed from a niche carved in the tomb's rock. The find was made early this week by a Spanish mission from the Institute of Ancient Egyptian studies in collaboration with an Egyptian mission from the ministry of antiquities.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities department Mahmoud Afifi said that the sarcophagus is in the very distinct style of the 22nd dynasty and it is carved from wood that is covered in a layer of plaster.

The sarcophagus depicts the facial features of the deceased wearing a wig and a crown made of flowers. His chest is decorated with a necklace and he is holding papyri flowers. Afifi added that the sarcophagus is decorated with hieroglyphic texts and scenes depicting the deceased in different positions before deities Osiris, Nefertem, Anubis, and Hathor.

Sultan Eid, head of the central administration of Upper Egypt, told Ahram Online that the sarcophagus contains a mummy, but it has not been yet studied.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Secrets of the Great Pyramid

The recent announcement of important new discoveries made at the Great Pyramid raises questions about the proper use of modern investigative technology, writes Zahi Hawass

The Ministry of Antiquities announced important discoveries at a recent press conference, held on the eastern side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu on the Giza Plateau. It followed release of the preliminary results of the Scan Pyramids project. The project hopes to discover the secrets of the Pyramid of Khufu, including whether or not there are hidden rooms or tunnels.
The conference was attended by Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty and Hany Helal, the project’s general coordinator. The project is being carried out through cooperation between the Ministry of Antiquities, the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University and the French Heritage, Innovation and Preservation (HIP) Institute.
The project team announced that it had found an anomaly in the temperature of three blocks at the base of the eastern side of the pyramid, facing the solar boat pit. Speculation was that that these three blocks hid a secret behind them, such as a hidden room or previoulsy unknown tunnel.
Using infrared thermography, the team noticed that the three blocks on the eastern side of the pyramid registered a higher temperature in comparison with the adjacent stones. These measurements, made at different times of day, showed the higher temperature of these blocks by about four to five degrees. The team announced that the results had been provided to archaeologists and Egyptologists for evaluation and were currently under review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 97

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more!
Photocredit: The Trustees of the British Museum, London (AES 732)


Open Access Monograph Series: Lingua Aegyptia. Studia Monographica

Open Access Journal: Histoire de la médecine en Egypte ancienne

Open Access Journal: Apuntes de Egiptología

International Association for Coptic Studies - Association Internationale d'Études Coptes


A return to the Rubinstein cartonnage


Egypt: faith after the pharaohs virtual exhibit


Daemon snakes and green skinned goddesses


Scanning Tutankhamun’s tomb

Mysteries explored


Ancient Egypt: It wasn’t all Pharaohs and gold


You were introduced to this lovely object in an earlier post by Egyptian Art curator Yekaterina Barbash


‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: Nika Lavrentyeva and Ekaterina Alexandrova


Dazzling things for Akhenaten & Nefertiti: Glass production at Amarna


EES Finance & Business Manager (Maternity cover) needed


Faith after the Pharaohs: Christianity and the Rylands Gospel of Mary


Love Cats? Love Ancient Egypt?

Hot Spots In The Great Pyramid


In Honor of Pharaoh's Fighters


Conservation Of Kaipure's Tomb Chapel


Mudbricks, Figurines, and Registration: Work in Tell Timai, Egypt


Builders under Pharaoh Akhenaten worked so hard they broke their backs

Ancient Symbols of Power: Royal Egyptian Rock Art of Nag el-Hamdulab Depict Rule of State and Military Might


Going to the Dogs: New work at the catacombs of Anubis, North Saqqara


EPISODE 007: Akhenaten The Monster


Lost Pharaoh? Great Pyramid May Hide Undiscovered Tomb

In Photos: Inside Egypt’s Great Pyramids

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Possible New Chambers in Pyramid Hold Hopes for Egypt's Tourism

Desperate to win back tourists, Egypt has ramped up efforts to solve the mysteries of the Great Pyramids of Giza.

By Peter Schwartzstein, National Geographic 

Pacing back and forth across the Giza plateau, Mamdouh El-Damaty, Egypt’s beleaguered minister of antiquities, could scarcely keep a smile from his face as he broke the news of a potentially ground-breaking discovery.

An international team of archaeologists and engineers has identified an “impressive anomaly” at the base of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, also called Cheops, Giza’s largest pyramid.

Temperature differences between stone blocks indicate that there may be hidden chambers or clues to the pyramid’s construction inside. (In recent weeks similar scanning by other researchers in the tomb of King Tut revealed the possibility of a hidden chamber as well.)

“The pyramids have lots of secrets,” Damaty said against a backdrop of enthusiastic applause and the flash of cameras. “And today, Cheops will give us one of his secrets.”  

In ordinary circumstances, such a development would likely inspire serious excitement among historians, many of whom still puzzle over the 4,500-year-old structure’s precise composition. But for a country reeling from a weak economy and a barrage of negative publicity that has dissuaded many tourists from visiting, the possibility of unraveling the mystery behind a wonder of the world has taken on a broader significance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 96

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more!

Credit: Philippe Bourseiller / HIP Institute, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo / Ministry of Antiquities.


A Manual of Ancient Egyptian Pottery

Online Database of Egyptian Early Dynastic inscriptions


Exclusive Video: Minister of Antiquities talks about the latest news on the search behind the walls of King Tut's tomb

Two tombs reopened in the Valley of the Kings

Promising results of the infrared thermography of Tutankhamun's tomb walls

Ptolemaic chapel discovered in Aswan

Scan Pyramids project show potential new discoveries inside the GreatPyramid


Fishing for more details of 18th Dynasty contexts


Luxor opens five tombs

Hibis Temple re-opens


Who Made the Bust of Queen Nefertiti?

Where is Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb?


“Why is Isis dressed different from the other figures?”

New display in our Mummy Chamber


‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: Ladislav Bareš

‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: August Cosentino


FREE Study day 14/11/15 – ‘Discovering Animal Mummies’


Infrared thermography to be applied to Tutankhamun's tomb

Smuggling bid foiled: 1124 Egyptian artefacts recovered before heading to Thailand

Infrared thermography study suggests other chambers exist inside Tutankhamun's tomb

Thermal scans of Egypt's Great Pyramid reveal anomalies


Ugly Object of the Month – November


Happy Anniversary

Getting Warmer...


King Tut – What We Do and Don’t Know With Marianne Eaton-Krauss [Podcast]


Episode 55: Blood and Thunder

Are you ready?!


Ancient Sunken Cities and Artifacts to be revealed with Ambitious Underwater Museum in Egypt

The Importance of Evidence in the Heated Debate on Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt

Excitement Mounts as New Infrared Scan in Tomb of Tutankhamun Suggests Hidden Chamber

Thermal Scan of Egyptian Pyramids Reveals Mysterious Anomaly in the Great Pyramid


EPISODE 000: Welcome To Eric's Guide To Ancient Egypt

EPISODE 004: Why The Did Ancient Egyptians Build Pyramids?

Amarna Art

EPISODE 005: Akhenaten-The Avant-Garde Artist

EPISODE 006: What's Inside The Great Pyramid?


AKHENATEN: Pharaoh of Egypt


Why the Pyramids Spawn So Many Wacky Theories


King Tut Mystery Deepens As Scans Reveal Signs Of Hidden Chamber

Thermal Scans Of Egypt's Great Pyramid Reveal 'Impressive' Anomaly


New Clues Point to Secret Chamber in King Tut Tomb

Striking Anomaly Found in Great Pyramid


Infrared Scans Show Possible Hidden Chamber in King Tut’s Tomb