Monday, January 24, 2022

A Fetus Was Preserved Within an Egyptian Mummy Because It 'Pickled', Scientists Say

Volumetric rendering of fetus from CT data with interpretation. (Ejsmond et al., J. Archaeol. Sci., 2022)

A Fetus Was Preserved Within an Egyptian Mummy Because It 'Pickled', Scientists Say

24 JANUARY 2022

Last year, archaeologists presented an incredible first: the discovery of a mummified fetus within the abdomen of its mummified ancient Egyptian mother.

Who the woman was, and how she died just over 2,000 years ago are both still mysteries – hence she is known as the Mysterious Lady. But now we know how the fetus was preserved. According to new research by the Warsaw Mummy Project, the preservation occurred via the acidification of the woman's body as she decomposed.

As the researchers so colorfully put it, the process is akin to pickling an egg.

"The fetus remained in the untouched uterus and began to, let say, 'pickle'. It is not the most aesthetic comparison, but conveys the idea," the research team, led by bio-archaeologist Marzena Ożarek-Szilke of the University of Warsaw in Poland and archaeologist Wojciech Ejsmond of the Polish Academy of Sciences, explain in a blog post.

"Blood pH in corpses, including content of the uterus, falls significantly, becoming more acidic, concentrations of ammonia and formic acid increase with time. The placement and filling of the body with natron [a salt mixture collected from dry lake beds] significantly limited the access of air and oxygen. The end result is an almost hermetically sealed uterus containing the fetus."

The question as to whether what they had found was actually a fetus was posed by radiologist Sahar Saleem of Cairo University in Egypt, who penned a reply to the initial discovery. She noted that no bones could be detected in the scans of the mummy, and therefore the identification of a fetus must be inconclusive.

But this is not unexpected, Ożarek-Szilke and her team argue. Fetal bones are very poorly mineralized during the first two trimesters, which means they are difficult to detect in the first place after undergoing taphonomic (or preservation) processes. Fetal bones are even hard to find during archaeological excavations.

In addition, the acidifying processes that would have taken place inside the corpse of the Mysterious Lady as her body decomposed would have further demineralized the already delicate fetal bones.

It's not dissimilar to the natural process of mummification that takes place in peat bogs, where the highly acidic environment 'pickles' soft tissue, but demineralizes the bones.

mummy fetus ct0scanCT scan of the fetus in utero; A is the head and B is the hand. (Ejsmond et al., J. Archaeol. Sci., 2022)

"This process of bone demineralization in an acidic environment can be compared to an experiment with an egg," the researchers write. "Picture putting an egg into a pot filled with an acid. The eggshell is dissolving, leaving only the inside of the egg (albumen and yolk) and the minerals from the eggshell dissolved in the acid."

The reason the body of the Mysterious Lady and the body of the fetus are different in this regard is because they mummified differently. The Lady was mummified using natron, a naturally occurring salt mix that the ancient Egyptians used to dry out and disinfect bodies. The fetus, in her sealed womb, mummified in the resulting acidic environment.

In addition, the minerals leached from the fetus' bones would have been deposited in the soft tissues of the fetus itself, and the uterus around it, resulting in a higher-than-expected mineral content. This means that these tissues would have higher radiodensity in the CT scans.

The results suggest that perhaps other pregnant mummies might be hiding in plain sight in other museum collections. Scans of mummies are usually identifying bones, and amulets tucked inside their wrappings. By looking carefully at soft tissues, other such mummies might be identified.

In turn, this might help archaeologists and anthropologists uncover why the fetus was left intact when the Mysterious Lady's other internal organs were removed for the mummification process.

"Maybe it had something to do with beliefs and rebirth in the afterlife," Ożarek-Szilke told Science in Poland. "It is still difficult to draw any conclusions as we do not know if this is the only pregnant mummy. For now, it is definitely the only known pregnant Egyptian mummy."

The team's analysis also determined that, due to the position of the fetus and the closed condition of the birth canal, the woman did not die in childbirth. Previous analysis found that the Mysterious Lady was between the ages of 20 and 30 when she died, and her pregnancy was between 26 and 30 weeks.

"The Mysterious Lady died together with the unborn child, and by examining her, we restore their memory," the researchers write.

"We remember that it was a long-lived person who had her dreams, probably loved ones and was loved. Now she reveals to us the secrets she took with her to the grave."

The research has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Musée Champollion: The First Museum Dedicated to Egyptology

Musée Champollion: The First Museum Dedicated to Egyptology

Musée Champollion
Musée Champollion © Département de l'Isère Musée Champollion

The Champollion family mansion in the town of Vif, south of Grenoble in the Isère department, has been entirely transformed as the site of the first museum dedicated in its entirety to Egyptology, a discipline that the Champollion brothers helped found.

From local Isère to the far-off banks of the Nile, the visit retraces the career of the Champollion brothers, step by step. The grounds were restored in the spirit of the 19th century, reforested, and adorned with flower beds and an orchard of local species to recreate the original rural ambiance.

Displays include items from both the permanent collection and archives of national museums, notably 85 Egyptian antiquities from Louvre Museum exhibited on the second floor, in a room dedicated to the original Charles X Museum. This was the first Egyptology section within the Louvre, which opened in 1927 with none other than Jean-François Champollion as its first curator.
Inaugurated June 2021.


Musée Champollion
45, rue Champollion
38450 Vif
Tel: +33 (0)4 57 58 88 50
The museum is part of a network of 11 museums operated by the Isère department.
Entry is free but it's necessary to make a reservation online in advance.
Closed Mondays. Hours vary by season. Check the official website for exact times.

From France Today Magazine

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Grave danger: Controversy over Egyptian government plan to demolish Cairo historic cemeteries - Heritage special - Heritage - Ahram Online

Grave danger: Controversy over Egyptian government plan to demolish Cairo historic cemeteries

Amira Noshokaty , Saturday 22 Jan 2022

​Cairo's historic cemeteries are at risk of being demolished, but what is so important about such ancient grave yard?

Grave danger
Photo courtesy of Karim Badr

It was a full house last Saturday, at the seminar and photo exhibition titled Contemporary Cemetery Architecture in Egypt, Value and Challenges. The event was organized by the safeguard of Cairo's historic cemeteries group that was launched a few months ago, in reaction to the government's plan to relocate some of Cairo's cemeteries as part of development of roads of the capital.

The government plan has been highly opposed in the media by the families of the cemeteries at stake as well as historians who believe that the cemeteries are part and parcel of Egypt's tangible and intangible heritage. Prior to the seminar, the safeguard of Cairo's historic cemeteries group launched an online petition addressing Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Al Sissi to intervene.

Held at Greater Cairo Public Library, the seminar was moderated by one of the organizers of the event professor Galila El-Kadi, an architect and head of research at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in Paris. El-Kadi is a co-author of Architecture for the Dead: Cairo's Medieval Necropolis

The cultural value

"What the ancient Egyptians left us is tombs, and from such tombs we got to know our ancient history. So if every ruler demolished the cemeteries of the one before him, all of the ancient Egyptian history would not have existed, as if they never were, we would have known nothing about them," El-Kadi said, explaining the immense importance of Cairo's Historic cemeteries. She added that they reflect a rich diverse plateau of architecture styles according to the culture and social class of the people that are buried there. And they all have a housh internal open yard. "The housh is built with stones in order to defy time and live" she added.

"And because of all these values, the UNESCO put the cemeteries of Cairo in 1979 on the list of world heritage sites since it is already on the premises of Historic Cairo. The national organization for urban harmony when it was first established in 2002, focused on the cemeteries and started to register some of them as places of unique architectural style," she added, explaining that it is also protected by Egyptian laws. And despite all such laws, the cemeteries suffered negligence throughout the decades. 

According to El-Kadi, since the first urban planning of greater Cairo in 1956, there has been no plan to regulate the relationship between the city of the dead and that of the living, except the 2050 plan that aims to demolish the city of the dead altogether. She recalled how the Fardous (heaven) axis last year cut through the mamluk cemeteries from east to west demolishing registered housh in the process.

 "It's a personal family heritage that grew to become human heritage, this is not mere burial grounds," concluded El-Kadi, noting that the new planned axis in the southern historic cemeteries, would demolish cemeteries of Egyptian cultural icons.

"The general welfare is important and preserving heritage is also a general welfare, we can always cater for both," she concluded.

"Historic Cemeteries, a timeline of Egypt's capitals"

According to antiquities professor Hossam Ismail at Ain shams university, the historic cemeteries of Cairo is more of a trail of establishment of modern Egypt from the time of Amr Ibn Al A'as till now.

Why Moqattam?

Choosing this area specifically, down the Moqattam Mountain, goes back to Amr Ibn Al A'as' negotiations for the handover of Egypt from the Byzantine ruler Al Moqawqes. "The story goes that Al Moqawqes wanted to keep Al Moqattam Mountain because of its religious value but Amr Ibn Al A'as refused. It is said that when God picked a mountain upon which he shall reveal himself, all other mountains donated plants and flowers as tokens to the chosen mountain. Except for Al Moqattam, it donated all its greenery. So God rewarded the Moqattam by making it the burial ground of those who shall go to heaven," explained Ismail.  

And from that time on, when Amr Ibn Al A'as built Egypt's capital Al Fustat, he started burying in this area where a lot of Sahabis (disciples) are buried such as Oqba Ibn Amer.  

By the reign of the Abbasids, when they built their new capital, The Askar, they extended their cemeeries to the Imam Al-Shafii and al Saida Nafisa area. By the reign of the mamluks the cemeteries reached Saida Eisha Square, and were named Qayed Bay Cemeteries, the eastern arafa or arafet al-Mamalik.

The origin of the Name Arafa

The name Arafa, added Ismail, is a synonym of cemeteries only in Cairo, for it is derived from Beni Qarafa, pronounced Arafa in slang Egyptian, one of the first Arab tribes that settled in Cairo during the rule of Amr ibn Al'as and set their burial grounds there.  

A symbol of continuous heritage

Through her talented lens and research skills, Alia Nassar, an architect and photographer, shared some outlines of her documentation project of Al Arafa.

"Arafa is a symbol of continuous heritage, for Arafa has social values that extend from the ancient Egyptians till now," noted Nassar as she pointed out the similarities between both. "House of eternity was literally a house and a place to live like their own houses. They wrote their names and titles like we do on our tombstones, for ancient Egyptians the name is part of the soul and erasing the name means he never existed.

Communication between the dead and the living

"The concept of "offerings" in the form of food and beverages in Ancient Egypt was a way of communication with their dead. They also would bring them blue lotus flowers. They believed that the dead can protect them from any evil spirits," elaborated Nassar, noting that the food they get is eventually handed out to the poor, which is exactly what Egyptians nowadays do, when they come and visit their loved ones in the cemeteries. They would buy flowers, bring food to give out to the poor and spend the whole day there scattering flowers and happy memories of the diseased, she added.

"Then after celebrating their diseased, they would break an "olla "(Pottery drinking pot) after this so that death does not come back, like we do when someone terrible finally leaves, as a gesture of good riddance," added Nassar.

"And finally the ancient Egyptians used to write letters to their dead ones and we still do, like those letters addressing Sufi Imam Al Shafaii and the Walli they believed is living in Bab Zoweila,"she concluded.

A History Book wide opened

 "I think that the cemeteries are a history book on the ground, you can learn and love your country from all the history of the people that preceded," explained Dr. Mostafa El-Sadek, a physician and one of the experts who documented the Historic Cemeteries of Cairo.

"I believe that the tomb stone is the identity card of a person. You would find an emma (head turban) or tarboush (Fez) and braids for woman. Some would draw their medals of honors, here the flowers decorating the tombs are hand engraved on marbles that is highly unique and artistic given the fact that there was no machines back then to do this, just go and see how much we are going to lose if we demolish it," concluded El-Sadek.

An alternative route

"We created an online map of Historic Cemeteries of Cairo on Google and anyone can add to it so we have a documentation with photographs and maps of the cemeteries of value," explained Tareq Al-Murry, historian, architect consultant and founder of the safeguard of Cairo's historic cemeteries group. Al Murry shared with the audience an alternative axis that could ease the traffic flow without demolishing the cemeteries. That was followed by a comprehensive strategy for Egypt's public transportation proposed by young engineer Amr Essam.

Man interrupted!

"My name is Hany al Fekki. I am the one who designed and implemented the fardous Axis and the Salah Salem axis and all the bridges of Heliopolis and Nasr City," explained the man in black who took the audience by surprise for he was not invited.

After briefly explaining that he will not touch any "historic" tombs, an argument followed between him and the panel because any tombs in Historic Cairo is by default regarded as historic and of great value and should not be demolished as per UNESCO 1979 and per national laws. 

El Fekki explained that the plan of the new Salah Salem Axis and how the road will extend to Al Saida Eisha area, will take off Saida Eisha bridge, and cut  into the slum area behind the Saida Eisha mosque.  

"The political leaders said that they want to make yards for Al Al Beit (Decedents of Prophet Mohammed) mosques like Al Hussien's yard, and this is what we started to do," noted El Fekki.

The audience argued that this axis will allow more cars next to the historic cemeteries which will cause a lot of turbulence and gas emissions that could eventually ruin the historic cemeteries that they drive pass them.

On asking him directly, will the cemeteries in general be affected with the new Salah Salem axis?

"Yes and in the future, all of the cemeteries are going to be demolished, except for the historic ones, "he told Ahram Online.

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Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo) - The Saxon

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

Scientists managed to convey the facial features of a woman, including her nose, cheeks and even lips. However, the color of her skin and her eyes has not yet been reliably determined.

Shep-en-Isis is an Egyptian mummy that has been kept since 1820 in the Swiss Library of the monastery of St. Gall. After spending several months, scientists at the FAPAB research center in Sicily successfully reconstructed the mummy's face using modern forensic techniques, writes Ancient Origins.

The story of Shep-en-Isis

The coffin of Shep-en-Isis was found in the southern part of the funerary temple of Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the Deir el-Bahri valley, on the western bank of the Nile River. Mortuary temples were built by pharaohs so that people would worship them after death.

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

Shep-en-Isis was found in a family tomb located inside the temple, along with her father Pa-es-tjenfi, whose mummy is kept in Berlin. Shep-en-Isis was one of the first Egyptian mummies acquired by Switzerland, and shortly after its arrival in 1820, it was put on public display.

This well-preserved mummy with an exquisite sarcophagus soon became a major attraction, in fact quickly reaching the status of Switzerland's most popular mummy. However, in addition to this, she also became the object of various studies.

The study of the embalmed body for two centuries showed that the woman lived in the 7th century BC. during the XXVI dynasty (between 685 and 525 BC), the last period of glory of Ancient Egypt.

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

"Based on the anatomical age of Shep-en-Isis and the decoration of the inner sarcophagus, she must have been born around 650 BC and died between 620 and 610 BC," said Egyptologist Michael Habicht from the University of Zurich.

The inscriptions on her coffin testified that she belonged to a wealthy upper-class family and came from the family of the high priests of Amun (the highest title among the priests of the ancient Egyptian god Amun) in Thebes. Judging by her family background, she probably received an education. However, many years of research did not allow to establish the identity and profession of her husband, as well as whether she had children.

Restoring the appearance of a mummy

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

Along with historical documents and research data, the FAPAB team had a set of computer topographic images available in the library, and morphological data that could be used for facial reconstruction.

Brazilian specialist Cicero Morais, who is a 3D designer and is known in this field for his reconstructions of the faces of historical figures such as Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, was brought in to work on the project.

Morias modeled the facial muscles, as well as adipose tissue of the mummy. The skin, in turn, was added in accordance with the previously established soft tissue thickness at certain anatomical points.

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

The best-preserved feature of the mummified body was a full set of slightly protruding teeth. All this, along with a harmonious and well-proportioned skull, suggests that during her lifetime Shep-en-Isis was most likely a beautiful young woman.

How close to reality is the reconstruction of the mummy's face?

Morais and his team focused solely on reconstructing the appearance and anatomical details without adding decorations, clothing or hair. And all due to the fact that such accessories are based on assumptions, not facts.

Answering questions about how close to the original, in his opinion, the results of the work done, Habicht noted that the reconstruction The face follows statistical and anatomical data. Facial features correspond to reality, keeping the shape of the face, nose, cheeks and lips. However, the team had to resort to some guesswork when it came to skin and eye color.

Archaeologists have recreated the appearance of the              famous Egyptian mummy from Switzerland (photo)

But during another study scientists were able to find out how the fetus of a pregnant Egyptian mummy, 2,000 years old, was preserved. As it turned out, the whole thing was in an unusual chemical process, as a result of which the fetus was "pickled" and locked in time.

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Korea to participate in restoration work at Egyptian temples

Korea to participate in restoration work at Egyptian temples
Posted : 2022-01-23 13:17
Updated : 2022-01-23 17:50

Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) Administrator                Kim Hyun-mo, front left, and Egypt's Supreme Council of                Antiquities Secretary-General Mostafa Waziri, front right,                pose after signing a memorandum of understanding for                cooperation in the cultural heritage property management                field, at Prince Mahammad Ali Palace in Cairo, Friday                (local time). Courtesy of CHA
Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) Administrator Kim Hyun-mo, front left, and Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary-General Mostafa Waziri, front right, pose after signing a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the cultural heritage property management field, at Prince Mahammad Ali Palace in Cairo, Friday (local time). Courtesy of CHA

By Kim Rahn

The cultural heritage property management authorities of Korea and Egypt have agreed to cooperate in the restoration, excavation and preservation of antiquities, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said, Sunday.

The CHA and the Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation and exchange in cultural heritage property management in Cairo, Friday (local time), on the sidelines of President Moon Jae-in's official visit to the African country.

In talks on the previous day with CHA Administrator Kim Hyun-mo, Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the council, requested CHA's participation in restoring the Ramesseum Temple in Luxor and in the excavation of a temple of Thutmose IV, using Korea's restoration techniques, and the Korean agency accepted.

Under the agreement, the two sides will cooperate in surveying, excavating and restoring archaeological relics, fighting the trafficking of cultural assets, supporting each other's bids for cultural heritage properties to be registered as World Heritage as well as exchanges of specialists in related fields.

The CHA will expand its official development assistance (ODA) to include the restoration of a pylon at the Ramesseum Temple in Luxor and the digitization of Egypt's cultural heritage assets through ODA programs starting in 2023.

It will restore the collapsed pylon and refurbish the entrance. The administration will also help Egypt set up a digital database of historical sites and cultural heritage remains owned by the country's six major museums and research institutes.

The two sides will support each other's efforts to register cultural heritage assets as UNESCO World Heritage, including Korea's bid to have the Gaya Tumuli, a set of seven tumuli sites in southern parts of the country, listed during a World Heritage Committee meeting slated for June.

"The MOU is significant in that we've expanded the regions to which we offer ODA programs in the cultural heritage sector," the CHA said in a press release. "We hope the agreement will help Korea be positioned as a contributor in aid projects in the cultural heritage property sector. We'll continue to improve our ODA programs in it."
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Reminder - ARCE-NC Egyptology Lecture Feb. 6: Human Remains from the First Dynasty Subsidiary Burials at Abydos


The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a virtual lecture by Dr. Roselyn A. Campbell, Getty Research Institute:

The Human Remains from the First Dynasty Subsidiary Burials at Abydos

When: Sunday, February 6, 2022, 3 PM Pacific Time

Zoom Lecture. A registration link will be automatically sent to ARCE-NC members. Non-members may request a registration link by sending email with your name and email address to Attendance is limited, so non-members, please send any registration requests no later than Friday, February 4.

Glenn Meyer
ARCE-NC ePublicity

General view of Umm el-Qa'ab, Abydos (Wikimedia Commons image)

About the Lecture:

The subsidiary burials surrounding the royal funerary complexes of the First Dynasty rulers at Abydos have piqued scholarly and public interest for well over a century. These subsidiary burials, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, contained the remains of men and women who seem to have been associated with the royal court. The quality of the grave goods within some of these graves, as well as statements by early excavators that most of the individuals interred were relatively young and seemed healthy, have sparked debate among scholars. Were the individuals in these subsidiary graves killed in a sacrificial ritual to accompany their deceased ruler into the afterlife, or were they simply interred around the royal burial as they died naturally over time? This talk will explore new data gathered from a study of the human remains that have been preserved from some of these subsidiary burials, shedding new light on the lives and deaths of these individuals at the birth of the Egyptian state.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Roselyn A. Campbell is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California. She is a bioarchaeologist and Egyptologist, and has worked at archaeological sites throughout Egypt as well as in Peru, Ethiopia, Spain, and the western United States. Her research focuses on evidence for violence and trauma in the past, as well as the history of cancer in antiquity, and how these topics are relevant to the modern world.

About ARCE-NC:

For more information, please visit,,, or To join the chapter or renew your membership, please go to and select "Berkeley, CA" as your chapter when you sign up.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Archaeology Abridged: Operation Amethyst with Dr. Kate Liszka - YouTube

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Researchers Unearth Colossal Pair of Sphinxes in Egypt –

Archaeologists Unearth Colossal Pair of Sphinxes in Egypt During Restoration of Landmark Temple

Tessa Solomon

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Celebrating archaeologists - Heritage - Al-Ahram Weekly - Ahram Online

Celebrating archaeologists

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 18 Jan 2022

The 15th Annual Archaeologists Day took place at the Cairo Opera House this week where many figures were honoured and Egyptian heritage celebrated, reports Nevine El-Aref

The 15th Annual Archaeologists Day
The 15th Annual Archaeologists Day

After a year's hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, archaeologists from across Egypt met at the Cairo Opera House on Monday night for the 15th Annual Archaeologists Day.

The event brought together hundreds of archaeologists, ambassadors of foreign countries in Cairo, representatives of Egyptian and foreign universities, directors of archaeological institutes, ministry leaders, and prominent figures, all of whom attended the main auditorium at the Opera House in Cairo.

The stage became an ancient Egyptian temple for the day, with a twist as it was embellished with an imposing entrance and two statues of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. A modern stained-glass backdrop was also part of the decoration.

During the event's musical and dance performances, the backdrop changed to show tourist destinations such as the Giza Pyramids, Luxor, Alexandria, and Hurghada, as well as photographs of conservators cleaning and restoring temples to reveal their original beauty. Archaeologists were shown uncovering the secrets of ancient Egyptian civilisation.

This year, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the day's sponsor, focused on paying homage to pioneering archaeologists and restorers who spent their lives exploring, documenting, and preserving Egypt's heritage. A number of specialists were honoured along with workers who helped in excavation works.

A two-minute documentary highlighting the restoration work being carried out at ancient Egyptian temples in Luxor, Esna, and Dendara by Egyptian conservators was screened.

During a speech at the event, Khaled El-Enany, the minister of tourism and antiquities, congratulated Egypt's archaeologists and restorers, expressing his appreciation of their efforts to preserve the history and monuments of Egypt, part of the heritage of humanity as a whole.

Despite the fact that two years have passed since the last celebration because of the coronavirus pandemic, archaeological work has kept going, El-Enany said, adding that vigorous efforts had been made to continue with many archaeological projects and museums being opened and discoveries uncovered.

He said that archaeologists have played a major role in promoting Egypt abroad and drawing the world's attention through various discoveries and the inaugurations of important archaeological projects they have undertaken and are still carrying out.

He emphasised the interest of the state in the tourism and antiquities sector and the unprecedented support from the political leadership.

El-Enany described 2022 as an exceptional year because it marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of the golden boy king Tutankhamen as well as the 200th anniversary of the deciphering of ancient Egyptian writing and the emergence of Egyptology.

He reviewed the ministry's achievements over the last year, including discoveries and the inaugurations of archaeological projects and museums. What had taken place in Saqqara had had the largest share of all the year's archaeological discoveries, with the unveiling of secrets about the ancient Egyptian civilisation through the discovery of more than 100 coloured wooden coffins, he said.

In Luxor, a city called the "Rise of Aton" had been discovered dating back to the reign of Amenhotep lll, one of the top ten discoveries of 2021, El-Enany said.

A number of museums had been opened including the Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, and Royal Carriages Museums as well as two museums at Cairo Airport. The Djoser Pyramid and its southern tomb had been opened in Saqqara, along with the Elyahu Hanby Synagogue in Alexandria. The tomb of Ramses II had reopened after restoration, and three stations on the Path of the Holy Family in Egypt had been set up after development.

A first factory to make replicas had been opened, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) had received the royal mummies, the Al-Jeddawi Wekala had been opened in Esna, and the first phase of the project to restore the Al-Tanbagha Al-Mardani Mosque in Cairo had been completed.

There had also been high-profile projects to restore the Sphinx Avenue in Luxor and the Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis, he said.

The ministry has also succeeded over the past two years in recovering 5,722 artifacts from foreign countries including the US, Italy, France, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Spain, the UAE, and others.


Underway: The ministry will soon inaugurate the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) on the Pyramids Plateau, El-Enany said, which will be a truly exceptional event.

Engineering work is 99 per cent complete, and the GEM has received and restored more than 55,000 artefacts. The heaviest pieces have been fixed in the atrium and on the grand staircase, and over 80 per cent of the Tutankhamen collection has been installed in dedicated galleries.

Work is also underway to open the Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra and the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, in addition to completed projects that are ready to be opened, such as the Museum of Egypt's Capitals in the New Administrative Capital.

El-Enany also spoke about the ministry's approach to holding international celebrations, seeing these as greatly contributing to promoting tourism, especially the Golden Mummies Parade and the Luxor Sphinx Avenue celebrations.

"Both celebrations are part of a will to merge the activities of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and cooperate with the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian

Tourism Promotion Board," he said.

He went on to shed light on the legislation that has been recently enacted to further protect Egyptian antiquities, including the amendment of Antiquities Protection Law 117/1983 by criminalising the smuggling of antiquities and climbing on monuments.

A law has been passed to make the GEM a public authority reporting to the minister in charge of antiquities and another also establishing the NMEC as a public body affiliated to the minister.

Measures have been taken over the past two years to improve conditions for employees of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, with 9,215 employees being promoted to higher levels, the contractual forms of 4,247 contractors modified, and a wage for work clause introduced to put them on permanent financial grades.

A promotional incentive of five per cent of salary was approved for more than 2,600 employees of the supreme council among those not holding managerial or supervisory positions in July last year. An incentive bonus was approved for nearly 3,700 employees at the Supreme Council and the Nuba Archaeology Rescue Fund to the value of five per cent of salary and a raise of seven per cent for about 25,600 workers at the Council and the Nuba Fund.

Some 5,100 training programmes have been completed by employees at the ministry in coordination with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Central Agency for Organisation and Administration through the Human Resources Development Unit and the Training and Efficiency Unit, El-Enany said.

The training of 2,400 employees from the Supreme Council of Antiquities in specialised programmes in the field of antiquities and museums through the Central Training Unit has been completed.


Honoured: As part of the day, many distinguished individuals were honoured, among them Atef Moftah, general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum and the surrounding area, for his efforts in transferring the First Khufu Boat from the Giza Pyramid area to the Khufu Boat Museum at the Grand Egyptian Museum; Moemen Othman, head of the Museums Sector at the ministry and members of the Museum Scenario Committee for their efforts at museums across the country, especially in opening several museums over the past two years.

The honourees also included restorer Shamaa Abul-Abbas for her efforts in restoring the Esna Temple; archaeologist Ines Gaffar, deputy director of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation; Zakia Youssef Medhat Topozada, professor of Egyptian archaeology at Ain Shams University in Cairo, who wrote museum guides for the Kom Oshim and Beni Sweif museums; the late Mahmoud Abdel-Razek Awad, professor of Egyptian archaeology at Suez Canal University. He obtained a Bachelor's degree in Egyptian archaeology from the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University in 1958 and then joined the Egyptian Antiquities Department, rising to become head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector in 1981 and then head of the Museums Sector between 1990 and 1994. He participated in excavations at archaeological sites including Luxor, Saqqara, and the Sphinx.

They alao include Gamal Abdel-Rahim Ibrahim Hassan, professor of Islamic archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, a member of the Scientific Publications Committee at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, a member of the board of the Union of Arab Archaeologists, a member of the Permanent Committee of Islamic Antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and a member of the Supreme Committee for the Museum Scenarios; Mokhtar Al-Kasabani, professor of Islamic archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, who worked as an advisor to the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities from 2004 to 2011. He is a member of the Supreme Committee of Museums and the Screenplay Committee of the NMEC and has supervised many projects for the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Also honoured were Waad Abul-Ela, former head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities; Maha Mohamed Mustafa, former head of the Central Administration of Historical Museums. She held many positions, including director of the Royal Vehicles Museum and director of Covenants and Records at Historical Museums. She has been a member of several committees, such as the Museums Development Committee, the Committee for the Preparation of the Scenario for the Royal Vehicles Museum in the Citadel, the Prince Mohamed Ali Palace in Manial, the Helwan Corner, and the Royal Vehicles Museum in Boulaq; Mahmoud Hassan Mohammed al-Halouaji, former director-general of the Egyptian Museum. He was director of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at the Egyptian Academy in Rome and studied the registration and documentation of museum collections in London. He also studied museum sciences in Vienna and the management and organisation of museum collections in the US; Mohamed Abdel-Badie, head of the Central Administration for the Antiquities of Upper Egypt. He began working at the Supreme Council of Antiquities in 1994, first as an inspector of antiquities, then director of the Permanent Committee of Egyptian Antiquities, and then head of the Central Administration of the Antiquities of Upper Egypt. He supervised the work of foreign excavations at archaeological sites in Fayoum, Saqqara, and Luxor and trained and supervised excavation schools in Giza, Saqqara, and Matariya; Abdel-Nasser Abdel-Azim, director of the Restoration of the Antiquities and Museums of Upper Egypt. He participated in many restoration projects, including those of the Avenue of Sphinxes, the Temple of Mut, the Temple of Luxor, the Temple of Todd, the Temple of Madamoud, the Temple of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, the Temple of Merneptah, the tomb of Tutankhamun, the tomb of Seti l in the Valley of the Kings and tombs in Al-Qurna and Deir Al-Medina; Ahmed Mohamed Sheikh, a guard in the Beheira Antiquities area; the late Abdallah Al-Sayed Al-Adl, a guard at Tall Al-Rabe in Daqahliya; and Hisham Samir, assistant to the minister for antiquities projects.

The Zahi Hawass Award for the Best Archaeologist of the Year went to Afifi Rahim, head of team excavations at the Golden City of King Amenhotep III on the west bank in Luxor; and Atef Al-Dabbah, leader of the team working to develop the aqueduct at the Salaheddin Citadel in Cairo, the Qaitbay Citadel in Alexandria, and the Mar Mina Monastery in Alexandria.

The Zahi Hawass Award for Best Restorer of the Year went to Ahmed Mohamed Ali Imam and the Egyptian-German team at the Temple of Khanum in Esna, owing to their efforts in restoring the colours and inscriptions of the temple.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 January, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Greco-Roman rock-cut tomb discovered west of Aswan - Greco-Roman - Antiquities - Ahram Online

Greco-Roman rock-cut tomb discovered west of Aswan

Nevine El-Aref , Friday 14 Jan 2022

The joint Egyptian-Italian mission working in the vicinity of the Mausoleum of Aga Khan, west of Aswan, uncovered a Greco-Roman rock-cut tomb during work carried out during the last archaeological season.

 Greco-Roman rock-cut Tomb

The tomb consists of two parts, according to General Director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquties Abdel-Moneim Said Mahmoud.

The first part is a rectangular building containing the entrance built above ground from sandstone blocks covered by a vault of mud bricks.

The second part leads from the entrance to a rectangular courtyard carved from the rock in which four burial chambers are located.

About 20 mummies were found in the burial chambers, the majority of which are still well preserved.

"It is a mass grave that includes more than one family," said Patrizia Piacentini, professor of Egyptology at the University of Milan and head of the mission on the Italian side.

She added that many important archaeological artefacts were unearthed from the Greco-Roman era, including offering tables, stone panels written in hieroglyphic script, a copper necklace engraved in Greek, a number of wooden statues of the Ba bird and parts of coloured cartonnage (a material used in funerary masks).

During the archaeological survey in the area, a number of coffins were found in well preserved condition, some of which are made of clay and others of sandstone.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

In Photos: Huge blocks for Sphinx-shaped King Amenhotep III colossi remain from ritual scenes uncovered in Luxor - Ancient Egypt - Antiquities - Ahram Online

In Photos: Huge blocks for Sphinx-shaped King Amenhotep III colossi remain from ritual scenes uncovered in Luxor

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 13 Jan 2022

A German-Egyptian mission directed by Hourig Sourouzian uncovered a collection of huge limestone pieces belonging to a pair of royal sphinxes as well as the remains of walls and columns decorated with festive and ritual scenes in Luxor.


The mission was being carried out in the temple of Amenhotep III as part of 'The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project'

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced that among the discovered blocks are those of a pair of gigantic limestone colossi of king Amenhotep III in the shape of sphinxes wearing the nemes headdress, the royal beard, and a broad collar around the neck.

Both colossal sphinxes were found half submerged in water at the rear of the gateway of the third pylon. The heads of these sphinxes have been subject to meticulous cleaning and consolidation. Pieces of their inscribed chest were recovered during the clearance, one of them holding the end of the royal name who is "the beloved of Amun-Re." Other pieces of the body and the paws were safely removed in forms and will be conserve carefully.

The mission has also discovered three busts and three lower parts of statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet in granodiorite at the façade of the Peristyle Court and in the Hypostyle Hall of the temple. These pieces will be reassembled with others found earlier at the site and will be put on display in the temple during the realisation of the site management project.

Pieces of the sandstone wall decoration in the relief depicting scenes of the Heb-sed, the jubilee festival of Amenhotep III, and offering scenes to diverse deities were also unearthed along with a small granodiorite statue of an official seated with his wife, likely to be dated to the post-Amarna period, when restoration works in this temple were carried out by artists and scribes.

Column bases and foundation blocks in the southern half of the Hypostyle Hall were also found showing that this hall was much larger than it was known, with more columns.

Sourouzian, the head of the archaeological mission, revealed the importance of such discoveries by explaining that the presence of this pair of colossal sphinxes attests to the beginning of the processional way leading from the third pylon to the Peristyle Court, where the beautiful 'Festival of the Valley' was celebrated each year, as well as the jubilee festivals of the king in the last decade of his reign.

She explains that preliminary research on these colossal sphinxes reveals that their length was about 8 metres. Now, all discovered blocks and colossi are under restoration in an attempt to re-erect them in their original location in the temple.

The 'Temple of Millions of Years' was the largest of all funerary temples on the West Bank, however, it was toppled by a strong earthquake in antiquity.

The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project has been ongoing since 1998 under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. Various new structures have been uncovered, along with many architectural remains; a monumental stela and numerous colossal statues of the king were mounted and raised in their original place.

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