Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Police arrests 9 citizens over illegal excavations in Sohag - Egypt Today
FILE - Illegal Excavations FILE - Illegal Excavations

Police arrests 9 citizens over illegal excavations in Sohag

Mon, Dec. 2, 2019

CAIRO - 2 December 2019: Sohag Tourism and Antiquities Police arrested nine individuals over charges of illegally digging and excavating for antiquities. Evidence of archaeological Greek and Roman buildings was found under the house.

General Director of the Department of Tourism and Antiquities Police Sami Ghoneim received information from the Sohag Archaeological Police confirming the illegal excavations. The information concluded that Ismail (68 years) and Fathi (55 years) were illegally excavating and drilling under their houses in an attempt to find antiquities.

Immediately an investigative police team was formed, supervised by Major General Medhat Montaser and Brigadier General Ahmed Rifaat, inspector of the area.

The Antiquities Police in Sohag carried out the mission where the houses of the aforementioned suspects were raided.

The first suspect and his sons (Ahmed 32 and Mohammed 27) were arrested. A hole with dimensions of 160 × 180 cm and a depth of 2.5 meters was found, in addition to a subsidiary hole branching from the main one with a diameter of 1.5 meters and a depth of 4 meters ending with 2 crypts. Remains of buildings dating back to the Greek and Roman eras were found, along with the drilling tools.

The second suspect, however, was nowhere to be found. A circular hole with a depth of 5 meters and the drilling tools were found.

The used tools were confiscated by the police.
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Ugly Object of the Month — December 2019 – The Kelsey Blog

On 12/03/2019 10:18 AM, leschram wrote:
Ugly Object of the Month — December 2019

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

This month's Ugly Object is a recurring character. I'll give you some clues: he's short, bearded, and has prominent ears. He looks a little grumpy, but deep down he's a really good guy. He'll go to bat for you in times of need — especially if you're an expectant mom or a young child.

By now I'm sure you've figured out who I'm talking about. He's the one and only Bes!

terracotta figurine of Bes
Terracotta figurine of Bes. Roman Egypt (Fayum), 1st–2nd century CE. Height: 21.7 cm. Museum purchase (David Askren, 1925). KM 4960.

The terracotta Bes featured this month was pointed out to me in the galleries by Scott Meier, who heads the Kelsey's exhibition department. Scott knows the collection well, and when I asked him what he thought of this particular Bes he remarked, "It is beautiful in its ugliness." I couldn't agree more. Sure, this Bes is missing an ear and a chunk of his feathered crown has popped off, and I dare anyone who isn't a scholar of Graeco-Roman Egypt to identify the lumpy thing he's holding in his hands (I checked our database, where it's described as a club or some sort of instrument). But despite these issues, the object is undeniable in its Bes-ness. Like most Bes figurines, this one faces forward. He looks you straight in the eye as if to say, "Yeah, I'm Bes, and I'm bringing some power to this situation, whatever it might be. So get used to it!" Bes is direct. I like that. He is definitely the sort of deity I would want in my corner.

Come pay Bes a visit at the Kelsey. You'll find him in our first-floor galleries, across from the Karanis house case.

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From the Archives #48 — November 2019 – The Kelsey Blog
On 11/26/2019 06:00 AM, leschram wrote:
From the Archives #48 — November 2019

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

November 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of the opening of the Kelsey Museum's William E. Upjohn Exhibit Wing. Last month's "From the Archives" showed the old exhibition spaces of the Kelsey Museum. Though Newberry Hall served the Kelsey well for many years, it was not designed as a museum space. Security, climate control, and space constraints limited what the museum staff could do. Only a few hundred artifacts were ever on display at any time, and the temporary exhibition space was small, allowing for only a few additional artifacts to be brought out. From early on, museum staff knew a new space was needed to make the best of the collections.

When Ed and Mary Meader offered to make this dream possible, the process of imagining the new space and preparing for the eventual opening began. This was a big endeavor for the Kelsey staff, as we had to imagine something from nothing. Where would walls be? What cases would we have? At first, these considerations were just figments of our imagination. We worked closely with University of Michigan architects to plan the new space, eventually hiring an outside firm to design the Upjohn Wing.

For this month's "From the Archives," we present a sample of the planning that went into the new building. While we do have the architectural plans of Upjohn (the original designs did not have a second floor, instead offering just a loft), here we show what it takes to plan for the display of an artifact, and how much can change between concept and implementation. In these files, we see the planning that went into how the coffin of  Djheutymose was going to be displayed. For those who remember, Djheutymose was displayed horizontally for many years, on pins above a mirror. In this way, visitors were able to see the top of the coffin while the mirror showed the interior. With the new display, the Kelsey's curator of Dynastic Egyptian Collections, Janet Richards, wanted Djheutymose to be vertical, making it easier for visitors to see the coffin's interior decorations.

Click to view slideshow.

In order to make this happen, the entire Kelsey team had to be involved. Janet and other curators lent their vision; the exhibition team, the architect, and the consultant lent their eyes and ideas for design; the conservators assessed the viability of the plans. We looked at examples of coffin displays at other museums, assessing how those coffins were supported and how stable they were. The object list included among these images shows artifacts envisioned for this case that were cut for various reasons. Much changes during the course of an exhibition installation.

This kind of painstaking work happened over and over for all the cases, pedestals, and displays that are now on view in Upjohn. For years, each case was planned in a very similar fashion. Lists were made, visions shared, all of it altered time and again until we settled on the designs seen currently. And after ten years, some have changed and others will continue to change. Be sure to check back often over the next ten years to see how much more changes between now and 2029.

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Making some noise | In the Artifact Lab
On 10/30/2019 07:19 AM, mollygleeson wrote:
Making some noise

We have been notably quiet on this blog lately, but that doesn't mean that we haven't been making a lot of noise elsewhere!

Project Conservator Anna O'Neill Alexander uses a            PaleoTool to remove old restoration plaster that surrounds an            ancient Egyptian limestone fragment. The limestone fragment is            part of a column from the palace complex of Merenptah, which            dates to 1224-1204 BCE.
Project Conservator Anna O'Neill Alexander uses a PaleoTool to remove old restoration plaster that surrounds an ancient Egyptian limestone fragment.
The limestone fragment is part of a column from the palace complex of Merenptah,
which dates to 1224-1204 BCE. See the (noisy) video footage of her at work here.

We also have some BIG imminent deadlines, which have kept us very busy, and some of our monumental projects are so BIG that they can't even be worked on within the Museum building. More on that soon.

All of that aside, we continue to work on projects in the Artifact Lab, that are not as big, necessarily, but are just as important. Most of the artifacts we are working on are to prepare for the future installation of our new Ancient Egypt and Nubia Galleries.

Project Conservator Teresa Jimenez-Millas is currently            working on the coffin and mummy of Petiese in the Artifact            Lab. Here she is using an adhesive solution to stabilize the            painted surface of Petiese's coffin lid.
Project Conservator Teresa Jimenez-Millas is currently working on the coffin
and mummy of Petiese in the Artifact Lab. Here she is using an adhesive
solution to stabilize the painted surface of Petiese's coffin lid.
Petiese was an Egyptian priest who lived during the Late Period (664 – 332 BCE).

To hear more about all these projects in REAL TIME, check out our 1-hour #AskAConservator Q&A session next Monday, November 4th, on the Penn Museum's twitter account, or visit us when the Museum is open, where EVERY day is Ask a Conservator Day!

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But this warehouse is Just Right | In the Artifact Lab
On 11/13/2019 01:07 PM, mollygleeson wrote:
But this warehouse is Just Right

By Lynn Grant

Penn Museum's Conservation Department is charged with reviewing, documenting, and stabilizing every artifact that goes on exhibition in the Museum. Most of the time, the objects tend to be in the 'smaller than a breadbox' (if you don't recognize that category, check out this article) and are dealt with fairly expeditiously, especially once our labs were renovated in 2014. Before that, larger objects were a challenge, which was one factor in turning a gallery space into the Artifact Lab.  Even with the renovated lab, working on large objects (large textiles, eagle feather bonnets, carved elephant tusks) requires negotiating with colleagues – or sometimes just having a group session to free up the space as quickly as possible. 

Four conservators working on one carved elephant tusk to reduce the time it monopolized that working space.

But then there's the 'Wayyyyy bigger than a breadbox category", aka monumental artifacts – too big to bring into lab. Sometimes we've dealt with this by bringing the lab to the artifact (Tang Taizong, Buddhist murals, Kaipure, the Sphinx).

Conservator Julie Lawson cleaning the Tang Taizong horse reliefs in the gallery.

For the renovation of our Ancient Egyptian and Nubian galleries, though, the sheer number of monumental artifacts, including parts of a Pharaonic palace was (nearly) overwhelming.

Fortunately, planning began early. When we assessed all the various pieces, we came out with three categories: 1) can fit into lab; 2) too large for lab but not too large to leave building; and 3) too large for lab and too large to leave building. This last category included pieces that were too large and/or heavy for our current freight elevator and loading dock. We ended up closing the Museum's Lower Egyptian Gallery in the summer of 2018 to permit the objects in Category 3 to be treated in situ.

NYU Conservation Center graduate student Adrienne Gendron working on a column drum from the Palace Complex of Merenptah in our Lower Egyptian gallery.

This was not an ideal situation, not only because it deprived visitors of access to those objects longer than we hoped; but also because the space is not very suitable and would be adjacent to or part of a construction site for the next 5 years. However, you can't argue with physics. Well, you can, you just won't win.

For artifacts in Category 2, we needed to find a space where we could store them and do the necessary conservation and reconstruction for the new installation. This was not an easy search and the University's Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) were instrumental in helping us with the hunt. We needed a facility that was large enough to store the objects; had ceilings high enough to accommodate the re-erection of the large architectural elements; was secure or could be made so; could be adapted as a conservation work space; and was within an easy commute from the Museum. The hunt was long and hard: either the ceiling wasn't high enough or the distance from the Museum too far or the neighborhood was too iffy, or there weren't big enough loading docks to load/unload our monumental babies.

We finally located a space we agreed could be made to work – about 50 minutes from the Museum but it was big enough, had the ceiling height, had three loading docks – one of which was big enough to bring the truck inside (you really don't want to be unloading Egyptian limestone in the rain), and it had areas that could be adapted as lab/office spaces.

Home sweet warehouse.
This shot shows our storage area as we first saw it (left) and as it was when we took possession (right).

We started moving artifacts out to the Conservation Lab Annex (CLA) last year and began serious conservation work in September.  I'll let our CLA team introduce you to their space and their work in upcoming blog posts.

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AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Excavations at Thebes: The Earl of Carnarvon and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Carnarvon 62 and Surrounds
On 11/22/2019 05:44 PM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Excavations at Thebes: The Earl of Carnarvon and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Carnarvon 62 and Surrounds Excavations at Thebes: The Earl of Carnarvon and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Carnarvon 62 and Surrounds
Christine Lilyquist, et al.
This interactive digital application is a final report for excavations undertaken by the Earl of Carnarvon and The Metropolitan Museum of Art at Thebes, 1911–1916. Excavating below Ptolemaic, Late Period, Ramesside, and Hatshepsut's valley temple remains  revealed a large Middle Kingdom court tomb, the focus of this report. According to finds and conditions, the tomb, Carnarvon 62, was cut ca. 2000 B.C. and used into Dynasty 13. Following a period of abandonment, it was then heavily reused from the late Second Intermediate Period into the joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, whereupon the site was sealed, ca 1470 B.C. Much of the material from the period of reuse was intact, and is of interest to scholars working in the Dynasty 17-early Dynasty 18 period, a formative period at Thebes. Both early and late architecture and finds introduce new philological and archaeological information. Specialists contribute essays and catalogues in their areas of expertise.
The digital format was chosen in order to provide modern descriptions, analyses, and images with archives for consultation. This format allows searchability, numerous photographs and plans, zoom capability, and the possibility of tying together material from two different concessions. Navigation of the app needs focus, however (note "Contents & Navigation Instructions"); it was built as a series of interrelated databases over many years and there is little HTML. However major texts and charts appear as PDFs for printing; there are numerous Harry Burton photographs and a great deal of other archival material; and there is also information about early exploration in Egypt. Content will not be updated; further formats are uncertain.
Please read the INSTRUCTIONS prior to downloading to ensure proper functioning of the application files. The .zip files available for download are approximately 3gb in size and will take several minutes for download to complete.

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AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Open Access Journal: Chicago House Bulletin
On 11/20/2019 11:22 AM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Open Access Journal: Chicago House Bulletin  [First posted in AWOL 28 December 2010. Updated 20 November 2019]

Chicago House Bulletin
The Epigraphic Survey based at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt, is directed by W. Raymond Johnson, PhD, Research Associate (Associate Professor) NELC and Oriental Institute.
The mission of the Survey since its founding in 1924 has been to produce photographs and precise line drawings of the inscriptions and relief scenes on major temples and tombs at Luxor for publication. More recently the Survey has expanded its program to include conservation, restoration, and site management. In addition to the field director, the professional staff of the Survey normally includes three to four epigraphers, four to five artists, two photographers, an architect, a librarian, several conservators, stonemasons, and IT consultants. The epigraphers and artists include both graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who have received training in all aspects of Egyptology. The Epigraphic Survey is currently conducting its 90th archaeological field season.
Some issues of the Chicago House Bulletin originally appeared as a part of the Oriental Institute News & Notes:

For a listing of all Oriental Institute publications available online  see:

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Egypt is reclaiming its mummies and its past | Popular Science

Egypt is reclaiming its mummies and its past

A recent discovery puts Egyptian archaeologists at center stage.

Egyptian coffin mummy.
Since the beginning of archaeological digs in Egypt, Egyptians have been involved, even if they've sometimes pushed out of the spotlight.Deposit Photos

Last month, Egyptian excavators revealed a long-undetected trove of treasures in the Al-Asasif Cemetery in Luxor. The discovery, which included 30 beautifully preserved coffins and mummies, dating more than 3,000 years old, is one of the most notable archaeological finds in the past century. The bodies and sarcophagi have remained in pristine shape, thanks to Egypt's nearly humidity-free climate and pure luck that robbers hadn't happened upon the ancient burial first.

It's been close to 100 years since a cache of this size has been dug up in the country, says Kara Cooney, an Egyptologist at UCLA. The mummies are from the 21st and 22nd dynasty, she adds, and the coffins likely belonged to the high priesthood of Amun, not royalty. Two of the bodies were identified as children.

"There was no king of power in Luxor at the time, so the people filled that power vacuum with a kind of theocracy or temple rule," Cooney explains. "The priests were the ones with power and the positions and the ability to buy coffins."

But there's another groundbreaking nugget in the news. For the first time in history, the crew behind the find is all Egyptian.

"The last one in 1891 was [led by] foreigners. In 1881 [also] foreigners. But ... 2019 is an Egyptian discovery," Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, told CNN. "This is an indescribable feeling, I swear to God."

For archaeologist Serena Love, who spent years working on sites in the Nile Valley, this is one of the most exciting and vital parts of the discovery.

"There's a deeply-rooted colonialist attitude of, 'they're not capable of taking care of their own heritage,' " Love says. "That's what's been changing. They are taking charge of their own heritage now."

The exotic roots of Egyptology

Modern Egyptology is a fairly new business. On paper it started with Napoleon Bonaparte, the infamous leader of France who rose to prominence in the late 18th century. During a campaign to invade Egypt in 1799, one of his foot soldiers stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone, leading some to think of Napoleon as the "grandfather of Egyptology," says Love. This revelation set off a chain of European excavations around Africa, and some of the impacts still linger today.

As the first significant digs got underway in the mid-19th century, more Europeans arrived in Egypt to lead the archaeological work. They would outsource the physical labor to local teams, but take all the credit when it came to academic publications and media attention.

"The power imbalance was inherent in that division of labor," says Meira Gold, a historian of science specializing in Victorian Egyptology. Despite working on almost every major excavation that took place in their country, "Egyptians were rendered invisible," she adds. Sometimes they'd even tip Western archeologists off to prolific sites.

In the end, colonialists cast a long shadow over the ownership and interpretation of priceless artifacts. Europeans saw themselves as superior to current-day Egyptians, Gold says, and tried to "claim" the ancient culture as a part of the history of Western civilization. They sold the greatest treasures from the Nile Valley to museums in New York, London, Paris, and Berlin, where they continue to be housed to today.

After Great Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, archaeology turned into more of a "preservation practice" for white scientists who wanted to save Egyptian antiques. This practice continued until 1922—the same year the country won its independence—when a team led by English archaeologist Howard Carter discovered King Tut's Tomb.

Egyptians take control of their narrative

After a military coup in the 1950s, the Egyptian government moved all of the country's major archaeological institutions, including the four museums, under its supervision, says Sameh Iskander, an Egyptian-American archaeologist at New York University.

"Now, the picture is completely different," he adds. Egyptians run their own digs and make their own discoveries—but it's been a long process to get there.

Diana Patch, currently the Lila Acheson Wallace Curator of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has worked on various sites around Egypt since 1979. In her time there, she and her colleagues noticed that many young Egyptians who were interested in field archaeology couldn't get an education in it. Locals would be on dig sites as inspectors, but there was still a disconnect.

Through the American Research Center in Egypt and with a cultural grant from USAID, Patch began a solution in the mid-1990s: Egyptology field school.

Field school is a cornerstone of American archeology programs. Students spend a summer digging in situ, learning how to handle important historical quarry. Patch recruited Egyptian and American supervisors who'd been through field school in the US to lead groups of recruits in Egypt. Now, most of the Egyptian inspectors working on sites have gone through similar training.

But how does education help representation—and Egyptology—in the long run? "I feel that the Egyptians that I work with, the whole atmosphere has changed," Iskander, who leads a field site at the Temple of Ramesses II in Abydos, says. "A lot of them have degrees now; a lot of them are pursuing graduate degrees." And with more Egyptian archaeologists joining the ranks, there's a larger well of expertise for scientists overseas to tap.

It also means that mummies and other priceless finds get to stay in the climate they were built and preserved for. After the King Tut artifacts come back from their current world tour, they will be permanently housed in Cairo at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open at the end of 2020.

The treasures from the Al-Asasif dig are expected to remain in Cairo, too, overlooking the wondrous Pyramids of Giza.

A common language for archaeology

It's still a leap to say that Egyptians are the dominant force in the study of their origins. Iskander gave a talk a few weeks ago at the International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo, and out of the 350 or so people speaking, only around 50 were Egyptian.

Part of the reason for this may be that English is still the leading language in Egyptology, despite the fact that Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the region. In the same way that museums continue holding on to Egyptian relics, Gold says language is another colonial battle left to fight.

"There's still this lingering power imbalance," Gold says of the relationship between Egyptian and Western archaeologists. A lot of Egyptology programs, she explains, require knowledge in a smattering of languages, including English, French, German, and some elements of ancient Egyptian languages.

Modern Egyptian languages? Not so much, she says.

"As a result, very few Egyptological publications are written in Arabic. I think that speaks volumes as to how Egyptian archaeologists are still excluded."

On his field sites, Iskander says that American students knew very little Arabic and have to communicate exclusively in English. Most Egyptologists have been forced to do the same. That's not necessarily a problem, he says: If more Egyptian programs taught English, archaeologists from all over, including Egypt, would have better access to international journals that aren't printed in the native tongue.

In Iskander's view, the best way to fight back Victorian notions of Egyptology is by bringing more Egyptians to the table through education. Last year he started up a new field school for Egyptian archeologists—something he hopes international institutions take note of as the numbers of home-grown experts slowly rise in the field.

"Every foreign mission should consider having at least one field school session," he says, "to give back to Egypt what Egypt has been giving all of us over the years."

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Site of Ancient Egypt's Sun Cult Reveals Royal Statues, Mud Wall and Block of King Ramses II

Site of Ancient Egypt's Sun Cult Reveals Royal Statues, Mud Wall and Block of King Ramses II

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of royal statues and a block depicting King Ramses II, as well as a section of a wall made of mud bricks at the Heliopolis temple in Cairo, Egypt—the site of ancient Egypt's mysterious sun cult.

The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discoveries made during the thirteenth season of a joint mission by German and Egyptian archaeologists—the Heliopolis Project—on the department's Facebook page.

The artefacts are thought to (mostly) date back to the New Kingdom (1570 to 1070 B.C.) and Hellenistic era (323 B.C.E. to 31 B.C.E.), a period that came to an end with the death of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra.

Egyptian slab
A section from the base of a brown quartz statue belonging to King Seti II. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities

The finds include a stone block depicting King Ramses II in front of the god Ra Horakhty—"the great god Lord of Heaven, ruler of Heliopolis"—and a section from the base of a brown quartz statue of King Seti II (1205 to 1194 B.C.E.). There was also a fragment from a red granite statue thought to portray the goddess Isis or Hathor, or an ancient Egyptian queen, as well as several pieces of ancient pottery.

The archaeologists discovered a stretch of mud wall, found next to a layer of rubble. The latter contained a number of molds that experts say would have been used for the production of amulets as well as parts of columns that had been reused from the Old Kingdom (circa 2649 to 2130 B.C.E). A second layer dated back to the pre-dynastic era (pre-3100 B.C.E.) revealed several stone tools and traps belonging to a time before Upper and Lower Egypt had been unified.

Stone Block from Ancient Egypt
A stone block of King Ramses II in front of Ra Horakhty. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities

According to Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Department at the ministry, excavations and testing at locations close to the site of ancient industrial workshops also revealed a section of a paved street one meter below groundwater.

Previous seasons have uncovered fragments of giant statues—which archaeologists at the time thought could be depicting King Seti II and King Ramses II, who extended the Egyptian Empire to Syria. More recent research, however, instead suggests the statue of King Ramses II is actually that of the lesser-known King Psamtek I, who ruled between 664 to 610 B.C.E.

Ancient Egypt statue
A red granite statue thought to portray the goddess Isis or Hathor, or an ancient Egyptian queen. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities

Heliopolis, in what is now a suburb in northeastern Cairo, is believed to be one of the oldest cities in ancient Egypt. According to the Heliopolis Project, it was the geographical center of the ancient empire's sun-cult, a "core" feature of ancient Egyptian religion for over 3,000 years. Believers thought Heliopolis was the site of the world's creation. Today, archaeologists believe the temple to have been the model for temple complexes like Karnak and Amarna.

Mud Bricks
A stretch of mud wall. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities
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Sudan Hopes Pyramids Will Bring Visitors, Money

Sudan Hopes Pyramids Will Bring Visitors, Money

FILE - A boy plays near the site of 44 Nubian pyramids of kings and queens in the ruins of the ancient city of Meroe at Begrawiya, near Shendi in the River Nile state of Sudan March 10, 2012. (REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

No media source currently available

Tania Monteiro and her husband were almost alone as they visited Sudan's pyramids, ancient structures little known to the world.

"People are really, really nice, always very welcoming," Monteiro said. She was on a visit to Meroe, a city on the east side of the Nile River about 200 kilometers to the northeast of the capital Khartoum.

Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, but they are smaller. Only about 700,000 people visited them in 2018 compared to the 10 million who visited Egypt's famous pyramids.

Sudan remains a difficult place for tourists to visit. Problems have included conflicts and crises under the former leader, Omar al-Bashir. The process of getting a visa is not easy. And, the lack of roads and hotels outside of Khartoum have made Sudan an unlikely place to go.

Bashir, however, lost power in April. The new government is easing visa rules to bring in visitors to places such as the Royal Pyramids of Meroe.

The Nubian Kush dynasty that ruled in the area 2,500 years ago buried members of their royal family in the pyramids.

Near Meroe's pyramids sit several temples with ancient drawings of animals and the ancient city of Naga. There are more pyramids to the north at Jebel Barka.

The new government has already started easing the visa system. They have removed the requirement for a permit to travel outside of Khartoum, said Graham Abdel-Qadir. He is the undersecretary of the ministry of information, culture and tourism.

The number of visitors is expected be higher than 900,000 next year and might reach up to 1.2 million in 2021, he said.

Sudan needs income from tourism after many years of isolation and hyperinflation.

Qatar has given $135 million in aid, and Germany has provided tourism training for the Sudanese at Meroe. There is a visitor's center that explains the history of Sudan and the pyramids. There are also walking trails.

For the first time, visitors can enter the pyramids. They also may soon be able to visit the rooms where the dead are buried. Several other pyramids will be restored after years of not being cared for.

Sudanese tourists also are coming.

"We had three buses (of Sudanese) yesterday," said Mahmoud Suleiman, who is in charge of the area.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page

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10 Facts About the Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti

10 Facts About the Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti

Nefertiti Bust

Bust of Nefertiti, Queen Consort of Akhenaten, 18th Dynasty, Egypt (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The bust of Nefertiti is one of the most famous icons of Ancient Egypt, yet the queen herself is still shrouded in mystery and intrigue. As consort to Pharaoh Akhenaten, the couple ruled from 1353 to 1336 BCE during one of the most contentious periods of Egypt's cultural history. At this time, Pharaoh Akhenaten remodeled Egypt's religion around the worship of the sun god Aten and moved the empire's capital to Amarna.

Although not pharaoh herself, Nefertiti's name has persisted because she held a uniquely influential role as wife and queen, which we see in surviving depictions of her. Historians have gleaned that Nefertiti was a major proponent of Akhenaten's religious and cultural movement. She represented the female aspect of Aten while her husband represented the male—and both acted as a bridge between Aten and the Egyptian people. The Nefertiti bust is identified as her likeness because of the characteristic crown, which she wears in all other inscribed depictions of her. The limestone sculpture was believed to have been completed by the artist Thutmose in 1345 BCE. Upon its discovery in 1912, the portrait has immortalized Nefertiti as the symbol of ideal feminine beauty.

Despite the little surviving evidence we have of Nefertiti, there is enough to build a picture of the remarkable woman captured in the bust. To gain a more in-depth understanding of queen Nefertiti, read on to learn ten facts about her life.

Nefertiti Relief

Late Amarna-era relief depicting Nefertiti (Photo: Keith Schengili-Roberts via Wikimedia Commons)

Here are 10 facts about the Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.


Nefertiti was a teenage queen.

Unsurprisingly for the era, Nefertiti was fifteen when she married sixteen-year-old Amunhotep IV. Five years into his reign, the pharaoh began his religious movement and renamed himself Akhenaten.


Akhenaten and Nefertiti built a new city.

With the foundation of their new monotheistic religion worshipping the sun god Aten, Nefertiti and Akhenaten further separated themselves from the "old reign" of Ancient Egypt and built a new capital city named Amarna.


Nefertiti might have been of royal heritage.

Nefertiti's family tree is mostly conjecture with two prevailing theories. Some historians believe her father to be Ay, who was an important advisor to several pharaohs, including Nefertiti's future husband. (Ay even became pharaoh himself after King Tut's death in 1323 BCE.) Other academics speculate that Nefertiti was a princess from the Mittani kingdom in northern Syria.

We do know that Nefertiti had a sister named Mutbenret (or Mutnodjemet), who is mentioned in the surviving art of Amarna.


Nefertiti and Akhenaten

Statuette of Nefertiti and Akhenaten (Photo: Rama via Wikimedia Commons)


She held many titles.

Like most royalty, Nefertiti held many titles during her time in power, including:

  • Hereditary Princess
  • Great of Praises
  • Lady of Grace
  • Sweet of Love
  • Lady of the Two Lands
  • Main King's Wife
  • His beloved
  • Great King's Wife
  • Lady of all Women
  • Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt


Nefertiti Standing Statue

Standing-striding figure of Nefertiti (Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons)


Nefertiti lived up to her name.

Nefertiti was born in 1370 BCE in the Egyptian city of Thebes. Her name in English means "the beautiful woman has come." When she and her husband Akhenaten initiated the shift in Egypt's religion, Nefertiti adopted the additional name of Neferneferuaten. Altogether, her full name means "beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come." According to the bust she left behind, Nefertiti had beauty in spades.


Nefertiti Worshipping Aten

Nefertiti worshipping Aten (Photo: Jon Bodsworth via Wikimedia Commons)


She ruled over the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history.

Akhenaten and Nefertiti ruled over the possibly wealthiest period in Ancient Egyptian history—which was perhaps the fuel to Akhenaten's vision. During his reign, the new capital of Amarna achieved an artistic boom, distinct from any other era in Egypt. The Amarna style showed movement and figures of more exaggerated proportions, with elongated hands and feet. The depictions of Akhenaten during this time give him distinctly feminine attributes with wide hips and prominent breasts.


She was a powerful wife.

Nefertiti was the favored consort, or Great Royal Wife, of Akhenaten from the very start of his reign. According to historical records, Nefertiti had six daughters with Akhenaten by the names of Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhes-en-pa-aten, Neferneferuaten-tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre. Despite having no sons, the art of Amarna depicts the royal couple as having a strong, loving relationship. Nefertiti is also shown in a variety of roles, including driving chariots, attending ceremonial acts with Akhenaten, and smiting enemies.


Relief of Nefertiti and Akhenaten and Their Children

A house altar showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three of their daughters. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)


She was both loved and loathed.

Although Nefertiti and Akhenaten governed over Ancient Egypt at a time of unprecedented wealth, their new religion unsettled the empire. As queen, Nefertiti was loved by some for her charisma and grace. However, she was also largely hated because of her active leadership in Akhenaten's sun-oriented religion.


Nefertiti possibly ruled as pharaoh after her husband's death.

The circumstances surrounding Nefertiti's death are a mystery, as her name disappears from the historical record at about the 12th year of Akhenaten's 17-year reign. A popular theory suggests that Nefertiti abandoned her old title at that point and became official co-regent under the name of Neferneferuaten.

Some also propose that Nefertiti is actually the pharaoh to follow Akenaten's rule by renaming herself Smenkhkare. If true, Nefertiti adopted a similar position to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the fashion of a king, wearing even the ceremonial false beard.


She is "related" to King Tut (but not by blood).

As Nefertiti had no sons of her own, the succeeding pharaoh Tutankhamun (or "King Tut") was the son of Akhenaten and one of his lower consorts.


King Tut Headdress

Funerary mask of Tutankhamun (Photo: Roland Unger, via Wikimedia Commons)

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