Monday, October 14, 2019

GEM entrance ticket price set at LE30 for Egyptians: minister - Egypt Independent

GEM entrance ticket price set at LE30 for Egyptians: minister

The entrance ticket to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) for nationals will be LE30, while the inclusive ticket for the entire complex will be LE60, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani said on Sunday.

The museum will be an integrated cultural complex full of amenities, theaters, cinemas, restaurants and entertainment sites, meant to attract visitors for a full day rather than a few hours, the minister added.

He also said that through the museum, Egypt offers a gift to humanity in the fields of civilization and archaeology.

Anani stated that a visit to the GEM will be a real opportunity to introduce the visitor, whether Egyptian or foreign, to Egyptian civilization and to offer visitors some educational seminars on ancient Egypt.

Anani's remarks came on Sunday after the Culture, Media and Antiquities Committee of the House of Representatives approved the Prime Minister's decree for a draft law proposing to reorganize the GEM institutional structure.

The Minister stressed that the draft law allows the participation of foreign experts in the administration.

He explained that there is already a Japanese grant for the presence of Japanese experts in the field of marketing, services and other fields, but not the field of antiquities.

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry said that the opening of the GEM will be the largest celebration ever organized by Egypt. A major international company specialized in organizing such grand celebrations will be contracted for this purpose in accordance with the schedule.

Egypt's Prime Minister said that the opening of the GEM reflects positively on the civilization and history of ancient Egypt, and is a great opportunity for marketing Egypt and promoting tourism.

The GEM's construction is 88 percent complete and the museum is set to open by 2020, before the previously-announced official date in 2022.

Construction of the museum first began in 2006 but slowed down due to the outbreak of the January 25th revolution.

Breaking new ground in its exhibited artifacts, the museum aims to impress with King Tutankhamun displays that have never been shown before since Tut's tomb's unearthing in 1922. Egypt's Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat said in May that King Tut's tomb will be displayed via hologram technology during the opening of the GEM.

Constructed on approximately 500,000 square meters, the mega museum is located nearby the Giza Pyramids. The GEM is expected to be one of the largest museums in the entire world dedicated to the heritage of a single civilization.

After several years of monument examinations, restoration and transportation, the GEM is expected to house around 100,000 artifacts from various periods of Egypt's rich, long history.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family

Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family

The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13 Biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.


In June The Daily Beast reported on the possibility that an illustrious award-winning professor at the University of Oxford had sold an ancient fragment of the Gospel of Mark that did not belong to him to crafting giant Hobby Lobby, Inc.

At the time of purchase the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, planned to donate the fragments to Museum of the Bible, the charitable organization and DC-based museum they founded. Statements released today by Museum of the Bible and the Egypt Exploration Society reveal that the Mark fragment was just the beginning of the scandal. Investigations have revealed that (so far) 13 pieces in the Museum's collection are in fact the rightful property of the Oxford-based non-profit Egypt Exploration Society.

The artifacts in question are all Bible and Bible-related fragments; 12 were written on papyrus and one on parchment. In other words, just the kinds of things that fit the Green Family and Museum of the Bible's interests. They are part of the Oxyrhynchus Collection, a vast collection of fragments from ancient trash-piles in the city of Oxyrhynchus (modern Al-Bahnasa) in Egypt. The collection was excavated in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and most of it is now the property of the Egypt Exploration Society, which acts as curator of an Oxford-based collection.All of which raises the question: how did a U.S.-based company and, later, museum come to be in possession of these ancient Egyptian artifacts? According to the EES statement, they "were taken without authorization from the EES … Eleven of these pieces came into [Museum of the Bible's] care after being sold to Hobby Lobby Stores by Professor [Dirk] Obbink, most of them in two batches in 2010." The Museum of the Bible's statement more directly confirms that the antiquities were "sold illegally" by a "known expert." A spokesperson for Museum of the Bible further clarified to The Daily Beast, that of these 13 items, only four are the property of the museum, with the remainder belonging to Hobby Lobby as part of the Green Collection.

Both the EES and the University of Oxford confirmed that Obbink is "under investigation … [for] the removal and alleged sale of EES texts." In the meantime, the University of Oxford confirmed that Obbink continues to be employed there. The university was unable to comment on whether or not Scotland Yard are involved.

Of the 13 illicit Oxyrhynchus items currently in Museum of the Bible's collection, two were sold by another buyer. In an online comment Mike Holmes, who heads up Museum of the Bible's Scholar's Initiative, stated that the second buyer was "Khader M. Baidun & Sons/Art-Levant Antiquities of Israel. The exact circumstances of how those two items moved from Oxford to Israel are unknown to" the Museum of the Bible. Both the Green family and Obbink had ties to the Baidun family. Obbink once jointly owned an antiquities company called "Castle Folio" with a man named Mahmoud Elder who, in turn, served as an officer for another company with Alan Baidun. Additionally, a member of the Baidun family was arrested in Israel in 2017 following investigations into a separate antiquities smuggling scandal involving Hobby Lobby. As revealed by The Daily Beast in 2015, Hobby Lobby was subject to a federal investigation for illegally importing illicit antiquities in 2011. The case was settled in 2017.

By cooperating with the EES and helping to facilitate the return of the stolen items there's no question that Museum of the Bible is doing the right thing here. But there are still questions about how something like this happened in the first place. The EES notes in their statement that in most cases, not only was the item itself taken, but the identifying card catalogue and photograph were also missing. It was only because the EES had back-up records that they were able to identify the missing unpublished texts. In response to the statements, noted New Testament scholar and papyrologist Brent Nongbri writes on his blog that "The sale of the manuscripts and the attempt to cover it up by removing records is almost unbelievable." 

Then there's the question of the buyer, in this case Hobby Lobby. The invoice released by Museum of the Bible in June says nothing about the origins of the papyrus fragment other than just "Egypt." This is legally insufficient. There should be an export date, supporting documentation, and a history of ownership. An enquiry from The Daily Beast to Hobby Lobby, last June, asking for additional provenance details for the sale did not receive any response. The Museum of the Bible, for its part, is not entirely in the clear: any museum accepting donations or loans to its collection should ask for full documentation of the legal status of the item.

Obbink did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Daily Beast but 18 months  ago, in a brief response to emails, he stated that any story that he tried to sell a fragment of the Gospel of Mark to the Green family "is not true."

If the allegations are true, they reveal a perfect storm of complicity between seller, buyer, and institution in which an unscrupulous academic was able to remove and sell valuable historical artifacts; a buyer was willing to look the other way on questions of provenance and legitimate ownership; and a museum failed to do due diligence when accepting donations.

Nongbri added that this may be a "cautionary tale" about academic superstars like Obbink. "There seems to have been very little oversight of Dirk Obbink by Oxford, the AHRC, the EES, or anyone else before this scandal broke… the EES has admitted that Dirk Obbink was keeping papyri in his personal office (allegedly the place where he was also peddling manuscripts). Even 'geniuses' need oversight."

As for Museum of the Bible, which is legally distinct from Hobby Lobby and was not involved in the purchase of these papyri, it's unclear what the fallout will be. Jill Hicks-Keeton, assistant professor of religious studies at Oklahoma University and co-editor of The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction, told me "This is bad news [for Museum of the Bible] – worse for Obbink, whose scholarly credentials are often raised by MOTB advocates as evidence of the museum's legitimacy. The disgrace of Obbink should raise serious questions in all of our minds about the Museum of the Bible. Chief among mine is why its Director of the Scholars Initiative is releasing the evidence. If the Museum of the Bible will use this news to publicly distance itself from the scandal, we should be wary. Steve Green is still its board chair…Is the Museum really distancing itself from its past and charting a new course, or merely coming clean about some scandals to give the appearance of reform?"

For the field of papyrology this may be a moment of reckoning. One of their most distinguished luminaries—a MacArthur "genius grant" winner, no less—is alleged to have sold antiquities that he did not own. When I spoke to Nongbri in June he told me "If this isn't a one-off thing, and there are more records of sales, it becomes harder to believe that other scholars who work closely with Dirk Obbink didn't know this kind of thing was going on." The scale of the problem, as Nongbri notes, is still undetermined. If items were illicitly leaving the Oxyrhynchus collection and being funneled through Baidun it's possible that other items (and indeed dealers) are involved. Perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg. It's also possible that other Oxyrhynchus papyri were sold to different U.S. buyers. Regardless of the scale of the problem, the fact that items could leave the collection at all demonstrates that there is a need for greater transparency in the administration of shared intellectual and cultural heritage.

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Egyptology Daily فن مصر يوميا | egyptologydaily | Pullpic

There are many fine images here, with accompanying text. I've extracted just a few, so please go to the website and have a look.

On 10/13/2019 03:18 PM, anonymous wrote:
egyptologydaily An Egyptian art history blog written in English, French, and Spanish. Master's student in Egyptology at @auc_egypt ✍ by @jaymeincairo ...

egyptologydaily Detail of a laborer who              carries a woven basket full of papyrus in a field between              cattle, one of who...
Detail of a laborer who carries a woven basket full of papyrus in a field between cattle, one of whom has a calf who is feeding. The man's head seems to have accidentally been carved too far back as it's not in proportion to his chest, which leans forward. Oops! Often the chest is exaggerated however in relief to convey proper anatomy. In the Late Period, the art of the 30th Dynasty (380-342 B.C.) is best known for its revitalization of Old Kingdom (2700-2200 B.C.) artistic conventions, which were copied, by that time, from one to two-thousand year old tombs. Limestone, Late Period Galleries, 30th Dynasty, Cairo Museum. Photos by me @egyptologydaily . . . #egyptology #arthistory #🐮#humanerror #craftsmen #tomb #papyrus #lateperiod #ancientworld #museum #archaeology #anthropology #religion #ancientegypt #cairo #sculpture #art #architecture #egipto #égypte #misr #travel #viaje #painting #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #arte #🇪🇬 #animalcrossing
egyptologydaily Since Ahmose I's defeat of              the foreign Hyksos kings who ruled in the Delta at the end              of the 17th Dy...
Since Ahmose I's defeat of the foreign Hyksos kings who ruled in the Delta at the end of the 17th Dynasty (c. 1550-80s B.C.), the ancient Egyptians began to use the horse and chariot in warfare. This scene comes from a well-preserved talatat block from Akhenaten's capital at Akhetaten (modern Amarna). Imagine how beautiful it must have been fully painted ?! Foreign goddesses who were introduced into Egyptian pantheon in the mid-late 18th Dynasty, such as Astarte and Qedesh are shown on horseback. However, there is currently no evidence that the ancient Egyptians rode horses until the Ptolemaic Period. Horses were strictly used to pull chariots in pharaonic times. They were beloved by the pharaohs, and Ramesses II likely had almost 400 in his stables at his capital of Per-Ramesses (modern Qantir) in the eastern delta. And many had cute and heroic names! Limestone, once painted, New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, Amarna. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . . #egyptology #arthistory #archaeology #anthropology #ancientegypt #animalcrossing #horse #cheval #caballo #🐎 #pets #chariot #warfare #ancientworld #sculpture #art #religion #painting #architecture #egipto #égypte #museum #travel #egypt #leiden #netherlands #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #akhenaten
egyptologydaily The reliefs of princesses              in Kheruef (TT 193) are absolutely incredible. These two              wear large conic...
The reliefs of princesses in Kheruef (TT 193) are absolutely incredible. These two wear large conical modiuses over their finely braided wigs and wavely sidelocks. The modeling of their faces is superb and naturalistic. They wear long fitted linen gowns and have armlets around their mid-arm while pouring libations from hsi (𓏂)-jars. Kheruef's tomb is famous for its scenes of Amenhotep III's sed-festival. The quality of the carving and modeling rivals that of Ramose's in El-Khokha also dated to Amenhotep III. Tomb of Kheruef (TT 193), Limestone with traces of pigment, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, El-Asasif. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . #egyptology #arthistory #archaeology #anthropology #religion #colossal #princess #👸🏽 #pharaoh #mythology #ancientegypt #luxor #sculpture #art #architecture #egipto #égypte #egypt #worldtravel #travel #viaje #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #🇪🇬 #inspiration #feminism #royalty #tomb #painting
egyptologydaily This is an exquisite bust              of Hathor as the Celestial Cow Mehet-Wehet, carved from              cedar with gilded...
This is an exquisite bust of Hathor as the Celestial Cow Mehet-Wehet, carved from cedar with gilded in gold leaf, ebony, and stone inlay. Hathor was not only a goddess of music, love, sexuality, femininity, and motherhood, but also was worshiped as the 'Mistress of the West' of 'the two sycamores of turquoise' and 'Mistress of the Necropolis'. The goddess is often shown in her cow form in Book of the Dead vignettes emerging from a papyrus thicket and welcoming the dead into the hereafter after they have passed their final judgment and became an 𓅜𓐍 - akh or 'blessed spirit'. Cedar, ebony, and gold leaf, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, from the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62). Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . . #egyptology #arthistory #archaeology #anthropology #afterlife #goddess #🐄 #🐮#animalcrossing #hathor #tutankhamun #tomb #cow #museum #ancientegypt #sculpture #art #architecture #egipto #égypte #egypt #travel #viaje #painting #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #🇪🇬 #worldreligion #mythology
egyptologydaily This is a detail of a              finely carved Empire style bookshelf that was specially made              to hold the Descr...
This is a detail of a finely carved Empire style bookshelf that was specially made to hold the Description of Egypt (Description d'Égypte) published in multiple volumes by Napoléon's savants who recorded and documented Egypt's monuments in 1799. This particular column mimics the Hathoric columns found in New Kingdom to Graeco-Roman temple architecture, and was a staple of a temple or shrine dedicated to the goddess. The goddess is shown frontal in a tripartite wig and bovine ears because the cow was her avatar, particuarly in her form associated with fertility, love, childbirth, motherhood, and sexuality. The large sistrum crowned with a winged sun-disk and with images of the goddess Meryt adoring an uræus in a niche supports the capital and is linked Hathor's associations with music, especially her son Ihy, who was the official Egyptian god of music. Oak, Empire style, Netherlandish, 1830. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . #egyptology #arthistory #archaeology #anthropology #egyptomania #pharaonism #empirestyle #hathor #leiden #temple #netherlands #museum #ancientegypt #sculpture #art #architecture #egipto #égypte #egypt #travel #viaje #painting #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #arte #🇪🇬 #علمم_مصريات #worldreligion #mythology
egyptologydaily This is a photo of the              first pyramid in Egyptian history! The stepped pyramid of              Djoser was likely c...
This is a photo of the first pyramid in Egyptian history! The stepped pyramid of Djoser was likely constructed by his architect Imhotep. The pyramid has a long deep subterranean burial shaft and is essential muliple mastaba tombs stacked upon one another to mimic the stairway to the heaven. The limestone on each tier would have originally been white and finely smoothed. The stepped pyramid is situated in the Djoser's funerary complex in Saqqara. It stands beside the running course and shrine enclosure likely used in the pharaoh's sed-festival, a northern palace, and the king's southern tomb. On the north side of the pyramid is a replica of Djoser's ka-statue (the real one is now in the Cairo Museum), which looks out of his serdab to become one with the Imperishable Stars. Conservation work is currently being conducted on the pyramid due to an earthquake that affect the structure's stability in 1992. Limestone, Old Kingdom, 3rd Dynasty, reign of Djoser (c. 2600 B.C.) built by Imhotep, Chief of Architects, Saqqara. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . #egyptology #archaeology #arthistory #photooftheday #anthropology #worldtravel #pharaoh #worldhistory #ancienthistory #ancientworld #pyramid #saqqara #sculpture #antiquity #Egypte #Egypt #Egipto #mitología #mythologie #ancientegypt #egyptianart #history #worldheritage #ancientorigins #afterlife #cosmos #death #rebirth
egyptologydaily There are hundreds of              crisosphinx also known as ram-sphinx on both sides of the              processional way in...
There are hundreds of crisosphinx also known as ram-sphinx on both sides of the processional way in the First Court between the First and Second Pylon at Karnak. The ram depicted is the ovis longipes with an image of the pharaoh. The pharaoh is shown in the nemes, the beard of kings, mummiform and holding two ankh across his chest. This sphinx avenue was built in the Third Intermediate Period by Pinedjem I (21st Dynasty) and subsequently reorganized multiple times by: Shosonq I (22nd Dynasty) and Taharqa (25th Dynasty) in the Late Period; and finally Augustus in the Græco-Roman Period. The ram was revered because of its physical strength and fecundity and associated with the gods Amun, Khnum, and Banebdjed. Limestone,likely painted. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . #egyptology #archaeology #animalcrossing #bélier #ram #🐏 #arthistory #hieroglyphs #ancientegypt #anthropology #egypt #art #arte #architecture #travel #viaje #religion #sculpture #ancientegypt #temple #worldtravel #فن #egyptianart #arte #🇪🇬 #travel #escultura #karnak #sphinx #amazing #inspiration
egyptologydaily This doorjamb (?) relief              comes from the tomb of Kay on the Qena Bend. He is shown              with a short curle...
This doorjamb (?) relief comes from the tomb of Kay on the Qena Bend. He is shown with a short curled coiffeur, bare-chested, and wears a broad collar. In his left hand is a bow and in his right hand are arrows. He wears a starched kilt and his five dogs walk and lay beside him. The inscriptions above each dog designate their individual breed! Beside Kay is either his wife or mother who has long braided hair and wears a broad collar and corseted gown that reveals her breasts. She also wears braclets and anklets and holds a waterlily in her right hand. Kay was an 'Overseer of the Western Desert' and the text above the couple describes him as "the best of the troops on a day of difficulty". It also says that Kay traveled to the western oases in order to probe the desert roads for a fugitive on the loose! Limestone, Middle Kingdom, early 12th Dynasty (1981-1917 B.C.), possibly El-Ausat Qamula, Qena Bend, north of Luxor. Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . #🐶 #🐕 #👮‍♂️ #animalcrossing #afterlife #egyptology #archaeology #arthistory #hieroglyphs #ancientegypt #anthropology #painting #egypt #art #tomb #policeman #nyc #berlin #architecture #travel #religion #sculpture #ancientworld #egyptianart #luxor #museum #germany #pets #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram
egyptologydaily This is a detail of a cedar              chair from the tomb of the royal official Yuya and his wife              Thuya. The...
This is a detail of a cedar chair from the tomb of the royal official Yuya and his wife Thuya. The cedar was painted and varnished to look like ebony while the central scene is carved and covered with gold leaf and crowned with a winged sun-disk. It depicts a double scene of the Princess Satamun seated in a kiosk with a overhead floral design. She wears a short braided Nubian wig with a floral modius and a ribboned circlet with a gilded bird. Around her neck is a broad collar and she is seated in a fine chair like the actual chair. In her right hand is a sistrum and in her left hand is a menat-necklace. The inscription says 'daughter of the king' and 'his beloved'. The princess 'is being given a 'gold [necklace] from the southern foreign lands, i.e. Nubia' as per the inscription by an attendant who also wears a modius, circlet and fine stylized gown. Princess Satamun was the granddaughter of Yuya and Thuya and the daughter of their own daughter Queen Tiye who was the Great Wife of pharaoh Amenhotep III. The couple were permitted a stately private burial in the Valley of the Kings (KV 46) and, until the finding of Tutankhamun's Tomb in 1922, it was the most intact and best-preserved tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Their mummies and burial equipment are absolutely stunning! Cedar and gold leaf, New Kingdom, mid-late 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III (late 1300a B.C.) Photo by me @egyptologydaily . . . #egyptology #arthistory #archaeology #anthropology #religion #royal #cedar #ebony #furniture #chair #chaise #ancientegypt #cairo #sculpture #gold #art #architecture #egypt #égypte #travel #viaje #tutankhamun #beautiful #egipto #bbctravel #فن #egyptianart #🇪🇬 #ancientworld #museum
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Cemetery of the poor discovered south of Saqqara - Egypt Today

An improvement over a previous article on this find. Glenn
Painting of the god Anubis - ET
Painting of the god Anubis - ET

Cemetery of the poor discovered south of Saqqara

Sun, Oct. 13, 2019
CAIRO - 13 October 2019: British website, The Sun, shed light on a burial cemetery discovered in June south of Saqqara. Described by the website as mysterious, the cemetery is allegedly more than 2,000 years old.

A team of Polish archaeologists announced on June 27 in an article published on the website of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland the stunning discovery of hundreds of mummies in the area of the archaeological Saqqara cemetery.

Notable symbols were also discovered on the tombs. Two drawings of the god Anubis (embalming and after life god) appeared facing one another. According to the Polish researcher who discovered them, the inscriptions are likely to be written by an illiterate worker, The Sun reported. He confirmed that 36 mummies were found in Saqqara, the city of the dead.

Far from the ancient Egyptians' intricate burials we are familiar with, the newly discovered mummies, each aged 2,000 to 2,600 years old, were in an unfortunate state. The mummies were protected only by a thin layer, which indicates that they belonged to the working or middle-class families and not the elite.

"Most of the mummies we discovered were very modest, only exposed to basic mummification treatments, and were placed directly in the pits prepared for them," said Polish Egyptologist Kamel Korazikowicz.
The discovered mummies - ET

"There are no inscriptions or personal objects that might hint at the names or professions of these people; however, analyses of the skeletons' remains indicate that they did hard labor," Korazikowicz continued.

Archaeologists have been working for decades in Saqqara, which served as a cemetery for the entire ancient city of Memphis.

In the cemetery, portraits of a jackal appeared to represent Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of death. ""It seems that the craftsman who drew it was illiterate and perhaps tried to recreate something he had previously seen. Some of the painted figures are not hieroglyphic signs and the text is not coherent," stated the Polish Egyptologist.

Despite being far from the tombs of the elite kings and statesmen, the discovery shows that ordinary Egyptians have received similar funerals as their wealthier counterparts, perhaps attempting to emulate the funerary practices of the rich, even if they do not completely understand them.

Saqqara archaeological area is one of the most prominent archaeological areas in Egypt and one of the richest places in Egyptian monuments. It includes Saqqara Amphitheater, the oldest stone structure known to man, as well as the first royal tomb in history, along with many royal tombs dating back to the first Pharaonic dynasties.

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Video Link here: Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has announced it has uncovered an ancient industrial park in Luxor. |

Egypt discovers ancient factories1:15

  • October 12th 2019
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Gebel el Silsila Project: Celebrating Tutankhamun: Silsila excavations

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Celebrating Tutankhamun: Silsila excavations

CELEBRATING TUTANKHAMUN:excavations of a workers' village at Gebel el-Silsila

With the upcoming 100-year jubilee since Howard Carter's opening of Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in Valley of the Kings in 1922, the Silsila Team would like to celebrate the golden boy-king and his family, by exploring for the first time, a workers' village and quarry, dedicated to and marked with his name. The results of the survey and excavation work are to be presented and published in a monograph in 2022, coinciding with the Tutankhamun Jubilee celebrations, in Egypt and the world. The study includes an important and critical Middle Kingdom (c 2040-1782 BCE) fortress overlooking the Nile and guarding the border to Nubia. Funding for the season is already mainly at hand, with the exception of 10,000 Euro  that is needed to cover the rental costs of our dig house and some basic archaeological equipement: the goal for this crowdfunding campaign is to raise funds to cover these costs. Any amount over the goal will go directly to the project (wages to our workers, daily runnings).

Main funding period: September 25 – October 9 2019 (2 weeks!)
Funding goal: 120,000 SEK (= 12,000 EURO/USD)(including fees)

1 $; 1 €; 0.8 £ = 10 SEK (therabout)

Expedition periods:
Step 1: Winter 2019
Step 2: Spring 2020

Gebel el-Silsila (including the areas of Nag el-Hammam and Shatt el-Rigal) has been studied by the Swedish mission since 2012, on behalf of Lund University and in cooperation with the Egyptian Antiquity Services. This scientific, international team, directed by Dr. Maria Nilsson and John Ward, includes 85 professional researchers, archaeologists and digital recorders. Until the Swedish mission begun work in 2012, no detailed archaeological study had been carried out. The Swedish concession now holds a permission to excavate, preserve and to continue its comprehensive documentation in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities.

What we would like to do
The archaeology at Gebel el-Silsila is astonishing. The team has surveyed and excavated various monuments and quarries dating to Pharaoh Amenhotep III (c. 1386-1353 BCE) and his son, Amenhotep IV (c. 1353–1336 BCE), later known as Akhenaten. Attention has now turned to Tutankhamun (grandson)(c.1336-1327 BCE) and site institutions used during his reign, namely a quarry and the workers' village.

The material consists of dozens of stone shelters located on a small hill in the northern part of Gebel el-Silsila, with with surface artifacts dating to the reign of Tutankhamun. Situated immediately below, is a quarry with the name of the famous boy-king. The Swedish archaeological mission (Lund University) at Gebel el-Silsila began a surface survey of the area in 2018, revealing three main clusters of shelters, including pens for animals.

During a rather recent looting attempt (before the start of the Gebel el Silsila Project), one of the shelters was emptied of its contents, after which the looters left broken ceramic sherds on the surface. The team's ceramicist dated the sherds to the so-called Post-Amarna period. Intriguingly, the epigraphic context at Gebel el-Silsila, especially text graffiti, indicate that the village may sit upon an older fortress, and that Pharaoh Tutankhamun's workers found a stronghold perhaps already from the reign of Pepi I (Old Kingdom, (c. 2613-2181 BCE)) enhancing and adapting to their current requirements. The settlement has never been scientifically documented, surveyed or excavated.  Modern village expansions of Nag el-Hammam threaten the ancient remains requiring immediate study, analysis and documentation.

With the excavation we hope to gain insight into a most intriguing socio-political and economic period when balance and harmony was was restored following Akhenaten's ideological program; when temples of traditional Egyptian gods and goddesses required restoration or reconstruction, and demanded quarries reopen. The House of Amenhotep Neb-ma'at-Ra had reached a full circle as Egypt was once more, in bloom!

What can the workers village tell us about ancient quarrying, workers' habitation and social interaction? What can it reveal about the politico-religious development during the Post-Amarna period? What was the  individuals' role(s) within the working community – who were they? How are they related with the population of ancient Kheny? What monuments were they extracting stone to build? What can the preserved architecture and artefacts teach us about their material status and religious affiliation – their ideology?

The workers' village – what we know so far
The workers' village is situated on the West Bank, just north of the modern tarmac road that connects the Nile valley with the Western Desert (Sahara). It sits upon a hill along the first plateau, overlooking the Nile to the east and with the quarries and associated spoil heaps to its south. A well-preserved ancient road meanders through the deserted landscape to its western side, connecting the village with an ancient quay to its northeast. Nearby, in a valley, once laid a small temple, previously thought to belong to Pharaoh Horemheb, but more likely contemporaneous with the village. The temple was destroyed in the 1980's when modern quarrymen used explosives to extract stone nearby.  The team has made a few surface finds, including talatat-blocks, and a ceramic ostracon containing an architectural drawing in a style comparable with the Amarna houses.

The archaeological context ranges from Prehistoric rock art and lithic industries, to Roman occupation and early Ottoman trade route activity. Based on the initial survey the village spreads out over an approximately 80 x 90 m area, and includes at least 73 rooms. It is divided in three main clusters, but individual structures appear to, which may indicate a hierarchical segregation. The shape of the rooms, including rectangular and semi-circular examples, is generally determined by the natural formation of the ground and cliff.  Some use protruding cliff faces to support the drystone wall. In terms of size, they range between approximately three to six meters across.

The initial survey revealed archaeological evidence for at least four chronological periods of activity: 1) Post-Amarna; 2) Ramesside; 3) Roman; and 4) passing by Ottoman. However, the structural formation of the overall area, when seen from above, is very similar to Middle Kingdom fortresses, for which an earlier phase cannot be excluded.

Even older history?
The ancient Egyptian name of Gebel el-Silsila was Kheny or Khenu, which is generally translated as the "Rowing Place", but could equally signify the "Mouth of the River". Its earliest attestation is a reference from a 4th Dynasty mastaba in Dashur, belonging to prince Iynefer, son of Sneferu. Shortly thereafter occurs the earliest hieroglyphic inscription at Gebel el-Silsila itself: a cartouche of Pepi I, located along the main cenotaph pathway on the west bank. It is plausible that the site was taken under state control as a quarry already during this time, considering other, contemporaneous, quarry expeditions to Nubia. The strategic location of Gebel el-Silsila, with a clear line of sight in all directions, may also have inspired the army to set up a camp during the military campaigns into Nubia.

The name "Kheny" occurs again in a Middle Kingdom papyrus, labelled as Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446. Written in black ink hieratic, Line 21 lists a name of a fugitive of the state called "Hemenwosre, son of Khnumhotep", and describes him as a "man of Rokhen(y) of the department of the plough-lands of …". The topographic name is generally accepted to denote Kheny, and the site clearly marks the border to Nubia.
Another text, Papyrus Berlin 10495, provide us with the topographic name of Kheny in a series of seventeen fortresses listed during the Middle Kingdom. Once again, the site is described as marking the boundary between Egypt and Nubia.

The two references to Gebel el-Silsila as a boundary is supported on site as well, epigraphically, geologically and archaeologically (described in Ancient Egypt Magazine no. 114). The sandstone massif, into which the Nile forced its way through and over the millennia created a deep and narrow gorge, created a geological and natural strategic location for the ancient Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom (or earlier!) to oversee and protect Egypt against its southern neighbours. The formation of this nature-given barrier likely gave rise to the site's ancient name, Kheny, as the "Mouth of the River". Presumably, the site was also a lucrative location in which the people and state could thrive once the organised quarry expeditions took place. The combination of natural barricades in all directions, and the source of valuable golden sandstone, gave reason for the construction of a fortified military encampment at Gebel el-Silsila.

Based on resent fieldwork, the Silsila team has now found epigraphic evidence of a fortress in an unpublished graffito that provide us with the professional title "overseer of the fort". This title confirms the inventory of Middle Kingdom fortresses listed in the papyri. However, with no previous excavations or documentation of such a fortress – and as Sir. A. H. Gardiner says himself "no fortress is known at Silsilis" – there has been no attempt of understanding the site's position within the larger landscape until now.

The team has only scratched the surface of Old-Middle Kingdom activity in the region, but with hundreds of texts documented – some recently published, and more prepared (and including the name of the Major of Kheny!) – documentation of Old-Middle Kingdom quarrying techniques, road systems, and other infrastructure, and planned excavations of the possible fortress, we hope to succeed in painting a fuller picture of life at Gebel el-Silsila.

Project goals:
The objectives for the seasons of 2019/2020 are to:
1) conduct a thorough GIS documentation (by means of a total station) to produce a map of the area. The survey will incorporate the larger area to include also the valley of the destroyed temple, and the connected ancient road system; GIS mapping combined with 3D documentation will produce detailed maps of the areas, enabling understanding of the spatial distribution and the relation between man-made and landscape architecture.

2) to excavate a selection of shelters to establish material culture and estimate level of preservation. At least one trench will be placed in each cluster of huts. The team ceramicist will analyse pottery retrieved, and all archaeological artefacts will be catalogued, photographed and fully documented. Digital technologies will be applied to produce reconstructions of the settlement and its archaeological context, including the daily archaeological development.

3) prepare the area for conservation and preservation, develop a long-term site management plan with the Egyptian authorities
4) Analysis and theoretical research (off site), resulting in a monograph

Already, the initial survey has resulted in groundbreaking information, changing (again) the general perception of the workers' status and their activity on site. Further studies will allow deeper socio-anthropological understanding of ancient Egyptian workers and their families at large, as well as the day-to-day activities on site. The excavations of the settlement and the study of its potential reuse and upgrading of an older military fortress are anticipated to reveal important clues to the socio-economic and administrative climate in Upper Egypt, in which Gebel el-Silsila was seen as the last barrier to Nubia and had to be protected for the sake of political stability for Egypt's people. Such need was crucial during the Middle Kingdom, and yet again during the post-Amarna period. Such results will add important facets to the study of Egyptology and ancient history at large, reaching far beyond the local archaeology.

What we will use the money for

If we reach our goal with this Gofundme campaign, we will be able to conduct a thorough survey and set up a selection of smaller excavations within the settlement, to locate its boundaries, and to analyse the artefacts. We will share our discoveries with you through a beautifully illustrated publication written by our team and with stunning imagery produced by our photographers, presenting for the first time the excavations of a workers' village never before explored. With weekly video updates aimed and limited to our backers, we invite you to join us in this adventure!

If you are interested in learning more about the project and our previous excavations, surveys, and results, check out our blog or at Facebook . Of course we sincerely hope that you will back us and be part of our journey!

Tokens of Appreciation for our benefactors

There are no limits (lower or upper) in how much one can donate – all funds (minus handling fees) will go straight into the project. All supporters will be given special access to weekly updates, and an official thank you on our website (upon your agreement), and backers above 50 SEK/5 Euro will receive a thank you special Gebel el-Silsila postcard.

Above this, we can offer upon request:

1000 SEK/100 Euro: Silsila T-shirt, cap or calendar

2500 SEK/250 Euro: full Silsila pack with t-shirt, cap and calendar

5000 SEK/500 Euro: signed copy of the book

10,000 SEK/1000 Euro: private live update with the team  

On behalf of the entire team,
THANK YOU for your support!

John & Maria

--   Sent from my Linux system.