Thursday, April 30, 2015

Recovered Artifacts, Alexandria: Stolen artifacts from Roman museum recovered

CAIRO: All stolen artifacts from the the Greco-Roman Museum’s store in Alexandria were recovered Monday, head of the central administration for antiquities Youssef Khalefa announced.

Some 47 artifacts were stolen on Saturday, including a granite statute for a man and a woman, 31 metal coins of the Greco-Roman era and 15 pots and bottles used to store perfume, Khaleefa told Youm7.

The pieces have been placed in temporary storage until the re-inauguration of the museum after restoration work is completed. The store contains some 2,500 pieces.

Earlier on Monday, eight people allegedly involved in the theft were arrested and referred to prosecution. They will be detained for four days pending investigations.

Preliminary investigations into the incident showed damages to door locks of the store as well as other artifacts were broken.

Work at the museum was halted for five years due to political circumstances following the January 25 Revolution in 2011. The Minister of Antiquities recently stated that the total repairs at the museum will cost 10 million EGP ($1.3 million.)
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Discovery: Ancient Egyptians wore laurel garlands to cure hangovers

CAIRO: Garlands of laurel leaves were used in ancient Egypt to ease the pain caused by hangover headaches, according to a newly translated ancient Egyptian papyrus.

“Ancient Egyptians made a garland of leaves from a shrub called Alexandrian laurel and wore it around the neck, because it was thought this plant could relieve headaches,” Dr David Leith, a historian at the University of Exeter who translated the medical papyrus was quoted by Livescience.com.

He added that “the plant name literally means ‘ground laurel/bay’, and its leaves are often compared to bay leaves in ancient botanical literature,” said Leith.

Written in Greek script, the 1,900 year-old papyrus dates back to Egypt’s Greco-Roman period (332 B.C.-390 A.D.) and was originally found in Oxyrhynchus; the modern Upper Egyptian city of El-Bahnasa, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south-southwest of Cairo.

“The remedies appear to cross what we might see as the boundary between magic and medicine – and although some ancient doctors disliked making use of “magical” remedies, this was far from always the case,” said Leith.

Housed at Oxford University’s Library, the papyrus alongside other thousands of medical papyri known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society.

According to Livescience.com, the papyri are the result of the Oxyrhynchus inhabitants’ habit of throwing their trash in the Sahara. The dumps remained covered by sand until 1896, when Oxford archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt began excavating the area.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

News: Egypt sees $442m tourist income in February

Tourism income for Egypt in February amounted to $442m, according to an official of the Ministry of Tourism. He said the average spending decreased to $78.3 per night, instead of $80.1 during the last quarter of 2014.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced this month that the number of tourists in February amounted to 640,200, representing a 3.8% growth compared to the same period last year.

In February 2015, most tourists came from Western Europe, accounting for 40.4% of the total number of visitors, followed by Eastern Europe at 32.4%, and the Middle East at 13.4%.

According to the official, there were 105,300 Arab tourists during February, compared to 86,800 in the same period in 2014. The number of nights tourists spent decreased by 10.4% to reach 5.6m nights in February, according to CAPMAS.  Most of them were spent by tourists from Western Europe, 41.6%, followed by Eastern Europe, 29.7%, and then the Middle East, 17.9%, while nights spent by Arab tourists decreased by 7.3% to reach 1.1m nights.

The official said the Ministry of Tourism targets keeping the promotional campaigns which were launched at the end of February in the Arab countries.

Earlier, the ministry launched a promotional campaign under the name of “Masr Oryeba” (“Egypt is Close”) targeting the GCC. Arab tourism decreased last year to reach 1.6 million tourist compared to 1.8 million the previous year, according to the official. He added that Russian tourism during the first quarter of 2015 decreased, in addition to the difficulties that the tourism sector faces in order to reach 12 million tourists by the end of 2015.

Minister of Tourism Khaled Rami has previously said that Russian tourism decreased by 20% during the first quarter of 2015.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) rejected the bartering system using the local currency of the two countries to solve the crisis of the rouble’s decrease against the dollar. Last year, Russian tourism to Egypt made up to one-third of the total 10 million tourists.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Back Home, Paris: 240 Artifacts are Finally Repatriated from France

Ancient Egyptian Antiquities
As it was announced back in November 2014, that the French authorities will hand the Egyptian embassy in Paris a number of 239 artifacts which were smuggled out of Egypt.

In November it was said "in a few days" well, what is 6 months for a country it's history spans over thousands of years. 

Anyway, the repatriated antiquities arrived to Cairo airport last night and according to Dr. Mamdouh El Damamty, they are 240 not 239.

Ali Ahmed, Director of the Repatriated Antiquities department, said “The artifacts are dated to different era of Ancient Egyptian civilization. They include; coloured wooden statues of sailors which were a part of a funerary boat model, a limestone tablet showing a scene of offering to Isis and Osiris as well as a number of amulets, Ushabtis, pottery and stone vessels beside Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins.
For All Back Home Posts Click Here

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Back Home: Briton gives up 3,300 year-old ancient Egyptian artifact

The repatriated limestone fragment
Photo courtesy of Antiquities Ministry facebook page
CAIRO: A 3,300 year-old ancient Egyptian pillar fragment that once stood at Karnak temples in Luxor and was illegally smuggled to London, will return to Egypt in the next few days, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said in a statement Thursday.

Chairman of Egypt’s Restored Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post that Damaty’s announcement came “after the British citizen, who possesses the fragment, contacted the Egyptian Embassy in London he decided voluntarily to return it back to the Egyptian authorities after he found out it was original and was illegally smuggled.” The authenticity of the artifact was confirmed by an Egyptian-British committee of specialists, said Ahmed adding that the limestone fragment is registered in the antiquities ministry’s archive.

Dating back to the reign of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose IV (1,401B.C-1,391B.C.), “the limestone fragment pillar shows a relief of solar God Amon Re standing receiving offerings from the pharaoh,” Ahmed said, adding that the date when the artifact was stolen remain unknown. “The ministry will receive the artifact from our embassy in London after the completion of the recovery procedures in coordination with the Foreign Ministry,” said Damaty.

In October, a German national, according to his late mother’s will, voluntarily handed over an ancient Egyptian Ushabti figurine to the Egyptian authorities. “During the past four years, Egypt has recovered over 1,900 smuggled artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries,” said Damaty.

Egypt’s ancient sites have been targeted for thousands of years but the upheavals and the security lapse following the 2011 revolution have helped looters and tomb robbers target museums and several archaeological sites for treasures to sell on the black market.

“During the past four years, a third of Egypt’s archaeological sites have been either looted, exposed to agricultural encroachments or illegal building or experienced illicit digging,” world-renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawaas said in a statement earlier this year. He called on the current Antiquities Ministry to push for harsher punishment on antiquities crimes by changing the crime description from misdemeanor to felony.

According to Articles 41 and 42 of the Egyptian law governing archaeology and the antiquities trade, “whoever steals, hides, unlawfully smuggles or participates in smuggling an antiquity outside Egypt shall be subject to an intensive prison term with hard labor for not less than three years and not more than 15 years and a fine of not less than 100,000 EGP ($15,000) and not more than 1 million EGP,” Karem Aidy, a lawyer at the State Council, told The Cairo Post.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa
To Read All Back Home Antiquities Posts Click Here 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Disvovery, Quesna: 4,600 year-old tomb of Pharaoh unearthed in Delta

The newly-discovered tomb of Khaa Ba at Quesna.
Photo Courtsey of the Ministry of Antiquities
CAIRO: A 4,600 year-old tomb belonging to the little-known 3rd Dynasty Pharaoh Khaa Ba, has been unearthed in Egypt’s central Delta town of Quesna, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty announced Monday.

“The significance of the new discovery stems from the fact that the Memphis necropolis [located to the south of Giza Pyramids], but not Quesna, has been always known to be the burial city of 3rd Dynasty Pharaohs,” Damaty said.

He added that the discovery of the Khaa Ba’s tomb in Quesna, best known for its Late Period (664B.C.-332 B.C.) to Roman (30 B.C.-390 A.D.) remains, “raises several questions about provincial administration and burial customs during the Old Kingdom Period.” The tomb was unearthed during geophysical surveys carried out by the archaeology mission of the Egypt Exploration Society (EES.)

Ostracon bears inscription found inside the tomb.
Photo Courtsey of the Ministry of Antiquities
“In 2010, a mud brick mastaba (a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with outward sloping sides served as a tomb) was discovered in Quesna. Then the excavations continued until 2014 when a seal with the Pharaoh’s name was discovered and confirmed it is his tomb,” Dr. Joanne Rowland, director of the mission, stated Monday.

Very little is known about Khaa Ba, who is best known from his mastaba discovered in Zawyet el-Eryan, which lies between the Giza Pyramids and Abu Sir sites, archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

His name, which means “radiant soul,” was found inscribed on objects in the Mastaba, Sabban said, adding that Khaa Ba was the fourth Pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty. “the so called Layer Pyramid; an unfinished step pyramid also located in Zawyet el-Eryan, has been tentatively associated with the 3rd Dynasty Pharaoh although no remains of his burial were found,” said Sabban.

Khaa Ba is believed to have reigned a relatively brief four years between 2603 BC to 2599 BC, although these dates are highly conjectural, based on scanty of evidence of this early Pharaoh, according to Sabban.

“The new discovery also raises historical debates regarding the identity of the ancient Egyptian individuals that were buried in the Quesna site,” he added.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Re-Opening, Luxor: Valley of the Kings/King Tut tomb open late to beat the heat

CAIRO: Archaeological sites in the west bank of Luxor, including the Valley of the Kings, are to be opened to the public at night in order to avoid high daytime temperatures.

“The Luxor governorate is currently coordinating with the Antiquities Ministry to provide an appropriate lighting system and implement required security and administrative procedures to facilitate opening the sites in the west bank of Luxor at night,” Luxor governor Mohamed Badr was quoted by Al-Wafd newspaper Tuesday.

Most of Egypt’s archaeological sites are open during the day from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with some including the Egyptian museum and Luxor temple closing at 7:00 p.m. “If approved, the decision will be entered into force starting from October, Badr said, adding that the decision also aims at “diversifying the itineraries offered to the tourist in Luxor.”

According to Badr, the notion will take advantage of the Al-Gourna mountain lighting project, which was completed in 2014 at a cost of more than 55 million EGP ($8 million.)

The west bank of Luxor is the house of some of Egypt’s most significant archaeological sites, including the tomb and mummy of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, the best preserved tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, along with mortuary temples of several Pharaohs.

“We have been always calling on the Antiquities Ministry to open the west bank sites at night or at least extend their working hours so that tourists who stay a short time in Luxor can make a tour to the east bank during the day and another to the west bank during the night,” Chairman of Wings Tours Atef al-Waseef told The Cairo Post Wednesday. The decision will have a “positive impact” on number of tourists visiting Luxor, he added.

In a phone call with The Cairo Post Wednesday, Islam Seif, a local tour guide from Luxor has praised the decision describing it as “long-awaited.” “During summer, the temperature ranges from 45-50 C [110-120F] during the day. Most of sites at the west bank are opened with no roofs and tourists find no shade while touring the sites, which makes them cut short their visit and go back to the air-conditioned bus,” Seif said.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back Home, New York: 123 Artifacts to be repatriated to Egypt from USA

The antiquities were confiscated by customs in New York and after proven ownership, the American authorities decided to give it back to Egypt.

The 123 objects contains wooden sarcophagus for a lady dated to 26th Dynasty, 4 wooden statues if birds representing "Ba" the soul in ancient Egypt, collection of statues dates to Third Intermediate Period (TIP), number of funerary boats of Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom Stela and a collection of Roman coins.
Source: Luxor Times Magazine

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Discovery, Memphis: Ruins of Egypt’s most ancient capital of Memphis unearthed at at Kom Tuman

CAIRO: Ruins of the 5,200 year-old enclosure wall, once surrounded Egypt’s most ancient capital city of Memphis, has been unearthed, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a statement Saturday.

“Several white limestone fragments of the ancient capital’s wall were discovered during excavation work carried out by an archaeology team of the Russian Institute of Egyptology at Kom Tuman, south of Giza Pyramids,” said Damaty.

Memphis was founded from the end of the fourth millennium B.C. by the first Dynasty Pharaoh Menes, who was the first to unify Upper and Lower Egypt kingdoms into a unified state in ancient Egypt history, Director of the Russian archaeological team Galina A. Belova was quoted by the Antiquities Ministry Friday.

“A number of pottery making ovens and bronze tools were also found. The excavations will continue and we will be working to unearth the rest of the wall, as well as any archaeological elements which could help us to know more about this early period of Egyptian history,” said Belova.

Occupying a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile Delta, Memphis was the capital of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2,680B.C.-2125B.C.) It once comprised the royal palaces of the Pharaohs alongside the state administrative buildings, Kamal Wahid, director of the central administration of Giza antiquities told The Cairo Post Saturday.

“Unlike royal tombs, pyramids, mortuary and cult-related temples and any other buildings related to the afterlife, ancient Egyptian royal palaces, administrative offices, houses and other life-related buildings were often made of mud brick,” said Wahid, pointing out that the ancient Egyptian belief in life after death made the Egyptians keen to build durable tombs and pyramids.

Memphis is now an open air museum that houses artifacts spanning several periods of the ancient Egyptian civilization; a painted limestone colossus of Ramses II along with the alabaster Sphinx are the most preserved pieces in that museum.

In the 1950s, the Egyptian government decided to transfer a pink granite colossus of Ramses II to Cairo. It was placed before the Cairo’s main train station named after the Pharaoh. However, in 2005, the statue was transferred to the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), nearby Giza Pyramids, scheduled to open in 2018. The move has been criticized for its costs and concerns about pollution in the Giza location.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Discovery, Mataria: Ancient Egyptian shrine, bust unearthed under modern Cairo

Lower part of the shrine -Photo courtesy of Antiquities-Ministry
CAIRO: A 2,400 year-old basalt shrine was unearthed from beneath Cairo’s modern districts of Ain Shams and Mataria, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty announced Tuesday.

“The finds were discovered during the ongoing excavation work carried out by an Egyptian-German archaeology mission. The shrine belonged to the 30th Dynasty Pharaoh Nectanebo I (379 B.C.-360 B.C.,)” said Damaty.

Nectanebo I was the founder of the 30th Dynasty: the last native Egyptian royal family to rule ancient Egypt before Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C., Archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“Historical evidence suggests the Pharaoh came to power by overthrowing Nepherites II, his predecessor and the last pharaoh of the 29th Dynasty,” Sabban added.

The mission also unearthed a royal bust belonged to the New Kingdom (1580 B.C.-1080 B.C. ) Pharaoh Merenptah, Damaty said, adding that the statue represents the Pharaoh standing and making offerings to ancient Egyptian deities.
Bust of Merenptah – Photo courtesy of Antiquities Ministry
Archeology surveys carried out in Heliopolis have revealed prehistoric human settlements under this part of the modern city of Cairo, said Damaty.

Little remains of what was once one of the ancient Egyptians’ most sacred cities, since much of the stones used in the construction of the temples were later plundered and reused in building modern buildings, according to Sabban.

Heliopolis, known in ancient Egypt as Iunu, was Egypt’s most ancient capital city.

“The area was first excavated in the early 20th Century and most of the finds ended up in private collections. The obelisk of the Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Senusert I, probably the oldest standing obelisk in Egypt, is among the most significant excavations at the area,” according to Sabban.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review, Egyptology: Ten Books +1 for Summer or Winter Days

As usual I find myself in the middle of a hot summer with little energy to do much except read and would suggest these eleven books are likely to not only pass time but to inspire the thoughts of the reader back into days of drifting sand and elegance on the Nile. 

10. Egypt by H.H. Powers
This 1924 guide book is written by a gentleman with all the graciousness a cynic could muster, a cynic however with a good sense of Egyptian art. The travel to Cairo and down the Nile is met with a lingering disdain of mankind and a slightly quirky way at viewing the sites. I would have put this book higher on this list except it may be difficult for readers to find.


9. Pyramids and Progress
With this c1900 book the author takes the reader on an elegant journey around Egypt including the meeting of some of the eras great Egyptologists especially Sir Flinders Petrie who's good graces opened the door to worthy events and places of the day for the author. This book would also be higher on the list except it will be hard to find.


 8. Jewels of the Pharaohs
This is the late Cyril Aldred's 1978 view into the Pharaonic tradition of royal jewels created for the king and elite. Here the author has created a short book with half the volume devoted to coloured pictures of the best of ancient Egyptian jewelry.  



7. Ancient Lives by John Romer
Ancient Lives will not be an easy book to enter as it took me a few chapters in before I was hooked by one of the finest telling of ancient lives of a privileged class of artisans from the ancient village of the royal tomb builders. The book is composed with the thousands of documents found at that site and displaying all the ancient villagers talents, trials, and responsibilities they possessed to the living and the dead.


6. The Life and Times of Akhnaton
This classic publication by the late Arthur Weigall whom excavated a famous tomb, and was present in the Valley of kings during important discoveries at the beginning of the last century and is a must read for anyone interested in the these discoveries. Especially impressive is the authors descriptions of the activities which took place in Valley of kings tomb 55 in ancient times.

5. X-raying the Pharaohs
This short book is based on a project in the 1970's to X-ray all the royal mummies and virtually every other mummy in the Cairo Museum. The book is filled with many of the finds produced by the X-rays including the position of King Amenhotep I's arms and a bead girdle around the kings waist.


4. Akhenaten and Nefertiti
This is the second book on this list for the late Cyril Aldred who writes here about the heretic and his beautiful queen Nefertiti. This is not a story as much as it is an examination of 175 surviving works of art of the Amarna period in various museums.


3. Archaic Egypt
The late Egyptologist Walter Emery had the experience of some of the great finds of Egypt's shadowy Archaic period at the beginning of dynastic history. The volume is filled with exceptional black and white pictures that clearly demonstrate the authors words and remarkable discoveries.  
  
 
2. Unwrapping a Mummy
This marvelous short book is on the discovery of the remains of a notable priest who's mummy was discovered a century ago at Deir el Bahri. Unfortunately the priests mummy deteriorated so much so that it was decided to unwrap him, this represents one of the last times in modern history that an Egyptian mummy was unwrapped.
 

1. Ancient Egypt The Great Discoveries
I loved the format of the book which present the great archaeological finds from ancient Egypt according to their date of discovery. The book is uncomplicated and filled with lots of coloured pictures including some finds which may be new to the reader. 


Tutankhamen: The Untold Story
This is the late Thomas Hoving's 1978 best seller of an unbeleivable tale of Tutankhamun's treasures and the covetous nature of the excavation of the boy kings tomb. The artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb were kept together for Egypt's national collection in Cairo but did a number of them end up outside Egypt?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Short story: The Ancient Egyptian arts !!!!

There is a reason why they call ancient Egypt the cradle of civilization, Egypt was one of the first civilizations in the Mediterranean Basin; that is why it left a print on other civilizations in some areas that we are going to see in the Arts of these civilizations .In the Minoan civilization, you can see that the paintings of the walls followed the Egyptian style in picturing people, such as using the side view of the profile but the body itself is in the frontal view, as well as picturing the nature and animals such as Knossos Palace Fresco following the lead of the Egyptians in picturing animals and nature on the walls of tombs and temples. 

Also, the Egyptians used The Tempera in painting and colors on the walls of tombs, palaces, etc. and that method was also used on many of the masterpieces of Pompeii’s Fresco and wall painting. In the Hellenistic era, we see how the painting of Alexandria’s tombs had the greatest impact on Pompeii’s style in painting, also in later periods the method was still used

in Egypt, like in the Coptic period; a great example of using this method in that era is the famous group Fayum mummy portraits. Regarding sculpture, the Egyptians started with the statues of the Gods and the pharaohs who were considered the sons of the Gods and the most divine people according to Egyptians.

The Greeks’ masterpieces of sculpture are basically of Gods and the great heroes of Greece who were also called demigods as they were considered sons of the Gods. 

When it comes to the sculptures on the walls, the Greeks were also inspired by the same themes such as nature, gods and epic battles. We can see on Abu Simbel Temple the portrayal of the battle of Kadesh where Ramses IIlead the armies to victory, also in the sculptures of the Parthenon Temple of the Goddess Athena,and on the west pediment we can see the legendary contest between Athena and Poseidon for the patron of the city of Athens.In Hellenistic period, Egypt played a main rule in arts around the world through its capital Alexandria and its great museum and library.

The impacts of the Egyptian sculpture were still seen even in the Roman Period; like in the Green basanite bust of Julius Caesar, the portrait is sculpted in Egyptian stone with many characteristics of the Egyptian portraits, such as high cheekbones, facial structure and coloring the eye. The bust is in the British museum. Could all of these indications suggest that one of the most remarkable Temples in Greece, the Erechtheion, was affected by Ramses II’s great temple Abu Simple in using huge statues in the front porch instead of Columns? We still have to answer that.

News: Egypt Bans Import of All Foreign Made Egyptian Souvenirs

Egypt’s Trade and Industry Ministry has issued a ban on the import of all Egyptian souvenirs made abroad, announced Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour on Saturday. 
The Ministry’s decision bans the import of souvenirs and products of “artistic and folkloric nature, as well as archaeological models” reported Al-Masry Al-Youm. According to the Ministry, the move aims to preserve Egypt’s artistic heritage and promote the purchase of locally made souvenirs and products.

Among the types of gifts and souvenirs which have been banned from import are objects made of wood, mosaics, metals, jewels, carpets, paintings, sculptures, objects made of marble, fake alabaster and more.

Visitors to Egypt often encounter souvenirs made in China, which are often of a lesser quality than Egyptian produced souvenirs. The influx of Chinese-made souvenirs had also impacted local businesses and contributed to unemployment, said the Minister.

The decision to ban the import of foreign made souvenirs comes as the tourism industry is slowly recovering. According to Egypt’s new Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy, the government hopes to raise $20 billion in revenue from tourism by 2020 by attracting 20 million visitors.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

News: German tourism in Egypt increased 28% in March – Ambassador

CAIRO: The number of German tourists visiting Egypt increased by 17% during the period between January and March 2015, compared to the same period last year, Egyptian ambassador to Germany Mohamed Hegazy told state-owned MENA news agency. He added that the number of German tourists reached 92,500 tourists during last March, which is an increase by 28% compared to the same month last year.

Hegazy said that the increase came after the successful Egyptian participation in Berlin Stock Exchange. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Germany was the second largest market for tourism in Egypt after Russia in 2014.

German tourists visiting the Red Sea resort cities in Egypt increased between 50-60 percent during the period between January and September 2014. Their number exceeded 1.2 million tourists in 2010.

Following a deteriorating security situation in Egypt following the dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya in August 2013, tourism has suffered as the number of holiday makers decreased. Germany, along with 15 other European countries, issued a travel warning to its citizens to avoid the Sinai Peninsula in February 2014 following the bombing of a tourist bus in Taba that killed three South Korean tourists and their Egyptian driver.

Increased German tourism cooperation followed a German government decision in July 2014 that lifted its previous travel ban to the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

News, Luxor: ‘Silent Sign’ project for intercultural understanding kicks off in Luxor

CAIRO: In BETWEEN for database publishing projects has initiated its “Silent Sign” international project for tolerance, intercultural understanding and learning in Luxor.

On Sunday at 10:00 a.m., thousands gathered at the foot of the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Luxor “to send a silent message to the world: We all are human, we share hopes and fears for our lives and for those we love, and we share this world,” according to a news release by the organization.

The throng was dressed in white, which was ancient Egypt’s symbol for “the love of silence, for being connected with the earth and for stability.” “The project intends to build bridges between Luxor and different countries around the world, to connect people across the borders of nations, religion, tribe or state, gender and individual identity,” according to the statement.

The organizers are inviting participants to take “selfies” and submit them to be considered for their exhibition that will travel to a number of cities including Hamburg, Melbourne, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Stockholm and Vancouver.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

News, London: Egypt urged to expedite efforts to keep Sekhemka statue on display

Sekhemka statue

Campaigners trying to block the Sekhemka statue from leaving the UK say they would prefer the statue return to Egypt rather than it being kept by a private owner. Written by Marwan Sultan

An action group campaigning to keep the Egyptian Sekhemka statue in the United Kingdom has appealed to Egypt to support its efforts to impose a permanent export ban on the artefact. Last week, the UK Ministry of Culture placed a temporary export ban on the statue that was bought by an overseas buyer for £15.76 million in July 2014.

The buyer, believed to be of Middle Eastern origin, has applied for a licence to move the ancient statue from the UK. A UK minister of state for culture decided to defer the export licence application until 29 July, which could be extended to 26 March 2016.

The Save Sekhemka Action Group (SSAG) doubts the legality of how the statue was brought to the UK. It has suggested that Egyptian authorities actively work on tracing the way the statue originally left Egypt.

It is said that the Second Marquess of Northampton purchased and exported the statue from Egypt in 1850, and then gifted it to the Northampton Museum. However, SSAG suggested there is no documentation of the purchase and export of the statue to the UK.

"We hope the Egyptian authorities expedite its efforts to find out if the purchase and export of the statue from Egypt was in accordance with then in force Egyptian laws on antique artefacts,” Ruth Thomas, deputy head of SSAG told Ahram Online.

"While the group strongly believes the 4000 year old statute belongs to Northampton Museum, we support the idea of sending it back to Egypt, instead of it being owned by someone who takes it from the UK and keeps it out of display," Thomas said.

According to UK laws, if the purchase and export of Sekhemka can be proved to be illegal, Egyptian authorities can seek to recover it.

The UK Ministry of Culture told Ahram Online last week that "If a UK buyer makes a matching offer to the current owner, and the owner rejects the offer, then the UK Secretary of State could decide to refuse to grant an export licence."

SSAG says this is unlikely and rules out taking part in a campaign to raise funds to match the offer as it “doesn’t believe the sale of the statue was legal in first place.” SSAG will be meeting in next few days to consider its next steps, Thomas said.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Short Story: Sham El-Nessim - a 4,500 year-old Egyptian feast

CAIRO: While millions of Egyptians mark the national holiday of Sham El-Nessim, one of the few celebrations that bring both Muslim and Coptic Christians together, very few realize that it is a celebration linked directly to ancient Egypt.

Sham El-Nessim, which translates to “smelling the breeze,” falls on the Monday that follows the Coptic Orthodox Easter. Despite its timing, the holiday is celebrated by Egyptians regardless of religion.

In modern times, the holiday is marked with picnics to parks while meals of different items including colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, salt-cured mullet fish (known as fesikh) and onions.

“The earliest known celebration of Sham El-Nessim in ancient Egypt dates back to the third Dynasty (2650B.C.-2575B.C.)” archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Sunday.

In ancient Egypt, the day marked the beginning of the season of She-mu, literally translating to “low-water,” the 4-month harvest season that falls roughly between mid-April and mid-August, said Sabban.

During this season, the crops of the grain harvest including wheat and barley were collected. She-mu was preceded by Peret, the cultivation season and was followed by Akhet, the inundation season, Sabban added.

“According to annals written by the Greek historian Plutarch [46A.D.-127A.D.], the ancient Egyptians also used to offer salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their gods and goddesses on this day,” Sabban said, adding that the day was believed to have equal hours for day and night.

“Every year, the ancient Egyptians tested Sham El-Nessim by viewing whether or not the sunlight lay in an upright angle on the Great Pyramid,” he said.

Symbolizing resurrection, lettuce and malana  (green chick pea sprouts) were eaten in ancient Egypt as they were plentiful following the receding of the Nile flood, said Sabban, adding that sardines, mullet, mackerel and anchovies were also preserved by salting.
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

News: Tourist numbers increase by 3% in Q1 of 2015 - Minister

CAIRO: The number of tourists who visited Egypt during the first quarter of 2015 increased by three percent compared to the same period last year, Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy told state-run Al-Ahram Wednesday.

Ramy also anticipated a 15 percent increase in hotel reservations during Egypt’s 2015 tourism summer season (April-September) compared to the same period last year. “The flow of tourists to Egypt is expected to increase from 10 million in 2014 to 12.5 million by the end of this year,” he added.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt increased by 5.5 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS,) Egypt’s official statistical agency.

Egypt depends on tourism for around 20 percent of its hard currency. The sector’s total investments are valued at $9.8 billion, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The government recently announced, and then revoked, a measure that would have required all foreign tourists traveling independently to obtain entry visas in their home countries before coming to Egypt. The government said it would not enforce such a ruling until it sets up an electronic visa system for travelers. “The government aims to attract 20 million tourists per year by 2020,” said Ramy.

The minister’s expectations represent a significant rise in tourism flow if compared to 2010; Egypt’s peak year that has witnessed a record of 14.7 million tourists who had visited the country. Tourism sector in 2010 had generated $12.5 million in revenues.

Egypt’s tourism sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing shocks ever since the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. Several European countries including Germany, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and Spain lifted their travel bans to certain parts of Egypt during the end of 2014. Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector.a
Source: Cairo Post– By/Rany Mostafa

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Discovery, Giza: Merimde Beni Salama site in Delta is larger than was thought

The Merimde Beni Salama site is about 60km north-west of Cairo and is considered to be the oldest evidence of civilisation on the Delta
The Area of Merimde Beni Salama
During the recent archaeological season which ends in April, the mission of the Egypt Exploration Society uncovered new scientific evidence revealing that the borders of the major Neolithic settlement site of Merimde Beni Salama on the western margin of the Delta, extends a further 200 metres to the south-west.

Joanne Rowland, head of the mission, explained that they started the work to know about such extensions in the summer of 2014, after test trenches had been dug by the ministry of antiquities prior to the laying of a gas pipeline. It was then possible to examine the area just to the west of the modern asphalt road and it was also confirmed by the ministry investigations, as well as in test trenches worked on by the the current mission, that ceramics of the Neolithic era were present.

“This means that the settlement extents at least 200m south-west of what was formerly considered to be the boundary of the settlement,”  Rowland told Ahram Online. She continued to say that the forthcoming investigations and post-excavation analysis would be able to confirm whether this newly discovered area was occupied during the latest periods of occupation of the settlement as anticipated, or whether it is from earlier times. Rowland and her team will reconsider the site within its wider geographic and environmental context.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty said that the team also unearthed a collection of ceramics and lithics of Neolithic dates and that more investigations will present much information about the various roads and means of living during this era. Merimde Beni Salama is a major Neolithic settlement site on the western margin of the Delta, about 60km north-west of Cairo. The site is the largest and earliest known evidence of settlement in the Nile Valley or Delta region and has been given the name ‘Merimde’, which is the phase of Lower Egyptian Predynastic culture.

Neolithic Settlement
It was found in 1928 by German archaeologist Herman Junker who excavated the site throughout 1939. Through carbon dating, the site was occupied between 4880BC and 4250BC. Unfortunately, most of Junker’s notes were destroyed in World War II. Eiwanger has conducted more recent studies.

The earliest level is characterised by a wide range of polished and unpolished untemper pottery decorated with a herringbone design. The Middle Merimde level shows complex structures of wood and basketwork, straw-tempered pottery and many burials. Flint tools inserted into wooden, bone and ivory handles were also found.

The later level of the Classic Merimde, considered the period of occupation, is when the settlement consisted of a large village of mud huts and workspaces in organised groups of buildings laid out in streets. The high level of organisation in the villages, indicated by numerous subterranean silos or granaries, lined with basketware and used to store grain, are probably associated with individual dwellings. The suggestion is that by the later phases the population consisted of economically independent family groups in a formalised village life.