Tuesday, July 17, 2018

National Geographic: Clues Point to Owner of Egypt 'Mystery Sarcophagus'

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Urgent: Oppose an Amendment to Decrease Funding for NEH

National Humanities Alliance
National Humanities Alliance
This afternoon, the House of Representatives will consider an amendment to the FY 2019 Interior Appropriations bill that would cut the proposed FY 2019 budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by 15% or nearly $23 million. This would be a setback to the increased funding that appropriations committees in the House and the Senate have supported to date.
The House will consider this amendment TODAY.
Please click here to urge your Member of Congress to oppose the amendment and encourage others to contact their Members of Congress as well!
We have seen strong bipartisan support for this increase in the House, with 166 representatives, including 19 Republicans, signing on to a Dear Colleague Letter requesting increased funding for the NEH earlier this year. Given this level of support, we are hopeful that with robust opposition from the humanities community, the Grothman amendment will fail and the House will vote on an Interior bill that includes $155 for the NEH. Click here to learn more about the amendment.

National Humanities Alliance

Monday, July 16, 2018

Third scarab coin series released | Numismatic News

Third scarab coin series released

In June, Lichtenstein's Coin Invest Trust (CIT) released the third set of a major coin series celebrating ancient Egypt's scarab.

The first coins in the series were introduced last year and proved instant sellouts helped, no doubt, by their simple yet powerful designs. The continuing quality of the third set indicates it is likely to do likewise.

The 38.61 mm, 1 oz .999 fine silver proof $5s have been struck for the Cook Islands and are sold in sets of three. Three such sets have been produced to date with a mintage of 499 per set. All coins have been struck in ultra-high relief using CIT's patented Smartminting© technology.

Reverses of CIT's 2017 Scarab Set I struck as silver $5s for the Cook Islands. From left: "Black Kingdom," "Red Dawn" and "Desert Heat." (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

Set I (2017) consists of "Black Kingdom," in which the gilded scarab is displayed on a black-rhodium proof surface; "Red Dawn," with a black rhodium-plated scarab on a rose-gold field; and "Desert Heat," with both scarab and field gilded.

CIT's 2017 Scarab Set II. From left: "Beyond the World," "Lunar Eclipse," and "Solitary Flame." (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

Set II (2017) contains silver "Beyond the World" on gilded field, a rhodium black proof "Lunar Eclipse," and a rose-gold plated "Solitary Flame" on a silver field.

CIT's 2018 Scarab Set III. From left: "Secret Riddle," "Solar Zenith," and "Withering Blaze." (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

Set III (2018) comprises black rhodium "Secret Riddle" on silver, rose gold "Solar Zenith" on gold, and brilliant silver "Withering Blaze" on rose gold.

Common obverse for the Cook Islands' Scarab $5s produced by CIT. (Image courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

The "Red Dawn," "Lunar Eclipse" and "Solar Zenith" coins each come with an inset SWAROVSKI® crystal.

For ancient Egyptians, the scarab was the most sacred of all amulets. It represented new creation and eternal life as well as providing a potent protection against evil.

Millions of scarab amulets, rings and sculptures were produced by Egyptians between 2,300 B.C.E. and 400 C.E. They were carved in stone or molded in glass or faience. They were worn as beads and rings, used as seals, or carved as reliefs and statuettes.

Those wishing to purchase some potent protection can check out the CIT website at If they are sold out, check your favorite dealer or perhaps eBay.


This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.


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Kim Jong Un Upset to Learn That Trump Is Seeing Other Dictators | The New Yorker

Kim Jong Un Upset to Learn That Trump Is Seeing Other Dictators

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)—The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is reportedly "upset" and "hurt" that Donald J. Trump is seeing other dictators, sources in Pyongyang have confirmed.

According to an aide close to the North Korean leader, Kim was "devastated" to see images of Trump warmly embracing another dictator in Helsinki on Monday, just one month after jetting off to Singapore to spend a memorable and intense five hours with Kim.

Shortly after their time together, aides close to Kim warned him against becoming emotionally attached to Trump, alerting Kim to press reports linking the American to many other dictators.

"He's been quoted saying nice things about Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte, to name just two," one aide said. "Trump could never commit to just one dictator. When it comes to autocrats and strongmen, he's a total player."

Still, despite all the red flags, seeing Trump in the clutches of another dictator left Kim "deeply wounded," aides said.

"Donald Trump said that he and I had a 'special bond,' " Kim reportedly said, choking back tears. "I guess that meant something different to him than it did to me."

Andy Borowitz is the New York Times best-selling author of "The 50 Funniest American Writers," and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news, for

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Antiquities ministry receives 116 archaeological pieces - Egypt Today
FILE – Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani FILE – Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani

Antiquities ministry receives 116 archaeological pieces

Mon, Jul. 16, 2018
CAIRO, July 16 (MENA) - The Ministry of Antiquities received at Damietta port 116 archaeological pieces which had been seized during attempts to smuggle them abroad.

The pieces were seized in 2014 and the prosecution has finally decided to hand over the pieces to the Ministry of Antiquities, a top official said.

The pieces consist of wooden furniture and wooden and porcelain crafts dating back to the era of Muhamed Ali as well as utensils made of pottery dating back to the Islamic era.
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Baalbeck Festival to honour Umm Kulthum - Egypt Today
Umm Kulthum Umm Kulthum

Baalbeck Festival to honour Umm Kulthum

Sun, Jul. 15, 2018

CAIRO – 15 July 2018: Baalbeck International Festival, the oldest and most prominent cultural festival in the Middle East, will honour legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in its opening ceremony.

The festival is scheduled to run from July 20 to August 18 at the Roman Temple of Bacchus, Lebanon.

The opening ceremony titled "Baalbeck Remembers Umm Kulthum" will honour the Arab world's greatest singer through a 90-minute combination of her most famous songs presented by renowned Egyptian composer and conductor Hisham Gabr.

The collection will include "Seerat El-Hob" (Love's Name), "Enta Omry" (You Are My Life), "Fakkarouni" (They Reminded Me), "Hayyart Albi" (You Confused My Heart), "Alf Laila Wa Laila" (One Thousand and One Nights), and "Aghadan Alkak" (Am I Going To Meet You Tomorrow?).

The festival will witness the participation of prestigious artists such as Rossini's Stabat Mater, Matthieu Chedid, Ibrahim Maaouf, Georges Khabbaz, Jahida Wehbe, Elie Maalouf and many others.

"The festival was launched in 1956. Initially, the festival was managed by people on a mission to promote culture and tourism in Lebanon. They aspired to nurture an enticing artistic environment rooted in cross-cultural exchange. They also strove to establish a unique setting for innovative performances by local, regional and acclaimed international talents. Soon the festival became an annual highlight on the calendar every summer, gaining an international reputation and attracting big names on the music, theatre and dance scenes," the festival's website reads.

Who is Umm Kulthum?

Umm Kulthum was a beloved Egyptian singer and actress; she is considered one of the greatest singers in Arab history.

Umm Kulthum's voice was quickly identified as unique, strong, vibrant and instantly recognizable.

Her famous songs include: "Al Atlal" (The ruins), "El hobb Kolloh" (all the love), "Ya Zalemeny" (You were unjust to me), "Ya Mesharany" (You keep me awake all night), "Hayart Albi Ma'ak" (You confused my heart) amongst others.

In 1944, Umm Kulthum was granted the highest level of Order of Virtues, 'Nishan el-Kamal' by King Farouk. After Egypt's 1952 revolution, the new military leadership attempted to prevent her from singing because of the award, but Gamal Abdel Nasser, a fan of Umm Kulthum, intervened and reversed the decision.

After the 1967 War, in which Israel occupied parts of Egypt, Umm Kulthum sang a series of nationalistic songs that fuelled patriotism and pan-Arab sentiment. She also gave many performances in various Arab countries to raise money for the Egyptian army.

More than three decades after her death, Umm Kulthum still lives on in the hearts of all her fans and her brilliant voice still rings in their ears. Her fans gave her the title "Kawakab Al-Sharq" (Star of the East). Umm Kulthum was considered the greatest Arab singer of the 20th century.

Her valuable belongings and old records and tapes were moved to the Umm Kulthum Museum at Manasterli palace in December 2001. The museum is a wonderful tribute to the singer's life.

Umm Kulthum's spirit is felt in every corner of the museum. People have reported hearing her voice in the museum despite none of her songs was played at the time. Only there, can one know the story of this dazzling Egyptian woman sticking to her silk scarf, which she could never do without during performances.

Umm Kulthum died on February 3, 1975.
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Sunday, July 15, 2018

A closer look at Saqqara's unique discovery - Egypt Today
        A mummification workshop and a communal burial place, dating to        the Saite-Persian Period (664-404 B.C.) discovered at the Saqqara        Necropolis - Ministry of Antiquities official facebook page A mummification workshop and a communal burial place, dating to the Saite-Persian Period (664-404 B.C.) discovered at the Saqqara Necropolis - Ministry of Antiquities official facebook page

A closer look at Saqqara's unique discovery

Sun, Jul. 15, 2018

CAIRO – 15 July 2018: Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Anany announced on Saturday in an international press conference the discovery of a mummification workshop and a communal burial place, dating to the Saite-Persian Period (664-404 B.C.) at the Saqqara Necropolis.

The discovery was unveiled south of King Unas' Pyramid in Saqqara by an Egyptian-German mission from the Tübingen University. The mission also found a gilded sliver mummy mask in one of the burial chambers of the main shaft attached to the mummification workshop.

The mask belonged to the Second Priest of Mut and Niut-shaes and measures 23 x 18.5 cm. The initial microscopic examination indicated that the mask is made of gilded silver, calcite and obsidian and contains a black precious stone, most probably black onyx.

The toupee was also inlayed with gemstones that were once embedded in colour pastes. A research and conservation project is currently being planned for the mask.

"The importance of such a discovery lies in its relevance to an important issue that the whole world is concerned with, which is mummification with its methods of embalming, workshops and tools," Anany recounted in the press conference.

Ramadan Badry Hussein, director of Saqqara Saite Tombs Project and Professor at Tübingen University, announced that this discovery is considered a unique one.

According to Hussein, the discovered mummification workshop is a rectangular building of mud brick and irregular limestone blocks; it has an entrance on the south-western corner that leads to an open area with two large basins and a mud brick ramp between them. The two basins are surrounded with mud brick walls and are believed to have been used for the preparation of linen bandages.

Hussein recounted that the mummification workshop includes an embalmer's cachette with a 13 meter deep shaft that ends with a rectangular subterranean chamber, where a large number of pottery vessels, bowls and measuring cups used for keeping mummification oils and materials were found.

Additionally, a large shaft used as a communal burial place was found in the middle of the mummification workshop. Shaft number K24 comprises several burial chambers, including a complex of burial chambers cut into the bedrock at a depth of 30 meters.

The burial chambers are arranged on the sides of two inlets. The first inlet has an intact burial chamber on the west, where three decayed wooden coffins were found at the western end of a large limestone sarcophagus, a fourth mummy was found to the north of that sarcophagus and a large number of ushabti figurines were also found along the northern side of the sarcophagus.


Hussein further pointed out that the middle wooden coffin is badly damaged, and the mummy inside it had a gilded mask. The wooden coffin was once plastered and painted with an image of the goddess Nut, the mother of the god of the dead, Osiris.

The decorations on the coffin also include the titles of the owner of the mask along with his name. The owner is the Second Priest of the goddess Mut and the Priest of the goddess Niut-shaes, a serpent form of the goddess Mut. The theophoric name of the owner of the mask includes the name of the goddess Neith, the patron goddess of Dynasty 26. Pieces of the painted plaster carrying the rest of his name are still missing, and the mission is searching for them in order to read the full name of the deceased.


Head of the supreme council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziry announced that the importance of this discovery lies in that it was found in Saqqara, a site that has not been visited by an archaeological mission since 1900.

Waziry explained that the well in which the workshop is located is connected to another well that is expected to be uncovered during the upcoming period.

The Egyptian- German mission has started the implementation of the art technology method in the documentation and recording of monuments, particularly the laser scanning and photogrammetry techniques. The mission's digital documentation methods include the 3D photogrammetric models and laser scans of the burial chambers of Padinist. The Mission also conducted a conservation project of the polychrome reliefs and inscriptions found in the burial chambers.


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Young Nubians revive dream of returning to land in Egypt - GreenwichTime

Young Nubians revive dream of returning to land in Egypt


ASWAN, Egypt (AP) — The world of their parents and grandparents was turned upside down more than 50 years ago when they were evacuated from villages along the Nile River to make way for the High Dam. Now a younger generation has revived the long-dormant cause of Egypt's Nubians, campaigning for a return to their lands and struggling to preserve their culture.

Their timing could not have been worse.

Recent peaceful marches by Nubians were met by swift suppression from the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, which has shown little tolerance for dissent. To a state dominated by the military and security agencies, Nubians' assertion of their distinct identity and heritage amid the Arab majority looks like a threat to stability.

"This country has so many colors and ethnicities, and it is so destructive that we are trying to give it just one identity," said Fatmah Imam, a Nubian activist born and raised in Cairo. Even during her days at university, she recalled, the message instilled was that the country should be homogeneous.

"It is painful for me that I am unable to manifest my identity," she said. "I see Egypt as a mosaic."

Nubians are an ancient ethnic group who from Pharaonic times lived along the Nile in a stretch of territory from southern Egypt to northern Sudan, even becoming rulers for a period in the 25th Dynasty 3,000 years ago. Darker skinned than most Egyptians, they have a language and culture distinct from the country's Arab majority.

The 20th century brought a series of displacements, starting with the construction of the first reservoir at Aswan in 1902. The biggest came with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1950s and 1960s under the rule of the charismatic, authoritarian Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Some 50,000 were subjected to forced resettlement in 1963 and 1964, and the creation of Lake Nasser flooded their ancestral homeland.

Their dream since has been to return to land along the lake near their original villages.

Nubian activists have found inspiration from the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that overthrew autocrat Hosni Mubarak. In 2014, there seemed to be a breakthrough when the crafters of a new constitution included a clause that for the first time recognized Nubians as an ethnic group and committed the state to organize their return to traditional lands and develop those areas by 2024.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done, activists say.

Succeeding a generation traumatized by displacement, young Nubian activists say they are determined to bring change.


"You must not be worried about the future. I personally feel that the future, God willing, will be dear and generous for all of you." —Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, addressing Nubians in 1960.

Older Nubians remember vividly their lives in their original land. They talk of sprawling villages of large houses painted in brilliant colors spread out along the Nile. Receding river waters after annual floods left fertile land for crops.

Most important was the bond with the Nile. For generations they lived on its banks. Their rituals were closely linked to it. They would baptize their children in its waters, and before weddings, grooms would bathe in the river. On holidays they would float dishes of food on its current to the river's mythical guardians. Though Muslim, Nubians have traditions from their Christian past mixed in with their identity; for example, at weddings the guests often call to Jesus and Mary for blessings as well as to Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

When the government resettled the Nubians in the 1960s, it told them they were making a major sacrifice for Egypt's progress, giving up their villages for the sake of a dam that would electrify and modernize the nation.

In return, the authorities promised, the socialist system would ensure them a prosperous future: new, model homes with electricity, running water and farmlands awaited them.

Officials raced to evacuate the Nubians as the Nile's waters rose. Nubians of that generation recall families frantically packing possessions and pulling livestock to riverboats as officials, soldiers and members of the only political party at the time, the Socialist Union, shouted, "Yallah, yallah!" — "Come on!"

The Nubians were moved to 44 new villages, mostly clumped around the area of Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) from their home region.

What they found was a startling blow. In some villages, houses hadn't been built yet — there were just chalk outlines. Houses that were ready were small and cramped. Often there was no running water or electricity. Farmland couldn't be farmed because a canal hadn't been built yet.

Even worse for the Nubians, most of the villages were miles away from the Nile. The fact that all the new villages bore the same names as the Nubians' now submerged home villages seemed almost cruel. They became known as the villages of "tahgeer," or exile.

"People felt they were deceived and the first few years here were very tough," Mohammed Dawoud, 71, recalled as he sat in a mosque after the sunset prayers in Abu Simbel, one of the tahgeer villages.

Nubians to this day still feel the trauma of having their community shattered. Many left the impoverished new villages for Cairo, Alexandria and other cities to find jobs, often as household servants or doormen. Customs fell away. Though the Nubian language is still spoken in some homes, it is not taught in schools, nor is Nubian history or culture. There is no official data, but some estimates put the number of Nubians today at 3.5 million to 5 million.

In the 50 years since, the tahgeer towns have become indistinguishable from neighboring Arab ones, a sprawl of dust-covered, eye-sore apartment blocks, mired in poverty and underdevelopment.

Speaking Arabic haltingly with a heavy Nubian accent, Naemah Hussein, an 85-year-old grandmother, said her house in her original home village of Eneiba was right on the banks of the Nile, where she baptized her first two children. Eneiba at the time had one of the best river ports in the country, built by the British in the 1930s.

Now she lives in the "tahgeer" Eneiba. Since being evacuated there, she had four more children.

The town "is a place that sends people away, no investments, no jobs," one of her sons said.

It is also far from the Nile.

"Well, it's a life," Hussein said with bitter resignation. "Now I don't even see the river in my dreams."


"Our children are scattered everywhere working as help, serving the grandchildren of the foreigners and Pashas. And we are here, left like goats in the devil's valley. ... They killed us, my son. The folks with light skin killed us." —From the short story "Adeela, My Grandmother," or "Farewell, My Grandmother," by Haggag Oddoul.

Haggag Oddoul, at 74, has spent a lifetime chronicling the miseries of the Nubians' displacement in dozens of novels and short stories while campaigning for the rights of his community.

He calls the Nubians' uprooting "the murder of a culture." Successive governments, he said, have sought to dissolve the community into the broader Arab-dominated identity, seeing any diversity as a threat and suspicious that the Nubians, if back in their lands, will seek to secede. He dismissed any doubts over Nubians' loyalties.

"We are part of the date palms and the Nile," told the AP at his home, a small, high-rise apartment he shares with his wife in Alexandria, the city where he was born.

Oddoul sat on the commission that wrote the 2014 constitution and was a driving force in winning the inclusion of the clause recognizing the Nubians' right to return.

He sees that as a gain — "I still think the constitution is more than just ink on paper."

But, he said, Nubians will never get their rights without pushing for them. He cited as his inspiration the civil rights movement in the United States and the fiery rhetoric of the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

Today's generation, he said, is less willing to put up with discrimination, pointing to the stereotype of the Nubian among Egyptians as a happy servant — the cheerful waiter or the loyal doorman.

"Young Nubians are aggressive now," he said. "I personally have become fed up with the stereotypical good Nubian. Now, I am the aggressive Nubian."


"They (Nubians) are going to a place where they will be compensated for oppression, humiliation and unemployment with justice, dignity, work and prosperity." —Hikmat Abu Zeid, minister of Social Solidarity, addressing Nubians before evacuations began in 1963.

Siham Othman, a 30-year-old teacher born in Aswan, was raised on stories of the old country. After the evacuation, her family ended up in Alexandria and her grandfather became a merchant sailor, travelling the world.

When he told her stories, it was never about his travels, only about Nubia, she said.

"He is the one who planted the dream of return in me," she said.

"The older generation of Nubians accepted the status quo," she said. "Their activism was restricted to conferences, but no street activism. Now there is a new spirit."

But it's proving difficult. Othman is among 50 Nubian activists now on trial, facing charges that could land them in prison for up to five years, after protests last year.

In September, around 100 Nubians marched through Aswan, singing traditional songs and beating drums. Police quickly broke it up, arresting more than two dozen. One of them, a well-known activist suffering from multiple health issues, died in custody, prompting a new protest and a new wave of arrests.

The previous year, a convoy of cars set out from Aswan toward Nubian lands. They were intercepted by security forces and, after a four-day standoff, forced to return to Aswan.

"The government is becoming more and more hard line in its approach to the Nubian question," Othman said.

That appears to be at least in part because of security agencies' hand over the issue. Soon after passage of the 2014 constitution, parliament drafted a law for developing Nubian lands, but intelligence agencies objected to some provisions, said a senior official involved in the issue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Then el-Sissi issued a decree extending a security zone along the border with Sudan, a major route for militants entering Egypt to join an insurgency in the Sinai. The expansion put a number of areas the Nubians want to return to inside the zone, where settlement is barred.

In May, parliament passed a law creating a state agency to economically develop all of southern Egypt, but it made no specific mention of the Nubians. Activists oppose the law, saying it aims to dilute their cause by grouping it in with broader development.

In a debate over the legislation, parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al, a close el-Sissi supporter, echoed the attitude that recognizing Nubian identity threatens stability. He called the constitutional clause about Nubians "a land mine" and said referring to any group of Egyptians by their ethnic identity was dangerous.

During a visit to Aswan last year, el-Sissi spoke broadly about fulfilling Nubian demands, but talked about development without mentioning return.

"The government wants to implement the constitution and wants to see the Nubians return to their region. But this needs time," Mustafa Bakry, a lawmaker close to the military who has mediated between activists and the government, told the AP.

The slow pace and the crackdown have convinced some activists that return will not happen any time soon. They are focusing on rescuing Nubian culture from disappearance. One has launched a YouTube channel that broadcast in Nubian for two hours every day. Another developed a mobile app to teach young people the Nubian language.

Fatmah Imam said activists must not let up the pressure, which she argued has succeeded in forcing officials to talk about the issue. "We have no choice but to continue our struggle," she said.

"From what I see, there's a lot of suppressed anger among Nubians. It has not come to surface yet."


Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

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Famine Stela: A piece of Pharaonic diary - Egypt Today
Famine Stela at Sehel Island in the Nile, Aswan, Upper Egypt-        Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib
Famine Stela at Sehel Island in the Nile, Aswan, Upper Egypt- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib

Famine Stela: A piece of Pharaonic diary

Sun, Jul. 15, 2018

CAIRO – 15 June 2018: In the era of King Djoser, King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Neterkhet and founder of the Third Dynasty in the Old Kingdom, a shortage of the Nile flood in 2,700 BC led to a seven-year famine, leaving Egypt in a state of extreme distress. The king was perplexed as grains were insufficient, seeds dried up, people robbed each other, and temples and shrines closed. Looking for an end to his people's suffering, the king consulted his architect and prime minister, Imhotep, commanding him to dig for a solution in the old sacred texts. Obeying the king's order, Imhotep headed to a temple in the ancient city of Ain Shams (Old Heliopolis), where he discovered that the solution could be found in the city of Yebu (Aswan or Elephantine), the source of the Nile.

Imhotep, the architect of the Djoser pyramid in Saqqara, traveled to Yebu, where he visited the Temple of Khnum and saw the granite, precious stones, minerals, and building stones. Khnum, the god of fertility, was believed to have created mankind from clay.

After his state visit to Yebu, Imhotep updated king Djoser on his journey. On the day following his meeting with Imhetop, Khnum, came to the king in his dream, promising to end the famine and to allow the Nile to flow again if Djoser restores the temple of Khnum. Consequently, Djoser executed Khnum's wishes, allocating the revenue of the area from Elephantine to Khnum temple. Shortly afterwards, the famine and people's suffering came to an end.

Famine Stela at Sehel Island in Aswan- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib

The famine story had been engraved on a granite stone in 250 BC during the era of Ptolemy V on the Sehel Island, Aswan. The Stela, which is 2.5 meters in height and 3 meters in width, includes 42 columns of hieroglyphic texts read from right to left. The Stela had a natural horizontal fissure when the Ptolemies engraved the story on it. Above the inscriptions, there were drawings depicting King Djsoer's offerings to the triad of the Elephantine deities (Khnum, Anuket, and Satis), which were worshipped in Aswan during the Old Kingdom.

The stone was discovered in 1889 by American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour, according to his notes preserved in Brooklyn Museum Archives. Wilbour tried to translate the inscriptions on the Stela, but he only managed to recognize when the story was engraved on the stone. The engravings were deciphered for the first time by German Egyptologist Heinrich Brugsch in 1891 and it took 62 years for the mission to be completed. The texts had to be translated and revised by four other Egyptologists. The complete translation was later published in a book penned by Miriam Lichtheim, titled "Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings".

Perhaps, the story was previously documented on papyrus and reformulated on stone in the Ptolemy era, General Director of Aswan Antiquities Ahmed Saleh told Egypt Today.,

Religious conflict

Some Egyptologists, including Saleh, think that the story of the Khnum famine is a fictional story invented during the era of Ptolemy V to consolidate Khnum's priesthood and perpetuate the idea that Khnum has the upper hand, thereby, ensuring his control over Egypt. The same theory is backed by Lichtheim in her book "Foundations of Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts and Other Alternatives."

"The Stela demonstrates a religious conflict between Khnum priests and goddess Isis' clergymen," Saleh explains, adding that another story on a famine engraved in the Philae temple states that Isis, a goddess of ancient Egypt, is the source of the Nile water.

Famine Stela in Sehel Island, Aswan- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib

During the Ptolemaic era, Isis was worshipped all over Egypt. With the revenues from land plots extending from Aswan Dam to the city of Mahraqqa, southern Aswan, were allocated for Isis' Philae Temple priests. Khnum's clergymen were angry for not having the upper hand in Egypt; thus, it is believed that the story of the famine is just a fictional tale invented by the jealous priests, according to Saleh.

"Such conflict could be the reason behind the creation of the famine story engraved on the Stela as it would empower them to religiously take control of Egypt," he said.

At Isis' Temple of Philae, another story on a famine was engraved on granite. Isis' story was engraved in the era of Ptolemy VI (186–145 BC), Saleh explained. "Each party (Khnum priests and Isis' clergymen) wanted to bestow their favors on Egypt," and to have the revenues of the 12-mile-long area between Aswan dam and Elephantine, Saleh confirmed.

At the end of the story, according to the inscription of the Famine Stela in Sehel Island, the Khnum priests were honored by the revenues.

Egypt depended on the Nile flood water, and was exposed to several famines. However, in Minya, Upper Egypt, another inscription was engraved in the tomb of Amenemhat, from the 12th Dynasty during the era of Senusret I, in Beni Hasan Cemetery; it talks about a just king, whose era had never seen a famine, Head of Minya Antiquities, Gamal Samastawy, told Egypt Today.

'Is Imhotep and Prophet Joseph the same person?'

Many people believe that this story is related to Prophet Joseph's story of the seven-year starvation in Quran and the Old Testament. However, Saleh said that the two stories are not necessarily connected.

"There are no historical facts that prove the famine story is related to the divine one," Saleh said, continuing that that number seven in Sehel's Famine Stela does not necessarily mean "seven years" but could merely be a symbol of perfection and completion.

Stela of Famine engravings have been affected by erosion. "Some inscriptions were scratched due to erosion, rains and winds," Saleh pointed out. "These inscriptions were restored in 2015 by the Egyptian archeological mission," he added, noting that the Ministry of Antiquities plans to build a tent over the Stela to protect it from the rains.

'Book of Memories'

Sehel Island, where the Stela exists, is considered by the Egyptologists as a piece of Pharaonic diary of 550 stones engraved by ancient Egyptian kings, rulers, pilgrims, travellers, and patients.

Pharaonic stones at Sehel Island in Aswan- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib

"The Sehel Island is a book of memories. Whenever a king or priest passed by the island, he wrote his memory like 'I am…son of…my mother is…'. The area has 550 engraved memories dating from the prehistoric period to Roman Greek era," Saleh said.

The engraved stories also served as a way of documenting tasks. "Any state official who was sent to get gold from the South used to engrave his mission on the stone," Saleh continues.

Sehel was a place of worshipping the Goddess Anuket, one of the Elephantine triad; the stones could be classified into two categories: royal engravings and inscriptions by individuals.

Inscription on a stone at Sehel Island in Aswan- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Sheleib

Most engravings include the depiction of the triad, where travelers or patients asked for success in life or treatment from an illness.

The stones also include one of the most important engravings that prove that Senusret III (1878 BC to 1839 BC) decreed to dig and expand a canal in the western side of the Sehel Island, for his warships and to serve as a maritime trade passage.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Library of Alexandria Is Long-Gone – And All Around Us

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Beaded Necklaces: Complex Restringing | In the Artifact Lab

Beaded Necklaces: Complex Restringing

By Jessica Byler


Sometimes beading objects can be quite complex! A cool Egyptian broad collar (31-27-303) came into the lab and needed to be restrung. The collar has six alternating rows of blue and black faience beads and a final row of teardrop beads with falcon-headed terminals.

Although the beads are in excellent condition, it was on cotton thread which was starting to degrade. In several areas, the string had broken and been reknotted or tied to other close by strings. To make sure the collar was stable enough for display, it was decided to restring the broad collar.

Egyptian collar 31-27-303, before treatment

Four strands of white braided Dacron (polyester fiber), each about 6 meters long, were used. To keep track of the strings, the ends were color coded using markers and each strand used a different dental needle. Half of each strand was wound onto color coded spindles made from bamboo skewers so that restringing began in the middle of each strand. The spindles were stuck into the side of the foam tray to keep them out of the way.

The collar was restrung from top to bottom, moving across each row. Two strings moving in opposite directions were passed through each of the beads in the row to create a ladder-like system to hold them vertically. I cut and removed the old cotton string as I worked across each row in order to keep the beads in place.

The top two rows and the left side of the third has been restrung on the white braided Dacron string; the lower beads are still strung on the old beige cotton string

Restringing map: each color is a different string

After all the rows were restrung across the collar, additional string was passed through to connect the columns of beads. The flexible dental needles we use for restringing were key here – they can bend at odd angles to pass the string through a column even when the beads were not lined up exactly. The larger teardrop beads at the bottom were also attached by running the string up to the top of the collar and back. Finally, the strings were knotted at the terminals.


In the end, the collar was restrung using approximately 25 meters of braided Dacron string!

Beaded Necklaces: Restringing to Secure the Past


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In pics: Discovered mask in Saqqara might belong to priest during 26th dynasty - Egypt Today
A discovered item found in one of the five stone coffins        uncovered in Saqqara area, Giza. The new discovery dates back to        the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to        the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today A discovered item found in one of the five stone coffins uncovered in Saqqara area, Giza. The new discovery dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

In pics: Discovered mask in Saqqara might belong to priest during 26th dynasty

Sat, Jul. 14, 2018
CAIRO -14 July 2018: The head of the Egyptian-German archaeological mission Badry Hussein announced in the press conference that a discovered mask probably belonged to a priest who was alive during the 26th dynasty, as it seems from the initial readings of the decrepit writings on the uncovered item.

"There is a layer of masking and calcification on the discovered mask, after initial examination, it was found that the mask was made of gold-plated silver while his eyes was made of Black Onyx," Hussein declared to the media on the sidelines of the press conference.

حسين          طلال (12)
Some of the discovered items at five stone coffins uncovered at Saqqara area. The new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

حسين طلال (18)
The site of the new archaeological discovery at Saqqara area, Giza. The discovery dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

The head of the supreme council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziry announced that the importance of this discovery lies in that it was found in Saqqara, which no archaeological mission had visited since 1900.

Waziry pointed out that the discovered mummification workshop hosted 1,500 Ushabti statues, explaining that the well in which the workshop is located in is connected to another well and is expected to be uncovered during the upcoming period.

حسين طلال (22)
Some of the discovered items at five stone coffins uncovered at Saqqara area. The new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

حسين طلال (27)
Some of the discovered items at five stone coffins uncovered at Saqqara area. The new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany announced on Saturday the discovery of more than five stone coffins at Saqqara area, and declared it "a great archaeological discovery".

Anany added that the Egyptian-German mission succeeded in uncovering a complete mummification workshop which contains burial chambers with mummies dating back to the 26th and 27th dynasty.

حسين طلال (10)
Some of the discovered items at five stone coffins uncovered at Saqqara area. The new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

حسين طلال (11)
Some of the discovered items at five stone coffins uncovered at Saqqara area. The new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC - Hussein Talal/Egypt Today

A gilded mummy mask decorated with half-precious stones was discovered covering the face of one of the mummies. The discovered items included three mummies, a group of canopic vessels made of calcite and a number of Ushabtis as well.

Anany stressed that the new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC.

"The importance of such a discovery lies in its relevance to an important issue that the whole world is concerned with, which is the mummification, methods of embalming, its workshops and tools," Anany recounted in the press conference.

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