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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Northern California ARCE: Upcoming Lectures on Egypt and Nubia

American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE)

Northern California Chapter

Upcoming Lectures

ARCE's Northern California Chapter is pleased to present the following lectures by renowned Egyptologists. Until further notice, all lectures are virtual, at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. Registration instructions will appear in upcoming posts. In normal times, most lectures take place on the University of California Berkeley campus.

Constructing the Sacred:
Exploring the Ritual Landscape of Saqqara in 3D 
Oct. 10, 2021 
Dr. Elaine Sullivan, UC Santa Cruz

Important Predynastic Cities and Their Role in the Creation of the Royal Titulary
Nov. 14, 2021

Dr. Ronald Leprohon, University of Toronto

"Backwater Puritans?" Racism, Egyptological Stereotypes and the Interaction of Local and International at Kushite Tombos
Dec. 12, 2021
Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, UC Santa Barbara

Living and Dying in Ancient Nubia
January 9, 2022
Dr. Brenda Baker, Arizona State University

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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tales of sunken cities - Focus - Al-Ahram Weekly - Ahram Online

Tales of sunken cities

Doaa Bahey El-Deen, Tuesday 28 Sep 2021

The thrilling story of ancient cities submerged under the Mediterranean Sea should be told again and again to promote tourism and historical awareness in Egypt, writes Doaa Bahey El-Deen

The Sunken city

A lighthouse that was once the tallest in the ancient world and an entire city underwater in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria: these are two aspects of recent discoveries that bear witness to an incredible cultural heritage that is more than 2,400 years old.

A young man, no older than 23, founded the most famous city on the Mediterranean Sea — Alexandria. In Egypt, the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great stopped on his way from Memphis to the Temple of Amun in Siwa at a fishing village on the Mediterranean coast called Ra-Qadt or Rakoda (Rhakotis) in 332 BCE. Across the water, the Pharos Island caught his eye and he immediately commissioned the architect Dinocrates to build a great city in his name.

He had come to Egypt looking for another conquest, and to celebrate he founded a cosmopolitan city at a location that is convenient by land and sea to become a crossroads of all corners of the world. The construction of the city lasted 80 years until it was completed during the reign of the Pharaoh Ptolemy II in the image of other ancient Greek cities with their luxurious palaces, temples, recreational areas, squares and courtyards decorated with fountains, statues, and other amenities.

Unfortunately, modern visitors will see few of these ancient monuments, though some still remain including Pompey's Pillar (the Memorial of Diocletian) and the Serapeum Temple, as well as the remains of the civic and recreational buildings in the central district of Kom Al-Dekka.

Coastal erosion due to rising sea levels is one factor that contributed to the disappearance of many of the ancient city's landmarks under water. Many researchers agree that the first sinking of the coastline was in the sixth century CE, when the city had many structures still standing.

The sinking of the city caused some structures in the eastern port to drown, however. They continued to sink between the seventh and 10th centuries CE, as water levels rose over the past two millennia.

In the last century, chief engineer of the Alexandria Ports and Lighthouses Authority Gaston Jondet began expanding the western port in 1910 and discovered the berths of an entire harbour submerged beneath the water. He studied the remains and dated them to even earlier than the founding of the city of Alexandria, an announcement that roused much local and international interest.

Later, a British RAF pilot was flying over Abu Qir near Alexandria when he noticed remains and structures in the water in 1932. Prince Omar Toussoun became involved and conducted an archaeological survey of the area that led to the discovery of a large number of columns and structural remains and statues, including a granite rendition of Alexander the Great's head.

Toussoun studied these pieces and concluded that they were the remains of the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Minots (Minutis) and dated back to Pharaonic times. The two cities thrived as major harbours even before Alexandria was built.

In 1961, while diving in the Qaitbay area, Egyptian diver Kamel Abul-Sadat found a group of stone blocks, statues, columns and clay pots underwater. He plotted their coordinates and excavated a large statue that was eight metres tall and weighed 21 tons of Queen Arsinoe II, the wife of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, in the form of the goddess Isis, the Protector of the Seas.

Abul-Sadat made a map of the sunken antiquities he had found in the area and documented them.

The discovery ignited a revival of interest among ancient Alexandria researchers. British scientist Honor Frost accompanied Abul-Sadat on dives in the Qaitbay area, and together they were able to catalogue many pieces underwater, including a sphinx, granite blocks, and column bases.


REVIVING INTEREST: The discoveries caught the attention of the global community, making the trend grow beyond a hobby and become a scientific and research endeavour.

Laws and legislation were passed to protect cultural heritage below the water line, and new classes and programmes were created in European and US universities to study it. Egypt began underwater archaeological excavations at Alexandria in the 1980s that became more scientific in the 1990s.

A mission from the Centre d'Etudes Alexandrines under the leadership of French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur then began work, and one of its key achievements was to survey and excavate the remains of the Pharos Lighthouse that lay underwater near the Qaitbay Citadel. More than 3,000 artefacts were recovered, including statues (more than 25 sphinxes) and Greek and Egyptian columns.

There were also expeditions by the Italian CMAIA led by Paolo Gallo, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), the Institut Européen d'Archéologie Sous-Marine (IEASM) led by French explorer Franck Goddio, and Greek archaeologist of Alexandrian origin Harry E Tzalas, who created the Hellenic Institute of Ancient and Mediaeval Alexandrian Studies (HIAMAS) that carried out extensive archaeological surveys to uncover locations and artefacts.

In 1996, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities established a new department due to this influx of excavations and growing interest called the Central Department of Underwater Antiquities (CDUA). This provided official oversight by Egypt of the work of foreign expeditions and partnered with them in archaeological research and survey work.

Our knowledge of the ancient eastern port has grown substantially in recent years. Due to the work of Goddio's team from IEASM, small ports were rediscovered underwater consisting of man-made piers and breakers and natural islands that enabled the overall shape and design of the ancient eastern harbour to be identified. Goddio published the results of these discoveries in a book entitled Alexandria: The Submerged Royal Quarters.

New underwater excavations at the lighthouse location revealed many other artefacts, including five segments of obelisks, 32 sphinxes, six columns with papyrus crowns dating back to the Dynastic era, the crown of a column, column bases, and 2,655 architectural blocks. There were also six large red granite statues of Ptolemaic kings and their wives in the image of Pharaohs, the largest of which was a statue of Ptolemy VIII that now stands outside the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria.

The discoveries provided information about the historic, administrative, and economic circumstances of ancient Alexandria and its inhabitants in the Graeco-Roman era. Modern archaeological discoveries have had a great impact not only in telling the city's history, but also in explaining many old and new mysteries. Often archaeologists have referred to texts to explain what they have found, and often discoveries have explained the ambiguity of texts by ancient poets, geographers, historians and travellers.

A great technological leap forward in scientific research then impacted the study of sunken antiquities. Underwater archaeological research techniques have been revolutionised over the past two decades and characterised by the extensive use of remote-sensing and its role in discovering underwater sites.

The use of advanced underwater photography techniques to record and document sites has allowed the discovery and documentation of sites that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach using traditional methods.

While murky waters formerly hindered the exploration of the eastern harbour, the Hilti Foundation was able to locate the port east by using an advanced underwater search system using a Global Positioning System (GPS) to accurately pinpoint its location.


NEW DISCOVERIES: Discoveries at the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion in the Gulf of Abu Qir in the spring of 2021 once again generated wide local and global interest.

CDUA Director Ihab Fahmi said the remains of a Greek funerary area dating back to the beginning of the fourth century BCE were excavated. Funerary vessels made of ceramic, a gold coin, and wicker fruit and vegetable baskets were found at the site, which indicated the presence of Greek merchants in this city that once controlled the entrance to Egypt at the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile.

The ancient Greeks settled in the city during the late Pharaonic era, when they constructed funerary temples near the main temple of the god Amun. This was later completely destroyed due to natural disasters.

Thonis-Heracleion was for many centuries the largest harbour on the Mediterranean before Alexandria was built. Several earthquakes followed by tidal waves later caused losses of the soil structure and the collapse of about 110 square km of the Nile Delta, until the rediscovery of a city that sank beneath the waves in the second century BCE.

The cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were rediscovered by an expedition from IEASM in cooperation with CDUA between 1999 and 2001.

Fahmi added that further excavations in the area, which operate under the supervision of the ministry of tourism and antiquities, have completed the excavation of a ship. The wreckage of the Ptolemaic era warship was found several years ago, and it appears to have sunk when large boulders from the Temple of Amun fell on it during a catastrophic event in the second century BCE.

Ironically, the falling boulders contributed to the preservation of valuable marine artefacts that settled on the bottom of a deep channel today filled with debris from the temple.

The wreck was discovered nearly five metres below solid mud, thanks to modern technologies such as sub-bottom profiler devices. Preliminary studies show that the body of the ship was built according to a combination of Egyptian and classic styles.

It was a ship with oars fitted with a large sail, as evidenced by the shape of the large mast, and it had a flat beam suitable for sailing on the River Nile and around the Delta. Typical features of shipbuilding in ancient Egypt alongside evidence of recycled timber show that the vessel was built in Egypt.

REPURPOSING DISCOVERIES: The US website Business Insider recently advised its readers to visit Egypt as one of the best tourist destinations worldwide after a tour of pop-up exhibitions of the underwater cities promoted tourism to Egypt and whetted the appetites of travellers to visit the country.

These included the "Osiris: Egypt's Sunken Mysteries" exhibition that toured Europe from Paris to London to Munich for 18 months in 2015-2016. There was also the "Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds" exhibition at the British Museum in 2016 and again in the US in 2020, where it toured several states for six months.

The exhibition included more than 290 artefacts recovered from the watery graves of the cities in the eastern harbour of Alexandria. Visitors to the exhibition were very enthusiastic to visit Egypt and see its remarkable monuments.

While these exhibitions are key to promoting tourism and community awareness, displaying the antiquities and proper public exposure are also essential. Keeping the sunken treasures where they were found is a top priority for preserving the artefacts. Underwater museums are an ideal solution that can satisfy the passion of researchers and scholars, while preserving the antiquities in good condition.

The dream of creating an underwater museum to accommodate the sunken treasures in Alexandria remains alive, and it would be a remarkable tourist attraction. Despite all that has been discovered in the Mediterranean so far, the seafloor is still full of incredible treasures chronicling the history of these most important cities of the ancient Mediterranean coast and making the Mediterranean Sea the most important museum in the world.

Many important discoveries were made in the last century, including the Pharos harbour in Alexandria in 1910, the Sour (Tyre) harbour in Lebanon in 1931, Cherchell in Algeria in 1932, the port of Apollonia in Libya, the eastern harbour of Alexandria, the wrecks of ancient Greek ships, and the sites of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion in Abu Qir.

But the number of untouched sites is also breathtaking, which makes the seeker of sunken antiquities embrace what Alexander the Great also believed: do not hesitate in conquering new worlds and achieving victory. Carpe diem.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 30 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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3 Egyptian mummy faces revealed in stunning reconstruction | Live Science

3 Egyptian mummy faces revealed in stunning reconstruction

A forensic artist created the 3D reconstructions based on genetic data.

Forensic reconstruction of the mummies JK2911, JK2134 and          JK2888.
Forensic reconstruction of the mummies JK2911, JK2134 and JK2888. (Image credit: Parabon NanoLabs)

The faces of three men who lived in ancient Egypt more than 2,000 years ago have been brought back to life. Digital reconstructions depict the men at age 25, based on DNA data extracted from their mummified remains.

The mummies came from Abusir el-Meleq, an ancient Egyptian city on a floodplain to the south of Cairo, and they were buried between 1380 B.C. and A.D. 425. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Tübingen, Germany, sequenced the mummies' DNA in 2017; it was the first successful reconstruction of an ancient Egyptian mummy's genome, Live Science reported at the time. 

And now, researchers at Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company in Reston, Virginia, have used that genetic data to create 3D models of the mummies' faces through a process called forensic DNA phenotyping, which uses genetic analysis to predict the shape of facial features and other aspects of a person's physical appearance.

Related: Image gallery: The faces of Egyptian mummies revealed

"This is the first time comprehensive DNA phenotyping has been performed on human DNA of this age," Parabon representatives said in a statement. Parabon revealed the mummies' faces on Sept. 15 at the 32nd International Symposium on Human Identification in Orlando, Florida. 

Scientists used a phenotyping method called Snapshot to predict the men's ancestry, skin color and facial features. They found that the men had light brown skin with dark eyes and hair; overall, their genetic makeup was closer to that of modern individuals in the Mediterranean or the Middle East than it was to modern Egyptians', according to the statement.

The researchers then generated 3D meshes outlining the mummies' facial features, and calculated heat maps to highlight the differences between the three individuals and refine the details of each face. Parabon's forensic artist then combined these results with Snapshot's predictions about skin, eye and hair color.


Heat maps of the different faces enabled scientists to refine details and highlight differences in the mummies' features. (Image credit: Parabon NanoLabs)

Working with ancient human DNA can be challenging for two reasons: the DNA is often highly degraded, and it's usually mixed with bacterial DNA, said Ellen Greytak, Parabon's director of bioinformatics.

"Between those two factors, the amount of human DNA available to sequence can be very small," Greytak told Live Science in an email. However, because the vast majority of DNA is shared between all humans, scientists don't need the entire genome to glean a physical picture of a person. Rather, they only need to analyze certain specific spots in the genome that differ between people, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Many of these SNPs code for physical differences between individuals, Greytak said.

However, sometimes ancient DNA doesn't provide enough SNPs to pinpoint a given trait. In those cases, scientists can infer absent genetic data from values of other SNPs nearby, said Janet Cady, a Parabon bioinformatics scientist. Statistics that are calculated from thousands of genomes reveal how closely associated each SNP is with an absent neighbor, Cady told Live Science in an email. From there, the researchers can make a statistical prediction of what the missing SNP was. 

The processes used on these ancient mummies could also help scientists to recreate faces to identify modern remains, Greytak told Live Science. Of the approximately 175 cold cases that Parabon researchers have helped to solve using genetic genealogy, so far nine were analyzed using the techniques from this study, Greytak said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger is a Live Science senior writer covering a general beat that includes climate change, paleontology, weird animal behavior, and space. Mindy holds an M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.

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    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    Egypt: Museums to remember - Heritage special - Heritage - Ahram Online

    Egypt: Museums to remember

    Fatemah Farag , Friday 9 Jul 2021

    The Museum of Civilization and the Grand Egyptian Museum are valuable additions, but what happens to the old institutions as we enthusiastically herald in the new?

    Museums to remember

    The guard rushes to block my entry through the gate.

    Guard: Where do you think you are going?

    Me: Into the museum.

    Guard: What? But why? What is your angle?

    Me: It is a museum open to the public and I want to see it?

    The guard is engulfed in a bemused silence.

    Time and again I am struck by the popular notion that heritage sites and museums are primarily for tourism and less so for our public. How unexpected it is for an Egyptian – not to mention, a woman on her own – to show up at a museum door.

    Especially a museum as obscure as the Ethnographic Museum, which is housed within the Geographical Society on shared property with the Council of Ministers.

    I am told the museum is closed and open only twice a week. When I return a week later I am told it is closed for "renovation." When I persist, I am told it had just closed and to call them later. When I still do not leave I am told to sit down while my ID card is scanned, logged in, and a security permit is issued.

    Once I am in I find that three main halls are closed; the man with the key has not shown up for some time. A weary employee tells me this is due to "Corona."

    The employees on hand flip open some lights and let me walk through the halls.

    Museums to            remember
    The Geographical Society. photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    The Society was established in 1875 by Khedive Ismail and was the ninth of its kind across the globe, and the first of its kind outside of Europe and the Americas. The Society moved to its current location in 1925 and under towering wood paneled engraved ceilings held up by columns minted in Paris and engraved with the symbols of the Egyptian flag. Towards the back, a library continues to be home to a priceless collection of books and maps.

    Museums to            remember
    The Geographical Society. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    "When Egypt was at the International Court proving its jurisdiction over Taba, the Ministry of foreign Affairs sent its lawyers here to find the original map that was key in proving our rights," explains an employee as she heads to her desk. "While we have no resources to upgrade facilities we do the best we can to protect this invaluable heritage," she adds almost as an after-thought. The neglect, it seems, has become second nature. And the map? "We never saw it again."

    On the ground floor of the building is the Museum of Ethnography which includes an Africa collection and elements of the daily life of Egyptians back to the 18th century.

    I am gushing over samples of cookie cutters in a display case adjacent to panels of traditional tattoo art and getting ahead of myself.

    Museums to            remember
    Panels of traditional tattoo art at the Museum of Ethnography. photo credit Fatemah Farag

    Museums to            remember
    Samples of cookie cutters in a display case at the Museum of Ethnography. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    Our heritage beyond the pharaohs

    Maps, bugs, paintings, engines, a piece of the moon, stamps and much more reside in museums we often neglect to remember. In 2019 the government's Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) counted 77 museums across the country, mirrors big and small into a complex and rich past.

    Some, such as the Stamp Museum, Railway Museum and Museum of Geology were the among the first of their kind in the world, the first on the African Continent and the first in the Arab World.

    The importance of this heritage in all of its diversity can't be understated. According to UNESCO, "Museums are not only places where our shared heritage is preserved – they are key spaces of education, inspiration and dialogue. They play an essential role in fostering social cohesion and a sense of collective memory. They hold up a mirror to society, introduce visitors to alternative points of view and foster creativity, respect for diversity and a culture of peace."

    And this importance is further enhanced by their being centers for tourism and job creation.

    A number of these museums are under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities and according to specialists these often have the most resources. Others are run by private entities such as the Museum of Ethnography and yet others by various ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture.

    To date in Egypt there are no unified standards for museum management or for their renovation, a worrisome thought perhaps as several landmark museums have been shut down for years for renovations. Does this lack of unified oversight and standard open the door to destruction of the buildings themselves and/or potential loss of collections to neglect, mis-management or even corruption?

    Derelict in Helwan: The Egyptian Wax Museum

    In the early 1930s prominent Egyptian artists Fouad Abdel-Malek studied waxworks in France and England and upon his return to Egypt enthusiastically went to work on setting up the Wax Museum. In this pursuit he was joined by other renowned artists of the day such as Bikar and in 1934 they founded the first iteration of the Wax Museum of Egypt at Tigran Palace on what is now Gomhoria Street. The museum then moved to a villa on Qasr El-Eini Street, which was eventually demolished at which point the museum made its final move to the Greater Cairo district of Helwan in 1956 where it continues to exist under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture.

    Museums to            remember
    Fouad Abdel Malak, founder of the Wax museum among the group of artists and workers who helped him establish it. Photo credit toFatemah Farag

    Museums to            remember
    The story of prophet Moses illustrated at the Wax museum. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    A brick wall surrounds extended grounds overgrown in weeds and dotted with sculpture. A one-story building flanks the left of a half-open gate leading into the property. The few employees sitting at a metal desk at the entrance tell me "The museum has been closed since 2009. For renovation."

    In many parts of the world wax museums remain popular and attract millions of annual visits. Perhaps the most successful is that of Madam Tussauds in London which now has franchises across the globe, including the latest which opened in Dubai just last year.

    The Egyptian Wax Museum which has been left derelict – and probably melting? – is reported to include 26 panoramic views and 116 wax sculptures. According to reports in the press and online, the collection includes shrines and samples of traditional dress, representations of religious, social and historical scenes and events such as the Virgin Mary with Jesus at the cave of Abu-Serga in old Cairo and the last moments in the life of Egypt's Queen Cleopatra among other attractions.

    Museums to            remember
    The current sign of The wax museum. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    "We get a lot of people like you who check the internet and see that it says we are open and only when they come find out it has been closed for so long. A lot of Arabs especially before COVID," the people at the gate tell me.

    Well now the Arabs have their own in Dubai which is open for business I guess.

    "If you are interested in historic things go to the corniche – there is a King Farouk locomotive that is very nice," they add trying to be helpful in the face of my obvious consternation. 

    Renovation at the Station: The Egyptian Railway Museum

    I do go to see a locomotive but not on the corniche. Walking through the doors of the Egyptian Railway Museum I sigh in relief. The museum has been recently renovated and is open to the Egyptian public for a 5LE ticket. I am met by a smiling administrator who also sells me a guide book.

    Museums to            remember
    The Egyptian Railway Museum. photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    You do not have to be a railway buff to appreciate the relevance of the collection that resides at the Cairo Railway Station – a landmark in itself as it was the first station of its kind to be built in Africa.

    The museum was established in 1933 on the occasion of Egypt hosting the 13th International Railway Congress and was the first museum of its kind in the east.

    Museums to            remember
    The Egyptian Railway Museum. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    Today it includes some 700 items that document transportation from Pharaonic times through to the invention of the steam engine and the development of the infrastructure – such as bridges and stations – to facilitate the growth of rail in Egypt. It also includes several items that were donated by museums in the UK in the last century such as the first steam engine donated by the city of Birmingham in 1932.

    The museum is also home to a library which includes original documents and maps related to the railway and an impressive collection of books for the railway buff

    Histories of communication and transport: The Egyptian Postal Museum

    Museums to            remember
    The Egyptian Postal Museum. Amira Noshokaty

    Staying within the theme of mobility I head to Attaba Square to visit the Egyptian Postal Museum which is indeed closed for renovation. Construction work around the historic building is underway and employees on site say the long-awaited inauguration including the museum will take place this month.

    You might not think so but mail has a long and vivid history. The development of an international postal service required the drafting of numerous treaties, resulted in innumerable cross-border complications which required the convening of international conferences to discuss and resolve. The first of these was held in Paris and the tenth came to Cairo in 1934, which was the occasion of the inauguration of the Postal Museum, which was opened to public viewing later in 1940.

    According to official statements the renovation will allow the postal authority to put on display items previously in storage for lack of space within the original museum structure.

    Prior to this current renovation the collection was already rather impressive, including the first airmail letter to arrive in Alexandria, samples of official clothes worn by postmasters, a unique stamp archive including some of the oldest stamps in history, to name a few of the attractions.

    So, keep your eyes on Attaba and hopefully we can all visit the collection soon.

    From the moon to the Egyptian Elephant: The Museum of Geology

    Museums to            remember
    The Museum of Geology. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    What can happen when a collection is removed from a historic building? In the case of the Museum of Geology the result is a wasted collection and history.

    Established 1901 in the gardens of the Public Works Ministry (on what is today Sheik Rehan St.), pictures of the old building are hard to come by. But descriptions that can be find allude to a beautiful and striking structure which was torn down in 1982 to make way for the underground metro.

    So, I head to the Maadi Corniche where an unassuming entrance leads me to a side door covered in metal bars which is now the entrance of the museum. Inside, rows of old wood cases stretch out uninvitingly as lazy ceiling fans spin.

    Museums to            remember
    The Museum of Geology. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    This Museum was the fourth of its kind globally and the first in Africa and the Middle East. You can read all about it in a book sold onsite for 30LE, which will also tell you that museum officials have repeatedly attempted to move the collection to "an appropriate building or get a new museum built," but that they have been faced by a consistent lack of resources.

    But in spite of the disappointing structure the museum is a constant reminder that our geological heritage is worth our attention. For example, there is a moon rock on display, in addition to fossilised vertebrae mammals discovered in Fayoum. They were sent to England for identification and then promptly returned to Egypt to be displayed at the museum.

    How about that for a historic twist?

    Museums to            remember
    The Museum of Geology. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    The biggest of them all: the Agricultural Museum Complex

    Established in 1932, the Agricultural Museum is in fact a complex comprising ten museums that not only cover various aspects of Egypt's flora and fauna but include unique collections of cameras, paintings and sculpture to mention but a few of the exhibits that were on display.

    Today the museum complex is closed "for renovation" and has been for some three years with no opening date in sight. In 2019 the Minister of Antiquities and the Minister of Agriculture visited the museum to select items that would be moved to the Civilizations Museum. The argument made then was that these exhibits when moved to the new museum would in turn attract people to the Agriculture Museum.

    Museums to            remember
    The Agricultural Museum. Photo credit to Fatemah Farag

    This has not happened yet and the majestic buildings of the museum stand among 30 hectares of what were once lush gardens, which are now plots of weeds. Staff fear that the remaining trees on site – one of them the only pinus of its kind in Egypt – will die for lack of care. There have also been complaints that some of the buildings have been used by by film crews, resulting in undocumented destruction of property. There have also been complaints in the press by citizens about the area because garbage has collected in the area.

    However, if you want a glimpse into why this is such an amazing site there is a guidebook written by Ibrahim Abdel Aziz and illustrated by Mohamed Wahba released by Al-Balsam Publishing House, which will walk you through the various halls of the ten museums.

    Museums to            remember

    Why bother? At the Herbarium, which is at the end of the complex and remains open, a plant taxonomist explains that "throughout the year the museum would receive a continuous flow of school trips and families. This museum was the connection of all of those generations to an unknown part of who we are: our plants, our animals and more. And it did so by connecting new generations with the generations who established these buildings and these collections. This museum with its affordable tickets and long history can't be simply replicated and its loss is a loss of memory for new generations."

    We have a saying in Egypt that those who lose sight of their past cannot walk confidently into the future. As I leave the invaluable collection of the Ethnographic Museum in its darkened, dusty halls behind me and walk out onto the Kasr El-Eini Street I am blinded by the bright sun, the rushing traffic and noise of the city. And I remember that we must always plant our feet solidly on the ground, resist the blindness and remember who we are.

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    Reminder: ARCE-NC Egyptology Lecture Oct. 10 - Constructing the Sacred: Exploring the Ritual Landscape of Saqqara in 3D

    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. Elaine Sullivan, UC Santa Cruz:

    Constructing the Sacred: Exploring the Ritual Landscape of Saqqara in 3D

    When: Sunday, October 10, 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 Friday, October 8.

    Glenn Meyer
    ARCE-NC Publicity Director

    About the Lecture:

    The ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara was the burial place of kings, queens, priests, and elite officials during the entire Pharaonic Period (3000-332 BCE), and boasts some of the most spectacular architecture and art in Egypt. In her recently published "born-digital" monograph, Dr. Elaine Sullivan uses a 3D model that digitally "reconstructs" the original appearance of the ancient monuments and visualizes large-scale change over time at the cemetery, allowing the archaeologist to make a virtual visit to the site at various moments in time.  The digital model provides new insights into how royal and elite Egyptians created a special monumental landscape to guarantee their eternal life and power. In this talk, Sullivan will highlight some of the findings of her research into ritual sight and visibility at this important necropolis.  

    About the Speaker:

    Dr. Elaine Sullivan is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  Before joining the faculty at UC Santa Cruz, she spent six years at the University of California at Los Angeles, as project Coordinator for both the NEH-funded Digital Karnak Project and the Keck Digital Cultural Mapping Program, which introduced students to Geographic Information Systems and other map-based digital applications. She has interned or worked at several museums before moving into an academic career, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum.

    Dr. Sullivan has published widely on Egyptological and technological topics in both peer-reviewed and invited publications.  She has lectured throughout the United States, often focused on digital cultural mapping, transformative scholarship and geospatial renderings. Her field experience began in 1995 when she excavated in Israel, and includes work in Italy, Syria, and Luxor, Karanis, and Saqqara in Egypt. She received her Bachelor's degree in history from Duke University, including a semester in Egypt at The American University in Cairo, and her Masters and PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Art at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. 

    About ARCE-NC:

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    Saturday, September 18, 2021

    Egyptian archaeologists unearth collection of religious ritual tools at Temple of Pharaohs north of Cairo - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

    Egyptian archaeologists unearth collection of religious ritual tools at Temple of Pharaohs north of Cairo

    The discovery is important because it includes the tools that were actually used in performing the daily religious rituals for goddess Hathor

    Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 18 Sep 2021
    Pharaohs Hill temple in Kafr Al-Sheikh
    Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed a collection of ancient tools that were used in religious rituals from the Temple of the Pharaohs (Boto) in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate north of Cairo.

    The new discovery comes as part of an archaeological excavations plan carried out by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities at different sites.

    Mustafa Waziri, the council's secretary general, said the find is important because it includes the tools that were actually used in performing the daily religious rituals for goddess Hathor.

    The instruments include a part of a limestone pillar in the form of goddess Hathor, and a group of incense burners made of faience, one of them decorated with the head of god Horus,

    They also include a group of clay vessels that were used in religious and ceremonial rituals of goddess Hathor, a collection of statuettes depicting deities Tawart and Djehuty, a small maternity chair, a large offering holder, a pure gold Udjat eye, and the remains of golden scales used in the gilding of some other pieces.

    Aymen Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, pointed out the archeologists also discovered a wonderful group of ivory depicted scenes of women carrying offerings, scenes of the daily life, including plants, birds and animals, a large limestone lintel with hieroglyphic texts, along with a part of a royal painting of a king performing religious rituals in the temple. 

    Hieroglyphic inscriptions bearing the five titles of King Psamtik I, and the names of the two kings "Waha Ip-Ra" and "Ahmose II" of the 26th dynasty kings were also uncovered.

    Hossam Ghoneim, director general of Kafr El-Sheikh antiquities and head of the mission, said that a large limestone well for sacred water and a mud brick Ptoleimaic bath consists of a bathtub, a water basin and a place for heating water were also discovered.

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

    Pharaohs Hill          temple

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