Saturday, January 31, 2015

The rediscovery of KV53

Debate continues over the ownership of the KV53 tomb in the Valley of the Kings, writes Zahi Hawass

In 1905-1906, US archaeologist Edward Ayrton, who was sponsored by the American millionaire Theodore Davis, found six tombs in the Valley of the Kings, KV48 to 53. The first five tombs contained animal bones, and it was therefore believed that these tombs were built for the pharaoh Amenhotep II’s pets.
Over time, sand covered some of the tombs, including KV53, and they were lost. However, an Egyptian expedition led by the present writer was later able to relocate KV53 during a search for lost tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
The square shaft of the tomb leads to a relatively small rectangular chamber. In his original account, Ayrton wrote that the tomb had been robbed. The only object of note found was a piece of stone bearing the name of a man called Huri, who was the “overseer of scribes in the palace of justice,” meaning the royal Theban necropolis.
This might have indicated that Huri was the tomb’s owner. Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves writes that a stela for the goddess Meretseger was also found in KV53. Our team found other objects in the tomb, including pottery shards, fragments of linen and pieces of wood that might have been part of a coffin.
The Egyptian expedition also found four wonderful canopic jar lids. The lids were in the form of human heads with eyebrows and eyes in black paint and a hieroglyphic sign engraved on the top of each head in order to identify it. A v-shaped object made of gold was also found in the tomb, together with an amphora dating back to 1400-1300 BCE.
However, the most important discovery in KV53 was the human remains: bones and three human skulls were found in the burial chamber. Study of the remains showed that three people were buried in KV53: a man aged 45 at the time of his death, a second man who died at the age of 20, and a woman who died at 23.
We believe that the older man is the owner of the tomb, while the young man and woman could be his son and daughter. However, the identity of those buried in KV53 is still the subject of debate. The tomb is dated to the 18th Dynasty.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 63

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

Photocredit: Huffington Post


Symposium 2015

Nationality, Authority, Individuality in Ancient Egypt


Open Access Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Publications

Edfu Explorer Online

Les travaux de Karnak (1900-2013)


Rah-rah, Senenmut – Lover of the Egyptian Queen?


Ancient Egyptian Union and Rebirth of Re and Osiris.


Monuments of Civilization: EGYPT

Tutankhamun by T.G.H. James


Examination and treatment of Wilfred/a


Beard of Egypt's King Tut hastily glued back on with epoxy

Archaeological committee to inspect 'glued' Tutankhamun's gold mask and beard

International museum body demands answers over Tutankhamen damage

Brouhaha on Tutankhamun's mask comes to an end


CSI mummy: Vatican experts use forensic science to unravel mysteries


The Mystery of Egyptian Tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings


Archaeologists Want Egyptian Officials Charged for Damage to Tutankhamen’s Burial Mask


All change at the Valley Temple


More bricks, walls, finds and ceramics: end of week 3

A Curious Wooden Object from SAV1 East

Discussing New Kingdom ceramics at Kerma


Amara West 2015: the last days of house D11.2

Amara West 2015: Stories, memories and archaeology

Amara West 2015, week 2: pyramid(s), garden plots, old fish and farming

Amara West 2015: footprint of a pyramid builder?

Amara West 2015: blue – who knew?


Destroying mummy masks: “Since we own, it’s ok”. Maybe not…


Return to El Kurru!


Snowing Dogs and More Dogs


Happy Caturday from the Brooklyn Museum!


Success for Zahi Hawass in Cortona, to him the Prize CortonAntiquaria 2015

The Exodus from Egyptian sources


Weird Accident Damaged King Tut's Beard


King Tut's Mask Damaged; Beard Snapped Off During Botched Cleaning

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Museum Pieces - Amulet in the form of a head of an elephant

Amulet in the form of a head of an elephant

Period: Predynastic, Naqada II
Date: ca. 3500–3300 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt
Medium: Serpentine Bone
Dimensions: h. 3.5 x w. 3.6 x d. 2.1 cm (1 3/8 x 1 7/16 x 13/16 in.)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1959
Accession Number: 59.101.1

Few amulets from the Predynastic Period are known. In the past, Egyptologists identified these amulets as representing a bull's head, but the round face and eyes, the horns that curve inward to the face, and a snout with a defined ridge make a strong argument for its identification as an elephant. During this period, elephants lived in oasis-like zones in the high desert created by greater rainfall than today. They were probably a rare sight to floodplain dwellers, but their size, tusks, and aggressive displays made them an awe-inspiring creature and an excellent subject for a potent amulet.

An amulet is a small object that a person wears, carries, or offers to a deity because he or she believes that it will magically bestow a particular power or form of protection. The conviction that a symbol, form, or concept provides protection, promotes well-being, or brings good luck is common to all societies: in our own, we commonly wear religious symbols, carry a favorite penny, or a rabbit's foot. In ancient Egypt, amulets might be carried, used in necklaces, bracelets, or rings, and—especially—placed among a mummy's bandages to ensure the deceased a safe, healthy, and productive afterlife.

Egyptian amulets functioned in a number of ways. Symbols and deities generally conferred the powers they represent. Small models that represent known objects, such as headrests or arms and legs, served to make sure those items were available to the individual or that a specific need could be addressed. Magic contained in an amulet could be understood not only from its shape. Material, color, scarcity, the grouping of several forms, and words said or ingredients rubbed over the amulet could all be the source for magic granting the possessor's wish.

Small representations of animals seem to have functioned as amulets already in the Predynastic Period (ca. 4500–3100 B.C.). In the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2150 B.C.), most amulets took an animal form or were symbols (often based on hieroglyphs), although generalized human forms occurred. Amulets depicting recognizable deities begin to appear in the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2030–1640 B.C.), and the New Kingdom (ca. 1550–1070 B.C.) showed a further increase in the range of amulet forms. With the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1070–712 B.C.), there was an explosion in the quantity of amulets, and many new types, especially deities, appeared.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

All change at the Valley Temple

A garden and a brick structure uncovered at the Dahshour Necropolis have changed views of the functions of a pyramid complex, writes Nevine El-Aref

In the parched desert of the Dahshour Royal Necropolis, the southernmost area of the Memphis Necropolis, a number of pyramids are revealing the changes in ancient Egyptian architecture that occurred during the Third and Fourth Dynasties, with step pyramids giving way to the first true pyramids.

There is the Bent Pyramid, the first attempt at building a complete pyramid carried out by the Fourth Dynasty king Senefru, who took pyramid construction to a new level. There is also the Red Pyramid, the first truly smooth-sided pyramid.

 Several kings of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties also built pyramids at Dahshour, among them Amenemhat II, Sesostris III, and Amenemhat III, who built a pyramid encased in black stone.

A military zone until 1996, the site remained untouched for many years, except for excavations carried out by Egyptologist Ahmed Fakhri in the 1950s, and later by German Egyptologist Reiner Stadelmann. Although several tombs and funerary structures were unearthed, Dahshour still retains many of the secrets of the ancient Egyptians.

The site recently attracted the attention of a mission from the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, which started comprehensive excavation work in 2010. The work was concentrated in the area north of the Valley Temple of the Bent Pyramid, previously explored by Fakhri, who stumbled upon a brick building that he dated to the Middle Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 62

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

courtesy of Freeman's of Philadelphia


Online Corpus of Ancient Sarcophagi

Projet Karnak : Achèvement de la mise en ligne de la Chapelle de calcite de Thoutmosis IV

Online Exhibition: TEXTS FROM ANCIENT EGYPT. Highlights from the Collection of the Leiden Papyrological Institute


A challenge in the Art of Ancient Egypt: Osirian-Solar Iconography.


New post by Molly Gleeson:

Wilfred/a’s cartonnage


Egyptian treasures at Freeman's


Archaeologist unearths Egypt treasures


Guest Post: Excavating a Theban Tomb and Monastic Cell by Malcolm Choat


TEXTS FROM ANCIENT EGYPT. Highlights from the Collection of the Leiden Papyrological Institute


35,000-year-old skeleton to return to Egypt,yearold-skeleton-to-return-to-Egypt.aspx

Graeco-Roman necropolis discovered in Alexandria


More discoveries

The Sphinx is safe


Episode 42: Underworld

The Secret Tomb of Senuseret III


New blogposts by Julia Budka:

Sand, debris and bricks: New sections of negative walls from SAV1 East

End of week 2: more bricks and finds

First impressions of the 18th Dynasty ceramics from SAV1 West


Amara West 2015 (week 1): painted bone, a house revealed and … ovens

Amara West 2015: let’s dig some pyramids

Amara West 2015: a pyramid edge and its chapel emerges


The new Sappho fragments acquisition history: what we have learnt so far


Simultaneous Transit and Pyramid Alignments: Were the Egyptians’ Errors in Their Stars or in Themselves?


The Red Pyramid: Egypt’s forgotten architectural marvel


In the spirit of celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Wilbour Library of Egyptology


The Papyrus of Ani

The journey to the land of Punt

The Battle of Megiddo


Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel


Levison Wood's Walking the Nile: the challenge of a lifetime


When did Ancient Egypt start and end?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor   |   January 18, 2015

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue. Given how expensive papyrus was, people often had to reuse sheets that already had writing on them.

In recent years scientists have developed a technique that allows the glue of mummy masks to be undone without harming the ink on the paper. The text on the sheets can then be read.

The first-century gospel is one of hundreds of new texts that a team of about three-dozen scientists and scholars is working to uncover, and analyze, by using this technique of ungluing the masks, said Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

"We're recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters," Evans told Live Science. The documents include philosophical texts and copies of stories by the Greek poet Homer.

The business and personal letters sometimes have dates on them, he said. When the glue was dissolved, the researchers dated the first-century gospel in part by analyzing the other documents found in the same mask.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Sphinx is safe

The crack that appeared in the Great Sphinx  reminds us that the state of the monument has often been used in politics and propaganda, writes Zahi Hawass

The Great Sphinx at Giza is a powerful symbol of ancient kingship and the iconic symbol of modern Egypt. Carved from limestone, it is one of the oldest and largest monolithic statues in the world. About a month ago, a deep crack appeared on the north side of this great monument. Archaeologists and conservators moved quickly to restore the Sphinx.
The overseer of the workmen, Saeed, an excellent stonemason, was called in by the sculptor Mahmoud Mabroud and undertook “surgery” on the monument with the result that the Sphinx is now safe. What happened to the Sphinx also reminds us that the Sphinx’s condition has often been used in politics and propaganda.
The ancient Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose IV was the first to do this in about 1400 BCE. He recorded a story on the “dream stela” located between the two front paws of the Sphinx. According to the story, he went out hunting wild animals in the Valley of the Gazelles and came to rest in the shadow of the Sphinx. While he was sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and said that the sand around his body and neck was hurting him, saying to Thutmose, “If you remove the sand, I will make you king of Egypt.”
Thutmose did as he was bidden and removed the sand and restored the fallen blocks of the Sphinx, later indeed becoming pharaoh of Egypt. However, it has been theorised that he actually killed his elder brother who was supposed to become the king of Egypt and that Thutmose concocted the story of the Sphinx in order to convince people that he had been chosen by the god Horemakhet, in the guise of the Sphinx, to become the king instead of his brother.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday Weekly # 61

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

(Griffith Institute, University of Oxford) 


By Rossella Lorenzi:

Pharaonic Rock Carvings Found in Egypt


Ancient Egypt Resurrection. The Penis of Tutankhamun.


New Open Access Book: Egyptian Bioarchaeology Humans, Animals, and the Environment


New post by Timothy Reid:

The Discovery of Ancient Egypt


Relief depicting rare ancient Egyptian image unearthed

Ancient Al-Amir Wall unearthed in Ismailiya


4 discoveries made this week by archaeologists


Gebel el Silsila in the news


Archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of an unknown Egyptian queen


End of week 1

Object Registration from SAV1 East and SAV1 West

Scientific trip to the Abry market


By Neal Spencer, Keeper of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum:

Amara West 2015: onwards from Khartoum

Amara West 2015: a first glimpse of site

Amara West 2015: investigating ancient suburban sprawl

By Mat Dalton, University of Cambridge:

Amara West 2015: dealing with the cold, New Kingdom-style

By Anna Garnett, Assistant Project Curator, British Museum:

Amara West 2015: ceramics and an enigmatic beast


Exploring the Dakhla Oasis


Ancient Egyptian fortress unearthed in Sinai


Who were the Hyksos?

The Mummification, reborn in the Afterlife


Rosalind Paget watercolours


The Pharaohs of Ancient Sudan

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ancient Egyptian fortress unearthed in Sinai

By Rany Mostafa

CAIRO: The 3,000 year-old ruins and foundations of the largest known fortress in Egypt were unearthed at the ancient fortified city of Tell Habua near the Suez Canal, said Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al- Damaty Saturday.

The fort, also known as the Wall of the Prince, was part of a defensive line in the form of a series of fortresses and military cities. The fortress is one of other fortifications that have been discovered earlier in the site of Tell Habua, the old Tharu, as mentioned in the inscriptions of Pharaoh Seti I at Karnak temple, describing the Horus Military Route, said Damaty.

“The discovery is significant as it reflects the details of the ancient Egyptian military history. It is a model example of Ancient Egypt’s military architecture, as well as the Egyptian war strategies through different ages, for the protection of the entirety of Egypt,” chief of the excavation team archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud told The Cairo Post Saturday.

The new discoveries corresponded to the inscriptions of the Way of Horus found on the walls of the Karnak Temple in Luxor which illustrated the features of 11 military fortresses, of which only 5 have been discovered, that protected Egypt’s eastern borders.

The Horus Military Route is a long road of fortifications that protected Egypt’s eastern front from invaders. It was a key starting point for military campaigns during Egypt’s New Kingdom period (1580 B.C. – 1080 B.C.), former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Abdel Halim Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Saturday.

The Horus Route extends for 350 kilometers, starts from Tharu, located about two miles northeast of present day Qantara and ends at Egypt’s border city of Rafah, according to Nour el-Din.

“The route was fortified by two parallel walls, followed by 11 fortresses acting as early alert points before the arrival of any conquering army to the strategically located Tharu Fortress. In the same area there was an economic society, indicating that it had been a commercial and customs zone where taxes were collected before reaching the Delta,” he added.

During the Middle Kingdom Period (2000 B.C. and 1700 B.C), Egypt’s military reached as far as the Tigris and Euphrates River, and supported its position with a long chain of heavily fortified settlements at the most vulnerable points in the trade route from the east, he added.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Museum Pieces - "New Year's" bottle

Faience (glazed composition)
Faience, Vessel
new year, Late Period (664 - 332 B.C.E.), Egypt
Credit Line:
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
664-332 B.C.E.
Late Period
Accession Number:
Data Source:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Flasks of this type are known as "New Year" gifts because of the inscriptions they often bear, which invoke the gods of the city of Memphis to give the owner all life and health, and a happy New Year. Almost invariably made of a fine light blue or pale green glazed faience, the flasks are usually decorated with garlands around the neck and have an ape of the god Thoth, recorder of time, seated on each side of the neck.