The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a virtual lecture by Nicholas Brown, UCLA:
When: Sunday, January 10, 2021, 3 PM Pacific Time
The Beautiful One Returns:
Nefertiti and the Altered Identities of an Icon
Zoom Lecture. A registration link has been automatically sent to ARCE-NC members. Non-members may request a registration link by sending email with your name and email address to arcencZoom@gmail.com. Attendance is limited, so non-members, please send any registration requests no later than January 8.
Search This Blog
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
2020 yearender: Egypt's Archaeological extravaganza
It's been a busy year for archaeologists. Several discoveries made international headlines and major museums and sites were inaugurated in an effort to revivify tourism, the hardest-hit sector due to coronavirus
DISCOVERIES GALORE: One of the most-compelling discoveries is the Saqqara Coffins Cachette where a collection of more than 100 colourful, intact and sealed coffins was unearthed in the Saqqara Necropolis in November this year.
This find was so monumental that it has been named one of the Top 10 Most Important Discoveries of 2020 by the prestigious US Archaeology magazine. A collection of 40 wooden statues of Saqqara goddess Ptah Soker, some of which have gilded faces, along with four golden funerary masks and two beautifully carved wooden statues of a top officials, were also unearthed.
X-ray tests made on one of the mummies revealed that it belonged to a healthy man aged 45.
At the Al-Ghoreifa area of the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya governorate, Egyptian archaeologists uncovered several Late Period communal tombs of high priests of the god Djehuty and senior officials in the 15th nome of Upper Egypt and its capital Ashmunin.
Among the tombs uncovered were 16 tombs filled with about 20 sarcophagi and coffins of various shapes and sizes, including five anthropoid sarcophagi made of limestone and engraved with hieroglyphic texts and five wooden coffins in good condition, some of which were decorated with the names and titles of their owners.
More than 10,000 ushabti figurines made of blue and green faience, most of which are engraved with the titles of the deceased, were also found. More than 700 amulets of various shapes, sizes and materials, including heart scarabs, amulets of the gods, and amulets made of pure gold such an amulet in the shape of a winged cobra were found.
Many pottery vessels of different shapes and sizes used for funerary and religious purposes were also unearthed, along with tools for cutting stones and moving coffins such as wooden hammers and baskets made of palm fronds. The discovery included eight groups of painted canopic jars made of limestone with inscriptions showing the titles of its owner who took the title of the "singer of the god Thoth".
Two groups consisting of four canopic jars made of alabaster for a woman and a man were also unearthed, along with a group of stone images without any inscriptions representing the four sons of Horus. One of the discovered stone sarcophagi belonged to the son of Psamtik, who took the title of the "head of the royal treasury".
INAUGURATIONS: There were many openings this year, among the most important being the Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis, inaugurated by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi with a view to developing it into a museum relating the history of Heliopolis.
The exhibition includes a collection of photographs, archival documents, maps, drawings and letters in relation to the history of the Heliopolis suburb, including Matariya. The awe-inspiring palace with its burnt sienna colour and distinguished Indian architectural style is as magnificent as it has always been and illustrates something of the creation of this elegant Cairo suburb.
The restoration work on the mansion, originally built in 1911, was carried out in collaboration with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority and the Arab Contractors Company with a budget of more than LE100 million. It was based on the original plans of the palace's French architect Alexander Marcel, and the team succeeded in solving even unexpected problems.
The Sharm El-Sheikh, Kafr Al-Sheikh and Royal Carriages museums in Cairo were also inaugurated by President Al-Sisi this year after renovation. Their opening on the same day was an exceptional event in the history of antiquities in Egypt, and the work was budgeted for a cumulative total of almost LE1 billion.
The Sharm El-Sheikh Museum is the first antiquities museum to be built in Sinai. The idea of building a museum on the peninsula started in 1999, and actual construction work began in 2003, though it stopped in 2011 in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution.
Work resumed in early 2018 and was completed this year with a budget of LE812 million. The museum puts on display around 5,200 artefacts, ranging from the pre-historic period to modern times, as well as showing the rich urban and tribal culture of Sinai inhabitants. It is a cultural hub for all civilisations and a new tourist attraction in this coastal city that now combines cultural with leisure tourism.
The Kafr Al-Sheikh Museum displays a collection of distinguished artefacts showing the diversity of Egyptian civilisations through different ages. The idea of building a museum in Kafr Al-Sheikh started as early as 1992 when the governorate allocated a plot of land to host it. Work started in 2003, but stopped in 2011, and then resumed in 2018 with a budget of LE62 million.
The new museum is located in the Sanaa Gardens next to Kafr Al-Sheikh University and reflects the role that the city played in different periods, focusing on its position as a capital of Egypt during the ancient period.
The Royal Carriages Museum, located on 26 July Street in Boulaq in Cairo, was inaugurated after years of closure for restoration and development with a budget of LE63 million. Its distinguished early 20th-century architecture and its beautiful entrance now add elegance to this crowded area of Cairo, with the museum reopening its doors to enable visitors to admire the exquisite royal carriages of members of the former ruling Mohamed Ali family.
Restoration work on the museum was started in 2001, but was halted in 2011 and only resumed in 2017. The museum building, in poor condition, has been rehabilitated, the walls and foundations consolidated, and facades and decorative elements restored. New lighting and security systems have been installed.
Meanwhile, the Hurghada Museum, Egypt's first to be established in partnership with the private sector, was inaugurated this year by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli. It is a way of linking maritime and cultural tourism, and the government did not shoulder any financial burdens in the construction of the museum, which cost LE185 million, as these were met by the partner company.
This provided the requirements the ministry requested, such as showcases, the security and lighting systems, and the design of the museum's halls. Revenues will be equally divided between the ministry and the company, and the museum has state-of-the-art security system equipped with surveillance cameras and alarms.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities will be the sole authority responsible for the management and security of the Hurghada Museum collection, as well as anything related to antiquities, such as exhibition halls, and the maintenance and restoration labs.
SYNAGOGUE, MOSQUE, AND PYRAMID: In Alexandria, the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue was inaugurated this year after massive renovation work that had been carried out under a cooperation protocol signed between the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry and the Armed Forces Engineering Authority in 2017.
The restoration of the synagogue delivers to the whole world a message of tolerance and acceptance of others. It reflects the Egyptian government's keenness to restore Egypt's monuments and archaeological sites, including Jewish, Coptic and Islamic sites, which represent the country's heritage.
Abdine's Al-Fath Royal Mosque in Cairo was also inaugurated after restoration. It had been closed for restoration for more than two years, as it had been suffering from deterioration. Walls were reinforced, cracks repaired, wooden and marble elements cleaned and refurbished, and the pulpit and mihrab repaired.
New sound, lighting and security systems were installed along with surveillance cameras and burglar alarms. The mosque overlooks the gardens of the Abdine Palace, and it was formerly known as the Abdine Mosque after its founder Abdine Bek, the Amir Al-Liwaa Al-Sultani (commander of the sultan's bodyguard) who founded it in 1729.
The mosque was restored by order of former king Fouad in 1918 and inaugurated in 1920.
After 14 years of restoration, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara outside Cairo, the first stone building in history and the oldest pyramid in the world and consisting of six stacked terraces to a height of around 63 metres was inaugurated by Madbouli this year.
The Step Pyramid is the highlight of the Saqqara monuments. It is the oldest monumental stone building in history and Egypt's oldest pyramid. It was commissioned by Djoser (c 2667-2648 BCE). The architect was Imhotep, and he designed a layout in which the Step Pyramid was at the centre of a larger funerary complex.
The dimensions of the base are 121x109m. The pyramid has two entrances, one on its northern side, which is the original entrance, and another on the southern, which dates back to the 26th Dynasty. The complex also includes a colonnade entrance, the South Tomb, the Sed Festival Court, the Pavilions of the North and South, and a funerary temple to the north.
SAFE TRAVEL: The pandemic took its toll on the majority of industries and sectors. Hospitality, aviation, and travel opportunities for antiquities, leisure, beach, and sports tourism were all hit hard.
Egypt's tourism sector, accounting for 12 to 15 per cent of the country's GDP, lost some $1 billion per month as the government in March suspended air traffic, closed hotels, restaurants, and cafés except for delivery services, and imposed a night-time curfew in order to halt the spread of the pandemic.
Although the tourism industry in Egypt was celebrating for the first three months of the year a record year as the number of tourists reached around two million, with the Covid-19 pandemic tourism was decimated, and the number of tourists after the resumption of inbound tourism starting in July reached around only one million from some 20 countries.
To support the industry and reduce the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector and help in its recovery and the safe resumption of inbound tourism, the government issued hygiene safety regulations for all airports, hotels, restaurants, cafés, archaeological sites, and museums in Egypt.
It set a timeline for the resumption of tourism in light of the regulations. This was preceded by the complete disinfection of all hospitality establishments and archaeological museums and sites, and awareness programmes for employees and workers in the tourism sector.
Hotels and resorts that had obtained the hygiene safety certificate were gradually reopened to receive domestic tourism, with maximum occupancy rates of 25 per cent. This was then increased to 50 per cent. Restaurants that had obtained the certificate also started to reopen gradually, with maximum occupancy rates of 25 per cent and then 50 per cent, allowing them to receive guests until 10 pm and then until midnight.
In July, Egypt started to receive inbound tourism at certified hotels and resorts located in the coastal governorates of the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Marsa Matrouh, with maximum occupancy rates of 50 per cent. The three governorates had excellent epidemiological results, in addition to having well-equipped private and public hospitals.
Tourists flocking to these governorates were thus able to safely enjoy their vacations and return to their homelands without a single infection from Covid-19.
Egypt restarted cultural tourism in September after the reopening of archaeological sites and museums. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) granted Egypt its specially designed Safe Travel Stamp, which allowed travellers and other travel and tourism stakeholders to recognise destination authorities and companies around the world that have implemented health and hygiene protocols aligned with the WTTC's Safe Travels Protocols.
All travellers arriving in Egypt were required to submit a recent negative PCR test certificate for Covid-19 done in the source country within a maximum of 72 hours prior to the time of departure of their direct flight to Egypt.
Those coming from Japan, China, Thailand, North and South America, Canada, and the London Heathrow, Paris, and Frankfurt airports were allowed to submit the certificate within a maximum of 96 hours prior to the time of departure of their flight to Egypt.
To facilitate the procedures, Egypt offered travellers arriving at the Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada and Marsa Alam airports the possibility of doing the PCR test upon arrival at a cost of $30 or the equivalent in other currencies.
To encourage inbound tourism, incentives were granted to airports in tourist governorates until April 2021, including on aviation fuel prices with a 10 per cent per gallon discount, 50 per cent discounts on landing and housing fees, and a 20 per cent discount on ground-handling fees.
Tourists arriving directly in Aswan, Luxor, Matrouh, Sinai South, and the Sea Red were exempted from visa fees until April 2021.
SUPPORT FOR TOURISM: The cabinet issued decrees to support the tourism industry, such as postponing the payment of all debts owed by tourist companies and hotels for periods before the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Payments will begin from January 2021 as a result for electricity, water and gas consumption, and there has been an extension of the deadlines for tax returns for three months. Payments of income or value-added taxes have been deferred for a period of six months, as have social insurance contributions including the share of workers and tourist establishments.
Twenty-seven further nationalities, in addition to the 46 already allowed, can obtain visas at arrival ports in Egypt, provided that they have the guarantee of a tourist agent. Tourists who earlier obtained Egyptian entry visas and are citizens of the US, UK, or the Schengen countries have had their visas extended.
A reduction of $10 on the price of visas for tourists arriving at Luxor or Aswan airports has been available to encourage inbound tourism in Upper Egypt during the summer months of June, July, and August.
The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry has invested in technology during the pandemic and launched virtual tours of the country's archaeological sites and museums on its social-media platforms so that people can view the country's ancient heritage from home.
Under the slogan "Experience Egypt from home. Stay home. Stay safe," the initiative is part of the ministry's efforts to enable people worldwide to explore and enjoy ancient Egyptian civilisation during the coronavirus outbreak.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly
Monday, December 28, 2020
On 12/27/20 8:06 AM, Chuck Jones wrote:
Open Access Journal: The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture [First posted in AWOL 20 December 2016, updated 27 December 2020]
The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture
The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture is a scientific, open access and annual periodical. Its purpose is to promote the publication of research devoted to Ancient Egyptian architecture (domestic, civil, military, ritual/religious and funerary), from the Predynastic Period to the Roman imperial era, whatever the modern geographical context (Egypt, Sudan, Near East, etc). The subject scope includes everything relating to construction, regardless of its original importance or purpose.
The journal publishes fieldwork reports and studies undertaken in the Egyptological tradition, including discussions of epigraphy and iconography, but also work that utilizes specific skills such as structural and materials sciences, or modern investigative techniques. In this way, JAEA seeks to encourage the development of detailed technical descriptions, and deeply theorized understanding (of architectural symbolism, propaganda, climatic and geological influences, etc.). This interdisciplinary approach will help connect adjacent areas of expertise which, alone, could not reflect the richness and complexity of the Ancient Egyptian built heritage.
The periodical welcomes any study that meets any one of these goals, only on the condition that the formatting and content of articles are subject to JAEA scientific publication requirements.
Click on the abstracts below to read or download the PDF of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture articles.
Download the full volume
A new survey of the upper chambers of Snefru's pyramids at Dahshur (p. 1)
This article presents a new survey of the corbelled chambers within Snefru's Bent and Red pyramids at Dahshur, based on photogrammetry work carried out by French company Iconem in 2018. As a consultant to the project, the author was involved in the research design and gave the company guidance on where to focus their efforts to optimize data acquisition and survey effectiveness. Once the data was processed, an analysis of the architecture was carried out and is reported here for the first time. The site survey history including pre-existing reports for the spaces of interest are first reviewed. The 3-dimensional digital models of the interior spaces are then analyzed. High-quality photogrammetry images from the project are presented here, along with new diagrams and a new description of the formation history of the funerary chambers.
Published 21 December 2019 3774 Views 539 Downloads
An animal embalming complex at Saqqara (p. 19)
This paper is a new examination of the original find context of the Saqqara lion tables (CG 1321–2) in 'Gallery C', an underground structure in the Step Pyramid complex. The substructure may date to the 1st millennium BCE, and this structure was likely part of an embalming complex for the Apis or other sacred animals. The adjacent Western Galleries were probably re-used during this period as an animal necropolis.
Published 26 January 2020 2696 Views 208 Downloads
Moving heaven and earth for Khufu: Were the Trial Passages at Giza components of a rudimentary stellar observatory? (p. 29)
David I. Lightbody
This article describes a digital archaeological experiment to test a new hypothesis that explains the purpose and unusual form of the so-called Trial Passages at Giza. The enigmatic connected passages are carved into the bedrock on the east side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu and have been interpreted in various ways over the decades since they were first cleared. Based on a new analysis of their design, it is proposed here that they could serve very well as a place from which to observe the northern stars. Prolonged and accurate measurement of the stars of the circumpolar region of the northern sky could have been made from inside the main inclined passage, which rises from south to north. Accurate location of the Northern Celestial Pole (NCP) during these observations could have facilitated the accurate cardinal alignment of sides of the Great Pyramid. Other details of the architecture support this interpretation, and are set out here for consideration.
Published 28 February 2020 3015 Views 406 Downloads
La scène de traction du colosse de Djéhoutyhotep. Description, traduction et reconstitution (p. 55)
This article reports a project by the author to analyze the well-known scene showing the transportation of the colossus statue of Djehutyhotep displayed in his tomb at Dayr al-Barshā. As part of the analysis, the author created a full-color reconstruction of the original scene, and carried out a full review of the most up-to-date scholarship available on the subject matter. Finally, the article provides a full translation of the hieroglyphic texts accompanying the scene and interpretation regarding the transportation technique they describe.
Published 25 March 2020 2156 Views 429 Downloads
L'extraction des blocs en calcaire à l'Ancien Empire. Une expérimentation au ouadi el-Jarf (p. 73)
Franck Burgos, Emmanuel Laroze
This article addresses the techniques used for the extraction of limestone blocks from quarries during the Old Kingdom. The study draws on the latest research conducted at the Wadi al-Jarf harbor complex, located on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez. Approximately one hundred extracted blocks have been discovered there in an unfinished state, along with tools such as ropes, wooden hammers, and pieces of copper chisels. The items found in and around the quarry have led to a better understanding of the methods used by the ancient stonecutters, to produce large-sized blocks. To study the processes in more detail, an experiment was carried out to extract a one cubic meter stone using replicas of the ancient tools found at the site, and to test new hypothetical reconstructions of the steps followed in the process. The information collected and the experience gained has yielded new understanding of the organization of labor and has resulted in cutting performance rates being estimated for the first time. Information about the use of water to soften the stone during cutting of extraction trenches has also been brought to light.
Published 25 April 2020 2521 Views 456 Downloads
The accurate construction of the right angles of the Great Pyramid's ground plan (p. 97)
Ancient Egyptian surveyors constructed 90-degree angles at the corners of the Great Pyramid to an accuracy of one part in ten-thousand. This paper proposes that the surveyors achieved this reliably by using an approximation technique and measuring rods and extending the resulting perpendicular lines along the pyramid's sides. Computations based on realistic and testable assumptions yield results that are persuasively close to those observed archaeologically. Using a 20 by 30 m base/side isosceles survey triangle to construct the perpendiculars at the right-angled corners produces a resultant angular deviation of 35.6 arc seconds, compared to the measured average of 37 arc seconds. Similarly, the calculated difference in the length of the sides is 3.93 cm compared to the measured differences in the lengths between the northern and western sides of 4.4 cm and between the northern and the eastern sides of 4.1 cm. Further discoveries at the pyramid's base dating to the appropriate era and found in the appropriate locations also support the historical use of the method. Additional considerations show how sophisticated geometrical intuition was developed during the 4th dynasty and that it was fundamental to the construction of highly symmetrical pyramids.
Published 9 December 2020 520 Views 83 Downloads
See AWOL's full List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies
Object Biography # 27: A ‘stick shabti’ of Teti-sa-intef (Acc. no. 6038) | Egypt at the Manchester Museum
On 12/17/20 9:07 AM, Campbell@Manchester wrote:
Object Biography # 27: A 'stick shabti' of Teti-sa-intef (Acc. no. 6038)
Although among the rather less prepossessing artefacts in the Manchester collection, this crudely carved wooden figurine holds significant interest. Often called a 'stick shabti', the figurine may in fact not really be a shabti – in the conventional Egyptological sense of a 'servant' – at all.
Often described as 'mummiform' in shape, several examples of similar crude wooden figurines have been found in small wooden coffins and/or wrapped in linen. They apparently all date to the laste Second Intermediate Period and early New Kingdom. A recent find by an Egyptian-Spanish team at Dra Abu el-Naga consisted of several such figurines wrapped in linen, some within a small wooden coffin. These were uncovered underneath the outer courtyard of the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11, reign of Hatshepsut) and appear to have been left there by a donor some time after the funeral – perhaps on the occasion of the 'Beautiful Festival of the Valley', when friends and family of the deceased would visit the tomb chapel.
Indeed, unlike most shabtis, which were buried close to the deceased in the inaccessible parts of the tomb, stick shabtis are mainly recorded as being found buried in the outer, open areas of tomb chapels – often in significant numbers. Texts are usually inked onto the wood but rather than the standard 'shabti spell' (Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead) these consist of names, titles and perhaps an offering formula, suggesting a different function to most shabtis.
The fact that these figurines are 'crude' to our eyes need not imply they were created or dedicated by less well-off people – several seems to have been commissioned by wealthy and important members of society. The choice of wood may represent a deliberate means of employing reworked detritus from coffin manufacture, imbued with a special power and connection to the deceased. There is also an intriguing suggestion that the use of the figurines in contexts such as the 'Beautiful Festival of the Valley' influenced the later perception recorded in Herodotus and Plutarch that a figure of the mummy was sometimes exhibited at Egyptian feasts.
This example is dedicated to (rather than by) a man called Teti-sa-Intef (meaning 'Teti son of Intef', Intef being a name of some significance at Dra Abu el Naga from the Middle Kingdom onwards). Several other figurines are known donated in honour of this individual, known to come from the tomb of the mayor of Thebes Tetiky (TT 15) from the very beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty and excavated by a team working for Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1908. The Manchester example, although its precise find spot is not recorded, probably derived from the same area.
Fwd: AIA-Stanford Society - Sunday public lecture! (Salima Ikram lecture; digital archaeology panel)