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Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Latest Discoveries in Egyptology (May-June 2018) - Nile Scribes

The Latest Discoveries in Egyptology (May-June 2018)

Every few months, the Nile Scribes bring you summaries of the latest news and discoveries in Egyptology, both from the field and the lab. We'll introduce you to the newest archaeological finds or recently undusted manuscripts being rediscovered in museum collections, plus other new theories stirring in the Egyptological Zeitgeist. In this edition, Graeco-Roman buildings were discovered in the Nile Delta and Siwa Oasis, new texts were revealed by the Sinai Palimpsest Project using multi-spectral imaging, and a beautiful set of Twenty-Sixth Dynasty canopic jars were excavated at the South Asasif in Luxor.

Did you read the last edition on Discoveries from March & April?

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities publishes a very helpful round-up of recent discoveries, events, and projects in Egypt in an accessible PDF format. The latest issue was published in May 2018 (English or Arabic).

One of many reliefs discovered belonging to the Ramesside tomb of Iwrkhy at Saqqara (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Egypt uncovers tomb of great Ramesses II era general in Saqqara (May 8 – Ahram Online)

NS: A spectacular find has been made near the Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara: a new tomb belonging to an official who worked under Sety I and Ramesses II was discovered by an Egyptian archaeological team. The surviving blocks reveal the vivid colours and artistic style of the Ramesside Period and are a lasting testament to the prestige that the official, Iwrkhy, held throughout his career.

"Professor of Egyptology at Cairo University Ola El-Aguizy has announced the discovery of an important tomb belonging to the great Ramessess II era General Iwrkhy in Saqqara, in a speech delivered to attendees of the Faculty of Archaeology Prom 2017. The tomb was discovered in the New Kingdom necropolis south of the Causeway of King Unas in Saqqara, during the last excavation season in 2017/2018. El-Aguizy, head of the mission that uncovered the tomb, said it most likely dates to the reigns of both Sethi I and Ramesses II. The site has yet to be fully excavated, but has already provided a wealth of material testifying to the high status of its owner and his family."

Limestone block from the Roman temple at Al-Hag Ali village in Siwa Oasis (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Roman Temple Remains Dating to Emperor Antoninus Pius Unearthed Near Siwa (May 11 – Egyptian Streets)

NS: An Egyptian archaeological mission working in Siwa Oasis discovered the remains of a temple dating to the reign of Roman Emperor Antonius Pius. Among the finds was a large limestone fragment with Greek inscriptions.

"In what is proving to be a fruitful year for ancient Egyptian archaeology, the Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of another Roman temple near Siwa oasis on Thursday in an official statement. The Egyptian archaeological Mission of the Ministry dated the remains to the second century or, more specifically, the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius. The site on which they made their find was located at Al-Hag Ali village near Siwa Oasis."

Limestone ostracon from the tomb of Senneferi in Luxor (Photo: Nigel Strudwick)

Earliest Version of Our Alphabet Possibly Discovered (May 16 – Live Science)

NS: Egyptologist Thomas Schneider recently analysed a limestone ostracon found in the tomb of an Egyptian official named Senneferi (TT 99) by members of the Cambridge Theban Tombs Project. He assessed that the text, written with hieratic script but seemingly in a Semitic language, formed a mnemonic phrase using words organised in a similar fashion to that of the Latin alphabet.

"Whoever wrote these inscriptions 3,400 years ago may have been trying to remember the start of both alphabetic sequences, Schneider said. Sennefer was an official who dealt with Egyptian foreign affairs and likely understood the Semitic languages that were used in the Eastern Mediterranean, Schneider said. When Sennefer's tomb was being constructed, perhaps the scribes helping to build the tomb were trying to learn the languages, and one of them wrote these words down as a practice exercise, Schneider told Live Science."

Graeco-Roman bath at San el-Hagar, also known as Tanis (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Graeco-Roman Baths Discovered In Egypt (May 23 – Archaeology News Network)

NS: At the site of Tanis in the eastern Nile Delta, an Egyptian mission has unearthed a red brick building. The team has interpreted it as a bath from Graeco-Roman times and hopes to continue uncovering more of the structure in following seasons. Also among the finds was a gold coin of Ptolemy III.

"An Egyptian Archaeological Mission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities has uncovered Parts of a huge red brick building during excavations carried out at San El-Hagar archaeological site at Gharbia Governorate. Dr. Ashmawy continues that the mission also found pottery vessels, terracotta statues, bronze tools, a stone fragment engraved with hieroglyphs and a small statue of a ram."

A manuscript in the collection of St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai (Photo: BBC)

Hidden writing in ancient desert monastery manuscripts (June 13- BBC)

NS: The Sinai Palimpsest Project researching the collection of liturgical manuscripts at St. Catherine's Monastery has been using multi-spectral imaging to discover older inscriptions that were scrubbed clean by monks wishing to reuse the parchment. Of the 4500 manuscripts in the collection, 170 of them have proven to be palimpsests.

"Now, each page is photographed 33 times using 12 different wavelengths. The images are analysed using computer algorithms, and several images are combined to make the undertext more legible. If this doesn't yield results, the page is analysed using statistics: each pixel is assigned a value, separated into categories, then manipulated according to those categories to make that selection more visible to the human eye."

The Late Roman settlement at Bir Umm Tineidba (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

New discovery in Egypt's Edfu reveals Roman Era settlement, pre-dynastic cultural links (June 14 – Ahram Online)

NS: The Elkab Desert Archaeological Survey Project at Bir Umm Tineidba have discovered clusters of Predynastic rock art near tumulus burials, as well as stone structures comprising a Late Roman settlement that dates to c. 400-600 CE. These two finds , separated by an enormous amount of time, shed further light on habitation in the Eastern Desert areas.

"The mission discovered a wealth of archaeological and epigraphic material, including numerous concentrations of rock art, primarily of the Pre-Dynastic and Proto-Dynastic periods; burial tumuli of the Proto-Dynastic period; and another thus-far unrecorded Late Roman settlement. John Coleman Darnell, head of the Yale University team, said that the mission found three rock art sections revealing important scenes of the Naqada II and Naqada III Dynasties (ca. 3500-3100 BCE), providing evidence for the continuity and interaction of artistic styles of the Eastern Desert and Nile Valley."

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty canopic jars in situ at the South Asasif (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

26th Dynasty canopic jars discovered at Luxor's South Asasif necropolis (June 25 – Ahram Online)

NS: At the Third Intermediate Period tomb of Karabasken in Luxor's South Asasif, a subsidiary burial belonging to "the lady of the house, Amenirdis" has recently been excavated. Her complete set of alabaster canopic jars were found in a canopic niche and bear the heads of the Four Sons of Horus: Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef. The jars still contain traces of resin and also bear an inscription dedicating them to the lady Amenirdis.

"Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the jars were found in situ in an intrusive burial compartment cut into the south wall of the pillared hall of the tomb (TT391). They were found in a 50cm-deep space in the floor. "Although the jars are in situ in a very good conservation condition, they had fallen over the time under the pressure of flood water and one of them was broken into several fragments," Waziri said, adding that emergency cleaning and consolidation were carried out by the ministry's conservators."

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Checking in from Prague: Current Research in Egyptology - Nile Scribes

Checking in from Prague: Current Research in Egyptology

Nile Scribes made it to Prague this week to attend the 2018 Current Research in Egyptology conference. Held in the "Golden City" this year, the conference attracts graduate students in Egyptology and related fields as well as early career researchers from mainland Europe and around the world. What began as a post-graduate conference in the UK in the early 2000s expanded outside the island in 2010, when it was hosted in Leiden. This year's conference took place at the prestigious Charles University

Overlooking the Vltava River from the well-known Charles            Bridge
Overlooking the Vltava River from the well-known Charles Bridge

CRE 2018 at Prague's prestigious Charles University

Charles University is located in the heart of downtown Prague and the conference was held in two buildings there. Each morning began with a keynote, which was held in the Faculty of Arts building close to the river. Afterward, we moved over to the Czech Institute of Egyptology, which is about a 15 minute walk. The variety and diversity of topics was quickly apparent to me when I took a look at the programme – I eagerly looked forward to meeting other Egyptology graduate students from outside the globe. The setting, while more welcoming to students than professional Egyptology conferences, was still filled with aspiring and skilled professionals – after all, CRE is an arena to improve your craft and prepare for the next step in your career. The welcome we received on Day 1 was warm and gentle – reminding all attendees that we are here to learn.

Dr. Miroslav Bartá opens the conference with an official            welcome
Dr. Miroslav Bartá opens the conference with an official welcome

Day 1

The opening keynote was given by Prof. Miroslav Bartá, who spoke to us on his work on analysing Prehistoric rock art from his mission at Gilf Kebir and other nearby locales. He attempted to trace later Egyptian icons (e.g. the well-known smiting scenes) to their much earlier forerunners and some of the examples he showed seemed to make that point quite well. He also convincingly argued that the origins of many of these major elements ought to be found within Egypt and Africa itself – something that scholarship is only slowly beginning to embrace.

After the keynote, the congregation moved over to the Institute, where three concurrent sessions were organised. I was "lucky" to be the among the speakers of the first session, and I presented an aspect of my doctoral research on the current work that is being done to determine possible sources of lapis-lazuli. It was a friendly audience – they were very engaged and I was asked excellent (but tough) questions. In a subsequent talk, Perrine Poiron spoke to us about her doctoral research and traced the development (and eventual importance) of the title "son of Bastet" within the context of Twenty-Second Dynasty royal ideology.

Vincent Oeters speaks about the discovery of the stela of            Tatia
Vincent Oeters speaks about the discovery of the stela of Tatia

One of the last talks that day took us to Saqqara, where Vincent Oeters spoke to us about discoveries made by the mission, of which he was part. They had found a large stela belonging to an official named Tatia – a large chunk on the top right was missing. He explained that they have found many stela fragments over the few seasons prior and were then lucky to match the missing chunk to the stela. The stela itself was discovered to fit perfectly within an empty spot within Tatia's chapel – what a discovery! Vincent Oeters then looked deeper into the family tree of Tatia and surmised that he most likely is the brother of the famous vizier, Paser, who was active during the reigns of Sety I and Ramesses II.

Dr. Peter Jánosi explains his thoughts on Middle Kingdom            art history
Dr. Peter Jánosi explains his thoughts on Middle Kingdom art history

Key Issues in Middle Kingdom Art History

Another keynote finished the evening: a personal look into the nature of art from the Middle Kingdom. Dr. Peter Jánosi from the University of Vienna began his talk with a brief overview of the transition from the First Intermediate Period to the Middle Kingdom and then focussed on some of the most wonderful pieces to survive from the period. In particular, the well-known statue of Mentuhotep II, who is always described as dressed in Osireian fashion, earned much of his attention. He asked: what makes us identify this dress of Mentuhotep II as Osireian, a god who is never shown with either the red or white crown? The speaker urged all of us to pay closer attention to what we look at, to consult earlier photographs to see up and close – always questions, always be critical. He warned us:

"Don't believe what's written in the books… They're not always right!"

In another instance, which has stayed with me, he responded to a question about what was on top of Mentuhotep II's mortuary temple: "Is it really important to reconstruct what was on top of Mentuhotep II's Mortuary Temple?" After all, he said, there are more important issues!

Day 2

The next morning started off with a brief overview of the extensive site of Abu Sir just north of Saqqara, where the Czech Institute of Egyptology has actively been conducting fieldwork over the past few decades. While the site is well-known for its Old Kingdom burials, recent work has unearthed a temple dated to the reign of Ramesses II. However, Dr. Hana Vymazalová spent her time in elaborating on royal cults that were documented partly in the Abu Sir Papyrus Archives. Quite a few presentations from students from the Institute focussed on topics to do with the Old Kingdom, from an analysis of burial patterns to solar boats.

Thomas with some Canadian students from Québécois and            French universities (f.l.t.r.: Samuel Dupras, Perrine Poiron,            Cloé Caron, Thomas)
Thomas with some Canadian students from Québécois and French universities (Samuel Dupras, Perrine Poiron, Cloé Caron, Thomas H. Greiner) 

Cloé Caron from the Université du Québéc au Montréal/Montpellier examined the cosmological concept of Nu and highlighted in particular her "dreadful concept." She found that it actually embodies two forces: a dreadful force on the one side (antagonistic), and a desirable on the other. The Nu encloses an area of liminal transition between the world of the mundane and the sacred. Vera Michel then from the Universität zu Wien examined many of the deposits and deposition pits found across area R/III at Tell el-Dab'a. Miniature vessels were commonly found and she evaluated their use within ritual contexts – were these part of any household cults?

Vera Michel highlights the use of miniature vessels            within area R/III at Tell el-Dab'a
Vera Michel highlights the use of miniature vessels within area R/III at Tell el-Dab'a

One of the last talks of the afternoon was given by Marissa Stevens from the University of California at Los Angeles. For her talk, we explored the Twenty-First Dynasty and her catalogue of over 500 funerary papyri to examine the nature of titles belonging to temple staff. A highlight here was her discussion of the differences in status evident in the decoration and texts of these papyri, but also her excellent insight into the choices made by the deceased in what was represented in their papyrus. For example, men often competed against using their titles for benefit, whereas women would compete with each other to earn status based upon the inclusion of rare content in their papyri. What was further intriguing was that the higher-status elite did not compete in this arena nearly as much as those of lower status did.

Marissa Stevens elucidates the nature of priestly titles            in Twenty-First Dynasty Thebes
Marissa Stevens elucidates the nature of priestly titles in Twenty-First Dynasty Thebes

The evening's last keynote by Dr. Jana Mynářová unravelled the importance of textiles within the international correspondence between Egypt and her neighbours throughout the New Kingdom. While Egyptian textiles seem to not have been desired by their counterparts in the Mesopotamian region, they would actually become an important element in trade with the Aegean world, including Arzawa in Western Anatolya.

A delicious dinner awaited us at Mistral Café
A delicious dinner awaited us at Mistral Café

Following the keynote was the official CRE conference dinner, which took place at Mistral Café near the Faculty of Arts. While treated to a three-course dinner, I got to speak with colleagues from Australia and Poland about their work and also learned much about university departments and programmes in other parts of the globe. It was good to realise the many different paths and programmes Egyptologists take to make it in our field. In the context of CRE, the benefit was to be in the presence of persons in a similar place as I – it was as encouraging as it was challenging.

We will look to posting a second part to this conference in the near future.

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In pics: Abusir 'Taposiris Magna', one of the most dazzling archeological cities - Egypt Today
The ruins of Taposiris Magna are seen February 01, 2012 near        the village of Abusir, some 50 kilometers west of Alexandria,        Egypt. Once the site of a temple and a royal cemetery, it is        believed by some archeologists and scholars to be the possible        burial p The ruins of Taposiris Magna are seen February 01, 2012 near the village of Abusir, some 50 kilometers west of Alexandria, Egypt. Once the site of a temple and a royal cemetery, it is believed by some archeologists and scholars to be the possible burial p

In pics: Abusir 'Taposiris Magna', one of the most dazzling archeological cities

Sat, Jun. 30, 2018

CAIRO – 30 June 2018: On the Mediterranean coast of the northern Delta near Lake Mariout, about 45 kilometers to the west of Alexandria, is the town of Abusir. The city's ancient name was "Taposiris Magna".

Abusir dates back to the Ptolemaic era and includes several ancient Egyptian monuments, such as the Taposiris Temple, which was a religious shrine built for Isis, and a lighthouse that resembled the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Taposiris temple

Taposiris Magna - Wikipedia

Taposiris Temple was established by Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus between 280 and 270 BCE. Huge slabs of limestone, extracted from ancient quarries that are now still in the city, were used to build the monument's walls. According to Greek biographer Plutarch, the temple denotes the tomb of Osiris, which is the translation of the name.

Most of the remains of Taposiris Magna today date from the Graeco-Roman Period. The temple also contains bronze artifacts related to the worship rituals of Isis: a jug, lamp, balance, statues and vases, all of which date back to the Roman Ptolemaic period. An ancient church was also found inside the temple, and gold coins dating back to the Byzantine period were found near the temple.

Abusir lighthouse

The Pharos of Abusir, a likely copy of the famed lighthouse of Alexandria, adorns

Abusir lighthouse is similar to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, especially in terms of size and that it followed the same architectural style. The lighthouse consists of three main floors and there are stairs which were destroyed and restored in the modern era.

Recently, some scholars believed that the lighthouse was a large old mausoleum and some believed that it was a lighthouse used for maritime purposes.

A carved bath in a rocky plateau below Taposiris temple

Abusir developed during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian era (527-565 CE). Many bathes, markets and houses were built during the period. The emperor also built a government palace for the prosperity of the city market.

Justinian was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. He was very successful in notable building of some of the worlds greatest architecture. - CC via Wikipedia

The director of Alexandria Antiquities, Adly Rushdi, affirmed that Abusir is one of the cities rich in antiquities. He also said that the Egyptian expedition discovered statues of Cleopatra and another statue that was the spokesman of the emperor at that time, which was placed as the first statue of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
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Italy returns to Egypt collection of Egyptian artefacts seized in Naples - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Italy returns to Egypt collection of Egyptian artefacts seized in Naples

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 30 Jun 2018

A collection of 195 artefacts and 21,660 coins were returned to Egypt on Friday after being seized while being smuggled into Italy in May.

The artefacts were returned in collaboration with the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Rome and the Italian Public Prosecutor at the Court of Salerno.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Waziri told Ahram Online that the recovered objects are dated from Ancient Egypt to the Islamic period.

The artefacts include 151 ushabti statuettes carved in faience, 11 pots, five cartonnage gilded mummy masks, a wooden sarcophagus, two symbolic wooden boats of the dead, two canopic jar lids and three porcelain tiles from the Islamic era.

Waziri also thanked Italian authorities, the Egyptian prosecutor-general, Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Embassy in Rome for their efforts in ensuring that the artefacts are returned.

"The return of the artefacts was executed in an unprecedentedly short period after Italian authorities reported the incident to Egyptian counterparts," Waziri said, explaining that the usual repatriation process in such cases can take three to five years.

Waziri said that when the incident was reported to Egypt's antiquities ministry, Minister Khaled El-Enany formed an archaeological committee to inspect photos of the artefacts and called for an urgent meeting of the National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation to discuss the matter and take all the necessary procedures to return the artefacts to Egypt.

The committee is led by El-Enany, and its members are comprised of renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass, former Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the prosecutor-general, and legal and security authorities.

In mid-June, Waziri and Mohamed Ezzat, senior coordinator at the International Cooperation Administration of the prosecutor-general's office, travelled to Salerno to inspect the artefacts and confirm their authenticity.

"According to the Ministry of Antiquities' records, the objects were not stolen from any museum or store gallery in Egypt," Waziri asserted, adding that the artefacts are now undergoing restoration and will be put on display in a temporary exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir.

Over the past two years, Egypt has succeeded in repatriating 975 stolen artefacts from 10 countries.



Waziri inspects the carttonage mask

Ushabti statuette


Short link:
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Friday, June 29, 2018

Egypt will pay a steep price for shunning its ancient history | Arab News

Egypt will pay a steep price for shunning its ancient history


Smuggling antiquities seems to be one of the most profitable illegal businesses worldwide. Egypt possesses millions of highly valuable and universally admired artifacts, and has always had a smuggling problem.
The current tendency to favor government megaprojects while overlooking the importance of ancient Egyptian antiquities to the development of our country has encouraged many to engage in the illicit trafficking of antiquities, a practice that has been increasing substantially, especially in the last few years.
Apparently, Egypt is sitting on a treasure trove of precious antiquities — those that are housed in our museums seem to be only a fraction of what lies beneath our land. The illegal excavation of antiquities is happening in many parts of the country, with a relatively high success rate. Meanwhile, as it focuses on projects that might help to feed citizens in the future, the government is paying less attention to protecting and promoting our antiquities which, if better managed, could provide us with more revenue today.
Known as the "city of a thousand minarets," Cairo contains a large number of recognized historical mosques, many of which are spiritually associated with millions of Muslims around the world. The same goes for our churches; the "Hanging Church" and the "Cave Church" are internationally renowned. The areas around these places of worship only need tidying up to make them more appealing to visitors. Yet the government recently constructed the largest mosque and church in Egypt, in the new, relatively uninhabited administrative capital.
The Italian government's recent discovery of 23,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts concealed in a diplomatic container truly shocked Egyptians. The great number of artifacts, along with the "official medium" used for smuggling them, made it obvious that the illegal trafficking of antiquities is a well-organized and powerful business in Egypt. Had it not been for the Italian government's seizure of the container, those ancient pieces would be for sale on the black market today.
The recent partial opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which cost about $1 billion (funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency) was a historic move by Egypt to provide a proper home for 100,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts. However, the government, which was not even able to produce an attractive logo for the museum, is still searching for a suitable company to manage and run it — a task that should have been completed prior to the inauguration of the museum.


Many nations whose antiquities are certainly less valuable than ours are significantly more knowledgeable about the protection and promotion of antiquities than we are. Egypt needs to assign these nations as the caretakers of our antiquities to better display them to international visitors.

Mohammed Nosseir

The Egyptian government applies a double-standard pricing policy to museum and temple visitors: Foreigners are charged an "international" entry fee that must be paid in hard currency, while Egyptians pay very modest fees in the local currency. This pricing policy could induce Egyptian citizens to underestimate the value of their antiques. The government should consider offering Egyptians a single, once-in-a-lifetime free entry ticket to museums to enable them to learn about their history. Citizens who value ancient antiquities should then be required to pay the international fees for any subsequent visits to museums or historic sites.
Our government has still not provided proper professional management for the astonishing monuments and artifacts built by the pharaohs thousands of years ago — this kind of shunning of our history has prompted several nations to falsely claim that the ancient civilization of the pharaohs does not belong to us. Minimal effort is needed to better protect and promote our ancient history, which could potentially generate billions in revenues. Instead, we have entrusted the management of our most valuable antiquities to a handful of bureaucrats, some of whom are engaged in smuggling.
The Egyptian government needs to be extremely firm with antiquities smugglers. This is more a matter of enforcing existing laws than promulgating new ones. Many nations whose antiquities are certainly less valuable than ours are significantly more knowledgeable about the protection and promotion of antiquities than we are. Egypt needs to assign these nations as the caretakers of our antiquities to better display them to international visitors.

• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.
Twitter: @MohammedNosseir

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Medical imaging is lifting the lid on ancient Egyptian canopic jars - On Medicine

Medical imaging is lifting the lid on ancient Egyptian canopic jars

Studying the contents of ancient Egyptian conopic jars has value for both Egyptology and biomedical research, but opening them risks destroying the precious biological contents. In a new research article published in European Radiology Experimental, researchers use medical imaging techniques to look inside these ancient vessels.

This blog has been crossposted from the SpringerOpen blog.

The Canopic Jar Project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is the first in the world to investigate a large series of ancient Egyptian canopic jars from European and American museum collections in a truly interdisciplinary research environment.

The inventive focus on the contents of canopic jars produces results unobtainable by conventional ancient mummy research methods. The project involves macroscopic, radiological, chemical, and paleogenetic studies of ancient Egyptian canopic jar contents and mummies based on prior Egyptological assessment.

Canopic jars in ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians embalmed the bodies of the deceased due to their belief that the soul, travelling outside its carnal envelope, had to be able to return to it. A post-mortem preservation of the human body was therefore essential for the survival of the soul in the afterlife. The viscera, on the other hand, had to be extracted from the body to avoid its decomposition, but also needed to be preserved.

Certain internal organs of the deceased were kept inside vessels called canopic jars. Although funerary practice and the design and use of canopic jars changed significantly from a first experimental phase in the Old Kingdom (c. 2700-2200 BC) to its peak in the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1077 BC) and the 3rd Intermediate Period (c. 1077-652 BC), typically a set of four canopic jars, each dedicated to the safekeeping of one particular organ was used.

Mostly made of alabaster or terracotta, 30-40 centimeters in height, many jars feature lids, of four possible types, indicative of their contents: a human head for the liver, that of a baboon for the lungs, a jackal for the stomach, and a falcon for the intestines. Canopic jars were placed near the sarcophagus, inside the funeral chambers.

Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832), the French linguist who had deciphered the Hieroglyphs on the Rosetta stone, seems to already have discovered their use in 1812, but the study of their contents is only very recent and few canopic jars have been analyzed to date. For a long time they were mainly considered from an artistic point of view.

Three-dimensional surface reconstructions and volume calculations of a canopic jar.
Image taken from article.

"Surprisingly, ancient Egyptian canopic jars – containing precious mummified human internal organs – have been widely neglected in biomedical research so far. This despite their unique value to contribute to the understanding of the ongoing evolution of diseases", says Prof. Frank Rühli, Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine and senior author of this study.

The advantage of examining ancient Egyptian canopic jars is that it frees scientists to some extent from ethical constraints linked to the invasive study of ancient Egyptian mummies, therefore opening up several fantastic areas of exploration.

The medical field will benefit from advances in the understanding of pathogen evolution, while genetic fingerprinting and pathogen identification are of vital importance to increasing our understanding of health and social structure in ancient Egypt.

It's what's inside that counts

Opening them [canopic jars] may induce oxidation of contained biological tissues, or even contamination by bacteria.

Yet, the number of canopic jars with preserved contents suited for such studies is not infinite. Opening them may induce oxidation of contained biological tissues, or even contamination by bacteria. To avoid wasting such unique study material, one step involves the use of recent medical imaging techniques to look inside the canopic jars: planar x-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

For the first time, these three standard clinical imaging modalities were compared to research the content of ancient Egyptian canopic jars. We explored the general feasibility and diagnostic sensitivity of the three main state-of-the-art diagnostic methods in paleoradiology as applicable on such unique samples.

Unexpectedly, radiological analysis also led us to socio-cultural findings: Contrary to Herodotus' texts, which represent some of the oldest sources on ancient Egyptian mummification procedures, probably not entire organs were kept in the jars, but rather small organ fragments. Most measured canopic jars showed insufficient holding capacities for an entire human organ, even after desiccation.

This discovery is of substantial significance: It may not be the organ itself that the Egyptians thought to find in the afterlife, in a figurative way, but rather its presence. This could mean, that death and the hereafter were comprehended at a different level of abstraction than previously thought. However, this remains to be confirmed.

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Egyptian artefacts seized in Italy set to be returned within days: Minister - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egyptian artefacts seized in Italy set to be returned within days: Minister

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Jun 2018
Egyptian artefacts
One of the seized Egyptian artefacts by Italy before being smuggled into the country last May (Photo: Nevine Al-Aref)
A collection of Egyptian artefacts seized by Italian authorities last May are set to be returned to Egypt in the next few days, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany said on Wednesday.

According to statements reported by state-owned MENA news agency, El-Anany said during a cabinet meeting that the artefacts, which were seized as they were being smuggled into Italy, will be delivered to Egyptian authorities in the European country on Wednesday.

In May, Italian authorities seized in Naples 23,700 artefacts, which include 118 ancient Egyptian items.

Egypt has dismissed reports that the cache of artefacts was discovered in a container belonging to an Egyptian diplomat.

According to officials in Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities, the objects were stolen from illegal excavation sites, as there are no records of the artefacts in Egyptian museums.

The artefacts include a collection of pottery from different ancient Egyptian eras, as well as parts of sarcophagi and coins. Also among the artefacts were objects from Islamic Egypt.

Egyptian authorities have said that from March 2016 to May 2018, Egypt recovered more than 975 artefacts that had been smuggled to 10 different countries.

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‘Description of Egypt’ Encyclopedia to be re-printed - Egypt Today'Wasf-Masr'-Encyclopedia-to-be-re-printed
FILE - The book Description of Egypt FILE - The book Description of Egypt

'Wasf Masr' Encyclopedia to be re-printed

Wed, Jun. 27, 2018
CAIRO – 27 June 2018: Haitham el Hag Ali, president of The General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO), revealed that the entity is working to re-print the book "Wasf Masr" (Describing Egypt) in celebration of the Egyptian-French cultural year 2019.

He further stated that nine parts of the book remain missing in the stores of the organization, and the remaining 27 parts were sold years ago.

voyage d'egypte 014

Ali further stated that once the nine parts are found, the remaining parts of the book will be re-printed to be ready for the public by 2019.

Furthermore, Ali stated that parts of "Wasf Masr" (Description of Egypt) can be found in the Golden Jubilee of Cairo's Book Exhibition.

voyage d'egypte 009

The parts ready for re-printing will be printed in the presence of the inheritors of writer Zoheir al Shayeb, who translated 13 parts of the famous book.

voyage d'egypte 007

It is worth noting that the translation project for "Wasf Masr" started in 2004 and ended by 2009.

voyage d'egypte 006

"Wasf Masr" Encyclopedia also includes paintings that require decoding. This is one of the causes of the delay of the re-printing process.

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FILE - The book Description of Egypt

An original copy of the book was destroyed after the Egyptian Scientific Institute was burned down during riots in 2011.

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France's Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Egypt with more than 160 historians, artists and scientists during the French campaign in Egypt between 1798 and 1801. However, French General Jean-Baptiste Kléber, who was in charge of the campaign after Bonaparte left Egypt after only one year, is the one who formed committees to study all aspects of the Egyptian society to document their findings in a book celebrated until today.

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The book was collected between 1803 and 1828. It included more than 3,000 paintings depicting various scenes of Egypt and was promoted as a major scientific, literary, historical and artistic work that refuted many old assumptions about Egypt and spared future generations of much work to discover secrets of the ancient country.

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Jersey City's annual Egyptian Festival returns |

Jersey City's annual Egyptian Festival returns

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reviving buried Ancient Egyptian art, design - Egypt Today
Shaimaa Kamal's wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in        May 2018 alongiside other pieces of her Pharonic furniture line at        the great Luxor Temple where she was inspired. -Shosha Kamal        Design House's official Facebook page Shaimaa Kamal's wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in May 2018 alongiside other pieces of her Pharonic furniture line at the great Luxor Temple where she was inspired. -Shosha Kamal Design House's official Facebook page

Reviving buried Ancient Egyptian art, design

Wed, Jun. 27, 2018

CAIRO – 25 June – 2018: Reinterpreting Phharaonic icons into contemporary designs, designer Shaimaa Kamal, who won the International Product Design Award in 2016 thanks to the glory of Pharaonic design, has succeeded to revive the buried Ancient Egyptian art and attract the world's attention to Egypt's great heritage of design.

"As long as our civilization remains trapped in museums, books and documentaries without being introduced to people's daily life whether nationally or internationally, we will never be aware of its greatness. But, resurrecting it makes us remember our roots," Kamal told Egypt Today.

Because of her eagerness to revive Egyptian heritage in a way that fits the modern era and shows the world the glory of Ancient Egyptian art and design, Kamal designed in 2016 contemporary Pharaonic design in style, the wing sofa, which later nabbed the International Product Design Award from the world's professional designers.

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Shaimaa Kamal designed in 2016 contemporary pharaonic design in style, the wing sofa, which nabbed later the International Product Design Award- Shosha Kamal Design House' official Facebook page

In January 2016, she began to design the wood-painted gold wing sofa, which was presented in May 2018 alongside other pieces from her Pharonic furniture line at the great Luxor Temple where she got her inspiration. This came as a part of Cairo Bank's advertisement for Ramadan this year to shed light on young people who succeed in building something different.

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Shaimaa Kamal's the wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in May 2018 with other pieces from pharaonic furniture line in the great Luxor Temple where she got her inspiration, as a part of Cairo Bank's advertisement in this year's Ramadan-Shosha Kamal Design House' official Facebook page

To redesign the wing image found on Tutankhamun's chair in a more modernized way, she abstracted the original design from all its colors, making the wing's lines sharper and straight, made of wood-painted gold, at the sofa's back. In the meantime, she designed a basic and silent front without any decoration to make the wing "the hero of the design" and serve its greatness.

According to the piece's description, the sofa's used materials are wood-painted in copper for the back and pure white leather for the seat to communicate the luxury and the causality of the pieces.

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Shaimaa Kamal's wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in May 2018 with other pieces from her Pharaonic furniture line at the great Luxor Temple where she was first inspired, as a part of Cairo Bank's advertisement in this year's Ramadan-The International Design and Architecture Award's official Website

Upon completion, the wing sofa design competed with the world's pioneering designers' in the 2016 International Design and Architecture Award.

Although she has entered many competitions, she says this competition was very special to her as only one designer who can receive the award as opposed to the case with other competitions; hence, it is very challenging, revealed Kamal.

Besides, the International Design and Architecture Award is unique in targeting global ordinary audiences as the award is not judged solely by a professional jury. The shortlisted entries are presented online, after being chosen by the jury, to get the acknowledgment of ordinary customers and clients in the vote along with professional designers as well.

Kamal believes that her piece was chosen among many other international designs to win the award given global thirst for Ancient Egyptian civilization. The sofa is the first attempt to revive Ancient Egyptian culture and create uniqye, contemporary Pharaonic design, she added.

She further remarked that she owes the 50 percent of the credit to the original designer, who created it 4,000 years ago, and the other 50 percent to the modern designer, who has reinterpreted the wing into a modern style.

After winning the competition, she completed her Pharaonic furniture line of a 10-piece collection, including the wing sofa, with each piece reflecting a single icon such as the scarab, Horus' eye, the key of life or the snake.

Early work

Kamal formerly studied business at the German University in Cairo and worked in marketing at Unilever. However, she found this path unfulfilling and sought to pursue her lifelong interest in design.

A trip to Milano, Italy, changed her life as she accidentally saw a fly at the airport announcing that the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, had established a new center of art in Milano.

"At first, I did not know Zaha Hadid, so I decided to google her to know more about her. Upon being introduced to her works, I felt there was something common between us; both of us are Arab women who love art. So, I quit when I returned from Italy and went off for a year to study Interior and Furniture Design at the Florence Design Academy in Italy."

It was during her time pursuing graduate studies that she decided to interpret Pharonic Egyptian motives and culture in a contemporary way.

"Most of my designs are Pharaonic as when I was in Italy, I felt depressed that my studies included all design styles of the world's civilizations, except for Ancient Egyptian style although pharaohs were the first to excel at designing."

Upon returning to Egypt, she opened her own company, Shosha Kamal Design House, aiming to pursue her entrepreneurial drive.

Greek Campus' renovation

The first project she took up upon her return from Italy was renovating the exterior of a former American University in Cairo building in Downtown, the iconic Greek Campus now serving as a startup hub.

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Shaimaa Kamal maintained the building's historic glamor of the Greek architectural style and introduced, at the same time, figures of Pharaohs climbing the building in a race toward its highest point- Shosha Kamal Design House' official Facebook page

Inspired by the diversity of human beings, Kamal brought two civilizations and different eras together; she maintained the building's historic glamor of the Greek architectural style and introduced, at the same time, figures of Pharaohs climbing the building in a race toward its highest point.

"The Pharaohs resemble youth's daily efforts, trying to reach highest levels of success," she said.

Meanwhile, pop art blended the modern world with the past found in the ancient building style. Hence, the climbing pharaohs were colored with red, yellow, blue, orange and green, she says.

The Great Zayed Memorial

"This project is what I most proud of, as it was made for the 57357 hospital; it is a great honor for me to design something that the kids would see every day and distract them from their pain."

Shaimaa said that Dr. Shreif Abu el-Naga, the vice president of the Children's Cancer Hospital 57357, asked her in 2015 to collaborate on a project that would honor the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan for his generous contributions to the hospital.

The award-wining interior designer decided to honor him in an Egyptian way. "When Pharaohs honored someone, they linked his existence to the sun, so I followed their tradition."

Kamal worked on the design and execution of the memorial its for three years in collaboration with a including sculptress Rossana Corrado and the head of mechanicalEdward Nokash. The final product is comprised of a flock of 75 pigeons forming the face of Sheikh Zayed.

"The memorial moves twice a day; once at sunrise, to symbolize his birth, and another at sunset, referring that Sheikh Zayed has left our world, but his goodness still surrounds us… the memorial reflects that Sheikh Zayed is born from the greatness of sun and the prosperity of pigeons."

A composition by acclaimed musician Omar Khairat plays for sunrise, while one by musician Hisham Kharma plays at sunset. The memorial is characterized by its beauty, and was inaugurated in early 2018.

Kamal Pharaonic furniture line is slated for release by the end of 2018.

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