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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Luxor News - Jane Akshar: Multi faith Luxor

Multi faith Luxor

Spotted on Facebook, this wonderful photo by Mustafa Karim. All faiths all eras, this is the Luxor I love.

Posted by Jane Akshar at 01:14

The American Scholar: The Story of Egypt - Stephanie Bastek

The Story of Egypt


Read an excerpt from Joann Fletcher’s book about the civilization that shaped the world

By Stephanie Bastek

August 30, 2016

In the mythology of Hollywood—think of such movies as Land of the Pharaohs, The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, even The Prince of Egypt—the pharaohs are always men, usually bad. But the very first Egyptian monarch to bear the title of pharaoh was actually a woman—and a woman who dressed in male clothing and used feminine pronouns, no less. Upon her coronoation, Hatshepsut, who ruled from 1473 to 1458, “received the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, the sceptres, and the tie-on false beard, as worn by Khentkawes I a thousand years before.” As Joann Fletcher describes in her new book, The Story of Egypt, this female pharaoh continues to confound our misconceptions about the ancient society that flourished on the banks of the Nile.
Since such women are usually omitted from accounts of Egypt’s history, Hatshepsut is often cited as an exception that proves the rule. For according to one historian, this was ‘a wholly new departure for a female to pose and dress as a man … flaunting a royal titulary,’ while another claimed that ‘the conventions of the court were all warped and distorted to suit the rule of a woman.’ In fact, Hatshepsut has been described as everything from ‘this vain, ambitious and unscrupulous woman’ to a ‘wicked’ and ‘detested stepmother.’

Although she has more recently been somewhat rehabilitated as ‘a resolute and self-controlled woman’ and a veritable ‘Joan of Arc,’ the question ‘will Hatshepsut become a feminist icon?’ is surely a century too late. For her achievements were fully appreciated by the suffragettes, particularly by one late-nineteenth-century vice-president of the Women’s Suffrage League, who praised the ‘genius and energy of this extraordinary woman,’ following her lead to create two of the world’s leading Egyptological institutions, the Egypt Exploration Society and the UK’s first chair in Egyptology at University College London.

But regardless of her mixed press, ‘it is generally agreed that, by year 7 of Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut had adopted her ultimate public guise: she would henceforth be shown as a male king—wearing crowns and clothing typical of male pharaohs and performing all the rituals required of them—but nonetheless be consistently referred to in the accompanying texts by feminine pronouns’—all appropriate for a female king who still fully acknowledged her male co-ruler.

Holding full royal titles, Hatshepsut was ‘King of Upper and Lower Egypt’, Maatkare (‘Maat is the soul of Ra’); ‘Daughter of Ra’, Khnemet-Amen (‘Joined with Amen’); ‘the Horus’, Weseretkau (‘Mighty of Souls’); ‘She of the Two Ladies’, Wadjrenput (‘fresh in years’); ‘the Golden Horus’, Netjeretkhau (‘divine of appearances’). And with the feminine ending added to make the son a daughter, the lord a lady and the word ‘Majesty’ feminine, her advisors coined another useful title—‘the one from the palace’ or ‘great house’, literally per-aa and now pronounced ‘pharaoh.’

This selection is excerpted with permission from Joann Fletcher’s The Story of Egypt. Reprinted by arrangement with Pegasus Books. All rights reserved.

Archaeology Of The Ancient Egyptian Working Man: The Gebel el-Silsila Quarries | Egypt Today

Archaeology Of The Ancient Egyptian Working Man: The Gebel el-Silsila Quarries

We know about their bosses, but who were the ordinary working people in ancient Egypt? The ongoing Silsila project is unearthing new data at the site of an ancient sandstone quarry.

by Nigel Fletcher-Jones
photography courtesy of the Gebel el-Silsila Project

In a previous article, I described how underlying geology influenced the monumental building style of ancient Egypt, and how limestone became the building material of choice in the north, and sandstone in the south.

As it naturally fractured into useable and easily worked blocks, limestone was, however, the building material of choice over the whole country for the first periods of ancient Egyptian history, and it was not until the 18th dynasty (approximately 1543-1292 BC) that a major shift occurred towards the quarrying of sandstone in the south. This shift was, at least in part, driven by the increasing difficulty of extracting limestone from long established quarries such as those at Gebelein.

Although Nubian sandstone was harder to work, its greater inherent strength allowed for more reliable large scale building—not least allowing the construction of the great portals that relied on massive sandstone architraves.

Although the quarries had been used periodically since the Middle Kingdom, by the reign of Hatshepsut (approximately 1479-1458 BC), the superior building qualities of sandstone led masons and architects increasingly to an area 65 kilometers north of Aswan—between Edfu and Kom Ombo—where bluffs of the hard rock sweep down on both sides of the Nile, producing the narrowest point anywhere along the great river.

To the ancient Egyptians this was Kheny, ‘Rowing Place’—known today as Gebel el-Silsila, ‘Mountain of the Chain’.

Over the centuries from the New Kingdom to the Greco-Roman period, Silsila became the largest sandstone quarry in Egypt, providing the building materials for major temples including Dendera, Luxor, Karnak, Esna, and Edfu. Perhaps as much as seven million tonnes of sandstone were quarried from the site during the Pharaonic period alone.

Surprisingly, given that this major ‘quarryscape’ has long been known, minor excavations having taken place in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a mostly-unpublished Egypt Exploration Society survey having taken place between 1955 and 1982, it was not until 2012 that a major archaeological study of the area began under the auspices of Lund University and the supervision of the Aswan and Kom Ombo inspectorates.

And yet, perhaps, it is not too surprising, for what the Silsila project (under the direction of Dr. Maria Nilsson) is exploring is the lives of workers, not the lives of the pharaohs and priests who dominated Egyptology research for much of its history.

We have learned much, of course, from Deir el-Medina—the village within which lived the artisans who created the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings—and from many papyri describing work processes, but at Silsila we are beginning to meet workers at the rock face.

These workers left their mark, quite literally, in the form of over five thousand quarry marks and pictorial graffiti found so far, and in several hundred hieroglyphic and hieratic inscriptions. In this, it is now evident, they were following in a carving tradition which extends back at Silsila to the epipalaeolithic (around 8,000 years ago), predynastic, and early dynastic periods.

Stele with modern graffiti near the river.

Work on these quarry marks is ongoing, but already it is possible to discern that the marking systems changed over the centuries. There are also distinctions between those marks that identify workers or gangs, and those that may tell us something of the beliefs and superstitions of the men who worked in this most inhospitable of desert environments. (In addition to the quarrying activities, Kheny was—particularly during the 18th Dynasty—a cultic center associated with the Nile and its inundation, which must have been quite spectacular at these narrows.)

Other marks in the quarry face are beginning to reveal the work methods associated with extracting the blocks—these include rope holes, foot holes, and postholes that would have held the scaffolding and helped the workers to work the faces to a considerable height—the quarry contains faces as high as 40 meters.

Increasingly, it is possible to get a sense of such elements as the size of the blocks that were extracted, the types of tools used, and the directions in which the quarrymen attacked the rock face. Again, there is much more work to be done to understand the evolution of techniques, which currently appear to not only change from dynasty to dynasty, but sometimes from one pharaoh to the next!

Our understanding of the ‘industrial archaeology’ of Silsila is also being enhanced by locating other work areas: smithies, stone huts, ramps, shelters, and the road systems that led down to the Nile so that the blocks could be transported away during the annual inundation from the quarry harbor.

There are, however, significant limits to what we can currently infer about the workers themselves. Pottery finds together with the recently rediscovered Ramesside temple of Kheny—gives a sense of where the workers and their families may have lived and, perhaps, worshipped, but there are no documented papyri, or other administrative records, which can help us understand how daily life was organized, or, indeed, who the workers were.

A recently discovered tomb in the New Kingdom necropolis.

Were they principally craftsmen or laborers? Were they free men, prisoners of war, or slaves? As yet, we do not know. However, the discovery, earlier this year, of an 18th-19th Dynasty necropolis of over forty tombs containing the partial remains of men, women, and children and their coffins, would seem to indicate the possibility that settlement at Silsila may have been of greater permanence than has been previously thought.

As is the way of the world, we know slightly more about the bosses.

The more distant big bosses are suitably recorded, naturally. The so-called ‘Speos of Horemheb’—itself probably a former gallery quarry—is well known, though emerging evidence (including an underlying scene of two obelisks on a barge which is similar to one at Hatshepsut’s temple in Deir el-Bahari) suggests that the temple predates Horemheb. Later pharaohs, including Ramses II and Ramses III, also added inscriptions to the temple, which was carved into the cliff face. A number of other kings are also recorded in a variety of stelae, or rock-cut commemorative inscriptions, on either side of the river.

Of more direct interest, in terms of the functioning of the quarry, are the thirty-two relatively modest rock-cut shrines which line the west bank of the Nile. Constructed for the high officials of the 18th Dynasty who were in charge of the site—many of whom are well known from other documents and monuments—the shrines share many characteristics in their architecture, decoration, and inscriptions, which give some indication of how the quarries were managed.

Shrines 30 and 31

The shrine of Neferkhewe and his family (31)

It seems that each new archaeological season’s work at Gebel el-Silsila produces new data concerning the lives of ordinary working people in ancient Egypt, and the organization of their work. The forthcoming season will see work continue in the necropolis and the rediscovered temple site, together with making the site safe for tourism, and protecting the discoveries.

I, for one, will be waiting to hear what fascinating discoveries the team will make this year.

(With special thanks to Dr. Maria Nilsson, and John Ward. More information about the Silsila project can be found here)

Nigel Fletcher-Jones is director of the American University in Cairo Press. Join Nigel on Facebook and browse AUC’s list of stores at

From the Archives | Kelsey Museum
On 08/30/16 09:14, cperson01 wrote:
From the Archives

BY SEBASTIAN ENCINA, Museum Collections Manager, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

The Kelsey Museum Archives are quite an expansive collection. Though small in size, there are plenty of deep wormholes found throughout that will lead the researcher and archivist down a path they will be lost in for hours and hours. Every time a box is opened, a piece of the Kelsey’s history flows out and exposes the reader to new insight. Names only known through vague and incomplete notes are fleshed out, made into a more composite person. An occurrence in the past makes itself known to a group of people who would otherwise not know about it. Sites visited by Kelsey and Swain and others are exposed, informing us we have information from a location that had never been highlighted previously. The Kelsey universe expands, allowing us to share more stories about our past that will be of interest, both for research and for personal purposes.


With such a vast collection, on top of an already full collection of artifacts to care for, it becomes daunting trying to handle the archives and get it to a state where we would like. Better organization, greater knowledge of what the archives contain, more efficient access, are all goals we have. And as archival materials don’t have the same restrictions on them that artifacts do, the archives grow at a greater rate, meaning even more materials to parse through and organize.


Fortunately, the Kelsey has had a great team of interns and volunteers who have helped manage the archives over the years. Without them, much of the work would never have been completed. The archives are in a greater state today because of this team, focused and committed people who have taken their time to assist us in the day-to-day handling of materials, and the greater planning and organization of what we find within.


This page is not long enough to list all those people, but we can take the opportunity to thank one particular person who has worked with us since 2011. In that time, Randall McCombs has assisted the Registry and Kelsey Museum on a number of various projects. His work can be seen in nearly every exhibition we have hosted since 2012. His efforts have made their way to numerous publications. His assistance has led to greater organization of our digital assets, particularly those made as we have been scanning our photographic collections. It has been Randall all these years who has scanned photographs from Turkey, Egypt, Italy, in the various formats we find: glass, prints, negatives, slides, and others.


Sadly for the Kelsey, but a great step for him, Randall left the Museum in August to pursue his Master’s at the School of Information here at Michigan. We know that decision will pay off and will supply Randall with the skills and experience he will need moving forward. However, his presence will be missed.


Randall’s hands have touched a number of different collections, material types, projects, and themes. It would be difficult to limit our showing here to what he has done. Instead, this month’s From the Archives will highlight his most recent project. We’ve known for years we had a collection of panorama photos taken by George Swain in the 1920s with the use of a Cirkut camera. All this time those photographs sat in several drawers with barely a glance. One print, of the Athenian acropolis, hung in Kelsey Director Christopher Ratte’s office. This daily viewing led Dr. Ratte to inquire into this collection, what else we had, and how could we get it on display. We tasked Randall with the project, for he is quite adept at many things digital. That and he had the skills to stitch together these images, as our scanners are not large enough to capture the image in one scan. Instead, each photo had to be scanned in sections, pieced together in the editing process. Randall was able to do this seamlessly and quickly. A selection of these photographs are now on display in Newberry hallway (Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Giza). But the project exposed us to the greater collection of panoramas, well over 100 photographs, and all the sites and views Swain captured.


For your pleasure, we present a selection of these panoramas here. You will see images from throughout the Mediterranean, from Libya and Tunisia to Greece and elsewhere. The views show landscapes/seascapes, archaeological remains, current city views, even people as they gathered in a town square.


We owe a great deal of thanks to Randall for his years of service. We wish him the best in this new chapter of his life. Someday, a future archivist will read and learn about Randall and his contributions to the Museum. And they, like us, will be appreciative of what Randall did.

Click to view slideshow.
Filed under: From the Archives

How to make a Coptic sock – II | Egypt at the Manchester Museum

On 08/31/16 07:10, Campbell@Manchester wrote:
How to make a Coptic sock – II

A reflection on the production of our Coptic sock from experimental researcher Regina De Giovanni. 

In March 2012 I visited the Manchester Museum and was able to spend time with the Child's Coptic Sock, which as off display at that time. I believed the sock to be knitted and made a knitting pattern and a pair of replica socks based on the ancient original.

Manchester Museum's Coptic sock

I had all but forgotten about the project when in May of 2015 I received an email from Dr Giorgios Boudalis who works at The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessalonica (Greece) who found me through the Manchester Egypt blog. He asked me to make a pair of socks for an exhibition in New York 2017 using the technique used in 'Coptic Knitting: An Ancient Technique' by Dorothy K. Burnham Textile History Volume 3, Issue 1 December 1972, 116-124. The technique in the article was also used for bookbinding Coptic Books which is his area of interest.

Inspired by this request I visited the Whitworth Gallery and spent time with Curator Frances Pritchard looking at samples of Coptic Sock broken parts to observe any damage which might give clues to their construction. I brought premade squares made in both Tarim stitch and knitted stocking stitch which I cut roughly to compare the damage. The experiment was inconclusive as the damage on both squares looked similar to the pieces. We noted that the originals were made in fine 3 ply yarn which would rule out the "spin as you go" method which would create the yarn by twisting fleece with the needle as the work progressed.

Toes made separately

I also searched the Manchester Museum collection of needles and bodkins, while interesting were not suitable for the replication of the Tarim Stitch. I then discovered a demonstration of Tarim Stitch on You Tube which used a flat wooden needle. (Finland). Eventually I sourced a fine wooden needle on Etsy from Belarus. The needle needed to be shortened and flattened before it met the needs of the project.

Turning the heel

Knitting is constructed with two rigid needles and a continuous length of yarn. Tarim stitch is worked with a short flat needle using an "arm's length" of yarn at a time. Splicing the lengths of yarn together is fiddly and time consuming which makes the overall task slower than knitting.

Having conquered the stitch method of construction many questions are left. Where did the yarn originate from, it looks like wool though there seems little evidence of sheep farming in Egypt? What dyestuffs were used to generate the lovely bright colours? What were the needles made of wood, reeds, thorns or bone? What tool was used to cut the yarn?

Complete tarim stitch sock

The project so far has been truly International via the magic of the Internet and thanks to the staff at Manchester Museum and Galleries for being so willing to give experimenters like myself access to their collections.

Maidstone Museum to Use 3D Printing to Help Reconstruct 2,500-Year-Old Mummy |

Maidstone Museum to Use 3D Printing to Help Reconstruct 2,500-Year-Old Mummy

Although many of the world’s ancient treasures and artifacts have been recklessly destroyed or lost in the winds of time, those that we have been fortunate enough to keep unscathed possess immeasurable value and vital knowledge on the early days of humanity. As you may have noticed in some of our recent articles, one new-age tool that has emerged to help preserve and recreate these historical artifacts is 3D printing technology. Whether the goal is to restore relics that were destroyed by the heartless terrorist organization ISIS, or just to give museum-goers an in-depth look at the treasures buried with the Egyptian mummy named Neswaiu, 3D scanning and printing have become increasingly vital tools to keep our history intact.

Now, the UK-based Maidstone Museum is utilizing 3D printing technology to reconstruct the face of a 2,500-year-old mummy named Ta Kush. The museum will collaborate with medical and scientific experts from the Kent Institute of Medicine and Science and Liverpool John Moores University, who will conduct a CT scan of the mummy. This scan data will be used to create a digital facial reconstruction, which will be studied to help determine how the mummy looked before dying around the age of 14. The Maidstone Museum will also utilize 3D printing to create a physical model of the facial reconstruction, which will displayed and handled by the museum’s visitors.

The initiative is a part of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), a £78,700 project that will be invested into redesigning the museum’s Ancient Civilizations Gallery, which is where Ta Kush and the reconstructions of her face will be put on display. Although the mummy was brought over to England back in 1820 and hasn’t been given an autopsy since 1842, the renewed interest in studying Ta Kush has stemmed from recent discoveries about her origins. The research is being carried out by specialists from the Impact Radiology Project, which is an online mummy database administered by the Western Ontario University.

Ta Kush [Photo: Maidstone Museum]

“We now know that she is Ta Kush and not Ta Kesh. For the last 150 odd years we have been calling her Ta Kesh. Ta Kush means the ‘Kushite woman’. This means that she was probably from the Sudan rather than Egypt itself. So we are already starting to look at her in a very different way even before we have undertaken the scan,” says Samantha Harris, the collections manager at Maidstone Museum.

Hieroglyphs on Ta Kush’s coffin [Photo: Maidstone Museum]

With this project, the museum team also hopes to figure out whether or not Ta Kush had given birth to a child and what kind of mummification process she received, as well as the reason for her death. In addition to the facial reconstruction project, the HLF initiative will also allow the museum redevelop their gallery, which will likely be thematically divided between life in ancient Greece and death in ancient Egypt. The redesign will be conducted in part by Cur8, the Maidstone Museum’s youth group, which will be tasked with creating a vivid display of what life as an ancient Egyptian teenagers was like, as well as how British Victorian collectors managed to acquire ancient artifacts from all over the world. Discuss further in the Maidstone Museum 3D Printing forum over at [Source: Museums Association]

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Can this mystical musical tradition make comeback in Egypt?


Zar musicians and healers perform their ritual in Cairo, June 21, 2006.  (photo by GETTY/Khaled Desouki)

Can this mystical musical tradition make comeback in Egypt?

CAIRO — In a narrow alleyway in the Abdin neighborhood in central Cairo, the band Asyad el-Zar (Zar Masters) performs a traditional show the first week of every month in a small theater located in the midst of old houses. The sounds of tambourines and traditional musical instruments are central in these performances to remind Egyptians of the Zar art, which has been disappearing gradually from Egyptian folklore in the past two decades.

SummaryPrint Some Egyptian artists are attempting to revive Zar folk music, believed to have been brought to Egypt from Ethiopia and Sudan.
TranslatorPascale Menassa

Zar shows aim at “reviving folk music, searching for it in its source and presenting it to the audience,” Zakaria Ibrahim, the founder of El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music, told Al-Monitor. “Zar is disappearing in Egypt. Those who know it and practice it are having trouble keeping it alive.”

Zar is the oldest form of Egyptian folk music, and historians have disagreed over its origin. Some believe that it originated in Ethiopia and Sudan and from there it moved to Egypt then to some other Middle Eastern countries. Egyptian Zar intertwined with the Sudanese version, with the influx of Sudanese migrants to Egypt during Mohammad Ali’s era in 1820. The Sudanese tanbura (a six-string lyre) and rango instruments became integrated in the Zar music. As a result, several types of Zar music could be distinguished: Egyptian Zar, which involves tambourines and drums; Sudanese Zar, which involves the traditional tanbura; and Abul Gheit Zar, which brings in Sufi songs and tawshihat (spiritual hymns). Egyptians, especially women in popular neighborhoods and villages, have always linked this last type to superstitions and exorcising demons and jinn, genies from Islamic mythology.

A typical Zar performance opens with calm rhythms of tanbura and rango, coupled with songs including words in Sudanese and local Egyptian accents from Upper Egypt and Port Said. Then, the drums and tambourines come in to include fast and successive beats that change the ambiance to make it more exciting and luring to engage the audience and encourage them to interact with the music. A dancer strapping a belt with goat hooves around his waist (known as the mangor belt) adds to the sound of traditional instruments made of animal leather and derivatives.

Hassan Bergamon, a member of the band, is one of the last remaining people who play the Sudanese rango in Egypt. He told Al-Monitor, “I was born in Cairo after my parents came here in the 1930s to work. I learned to play the rango from my father, but when this form of art started disappearing, we would sing and play in Zar ceremonies.”

He added, “The rango and tanbura are Sudanese instruments that our ancestors brought along when they emigrated to Egypt, and their rhythms are in harmony with Zar music.”

Zainab, a woman in her 60s, has performed in Zar ceremonies since her childhood, as her parents would hold these parties at their house in the Port Said neighborhoods. But the ceremonies stopped for lack of demand from the locals.

Surrounded by a bunch of women attending her show, she told Al-Monitor, “Most of the people who come to these ceremonies are women. They leave with high spirits, and they feel they released bad energy and psychological repression. Some are touched by sad songs or roundelays, while others get excited when hearing the fast-paced music beats.”

Although Zar culture is disappearing in Egypt, Zainab said, “There are a few demands for holding Zar ceremonies in certain houses. But with the rise of the Sunni groups in Egypt, the art of Zar is under attack, as it is linked to jinn and superstitions. But it is initially an innocent spiritual rite that has nothing to do with the criticism it gets.”

Ibrahim said, “Zar started out as a ritual rather than a celebration, because it is believed to be a traditional remedy for spiritual problems. Far from disputes about its ideological background, the fast rhythm and singing and dancing in Zar ceremonies aim at releasing negative vibes and repression.”

Many theatrical works in Egypt have linked Zar to the world of jinn, sorcery and blasphemy. This gave it a stereotypical image and socially stigmatized it.

Mazaher al-Zar is another band formed by Ahmed el-Maghribi, the head of the Egyptian Center for Culture and Arts. The center has been welcoming Zar artists in Egypt since 2002, as they meet up to hold weekly ceremonies on a stage that was inspired by traditional heritage in Cairo.

Maghribi told Al-Monitor, “These ceremonies revive the enthusiasm to participate in collective singing and hadra (collective supererogatory ritual), and they include musical performances that reflect a positive image of Egyptian culture, at a time when Egyptians themselves undermine their heritage sometimes.”

He noted, “Zar reveals the African aspect of Egyptian art. The historical contact between Egypt and the African countries started in Nubia in Upper Egypt. The musical analysis of Zar shows a richness that goes years back. But there are no real studies about the Zar music because interest in it focuses on its humanitarian and psychological aspects only.”

In an attempt to revive interest in Egyptian folklore, Zar has been elevated from being practiced in popular neighborhoods to being performed on the stages of cultural centers. These attempts also aim at banishing the stereotypes that have stigmatized Zar performance sometimes and classified it under blasphemy and ignorance. This form of art is now being added to the ancient Egyptian heritage whose scope was expanded to include the African musical heritage also.

Ayah Aman
Contributor,  Egypt Pulse

Ayah Aman is an Egyptian journalist for Al-Shorouk specializing in Africa and the Nile Basin, Turkey and Iran and Egyptian social issues. On Twitter: @ayahaman

Emoticons in ancient Egypt -- ScienceDaily
Science News
from research organizations

Emoticons in ancient Egypt

August 30, 2016
University of Leiden
The advent of script has never managed to eliminate the use of symbols. This is the finding of research carried out on Ancient Egyptian identity marks.

The advent of script has never managed to eliminate the use of symbols. This is the finding of research carried out by Kyra van der Moezel on Ancient Egyptian identity marks. PhD defence 7 September.

Van der Moezel studied identity marks from the settlement at Deir el-Medina, on the west bank of the Nile. This is where some 40 to 120 workers and their families lived between 1550 and 1070 BC. These were the workers who built and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, where the legendary King Tutankhamen is buried, along with other pharoahs and elites.

Funny signs

More than three thousand years later Deir el-Medina reveals a wealth of archaeological information. An exceptional number of written sources have been found covering trade, the law, religion and literature. Researchers have also found a large number of identity marks, often imprinted on potsherds or as graffiti on the rock walls of the necropolis. For a long time scientists had no idea how to interpret all these symbols, so they were dubbed very unscientifically 'funny signs'.


'Under the guidance of lecturer Ben Haring we have now managed to interpret most of these symbols,' Van der Moezel explains. 'You can compare them to pictograms today, like information symbols at airports or product logos. They all have an inherent meaning, but are not related by any linguistic rules. The rules governing how words and sentences are formed don't apply here. The symbols use other means of expressing information.'


Van der Moezel and her colleagues distinguish different types of identity marks. Some symbols appear to be geometrical and use squares, triangles or circles, while others were derived from the written language. Finally, the Leiden researchers also found images of beings and objects that in terms of their function are comparable with the symbols that we use today in WhatsApp.


'These pictograms depict images of animals, objects or professions, for example,' says Van der Moezel. 'They were used in two different ways. First of all metonymically, whereby the symbol refers directly to what the person who drew it wanted to convey. The scorpion hunter of Deir el-Medina, for example, was represented by a scorpion symbol. The Egyptians also used the pictograms metaphorically. A well-known Egyptian metaphor is, for example, 'as fast as a jackal', which could explain why a worker is represented by the image of a jackal.' Continued existence

Surprisingly enough, the identity signs continued to exist even after the workers started to make more use of writing. Van der Moezel: 'People often assume that identity signs are 'more primitive' than written language, and that writing will slowly but surely take over from symbols. However, what we see is that writing and symbols continue to exist alongside one another. There is some interchange between the two, but symbols have never been ousted as a means of communication. Symbols continue to be useful because you can express a lot more in a single symbol than in a letter or a word.'

Symbolizing Identity

Van der Moezel's PhD is part of a larger project entitled Symbolizing Identity. Identity Marks and their Relation to Writing in New Kingdom Egypt, managed by Dr Ben Haring. Haring was awarded a subsidy in 2011 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to conduct this research.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Leiden. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

An edifice worthy of the pharaohs rises next to the pyramids

An edifice worthy of the pharaohs rises next to the pyramids

The Grand Egyptian Museum aims to lure foreign visitors back to Cairo

by Silvia Mazza, Hannah McGivern  |  30 August 2016
Contruction on the project started as Egypt’s tourist industry crumbled. Photo © Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), a gateway to the history of the pharaohs under construction outside Cairo, is attempting to do the impossible: hold its own next to the pyramids of Giza.

Egypt’s ministry of antiquities hopes the gargantuan complex, designed by architects Heneghan Peng, will be built by the end of 2016, paving the way for a 2017 “partial opening”, according to Daily News Egypt. But with between 3,000 and 5,000 construction workers already labouring around the clock and a budget rising to more than $1bn, museum management and the ministry will have their work cut out to meet the official 2018 deadline.

The GEM, announced by the Egyptian government in 1992 and originally scheduled to open in 2011, is poised to become one of the world’s largest museums. The 100,000-strong collection will include around 5,500 artefacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, many of which have never been exhibited.

Tourist magnet?

With 93,000 sq. m of exhibition space, the GEM is designed to offer more room and better conditions for conservation than the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Cairo, which has held the Tutankhamun collection for more than 80 years. A vast gallery will be entirely dedicated to the trove, according to the architect Pier Paolo Raffa, a consultant on the displays. Most of the other works in the collection are also coming from the Egyptian Museum, but the GEM plans to integrate artefacts from other museums and sites across the country.

Officials hope that the institution will boost a tourism industry suffering in the wake of terrorist attacks and political unrest. The museum aims to attract four million visitors a year, putting it on a par with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. According to local press reports, just three million tourists visited Egypt in the first half of 2016, 50% fewer than the same period in 2015.

The institution also needs to secure funding to meet its escalating costs. The budget has doubled, from $550m in 2007 (financed through a $300m loan from the Japanese government, a $100m grant from the antiquities ministry and a $150m fundraising campaign) to more than $1bn in 2015. Negotiations are under way for a second loan from Japan worth $482m, while the Egyptian government has increased its contribution to $250m, according to the project’s general supervisor.

Monday, August 29, 2016

AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Open Access Journal: Rundle Foundation for Egyptology Newsletter
Charles Jones wrote:
Open Access Journal: Rundle Foundation for Egyptology Newsletter  [First posted in AWOL 1 March 2010. Updated 29 August 2016]

Rundle Foundation for Egyptology Newsletter
Beginning in 1981, newsletters have been sent to Rundle Foundation /ACE members. They provide information on social and educational activities, and also brief records of archaeological work.
1981: February, May, July
1984: March, May, October
2005: (No 91) January, (No 92) April, (No 93) July, (No 94) October
2006: (No 95) January,(No 96) May, (No 97) July (No 98) October
2007: (No 99) January, (No 100) April, (No 101) July (No 102) October
2008: (No 103) January (No 104) April (No 105) July (No 106) October
2009: (No 107) January
(A full listing of newsletters can be found here.)
Behlmer, Heike: New Research on Shenoute, Newsletter 99
Hope, Colin: General Wen-Djera-en-Djed of Tanis¸ Newsletter 27
Kanawati, Naguib: Niankhre, the Royal Hairdresser, Newsletter 23
Kanawati, Naguib: Nikauisesi – a Reconsideration of the Old Kingdom System of Dating, Newsletter 75
Kanawati, Naguib: The North-West corner of the Teti Cemetery, Newsletter 100
Kitchen, Kenneth: Hori, son of Panehsi, Newsletter 25 (this statue is in the collection of the Brazilian National Museum in Rio de Janiero!)
Ling, Ted: Senenmut, Administrator and Architect, a Biographical Sketch, Newsletter 19
Martin, Geoffrey: Maya, Treasurer of Tutankhamun, Newsletter 24
Ockinga, Boyo: A Statuette of Osiris, the Protector of the Majordomo Padihorresnet, Newsletter 22(this item is in the Museum collection at Macquarie)
Ockinga, Boyo: Amemophis, son of Hapu, a Biographical Sketch, Newsletter 18
Ockinga, Boyo: Anhurmose, the High Priest of Onuris at Thebes, Newsletter 26
Thompson, Beth: Ahmose, son of Abana, a Biographical Sketch, Newsletter 20
Thompson, Beth: The Old Kingdom Cemetery at Tehna in Upper Egypt, Newsletter 100
Walker, Jim: Imhotep, the Vizier and Architect of Djoser who became Imouthes/Askelepios, the God of Healing, Newsletter 29 and Newsletter 30
Whale, Sheila: Pahery, the Supervisor of Works in the Tomb of Ahmose, son of Ibana¸ Newsletter 28