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 According to scientists at the University of Helsinki, this papyrus is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary star Algol.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