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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Egyptian tourism ministry denies Tutanakhamun mask removed from vitrine for photography - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egyptian tourism ministry denies Tutanakhamun mask removed from vitrine for photography

An official affirmed that the showcase of the young king's mask has never been opened since it underwent restoration in 2015

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Feb 2021
The golden funerary mask of King Tutankhamun is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
The Egyptian tourism ministry denied on Friday social media allegations that the iconic gold funerary mask of the boy-king Tutanakhamun had been allowed - outside of its showcase - to be photographed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Several artifacts of the Tutanakhamun collection have been transferred from Upper Egypt's Luxor to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to be inaugurated this year in Giza.

The chosen pieces underwent restoration.

The mask is also among those pieces that are to be moved to the new museum, that is one of the largest worldwide, shortly before it is opened.

Director General of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Al-Tahrir square Sabah Abdel-Razek affirmed that the showcase of the young king's mask has never been opened since it underwent restoration in 2015.

Abdel-Razek said the ministry has denied a large number of requests from professional photographers and foreign media to take photos of the mask outside of the showcase in exchange for large sums of money.

She affirmed that this kind of request is rejected in order to keep such unique and prominent pieces preserved.

The 3,300-year-old burial pharaonic mask was discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb along with other artifacts by British archaeologists in 1922, sparking worldwide interest in archaeology and ancient Egypt.

It was restored after the beard of the mask became detached during work on the relic's lighting in August 2014 and then was hastily re-attached with epoxy.

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Are the Egyptian pyramids aligned with the stars? |

Are the Egyptian pyramids aligned with the stars?

The ancient Egyptians watched Earth's night sky closely and named constellations after their gods. But did the builders of the pyramids really make these monuments with the stars in mind?
Giza pyramids
Some researchers suggest the Giza pyramids were built in alignment with the stars. But that idea has been met with criticism.
Wikimedia Commons
Do the Egyptian pyramids line up with the stars? 

This idea gets tossed around so often that many ancient Egypt fans simply accept it as true. And on the surface, it seems plausible. The ancient Egyptians tracked the night sky closely. They studied the constellations and used the motion of the stars to make decisions about when to plant crops and when to harvest. But there's been a long debate over whether the pyramids themselves are actually aligned with any particular set of stars. 

Over the decades, researchers have proposed a handful of possible celestial alignments for the pyramids, especially with the Giza Pyramid Complex. This famous site outside Cairo includes the Great Sphinx and three main pyramids: the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

But the pyramids were built in the decades around 2500 B.C., during a period called the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. So, any celestial alignment they have with the night sky would have to match what the heavens looked like some 4,500 years ago. 

Egyptian pyramids: A gateway to the stars?

Theories about the pyramids' connection to the stars go back a long way. But in the 1980s, a researcher named Robert Bauval came up with a suggestion that has since buried itself in the minds of the public. He pointed out that there are similarities between the layout of the three pyramids of the Giza Complex and the relative separation between the three stars of Orion's Belt in the constellation Orion. 

The idea went mainstream in Bauval's 1995 New York Times bestseller, The Orion Mystery, which expanded on the notion that "the pyramids were created to serve as a gateway to the stars." Bauval claimed that the constellation Orion governed the construction of all the pyramids. His idea came to be known as the "Orion correlation theory." 

Today, it's considered a fringe idea in archaeology. Why? There's no physical evidence to prove an intentional correlation. Plus, there's nothing in Egpytian texts indicating the pyramids were intentionally designed that way. 

Critics instead say that believers are succumbing to pareidolia — the human tendency to see shapes, patterns, and meaning in objects, even when no pattern exists. For example, seeing the face of the famous Man in the Moon.

The three pyramids weren't all planned at once, either. The Pyramid of Menkaure, which is much smaller and sits a little farther away, seems to have been an afterthought, according to leading researchers. So, it's a reasonable to think the distances between the monuments had no connection to the spacing between of the three stars of Orion's Belt. Or, at least, no intentional connection to the stars. 

Besides the lack of proof, the Orion Correlation Theory typically draws rolled eyes because it's often packaged with other unusual claims. The people who defend the idea most passionately are usually the ones also championing tales of ancient aliens and forgotten technologically advanced cultures. 

Pyramid 'star shafts'

star shafts
Since their discovery, scientists have debated whether these interior shafts in the Great Pyramid of Giza are "air shafts," or rather "star shafts" made to align with constellations.
Wikimedia Commons
The Orion Correlation Theory grew from researchers' interpretations of two mysterious, narrow shafts discovered in the Great Pyramid of Giza. These shafts extend from the so-called "King's Chamber" into the pyramid's walls. Some experts have suggested they are air shafts. But it's unclear why the dead would need access to oxygen. Other researchers, however, think these tunnels served as pathways to heaven. 

And in the 1960s, a group of Egyptologists suggested that these were actually star shafts, built to point toward important stars and constellations. Two researchers, Virginia Trimble and Alexander Badawy, found that one of the shafts seems to aim in the general direction of where the north star would've been when the pyramids were constructed. The other shaft, generally, points toward Orion's Belt. These two sections of the sky were also known to be important in ancient Egyptian mythology.

The pole stars, including the north star, were known as "imperishable stars," or "the indestructibles." The Egyptians tied these unflinching stars with their beliefs about the afterlife, and thought their deceased pharaohs would join them there. "I [the king] will cross to that side on which are the Imperishable Stars, that I may be among them," one passage reads. Similarly, Orion was also important to ancient Egyptian culture because its stars represented Sah, the father of the Egyptian gods.

The shafts likely wouldn't have been useful for actually observing these objects, though. They were roughly oriented, with horizontal sections and large stones blocking their exit. But despite a number of attempted shaft explorations, the mystery of their true purpose has persisted for more than half a century. 

Recent exploration of the pyramids

In 2020, researchers from Leeds University in the United Kingdom announced they had developed a small robot in an attempt to settle the shafts' purpose once and for all. The robot successfully navigated through all 200 feet (60 meters) of one shaft, collecting nine hours of video footage along the way. 

But a surprise was waiting for them at the end of the tiny tunnel. The robot was able to get a camera past the intentionally placed stone blocking the shaft, allowing it to discover a small chamber with elaborate symbols drawn on the floor. But beyond that, there was a second stone the robot couldn't get around. 

"Given the artwork, it is likely the shaft served a bigger purpose than act[ing] as an air vent," Rob Richardson, a robotics professor at Leeds University and the project's technical lead, said in the initial announcement of the discovery. "What lies beyond that second stone, at the end of the shaft, is a question that remains unanswered. The mystery of the Great Pyramid continues."

Ultimately, the team cut their project short in Egypt after security concerns grew within the country.

pyramids and the Nile River Valley
This 1938 aerial image shows the pyramids and the Nile River Valley.
Wikimedia Commons/American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

Giza celestial alignments

Beyond the shafts, there are other possible alignments to consider, too. For example, sunset on the winter solstice falls above the Pyramid of Menkaure as seen from the Great Sphinx of Giza. And the corners of the Great Pyramid of Giza also align well with the cardinal directions — north, south, east, and west. Researchers have spent years trying to understand how the builders were able to align the pyramid so precisely, and most accept that the ancient engineers used the motion of the Sun. 

So, it's clear that the pyramids hold celestial significance and that they were built with a mastery of the sky in mind. Those ideas are not at all controversial. The controversy stems from the notion that each of the three pyramids were specifically positioned and oriented to represent Orion's Belt. If you look at Bauval's overlay of the pyramids' placement and the stars of Orion's Belt, you can definitely see the similarities. Yet, the alignment still isn't perfect.

Believers see a connection between the layout of the pyramids at Giza (crossed squares) and stars of Orion (smudgy circles). But critics say the overlap has been distorted.
DavkalWikimedia Commons
It also isn't completely honest. In 1999, astronomers using planetarium equipment exposed some serious liberties taken by proponents of the idea. In order for the pyramids to take the shape of Orion's Belt, you have to invert one or the other. So, the pyramids don't really mirror the celestial alignment in the way that's often presented. What's more, the stars in Orion's Belt have moved since the pyramids were constructed, so their relative positions would've been different back then.

Evidence of 'lost' ancient civilizations?

Furthermore, the theory for a stellar connection with the pyramids veers toward the weird when supporters argue the pyramids still would have lined up with Orion around 10,000 B.C. The problem there is that 10,000 B.C. is several thousand years before Egyptian culture even existed. 

Humanity's oldest known structure that did align with the stars is Nabta Playa, a small stone circle that sits in far southern Egypt and was built by an older nomadic culture. Still, Nabta Playa is just 7,000 years old. There's also the much smaller structure called Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, which was built some 6,500 years before the pyramids, or roughly 12,000 years ago. But researchers have yet to find any surefire evidence of celestial alignments there. 

In addition to most archaeologists already concluding the Orion Correlation Theory is a fringe idea, astronomers have also used computers to determine the past positions of many stars. This made it easy for them to debunk the idea that the pyramids aligned with Orion's Belt some 10,000 years ago.

Yet, there's still other popular commentators and authors of books on Egypt, like Graham Hancock, that suggest that the pyramids — and other marvels of the ancient world — are actually relics of a forgotten and technologically advanced ancient civilization. They argue that such a civilization existed long before researchers have found any evidence for cultures that complex. The idea has no scientific merit, but that hasn't stopped it from boosting TV show ratings and book sales. 

And meanwhile, on the Giza Plateau, despite generations of researchers searching for answers, the real life case of the pyramids mysterious "star shafts" isn't likely to be solved any time soon.

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Ancient Egyptian Manual Reveals New Details About Mummification - HeritageDaily - Archaeology News

Ancient Egyptian Manual Reveals New Details About Mummification

Image Credit : Ida Christensen, University of Copenhagen

Based on a manual recently discovered in a 3,500-year-old medical papyrus, University of Copenhagen Egyptologist Sofie Schiødt has been able to help reconstruct the embalming process used to prepare ancient Egyptians for the afterlife. It is the oldest surviving manual on mummification yet discovered.

In ancient Egypt, embalming was considered a sacred art, and knowledge of the process was the preserve of very few individuals. Most secrets of the art were probably passed on orally from one embalmer to the other, Egyptologists believe, so written evidence is scarce; until recently, only two texts on mummification had been identified.

Egyptologists were therefore surprised to find a short manual on embalming in a medical text that is primarily concerned with herbal medicine and swellings of the skin. The manual has recently been edited by University of Copenhagen Egyptologist Sofie Schiødt:

– Many descriptions of embalming techniques that we find in this papyrus have been left out of the two later manuals, and the descriptions are extremely detailed. The text reads like a memory aid, so the intended readers must have been specialists who needed to be reminded of these details, such as unguent recipes and uses of various types of bandages. Some of the simpler processes, e.g. the drying of the body with natron, have been omitted from the text, Sofie Schiødt explains. She adds:

– One of the exciting new pieces of information the text provides us with concerns the procedure for embalming the dead person's face. We get a list of ingredients for a remedy consisting largely of plant-based aromatic substances and binders that are cooked into a liquid, with which the embalmers coat a piece of red linen. The red linen is then applied to the dead person's face in order to encase it in a protective cocoon of fragrant and anti-bacterial matter. This process was repeated at four-day intervals.

Although this procedure has not been identified before, Egyptologists have previously examined several mummies from the same period as this manual whose faces were covered in cloth and resin. According to Sofie Schiødt, this would fit well with the red linen procedure described in this manuscript.

The Papyrus Carlsberg Collection, University of Copenhagen

Four was the key number

The importance of the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg manual in reconstructing the embalming process lies in its specification of the process being divided into intervals of four, with the embalmers actively working on the mummy every four days.

– A ritual procession of the mummy marked these days, celebrating the progress of restoring the deceased's corporeal integrity, amounting to 17 processions over the course of the embalming period. In between the four-day intervals, the body was covered with cloth and overlaid with straw infused with aromatics to keep away insects and scavengers, Sofie Schiødt says.

The Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg

The manuscript, which Sofie Schiødt has been working on for her PhD thesis, is the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg – so called because one half of the papyrus belongs to the Louvre Museum in Paris and the other half is part of the University of Copenhagen's Papyrus Carlsberg Collection. The two parts of the papyrus originally belonged to two private collectors, and several sections of it are still missing. Based on the palaeography, that is, the sign forms, the six metre long papyrus is dated to approximately 1450 BC, which means that it predates the only two other examples of embalming texts by more than a thousand years.

The bulk of the papyrus, which is the second-longest medical papyrus surviving from ancient Egypt, deals with herbal medicine and skin illnesses. Specifically, it contains the earliest-known herbal treatise, which provides descriptions of the appearance, habitat, uses, and religious significance of a divine plant and its seed as well as a lengthy treatise on swellings of the skin, which are seen as illnesses sent forth by the lunar god Khonsu.

The embalming process

The embalming, which was performed in a purpose-built workshop erected near the grave, took place over 70 days that were divided into two main periods – a 35-day drying period and a 35-day wrapping period.

During the drying period, the body was treated with dry natron both inside and outside. The natron treatment began on the fourth day of embalming after the purification of the body, the removal of the organs and the brain, and the collapsing of the eyes.

The second 35-day period was dedicated to the encasing of the deceased in bandages and aromatic substances. The embalming of the face described in the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg belonged to this period.

The entire 70-day embalming process was divided into intervals of 4 days, with the mummy being finished on day 68 and then placed in the coffin, after which the final days were spent on ritual activities allowing the deceased to live on in the afterlife.


Header Image Credit : Ida Christensen, University of Copenhagen

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Virtual Interactive Environment of Ancient Tomb of Ramesses VI - HeritageDaily - Archaeology News

Virtual Interactive Environment of Ancient Tomb of Ramesses VI

The tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses VI in the Valley of the Kings has been digitally scanned to create a virtual interactive high-resolution environment.

Ramesses VI Nebmaatre-Meryamun was the fifth ruler of the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt during the late 12th century BC. During his reign, the economy had taken a decline, with Ramesses VI turning to usurping the statues and monuments of his forebears, plastering and carving his cartouches over theirs.

With his death, his body was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings – designated today as KV9. KV9 was originally constructed for use by Pharaoh Ramesses V, but Ramesses VI commanded that KV9 be entirely refurbished for himself.

The tomb's layout is typical of the 20th Dynasty during the Ramesside period, and consists of a long corridor, flanked with images of Ramesses VI before Ra-Harakhti and Osiris, leading to a hall decorated with an astronomical ceiling.

A second corridor continues forward that depicts scenes from the Book of the Imi-Duat, leading down to the burial chamber which is decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead and the Book of Aker.

The interactive environment was commissioned by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and created by VRTEEK, a specialist in 3D reality scanning and VR/AR games.

<span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span>

View Full Screen – Click Here

Header Image Credit : Tim Adams – CC BY 3.0

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Rare “Mud Carapace” Mortuary Treatment of Egyptian Mummy Uncovered – And a Case of Mistaken Identity

Rare "Mud Carapace" Mortuary Treatment of Egyptian Mummy Uncovered – And a Case of Mistaken Identity

Mud Carapace Mortuary Treatment Egyptian Mummy

Mummified individual and coffin in the Nicholson Collection of the Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney. A. Mummified individual, encased in a modern sleeve for conservation, NMR.27.3. B. Coffin lid, NMR.27.1. (Published under a CC BY license, with permission from the Chau Chak Wing Museum, original copyright 2019). Credit: Sowada et al, PLOS ONE CC BY 4.0

And reveals a potential case of mistaken identity: the mummy and associated coffin did not originally belong together!

New analysis of a 20th Dynasty mummified individual reveals her rare mud carapace, according to a study published February 3, 2021 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Karin Sowada from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and colleagues.

Studies of mummified bodies from the late New Kingdom to the 21st Dynasty (c. 1294-945 BC) have occasionally reported a hard resinous shell protecting the body within its wrappings, especially for royal mummies of the period. Here, Sowada and colleagues describe their discovery of a rare painted mud carapace enclosing an adult mummy in Sydney's Chau Chak Wing Museum.

Sir Charles Nicholson bought the mummified body, lidded coffin, and mummy board as a set during a trip to Egypt in 1856-7, donating it to the University of Sydney in 1860. The coffin inscription identifies the owner as a titled woman named Meruah, and the iconography dates it to approximately 1000 BC. Though the mummified individual underwent a full computed tomography (CT) scan in 1999, the authors rescanned the body for the current study using updated technology.

Using this new visualization of the dentition and skeleton, the authors determined the mummified individual was a young middle adult (26-35 years). Though the body scans did not reveal external genitalia, and internal reproductive organs had been removed during the mummification process, osseous secondary sexual characteristics (hip bones, jaw, and cranium) strongly suggest the mummified individual was female.

The current analysis of the mummification technique and radiocarbon dating of textile samples from the linen wrappings place the mummified individual in the late New Kingdom (c. 1200-1113 BC). This means the body is older than the coffin, suggesting local 19th century dealers placed an unrelated body in the coffin to sell as a complete set.

The new scans also revealed the extent and nature of the mud carapace, showing the mud shell fully sheaths the body and is layered within the linen wrappings. Images of the inmost layers indicate the body was damaged relatively shortly after initial mummification, and the mud carapace and additional wrappings applied to reunify and restore the body. In addition to its practical restorative purpose, the authors suggest the mud carapace gave those who cared for the deceased the chance to emulate elite funerary practices of coating the body in an expensive imported resin shell with cheaper, locally available materials.

Though this mud carapace treatment has not been previously documented in the literature, the authors note it's not yet possible to determine how frequent this treatment may have been for non-elite mummies in the late New Kingdom of ancient Egypt — and suggest further radiological studies on other non-royal mummies may reveal more about this practice.

The authors add: "The mud shell encasing the body of a mummified woman within the textile wrappings is a new addition to our understanding of ancient Egyptian mummification."

Reference: "Multidisciplinary discovery of ancient restoration using a rare mud carapace on a mummified individual from late New Kingdom Egypt" by Karin Sowada, Ronika K. Power, Geraldine Jacobsen, Timothy Murphy, Alice McClymont, Fiona Bertuch, Andrew Jenkinson, Jacinta Carruthers and John Magnussen, 3 February 2021, PLoS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245247

Funding: (1) Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Grant # AINGRA07/136P. The competitive grant covered the cost of radiocarbon dating but did not play any role in the study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript (2) Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology. The competitive grant assisted with preparation of the manuscript, but otherwise did not play any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, or decision to publish.

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Virtual Interactive Environment of Ancient Egyptian Temple of Abu Simbel - HeritageDaily - Archaeology News

Virtual Interactive Environment of Ancient Egyptian Temple of Abu Simbel

Image Credit : Public Domain

The Great Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel in Egypt has been digitally scanned to create a virtual interactive high-resolution environment.

The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock-cut temples on the banks of Lake Nasser in Upper Egypt, that date from around 1264 BC during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. There are two temples, the Great Temple, dedicated to Ramesses II himself, and the Small Temple, dedicated to his chief wife Queen Nefertari.

The site was first discovered by Europeans in AD 1813, when Swiss orientalist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt stumbled across the top frieze of the Great Temple. This was later excavated by the Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni in 1817, who cleared the entrance of sand revealing the four colossal, 20 m (66 ft) statues, each representing Ramesses II seated on a throne and wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

With the construction of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser from 1958 and 1970, Abu Simbel was under threat from being submerged. A UNESCO campaign was created as part of an international effort to record and move the monuments to a new location on an artificial hill high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.

The new interactive environment was commissioned by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and created by nav-3d, a specialist in 3D reality scanning who previously published a similar interactive environment of the Wahty Tomb at the Saqqara necropolis.

Explore Abu Simbel Temple - معبد أبو سمبل in 3D

View Full Screen – Click Here

Header Image Credit : Public Domain

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Reminder - Northern California Egyptology Lecture March 14: A Newly Discovered General and His Tomb at Lisht

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 Dr. Gregory Mumford, University of Alabama, Birmingham:

A Newly Discovered General and His Tomb at Lisht

When: Sunday, March 14, 2021, 3 PM Pacific Time

Zoom Lecture. A registration link will be automatically sent to ARCE-NC members. Non-members may request a registration link by sending email with your name and email address to Attendance is limited, so non-members, please send any registration requests no later than March 12.

About the Lecture:

On site at Lisht (Photo courtesy of the speaker).

The joint MoA and UAB/GlobalXplorer project at Lisht (co-directed by S. Parcak, M. Yousef, and A. Okasha) continued investigating the tomb of a Great Overseer of the Army, Intef in the 2016-17 seasons. This project explored the rock-cut main hall, entryway, eastern mud brick causeway and an affiliated structure (monumental façade?) fronting the terraced, bedrock plateau edge; we also investigated part of the mud brick entry complex for a tomb to the immediate south of Intef's causeway. The debris layers and floor in Intef's hall and entryway revealed several phases in ancient to modern disturbance and looting, at least two separate periods in cutting rock-cut shafts for burial chambers in the hall and entryway, and numerous architectural fragments, artifacts, and human remains from the tomb and later periods of activity. The poor quality bedrock had necessitated the addition of stone wall slabs with inscriptions and scenes to embellish Intef's central offering chamber, a northern chamber (for a false door), and the bedrock face fronting these chambers, including an elaborate built-up entryway to the central chamber. The hall's southwest side contained traces of a tall niche, while a small, rock-cut niche lay above the floor in the hall's southeast corner. Some inset square pillar bases with incised guidelines indicated that the hall had originally held four pillars, while a rock-cut door pivot socket suggested a wooden door lay within a built-up stone door frame dividing the hall from the entryway. Part of the hall contained stone paving, while the entry had mudbrick paving.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Gregory Mumford

Although I was born in Canada (1965), I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya (1965-1976), Niagara Falls, Canada (1976-77), and Pretoria, South Africa (1977-1980), during which I accompanied my parents on frequent trips to archaeological sites, museums, and public lectures in these and other countries (e.g., Ethiopia; Tanzania; Uganda). Upon returning to Canada, I completed my schooling in Vancouver (1980-1983), and then went to the University of Toronto where I pursued a long-held childhood dream to become both an archaeologist and an Egyptologist. During my studies I expanded my interests to study both Ancient Egypt and its neighbors (including Nubia, the Aegean, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Mesopotamia) and began focusing upon international relations between these regions from Prehistory through the Pharaonic period (5,000-332 BCE). My other academic and related interests include architecture/drafting and the medieval period (particularly the Vikings), two career options that I considered seriously, but have maintained mainly as side interests (e.g., I incorporate them into some courses and archaeological projects). I have participated in a broad range of archaeological excavations and surveys from 1985 to the present, including in British Columbia (Canada), Newfoundland (Canada), Alabama (U.S.A.), and multiple sites and regions throughout Egypt: I direct projects at Tell Tebilla (NE Delta) and Markha Plain (SW Sinai) in Egypt; I have participated variously in prehistoric through Roman-Coptic period projects at East Karnak (Luxor), Tomb of Merenptah (Valley of the Kings), Amarna and its vicinity (Middle Egypt), Dakhleh Oasis (Western Desert), Mendes (NE Delta), Tell Kedwa/Qedwa (NW Sinai), and Tell Borg (NW Sinai). I have taught a number of courses at Wilfrid Laurier University (1995), UCLA (1999-2000), the University of Toronto (periodic teaching from 1999-2005), and the University of Wales Swansea (2005-2006), and am now based --as an associate professor-- at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2006/7-present). I also work frequently with my spouse, Dr. S. Parcak, on several joint projects, including co-directing a few archaeological projects (e.g., Point Rosee, NL), and assisting on others (e.g., el-Lisht, Egypt [i.e., as a co-director/field director with lead directors: S. Parcak and M. Youssef; A. Okasha]).

About ARCE-NC:

For more information, please visit,,, or To join the chapter or renew your membership, please go to and select "Berkeley, CA" as your chapter when you sign up.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Egypt opens 1st archaeological replicas factory to counter Chinese knockoffs - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Egypt opens 1st archaeological replicas factory to counter Chinese knockoffs

Egypt will soon inaugurate the first archaeological replicas factory in Egypt and in the region as part of efforts to fight the spread of Chinese-made products in the local markets.

al-monitor Egypt's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anani talks to a worker at the new factory of archaeological replicas which is expected to be open in the first quarter of 2021, image uploaded Dec. 6, 2020. Photo by Facebook/@moantiquities.

Feb 23, 2021

Egypt is making final preparations to inaugurate the first and largest factory of archaeological reproductions in the Middle East. The project helps preserve Egypt's archaeological property rights in its archaeological heritage and provide Egyptian reproductions as an alternative to the Chinese-made products.

According to archaeologists, this project will have a positive impact in the economic, tourist and archaeological sectors.

In December 2020, Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the factory will contribute to the protection of intellectual property rights for Egyptian antiquities.

Waziri noted that the factory, which is located in the industrial zone of Obour city in Qalyubia governorate, was established in cooperation with the Egyptian Treasures Company for Archaeological Models, as the first of its kind in Egypt and the Middle East.

On Feb. 8, Waziri wrote on his Facebook page about his latest visit to the factory site, saying, "Today's visit is the archaeological reproductions factory in preparation for its opening soon, God willing … the grandchildren are on the path of their grandparents."

Al-Monitor tried to contact Waziri several times to inquire about the exact time of the opening, but he did not answer. According to previous statements, it is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021.

Forty-four specialized artists and workers in various fields such as sculpture, drawing and painting, metalwork, ceramics, woodwork and inlay will work at the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) factory. 

The factory, which cost about 100 million Egyptian pounds ($6.38 million), is equipped with the latest technology, and it has manual and mechanized production lines for casting metals to produce and raise the efficiency of products from metalwork.

There is also a line for wood and carpentry to produce all woodwork, and a line of moulds, and the required moulds for production lines, sculpture, printing, drawing and coloring. In addition, there is an exhibition hall to display reproductions that are being produced.

Magdy Shaker, chief archaeologist at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told Al-Monitor over the phone that the factory helps confront antique products of Chinese-made models that invade the local and international markets.

"The Chinese product is of poor quality and lower price. Some tourists buy them as souvenirs and complain that they are broken even before they leave Egypt due to bad quality," he said. 

"If you look at a Chinese-made replica, you will find the product's features resembling Chinese people, more than ancient Egyptians," Shaker added, stressing that Egyptian artists should design these souvenirs and not anyone else. Egyptian artists will copy them from the original antiquities, he noted.

Shaker said that the reproduction factory will work to monopolize this industry in Egypt.

The factory's bazaars will be located inside the tourist attractions in order to achieve great sales.

"The ministry already had a unit for the production of archaeological models and reproductions, but it provides little production, unlike the presence of a specialized factory," Shaker said. 

The ministry's unit was established in 2011. Amr al-Tibi, executive director of the Archaeological Models Production Unit at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Akhbar Alyoum back in January last year that the average production of this unit — which is still operational — reaches between 30,000 to 40,000 pieces per year. Since its establishment, the sales exceeded 25 million Egyptian pounds (about $1.6 million).

Tibi said the unit was established as part of the amendments made in 2010 to the Antiquities Protection Law No. 117 of 1983, to include provisions for the protection of intellectual property rights and the trademark of the products of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The unit aims at protecting intellectual property rights, reviving ancient Egyptian art and developing the resources of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Thus, the factory will expand the unit's production of archaeological reproductions by increasing capacity hundreds of times the current production capacity of the unit.

Tibi confirmed that according to the feasibility study for the factory project, the expected profits will reach 10 million pounds (roughly $638,000) annually within less than three years. 

Archaeologist and historian Francis Amin told Al-Ahram website Feb. 11 that archaeological models are considered one of the most important handicraft and heritage industries, because they are a source of economic income as they generate large financial revenues for the state.

He noted that ancient Egyptian sculptors used to have a statue-making workshop — such as the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose, where the magnificent statue of Nefertiti's bust was found.

In many parts of Egypt, especially in Qurna village, located on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor, the industry of counterfeit antiquities is flourishing, especially in the fields of sculptures and small archaeological reproductions. But their products will not be of the same quality as those expected from the factory.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities' Facebook page, every product produced by the factory will bear a special stamp of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and a certified certificate stating that it is an original piece, in addition to a barcode for easy identification that contributes to protecting the factory's products from counterfeits.

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