Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Middle East News: Iconic Tahrir Square to be turned into open-air museum

Iconic Tahrir Square to be turned into open-air museum

Middle East News

Cairo: Work is progressing full swing to turn the iconic Tahrir Square into an open-air museum in Cairo.

More than fifty engineers and a thousand labourers in yellow hard hats have been working 24-hour shifts in a bid to finish the renovation of the famous landmark.

The government plans to turn the 150-year-old square into an open-air museum, with the project set to be finished by the end of this month, with 85-90 per cent of the planned work already completed.

The move is a major part of the development scheme for the Egyptian capital, which aims to transform it into a touristic archaeological destination, especially with the state's plan to relocate government offices from downtown Cairo to the new administrative capital from June.

Since December, engineering equipment including cranes, forklift trucks, and excavators have been installed in various parts of the area by Arab Contractors, according to Ahramonline.

The state-run company is executing the renovation, along with the ministries of tourism and antiquities, culture, local development, and housing, and the administration of Cairo governorate, among others.

The strategy aims to beautify the famous site, which has been at the centre of many historical and political events in the country's modern era, via changing the appearance of the main buildings and embellishing it with a host of archaeological items.

The finished square will host an open-air pharaonic exhibition or historical pathway that the public can view, functioning as an extension of the Egyptian Museum, which is located on the northern boundary of the square.

The development work covers seven spots in Cairo's largest square, with the most important the roundabout at its centre, known as Al Sanya in Arabic. Here, an obelisk and four ram-headed sphinxes will be the prime attractions.

Another key part of the work is the re-assembly of a 17-metre-tall, 90-tonne-obelisk from the era of Ramses II, which was found in the form of eight large blocks at San El Hagar archaeological site in Zagazig city in Egypt's Nile Delta. Four sphinxes from Luxor's Karnak Temple have also been transferred to the site.

The square will also be dotted with many pharaonic-era plants such as date trees, olive trees, fig trees, and carob trees, in addition to papyrus, for which the ancient Egyptian civilisation was famous. Around 10,000 lighting units will be installed in the square.

Sent from my Linux system.

Is this Nefertiti's tomb? Radar clues reignite debate over hidden chambers

Here we go again, and again, and again and ... whap! bang! ... Sorry, got stuck there for a minute.

Is this Nefertiti's tomb? Radar clues reignite debate over hidden chambers

A new survey hints at a previously-unknown space beyond Tutankhamun's burial chamber.
A low                angle of King Tutankhamun's sarcophagus in his burial                chamber, showing a mural on the wall.

Tutankhamun's burial place in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty

A radar survey around the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings has revealed possible evidence of further hidden chambers behind its walls.

The findings — in an unpublished report, details of which have been seen by Nature — resurrect a controversial theory that the young king's burial place hides the existence of a larger tomb, which could contain the mysterious Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Researchers led by archaeologist Mamdouh Eldamaty, a former Egyptian minister of antiquities, used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to scan the area immediately around Tutankhamun's tomb. They report that they have identified a previously unknown corridor-like space a few metres from the burial chamber (see 'Chamber of secrets'). Their finding was presented to Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) earlier this month.

The data are "tremendously exciting", says Ray Johnson, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute in Luxor, Egypt, who wasn't involved in the research. "Clearly there is something on the other side of the north wall of the burial chamber."

The possibility of extra chambers beyond Tutankhamun's tomb has previously been investigated by several teams, often working with private companies. But they produced conflicting results, and many researchers have dismissed the idea. For example Francesco Porcelli, a physicist at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, who led a GPR survey inside the tomb in 2017, insists that his data rule out the existence of hidden rooms connected with the tomb.

Egypt's lost queen

Eldamaty's team was investigating a theory that Tutankhamun's tomb, which was discovered in 1922 and is unusually small for a royal burial, contains extensive hidden chambers and perhaps even Nefertiti's missing resting place. Some Egyptologists believe that immediately before Tutankhamun's reign in the fourteenth century BC, Nefertiti, whose daughter was married to Tutankhamun, briefly ruled as pharaoh. Her tomb in the Valley of the Kings has never been found.

The team detected a long space in the bedrock a few metres to the east, at the same depth as Tutankhamun's burial chamber and running parallel to the tomb's entrance corridor. The space appears to be around 2 metres high and at least 10 metres long.

It is not yet certain whether the space is physically linked to Tutankhamun's tomb, known as KV62, or if it is part of another nearby tomb. The researchers argue that its orientation, perpendicular to KV62's main axis, suggests that there is a connection, because unconnected tombs tend to be aligned at different angles.

But not everyone is convinced. Zahi Hawass, another former antiquities minister, says that using geophysical techniques to search for tombs in Egypt has previously raised false hopes and he argues that such work should not be pursued. GPR "never made any discovery at any site in Egypt", he claims. Hawass is himself searching for new tombs, including that of Nefertiti, but using more conventional techniques. He told Nature that in 2019, he excavated the area north of KV62 looking for tomb entrances, but found nothing.

Contested histories

The radar survey is the latest in a succession of investigations that have tried to confirm whether additional chambers exist — provoking much disagreement and conflicting results.

The new data are intriguing, says Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist who has spent many years working in the Valley of the Kings. But the newly-discovered feature is not where he was expecting — he had assumed that possible hidden chambers would continue north of Tutankhamun's tomb rather than turn to the right, as the data suggest. However, Reeves, who first suggested the idea that there is an extension to KV62, still thinks Nefertiti will be found somewhere inside.

In a 2015 paper, he reported finding straight lines and cracks in the painted walls of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, which he suggested could indicate the presence of hidden doorways. In particular, he claimed that the far north wall of Tutankhamun's burial chamber isn't solid bedrock as previously understood, but is a false wall of a type commonly used by ancient Egyptian tomb builders to hide chambers beyond. From clues in the wall paintings themselves, Reeves concluded that there was a hidden occupant and that it was Nefertiti.

Following this report, Eldamaty, as antiquities minister, oversaw two GPR surveys of the tomb walls. One, conducted by a team from Japan, seemed to confirm the existence of hidden rooms. But a second team, sent by the US media company National Geographic, failed to replicate these results.

Eldamaty was replaced as antiquities minister in 2016. The following year, his successor invited two more teams to scan the area around KV62, in the hope of settling the debate. But the disagreements continued. One team, led by Porcelli, working inside the tomb, claimed to rule out the existence of hidden chambers beyond the walls of KV621. A second team — a geophysical survey company called Terravision Exploration, based in West Molesey, UK — was asked by the SCA to cut short its survey.

Yet Terravision's preliminary results — also from inside the tomb — suggested there was more to discover. So Eldamaty, who is now based at Ain Shams University in Cairo, says he was determined they complete their investigation by scanning outside the tomb. "I never give up easily," he says. The SCA approved a new application and in June 2019, Eldamaty, Terravision and a team of engineers from Ain Shams University returned to finish their work.

However, interference from nearby air-conditioning units meant that the team was unable to collect definitive data for the crucial area directly north of Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

Eldamaty plans to submit a proposal to return and study the feature in more detail. It will be difficult to scan closer to the burial chamber without removing the air-conditioning units, says Terravision chief executive Charlie Williams. But he is confident that, by using a different antenna and taking readings closer together, he can pin down the shape and location of the void to within a few centimetres, and see where it leads.

"It has to be intact"

Other Egyptologists have responded to the finding with enthusiasm. Johnson doesn't rule out the possibility of finding Nefertiti in the hidden space. But if the chamber turns out to belong to a different undiscovered tomb, he suggests it could hold Tutankhamun's wife Ankhesenamun, whose tomb has not been found.

Aidan Dodson, an Egyptologist at the University of Bristol, UK, is sceptical of Reeves's ideas about Nefertiti but backs the second-tomb theory, and suggests it might hold the remains of princesses from Tutankhamun's time. Whoever is inside, he says the find could be "amazingly significant" because this part of the valley has been sealed by a layer of ancient flood debris that also kept KV62 safe from looters for millennia. "It has to be intact."

Reeves has high hopes, too. "If Nefertiti was buried as a pharaoh, it could be the biggest archaeological discovery ever," he says. If the evidence continues to mount, he suggests, an international conference of experts should be convened to consider the next steps. Any physical investigation shouldn't be rushed, he says, because digging through the bedrock would be extremely difficult, and drilling through the north wall of the burial chamber would damage its priceless artwork.

Egypt's SCA did not respond to Nature's requests for comment.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00465-y

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Scribal Spotlight: Victor Fakhoury and Neo-Coptic Icons - Nile Scribes

Scribal Spotlight: Victor Fakhoury and Neo-Coptic Icons

The Nile Scribes had the pleasure of visiting Toronto's Coptic Museum of Canada last summer, where we were introduced to Coptic Icons and the modern artists creating Neo-Coptic iconography. This week we want to highlight the history of the Neo-Coptic School of Iconography and one of the modern Egyptian artists who is reviving ancient Coptic traditions: Victor A. Fakhoury.

Overview of early Coptic history

St. Mark is regarded as the traditional founder of the Coptic Church after he brought Christianity to Alexandria during the first century AD. 'Copt' is now the familiar ethnic descriptor for the Egyptian Christian population, although the word originates from the Greek aigyptos (by way of the Arabic qbt) which was the name for Egypt during the Graeco-Roman Period.

Developing out of the ancient pharaonic tradition and influenced by the artistic traditions of the Classical World, Coptic art also showed connections to the Persian, Byzantine, and Syrian world at the time. With the Arab invasions under Amer Ibn al-As in AD 640, Egypt would eventually become part of a the wider Islamic world. The following centuries saw Coptic Egyptians engage with oscillating levels of tolerance from their Islamic rulers, a fact that also influenced their art and culture in many degrees. During the eighth and ninth centuries AD, Arabic became the official language in Egypt. Coptic, in turn, continued to be used as a liturgical language. The terms 'Copt' and 'Coptic' began to delineate the Egyptian Christian population from the growing Egyptian Muslim population.

A Neo-Coptic icon showing St. Joseph and the Divine                  Child (2011), written by Seham Guirguis and in the                  Coptic Museum of Canada collection
A Neo-Coptic icon showing St. Joseph and the Divine Child (2011), written by Seham Guirguis and in the Coptic Museum of Canada collection

What are Coptic Icons?

Icons of the Coptic Orthodox Church have purely religious subjects. They are designed to narrate a story of the holy person it features, typically Christ or a saint as well as biblical stories or events such as the Last Supper or the resurrection, qualities that have been termed as a "visual theology" (1). As ritually charged objects, icons represent the doorway between the sacred and the profane: while the objects themselves are not worshipped, some worshippers may touch or kiss the icon as a way of interacting with what they symbolise, and leave light candles in front of them as an expression of prayer.

Coptic icons are beautiful, often gilded, and brightly painted. Their primary function, however, is not as work of 'art' but as objects meant to connect the viewer with the sacred realm. Modern terminology reflects this nature: scholars describe them as 'written' objects, not 'painted.' The figures in the icon are always shown in two-dimensional, frontal orientation, with large eyes and ears, and a small mouth. Visually they are reminiscent of the Faiyum portraits – the lifelike portraits painted on wooden panels and wrapped into mummy shrouds atop the deceased in the centuries preceding the Coptic Period. There is also some evidence suggesting these mummy portraits may have hung in the homes of the deceased. In Coptic tradition, the sacred icons of venerated persons would be hung in Coptic churches.

Coptic icons, naturally, would show influences from ancient Egyptian tradition and a very well-known motif that was borrowed was the famous motif of the goddess Isis with her son Horus. Depicted in many cases as Isis suckling Horus, it was a motif that was popularly adopted by Egyptian kings to show their being protected by the gods. One well-known example of this motif shows the Sixth Dynasty king Pepy II as a child seated in the lap of his mother, Ankh-nes-Meryre II. Within the Coptic world, Neo-Coptic artist also adopted this motif in his depicting a baby Jesus being held closely by his mother the Virgin Mary. This motif is very common in Coptic art.

A young Pepy II is seated in the lap of his mother                  Ankh-nes-Mery II (Sixth Dynasty - Brooklyn Museum)                  (Photo: Nile Scribes)
A young Pepy II is seated in the lap of his mother Ankh-nes-Mery II (Sixth Dynasty – Brooklyn Museum) (Photo: Nile Scribes)

Neo-Coptic School of Iconography

The early 1950s saw Egypt abolish colonial rule and establish the Arab Republic, effectively bringing together Copts and Muslims under one national identity. In 1959, Father Mina was enthroned as Pope Kyrillos VI and under his tenure a renaissance of Coptic culture flourished with the establishment of the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies including the Department of Coptic Art. It was in this climate that the work of Isaac Fanous deserves special mention as his pieces unleashed a wave of new interest in Coptic iconography, ultimately earning him the title: Father of Neo-Coptic Iconography.

Fanous emerged in a time when such interests in Christian iconography were felt also elsewhere: for example, in Russia, Leonid Ouspensky would go on to become a well-known iconographer. While taking a restoration course at the Louvre in Paris in the early 1960s, Fanous met Ouspensky and studied iconography under him and several of his contemporaries. Completing his degrees in the late 1960s, Fanous returned to Egypt where he was appointed as the Chair of the Art Department at the Higher Institute for Coptic Studies in Cairo. Over the course of the following decades, many Coptic churches in Egypt received many of his creations which blend Coptic traditions with ancient Egyptian influences. This latter element would become a hallmark of his influence as Fanous trained several well-known Neo-Coptic artists, which include Stéphane René among others.

The Icon Series of Victor Fakhoury

As a student of Isaac Fanous, Victor Fakhoury would himself become an important artist within the Neo-Coptic artistic movement. Born in Cairo in 1960, Fakhoury completed his M.A. in Coptic Art at the Coptic Orthodox Higher Institute of Coptic Studies in Cairo. He would go on to deepen his learnings by training under Isaac Fanous for several years. In his work, Fakhoury incorporates not only Coptic artistic traditions, but also current artistic learnings and methods, for example, elements from abstract art. In all his work, ancient Egyptians elements would shine through as it was common in traditional Coptic art which succeeded so eloquently in fusing together Egyptian, Coptic, and other motifs. The Icon Series, the first ten of which are in the possession of the Coptic Museum of Canada, presents a unique opportunity to explore in an intimate manner several of the works of Victor Fakhoury and learn first-hand about his motivations and inspiration in writing these icons. Helene Moussa, who studied many of Fakhoury's icons in detail, notes in regard to the eighteenth century Coptic artist Yuhanna al-Armani that "icons are in many churches across Egypt, but we know nothing about what he thought or what led him to write an icon in a certain way" (2) – you can imagine the added dimension of adding Fakhoury's own worded interpretation to the icons in the museum's possession.

On the left is the icon of "Blessed is Egypt                  My People" written by Victor Fakhoury and on the                  right is his "The Martyrs of Maspero" (both                  2011)
On the left is the icon of "Blessed is Egypt My People" written by Victor Fakhoury and on the right is his "The Martyrs of Maspero" (both 2011)

Fakhoury draws significant inspiration from events and experiences Coptic Christians face in Egypt today. In regard to his first icon in the series, Fakhoury notes:

"I felt that we were about to go through turbulent times, and indeed after I wrote this icon [NS: "Blessed is Egypt My People"] the tragic events of Maspero and its martyrs took place. These events shook me to the core and strengthened my resolve to record them by writing icons. When I hear about such tragic events, it evokes very strong emotions in me, which make me want to write an icon that somehow expresses my reaction at that moment. […] I would like to point out that I wanted the icon to testify to the event. I was afraid that my icons might be seen as a historical record, which I definitely reject. The icon is always a sacred object and an Incarnation of the Word. (3)"

As part of expressing an icon as a sacred object, Fakhoury first seeks inspiration from the Bible before he writes the icon. Several titles of icons in this series, as a matter of fact, are also biblical verses (e.g. "Blessed is Egypt My People" from above which comes from Isaiah 19:25).

Victor Fakhoury's icon "The Martyrs of                  Maspero"(2011)
Victor Fakhoury's icon "The Martyrs of Maspero"(2011)

"The Martrys of Maspero"

The second icon in Fakhoury's series, it highlights one major event in recent Coptic history: it recalls the painful deaths of 28 persons most of whom were Coptic Christians in mid-October 2011. They had been protesting outside the Egyptian State Television and Radio Station building in Cairo over the burning of Coptic churches across Egypt. Fakhoury shows the 28 deceased within the boat in the centre of the icon. The boat, ripe with ancient Egyptian inspiration, showcases stylised lotus flowers at either end of the boat. With the boat nestled on the hands of God, the viewer is also drawn to the top of the icon. Here, a depiction of Cairo's famous St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral rests in between two angels and on top of the cathedral is the cross motif with outspread eagle wings – this brings to mind immediately the sun-disk and outspread wings common on ancient Egyptian scenes. All in all, the icon brings ideas of reflection, regeneration, and rebirth to the forefront and is a testament to Fakhoury's skill in binding together ancient Egyptian and Coptic, whether traditional or more recent, motifs in light of recent events.

The curator of the Coptic Museum of Canada, Helene Moussa, is continuing her work on Victor Fakhoury and more may be heard at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt taking place in Toronto, Canada, April 3-5, 2020. The museum has also opened recently Beyond Museum Walls: Marguerite Nakhla (1908-1977), a special exhibition celebrating the life of this Egyptian artist. It brings together archival and documentary materials and also showcases three works by the artist, which were recently purchased by the museum.

We also recommend a visit to the museum's website, where our readers can see for themselves the ten Victor Fakhoury icons that are in the possession of the museum.

Further Reading

  • St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Washington D.C. "Coptic Art."
  • El Gendi, Yosra and Marco Pinfari. 2019. "Icons of contention: The iconography of martyrdom and the construction of Coptic identity in post-revolutionary Egypt" Media, War & Conflict.
  • Heo, Angie. 2018. "Imagining Holy Personhood: Anthropological Thresholds of the Icon." In Praying with the Senses: Contemporary Orthodox Christian Spirituality, edited by Sonja Luehrmann*.* Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Moussa, Helene. 2016. "Coptic Icons: Expressions of Social Agency and Coptic Identity". In Studies in Coptic Culture: Transmission and Interaction, edited by Mariam Ayad. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press – pages 145-162.


  1. Stéphane René, "Coptic Iconography."
  2. Moussa, Helene. 2018. Coptic Icons in a New Light. Narrative Series, 2011-2017, by Victor Asaad Fakhoury. Toronto: Coptic Museum of Canada – page 4.
  3. See #2 – page 8.

This blog is the second in a series on the Coptic Museum of Canada and its collections. The Nile Scribes are grateful for the help and support by Curator Helene Moussa and for permission to use photographs of the collection in our blog.

Nile Scribes Coptic Artists Giveaway

To start the new year off with a bit of fun, the Nile Scribes are giving away a book in conjunction with our recent blog highlighting the work of Neo-Coptic artist Victor Fakhoury. We are giving away the dual-language (English and French) book Coptic Icons In A New Light by Helene Moussa and published by the Coptic Museum of Canada.

To enter our giveaway, please complete the following 1-question survey telling us what kinds of blog posts you would like to see us write in the future.

Nile Scribes Giveaway Survey

Giveaway rules: There is only one (1) entry per person – email address required for notification. Participants may also gain one (1) additional entry, if they choose to subscribe to our newsletter. Giveaway ends 11.59 pm EST March 7, 2020 and the random winner will be drawn from the entries and notified one day later. The Nile Scribes are in no way affiliated with the book's author or publisher and this is not a sponsored giveaway.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

New Books in Egyptology (November-December 2019) - Nile Scribes

New Books in Egyptology (November-December 2019)

Every two months the Nile Scribes update our readers on the most recent Egyptological publications. From popular reads to peer-reviewed scholarship, we hope to illustrate the wide variety of topics discussed in Egyptology, and perhaps introduce you to your next read! Below are 11 books that were released late in 2019 (November-December).

Did you read our post on new books from late 2019?

Kom al-Ahmer – Kom Wasit II: Coin Finds 2012–2016 / Late Roman and Early Islamic Pottery from Kom al-Ahmer

Michele Asolati, Cristina Crisafulli and Cristina Mondin

Archaeopress (ISBN: 9781789693966) – Cost: GB£ 65

Publisher's Summary:

"Kom al-Ahmer and Kom Wasit were ideally placed to take advantage of the Mediterranean trade given their close proximity to the Egyptian ports of Thonis-Heracleion, Alexandria, and Rosetta during the Hellenistic, Roman, Late Roman, and early Islamic period. The social and economic vitality of the sites has been revealed during investigations undertaken by the Italian archaeological mission between 2012 and 2016 and published in Kom al-Ahmer – Kom Wasit I: Excavations in the Metelite Nome, Egypt ca. 700 BC – AD 100 [NS: see below].This volume presents over 1070 coins (ca. 310 BC–AD 641) and 1320 examples of Late Roman and Early Islamic pottery, testimony to the considerable commercial activity in the region during the Late Antique period. Kom al-Ahmer and Kom Wasit emerge as centers of an exchange network involving large-scale trade of raw materials to and from the central and eastern Mediterranean."

Egyptian Royal Ideology and Kingship under Periods of Foreign Rulers

Edited by Julia Budka

Harrassowitz Verlag (ISBN: 9783447113281) – Cost: EU€ 68

Publisher's Summary:

"The ninth symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology in Munich in 2018 was dedicated to the ancient Egyptian kingship under foreign rulers. Case studies from the first millennium BC addressed questions of peculiarities and/or similarities in the kingship of foreigners, who ruled Egypt in particular during the so-called Late Period and in Ptolemaic times.Thirteen contributions deal with shared characteristics and specific differences; new results from current field work are integrated into these analyses. The case studies from Egypt and the Sudan illustrate recent research areas such as the investigation of the general dynamics of cultural contacts, which take into account the acceptance, but also adaptations and rejections of cultural markers. In addition to epoch-spanning studies on ancestor worship, costumes and titles, new research on the ideology, religion and the building program of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty is in the foreground. Other contributions deal with the Persian period (Twenty-seventh Dynasty) and the royal ideology in Hellenistic Egypt under the Ptolemies."

Securing Eternity. Ancient Egyptian Tomb Protection From Prehistory To The Pyramids

Reg Clark

AUC Press (ISBN: 9789774169021) – Cost: US$45

Publisher's Summary:

"The ancient Egyptian tomb evolved rapidly over a period of about 2,500 years, from a simple backfilled pit to an enormous stone pyramid with complex security arrangements. Much of this development was arguably driven by the ever-present threat of tomb robbery, which compelled tomb builders to introduce special architectural measures to prevent it. However, until now most scholarly Egyptological discussions of tomb security have tended to be brief and usually included only as part of a larger work, the topic instead being the subject of lurid speculation and fantasy in novels, the popular press, and cinema.In Securing Eternity, Reg Clark traces in detail the development of the Egyptian royal and private tombs from the Predynastic Period to the early Fourth Dynasty. In doing so, he demonstrates that many of the familiar architectural elements of the Egyptian tomb that we take for granted today in fact originated from security features to protect the tomb, rather than from monumental or religious considerations."

Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

Henry P. Colburn

Edinburgh University Press (ISBN: 9781474452366) – Cost: GB£ 85

Publisher's Summary:

"Previous studies have characterised Achaemenid rule of Egypt either as ephemeral and weak or oppressive and harsh. These characterisations, however, are based on the perceived lack of evidence for this period, filtered through ancient and modern preconceptions about the Persians. Henry Colburn challenges these views by assembling and analyzing the archaeological remains from this period, including temples, tombs, irrigation works, statues, stelae, sealings, drinking vessels and coins. By looking at the decisions made about material culture – by Egyptians, Persians and others – it becomes possible to see both how the Persians integrated Egypt into their empire and the full range of experiences people had as a result."

Die Statue Assiut S10/16. Ein Regionalstil und seine Bewertung

Jochem Kahl

Harrassowitz (ISBN: 9783447111119) – Cost: EU€ 54

Publisher's Summary:

"Since 2003, the German-Egyptian "Asyut Project" has been working on Gebel Asyut al-gharbi, the burial ground in the central Egyptian city of Asyut. During the course of these excavations, a statue was unearthed in 2010, which in terms of its type and style has characteristics specific to the region. It belongs to a group of eleven other, previously known statues of the so-called First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom, which have often been negatively evaluated in secondary literature. In this investigation, Jochem Kahl discusses sites, dating, workshops, users and the function of these statues, as well as how they are assessed within the field of Egyptology. He thereby demonstrates that the statues were placed in tombs both at the end of the First Intermediate Period and in the early Middle Kingdom and that their production was not subject to political conditions or technical shortcomings. The work is completed by comprehensive photographic documentation of all of the statues currently accessible within this group."

Kom al-Ahmer – Kom Wasit I: Excavations in the Metelite Nome, Egypt

Edited by Mohamed Kenawi

Archaeopress (ISBN: 9781789692983) – Cost: GB£ 65

Publisher's Summary:

"In 2012, fieldwork began at two large sites in the Beheira Province in the western Nile Delta: Kom al-Ahmer and Kom Wasit (ancient Metelis). Being close to the important ports of Thonis-Heracleion, Alexandria, and Rosetta meant that they had been ideally placed to take advantage of the trade between the Mediterranean and Egypt. The sites are being thoroughly investigated to reveal their archaeological significance. Kom al-Ahmer – Kom Wasit I Excavations in the Metelite Nome, Egypt presents the results of the Italian archaeological mission between 2012 and 2016. It provides details of the survey and excavation results from different occupation phases. A complete town beneath the Nile silt was revealed using a combination of modern scientific techniques. Hellenistic houses and a temple enclosure wall were investigated at Kom Wasit; while at Kom al-Ahmer, a Late Roman house, an amphora storage building, a cistern and an early Islamic cemetery were revealed.Dating from the Late Dynastic to the Early Islamic period, the remains found at Kom al-Ahmer and Kom Wasit demonstrate for the first time the rich archaeological heritage of this region."

Untersuchungen zur Keramik der Ersten Zwischenzeit und des frühen Mittleren Reichs aus Assiut/Mittelägypten

Andrea Kilian

Harrassowitz (ISBN: 9783447112086) Cost – EU€ 98

Publisher's Summary (1):

"The long-term collaborative project "The Ancient Egyptian Necropolis of Asyut: Documentation and Interpretation" was funded by the German Research Foundation between 2005 and 2019. In Volume 12 of the Asyut Project, Andrea Kilian takes a look at the ceramic finds from the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom (c. 2200-1700 BC), which were found in 16 shaft and rock tombs in the area of the Gebel Asyut al-Gharbi. Aside from the first-ever documentation and evaluation of the previously unpublished material, the body of the vessel types of Asyut are compiled and then analysed in great detail in comparison to those from other regions of the Nile Valley. Through this supra-regional typological-comparative approach, the material is explored in its entire breadth and integrated into a chronological context. In addition, considerations regarding the structural composition of the individual ceramic trench ensembles and the functional areas of the ceramic offerings are included as part of the investigation. With the inclusion of material from older excavation which is located today in many European museums, the evaluation consists of an additional validation. The study opens and contextualises new material from the underrepresented findings of Middle Egypt and thus contributes to a deeper understanding of the development of ancient Egyptian vessels."

Ethnic Terminology in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt

Csaba A. La'da

Holzhausen (ISBN: 9783903207448) – Cost: EU€ 29

Publisher's Summary:

"Hundreds of different ethnic terms occur in well over a thousand papyri, ostraca and inscriptions in Greek, Demotic and hieroglyphic Middle Egyptian in reference to around 3000 specific individuals. The precise meaning of ethnic terms is however often problematic. Ethnic terminology thus presents papyrologists, epigraphers, ancient historians and legal historians with some of the most puzzling problems of interpretation. In addition, ethnic terms are fundamental to a better understanding of a wide range of problems of social and cultural history, including immigration, ethnicity and social and cultural integration. The first ever comprehensive collection of ethnic terminology was published by the present author in his book Foreign Ethnics in Hellenistic Egypt in 2002. This volume represents an update of his original work, offering a critical collection of the sources that appeared since its publication, with an introductory study of ethnic terminology in the multilingual documentary evidence from Hellenistic and early Roman Egypt."

The Ornamental Calcite Vessels from the Tomb of Tutankhamun

Lise Manniche

Peeters (ISBN: 9789042937215) – EU€ 62

Publisher's Summary:

"At the time of the clearing of the tomb of Tutankhamun Howard Carter and his team made meticulous handwritten notes of every single object found. Yet a full scholarly publication of the majority of them has yet to be undertaken. This book presents a catalogue of the ornamental calcite vessels with an introduction and a discussion of their artistic merit, at times disputed, as well as their purpose during the life of Tutankhamun and after his death. Most of them were designed to contain scented unguents so precious that they proved irresistible to robbers in antiquity. Their intricate design combining utilitarian use with symbolic forms and ornamentation paired with a near perfect state of preservation makes them rare examples of royal arts and crafts of late 18th dynasty Egypt."

Mortuary Practices and Social Transformation: The Eastern Nile Delta During the 4th–early 3rd Millennium BC

Joanne M. Rowland

Oxbow Books (ISBN: 9781789251722) – GB£ 30.40

Publisher's Summary:

"This latest volume in the Studies in Funerary Archaeology series presents an Egyptian case study from the 4th millennium BC within the framework of wider studies and analyses of early complex societies. Mortuary Practices and Social Transformation is concerned with means by which to approach mortuary data – especially when there is a considerable lack of settlement data – to consider both what it can tell about the living world, but also what it can tell us about relationships between the dead and the living. The volume gives an overview of the period prior to and during the rise of the Egyptian state and presents a clear methodology for approaching mortuary data, including the importance of chronological divisions by which researchers can have the opportunity to monitor change over time. Joanne Rowland embeds discussion of the results of her analysis within a comparison of various aspects of mortuary data throughout Egypt from the Neolithic until the Early Dynastic period (late 6th millennium–c. 2900 BC) emphasising aspects of regional differentiation, as well as local environmental niches, and addressing questions as to the actual purpose for the foundation of these sites, their function(s) and reasons for their variable longevity. This in-depth study is the first monograph dealing with data from the cemetery of Kafr Hassan Dawood, and, as such, presents a section on the ceramic chronology for the site, within the framework of other Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egyptian sites."

Egyptian Hieroglyphs in the Late Antique Imagination

Jennifer T. Westerfeld

University of Pennsylvania Press (ISBN: 9780812251579) – US$ 59.95

Publisher's Summary:

"Westerfeld examines the ways in which hieroglyphs are deployed in the works of Eusebius and Augustine, to debate biblical chronology; in Greek, Roman, and patristic sources, to claim that hieroglyphs encoded the mysteries of the Egyptian priesthood; and in a polemical sermon by the fifth-century monastic leader Shenoute of Atripe, to argue that hieroglyphs should be destroyed lest they promote a return to idolatry. She argues that, in the absence of any genuine understanding of hieroglyphic writing, late antique Christian authors were able to take this powerful symbol of Egyptian identity and manipulate it to serve their particular theological and ideological ends."


  1. Translated from the German by the Nile Scribes.
--   Sent from my Linux system.

Biography in ancient Egypt | Egypt Exploration Society

Biography in ancient Egypt

Birmingham Egyptology are pleased to announce that the 7th Annual Birmingham Egyptology Symposium will be held at the University of Birmingham on Friday 29th May 2020. 

The theme will be 'Biography in ancient Egypt'.

We invite abstract submissions from postgraduates and independent researchers pertaining to the individual's interpretation of the above theme, which can include, but is not limited to: Egyptian language, architecture and landscape, religion, art, archaeology, self-presentation, works of fiction or historical accounts, epigraphy, and reception of ancient Egypt. Presentations may take the form of a 20-minute paper AND/OR an A0 research poster.

For any applicants (particularly international) unable to attend the Symposium in person, we are willing to arrange video presentations (e.g. a recorded talk or audio recorded over PowerPoint) to accompany posters or as a stand-alone presentation.

Abstracts (maximum of 300 words) must be submitted by 30th March 2020 to: Confirmation of the decision will be emailed by 6th April. Following the Symposium, presenters will be invited to submit their papers or posters as articles to be considered for publication in the Birmingham Egyptology Journal.

NB Presenters must make their own arrangements for transportation of posters, when applicable.

Further information about the event will be shared via our website: For any queries or to sign up to our mailing list, please contact us at the above email address.


Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT
--   Sent from my Linux system.

News from the Conservation Lab — Work in Progress – The Kelsey Blog
On 02/18/2020 07:23 AM, leschram wrote:
News from the Conservation Lab — Work in Progress

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

 Conservators wield some impressive photo-processing skills, in no small part because of the extensive photographic documentation we do in our work. We use our image-processing skills for research purposes, too.

Right now I'm taking multispectral photos of limestone funerary stelae from the Roman Egyptian city of Terenouthis so that I can begin to characterize the pigments that were used to paint them. Pigments reflect, absorb, and/or luminesce ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light in characteristic ways, but capturing a good image of these photo-chemical responses can be challenging.

Luckily we have access to the British Museum's Technical Imaging web resource, a free downloadable toolkit that includes image setup, capture, and post-processing guidelines. The BM's protocol has become an essential part of our own multispectral imaging setup, and an important research tool in my survey of color on the Kelsey's stone collection.

multispectral imaging of an ancient stone stela.
Left: Limestone funerary stela KM 21107 from Terenouthis, Egypt, late 2nd–early 4th century CE, during multispectral image capture. Right: Infrared / visible image alignment in the British Museum technical imaging workspace.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

All you need to know about Aswan Festival of Culture and Arts - Egypt Today
8th Aswan Int. Festival of Culture and Arts - ET 8th Aswan Int. Festival of Culture and Arts - ET

All you need to know about Aswan Festival of Culture and Arts

Sun, Feb. 16, 2020

CAIRO - 16 February 2020: The General Authority of Culture Palaces is organizing the eighth Aswan International Festival of Culture and Arts that is scheduled to kick off on Feb. 16 with the participation of 23 international and Egyptian teams.

Aswan International Festival of Culture and Arts is a platform of creativity and an opportunity for cultural exchange among the peoples of the world. The festival is scheduled to run from Feb. 16 - Feb. 22.

Over the course of eight editions, 32 countries from various continents of the world participated in the festival, with China and Greece taking part in six of the festival's previous editions.

The festival is organized by the General Authority of Cultural Palaces in cooperation with the Foreign Cultural Relations Sector, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Tourism Promotion Authority and Aswan Governorate.

The festival comes within the framework of the contributions of the Ministry of Culture to the promotion of cultural and archeological tourism, in conjunction with celebrating the solar phenomenon illuminating the face of Ramses II on February 22 of each year.

This phenomenon also happens on October 22 and comes to mark the beginning of the flood and agricultural season in ancient Egypt. It is one of the 4,500 astronomical phenomena that Pharaonic Egypt has known throughout its various eras.

The festival's first edition was launched in 2013, with the participation of 13 teams from America, Turkey, China, France, Indonesia, Sudan, and Uganda. The second edition in 2014 witnessed the participation of six international teams from China, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Tanzania, and Tunisia.

In its eighth edition, teams from Russia, Greece, Romania, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Tunisia, Algeria, Benin, Morocco, Sudan, Serbia, America, Poland, Bulgaria will participate, in addition to ten artistic teams affiliated to the General Authority for Cultural Palaces representing the Egyptian folklore.
--   Sent from my Linux system.

Egypt's Sisi signs law restructuring Grand Egyptian Museum governance - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egypt's Sisi signs law restructuring Grand Egyptian Museum governance

The museum, located by the Giza pyramids, is scheduled to be completed later this year

Ahram Online , Tuesday 18 Feb 2020
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Reuters)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has approved Law 9 of 2020 to restructure the Grand Egyptian Museum and turn it into an economic public authority affiliated with the tourism and antiquities ministry.

Under the law, the museum authority will be tasked with displaying archaeological collections and preparing digital documentation on, recording, securing, maintaining, and restoring the artifacts, said Atef Moftah, the general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum project.

The authority will also be tasked with organising cultural and scientific activities, and acquainting Egyptians with ancient Egyptian civilization.

He added that the authority will have an independent budget similar to the budgets of economic bodies.

The museum structure, under the new law, will be made up of the board of trustees, headed by the Egyptian president, in addition to the board of directors and a chief executive.

The museum, located by the Giza pyramids, is under construction. It is scheduled to be completed later this year.


--   Sent from my Linux system.