Friday, July 17, 2015
Egyptian Obelisk Tracker
Ancient Egyptians created dozens of obelisks, mainly to commemorate pharaohs. Many of these obelisks were brought to Rome under Augustus and several of the following Roman Emperors who ruled over Egypt. More recently, European colonial powers brought obelisks to France, Britain, and the United States in the 19th century.
Using Cesium, Egyptian Obelisk Tracker allows a user to track the various routes that some of these obelisks took, from where they originally constructed to where they have been installed. The source code is on GitHub.
Egyptian Obelisk Tracker is a student project developed by Will Field for Sebastian Heath's Mapping and Data Visualization of the Ancient World class at The Institute for Studies of the Ancient World, NYU.
The Classical historian Herodotus, living in the 5th Century BC, records the importance (some) Egyptians gave to crocodiles in Book II of his Histories: “The crocodile is esteemed sacred by some of the Egyptians, by others he is treated as an enemy. Those who live near Thebes, and those who dwell around Lake Moeris (the Faiyum region, including Hawara), regard them with especial veneration.… The people of Elephantine on the other hand, are so far from considering these animals as sacred that they even eat their flesh.”
Herodotus also mentions a spectacular monument at Hawara, associated with the crocodile god Sobek, “Lord of the Lake” which he calls ‘The Labyrinth’, “near the place called the City of Crocodiles”:
It has twelve covered courts — six in a row facing north, six south — the gates of the one range exactly fronting the gates of the other. Inside, the building is of two storeys and contains three thousand rooms … they contain the tombs of the kings who built the labyrinth, and also the tombs of the sacred crocodiles.
The site was first investigated archaeologically by W. M. Flinders Petrie between 1888 and 1889, when his main sponsor was Manchester cotton industrialist Jesse Haworth. Unsurprisingly, the Manchester collection contains several crocodile mummies from these excavations. Petrie remarked on the great quantities of crocodile mummies all over the site. While some were apparently buried in reused non-royal tombs, others were found in less discrete groups amidst the limestone chips of earlier buildings. Petrie observed that the large number of mummies related to their ancient function:
On the north-east of the cemetery, out in the desert, was a region of broken ground with a large amount of limestone chips. I looked over it several times, and in the last week at Hawara I excavated here to ascertain the nature of the remains. In every direction the work brought up crocodiles, of all sizes, from monsters 15 feet long, to infants, and even eggs. The apparent number was swelled moreover by quantities of dummies, evidently made for a ceremonial purpose. The imitation crocodile mummies consist of bundles of reeds or grass, with an egg or only a single bone inside; and they seem to have been intended to testify a worshipper’s devotion to Sebek by such pious care bestowed on the sacred animal: doubtless their preparation and sale was a priestly trade.
Botanical examination by Percy Newberry identified Egyptian sugar cane, sea club-rush, and Phoenician juniper from inside crocodile mummies, implying that at least a selection of these mummy bundles had been unwrapped – the only possible means of identification in the field at the end of the 19th Century.
Recent research at the University of Manchester has indicated the presence of Cyperus papyrus (papyrus sedge) in mummies lacking full skeletons of individual crocodiles. As sugar cane does not appear in Egypt until the mid-eighth century, this identification is unlikely. It is possible that there was some confusion about the two plant species which both exhibit rigid characteristics, although the lack of nodes at regular intervals displayed on radiographs present in Saccharum aegyptiacum indicated that Cyperus papyrus was more likely.
The question of why some mummy bundles were composed in this way will be the subject of future posts.
Petrie, W.M.F. (1889) Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoe. London: Field and Tuer.
Atherton-Woolham, S. D. (2015). ‘Imaging ancient Egyptian crocodile mummies from Hawara.’ Current Research in Egyptology 2014. Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 181-193.
McKnight, L and S. Atherton-Woolham (eds) (In press) Gifts for the Gods: Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies and the British. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
Articles in forthcoming issues of Ancient Egypt Magazine and Egyptian Archaeology
It continues with an account of the February 1905 discovery of the golden tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu (KV 46), in the Valley of the Kings.
They were the parents-in-law of King Amenhotep III. Their connection to the palace through their daughter, Queen Tiye, saw the king making sure that they received the most lavish private burial the Valley had ever seen.
'... we found a wall plastered with mud and sealed with the priestly seal. This alone separated us from the tomb itself; and the top was so broken that we could peer over into what for centuries no eye had seen; a confusion of dark forms, shimmering mysteriously here and there with a touch of gold or of silver.
'Squeezing their way between the wall and the rock ceiling, we were in the midst of such a medley of tomb furniture that, in the glare of our lighted candles, the first effect was one of bewilderment. Gradually, however, one object after another detached itself from the shimmering mass, shining through the cool air, dust-free and golden...'
When discovered, it was clear that the tomb wasn't completely intact. Just like Tutankhamun's, it had been hastily plundered, probably a number of times, and probably by the very tomb builders who had originally worked on the tomb.
The golden lids of Yuya and Tjuyu's coffins had been pushed aside and their mummy bandages rifled in a hurried search for jewelled amulets designed to protect the nobles in the afterlife.
Although a number of smaller, more portable items were stolen, we are grateful that the thieves didn't have the opportunity to thoroughly 'clean out' the tomb, as almost all of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings have been.
Pictured is the beautiful golden coffin lid of Lady Tjuyu, Tutankhamun's Great-Grandmother.
Around her neck is a beautiful floral collar with fasteners shaped like Horus' head. Her fists are crossed over her chest, emulating Osiris, god of the afterlife, so as to tap into his powerful regenerative magic.
Exactly what the thieves took from the tomb, we'll probably never know. But more me, the big mystery is why it took the Grey River Argus four years to publish the story of the tomb's discovery.
Photo: Andreas F. Voegelin.
Although tattoos have long been popular among Copts – a small cross on the palm or wrist is common – they are still frowned upon by conservative Muslims. "Three years ago I used to tattoo only four or five people a week," says Orne Gil from her living-room-cum-tattoo-parlour in Cairo. "Now it's around twenty a week."
In its laid-back atmosphere clients ogle tattoo posters and listen to Nirvana and The Clash.
"The tattoo culture is still very new here," says Gil, who held a convention last year to show off the art form, and plans to host another in November.
Although tattoos have long been popular among Copts – a small cross on the palm or wrist is common – they are still frowned upon by conservative Muslims.
The Egyptian fatwa house takes no clear position on the subject, say Mony Helal and Alia Fadaly, co-owners of The Ink Shop, also in Zamalek.
But for Cairo urbanites tattoos are becoming a cool trend: well-travelled, well-spoken yuppies request designs of stars and butterflies, their children's names or inspirational quotes.
Hala al Boghdadi, the 34-year-old owner of a dog hotel, got her two tattoos in the past year: "One on my back which is a big dreamcatcher, and a lion face shaped like Africa on my leg."
Gil's Swedish business partner Kitty, better known as the 'Piercing Doctor', says: "Most of the clients come wanting a tattoo but not knowing what. Orne has to play the shrink to know what they really want."
The number of practitioners is growing apace, which Gil finds "worrying, as there are hardly any regulations in this country".
But her growing list of professional clients suggests Egyptian body art is no longer
something to hide. ● Sophie Anmuth in Cairo
Visual Art: A six-hour film with cars as stars
"River of Fundament"
A six-hour, cinematic opera.
Based on a 709-page Norman Mailer novel. Set mostly in ancient Egypt. Do you dare?
Of course you do. Epic art films are rare in these parts and this one comes via two credible co-presenters, the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum. Barney's film has shown in just three U.S. cities since it premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last year.
art from Mexico and points beyond. Barney, known both for gallery exhibitions and films, like his surreal five-part "Cremaster" series, is one of the most important artists in the U.S.: a sculptor, installationist, performer and director whose work is both cerebral and personal, lusty, lofty and demanding.
"River of Fundament" travels from Egypt to Detroit, interpreting Mailer's dreamy tale of gods and men as a story about the author himself on a search for immortality. It stars known actors, such as Ellen Burstyn, Elaine Stritch and Paul Giamatti, but also — and equally — classic automobiles, like a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial and a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, who become characters in a daunting narrative.
Barney explained this week that he didn't set out to make a long-ish film seven years ago when the creative process for "River of Fundament" began. Just the opposite.
"It started with a kind of discontent with where I was with filmmaking. I wanted to change up my process, and at the time I really didn't think I had another film in me."
The artist and his long-time collaborator and composer Jonathan Bepler had Mailer's novel as an inspiration and set about creating music-based performance pieces that were produced live.
Ultimately, Barney found that limiting. He began envisioning the pieces on location and seeing the action from various angles that weren't available to audiences in fixed seats. "Slowly, the script became more of a hybrid and not just a work that could be contained on the stage," he said.
"As a sculptor, it's a little bit hard for me to get behind something that has a fixed perspective. For me, it's important to be able to move around an object or to place an object in a space where people can move around it."
As a medium, film made that possible. "River of Fundament" unfolds on a grand scale, moving across factories and fields, inside skyscrapers and in front of concrete dams. It has costumes, movement, more then enough visuals to last a half-day.
And it has music. It's an opera, after all, and screening at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Though it doesn't fit the form in a traditional, European sense, with parts assigned to certain voices and a plot that unfolds in structured acts as an audience passively watches.
Barney dismisses that, as it were for an era that has passed. "I'm certainly drawn to opera as a model for the collision of different mediums," but he's "a little disappointed by its limitations at the same time."
Of course, six-hour art films come with their own limitations. Showing them requires an adventurous mind on the part of the presenter, and more than a little fortitude from the viewer.
A Hollywood film might draw hundreds of thousands of viewers just on its opening weekend. "River of Fundament" will be lucky to get that in a century. For his part, Barney is willing to wait.
"It just works on a different scale," he said. "Commercial cinema tends to have to expose itself in the moment. This has the potential to last longer, as a piece that can be presented and re-presented for years."
Ray Mark Rinaldi: 303-954-1540, email@example.com or twitter.com/rayrinaldi
"RIVER OF FUNDAMENT"
The film by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler is co-presented by the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 14th and Curtis streets. $20. $10 for students. Info at biennialoftheamericas.org. Tickets at axs.com.
What Life Is Like In Egypt's Nubian Society
The Nubians are one of the oldest civilizations in the world, having lived alongside the Nile river in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan for thousands of years.
Today, most Nubians live on the fringes of society in Egypt. Nubian communities have been forced to leave their homes near the river to make way for reservoirs and dams several times in the past 100 years.
In the 1960s, more than 50,000 Nubians were forced to vacate their lands and offered a place in desert settlements near Kom Umbo during the construction of the famous Aswan High Dam. Some families moved to the settlements, while others sought refuge on islands north or in villages in Gharb Aswan.
With his project, photographer El Refai aims to document the traditions these families still observe despite the dramatic changes their communities went through in past decades.
For more photos of life in the Nubian community, check out El Refai's photo journal at grid.vsco.co/journal/the-nubians.
US Returns Looted Artifacts to Iraq—But Are Some Fakes?Washington Post.
The items are part of ongoing efforts to repatriate art looted from cultural heritage sites.
Among the objects recovered were an Aramaic religious text suspected to be nearly 500 years old, hundreds of coins from the Abbasid era and Umayyad period, and cylindrical stone seals from the ancient Iraqi city of Nimrud, according to officials at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.
In recent attacks on Nimrud, ISIS militant groups destroyed ruins dating to the 13th century BC and a palace dating to 879 BC, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Museum officials told the Washington Post that they were unable to determine whether the objects hailed from Iraq or Syria originally, and authorities from Iraq, while they are accepting the objects, said it was too early to verify whether the pieces were from IS-controlled archaeological sites.
Some experts have even questioned the authenticity of the objects all together. An archaeologist in the criminology department at the University of Glasgow, Donna Yates, posted a side-by-side comparison of the world famous bust of Neferiti from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin to a small, stone version found in the raid to Twitter, writing: “some (maybe all) of the ‘Iraqi antiquities seized from ISIS in Syria’ are fakes.”
Cairo Security Chief Sacked Following Surge In Violence
Cairo’s security chief, Osama Bedair, was sacked on Thursday following a series of militant attacks that security forces failed to curb.
The interior ministry said in a statement that Bedair was replaced by his deputy, General Khaled Abdel-Aal, but did not elaborate on the reason for the dismissal.
“Interior Minister, Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, ordered the removal of Cairo Police Chief, General Osama Bedair, and assigned General Khaled Abdel-Aal to replace him,” the statement read.
Bedair was appointed four months ago following a ministerial reshuffle that included a replacement of the interior minister. His removal comes amidst mounting concerns over a surge in militant violence.
Earlier this week, a car bomb attack at the Italian consulate in central Cairo killed one civilian and injured ten others. The assault was claimed by an Islamic State affiliate that has carried out the deadliest attacks as part of an escalating insurgency following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Late in June, the country’s top public prosecutor was assassinated in a car bomb attack on his convoy as he was leaving his home in northeast Cairo. He was the highest-ranking state official to die in the recent wave of violence.
Several Killed in Eid al-Fitr Clashes in Giza
Two violent clashes between security forces and protestors has claimed the lives of seven people and injured three.
The first set of clashes, which took place in the town of Talbiyah in Giza, killed six people and injured three. The Health Ministry, which broke the news, did not provide further details about the clashes. Meanwhile, an Alexandria security official said that 20 “Brotherhood supporters” were arrested after security forces dispersed their rallies using teargas.
The second set of clashes took place in Kerdasa, also in Giza. Clashes broke out between security forces and “armed Brotherhood elements”, which resulted in the death of one protester, Lieutenant Colonel Essam Nabil said.
Egypt observes the first day of Eid al-Fitr holiday today, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Dozens of alleged Brotherhood supporters staged Eid marches to protest the death sentences served to their leaders.
Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation in December 2013. It insists it is behind the stringent wave of militancy which has targeted security personnel since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. The Brotherhood continuously denies the accusations.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Fwd: The Name Shishaq: Shoshenq or Shyshu/q? Responding to the Critics and Assessing... - Academia.edu
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This image posted on a militant social media account affiliated with the Sinai branch of the Islamic State group on Thursday, July 16, 2015 shows a fireball rising from an Egyptian Navy vessel during a rocket attack claimed by the group, off the strategic peninsula's Mediterranean coast. The claim of responsibility by the Sinai Province of the Islamic State, as the group calls itself, was made in a brief statement posted on Twitter accounts known to be linked to the group. (militant photo via AP) | View photo - Yahoo News
Mohamed Fahmy’s lawyer Amal Clooney pens deportation request ahead of verdict - National | Globalnews.ca
Mohamed Fahmy's lawyer Amal Clooney pens deportation request ahead of verdict
Mohamed Fahmy and his legal team are working on "plan B" in case he's convicted of terrorism-related offences for a second time, later this month, and preparing a request for the 41-year-old journalist to be deported back to Canada from Egypt.
His lawyer, Amal Clooney, has already written deportation and pardon request in preparation for the verdict in his retrial, set to come down on July 30. Fahmy, arrested in December 2013 while working as Cairo Bureau Chief for Al Jazeera English, told Global News exclusively the Canadian government has "accepted to endorse" the requests once they're submitted to the general prosecutor after a verdict is handed down.
"This is what we're doing as a plan B in case I'm sent back to prison," Fahmy said in a phone interview from Cairo Wednesday evening.
A spokesperson for Lynne Yelich, the minister responsible for consular affairs, could not immediately confirm the details of Fahmy's statement.
Gary Caroline, Fahmy's Vancouver-based lawyer, told Global News the Canadian government "through its representatives have said they will do everything humanly and diplomatically possible" should he be found guilty and forced back behind bars.
"We have been working closely at the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as Minister Yelich's office to canvass all possible avenues that Canada can explore should Mohamed be sentenced to additional prison time," Caroline said. But it will ultimately be the Egyptians call, he added.
Fahmy remains uncertain how the case will turn out and whether he'll face a new jail sentence, a suspended sentence or be cleared of all charges and set free.
Fahmy had hoped to be deported from Egypt back in February, under a decree that allows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to order the deportation of foreign nationals who are charged with or convicted of crimes. It was that decree that allowed his Australian Al Jazeera colleague, Peter Greste to be deported in February. Fahmy, a 41-year-old Egyptian-born Canadian citizen, renounced his dual Egyptian citizenship in a bid to be sent back to Canada.
Fahmy, Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were arrested by Egyptian authorities on Dec. 29, 2013 and convicted six months later of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designated a terrorist organization, and of airing fabricated footage to undermine Egyptian national security.
Following an appeal of the case, Egyptian authorities released Fahmy on bail on Feb. 13 after being detained for more than 400 days. But his hopes of going free were dashed when he was later ordered to stand trial again, along with Mohamed.
Since that time, there has been increased public criticism on the Canadian government to step in and secure his release.
Canadian officials have intervened dozens of times: Yelich
The Canadian government insists it's doing all that it can to intervene in Fahmy's case and denies any suggestion that it's not making enough effort.
Global News viewed a letter from Yelich responding to criticism from NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar in June.
"Although the Privacy Act limits the amount of detail I can share, I can tell you that since his detention, the Government of Canada has actively advocated on Mr. Fahmy's behalf," read the letter dated July 14. "Any indication that we have not done so is false."
Dewar, in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson dated June 23, said he continues to be "disappointed" with the Conservative government's "failure to publicly defend Mr. Fahmy against these charges."
He pointed to examples of other the successful deportation of other foreign citizens from Egypt following pressure by their governments — including the Australian government on Greste's behalf and the U.S. government on behalf of American Mohamed Soltan.
"We continue to urge you and your cabinet colleagues, including the Prime Minister, to directly request and enable his return to Canada," the letter reads.
But according to Yelich's letter, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has "personally raised the case" with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — something Fahmy said the Canadian government has not acknowledged previously, even though Egyptian officials already had.
She also stated federal government ministers, including herself, have intervened nearly a dozen times, while other Canadian officials in Ottawa have met with the Egyptian Ambassador to Canada at least 20 times and Ambassador to Egypt Troy Lulashny has had 28 "high-level" meetings with Egyptian government officials.
"As you can see, we have been pushing for Mr. Fahmy's release and return with Egyptian officials at the highest levels for some time and will continue to do so," Yelich wrote to Dewar.
She added that despite Fahmy criticizing the government for not doing enough to secure his release, he has been thankful to Canadian government's efforts.
Fahmy said he has "always been thankful" for the support the Canadian government has given him "since day one." But he said the government's efforts to intervene have only become "more aggressive" in the months since Greste's deportation.
Fahmy also noted a difference following a change in leadership at the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Development and Trade.
"I am extremely thankful that recently they are cooperating with my lawyers which wasn't the case back when Mr. John Baird was Foreign Minister, when he refused to meet Amal Clooney."