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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Egyptian Scarabs Discovered in Ancient Shiloh | The Jewish Press - | Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency | 21 Tammuz 5779 – July 24, 2019 |

Egyptian Scarabs Discovered in Ancient Shiloh

Photo Credit: Associates for Biblical Research
Egyptian scarab seals.

A rare Egyptian scarab seal, possibly belonging to a senior Egyptian official, was found at the Tel Shiloh archaeological site in Samaria. Archaeologists estimate it is 3,000 years old.

The scarabs were carved in the shape of a dung beetle, a creature of cosmological significance in ancient Egypt. Numerous scarabs have been found in archaeological excavations in Israel.

The dig also uncovered a horn-shaped edge of a stone altar, dated to the Iron Age, also referred to as the Israelite period, 1200–586 BCE.

This summer, volunteers from 12 countries converged on Tel Shiloh—Israel's ancient capital for 369 years—to resume the third season of archaeological excavations at the site.

Led by Dr. Scott Stripling, the provost at The Bible Seminary in Katy (Houston), Texas, and Director of Excavations for the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), the archaeologists are seeking to uncover the secrets of the multi-layered site, and especially those of the biblical tabernacle.

Yisrael Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, which includes ancient Shiloh, stated that the "rare findings at ancient Shiloh are exciting, powerful and prove in a forceful way our historic truth and our hold on the Land of the Bible."

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Views of Egypt and Sudan 1922-1933 Photographs by Reginald St. Alban Heathcote © Griffith Institute Kawa Temple T. Taharqa. View of Hypostyle, Court, and Pylon, with workmen transporting wooden crates containing blocks from the Shrine of Taharqa on light railway. The Taharqa Shrine is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford source{"477772519314891"%3A{"page_id"%3A477772519314891%2C"actor_id"%3A477772519314891%2C"dm"%3A{"isShare"%3A0%2C"originalPostOwnerID"%3A0}%2C"psn"%3A"EntStatusCreationStory"%2C"post_context"%3A{"object_fbtype"%3A266%2C"publish_time"%3A1564462769%2C"story_name"%3A"EntStatusCreationStory"%2C"story_fbid"%3A[703789083379899]}%2C"role"%3A1%2C"sl"%3A4%2C"targets"%3A[{"actor_id"%3A477772519314891%2C"page_id"%3A477772519314891%2C"post_id"%3A703789083379899%2C"role"%3A1%2C"share_id"%3A0}]}}%3Athid.477772519314891%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1564642799%3A8873120158558256898&__tn__=*s-R

Ancient Nubia and its splendour

Views of Egypt and Sudan 1922-1933
Photographs by Reginald St. Alban Heathcote © Griffith Institute
Image may contain: one or more people and        outdoor
Kawa Temple T. Taharqa. View of Hypostyle, Court, and Pylon, with workmen transporting wooden crates containing blocks from the Shrine of Taharqa on light railway. The Taharqa Shrine is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
July 29 at 9:59 PM · Public

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Fifth British Egyptology Congress (BEC5)

Research - Education: Congress Announcement
Durham Cathedral.

by Archaeology Newsroom

Fifth British Egyptology Congress (BEC5)

September 4-6, 2020

The Egypt Exploration Society is partnering with
Durham University to organise the fifth British Egyptology Congress
(BEC), from the 4th to 6th September 2020.

The Congress provides a platform for researchers to present their
ongoing projects and discoveries to a broad audience of peers and
the interested public through brief 20-minute presentations and
posters. Presentations can focus on a wide range of topics
including but not limited to: archaeology and current fieldwork,
language and texts, art and craft, trade and communication,
conservation, medicine, reception, the history of Egyptology and
collecting, museum or archive studies, religion, or material
culture. Papers can cover any period of Egyptian history as well
as the impact of Egyptian heritage on the modern world.

Time will be available for presenting the posters in person,
as well as networking with peers throughout the conference schedule.

The Congress is being organised by Durham University in partnership
with the Egypt Exploration Society. Bids to host BEC6 in 2022 will
be sought after BEC5 has drawn to a close.

A call for papers will be announced in November 2019 via the EES
website ( and tickets can be reserved from May 2020.

Further information and a downloadable pdf of this announcement
is available via the Egypt Exploration Society website:

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Were These 3,500-Year-Old Carvings of Nude Women Used As Ancient Fertility Drug?

Were These 3,500-Year-Old Carvings of Nude Women Used As Ancient Fertility Drug?

Were These 3,500-Year-Old Carvings of Nude Women Used              As Ancient Fertility Drug?

A carving found during excavations may show a fertility goddess.
Credit: Gabi Laron/Tel Rehov excavations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

An inscribed ancient Egyptian scarab and five clay tablets with carvings of naked women have been found in Rehob, a 3,500-year-old city in Israel.

The carvings likely depict ancient fertility goddesses, such as Asherah or Ashtarte, Amihai Mazar, an archaeology professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Live Science. "[They] were used at home, as part of popular domestic religious practice in the domestic sphere, mainly related to fertility of women," Mazar said in an email, noting that similar carvings have been found at other archaeological sites in the region.

The excavation showed that Rehob (known today as Tel Rehov) was founded about 3,500 years ago, and the city flourished at a time when Egypt controlled much of the region. Rehob was constructed near Beth Shean, a town protected by an Egyptian garrison, Mazar and Davidovich wrote in the journal article. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Mazar and Uri Davidovich, a lecturer at the same institution, detailed their findings in a paper published recently in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

This scarab has a hieroglyphic inscription on it saying              that it was made for a deceased man named              "Amenemhat." It was found within a large building              at Rehob.
This scarab has a hieroglyphic inscription on it saying that it was made for a deceased man named "Amenemhat." It was found within a large building at Rehob.
Credit: Gabi Laron/Tel Rehov excavations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Made of a mineral called steatite, the scarab contains a hieroglyphic inscription saying that it was created for a deceased man named "Amenemhat," who was "scribe of the house of the overseer of sealed items," according to Arlette David's translation of the inscription.

The "sealed items" referred to in the title represent various products and raw materials dealt with by the administration," wrote David, an archaeology lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the appendix of the journal article.

It's a mystery who exactly this individual was and what the scarab was doing in the building where it was found. "Since there is no other attestation of an Amenemhat 'scribe of the house of the overseer of sealed items,' we don't know anything else about him, including where he was buried," David told Live Science in an email. [Photos: Mummies Discovered in Tombs in Ancient Egyptian City]

David noted that it's possible that Amenemhat never lived in or visited Rehob and the scarab may have been used in Rehob as a reminder of Egypt's control over the area.

A photo showing the hieroglyphic inscription on the                scarab.

A photo showing the hieroglyphic inscription on the scarab.
Credit: Gabi Laron/Tel Rehov excavations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The scarab and two of the carvings were found within a large structure whose purpose and total size are unknown. It hasn't been fully excavated yet, but it "appears to have been a large and elaborate public structure. Its wide walls, arrangement of buttresses, spacious courtyard with a large hall to its south, deep foundations, and massive constructional fills all attest to its non-domestic nature," Mazar and Davidovich wrote.

More research needs to be done to determine what exactly it was used for. It could be part of a palace, administrative building or an elite person's residence, Mazar and Davidovich wrote.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Learn about the archaeological building discovered in Sinai - Egypt Today
Part of the discovery - ET Part of the discovery - ET

Learn about the archaeological building discovered in Sinai

Wed, Jul. 31, 2019

CAIRO - 31 July 2019: The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of part of a huge building from the Greek-Roman era, which was probably the senate. The discovery was made by the Egyptian expedition working in North Sinai.

Head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector Ayman Ashmawy stated that the building is built of red bricks and limestone, and is about 2,500 square meters. It has a rectangular shape from the outside with circular strips from the inside. It has a main gate on the eastern side that flows to the main street of the ancient city of Belozium, a part of which was revealed during the excavations this season.
As for the interior design of the building, Head of the Central Department of Antiquities in Lower Egypt Nadia Khader said that it consists of the remains of three circular stands that were used for sitting; the thickness of each stand is 60 cm. It is built of red brick and coated with marble. At the middle of the third stand, the mission found the remains of parts of the foundations of the main building, which is rectangular and constructed of red brick. The mission was also able to identify parts of the city's old streets.

Director General of the Antiquities of North Sinai Hisham Hussein said that during the fifth and sixth centuries AD, the building was used as a quarry where stones, bricks and columns were taken from their original places to be used in constructing other buildings in later periods within the city. The mission found during excavations in the region the remains of columns and pillars of columns, as well as crowns, tassels and tiles of Mosaic and colored mortar; all were extracted from their original places in the discovered building.
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Adventurers to test ancient Egypt-to-Black Sea route - Daily Sabah

Adventurers to test ancient Egypt-to-Black Sea route

Published 31.07.2019 10:25
Members of the crew assemble the 14-meter long sailing            reed boat Abora IV in the town of Beloslav, Bulgaria, on July            25, 2019 (AFP Photo)
Members of the crew assemble the 14-meter long sailing reed boat Abora IV in the town of Beloslav, Bulgaria, on July 25, 2019 (AFP Photo)

Were the ancient Egyptians able to use reed boats to travel as far as the Black Sea thousands of years ago?

A group of adventurers believes so and will try to prove their theory by embarking on a similar journey in reverse.

In mid-August the team of two dozen researchers and volunteers from eight countries will set off from the Bulgarian port of Varna, hoping their Abora IV reed boat will take them the 700 nautical miles through the Bosporus, the Aegean and as far as the island of Crete.

The team is specifically seeking to prove a hypothesis lent credence by Herodotus, the expedition's German leader, Dominique Goerlitz, told AFP.

The ancient Greek historian wrote: "Egyptians sailed through the Black Sea to get materials that they could not have from the east Mediterranean."

Goerlitz, 53, and his team say they drew inspiration for the design of the 14-meter (46-foot) boat from ancient rock drawings from upper Egypt and the Caucasus.

The construction was carried out with the help of volunteers and two members of the Aymara indigenous community from Bolivia's Lake Titicaca, Fermin Limachi and his son Yuri.

It is no accident that the Abora IV bears a striking resemblance to the famous Ra II reed boat that Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl used in his 1970 attempt to cross the Atlantic -- Limachi's father helped build that vessel too.

Large bundles of totora reed were lashed together with ropes to form the main body of the vessel before it was equipped with a wooden mast and two reed compartments for sleeping.

In all, 12 tons of totora reed and two kilometers (a mile) of rope went into making the boat, which will have two sails -- measuring 62 square meters (670 square feet) and 40 square meters (430 sq ft), Fermin said.

"The main question of all is whether this boat... is able to cross the difficult island shelves of the Aegean Sea," Goerlitz said.

Reaching the Cyclades islands and then Crete will be crucial for proving his initial hypothesis, he added, as the Minoan civilization which flourished there from 2,700 to 1,200 B.C. was long proven to have traded with Egypt.

Once hoisted into the water on Thursday, the boat will need two and a half weeks to soak, taking in between five and 10 tonnes of water.

Thanks to the billions of air chambers inside its porous construction material, the boat cannot crack or sink, according to Goerlitz.

During his last such expedition, the Abora III in 2007, he set out from New York bound for southern Spain in a bid to prove that Stone Age man-made similar trans-Atlantic journeys.

Goerlitz's team sailed for 56 days before a storm ripped apart his boat 900 kilometers (560 miles) short of Portugal's Azores Islands.

"I am 100 percent sure that this ship will never sink. And as long as the ship is floating we have a safety raft here," said volunteer Mark Pales, a 42-year-old electrician from the Netherlands.

Another volunteer, Heike Vogel, a parcel company employee from Germany, was looking forward to her first time sailing, after helping on two previous expeditions without venturing on board.

"It will be a new situation for me," said Vogel, 35.

In order to communicate with large cargo vessels on their way -- a major danger on the high seas -- Goerlitz's crew will have modern satellite and radio communication equipment on board.

"Of course, it would be totally arrogant and stupid (not to use modern equipment). It is an experiment of science and not of risk," he said.

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The Grand Egyptian Museum: Everything We Know, From the Architecture to the Must-See Collections - Condé Nast Traveler
Condé Nast Traveler
Grand Egyptian                    Museum
Sima Diab

Everything We Know About Cairo's New Grand Egyptian Museum

It will house the largest collection of Tutankhaman relics ever displayed, and is expected to attract 5 million visitors a year.

It's been a while since news first broke on Egypt's much anticipated new antiquities museum: the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which will be the largest archeological museum in the world. The opening date has been pushed back over a year, but we have heard (by Presidential decree, no less) that it will definitely happen in early 2020 . If you have visited Cairo's existing Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, you'll notice a definite leap from the 19th to the 21st century with this opening. Where the old museum has been a storehouse of treasures, the new one is a $1 billion state-of-the-art, glass and concrete display space that leads guests through a journey similar to Howard Carver's when he discovered the Boy King's tomb a century ago. The new location—outside central Cairo, on the Giza plateau on the edge of the Western Desert—looks out at the famous pyramids and adds even more atmosphere.

The GEM was first announced in 1992, partially to deal with what was considered a pretty unsatisfying selection of institutions showcasing Egypt's inheritance. The location was chosen to get around the issues of moving visitors through central Cairo's infamous traffic, but Irish architects Heneghan Peng have also addressed visitor overcrowding, poor acoustics and, crucially, conservation threats. There will be more than enough space, as Eltayeb Abbas, the new museum's head of archaeology, put it, "for us to welcome the world and show them the best of our ancient civilization." The ambition is huge: official hope the GEM will immediately attract 5 million visitors a year (roughly the same as the Tate Modern, the U.K.'s most visited attraction) and shortly after, surpass the 7 million annual visitors to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the record, ticket cost will be on par with the Met and Louvre, at around $20).

What the Grand Egyptian Museum will look like

The GEM is built on a slope and straddles the 162 foot difference in levels between the Nile valley, where you enter, and the Giza plateau, where the main galleries are situated. There are sculpture gardens in the museum park, while a massive statue of Ramses II greets you upon entry into the main atrium. From here, the Grand Staircase, which leads from valley level to plateau, will be lined with 87 statues of kings and gods.

The main galleries lead left from the staircase and are divided into four eras: pre-dynastic (up to 3100 B.C.) and Old Kingdom (the pyramid builders), Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom (Tutankhamun, Ramses and Co) and Greco-Roman. These chronological galleries are then organized according to themes, unlike in the old museums: Beliefs and Eternity (religion), Kingship and Power (rulers), and Society (the rest of us). At the end, visitors are led right back to tall glass windows, which look out toward the pyramids and drive home the magnificence of Ancient Egypt—the grand finale of a chronological show celebrating one of the world's greatest civilizations.

To the right of the staircase are the Tutankhamun galleries where, for the first time, the contents of the tomb will be shown in their entirety. There is also a separate children's museum within the museum, which will use state-of-the-art visual tricks to explain Egypt's ancient world to kids. An especially cool note about the Tut galleries: the relics are displayed in the exact order that Carter came across them in the tomb.

Grand Egyptian Museum

An army of conservationists painstaking restored each item on display, including this chariot wheel.

Sima Diab

What to look for

Though each of the dazzling main galleries have enough original and restored works to keep you browsing for the better part of the day, prioritize the Tutankhamun gallery. There were about 1500 items from the boy king's tomb in the old museum and there are 5400 in the new, but few visitors will spare time to see the entire collection: the gold mask and sarcophagus, the jewels, throne and chariots are the stand-out pieces. And unlike in the old museum, which simply displayed the treasures, here entire narratives have been developed in the designs of many of the galleries, to demonstrate King Tut's lifestyle, including what and when he ate, and what he might have been wearing.

The pre-dynastic collection, which was limited to just a few items in the old museum, is finally being given some prominence, including gilded elongated figures. The 140-foot-long solar boat, buried beside the Great Pyramid, has been worked into the new displays. And we might finally see the glory of the little-known Middle Kingdom, which kicked off around 2050 B.C. and is considered to some a high point in ancient art, but has been poorly presented until now. A point to focus on is the massive restoration effort from the 17 dedicated on-site labs that went into preserving and restoring these relics, many of which are nearly 5000 years old (keep an eye out for Tut's colorful, 3500-year-old bejeweled sandals).

When to visit the Grand Egyptian Museum

September to April are the prime months for touring in Egypt, with Christmas and Easter as the busiest periods. All tour groups are expected to visit the GEM, so it is unlikely to ever be empty—although visiting later in the day may be easier. Some of the restaurants are expected to be open 24 hours a day.

How to visit

Unlike the old antiquities museum, the GEM is well-placed for access. It's close to the Cairo ringroad, the freeway circling Cairo's metropolitan area. It will be connected to the Cairo metro when the new line is completed and, conveniently, can be reached by air: the new Sphinx International Airport, 20 minutes away, will receive international flights, but the main advantage will be the domestic routes, making it an easy day trip from the Red Sea resorts.

Alongside the galleries, there will be eight restaurants, 28 gift shops and a 3-D cinema.

What will happen to the old Egyptian Museum?

It's being slowly cleaned up, but a major renovation of the 1902 building will be undertaken once everything has been moved to the GEM. The old museum will still house a world-class collection of antiquities, but is likely to be only visited by students, scholars and those of us with a more-than-passing interest in the wonders of this ancient land.

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In the heart of Egypt's Nile Delta: Tanta Museum reopens - Museums - Heritage - Ahram Online

In the heart of Egypt's Nile Delta: Tanta Museum reopens

After almost two decades of closure, the Tanta Museum is reopening to visitors soon

Tanta, the capital city of the Gharbiya governorate, is known for its ancient past as it has played an important role in the history of Egypt throughout the ages due to its strategic location in the middle of the Delta.

It is often considered to be Egypt's most civilised city after Cairo and Alexandria, and it is the third-largest city in the Nile Delta in size after Mansoura and Mahalla Al-Kobra.

It is little wonder that Tanta built its first museum in 1913 as part of the municipality building where some of the city's treasures were exhibited in one of the halls.

However, that museum was later shut down and its content put in storage. In 1957, the collection was transported to another location in one of the city's cinemas, but then it was also closed. Finally, in 1981, the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, now the Ministry of Antiquities, established the present museum and opened it to the public in 1990.

In 2000, the museum was closed for the third time, however, due to the deterioration of its buildings, which were supported by scaffolding until 2018 when the Ministry of Antiquities started its restoration and consolidation project for the reopening.

Waad Abul-Ela, head of the Projects Sector at the ministry, explained that 99 per cent of the architectural work on the museum had been achieved and included the consolidation of the structure, foundations, and concrete columns. The inner and outer walls of the building had been polished and new security and lighting systems installed, he commented.

Elham Salah, head of the Museums Sector, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the museum's display aimed to highlight the city's tangible and intangible heritage through the display of a collection of artefacts enhanced with banners and graphics.

"The icon of the Tanta Museum is a special showcase that illustrates the main themes of the city's tangible heritage, which are the moulids [carnivals of faith affiliated with Sufism] and the walis [custodians or Muslim saints]," Salah said, explaining that this embodied the idea of cultural interaction throughout history since the ancient Egyptian era until modern times.

The showcase will include a statue of the ancient Egyptian architect Imhotep, the builder of the Djoser Step Pyramid in Saqqara, who was considered a wali. There is also a statue of the god Osiris, a Coptic icon depicting the Virgin Mary, and banners and graphics telling the story of Sidi Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, a relative of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed.

Al-Badawi was buried in Tanta adjacent to a mosque that was built to commemorate him after his death. The mosque has been renovated and enlarged and now has a marvellous design with three domes. A moulid is organised every year at the Sidi Al-Badawi Mosque to celebrate his birthday. People from all over Egypt come to attend this wonderful Islamic festival.

The museum will also put on show a collection of artefacts found at archaeological sites in the Delta, along with objects depicting topics such as death, trade and handicrafts. Death, Salah said, will be showed through an example of a tomb with its false doors, offering table, and funerary collection made up of canopic jars, a coffin with a mummy, and wall paintings highlighting the king and his relations with the gods.


Meanwhile, trade is shown through containers that house products as well as a large number of coins. As Tanta is located on the banks of the Nile, a collection of boats will be shown.

The Graeco-Roman period will be represented through a collection of the busts of philosophers and thinkers, along with Coptic textiles, icons, and a copy of the Bible and the key of a church. The Islamic era will be shown through a collection of decorative ceramic pots, vases and textiles.

"Most of the objects in the museum were previously shown in the old museum, while others were brought from the Tel Al-Faraeen storehouse in Kafr Al-Sheikh and other storage sites," Salah said.

Tanta had great importance during ancient times but declined in the early Islamic period. However, since the Fatimids it has captured the attention of the rulers of Egypt as it provides a position to maintain security over the country. During the Ayoubid period, the city extended and became a large town.

During the French occupation at the end of the 18th century, Tanta became part of the Menoufiya governorate but returned to Gharbiya during Mohamed Ali's reign, with his grandson Abbas Touson Pasha being its first governor.

The importance of Tanta was dramatically increased when the first railway to be established in Egypt was built in 1854.

 *A version of this article appears in print in the 25 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline:Tanta Museum reopens

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Alexandria: Important Roman-era finds - Greco-Roman - Heritage - Ahram Online

Alexandria: Important Roman-era finds

The remains of a vast residential settlement and a well-preserved Roman mosaic floor have been unearthed in Alexandria, reports Nevine El-Aref

Nevine El-Aref , Friday 26 Jul 2019
The Kom Al-Dikka archaeological site in Alexandria was again the scene of an important discovery recently, when an Egyptian-Polish archaeological mission from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw uncovered the remains of a vast residential settlement. Inside one of the houses a very well-preserved mosaic floor was found.

Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told Al-Ahram Weekly that the discovery of the floor did not only show the affluence of the residents of the houses, but also the popularity of mosaics in ancient Alexandria.

Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at the ministry, said that the settlement dated between the fourth and seventh centuries CE and included a small theatre, a grand imperial bath, and a unique group of 22 lecture halls, apparently the remains of an ancient university.

Grzegorz Majcherek, head of the excavation mission, said that in recent years excavation work had concentrated on the study of the still mostly unknown residential architecture of Roman Alexandria found between the first and the third centuries CE.

The buildings of the period were known to have often been lavishly decorated, he said, as was seen in the discovery of the mosaic floor.

He added that the main square of the floor was a multi-coloured pavement composed of six hexagonal panels featuring lotus flowers framed by a circular guilloche pattern. Lotus buds can also be seen in the spandrels.

"Overall, the design of the mosaic, with a transversal field decorated with astragals and rosettes, is typical for the triclinia, the most imposing of the dining rooms in a grand Roman house," Majcherek said.

The composition, featuring a circle inscribed into a square and exceptionally popular in Roman Egypt, is distinctive of the Alexandrian style.

Kom Al-Dikka is located in the heart of the ancient city and has been excavated since 1960 by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology in cooperation with the Ministry of Antiquities. It is both the biggest and the only archaeological site that allows researchers to study the urban fabric of the ancient city in a wider urban context.

Excavations conducted for more than half a century have led to a better understanding of the city's past, from topography and architecture to the daily life of its inhabitants, from the second century BC through to the 14th century CE.

In the first three centuries of the common era, the whole area of the site was covered with magnificent city residences. Their rich architectural decoration, wall paintings and sculptures, including depictions of Alexander the Great, as well as colourful floor mosaics with geometric, floral and figurative decorations, are the best illustration of the grandeur and wealth of the city's inhabitants.

At the end of the 3rd century CE, the city was largely destroyed as a result of political turbulence, rebellions and bloody pacifications ordered by Roman emperors. Although it was later rebuilt, it never returned to its former glory. New, significantly smaller and more modest houses, often multi-storied and inhabited by several families, then accommodated workshops producing bronze and glass objects.

In the fourth century CE, the centre of the city became a huge construction site. The core of the new urban project was a complex of big imperial baths flanked by monumental colonnades. Numerous public buildings were built around it, including spacious bathing chambers that could accommodate hundreds of users every day, bathing pools, gymnasia for sports and public latrines. A complex system of furnaces was used for heating water, which was drawn from nearby cisterns.

A wide colonnade portico running north-south was a monumental setting for the unique academic complex, also recently discovered, comprising 22 auditoria, which was built in the sixth century CE. It is the only ancient "university" discovered so far in the whole of the Mediterranean area, leading ancient Alexandria to be called the "Oxford" of late antiquity.

The perfectly preserved auditoria, built in a row along the portico, were furnished with low stone benches for students and an elevated seat for the lecturer. The nearby theatre, a symbol of both the site and the city, was first used for music performances.

At the beginning of the sixth century CE, when its auditorium was rebuilt in a horseshoe shape and a roof was added, the theatre became the largest room of the complex, the auditorium maximum. Both the auditoria with the theatre and the baths constituted the social and cultural centre of late antique Alexandria.


At the end of the seventh century CE, Alexandria was in decline. Grand public edifices were abandoned and devastated. In the following centuries, the whole area was turned into a large rubbish dump and cemetery, a truly symbolic end to a great city.

Conservation is an important part of the mission's work at Kom Al-Dikka, and an archaeological park of almost four hectares has been established at the site. Monumental ancient buildings, the only ones of their kind preserved in the whole of Egypt, can be seen in their original urban setting.

The theatre and auditoria, baths, cisterns, houses and colonnade porticoes have become part of the landscape of the modern metropolis and are nowadays one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.

Kom Al-Dikka itself offers visitors a glimpse of an ancient Roman cityscape, which, once neglected and largely forgotten, was rediscovered and excavated in 1960. Over the past half century, discoveries continue to be made on this site, including the series of lecture halls and a small theatre with 13 rows of seats arranged in a U-shaped configuration.

The primary structure consists of a red brick base, at one time was covered with thick white marble, to accommodate what was probably a select and cultured audience. The most recent discovery suggests that the theatre floor and inner walls were decorated with a dazzling series of colourful mosaics arranged in a variety of geometric patterns.

Although commonly referred to as a Roman theatre, current archaeological theories suggest that the site was more often used as a venue for musical performances. The acoustics of the site, including the air flow and the dome which probably once covered the stage and seats alike, suggest a meticulous effort at engineering for maximum acoustic quality.

Following its original construction as a theatre in about the third century CE, an earthquake severely damaged the site in 535 CE during the Byzantine period. In the second phase, the theatre was probably used as a hall in which politicians could meet and discuss the policies of the state. During the Islamic period, layers of graves covered the site, and the original structures were largely forgotten.

The Roman baths to the north of the theatre are the remains of a once elaborate public bath. Probably dating from the fourth century CE, this site remained in continuous use until the seventh century. The original structure was made from red bricks, ideal for retaining heat, and had a row of rooms. In its initial design, the baths housed pools of hot and cold water, and following the renovation in 535 CE, furnaces were used to create steam rooms as well as sections featuring both hot and cold baths.

The water supply for the baths came from a cistern to the south of the primary structure, which in turn was supplied with fresh water via a complex network of aqueducts below.

However, the majority of the complex was residential. During the first and second centuries BCE, the site was home to opulent villas and homes for the wealthiest citizens of Alexandria. Over the centuries, the density of this residential area increased and the quality and cost of housing decreased. By the Roman era, the site was filled with small houses and workshops.


Perhaps the best-preserved residence is the Villa of Birds, thus named on account of a mosaic featuring a colourful variety of birds which adorns the floor of one of its rooms.

Only part of this villa has been uncovered, including a triclinium, with a black and white carpet-like mosaic running along three walls.

Further finds include a variety of vessels and amphorae which once stored wine, water and food.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Important finds in Alexandria

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Archaeologists document the oldest known forerunners of fresco paintings in the Mediterranean region - HeritageDaily - Archaeology News

Archaeologists document the oldest known forerunners of fresco paintings in the Mediterranean region

Researchers from the Universities of Beirut and Tübingen have analyzed 4000-year-old murals in a Bronze Age palace in Lebanon.

Archaeologists from the American University of Beirut and the University of Tübingen have documented the oldest large-area wall paintings from the Ancient Near East. The first parts of the paintings were discovered in 2005 in the ruins of a Bronze Age palace in southern Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast south of Sidon. In the following years, the paintings on large wall surfaces were uncovered and preserved; the researchers have now published their results in a book.

Professor Jens Kamlah of the Institute of Biblical Archaeology at the University of Tübingen describes how, in this early stage of fresco paining, the colors were applied to the walls – some time around 1900 B.C.E. This is the earliest known evidence of a preliminary form of the fresco technique in the entire Mediterranean region. The project was headed by Kamlah and the Lebanese archaeologist Professor Hélène Sader. They were supported by the German Archaeological Institute as a cooperation partner, under the scientific director, Dr. Dr. Margarete van Ess.

The German-Lebanese team of archaeologists discovered the palace in 2001 at the Tell el-Burak site south of Sidon, and had fully excavated it by 2011. The paintings were found on the walls inside the largest room, which measured seven by 14 meters. The researchers say the palace was built around 1900 B.C.E. and was in use for some 200 years.

Map of the palace at Tell el Burak, south of Sidon in Lebanon. Excavations began in 2001 Large wall paintings were found in the biggest room (10).

The paintings show a geometric frieze as well as a hunting scene, a procession, and a "tree of life." Comparable motifs are known from the Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian iconography, says Julia Bertsch from the University of Tübingen, a member of the team who has been investigating the paintings. She says the technique may be seen as a preliminary stage of the fresco because the preliminary drawings were applied to the still-damp plaster. By contrast, in the fully developed fresco technique, the paintings in their entirety are applied to the fresh plaster.

As the plaster dries, the paints combine permanently with the substrate. "It was previously assumed that this technique was developed several centuries later in Minoan-Aegean palace paintings. These finds from Tell el-Burak show us that, at the very least, important steps in the development of the technique were made in the Near East," says Bertsch.

An analysis of the paints showed that one of the colors used was Egyptian blue. This hardly ever occurs naturally, but it was produced and used in ancient Egypt from the third millennium B.C.E. "This shows that there were close ties between today's southern Lebanon and the Egyptian Empire at that time," Kamlah says. "The paintings could have been created by Egyptian artists. In any case, they testify to an early form of cultural exchange and knowledge transfer in the Eastern Mediterranean."

Schematic detail: Hunting scene with dogs driving a herd of gazelle before them – Credit : Universität Tübingen, Tübingen
Schematic detail: Procession scene with striding men – Credit : Universität Tübingen, Tübingen

Complex architecture and static problems

The palace walls are partly preserved to their original height of about 3.5 meters. "This is particularly remarkable because they are made of air-dried clay bricks that are around 4,000 years old," Kamlah explains. This complete preservation was a stroke of luck and only possible because the room was completely filled with sand, gravel and clay from floor to ceiling around 1800 B.C.E.

The doors were blocked up with clay bricks. "The palace stood on a 17-meter-high artificial mound directly on the beach. The wing on the sea side was originally located on a lower terrace than the other rooms. We assume that this led to static problems. The walls on the lower level, which included the room with the murals, were deformed by the pressure of the higher terrace. The lower rooms were filled in to stabilize," Kamlah says. As a result, the paintings were extensively preserved, but are very fragile. "They had to be uncovered by specially trained experts – in small sections and very carefully.

Gradually, the researchers were able to see the big picture: a geometric frieze divides the long side of the room into an upper and a lower register. It is made of diamonds and is framed by two bands of alternating colors. In the upper register, a hunting scene is visible in which two hunting dogs drive a herd of gazelles towards a hunter who has already shot one of the animals. In the lower register, three striding men and other people are visible in a procession scene. A third scene is arranged three-dimensionally in a corner of a room with a rising floor. The painting shows a tree on a hill in which a blue animal has placed its front hooves and eats. The animal's head is not preserved.

The painting also covers parts of the floor, and in the corner of the room the tree's branches stretch out on both walls. "The motif corresponds to Ancient Near Eastern representations of the "tree of life," which represents the fertility of the divinely created order," Kamlah explains. All three motifs correspond to Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian iconography, which idealized kings, rulers and members of the elite.

The almost 4,000-year-old wall paintings testify to an era of artistic richness in the south of present-day Lebanon in the Middle Bronze Age (approx. 2000-1550 B.C.E.). "Until now, very little was known about the people of that time. The German-Lebanese excavations show that there must have been an economically and culturally flourishing city-kingdom in Sidon. Since we have found no signs of major upheavals in the population, we can assume that these people were ancestors of the Phoenicians who later inhabited the area," Kamlah concludes.

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen

Header Image – Floor paintings with botanical motif – Credit : Universität Tübingen, Tübingen

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Pests swarm pyramid: Grasshopper Invasion of Las Vegas May Last Weeks, Experts Say - The New York Times

Grasshopper Invasion of Las Vegas May Last Weeks, Experts Say

An unusually wet year is responsible for the biblical-seeming swarm of pallid-winged grasshoppers, according to entomologists.

A swarm of winged insects enveloped a pyramid: Sound familiar?

An invasion of pallid-winged grasshoppers descended on Las Vegas this past week, taking over the Strip and several of the city's most popular tourist spots, including the night skies above the Luxor hotel and casino.

The resort, a 30-story pyramid inspired by ancient Egypt, says that its Sky Beam, a powerful column of light issuing nightly from the peak of the pyramid, can be seen by airline pilots as far away as Los Angeles.

But the beam has also become a magnet for grasshoppers, which experts say could linger in Las Vegas for weeks.

Jeff Lockwood, a professor of natural sciences and humanities at the University of Wyoming who has written extensively about grasshoppers, said the infestation was not a cause for alarm.

"We can probably blame the Book of Exodus," he said. "I think that kind of planted a seed in Western culture and Western mindset of these outbreaks sort of being dark and dangerous."

Although some locusts are part of the grasshopper family, experts have reassuring news for the apocalyptically minded, who may be inclined to see parallels with the biblical plagues: These grasshoppers are not locusts.

An unusually wet year so far in Las Vegas, which has already exceeded its annual rainfall average of about four inches, is responsible for the arrival of the grasshoppers, said Jeff Knight, an entomologist with the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

The insects migrated from southern Nevada and possibly from as far as Arizona, according to Mr. Knight, who said they were not considered a problem species.

"They don't bite," he said. "They don't sting. People don't like them. That's understandable."

Grasshoppers are drawn to ultraviolet light, he added.

"What we would consider the white lights are the ones we would consider more attractive to them," Mr. Knight said, mentioning as an example the use of yellow light bulbs on porches.

May Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the Luxor Sky Beam was well known for drawing insects — almost always "a dense column of moths."

MGM Resorts International, which owns the Luxor, declined to comment.

Nancy Ryan, a comic who hosts the X Burlesque show at the Flamingo hotel on the Strip, posted a video taken by her husband, a comedian who performs as John Bizarre, early Friday morning of a swarm outside the resort.

"I think most locals are taking it in stride because this occurs every few years," she said. "Since there's more than usual, I think the dramatic videos are causing a bit of hysteria."

But the current sensation pales in comparison to the reaction in medieval Europe, where, scholars said, the grasshoppers' relatives — the locusts — were put on trial in ecclesiastical courts. The insects even had lawyers assigned to defend them.

"You're assuming the locusts are the work of the devil," said Mr. Lockwood, who wrote an opera with two of his University of Wyoming colleagues called "Locust: The Opera."

Grasshoppers get short shrift compared with other insects, scholars said. While crickets are full of symbolism and are often considered good luck, particularly in Asia, grasshoppers don't often evoke the same positive associations, according to Dr. Berenbaum.

Crickets "get the good press," she said. "Grasshoppers, not so much."

"Grasshoppers don't even come out well in the Aesop story," she added, referring to a fable — attributed to the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop — about members of an ant colony shrugging at a starving grasshopper who had failed to store food for the fall and winter.

Dr. Berenbaum said that "grasshoppers have been used in heraldic shields, family crests and the like, but usually because it's a pun on the name."

Mr. Knight said that in his 40 years as an entomologist, he had seen more significant outbreaks.

"We measure grasshoppers per square yard," he said. "It's really hard to quantify how many. It's kind of a unique thing that happens. We have outbreaks of insects periodically. I guess you'd call it an outbreak."

As the desert gets drier during the summer, the grasshoppers migrate to find food, Mr. Lockwood said.

"Their food source is getting pretty grim," he said. "By golly, the city of Las Vegas is just filled with patches of green. What might be the magnet is in fact the green plants, as much as the lights at night."

Brittani Sheehan, who lives just outside Las Vegas, reposted a photo on Twitter of a giant swarm of grasshoppers above the Luxor.

A swarm outside the El Cortez Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.CreditJacobslifeinVegas

"The reaction isn't necessarily a fear, more so just an annoyance," Ms. Sheehan said on Twitter. "I'll have 12 grasshoppers leap in my mom's direction whenever she leaves the house."

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said it did not have any information about the potential effect of the infestation on tourism.

Mr. Knight advised against spraying pesticides to kill the grasshoppers.

"You can get rid of them, but in 24 or 48 hours they're just going to be back," he said.

The pallid-winged grasshopper typically feeds on broad-leafed weeds, according to Mr. Knight, who said other insects, birds, lizards, foxes and coyotes can prey on grasshoppers.

Dr. Berenbaum said she was amused by all the buzz over grasshoppers.

"This is not going to be a plague of biblical proportions," she said. "It's always interesting to me when insects reclaim what was theirs."

Neil Vigdor is a breaking news reporter on the Express Desk. He previously covered Connecticut politics for the Hartford Courant. @gettinviggy Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 21 of the New York edition with the headline: Grasshopper Invasion of Las Vegas May Last Weeks. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
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Museum of Royal Vehicles to launch in September - Egypt Today
FILE - Royal Vehicles Museum FILE - Royal Vehicles Museum

Museum of Royal Vehicles to launch in September

Mon, Jul. 29, 2019

CAIRO - 29 July 2019: Head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities Waed Abul Ela stated that the development process of the Royal Vehicle Museum is underway, and that the museum is set to be launched in Sept. 2019.

Abul Ela further stated that the sector is almost finished with the electro-mechanic works.

The Royal Vehicles Museum is one of the most significant Egyptian museums. It includes a number of royal vehicles belonging to Mohammed Ali's family. Khedive Ismail was the first to think about constructing a building that included khedive vehicles and horses.

The Royal Vehicles Museum, located on July 26 Street, features a group of rare Khedive royal vehicles, which were used by the Alawite family in occasions such as concerts or weddings. It also contains all car and horse accessories used in that era.
The Royal Vehicle Museum contains a large courtyard that was designed to prepare the vehicles for the Khedive and the royal family. The building also features a facade of an outstanding architecture, as well as geometric patterns and models of horse heads.

The Royal Vehicle Museum was home to nearly 78 royal cars of exceptional historical value. Some of the vehicles were gifts from European countries to former rulers from the era of Khedive Ismail until the era of King Farouk, amounting to 22 cars in total.

Among the important cars displayed in the museum are the car given by Napoleon III and Queen Eugenie to Khedive Ismail at the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which Khedive Ismail later used in his wedding, and the car used by the queen during the opening of the Parliament.

The museum does not only house historical vehicles, it also houses two wooden displays, which include clothes that were used in special ceremonies, in addition to a rare collection of engineering drawings.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Northern Cal. Egyptology Lecture 8/11: Unlocking the Sequence of Construction & Decoration in Theban Tomb 110

The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a lecture by Dr. J.J. Shirley, University of Pennsylvania:

One Tomb, Two Kings:
Unlocking the Sequence of Construction & Decoration in Theban Tomb 110

Sunday,  August 11, 3 pm
Room 20 Barrows Hall
UC Berkeley Campus

(Near the intersection
of Bancroft Way
and Barrow Lane)

hoto courtesy of J.J. Shirley, showing her inside TT110.

About Theban Tomb 110:

From the TT110 project website (

"Theban Tomb (TT) 110, located along the north eastern end of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, on Luxor's West Bank, has recently been the focus of work undertaken as part of ARCE Luxor's larger APS program of work. From 2012-2016, ARCE's conservation field school project within the tomb has consolidated the tomb walls and cleaned its pillared and transverse halls. Since 2013, ARCE's archaeology project has carefully excavated the original courtyard, pillared hall, burial shafts, and portions of the chambers attached to one of these shafts. In conjunction with the excavation of the tomb undertaken by ARCE, particular groups of objects have been recorded and begun to be studied by the ARCE archaeologists. These projects are the first step in being able to study and publish this fascinating tomb of the mid-18th Dynasty.   ...

"Although TT110 was partially published by Norman de Garis Davies in 1932, the project now being carried out allows us to more fully study the tomb's decoration and texts, enabling us to clarify the career and family history of the tomb's owner, Djhuty, and place him, and the tomb, in their socio-historical context. This is particularly important because Djhuty was a royal butler, royal herald, and offerer of Amun at Karnak during the reigns of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. His status as an important court and religious official is exemplified by the depiction of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in this tomb, an unusual feature as generally only one of these kings was depicted. As part of both the Amun administrative elite and the court/civil elite, Djhuty straddled two areas of government whose members played significant roles in Hatshepsut's rise to king and the later transition to Thutmose III's sole reign. Thus, a complete investigation of the tomb owner through his excavated and conserved tomb, in conjunction with his other monuments, presents an opportunity to further elucidate a controversial and poorly understood period of ancient Egyptian history."

About the Speaker:

Dr. JJ Shirley received her PhD from The Johns Hopkins University, and has taught Egyptian Art, Archaeology and Language at the University of Michigan, University of Wales, Swansea, and as a Visiting Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University; she is currently a Visiting Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2007 she has been the Managing Editor for the Journal of Egyptian History, published by Brill, and in 2019 joined JARCE as its Book Review Editor. In 2011 she became the VP of the ARCE-PA Chapter, and in 2012 she became the ARCE National Chapters Council President. In addition, she has served as the US Representative to the IAE since 2015. Dr. Shirley has authored several articles, most recently a contribution on Second Intermediate Period and 18th Dynasty administration for the book Ancient Egyptian Administration (HdO 104), and an article on the officials who served under Hatshepsut and Thutmose III for the Theban Workshop publication Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut (SAOC 69). She has participated in several archaeological projects in Egypt and Syria, and in 2014 began a new project to document and record the tomb scenes and inscriptions in Theban Tomb 110. TT110  belonged to the royal butler and royal herald Djhuty, who served both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. The TT110 Epigraphy, Drawing, and Research Field School is the outgrowth of that project, and trains Egyptian Inspectors from the Ministry of Antiquities in specific archaeological techniques and methodology.

Parking is available in UC lots after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends for a fee. Ticket dispensing machines accept either $5 bills or $1 bills, and debit or credit cards. The Underhill lot can be entered from Channing way off College Avenue. Parking is also available in lots along Bancroft, and on the circle drive in front of the Valley Life Sciences building.

A map of the campus is available online at
For more information about Egyptology events, go to or

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