Friday, April 16, 2021

'Antiquities,' by Cynthia Ozick book review - The Washington Post

With 'Antiquities,' Cynthia Ozick is as vibrant on the page as ever

April 16, 2021 at 5:00 a.m. PDT
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"I want to do Jewish dreaming," the award-winning novelist, short story writer and essayist Cynthia Ozick told me in an interview in 1982. Close to 40 years later, she is still transforming imaginative reveries into dazzling works of fiction and distilling her ideas into essays both inventive and ingenious. Over the course of her career, her subjects have ranged broadly across the arts, literature, religion and politics, but her core focus has remained most firmly fixed on the complexities of Jewish history and culture.

About to turn 93 years old, she is as vibrant on the page as ever. In "Antiquities," the latest of her many books, Ozick employs her virtuosic literary style to weave an enigmatic tale about the ephemeral nature of memory and the transience of life. The plot's flirtation with the supernatural will remind readers of her most celebrated stories, including "The Pagan Rabbi," "The Shawl" and "The Puttermesser Papers." So will central themes such as the enduring sting of antisemitism and the push-pull between the sacred and the sinful. And then there is her longtime fixation on Henry James, to whom she pays tribute here by prominently placing his portrait on a chapel wall.

In other words, "Antiquities" is vintage Cynthia Ozick. But whether you're new to her work or a longtime fan, you'll find plenty to entertain as well as to astonish.

Her title is a wry double entendre, referring at once to the elderly characters she depicts and to the collection of Egyptian archaeological artifacts almost obsessively guarded by the novella's narrator, Lloyd Wilkinson Petrie. The year is 1949 and Petrie, a grumpy widower long retired from his law practice and only sporadically in touch with his son, takes solace in writing his memoirs, tapping out the pages between naps on an old Remington typewriter as broken-down as he is.

In one way, at least, his life seems to have come full circle. The once imposing but long dilapidated Westchester building where he now lives is where he had resided in his youth, except that at that time it was the Temple Academy for Boys, a British-styled boarding school to which his parents had packed him off at an early age. The school itself had closed down years before, but more recently it had been converted into a makeshift retirement home for the seven surviving school trustees, all of them alums of long acquaintance.

Petrie prides himself on being the youngest and least infirm among them, but they all share the predicament of having little purpose left in life and no place else to go. Ozick depicts these Old Boys-turned-oldsters as having changed little over the decades from their callow, snobbish boyhood selves. Petrie is still the shunned outsider and chosen target for spiteful pranks. And the trustees who gleefully conspire in old age to gum up the keys of Petrie's cherished typewriter seem unaltered from the supercilious, eager-to-humiliate childhood chums of long ago.

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This is the backdrop against which Petrie sets out to reveal in his memoir the uncanny school experience that marked him for life. Ozick simultaneously builds suspense and provides comic relief by having the absent-minded Petrie repeatedly begin to spill the beans, then suddenly meander away to another topic. In these chatty interludes, he lets slip how deeply he cared for his intimate companion and former secretary, Miss Margaret Stimmer. He ruminates about his emotionally distant mother and his father's abrupt and never explained decision to abandon his family and join his distant cousin, the Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (a real-life British archaeologist, 1853-1942, whose photograph appears as the book's frontispiece) on an excavation on the banks of the Nile River near Elephantine Island. Ozick's narrator (who is fictional, like his father) also details the mysterious Egyptian religious relics that had passed to him from his father upon his premature death, including female fertility figures and a statuette of a long-beaked stork, an animal he later learns was associated with Egypt's ancient deities.

And always he returns to the elusive schoolmate who became the object of his 10-year-old infatuation and source of an underlying lifelong emotional ache, Ben-Zion Elefantin. In a school culture steeped in antisemitism, new student Elefantin, with his red hair, curious foreign accent and Jewish-sounding name, becomes the automatic laughingstock for every pupil except for Petrie, who himself is ostracized simply for trying to befriend him.

They bond over games of chess, during which Elefantin cryptically explains that though he was born in Egypt, he is not Egyptian, and though people assume he is Jewish, his ancestry does not derive from the ancient Israelites. Rather, his heritage is that of the ancient Jewish community from Egypt's Elephantine Island. For Petrie, the coincidence of Elefantin's family home being the same place as the source of his father's artifacts acts like a magic potion, and what happens next leaves him wondering if he has hallucinated everything.

Has he? Petrie repeatedly refers to Elefantin as an apparition, a revenant, an illusion. Was Elefantin merely a dream inspired by Petrie's father's antiquities? From the 1880s on, archaeological digs like those Petrie's father and his distant cousin participated in did indeed discover the remains of a temple, papyrus scrolls and other evidence proving the presence of a previously unknown 5th-century BCE Jewish community on Egypt's Elephantine Island. But that community had long since vanished, making Elefantin's story, if not his very existence, fantastical. Ozick leaves it to the reader to decide the truth of Petrie's encounter with Elefantin and his elusive ancient faith. Indisputable is Ozick's exquisite artistry in rendering yet another resonant and unsettling tale.

Diane Cole is book columnist for the Psychotherapy Networker and the author of the memoir "After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges."


By Cynthia Ozick

Knopf. 192 pages. $21.

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Production stalls on Egypt's 'The King' over Pharaonic accuracy - Al Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

Production stalls on Egypt's 'The King' over Pharaonic accuracy

While some Egyptians see the suspension of work on the series "El-Malek" as controlling creative expression, others feel that the move is necessary to protect Egypt's identity from historical inaccuracies.

CAIRO — Artists and social media activists started using an Arabic hashtag April 6 saying "Let's watch before we judge" in support of the makers of the series of "El-Malek" ("The King"), after production company United Media Services said it is suspending the series following criticism over alleged historical inaccuracies.

On April 4, United Media Services suspended filming and a committee will review the series' historical accuracy. The series will not be shown during the major TV season of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which began April 13. 

The trailer for "El-Malek," which tells the story of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ahmose I, first aired on March 31. It was immediately bombarded with criticism on social media, over alleged historical inaccuracies concerning the characters' appearance, including wardrobe and accessories.

Archeologists including Egypt's former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass joined the outcry against the series. He said in press statements that Egyptian actor Amr Youssef was not the right choice to play Ahmose I because Youssef is blond and the ancient king had dark skin with Upper Egyptian features. Hawass also said that Youssef's thick beard as well as some of the costumes were not true to the Pharaonic period, during which ancient Egyptians were clean-shaven and wore white clothing made from linen.

Mounia Fathallah, costume designer for "El-Malek," said in a press statement March 31 that the series is a dramatization, not a documentary. She pointed out that the series, which is based on Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz' novel "Thebes at War," tells of the struggle of ancient Egyptians and their army, led by Ahmose I, against the Hyksos people. She added that some imagination and creativity were necessary because there is very little evidence of how the Hyksos dressed and lived.

Muhammed Adly, critic and scriptwriter, told Al-Monitor that he preferred the series to be shown as it is for it would have been an opportunity for its cast and crew to have the most accurate impression about the audiences' feedback and to accurately identify the mistakes of the series, especially that it is the first trial for the Egyptian drama sector to make a war historical series. According to Adly, the Egyptian experience in that field is limited compared to international cinema and drama makers who started introducing those types of drama since the sixties, "we shouldn't expect the first trial to be free of mistakes" he added.

He expected for "El-Malek" to be among the most successful series during the season, had it been shown, despite the historical mistakes and criticism, pointing out that there are two schools in executing epic and historical series; the first school depends on adapting characters and environment in a realistic way that is close to the real features and body shapes of characters and to the designs of costumes and accessories. The second school prioritizes the popularity and the talents of some stars, even if they do not necessarily fit the characters, they are familiar actors that audiences like and are accustomed to seeing.

Elizabeth Taylor played the role of Cleopatra, but some believe that statues of Cleopatra and her portrait on coins suggest that she was overweight.

In "Gladiator," American actor Joaquin Phoenix portrayed Emperor Commodus without the bushy beard that the statues of the Emperor bear. Also, the statues exhibited in the film were unpainted, while Roman statues were often painted. Today's audiences are used to seeing the ancient statues as white because the paint wears off through the passage of time.

"For me, the first school is the correct one, however, 'El-Malek' can be shown as a series that belongs to the second school, especially if Yousef's bearded appearance is justified by some circumstances like Ahmos staying in war camps for months under siege, or if he was trying to masquerade, with a note that the events of the series are inspired by a true story with a fictional treatment" he added. 

Egyptian actor and former tour guide Tamer Farag told Al-Monitor that it is not formalism to have the characters playing ancient Egyptians in El-Malek series appear without beards. He explained that portraying ancient Egyptians as clean-shaven is linked to Egyptian identity and Egyptian archeologists and historians have used the detail to rebuff Israeli claims that Egyptian Jews were the builders. The inscriptions on the Egyptian temples' walls show that the pyramid builders shaved their heads and faces, and the feature distinguished them from the Jews who later settled in Egypt, he added.

Alaa Abdel Aziz, a professor of egyptology at Fayoum University, told Al-Monitor, "Even though we accept the lack of historical resources on the Hyksos as well as the dramatic requirements of look and context, there are still other historical inaccuracies. These inaccuracies point to the production's lack of research. For instance, Egypt's King Seqenenre Tao appears wearing a red crown, though the king wore a red and white crown back then. And a Hyksos queen appeared wearing a gold necklace that was designed for Pharaonic Queen Ahhotep I following the expulsion of the Hyksos."

An art critic who declined to be named told Al-Monitor that the series was expected to face the same criticism regardless of the production company behind it. However, the source pointed out that few critics and social media activists were subjective with their criticism because they adopted a political agenda that considers United Media Services a monopolistic entity, despite the many production companies that are participating in shows this Ramadan season. The source did note that United Media Services has the highest number of productions as it has significant budget and capital. 

The critic said that the company's "huge budget" is part of the reason United Media Services is able to postpone the showing of the series, since smaller companies could not bear the significant loss incurred by a delay and re-filming costs.

Film critic Magda Khairallah disapproves of the suspension, while she also objects to the series' content. She told Al-Monitor that halting the filming negatively affects the film industry, as the series is the biggest production of the year.

The costuming and set dressing budget alone exceeded 20 million Egyptian pounds ($1.27 million), said series actor Bassel Alzaro. The series is said to have employed over 1,000 people.

Khairallah added that it is possible to screen the series as is now by adding a disclaimer saying that the scenes are fictional recreations.

Prominent Egyptian actor Salah Abdullah tweeted April 3 that the public was too quick to criticize "El-Malek." The series could be based on fiction or a vision mixing the present with the past, which will not require historical accuracy, he said.

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Egyptologists Unearth Skeletal Remains Of First Human Pyramid

Egyptologists Unearth Skeletal Remains Of First Human Pyramid,f_auto,g_center,pg_1,q_60,w_965/lwvdehlawlygh7oce5zq.jpg

CAIRO—Speculating that Egyptians began stacking themselves into triangular structures far earlier than previously thought, professors at Cairo University announced Friday that they had unearthed skeletal remains of the first human pyramid. "While little is known about the third dynasty of Ancient Egypt, we now believe King Djoser ordered the construction of a massive, technically difficult human pyramid by over a dozen citizens expertly crouching on top of one another," said lead researcher Dr. Nour al-Busiri, adding that the nearly 5,000-year-old structure, which was found along the West Bank of the Nile river, featured the bones of servants at the bottom, family members in the middle, and finally, the deceased Pharaoh cheering wildly at the top. "While we have unearthed several human pyramids from the Old Kingdom under King Sneferu, we now believe Egyptians were likely experimenting with shoulder stands and basket tosses as early as 2780 B.C. Frankly, this incredible discovery totally reshapes the way we think of early Egyptians and the way they mourned for, and immortalized, the deceased." At press time, Dr. al-Busiri clarified that while conspiracy theorists were spreading vicious rumors, there was no evidence that extraterrestrials had any hand in the elaborate, multi-layered human cheer formations.

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Treasures from little-known, ancient civilization come to St. Louis Art Museum | Arts and theater |

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Canaanite inscription found in Israel is ‘missing link’ in alphabet’s history - Archaeology -

Canaanite Inscription Found in Israel Is 'Missing Link' in Alphabet's History

The tiny inscribed pottery shard unearthed at Lachish dates to 3,500 years ago and is the oldest text from the Southern Levant to use alphabetic writing, rather than pictographic, archaeologists say

Early alphabetic inscription found on a pottery sherd at LachisCredit: Antiquity Publications Ltd//J. Dye, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Archaeologists digging in the ancient Canaanite settlement of Lachish have unearthed a 3,500 year old pottery shard inscribed with what they believe is the oldest text found in Israel that was written using an alphabetic script. Earlier Canaanite texts are known, but they were written using hieroglyphs or cuneiform characters.

The discovery of the alphabetic writing fills a gap in the early history of a script that apparently was developed by Canaanite migrants in ancient Egypt. From the Levant, the writing system would eventually spread around the world, becoming the most commonly used writing system to this day.

Back in Lachish, the tiny shard is the remnant of a clay pot that had been imported from Cyprus and written on using ink in Canaan. Measuring just 4 by 3.5 centimeters, the fragment contains a handful of characters spread over two lines. It was discovered in 2018 by an Austrian expedition digging at Lachish and was published Thursday in the journal Antiquity.

While experts are still struggling to decipher the short text (more on that below), they are confident it can be dated to around 1450 B.C.E, at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. This provides researchers with a "missing link" in the history of the alphabet, connecting earlier alphabetic inscriptions found in Egypt and Sinai to later texts unearthed in Canaan, says Felix Hoflmayer, a researcher from the Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

During the subsequent Iron Age, this proto-Canaanite alphabet would develop into the writing systems used by the peoples of the Levant. The ancient Israelites would use it to pen the Hebrew Bible, while the Phoenician version of the script would be spread by merchants across the Mediterranean, to Greece and then Rome – eventually becoming the Latin alphabet that you are reading at this very moment.

Credit: the Fourth Expedition to Lachish

When hieroglyphics confuse

But the origins of the alphabet are still shrouded in mystery. The earliest examples of alphabetic writing were found scribbled on rocks at Wadi el-Hol, in Egypt's Western desert, and at Serabit el-Khadim, an ancient Egyptian turquoise mining operation in the southern Sinai, Hoflmayer explains. These so-called Proto-Sinaitic texts date to the 19th or 18th centuries B.C.E., and scholars generally believe they were written by Canaanite workers or slaves who were living in Egypt, almost 4,000 years ago. Unschooled in the complex pictograms of Egypt's writing system, they adopted some hieroglyphs to represent the sounds of their own Semitic language.

For example, the Egyptian hieroglyph for "house" – "bayt" in both Hebrew and ancient Canaanite – was repurposed to represent the phoneme "B".

One big question for scholars is when and how this early Semitic alphabetic script made its way back from Egypt into Canaan. The earliest securely dated alphabetic inscriptions in the Levant go back, at most, to the 12th or 13th centuries B.C.E. – about half a millennium after their Proto-Sinaitic predecessors.

That's why the newly discovered text from Lachish is so important. "It closes the gap between the early alphabetic writing in Sinai and later texts in the Southern Levant," Hoflmayer tells Haaretz.

There are actually a few other Levantine inscriptions, including one found on a dagger unearthed at Lachish, which may be from a slightly earlier time, but experts are divided on the dating of these texts and whether they truly represent alphabetical writing, he says.

In contrast, the Lachish shard was securely placed in the mid 15th century B.C.E. by radiocarbon dating organic materials that were found in the same archaeological layer as the inscription. Unearthed in a large building that was part of Lachish's Late Bronze Age fortifications, the fragment was once part of a decorated ceramic bowl imported from Cyprus, Hoflmayer and colleagues write in the Antiquity article.

A map of the Levant showing              the location of Lachish244824482448
A map of the Levant showing the location of LachishCredit: Antiquity Publications Ltd//Hoflmeyer et. al.
Late Bronze Age              fortifications at Lachish, where the inscription was found
Late Bronze Age fortifications at Lachish, where the inscription was foundCredit: Antiquity Publications Ltd//J. Dye & L. Webster, Austrian Academy of Sciences

This is not unusual, as during the Bronze Age Lachish was a major town mentioned in ancient Egyptian records. Located midway between Jerusalem and Beer-Sheva, it housed monumental structures and was a hub for imported goods from across the Eastern Mediterranean. Centuries later, in the Iron Age, it would become a key settlement of the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah, and is mentioned multiple times in the Bible.

Canaanite sugar rush

Going to back to the inscribed shard, the words scribbled on it are difficult to decipher because the text is very short and incomplete. Also, it is unclear in what direction it should be read, since the convention of writing Semitic languages from right to left was only adopted at a later time, Hoflmayer notes.

Early alphabetic              inscription found on a pottery sherd at Lachis
Early alphabetic inscription found on a pottery sherd at LachisCredit: Antiquity Publications Ltd//J. Dye, Austrian Academy of Sciences

According to Haggai Misgav, an epigraphist from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the first three letters of the text may spell out the word ebed, meaning "slave" or "servant."

This doesn't mean that the word refers to an actual slave, but was more likely part of a name. Personal names at the time often included the word "servant" along with the name of a local god to invoke the protection of that particular deity or symbolize one's devotion. More recent equivalents of this would be the Hebrew name Obadiah (servant of Yahweh) or the Arabic Abdullah (servant of Allah).

The second line in the inscription is even harder to interpret, but it may spell out the word "nophet" which in Hebrew means "nectar" or "hone2200y." Whether this means that the inscription was meant to mark the bowl as someone's honey pot is unclear, but it is the simple existence of this brief alphabetical text at Lachish in the 15th century B.C.E. that has researchers excited.

"Its mere presence leads us to rethink the emergence and the proliferation of the early alphabet in the Near East," Hoflmayer says.

Because of the dearth of texts from this period, many scholars believed that the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet was introduced to Canaan only in the 14th or 13th centuries B.C.E., at a time when Egypt directly controlled the Levant. But the Lachish shard, which is at least a century older than that, shows that alphabetic script was already present in the Levant well before the Egyptian conquest. It suggests that the spread of this writing system was linked to the ties between Egypt and Canaan, which were particularly strong during the so-called Second Intermediate Period.

Proto-Sinaitic Credit: Kwamikagami

During this time (from the 17th to 16th centuries B.C.E.) northern Egypt was governed by the Hyksos, a dynasty of rulers with Semitic roots. While depicted as invaders by later pharaonic propaganda, most scholars today see evidence that the Hyksos were in fact a local population descended from longtime immigrants from the Levant – perhaps those same Semitic workers or slaves who scribbled the first alphabetic texts in the Egyptian desert.

It is therefore plausible that it was during the Hyksos domination that this simple idea of representing sounds with symbols, first used by Levantine migrants in Egypt, migrated back to the land of Canaan. And from there, it would take over the world.

Oldest etching of                      the letter samekh,also found in Lachish, dating to                      about 1200 B.C.E.18471847
Oldest etching of the letter samekh,also found in Lachish, dating to about 1200 B.C.E.Credit: Tal Rogovski

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Ahmed Kamal Pasha, the first Egyptian Egyptologist to write an ancient Egyptian dictionary - Inspiring Minds - Folk - Ahram Online,-the-first-Egyptian-Egyptologist.aspx

Ahmed Kamal Pasha, the first Egyptian Egyptologist to write an ancient Egyptian dictionary

Ahram Online launches a series of articles on Egyptian minds that deciphered the intangible heritage of ancient Egypt

Amira Noshokaty , Monday 12 Apr 2021
Ahmed Kamal Pasha
Courtesy of Abdel Hamid Kamal
Views: 1093

In collaboration with the Place and the People initiative, founded by Egyptologist Fatma Keshk, Ahram Online launches a series of articles on Egyptian minds that deciphered and safeguarded the intangible heritage of ancient Egypt for generations to come.

The series kicks off with the first Egyptian curator of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the author of Egypt's first Ancient Egyptian Dictionary, Ahmed Kamal Pasha (1851-1923).

In an interview with Abdel-Hamid Kamal, his grandson, Ahram Online delves into the life of the unique icon and all the intangible heritage he safeguarded throughout his lifetime and beyond.

Photo by amira noshokaty

Sitting comfortably next to a pile of old albums and a book, Kamel and his wife led us into the life of Ahmed Pasha Kamal, right from the beginning.

"What I know about him, or what my father told me about him, is that he was very polite, very religious, very Egyptian, and a very serious man and we took that after him," Kamel laughs, adding "his name was Ahmed Hussein Ahmed, but in school he was named Kamal (meaning perfection) because he reflected  perfection in combining grand ethics and knowledge," he added.

"Ahmed Kamal Pasha discovered the mummy cachette of 1881 in Deir Al-Bahari, Luxor, the same mummies that were just transported from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the Museum of National Civilisation a few days ago," explained Egyptologist Fatma Keshk, adding that he was the only Egyptian on the committee sent by the Ministry of Antiquities at the time to try and solve the riddle of many ancient Egyptian jewellery that appeared and were on sale at the time. Ahmed Kamal managed to know the source and led the mummies safely to the old premises of the Egyptian Museum in Boulaq. This incidence was the main theme of the film of great cinema icon director Shady Abdel-Salam, Al-Momya (The Night of Counting the Years, 1967).

"Actor Mohamed Khairy played the role of Ahmed Kamal Pasha in Al-Momya who was the only Egyptian Egyptologist in the committee that was assigned to conduct researches and uncover the story behind the existence of many ancient Egyptian royal jewellery in the west bank of Luxor. This committee, in collaboration with the Egyptian police, managed to uncover the illegal antiquity trade run by the family of Abdel-Rassoul in Al-Qorna on the west bank in Luxor  for they were the ones who discovered the mummy cachette there and used to take the jewellery with the mummies and sell them," noted Keshk.

Courtesy of Abdel Hamid Kamal

Despite having a true passion for ancient Egyptian antiquities, Ahmed Kamal spent 20 years trying to work at the Ministry of Antiquities.

Photo by amira noshokaty

"When he was in the Taghizeia School, he developed an interest in Egyptology and all the French (scientists) were in control of all the strategic posts in the Ministry of Antiquities back then. So he attended the School of Al-Lisan Al-Masry Al-Qadim (the school for the ancient Egyptian language) which opened his eyes on the greatness of the ancient Egyptian language," remembered Kamel. However, when he graduated, he was assigned as a French language translator at the Ministry of Education then a teacher for 20 years.

"For 20 years he was hoping to work at the Ministry of Antiquities, until finally during the reign of Khedive Ismail, there was a vacancy and he got accepted because khedive Ismail encouraged Egyptians to work in antiquities. So he was assigned the job of a kateb (a clerk of antiquities) at the ministry and from here he excelled. Back in Maspero, the head of the antiquities department admired his brilliance and knowledge and French and then he got promoted and became the first curator of the Egyptian Museum," explained Kamal. 

Photo by amira noshokaty

"Ahmed Kamal was outstanding on several levels, "added Keshk. "He was among the first people to study in Egypt's first high school of antiquities, a university founded by German scientist Heinrich Carl Brugsch in 1869 in Egypt. Out of the 12 students that studied there, Ahmed Kamal excelled and the German scientist stood by him but could not find him a direct job in the antiquities. According to numerous resources, this happened because of the discrimination that the foreigners in Egypt practised against him because they wanted to monopolise this field. We do not have evidence, but there could be the fact that this field was quite new in Egypt and the world and Egypt were in the pre-occupation 1870s phase. Egypt's political power was weak and there were so many foreigners living there at that time and they were in control of the field of antiquities. So I do not think that it was easy for them to accept an Egyptian to work with them. However, Ahmed Kamal kept striving until he was assigned a job at the Egyptian Museum in 1880 at the Boulaq premises of the Egyptian Museum," added Keshk.

"I believe he had a very progressive way of thinking. Unlike antiquity specialists who spent years talking with each other or to specialised people but not addressing the public, he addressed the public with published writings and researches in Arabic and French in the 19th century," she noted.

Courtesy of Fatma Keshk

"He conducted excavations in Luxor and Giza and wrote several books on this topic; 25 books in Arabic, and 12 in French. Among his most important achievements, he spent 20 years before his death writing the ancient Egyptian Dictionary which translated ancient Egyptian vocabulary to Arabic and then to French," added Kamal. 

Each of the 22 volumes focuses on a letter of the alphabet. It was handwritten. To be more accurate, the one who wrote it was his eldest daughter. Ahmed Kamal dedicated the dictionary to King Fouad who gave him the title "Pasha" for his great efforts. 

Kamal died shortly afterwards. The dictionary was never published and it remained with his grandson all those years until last year when the Egyptian Ministry of Culture scanned and printed it. However, the family handed out the original drafts to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina where it is currently being digitalised to be accessible to the public.

One of Ahmed Kamal's favourite quotes was in the text he translated from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. It reads:

"Ye who has left, ye shall return. Ye who slumbers, Ye shall rise again. Ye who goes on, you shall be resurrected. Honour shall be yours in the sky and its glory, in the Earth and its vastness, and in the seas and their depth."

Discovery of Ancient Egyptian City 'Rise of Aten' Stuns Archaeologists

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Inside Egypt's 3,000-year-old 'lost golden city'

Have a look at this video.

Inside Egypt's 3,000-year-old 'lost golden city'

"We spent a lot of time talking about mummies and talking about how they died," one archaeologist said. "This is the ritual of their lives."

A "lost golden city" in Egypt dating back 3,400 years has been revealed in what is being called the most important discovery in the country since the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.

The city, buried under sands near the modern-day city of Luxor for three millennia, was uncovered in September 2020 by a team led by Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass and was revealed to the world Thursday.

"This is amazing because actually we know a lot about tombs and afterlife," said Hawass while giving NBC News a tour of the site. "But now we discover a large city to tell us for the first time about the life of the people during the Golden Age."

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2500Image: A new archaeological discovery is seen                      in Luxor2500
A new archaeological discovery in Luxor, Egypt, could change our understanding of ancient kingdoms.Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology / via Reuters

"Each piece of sand can tell us the lives of the people, how the people lived at the time, how the people lived in the time of the golden age, when Egypt ruled the world," he said.

"We spent a lot of time talking about mummies and talking about how they died, the ritual of their deaths. And this is the ritual of their lives."

The city is the largest uncovered from ancient Egypt and is only partly excavated. Artifacts including rings, scarabs and colored pottery confirmed the dating to the reign of Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt from 1391 to 1353 B.C.

Hawass' team was searching for Tutankhamen's Mortuary Temple and was surprised to instead find a series of mud walls rising out of the sand, some about 10 feet tall and built in a zig-zag design characteristic of the period. Other archaeologists had previously searched for and failed to find the city.

Image: Archeological discoveries are seen in                      Luxor
A series of finds from the newly uncovered "lost golden city" near Luxor, Egypt, revealed on Thursday.Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology / via Reuters

With its storage houses, grinding stones, ovens and areas for meat production and everyday tools still intact, the site gives a rare glimpse into a working Egyptian city.

"The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen," Betsy Brian, a professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University, said in the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities' news release.

Curiously, the team uncovered a buried skeleton lying with arms outstretched to his side and the remains of a rope around his knees. The ministry's statement described this as "odd" and said it would be investigated.

Image: Archeological discoveries are seen in                      Luxor18731873187318731873
An archeological discovery at the the "lost golden city" of Luxor.Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology / via Reuters

A vessel, containing about 22 pounds of boiled or dried meat, came with an inscription. "That Year 37, dressed meat for the third Heb Sed festival from the slaughterhouse of the stockyard of Kha made by the butcher luwy."

The Egyptian team said this statement, which names two people who lived and worked in the city, also confirms that the city was active during Amenhotep III's reign alongside his son Akhenaten, who was succeeded by Tutankhamen.

Future excavations on a cemetery and unopened tombs at the site may help to answer even more questions about the period.

Hannah Pethen, a British archaeologist and honorary fellow of the University of Liverpool, who has worked on excavations in Egypt but wasn't involved in the Luxor dig, said the discovery was a landmark in the understanding of the region.

"Everybody loves the thought of an exciting, untouched tomb, but actually this is probably more significant and more important than if it was a pharaoh's tomb," she said.

"We have a lot of tombs and we know a lot about them, but we don't have a lot of evidence about how Egyptians lived and worked in their cities."

18731873187318731873Image: A skeletal human remain is seen in                      Luxor
The remains of what is thought to be an inhabitant of the "lost golden city" of Luxor, revealed on Thursday.Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology / via Reuters

The newly discovered city is now one of three sites from around the same period — Rameses III's temple at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III's temple at Memnon — and the newly discovered city's key role may be in confirming that things found there were common across the empire.

"This is really the major settlement on the west bank of the Nile from this period, so it's going to be directly associated with the tombs and cemeteries there, so we're adding to our understanding of that landscape. We have tombs, temples and now we have quite a big city," Pethen said.

One of the biggest mysteries of the period is why Akhenaten and his queen, Nefertiti, abandoned their religion and kingdom in Thebes (modern-day Luxor) to build a new city, where they worshipped the sun. Some hope the lost city will provide clues, but not everyone is optimistic.

"I wouldn't put any money on it. Ahkenaten has a habit of keeping his secrets — we've had several opportunities over the last 150 years to learn more, but somehow it's never quite come off, " Pethen said.

But as Hawass put it, our understanding of the ancient world is changing all the time: "You never know what the sand of Egypt might hide."

Charlene Gubash and Molly Hunter contributed reporting from Luxor, Egypt.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The scent of history: Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith | Pasatiempo |

The scent of history: Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith

The scent of history
What an Egyptian mummy smells like may have never crossed your mind. But, depending on the period to which the mummy dates, you might be surprised. Imagine how some combination of pine, cedar, juniper, celery seed, and myrrh would smell, particularly in a well-preserved specimen from the New Kingdom (1550 BCE-1077 BCE), when the art of mummification reached its greatest degree of sophistication. So skillful were the embalmers that, even after millennia, some mummies still retain the aroma of the ingredients used to preserve them.

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Egyptian Museum in Tahrir joins preliminary list of World Heritage Sites - Egypt Independent

Egyptian Museum in Tahrir joins preliminary list of World Heritage Sites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s World Heritage Committee has added the Egyptian Museum to its list of tentative World Heritage sites.

Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities applied to add the museum in February 2020.

Ministry official Abdel Mohsen Shafi'i stated that the ministry is keen to express the building's importance to UNESCO, calling it a cultural beacon and part of Egyptian civilization.

According to Shafi'i, the museum is the first national museum in the Middle East that includes the largest and most important archaeological treasures of ancient Egyptian civilization, in addition to being a unique landmark that played an important role in educating and disseminating archaeological awareness for Egypt. The museum's archive also contains rare documents and books on Egyptology, he said.

Sabah Abdel Razek, Director General of the museum, called the building itself an exceptional architectural edifice, and one of the first buildings specifically constructed to become a museum.

The Greco-Roman-style museum was designed and built by French architect Marcel Dornon, who won an international competition for design rights. The foundation of the museum was laid in 1897, and it was inaugurated on November 15, 1902 during the reign of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II.

The museum joins a number of Egyptian sites registered on the UNESCO tentative list, including sites in Minya, Ras Muhammad Reserve in South Sinai, the Nilometer in Rawda, the monasteries of the Western Desert, and the ancient Sinai castles.

Egypt has eight registered sites on the World Heritage List, which are: the Memphis region and its cemeteries, Thebes and its cemeteries, Nubia, Historic Cairo, Saint Catherine, Abu Mina Monastery, and Wadi El Hitan Reserve.

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Archaeologists unearth 'ancient Egyptian Pompeii' near Luxor

Archaeologists unearth 'ancient Egyptian Pompeii' near Luxor

·2 min read

By Patrick Werr

CAIRO (Reuters) - Archaeologists said on Thursday they had uncovered a large ancient pharaonic city that had lain unseen for centuries near some of Egypt's best known monuments.

The city was built more than 3,400 years ago during the opulent reign of Amenhotep III, one of Egypt's most powerful pharaohs, the Egyptian archaeologist overseeing the excavations, Zahi Hawass, said.

The team began searching for a mortuary temple near Luxor in September, but within weeks found mud brick formations in every direction, Zahi Hawass said in a statement.

They unearthed the well-preserved city that had almost complete walls and rooms filled with tools of daily life along with rings, scarabs, coloured pottery vessels and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep's cartouche.

"The city's streets are flanked by houses ... some of their walls are up to three metres high," Hawass said.

The excavations lie on the West Bank of Luxor near the Colossi of Memnon, Medinet Habu and the Ramesseum, or mortuary temple of King Ramses II, not far from the Valley of the Kings.

"This is a very important discovery," Peter Lacovara, director of the US-based Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund, told Reuters.

The state of preservation and the amount of items from everyday life brought to mind another famous excavation, he added.

"It is a sort of ancient Egyptian Pompeii and shows the critical need to preserve this area as an archaeological park," said Lacovara, who has worked at the Malqata palace area for more than 20 years but was not involved in the excavations.

The site contains a large number of ovens and kilns for making glass and faience, along with the debris of thousands of statues, said Betsy Bryan, a specialist of Amenhotep III's reign.

"Just to locate the manufacturing centres opens up the detail of how the Egyptians under a great and wealthy ruler such as Amenhotep III did what they did. This will furnish knowledge for many years to come," she added.

The city extends west to the ancient workmen's village of Deir el-Medina, Hawass said.

According to historical references it included three of Amenhotep III's palaces and the empire's administrative and industrial centre, Hawass's statement added.

(Reporting by Amr Dalsh, Nadeen Ebrahim and Patrick Werr; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Andrew Heavens)

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