Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Archaeologists find compelling evidence for new tombs at Qubbet Al-Hawa site in Aswan

An ancient Egyptian encroachment wall uncovered below the visitors’ pathway at Qubbet Al-Hawa suggests additional tombs to be found

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016

During excavation work carried out below the visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the west Aswan cemetery, at Qubbet Al-Hawa site, archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet Al-Hawa Research Project (QHRP), stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient Egyptian encroachment wall.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Mahmoud Afify told Ahram Online that the wall is two-metres high and is part of the architectural support of the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Given the landscape of Qubbet Al-Hawa, he explained, the support wall helped to secure the hillside and thus lower lying tombs that were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Nasr Salama, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the discovery as “stunning,” adding that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Queens of the Nile Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden

18 November 2016 until 17 April 2017

Photo courtesy of RMO Leiden
Queens of the Nile will tell the unique story of the ancient Egyptians pharaohs' wives during the New Kingdom period (1500 to 1000 BC). Visitors can admire 350 top archaeological pieces, including rare sculptures, magnificent jewellery and luxurious artefacts used by women at the Egyptian court, plus the sarcophagus cover and grave goods entombed with one of Egypt’s most celebrated queens, Nefertari. The Museo Egizio in Turin is loaning 245 of its finest objects for the exhibition. This is the second largest ancient Egyptian Museum in the world. 

Royal ladies of ancient Egypt

The exhibition will bring to life the riches enjoyed by the royal ladies of ancient Egypt, the intrigues they engaged in and the honours paid to them. During the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt was at the height of its power. Pharaohs were lords and masters of their realm and worshipped as gods. Their queens were also accorded divine and regal status. They fulfilled important religious functions and sometimes had temples especially built for them. Their divine status often continued after their death.

Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti, Nefertari

Famous queens as Ahmose Nefertari, Hatshepsut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari were powerful women who were not simply wives but who ran the pharaoh's palace and exercised significant political power. Although pharaohs could marry many wives, only one was allowed to bear the title 'Great Queen'. She managed the day-to-day running of the harem, which sometimes comprised hundreds of women. At court she was surrounded by sumptuous jewellery, magnificent clothes, cosmetics and furniture. In the exhibition, beautiful artefacts such as necklaces, rings, glass scent bottles, painted vases and bronze mirrors provide a glimpse of the opulent life led by queens at the Egyptian court.

Unique objects from the tomb of Nefertari

A unique element in the exhibition will be the display of objects recovered from the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Her tomb, plundered in antiquity, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens, close to the Egyptian city of Luxor, in 1904. Regarded as one of the finest tombs from ancient Egypt, one of its richly decorated chambers will be reconstructed in the exhibition. Here visitors can experience the mystic beauty of Nefertari’s tomb, alongside her sarcophagus cover and gifts deposited at her entombment. The Museo Egizio seldom loans these precious grave goods.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Statues of lioness goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor's Kom El-Hettan excavation

by Nevine El-Aref , Friday 9 Dec 2016

Egyptian archaeologists excavating the Mortuary Temple of King Amenhotep III in Luxor have unearthed a number of statues of the goddess Sekhmet, daughter of the ancient Egyptian sun god Re, project director Hourig Sourouzian told Ahram Online on Thursday.

"They are of great artistic quality" Sourouzian said of the statues, which were found in four parts, including three busts and one headless torso, in the Kom El-Hettan archaeological area on Luxor's west bank.

Sourouzian oversees the work of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, which is working to save the remains of the more than 3,000 year-old temple and eventually restore its dispersed artefacts to the site, to be presented in their original layout.

The project director said her team found the Sekhmet pieces in very good condition, buried in the temple's hypostyle hall—a roofed structure supported by columns. Several other statues of the goddess have been found previously on the same site.

According to Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet was charged with defending her father Re against enemies.

The many statues of the goddess in the temple of Amenhotep III would also have been intended to protect the ruler from evil and disease, Afifi told Ahram Online. 

"All statues of the goddess are now stored in warehouses supervised by the Ministry of Antiquities for security reasons,” Afifi said, adding that when excavations at the temple are completed and the site is opened to visitors, the statues will be placed back in their original setting.

In addition to the statues of Sekhmet, Sourouzian's team have uncovered large pieces of sphinxes carved in limestone, as well as a small torso of a deity in black granite, within the vicinity of the funerary temple's third pylon.  

“The sphinxes are in a bad state of preservation and will need to be treated before being exposed,” she said.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany is set to travel to Luxor on Monday, to inspect the newly discovered statues and attend the opening of a temporary exhibit to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Luxor Museum.

The exhibit will display a collection of 40 artefacts discovered by archaeologists on the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project.

The artefacts will include a collection of amulets, Greco-Roman coins, remains of clay pots and religious stelae—stone tablets or columns erected as tombstones or boundary markers.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Metropolis discovered in Abydos in the Upper Egypt's governorate of Sohag

A necropolis and residential settlement were uncovered in Abydos in Sohag, almost 400 m south of the temple of King Seti I

By Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 24 Nov 2016

A necropolis and residential settlement were uncovered Tuesday in Abydos in Sohag, almost 400 metres south of the temple of the New Kingdom pharaoh Seti I.
The settlement and Early Dynastic Period necropolis were found during excavation by an archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the newly discovered site could belong to high officials or architects responsible for the construction of the tombs and funerary walls of the pharaohs of the First Dynasty.

Afifi described the discovery as “very important” because it reveals new information that could change archaeologist's understanding of the history of ancient Abydos.

Excavators also uncovered 15 large mudbrick tombs of varying architectural design. The surface area of each, Afifi said, could reach 70 metres -- larger than that of a First Dynasty royal tomb.

“This size reflects the position of the tombs’ owners -- their importance and social level within the community of that period,” Afifi told Ahram Online.

He added that a group of mudbrick huts were also discovered within the settlement as well as a collection of artefacts from daily life, including the remains of a large number of clay vessels and stone tools used in land cultivation, which suggests that the huts could have belonged to workers supplying the settlement with provisions.

Yasser Mahmoud, the mission's field director, said that the uncovered tombs have a unique architectural design and one or more mastaba -- distinguished by flat roofs and sloping sides -- known only for pharaohs from the First and Third Dynasties at the Saqqara Necropolis. “This new discovery shows that the mastaba tombs were first used in Abydos for pharaohs from the First Dynasty,” Mahmoud said.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Egyptian giant crocodile mummy is full of surprises

Courtesy Interspectral and  Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
A three-metre-long mummified Egyptian 'giant crocodile', one of the finest animal mummies in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), turns out to be literally filled with surprises. Examination of detailed new 3D CT scans has led to the conclusion that, besides the two crocodiles previously spotted inside the wrappings, the mummy also contains dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles. This is an exceptional discovery: there are only a few known crocodile mummies of this kind anywhere in the world. Starting on 18 November, museum visitors can perform a virtual autopsy on the 3,000-year-old mummy, using an interactive visualisation exhibit in the new Egyptian galleries.

Virtual autopsy in museum galleries

A new scan of the large crocodile mummy was recently performed at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam. An earlier CT scan in 1996 had shown that there are two juvenile crocodiles inside a mummy that looks like one large crocodile. The Swedish company Interspectral, which specializes in high-tech interactive 3D visualizations, has converted the results of the new scan into a spectacular 3D application and thus detected the dozens of baby crocodiles. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

3,000-Year-Old Mummy Found in Egyptian Tomb

The well-preserved mummy is believed to be the body of a man named Amenrenef, a servant to a royal household.

Spanish archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Egyptian mummy in "very good condition" near Luxor, Egypt's antiquities ministry has announced.
Photo courtesy of Ahram Online

Resting inside a brightly colored wooden sarcophagus, the mummy had been bound with linen stuck together with plaster.

"The tomb was uncovered at the southern enclosure wall of the Temple of Millions of Years," Mahmoud Afifi, head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities department of the ministry, said in a statement.

The temple was built on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor by Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1490-1436 BC), one of Egypt's greatest warrior kings. Also known as the "Napoleon of Egypt," he was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt as it boasted pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.

The mummy is believed to be the body of a man named Amenrenef, who held the title of "Servant of the King's House." Amenrenef, however, did not live under Thutmosis III. His tomb likely dates from the Third Intermediate period around 1,000 BC, probably to the 21st Dynasty.

"When the temple was already not functioning, the area was used as a necropolis," Egyptologist Myriam Seco Álvarez, head of the Spanish archaeological team, told Seeker.

"Until now we knew about the necropolis under the temple dated to the Middle Kingdom, but we didn't know about the Late Period tombs and this one of the Third Intermediate Period," she added.

The 3,000-year-old mummy case features "many colorful decorations recalling religious symbols of ancient Egypt," the Egyptologist said.

Álvarez, who has been working at the Temple of Millions of Years since 2008, noted that the inscriptions and decorations include solar symbols, the protective goddesses Isis and Nephthys spreading their wings, the four sons of god Horus, and many other finely painted scenes.

"The mission will now study the tomb and its contents to find out more about its owner," Afifi said.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Causeway discovered in ancient Aswan tomb

The causeway leads to the tomb of the first Middle Kingdom provincial governor of Elephantine Island

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 8 Nov 2016

During excavation work at Aswan's Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis, a British mission from Birmingham University and the Egypt Exploration Society uncovered a causeway leading to the tomb of Sarenput I, the first Middle Kingdom nomarch (provincial governor) of Aswan's Elephantine Island.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the newly discovered causeway is considered the longest ever found on the western bank of the Nile in Aswan, stretching for 133 metres to connect the tomb of Sarenput I to the Nile bank.

Afifi explains that the causeway is decorated with engravings, the most important of which are found on the eastern part of the ramp's northern wall and depict a group of men pulling a bull and presenting it as an offering to Sarenput I after his death.

Hani Abul Azm, head of the central administration of Upper Egypt, told Ahram Online that the mission has also unearthed a collection of clay containers from a pit within the causeway, which archaeologists believe are canopic jars used in mummification.

Abul Azm said the containers will be studied, along with the organic materials found inside, in an attempt to better understand the mummification process.

The mission's field director Martin Yumath says he is very enthusiastic about the discovery, describing it as "a wonderful success that could change the original features of Qubbet El-Hawa area."

Friday, November 4, 2016

3,800-Year-Old 'Tableau' of Egyptian Boats Discovered

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | October 31, 2016

More than 120 images of ancient Egyptian boats have been discovered adorning the inside of a building in Abydos, Egypt. The building dates back more than 3,800 years and was built near the tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III, archaeologists reported.

The tableau, as the series of images is called, would have looked upon a real wooden boat said Josef Wegner, a curator at the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the excavation. Only a few planks remain of the wooden boat, which would have been constructed at Abydos or dragged across the desert, Wegner said. In ancient Egypt, boats were sometimes buried near a pharaoh's tomb.

Etchings and a boat

Archaeologists found that the tableau was incised on the white plaster walls of the building.

The largest images are nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and show "large, well-rendered boats depicted with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars and in some cases rowers," wrote Wegner in an article published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. Some images are small and simple, the smallest reaching only about 4 inches (10 centimeters) in length, wrote Wegner.

Though 120 boat images survive today, there would have been more incised on the building walls in ancient times, Wegner wrote. In addition to the boats, the tableau contains incised images of gazelle, cattle and flowers, he noted.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Two Late Period tombs discovered in Aswan

Two Late Period tombs have been uncovered near the Aga Khan mausoleum in Aswan

By Nevine El-Aref , Friday 21 Oct 2016

Two rock-hewn tombs from the Late Period (664 BC to 332 BC) have been revealed near the Aga Khan mausoleum on Aswan's west bank during excavation works carried out by the mission of Aswan Field School.

Photo courtesy of Aswan Field School.
Nasr Salama, the director-general of monuments in Aswan and Nubia at the antiquities ministry, explains that the architecture of both tombs is very simple and each consists of a rectangular front hall with stairs leading to the burial shaft where remains of a sarcophagus and mummy are located.

According to Salama, the tombs are in a very bad conservation condition with plain walls without any decorations, paintings or funerary collection.

The owners of the tombs have not yet been identified but more studies and excavation inside the tombs should yield further information, he added.

Adel Tohamy, the head of the Aswan Field School said that the school aims to train junior archaeologists and restorers to use state-of-the-art techniques in excavations, restoration and documentation of monuments, as well as in archaeological surveying.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beni Sweif tombs to open

Two tombs and the remains of a Ptolemaic temple will soon be open to visitors near the Upper Egyptian town of Beni Sweif, reports Nevine El-Aref

To the west of Beni Sweif lies the Deshasha Cemetery with its rock-hewn tombs of Ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom officials cut into a cliff above the desert plain. The site was investigated in 1897 by British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, who discovered several tombs from the Fifth Dynasty as well as others from the 18th Dynasty.

Egyptologist Naguib Qanawati later worked at the site for 15 years early in the 20th century. Among the best-preserved tombs at the site today are those belonging to the bartender Inty and the supervisor of the royal palace garden Shedu.

Omar Zaki, director of Beni Sweif antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly that Inty’s Tomb included two main halls, the first having three pillars and painted walls depicting the deceased in different positions with his family and deities as well as in hunting, cultivation and artisanal scenes including woodworking.

The second hall is perpendicular to the first and does not have any paintings or engravings. The burial shaft is eight metres below ground level. “There is a rare relief depicting a group of Egyptian military lancers invading a fortified town in Asia on one of the Inty tomb’s walls,” Zaki said, adding that according to the hieroglyphic text on the wall the town was in southern Palestine. Further studies might reveal its name, he said. 

The tomb of Shedu is similar to that of Inty but contains an important relief of two bulls fighting one another. The Ministry of Antiquities in collaboration with the Beni Sweif governorate is now developing the Deshasha site in order to make it more tourist friendly and to open it to visitors.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Great Pyramid Find: Two Mysterious Cavities With Unusual Features

Using various scanning technologies, researchers have found two inexplicable voids.

The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt, has long been rumored to contain hidden passageways leading to secret chambers. Now a team of researchers has confirmed the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum contains two unknown cavities, possibly hiding a corridor-like structure and more mysterious features.

The announcement by the ScanPyramids project comes at the end of a year-long effort to use various scanning technology on Old Kingdom pyramids, including the Great Pyramid, Khafre or Chephren at Giza, the Bent pyramid and the Red pyramid at Dahshur.

Carried out by a team from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering and the Paris-based non-profit organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation (HIP Institute) under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the ScanPyramids project used three innovative techniques — muography, thermography and 3-D simulation — to deeply investigate the Great Pyramid of Giza.

An unknown cavity was detected at a height of about 345 feet from the ground on the northeastern edge of the monument, while a "void" was found behind the northern side at the upper part of the entrance gate.

"Such void is shaped like a corridor and could go up inside the pyramid," Mehdi Tayoubi, founder of the Paris-based Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, told Seeker.

He added that no link can be made between the two cavities at the moment.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Work recognised in Luxor

Important work at different archaeological sites in Luxor was recognised by the Ministry of Antiquities this week, reports Nevine El-Aref

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Enani embarked early this week on a tour of Luxor in order to inspect recent work at the Karnak Temples, inaugurate a number of archaeological sites, and attend the second round of the Thebes in the First Millennium BCE Conference.

Al-Enani started his tour with the inauguration of the Amun-Re Segmnaht Temple, the 11th of the Karnak Temples. The temple dates to the reign of the New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramses II, and its name means “Amun, listener of prayers.”

“The temple was in a very bad state of conservation when work started three months ago as it had not been restored since the 1970s,” Mustafa Waziri, director of Luxor Antiquities told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said the restoration work had included removing unsuitable materials used in restoration work carried out in the last century and the use of better ones. Weak parts of the sandstone blocks of the temple’s walls were consolidated, the upper part of a colossal statue of Osiris found in the temple was restored, and the offering table at the temple’s west gate was reinstalled.

Al-Enani’s second stop was at the open-air museum where the barque shrine of the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III had been reconstructed and restored by the Centre franco-égyptien d’étude des temples de Karnak (CFEETK).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

New discovery in Matariya points to a King Ramses II temple

New discoveries at the Matariya archaeological site near Heliopolis suggest the existence of a temple from the 19th dynasty of Ramses II

By Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

The Egyptian-German Archaeological Mission at Matariya archaeological site discovered new evidence that may lead to a temple of King Ramses II.

Dr Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, stated that this evidence was found about 450 metres to the west of the obelisk of King Senusret I in Matariya. It was discovered when the mission stumbled upon a number of blocks from the temple courtyards and fragments of the temple statuary.

Afifi explained that a new group of large blocks was yielded in the southern part of the area.

They show King Ramses II anointing a divinity. His name is rendered by a rather rare variant “Paramessu.”

Dr. Aymen Ashmawi, the co-director of the mission, said that the recent find was part of the decoration of the innermost rooms of the temple. Further groups of relief fragments attest that King Ramses II was the builder of this temple.

"It confirms the hypothesis that Ramses II showed special interest in Heliopolis in the later decades of his long reign of almost 70 years," Dr Ashmawi said.

In addition, Dr. Dietrich Raue, the co-director of the mission, reported that in the second area of excavations – located in the southeast of the innermost enclosure of the temple – houses and workshops from a mid-Ptolemaic stratum are under excavation.

Other discoveries in the area include faience amulets and metals, Dr. Raue reported. 


Saturday, September 10, 2016

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.

These items reveal a lot about the civilisation that made them, particularly in the excellence and attention to detail shown in them.

According to a recent book, Ancient Egyptians at Play: Board Games Across Borders by Walter Crist, Anne-Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi and Alex de Voogt, the “culture of board games in Egypt has long been a topic of interest for archaeologists, anthropologists and lay people alike, the climatic conditions of the Nile Valley allowing the preservation of perishable materials.”

On the second floor of the Egyptian Museum in the corridor that leads to the display of the funerary items found in the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, there are some very interesting ancient Egyptian royal toys.

There is the toy box of Tutankhamun himself, a white wooden box with a round handle so that the royal baby does not hurt himself when handling it. The box is very like those used today for children to keep their toys in while tidying up their rooms.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Boat beam lifted

The wooden beam that may once have held the oars of the Pharaoh Khufu’s second boat was lifted yesterday from its pit on the Giza Plateau, Nevine El-Aref reports

History has a special scent and taste on the Giza Plateau, where an unsurpassed assembly of soaring pyramids, the awe-inspiring Sphinx, and splendid chapels and tombs reflects the great civilisation of ancient Egypt. Although most of the plateau has been thoroughly excavated, there are still secrets to be revealed.

 The Japanese-Egyptian team as well as journalists and photographers, yesterday gathered around the pit of the Pharaoh Khufu’s second boat on the southern side of the Great Pyramid at Giza to watch minute by minute the lifting up of a boat beam that had recently been discovered, revealing a further such secret.

The beam is carved in wood with metal pieces in different shapes and sizes. The restorers had earlier removed other beams from the pit and covered them in situ with a special chemical solution to protect them from the atmosphere.

The present beam has now been taken to the laboratory on the plateau where restorers will first reduce its humidity until it has reached 55 per cent and then treat and consolidate it.

“This may be the beam that once held the oars of Khufu’s second boat,” Eissa Zidan, director of restoration at the project told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the beam had been found during excavations carried out inside the pit on the boat’s eighth layer.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The mummy of a man from the National Museum in Warsaw turned out to be... a woman

The mummy of the priest Hor-Djehuti, which is in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, hides a woman's body under the bandages. Polish scientists announced the unusual discovery on August 11 at the World Congress on Mummy Studies in Lima, Peru.

The discovery was made in the comprehensive, interdisciplinary Warsaw Mummy Project. Its authors are Polish archaeologists and bioarchaeologists, PhD students at the University of Warsaw: Wojciech Ejsmond, Marzena Ożarek-Szilke and Kamila Braulińska. Braulińska, who delivered a speech in Lima, is the main coordinator of the project.

"A CT scan showed that the skeleton of the alleged priest has a very delicate constitution, which is quite unusual for a man. It was the first signal that we were not dealing with a person referred to by the inscription on the coffin, in which the deceased had been placed" - explained in an interview with PAP Marzena Ożarek-Szilke, archaeologist and physical anthropologist.

Further, more detailed analyses convinced scientists that it was indeed a woman under the bandages. One of the things they noticed on the tomographic images was the lack of... penis. "The Egyptians mummified this organ. It is usually well preserved" - added Ożarek-Szilke.

The researchers performed a three-dimensional reconstruction of the body of the dead woman. This was possible without unwrapping the mummy, through tomographic technology.

"On the obtained 3D images clearly visible are long, curly hair flowing down to her shoulders, and mummified breasts" - described the anthropologist.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Burial chamber discovered in Asasif on Luxor's west bank

The burial chamber and sarcophagus of a 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor has been discovered

by Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 25 Aug 2016

During excavation and cleaning work carried out in the tomb of the 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor Karabasken in south Asasif, on Luxor's west bank, the Egyptian American South Asasif Conservation Project discovered his burial chamber and sarcophagus.

“The sarcophagus is a unique example of Kushite sarcophagi in an elite tomb,” Mahmoud Affifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online, adding that the sarcophagus is carved in plain red granite and does not bear any engravings or paintings.

Elena Pischikova, director of the archaeological mission, explained that the burial chamber was found accidently during excavation work carried out in a room of the tomb. As an was found in its centre and it led to the burial chamber.

Pischikova said that the base and lid of the sarcophagus bore deliberate damage — evidence of two attempts to break into the sarcophagus at some time in antiquity.

“The interior of the sarcophagus was flooded after the first attempt, but further cleaning work will show if any fragments of the wooden coffin or other burial equipment are still preserved inside,” Pischikova said.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Historic Find at Tel-Hazor: A Statue of an Egyptian Official

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.

The statue was originally placed either in the official's tomb or in a temple – most probably a temple of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue's base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue's owner. This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century B.C.E.) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ancient Logbook Documenting Great Pyramid's Construction Unveiled

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | July 18, 2016

A logbook that contains records detailing the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza has been put on public display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in honor of the pharaoh Khufu (reign ca. 2551 B.C.-2528 B.C.) and is the largest of the three pyramids constructed on the Giza plateau in Egypt. Considered a "wonder of the world" by ancient writers, the Great Pyramid was 481 feet (146 meters) tall when it was first constructed. Today it stands 455 feet (138 meters) high.

The logbook was written in hieroglyphic letters on pieces of papyri. Its author was an inspector named Merer, who was "in charge of a team of about 200 men," archaeologists Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard wrote in an article published in 2014 in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology.

Tallet and Marouard are leaders of an archaeological team from France and Egypt that discovered the logbook at the Red Sea harbor of Wadi al-Jarfin 2013. It dates back about 4,500 years, making it the oldest papyrus document ever discovered in Egypt.

"Over a period of several months, [the logbook] reports — in [the] form of a timetable with two columns per day — many operations related to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza and the work at the limestone quarries on the opposite bank of the Nile," Tallet and Marouard wrote.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Polish archaeologists studied a unique necropolis in Egypt

Polish scientists studied a cemetery from the times of the reign XXIII and XXV Dynasty (VIII - VII century BC) in Egypt. The royal necropolis is located in the ... temple of Hatshepsut.

Archaeologists have summed up the 10-year study of an unusual cemetery, which was founded in the times of unrest in Egypt - the so-called Third Intermediate Period, when the power in Egypt was taken over by the kings who came from Libya, and then from the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which is today's Sudan. The latter were described as "black pharaohs".

Even before the year 900 BC, Hatshepsut temple was destroyed by great cataclysm. Probably as a result of an earthquake, hundreds of tons of debris fell on the sanctuary from the surrounding hills. The famous temples of Karnak and Luxor located on the east bank of the Nile also sustained serious damage.

"Members of the royal family - XXIII and XXV dynasty - took advantage of the situation. They consciously decided to build tombs on the upper terrace of the ruins of the Temple of Hatshepsut" - told PAP Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, leader of the Polish-Egyptian restoration and archaeological mission in the temple of the famous queen. According to the researcher, even after its destruction the temple considered a sacred place.

In total, scientists have discovered nearly 20 tombs. The entrance in the form of several meters deep shaft carved into the rock, ending in a single, undecorated burial chamber, was located in the floor of the temple.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peek Inside Cat Mummies With New X-ray Images

Turns out there's more than one way to scan a cat.

By Joshua Rapp Learn

Archaeologists may soon unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt using a new imaging technique that offers a better look inside mummies without removing a single piece of wrapping.

The new kind of CT scan has been successfully tested on cat mummies from the collections of the South Australian Museum. While the exact ages of these mummies are unknown, feline mummies were fairly common in Egypt from about 600 B.C. until A.D. 250.

Typical CT scans use a single type of x-ray to take images of an object from multiple angles and then create a digital image of the insides. Such scans can tell the difference between muscle and bone based on their relative density. But this can present challenges for mummies: As they get older, their skin and muscles dry up and become denser, while the bones lose marrow and become less dense.

The new technique, known as atomic number imaging, instead uses two kinds of x-rays to peer inside stuff and figure out the hidden composition based on a material’s atomic number—one of the defining characteristics of a chemical element. For instance, the scans can distinguish between bones filled with calcium and phosphorous and muscle, which is mostly carbon.

“It’s a technique that can be done on any CT scanner,” says lead author James Bewes, a radiology resident at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, who describes the work in the August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

“We can dive that little bit deeper into the makeup of what we’re imaging,” Bewes says. “We’re trying to tell how they lived and how they died through their bones and through their muscles.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ministry of Antiquities trying to decipher the most controversial mystery coffin in the history of ancient Egypt

The Ministry of Antiquities is trying to decipher the most controversial mystery coffin in the history of ancient Egypt

The Ministry of Antiquities resumes the study of the golden fragments found inside a wooden box inside the store of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir with a grant of $28,500 provided by the American Research Center (ARCE) Endowment Fund 2016.

Elham Salah, Head of Museums Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities pointed out that the study will be conducted by a team of Egyptian archaeologists and restorers from the Egyptian Museum who would study another group of these fragments, which are likely belong to the sarcophagus of tomb KV 55 on the West Bank of Luxor.

Salah also explained that this study significantly contributes in resolving the controversy over the identity of the sarcophagus found in tomb KV55, considered as one of the most controversial sarcophagus in the ancient Egyptian history. This sarcophagus is currently displayed in the Egyptian museum, she pointing out, and the studies conducted by the working team last year figured out the possibility of subordination of these fragments to the sarcophagus.

Islam Ezzat, member of the scientific office at the ministry of antiquities pointed out that after the completion of this extensive study the identity of the owner of this sarcophagus would be determined as well as the owner of tomb KV55. The researchers team is currently working on the dating of this sarcophagus through figuring out the similarities of these fragments with the sarcophagus and its inscriptions.

It is worth mentioning that the wooden box inside the museum’s store had about 500 golden fragments, a small part of a human skull, a paper written by hand in French dates to the time of the discovery of the tomb indicate that these fragments belong to a royal sarcophagus without specifying its name.

The researched team is working under the supervision of a large collection of Egyptian antiquities and restoration scientists in Egypt and the world including Prof./ Faeza Hekal professor of Egyptology at the American University, Prof./Hassan Selim professor of Egyptology at Ain Shams University, Prof./Mark Gabold professor of ancient Egyptian language at the University of Montpellier in France, Prof./ Arnest Brnikas professor of material science at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Prof. Suseran Janescy Great Restorer in Boston Museum at the United States of America, and Hala Hassan, head of the first section of the Egyptian Museum.

Source: Ministry of Antiquities

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Great Pyramid of Giza Gets High-Tech Scan

Scientists have turned to subatomic particles known as muons to scan the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum.

By Rossella Lorenzi

For the past 23 years researchers have been trying to unlock the mysteries of the Great Pyramid in Giza using tomb-raiding robots. Now scientists have turned to subatomic particles known as muons to scan the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum. The aim is to detect voids that might point to hidden chambers and tunnels.

The full scan of the iconic monument is one of several ambitious steps of ScanPyramids, a project carried out by a team from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering and the Paris-based non-profit organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation (Hip Institute) under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

In April the team was able to reveal for the first time the internal structure of the Bent pyramid at Dahshur, using cosmic particles.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the ScanPyramids team detailed three non-invasive techniques employed at Giza. The results of the survey will be shared with several committees representing different scientific disciplines. One of them will gather a number of Egyptologists led by the former minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass.

"Our team is trying to get evidence from the field that some voids exists. Then it will be the role of historians, Egyptologists, architects, to tell why those voids are there," Mehdi Tayoubi, co-director of the ScanPyramids mission, told Discovery News.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

King Tut’s Dagger Made of Extraterrestrial Material

By Robin Ngo  •  06/07/2016

King Tut owned a dagger that was out of this world—literally. Researchers have recently published a study in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science that supports what has long been suspected: The ancient Egyptians were using meteoritic iron well before the spread of iron smelting technology.

In 1925, famed archaeologist Howard Carter—who three years earlier had discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings—found in the pharaoh’s mummy wrapping two daggers: one with a blade of gold and one with a blade of iron. The iron-bladed dagger, finely made with a gold handle and pommel of rock crystal, has long been the subject of debate, as it predates the pervasiveness of iron smelting technology (the extraction of iron from its ore) in the Mediterranean by several centuries. King Tut—whose father Akhenaten established during his reign worship of a single god, the sun-disk Aten—ruled c. 1332–1323 B.C.E. in the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt.

Iron objects dating to the Bronze Age have been found sporadically throughout the Mediterranean, the oldest of which are nine small beads that were excavated from a 3200 B.C.E. tomb in Gerzeh, Egypt. While iron was sometimes obtained at this time as a byproduct of copper and bronze smelting, scholars assumed that during the Bronze Age, objects manufactured in ironworking were made from meteoritic iron.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Saqqara pyramid reopens

The Unas Pyramid at Saqqara and three tombs have been officially reopened after restoration, reports Nevine El-Aref

Last Thursday evening, as the sun was about to set over the horizon at the Saqqara necropolis outside Cairo, Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Enany stood ready to reopen the site’s Unas Pyramid and three ancient Egyptian tombs from the Old and New Kingdoms following their restoration.

With him were top officials, foreign and Egyptian archaeological experts and Egyptian and international journalists. The group stood for a few minutes at the foot of the Unas Pyramid, candles in hand, to pay homage to those who died in the Egyptair flight that crashed in the Mediterranean two weeks ago.

Al-Enany then guided those present to the pyramid and the tombs of the Old Kingdom officials Ankh-Mahor and Nefer-Seshem-Ptah and the New Kingdom tomb of Nemty-Mess.

“The reopening of these sites highlights the fruitful bilateral cooperation between the Ministry of Antiquities and foreign and Egyptian missions working in Egypt,” Al-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly. He added that there will be future cooperation within the framework of international scientific regulations for the benefit of all parties.

He said that the reopenings are part of the ministry’s plans to open more archaeological sites and tourist attractions as part of efforts to help restore Egypt’s tourism industry.

The pyramid of the Fifth-Dynasty pharaoh Unas was the last to be built during the dynasty. Despite its small size, it is considered one of the most important because it was the first to have recorded the ancient Egyptian “Pyramid Texts” on its tomb walls, these being of great religious importance as they were believed to ensure the resurrection of the deceased king.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A New Discovery in Aswan: A Burial of a prominent 12th Dynasty Lady uncovered

Photocredit: Ministry of Antiquities

Within the framework of the excavation works performed by Jaén University – Spain, directed by Alejandro Jimémez-Serrano, in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa (West Aswan) , a burial of a lady called " Sattjeni " from the 12th Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) buried inside two wooden coffins was uncovered…. Declared Dr. Mahmoud Afify, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Archaeology Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities.

Afify said that the discovery is of a historic importance because "Sattjeni" is one of the most important figures in the Middle Kingdom, being the mother of Heqa-Ib III" and " Amaeny-Senb"; two of the highest authorities of Elephantine under the reign of Amenemhat III, around 1800-1775 BCE .

The body was originally wrapped in linen and deposited in two wooden coffins made of cedar from Lebanon…added Nasr Salama, General Director of Aswan and Nubia Areas. Over the face of Sattjeni, some remains of her cartonnage mask were documented. The inner coffin was in extremely good condition, which will even permit to date the year in which the tree was cut.

Dr. Jimémez explained that Lady Sattjeni was a key figure of the local dynasty. She was the daughter of the nomarch Sarenput II and, after the death of all the male members of her family; she was the unique holder of the dynastic rights in the government of Elephantine.

The Spanish Mission (University of Jaén, Spain) in Qubbet el-Hawa, directed by Dr. Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, is working on West Aswan since 2008 and, since that year, has discovered several intact burials of different periods. Among them, it is necessary to remind the discovery of Lady Sattjeni’s son Heqaib III.

Ministry of Antiquities, Press Office

Monday, May 16, 2016

Newly Discovered Fetus Is Youngest Egyptian Mummy on Record

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | May 13, 2016

A miniature coffin discovered more than a century ago holds the remains of the youngest Egyptian ever embalmed as a mummy on record, researchers in England said.

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the coffin revealed that the coffin didn't hold mummified internal organs, as researchers had suspected, but instead contains the tiny mummy of a human fetus, according to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. The mummified fetus was likely at only 16 to 18 weeks of gestation when it died, likely from a miscarriage, museum officials said.

"This landmark discovery … is remarkable evidence of the importance that was placed on official burial rituals in ancient Egypt, even for those lives that were lost so early on in their existence," museum researchers said in a statement.

The British School of Archaeology originally uncovered the 17-inch-long (44 centimeters) coffin in Giza in 1907, and the Fitzwilliam Museum added the coffin to the museum collection that same year. The cedarwood coffin is a perfect miniature of a regular-size coffin from Egypt's Late Period, and likely dates to about 644 B.C. to 525 B.C., museum researchers said. It even has "painstakingly small" carvings on it, the researchers added.

For years, museum curators assumed that the coffin held internal organs, which were routinely removed during the Egyptian embalming process. But curators found otherwise when they examined the coffin during preparations for the museum's bicentennial exhibition, "Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife of Ancient Egypt," which opened in February.

What they discovered in the coffin surprised them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In Egypt, Debate Rages Over Scans of King Tut's Tomb

Tests for hidden chambers yield conflicting results. Investigation likely to continue.

By Peter Hessler

CAIRO, EGYPT - Never underestimate the mysterious, unpredictable, and slightly insane power of Egyptology.

This was the lesson of this past weekend’s Second Annual Tutankhamun Grand Egyptian Museum Conference in Cairo, where attendees may have been lulled by a lineup of sessions that included “Tutankhamun’s Embroidery,” “A Constructive Insight of Some Plant Species from Tutankhamun’s Tomb,” and “The Golden Pendant of Tutankhamun: A New Interpretation of the Epithet of Wertethekau.” If only the epithets had stopped with Wertethekau.

On the third and final day of the conference, more than a hundred people watched two former government ministers sit onstage and angrily accuse each other of trying to drill holes into World Heritage Sites without proper permission. Other exchanges were friendlier, if no less passionate. A couple of scholars bantered about the shape of Queen Nefertiti’s lips, and there was a running debate about whether adult male pharaohs wore earrings during the 14th century B.C., when Tut ruled.

But nothing compared to the news about the boy king’s tomb. After months of speculation about the possibility of hidden chambers in the tomb, officials revealed another surprise: that two different radar scans of King Tut’s burial chamber have resulted in contradictory conclusions.

“Until now, we don’t have a conclusive result,” Khaled El-Enany, the minister of antiquities, announced on the final day of the conference. He called for the formation of a committee to decide the next step, which will likely include further examination by radar and other high-tech methods. On his way out of the lecture hall, El-Enany continued:  “This is my message—that science will talk.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pyramid Interior Revealed Using Cosmic Rays



The internal structure of an ancient Egyptian pyramid was revealed for the first time using cosmic particles, a team of international researchers reports.

The innovative technology was applied to the Bent Pyramid, a 4,500-year-old monument so named because of its sloping upper half.

According to the researchers, who presented their results in Cairo on Tuesday to Khaled El-Enany, minister of Antiquities and the former minister Mamdouh El-Damaty, the outcome was “excellent” as it showed the inside of the monument as with an X-ray.

The technology relies on muons, cosmic particles that permanently and naturally rain on Earth, which are able to penetrate any material very deeply.

This is the first of four pyramids to be investigated within the ScanPyramids, a project carried out by a team from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering and the Paris-based non-profit organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The others are the Great Pyramid, Khafre or Chephren at Giza, and the Red pyramid at Dahshur.

Scheduled to last a year, the project uses a mix of innovative technologies such as infrared thermography, muon radiography, and 3-D reconstruction to better understand the monument and possibly identify the presence of unknown internal structures and cavities.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

CEA joins #ScanPyramids project

The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is joining the mission to scan several of Egypt's pyramids

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 19 Apr 2016

After having submitted a request to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the #ScanPyramids project is welcoming a new team of researchers from the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the Institute of Research into the Fundamental Laws of the Universe (Irfu).

Communication Officer, Malak Elkhadem, announced that since the launching of the project, the CEA team has shown interest due to its know-how in muon tomography. The team has been developing over many years micro-pattern gas detectors called Micromegas.

The #ScanPyramids project aims at scanning over the course of one year a number of Egyptian pyramids, including the Khufu and Khafre pyramids in Giza as well as the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramids.

The project combines several non-invasive and non-damaging scanning techniques to search for the presence of any hidden internal structures and cavities in ancient monuments, which may lead to a better understanding of their structure and their construction processes / techniques.

The Micromegas detectors are used to reconstruct particle tracks for many scientific endeavours in high energy physics. According to Elkhadem, the detectors have been installed in the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in the US.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Speak like an ancient Egyptian

Mai Samih discovers how ancient Egyptian expressions and traditions have survived to the present day

Today’s Egyptians have inherited from their Pharaonic ancestors not only their distinguished civilisation, but also certain traditions and words from their hieroglyphic vocabulary.

Hanging an image of a blue glass eye or a metal hand, called a khamsa wa khemesa, on the wall to protect people from the evil eye is an ancient Egyptian habit. The same is true of the belief that a cat has nine lives. According to the ancient Egyptian religion, cats are the sun god Ra’s incarnation and share some of his characteristics, among them having nine lives.

In the version of Arabic spoken by Egyptians today more customs and traditions can be discovered. This is well illustrated in a book entitled The Origins of Slang Words in the Ancient Egyptian Language by Sameh Maqqar. The author has based his work on books by renowned Egyptian and foreign Egyptologists, including The Ancient Egyptian Language by Abdel-Halim Noureddin, professor of ancient Egyptian at Cairo University, and Egyptian Grammar by the British Egyptologist E A Wallis.

Maqqar’s book uncovers, through many ancient Egyptian words, the characteristics of the ancient Egyptians, together with the kinds of lives they lived.

According to Maqqar, a modern Egyptian is given his share of the language used by his forefathers in the cradle. This is exemplified in the early vocabulary used by Egyptian children today. For example, embo (I’m thirsty) is the Egyptian slang children use to communicate their thirst. It is derived from the combination of two ancient Egyptian words eb (I want) and mo (water) and changed to its current form for ease of pronunciation.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Barque station of Queen Hatshepsut discovered on Elephantine Island

Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector Dr. Mahmoud Afify declared the discovery of a number of blocks that most probably belong to a previously unknown building of Queen Hatshepsut that was discovered this year by the German Archaeological Institute on the Island of Elephantine, Aswan.

According to Dr Felix Arnold, the field director of the mission, the building served as a waystation for the festival barque of the god Khnum. The building was later dismantled and about 30 of its blocks have now been found in the foundations of the Khnum temple of Nectanebo II. Some of the blocks were discovered in previous excavation seasons by members of the Swiss Institute, but the meaning of the blocks has only now become clear.

On several of the blocks discovered this year Queen Hatshepsut was originally represented as a woman. The building must therefore have been erected during the early years of her reign, before she began to be represented as a male king. Only very few buildings from this early stage of her career have been discovered so far. The only other examples have been found at Karnak. The newly discovered building thus adds to our knowledge of the early years of Queen Hatshepsut and her engagement in the region of Aswan. In the reign of Thutmosis III. all mentions of her name were erased and all representations of her female figure were replaced by images of a male king, her deceased husband Thutmosis II.

Based on the blocks discovered so far the original appearance of the building can be reconstructed. The building thus comprised a chamber for the barque of the god Khnum, which was surrounded on all four sides by pillars. On the pillars are representations of several versions of the god Khnum, as well as other gods, such as Imi-peref “He-who-is-in-his-house”, Nebet-menit “Lady-of-the-mooring-post” and Min-Amun of Nubia. The building thus not only adds to our knowledge of the history of Queen Hatshepsut but also to our understanding of the religious beliefs current on the Island of Elephantine during her reign.

Ministry of Antiquities, Press Office
Based on the the Mission's Report.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Seven more days

Tenhours of radar scanning of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber produced no concrete results. Seven days of study and analysis are still required, reports Nevine El-Aref

Although the sun beat down in the middle of the Valley of the Kings and the heat was overwhelming, dozens of Egyptian and foreign journalists and photographers gathered at the footsteps of King Tutankhamun's tomb, anxious to hear the results of a new American-Egyptian radar survey.

But they left disappointed.

"The scans have given several data and indications but we cannot announce the results right now because it requires more study to achieve accurate and concrete results," Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told reporters. El-Enany said seven days at most were still needed for all the data to be analysed and studied by a US-Egypt geophysics team.

"We have indications but I want to highlight that we are not looking for a hidden chamber. We are testing a scientific hypothesis," El-Enany said. “We are keen on science and exploring the truth.”

A new vertical radar survey is to be conducted at the end of April in order to be 100 per cent sure of the results of both previous radar scans.

El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly that on 6 May all the results of the three radar surveys are to be discussed by scholars from across the globe during an international conference to be held at the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

3,400-Year-Old Necropolis Found in Egypt


A remarkable 3,400-year-old necropolis has been discovered at an Egyptian quarry site, the Ministry of Antiquities announced on Wednesday.

Consisting of dozens of rock-cut tombs, the New Kingdom necropolis was found at Gebel el Sisila, a site north of Aswan known for its stone quarries on both sides of the Nile. Blocks used in building almost all of ancient Egypt’s great temples were cut from there.

“So far we have documented over 40 tombs, including a small shrine on the banks of the Nile,” Lund University archaeologist Maria Nilsson, director of the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project, told Discovery News. “Many tombs are in bad condition. They have suffered from heavy erosion and extreme decay due to the rising water and its high salt contents,” Nilsson said.

Nilsson and associate director John Ward concentrated on the cleaning of a small selection of tombs. Their team worked in cooperation with the Ministry of Antiquities as well as Kom Ombo and Aswan Inspectorates under General Directors Abd el Menum and Nasr Salama respectively.

The shrine is a small rock-cut sanctuary featuring two open chambers facing the river and an inner doorway crowned with the winged solar disc. The burials, meanwhile, consist of one to two undecorated rock-cut chambers, with one or more crypts cut into the bed rock floors.

In some cases the archaeologists found remains of the original lids.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Boat discovery sheds light

A recently discovered 4,500-year-old non-royal boat in the Abusir necropolis is shedding new light on watercraft construction in ancient Egypt, reports Nevine El-Aref

Scholars have long debated the purpose of ancient Egyptian boat burials. Did they serve the deceased in the afterlife? Or might they have functioned as symbolic solar barques used during the journey of the owner through the underworld?

The Old Kingdom kings adopted the earlier tradition and often had several boats buried within their pyramid complexes. Unfortunately, most of the pits that have been found are empty of timber, while others contain little more than brown dust in the shape of the original boat. The only exceptions are the two boats of the First Dynasty king Khufu, and these have been reconstructed or are in the process of reconstruction.

However, no boat of such dimensions from the Old Kingdom has been found in a non-royal context until the newly discovered boat at Abusir.

Last December, a Czech archaeological mission from Charles University in Prague stumbled upon what is believed to be the first remains of a non-royal ancient Egyptian wooden boat ever found. The discovery was made during excavation work at the Abusir necropolis, in an area south of a still unidentified non-royal mastaba tomb identified as AS54.

Miroslav Bárta, the leader of the mission, told Al-Ahram Weekly that this unexpected discovery once again highlights the importance of this Old Kingdom official cemetery. He said that the excavation work that led to this important discovery started in 2009 on mastaba tomb AS54 and had been followed by several seasons of excavations.