Thursday, July 18, 2019

Renovation of Egyptian Museum to include installing new lighting, display systems - Daily News Egypt

Renovation of Egyptian Museum to include installing new lighting, display systems

The meeting comes to discuss the first phase of the museum's renovation after the artefacts collection of King Tutankhamun were transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in preparation for its opening in 2020.

Minister of Antiquities, Khaled Anany, met on Tuesday with the directors of the five museums participating in the renovation of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, including the Louvre, the Egyptian Museum of Turin (Museo Egizio), Egyptian Museum of Berlin, the British Museum, and the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, in addition to the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo.

The meeting comes to discuss the first phase of the museum's renovation after the artefacts collection of King Tutankhamun were transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in preparation for its opening in 2020.

Assistant to Minister of Antiquities, Nevine Nezar, said in a press release that the renovation plan includes installing up to date display and lighting systems.

The renovation plan aims to list the Egyptian Museum on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. The operations are funded by an EU grant of €3.1m.

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Large coffin of King Tutankhamun under restoration for first time since 1922 - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Large coffin of King Tutankhamun under restoration for first time since 1922

After restoration work is complete, the coffin will be displayed along with two others of the king at the Grand Egyptian Museum

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 17 Jul 2019
King Tutankhamun
Almost a century after its discovery, the largest gilded coffin of King Tutankhamun is under restoration for the first time following its transportation to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The coffin was the only one left in the boy king's tomb in Luxor's west bank after the removal of two others to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1922. 

Regretfully, time has taken a toll on the coffin and it is suffering varied forms of decay.

Eissa Zidan, head of First Aid Restoration at the GEM explained that the coffin is showing cracks in its gilded layers.

Zidan said restoration work would take no less than eight months, adding that a complete report on the damage has been compiled prior to its transportation to the GEM.

Al-Tayeb Abbas, director general of antiquities at the GEM, said that after restoration the coffin would be put on display at the GEM among the boy king's treasured collection, including two coffins now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

"At the opening of the GEM in 2020, the boy king's three coffins will be together for the first time ever," Abbas told Ahram Online.

The three coffins were found on each other. The smallest one is carved of pure gold while the two others are made of wood coated with layers of gold plaster.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the restoration work was approved by the Permanent Committee of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities.

The coffin was moved amid tight security measures and under the supervision of archeologists and in cooperation with the Tourism and Antiquities Police.

Local and international media will be invited in the next two weeks, after sterilisation of the coffin is completed, for a viewing at the GEM.

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Artifacts from across Mideast found in 9,000-year-old city by Jerusalem - Archaeology -

Artifacts From Across Mideast Found in 9,000-year-old City by Jerusalem

New findings show the Motza mega-site was part of a vast network of barter, but huge town may have exhausted its resources very fast

A vast city that may have had as many as 1,500 to 3,000 inhabitants in its heyday 9,000 years ago was part of a sprawling Neolithic network of barter. Fresh findings in the mega site at Motza, the Jerusalem foothills, include an obsidian blade that came from Anatolia; a simple but beautiful, thin-walled bowl made of serpentine stone, originating in northern Syria; and large alabaster beads made in ancient Egypt, archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Tuesday.

The alabaster beads, each about an inch long, had been part of a necklace found resting on the chest of a body.

A pierced pendant bead found on another female body was made of mother of pearl, which came from the Red Sea – the southernmost part, excavation co-director Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily points out.

On the same body the archaeologists found a bracelet made of stone, which seems to have been broken and repaired back then. The two ends of each bracelet fragment had paired holes, meaning the three pieces could all be tied together.

Even the mortars used to grind grains and, it turns out, meat as well, originated from afar. They were made of sturdy basalt rock, which doesn't exist in the chalky Jerusalem hills. The nearest source is the Golan Heights.

An obsidian blade from Anatolia, found at Motza, July 16, 2019. Olivier Fitoussi

How the exotic items reached this inland Neolithic city is anybody's guess. We do not know if or how people sailed 9,000 years ago. Nor is it particularly likely that early traders set out on such long distances and brought these exotic goods directly from their source.

The best guess of excavation Khalaily suggests is that these exotic foreign objects reached the town through diffusion.

In other words, the obsidian blade, smaller than one's pinkie but extremely sharp, had probably been made where it was found, in Anatolia, and passed from community to community and from hand to hand around the Mediterranean basin until ultimately reaching this town.

Obsidian is black volcanic glass that was favored in tool-making because of its sharp edges. In support of the diffusion thesis, the closer one gets to the source of obsidian, the more such pieces – and waste from obsidian tool-making – one finds. In Jerusalem there is zero waste from making obsidian tools: they were quite clearly made elsewhere.

The heavy-duty basalt mortars also probably reached the Jerusalem hills by a process of diffusion, as they passed from generation to generation, Khalaily postulates.

A worker separates lentils and chickpeas found at Motza, July 16, 2019. Olivier Fitoussi

Although the bracelet pieces weren't glued, the villagers did have a type of glue: viscous bitumen, which also came from far away, specifically the Dead Sea area. Traces of bitumen were found on the obsidian blade. It had been used to glue the blade to its handle which had probably been made of bone.

The dawn of the hamburger

Existing well before the conventional wisdom thought such large towns had the cultural potential to form, the Motza mega site was found serendipitously during infrastructure works in 2018. It began around 10,500 years ago and by its peak in the 8th millennium B.C.E., it featured gathering places, public buildings and densely crowded homes, which was the norm in Neolithic times, it seems.

In Catalhöyük, Turkey, archaeologists are confident that the residents of another 9,000-year-old town entered and exited their extremely crowded houses through the roof, with the help of ladders, because the houses are so dense that there's no other option. Here that cannot be said.

Streets going back 9,000 years were cut between the houses, which were made of mud-brick that has long since disintegrated, but the construction foundations made of large stone bricks can still be seen. The structure of the town smacks of order, which in turn suggests city planning, Khalaily suggests.

"The leaders of the settlement planned the city's development," he postulates. Apropos of planning, in contrast to modern Israel which maintains only very small food emergency stocks, the ancients evidently had grain put away for a rainy day.

Agriculture was in full sway by the time this settlement at Motza arose. It seems that the first stabs at cultivation began as long as 23,000 years ago, by the Sea of Galilee. By the time the Motza settlement was humming 9,000 years ago, the villagers had settled down into sedentary subsistence farming lifestyle. They were growing wheat, barley, legumes such as lentils, broad beans (ful) and chick peas, using stone sickles for the harvest. Use-wear analysis of the serrated flint sickle blades shows they were indeed used to cut grain stalks, Khalaily says.

"They grew surpluses," he adds: the archaeologists have even found a silo containing grain. Possibly they bartered some of their extra yields for obsidian volcanic glass, gorgeous beads and so on.

The town apparently featured other innovations – such as the domestic goat.

Different crops and animals were domesticated in different times and places, and the domestication of the goat from the wild bezoar ibex is a controversial matter – the where and when. It has been postulated that goats (and some other animals) were domesticated more than once.

Genetic analysis had suggested that the goat was first to be domesticated from the bezoar in central Persia around 11,000 years ago. It remains entirely possible that the goat was indeed domesticated in central Persia – and in what is today Israel too. Khalaily's theory is that the Neolithics separated the cute kids and, simply, raised them up in the home. Once the wild baby goats identified people as mommy, they would be more amiable.

But were the Motza Neolithics really the first? He says yes. "We have the smoking gun," says Khalaily: bones. DNA testing of the goat bone fragments found around the garbage-strewn town shows them to be the most ancient domestic goat found in the region, he claims. "It was completely domesticated," he adds, not some halfway hybrid.

A spoon made of serpentine stone. Olivier Fitoussi

The town also featured domestic cows and pigs, these people living around 6,000 years before Judaism with its revulsion for the swine would start to develop them. (In fact pigs were eaten all over the Levant, including in Jerusalem, until the later prohibition on pork.) Pig domestication from boars is a knotty conundrum: they too seem to have been tamed and subsequently husbanded more than once in prehistory, in the Levant area and in China, around 9,000 years. Anyway, the people living in Neolithic Israel had and ate them, again leaving their bones scattered around.

Among the finds at the site are mortars made of basalt rock, a type found throughout the region. One assumes the mortars were used to pound wheat into flour, or chickpeas into submission, and so on. Khalaily says however that use-wear analysis indicates that at least one was used to manually pound or grind tough meat – as is done to this day in the region.

Possibly this proto-hamburger or goat burger or whatever it was, may have been prepared for the elderly or young children, i.e., the toothless. Many of the bodies found so far were of children, which suits the time (high child morbidity) and the nature of the town (a growing town would have lot of children, many of whom would die). But the oldest person found so far was apparently 62 years of age, Khalaily says.

The excavation site of Motza, July 16, 2019. Olivier Fitoussi

Pre-pottery, poison arrows and red floors

Nothing with the hallmarks or ritual or worship was found – and that said, the archaeologists did find "very simple" anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, excavation co-director Dr. Jacob Vardi says; strange tiny clay vessels, and two small figurines of faces, which could have been prototypes of "plastered skulls," which many suspect signal ancestor worship. Or veneration of leaders: once the people stopped wandering and settled down, they would have needed leadership to guide them in times of tension, for instance squabbles over land and property.

Anyway, one of the zoomorphic figurines, about the size of a finger joint, looks like an ox or a dog, depending on the angle of squint. Certainly both animals had been domesticated by this time.

Like other Neolithic people, the inhabitants of prehistoric Motza buried their dead, or at least some of their dead, under the floor of the home. Some of the bodies were found to be missing their skulls, begging the thought that maybe they were dissociated from the body and plastered. Meaning, the flesh was replaced by clay, and stones put in for the eyes. This was a common practice in the Levant and is thought to be associated with ancestor worship.

There is no telling whether the people of prehistoric Motza worshipped animals, their ancestors, something else or just liked making animals out of clay.

Clay? These people were pre-pottery, belonging to what the archaeologists call the pre-pottery B period. They didn't fire their clay in kilns to harden it into ceramic, Khalaily explains. They were left in the sun to dry out, creating leather-like pottery: it keeps its shape but if you drop it, or it gets wet, its story is over. In short, neither the exquisitely shaped if simple vessels, nor the figurines, were usable in any real form. Peoples elsewhere in Turkey and Asia had developed fired pottery thousands of years earlier, but that at least didn't make it across the Mediterranean.

The existence of the unusable vessels could argue that they had a votive purpose, however.

Also possibly arguing in favor of ritual, at least some of the buildings' flooring was plastered. Making plaster was a protracted, expensive and onerous process. The archaeologists even found strange stone circles with pink plaster inside, that would turn reddish in wet weather, Vardi adds. Again that may argue for ritual purposes.

Could those buildings with pink plaster floors have been temples of some type? Maybe. The archaeologists also found small rooms that had unusual artifacts inside, and those could also attest to ritual. Proof is nonexistent, though.

Excavations at the archaeological site at Motza, July 16, 2019. Olivier Fitoussi

Speaking of unusable, some of the flint arrowheads found at the site were too flimsy to have killed anything bigger than a rat. Or a fur-less neighbor. But use-wear analysis indicates that the locals would apply poison to the arrow tip, and didn't need to do more than scratch the hide of their prey, Khalaily says.

It is impossible to know today why exactly this city – it's more than some little village or town – subsided after just 300 or 400 years from its peak. No signs of violence were found on the bodies. It could be that their early farming practices depleted the soil to the point that agriculture couldn't sustain their large settlement any more: pulses in particular require frequent crop rotation.

Alternatively, or in addition, as seems to have happened to the people of Catalhöyük, and like modern civilization – they befouled their own nest.

"Trash was everywhere," Khalaily says, "on the floors of the homes and in the streets." That's just begging for flies and bacteria, fungal infection and whatnot. Recent research even proved that the people of prehistoric Catalhöyük were ridden with parasites: there is no reason to think the people of prehistoric Motza weren't, especially as they lived in close quarters; probably shared water sources with their newly domesticated animals, which isn't hygienic; and didn't take out the trash and bury it somewhere far, far away.


KCQ: Shriners bring Egyptian decor to Union Station in 1920s | The Kansas City Star

Why Ancient Egypt took over Union Station — and Kansas City — in 1924. A KCQ answered

July 17, 2019 05:00 AM, Updated July 17, 2019 05:00 AM

Then & Now: How Kansas City has changed along Grand Boulevard

By Keith Myers

Nearly 80 years before the Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain graced Union Station, an elaborate celebration adorned the city — and the station — with touches of Ancient Egypt.

But why? That's what Bill Johnson asked "What's Your KCQ?" — a series in which we partner with the Kansas City Public Library to answer reader questions.

Johnson wrote: "Photos from a late 1920s parade showed some Egyptian looking [objects] in front of Union Station where the fountain is now. What were those?"

KCQ egyptian decor photo 1 Shriners parade and ceremonial activities in front of Union Station, 1924, General Photograph Collection (P1). Missouri Valley Special Collections

Shriners 'Golden Jubilee'

The decor in question is from the Shriners convention held June 3-5, 1924. The event — the "Golden Jubilee of the Imperial Council A.A.O.N.M.S. Kansas City" — attracted tens of thousands of Shriners from across the country.

Locals marveled as downtown was transformed into what the Shriners called "a city of Saracenic Egypt." Sphinxes, obelisks and painted banners welcomed the gathering fraternity brothers to the Heart of America.

But why Egyptian decor? The answer lies in the history of the Shriners.

Ararat Shrine Temple Program 1924.jpg Ararat Temple Official Program, Fiftieth Annual Session, Kansas City, June 3-5, 1924.

Now called Shriners International, the Masonic philanthropic organization has utilized a broad Arabian theme since the 1870s, after founding member William Florence attended a party hosted by an Arabian diplomat.

Inspired by the party's aesthetics, Florence suggested the theme, and fellow founder Walter Fleming christened the new fraternity the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.). Members donned the signature red fez and, during an early council meeting, it was decided that each new temple be required to choose an ancient Arabic or Egyptian name.

Shriners appeared in Kansas City around 1888, when the Ararat Shrine Temple was granted a charter. By its own account, there is no record as to why the name Ararat was chosen. It is clear, however, that the Kansas City Shriners were proud to host the 1924 event.

Temples, sphinxes, parades

They used the chosen theme of "ancient and Arabic Egypt" to the fullest. The official program describes the decorations in detail: "(b)lazons of antique Egypt, such as hawk-headed Osiris, and the papyrus scroll fledged with eagles' wings, and the sphinx, together with the Heart of America Shrine emblem."

The program continues: "Some 100 Egyptian columns have been placed at street intersections, and rows of inscrutable sphinxes line the avenues. The first things the visitors see when coming out of the Union Station are a great obelisk and groups of columns."

EGYPTDECOR3.JPG Distant view of parade and ceremonial activities in front of Union Station, 1924, General Photograph Collection (P1). Missouri Valley Special Collections

Called "The Garden of Allah," the display at Union Station was only the beginning of the revelry.

"Bombs bursting high above Memorial hill announced the arrival of the temples," The Kansas City Times reported. "The Union Station was packed and stretching across the plaza and up the great terraces of Memorial hill was a throng of many thousands there to greet the visitors."

The Kansas Citian reported 45,000 registrants and an estimated 80,000 visitors over the course of the convention, making it the largest event in the city's history at the time.

EgyptianDecor4-10001600.JPG Street decorations in front of Sheidley Building, 901 Main, 1924, General Photograph Collection (P1). Missouri Valley Special Collections

The Golden Jubilee program describes additional decor along Petticoat Lane — renamed "Paradise Alley" — including an obelisk at Main Street and a large sphinx at Grand Avenue.

Painted columns lined the downtown streets and banners were hung along the parade route from Ninth Street to Pershing Road. The convention featured three parades, the first predicted to last four hours. Over 10,000 marchers and 58 bands passed by 50,000 grandstand seats specifically constructed for the occasion.

EgyptianDecor5-10001580.JPG Distant view of parade heading north on Main near 10th Street, 1924, General Photograph Collection (P1). Missouri Valley Special Collections

Other events included a civic pageant organized by the Priests of Pallas, a fireworks display, concerts, sporting events and activities at Electric, Fairmount, and Fairyland parks. After three days of nonstop activities, the Golden Jubilee came to an end and local Shriners turned their attention to the next item on the agenda — what to do with the decorations.

EgyptianDecor6-10003529.JPG Decorations at the corner of 11th and Main, in front of John Taylor Dry Goods Company building, 1924, General Photograph Collection (P1). Missouri Valley Special Collections

From displayed to dumped

Eager to preserve the artwork, the Shrine decorations committee suggested repurposing the columns and sculptures for an Egyptian-style theater in Penn Valley Park. Committee member Harry Drake drew up a plan for the parks board that was published in The Kansas City Star. The Shriners argued that the open-air theater could be created at little expense to the city and would provide a beautiful venue for summer concerts.

ProposalPennValleyPark_The_Kansas_City_Star_June_4_1924_p5.jpg Drawing of proposed plan for Egyptian theater, June 4, 1924. The Kansas City Star

But the parks board rejected the plan due to the ephemeral nature of the decorations. City art commission members found the painted columns "too fanciful" and impermanent, requiring more maintenance than they were worth.

After hearing these objections, architect Ernest O. Brostrom wrote a letter to The Star urging the board to accept the Shriners' offer. He argued that the Egyptian-style objects would attract visitors and be a vast improvement to the overgrown land southwest of Liberty Memorial. Addressing the issue of impermanence, he wrote, "Is it not the ruinous conditions of some of the ancient monuments that make their charm and add to their mystic interest?"

Despite enthusiastic appeals from Brostrom and many citizens, the Penn Valley Park plan didn't pan out. The Shriners hired a transfer company to haul the decorations away, and it proceeded to dump them into the Missouri River until local government intervened.

By June 10, what remained of the once-glorious decor was finally discarded at a dump near 15th Street and Winchester Avenue.

To learn more about the Shriners' Golden Jubilee, readers can access the resources used for this article in the Library's Missouri Valley Room. They include the P1 General Photograph Collection, the Shriners vertical file and the Ararat Temple Official Program.

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Book Review: Bastet’s Last Trip - Books - Ahram Online's-Last-Trip.aspx

Book Review: Bastet's Last Trip

Egyptian writer Hamed Abdel-Samad explores philosophical themes in his second novel 'Bastet's Last Trip'

Ossama Lotfy Fateem , Monday 15 Jul 2019
book cover
Rehlet Bastet Elakhira (Bastet's Last Trip) by: Hamed Abdel Samad (Cairo: Merit Publishing House), 2019.

Cat lovers will tell you that the soft animal is a superior being. The paintings on Ancient Egyptian temples prove that they were worshipped. The cat goddess Bastet had her temples and followers, and was worshipped as early as the second dynasty. Her domain was healing, joy, fertility and warfare, among others. She was both feared and loved by her flocks.  

Writer and researcher Hamed Abdel-Samad decided to explore the cat goddess in his second novel 'Bastet's Last Trip'.

The story is simple, a house cat named Bastet escapes from her foster family and goes into the streets to see the real world and mix it up with the street cats in a journey to discover history and her previous seven lives. On the other hand, the young girl Nora, who owned the cat, goes on a parallel trip to find the feline accompanied by her father Ashraf, a rich and famous plastic surgeon coming from humble origins and who had worked his way up the social ladder. He had already cut ties with his old neighbourhood (where the cat was lost), yet has immense nostalgia for the days of his youth.  

The writer was captivated by a seductively intuitive idea, making the cat explain human life after attentive observation of humans. Her newfound friend, a street cat named Koshari after the famous traditional dish, was her guide into the city and had insights on human behaviour that he passed along to the cat/ goddess. The writer gave the cats voices, wisdom and deep knowledge of Egyptian history. 

Both journeys have stimulating dialogues; one between Bastet and Koshari, the other between young Nora and her father Ashraf. The two dialogues are like a competition between two teams eager to explain to the writer's philosophy on life.

Among the themes explored are the happiness that humans pursue without ever reaching, the notion of reincarnation and how each being understands its purpose, and the reason for being.

The cat Koshari clarifies that the number seven here is symbolic, reaching the final stage might take much more lives than seven, it is the process of maturity of each life that counts, from thinking that life is not worth living to being happy to be created and realising that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The seventh life remains a beautiful mystery because no one was really able to describe it; it is simply enlightenment and salvation. In a brilliant explanation, the writer, through Koshari, addresses the question of reincarnation; it takes a long time to understand the universe and its history, to understand ourselves, and eventually the secret of existence.

This process would take more than one life to complete for each soul. In each life the role has to be different; rich and poor, man and woman, powerful and oppressed, adult and child, and so on. Seeing life from different positions and views will lead to the sought-after understanding of the universe. 

The father-daughter dialogue, on the other hand, deals with religion and how that each religion has a portion of the truth but none has enough to lead to salvation. Completeness comes from all of them together plus intuition and a transparency of the soul. The pursuit of happiness is another issue that was addressed in detail in the novel. It is a continuous quest, never a permanent state, and no one can really grasp it in spite of the tremendous efforts spent to reach it. 

Throughout the novel's timeline, where the writer masterfully applies the flashback and flash forward techniques, we discover that both the doctor and Bastet have deep, dark secrets that made their lives miserable. Once these secrets were revealed, we realise the reason for the heavy, sad feeling that we see in their personalities. The writer is able to maintain the reader's interest until the end and the secrets were surprising in both cases. They had committed sins for which they could not forgive themselves, and in the case of Bastet, she found the appropriate punishment for herself. The writer does not reveal what the doctor had done until later, his sin was not a correctable one; so the logical punishment was maybe left for another life, an open end for the reader. 

The novel's structure is a tight one, compelling the reader to read on until the end. It moves from one phase to a more complicated one in a smooth transition that can hardly be felt; shifting from the narrative to information about history, old and new religions, the novel's characters and their history, and finally revealing the dark secrets of Bastet and Ashraf. The simple style adopted by the writer makes it a memorable read. The fact that the writer was able to maintain the reader's interest until the climax shows his talent.

'Bastet's Last Trip' gives a daring explanation of how the universe works; the inconvenient truth is that it might bring a storm of criticism since it challenges some strongly held beliefs, but this is what Abdel-Samad has been doing courageously since his first novel 'Farewell to Heaven.'

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Ancient Nubia Now | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Ancient Nubia Now

October 13, 2019–January 20, 2020
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)

Between 2500 BCE and 300 CE, a series of kingdoms flourished in what is today the Sudanese Nile Valley, a region known in antiquity as Kush and by modern scholars as Nubia. Ruling from the capitals of Kerma (2400–1550 BCE), Napata (800–300 BCE), and Meroe (300 BCE–300 CE), Nubian kings and queens controlled vast empires and trade networks, rivalling—and even for a brief time conquering—their more famous neighbors, the Egyptians. The Nubians left behind the remains of cities, temples, palaces, and pyramids, and their artists and craftspeople produced magnificent jewelry, pottery, metalwork, furniture, and sculpture. Yet today many people are unaware that these great civilizations even existed.

The MFA played a key role in bringing ancient Nubia to light, undertaking excavations at ancient Nubian sites in southern Egypt and northern Sudan between 1910 and 1930. As a result, the MFA's collection of ancient Nubian art is the largest and most important outside Khartoum, and represents a major resource for scholars of ancient Nubia today. "Ancient Nubia Now" features more than 400 highlights from the collection, many never before exhibited. Among the highlights are the exquisite jewels of Nubia's queens, the nearly lifesize statue of Senkamanisken from the sacred mountain of Gebel Barkal, the army of funerary figurines from the tomb of King Taharqa, the gold and silver treasure of King Aspelta, and the stele of King Tanyidamani, bearing the longest known inscription in the still untranslated Meroitic language and script. Precious objects imported from Egypt and the Mediterranean world shed light on Nubia's role as a leader in foreign commerce. Along with introducing visitors to the breadth, innovation and technical mastery of Nubian art, "Ancient Nubia Now" explores the reasons for which Nubia remains unfamiliar to most Americans, including a shortage of written documentation from antiquity, the prejudices of early excavators, and propaganda from its neighbor and rival Egypt.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Egypt: Stopping the trade in our monuments - Heritage - Ahram Online

Egypt: Stopping the trade in our monuments

Measures to preserve Egypt's right to control the sale of ancient Egyptian antiquities abroad are at last being taken following the sale of an ancient head in London

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 15 Jul 2019
"Egyptian heritage is not for sale" chanted a group of protesters gathered outside the London-based Christie's Auction House as 32 ancient Egyptian artefacts went under the hammer last Thursday.

"The primary reason we are protesting is because this is a private sale. I don't mind seeing artefacts from Egypt in other museums. I don't even mind most Egyptian artefacts being in British museums as long as they are able to be viewed by everyone," one of the demonstrators told the UK Art Newspaper.

Another said on TV that he opposed the sale of Egyptian artefacts because Egyptian heritage was "not for sale." It should be returned to its homeland where it belongs, he said, adding that the objects "ethically belonged" to Egypt.

Yet, despite the protests and procedures invoked by the Egyptian authorities targeting Christie's and the British foreign office to stop the sale of these artefacts and provide ownership documents for them, the sale went ahead and 24 artefacts of the 32 have now been sold, among them the head of the god Amun with the facial features of the boy-king Tutankhamun. 

Earlier this week, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities called for an urgent meeting of the National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) to discuss procedures to preserve Egypt's rights after the sale of these objects.

The committee, headed by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, includes top officials from Egypt's ministries of foreign affairs, justice, and the interior, as well as the Prosecution-General Office, State Lawsuits Authority and former minister Zahi Hawass.

During the meeting, the committee expressed its indignation at "the unprofessional way in which the Egyptian artefacts were sold without the provision of ownership documents and proof that that the artefacts left Egypt in a legitimate manner". It also expressed "bewilderment that the British authorities failed to provide the support expected from it in this regard".

The committee has asked the British government for more cooperation in preventing the export of the Egyptian artefacts sold last week by Christie's from Britain before documentation of ownership is made available to Egypt as per the ongoing cooperation between both countries in the field of archaeology, especially as there are 18 British archaeological missions currently working in Egypt. 

It has also decided to ask a British law firm to take all the necessary legal procedures to file a civil lawsuit. It has expressed its appreciation for the decision taken by Egypt's prosecution service to ask the international police agency Interpol to issue a circular to track the sale of these artefacts in any country around the world. 

The Foreign Ministry is to issue directives to Egyptian embassies abroad both to monitor and observe these artefacts and notify the Egyptian authorities of their appearance in any country around the world and seek to ensure that they are seized pending inspection and verification of ownership documents.

Hawass described Christie's action in selling the objects as "a black point on the auction house's history, as the artefacts belong not only to the Egyptian civilisation but also to all humanity".

He told Al-Ahram Weekly that Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis, whom Christie's claims owned the objects, was dead and had never owned an antiquities collection. This "shows that Christie's does not have any evidence that the head was legally exported," he said. Hawass believes that the head was looted from the Karnak Temple during the 1970s.

The Live Science magazine website, which interviewed the family and friends of the prince and gathered documents on his life, reported that both Wilhelm's son and niece had confirmed that Wilhelm has never owned the sculpture. Furthermore, he had no interest in ancient artefacts, or art in general, it said.

"It would have been better for Christie's to stop the sale and return the objects to their homeland to be displayed in the Grand Egyptian Museum where the whole world can view and admire them instead of being sold into private collections," Hawass told the Weekly.

Heba Azizi, head of the Saving Egypt's Monuments Association who organised the protest before Christie's, told the Weekly that such a sale had led to demands to change one of the articles in the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property. 

The article, Azizi said, stipulates that "the States Parties undertake, at the request of the State Party of origin, appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property imported after the entry into force of this Convention in both States concerned, provided, however, that the requesting State shall pay just compensation to an innocent purchaser or to a person who has valid title to that property."

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the ministry's Antiquities Repatriation Department, said Germany had changed its law in 2017 to support the state party of origin and help it to recover stolen or smuggled heritage.

Over the past four years, Egypt had succeeded in repatriating 15,089 artefacts and 21,660 coins that were illegally smuggled out of the country, he said, and it would continue to do so. 

At the same time, it has signed international agreements and memorandums of understanding with Switzerland, the United States, Italy and Spain, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus, in the field of antiquities repatriation in an attempt to fight against the illicit trafficking of antiquities. 

 *A version of this article appears in print in the 11 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Stopping the trade in our monuments

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AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Rome in Egypt: Roman Temples for Egyptian Gods
On 07/15/2019 01:33 PM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Rome in Egypt: Roman Temples for Egyptian Gods  [First posted in AWOL 5 August 2013, updated (links to the most recent interation in the Internet Archive) 15 July, 2019]

Rome in Egypt: Roman Temples for Egyptian Gods
The availability of an updated repertory of the temples built in Egypt by Roman emperors for autochthonous cults is a fundamental tool for every kind of research on Roman Egypt. The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, started by Bertha Porter and Rosalind Moss, shows Roman presence on more than 50 sacred buildings from the Nile Delta until the island of Bigeh. Intense and well known was also Roman activity in Nubia.

New subsequent archaeological researches make possible further enlargements of this picture: among many examples, it is sufficient to mention here the recent important discoveries in the oases of the Western Desert.

This site, outcome of a research project funded by the Italian Ministry for University and Research (MIUR) in 2004-2005 and directed by Edda Bresciani, aims to provide:

• A repertory of Roman temples in Egypt, from the Delta to Philae, with the most recently available information. The list of monuments and their bibliography are being continually updated.

• A multimedia research tool to make available, thanks to the Internet flexibility, plans, photographs, drawings, space oriented and navigable maps and links, related to the temples included in this site, wherever it is possible.

• A searching tool allowing to sort the information for geographical sites or for emperors, and to retrieve the bibliography for authors all over the website.

Only additional bibliography, absent in previous editions of the Topographical Bibliography, is given here. Porter-Moss (PM) reference, when existing, is mentioned at the beginning of each temple file.
At the moment, Nubian temples are not included in this site.

Rome in Egypt is an evolving Web resource. It is our hope that it becomes a starting point for future research on the subject. To do it, the cooperation with all the researchers working in the field of Egyptology, archaeology and Roman history is fundamental and we thank in advance all colleagues who will send us any new information and/or material.

Please see the News section of this Web site for periodic updates.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Open Access Publications of The Inscriptions of the Temple of Edfu Project
On 07/15/2019 07:47 AM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Open Access Publications of The Inscriptions of the Temple of Edfu Project Open Access Publications of The Inscriptions of the Temple of Edfu Project
D. Kurth unter Mitarbeit von A. Behrmann, D. Budde, A. Effland, H. Felber, J.-P. Graeff, S. Koepke, S. Martinssen-von Falck, E. Pardey, S. Rüter und W. Waitkus: Die Inschriften des Tempels von Edfu. Abteilung I Übersetzungen; Band 2. Edfou VII, Harrassowitz Verlag 2004  (ISBN 978-3-447-05016-6)

D. Kurth unter Mitarbeit von A. Behrmann, A. Block, R. Brech, D. Budde, A. Effland, M. von Falck, H. Felber, J.-P. Graeff, S. Koepke, S. Martinssen-von Falck, E. Pardey, St. Rüter, W. Waitkus und S. Woodhouse: Die Inschriften des Tempels von Edfu. Abteilung I Übersetzungen; Band 3. Edfou VI, PeWe-Verlag 2014  (ISBN  978-3-935012-14-0)

A. Effland, M. von Falck, J.-P. Graeff, "Nunmehr ein offenes Buch..." - Das Edfu-Projekt. Herausgegeben zum 160. Geburtstag des Marquis Maxence de Rochemonteix (1849-1891), Hamburg 2009

A. Effland, M. von Falck, J.-P. Graeff, Das Edfu-Projekt. Inschriften des ptolemäerzeitlichen Tempels von Edfu, 7-33
A. Effland & J.-P. Graeff, Neues zur Lage von Behedet, 34-52
J.-P. Graeff, Einblicke in die Arbeit des Edfu-Projektes, 53-63
A. Lochte, Das Projekt von Außen gesehen, 64-67

Multimedia und Downloads

Diese Seite bietet Informationen und Downloads des Edfu-Projektes an, welche im weitesten Sinne mit der Arbeit des Projektes zu tun haben.

Unter Umständen werden hier jedoch auch andere Materialien ins Netz gestellt, welche nicht durch die Arbeit des Edfu-Projektes zustande gekommen sind.

Die Edfu-Datenbanken (Informationen)

Vector Office 2011 - Der offizielle Nachfolger von PerfectGlyph - Hieroglyphische Textverarbeitung. Günstige und leistungsfähigere Alternative zu WinGlyph.

Informationstexte zum Edfu-Projekt als PDF

Original EDFU-Bildschirmschoner

Die Edfu-Formulardatenbank (Upgrade)

Das Modell des Tempels von Edfu

360° Panorama des großen Hofes

Besuchen Sie den virtuellen Edfu-Tempel

Der virtuelle Edfu-Tempel (under construction). Der virtuelle Tempel benötigt mindestens einen Windows-PC mit Pentium III-500 CPU, 128 MB RAM, 3D video card (32+ MB), 3D sound card.
 Windows 98 SE / ME / 2000 / XP and DirectX 9.0c or above.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

China's "5,000 Years of History": Fact or Fiction?

China's "5,000 Years of History": Fact or Fiction?

Testing the Past (a literal translation of the Chinese word for archaeology, 考古 kaogu), is a new RADII column by archaeologist Michael Storozum exploring the ways in which this academic field is used to shape today's China.

Anyone with a cursory experience of China has likely heard of its much vaunted "5,000 years of history." Even President Donald Trump knows: when he came to China to meet with President Xi Jinping last in November 2017, Xi touted China's long, continuous history as being exceptional compared to other world cultures. Last week, the inclusion of the 5,300-year-old Liangzhu onto UNESCO's list of world heritage sites has revived the conversation in Chinese State-backed media. But how does this claim hold up under scientific and historical scrutiny?

The answer largely depends on how you define the question — namely, how you define "history."

History is usually defined as the beginning of a textual record, or written documents. In China, the first decipherable written documents date to the Shang dynasty, around 3,000 to 3,500 years ago. This language, the Jiaguwen, or Oracle Bone Script, is the antecessor of all subsequent written Chinese script, and there are remarkable similarities between Oracle Bone texts and subsequent written language in China, suggesting that this writing system is the origin of modern Chinese script. Although it is undisputed that the Oracle Bones are the progenitor of Chinese script, they're still nearly 2,000 years short of China's hypothetical 5,000 years of history.

So, a strictly historical explanation is clearly not viable — there's no science to support the claim.

Before the Shang dynasty and the development of the first historical records, there was a long prehistoric period in China. Archaeology, although often thought of as a field in the humanities or social sciences, heavily relies on methods in the physical sciences to understand cultural changes over time in ancient societies around the world. Since the discovery of China's Neolithic cultures in the early 1900s, archaeology in China has primarily focused on defining China's cultural history: the succession of different archaeological cultures (read: pottery styles) from the early Neolithic (around 10,000 years ago) to the start of the Han dynasty (around 2,200 years ago).

This chronology has been hugely contentious among archaeologists in China and around the world, in part because of a general lack of radiocarbon dates. Ancient carbon found at archaeological sites, when radiocarbon-dated, provides an absolute age for these sites, anchoring specific cultural developments in time. Only within the past several decades have there been enough radiocarbon dates to attempt to pinpoint the beginning of "Chinese civilization."


These Were China's Top 10 Archaeological Finds in 2017

In 1996, the Chinese government launched a project to determine the chronology of the origins of Chinese history. The Three Dynasties Chronology Project, as it's officially known, drew its inspiration from the incredibly robust chronology of ancient Egypt, where events and dynasties are often nailed down to the nearest year because of a long textual record (see Y.K. Lee's 2002 article "Building the Chronology of Early Chinese History", pp. 15-42, for more). The Chinese project attempted to provide a similarly robust chronology for China's first Three Dynasties: the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties in Central China, where archaeologists recovered the first evidence of the Oracle Bones. However, there were a number of problems with the general approach to the project.


Click-through: 3D-Rendered Oracle Bones from the British Library

First and foremost, the Xia dynasty is a mythical period of time. The only evidence of the Xia comes from historical texts that post-date this period by thousands of years (see "The Myth of the Xia Dynasty" by Sarah Allan for more). While archaeologists have recovered primary documents from the excavation of Shang and Zhou dynasty sites, no primary textual records have ever been recovered from Xia dynasty sites.

Second, the development of Chinese "civilization" did not happen in just one place. Just as in the recent past, people have migrated across the area known as modern China for thousands of years, bringing with them new ideas and cultural mores, making the focus on Central China detrimental to the project. Unsurprisingly, this project proved much more complex than originally conceived.

More recently, the government launched a successor to the "Three Dynasties" project — the "Origins of Chinese Civilization" project — which uses a wide range of scientific methods to develop a more complete body of knowledge concerning the developmental trajectory of ancient societies in both north and south China (see Yuan Jing and Rod Campbell's paper "Recent archaeometric research on 'the origins of Chinese civilisation'" for more on this).

Chinese "civilization" did not happen in just one place… people have migrated across the area known as modern China for thousands of years, bringing with them new ideas and cultural mores

A perfect example of the complexity in determining China's historical record is the Liangzhu site, an ongoing archaeological project in southern China that lends support to China's claim of 5,000 years of history.

Last Saturday, Liangzhu was designated a UNESCO world heritage site, recognizing its status as an exceptional case of an early "state" in southern China. The Liangzhu site, located outside of Hangzhou, dates back over 5,000 years, and is one of the earliest and most complex Neolithic archaeological sites in China.

Many art forms associated with ancient China, such as the engraved jade tubes (cong) and discs (bi) found at the Liangzhu site, are also found throughout Shang and Zhou dynasty sites in Central China, indicating Liangzhu's deep connection to "Chinese" cultural values. While archaeologists have known about this site for many decades, only recently have radiocarbon dates been published, earning the site and the Liangzhu culture widespread acceptance as one of the most complex Neolithic cultures in China. Investigations into Liangzhu are just now ramping up, and we should expect to see more work that reveals Liangzhu's deep connections to China's "5,000 years of history," work motivated in some part by a mandate to put Chinese civilization on the same "level" as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

In other words: if we really push the boundaries of the historical and archaeological records, Chinese "civilization" can be said to have a 5,000-year history, but this interpretation bends the facts in important ways. From a historical perspective, the first drips of a continuous historical record begin around 3,500 years ago, and a fully realized and still extant historical record really starts only with the Han dynasty, around 2,000 years ago. From the scientific perspective offered by archaeology, the absolute chronology goes back thousands and thousands of years, but does not necessarily reveal a continuous Chinese identity.

While sites like Liangzhu are found within China's modern political borders, and have some similarities to material culture found elsewhere within the country, archaeologists have no way of directly knowing how the ancient Liangzhu people or other peoples in prehistory conceived their own identity. China in the deep past was a diverse place, full of many different types of people who likely thought of themselves in a wide variety of ways. Complex societies like Liangzhu lived within the modern political boundaries of China, but 5,000 years ago, the people who lived in China were not bound by our modern political boundaries or our deeply changed ecologies. They lived in a world largely alien to us.

Complex societies like Liangzhu lived within the modern political boundaries of China, but 5,000 years ago, the people who lived in China were not bound by our modern political boundaries or our deeply changed ecologies. They lived in a world largely alien to us.

The cultural achievements of ancient peoples living within the modern-day political boundaries of China are certainly impressive, and stretch back in time thousands and thousands of years. From a scientific perspective, however, the entire premise of "5,000 years of continuous history" leaves much to be desired. Rather than reveal a continuous culture from 5,000 years ago to the present, new scientifically-oriented archaeological research into China's deep past will likely reveal a long history of migrations, intermixing populations, and diverse interactions that have helped create modern-day China.

Cover image: Jade cong from the Liangzhu culture(Neolithic) in Zhejiang Museum

Further reading:

Allan, S., 1984. The myth of the Xia Dynasty. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 116(2), pp.242-256.

Lee, Y.K., 2002. Building the chronology of early Chinese history. Asian Perspectives, pp.15-42.

Jing, Y. and Campbell, R., 2009. Recent archaeometric research on 'the origins of Chinese civilisation'. Antiquity, 83(319), pp.96-109.

Liu, B., Wang, N., Chen, M., Wu, X., Mo, D., Liu, J., Xu, S. and Zhuang, Y., 2017. Earliest hydraulic enterprise in China, 5,100 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(52), pp.13637-13642.